Kawano Akiko, Ibata Hirokazu Get Hitched

Kawano Akiko, Ibata HirokazuIt’s been a while since we reported that staple of Japanese entertainment news – a marriage between a TV announcer and a pro baseball player. Well, today TV Asahi’s Kawano Akiko (30) sent a fax to the media announcing that she and Chunichi Dragons shortstop Ibata Hirokazu (33) have tied the knot. Kawano has been a regular co-presenter on the nightly news show “Houdou Station” alongside Furutachi Ichiro (54) for the last four and a half years. She plans to leave the show and quit TV Asahi at the end of March. She didn’t say if she plans to continue her career as a freelance announcer. A Golden Glove winner, Ibata was a fifth-round draft pick out of Asia University in 1997. He played for Japan at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and helped Chunichi win the Japan Series for the first time in more than 50 years in 2007.

• It was revealed yesterday that actress Sawajiri Erika (22) and “multi-creator” Takashiro Tsuyoshi (44) are planning to get married next month. The two, whose romance was first reported in September of last year, have been living together in London since April. Sawajiri has reportedly been studying English and plans to come back to Japan to resume her acting career. She largely dropped out of sight after some cranky public appearances brought a flood of bad publicity and a tearful apology in October last year.

Bitch or Bad Hair Day?

• Young Johnny’s Jimusho idol singer Uchi Hiroki (22) gave a tearful series of concerts for 75,000 fans over the weekend. His five solo shows at the Yokohama Arena marked his full comeback from the probation he’s been on since July 2005, following an underage drinking incident. Uchi made his debut with Johnny’s at the tender age of 12 and was a member of several groups, including Kansai Johnny’s Jr. and NEWS, and won a best newcomer acting award for a TV drama role in 2003. He is still officially a member of Johnny’s Jr. but hasn’t performed with them in over three years. The drinking incident, which came while Uchi was recuperating from surgery for a collapsed lung, was taken very seriously. But his youth and popularity meant he was given a chance to rescue his career. He has been making a gradual return to work, appearing in a theatrical production in the summer of 2007 and in a couple of TV dramas earlier this year. He is scheduled to give a series of solo concerts in his hometown of Osaka in early January.

• Tokyo Metropolitan police revealed this morning that former Morning Musume member Ishiguro Aya (30) recently caused a minor traffic accident. Her car collided with another, driven by an elderly man, at a junction in Setagaya Ward, western Tokyo, on Saturday afternoon.

• Singer Hirahara Ayaka (24) has said her brief acting career is over. She made the surprise announcement at a mini concert yesterday to promote her new album “Path to Independence.” With Tokyo Bay and the Rainbow Bridge as a backdrop, she performed seven songs for a small invited audience of 60 people. Hirahara earned praise for her acting in the recently completed Fuji TV drama series “Kaze no Garden,” in which she played a singer. But she said that she wants to concentrate on her music.