Beauty is simple
“I always want to keep showing new aspects of me.”
“A tightly pulled-back bun and pink lips. That’s good for this winter.”
People often say I’m like a samurai. Even when I’m off from work, I’m constantly going at full-steam.
When I see Ms. Kitagawa, the phrase “Going with all your might” comes to mind. Despite it being so long since the last time I saw her in the studio, it was good to see her jumping right into things, saying, “I think this top best fits the character’s theme”, and “If she goes with a pink lip in this scene, then we’ve got to do something to balance that out with her hairstyle, right?” No matter what project she’s working on, she’s always the height of professionalism, and very conscious of the impact her influence makes on whatever character or cosmetic she’s promoting. In her own words: “I’m always serious about my work, because it’s important to me to do something well. Doing something just 70% of the way isn’t my style. I always give everything 120%, or else I just don’t feel right.” This time I came out to see her in her home to interview her for this feature in VoCE magazine. When I arrived I noticed that she had some back issues of VoCE magazine, which really touched me and the rest of our staff. She said, “Whenever I decide to do a magazine piece, I always research the magazine itself. So that means I read it, and I’ll watch any DVDs they’ve released. Whenever I’m at home I’m still always working. But I love working, so I don’t need to get away from work. Ever since I did my first audition back in high school I’ve been like this. Nothing’s changed.” I couldn’t believe it, how someone could work so hard as a model and actress since high school and not get burned out at all. But she continued on, “Sometimes I thought it would bother me, but so far this fast pace has suited me. Once I started to push forward, there was no way I could start going back. Once you work hard, and grow and thrive, you can never go back to being the old way you were, it’s too depressing. I always feel sorry for people who don’t know how to move forward and grow. I consider myself lucky to be where I am, and I think it’s too bad when other people struggle to grow. What worries me is when people don’t know what they need to do to grow, because then they can’t help themselves.”
Because she lives her life in such an intense way, people often say she’s “Like a samurai, because you’re so courageous” and that she’s a “chivalrous spirit.” During her role in the movie “I Want to Hold You – a True Story”, this part of her character really served her well. In this film she played the role of a heroine, a woman named Tsukasa, who becomes paraplegic due to an accident. Despite all of the difficulties facing her, she doesn’t give up and stays strong through all of her struggles. She falls in love with the character played by Ryo Nishikido, and the couple develops a natural chemistry on set. When I asked her about work on the set, she described her co-lead as very shy. “Even among women, I’ve always been bad at talking to men. But when I was talking with Mr. Nishikido, he was always very kind to me, and kept cheering me on. I think we even became friends. Now when we talk to each other, we just say, “Have you been keeping busy lately?” (laughs) And then from there we launch into more serious conversations, but really he’s a great person to be around, I have a very good impression of him.”
She says that through her work, she’s managed to overcome her social anxiety. That’s the kind of stoic personality I saw when I met up with the actress on set promoting a cosmetics line. “I’ve never been to a day spa – I’m not big into skin care treatments”, she admitted, adding that “I just wash my face with water every morning, and again in the evening with a little bit of gentle soap. Sometimes I use a mild lotion because my skin is very sensitive, but I don’t do much else. I prefer a chrysanthemum lotion, and I try to be mindful and make sure that I eat three healthy meals per day. I try to avoid fast food and even when I’m coming home at 2 a.m., I make it a point to keep on top of my usual routine. Sometimes I do slip, and pig out like a guy (laughs). I always make sure I have enough energy for my work. My main goal is to feel good!” If skin care can make you feel good too, then sign me up!
“I want to keep entertaining my fans, so I take on roles that are diverse to keep them interested. This time the characters I’m taking on roles for are new for me, they’re all different, and will allow me to show my fans that I am versatile. I don’t want to have any regrets!”
Keiko’s Simple Best
Wake-up to Noni Juice
“The taste is, frankly, intense, but it’s the best thing to get you up in the morning. It’s organic, and gives me the vigor to do my best every day. I chug it down every morning! This one is the best.”
How to make it full anyway
“So mild you can use it every day on sensitive skin without worry” – Free plus moisturizing lotion, 130 ml, retail ¥ 2940 by Kanebo Cosmetics
Minimizing the red in fair skin
“Minimize facial redness and contour the sides of your nose with this elegant concealer” – Coffret make-up concealer in medium beige. Retailing for ¥2940 by Kanebo Cosmetics
Make a gentle impression with your eyebrows
“To make a friendly impression, make your eyebrows look as soft as possible” – Kate Designing Eyebrow, NEX-5 ¥1260 by Kanebo Cosmetics
Open up your eyelids!
“An excellent, deep liner” – Kate Super Sharp Liner S (Spider) II, retailing at ¥1050 (February 1st 2014 limited release) by Kanebo Cosmetics
Inner lining pencil
“Line your eyes up!” – Coffret D’or pencil eyeliner, BK-32, retailing at ¥1260 (resellers: ¥1600) by Kanebo Cosmetics
(Original Japanese article written by Moyuru Sakai. Translated by Miss Dream under their “Hire Us!” program. Paid for by this blog to the benefit of all English-speaking and English-learning Keiko fans)
Keiko Kitagawa fans in and near Toronto rejoice! The comedy movie “Judge!” starring Keiko will be having its North American premiere at the 2014 Toronto Japanese Film Festival. Showtime is on Wednesday, June 25 at 7 pm, location is at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Japanese audio (so you get to hear Keiko’s sweet voice) with English subtitles. Please see the official website for details and to buy tickets.
A set of screenshots of Keiko Kitagawa in the 2013 movie “The After Dinner Mysteries” (nazotoki wa dinner no ato de) has been posted and can be seen by clicking here. A sample of the set:
“Even 10 Years after My Debut, My Job is Still Fun!”
This year your latest movie, “Judge!” releases in January, right?
“When I watched this movie, it was honestly so interesting that I felt two hours had passed by in no time (laughs). The protagonist is portrayed by Mr. Tsumabuki, and his character is kind of a useless bum. I play opposite him as his love interest, a really pretty and naive girl. Even though she’s a really kind person, she always falls for unreliable men. I think if I were in her shoes, I definitely couldn’t go for the kind of guys she likes. But I’m sure to a certain extent guys like the ones she runs into really exist out there, right? (laughs)”
What are your impressions of Mr. Tsumabuki?
“Actually, we spent only about 10 days together on set during the film shooting, but he was a really bright and cheerful person so I had fun. He was a real joker, always making me laugh behind the scenes in between takes (laughs)”
In this movie, the audience gets a glimpse into the advertising industry, but you actually work in it – so what are your thoughts on how that was portrayed, Ms. Kitagawa??
“The commercial scene in the movie is a crucial point, and I was scared by it at first actually. (laughs) But I thought, you know, since this has to do with what I do for a job, I should really make sure that it’s done authentically and faithfully, so I put effort into helping develop the scene and make it as genuine as possible, and I think I was able to do that.”
In the movie, where the word “crazy” is written, you read it as “chance”; in fact doing that was kind of your character’s catch phrase, but what did you think about that?
“I guess I never really thought about her reading the word ‘crazy’ as ‘chance’ before, but even going off the deep end offers its opportunities. In the scene where Mr. Toyokawa plays the commercial director, he goes nuts, and I thought that Mr. Toyokawa was really funny, personally I liked his character a lot (laughs). Even though I didn’t actually see him on set even once.”
The wheelchair bride from the movie is based on a true story
“This movie is based on a true story, about a woman who loses her memory after an accident, who falls in love with her taxi driver, who in this case is portrayed by Mr. Nishikido. When the taxi driver learns about the woman, he thinks she’ll be a gloomy character, but she’s actually quite the opposite – very bright and cheerful. Even though she isn’t completely coherent, and her body limits her independence, she’s the kind of woman who is always smiling like the sun. Even though it’s a drama aren’t any wrenching scenes.”
Was it really cold when you were shooting on set in Abashiri, Hokkaido in the middle of February?
“In the movie, Abashiri is where the lovers both were born, grew up, and lived their lives together even underneath all that snow, which is much, much colder than what we are used to in Tokyo, but I got the impression that the location really made an impact on the foundation of the couple. In the movie, my character is really courageous; she overcomes her disability, she gives birth to her lover’s baby, and the couple has to learn to be parents together, which I thought was amazing. At the same time, I think my character is the type of person who manages to live their whole life with one other person, and their romance is almost like a ‘fated meeting’, I think. I think this work is something women will really enjoy and relate to.”
“This year I aim to do more than I accomplished the year before!”
What kind of year was 2013 for you?
“In terms of work, it was my most fulfilling year yet. I did a serial drama, a film, released a photo book, and got to participate in a few meet-and-greet events too, it was a full year and I got to do everything I wanted to accomplish.”
“This New Year My Favorite Color is a Cheerful, Charged Blue.” – From Keiko
“During winter I like to wear knit materials in different colors. Since blue is my favorite color I always enjoy wearing blue knits. Western fashion is simple this year: lots of leopard prints worn with a coat along with monotone colored boots, so I’m really enjoying this winter’s styles. Even though it’s so cold outside, these styles have a vibrant tone that keeps you cheerful day after day!”
“Because a New Year has started, a New Challenge is here!” – From Keiko
“Now that it’s 2014, and a New Year has begun, I think I want to take on new challenges. I think people in my generation have a fear about doing new things and failing, they’d rather be safe and steady. For the sake of all of Steady magazine’s readers, I want to try out new things. After all, none of us know what the future holds, right? My main goal this year is to grow (laughs) though maybe people will say I’m already too cheerful for my own good every day!”
You want to see yourself grow day after day, so that means you have to be productive every day.
Your first photo album “27”, an impressive collection, went on sale on your 27th birthday, right? From what I understand this collection really reveals your true face!
I wanted to do a photo collection like this for a long time! So I’m really glad to see that it’s finally out. During the last 10 years of my career, I’ve really done an extensive range of things. And I think women of course, but men too, have really enjoyed my work so far. You’ll definitely see cute fashion shots and sexier cuts in this book – there are all kinds of “Keiko Kitagawa” in there for people to enjoy!
And you shot the photos for this collection in two locations, Paris and Tokyo, right?
The first half was shot in Paris, and the photography was finished in just three days! The second half of the shoot was done in Tokyo, and I spent all that time just walking around the city – my favorite photographs came from this shoot. Since I work as an actress I’m very used to walking around in costume and having my makeup done, but the truth is I wanted to do a shoot without all those things. That’s why this collection is “Me without a theme” – I wanted to show my real self. So for this shoot, I’ve got no makeup on and I’m wearing a lot of colorful Western style clothing. I’ve wanted to show that side of myself for a long time but hadn’t been able to.
You turned 27 as this photo book was released. Did anything about your mental state change during that time?
This year is my 10th anniversary in the industry, and it’s been a year of self-reflection. You start thinking about ordinary things you don’t usually think about, and you start re-thinking and re-examining some of the things you’ve done in the past. The other day I was at a meet-and-greet event with fans, and I thought to myself that some of these people have been supporting me since my debut…there are people out there who have liked me for ten years that I’ve never met before (laughs), but it was a heartwarming feeling. I’m only here because of the people who have supported me all this time. The truth is, the last ten years have passed before my eyes like a dream, and I’ve come much farther than I ever imagined I could have way back when.
Has your stance on your work changed at all?
That’s a good question. I’m in the latter half of my 20s now, so I’m sure my work has changed, and my audience has too. For example, now there are people who are married and people who have children and homes, and who are making sacrifices of their limited free time to watch my work. So long as I do what I’m supposed to do and give it my best, I’m happy with my work.
This month the drama “Dokushin Kizoku” (A Swinging Single) begins, please give us your highlights of it.
Well, the premise is that “There are things more important than marriage” – that’s how it all begins. I play the role of a girl who is engaged to her boyfriend. But, my character hasn’t abandoned her career dreams, and she has to decide which is important to her, you know? For people in my generation, this is a real story (laughs). My co-stars, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Hideaki Itou, are really heartrending and sweet aren’t they? It’s a love comedy, but there are a lot of things you can relate to in the story, so definitely pay attention to the details as you’re watching.
Please send a message to those out there who will watch the drama, and to our steady readers.
Everyone has to balance between their work life and their private satisfaction, and balance their time between their families and their hobbies, and I think that’s a big concern for a lot of people in my generation. If you try to do everything, you’ll have time for nothing, and that’s true for me too. Maybe I’m overanalyzing, but I don’t want to lose a part of my self – I think that would be the worst. But I don’t want you to get the impression that I’ve lost myself. I’m moving forward today, and tomorrow, with all the energy I can muster. If you want to see yourself grow day after day, that means you have to be productive every day. That’s an attitude I keep in mind. And I think the best way to grow is to be kind to others. The best way I can help myself is through supporting others. If the whole world had that attitude, imagine all of the wonderful things humanity could achieve.
Quotes by Keiko
(About Kyoko Fukada, Keiko’s co-star in the movie “Roommate”): “My impression of Ms. Fukada is that she’s really cute! She has a great aesthetic, and she’s always thinking of lots of things. Her development can’t be overlooked; pay attention to this one!”
“In Autumn I feel like buying extra clothes that are handsome, but cute in an adult way – like knits and jackets.
I have a lot of western-style casual clothes that I wear every day, but in the fall I get a soft spot for wearing knits. There are tons of ways to arrange wearing knits in basic colors like black, navy, and white. What I wore yesterday was my usual casual attire. Autumn is one of those seasons that’s over in a snap. Since it’s not cold enough yet to need to wear a coat, you can get away with wearing really cute light jackets when you go out in the evenings to have fun. Autumn is an enjoyable season filled with tasty foods. I’ve never cared much for traditional autumn foods, but I celebrate the season by enjoying some of my favorite meat dishes.”
“What I want to do most right now is relax in a stylish space I’ve remodeled.
For the last ten years I’ve been really focused on work, so my room interiors were always pretty bare. But nowadays I want my room interior to be a little more stylish. My ideal room is like the kind you see in commercials – all white, shabby chic. Lots of antique furniture that’s been casually placed through the room, making you wonder, “Where was this furniture made?” That’s the kind of interior space I want to have (laughs). I don’t have the time to maintain a house, but I think it’s important to have a space to myself where I can relax in private.”
(Ad for Citizen xC watch on the back cover of the magazine issue)
How do you feel about this summer’s fashion collections?
I think we’ll continue to see the same pant fashions as before – every summer it seems like denim jeans with T-shirts or blouses gets more popular. I think we’ll continue to see girls wearing skinny, straight jeans with either opera shoes or peek toe shoes too. There are lots of stylish sparkly tops to suit women of any age, which are nice in my opinion as well.
So, similar to the dress style of detective Reiko, whom you played in the movie “The Riddle is Solved after Dinner” (nazotoki wa dinner no ato de)!
There were really a lot of possibilities there, and the stylist for the show and I came to decisions together. Throughout the serialization of the drama, Reiko’s theme color seemed to be pink, lots of pink dresses, or lots of monotone outfits. I think I used to have to try on 10 or more dresses, and alternate between various styles of clothing, just so that there would be some balance in what we chose for the character to wear. We used to do the same thing with hairstyles too, so that it wouldn’t always be the same. I think Reiko’s fashion is something that can be enjoyed by regular women, as well as fashionistas, and I’m glad to say that this summer’s fashion choices are very similar in style.
In instances where Ms. Reiko wore suits or really dressed up for certain scenes, her makeup completely changed her image too. Ms. Kitagawa, have you ever taken that kind of consideration when doing makeup for yourself personally?
“Don’t overdo it” is my motto. In the morning I just wash my face, and in the evening I just take my makeup off, and maybe sometimes I’ll put some creamy lotion on my face for overnight. When I go out to see my friends, I just put on a little bit of sunscreen. I think it should be more popular to wear less makeup. (laughs)
What do you think is the secret to this series’s popularity?
I think it’s because it’s really intelligently funny. It’s refreshing to watch. It’s not just a comical farce, there’s also a lot of witty puns, plays on words, plus, Sakurai Sho’s portrayal of Butler Kageyama is really well done. Throughout the series Reiko also grows a lot as a character, and becomes more courageous. It’s entertaining to watch.
Has anything made you laugh really hard recently, either in your personal life or at work?
Since I’m not the type who gets really giggly too often, I don’t have many stories to share. But, whenever I’m feeling down, I always go out for some kind of refreshment to make me feel better. (laughs) I love sweet drinks like café au lait, or desserts like financier, though lately I’ve been really into CoCo Ichibanya’s limited edition menu, definitely check it out!
Finally, please share a message with the readers of the summer edition of “Mini” magazine!
When you are in your 20s, you can make anything you do into fun. You’re not really busy because of work yet, and you don’t have to wake up really early, so you can still stay out late for drinks or snacks. (laughs). You can go out on a drive with your friends to get something to eat if you want to, and your biggest regret is missing out on seeing a fireworks display. You can never go back and repeat any summer, so please, enjoy this year’s styles with lots of enthusiasm and love.
Screenshots of Ayaka Komatsu in the 2013 direct-to-video movie series Neon Cho (ネオン蝶, “neon butterfly”) have been posted in a photoset. A sample can be seen below:
Act 1 –
Act 2 –
Act 3 –
Act 4 –
Q – A message for the readers?
Keiko – Don’t be afraid of failing, keep trying, and have fun!
When you’re most exhausted, that’s exactly when you must move onto the next stage
Kitagawa Keiko, winner of “Miss Seventeen” when she was 17, now celebrates the 10th anniversary of her debut. This year she is scheduled for an incredible line-up of movies, music videos and a picture collection, but she responded by saying “I couldn’t decide on one thing I wanted to do more than anything else. I wake up each day thankful to have work.” So, when offered a job, no matter how small, she considers the feelings of the other person and replies to them. She takes her work seriously, so things seem to be getting easier.
“When I started working, I didn’t know my own personality well, and forced a version of ‘Kitagawa Keiko’ that wasn’t me. I got depressed when I couldn’t get the jobs I wanted or my photos turned out badly. I thought, ‘I lost my way’. But no matter how hard it was, I always got up the next day in front of the camera again. And as the days go by, suddenly you turn around and realize: when you’re most exhausted, that’s exactly when you must move on to the next stage. Now I know who I am better, and I don’t have those troubles anymore. If you take 100 people you find 100 different ways to live, and that’s where our personalities come from. And doing what’s natural for you makes you who you are. But before I understood that, I worked myself to exhaustion.”
What makes her happiest is “hearing the impressions of my fans after they see my performance. After the drama ‘The Riddle is Solved after Dinner (nazotoki wa dinner no ato de)’ was aired, I met a grade-schooler who called out to me ‘Reiko m’lady!’ When the next movie comes out in August, I wonder what I’ll hear on the street.”
5 Questions to Keiko
Q – What are your beauty secrets?
Mae-kun warm ups! It’s something Keno Maeda of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team developed. You spin your arms and shoulders super much, it gets rid of swelling in your head and shoulders. Look it up and try it yourself!
Q – What would you do with a million yen?*
Q – How do you approach someone you like?
I can’t approach them (laughs). In middle and high school I was in all-girls schools, so my feelings for men…What I mean is I worry about things like “if I give him my address, is that a confession of love?” So I usually keep those thoughts to myself.
Q – What do you do to pass the time?
Whenever I’m home I’m doing at least two things at once. For example, whenever I take a bath, I’ll usually also clean while I’m in there, and then vacuum while I’m drying off! Since I have a cat, I cannot miss daily cleaning.
Q – How do you manage your schedule?
Because I have so much to do all the time, I write down deadlines, dates, and my to-do list items down on paper and post them throughout my room. I guess you could say I waste a lot of paper. (laughs)
*Blogger’s note: one million yen is approximately US$10,000. Considering that Keiko likely earns at least several times that for even a 30 second commercial, it is not an amount that would fulfill any of her bigger dreams. Therefore, the magazine interviewer’s choice of amount is odd. That being said, it does affirm what many Keiko fans already guessed: what prevents Keiko from travelling the world for leisure is not lack of money, but lack of time.
A video tribute to Keiko Kitagawa.