Stylist, Yasuko Inomaru
I’ve had the privilege of having Ms. Inomaru as my stylist for the past three years or so.
Aside from traveling the globe and exercising her talents at the forefront of the fashion industry, her extremely busy schedule also includes dropping in at times at her salon as a stylist, and she’s quite the hot ticket.
Out of all the women on my mostly female staff, she has the most feminine style. Myself, my producer, and my director are, if you had to choose, masculine women, but Ms. Inomaru has that “girly” aura. She’s just so cute! But she’s still a woman of her craft, so while she’s working she has an intense, determined side to her. When she’s in the middle of doing my makeup, she’ll suddenly burst out with her pet phrase of, “Now’s the chance!” It comes without any warning, so I always feel like asking, “Huh? What part of what just happened was a chance?” But apparently something was a chance in Ms. Inomaru’s eyes. No one else gets it.
When I graduated from college, Ms. Inomaru insisted that she’d style my hair if I was going to wear a hakama, she checks every single album and production I appear in, and is a really warm person.
The other day I had another girls-only get-together over dinner with the members of our little project. I also invited Ms. Inomaru, and we all chatted until morning. Ms. Inomaru throws everything she has, without holding back, at whatever she takes on. Her unique phrasings and “pauses” in her conversation are her charm. That was such a delightful time.
Now, let’s hear Ms. Inomaru’s own analysis of what kind of person I am!
1) What do you normally call Maaya?
Maaya-chan. (In my heart, Maaya-chama.)
2) What was your first impression of Maaya Sakamoto (and when did you meet)?
“What an aura of clarity and happiness this girl has! But! She looks super busy.”
I think it was exactly three years ago, on the second Saturday of June. We met when I was the stylist for the guests appearing in an announcement of a new animation at a large movie theater. As I recall, it was raining that day.
3) Share one of your “Legends of Maaya Sakamoto”.
I have too many to choose from, but to start, she puts forth superhuman efforts to get the job done.
☆ Legend #1: Shooting the PV for “Mameshiba”
Filming for the “Mameshiba” promotion video took place over two days of outdoor shooting, starting in Shibuya at 5 a.m. and crossing through several places in Tōkyō, with Maaya running non-stop after a puppy named Himeko. Since she said she normally doesn’t exercise, apparently she had taken up running several weeks prior, but matching the song to the actual filming led to a merciless series of outtakes. Going back to the starting point was a doubling of work. After the first day her muscles were already excruciatingly sore, and the second day was painful just to watch. Yet despite this, she never said a word in complaint, and actually was more concerned for Himeko and the staff. Certainly not something an ordinary person could do. Applause!
☆ Legend #2: Shooting the cover art for “Lucy”
Last February, we were on location at a lake in the midst of a frigid snow. Along the way the car got stuck in the road and forced everyone to push it forward, and in the middle of these frustrations, when it was freezing cold, there she was in a sleeveless shirt, not saying a word about the cold and wearing that Maaya Smile! There was a stuffed crow that I nearly fainted at the sight of, but she rested it on her arm and gave us a smiling pose! Her actress spirit is unstoppable!
☆ Legend #3: Tanabota Live
From the way she sang, you wouldn’t have believed it was her first concert! Her talks between songs were spot on! I was very impressed, but the truth is, at that time Maaya-chan had hurt her back, and she was gritting her teeth and keeping an ice pack on it as she sang through the pain! I don’t suppose any of you noticed? What an actress!
☆ Legend #4
She always seems to be busy, and while I’m working on her hair, she’s doing several things at the same time.
During styling she listens to music, returns text messages, signs drawings and merchandise, all while checking pitch with her backup vocalist, deciding what pictures to draw, eating “futari-shizuka” (she seems to like them) with a smile as she worries about her fans, thinks about her staff…she’s able to do all this, and she’s only 22?
She gets all sorts of things done at one time. Prince Shōtoku has nothing on her.
4) Something you’d like Maaya Sakamoto to stop doing?
Nothing. But! Since she always seems to be up to her eyes in things to do, when she’s around us I wish she wouldn’t spend time thinking about us, and instead be selfish and relax, you know?
5) What is Maaya Sakamoto’s greatest charm?
She has too many to write!
☆ That angelic voice that makes you remember things you had nearly forgotten!
☆ That supple strength that flinches at nothing and finds enjoyment in facing everything
☆ That power to bring a blissful mood to those around her
☆ She comes through when it counts
6) Maaya Sakamoto is like _____.
A peach-colored puppy (but I tend to think of myself as an adult dog)
↑Harder to find than you’d think
7) Give an analysis of Maaya-chan’s hairstyle.
Is this OK to publish? Ehh, she actually has an angel’s curly, frizzy hair. Lately I’ve been making use of those curls to come up with a wolfish, short-layer feminine style.
She has a play coming up soon, so she can’t change at the moment, but once that’s over maybe she’ll go for a new look? I can’t wait!
Earlier she made a big impression with that shiny, straight black hair that had a tossed look, and it went well with her ivory skin, didn’t it?
In a word, the main point is that when the line of her face and bangs is well defined, her eyes leave an even stronger impression, and she gives off an aura of royalty!
8) What are some key points in Maaya-chan’s makeup?
She’s more than beautiful without makeup, but when she’s on stage or in a photo shoot, to make the most of her translucent skin that glistens like a white peach, I use a thin coat of liquid foundation.
She has very well defined features, and her eyes are especially striking! They’re very large, so I use just a touch of eyeliner so they don’t stand out too much, and black mascara is a must to complement her sparkling pupils. (*Note: not too curled!)
For her cheeks I use a pink rouge cream. It matches her skin perfectly!
Her eyeshadow is different each time, but purple or pink shades go very well.
Her eyebrows have a beautiful shape, so they’re OK after just a bit of touch-up. They have a bit darker sheen than her hair color, so they have a good feel.
Finally, to bring out even more of that translucent feel, I add in some highlights (under her eyebrows, eyes, etc.) with a pearl white cream, and finish with a light dusting of moist pearl finishing powder. I also apply a similar quick brushing of light purple powder to her eyes and cheeks.
With this you too can be beautiful like Maaya-chan! Just keep at it!
9) There’s a lot to her, but if you were to sum up Maaya Sakamoto in one line?
The Matchless Prince Shōtoku (girl)?!
An angel fatale.
10) Please put whatever you’d like in a message to Maaya Sakamoto.
When I met you I realized what people mean when they call someone a diva.
It struck me that you were born to sing, and to bring happiness to crowds of people.
And now, I feel like the world needs divas that sing to the hearts of people like you do.
I expect responding to that challenge will be tough, but I bet you’ll slide past it with that Maaya Smile. You even make me think you have unlimited possibilities, and there’s nothing you can’t do.
From my standpoint, for instance I’m working with the Autumn Milan Collection, I think I’d like to see a different side of those kinds of fashion show collaborations. My dreams sort of expand on their own like that.
The things I can do are to help you as your beauty partner to pursue your loveliness, and to cheer you on as your number-one fan. That’s it.
I’ve gotten a little formal here, but I’m sorry I’m usually too embarrassed to say these things.
Also, I’m looking forward to your transformation from an angel fatale to a top-notch femme fatale who has guys wrapped around her fingers!
Maaya Sakamoto’s Response
Ehh, there were several places that were kind of unclear, but since that sort of thing is just like Ms. Inomaru, I left it just the way she wrote it. Hahaha. But didn’t you go overboard on the compliments?! I’m blushing here! But I’m grateful. You’re also constantly busy and rushing around, so please remember to take care of yourself as you work.
The location filming for “Mameshiba” definitely called for a ton of physical work, but it was a very good experience. It gave me confidence—if I could handle that, then nothing else was worth worrying over! In other words, I learned that there’s nothing I can’t do, even if I’m not used to it or it’s strenuous. I had never had any sort of talent for exercise, and I only had a distant memory of the last time I ran, so it really took all I had. Hahaha.
Also, about the time I hurt my back before my first concert, back then the pain was so bad that just standing up was awful, so the day before the concert I summoned my courage and went to an acupuncturist for the first time. They used two long anesthetized needles, each 30 centimeters [12 inches]. What a surprise that was. Thanks to that I was back to my normal self in time for concert day, but since it was inflamed the doctor informed me the best treatment was to keep it cold, and during the concert I was wearing a cold compress under my outfit. Hahaha. I’m such a wimp. After that I was bothered by back pain for a little bit, but now it’s completely disappeared.
Ms. Inomaru, I have a feeling I’ll continue to be indebted to you as my wise partner in conversation and in life. I look forward to working with you!
Well then. Who will show up next time? Stay tuned.