“Ano Ie ni Kurasu Yonin no Onna (Four Women Who Live in That House )”

Embroidery stitched by Wakako Horai

In the special drama, “Ano Ie ni Kurasu Yonin no Onna (Four Women Who Live in That House),” written originally by Shion Miura and set in an old European-style building, I played the part of Sachi Makita , the heroine and embroidery artist who continues an eccentric lifestyle of living with her mother, Tsuruyo , her friend, Yukino, and Yukino’s colleague, Taemi.

Producers Junpei Nakagawa, Jun Kurosawa and Mizuho Shizukuishi, whom I worked with in the past on the drama, “Mohohan(Copycat Criminal),” were the people who offered me this role, and I spent days devoting myself wholeheartedly to acting out a person who lives in Director Yoshihiro Fukagawa’s world, which is nostalgic, like a fairytale, and yet offers us a peek into comical and real human relationships.

I am actually fickle-minded to the point that I have never even managed to knit more than 10 cm of a scarf, and although I consider myself to be relatively dexterous with my hands, I am not very proficient at sewing or handicrafts. I completely lack the patience to engage in steady, mundane handiwork. That is precisely why I have so much respect for dyeing and weaving artisans, potters, embroidery artists and other such people who toil with their hands to create beautiful pieces of art.

For this drama, I was initiated into the world of the embroidery artist, Wakako Horai, who lives in Kyoto. I practiced passing the needle through the fabric at a perpendicular angle, but found myself writhing in impatience trying to complete the embroidery in the image that I had envisaged. The beauty of Wakako Horai’s embroidery is not only in its composition and stitching, but also the outstanding choice of colors in the fabrics and threads used, characterized by smoky, soft tones that are suited for mature women.

Getting back to the drama, I was once again blessed with a wonderful cast. Sachi’s mother Tsuruyo, who is naïve and egocentric as if she is the princess of Musashino, was played with great wittiness and subtlety by Nobuko Miyamoto, an extraordinary comic actress. Sachi’s friend, Yukino, who has given up on the myth of love and affection, spends all her time traveling back and forth between her work and the European-style house, and finds inner peace through yoga, was played in a cool and comical manner by Hiromi Nagasaku. Yukino’s colleague, Taemi, played charmingly by Riho Yoshioka, ends up living with them in order to get away from a hopeless loser-come-stalker. The old-fashioned farmhand who has lived in a separate room on the same premises since before the heroine, Sachi, was born, is played by a boorish Min Tanaka, who charms people throughout the world with his dancing. Then there is the interior finisher played by a straightforward Jun Kaname, whom Sachi, who has given up on love and fashion in order to meet her busy work schedule, has feelings for. Everyone’s acting was superb during filming, and I found myself intrigued by the delightful dialogue and line delivery as if I were a member of the audience. However, after it had been edited by Director Fukagawa, the completed drama was more amusing and absurd than I had imagined, and yet it had a heart-warming storyline, allowing me to enjoy it from the bottom of my heart despite having performed in it myself.

In the original novel, what left a deep impression on me were Yukino’s words, “Having an affection for someone doesn’t mean understanding that person, as it is nothing but a subjective preconception. Love is a disposition and feeling of resignation in which you decide to continue a relationship with someone you can never come to understand, after your preconception has been shattered.” But in spite of this, Sachi continues to dream, telling herself, “I want to realize mutual understanding, even though this feeling is not limited to men.” In a narrative passage that follows, she also states, “Perhaps it is because the night is long that we have an insatiable appetite to pursue light, understanding and love. If that is the case, people are living beings with lonely, loving souls.”

Old-fashioned patriarchy is on the verge of disappearing in many developed nations, and I believe it is common knowledge that the structure of families is diversifying. The communal lifestyle led by four women and one elderly man is perhaps like another form of “family.” I hope you enjoy a long autumn night watching this adult fantasy of a gathering of people who each have their own flaws and eccentric quirks.

The special drama, “Ano Ie ni Kurasu Yonin no Onna (Four Women Who Live in That House)” will be aired at 9:00 P.M. on TV Tokyo, Monday, September 30.

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