From the outside, Yuko Takeuchi seemed to have a golden life. She had won Japan’s top acting award three times and had recently given birth to her second child. A graceful beauty, she appeared in a box-office favorite last year and advertisements for a top ramen brand.
Takeuchi, 40, died late last month, apparently in a suicide. No one can fully know what private torment might have lurked beneath the surface, but in a Japanese society that values gaman — endurance or self-denial — many feel pressure to hide their personal struggles. The burden is compounded for celebrities whose professional success depends on projecting a flawless ideal.