MINAMI-ALPS, Yamanashi - Her fading inner fire was reignited when Miyuki Mochizuki, 37, noticed that the audience here was in stitches over her performance as a clown.
Mochizuki was performing in Minami-Alps, Yamanashi Prefecture in May 2011, on the stage of a newly renovated hall. She was doing her job as a clown-making people laugh-acting out silly pantomimes and juggling her way through the goofy act as she surprised the children and amused the adults.
Their reaction was a most welcome encouragement, boosting Mochizuki's spirits at a time of great tragedy. Just a few days before, she had held a farewell ceremony in the very same hall for her husband, Kazue, who died at the young age of 37.
Mochizuki lost her husband only 50 days after their wedding. He made her realise the meaning and importance of smiles, an essential part of being a clown. She was depressed and cried every day after her husband's death, but gazing out at the smiling audience helped her find herself again.
Mochizuki first met Kazue at a barbecue party with friends in June 2003 in Yamanashi Prefecture. At the time, she had just recovered from depression, which had forced her to take a break from her clown career.
Mochizuki was impressed with Kazue's commanding presence at the barbecue and began dating him, although they broke up six months later. Still, Mochizuki could not forget him, and they resumed dating when she met him again six years later.
Kazue, who had a weak kidney, continued working in sales while receiving dialysis treatment. Likely because of his illness, he never proposed. Mochizuki hatched a plan to get him to propose at a bridal fair, enlisting the help of a friend who was working at a wedding centre, but it didn't work, so she told him the truth.
Kazue finally said to her, "I'll take care of you, and you take care of me."