In October 1996 I found myself in the Sun Room of the Hotel Vancouver with the Globe & Mail arts reporter Christopher Dafoe. We were there to interview and photograph Japanese film director (actor, amateur baseball player, poet, painter, etc) Takeshi Kitano. The film in question was called Kikujiro (Kitano played in it as Beat Takeshi) and it featured slapstick comedy with a surprisingly reduced violence. Many who have seen Kitano’s films would assert that his films have violent cop/gangster plots that appear so realistic that a few of Kitano’s followers suspect he might have gokudō connections.
Chistopher Dafoe confessed to me minutes after we left that he had been intimidated by the chain smoking man who could not sit still. But he did sit still for me. I took nine photographs of him. That would have been the end of that except that in the lobby of the Hotel Vancouver, once Dafoe was gone, I found myself facing Kitano’s assistant who informed me that his boss wanted to see me. I was intrigued and of course I could not refuse.
Kitano had brought a girlfriend along, Kyôko Kishida, who was in some of hot water back home. I felt I could not press Kitano for details. Kitano told me that in exchange for finding Kishida a temporary apartment to keep her away from Tokyo for a month I would have access to the taking of some photographs. The scary serious man smiled just enough to add that she was interesting to photograph.
He was right. I found an apartment for Kishida in False Creek and I did take her pictures. She spoke absolutely no English. Our communication was limited to gesticulation. Kishida (I have no idea if she had ever done any domestic chores in her life) wanted me to photograph her cutting a cucumber, trying some sweet breakfast cereal, and other domestic activity. The most interesting one was when she sat on the floor to paint her toe nails.
Only now do I feel safe to publish these pictures in my blog. After the month was over I drove her to the airport and I wished Kishida good luck. I have never heard from her or Kitano since.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.