MAO - TOKYO
Mao Mitsui comes from Osaka and lives in Tokyo's Shibuya district. Don't let her polished and poised appearance in magazines, music videos and campaigns fool you. As a sports ambassador, the captain of the MeCamp, a women's only training community, and a marathon finisher, she definitely spends a lot of time moving and sweating.
Meet this bad-ass Tokyoite who places sports at the heart of her lifestyle, picked "have fun" as her mantra and documents her life through the lens of an analog camera.
INSIDE/OUT: What’s the first sport you ever practiced?
Mao Mitsui: Basketball was the first activity that gave me strength and confidence. I felt good on the playground. Being part of a team had me knowing that I was in the right place.
I/O: Was physical education a central element of your identity at school when you were a kid?
MM: When I was younger, I was not particularly keen on studying so sports were an alternative for me. A way to express my personality. To do something I was good at and proud of.
I/O: Are you a sports fan?
MM: I would say that movement is central in my life. My whole schedule is built around my activities. It gives me balance and regularity. I'm interested in all kinds of sports.
I/O: What sports heroes do you remember from childhood?
MM: Ichiro, a Japanese professional baseball player who made his debut in 1992 and now plays for the Seattle Mariners, still at a very good level. He is a legend. He played for the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins and he has established a major number of battling records. He has recorded the most hits of any foreign-born player in MLB and was the first MLB player to enter the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
I/O: Do you ever feel intense emotions during your workouts?
MM: Working out is a great motivation. A great mirror of emotions. I think a lot when I work out. About what I want to do in my life, how I want to treat my body. And it’s all positive.
I/O: How would you define the relationship that people from Tokyo have with the active lifestyle?
MM: People in Tokyo are positive and aggressive at the same time. They like sports and give the best of themselves. But they play to win. They are very competitive. Pushing their limits and releasing the pressure. It's like our lifestyle in Tokyo. It's really about the efficiency.
I/O: What is your ideal performance garment or product?
MM: I like wearing bra tops and leggings, preferably from Adidas. I am one of their ambassadors in Japan so I can test their newest products all the time and select the ones that fit my performance needs and my body.
I/O: What lifestyle rituals or routines do you do before or after working out?
MM: It might sound surprising but I always drink coffee before working out. I also stretch my body. And I eat a healthy meal after.
I/O: What about beauty?
MM: I like wearing makeup during workouts. It's almost like a war paint. It influences my mood.
I/O: What activity says Tokyo the most?
MM: Running. Tokyo is a very dense city but there are many amazing places where you can run. You can go for example to the Meguro river, the Yoyogi park, the Tamagawa river where you can train for really long runs, the Arakawa river where the annual Tokyo triathlon competition takes place or The Komazawa Olympic park, where you have the plenty of other sport facilities, too.
I/O: Where do you like go for your workouts?
MM: I like running outside, I like to feel the air and breathe. It opens my body and puts my mind at ease so I can let go. Training in the studio gets me thinking. In that space I feel realigned and more connected to my mind and body. Two ways of working out for two different states of mind. Like the yin and the yang.
I/O: What lifestyle trends do see happening in Tokyo?
MM: Vegan food is becoming more popular in Japan. Grocery stores with vegan products and vegan restaurants are opening. More restaurants offer vegetarian or vegan options. But despite a strong tradition of vegan Buddhist cuisine (editor's note: Medieval Japan was practically vegetarian), the trend only includes a very small percentage of the population. It's changing. Mostly for environmental reasons.
I/O: What activities have you recently discovered or want to try?
MM: I’d like to try Pilates. It is a very rich activity and it complements running very well. And I recently discovered surf fit and I love it!
I/O: Are selfcare and working out the new nightlife in Tokyo these days?
MM: A lot of people work out at night so I would not call it a new trend. It fits our local lifestyle.
I/O: Does challenging yourself physically take you out of your comfort zone in other areas of your life?
MM: It gives me more focus and I use it a lot professionally. I can see more clearly what I envision for the future.
I/O: What destinations are on your wish list?
MM: Mexico. I dream about it!
I/O: Do you have a mantra?
MM: "Have fun" is my mantra!
from Mao's Instagram account