Monthly Archives: July 2004

Kosakai Recovering from Cancer

Popular entertainer Kosaki Kazuki (48) is currently recovering at his Tokyo home following surgery for cancer. It was announced a few days ago that he would be stepping down temporarily from his regular afternoon show “Gokigenyo” but the reason was only made clear yesterday. A tumour was removed from his neck and was found to be malignant. The always bouncy Kosakai anoounced that he plans to return to work by September.

• Rock group Glay played to fans at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka last night, the prelude to their main show tonight with an expected attendance of 100,000! The band from Hokkaido are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year with Glay Expo 2004, after having been a bit quiet in the last couple of years. The project was two years in planning and cost ¥2 billion. Glay like to put on a big show – they played a venue in Tokyo in 1999 that pulled in 200,000 fans.

Howl For Venice

The new Miyazaki Hayao animated feature “Hauru no Ugoku Shiro” (Howl’s Moving Castle) is to be entered in competition at this year’s 61st Venice International Film Festival. The festival opens on September 1, and along with Cannes and Berlin is one of the major events of world cinema. Miyazaki’s latest is considered a prime contender for the Golden Lion award, the top prize at the festival, especially as he took the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and the 2003 Best Animated Feature Film Oscar with “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (Spirited Away). The film is based on a book of the same name by Diana Wynn Jones and is in the classic fairy tale style, with witches and wizards…and a moving castle. As is usual with Miyazaki’s films the central character is a young girl. The project was originally to be directed by Hosoda Mamoru but after he abruptly quit, Miyazaki took over the reins. The film is due for release in November.

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Sayonara, Oi-chan

Veteran actor Shimojo Masami, who played the role of the uncle of Tora-san in the film series “Otoko wa Tsurai yo” (It’s Tough Being a Man), died of pancreas cancer Sunday at his Tokyo home, his son, actor Shimojo Atomu (57) announced yesterday. He was 88. He took the role of Ryuzo Kuruma, known as Oi-chan, the uncle of itinerant peddler Torajiro Kuruma, nicknamed Tora-san, from the 14th movie in the Yamada Yoji-directed series in 1974 through the last and 48th in 1995.

Yuusuke Married

It was revealed yesterday that popular TV personality Yuusuke Santamaria (33, real name Nakayama Yuusuke) recently got married. He is to make a formal announcement today at the Fuji TV center in Odaiba, Tokyo. Sources say the couple had been going out for four years and the new bride is a beautiful 35-year old company employee. Yuusuke has had a very busy schedule this year, appearing as a regular on several shows and the TBS drama series “Home Drama!” and his health has been said to be suffering. Yuusuke made his debut in 1994 as the vocalist of the “latin rock” band Bingo Bongo. After the band broke up in 1997, he made his breakthrough in the TV cop show “Odoru Daisosasen” (Bayside Shakedown). The movie version later became one of the biggest Japanese box office hits ever.

• Writer Nakajima Ramo died this week. As reported here on July 22, Nakajima was hospitalized after a drunken fall down a flight of stairs. He was 52.

“Sazan” Straight to No.1

The new single by Southern All Stars has gone straight to the top spot on the Oricon singles chart. The double-A side “Kimi Koso Staa Da/Yume Ni Kieta Julia” is the band’s 39th Top Ten release, which gives them sole possession of first place in the record books. In second place is 80s idol singer Tahara Toshihiko with 38 followed by The Alfee, still active and with 37 hits to their name. Sharing fourth place with 35 Top Ten entries are SMAP and Zard, both still going strong.

• Singer Saijo Hideki (photo, 49) is to be a dad for the third time. His wife Miki is four months pregnant. She is said to want another child, but after fathering three children in as many years, Saijo says he’s had enough and just wants to live long enough to see his kids reach adulthood at 20.

Heating Up Asia

Two major acts brought the Japanese heatwave to neighboring countries at the weekend. In Seoul, it was Amuro Namie representing her country at the 2004 MTV BuzzAsia Concert. Her latest single “All For You” was released in both Japan and Korea on July 22. Following her first tour of the continent in May, Amuro seems to be aiming to become something of a Pop Queen of Asia.

• Meanwhile over in Bangkok, duo Tackey and Tsubasa played their first event outside Japan. They played at the Impact Arena to 10,000 screaming fans. During their trip, Takizawa Hideaki (22) and Imai Tsubasa (22) also visited an orphanage and a school for deaf and mute children and donated about ¥6 million.

Spanning the Generations

Pink Lady, the duo who defined “idols” in the 1980s, will perform alongside the biggest idol group of this generation Morning Musume on Fuji TV tonight. “Music Fair” will feature the teen sensations alongside the duo, who retired before they were even born but are enjoying a comeback this year.

• Singer songwriter Onizuka Chihiro (photo, 23) has signed with A&M Records. The popular artist’s contract with Toshiba EMI came to an abrupt end in April with one album commitment remaining, and her future career had seemed in jeopardy. But the new signing with A&M, part of the Universal Music group, is seen as a chance for her to launch a career outside Japan. A release planned for October will be the first by the new label.

Next Up for Yagira – Elephant Boy

The next project has been announced for young actor Yagira Yuya (14), surprise winner of the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival in May. He will star in “Hoshi ni Natta Shonen – Little Randy and Shining Boy,” to be released next summer. It tells the true story of Sakamoto Tetsumu who went to Thailand to become an elephant trainer. After returning to build an elephant park in Japan, he was killed in a traffic accident at the age of 20. The movie will be based on the book by Sakamoto’s mother. Filming will begin in October and take place in Japan and Thailand. With high school entrance exams coming up next spring, Yagira will study with a private tutor during the shoot. He plans to spend this summer vacation working with elephants.

Ramo Falls Again

Writer Nakajima Ramo (52) has been hospitalized in Osaka after falling down a flight of stairs while leaving a bar. The controversial writer and commentator is currently on probabtion after an arrest for marijuana possession in February of last year. He is said to have been drinking heavily recently.

• It was revealed yesterday that singer Nakamura Ayumi (38) and her 54-year old businessman husband have recently divorced. Nakamura has custody of their 5-year old daughter.

Buck Tick Vocalist Married

Sakurai Atsushi (38), vocalist of the rock band Buck Tick, revealed on the band’s web site yesterday that he got married last month. The very brief announcement included no details of the new bride. Sakurai plays his first solo live concert tonight at the NHK Hall in Tokyo and is expected to make a more formal announcement to fans then. Buck Tick, one of Japan’s more established rock groups, have been going since 1987.

• Saito Masumi (26), the busty former pin-up girl who briefly made a name for herself as the date of comedian Sanma Akashiya (49), recently married baseball player Goto Mitsutaka (25), an infielder for Orix Blue Wave in the Pacific League.