Until she graduated from middle school, NAKA Riisa lived in the town of Higashisonogi but moved to Tokyo upon starting high school, and is currently enjoying success as an actress.
Together with her husband, Naka was a guest presenter at the Paralympic Sport Experience event that was held to mark 500 days to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Naka has always had a passion for sport and physical activity, so when she was given the opportunity to support and speak with world-class athletes in person, she was very interested.
Sport has the power to change peoples’ lives and Naka believes this power is something that sport and the performing arts have in common.
Nearly 15 years have passed since she departed for Tokyo in pursuit of her dreams, and she longs to show the people of Nagasaki how she has grown while also giving back to the prefecture.
Please tell us of your memories and experiences of Higashisonogi.
Higashisonogi is a town rich in nature. It's widely known in Japan for its tea plantations, and I grew up amid beautiful scenery. I remember playing tag by the sea and in the hills with my friends on our way home from school.
What impressed you about the athletes?
I was impressed how they train every day, and continue to persevere while pushing their limits. I will never forget the magnificence of the competitions or the grins of the athletes when they had finished.
What do you think sport and the performing arts have in common, and what makes you glad that you pursued a career in acting?
I think that sport is similar to the performing arts in the sense that it has the power to move and inspire people. Acting is an art in which you communicate things that you have felt and experienced. I think it is a good experience because the more people you meet, the broader your horizons become.
Please tell us about your home town of Higashisonogi and about how you want to be involved with it in the future.
Nagasaki is a charming place, with mountains, the sea, abundant nature, delicious food, and tourist sites of historic interest. When I returned to my hometown after a long absence, people would say ‘Welcome back!’ It’s a very welcoming. I'd be very happy if I could do even a little bit for Nagasaki through my acting.
Please tell us what you want to tell the world as a torchbearer, and what you are excited about.
I’m an actress now because of the people I have met, and because of everyone’s support. I want to run with earnestness, and express my joy and gratitude at being chosen to represent Nagasaki.