A natural smile is a gift. Some people may be able to learn to smile naturally through work, such as serving customers.
But I believe that Takeo Chii's smile was truly natural. Would it be disrespectful to the distinguished actor, who died June 29 at age 70, to say taking a walk does not require acting?
Chii was the host of the television show “Chii Sanpo,” which aired for six years on TV Asahi. In the program, as he explored the streets of Tokyo and its vicinities, he often waxed poetic about things like trains and swingsets. He also bought croquettes and tofu on shopping streets and gave them to members of the shooting crew. I also looked forward to seeing the simple, illustrated letters he drew about things that happened during recording.
Television programs that feature casual strolls are on the rise. They owe much to the personality of the walkers. Chii, who loved festivals and nature, easily blended into cityscapes. The way he chatted with shop owners and craftsmen was so affable that it was hard to believe he was a show business personality. His friendly demeanor put viewers at ease.
His classmates at the training school of Haiyuza theater company include illustrious actors Yoshio Harada (1940-2011), Gin Maeda and Komaki Kurihara.
Chii attracted public attention with his first starring role in the 1970 movie “Okinawa,” which squarely cut into the problem of U.S. military bases in Japan.
Since then, he mostly played the parts of rogues and detectives. That is why he was surprised when people on the streets cheered him during his walks.
“I am the same person, but I get such different reactions. I just happened to be lucky. Whenever I reached a fork, someone would lead me to the right path. From now on, I wish to repay the luck I received,” Chii said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun that ran two years ago.
But his journey to pay back his luck ended midway. I wonder where he is walking now, wearing his trademark hunting cap. For some reason, I see in my mind his back as it disappears beyond a hill amid a blizzard of falling cherry blossom petals. Chii-san, you can quicken your pace from time to time, but please don’t leave behind the camera and your fans.
--The Asahi Shimbun, July 4
* * *
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
- « Prev
- Next »