The interview is reproduced here with the kind permission of its author, Jason Nahrung.
This article was first published in The Courier-Mail newspaper in Brisbane, Australia. It was published in a different form -Jason Nahrung rewrote it into an actual report for The Courier-Mail rather than just a Q&A.
1: How would you describe the impact of making Monkey on your career? Would you say it has made you famous, at home and/or abroad?
I was already famous by then, having starred in other programmes, but I think Monkey would be included in my three most popular shows.
2: Where is the largest fan base for Monkey?
At the moment it is England and Australia. In Japan, Monkey is shown on cable television.
3: Does its popularity outside Asia surprise you? What do you think makes it so popular?
I am amazed at the popularity that Monkey still has. I have no idea as to why Monkey is so popular.
4: What are your feelings towards Monkey now?
I am very grateful for everything that happened.
5: What is your favourite role that you have played? How did playing Monkey compare to hosting television shows such as "Here's the Kitchen"?
I have no favourite role. I love them all.
6: Did you have to learn martial arts to play Monkey?
I did not take any lessons in martial arts but I was trained by a stunt trainer.
7: What was the best and the worst of making Monkey?
Up till then my fans were mostly girls, but because of Monkey many young children became fans. There were no negative aspects whatsoever.
The actual report that appeared in the Courier-Mail newspaper
Start practising your headache sutra: Monkey is returning to a television screen near you, yet again.
The cult favourite 1980s television show is being released on video and DVD - a little Monkey magic for those who simply can't wait for the ABC to screen re-runs, as it periodically does (as recently as last year on Saturday morning's Recovery).
The popularity of the show outside its native Japan still bemuses and thrills its star, Masaaki Sakai, who played the title character in the show's three seasons.
The programme is shown on cable in Japan, and enjoys large followings in England and Australia.
"I am amazed at the popularity that Monkey still has. I have no idea why Monkey is so popular," Sakai says.
Sakai has fond memories of the series, which tracked the journey of a Chinese priest, Tripitaka, and his followers to India to retrieve Buddhist scriptures. The combination of magic, mythology, martial arts and dubbed voices proved, like Monkey himself, irrepressible.
"I was already famous from having starred in other programmes, but I think Monkey would be included in my three most popular shows," Sakai says. "Until then my fans were mostly girls but because of Monkey many young children became fans."
Among Monkey's many powers and powerful weapons was a headband which Tripitaka could use to give him intense headaches be reciting a sutra, hence controlling some of his excessive sulking and bouts of violence.
For more information about the Monkey video / DVD release in Australia / New Zealand, check out the Monkey Videos / DVDs (Australia / New Zealand) page.