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Arranging an interview with Michiko Maeda took nearly a month — she has long been media-shy — but when she finally agreed to meet film writer Yoshiaki Suzuki and me at a Tokyo beer hall, she epitomized kimonoed grace and charm, while saying this would be her final interview.

Maeda was originally scouted in a Ginza coffee shop by a Shintoho employee and, soon after signing with the studio in 1955 at age 21, was winning lead roles.

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