- Japan In Focus
Tokyo Store Displays Masks Worn by Professional Wrestlers
14:00 JST, January 8, 2024
The area around JR Suidobashi Station is dotted with shops associated with professional wrestling. The area is home to Korakuen Hall, which is referred to as the “sacred site for pro wrestling.” Among the stores, Pro-Wrestling Mask World is a must for fans as masks worn by former wrestlers are on display.
As I walked up to the fifth floor of a multi-tenant building and stood at the shop’s entrance, I saw shelves lined with masks. Many of them looked familiar.
The collection covers about 120 kinds of masks worn by former star wrestlers, including Mil Mascaras. With his high-flying moves, he was active in the ring for a long time from the 1970s. Masks worn by “Shooting star mask” Masked Superstar and Super Strong Machine, who caused a huge boom in the 1980s, are also on display. Most of the masks are the actual ones worn during games, and are not available to buy.
Shop representative Yukihiro Nakamura, 57, is a mask craftsman. In addition to taking orders for custom-made masks, the shop also sells T-shirts, straps and other pro wrestling goods.
A large portion of the exhibit space is occupied by merchandise featuring the first Tiger Mask, who appeared in 1981 and took the world by storm. Masks and capes he used are on display, as well as a signboard for the Super Tiger Gym, which was founded by Satoru Sayama, who had acted as the first Tiger Mask.
Nakamura was able to collect so many because he was in charge of the masks for Sayama. They would be irresistible for the generations that were glued to their televisions watching Tiger Mask matches.
Nakamura began his business in the city of Tsu in 2003, and later opened a shop at the current location. “I was one of his fans when I was a boy. It is a great joy to be involved in pro wrestling this way,” he said.
The shop displays items from the 1980s to the present, with an eye to appealing to fans of all ages, so that the evolution of masks can be seen.
“I want people to feel invigorated when they remember the matches of the past, and to remember who they were back then,” said Nakamura. He puts these thoughts into his masks.
Pro-Wrestling Mask World
Address: 5th floor, Suidobashi TJ Building, 2-9-5, Kanda Misakicho, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Access: 3-minute walk from the east exit of JR Suidobashi Station
Hours: Open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Mondays. Events with pro wrestlers are also held. Masks can be custom-made.
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