The fiction-turned-reality romance between actor Yoshioka Hidetaka (35) and actress Uchida Yuki (30) has ended after just three years of marriage. Love between the two blossomed in 2002 when they co-starred in a revival of the popular Fuji TV drama series “Kita no Kuni Kara,” (From the North Country) in which Yoshioka had a major role from the age of 11. In the series, the two overcame hardships and tragedy to finally find love and marriage. They continued the romance off-screen, even holding their wedding ceremony on location, but the ending has not been so happy. The main reason is said to be Yoshioka’s film and drama work schedule which has kept him on location away from home for long periods. Uchida gave up acting after marriage saying that being together with her husband was enough to make her happy, but the success of his “Dr. Koto” series, filmed in Okinawa and China, and starring roles in two movies have kept them apart. Yoshioka finally moved out of their Tokyo apartment at the end of November and Uchida’s lawyer filed the divorce papers yesterday.
• A new version of the popular 70s series “Saiyuki” (Monkey) is to be broadcast from January 9 on Fuji TV, and will be the first Japanese drama to be shown at the same time in Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. The show will feature SMAP star Katori Shingo (28) in the lead role, supported by comedy duo Uchan Nanchan‘s Uchimura Teruyoshi (41). The show is sponsored by JAL and the PR event was held at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport yesterday. JAL unveiled a jet decorated with Katori’s Songoku character from the drama, a historical first. the theme song, “Around The World” is to be sung by the group Monkey Majik, made up of two Canadian brothers and two Japanese. It will be the second release on Avex’s new rock label, Vinyl Records. The original series aired between 1978 and 1980, and made TV icons of Sakai Masaaki, Nishida Toshiyuki, Kishibe Shiro and the late Natsume Masako.