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

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

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.

Falling in love

Longkong a fruit packed full of vitamin B and phosphorous

Longkong a fruit packed full of vitamin B and phosphorous

I found love while traveling. It was a fleeting summer’s love.
A relationship that I do not know how to end.

It only took me the briefest moment to fall head over heels in love, and I have since lusted after the love of my life every day. My love came to me in simple, beige attire, which when peeled away reveals glistening white skin; the sweet fragrance emanating from it sending me into a trance-like state.

It’s the first time I have experienced anything like this. I have felt tinges of infatuation in the past too, while traveling, but nothing like the sense of longing I felt this time. The love of my life is reserved, yet has strength of character combined with an inherent, inexhaustible gentleness, and a deep understanding of when it is time to leave. The sour-sweet memories of days spent with my love are tearing my heart in two.

There is not a single person in the world who is perfect. The object of my infatuation is no exception, whose body fluid is somewhat sticky, but the otherwise charming nature is more than enough to make up for this shortfall.

It was heartbreaking to have to part with the love of my life. Would we never be able to meet again after my return to Japan? Once again, I found myself wandering through town today, in search of signs of my love; sour-sweet, tender, yet with firm skin that I cannot forget.

The name of the object of my desire is, longkong. It is a tropical fruit with a taste that is like a cross between lychee and grapefruit. It is sometimes mistaken for longan, but they are not the same. It has an excellent taste and fragrance, and I developed an insatiable appetite for it, feasting on it three times a day. It is a wickedly addictive fruit. The fleeting moment we spent together was unforgettable, and a time of pure bliss.

TV Tokyo’s special drama, “Mohohan,” will be broadcast over two nights on Wednesday, September 21 and Thursday, September 22, starting at 9:00 P.M. I sincerely hope everyone is able to take time out of their busy schedule to watch it.

IQ246

Monkshood which contains a deadly poison in its root

Monkshood which contains a deadly poison in its root

The filming of “Mohohan,” which took place in Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefectures in the intense heat, finally ended, and I am enjoying a brief moment of relaxation.

However, I will soon be starting the filming of yet another drama series; “IQ246,” a TBS Sunday Theater drama series starring Yuji Oda. Yuji Oda plays Sharaku Homonji, an arrogant and naïve man with a superhuman IQ of 246, who has more brainpower than he knows what to do with, and kills time solving one difficult crime after another despite being neither a law enforcement nor judicial officer. He becomes a constant source of bewilderment for Soko Wato, a bodyguard who is dispatched from the Metropolitan Police Department to keep an eye on him. In a rehearsal held the other day, Mr. Oda had already worked meticulously on building up his character for the phenomenal Homonji, and I too found myself being drawn into the story.

Soko is played by Tao Tsuchiya, and her sincere, charming character is reflected in her acting. She has incredible physical capabilities, which was unimaginable from her elegant facial features, and apparently, she is also studying anatomy, so I hope to talk with her about the mysteries of the fascinating human body.

Dean Fujioka, the heartthrob of ladies throughout Japan, plays Kensei, a butler who devotes himself to serving the Homonji family. They are descendants of a family of noble lineage, whose superior intellect has been passed down through the generations. Dean himself gives me the impression of being a very earnest and realistic person who never jumps to conclusions, but thinks carefully about everything before making decisions.

As for me, I play Tomomi Morimoto, a medical forensics specialist, who as a medical coroner investigates the truth behind incidents. People lie, but silent corpses are said to convey nothing but the truth. Tomomi is a medical examiner who loves dead bodies more than people, who are full of lies. Dead people never betray her. They quietly whisper the truth. She sympathizes with Homonji, who likewise is able to hear the words of dead bodies, so I hope to bring out an aura of perversion that is no less than that of Homonji in the character that I will play.

Cicadas continue to buzz relentlessly, but according to the calendar it is already autumn. I invite everyone to enjoy watching IQ246 for three months, starting October.

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