Enoki Takaaki

Enoki TakaakiAn actor who paints; an artist who acts. Just who is Enoki Takaaki? Few people realize that he is both - a well-known actor and an accomplished artist. He has been painting longer than acting, but even as an actor his face is better known than his name. He has appeared in many movies, plays and TV shows. Samurai fans may remember his 1990 movie Heaven and Earth in which he portrayed Uesugi Kenshin, a samurai warlord. This movie, his first in a starring role, established him as an actor and made him famous. He has appeared in several movies since then, including Osamu no Ashita (Osamu' Future) with Nakamura Masatoshi. His stage performance as Hamlet in Kurumi (The Hamlet I Love), performed at the Globe Theater in Tokyo for three weeks last winter, is one of his favorite roles. His TV credits include NHK Romance, the popular Asami Mitsuhiko series, and the samurai series Shin Udeni Oboeari.

He originally planned to become an artist but while he was studying art in his third year at Musashino Bijutsu (fine arts) University, he heard of an audition for the Shiki Theater Company. Surprisingly at that time - maybe not so surprisingly now, considering his versatility - he passed the audition and became a member of the Shiki Company. He left Musashino University, abandoned art for a while, and made a temporary life change to pursue a new career in acting. Considering his wide and varied experience as an actor, both on stage and on screen, it may come as a surprise that Enokifs favorite roles are as a Japanese. He feels he can best express himself when he is playing a part that can be portrayed only by a Japanese actor.

Although he is looking forward to continuing his acting career, he has returned to art as a more personal means of expression. Until ten years ago, Enoki had no intention of selling his work. Then, in 1989, a friend offered to exhibit his paintings at a private gallery in Ginza. In 1995, Enoki established his own production company, Office Taka, and in January 1999 his dream of opening his own gallery came true. Office Taka expanded and now includes a small, charming cafe, Cafe Gallery, located in the Yoyogi-Uehara area of Shibuya, where visitors can relax and enjoy Enokifs lovely paintings.

One way that Enoki combines his two careers is by travelling to remote places not ordinarily visited by the average tourist in order to film documentaries. He has been to outlying areas of India, Nepal and Tibet. When he travels, he is never without his sketch pad. His spare time while on location is spent sketching and painting everything around him - the landscapes, the flora and fauna and the people. These paintings can be seen and enjoyed at his Cafe Gallery where the exhibits are changed every two weeks. Enoki enjoys a challenge when travelling. He feels that the task of finding food and lodging should not be too easy. Basic everyday activities such as eating and sleeping should be natural, spontaneous and even difficult sometimes.

This samurai spirit, or bushido, Enoki tries to express in his art. His work is somehow strong, yet soft and gentle. His next trip will take him to Korea where he hopes again to find a kind of peace and gentility, where he can experience and reflect the spirit that will be apparent in his next series of paintings. Though many may consider Enoki to be an actor first, he feels that his life as an artist should not and does not take second place, but is an equal part of his life. The two careers complement each other and he is fortunate to be talented in both.

Marleen Rothstein

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297: Iron Chef
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296: "Katte wa ikenai"
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294: Enoki Takaaki
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