Anna Sawai can relate to the old saying that beauty is pain. “It took two ladies 40 minutes to dress me — on a good day!” Sawai tells Alexa about the stunning-but-cumbersome kimonos she wore to play Toda Mariko on FX’s Shōgun, which is based on the best-selling novel by James Clavell. “I wasn’t drinking much water so I could avoid making stops at the restroom. And on weekends, I would go to a chiropractor to have my shoulders treated. But it is what [my] ancestors wore in 1600, so I think it really helped to get the full experience.” 

The New Zealand-born Japanese actress describes her character in the gripping, action-packed historical drama as “a woman who wears many hats.” 

“She is a mother, a wife, a daughter of a disgraced warrior, a Catholic, a loyal samurai and the last of her family line,” says Sawai, 31. 

The former J-Pop singer — who starred in “F9” from the “Fast & Furious” franchise and Apple TV+’s “Pachinko” and “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” — has also been killing it on the red carpet, looking effortlessly elegant in Prada and Acne Studios. (She’s working with celebrity stylist Karla Welch, who also dresses Alexa cover stars and favorites Sarah Paulson, America Ferrera and Lainey Wilson.) But the actress admits she’s more often than not in “sweats, sneakers and very light makeup, if any.” 

Here’s a mix of some of Sawai’s coziest comforts and glitziest gear. 

“I’ve had this bag for years and love it so much because it’s stylish but also made with vegan material. Even when I’m in my sweats, as long as I have this bag, I feel put together.”

“This lip liner is a healthy pink-nude shade and doesn’t look overwhelming even when I’m barefaced. I think it’s very healthy looking and gives brightness to my face.” 

“I got this for myself after wrapping ‘Shōgun.’ I love its simplicity yet unique design. I wear it 365 days of the year. It makes me feel a little classier than I actually am.”

“This scent [of orange blossom, strawberry, wild berries, oak and birch woods] is just so different from any other diffusers. I had it when shooting Shōgun in Vancouver and traveled with it to multiple locations because it instantly makes my part-time apartments feel like home.” 

“I’ve been using this cream for years. I don’t know what it is, but the morning after I always feel like my skin looks a bit more plump and moisturized. I also ask my makeup artists on set to prep my skin with it because it’s that good.”

“I remember a hair stylist putting this in my hair and I bought it the very next day. It not only hydrates the hair but also boosts my mood because it smells so, so good.”

“I picked this book up after reading ‘Silence’ by Endo Shusaku, and I just remember weeping on the train like I’d never cried before. It’s about a young Japanese lady loving a Christian man during a time when Christianity was prohibited [in Japan].”

“I’m a coffee addict, but I love having soba tea when winding down. The scent and taste is so calming, but what I enjoy most is eating the buckwheat leftovers. There are said to be many health benefits as well.”  

“There’s never a time when I don’t have Hi-Chew lying around. When I feel peckish I’ll pop one in my mouth. While we were shooting ‘Shōgun,’ the ADs would leave some Hi-Chews on my chair to get me through a long day.”

“This might not be for everyone, but I personally love natto [fermented soybeans]. My go-to breakfast is natto with rice. It’s healthy, tasty and gives me a sense of comfort when I’m traveling and away from Japan.”

“The ReFa face roller has saved my puffy morning face. I like to use it all around the face and body, but find it does wonders, especially on the neck, to boost the lymphatic drainage.”

“I just love Reformation as a brand, but recently these sweats have been on repeat. They’re so warm, cute and go well with my New Balance sneakers.”

“I personalized these with lenses that go darker when it detects light, so they’re good to wear indoors and out. I also like how they’re brown and have a softer feel than say your usual black shades.”

“I bought myself the MR530WBV last year and have not taken them off since. They go with any kind of clothing.”

New episodes of FX’s “Shōgun” drop Tuesdays on Hulu.

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