Rieko Zanma was born in Sendai in 1950. After serving as an announcer, magazine writer, and editor, she founded a planning and production company. She’s planned and hosted many projects, including books, videos, and cultural events. In 2001, she planned and held a large, 10-day panel discussion entitled “Being Happy as an Adult” featuring 119 panelists representing every field of endeavor, from Harumi Kurihara to then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. The event created a big splash. She served as the overall bid producer for the Expo 2005 Aichi Japan and as the overall producer for the International Skills Festival for All in 2007. In 2009, she established Club Willbe with the basic theme of creating a new adult culture in Japan. She’s also active as a radio and television personality. Books she’s authored inlcude Mou Ichido Hanasakaseyo and Tojiru Shiawase.
I feel a connection to Kukai because my birthday shares the same date as his death, and I always visit Koyasan on important milestones in my life. When I walk down the road leading to Okuno-in, I feel like my body and mind are being purified, and that a new self is being created.
Once I walked on the Kumano Kodo with the late Bunta Sugawara. I'm not very good at hiking in the mountains, but I always make it through that hike, as if something is giving me energy and spurring me on.
I've served as the chairperson of the Premier Wakayama Committee for the last several years, and in that connection I visit Wakayama more than a dozen times a year. These days a lot of my friends think I was born in Wakayama.