November 19, 2017
Mao Kobayashi Passes Away
Mao Kobayashi (34), a freelance anchor and the wife of a kabuki actor, Ebizo Ichikawa passed away in the evening of June 22nd, 2017 after battling with breast cancer for two years and eight months. Kobayashi was released from the hospital on May 29th, to spend her final moments with her family. She passed away at home peacefully surrounded by her family, her parents, sister, Ichikawa and her two children. At around 8 am on June 23rd, Ichikawa made a blog post where he wrote, “today is the day that I cried the most in my entire life.” Currently Ichikawa is starring in a play that he produced, EBIKAI 2017 (from June 9th to June 25th) at the Theater Cocoon at Bunkamura in Shibuya, and he held a press conference for about 20 minutes at the theater at around 2:30 pm on the day after his wife passed away. He was busy with the play and did not have time to hold a press conference at another venue. On June 22nd, after the play ended around 3 pm, he was still at the theater for shooting and rehearsal, and while he was preoccupied with these tasks he received a message from Mao’s mother through LINE that told him Mao was in critical condition, and that a doctor was at the house and was asking him to come home. He saw the message one hour after the message was sent, and as soon as he saw it he left the theater to go home. When Ichikawa arrived home, Mao was still alive, but she was not able to talk due to a severe difficulty in breathing.
Ichikawa sat in a chair facing her, and watched over her in the bed. And then in her final moment, she said to him “ I love you,” right before she set herself on her journey.
Ichikawa said that he knew that she had always loved him, but her last words made him realize that she continually loved him until her very last moment. Looking back at her days of battling with cancer, he said that she continued to have a caring heart to those around her, towards other cancer patients, and that she also did not forget to smile, continuing to maintain who she was throughout the ordeal.
For Ebizo Ichikawa this is the second time he has lost a close family member, as he lost his father, Danjuro Ichikawa in 2013 due to pneumonia after he had battled with leukemia.
Kobayashi’s history of cancer started in February, 2014 when a lump was discovered in her breast during her thorough medical check up in February, 2014. However, at that time she was breastfeeding her son and though she stated that she would like to have a biopsy done on the lump, the biopsy did not happen. This was because the doctors told her that it was not necessary, as the likelihood of the lump being breast cancer during her breastfeeding period was very low.
In October, 2014, she saw a doctor for the check up again and it was diagnosed as breast cancer; the doctor also discovered a cancer in a lymph node in her armpit at this point.
Since then, Mao Kobayashi had been receiving treatments for cancer secretly by hiding it from the media. However, the fact that she was battling cancer became public in June of 2016 from the revelation by a Sports Newspaper. The next day, Ichikawa held a press conference and talked about her situation and confirmed that she was at stage four of her cancer.
After this, a lot of people from the press and the public come in front of his house to try to get a glimpse of Kobayashi. Ebizo repeatedly asked the media not to come to his house as it affected the daily lives of Kobayashi and their two children. However, this situation did not improve, with Ichikawa stating that their house ended up being like a sightseeing spot. As a result, they moved to a luxurious apartment in February of 2017.
On September 1st, 2016, Mao Kobayashi started her blog titled KOKORO. ( Kokoro 心 is a Japanese word translates to heart, mind) to share her stories and encourage people in similar situations. She wrote details of her illness and posted photos of herself wearing various wigs. She posted these articles quite often and the articles had amounted to approximately 370 posts over the span of nine months. Kobayashi was chosen for the award, “100 women 2016,” and contributed an article on her insights regarding living with cancer. Her blog touched the hearts of not only many cancer patients, but also regular citizens, which led to an enormous number of viewership. According to Asahi Digital, the number of subscribers surpassed 2,000,000 in April, 2017. Her death was reported by BBC with the headline: “Mao Kobayashi: Japanese Cancer Blogger Dies at 34.” On January 13th, 2017, she announced that the cancer had transferred to her skin. On May 26th, 2017 she announced that the cancer had transferred to her jaw. The last blog post was on June 20th, 2017 titled, “Orange Juice”, and two photos were posted with the text. One was of herself wearing a tube of oxygen inhalators on her nostrils which indicated that she was suffering from difficulty to breathe.
Below is the translation of Mao Kobayashi’s last blog post.
I have been drinking squeezed orange juice every morning for the past several days.
Precisely speaking, I don’t have the power to squeeze an orange by myself so, I am looking forward to, and waiting for my mother to wake up and squeeze the orange for me.
The sweet sourness of the orange wins over the pain of my oral ulcers.
Because of this juice I can smile for the rest of the day starting in the morning.
I hope that something happens that makes you smile too.
Mao Kobayashi’s Profile
Kobayashi was born on July 21st, in the Niigata Prefecture, but spent most of her life in Tokyo. While she was studying psychology at Sophia University, she appeared on a talk show called Much Ado About Love where regular young women appeared and talked about their love lives with the host of the show, Sanma Akashiya. Kobayashi appeared on the show through introduction by her older sister, Maya Kobayashi. Both Mao and Maya became popular due to their appearances on the show.
After graduating from Sophia University in 2015, Mao became a weather forecaster on a morning news show. After this, she started working as a freelance anchor and appeared on many shows. In 2008, she met her husband, Ebizo Ichikawa through an interview on the news show, News Zero and the two started dating. In January, 2010, they announced their engagement and in March, 2010, they submitted their marriage registration documents. Soon after, in July of 2010, they held their wedding ceremony and reception. Ichikawa proposed to her saying, “Let’s stay together in the next lifetime and next next lifetime after that”. When asked why he loves her, he said that she is beautiful on the outside, and that her heart is beautiful too”. Though Kobayashi was quite successful as a freelance anchor, after marriage she became a housewife to support the career of her husband. In July, 2011, Mao gave birth to their daughter, Reika. In March, 2013, Mao gave birth to their son, Kangen. Her older sister, Maya Kobayashi (37) is also a freelance anchor, and they were known to be kindred spirits.
A photo of Kobayashi at the graduation ceremony of Sophia University.
A photo of Kobayashi at the Press Conference Annoucing Engagement with Ebizo Ichikawa.
A photo of Kobayashi and Ichikawa at the Wedding Ceremony at Hotel Okura.