Sumiko Sakamoto, 70, is a singer and award-winning actress whose heartfelt performances have made her a favorite of the late film director Shohei Imamura. Imamura cast her in three of his films, among them "The Ballad of Narayama," winner of the 1983 Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, in which her brilliant portrayal of an elderly mother not only earned her a kiss from Orson Welles, but also the Japanese Best Actress Award from Nihon Academy. This year she celebrates her 50th anniversary in show business, but the role and performance she is happiest with is that of being a wife and mother who is so full of love that she thinks nobody can compete with her on the homefront. A believer that children are gifts that must be cherished, for the past 14 years she has devoted most of her time to running the Seibo Nursery and Kindergarten in Kumamoto, Kyushu.

Never give up one thing for the sake of another. Destiny creates opportunities for us and we must accept them all as they come. Don't even think of stopping one thing just because a new possibility has appeared. Who knows if you will succeed or not — just do them all. When I was feeling pressure to give up singing and acting to please my future mother-in-law so that I could marry her son, I knew that was not even a choice. I wanted both, persevered and got even more.

Don't watch your back: watch his! A man is all about his back. His iki — coolness — shines through there. When I saw my husband's back, I knew he was great, and he is. It is not the size or shape of his back that matters, but the feeling I get about his character, which is written on it.