Out of Japan: The wrestler, his coach, his fiancee and her mother

TOKYO - Japan's most highly publicised, bodice-ripping romance was smashed to pieces last week with all the drama of a latter-day Gone with the Wind.

Ever since they announced their engagement three months ago, the sumo wrestler Takahanada and the actress Rie Miyazawa have been the number one news item in papers, magazines and television chat shows. Last week Rie, on assignment in Washington for a Japanese television station, met President Clinton, while Takahanada was promoted to the second-highest ranking in the sumo world. It seemed they could reach for the stars. How sadly it has all ended.

Rumours that the glamorous 'beauty and the beast' couple were not seeing eye-to-eye started just after Christmas. But Japan did not want to believe that the 20-year-old sumo superstar and the 19-year-old actress, singer and nude model were not made for each other. It took separate press conferences from Rie and Takahanada - who has recently changed his name to Takanohana to celebrate his promotion - to persuade their fans the dream was over.

Of the two, Rie's performance was more deserving of an Oscar. In heart-rending tones she told her audience - 200 journalists - that 'there was a time when I truly cared for him - it was a very powerful feeling . . . But now my feelings have changed'.

She then went on to criticise subtly her beloved and his trainers for not allowing the couple to meet for the past month until that morning, when she finally returned the engagement ring: 'I felt as if I was seeing a different person. If we had had enough time to talk to each other, we could have resolved the problems. We couldn't do so because it was not on his mind.'

But, she hurried to add: 'I never wanted to be a heroine of a tragedy' - a statement that seemed difficult to reconcile with her behaviour.

Several hours later, Takahanada responded at his own press conference in true Rhett Butler style, telling Rie that, frankly, he didn't give a damn: the reason for the break-up 'is because my love died'. According to Takahanada, he wanted Rie to stop working as an actress and singer and adopt the traditional low profile of sumo wrestlers' wives. This she was unwilling to do.

So much for the main characters. But the media were keen to dig deeper and discover what was really pulling the strings behind the romantic drama. The idea that the young couple acted of their own accord was too boring an explanation.

First suspect was Fujishima, Takahanada's father and the master of his wrestling stable. The Sumo Association was unhappy with the frivolous media attention Takahanada was attracting - his fiancee was famous for posing nude for a photo book, which sold a million copies. This hardly suited the dignity attached to a sumo wrestler. So, the theory went, some stern advice from his father made Takahanada change his mind.

But for the magazines the real hate figure was Rie's mother, Mitsuko, who has been pushing her daughter's career with the aim, according to the scandal sheets, of boosting the family's income. It was the mother, they claimed, who persuaded her to go nude, and who negotiated her advertising contracts: currently she stars with Arnold Schwarzenegger in a drink commercial. According to the 'stage mother' theory, Mitsuko did not want the wedding to go ahead because Rie would be forced to stop working - and earning.

The ultra-cynical theory is that the whole affair was a put-up, designed to boost Rie's image and get her picture on as many magazine covers as possible. Sitting in front of reporters this week looking as if butter would not melt in her mouth, it was hard to see Rie as a Japanese Scarlett O'Hara. To drive home the point, she even blurted out that she had already ordered her wedding dress. It was enough to make a grown man cry - if it were not for the extraordinary publicity and the strong background smell of money. Anyway, that's all been blown away now, gone . . .

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
News
The 43-year-old rapper was stopped at the Lamezia Terme International Airport in Calabria after he had played a concert in the city on Friday night
people
Sport
Pedro has been linked with a move to Manchester United
transfers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen