Mikiko Otonashi was born in Tokyo in 1949. She joined Gekidan Wakakusa at age 17 and debuted in the 1971 TBS telenovela Otose.
In addition to numerous domestic dramas such as Arigato and Tampopo, NHK Taiga dramas, and the film Otoko wa Tsurai yo: Torajiro Kamifusen, she has also appeared in many stage productions. She has also written about her experiences battling breast cancer in Tsuma no Nyubo and Gan mo Utsu mo Arigato to Ieru Ikikata.
She is married to actor Kunio Murai.
One of the landscapes I love in Kumano is the Otonashi-gawa River. I understand that in the past there was no bridge over the river, so pilgrims had to cross it on foot, purifying themselves on the way to Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine before bowing before it.
In fact, the ancestors of the Otonashi family served as priests at Kumano Hongu Shrine, and my father told me how they received the surname Otonashi, after the river, from Emperor Godaigo during the Nanbokucho period. The area’s untouched nature and the reflections of tree leaves in the water of the river, which is so clear you can see right to the bottom, are truly beautiful. It is a place that soothes and heals my heart.
Arriving at Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine after completing a series of hardships and crossing the Otonashi-gawa River... ...I wonder how many people have walked this Kumano Kodo on their way to a sacred place of prayer sought by the ancients.
I’m proud to have roots here.