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Takeru Satoh Stars On Vogue Man Hong Kong’s September Issue

Feb 06, 2024


by Vogue Man Hong Kong

31 Aug 2023

From saving the world in Kamen Rider Den-O and righteously wielding his samurai sword in Rurouni Kenshin to portraying the pure innocence of first love in First Love, Takeru Satoh has played a multitude of roles on screen since his debut in 2006 and has left a deep impression in the hearts of his audience with his multifaceted charms. Behind all the shining accolades is a man who relentlessly pursues breakthroughs with a persevering spirit.

Sweater, Ferragamo.Platinum ring with black south sea cultured pearl, sapphire and diamond (left), platinum ring (right),18K White gold bracelet with black south sea cultured pearl, diamond and sapphire,18K White gold brooch with black south sea cultured pearl and diamond, Mikimoto.

By coincidence, or perhaps some strategic planning, many of Takeru Satoh’s roles are manifestations of ideal personas we all wish we had. The righteous, pure-hearted heroes whom we struggle to become are brought to life by Sato on screen and are widely beloved by his audience, male or female. According to Sigmund Freud, one’s personality comprises three elements: the “Id”, the primitive part of the mind; the “Ego”, the mediator between ideas and reality; and the “Superego”, which pursues the perfect self. In hindsight, Satoh’s two-decade journey as an actor is very much a journey to realise the Superego. Born in Japan in 1989, Satoh was scouted at 17 years old in 2006 and went on to star in Kamen Rider Den-O in 2007, garnering attention for his ability to portray eight different roles in one setting.

Cardigan with detachable collar, trousers, Prada. Loafers, talent’s own.

In 2012, Satoh was front and centre in the highly successful live-action film adaption of the popular manga Rurouni Kenshin and continued to star in its sequels Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends in 2014, up until the release of the final film Rurouni Kenshin: The Final Chapter in 2021. The Rurouni Kenshin franchise sold 10 million tickets with a worldwide box office gross surpassing 19.5 billion yen. It also shone a spotlight on Satoh’s exceptional martial arts skills, capitulating him into international fame. In 2015, Satoh took home several Best Actor awards for his role in The Emperor’s Cook. In 2020, he impressed audiences with his role as the acerbic, perfectionist doctor Kairi Tendo in An Incurable Case Of Love, which won him two awards for Best Supporting Actor. He later starred in the original Netflix romantic drama series First Love, inspired by Japanese-American singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada’s song of the same name. The series achieved huge success globally upon its release in November 2022 and entered the Netflix Global Top 10 chart.

Coat with draped cape, Fendi.M code liberté noir necklace, genderless ring, passionoir ear cuff with black south sea cultured pearl, M collection ear cuff, Mikimoto.

Beyond the screen, Satoh also published five photobooks between 2008 to 2016. Recently, he made his first visit to Hong Kong in celebration of Japanese jeweller Mikimoto’s 130th anniversary campaign “A Love Letter To The Sea” and attended the opening of the brand’s pop-up store at ifc mall. Previously, Satoh visited Paris in collaboration with Mikimoto for his first art book Beyond, which featured snapshots of the actor flaunting the brand’s Passionoir and M Collection. In his interview, he shared that his partnership with the brand stems from their shared spirit of breaking boundaries: “As an actor, I admire Mikimoto’s constant efforts overcome challenges and their spirit of pioneering a new vision in this world, which is why our collaboration took place.”

Suit with embroidered lapel,chelsea boots, Fendi.

Beyond is Satoh’s first-ever art book, created in collaboration with world-renowned photographer Mario Sorrenti. The book features a collection of photographs captured against the backdrop of Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s architecture alongside other locations. Born in Naples, Italy and based in New York, Sorrenti has lensed many Hollywood stars and supermodels, including Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid and Kate Moss. He unveils that while Satoh is approachable, he has a certain aura about him that leaves you in disbelief. “He transforms so effortlessly. You never know whether he is going to appear younger or more mature in that moment, and it’s interesting to see contrasting personalities coexist within one person. He is very intuitive and very sensitive, and we didn’t need much conversation to understand each other. Another very cool thing during the shoot was that Satoh kind of took on a similar role as the 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who was a hero and source of inspiration for many poets and artists. I would be very excited if Satoh actually gets casted in such a role.”

Embroidered cardigan, cotton shirt, trousers, Dior.

Satoh responded, “When Mario showed me the footage from the first day of shooting on location, I knew I was in good hands, and was willing to fully immerse myself. I felt something stir in the depths of my heart and and I was determined to give it my all. In opening up during the shoot, I also felt increasingly vulnerable – I think this truly demonstrates Mario’s ability to touch the soul and put people at ease. He believed in me and let me express myself freely. It is the same when I act: when the director lets me embody a role without micromanaging, it inspires me to surpass my limits. So for this Beyond shoot in Paris, I gave it my all without any regrets.”

Cashmere coat, cashmere blanket, Burberry.M Signiture 18K pink gold ring with diamond, Mikimoto.

For Satoh, collaborative work built on mutual trust holds special significance. In 2021, when he left his long-time agency to participate in founding a new agency called Co-LaVo, its mission statement was “to become a place that creates new value through collaboration and connect people around the world to share their visions.” Both Satoh and his team long for a creative mode of expression that broke them free from the fate of many in the entertainment industry, who suffer aesthetic fatigue due to the commercialisation and public consumption of their art.

He stated: “Don’t get me wrong, but I’ve truly never been very interested in photos taken of myself for work. However, this collaboration with Mario for Beyond represents cutting-edge creativity, completely different from the fleeting imagery many consume online or on Instagram today. This is what excites me about this project. The title Beyond means transcending various things, crossing borders across countries, and seeking collaboration with people from all walks of life. Additionally, I hope to transcend time — while photos people share on social media today can go viral, they are quickly forgotten. I hope to create timeless work. That’s the idea behind Beyond.”

Pleated cotton shirt, trousers, Hermès.

Since his debut, Takeru Satoh has been renowned for his skilful acting abilities. To date, he has already starred in 28 films and 19 television dramas, with many box office hits seeing him take the lead role. Last year, the fire of ambition in Satoh’s heart burned ever brighter after the global success of his Netflix drama series, First Love. “I think this is a sign that I’m heading in the right direction. The popularity of First Love has illuminated my path ahead. Now, I know that it’s time to advance toward my goals. My current goal is to produce a Japanese drama that takes Asia by storm — that’s the only thing on my mind. I’m a competitive person who enjoys doing something well and will see it through to the end. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been like that.”

What’s next for Satoh? The actor has big goals of going global. “Netflix has hugely changed the landscape of the entertainment industry and also changed my own way of thinking. It allows Japanese productions to enjoy the same budget plans and distribution scales as works from South Korea and other parts of Asia. It encourages me to have a global outlook, but first and foremost, it is important to create television dramas for Asian audiences. This is the first time I’ve had such a clear sense of direction since becoming an actor. That said, we still need to create works and roles popular enough to wow not only Asia but the world. The key to success in promoting new works in a new environment still comes down to the people.”

Photographer: Leung Mo

Creative Direction and Stylist: Jacky Tam

Set Designer: Victor Wong

Styling Assistant: Kaz Lam, Priscilla Ng, Harrod To

Hair Stylist: Eito Furukubo

Producer: Gary So

Talent: Takeru Satoh

Location: The New Studio

Text: Patrick Chiu

Translated by Kaitlyn Lai


Vogue Man Hong Kong