Last year, Kou Shibasaki placed 2nd in an Internet poll asking 500 men and women which celebrities had the most attractive eyes (Meisa Kuroki was 1st). Respondents said Shibasaki, who turns 29 on Aug 5, had an alluring smile. That smile has served the multitalented Shibasaki well as she carves out a name for herself as an actress, singer and image character for companies such as Fujitsu, Lipton and Kanebo.
This year has been particularly busy for Shibasaki. The first few months she was on a nationwide singing tour, but she frequently had to intersperse her tour dates with appearances back in Tokyo to promote two films and make product endorsements. “I’ve been having some pretty full days recently. Every day seems to bring a new challenge,” she said at a recent event to promote Fujitsu’s new 3D laptops. Her ad for the laptop can be seen in stores in 3D. “It’s the first time I have ever seen footage of myself in 3D. Wow is all I can say,” Shibasaki said, wearing a sexy red dress and sporting a new hairstyle. “It’s quite amazing what 3D is doing to movies. Just simple things like a paper plane flying at you or flower petals fluttering about are wonderful.”
Born in Tokyo, Shibasaki got her start in show business at the age of 14, doing TV commercials. Western audiences will know her mainly from her role as a cold-blooded sexy killer in the 2000 cult film "Battle Royale," and her award-winning portrayal of a Japanese girl in love with a Korean boy in the 2001 drama “Go.” Quentin Tarantino had also written a part for her in “Kill Bill,“ as Yuki Yubari, the twin sister of Gogo Yubari, but she had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.
Currently, Shibasaki is filming “Ooku,” an alternative history of medieval Japan in which an unknown disease kills most of the male population, leading to a matriarchal society in which women outnumber men 4 to 1. Women hold all the important positions and men are their consorts. The female shogun Yoshimune (Shibasaki) keeps a harem of handsome men, known as "Ooku." The film, which co-stars boy band ARASHI’s Kazunari Ninomiya, opens in Japan on Oct 1.
“It is a fresh look at Japan’s history,” said Shibasaki. “With the number of men so small, finding the right partner becomes a serious matter, much more so than in our modern society. Actually, the story is a bleak look at what society might be like if the birthrate continues to decline.”
After filming is completed, Shibasaki said she will take a short break to recharge her musical batteries. Since launching her singing career in 2002, she has scored many pop hits since, among them “Tsuki no shizuku,” “Hito Koi Meguri” and “Lover Soul,” and has embarked on domestic concert tours once a year since 2007.
When she is not working, Shibasaki likes to chill out at home. She said she enjoys cooking, after honing her culinary skills last year while making the movie “Shokudo Katatsumuri,” in which she played a woman who returns to her hometown after an incident with her Indian boyfriend and opens a small restaurant. “My specialty is ‘ehomaki,’” she said, referring to a type of sushi made with seven “lucky” ingredients. It is traditionally eaten on Setsubun (Feb 3) and is said to bring good fortune.
Music is never far from Shibasaki’s mind. “I am always getting ideas for song lyrics and keep a notebook handy. Nowadays, I take a laptop with me everywhere, because I have a stock of handwritten lyrics in it," she said.
Looking ahead, Shibasaki has an unusual goal: she would like to be able to understand animals better. “Wouldn’t it fun to be able to communicate with a horse while you were riding it?” she mused.© Japan Today