Kurara Chibana loves a challenge. The 34-year-old from Okinawa has been a successful model, TV reporter, as well as World Food Program (WFP) National Ambassador Against Hunger for Japan.
Chibana is enjoying her newest challenge — acting in the Fuji TV comedy-drama “Offbeat Chief Police,” in which she has a recurring role as yoga instructor Rika Kano. The program, which airs on Sundays from 9 p.m. to 9:54 p.m., revolves around Kinshiro Toyama, the newly-appointed police chief at Kitamachi Police Station, who firmly believes his mission as a policeman is to listen to the voice of citizens and protect the peace in the community. Played by Hiroshi Tamaki, Toyama comes off as aloof and a bit quirky at first, but in fact he has brilliant investigative instincts and spots clues that no one else can detect. Rather than sitting behind a desk, Toyama leaves the office and goes the extra mile to solve any crime regardless how small or trivial.
Chibana, who is fluent in English and French, says it is a lot of fun working on the set. “It is a good balance of comedy and drama. Comedy suits my personality. My character is very cheerful and open-hearted,” she says. “I took acting lessons. It was really tough at first and still is, even now. It is a big challenge.” She also took yoga lessons to prepare for her role as a yoga instructor.
Chibana hopes “Offbeat Chief Police” will appeal to overseas TV audiences. It can currently be seen in Hong Kong, Macao and China’s Guangdong Province, (China).
Chibana believes TV programs are an excellent way for foreign audiences to learn about Japanese society. “That’s true in any country. When I lived in France for 10 months, I watched a lot of TV. I think TV programs reflect a country’s culture.”
Chibana also hopes to continue her acting career, trying all sorts of parts, even a villain. She also admits to being a fan of “Columbo.” "I actually interviewed Peter Falk 7 or 8 years ago,” she recalls. "And yes, he said, ‘Just one more thing.’”
In addition to continuing her modelling career (this month she appears on the cover of Marisol magazine), Chibana remains devoted to her work with the WFP — she is now doing it for the 10th year.
“I have learned a lot from that. This year I visited Malawi and Kenya and we do many projects. One of her favorite projects is the school meals program (which provides meals to between 20 and 25 million school children across 63 countries, often in the hardest-to-reach areas). “It’s tough for those children but they are always smiling and want to learn,” she says.
With such a high profile in Japan, Chibana inevitably gets a lot of fan mail from young women. “They ask me for advice about fashion, their careers and many also want to get involved in charity activities. Continuing what I am doing is the best way I can be a role model for them.”
Despite her busy schedule, Chibana enjoys flamenco dancing, but is now focused on yoga. “I also love cooking when I have time and make nabe in wintertime.”
Visit Chibana’s home page at http://chibanakurara.com/© Japan Today