After defeating AJ Styles on WWE Smackdown Live, Shinsuke Nakamura gets to choose the stipulations for his WWE Championship match against Styles at next month’s Money In The Bank. The wrestlers are longtime rivals, having previously fought each other at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in 2016 and WrestleMania 34 in April, the latter of which Nakamura lost.
Nakamura is 38 years old, and is married to 37 year old Harumi Maekawa. The couple generally make a point of staying out of the limelight, but due to Nakamura’s rising status in the WWE, and his friendly social media presence, there has been some information made available about their marriage and their personal life over the years.
Here are 5 fast facts you need to know about Nakamura and his wife Harumi Maekawa.
1. They Met While Attending Aoyama Gakuin University
Nakamura met his future wife while they were both attending Aoyama Gakuin University in Shibuya, Tokyo. It is not known what field of study either were majoring in, but Aoyama Gakuin is widely recognized as one of the leading private schools in Japan. As stated in the 2018 autobiography, King of Strong Style: 1980-2014, Nakamura was a two-time wrestling champion and captain of the school’s wrestling team when he and Maekawa were introduced through mutual friends. It is believed that they started dating in either 1999 or 2000, according to The Sun.
After their graduation, Nakamura enrolled at the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo, where he began his professional career and would go on to become the youngest wrestler in history to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in 2003. Nakamura and Maekawa weren’t living together during this time, as the former was rooming with future WWE superstars Daniel Bryan and Lyoto Machida in Los Angeles, California.
Accounts of the career path that Maekawa took after graduation are varied, with Players GF claiming that she went into the field of arts and crafts, but it is clear that she stayed close with Nakamura, and even helped him in his rehabilitation after he suffered a dislocated shoulder during the G1 Climax Tournament in 2007.
According to SportSkeeda, Nakamura announced his plans to marry Maekawa in June of that year, and was fully rehabilitated in time for the ceremony in September.
2. They Married In Tokyo In 2007
After dating for nearly eight years, Nakamura and Maekawa were married in a lavish ceremony in Tokyo in 2007. The Sun reports that no expense was spared, as the wedding consisted of colorful decorations, a full banquet of food, and had upwards of 400 guests, including friends and family. SportSkeeda adds that several popular names from the Japanese Professional Wrestling scene were also present. In an effort the maintain their privacy, however, no photographs from the wedding have been made available the public.
According to SportSkeeda, Nakamura said that married life was a great motivator, and one he felt would positively impact his wrestling career moving forward. His feelings would prove accurate, as he would go on to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for a second time at Wrestle Kingdom II in 2008, a few months after tying the knot. Maekawa also helped her husband decide what to do when it came to the crucial decision of signing with UFC or the WWE. “UFC offered me a chance to fight for them”, Nakamura told Hindu Times, “But, at that moment, I was under contract with NJPW and I decided to stay in pro-wrestling. It was a good opportunity, but I don’t regret my choice.”
When Nakamura appeared on Chris Jericho’s Talk Is Jericho Podcast in 2016, the wrestler alluded to the fact that Maekawa was his “dream girl”, and that marriage continues to make him incredibly happy in his personal life.It is believed that the couple have not had any children during their marriage.
3. She Purposely Avoids Media Attention
Nakamura has made a point of keeping his personal life as private as possible, to the extent that Maekawa has never given a public interview or even appeared on her husband’s social media feed.
Granted, alleged photos of the couple have surfaced online, as well as a few of Maekawa eating cake at what looks to be a birthday party, but none have been officially verified.
According to Just Richest, this is due to a couple of different of reasons. The first is that Nakamura and Maekawa simply enjoy the freedom that comes with being away from the spotlight, while the second has to do with their cultural upbringings in Japan. Like many other Japanese celebrities, they feel it is proper to make a clear distinction between their personal and their public lives, so as to best maintain them both. This is particularly true with Maekawa, who, according to Players GF, continues to take an active interest in the politics of her native country.
The couple’s emphasis on privacy is in many ways a contrast to Nakamura’s flamboyant wrestling persona, which is said to be influenced by the likes of Michael Jackson and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. According to WWE, Nakamura even posed for a magazine cover wearing a mustache and white leotard as a tribute to Mercury.
4. Triple H Offered Her a Job With WWE
While it remains unknown what Maekawa does for a living, it is known that she was offered a chance to work for the WWE in 2007. The offer came on the heels of Nakamura’s first WWE contract, which saw the couple move from their native Japan to the United States. Understandably nervous, the wrestling organization, spearheaded by former champion and Executive Vice President Triple H, sought to make their transition go as smoothly as possible. Nakamura recounted the experience in a translated interview, saying:
He (Triple H) also said to me that if you have any ideas at all, just tell me. He even said he could arrange a job for my wife. If I asked him, ‘Do you think I can have time off to surf’ do you think I’d be pushing it? Hahaha!’
You can read the full interview on E. Key Oide’s Twitter page.
Despite the fact that Maekawa turned down WWE’s offer, the couple are doing very well financially. Coed reports that their collective net worth is estimated at $3.6 million, and Total Sport Tek adds that Nakamura earns an annual WWE salary of $400,000, with the potential to earn more based on Pay-Per-View Revenue Share. He has also utilized his celebrity for various endorsements and videos, appearing in a Shinsuke Nakamura Kids commercial in 2016 and a Japanese promotional clip for the Pharrell Williams pop single “Happy.”
In terms of spending, Day By Day reports that the couple bought their three-bedroom, three-bathroom home for $525K in 2007. The Sun also reports that Nakamura and Maekawa own at least five cars, including a Mazda Demio Skyactive worth $10K, a Toyota Camry worth $15K, an Audi A8 worth $34K, a Range Rover Velar worth $45K, and a BMW X6 worth $59K.
5. They Currently Live In Orlando, Florida
Nakamura and Maekawa have spent the last decade living in Orlando, Florida. When asked about the difficulties of moving to another country, the wrestler told the Talk Is Jericho Podcast that it was made easier by the fact that he already had lots of friends who were living in the United States. In Orlando alone, the couple’s neighbors include WWE superstars Triple H, AJ Styles, and John Cena. They are also friendly with former MMA fighter and current wrestler Brock Lesnar, according to Star Unfolded. Nakamura and Lesnar have trained together and fought each other several times dating back to 2006, when the latter defeated the former for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Nakamura also told Jericho that part of the allure of moving was to create “new stimulation” in their lives, and that he and Maekawa had basically achieved what they set out to do professionally in their home country. “I did everything in New Japan,” he explained to Channel Guide Magazine, “I wanted to find something new. So I signed with WWE… They keep me young working with them. They challenge me in a different way. I can teach them and also can study. I learn from them.”
In an interview with Sports Illustrated in 2016, Nakamura spoke on the language barrier that he and his wife faced as immigrants. Neither of them were able to speak proper English at first, and they resorted to watching American television to learn. “[We] needed to study English more,” he admits, “We [started] by watching Sesame Street every day.”
The couple are also known for their surfing habits. While Maekawa remains absent from her husband’s social media, he has posted several photos of himself and other people hitting the waves (as seen above). “I am a ten-minute walk from the beach in my house in Japan, but in Orlando, I’m a one-hour drive from the beach,” he told Sports Illustrated, “I could go surfing every day, so that’s a big problem for me.”