They call Raku God.
She of the frilly yellow dress. She of the honeyed smile. She of the ardent enthusiasm for trains.
To the uninitiated, it must be confounding that a wrestler with only one singles victory in her career, a wrestler with no championships to her name be deemed a deity. But everyone from fellow Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling wrestler Yuki Aino to Chris Brookes of DDT casually and consistently refers to Raku as God.
Raku joined TJPW in 2018 as part of the in-house idol group UpUpGirls. She, along with Hikari Noa and Miu Watanabe, now kicks off most shows with a J-pop song and dance routine.
And where Noa and Watanabe have blossomed into skilled in-ring workers, each banging on the door of the company’s top tier, Raku hasn’t shown herself to be that kind of bell-to-bell star.
Sure, she has a pretty Sling Blade in her arsenal and she has solid footwork, but no one is going to mistake her for Meiko Satomura. Instead, the Tokyo native relies more on the intangibles of the wrestling game: effort, character, vibes.
In that way, Raku embodies the spirit of TJPW.
This is a promotion built around wacky personalities and fun, goofy moments. Raku fits right into that landscape.
She’s a smiley, happy warrior whose main weapon in the ring is the ability to make her opponents fall asleep. Raku, often while her opponent is trapped in her sleeper hold, sings a powerful lullaby to her foes. Soon, they are flat on the mat, in dream world, and the God in yellow takes advantage by stepping on their chest over and over.
It’s a spot that would not work in a many a promotion, but in TJPW is par for the course. This company is an absurd world with all manner of clowns and oddballs, and Raku is completely at home here.
Her appeal is her heart. She fights on despite piling on the losses. She is overmatched physically just about every time out, but her smile remains. She is calm no matter the steepness of the climb ahead.
Then in 2020, in six-woman action, Raku pinned Miu Watanabe to earn her first pinfall. It was an emotional moment amid the golden streamers, the outpouring of her teammates, the tears filling the God’s eyes.
That moment wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful if Raku weren’t so likable.
This is a wrestler whose hobby is to ride/learn about different trains. This is a wrestler whose ring gear looks like something out of a kid’s dress-up box, who looks about as intimidating as Little Bo Peep. She’s wholesome, charming, unassuming, easy to root for.
With the help of some translation from TJPW officials, I had the opportunity to ask Raku a series of questions about her fans, teaming with Aja Kong (which she’s done several times), the UpUpGirls, and more. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: How did your love for trains begin? What are your favorite trains?
🍏 I’ve loved them as long as I remembered! My favorite is the Doctor Yellow.
Q: You have a very passionate, vocal fanbase. What is your reaction to all that attention?
🍏 I’m beyond thankful and I’ll always appreciate it.
Q: Why do you think you’ve been able to connect with fans so well?
🍏 I approach everything with love!
Q: What’s it like to team with Aja Kong? Is she scary even as a teammate?
🍏 I’d like to team with her as a tag team! Winning the belts together is my current goal!
Q: One of the best things about TJPW is how varied the personalities and skills are. What do you think you bring to TJPW?
🍏 The world has never seen someone sleepier than myself!
Q: Are you and the other UpUpGirls competitive with each other, either as idols or wrestlers?
🍏 I go at my own pace!
Q: What’s your favorite memory of TJPW so far?
🍏 Every day has been a joy ever since I joined!