On Francoise Morechand's living room table there sits a book once owned by a samurai in the Edo Period (1603-1867) that she says she has been studying.

"I think I may have been a samurai once in a past life. But you know, I would never do hara-kiri. I would die in battle," she declares.

It is this strong sense of conviction and commitment that has garnered Madame Morechand a legion of confidantes and fans across a wide spectrum of societies — from the worlds of fashion, culture and politics, to name a few. But to most people, she is Japan's French flower, helming generations of France-Japan cultural understandings that all began with her breakout popularity in the 1950s as one of the first foreign tarento (television personalities).