Game fans shivered in long lines through Sunday night in order to be among the first in the world to get their hands on the new PlayStation Portable (PSP) from Sony, their first handheld game machine. About 200,000 of the sleek black devices sold out within hours. The PSP is able to play movies, music and games, and is seen as a serious rival to Nintendo’s iron grip on the portable game-player market. The PSP, at a discounted launch price of ¥19,800 ($189), went on sale 10 days after the successful launch of Nintendo DS.
• Singer Hajime Chitose (25) is to make her post-marriage comeback in February. Her hit single “Kono Machi” (This Town) is to be used as the theme song for the movie “Ichigo no Kakera” (A Piece of Strawberry). Hajime married a restaurateur in January.
• Yet to make his TV debut, actor Mitamura Shun has already been married and divorced at the age of 23. His father, actor Mitamura Kunihiko (51), gave the game away on a variety show, also revealing that he was the grandfather of a 9-month old baby. With the younger Mitamura set to make his debut in a new TBS drama in January, his father thought he should set the record straight.
Yomiuri Giants baseball star Kuroda Satoshi (29) and talento Niiyama Chiharu (photo, 23) got hitched yesterday evening in Kawasaki. The couple went together to the municipal office to register their marriage, having gotten engaged on December 4 in Niiyama’s hometown of Aomori. They originally planned to have their weding and honeymoon in Paris, but decided to head for the considerably warmer Bali in Indonesia. They leave today and plan to have a church ceremony for two and return to Japan on the 18th.
• Dochin Yoshikuni (26) of the soul duo Chemistry is a father. He and his wife, former talento Morita Atsuko (25), married in June, and she gave birth to a bouncing baby boy yesterday. She had a fall when 8 months pregnant and was taken to hospital by Giants slugger Kiyohara Kazuhiro, who lives in the same apartment building.
Variety show host Shimada Shinsuke (48) has paid a ¥300,000 fine to an Osaka court in his recent assault case, but he may not be out of the woods yet. The Yoshimoto comedian assaulted a company employee after a show in October, and she took the matter to the police. Later she took it to the Osaka District Court, when Shimada’s tearful press conference, televised live, failed to persuade her of his remorse. The case was relegated to the Osaka Summary Court for non-criminal offenses, where the fine was handed out. The woman still has the option of taking out a civil suit and seeking personal damages. The case has forced Shimada to step down as main presenter on eight different variety shows. During his press conference, he said he would quit show business if he was asked to, and she said this week that if he is really sorry for what he did, he should keep his word and quit. Yoshimoto had been planning for him to make a return in April, when new schedules start, but this case may actually put an end to his career.
Fuji TV announcer Fukumoto Hanae (photo, 28) is five months pregnant. She married Kintetsu Buffaloes baseball player Fukumori Kazuo (29) in January. With both names beginning with the character “fuku,” which means good fortune, it seems the happy couple are now triply blessed. Fukumori is to pitch for the newly formed Rakuten Golden Eagles team from next season, after Kintetsu and Orix BlueWave merged at the end of last season.
• Weekly magazine Friday published photos of actor Kanda Masaki (53) in a seemingly romantic situation with actress Ikegami Kimiko (45). The two are performing together in a theater production in Nagoya, and rumors have surrounded them for some time. Kanda, who was formerly married to singer Matsuda Seiko, is with the Ishihara Pro agency, who deny the rumors.
• Comedian Yamazaki Hosei (36) had his motorbike stolen from in front of his home in Tokyo’s Meguro ward. He was at home with his wife and two children at the time.
The Tokyo suburban home of comedian Shimura Ken (54) was recently burglarized. About ¥400,000 in cash and ¥1 million valuables were stolen from the house in Mitaka on Tuesday evening. A private security company employee came to the house after an alarm was triggered and contacted police when he found a ground-floor window broken.
• It was revealed yesterday that actress Fuji Takako (32) and actor Watanabe Joji (36) have been divorced since October. They are both members of the same theater group. Fuji played the ghost Kayako in the Shimizu Takashi-directed “Juon” horror movie series, which he recently remade as “The Grudge” starring Hollywood actress Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Actress Mizuki Arisa celebrated her 28th birthday on Sunday, the final day of shooting of her new film “Tobi ga Kururi to.” Director Sonoda Kenji presented her with a big bouquet of flowerts after he called the final “cut.” The film is scheduled to open next year.
• The copyright infringement case (see earlier story) involving former Morning Musume member Abe Natsumi (23) led to an official apology by all 45 members of the Hello! Project. At the Hello! Project Sports Festival 2004 in Saitama on Sunday, former MM member Nakazawa Yuko (31) spoke to the 26,000 fans and apologized for the “meiwaku” (inconvenience). All 45 celebrities then gave the customary deep bow of apology.
Actress Hirosue Ryoko (24) is to make her first TV appearance since becoming a mother. She will appear on a segment of a Tunnels variety show special on December 23, a national holiday. The popular segment features two celebrities eating a variety of dishes and trying to guess which one their opponent hates, while at the same time trying to hide their own disgust. Hirosue’s opponent will be Olympic hammer gold medallist Murofushi Koji (30). Hirosue hasn’t appeared on TV since giving birth to her son Hiroshi in April. She married model-turned-designer Okazawa Takahiro (29) in December last year.
• Noda Yoshiharu (58), the founder and president of Yellow Cab talent agency, has quit to start another company. He will take with him several of the more mature stars he has groomed, including Hinagata Akiko, Yamada Maria and Megumi. Yellow Cab, which became famous in the last few years as a stable of busty female talento, will continue to represent such current stars as Koike Eiko and Sato Eriko.
• Duo m-flo have won the Best Asian Hip Hop artist award at a music video festival in Korea. As the country only lifted a ban on Japanese pop music this year, the award is the first of its kind to go to a Japanese artist. The duo is made up of Korean-born Verbal and DJ Taku, and they performed on stage with BoA, another Korean who has made it big in Japan.
Actress Koyuki (27) and Irish singer Enya (43) are to collaborate on the singer’s new video. The full-length video for “Sumiregusa” (Violet Grass) will feature Koyuki in an extended version of what TV viewers have already seen in the currently airing Panasonic commercial for the Viera TV. The decision to do a full-length version came after an overwhelming number of inquiries from viewers, many wanting to know if Enya was really singing in Japanese, which she is. The two-and-a-half minute version will be made by NTV. The TV commercial shows Koyuki as a fairy-like figure on a grassy hilltop, but the new version will be set in a church, reflecting the Christmas timing. Koyuki is best known abroad for her role in the Hollywood hit The Last Samurai.
If you’re interested in the currently underway film adaptation of Arthur Golden famous novel “Memoirs of a Geisha”, take a look at a few advance stills at this site: BlackFilm.com. Directed by Rob Marshall, the movie stars Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, supported by such local luminaries as Watanabe Ken, Yakushoi Koji and Kudo Yuki. It is an epic story of love and betrayal set against the broad and rapidly changing social canvas of 20th century Japan. Nine-year old Chiyo, a poor fisherman’s daughter, is taken from her family and sold to a geisha house. From her start as a common household maid, she blossoms into one of Kyoto’s most renowned geishas, surviving the envy and treachery of the competition.
Former Morning Musume member Abe Natsumi (23) is on a forced leave of absence after being nabbed for copying other artists’ work. As a result of the two-month punishment, she has had to drop out of the Kohaku New Year’s Eve song special on NHK. Nacchi had been scheduled to appear as part of a trio with fellow Hello! project members Goto Maki (19) and Matsuura Aya (18). They will now go on without her. Revelations of plagiarism over the last few years, in a series of books and on a radio show, appeared on the Web at the end of November.