Newscaster Yuko Ando brings 25 years of experience to the
By Chris Betros
For many TV viewers, Yuko Ando is almost like one of the
family. From 5-7pm each weeknight she presents Fuji TVs
Super News, which she has been doing since 2000. An accomplished
author and essayist, Ando is very different from most Japanese
news presenters. For a start, she rose from the ranks of reporter
and has been in the business for 25 years. Fluent in English,
Ando also moved around from TV Asahi to TBS to Fuji TV.
Born in Chiba, Ando spent a year as a high school exchange
student in Michigan. Her break into TV news came while she
was still a student at Sophia University. I was working
part-time as an elevator girl in a department store. One day,
a TV Asahi producer stepped in and asked me if I would like
to audition for a job. I said no, but he kept coming in every
day, so I finally said yes. My first assignment was to go
on a 28-day Greyhound journey across North America.
Ando has covered some dramatic stories in her career, among
then the birth of solidarity in Poland, the coup detat
in Russia, US presidential elections, 9-11, the war in Iraq,
Japan-North Korea summits and many more. Among the numerous
high-profile interviews with politicians and celebrities,
she says Bill Clinton was one of the best because he
was a great listener. She finds it easier interviewing
in English. It is much more direct and expressive,
she explains. In Japanese, I cant go straight
to the core of the question. The person Ando would most
like to interview is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. I
have one simple question for him: What are you going
to do with your country?
Andos day usually starts around 6am. The first editorial
meeting at the station is at 1pm. Ando has a lot of input
on the shows content. When she is not working, she works
out at the gym or cooks. Even on weekends or during holidays
abroad, she is constantly on alert for news. I have
to be ready 24 hours a day, so it is hard to switch off. For
example, I was abroad on vacation when Princess Diana died
and had to come back.
Ando has built up a loyal following among viewers over the
years. She gets lots of e-mails, letters and phone calls.
Some write to me about their personal problems. Others
want to know about my suits or lipstick brand and things like
that. People stare at me in the supermarket. They look in
my shopping basket to see what I am buying. As long as they
are not rude, I dont mind. Sometimes I think I am a
Shibuya nightclub celebrates five years of partying
from top left: Womb Executive Director Sabi Takahashi;
DJ Aki; Promoter Shinichiro Iwanami and DJ Torsten Feld;
DJ Takkyu Ishino; the cavernous dancehall was full to
Photos by Mark Oxley www.higher-frequency.com
Shaking it up Middle Eastern style
Hiromi Kuroyama got her first glance at a belly dancer in
Brazil when she was 16. Now she dances under the name Hüleya
with the Samanyolu (www.samanyolu.jp)
ensemble that performs at Tokyo Salon usually on the first
Sunday of every month, and at Turkish restaurant Marmara on
Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Sundays.
How did you get interested in belly dancing?
I grew up in São Paulo. There was a famous belly dance
tea house near my home. My first impression was wow!
It was sexy and beautiful.
Is that when you decided to become one?
No, I wanted to be an action movie star. I was a big fan of
Jackie Chan. I started learning belly dancing in Tokyo after
I met this beautiful exotic dancer named Mishaal. She is my
master. I also went to the US, Cairo and São Paulo
to learn dancing.
How are you different from Middle Eastern dancers?
Japanese dancers are thinner and smaller. We also create our
own style, for instance, dancing to electronic music. Belly
dancing for Middle Eastern people is not mysterious. It exists
in their daily life, more like a Bon dance for the Japanese.
Are you full-time?
Yes, I dance with the Samanyolu ensemble under the direction
of Mishaal. There are 10 dancers in the group, all Japanese
except for Mishaal. Our first DVD is coming out soon.
Do you get some weird looks when you dance?
Sometimes, especially when women are around. They try not
to look so interested. But belly dancing is a womans
art of expressing femininity and not about being too sexy,
so please relax and enjoy our show. CB
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