Known simply by her first name, Chiaki has not only been a Japanese television icon for over two decades, but she is also known as the lead vocalist of Pocket Biscuits; a voice actress in the beloved Doraemon anime series; a children’s clothing designer and the author of children’s, cookery and parenting books. Her most recent endeavor is the children’s app Mirno’s Adventures - The Precious Strawberry Ring. Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke with Chiaki about her career and newest project.
TJ: When did you start your career as a TV celebrity and musician?
CHIAKI: Around 1991.
TJ: What is the secret to being funny?
CHIAKI: I don’t worry about how I appear, and I just say whatever I think is funny on the spot.
TJ: Which role do you like the best: fashion designer, singer, voice actor or writer?
CHIAKI: I first entered show business to become a singer, but now I enjoy doing them all.
TJ: Which is the most difficult one?
CHIAKI: None of them are difficult. They are all fun.
TJ: How do you divide your time between show business and your design business?
CHIAKI: I suppose I spend about the same amount of time on both, although television is my main focus.
TJ: Can you tell us about your new children’s app Mirno's Adventures – The Precious Strawberry Ring?
CHIAKI: I tried to express things from my surroundings into a children’s book. The app is based on a children’s book.
TJ: The story is about a princess, but the princess is not a typical princess. Is that princess based on you?
CHIAKI: That was my intention. I think free will is important. Although it is important to follow the rules of our parents, we should not be dictated by those rules.
TJ: Why did you decide to focus the story around a strawberry ring?
CHIAKI: I like strawberry designs. I like the shape and color of strawberries. The strawberry is the king of fruit!
TJ: Why did you get interested in teaching and writing stories for children?
CHIAKI: I always wanted to write a children’s book. When I was young, I learned and gained a lot of things through children’s books. So I thought it would be nice if I could write one of my own that sends similar messages like those I received from the children’s books I read.
TJ: Do you enjoy designing?
CHIAKI: It’s a lot of fun. It comes naturally to me. Since I was young, I always cared about originality and thought about things like clothes that people don’t have.
TJ: Do you think Kyary Pamyu Pamyu modeled her look after you?
CHIAKI: That’s what a lot of people say, but I think she’s an idol for today’s young generation. I am not kawaii [cute] like her. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is prettier than me.
TJ: Do you have a hero?
CHIAKI: Scarlett O’Hara from the movie Gone with the Wind.
TJ: Can you tell us about a challenging time while shooting a TV show?
CHIAKI: During a shooting on location for a TV show, I had to play with 50 alligators in a pool. An alligator tried to eat me, so my mother got upset and told me to quit my job. It was when I was still a rookie in the industry, so I couldn’t say no.
TJ: I understand you like English. Is English important for young people in Japan?
CHIAKI: Yes, of course. Japan is a small country. If you only know Japanese, you only know about the world of Japan. ere are many different things going on in the world, and in order to understand these things, knowing English is necessary. I want to learn more quickly. My dream is to be able to speak English fluently.
TJ: What are your future goals?
CHIAKI: I have been able to continue working, but if it stops being fun I will quit immediately. I hope it stays enjoyable though, because I like working.
TJ: Do you have a message for young people?
CHIAKI: Please check out the Mirno’s Adventures app. I hope you get the message I left in the story. It is important to have a dream and to make it happen. tj
The complete article can be found in Issue #277 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.