Mr. Texan” Junji Takada talks seriously about his life: “Everything I do is half-baked, and that’s why I’ve been able to survive. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Mr. Texan” Junji Takada talks seriously about his life: “Everything I do is half-baked, and that’s why I’ve been able to survive.

In the 45th year since his debut on TV, he continues to work without interruption, and his "Jun Walk" program, in which he visits the town on weekday mornings, is now in its 8th year. He talked about his true feelings hidden behind his "tongue-in-cheek" comments that make people laugh.

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When I asked him to pose for me in a certain shopping street, he said …… “It’s the pose that Yujiro Ishihara used to do on the wharf with one leg on top of the other in a cool way.

I was a little happy because it was a dream come true.

Junji Takada, 76, mumbled and unusually remained silent for a while, staring into the distance, as he published a book of 57 paintings selected from his memorable landscapes in “Jun Walk” (TV Asahi), which started in 2003 as the third generation walker. The book, “Jun Strolling Art Collection: One Step, One Picture” (Bunka Kobo), was published on April 13, 2012. This is his first book of paintings at the age of 76 this year.

Before I was chosen as a walker for the program, I was asked, “Can you draw, Mr. Takada? I graduated from high school and went to Tokyo Designer Gakuin. After graduating from high school, I went to Tokyo Designer Gakuin, but after graduation I rarely painted. You can’t put them on TV in the morning, can you? Still, I said, ‘Yes, I can draw. I drew four pictures, including the yellow sneakers used at the beginning of the program, and had the program staff look at them.

But when it came time to start the program, the deadline was so tight that I had to go to ……. I’m the kind of person who won’t do anything unless I get my butt handed to me, and there were days when I drew pictures while crying (laughs).

I was struggling to make ends meet.

Takada, who revealed this in his unique way of speaking that can be neither joking nor serious, made his TV debut 45 years ago this year. He has held various titles, including TV personality, host, actor, and comedian, and has also added the career of a painter to his list of accomplishments. His talents seem to be diverse, but Takada shook his head with a straight face.

No,” he said, “I’m halfway in everything. In my case, I’m not a contortionist, I’m not a rakugo or manzai performer, and I’m not much of an actor. If I had a master, I could have followed him, but I don’t have that either. I was struggling to make a living.

His television debut came in 1979, when he was 32 years old, when he performed a skit on “Laugh Spot” (Nippon Television). He was paid 3,000 yen. The following year, in 1980, he appeared on “Laugh It Away! (Fuji Television Network). (Fuji Television Network) in 1980, the predecessor to “Laugh It Away!” However, the income was not enough to make ends meet, so after the live broadcast ended at 1:00 p.m., he continued to work part-time as a props man, which at the time paid about 8,000 yen per day.

The reason for his hard work was his family: he got married at the age of 25, abruptly quit the jewelry company where he had worked for three and a half years at the age of 30, and jumped into this world solely on his own selfishness.

He had a small child by the time he started working on TV. To keep my family off the streets, I had no choice but to do whatever part-time job I could to make ends meet.

There were days when Takada had to put his wife and child first, even going to the public bathhouse.

At about the same time as “Laughing is the Best Thing You Can Do! At about the same time as “Laughing at You!”, Takada also appeared on the very popular TV show “Ore-tachi Hyokinzoku” (Fuji Television Network) as a bridge for Beat Takeshi (76). The first “Black Devil,” the character that quickly made Akashiya Sanma (67) a major player, was Takada, but he does not say much. That is because he dropped out of the show after only one appearance due to the mumps.

Some people lose their chance here, but Takada was different.’ He was also a regular on “Tensai Takeshi no Genki ga Deru TV! (Nippon Television), which began in 1985. Takada and the late Hiroki Matsukata were the only two who appeared on this legendary program, which ran for 11 years until 1996, until the final episode. Takeshi had bought Takada’s talent.

Takada, however, was as desperate as ever. It was an incident during a location shoot in Okinawa, where he was conducting an interview with a member of the public by a pool.

I drank a beer with the program staff (at a pre-production meeting), and I had to pee during the show (laughs). (Laughs.) I asked a few people to talk, but I couldn’t come up with anything interesting, so I said, ‘Okay, let’s just do it,’ and continued the interview while peeing myself.

There were also times when he would directly microphone the yakuza. Takada’s impulsive actions to make people laugh somehow became one of the pillars of the legendary program.

Looking back now, I think it was the rehearsals at the theater company “Jiyu Gekijo” that I did before I started working on television that were so good. For example, there was only the setting of parents and children, or lovers, and everything was developed through improvisation. We were required to improvise with good taste.”

As his name became well known on TV, he was cast in “Gronsan” (Chugai Seiyaku, transferred to Lion in 2004). He won the “Ryuko” award for the second year in a row and started his own company at the age of 42.

He was 42 years old. “The only thing the same as Takeshi-san is my age (laughs). I am in a totally different place from these two men, including Mr. Sanma. The two of you raised the status of variety shows, and thanks to that, my salary went up. Before that, variety shows were seen as “colorful.

The Origin of “Tekito Otoko

In 2006, at the age of 59, he published his book “Appropriate Theory” (Softbank Shinsho) with analysis by psychiatrist Hideki Wada, which sold nearly 150,000 copies and earned him the nicknames “Tekito Otoko” and “Heisei no Rashiran Otoko.

I love being called all kinds of things,” he said. But I’m not sure if I’m really a Texan myself. …… Maybe it’s a way of life in show business to keep playing up the false image, you know?
In my case, I piggybacked on TV and was allowed to do all kinds of things to eat. I almost missed the bus of selling and living, but I managed to get my foot on the gas. I’ve come this far through a series of those sensations.”

Takada himself thought that “Jun Walk,” which began when he was 68 years old, would last just one year, but it has turned into a long-running program that has now entered its eighth year.

I wonder if I can manage to walk until I turn 80. Four more years. ……

There was no trace of ” Mr. Tekito on Takada’s face as he said this. Today, Takada continues to make his way, one step at a time, to bring smiles to the faces of the people in the towns he visits.

He uses a sketchbook and a color brush pen with a touch of a brush. Besides landscapes and portraits, I like to draw pictures of people at work.”
A cut that has not been published in this magazine. In October 2021, he painted a view looking up at the Tokyo Tower. According to Takada, “This is the best picture of mine. (Excerpt from “Jun Walking Art Collection: One Step, One Picture”)
Unpublished cut from this magazine In 2018, the program’s first overseas location visited the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. Takada, who came face to face with the masterpiece “The Scream,” drew a picture of him posing with his hand on his cheek (excerpt from “Jun Walking Art Collection: One Step at a Time”).
Unpublished cut from this magazine. Location scenery for “Jun Walk,” now in its eighth year. The show is said to have particularly good ratings when it visits shrines (image courtesy of TV Asahi).
Unpublished cut from the magazine: Junji Takada seriously talks about his life: “I’m halfway through everything, that’s why I’ve been able to survive.
Unpublished cut from the magazine Junji Takada talks seriously about his life: “Everything I do is half-baked, and that’s why I’ve been able to survive.

From the May 12 and 19, 2023 issues of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Hiroyuki Komatsu

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