Momoko, your affection for your sister is incredible. Where do you think that deep sisterly bond came from?
Sakura: I think our family really shaped our relationship as sisters.
Our family was made up of our grandmother, our father, our mother and us. I think it was this sense of distance within our family that strengthened our relationship as sisters.
Momoko: Yeah, probably. Our mother is the type of person who doesn’t judge others. She would never say, “Oh, so-and-so is like that because he’s this kind of a person.” She accepts everyone for who they are
without prejudice. She’s tolerant to the point where you’re like,
“How can you be like that?”
Sakura: People tend to think that the reason why we are in the film
industry is because our father is an actor, but it may be seeing the
generosity of our mom growing up that was the biggest influence.
Currently, you two work as a director and an actress. You are both married with your own families. Has your relationship as sisters changed from when you were children?
Sakura: I don’t think so. Sometimes I have a moment where I think
that maybe my sister and I will drift apart, but then I bounce right back. I don’t mean drifting apart in terms of distance or time, but in terms of intuition or connection. Sometimes I get this nervous feeling that my sister will just drift away from me, but then, I immediately think, “No! You’re just imagining things! You’re wrong! You’re wrong! Wake up!”
Momoko: Yeah, it’s a really abstract feeling. (gesturing with her hands)
If you were to express it in an animated cartoon, it would be like 2 orbs of light floating like the sun. It’s like the image of the source of life that exists in everything. Our sisterhood is there, softly floating, playfully. But then, sometimes I’ll suddenly feel like I want to break away on my own, like,
“See you later!” and Sakura will be like, “You’re wrong! You’re headed for the danger zone!” and pull me back in.
Sakura: Having Momoko has created this great sense of security and I think that I can live my life freely because of that. The affection I get from her is the foundation that allows me to be my true self.
On a different note, I want to ask the both of you, because you are active in the Japanese film industry, are you aware of "Japan" in your work and everyday life?
Sakura: More recently—I don’t know whether it’s my age or the times—my awareness of being “born in Japan” has become very strong. If I consciously think about why I feel this way, it has to be because of the interconnection with the cultural climate and ideology of Japan. So now I am starting to enjoy taking more of an interest in understanding Japan.
Momoko: Recently, as the world has become unstable, I feel like in
many countries, the individual nature of that country is becoming more apparent. When I think about replacing the relationship between countries with a relationship between individuals, I think it is always better to speak your own plain truth. That’s why I think it’s important that we are both
consciously aware of being Japanese but also that we recognize ourselves as individuals.
Maybe it’s time we all reconfirmed our own identities. In a changing world, I am currently thinking about what it means to be “Japanese”. To say a person is “Japanese” is to take into account the cultures and ethnicities that combined over the course of our history that has resulted in what we now consider to be the country of Japan. We are all in this world, and in this universe together, so if each of us are happy, we are all happy, right?
I wonder if that’s the key to world peace.
Momoko, you studied abroad. Do you think your view of Japan
is influenced from having seen it from the outside?
Momoko: When I was studying abroad, I thought that having a global
perspective meant having a solid individual identity. In films, in anything, it’s important to establish an identity to compete within this world.
I treasure the Japan that’s inside of me.