Mai Satoda isn’t a star in America like her husband, New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanka. She’s more often seen in the stands than on TV or in the headlines.
That wasn’t true in Japan.
Satoda was a star in her own right at home, a pop star, a TV personality and a regular mention in her country’s pop culture swing during the early 2000’s.
As Tanaka looks to lead the Yankees back to postseason pinstripe glory, the spotlight may once again shine bright on Satoda as well. Here’s what you need to know about her:
1. Satoda & Tanaka Were Married in 2012
The couple first met in January 2010 when Tanaka appeared on a Japanese TV show called “The Professional Baseball All-Stars Sports Festivals.” Participants competed in a handful of vaguely ridiculous games in front of a live studio audience – as well as the show’s crop of hosts. Those hots included Mai Satoda.
Tanaka told The New York Times he was taken with Satoda as soon as he mt her, telling the paper, she was endearing if not “somewhat ditsy.” The pair announced that they were dating on their individual blogs in November 2010. The future New York Yankees pitcher wrote “Good morning. It is cloudy in Sendai and a little chilly. You might know the news. I have been going out with Mai Satoda, the talent.”
Satoda and Tanaka married in 2012 and she quickly focused her career on making a home for her and her new husband. The pair now live in Manhattan with their poodle and just recently announced that they are expecting their first child together.
2. She Was Part of the J-Pop Group Country Musume in Japan
While she was still in high school, Satoda tried out to be a “pop idol” with the J-pop group Country Musume or Country Girls.
Throughout the early aughts, Satoda was, for all intents and purposes, a famous singer throughout the country. The group released its first single, translated as “Sexy Baby” in April 2002 and its first album in August 2006.
Despite their “look” and scantily clad outfits, the Country Girls never quite broke through to become one of Japan’s leading pop idol acts. Instead, they were middle-of-the-road talent that occasionally found success on the charts. Satoda officially left the group and made the transition to television.
3. Satoda Also Worked as a ‘Baka Talento’ on Japanese TV
In 2006, Satoda began appearing on Japanese TV as a “bako talento,” which translates, literally, to a “foolish talent.” Her dumb-girl act attracted hordes of brand-new fans and turned her into one of the Hexagon II Quiz Parade‘s most popular personalities.
Her on-screen routines were entertaining and regularly shaped up like this:
Q: Which country is the largest in North and South America?
Q: The Earth is a planet. The moon is a satellite. What is the sun?
As her star began to rise across the country, Satoda’s appearances on TV increased and she was at her celebrity peak in 2007. That was as high as she would climb, however, as more and more shows started to hire “o-baka” players to make on-screen appearances.
4. She Frequently Posts About Her Life on Her Japanese-Language Blog
Although she’s focused mostly on helping her husband transition from Japanese baseball to the MLB over the past two seasons, Satoda also keeps up a regular blog where she updates fans, both stateside and home, on her life in New York City.
She’s a frequent spectator at Yankee stadium and boasts over 200,000 readers on her blog.
When it was first announced that Tanaka was heading to New York, the Japanese press reported that Satoda was slated to perform on Broadway, however that proved to be just a rumor.
5. Satoda Has Worked as a Quasi-Nutrionist for Tanaka
In addition to work as a pop star, game show hostess and aspiring writer, Satoda is also a certified chef who has, occasionally, doubled as a nutritionist for her husband.
When Tanaka first made the transition stateside, he was confident in several things but nothing more than Satoda’s ability to keep him healthy. She joined him throughout his rookie spring training in 2014 and Tanaka told media, through an interpreter:
I have no stress at all as far as food goes. That’s partly because my wife is a good cook. Totally, the balance of what she did was really good for me.
Satoda has also posted her best recipes on her blog, sharing her culinary work for MLB fans around the world.