Actress Abe Mihoko (28) married South Korean soccer player Choi Sung Yong (28) at a ceremony in the Grand Hilton Hotel in Seoul on December 28. Choi was formerly with J-League team Vissel Kobe and now plays in the Korean league.
• NTV presenters Uozumi Rie (31) and Mori Keisuke (25) are to tie the knot on New Year’s Day. The couple started going out while co-presenting an afternoon information show. Uozumi plans to retire and become a full-time housewife.
• Japan midfield star Ono Shinji (24), currently with Feyenoord in the Dutch league, and his wife Chieko (24) finally held their wedding ceremony. The couple registered their marriage in July, 2001.
• Enka singer Fuji Ayako (photo, 42) and actor Kimura Kazuya (34) have broken up after less than a year together. Kimura is the eldest son of the late comedy legend Yokoyama Yasushi.
Christmas is considered a romantic time in Japan, which is maybe why, following the wedding announcement last week of actress Hirosue Ryoko (23), there seems to have been a wedding rush among TV stars. Hirosue, who is in her fifth month of pregnancy, married designer Okazawa Takahiro (28) on December 23. Actress Sakurai Sachiko (30) exchanged vows with freelance music producer Tanaka Satoshi (43) last weekend. The couple have been going out for thirteen years. Actress Okina Megumi (photo, 24) announced her engagement to marry IT entrepreneur Fujita Susumu (30) on February 1. Fujita is CEO of Cyber Agent. Former Kome Kome Club vocalist Ishii “Carl Smokey” Tatsuya (44) is to remarry in the New Year. His bride-to-be is a Canadian former back dancer, with whom he already has a child. And Fuji TV announcer Karube Shinichi (41) is engaged to marry 32-year old doctor Fukuda Yukiko next May.
Actor Ishida Issei (29) became a father today. His wife, former TV personality Miyake Emi (25), gave birth to a baby boy at a Tokyo hospital. Ishida is rebuilding his career after an arrest two years ago for drug possession. He returned from a Niigata film set to be with his wife at the birth. The couple married on December 6, Ishida’s birthday.
• Actor Watanabe Ken (photo, 44) has been nominated for a Golden Globe award for his supporting role in the Tom Cruise movie “The Last Samurai.” “Out of hundreds of Hollywood movies, and hundreds of actors, to be among the six chosen is truly an honor,” he said. “I’m even more happy that Tom was also nominated. He called me last night on my mobile to congratulate me.” Cruise was nomonated for Best Actor.
The title song for the new movie Casshern, the directorial debut of Kiritani Kazuaki (35), is to be recorded by his wife Utada Hikaru (20). The movie, starring Iseya Yusuke and Aso Kumiko, and single are due for release next spring. Utada is already busy planning her attack on the US market and her first concerts in four and a half years at Tokyo’s Budokan.
You may have only seen her as the cute-as-pie Acom girl, but like most young women aiming for stardom, Ono Mayumi (22) has done her share of bikini shots and is now planning her recording debut. Over 100,000 copies of her Love Maui “shanshin-shu” (photo book) have been sold, and no doubt her agency are hoping for sales of her March 2004 CD release to be just as healthy. She also has another photo book coming out today and a TBS TV drama role next month – busy girl.
• Watch out for the name Hirhara Ayaka. The 19-year old has yet to make her recording debut, but is already causing quite a stir. She made No. 1 on the November Yusen request chart with her single Jupiter, which doesn’t even go on sale until tomorrow. She is curently studying Jazz at the famous Senzoku Gakuen. Her debut album, over half of which she penned herself, is due to go on sale in Japan and Korea next February.
In one of the biggest – and unexpected – stories in the showbiz world this year, actress Hirosue Ryoko (23) announced that she is engaged to marry model-turned-designer Okasawa Takahiro (28). At a press conference held Monday at the Westin Hotel in Tokyo and attended by over 200 members of the media, she also revealed that she is four months pregnant and will be taking an extended break from acting as of this week. The couple plan to register their marriage in the near future. Hirosue has been making a name for herself in movies, appearing alongside Jean Reno in Wasabi. But she also caused a fuss by using her fame to get into the prestigious Waseda University and later dropping out.
Former TV CM queens Fujiwara Norika and Hirosue Ryoko have fallen from grace. The latest popularity rankings put Hirosue, No. 1 in 2001, in 54th place. Fujiwara fares even worse, falling to 57th despite being No. 1 in 1999 and 2000.
• Fukumoto Hanae (27), a sports presenter for Fuji TV, is engaged to marry baseball player Fukumori Kazuo (27), who recently moved from the Yokohama Bay Stars to the Kintetsu Buffaloes. The couple plan to hold a ceremony in late January, 2004.
Yakusho Koji (photo, 47), one of Japan’s top actors, is to team up with young heart throb Tsumabuki Satoshi (22) in a WWII spectacular. The ¥1.2-billion movie “Lorelei,” an adaptation of a best-seller by Fukui Harutoshi that tells of a plan to thwart a third atomic bombing of Japan, is scheduled for release in 2005. Yakusho is to play submarine captain while Tsumabuki will take on the role of a young spy. The megaphone is to go to monster movie director Higuchi Shinji.
• TV personality Mukai Aki (39) and former pro wrestler Takada Nobuhiko (41) have finally become parents, thanks to a surrogate mother in the US. The American woman gave birth to twin boys at the end of November, according to a statement from their agency Tuesday. While pregnant in 2000 Mukai discovered that she had uterine cancer and lost her baby. A previous attempt to have a surrogate birth in the US also failed.
A special drama about legendary former prime minister Tanaka Kakue, planned for next spring, has been cancelled. The Fuji TV drama was to have starred actor/director Kitano “Beat” Takeshi (56) as the firebrand politician. In a press release, it was announced that they had not been able to elicit the cooperation of the Tanaka family. Tanaka Makiko (photo, 59), daughter of the famous leader, recently resumed her political career after a scandal forced her out of the government a year ago. Meanwhile, a TV Asahi drama on the Lockheed scandal that brought down her father, which was scheduled for Dec. 29, has also been postponed.
• Finger Five, a 70s Japanese version of the Jackson Five, played a one-night-only gig last night at the New Takanawa Prince Hotel in central Tokyo. They played four of their biggest hits, such as their 1973 debut Kojin Jugyo and the smash hit Gakuen Tengoku. It’s been 27 years since the brother and sister group broke up.
Pop superstar Utada Hikaru (20) is set to play her first live shows in three and a half years. The venue for the five shows, running from February 3-10, is the venerable Budokan near the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, where she played with TLC and Monica back in 1999. Hikki married 35-year old photographer Kiritani Kazuaki in September of last year and has since been working toward a launch into the US market. An all-English album is expected next year, which could be a real breakthrough year for her.