Atsuko Asano(浅野 温子,Asano Atsuko?, born March 4, 1961 in Adachi, Tokyo) is a Japanese actress. Upon marrying Tsutomu Uozumi, a reputed copywriter and lyricist in 1983, her “koseki” name (name in Japanese family registry) became Atsuko Uozumi. She gave birth to a son in 1984. Her career has been significant in Japan, coinciding with trends in TV, movies and stage. Her talent, personality and beauty stand out.
She was invited by a production agency to try out for acting at the age of 15. She appeared on TV for the first time in 1976, playing minor roles in dramas. In 1977 her appearance in the drama Fumiko to Hatsu on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) is widely considered to be her debut work on TV.
Movie work started early as well, notably with a leading role in Slow Boogie (1981) which brought her acclaim. In 1983 her performance in Yokiroh (“The Geisha”) earned her a Best Supporting Actress Award from the Japan Academy Prize.
From the mid-1980s she began to gain popularity in TV dramas. Top-rated series to follow were: Abunai Deka on Nippon Television (NTV, 1986), Papa is Newscaster (TBS, 1987) and Dakishimetai! on Fuji Television (CX, 1988), the latter being noted as a signature trendy drama in Japanese TV and a boom to her popularity. Then The 101st Proposal (CX, 1991) was another major hit. She became an icon in Japan as a top actress, lady of natural style and fashion leader.
She has appeared on the cover pages of numerous magazines. On the pages therein her live-wire personality has been noted to speak for a new generation of Japanese women, and for millions of fans. Among her awards a favorite is “Best Jeanist” (1989) from the Japan Jeans Association in recognition of her attractiveness while clad in jeans.
Endorsement deals ensued with Menicon, Mercian, Mitsubishi Motors, Sony, Japan Airlines, Japan Tobacco, Meiji Ice Cream, GC Card, Mitsui Life Insurance, Lion Plain & Rich, Shiseido, Nissan Motors, MonCafe, Twinings, NEC, Parco, Vivre, Vital Rich, Loreal, and P&G Luminesse, etc.
While she impressed audiences with her elegant and “weeping” role in The 101st Proposal, her enactment of the popular cartoon character Sazae-san on TV (CX, 1992–1996) showcased her talent for comedy. Then in contrast she performed a hard-edged role in the series Sashow the Last Case (CX, 1995), pointing to her skillful flexibility in acting.
Her career entered another phase with more stage roles than before, from starring in Romantic Comedy in 1998. Stage work gave inspiration and tremendous influence to her. This gave rise to her project of performing “Yomigatari”, storytelling stages with scenario based on “Kojiki” ("Record of Ancient Matters"), the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, at shrines all around Japan since 2003. Starting at the shrines Ise Grand Shrine and Izumo-taisha, by 2010 she performed her storytelling stage before over 80,000 people on 64 stages. The project is ongoing. In many interviews she commented, “There are more than 80,000 shrines in Japan. I would like to visit all of them, but to do that living to the age of 200 won’t be long enough!”
Her efforts in performing Kojiki-related stages earned her an appointment to the position of visiting professor at Kokugakuin University since 2008.
The year 2009 brought her an honorary executive position with SONOKO, a cosmetics/personal appearance products company.
For relaxation she likes reading, taking long walks and taking pictures of flowers with her cell phone. Her pictures taken from her cell phone are often reported on her official website and blog.
An avid reader, she favors novels of the “jidai shosetsu (時代小説?)” (historical fiction) genre. Among many of the anecdotes related to her reading, “Once she went into a bookstore and bought 100 books at one time” (Weekly Asahi magazine, Jan. 2000). “She does not care about fashion or materials, except books. She has never bought clothes herself and she does not wear make-up when she goes out day-to-day. The only thing she would care about and buy herself is books. She bought books in such quantity that one shopkeeper lent her a cart to carry them out (SAY magazine, Sep. 2003). “Her book collection grows gradually to such a tremendous extent that one whole floor of her house has been turned into a warehouse for storing her books.” (Ikiiki magazine, Oct. 2008).
She is also a great fan of Doraemon, having watched nearly all of those animated videos, and has a plentiful collection of Doraemon items. She expresses her love of Doraemon by showing audiences her personal cell phone with its surprising array of Doraemon figures from the TV show “Kiyoshi to Konoyoru” (NHK, 2007).
Commented in many interviews that the lovely, long straight hair she wears, one of her trademarks since becoming an actress, stays that length because she does not care to be bothered with visiting beauty salons to get it cut, and is moreover surprised to be admired for physical attributes she never thought about much.