In 1995 Hakushi, a mysterious Japanese character dressed in white and covered with oriental symbol tattoos, debuted on our screens, bringing a style of wrestling seldom seen on WWF screens. The man behind that character, Jinsei Shinzaki is the focus of this piece as we ask whatever happened to Jinsei ‘Hakushi’ Shinzaki?.
1995 is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I’ve written about it many times before – including this ‘Well That Didn’t Work’ piece on 1995 generally.
More recently I also wrote about the first ‘In Your House’ event which featured a fantastic opening match between Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and a Japanese villain named Hakushi. It in part got me thinking what the latter superstar was doing with himself these days.
Born Kensuke Shinzaki although he’s better known in Puro circles as Jinsei Shinzaki, for the majority reading this blog he will be remembered by his time in the WWF as Hakushi, a superstar dressed in white and covered in tattoos, an extension of his Buddhist pilgrim persona.
Shinzaki was born December 2, 1966 in Tokushima, Japan. He started in Gran Hamada’s Universal Lucha Libre promotion in 1991, under the name Mongolian Yuga, under a mask. By 1993 he had moved to the Great Sasuke’s Michinoku Pro Wrestling promotion, where he unmasked and adopted the ring name Jinsei which is Japanese for life.
In late 1994 he moved to America and joined the WWF as a Japanese villain named Hakushi, which roughly translates as White Death or White Master.
The aforementioned match against Bret Hart is one of the things that he was remembered for in what transpired to be a relatively short stint with the WWF.
In fact, by the end of his run with the company, he was relegated to feuding with the likes of Bodydonna Skip and Barry Horowitz, quite the drop in stature for the man from Japan. His exit, and return to Japan, came after being “humiliated” after being storyline branded by Justin Hawk Bradshaw – the future JBL.
He soon reappeared on American shores, this time in the then fledgling Extreme Championship Wrestling, under his Jinsei Shinzaki name but with the same appearance as Hakushi. In ECW he had a short run teaming with Hayabusa to take on the ECW tag champs at the time Rob Van Dam and Sabu.
This stay was again short lived and he returned to Japan and saw out the rest of his in-ring wrestling days there.
Since 2003, Shinzaki has been the president of Michinoku Pro Wrestling company since 2003. Much of this is to do with Sasuke dedicating more of his time to his political career as a member of the Iwate Prefectural (state) Assembly.
Aside from these duties, Shinzaki is also the co-founder of the joshi promotion Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling along with joshi wrestler Meiko Satomura and his work to this day focusses on this aspect of the business.
He did make a brief return to the States in 2011 in the CHIKARA Kings of Trios. In the tournament he was part of Team Michinoku Pro, alongside Dick Togo and the Great Sasuke. In the opening round they defeated the trio of 1-2-3 Kid, Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin but lost out to to F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor, Icarus and Johnny Gargano) in the semi finals.
Also in 2011, following the Japanese tsunami and earthquake, he helped victims in the Tohoku region by providing them with food and drink.
In terms of his time with the WWF, his highpoint – and certainly best match – came at In Your House 1.