Actress Hara Hisako died on December 4 of heart failure. She was 96. Known as “Nihon no Obaachan” (Japan’s Grandma), she recently made the cover of the New York Times as Japan’s oldest active actress. She had been in poor health in the last few years, but continued working. Just last year she played a bed-ridden hospital patient in “Sayonara Color,” directed by actor Takenaka Naoto. “Even when we worked late, she was always, always smiling,” he recalled. “When we finished she thanked me and took my hand. I’ll never forget the warmth and softness of her hands.”
• 10 of the top Japanese and Korean pop artists took part in a joint concert yesterday in Seoul. The lineup included Nakashima Mika (22), the most popular Japanese artist in Korea, Johnny’s boy band V6, and Hirahara Ayaka (21). Although the temperature was -10 outside, Nakashima took to the stage in her trademark bare feet. She sang several songs from Korea’s best-selling Japanese album, “Love”. Her first greatest hits album, simply called “Best,” goes on sale today in Japan, tomorrow in Korea. Meanwhile V6 gave an acrobatic display of back flips and dance moves. Korean artists on the bill included rivals P (23) and SE7EN (21), as well as the Japan-based BoA (19). The event was part of the “Japan Korea Friendship Year” to mark the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
• The latest silly award goes to actress Kuroki Hitomi (45), who was named the first “Lifestylist of the Year” yesterday. In her 25th year in showbiz, the hugely popular actress is active in movies, dramas, stage productions and has has won awards for her writing.