Keiko Kitagawa interview article in “With” May 2018 issue (English translation)

Why is Keiko Kitagawa’s business wardrobe so cool?

Even though she appears cold and unapproachable, that is not who she really is. In fact, some people are disappointed.

“People’s first impressions of me are usually not that good (laughs); this should be due to the characters I played. So people often think that I am cold and unapproachable, but I never thought of myself this way.”

When asked about her perspective of “first impressions of her”, Keiko Kitagawa says she often is seen as “cold” and “imposing”, but her authentic self is easygoing and laughs often.

“Even though my personality is different from my characters, I am not bothered by it; I remind myself to smile and greet people, in order to leave a good impression. Although I am still often described as cold and unapproachable, I have been told that after being married my smile has become warmer (laughs).”

Being strong, persistent and recognized as cool, is there anything that bothers her? Her dedication towards everything appears to have overcome her former shyness.

“As I am now an adult, to be described as shy at this age is not appropriate. I am very relaxed now, even though I had to force myself to face the situation at first, I get used to it eventually. It was not easy to be candid at first, but I can now enjoy the moment and have a natural conversation.”

So, what kind of first impression would Ms. Kitagawa find the most attractive?

“No matter the gender, I like those who are easygoing, and my husband is like that. Those who can respond naturally even when fawned on are very good. I cannot deal with those who are imposing.”

What kind of first impression does she want to leave with people?

“I don’t really care about what other people think, and often people’s first impressions of me are worse than who I really am. So I hope people won’t make assumptions about me, rather, see me as who I really am. Clothing does affect one’s impression on others, so I like to wear durable simple items, perhaps even masculine styles. This way of dressing makes me comfortable and accords with my personality. However, perhaps people still cannot change their first impressions of me; in that case, let them think that I am cold and unapproachable then (laughs).”

I like to wear appropriately-casual trouser suits to work.

From funny comedy characters to strong unyielding women, Keiko Kitagawa has played many different characters; as she has portrayed professional female characters, what would she wear as a real-life office lady?

“I like outfits like today’s, as I prefer trouser suits. They are not too cute but also not too cool, so are a good balance. I also like striped blouses, plus green knit tops X navy trousers are a good combination. For casual wear it is OK to be fashionable, but for work it is not good to be too stylish. So, I like to wear appropriately-casual trouser suits to work.”

“I would be happy if people are pleasantly surprised by my portrayal of Atsuhime

Playing the role of Atsuhime in the Taiga drama “Segodon” fulfills a years-long wish of Keiko Kitagawa. “I am happy to portray any character, but I have always wanted to act in a Taiga drama, so I am even happier and thankful. In my mind Atsuhime was a strong leader who followed through her decisions in her governance of the Ooku. I think she was self-confident and had the spirit of perseverance. I feel connected to her in many ways, such as eating a lot and having an accurate sixth-sense.”

“Recently, it took me a month to remember my lines.”

“The kimono and wig were much heavier than I expected, so a lot of physical effort is needed during filming. The most challenging was the ‘Satsuma dialect’ which is so difficult to pronounce that is sounded like a foreign language. At the beginning I was not successful and cried every night while reading my lines. Even the first part of the script took me a month to memorize. Before principal photography, I spent three days to prepare by consulting history teachers, visiting where Atsuhime grew up and so on. I visited all places of significance in her life. I am grateful to have taken the time to prepare.”

I really like cherry blossoms, so I must be successful in having my first ever viewing this year.

With spring having arrived, including cherry blossoms in photos adds feelings of the season.

“Spring is the season when I battle with pollen (laughs), so it’s a struggle for me. To this day I have not viewed the cherry blossoms, but as the weather becomes warmer one wants to go out. I like cherry blossoms but due to work schedule there has not been an opportunity to view them. This year I want to dine in a cherry blossom viewing restaurant, or take a stroll under cherry trees.”

Happily taking home the cherry blossoms used for the photoshoot, Keiko Kitagawa gave a surprising answer when asked about her current obsessions.

“I’m in love with char siu lately. It can be served sliced as a dish, or can be adapted into different variations. I like to buy char siu and keep it in the fridge at home. During my off time I will buy a lot of food ingredients from the supermarket and make a few usual dishes. I’m always staying home.”

Even though she does not go out often, she has already bought her dress for the spring.

“I bought a Céline dress in navy blue with a simple design. It looks nice with casual shoes when travelling, but I have not decided when to wear it (laughs).”

She has gone jogging late at night after her husband has gone to bed.

Having married at 29 years old, this is her 3rd year of marriage. Has there been changes in their lives?

“There weren’t any special changes, mainly the change of name. We have not yet had a fight; if you ask me the secret of being together, I think it’s that he is ‘a good person’ which explains all (laughs).”

What is marriage to the happily-married Ms. Kitagawa?

“Marriage is additional family members and responsibilities. Even though weddings are happy occasions, it’s not just good experiences from then on. If one’s expectations of marriage were only positive, then it is better to not marry – better to understand first (laughs)! Of course there are many wonderful things about being married: having someone who would listen to one’s problems after going home, the peace that comes with knowing that someone will always support you. This makes me enjoy work more and be more willing to accept challenges in everything.”

A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Ms. Kitagawa is fully devoted to work and family. Does she have stressful moments?

“Life after marriage differs from single life in that it is no longer possible to spend all one’s time on oneself. I believe that devoting 100% to both family and work is ideal, but I am only one person and there are only 24 hours in a day. I would first prioritize, but to be honest, there is no time left to spend on myself (laughs). So, I would train my core while cleaning or exercise my abs while walking, that is, to integrate beauty and fitness routines into daily life. Reality is that I can’t even spare an hour to devote to exercising. I have gone jogging after my husband has gone to bed, and I have cut down on sleep in order to preserve personal time. Even though this feels tough sometimes, but I am very happy to have my family and career, so I enjoy this kind of busy.”

Let’s conclude by asking the energetic and marriage-loving Ms. Kitagawa the secret to marital bliss.

“Since both of us are very busy, we would report our day’s events to each other. My husband is easygoing so I do most of the talking (laughs). We accept each other and allow each other to continue pursing each’s own interests, so we are well-coordinated. I hope to maintain this lifestyle in our lives together.”


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One Response to “Keiko Kitagawa interview article in “With” May 2018 issue (English translation)”

  1. Tyn123 Says:

    Thank you for the interview. I do miss seeing her more often.

    Glad she’s happily married and enjoying life.


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