Collected translations of Maaya Sakamoto news, essays, interviews, and articles


0331 Daily Maaya Sakamoto, issue 1 cover
0331 Daily Maaya Sakamoto, Issue 1, p62-66

A Grown-up Theory of Love

Participants: CLAMP (Satsuki Igarashi, Nanase Ōkawa, Tsubaki Nekoi, and Mokona) and Maaya Sakamoto

Sakamoto “There’s something new I wanted to try today, so on a slightly different approach than usual, we’re going to sort of put the conversation from this gathering of girls into print, and since it’s going to appear in the pamphlet that goes on sale the day of my 30th birthday, I was thinking of asking you about things around the topic of how a girl should live out her 30s and such.”

Nekoi “Except we’re all in our 40s (laugh)…but although you’ve done a lot of songs and played various roles for our productions, it feels like we’ve hardly seen each other.”

Sakamoto “The first time was for ‘Our History’, right? When I was 16.”

Igarashi “We didn’t even meet you when you sang the title song for ‘Card Captor Sakura’ or when you had a role in the theatrical version…since back then we didn’t go to a single party.”

Mokona “That time you appeared on the internet radio show might have been the longest we ever talked.”

Sakamoto “But that wasn’t too long ago, was it? Are you sure?”

Nekoi “You know, we went to your concert last year in the [Tōkyō] International Forum, and our seats were next to your parents’.”

Sakamoto “They were? How did you know it was them?”

Ōkawa “They both looked like you.”

Sakamoto “Really? (laugh)”

Nekoi “And actually for some reason we didn’t get any of the glow sticks that were secretly handed out to everyone. So when everyone was waving [the glow sticks], we were the only ones who couldn’t. With all your fans there, we would have crawled under a rock if we could, and especially with your parents right next to us… We wished we could have explained that the reason we weren’t waving with everyone wasn’t because we didn’t want to.”

Sakamoto “No one would have thought that.”

Ōkawa “They would. It’s even there on the concert DVD—there’s those great seats, and that’s the only place not lit up. (laugh)”

Mokona “A friend of mine told me she thought that was the sound engineer’s spot. (laugh)”

Preferences change with age?!

Nekoi “This occurred to me when we did the net radio broadcast also, but even though you look like a sweet little girl on the outside, you actually have a masculine personality. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “I don’t think there’s a single person among my most devoted fans these days who thinks I’m girlish (laugh)…I used to get dolls and things as presents a long time ago, but lately that’s changed to imo-shōchū. (laugh)”

Mokona “Is that because your personality showed through on things like the radio shows you’ve been doing all this time?”

Sakamoto “Probably—I just can’t seem to connect with fans in a girlish way. For instance, I wonder about whether my fans would like to see those kinds of pictures of me [in a clearly girlish pose], but that’s impossible for me.”

Igarashi “I see. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “When you’re drawing a love story into a comic, and you want to draw the kind of thing that would make a girl’s heart flutter, I guess you have to have that element of ‘girlishness’ inside you to be able to draw it.”

Ōkawa “Not necessarily. (laugh) I mean, if we drew a realistic romance, it would probably be depressing. I won’t say they’re all like that, but the romances I draw are a kind of fantasy, or a picture of the ideal.”

Mokona “When I’m drawing Kobato, I draw the kind of girl I think is cute and adorable from my point of view.”

Nekoi “When you do voice-overs, such as for a romance movie, do you draw on your personal feelings in your acting?”

Sakamoto “I’m working on voice-overs for a Korean drama at the moment, and at first I thought, ‘Wait just a minute, there’s no way that could happen,’ but halfway through I started to be able to relate to those old ladies who get hooked on Korean dramas.”

Igarashi “No reason to skip ahead to being an old lady (laugh)… Do you have a weakness for those kinds of men [that tend to show up in Korean dramas]?”

Sakamoto “I used to not be that way… Do your preferences change with age?”

CLAMP “Absolutely. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “I thought so… Lately I’ve had a crush on Haruma Miura, who’s younger than me.”

Mokona “There you go again, into old lady mode. You’re only 29, right? (laugh) What type of guy did you like when you were younger?”

Sakamoto “Back then I only had eyes for Hiroshi Abe. His quiet demeanor and such.”

Mokona “So you like the strong, silent type?”

Sakamoto “He’s might not be quite that way when he’s acting, but doesn’t he seem like he’s normally a man of few words? A long time ago I liked that kind of older, taciturn type, and I couldn’t comprehend in the slightest the idea of liking younger men, but now those younger men have started to look attractive, which surprises me.”

Ōkawa “So you’d actually be OK with dating someone younger than you?”

Sakamoto “No, I haven’t gone that far.”

Nekoi “Which means you find only their outward appearance to be attractive? (laugh)”

Mokona “Or that your range has expanded?”

Sakamoto “No, it’s just that the older men all get married and disappear, don’t you think? Everyone older goes away, and all that’s left are the younger ones, and so when I’m treated kindly by one of those cute young guys I think like, ‘Wait, what’s this?’ (laugh)”

Ōkawa “But after you hit 40 those men who once belonged to other women get divorces and come back, like salmon swimming upstream. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “Is there something special about those men who come back?”

Nekoi “You may cross paths with quite an attractive offering. (laugh)”

Ōkawa “First of all, are you OK with someone who’s been divorced?”

Sakamoto “That’s fine with me.”

Igarashi “How old is too old?”

Sakamoto “As long as he’s younger than my dad…”

Mokona “Why your father? (laugh) How old is he?”

Sakamoto “He’s 66. I used to have a huge brother complex, to the point I wanted to marry my big brother. He’s really nice to me.”

Igarashi “That’s adorable. What’s the youngest age you’ll allow?”

Sakamoto “Around five years younger than me, I guess.”

Nekoi “So 20 or so is out of the question?”

Sakamoto “Completely out.”

Nekoi “Too childish?”

Sakamoto “A guy who’s 20 has too much uncertainty in his future, and I can’t fall in love with someone like that. (laugh)”

Ōkawa “It’s not as though you’re buying stocks. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “Yeah, but don’t you think that’s important?”

What to look for in a boyfriend

Ōkawa “OK, I’ll ask this…what are the three things you look for in a boyfriend?”

Sakamoto “What indeed… I’d like to hear your answers first.”

Ōkawa “Nope, you’re first. (laugh)”

Sakamoto (after pausing to think) “First, our preferences in food have to match. Also, he has to be independent. And third I suppose would be that he has to be compassionate.”

Ōkawa “So let’s suppose two guys who measure up perfectly to those three conditions appear. What do you use for a tiebreaker?”

Sakamoto “…salary.”

Ōkawa “So that’s the key thing for you to fall in love with a guy.”

ALL (enthusiastic laughter)

Nekoi “Your fans might actually try really hard, and think they have to work their tails off for a chance to date Maaya Sakamoto.”

Sakamoto “Oh, I can’t have that. When I get married in the future, I really don’t want everyone wondering about how much my husband makes. (laugh)”

Nekoi “The kind of man you fall in love with changes over the years, so one day you might have different answers. Besides, you can always earn enough by yourself to make your husband’s salary a moot point.”

Sakamoto “How would all of you answer that question?”

Mokona “In my case, someone I can talk with, someone who will always forgive me, and someone who can keep a steady job are my three conditions, and the last is appearance.”

Igarashi “But by that you don’t mean the gorgeous type. I know you love that martial artist, Nobuaki Kakuda.”

Sakamoto “So you mean more of a muscular type?”

Mokona “More than muscular, someone with a strong character. I like a man to be entertaining and have a wide range of likes.”

Sakamoto “How about you, Ms. Igarashi?”

Igarashi “Someone who eats neatly, someone who can have fun, and someone who is slender.”

Ōkawa “Basically you like slender guys, don’t you?”

Igarashi “I couldn’t think of an answer to the last question and ended up going back to being a neat eater. I enjoy eating, and I think sharing a meal together is a basic part of dating and daily life. So I don’t want to feel disgusted when I’m having a meal.”

Sakamoto “I can’t stand someone who reacts the same way to every meal.”

Ōkawa “Neko [Ms. Nekoi], what were yours again?”

Nekoi “Matching values, kind, doesn’t lose his temper. And the last was someone I can respect.”

Ōkawa “Those are some good answers.”

Sakamoto “Definitely—I like those.”

Ōkawa “Yeah, but ‘salary’ was better for the comedy factor. (laugh)”

Mokona “You’re the oldest daughter, so you can’t help being mindful of details.”

Nekoi “But since you’re setting a goal that’s easy to understand, I would hope the men out there get fired up over it. (laugh)”

Ōkawa “But the idea isn’t that Maaya’s basing her decision on the amount, but rather on whether that person has a proper job. He gets the paycheck because he’s valued at his position.”

Nekoi “I would hope they get fired up over that, too. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “I apologize for dragging you with me on this topic (laugh)… Ms. Ōkawa, how about you?”

Ōkawa “For example, if we’re eating out with everyone, someone who doesn’t pour my drink first. If I’m having a meal with you and my boyfriend, I can’t accept it if he fills my glass first. (laugh)”

Igarashi “After all, Maaya would be the guest, wouldn’t she?”

Ōkawa “Right. But this isn’t easy for men to get the hang of.”

Sakamoto “Hmm, I’ve never even thought of that before.”

Ōkawa “And the second is someone who doesn’t depend on me for money.”

Sakamoto “Can’t leave that out. (laugh)”

Ōkawa “The third is someone whose job is something people don’t expect. For instance, someone who makes lacquerware, or a carpenter. The kind of job that makes people ask what kind of job it is…not that I have anything against salarymen, but our schedules wouldn’t match up. But you probably also couldn’t date a salaryman, right? When you’re busy with acting or recording you can’t afford to have someone who blows up because he can’t get a hold of you. It’s not like you can answer your cell phone when you’re in the studio.”

Sakamoto “That’s very true.”

Igarashi “Then there are the times you go on tour and don’t come back for three months.”

Sakamoto “Or I go on a month-long trip by myself. (laugh)”

Ōkawa “Someone in an unusual line of work won’t get angry if my job is unusual… So for my last answer I went with the same as my third: someone with an unusual job.”

Sakamoto “Hmm, that’s fascinating.”

Once you start talking to cats, your life as a girl is officially over

Igarashi “Do you want to get married?”

Sakamoto “Mm, yes, someday, I’d like to.”

Mokona “What’s your idea of ‘someday’?”

Sakamoto “I’m not sure. For saying that I want to, I wonder if I really mean it… I really don’t know for sure. But in the end I don’t want to die alone. (laugh)”

Igarashi “That’s skipping too far ahead. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “When I think about how I don’t know if anyone will take me if I don’t feel like getting married until I’m 60, I suppose it’s best to marry early on while I can. My mom and dad have an amazing relationship. They’re always going places together and staying up until sunrise chatting and laughing with each other… Whenever I see that, it makes me wish to live that kind of life.”

Nekoi “That’s a beautiful picture… But you don’t feel like getting married right away?”

Sakamoto “If I had the confidence to say that getting married would definitely be better than all I have now, I think I’d like to.”

Ōkawa “I know what you mean. If marrying means you’ll lose just one of the things you have now, you shouldn’t do it. Besides, if you get married you won’t be able to set the thermostat the way you want. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “Right. I might have to shiver myself to sleep.”

Igarashi “If he prefers a lower temperature, you’re the one who has to put up with it… Although if you find someone who makes it easy for you to put up with it, I think it’s OK to marry him. But being alone might be easiest.”

Sakamoto “Being alone is definitely becoming easier and easier.”

Ōkawa “And if you get a cat or a dog and start talking to them like, ‘Today such-and-such happened, meow,’ or, ‘No one likes me, meow,’ your life as a girl is officially over. (laugh)”

Nekoi “But going back to a home with a cat in it has a satisfaction to it. ‘Who does this fellow think he is, putting on an innocent face when he’s nothing of the sort?!’ (laugh)”

Sakamoto “I like that picture.”

Ōkawa “But if you want to be popular with the men I think not having a pet is best. Because if your work outside the home is fulfilling, and there’s a pet waiting to comfort you when you get back, you won’t need anything else. (laugh)”

Mokona “You wouldn’t need a man, would you?”

Igarashi “You’re fine with eating alone, right?”

Sakamoto “I am.”

Ōkawa “So getting a cat is absolutely a no-no. Eventually you’d start to wonder what’s so important about having a boyfriend.”

Mokona “When you’re acting on stage you wouldn’t be able to see your boyfriend even if you had one, true? And if it gets to the point where he starts complaining about not being able to see you or some such thing, it’s clearly better to have a cat or a dog at home instead.”

Sakamoto “You’re right. I think so too.”

Ōkawa “Speaking of which…how are your cooking skills doing?”

Sakamoto “They’ve gotten a lot better. I’ve been making my own lunches to take to work.”

Igarashi “That’s excellent.”

Nekoi “When I asked you a long time ago, you said you tried to make fried rice on some kind of trip away for recording and failed miserably…”

Sakamoto “It wasn’t fried rice—it was a salad. I rinsed the vegetables with dishwashing soap. (laugh)”

Mokona “Back when you were still in high school?”

Sakamoto “Yes. I went all the way through college without once holding a knife.”

Mokona “So did your mother worry when you said you were going to live on your own?”

Sakamoto “She did. But it looked to me like she actually was partly relieved that I would finally learn how to do housework like an average person.”

I still want to fall in love like they do in a Korean drama

Sakamoto “Out of the four of you, is there someone who is the most feminine or the most masculine? It seems like you each have your own unique personalities…”

Ōkawa “We’re totally different. Even our preferences don’t match.”

Sakamoto “I imagine it’s better that way.”

Ōkawa “In any case, the popular ones are these two [Ms. Nekoi and Ms. Igarashi].”

Igarashi “But the one who really gets the attention is this girl [Ms. Nekoi].”

Sakamoto “What do you do to be so attractive? Does being a comic book artist give you that many chances to meet people?”

Nekoi “Not at all. (laugh)”

Ōkawa “There’s that ‘cool beauty’ aura you have. Except that’s really not true at all.”

Nekoi “Uh-huh. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “When I’m at work too, no one ever strikes up conversations with me.”

Igarashi “Really? Are people afraid of you?”

Sakamoto “They must be.”

Mokona “Ahh, come to think of it, a young voice actress I met recently told me she looks up to you so much that she’s too nervous to talk to you.”

Sakamoto “With my personality I have trouble going up and talking to people, so although I’m not that unusual, in my free time I reach for a book out of habit.”

Igarashi “Ahh, that would make you hard to talk to.”

Nekoi “Does anyone ask for your number or e-mail address?”

Sakamoto “Not even once.”

Ōkawa “That’s not good… You know, to celebrate your 20th birthday you came to this very place [the restaurant at which this conversation took place] with Ms. Kanno, didn’t you? And here we are eating together for your 30th birthday, and if we’re still eating here when you turn 40, are you fine with that? (laugh)”

Sakamoto “You make a good point…I’ve started to get seriously worried. (laugh)”

Ōkawa “As well you should. If we say, ‘Happy 40th birthday!’ and ask about your boyfriend, and you say you’re still working on finding one…”

Mokona “Well if it comes to that when you’re 40, we’ll all get together with Ms. Kanno and throw a huge party and make a fuss about whether that’s OK.”

Ōkawa “After that we’ll send you home and have a conference with Ms. Kanno as your guardians. Something where we’ll talk about what we really think, and if that’s what’s best… But I don’t suppose you’d like to be popular?”

Sakamoto “I don’t have a desire to be popular, but I wonder all the time about how everyone manages to have such a fun time.”

Nekoi “Have your past relationships been that tough?”

Sakamoto “No, I don’t really fall in love all that often, and I’m not swept off my feet all that often, but aren’t there some girls who seem to fall in love with every single guy they meet? I wonder if living like that is more enjoyable.”

Mokona “It’s not. (laugh) You just end up getting toyed with.”

Sakamoto “Then there are the people who fall in love at the expense of creating grudges. I think I’d like to have that sort of tangled romance once.”

Mokona “It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?”

Nekoi “But since you have a restrained personality, I doubt that’ll happen… Besides, could you steal your friend’s boyfriend?”

Sakamoto “No, that’s beyond me… But [compared with the women in those kinds of relationships] I do wonder if this is the same life. I still want to fall in love like they do in a Korean drama.”

CLAMP “Not gonna happen. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “You’re all very realistic, aren’t you?”

Igarashi “I wonder if you see women around you crying over love and look up to that.”

Sakamoto “That might be it. But in reality I don’t think I’d be able to go through the trouble of being that way.”

Ōkawa “If there was a script you had to memorize by tomorrow, and your boyfriend says he’ll leave if you don’t come see him today, would you go?”

Sakamoto “Not a chance.”

Nekoi “Supposing you found this wonderful person, I bet you’d feel tired thinking about how you’d have to compete with someone for him, and that’s not what you’d want.”

Sakamoto “There’s no way I could handle that.”

Mokona “…Maaya, I think your ‘girl power’ is weakening. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “I suspected it was a matter of energy. I just can’t make myself go that far.”

Ōkawa “It’s nothing to worry about—even girls who aren’t chasing after love can still be beautiful.”

Sakamoto “Is that really true?”

Mokona “If you find your satisfaction and sparkle in yourself, the right man will naturally call out to you.”

Igarashi “Someone with a high salary. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “I don’t care if it’s not high, as long as he can earn his keep. I’ll take care of the rest. (laugh)”

Illustration by CLAMP

A woman’s lifestyle after 30

Sakamoto “A lot of women I know tell me a woman’s life gets fun after 30, and that after 40 it’s even more fun. I wonder if you could explain what they mean.”

Nekoi “Your experience points keep going up, so more and more you start to understand that when you do this, that happens, and such. It’s the same with work and with your relationships.”

Ōkawa “And I suppose beyond that, you realize that no one can care for you more than you yourself, so you quit expecting too much of others. When you start thinking this way, you can be kinder to other people.”

Mokona “Just that by itself makes things quite a bit easier.”

Sakamoto “I see… Work has always been my number one priority, and I can’t recall spending much time on love. In the last half of my 20s, especially this past year, I’ve started to really enjoy my job, and I get the feeling that’ll continue into my 30s and I’ll be able to put my experience to use. But work is always really important to me, and love gets pushed to number two or lower.”

Nekoi “What’s wrong with that? It means the man you date will inevitably come to respect your job. And these days especially, there are all sorts of women living amazing lives while they keep working into their 30s, 40s, and even 50s.”

Mokona “That’s about the time your job picks up, too.”

Sakamoto “That’s why I couldn’t wait to get to my 30s, and I hated that on-the-fence feeling of being 29.”

Ōkawa “Same here—in my 20s, I couldn’t wait to turn 40.”

Sakamoto “That’s a huge gap you’re putting in there. (laugh)”

Mokona “But once you’re 30, those all-nighters get tough. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “It’s certainly harder to recover from fatigue.”

Nekoi “You haven’t turned 30 yet, but has anything changed for you between 20 and 30?”

Sakamoto “I wondered about a lot of things when I was young, but now I’m enjoying myself more, and I have this sensation that I’ve been able to take a fresh look at life… Do you remember what it was like to turn 30? What you felt like, and things like that…”

Ōkawa “No, I was already itching to turn 40 (laugh)… Do any of you remember?”

Igarashi “I turned 30 around the time I moved. That was in ’99.”

Mokona “I had a ton of work, and I wasn’t really sure if I had matured since my 20s. I decided I probably wouldn’t know until I turned 40.”

Nekoi “Maaya, is there anything you want to try in your 30s?”

Sakamoto “I want to run in the Honolulu Marathon.”

Ōkawa (surprised) “Why?!”

Sakamoto “Mostly I just want to try something new.”

Mokona “Are you feeling confined in some way?”

Sakamoto “I’ve done a lot of different things until now, and after I turn 30 I want to experience that realization that there are still things I don’t know. I essentially like putting myself through training, and when you’re running you’re in your own world, don’t you think? In music, just knowing how far you make it on the Oricon charts or how many CDs you sold doesn’t give you an idea of where you stand versus everyone else.”

Mokona “That’s true.”

Sakamoto “Being in a line of work where it’s hard to see my position makes me want something that can tell me exactly where I stand.”

Mokona “I bet you’re looking for that experience of accomplishing something by yourself.”

Sakamoto “Exactly. Like finishing a full marathon—I want to reach some clearly defined goal like that. It’s impossible to be 100% satisfied in my work, and actually if that happens I think that’ll be the time to quit. It might be because I can’t really set those kinds of satisfying, clear goals in my job that I took up running as a hobby to supplement that need.”

Nekoi “But when you appeared on the internet radio program we did, you declared that you never even thought of exercise. (laugh)”

Igarashi “How did you jump from that to the Honolulu Marathon?”

Sakamoto “Recently I ran 10K at the gym, and it went by before I knew it, and I felt great the whole time. So I thought I’d still feel fine running four times as long.”

Igarashi “Even though you have yet to try running that far. (laugh)”

I thought there was no one who could understand my pain

Igarashi “In the past, have you ever felt that your job is grueling?”

Sakamoto “More times than I can possibly say.”

Mokona “What do you do to pull yourself out of those sorts of times?”

Sakamoto “I’ll do something like going on a trip like last year—I think changing my environment is one way. Also when I’m sick of things, worried, or feeling frustrated, my stubbornness won’t let me end things that way, because if I stop there it would be a waste of everything, and I guess I can’t quit unless I get past that place…”

Nekoi “Have you ever thought seriously of quitting?”

Sakamoto “I don’t know how serious I was, but there have been times when I thought it was better to quit… Have you ever thought of quitting your jobs?”

Ōkawa “Tens of times. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “So what kept you from quitting?”

Igarashi “There was work to do. (laugh)”

Mokona “I can’t recall seriously considering it.”

Nekoi “Neither can I. I would’ve had no idea what I’d do with my life if I had quit.”

Igarashi “Even if I said I was quitting, I’d get told, ‘OK, quit tomorrow,’ and the only thing I could do would be to apologize.”

Sakamoto “I’ve worked on my own all this time, but does having four people make it possible to overcome certain things?”

Mokona “When you’re in a group of four, you can pretty much share in the aggravating things and the fun things at the same time.”

Igarashi “We don’t have an assistant, but asking for someone besides us to synchronize with our emotions would be rather inconsiderate.”

Mokona “The frustration of being unable to get people to comprehend [the things you create], or on the other end, the joy of getting them to understand—those are emotions only people who create things can partake of, so being able to share them among the four of us may have been a stroke of luck.”

Nekoi “It seems to me that an author working on her own has a lot of difficult times when she’s criticized and has no one to express her frustration to, but with the four of us we can vent to each other. (laugh).”

Mokona “When you look at it that way, being an author is a lonely job. Is being an actress also lonely?”

Sakamoto “I think it is. But I wonder how it is with everyone else…?”

Ōkawa “Have you had times when it’s been tough to go it alone?”

Sakamoto “I may work alone, but I’ve been fortunate to have people around me, and I’ve gotten this far with the help of many others… Early on, I never opened up to others, and once when I was going through a really tough time I went to an osteopath, and the moment the doctor put her hands where I had been feeling pain, I broke down right then and there. I had thought that no one could understand where my pain was, and until then I had no way to tell anyone about it.”

Ōkawa “There are times you can’t say anything.”

Sakamoto “There have been all sorts of occasions when I’m not at my best and those around me don’t know what to do, and when I’m not in a good mood it just makes everyone worry, so I constantly feel like I have to be at the top of my game all the time. But in actuality I’m not that sort of person who’s always on top of things.”

Ōkawa “In a sense, you have a masculine character, but you seem to have a part of you that’s lonely. I’m sure everyone around you really does their best to keep in step, but even so I bet there are times when it’s hard and you want to be alone, and in those times if you’re treated kindly by someone from a completely unrelated environment, it’s not unusual to react with tears.”

Mokona “We can trade complaints among the four of us, but being alone must be difficult.”

Sakamoto “It must be nice to have someone close by you can talk with like that.”

Nekoi “Do you have anyone you can confide in when you’re feeling worried?”

Sakamoto “Mmm, in my case, whether it’s family or friends or a boyfriend, I don’t really talk about those sorts of things.”

Nekoi “Because you think it’d be better not to say?”

Sakamoto “When I get to the point where I can tell people, sometimes the issue was long since resolved, or the things I can talk about are no longer worries in my eyes. Those times when I’ve really fallen in love with someone or felt truly sad, just talking about it with someone else is tiring, so I hardly ever go that far.”

Igarashi “When you realize you’re pushing yourself too hard, do you have a place where you can get away from it all?”

Sakamoto “I’m trying to come up with that place…do you have one?”

Ōkawa “We each have our different spots, since our personalities differ. Were we not in this line of work I doubt we would have become friends. (laugh)”

Sakamoto (surprised) “What? Are you serious?!”

Igarashi “Our interests are all different too.”

Mokona “We’re headed in entirely different directions.”

Sakamoto “So outside working hours you’re normally not together…”

Igarashi “Except when we go for drinks. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “Ah, so you’re together when you’re drinking. (laugh)”

Nekoi “But I hope you can make that kind of place [where you can get away from everything].”

Mokona “It doesn’t even have to be inside the music business.”

Igarashi “You could look for someone like a bartender.”

Nekoi “So long as he’s a great guy.”

Ōkawa “But if you’d rather not aim for a place that far off the beaten path, you can always talk with us…so whenever you’ve got something on your mind, feel free to pay us a visit. (laugh)”

Sakamoto “Thank you. (laugh)”

This conversation took place on January 29th, 2010. Its genesis was in Maaya’s idea to “not have a conversation in a stuffy company conference room, but have an up front and personal talk with the artists from CLAMP over good food and good drinks.” CLAMP accepted, and prepared a spot for the dialogue in a high-class restaurant overlooking Tōkyō. As if that were not enough, they graciously celebrated Maaya’s 15th anniversary with a toast featuring a bottle of 1996 (Maaya’s debut year) Dom Pérignon (it was Maaya’s first taste of the champagne), a special gigantic 15th-anniversary celebratory dessert of a kind never before seen and piled high with fruits, and with this magically intoxicating spectacle of a stage set, the words flowed from start to end in a relaxed mood.

Following the intent of “an up front and personal talk over good drinks,” every face showed the tinge of alcohol, and on occasion the talk ran off course, often turning into that girls’ banter you would hear in a Japanese-style pub. Though we could not possibly record everything on these pages, the participants’ true thoughts made rare and contrasting appearances, and led to fascinating topics of conversation. At its close, Maaya appeared particularly elated by CLAMP’s surprise offer to draw a portrait of her (the picture reprinted above is the portrait in question), and with an additional tipsyness from the wine, was for a short time after the talk concluded quite unable to stand—a “special bonus” to end the event.

As mentioned in the transcript, the restaurant reserved by CLAMP for this meeting was, oddly enough, the very restaurant to which Maaya’s longtime producer Yōko Kanno invited her 10 years ago to celebrate her 20th birthday. This may be another of the small miracles that come about on the milestones spread across Maaya’s many years. Through various meetings and partings, one wonders how beautifully Maaya Sakamoto’s 30s will shine. Over the 10 years ahead, we will have the fortunate position as observers as we together live through the same time. Expectations are high for Yōko Kanno and CLAMP—and the identity of the intimate companion, whoever he may turn out to be, who will see Maaya to her 40th year.