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Interview with the Hairstylist Ms. Mitsue Sato

Off Time No. 3

by Kenta Shimizu

In the second interview we talk to Ms. Mitsue Sato, who is busy with hairstyling for movie and television productions. Ms. Sato, who says that she cannot think of Aikido missing in her life, tells us about things, which she learned during training and about her difficulties in her job.

First of all, how did you come across Aikido?

The actual reason was the reading of the book ‘Zen and Aikido’. It was exactly at the time when there were shootings for a historical movie, and I became attentive for Zen issues. And then I really found the book in a bookstore by chance.

Moreover I was very interested in Aikido, maybe I heard or read somewhere something, and finally there might have been some affinity.

In which way Aikido is useful for your work?

When I began to work I got a gastric ulcer during the shooting program. Thereafter I suffered under some kind of trouble of the autonomous nervous system. We should always care for the body and as well for the mind according to our ideas, because we are living in a performance society. Whenever today something happens, for example, when we are busy with a work, which we dislike, very often the only reason for our unpleasant feeling is a single cause, which blocks our heart. If we stop doing something, because of only one aspect, basically means that we hope to stop the whole thing completely. We say that something is unpleasant, because we think that it is unpleasant. Therefore we have to give free the heart, which thinks that something is unpleasant, and we have to clear the heart completely as we should not stick to anything. That is just the same as in Aikido, when we do not resist against the power of the opponent, turn around the movement and let it flow. I learnt really to imagine such a cleaning wind, because I was able to find an Aikido, which I can realize with my body directly. Thus I cannot imagine living without Aikido.

Is there anything else that you learnt by the Aikido practice?

Once I asked Shimizu Sensei, what he actually meant, when he talked about strength. And he answered: “True strength is will power.” He said: “Concerning the technique you can only be skillful or not skillful.” And he added that true strength shows only in will power and that human strength, which is part of Aikido, has nothing to do with technique, but is only available because of a strong will. Up to now nobody told me such things, and when I heart this, it was as being newly borne, isn’t it? My self, who wished to become strong, first of all left in my heart the feeling that I finally understood something about strength.

Well, now let’s change to another issue. Actually we wanted to learn something about your work of hairstyling.

First of all there are various ways of hairstyling, for example in the fashion world, or commercial hairstyling, or hairstyling in television, movies and theatre plays. And can’t you watch it during the festival of the Daimyo procession as well? Previously I was attending as a stand-by. I changed winkled old ladies to village girls (laughing). I did all things. After working in a company for eight years, I became independent and free, and presently I am busy mainly in the commercial movie and television business. I think that most of you may perhaps have a standard picture and that the impression prevails that it is all about hairdressing of models and famous actors. Well, for example in case of theatre plays it is not only about simple nice hairdressing, but I have to take care about things, which belong to my work, to the very smallest detail. It strongly depends of the stage director; sometimes they take care even of bagatelles like the unbelievable tiny details of the substitutes.

On the left you see a certain famous movie star. Unfortunately the face cannot be recognized. I apologize for that.

Why did you enter the world of hairstyling?

In the beginning I did not want to do hairstyling. First I worked as OL (office lady) in an office in my hometown, but the desire to exist on my own was too strong. The life as an OL was quite nice, but over the years it became unpleasant more and more. Originally I was interested in the fine arts, and when I heart that there are such schools in Tokyo, I set off for Tokyo. While jobbing I visited several schools, and by chance people, whom I met at a meeting and who were related to some of my friends, pulled me into this work. At that time they asked me: “Wouldn’t you like to have a try?” and I decided for it with the feeling that I would return back to the country after two or three years in this job. Well, I dare say that there was some kind of affinity. Now I reached my destiny. It was really an accidental meeting.

How do you relax during free time?

Actually I do not like at all what people normally understand by real free time. Because day by day I face a considerable number of always the same people, the dearly desire is there to meet completely different people now and then to forget my work. For example I want to change to a different environment. That could mean that I go for lunch nicely or that I watch a movie, doesn’t it? Isn’t it so that you simply only have to have a good night’s rest to avoid real tiredness? Well, now I just digressed a little. It looks as if we return in a circle back to my job world.

Well, when do you feel most satisfied during your work?

That is when I feel a personal relatedness. I work together with actresses and actors, and I feel happy, if there at once is a personal relatedness. Regarding every single task, do I not to have to propose solutions from the standpoint of hairstyling as well, if problems happen? I am quite a normal human, if there are no actors around. With my art I support the actors, to let me hear the words “Well done!” from them. I am most happy, if they say at the end: “Then until next time.”

Until now we learnt something about your work. What do you understand by first-class people?

Thinking eventually about the world of hairstyling there are indeed personal problems. With one actor you get along well, in case of others it does not run so smoothly. In case of first-class actors as well in the case of not first-class actors there are difficult issues, which should not be touched by any means. Indeed, among the actors, with whom I work together, there are famous ones, too, and I think they differ most from the others regarding their will power. The motivation regarding own work is really quite strong. If something does not suit them, they definitively break off, but once they caught fire for a matter, they show total commitment. Thus to think like that could possibly first-class be called willpower.

Thank you very much for everything! Could you finally tell us about your future plans in Aikido?

I wish to be able to do the ukemi like a leave falling from a tree with the sound ‘patt-patt’ (Laughing)

The most important productions with hairstyling by Ms. Mitsue Sato are:

Movies:1996 „Gokudo no Tsumatachi“, 1996 „Joyu Rei“, 1998 „Tetsudo In“, 2000 „Hotaru“, 2003 „Kigan Shima“

Theatre plays:1996 „“Kobata Jinzo Otoko“, 1997 „Sori to Yobanaide ...“Movie productions, which will be introduced before long:„Tanki Senri o Hashiru“ in January 2006„Kiraware Shoshi no Issho“ in June 2006

© translated by Peter Nawrot 09/2006

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