Actress appears in cinema lobby as well as on screen

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Actress Hairi Katagiri

Distinctive actress Hairi Katagiri has a hidden passion: being a ticket-taker at a cinema.

“I cannot help enjoying the sensation of separating a ticket at the perforated line. It might be more fun than appearing in a movie,” Katagiri, 59, says with a smile.

Although people in the audience at a cinema tend to gaze at just one point while they sit in the dark, detached from the world for a while, Katagiri sees much more.

She found her fascination with cinema when she was in junior high school. As a part-time worker at a movie theater while in college, she enjoyed the many animated conversations she could have with moviegoers.

Katagiri did consider finding a conventional job upon graduation, but as she occasionally appeared on stage as a member of a theatrical company, acting gigs came her way one after another. Eventually, she came to appear in a movie.

At Kineca Omori, a movie theater in Ota Ward, Tokyo, she frequently watched movies between acting jobs. Katagiri and the operator struck up a rapport, and about 12 years ago she was once again taking tickets from cinemagoers.

Katagiri shows up at the theater sometimes as often as four times a week, and even takes on such task as cleaning. And believe it or not, she performs this labor for free.

“Some people go out to bars regularly to enjoy themselves, but a cinema is that kind of place for me. I am doing this only because it is fun.”

Appearing in movies herself, this way of interacting with customers at the cinema provides a unique incentive to take her craft seriously.

“The cinema is where all those movies — made with such great effort — will be delivered. I would like to help people spend a brief but spiritually rich time there,” said Katagiri.

“Which movie would you like to watch today?” she amiably asks those who have come to the cinema, enjoying the sight of them taken aback to see an actress from the silver screen in person.