A Back Story of the Talk held in October 2016 with Takamina-san.


The conversation took place in Roppongi Grand Hyatt Tokyo in the anteroom.
The room was furnished with expensive-looking chairs and a long table.

Takamina-san entered the room through an elegantly decorated door. As she entered, I uttered the speech that I “self-rehearsed” over and over earlier that afternoon.

"Hi, I heard your radio broadcast! You said, 'Since my next job is something serious, I will switch to my serious mode', so I was looking forward to seeing what that was like."
「ありがとうございます! 聞いていただいたんですね!
 こんな感じです!」 と返事をしてくれた。
Takamina-san responded, “Thank you! I’m glad that you listened to my program! This is what I’m like in my serious mode!”.
I was so nervous and kept looking down that I couldn’t see what her serious mode was like, muchless her face or outfit.

She is what we call a celebrity and a very famous one at that. This was my first time meeting someone like her in close proximity.
I’m just an ordinary citizen - an “otaku (nerd)” from an all boy’s high school in the countryside.
I was in agony from days before this meeting, wondering what I should talk about since I knew that I will be all awkward from being way too nervous.
I decided that I should at least know what to say to her the moment I met her to avoid being awkward.

Tsurube Shofukutei-san once said that whenever he has a Rakugo (comic storytelling) event, he goes for a walk in the local area before his performance to come up with a “captivating local joke”. At the start of his performance,  will use that joke to close the sense of distance and connect with his audience.
Information is important.
Takamina-san has a live radio program daily. In order to gather any information about her as I could, I ignored our CEO’s key notes that he prepared for me and listened to her program on the smartphone app ‘radiko’, which aired at 1pm prior to the meeting.
At the end of her program she mentioned, “Since my next job is something serious, I will switch to my serious mode and be a Majime (serious) Minami-chan”, so I decided to use that as a conversation starter with her.
I practiced saying, "Hi, I heard your radio broadcast! You said, 'Since my next job is something serious, I will switch to my serious mode', so, I was looking to seeing what that was like", over and over.
I came up with a more casual version, “Majime Minami-chan, so you are like this huh”, but it seemed overfamiliar and didn’t match my character so I ended up scrapping that one.


「ありがとうございます! 聞いていただいたんですね!こんな感じです!」の言葉の後、部屋に入ってきた彼女は、「色々とお気遣いありがとうございます」と言った。
After saying, “Thank you! I’m glad that you listened to my program! This is what I’m like in my serious mode!”, as Takamina-san entered the room, she said “Thank you for being so thoughtful”.

I was a little relieved to hear the words “thoughtful”.

Since I had been listening to her program on and off from 2 weeks prior and heard her mention that she had a cold, I had sent her a gift prior to our meeting.

The gift consisted of over-the-counter cold medicine, liquid form Kakkonto (chinese medicine) and vicks throat drops with a note that read, “Seems like you are just getting over your cold, so please take these as needed”.

She probably found this gesture to be “thoughtful”.

I’m sure she manages her own health well as she is a professional. She also has an agent that will run out and gets things for her as needed. It doesn’t really matter whether she actually took the things I gave her or not.

I gave her the gift thinking that it may spark a conversation.

I thought that she may wonder what to talk about since this was the first time for her to meet me. Receiving a gift would allow her to strike a conversation with a “Thank you for..”, and that would make it easy for me to reply “Well, last week you mentioned on your radio show that you were sick so…” and continue chatting.

Sending her a gift was actually more for me who gets seriously nervous than it was for her.

I heard from the ad agency that Takamina-san commented about the interview as “he made the atmosphere easy to hold a conversation”, so I thought that it wasn’t a negative challenge after all.



Shortly after the initial greeting, the meeting began.
The topic was on the talk that was about to take place in front of approximately 700 people.
30 minutes til show time.

The meeting participants were Takamina-san and her manager, Miyazaki-san who will be the MC of the event and her manager, an individual from the ad agency and a makeup person for either Takamina-san or Miyazaki-san and myself.

I explained the overall flow of the talk first.
I had the script ready which was sent to the meeting participants prior to the event but I wasn’t sure how much they had read.
The managers suggested things like, “This conversation should be spoken in this manner”, “this part should be spoken by Miyazaki and not Takamina”, so I adjusted the flow of the script accordingly.

The meeting with these participants was actually the ‘first’ and the ‘last’ one I ever had.

The talk was supposed to take place about six months ago, but was postponed since Takamina-san was busy with her album release. I was only able to have meetings with Takamina-san’s “ikemen (good-looking)’ manager up until the day before the actual event.
For someone like me who is not a professional talk show host to successfully present a 50 minute-live-talk show with someone I’ve never met before is no simple task.

When the project began, I had written the script from start to finish for Takamina-san, Miyazaki-san and myself so that the participants can understand how I wanted the talk show to end. Writing theatre scripts during university and writing a script for five individuals for ‘Extreme Commuting Symposium’ which was held a few years ago at one of the Apple Stores’ proved helpful for this task.

In the end, the script was polished to include quotes from Takamina-san’s book and included her perspective and claims based on magazine articles about her.

At the meeting, the ikemen manager asked to make detailed changes to words such as “tv personality” to “singer and tv personality” and “AKB48” instead of “AKB”. I made sure that the parts for Takamina-san, Miyazaki-san and I were evenly distributed, though it was hard to imagine until the last minute how much of it was going to be improvised.

In order to connect with the live audience during the talk, I included a part where the audience would interact and engage with us. Since I had no idea what the audience was going to say, I came up with a few variations of the expected interaction.

What I paid attention to the most was the possibility that Takamina-san may not have time to read the script before going live.

I prepared the script to have Miyazaki-san’s parts to come before Takamina-san with key words thrown in to give her a que to make it easy for her to speak. Also, I asked MC Miyazaki-san to hold the script during the show as it wouldn’t be strange for the MC to have it on stage.

I wasn’t expecting the conversation to flow exactly as the script.

The show was live, so I thought that the atmosphere, flow and the fluctuations in the conversation were important. Because of this, I wrote, “The overall flow will be this, and half of the script will change depending on how the conversation will flow during the talk”.

I prepared myself by having various versions of the script in my head so that if the conversation derailed, I could correct its course. This might have been the first time since studying for the university entrance exam for me to get so serious in memorizing something.



Going back to the meeting session, I finished editing the script with the requests made by the manager and waited for the live show to begin.

There was a few minutes of free time and wondered what I should talk about during moments like this.

I’m not the type to be able to say something thoughtful on the spot, so I thought that I should prepare some small-talk topics beforehand.

Because I wanted to talk about something Takamina-san and I had in common, I did some research to see if we knew anyone in common. We didn’t have many people that we both knew, but I found two.

One was Nana Okazaki-san, who introduced me to my stylist and hair and make-up artist for this event. Nana-san periodically appears on TV as “an attractive mature lady”, and have been on shows with Takamina-san several times before.

The other person was Terry Ueda-san. I had been invited to a “niconico” live show for an event and he was the MC for that day. Terry-san was on various shows under the name “So-men Jiro (so-men = fine flour noodles, Jiro = very common male Japanese name)”, and had been on a show with Takamina-san a few months back.

Since I was closer with Nana Okazaki-san, I decided to talk about her.

I began the conversation with an apology to Takamina-san telling her that I am not used to being on a show with a celebrity and may say/ do something inappropriate. Then I said, “I have a friend that is on TV and her name is Nana Okazaki-san”. Takamina-san reacted as though she recognized the name right away. I continued, “I was told by Nana that I needed to fix how I dressed since I was going to be on a talk show with you, so she introduced me to the stylists who would polish my appearance from top to bottom”.

Since I talked about my appearance, both Takamina-san and Miyazaki-san said “You look great!” and complimented me. I wasn’t expecting a compliment at this time so I replied with an awkward, “Oh, ah, thank you...”.

This was the first time I had stylists assigned to me. I wasn’t even thinking about having a stylist when this project was first launched.

I was thinking that it would be alright for me to look rather plain and act as a foil for Takamina-san since the audience was coming to see her.

But, Nana coached me that if I didn’t go up on stage with the best possible appearance, Takamina-san who will be up on stage with me will end up looking shabby and that will be impolite towards her, so she introduced me to the stylists.

The stylists came shopping with me twice to help pick out a new suit, shirt, shoes, tie and handkerchief since they didn’t approve the suit I already had. Thanks to them, I was able to discover the colors and suit styles that suited me.

I asked the hair and makeup artist to cut my hair the day before the show and have the makeup done on the day of the event. It was my first time to have a pro makeup artist work on my face. When the make-up was all done, I thought that I actually looked okay enough to appear on TV.



While we were chatting about the stylist, one of the staff warned us that we were going live soon so we needed to get ready. My nervous level was at its peak since the live show was going to be in front of 700 people.

On the way to the stage, although my mind was close to blank, I didn’t forget about what to talk about during the show. I want to pat myself on the back about this as I studied really hard and memorized the topics. Even if I was extremely nervous, I learned that if I get really serious about learning and memorizing, I wouldn’t forget the things I hammered into my head.

We passed by the kitchen and linen room to get to the backstage and waited there.

Takamina-san seemed nervous as well.

She said, “I’m worried about how I could meet the expectations of the audience who are here today to learn something”. I tried to comfort her by saying, “Don’t worry, most people around this time of day are here to just enjoy themselves rather than to seriously learn about something”.

Takamina-san responded, “Really?! I’m going to trust you on that!” while gazing at me intently.

The stage light dimmed, and the prologue video began to play.

I extended my right hand to Takamina-san and said “Let's do our best."

Up until then, I was too nervous to ask her to shake my hand. Actually, I was too busy trying to not act awkward that I couldn’t even think of asking her such a question. But since we were about to get on stage, I became less aware of the fact that she was a celebrity and reached out my hand towards her.

Takamina-san reached out one hand to shake my hand then another hand to hold my hand with both of her hands. I quickly extended my other hand and placed it on her hands.

Shortly after, the MC, Miyazaki-san called my name and I got up on stage first.




I was nervous on stage, but the talk proceeded as planned.

What I didn’t expect was when we asked what Cloud service was, no one raised their hand to answer.

Then, both Takamina-san and Miyazaki-san stood up and walked over to the audience and tried to get them to answer the question. I was impressed by their improvisation and admired their professionalism.

Thanks to their effort, one of the audience answered, "the opposite of on-premise".

オンプレミスという単語については、台本に、こういう返事が来るかもしれないので単語だけ知っておいて、と書いておいた。たかみなさんは、英語っぽく「On Premise」と発生してそのネタを拾ってくれた。
I wrote on the script that the audience might answer that, so she should know what the word means. Takamina-san pronounced the words “on premise” with a rather exaggerated English accent and was able to show the audience that although she was no IT expert, she was a capable entertainer.

Another audience answered, “kumo (cloud)”.

As I suspected someone would answer this, I wrote on the script, “Originally it means cloud. When drawing a network map, drawing the internet to look like a cloud is common and it implies that it is a system that exists on the other side of the internet. This is the origin of the name”. I went on to explain the meaning behind cloud service.

Since I was able to explain this part well, my colleagues asked if we had prepped the audience before hand, but that wasn’t the case.

The next topic was on earthquakes. During the explanation on server rooms, I added an impromptu comment that servers are like the “Sokantoku (general manager)” of a computer. On the script it was written as ‘the boss of a computer’, but I used the term Sokantoku which was a title Takamina-san was given when she was in the pop group AKB48. I worried that Takamina-san and Miyazaki-san might get confused since I went off the script, but they not only caught on quickly but handled it well. It felt great to work with professionals of show biz.

Our talk went well, and I used flip boards when I quoted sentences from the book Takamina-san published.I made the boards myself. I bought a steel-roll board at ITO-YA in Shibuya, and printed two A3 papers and attached a double-sided tape on it.

I thought that people from my firm could’ve helped me a to make this, but it would have taken longer if someone else made it, and in any case, I worked on it after most people went home so there was no other choice but to make it myself.

Though without a moment of relief, 50 minutes passed by very quickly and I was able to complete the show.

I have a minor regret that I didn’t take a photo with Takamina-san right after the show.

She may have said okay if I had asked her to take a picture with me, but we were all busy in the corridor backstage so I didn’t.

We parted ways in front of their waiting room.

Thank you very much.



It took six months to prepare for this project.

It was in May when our Marketing team came up with the plan and used the title of Takamina-san’s book as the theme for the talk show.

At the time, the content of the show and who was going to be on stage with Takamina-san was undecided.


I have read Takamina-san’s book in the past, but when the plan of the talk developed, I reread the book and wrote a 2000-word review a week later.

The review went to the ad agency from our marketing team and to no one else. The team told me not to publish the review to anyone else since the plan of the talk was not fixed at that point.

Perhaps because of this book review, the project was able to kick off smoothly, but maybe I’m wrong. I don’t even know if Takamina-san’s manager (“ikemen”) read it or not.

Also, for Takamina-san, since this event was not a show gig in which case it may have been a low priority for her.

Since I thought she may not even have time to read the script, I had prepared a 3-minute video summarizing the script.

I booked a meeting room for myself and recorded the video with an explanation of the project.

自分のMacQuickTime Playerで、一人寂しく作った。
I used QuickTime Player and made the video all alone...

Honestly, someone from my firm could’ve helped me a to make this too, really.

The self-made video also should have been given to the ad agency from Marketing. But again, I’m not sure if Takamina-san was able to see this.

Anyway, the point of this story is that writing a book review and creating a video for this challenging project were both wasted efforts. Giving the gift of over-the-counter cold medicine as a gift to Takamina-san I thought would be wasted effort as well, but it ended up being an unexpectedly success (or so I think). Even the small talk topics I prepared could have gone to waste - but I am still glad that I had them prepared.

What I really want to say is that, if you prepare yourself in many ways, you are more likely to achieve a positive result. When a challenging task comes along, always arm yourself with preparations. My writing skills are horrible so maybe I’m not getting my point across here as well as I would like to.

I also want to thank my team members who had to perhaps deal with extra work, etc, since I had spent a lot of time on this project. I truly appreciate my team that never complained and did a good job during my absence.



I experienced a lot of good things that made me happy throughout this project.

One is that the celebrities are professionals. Their thoughtful and attentive manner while in work mode was astonishing. They were superb.

I also appreciated the few tips I received from my stylist, Kana Minami-san.

And when the makeup artist Masako Miwa-san worked on me, I realized that my face could look alright, which was also nice to know.

To top it off, when I uploaded a picture of myself with the makeup on facebook as my profile picture, I received a compliment from Taro Yamamoto-san, which was also nice.

Well, that’s it for my story.

This is a back story of the talk, so I apologize in advance if I change my mind and delte this post.

That’ll be all. Thanks!



* Special thanks to Ms. Rima Hosoyamada for translation to English.

* 対談の中身については、宝島社のメンズファッション誌 smart 2017年1月号 および 来場いただいた方のブログで紹介されていますので参照ください。
The contents of this talk is described in a magazine 'smart' of TAKARAJIMASHA, Inc. and a blog of Sashihara Takuya-san.

 → 2017年1月号|smart(スマート)│宝島社の男性ファッション誌

 → 高橋みなみ本人に直接会って「リーダー論」について聞いてきた | YUBiLOG