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Cancer, Hats, and “To Live” 癌と帽子と「生きる」

yoko katz October 17, 2018 0 comments

I am really excited that my hats are on a musical stage, “Ikiru” in Tokyo, Japan since October 8, 2018, until October 28.  This made-in-Japan musical is called “To Live,” (or “Ikiru,” in Japanese) and it is based on the Akira Kurosawa’s same title movie from 1952.  It really means a lot to me to be a part of that movie story.

The movie is about an almost retiring man, Mr. Watanabe.  He works at a public office and all his colleagues, including him, don’t want to take any new, possibly complicated jobs and stay away from trouble.  Meanwhile, many local housewives request to have a playground for their children in an abundant land.  Nobody wants to take the request.  Mr. Watanabe has no life and no challenges at work, but also he does not really have a life at home, either.  His son and son’s wife annoy Mr. Watanabe at home, while they share the same house.  Things change when his doctor’s visit made him believe that he had stomach cancer, and he suddenly realized he might die soon.     (Back old days, doctors did not tell patients when they had cancer in Japan.)

He became desperate to live his life at last.  He skipped his job for the first time ever, and he started going out with newly made friends to nightclubs, cafes, and restaurants.  He started to spend money for fun for the first time.  Everything was new experiences for him.  He also decided to take the local housewives plea to make a playground for children.  He dies at the end at the finished playground in a snowy day.  But his face looked content.


This time period in Japan, men wore hats outside.  Throughout the story, hats play a very important role and express the main character’s feeling.  A very boring hat to begin the story but it was stolen at a street and he bought a new beautiful statement hat.  His colleagues noticed his new hat and whispered what had happened to him.  The movie shows it in the park he worked for and it had been covered in snow, indicating his departure.  Then a policeman delivers the wet hat to his family.  Hats play a key role.


I am excited to be a part of this musical because I started making hats during my cancer treatments.  “Hats,” “Cancer,” and “To Live,” these keywords match me perfectly.  My story folds not exactly the same as Mr. Watanabe’s life, but it is the same that after my cancer diagnosis, I started to realize how I wanted to live during and after the treatments.  I wanted to deliver fashion to cancer patients.  My turban wrapping attracted so many patients in my chemo waiting room.  I decided to take millinery courses at Fashion Institute of Technology.  I have been learning techniques how to make hats since then.  This has been a new chapter in my life since then and this is I found how “To Live.”

I am so grateful for this opportunity to provide my hats to the show.  It has been a big success in Japan, many days are sold-out, and it will be my dream if this production comes to New York.  I really hope so!

P.S. Broadway World talked about this! (updated on October 23, 2018)



2018年10月8日から28日東京で公演中の 黒澤明監督した映画「生きる」を 新たにミュージカルにさせた舞台「生きる」に帽子提供!とてもとても、うれしい。帽子作りは、私が癌治療中から始めたこと。「癌」と「帽子」と「生きる」このキーワードが この物語のキーワードと重なり、私の熱い思いが込められた帽子が舞台で登場する。宮本亜門さん演出、主演市村正親さん と 鹿賀丈史さんのダブルキャストです。









私の場合、36歳で乳がん宣告を受け、5日間、自分の癌のステージが知らされないまま、不安な日々を過ごした。ネット上の5年生存率は、怖いものでしかない。その時に、残された時間、自分が後悔しそうなやり残したことはないかと眠れない夜を過ごしながら考えたものだ。手術をし、抗がん剤治療を受けていくうちに、自分がしたいこと・するべきことが見えてくる。大好きなファッションだったけれど、ファッション業界から癌患者さんへのメッセージがないことに気が付いたことだ。癌患者になったとたんに、ファッションから見放された気分になった。だから、私は 癌患者さんにファッションを届けたいと思って活動している。

私のターバンスタイルを教えてほしいと言われた 抗がん剤治療室の待合室。ファッション工科大学で帽子のクラスを取ることにした。癌患者さんにファッションのアイディアを届けるのは 癌治療中から私が新しく始めた「生きる」ことだ。

だから、このミュージカル「生きる」に帽子を提供することに私はすごく意味がある。映画・ミュージカル「生きる」で帽子は 癌宣告を受けた主人公を表現するのになくてはならない主役小道具。そういう小道具の一つとして 私が制作した帽子が舞台に登場する。私の癌治療からの「生きる」がこもった帽子です。なかなかチケットが手に入りにくくなっているそうですが、ぜひ観に行っていただけたら嬉しい。(私は行けない!!!行きたい!!!)ニューヨークでも、上演してほしい!

Photos from the musical’s website and my own.