Born in Kyushu in 1980, Rena Tanaka was 17 and in high school in the southern island of Japan when she auditioned for the part.

In the film, the character of Etsuko is quite ordinary-looking and straight-forward, yet she has a singular passion for life. At the same time, the script calls for the innocence and simplicity of a rural town twenty years ago. The producers soon discovered that modern teenagers with their dyed hair, plucked eyebrows and mobile phones, lose that stage of innocence far too early.

photo:9K [photograph:Yoshikazu Katou]
Even after six months of trying out over 200 candidates for the role, no satisfactory candidate had emerged.

Rena Tanaka, a complete amateur, was brought to the director's notice one day and was invited up to Tokyo to audition.

She had no acting experience but her innocence and natural charm soon convinced the director, producers and staff. She left home for the first time in her life and spend over 2 months, acting, rowing and training everyday with the four other girls.

After delivering this remarkable performance of a young girl's coming of age, she is now back in school and preparing for an acting career.