She said, “My muscles are sore,” but she posed for the first time in a long time in a gravure pose. The beautiful body that dominated magazines is still there!“The first time I went to Harajuku was when I was 14 years old. I was waiting at a traffic light in the crosswalk in front of Laforet with my friends when I was approached by a photographer who said, ‘I’m taking pictures of a fashionable woman I saw on the street. I was wearing a hat, dress, skirt, shoes, and socks that all had stars on them, as if I were Shen Long from Dragon Ball (laughs).”
Scouted in Harajuku for the first time. It was a very successful girl’s start in show business, but Mariya Yamada (42) did not actually make her debut until more than a year later.
She told us, “She kept calling me and asking me to join her, but I kept refusing. In fact, my father is the type of person who gets violent when he drinks, so I didn’t have time to think about joining the entertainment industry. I never even ate a meal in peace. Especially after my younger brother was born, I felt I had to protect him. One day, my father said something like, “He’s a man, so I’m going to be more strict with him,” and I was thinking, “I’m screwed, I have to work,” when I got another call. I decided to just take lessons for now. But I didn’t want to be in show business in the first place, so I couldn’t keep up with the dancing and singing. Just when I was beginning to think I’m not going to make it, Noda came to me.”
Yoshiharu Noda, 76, was the president of Yellow Cab, the entertainment agency that led a group of well-endowed women including Reiko Katou, 53, Fumie Hosokawa, 50, and Akiko Hinagata, 44, to dominate the entertainment world.
“He was then the president of Yellow Cab, an entertainment agency that dominated the entertainment world with a group of well-endowed performers including Akiko Hinagata (44) and others. I heard that he was an acquaintance of the president of the company that scouted me out in Harajuku. Then, Noda started taking pictures of the girls in the lesson hall. But while everyone was taking various shots, he only took one shot of me. I was like, “Ding!” When I got home, the ambiance was dark again, and I was depressed, but then I got a call from Noda. My father answered the phone and said, “You’ve been invited to Roppongi.”
President Noda instructed her to bring a swimsuit, but all she had was a school swimsuit, which she hurriedly purchased at a nearby Ito-Yokado.
“I went to the meeting place and told him I had arrived, but he told me to wait there. After a while, a car with full smoke slowly approached, the windows went down, and that face came out. He said, “Mariya Yamada! Get in!” I seriously thought I was going to be kidnapped (laughs). There was a lot of excitement around us. On the way to the studio, people were asking me, “Do you have a boyfriend? What’s your family structure?” He was not very talkative, but he didn’t play games with me. He said, “If I work with you from now on, it means that you will spend more time with me than with your parents. If something happens to you, I can’t protect you if I don’t know about it.” I felt a little relieved.”
The photo shoot ended with the president swearing at me, saying, “You’re wearing a plain bathing suit,” and, “You’re so dull.” In between, President Noda asked her, “What do you want to be in the entertainment industry?”
“I didn’t have anything in mind, so I quickly replied, “I’d like to meet Tamori-san (76) and Akashiya Sanma-san (66),” to which he replied, “Well, a variety show? But you know, we start with gravure. Even if it’s an erotic magazine, if your name and face are on the cover, that’s your business card. No one will give a job to a woman who doesn’t know what kind of person she is.” I still remember Noda’s line well. He said to me, “Other agencies will gradually undress you, but we are an agency that dresses you. Don’t worry!”
Later, when a late-night drama job came up, President Noda ordered, “If you oversleep and are late, it will be a nuisance for you, so you will stay in our dormitory.” “Not yet!” Yamada decided. “Can my mother and brother live with me?”
“Normally, he would have said, ‘What’s that?” But he said, “Yes.” What is amazing about Noda is that he gave a 15-year-old kid 100,000 yen as her first salary. The office pays for my transportation and rent. But I was not to be outdone, and even though there was no guarantee that I would sell, I said, ‘I’m sorry! I’ll pay you back when I grow up, so can you lend me some money?’ (laughs).”
The loan was gladly accepted, and Yamada’s mother and son left home. They decided to leave in the afternoon of the same day that the shooting coincided with their younger brother’s kindergarten graduation ceremony. It was a “daytime getaway”. The world was in the midst of a “big tits” craze. After winning the first “Miss Young Magazine” Grand Prix in 1996, Mariya Yamada’s days of fame began.
“I suddenly had five regular appearances, including one on “Super Jokey” (Nippon Television), and appeared on the cover of 200 magazines and in gravure. My schedule was always pitch black. I even flew by helicopter from one site to another. For eight years after my debut, I didn’t have any holidays. At the request of Akiko Wada (72), I was invited to appear in “Kaiketsu Mature Woman!” (TBS), and I was asked to participate in a talk battle with Tatekawa Danshi, even though I knew nothing about him. I was on location and even worked as a commentator for a wide-ranging TV show. I have almost no recollection of these experiences. I don’t remember any of it, even though the big names I co-starred with remember me. That’s because I was unarmed. Because I was empty inside, I had to appeal to them by putting my adrenaline on full blast, receiving their words immediately, attacking them, and leaving claw marks. I was living in the moment, in the moment. It was frantic and terrifying.”
At the height of her popularity, she couldn’t even go out; she was a teenager, so she couldn’t vent with alcohol. At the time, it was not considered acceptable to be friendly with other agency talents, and “Even when I went home, I had nowhere to go to feel at home,” Yamada said. After days of being worn down she fell ill. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a serious illness that forced her to take a leave of absence.
“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, but was forced to take a leave of absence. It was a time when it was considered a “downfall” for a successful actress to go on stage, but it was a great asset for me to be able to work with such eminent people as Ms. Mori and Harue Akagi. Until then, I had been juggling several jobs, so even if I had an acting job, I would just have my scenes shot together and then move on to the next scene immediately. I didn’t have time to be with my co-stars or go out for drinks, so I was lonely because I didn’t get to know them well. While the stage had long hours of restraint, there was the joy of creating something together with everyone. I was happy to be able to catch words and emotions with the director and scriptwriter. It was the first time I was able to work in a human way. I realized there that I wasn’t living my life just to make ends meet.”
When she got married and had a child, she decided to live her own life. Currently, she is selling soy noodles and soy meat from her original brand “Mariya’s Choice,” inspired by her realization when she became ill. Yamada says, “I want to develop activities to support single mothers, such as creating sustainable products that are kind to the earth and to the body.”
“I am now finally looking for my own happiness. I feel like I have reached a point of mastery. I can only think of those days I spent with Noda as my training (laughs). I was looked at like an idiot just because I am well-endowed, I was talked down to with impunity, Noda was a power harasser and a moral harasser, and the other girls in the office pitied me, saying, “It must be tough.” But I was saved a lot by ″Noda Wassho″. Noda was a pain in the ass, nut he didn’t pursue any sexual advances, which is common in the entertainment industry. We clashed many times, but that was because we clashed in all honesty, with nothing to hide. We are so close that we still have tea together for three hours or so. I wish I could pay for his funeral. From Noda’s point of view, asking me to lend him money and asking me to pay for his funeral, he must have been like, “What the hell is this guy?” Maybe it worked out because we were both weird.”
Yamada smiled as soon as he said that. Perhaps she had already found happiness.