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 PAST ISSUES
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star struck

In first Gere
Richard Gere talks politics and has a dance with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

By Chris Betros
Courtesy of gaga

Everyone wanted to ask Richard Gere about his latest movie Shall We Dance? But the 55-year-old actor really wanted to talk politics. So when none of the 600 media present at his news conference in Tokyo would ask him about China or Tibet, the activist-star took matters into his own hands. “I just want to say that the EU should not lift its embargo on arms sales to China,” he said.

“That would be rewarding their anti-secession law. And I want to give a hand to your Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for taking that point of view.”
Which is what he literally did during a courtesy call on the 63-year-old prime minister. During their meeting, Koizumi surprised Gere by asking if he would like to dance. “OK, but I’ll be the man,” said Gere as the two twirled around. Making his seventh trip to Japan, Gere said his stepdaughter had told him that Koizumi was the “Japanese Richard Gere.” Looking debonair with his silvery hair, Gere is also currently appearing in ads for men’s esthetic company Dandy House.

The original Japanese film Shall We Dance? was a big hit everywhere and Gere has the part played by Koji Yakusho. “All of us realized we couldn’t remake the Japanese film. It was perfect,” he said. “We tried our best to make an American version with great intentions to honor the Japanese film that inspired it. Koji’s performance was simple, subtle and went deep. Our movie is not just about a guy going through a midlife crisis. It is more mysterious than that. We focus more on the marriage and expand the part played by Susan Sarandon. The theme is about the expansion of one’s art, mind and boundaries.”

Following his tap-dancing routine in Chicago, Gere proves himself adept at ballroom dancing in Shall We Dance? “I was 13 the last time I did social dancing,” he said. “My first lesson in rehearsal was pathetic. I did three months of intense rehearsals, so by the end I was able to fake it pretty well.” Gere said the biggest mistake he made was not opening a dance school after making the movie. “I’d be very rich by now. Everyone who has seen the movie thinks I am a good dancer.”

Unlike his character, who starts dancing to break the monotony of his life, Gere said he never gets bored. “My life is full. I wish I had an opportunity to get bored. The secret to leading a full life, I think, is to always be connected to the child within you.”



the scene

Diamonds are forever
Diaddict unveils its absolute diamond collection

The Imperial Hotel hosts a sparkling occasion in collaboration with Intervent: Yuriko Kokubun wears a ¥57.75 million diamond ring; magician Suta Tanaka amuses Miyo Ito; Alicia Tribukait, left, Emma Jenkins, center, and Jobelle Salvador enjoy the exhibition; Intervent’s Salvatore Salvino, left, and Rick Roa

 

 

Q&A

John Einarsen
Standing Up for Independent Media

After making his first visit to Japan in 1974 on a navy minesweeper, John Einarsen moved to Japan in 1978 and founded Kyoto Journal in 1986.

Have you lived in Kyoto all this time? Yes, except for two years in Hokkaido.

Didn’t you like Hokkaido?
I did, but I had good friends settling in Kyoto and I liked the scene there.

How does Kyoto Journal differ from other magazines?
We are non-profit and all volunteer. We don’t have a template, so each issue evolves organically—we often don’t know where we will end up. We have no office, but have contributors and readers from all over the world. We look for sincerity, depth and clarity of thought. Some people think we are a magazine about Kyoto, but nothing could be further from the truth. We feature a diversity of cultural and social issues that span Asia.

Which issue are you most proud of and why? I am never 100 percent satisfied, but one of our most remarkable issues was “Kyoto Speaks”, in which we interviewed 58 Kyotoites about their city. There is nothing better though than right at the beginning, when you have 96 blank pages to fill.

Have you published anything that you later regretted? No. Many, many things could have been done better and many mistakes were made, but all of that is part of the process and something you cannot regret.

To what do you attribute your magazine’s endurance? A wonderful sponsor (the Heian Bunka Center), great contributors, steady jobs to support our families, and an incredible stream of volunteers.

What’s your steady job? I teach at two universities (Seika University and Kyoto Gaidai) part-time and do freelance design work.

What’s Kyoto got that Tokyo hasn’t? I’m often running into friends by chance on the streets, at temples and in coffee shops. Kyoto Journal mini-meetings often happen this way.

What do you read apart from Kyoto Journal (given that you can’t get Metropolis over there?)
Resurgence, www.commondreams.org, Shambhala Sun, IHT, Kansai Time Out, Orion, Ode, and Granta. www.kyotojournal.org M

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

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