Quiet Fight for Survival

A construction site in Kowloon of Hong Kong

A construction site in Kowloon of Hong Kong

I had an opportunity to visit Hong Kong. It was 20℃ and warm during the day, and it was not at all stressful walking around the chaotic city, like I had seen in movies in the past, without a guidebook.

Incidentally, the final episode of the Sunday Theater drama series, “IQ246,” will be broadcast tonight, and there is a final showdown between Sharaku Homonji, played by Yuji Oda, and Maria T, played by me.

The set used in the drama was dismantled after filming finished. It is too expensive to keep it in storage, and even if it were to be stored, the set with its distinctive features cannot be reused in other dramas, resulting in the demolishing of all parts.

The creative team invested a considerable amount of effort into building the sets for the Homonji Family home and Maria T’s room of light and darkness, so it was a great shame to see them being dismantled.

Sharaku Homonji becomes involved in the case just to kill time, while Maria T derives joy from manipulating criminals. They are enemies and yet they are somehow drawn to one another. Don’t miss the ending starting at 9:00 P.M.

By the way, the cosmetics used during filming, including the skin care lotion and foundation, were TV&MOVIE, of course.


The office was turned into Maria T’s hideout

The office was turned into Maria T’s hideout

Filming for the drama series “IQ246” finished last night.

I was invited to appear in this series by Producer Hiroki Ueda, to whom I am greatly indebted for everything he did for me during the filming of the drama series, “Keizoku (Unsolved Cases),” and the movie, “Jigyaku no Uta (Happily Ever After).”

I am the first to return to a normal, everyday life after breaking free of my Maria T outfit, but filming will continue until just before broadcasting of the final episode for Director Hisashi Kimura, Yuji Oda and other members of the staff and cast.

Yuji Oda is a man who always pays the utmost attention to every little detail in the script, while also creating a warm atmosphere on the set with his great sense of humor. There was always a free and easy ambience on-site, with Tao Tsuchiya maintaining her perkiness and engrossing herself in reading “The Tales of Ise,” despite filming continuing into the early hours of the morning, and Dean Fujioka ever so eloquently playing tunes on the Homonji Family piano.

The year is coming to an end, and I would like to dedicate my time to cleaning and tidying. This year, I plan pluck up the courage to get rid of some books that I had held onto for 20 years or more, to save space. The ritualistic shredding of the script I carry out every time filming finishes will also be executed without hesitation. Printed on the cover of the “IQ246” scripts were some quizzes that you could try solving to test your IQ, and every time I received a new script I enjoyed searching the depths of my knowledge trying to figure them out. But this, too, will end as of today.

I pray for peace and fulfillment everyone’s life. Meanwhile, the 9th episode of TBS’ Sunday Theater drama series, “IQ246,” will be broadcast tonight at 9:00 P.M. Don’t miss it.

Maria T

Wabisuke camellia arranged in a vase made by Kenta Anzai

Wabisuke camellia arranged in a vase made by Kenta Anzai

Once again, I was at a certain place in Central Tokyo until late last night, filming for the drama series, “IQ246.” There are only two episodes left to film, and the drama is heading toward its climax.

Until episode 6, I had played the part of Tomomi, a medical coroner, who loves dead bodies and Sharaku Homonji more than anyone else, but it is revealed that this was all a deception. Tomomi actually turns out to be Maria T, an intellectual criminal, who manipulates people with a desire to murder, with an IQ superior even to that of Homonji, played by Yuji Oda.

Maria T’s costume, entirely in black, was designed by Alexander McQueen, and I made sure that I wore it in a way that allowed viewers to recognize her just from her silhouette. It had been a while since I had worn fishnet stockings. The seams at the back were always slipping out of line, and it was rather annoying having to straighten them out every time before the cameras started rolling.

Maria T gives out her orders from a room filled with light and shadows, and the teacup she uses whenever she drinks tea was made by Kenta Anzai, who has a kiln in Koriyama of Fukushima. He was an apprentice of Taizo Kuroda, and is a master of the art of making “totai shikki” in which baked earthenware is coated with lacquer and repeatedly polished to suppress its glossiness for an elegant, matte finish. Normally it takes two to three months for the lacquer to dry after coating the baked earthenware with it, but upon my desperate begging he made it in just under a month prior to the start of filming.

I believe that the choice of a single cup can reveal so much about a person’s way of life, and every time I play a new character, I place as much importance on what kind of earthenware I use as I do on my choice of clothes and props used for my room. Incidentally, the perverted Tomomi put “dashi” soup stock in beakers.

The 7th episode of TBS’ Sunday Theater drama series, “IQ246,” will be broadcast tonight starting at 9:00 P.M. Don’t miss it.


Kamisoe, a little shop of hand-printed paper in Kyoto

Kamisoe, a little shop of hand-printed paper in Kyoto

I was given the opportunity to visit Kyoto for an article in the magazine, “Mrs.” At Sumiya Ryokan, I enjoyed some early “Horai” New Year decorations and a cup of tea. I also enjoyed a moment of pure bliss, seeing Ms. Yachiyo Inoue perform traditional Kyoto dances up close. For more details, please read the January issue of “Mrs.”

In my spare time, I took a bicycle trip to Kamisoe, a “karakami” paper shop near Daitoku-ji Temple. Mr. Kado, whose job is to hand-print patterns of all ages and places onto “washi” Japanese paper, using a wooden frame and pigment made from a powdered mineral known as mica (“kira”), is a person who seems to be striving to preserve something that is highly valuable to us in this day and age when the virtues of handwriting are on the verge of becoming forgotten.

Letter paper, decorative paper envelopes, message cards and other goods that appeal to a woman’s heart were placed on display in the corner of an old building that was once used as a public bathhouse, and I bought a one-of-a-kind brush-painted message card.

It was the first time I had dashed through the town of Kyoto on a bicycle, and it was quite enjoyable. The autumn colors at Takaragaike, which I visited when I became lost, were absolutely magnificent.

The TBS Sunday Theater drama series, “IQ246,” will be broadcast tomorrow starting at 9:00 P.M. The 6th episode is about a murder victim, who according to Sharaku was “not a man worth murdering.” Tomomi, the character I play, also undergoes some changes. Don’t miss it.

Shosetsu Gento

Golden hour at Enoshima

Golden hour at Enoshima

My bimonthly essay series, “Onnagokoro-to Aki-no Sora (A Woman’s Mind and Winter Wind Change Often),” which had run for 11 years since 2005 in Papyrus, finally ended. However, I was once again given an opportunity to write for Shosetsu Gento, the first issue of which was published by Gentosha on October 27. The title of my new essay series is “Fumi-wa Yaritashi (I Want to Write a Love Letter).” From my desire to share with my readers experiences that I myself found very moving, I end up not handing in my essay until just before the deadline every month.

My schedule is decided about two months in advance, so I have plenty of time to prepare, but I am always amazed at how foolish I am for not doing so, resulting in me treading precariously every time on the verge of not making it on time. But I have so far managed to make the deadline. I have great respect for impeccable women who have perfected the ability to manage their schedules, but unfortunately I am far from being such a person, and I live my life haphazardly every day. I am normally forced to adhere to a regimented work schedule, and in response to having little freedom, I hate being tied down in private to be honest. I love spending my days off without a care in the world, doing whatever I feel like doing.

Article series in Shosetsu Gento written by highly experienced writers and those who epitomize their eras make for highly interesting reading, far more than my essays. It has been a long time since people began expressing concern about the general loss of interest in reading, but I would love for everyone to read this magazine.

The TBS Sunday Theater drama series, “IQ246,” is on air every Sunday starting at 9:00 P.M. The next episode is about the fleeting love of Kensei, played by Dean Fujioka, the butler who serves the Homonji family. Don’t miss it.

Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York

Agnes Martin exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York

For a reason I shall not disclose, I am currently in New York.

The one place that I always visit when in New York is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the spiral-shaped, corridor-style art museum designed by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright.

And yet again, the museum introduced me to a wonderful artist. Agnes Martin was a woman painter born in Canada, who dedicated her life to drawing geometric lines and lattices. The solid white canvas is actually not just white, but closer inspection reveals shades of pale gray and blue between horizontal lines drawn in pencil. The moment I stepped into the space lined with a row of around a dozen seemingly identical pieces of square, white canvas, I snapped out of my jet-lagged haziness and felt clearheaded. I found myself enveloped in a sense of tranquility, as if every corner of my lungs had been given an infusion of oxygen.

The oil and acrylic paintings have all been drawn with delicate strokes of the brush, and the thinly applied paint is extraordinarily unobtrusive, allowing the viewer to relax and catch his or her breath.

Every time I come across a delightful painting, I either find myself breathing easier, or swallowing my breath, but Agnes Martin’s paintings have the former effect on me. Many of her pictures have been painted with a grayish tone, interspersed with pale rose-colored or yellowish works.

In a short film of the painter being interviewed, she says, “I don’t paint negative emotions, such as fear. All I paint is love, beauty and happiness.” Yes, it is love, gratitude and the joy of life, which gush forth from her paintings. But when she says, “I am freed from depression when I am painting. Tragedies shouldn’t be repeated,” it offers us a peek into the despair she felt as the result of long years of struggling with schizophrenia. Even if her initial motivation to start painting had been triggered by agony, she was able to stop thinking while she held a brush in her hand. A comfortable sense of emptiness pervades her creations, born of nothingness entrusted to the winds of inspiration.

Her paintings from her twilight years, in which she is said to have lived in an old people’s home in New Mexico, show a slight return to bright colors, but she reverts to her grayish tones just prior to her death in 2004, at the age of 92. It is almost as if this process testifies to her coming to accept everything; even her own death. Perhaps it was the influence of Eastern philosophy, such as Taoism, which she is said to have devoted herself to.

A handwritten note giving advice to young women artists whose works were on display gives encouragement to people who have dedicated their lives to art.

“The life of an artist is like a life of self-sufficiency, cut off from society. What we must concentrate most on is that our souls awaken to inspiration. When we simply allow inspiration to guide us, it one day allows us to express ourselves only through our works, and it makes us realize that that’s what happiness is all about. That happiness is irreplaceable. The life of an artist is eccentric, and it is nothing like traveling along rails laid down by someone else. It is painful, but you have to continue struggling against your predicament. It is heretical, but that’s actually what letting yourself be guided by inspiration is all about.”

The Sunday Theater drama series, “IQ246,” will be broadcast on TBS starting at 9:00 P.M. on the 16th. Check it out.


Hadakara, a brand new body wash product manufactured by LION

Hadakara, a brand new body wash product manufactured by LION

As autumn deepens by the day, the time of year has finally arrived when we start to worry about dry skin.

Hadakara,” a new body wash developed over three years by LION, finally went on sale and I attended a press conference to announce the launch of the new commercial with Dean Fujioka, who is my co-star in the Sunday Theater drama series, “IQ246.”

It is a revolutionary product that ensures cleanliness when washing the body, while the moisture retaining ingredients remain on the skin without being washed away due to remarkable technology, known as adsorption moisture retaining formulation, used for the first time in Japan. According to a survey carried out by LION, many women in Japan are aware of dry skin, but they tend not to pay as much attention to caring for their bodies as they do their faces. In fact, the results reveal that 91% of women report “not having enough time to care meticulously for their body.”

I too am guilty of this. Having entered my 40s, I am desperate about facial skin care, but tend to neglect my body because it’s not as visible as the face. Others often think of me as being totally dedicated to caring for my skin, but in actual fact, I astound a lot of people with my slipshod attitude, which is unbecoming of an actress. As a person who is lazy at heart, the way I honestly feel is that if I had the time to care for my body, I would rather spend an extra five minutes, or even one minute, catching up on sleep. My character is such that if my job didn’t require me to work in front of other people, I would find it annoying even going to the beauty parlor.

However, the “hadakara” that has just been launched is a dependable product that will relieve women, busy with their careers and housework, of the trouble of moisturizing their skin. I would like everyone to enjoy the three fragrances of a floral bouquet, rich tulip and a fruit garden, and the feeling of being enveloped in a veil of moisture.

Takeshi Katsuyama Exhibition

Takeshi Katsuyama Exhibition at Aoyama Yagi

Takeshi Katsuyama Exhibition at Aoyama Yagi

Takeshi Katsuyama, a dyeing and weaving artisan known for dyeing beautiful, glossy silk threads and transforming them into delightful fabrics, is holding an exhibition at Aoyama Yagi, a kimono shop that specializes in selling simple, yet refined kimonos.

Despite his weaving studio being based in Kyoto, Mr. Katsuyama is also involved in sericulture in Nagano Prefecture, and he uses a technique known as “enzo mayu (salted cocoons),” which he learned from Qimin Yaoshu, a book on Chinese agriculture written in the 6th century. Influenced by Western culture, the modern-day production of silk threads has become industrialized, and smooth threads with no knots have apparently come to be valued. Mr. Katsuyama says, “You know those silk stockings? They’ve become the new standard.” Traditionally, the pupas were killed by drying, salting or burying the cocoons in soil, but nowadays, they are dried quickly with hot air. This deprives the silk of more moisture and oil than is necessary, so even though it results in an even finish, Mr. Katsuyama says it causes the silk to lose its beautiful sheen and softness. “Enzo mayu” is a technique in which salt is spread out on cloth, onto which the cocoons are placed, then further covered with salt and cloth before burying everything in the soil. This suffocates the pupas, and allows long-term storage of the cocoons, while also ensuring that the gloss and softness of the silk are retained. It seems that Mr. Katsuyama believes that there are still people with an eye for beauty, who are able to appreciate the natural beauty of threads spun from silk that is somewhat uneven, instead of being straight and orderly as if controlled by computers.

Mr. Katsuyama’s pursuit of perfection extends beyond silk, and based on ancient patterns gathered from all over the world, including China, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Persia, he weaves beautiful fabrics using a traditional method that uses a “jibata (loom with no pedestals),” in which he uses his own body as a part of the loom.
Just as the “kogire (vintage fabrics)” stored in the Shosoin Repository of Nara Prefecture also show a lot of Tang and Persian influences, blending different styles from countries all over the world with traditional textiles results in contemporary creations that can be worn without hesitation even today.

An item that attracted my attention at this exhibition was a “Nagoya obi” sash with a Rumanian-style pattern woven into it with gray thread against a black background. The gloss of the silk thread made the pattern shine like silver in contrast to the jet black.

It fills me with happiness whenever I come across something that is beautiful, as if my heart had been given an infusion of nourishment. The feeling of being deeply moved is something that I cherish most, not only as a performer, but in life in general, and they are the moments that make life worth living.

The second episode of the special drama, “Mohohan,” will start at 9:00 P.M. tonight. I hope you watch it to see how the worst kidnapping-murder in the history of crime concludes.

Skin Care

TV&MOVIE, those basic skin care products brought me healthy and fulfilling life

TV&MOVIE, those basic skin care products brought me healthy and fulfilling life

I received TV&MOVIE basic skin care products, known for being gentle on the skin and functional. I come out in an itchy rash when the seasons change or I become fatigued, and the moment I carelessly consume anything of high carbohydrate content my sensitive skin develops adult acne, which is a problem that has always annoyed me. However, TV&MOVIE cosmetics have always been gentle on my delicate skin. They are very reassuring to have around as they are able to mitigate stains on my skin and promote natural healing of rashes and acne.

The founder of the company, Maki Fujita, who put her heart and soul into developing TV&MOVIE, is a person who has suffered greatly from atopic dermatitis since birth. She traveled all over the world in search of ingredients for cosmetics that she herself could feel safe about using, which led to the formulations that would normally be considered out of the question for being too luxurious. The basic skin care products include horse oil extracted from the fat around only the chest region of horses raised on pesticide-free grass grown in Kumamoto Prefecture, camellia oil, once again of Kumamoto Prefecture, made at KOUBAIEN by carefully filtering it through Japanese “washi” paper, organic argan oil from Morocco, placenta extract made from just the placenta of thoroughbred horses from Northern Farm of Hokkaido known for having raised numerous famous horses, and Miyakojima black jack said to have powerful antioxidant properties. They are very effective in the treatment of stains and wrinkles, which have begun to bother me more the older I get. Moreover, the use of strong manuka honey from New Zealand, boasting an incredible sterilizing and immune system boosting power of UMF39, has realized cosmetics that use no preservatives whatsoever, with the exception of some products.

The sweet aroma comes from the blending of fragrances from Charabot, a company in France that makes perfumes using only natural raw ingredients, and the fragrance of roses has multiple layers with a luxurious richness.

For normal makeup, it is sufficient to use Horse Active Cleansing Soap with its gentle texture, but Quick Away Cleansing Lotion, a wipe off lotion that uses a minimal amount of chemicals, is used to clean off more gorgeous makeup used during filming by soaking cotton in the lotion and gently wiping off the makeup.

What I apply first after cleansing my face is neither essence nor lotion, but oil known as Horse Active Age Oil, which combines horse oil with argan oil. Horse oil is extremely similar to human sebum, and it blends well with whatever essence or lotion I put on my skin afterward, apparently letting my skin absorb it like a booster.

Horse Active Age Essence is made from almost 100% placenta extract, extracted with enzyme, and I let copious quantities of it soak into my skin, which is followed by the application of Horse Active Age Lotion. Last I seal in the moisture using Horse Active Age Balm and that completes my skin care. Of course, when I go outside, I never forget to use Mineral Control UV Base, which relies on a minimal amount of chemicals.

I plan to take good care of my skin every day, so that I can continue taking great pride in my skin even 10 years from now.

TV Tokyo’s special drama, “Mohohan,” will be broadcast over two nights starting tonight at 8:58 P.M., and at 9:00 P.M. tomorrow night. The foundation I used during filming was TV&MOVIE’s 10 min Mineral Cream Foundation, which is 4K-compatible.

Be sure to watch this series, which dramatizes the never-ending string of theatrical crimes through powerful performances.

Zero Nights and Three Days

The dead tell no lies

The dead tell no lies

In the TBS drama series, “IQ246,” I play the part of a medical coroner, but before filming began, I had the opportunity to witness an actual autopsy.

At Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, they apparently have an open college in anatomy for medical workers, acupuncturists and bonesetters, so I tried to take part in a session when I visited Thailand the other day, but unfortunately I was unable to obtain a permit because I did not have the necessary qualifications. Sadly, I had no choice but to return to Japan.

However, making full use of the survival instincts I had honed during my travels through India in the past, I persisted in phoning, e-mailing and negotiating with Thailand on numerous occasions, and finally succeeded in establishing contact with a forensics specialist. It was decided that I would go to Thailand, and preparations were made in a hurry.

I was scheduled to visit a woman doctor, Chief Medical Coroner Panjai of the Central Institute of Forensic Science in Thailand, but being hopeless with numbers and time, I made the fatal mistake of missing my plane; something I have done on several other occasions in the past. How could I be so careless? It was an extraordinary feat of foolishness on my behalf. Fortunately, the ticket had been redeemed for points that I had earned, but I ended up having to buy a new ticket because the one that I booked, for some reason, had been booked for the previous day and when I handed in my passport and eTicket at the check-in counter, the flight had already departed 22 hours ago and the ticket had expired. Luckily for me, there was an empty seat, and although I ended up paying extra money, I managed to catch a plane and fly to Thailand on schedule.

It was a whirlwind tour in which I only had 18 hours to spend in Thailand, but in playing the part of Tomomi, I feel as though I now have a slightly better understanding of how she feels when she says she loves dead bodies and sees beauty in their internal organs, which was something I totally could not relate to when I first read the script. To put it positively, it was my spirit of inquiry. Put negatively, it was nothing more than curiosity overcoming my fear. But I was fascinated by the intricacies of the human body and the beauty of internal organs. I would like to explain myself in greater detail in a series of articles I will be writing for a magazine in the near future.

TV Tokyo’s special drama, “Mohohan (Copycat Criminal),” will be broadcast over two nights on Wednesday, September 21 and Thursday, September 22, starting at 9:00 P.M. Don’t miss out on seeing this superb mystery series.