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Junichi Ishida discusses women, quality of TV programs and why he doesn't wear socks

20 Comments
By Chris Betros

As Junichi Ishida walks into the hotel, the women in the lobby and café start buzzing. The 55-year-old TV and stage celebrity is good-natured about it. “They’re the ones who have made me successful, not producers and directors,” he says in excellent English. Ishida is well known in Japanese showbiz circles as being a ladies man, a label which amuses him. “I like women but I don’t think I am an expert on the subject,” says Ishida who is twice divorced. “I think I’m good at expressing the ideas of love and beauty, but I’m only half way to the top.”

Born in Tokyo, Ishida lived in the U.S. from age 3 to 6 with his father who was a foreign correspondent for NHK. He completed his school education in Japan and went to Waseda University before dropping out. “I spent a year in Pasadena studying theater. I wanted to be a director. In those days, I also dreamed of playing baseball as a professional, but my interest in entertainment grew. My dad used to take me to watch old movies like 'The Third Man' and 'Citizen Kane.' He wrote poetry as well.”

Ishida got his first big break in the 1982 international TV production "Marco Polo." That was followed by the Australian drama, "The Cowra Breakout," in 1984. Since then, Ishida has appeared in many TV dramas, films, stage productions and radio programs. He laments the quality of Japanese TV programs today. “There needs to be more programming for mature audiences. A friend at a production company told me the level is around that of a 3rd to 5th grade level. Light-hearted programs are OK, but not all the time,” he says.

Ishida returns to the stage June 5-21 at Tokyo’s Aoyama Theater from in "Onna Nobunaga," which looks at what might have been if the famous feudal ruler Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) had been a woman. Meisa Kuroki plays Nobunaga, while Ishida is the warlord Saito Dosan. “We get to do swordfights on stage. I studied kendo when I was younger, so it isn’t too difficult,” he says.

In between his TV and stage work, Ishida is frequently invited to various events and to endorse many products. “Whether I do it depends on the money, if I like the product or if I think I can say something relevant. When I am asked to be in a TV drama, if it is something I would like to see myself, then I accept it. The same with doing PR for movies. If I like the film, then it is very easy to do.”

Ishida is equally famous for not wearing socks (his homepage is called No socks J Life). Even when he is in a tuxedo, Ishida doesn’t wear socks. “It all started when I was in Milan in 1985. I saw people coming out of the subway, wearing jackets and ties, but no socks. I feel like I am bucking the trend but that has become my signature style, though it is hard to do in winter.”

Ishida is often asked for advice on romance whenever he appears at promotional events or on his blog. “We men have a women’s side to our brain that can help us understand women better. You have to get in touch with that. To win a woman’s heart, first, learn to listen. Many men don’t. Men should also use expressions like “Uh, huh, “That’s right,” “That’s unbelievable,” and so on. With the right tempo and timing, such words make women comfortable around you. Once a woman understands that side of you, then she can fall in love with you.”

A noted gourmet, Ishida calls Tokyo “a fantastic eating city” and recommends Italian restaurants such as Picollo Grande, Alport and Ryugin. South Italy remains one of his favorite destinations. Outside his work, Ishida jogs, plays golf and tennis. He follows the news closely, too. “Public safety and health are most important. Scandals like what happened with Mikasa Foods selling tainted rice are really bad. The nuclear issue is another scary issue. I remember Chernobyl in 1986 -- the radiation spread over thousands of kilometers. If the same thing happened in Japan, the whole country would be affected.”

© Japan Today

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20 Comments
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Pew, pepe le pew.

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he didn't discuss the horrors of being a failed father to a deadbeat junkie pothead and then burst into tears, again?

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In an ocean of talentless Japanese talents, this guy comes close to being the least talented at all. What a lounge lizard.

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Much to my surprise, I found his interview refreshing. He actually criticized Japanese TV. Now I know why he doesn't wear socks. He is probably a very intelligent guy, but the character his talent agency forces him to depict probably hurts more than helps.

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If "no socks" is his signature style, then all the other cool things he says are nullified.

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“There needs to be more programming for mature audiences. A friend at a production company told me the level is around that of a 3rd to 5th grade level. Light-hearted programs are OK, but not all the time,” he says.

So why do I see him on these sorts of shows all the time?

How about putting your paycheck where your mouth is?

Just a tad hypocritical, ne? ;)

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I feel like I am bucking the trend but that has become my signature style, though it is hard to do in winter.”

Hey buddy, it should be easy to do in the winter. I wear beach sandals down to the beach and surf during the winter.

A noted gourmet? He has the cash. Sure wish I could go to Southern Italy a lot.

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This guy is just another 'famous for being famous' tool -over the past decade he has not worked on anything but chat shows talking about his luck with the ladies, or charity golf gigs...what a life!! Terebi-shopping awaits you Jun-chan!!

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Though he is a famous tool, he was good in the Cowra Breakout, but is has been all downhill from there

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I agree with the guy about Japanese TV though. Very few Dramas are beyond the 5th grade level. Most of em feel the need to preach at you, which after awhile really grates.

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the pinnacle of lame

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the level is around that of a 3rd to 5th grade level. Light-hearted >programs are OK, but not all the time,”

THANK YOU! Someone finally said it out loud!

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so the no-socks trend started in '85 in Italy? Last year I saw many people not wearing socks in the middle of winter. Chilly fashion statement...

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Junichi Ishida is a cad and a bounder.

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Talent is a word too liberally applied in Japan. I agree "Lounge Lizard" seems more correct.

If women are after this guy, it is not for his unmatched charm, but more likely for his money.

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“There needs to be more programming for mature audiences. A friend at a production company told me the level is around that of a 3rd to 5th grade level. Light-hearted programs are OK, but not all the time,” he says".

Wow, even Japanese people realise that it's mind numbing childish nonsense. Actually, recently for the first time even my in-laws were complaining that the TV is boring nowadays. They still watch it though.

Part of me hopes that we're on the cusp of a major change in Japanese TV. I'll believe when I see it.

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I want to become a noted gourmet too.

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I am not sure this man has anything more to say than my ordinary 9 to 5 job next door neighbor.

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Don't think think I'll take relationship advice from a guy twice divorced. Sorta speaks of his success rate to me. Much like asking the guy who always says "Hey fellers watch this!" for safety advice.

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