Monthly Archives: August 2004

An Heir is Born

Prince of the kyogen world, Izumi Motoya (30) has a son and heir. He appeared before the media Sunday with his extended family to show off his son Motokiyo, who was born at the end of July. Present were his wife Aki (35), a former TV celebrity, his daughter Ayame (2), his two sisters and his ever-present mother Setsuko (62).

• There were impressive line ups at a couple of “end of summer” concerts over the weekend. The Avex label tried to put its recent problems behind it as it rolled out the stars to kick off this year’s “a-nation” concert tour. 48,000 rain-soaked fans watched Hamasaki Ayumi, Porno Graffiti, Tommy February6, ELT, Exile and others perform at Showa Memorial Park west of Tokyo. Among the headliners at a 2-day event sponsored by FM radio station J-Wave in Tokyo were Ulfuls, Okuda Tamio, Begin, and rapidly rising star Moriyama Naotaro (28).

Lessons With Rei

In a survey that asked people to name the celebrity who was their ideal home tutor, actress Kikukawa Rei (26) came out on top, ahead of actress Matsushima Nanako (30) and comedian/director Kitano “Beat” Takeshi (47). Topping the list of worst home tutors were celebrity – and perennial least popular man in Japan – Degawa Tetsuro, simpering actress Sato Tamao and, surprise, Kikukawa Rei.

• Pop duo Chage & Aska played their first outdoor gig in 16 years in Tokyo at the weekend. Celebrating their 25th aniversary, they played live versions of their early hits for the first time in 15 years as well as new songs for a crowd of 20,000. The duo, who enjoyed their biggest success in the late 1980s and early 90s, postponed the second half of a nationwide tour to rehearse for this event. They’ll finish the tour between erly September and mid-December.

Makiko Mama

Actress Esumi Makiko (37) is expecting her first baby this winter. She married 38-year old Fuji TV director Hirano Shin in January of last year and made the happy announcement amidst the publicity for her latest movie. She will star alongside Nishida Toshiyuki (56) in the 15th episode of the “Tsuri Baka” (Fishing Fool) series. Esumi and Hirano met on the set of the popular comedy-drama series “Shomuni.” They married just two and a half months after they started going out.

• Popular TBS announcer Ogura Hiroko (29) has been chosen to host the evening news show “News no Mori” from the end of next month. Ogura has been a main reporter for TBS on the Olympics. Alongside her will be Ikeda Hiroyuki (48).

Can’t Give Up That Man!

TV Asahi announcer Tokunaga Yumi (29) just can’t seem to break up with comedian Uchimura Teruyoshi (40). The two had a well-publicized affair last year, which led to Tokunaga giving up her main TV spot. She divorced her husband, a TV Asahi director, and this April got a job as sports caster on the popular “Hodou Station” news show, on condition that she broke up with Uchimura. But the latest edition of Friday magazine reveals the two are still meeting secretly. Uchimura, one half of the comedy duo U-chan Nan-chan is known as one of Japan’s most eligible bachelors but also something of a lady’s man.

• Actor Kobosuka Yousuke (25) has left the Yokohama hospital where he spent the last two and a half months. He miraculously survived a fall from his 9th-floor apartment on June 6, suffering a cerebral contusion and two broken legs among other injuries. He is said to be already driving his car to the hospital to undergo rehabilitation.

• Kabuki actor Ichikawa Somegoro (31) is to be a father. His wife Sonoko (32) is two months pregnant. Somegoro is the son of actor Matsumoto Koshiro (62) and the brother of actress Matsu Takako (27).

Dandy Gets a Bride

Dandy Sakano (37), the comedian who many predicted would not be on our TV screens for long after his “Gets!” gag had faded, has tied the knot. He married his girlfriend Natsuko on August 22, her 24th birthday. The pair met three years ago when Sakano was supporting his struggling comedy career with a part-time job at McDonalds. Sakano made his breakthrough last year when the Gets! gag was featured in a TV commercial for a loan company.

• Actor Esumi Eimei has died of stomach cancer at a Tokyo hospital. He was 68. He appeared in soft porn movies early in his career, but also in “Dodesukaden” (1970) by the late master director Kurosawa Akira.

• Comedian Nakagawa Tsuyoshi (33) has been hospitalized due to overwork. His younger brother and side-kick in the Yoshimoto duo Nakagawa-kei, Reiji (32), will have to hold his own for the next two weeks. The duo appear on 9 regular weekly shows.

Ilmari, Nonami Love Nest

A romantic relationship between Ilmari (29), a member of the 5-main hip hop unit Rip Slyme, and actress Nonami Maho (24) has been revealed by Josei Jishin. The weekly magazine says the pair have been living together since early summer at a Tokyo apartment near Nonami’s family home, a claim both their agencies deny.

• Entertainer and TV host Kosakai Kazuki (photo, 48) is to return to work next week. The host of the afternoon chat show “Gokigenyou” has been recovering after surgery to remove a tumor from his neck. He will return to hosting the show on Monday, August 30.

Okada’s Son Commits Suicide

Actor Okada Masumi (68) announced at a press conference yesterday that his 26-year old son commited suicide at the end of last month. He said, “I don’t know why. It’s ben hard… and so sad when the child dies before the parent.” His third son was from his marriage to actress Fujita Midori (58), whom he divorced in 1994. He worked for a theater company as an assistant stage designer. He was found hanged on July 27 at his mother’s home in the upscale Denenchofu suburb of Tokyo. Okada said he had been too shocked to attend the private funeral the following day. He called the brief press conference after the magazine Shuukan Josei reported on the suicide and claimed that Okada and his son had been on bad terms. Okada said this was untrue.

• TV viewership of Saturday’s baseball game between the Yomiuri Giants and the Hiroshima Carp was a mere 4.2%, the lowest ever figure for a Giants game. While it was overshadowed by the Japanese medal rush at the Olympics and NTV’s 24-hour TV marathon, the figure also reflects the declining interest in pro baseball.

O-tsukare Sama!

NTV’s 24-hour TV marathon came to a close last night with the last-minute arrival of actress Sugita Kaoru (39), who was this year’s choice to run the 100km marathon. It took her more than 25 hours, but she was in reasonably good shape when she arrived at the Tokyo Budokan, from where the live event was broadcast. Last year’s runner, comedienne Yamada Hanako (29) arrived an hour after the show was scheduled to finish. It seems that the grueling event is used to give an image boost to female stars who, while popular, have “flawed” characters. Yamada has built a successful career because of, rather than despite, her lack of height, brains and looks. Sugita made her name as a child actress, especially in the original “3-nen B-kumi Kimpachi Sensei” school drama series in 1979. But her late teens saw her rebel against her “goody-two-shoes” image. Now her “sales point” is that she’s a woman entering middle age and never married, who speaks her mind and likes a drink.

• Singer Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi (47) finished a marathon of his own. With the smoking volcano of Sakurajima as a backdrop, he played all night to 75,000 fans in his home of Kagoshima. Over the course of nine hours he played 41 songs spanning a 27-year career. He finished with the song “Captain of the Ship” and repeated the phrase “Ikite!” (Live!) for a full 20 minutes!

• TV personality and former Olympic volleyball star Kawai Shunichi (41) has been hospitalized with shingles. He hopes to be back at work by the end of next month.

Hajime Loses Baby

Singer Hajime Chitose (25), who had been expecting her first child at the end of the summer, has suffered a miscarriage. She announced the sad news on her web site, adding that she herself was well on the road to recovery and looking forward to another chance. She married a 27-year old restaurateur in January.

• Singer Nakajima Mika (21) played the first of a series of concerts for fans who won tickets by lottery. Sponsored by Coca Cola Japan, who gave away the tickets to 15,000 people who bought their Sokenbicha tea (out of 750,000 people who applied), the 6-venue concert series features Nakajima accompanied by violinist Hakase Taro (36).

• With the country’s Olympic athletes providing the excitement of a “medal rush” sports fans are staying up late to catch the action. Despite an average viewing figure of less than 18% for the 9pm-to-midnight slot, figures have almost reached 30% for the live coverage of judo semis and finals. NTV’s coverage of Anno Kyoko gold medal performance managed 29.8%. Overwhelming 100kg gold-medal favorite Inoue Kosei probably would have done even better except he fell to a shocking loss in the 4th round.

Lifesaver Matchi

Former idol singer turned racing driver Kondo Masahiko (40) has been honored for saving a drowning boy. The Maritime Safety Agency awarded him with a lifesaving certificate for rescuing a 2nd grader from Osaka who was drowning off Shirahama beach. The incident took place at the beach in Wakayama prefecture a couple of weeks ago. “Matchi” said he was somewhat embarrassed by the award, adding, “I just did what anyone would have done.” He reached superstardom as a member of the Tanukin Trio idol group in the early 1980s, along with Tahara Toshihiko and Nomura Yoshio. In 1994, he entered the Le Mans 24-hour road race and now has his own team, Kondo Racing.