Special Interview with Noriko Sakai: “I want to encourage the afflicted areas with my songs! Thoughts on Ishikawa, her “second hometown | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Special Interview with Noriko Sakai: “I want to encourage the afflicted areas with my songs! Thoughts on Ishikawa, her “second hometown

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Noto Peninsula Earthquake Strikes “Second Hometown
Has a regular radio show in Kanazawa, Ishikawa,
Holds a dinner show every year

Noriko Sakai was born in Fukuoka Prefecture in February 1971. Made her debut as a singer in February 1987 with “Otoko no ko ni naritai” (I want to be a man’s girl). She is also active as an actress, starring in the TV drama “Hoshi no Kinko” for which her song “Heki no Usagi (Blue Rabbit)” was the theme song. She is also very popular in Asia.

Kanazawa is in trouble.

It was the evening of January 1 this year when singer and actress Noriko Sakai (53) received a line from an acquaintance. She was on her way home from a voice training session after seeing the first sunrise in Kamakura. It was inside an Enoshima Electric Railway train running along the coastline in southern Kanagawa Prefecture. Sakai recalls.

I didn’t understand what he was talking about right away. I searched the Internet news and found …… that there had been a major earthquake with a maximum intensity of 7 on the Japanese seismic scale in Ishikawa Prefecture. Kanazawa is my ‘second hometown. I got worried and confirmed the safety of several people that came to mind.”

Nicknamed “Noripi,” Sakai has been supported by fans of all ages since her days as an idol. A native of Fukuoka Prefecture, she has a strong connection with Kanazawa, which she describes as her “second hometown. Sakai spoke of her feelings toward the people of the Noto Peninsula, who are still struggling to make ends meet, and the disaster-stricken area (comments below by Sakai).

I had the opportunity to play the role of Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s wife in NHK’s 2002 historical drama “Toshiie to Matsuri” (depicting the life of Toshiie Maeda, the founder of the Kaga domain, and his wife). It was probably six or seven years ago that I started working with you in earnest. I participated in an event in Kanazawa and the president of the management company liked me very much.

Kanazawa is a place with a strong community of business owners and neighborhood associations, and is open to people from outside the city. Thanks to the president of the management company, I was introduced to many attractive people.

Sakai is also attached to Kanazawa, which warmly welcomes him and holds a dinner show every year. Since April 2010, she has been in charge of a regular radio program “Noriko Sakai’s Mammoth Radio” on her hometown Hokuriku Broadcasting, for which she does the composition and interviews herself.

The mama of a club called ‘Royal Box Kanazawa’ is very kind to me,” she said. Through her introduction, I got acquainted with the female owner of ‘Open Belt,’ a racehorse who was active mainly in Kanazawa and won a total of nine races.

Open Belt” died shortly after giving birth to his third foal in April ’21 (……). I was so moved by the owner’s story of the foal’s condition and the people involved who loved him that I became the godfather of ‘Star Mammoth,’ who made his local debut as a posthumous descendant of ‘Open Belt.

Star Mammoth” (mare, 3 years old) is still active today with a total of 12 races and one win.

Deeply involved in both public and private life, Sakai visits Kanazawa two to three times a month at the most. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is not surprising that he was greatly shocked by the Noto Peninsula earthquake.

After the earthquake, I happened to see the Instagram of the owner of a well-established sake brewery who appeared on my radio program. There, he wrote Please don’t refrain yourself. Those who are in good health who were not affected by the disaster. If you stop the economy, nothing will happen. I thought he was right.

It is indeed a sad event that we were hit by a major earthquake, but we cannot recover just by refraining from the disaster. I wondered what I could do to help my ‘second hometown’ in my own way.

What came to mind was the Showa-era chanson singer and actress Koshiji Fubuki, who Sakai played in the stage production of “Last Dance is for Me,” which was staged from August to September 2009.

Koshiji, who was also the top star of the Takarazuka Revue, traveled throughout Japan during and after the war to comfort people. She encouraged the Japanese people, who had been battered by the war and were at rock bottom, with her songs. How many people must have been saved?

Playing the role of Mr. Koshiji made me realize once again the power of entertainment. Perhaps it is in times of hardship that people seek enjoyment. I, too, want to encourage people in the affected areas with my songs.”

On January 17, Sakai made a guest appearance at a free live performance for reconstruction in the Taisho-suji Shopping Arcade in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture, which was severely damaged by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995. She performed her signature song “Aoi Usagi (Blue Rabbit),” which was released in the same year.

In Kobe, she also participated in a soup kitchen serving “Noripi Curry” made with nori tsukudani (seaweed boiled in soy sauce). The smiles on the faces of those who listened to the song were too beautiful to resist ……. I haven’t been able to visit the Noto Peninsula since the earthquake, but it seemed like I was shown a future form of cheering up those affected in Ishikawa.”

On February 14, she held a Valentine’s Day and Birthday live concert in Tokyo. She and her fans raised funds at the event, which will be used as relief money through the B&G Foundation, a public interest incorporated foundation for which she serves as an “Ambassador for the Healthy Development of Children. She plans to visit the Noto Peninsula with the foundation’s staff in the near future.

In order to perform well, she also keeps up her physical training.

For the past 10 years, I have been doing muscle training, yoga, and dance to develop feminine muscle strength. One day, I saw Yuri Yasui, known as the ‘Queen of Bikini Fitness,’ at a department store in Ginza, Tokyo. I respected her way of life that says, ‘You can change yourself and your future,’ so I couldn’t help but call out to her.

When we asked her to write down her thoughts and feelings for the victims of the Noto Peninsula earthquake, Sakai signed her name on a piece of colored paper and wrote, “My heart is always with you.

My heart is always with you.

Sakai believes that singing and dancing can encourage people in their “second hometowns,” and she continues to share the wonders of entertainment.

Sakai says, “It is important to deliver songs with smiles and joy to the people in the disaster-affected areas, rather than to refrain from doing so.”
Sakai’s handwritten message expressing his feelings for the people in the disaster-stricken areas of the Noto Peninsula.
Unpublished cut from the magazine Noriko Sakai: “I want to encourage the afflicted areas with my songs! Special interview
Noriko Sakai: “I want to encourage the afflicted areas with my songs! Special Interview
Noriko Sakai: “I want to encourage the afflicted areas with my songs! Special Interview

From “FRIDAY” April 5 and 12, 2024

  • PHOTO Shinji Hamasaki

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