Actress Fumi Nikaido seeks wider methods of expression

Fumi Nikaido's stylish fashion sense is adored by young women. In her column for a fashion magazine, the actress, 20, wrote: "Grooming yourself is one way of expressing yourself so that you can keep being yourself."

The character she is playing now on the TV drama "Mondainoaru Restaurant" (A restaurant with problems) wears only black and is nicknamed Mofuku-chan (Little Mourning Dress). The character, a former company employee, cannot be true to herself and choose red or pink clothes. She is intelligent but tends to rely on her brain too much.

Although Nikaido believes one does not need to have that much sympathy or understanding toward a role to play it, she continued wondering why her character thinks this way or says certain things.

"It's only very recently that I've become attached to the role," she said.

Asked what kind of clothes she likes, she said, "I love clothes so much that I would often go to secondhand clothes shops and was once scouted at one of them. I wear many kinds of clothes. Sometimes it's all black, but I wear very colorful clothes, too. I don't like to categorize myself as a such-and-such style and I wear a wide range of clothes. I go shopping on my own."

Born in Okinawa Prefecture in 1994, Nikaido made her acting debut in 2009 in the film "Gama no Abura" (Toad's Oil), directed by Koji Yakusho. She is highly praised overseas as well. In 2011, at the Venice International Film Festival, she received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actress for her role in "Himizu."

"Mondainoaru Restaurant" is a drama about women who are tormented in a male-dominated society. They gather under former company employee Tamako (played by Yoko Maki) and open a bistro with pot-au-feu as the draw, making the place a competitive force against a restaurant run by a company where sexual harassment is rampant.

Female characters appearing in the drama can't help but cry as they are subjected to explicit sexual harassment. Nikaido said there were times when she thought it was going too far, but many people she knew told her that such cases do happen in real life, and that's why they could feel many things in the drama.

"[Because the drama is written in a comedy style] it emphasizes the message it is trying to convey, I think," she said.

The drama's final episode will be aired next Thursday on the Fuji TV network.

Currently, Nikaido is a university freshman and makes regular contributions to three magazines, including Shosetsu Shincho. She sometimes has sleepless nights for days in a row.

"I won't make acting the only method of expression for myself and I would like to continue trying things I'm interested in," she said.

Asked her opinion on attractive women, she said, "I'm drawn to women who are principled and honest. I'd like to mature as a woman whom people feel has inner beauty, not superficial strength."