Romanticizing Motherhood: Horikita Maki and the Ritualistic Retirement of Female Actresses in Japan

Top Image Source: Excite

On Tuesday, February 28th, I turned my TV on per my usual morning routine. I checked the clock on the upper left screen to make sure I wasn’t running late as the morning wide show I usually watch filled my otherwise quiet room with cheery, mostly insignificant chatter.

As the show moved from one segment to another, a familiar face appeared on my screen: actress Horikita Maki, through her agency, has faxed a handwritten letter to all media outlets announcing her retirement from the entertainment industry. In the letter, she details that she has decided to step away from the industry she has worked in for 14 years to focus on building a home. This was followed by a recollection of events in the past two years, primarily her marriage and childbirth. As the VTR ended and the camera zoomed back to the live studio, the hosts of the show sang praises for the actress, heralding once again the indisputable virtue of motherhood, before they quickly went to the next segment. Continue reading

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The Perks and Pitfalls of Being a Foreign Talent in the Japanese Entertainment Industry: An Interview with Noemi Krapecz

Written by Mizhelle
Photo by Jun Matsuoka

I first met Noemi four years ago. She had just arrived in Japan from Hungary and was living in a cramped guesthouse with three or four other foreigners, one of whom was my best friend. My best friend, being the whirlwind that she is, had left Japan with a lot of luggage behind and had asked us to send it to Australia where she had just moved back to. Luckily, Noemi agreed to help me send them.

My first impression of Noemi was that she was a kind and sweet girl. She had shoulder-length, straight blonde hair then, and I complimented her for it. She thanked me but was a little bit flustered, saying that it wasn’t really all that beautiful at the moment. In between carrying heavy boxes to the nearest post office, she told me she was looking for a job in Japan, and that she wanted to model. I didn’t really know much about getting a job in the Japanese entertainment industry then, so I couldn’t offer any good advice. When we finished sending the last of my best friend’s boxes, I wished her luck. Little did I know that it was the start of a long friendship.

Today, she sits in front of me with an air of confidence, dressed in vibrant colors, her now long hair styled in soft curls. Since meeting Noemi four years ago, she has appeared in various music videos, variety shows, and TV dramas, with an upcoming movie to boot. Many of the foreigners I’ve met in Japan have tried their luck in the entertainment industry, but among the people I know, she is the only one who’s had continuous success. I was very thus very curious to know her story, and luckily she indulged me. Continue reading