Kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizo cries during a news conference in Tokyo Friday at which he spoke about his feelings for his wife, former TV presenter Mao Kobayashi, who died of cancer Thursday night at the age of 34. Photo: YouTube
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Former TV announcer Mao Kobayashi dies of cancer at 34

64 Comments

Mao Kobayashi, a former Japanese TV announcer and wife of popular kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo, passed away late Thursday night at her home in Tokyo after a long and much publicized battle with breast cancer. She was 34.

The announcement was made by kabuki theater operator Shochiku early Friday morning. Ichikawa confirmed the passing of his wife on his blog Friday morning. “Today, I have cried more than I have ever done in my life,” the blog post read.

Later in the day, Ichikawa held an emotional news conference in Tokyo, during which he revealed details of his wife's passing, saying that he and the rest of the family were with her at the end.

Ichikawa said his wife was able to speak until Wednesday. On Thursday, he said, "I received a message from (Mao's) mother while I was away for work, saying that her condition had worsened. The doctor had arrived at home, advising the family to gather." He said he returned home immediately. However, she passed away soon after. "She was looking at me when she died," Ichikawa continued through tears. "She said 'I love you' and then she was gone on her journey."

Kobayashi was one of the most popular TV announcers in Japan. She met Ichikawa in 2008 during an interview she conducted for "News Zero," a daily news program for which she was a presenter. The two were married in 2010 and have two children, a daughter, Reika, 5, and son, Kangen, 4.

After her marriage to Ichikawa, Kobayashi withdrew from the TV world, but the family’s public appearances and the birth and raising of their two children were regularly reported in Japan. The couple was viewed by many as an ideal family.

Kobayashi was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2014, but it was kept a secret for over a year and a half until Ichikawa announced her condition at a press conference in June 2016.

maok.jpg
Mao Kobayashi and Ichikawa Ebizo are seen at their wedding in 2010. Photo: Kyodo

Kobayashi was named in the 2016 edition of the BBC's 100 Women list of inspirational and influential women because she broke her silence about having breast cancer, which spread to her bones and lungs, and began writing a blog to help others, Kyodo reported.

Her battle with cancer was covered constantly by Japanese media. Kobayashi started a blog, "Kokoro," in September last year, in which she regularly wrote about her battle with the disease. It had nearly 2.6 million registered readers, many of whom regularly posted sympathetic and encouraging comments. Her latest post, titled "Orange juice," was published on Monday.

"I've been drinking fresh orange juice every morning these days," she wrote. "I don't have the (physical) power to squeeze it myself, so I wait for my mother to wake up every morning and squeeze it for me. [...] It puts a smile on my face each morning. May you all experience something that makes you smile today." The blog included two photos, one of herself smiling, and one of an orange juice.

Kobayashi was recently released from a hospital, but her condition worsened drastically on Wednesday, Japanese media reported.

"I wish we could continue being together forever. (I wish) I was the one to go first," Ichikawa said during Friday's press conference. "I wish she could (live longer) to be happier, to be with family and friends, (her sister) Maya, her father and mother. I wish she could continue to watch me develop as an actor."

Kobayashi is survived by her husband, children, parents, and sister, Maya, who is also a popular TV personality.

© Japan Today

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64 Comments
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https://ameblo.jp/maokobayashi0721

-English version of blog slowly being edited.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I heard this news I couldn't believe it. I sometimes read her blog. I and people who is battling with cancer was encouraged by her words. I didn't want this day to come. She is too young to die. When I heard Ebizo and Mao was going to get married I didn't know why she chose him, but now I know the reason why she chose him. Her goal was to watch her sons kabuki on early July but it didn't become true. I wish she was still alive. She was a beautiful woman.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is shocking news for all of Japanese. I knew she had been cancer and I've read her blog about fighting with cancer. On her blog, she wrote she wants to participate her daughters graduation wearing Kimono and that's the one of the goal of her life, also she had some of goals if she become better. She said these are the bread of her life, that's why she was able to keep fighting with cancer. I'm so sad but I can't imagine how Mao's regret. We love her and never forgot her. RIP.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was too shocked to hear this news. I have known that she has been supporting her husband, Ichikawa Ebizo since they got married. I watched the documentary of making their son, Kangen’s first appearance in 2015. She looked very happy to see her son’s growth. She already has suffered from breast cancer then. Concerning her feeling at that time, I feel a lump in my throat. However, she never showed us negative feeling on her blog. I was encouraged by her words and way of living. Around the world people are very sad to have lost such a great person. Please accept my deepest sympathy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can't believe it still. I have read her blog since she starded it, and she told me how wonderful life is. She was really strong. I guess she wanted to watch her children grow up. She actually passed away but continues to stay in their mind, her husband Ebizo's one, and mine too. I thank, respect and love you. RIP

1 ( +1 / -0 )

http://ameblo.jp/maokobayashi0721/entry-12285272947.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When I heard this NEWS I was shocked. I sometimes read her blog and I was encouraged by her words. Her blog is also encouraged to people who have still battled with cancer and a lot of people. She is still too young to die. Everyone has a possibility of getting cancer or illness something like that. I think we have to take a life one day at a time .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

R.I.P Mao.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Deepest condolences.

Cancer mainstream treatments should be complimented with the following to maximize chances of full recovery:

1. Daily drinking of healthy clean water including slices of organic lemon & lemon grass in them.

Daily breathing of clean healthy air especially in forest or garden areas, with deep breathing methods like 4 sec inhale, 7 sec hold & 8 sec exhale, that expend the lungs & abdominal area. Nose-in, mouth-out western way as well as nose-in, nose-out gentle gigong.

Daily walk of 20 to 40 mins under direct morning sun, consuming vitamin D3 & bone broth to help bone marrow recover to produce healthy blood cells.

Eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables, including bitter gourd, celery, parsley, wheatgrass, either raw or very lightly cooked. Seaweed and fruits like kiwi, soursop, mangosteen, berries, green apples & apricot & bitter almonds (also eat the seeds), etc. Avoid read meat, fried stuff and all processed food. Total ban on refined sugar. 

Adopt a merry heart & joyful attitude. Laugh loud and sing and smile often.

Have a disciplined body clock and good sleep at night.

Be in the company of encouraging prayerful people.

Trust God with all your heart. (most important for those who are believe God).
-2 ( +0 / -2 )

if people really want to help then they should donate generously to the breast cancer foundation in Japan or America.. http://jbcs.gr.jp/ http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Prayers for her family. Cancer simply bites...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Love you Mao chan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We will die. All of us. There is no escape.

But, we can chose what to do with our time while alive.

I chose life. I urge you: chose life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A hard day for her family, and indeed for all families who have fought and are are fighting this battle against cancer. For those who have survived, and their loved ones, it reminds us of just how lucky we are.

All the best to Ebizo and his children.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

but her story is very much because of husband Ebizo Ichikawa's standing as a great traditional icon. Whether it is a woman or a man, the person who is more famous will get mentioned a lot, and it isn't a slight on the party that isn't as famous.

Uh, no. She is perfectly well known on her on, as is her sister. I knew who she was before I even heard of Ebizo.

I read that her doctor misdiagnosed the cancer at first. Otherwise, she probably would have lived...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hardly cry. But this one...........

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is so sad and tragic, not only because she died at such a young age, but also because she left two young children who really need and could use the gentle care she would've provided. I too am not a big fan of Ebizo and am sure he will raise his children, but not in the same way that Mao could've.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Very sad news. Had forgotten over the last several years while dealing with older friends with cancer, that sometimes it can strike people at such a young age. RIP.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Don't know why I am feeling so sad to read this news.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Tmarie: Ebizo Ichikawa is a wonderful kabuki actor, and is from a family of tradition and greatness. I feel very sad for Mao Kobayashi's death. She seems like a wonderful person, but her story is very much because of husband Ebizo Ichikawa's standing as a great traditional icon. Whether it is a woman or a man, the person who is more famous will get mentioned a lot, and it isn't a slight on the party that isn't as famous.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So sad to hear the news about Mao tears in my eyes upon reading this. Me also is breast cancer patients but I'm a survivor on 6 years. How I wish Mao San can have more lives to leave for her kids. You will be missed. May your heart and soul find peace and comfort. Rest in peace. Gone too soon!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So sad still can't believe it.I am also a breast cancer patients but survive 6 years now. Tears in my eyes upon knowing Mao's dead ,how I wish she can leave more for his kids. You will be missed. May your heart and soul find peace and comfort in your rest.Gone too soon!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I am also struggling with Cancer myself after surgery and 30 radiation treatments. Presently the stage four cancer is gone, but I will need follow up checks often. This story really grips at me as I have recently struggled myself. May the family know that she loved you all and her pain is now gone! I feel so sad . . .

8 ( +8 / -0 )

RIP. Truly courageous woman. Sad is the only word to express.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is hard! Mrs Agent dealing with breast cancer, thankfully latest results are good. Why torture the guy? Give him some privacy!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have never known them yet I cried reading this news. Beautiful last action, ... say I love you and gone.

it is life after all... RIP

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It was looking hopeless but still very sad. Best wishes to the family.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Heartbreaking! I hope he can find peace and happiness again. I dont know what I'd do if I lost my wife.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

That is sad to hear. He was great! Thank you for the memories. RIP

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This news has made me so depressed today. Cancer is a cursed disease. It seems a lot of celebs have died of it in the past month -- Roger Moore, Erin Moran, Adam West (I think), the Rocky movie director and now Mao. But I want to also remember all those who probably died today, also of cancer, but we do not know them because they are not famous.

I wish I could say something that would comfort them.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm sorry for your losses, pacint.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Mona.

Right very mixed feelings.

Cancer took my Gran(face), mother(breast), wife(breast), Fil(throat). Dog(bone).

Condolences to all affected.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Watching someone die from cancer is a terrible hell and when that person does pass away you're mixed with feelings of sadness, anger, and relief that the person is free of this awful disease.

Mao Kobayashi, thank you for documenting your struggles and being brave through it all, now rest and watch over your children from above.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The BBC has covered this much better.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40378443

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Oh! This has brought tears. From Ms Kobayashi's blog:

""...If I died now, what would people think? "Poor thing, she was only 34"? "What a pity, leaving two young children"? I don't want people to think of me like that, because my illness isn't what defines my life.

My life has been rich and colourful - I've achieved dreams, sometimes clawed my way through, and I met the love of my life. I've been blessed with two precious children. My family has loved me and I've loved them.

So I've decided not to allow the time I've been given be overshadowed entirely by disease. I will be who I want to be..."

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37861457

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The BBC has covered it quite well:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40378443

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So young! It's very sad! I remember reading an article about a connection between the 'obi' worn over a kimono and breast cancer. I wonder if this had anything to do with her breast cancer.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

tmarieToday  02:43 pm JSTIt should read "Mao Kobayashi, well known former announcer, dies" but we all know that obituaries, be it here or wherever, are sexist.

So what is the cause of cancer?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Ebizo looked so uncomfortable in that press conference.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

tmarieToday  02:59 pm JST W Not I. Hence my comment. But clearly the news does because not only are they mentioning Ebizo, they are featuring pictures of him with her as well. Read the first three paragraphs in this article. They focus on him.

Did you know Ebizo? ** How he care for her during diffcult time? **

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I hate cancer.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Who cares of Ebizo?

Not I. Hence my comment. But clearly the news does because not only are they mentioning Ebizo, they are featuring pictures of him with her as well. Read the first three paragraphs in this article. They focus on him. The statements about HER follow.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Ebizo is appearing on his stage today at Bunkamura in Shubuya. We have a saying that an actor cannot meet the death of his parents. He says it is his destiny as a kabuki actor.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

tmarieToday  02:43 pm JST

Not probably, it is. Her relationship to Ebizo (whom has had numerous run ins with the law) should be mentioned AFTER her accomplishments. It should read "Mao Kobayashi, well known former announcer, dies" but we all know that obituaries, be it here or wherever, are sexist.

She was happy. She was in Japan. Who cares of Ebizo?

*
2 ( +3 / -1 )

What's your point sftp? Do you think anyone on here posting knows either of them?

btw, Yahoo Japan's lead headline is simply "Ebizo's wife, Mao Kobayashi dies" which is disrespectful and probably sexist given her previous career and her very public fight against this cancer that affects many women, so credit for the headline given here.

Not probably, it is. Her relationship to Ebizo (whom has had numerous run ins with the law) should be mentioned AFTER her accomplishments. It should read "Mao Kobayashi, well known former announcer, dies" but we all know that obituaries, be it here or wherever, are sexist.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

tmarieToday  01:11 pm JSTRIP. Never been a fan of her husband's, never understood her choice to marry him

You didn't even know her.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

This is truly heartbreaking. She was such a nice lady and a person as well. May her soul rest in peace.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Will there be a time when human beings can conquer cancer?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So young, this is such sad news. How awful for her family.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Oh My God!!!! I feel like crying a lot!

She was such a great great great great great person.

We still loveYou Mao-chan.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

RIP.

But remember the battle is not over for many unknown people.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Too young, too young. May the family be comforted.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That's sad, especially with young children losing their mother. Life can be cruel.

btw, Yahoo Japan's lead headline is simply "Ebizo's wife, Mao Kobayashi dies" which is disrespectful and probably sexist given her previous career and her very public fight against this cancer that affects many women, so credit for the headline given here.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

RIP. Never been a fan of her husband's, never understood her choice to marry him but I do hope that he looks after his kids as well as she hopes he will.

So young. Too young.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Get checks ladies it's in the DNA.

Not for everyone. Get the BRCA gene test if you have breast cancer in your immediate family. Every woman should check her breasts every month for new lumps or changes to the nipple.

Kobayashi was no age, my condolences to her family.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I knew she had been fighting against breast cancer. But 34 years old is just too early to pass away. Very sad. RIP. My deepest condolences to the family.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As much as these talentos get grief, from JT posters( I'm not innocent) they are human and deserve a pause for thought, way too young to be dead. My life started around this time, its a very sad story. Get checks ladies it's in the DNA.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So shocking news for the day, May you rest in peace, you will be missed

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Absolutely horrible, and I'd say shocking, too. Obviously she was in bad condition, but it sounded to me like she would be okay when the cancer was announced last year. 34 is far too young for anyone to go, especially from disease. I've never liked Ebizo, but my heart goes out to him here. Like Strangerland, I hope that he isn't being forced to make these appearances, and if he is that he just quickly speaks and leaves as he sees fit. It's a private concern, and if he and the family don't want it to be public, they shouldn't have to deal with it as such.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

So sad.

He's doing a press conference this afternoon. If it was his idea, and something he feels he need to do, then good on him. But if someone is telling him this is something he should or has to do, they are sleaze.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

RIP

Really sad, very harsh on the small kids to be without

their mother.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Very sad and devastating to hear at such a young age.. RIP

5 ( +6 / -1 )

That is devastating to hear. So sorry for that family.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

RIP and respects to the family.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

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