Sawako Agawa, an essayist and TV celebrity, has conducted 1,000 interviews with actors, athletes, writers and people in other fields for the weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun.

“I had never thought that it would continue so long, but (by focusing on this) I missed the chance to get married,” the 60-year-old joked.

It was the fall of 1992 when the chief editor of the magazine offered her a chance to become an interviewer rather than continuing as an essay writer.

“I had known I wasn’t good at writing. I felt shocked, though, and was not confident about interviewing people either,” Agawa said.

“But I decided I should use the opportunity to learn to be a great interviewer, because it was the magazine that asked me to do it,” she said.

The running interview page was launched in 1993 with a story about Noriko Fujita, the wife of sumo stablemaster Futagoyama.

“I was almost in tears when I saw the editor make a circle with both arms (indicating acceptance) after I finished interviewing her,” Agawa said.

Agawa’s 1,000th guest was Kazuyoshi Morita — the comedian better known as Tamori. The story ran in Shukan Bunshun’s special 2014 New Year edition on Dec. 25.

“I should have asked for more details about the untold story behind why ‘Waratte Iitomo’ (a lunchtime TV show Morita has hosted for many years) will be ending (in March), but we ended up talking about drinks and yacht races instead,” she said.

“I believe my role as an interviewer is to value the reader’s perspective but also to get unexpectedly interesting stories,” she said.

Agawa’s 2012 book, “Kiku Chikara” (“Ability to Listen”) has been a huge hit, selling over 1.5 million copies.

Though grumbling about getting old, Agawa appears full of energy. ” ‘Endurance makes you stronger’ — and as this proverb goes, I will continue to work hard.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.