Preparations are almost complete for a major Buddhist memorial service for the late legendary actor Ishihara Yujiro, who died in 1987 at the age of 52. As one of the biggest stars of 20th century Japan, he still has legions of fans and tens of thousands are expected to attend the service on Sunday afternoon. The service will be the main event over a weekend that will also feature movies and numerous Ishihara specials on the TV networks. The memorial event will be broadcast live from the National Stadium, originally built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, where 100 craftsmen have spent the last week building a reconstruction of the Soujiji temple in Yokohama which holds Ishihara’s remains. The younger brother of writer and politician Ishihara Shintaro (76), current governor of Tokyo, Yujiro became a star with his 1956 movie debut “Taiyo no Kisetsu” (Season of the Sun) based on his brother’s novel.
• Theatrical director Ninogawa Yukio (73) had a minor stroke last month, he revealed yesterday. Best known for his many interpretations of Shakespeare’s works both in Japan and overseas, he canceled a press conference appearance on June 6 after rehearsals for a production of the Bard’s “Twelfth Night,” citing health problems. But he was back at work on June 25, when he attended a PR event for the 9-hour production “Coast of Utopia,” and it wasn’t until yesterday that he publicly announced that he had been in the hospital for a week from June 2. He said he consulted his doctor after experiencing strange feelings in his right leg. Because his condition was treated early, he suffered no serious after effects and was able to make such a speedy recovery.