Rumors of trouble in the only recently revealed relationship between TV personality Henmi Emiri (photo, 26) and former J-Leaguer Nakanishi Tetsuo (33). She said on a recent talk show that she has given up on hopes of marriage, and was seen at a movie preview yesterday without the ring he had given her.• Sales of SMAP’s single “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana” has broken the 2 million copy mark. It is the first time in over three years that a single has reached this figure and a first for SMAP.
Abe Natsumi (21) is the latest to announce her “graduation” from the idol group Morning Musume. At a Hello! Project show in Tokyo, “Nachi” shocked fans with the news that she will leave the group next February. This will leave Iida Kaori (21) as the only surviving original member. Abe will release her debut solo single in late August.
• Rock singer and poseur extraordinaire Yazawa Eikichi (53) made a rare guest appearance at the FM802 Meet the World live event in Osaka yesterday. He sang one song “Love Fighter” and left without so much as a word to the 16,000 audience. His only such outings in recent years have been in 1997 at Wembley Stadium in London alongside Jon Bon Jovi and Rod Stewart, and a tribute to his good self in Japan in 2001. The FM802 event also featured Hirai Ken and Chage & Aska.
Sato Akira (26), better known as Mach25 bassist Shakan Bass, was one of three people arrested for marijuana possession. Sato is the most visible and popualr member of the group, often appearing on TV variety shows. Whereas such an arrest of a rapper in the US would be seen as almost essential for credibility, in Japan it’s portrayed as a betrayal of the group’s fans. The arrests followed investigations into the drug suppliers used by writer Nakajima Ramo (51), who was arrested back in February. Mach25 have been one of Japan’s foremost hip hop groups since their hit last year with “Sons of the Sun.” They are scheduled to play at several events this summer, including the Rock in Japan Festival 2003 on August 1.
Former Osaka governor Yokoyama Nokku (photo, 71) has hinted at a political comeback. The former comedian was given a suspended 18-month sentence in August 2000 for sexually harrassing a student volunteer. With the 3-year suspension period almost up, he may try to make the most of the huge celebrations that will engulf the city after an increasingly likely pennant win by the Hanshin Tigers baseball team.
• Instrumental duo S.E.N.S. are to be the first Japanese to be the opening act for a Major League Baseball game. They will perform before the July 26 NY Mets-Cincinnatti Reds game at Shea Stadium. The duo have won Golden Disk awards twice for Instrumental Album of the Year and their tunes have been used in countless TV shows and commercials. They recorded their new album “The Key” in New York last year, which led to their MLB debut.
Singer Higashiyama Noriyuki (36) plans to carry on his present stage production despite having a broken foot. Performing together with fellow members of the one-time idol trio Shonentai, Higashiyama broke his foot in three places doing one of his acrobatic stunts but finished the show anyway. Following the accident, which happened during the 700th performance of the group’s “Playzone” show, Higashiyama was advised to take a month’s rest but the Johnny’s Jimusho star says he’ll carry on.
• Romances in the rumor mill include TV personality Kozue Rin (23) and Nishina Masaki (21), son of samurai/yakuza actor Matsukata Hiroki; TV personality Yoshikawa Hinano (23) and actor Iseya Yusuke. Yoshikawa was married for 7 months to cross-dressing singer Izam.
Rock group B’z extended their record of No.1 singles on the Oricon chart to 31, with “Yasei no Energy” entering straight into the top slot this week. Pop group Tube, best known for their summer hits, stretched a record of their own with “Oasis,” their 18th consecutive Top 10 album.
“Odoru Daisosasen 2” (Bayside Shakedown 2) set a new box office record for its three-day opening weekend, taking in ¥1.8 billion. The record was previously held by the 2001 animated hit “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (Spirited Away), which had a ¥1.6 billion opening. That movie went on to win an Oscar and make over ¥30 billion at the Japanese box office. “Odoru” is the sequel to the 1998 hit, which in turn grew out of a TV series. It turned Oda Yuji (35) from a heart-throb into a movie star. Co-star and veteran comedian/actor Ikariya Chosuke (71) got out of hospital just in time for the movie’s opening ceremony.
Hira Takehiro (28) is a member of the “elite” in more ways than one. The son of actors Hira Mikijiro (69) and Sakuma Yoshiko (64), he went to the US at the age of 15 to study at Brown University and later graduate school at Columbia University. After returning to Japan, he entered the booming Internet company Softbank. But last year, he gave all that up to turn to acting. He appeared on stage in a show featuring his parents, who had divorced 18 years earlier, and in a production of King Lear. This week, he makes his TV debut alongside Todai graduate Kikukawa Rei in the new TBS drama “Loved to Love”. Watch out for this guy!
Pop duo Dreams Come True kicked off their Wonderland summer stadium tour with weekend dates in Shiga Prefecture. Vocalist Yoshida Miwa (37) and Nakamura Masato (44) only do the tour once every four years – this is their fourth time around – and have played to over a million people. This year’s tour will visit six venues until the end of August.
• Popular hip hop group Rip Slyme played the biggest ever Japanese hip hop event at the Showa Memorial Park in western Tokyo yesterday. Torrential rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the 52,000-strong crowd, and it stopped right on time for the 6pm start of the 2-hour show. The group currently have the No.1 album slot with “Time To Go.”
Rumors continue of a relationship between TV personalities Kato Haruhiko (28) and Kikukawa Rei (25). Kato, appearing at a Guinness Book of Records presentation, claimed that she is just one of many female friends. The ceremony was to acknowledge a record set by elementary school kids for a 30-person version of a three-legged race. Kato and Yuka (23) were judges at the event.
• Horror manga writer turned TV personality Yamazaki Toru (photo, 33) has made his solo CD debut. The effeminate star has made a name for himself over the last couple of years and is considered the epitome of “kawaii” by Japanese women. In his latest incarnation, he dresses in frilly white clothes and dances in the style of an 80s idol singer.