Minomonta’s Reflection on Illness: Sustained Wellness Despite Parkinson’s With Gratitude to Dom Pérignon | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Minomonta’s Reflection on Illness: Sustained Wellness Despite Parkinson’s With Gratitude to Dom Pérignon

Three years have passed since the "world's number one presenter" retired from the front lines, and "I still go to Ginza once a week.

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Mino smiles as she straddles a rehabilitation machine. She also struck a vigorous gut-punch.

“My doctor once said, ‘Minosan, you picked a good time to get Parkinson’s.’ When I asked why, he said it’s because there’s a great new medicine out, and it’s perfect for me. Guess what the name of the medicine is? ‘Dom Pérignon’ (Note: The formal name is Domperidone). You might think it’s a joke, right? But it’s truly perfect for me. That’s why I happily keep drinking it. Maybe Dom Pérignon is also the reason why the progression is slow.”

Minomonta (79) was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2019. He was pointed out for staggering at a friend’s funeral and later diagnosed at a university hospital. Subsequently, he resigned from all the shows he was appearing in, such as “Himitsu no Kenmin SHOW” and “Asa Kara Minomonta” (both on Yomiuri TV), by March 2021.

“Many people with Parkinson’s have tremors throughout their bodies, right? Like Muhammad Ali. It was shocking to see his condition. So when I found out I had the same illness, I was depressed. I thought I wouldn’t be able to go to Ginza anymore.

However, it’s been four and a half years since the onset, and fortunately, there hasn’t been significant deterioration in his condition. He needs to be a bit careful on stairs, but walking on flat ground poses no problem. When he’s just sitting and talking, you wouldn’t know he’s battling an illness.

Currently, his treatment consists only of medication. Rehabilitation is also ongoing concurrently. He purchased a cycling training machine, installed it at both his home and at the water meter company “Nikkoku,” where he commutes five days a week, and cycles for an hour every day without fail.

“I used to walk 3000 steps every day, but I stopped. At first, I was doing it desperately, but then I got tired of it. You know how some people walk back and forth in the pool? Apparently, many Parkinson’s patients do that too. I probably should do it too, but I think it’s okay not to go that far. It’s not a disease that can be completely cured, so there’s no point in pushing too hard.”

“I don’t feel pathetic.”

Minomonta, who lost his wife in 2012, currently lives alone in a spacious mansion in Kamakura. He wakes up at 6 a.m., takes a leisurely stroll in the garden, brews his own coffee, has a light meal, then leaves Kamakura before 10 a.m. to arrive at the company where he serves as chairman by midday. He works until 4 p.m. and typically heads home if he doesn’t have evening engagements.

“My diet isn’t restricted, so I eat whatever I like and I drink alcohol every night. I prefer chilled sake and whiskey on the rocks. That hasn’t changed since long ago. And the quantity hasn’t decreased either. I go through a bottle of whiskey in about three days. Alcohol is my greatest pleasure now, so I have no intention of quitting.”

Does he still watch TV? When asked, he surprisingly replied, “I always look forward to NHK’s ‘Tsurube no Kazoku ni Kanpai’ and ‘Chico-chan ni Shikarareru!’ Nowadays, they say the TV industry lacks energy? I don’t feel that way. But there are too many potential successors as MCs. I can’t decide (laughs).”

Minomonta was known for his frequent visits to clubs in Ginza. You might think he gave that up after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but he laughs heartily and says, “I still go.”

“However, it’s about once a week now, so the frequency has decreased. It’s not that I’m restraining myself; I just got tired of it. Sometimes I think, ‘Should I go tease some girls?’ and my feet automatically take me to Ginza, but if there aren’t any good ones, I get disappointed. Besides, being in my 20s and nearly 80 is quite a gap. The conversations aren’t interesting anymore. And on their side, they wouldn’t enjoy drinking with an older man than their own father, right? I finally realized that at this age. I wish I had realized it earlier (laughs).”

While it’s certain that he’s afflicted by illness, there’s no sense of melancholy in his “battle with illness.” Minomonta seems to be enjoying the present.

“It’s not fun. But if you say you’re fighting, it brings a gloomy feeling, doesn’t it? Maybe I’m the type to leave everything to fate, no matter what. Even with work, I gained popularity with late-night broadcasts at the beginning of my career at Radio Tokyo, but if I didn’t get along with the next department I was transferred to, I promptly resigned. I didn’t have any ambition to go freelance and aggressively pursue opportunities. I just joined the water meter company where my old man worked. But then, after a while, someone asked if I wanted to do some talking work again, and from there, the work just kept increasing. I have no intention of overcoming the illness. If I push myself too hard and don’t see results, I get depressed, but if not, I don’t get disappointed, right?”

There’s a sense of resignation about Minomonta. However, he admits that there are moments when loneliness unexpectedly strikes.

“I have no regrets about work; I’ve done everything I wanted to do. But when I’m eating alone, I often think of my wife and feel down. I really wish she were here with me during those times. Actually, I’ve kept her remains at home as they are. However, this year marks the 13th anniversary of her passing, so I’m thinking of interring them. It’s not about sorting out my feelings; it’s because I miss her. I don’t have much time left either. I hope she goes to the other side first and prepares everything for me there. It might seem like I’m relying on her, but I think my wife would understand.”

Minomonta, who responded casually to everything, suddenly showed a serious expression. But it was just for a moment. In the next moment, he smiled again.

“I never thought I’d be interviewed by FRIDAY for anything other than women. It might be the times, but it feels lonely (laughs).”

The spirit of service that delighted living rooms across Japan still hasn’t waned.

In 2006, he was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the host who appeared on live TV for the longest time in a week. His light-hearted delivery has not changed at all.
At the age of 50, he underwent a physical makeover to combat diabetes. In an interview with this magazine, he confessed that he went to the gym three times a week to work out.
In an interview with the magazine, he confessed that he goes to the gym three times a week to work out to combat diabetes.
Minomonta Talks Candidly About His Battle with Illness: “Even with Parkinson’s, Thanks to Dom Pérignon, I’m Feeling Great (Laughs)”

From the May 24, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Yasuko Funamoto, Hisayuki Semba (3rd photo) Interview and text by Satoru Hirahara

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