The popularity in Japan of Korean star Bae Yong Joon (35) doesn’t seem to have waned. Some 3,000 people turned out to greet him at Kansai International Airport on his arrival last Friday. He was visiting Japan for the first time in almost two years to promote the historical fantasy drama series “Taiou Shijinki.” The series has very high production values and makes extensive use of computer graphics. The TV drama is his first since “Winter Sonata” made him a superstar here five years (he’s set to reprise the role in an anime version now in the works) and set light to the “Yon-sama Boom” that set huge crowds of middle-aged women swooning and leaving their husbands and families behind to attend talk events or travel to Korea. So you can imagine the shock to those fans when, at an event in Osaka on Sunday, he told reporters that he thinks he’ll be married within three years.
• Talento Uganda Tora died of acute respiratory failure on Saturday. He was 55. He was hospitalized on May 10 when an existing diabetes condition worsened. Uganda made his name in the late 1970s as the drummer of comic band “Busy Four” with Gucchi Yuzo (56) and Moto Fuyuki (57), who are both still established stars. The band broke up in 1983 and the overweight Uganda made a name for himself with sayings like “karee raisu wa nomimono” (curry and rice is a drink). His management agency also revealed yesterday that he had been married, to a woman 15 years younger, from 1994 until last year. Real name Sato Shinichiro, he got his stage name due to a likeness to the late Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
• American band Weezer have recorded the BoA song “Merikuri” for inclusion on the Japan version of their latest release, “The Red Album.” The band are including covers of local favorites as bonus tracks in various countries. The BoA track was recommended by Kyoko Ito, the Japanese wife of Weezer vocalist Rivers Cuomo.
• Actor Yanagiba Toshiro (47) is a father for the second time. His management announced yesterday that his wife Yuko (35) gave birth to a baby boy on April 26. The couple married in Hawaii in 1997 and had a daughter in 2000.
• Hagimoto Tomi, the mother of talento Hagimoto Kinichi (67) died yesterday. She was 101.