(Saitama Prefecture, 1978- )
Kikukawa Rei is more than just a pretty face. She is one of the few showbiz peple to have graduated from Tokyo University, the most pretigious third-level institution in Japan, and one of the hardest to get into. She had so much success as a model while still a student that, though she graduated with a degree in architecture, plans to go on to graduate school were put aside. Her academic background made her stand out but it is certainly her looks that have made her one of the most visible faces in Japan.
She is currently queen of the highly lucrative TV commercial world with dozens of corporate sponsorships under her 23" belt. She has also won many of the dubious awards given out each year that are thinly disguised publicity stunts. They include things like Best Slimming Award, Hair Coloring Award, Japan Bag Up Award, and the slightly nauseating Natto Queen (if you've ever smelled or eaten natto - fermented soybeans - you'll know what I mean).
Kikukawa is a member of the Oscar Productions agency, also home to her most obvious rival Yonekura Ryoko. Both women made their move from fashion plate to the world of TV acting in 1999. Kikukawa made her TV debut the earlier of the two, tin the CX TV drama Kikenna Kankei (Dangerous Association). Since then she has been appearing in dramas and commercials almost constantly. Kikukawa has done particularly well as a front-woman for dozens of products, from cosmetics and glasses to oil and insurance. On TV, she has appeared in such series as How to Marry a Millionaire (NTV, 2000) and Let's Go! Nagatacho (NTV, 2001). She starred in the direct-to-video Hollywood movie Double Deception in 2001, in which she played "the beautiful daughter of a rich and powerful Japanese businessman". There was talk of her appearing as a geisha in a Spielberg movie but as yet nothing has come of it. In 2002, she co-starred with Yonekura in Gun Crazy.
While Yonekura has the image of a vibrant, happy-go-lucky woman of the 21st century, Kikukawa often appears in a kimono and is considered more of a classic Japanese beauty. Whatever she's wearing or selling, Kikukawa is sure to be gracing TV screens and magazine covers for some time to come.