Japanese actress Sei Ashina dies by suicide at 36, 'Silk' star's reps call her death 'sad and unfortunate'

Sei did not leave a suicide note behind and hence, the motive behind her death is currently not known


                            Japanese actress Sei Ashina dies by suicide at 36, 'Silk' star's reps call her death 'sad and unfortunate'
(Getty Images)

Japanese actress Sei Ashina was found dead in her apartment in Tokyo at the age of 36 on Monday, September 14. Her management company and the Tokyo police confirmed that the actress died by suicide. Sei did not leave a suicide note behind and hence, the motive behind her death is currently not known. Her body was first discovered by her brother after she failed to return phone calls or messages on Sunday, September 13. The actress was best known for playing one of the lead roles in the historical drama 'Silk,' (2007) which is an international co-production directed by François Girard. 

HoriPro, her representatives, called her death "sad and unfortunate" in a statement. "The detailed situation is currently under investigation, but we would like to ask the media to consider the deep sorrow of their families and refrain from interviewing them," it read. "We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the kindness of Sei during his lifetime and pray for the souls of all of you."

Sei was her stage name. Her real name was Igarashi Aya and she was born in 1983. The actress grew up in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture and moved to Tokyo when she was just a teenager where she began a career as a model. She debuted as an actress in the 2002 Tokyo Broadcast System drama series 'A Tale Of Happiness' (Shiawase no Shippo).

Japanese actress Sei Ashina attends the closing ceremony promoting the film "Silk" at the 20th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) on October 28, 2007 in Tokyo, Japan. (Getty Images)

Although she went onto star in a number of film and television projects, her breakthrough performance arrived through her highest-profile film 'Silk,' which was an adaptation of the Italian author Alessandro Baricco novel of the same name. The movie was directed by French–Canadian filmmaker François Girard, whose claim to fame was the critically acclaimed drama 'The Red Violin.' In the film, she co-starred with American actor Michael Pitt who portrayed the character of a French silkworm smuggler and actress Keira Knightley as his wife.

In the movie, Sei played the role of an unnamed Japanese concubine whom Pitt's character falls in love with and connects with through a series of translated letters. Sei had to beat 800 actresses vying for the part in order to score the role. 

She was recently featured on the Japanese series 'Aibo: Tokyo Detective Duo,' in which she played a recurring role from 2017 through this year. She also starred in the film 'AI Amok' earlier this year. Sei also did a bit of work as a voice actress. She dubbed the lead character on the American series 'Revenge,' which aired on ABC for four seasons from 2011–2015.  

Sei’s death is the latest in a list of suicides involving well-known Japanese celebrities, including actor Haruma Miura in July and reality show star Hana Kimura in May.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 by texting HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

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