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star struck

Rei of sunshine
Rei Kikukawa spreads her wings from TV star to refugee supporter
By Chris Betros

For someone who doesn’t get much
of a chance to speak English, Rei Kikukawa does an excellent job. The 27-year-old actress and TV personality is in peak form for her first interview with English media. Her smile is infectious and her manner charming as she sits down after hosting her regular Sunday night NTV news program Bankisha. Through her TV work, movies, event appearances, product endorsements and now her two-year assignment as a special supporter for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Kikukawa has long been in the public eye.

Born in Saitama, she studied architecture, mathematics and biology at Tokyo University. She was scouted one day while shopping in Shinjuku. “If I hadn’t gone into showbiz, I might have become a surgeon,” she says. Kikukawa says she wasn’t very interested in social issues until 2002 when she became co-anchor of Bankisha. Even though many of the topics on the show affect her deeply, Kikukawa tries to remain professional, “I try not to show my feelings. My role is just to convey the facts without prejudice.”

In January, she visited a huge refugee camp in Kenya for the UNHCR. “I thought that if I went there and saw the plight of refugees, I could appeal to the younger generation in Japan,” she says. “I felt sad when I left the camp. My feelings just flowed out.” More recently, she emceed a concert at Suntory Hall to raise funds for tsunami relief.

Her newest project will be her stage debut in June in the drama Goben no Tsubaki, a tale of revenge. Having already appeared in three films (Double Deception, Gun Crazy and Godzilla: Final Wars), Kikukawa would also like to further her career in Hollywood, a desire heightened by her visit last year to New York’s famed Actors Studio and an interview with Dean James Lipton. “I’d love to study there. The theater and music world in New York is so exciting. I saw Hugh Jackman’s The Boy From Oz, and it was amazing.”

For now, Kikukawa’s schedule remains full. Some days begin as early as 5am, especially if she is filming a TV drama. She credits a healthy lifestyle and positive thinking with keeping her energy level up. “If you have the will and a goal, the energy comes.” On her rare days off, she enjoys hip-hop or jazz dancing and an occasional game of tennis.

Her ideal kind of man, she says, is someone who is honest and has the ambition to go for his goals. “It would be a relationship that would make us both better people,” Kikukawa says. But, guys, you’ll stand a better chance if you love cheesecake and chocolates. “Did you know some chocolates are good for your health? I have a book that says so,” she jokes. And with that, Kikukawa is off to record another program.






 

 

the scene

50 Years of Magic
Disney celebrates its California theme park

The Grand Hyatt hosts a travel industry party to celebrate 50 years of Disney California. Clockwise from top-left: TV announcer Tomoyo Shibata with Mickey Mouse; Disneyland Resorts President Matt Ouimet; Buzz Lightyear makes
an appearance; singers Marcie Dodd and Brian Brigham

 

 

Q&A

Geoffrey Rice
Programmed for fun

With a background in television and film, Geoffrey Rice came to Japan in 1990. Besides being the founding director of marketing for Virgin Cinemas in Japan, he co-established the entertainment production company Enjin Productions and last year directed the pilot for a domestically produced situation comedy.

Where are you from?
Brockville, Ontario. It’s a very pretty area. From our living room window, I could look across the river and see New York state.

What does Enjin Productions do?
We write, produce and direct original media content for TV programs, DVDs, etc.

What are your latest projects?
We recently won a commission to create an HD (high definition) educational program for junior high school students to teach them the importance of copyrights. We are also currently producing our second animation for NHK’s popular long-running program Minna no Uta.

How does the technology in your field in Japan compare with that in North America?
Japan has clearly led the move to HD broadcasting and electronic makers and has been the first to create low-cost HD cameras for filmmakers. That being said, there are incredible developments being made outside of Japan in high-end digital cinema cameras.

Any Canadian restaurants in Tokyo you’d care to recommend?
Canada is so multicultural there really isn’t a “Canadian” cuisine and as far as I know, there are no Canadian restaurants in Tokyo. Try the Maple Leaf bar in Shibuya.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen since you’ve been in Japan?
I’ve lost track. That’s what I love about this place. I see weird stuff everyday.

Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

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