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

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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