Higashiyama, Kimura are “Serious”

Higashiyama Noriyuki, Kimura Yoshino

Management for actor Higashiyama Noriyuki and actress Kimura Yoshino formally acknowledged the couple’s relationship for the first time on Saturday. A fax sent to the media, issued in response to a story in the tabloids, said that the two were in a “serious relationship.” Higashiyama (43), a member of the former Johnny’s Jimusho idol group Shonentai, has been at the center of romantic rumors before, but the statement is a first, indicating that a marriage announcement may be just around the corner. His previously reported partners include actress Uchiyama Rina (28) and TV Asahi announcer Takeuchi Emi (33). But he doesn’t have the image of a player and is described as one of the most professional stars in the Johnny’s stable. In fact, he is said to be the right-hand man of agency boss Johnny Kitagawa (78).

Higashiyama and Kimura (33) started dating after they appeared together in a stage production in March 2008. He was just out of a 2-and-a-half year romance with Uchiyama, and Kimura had just broken up with actor Iseya Yusuke (33), with whom she appeared in the 2006 Hollywood movie “Silence.” As for possible wedding plans, the pair will probably wait until the spring, as they have a busy couple of months ahead. Kimura is appearing in the Fuji TV drama series “Nakanai to Kimeta Hi” from January and Higashiyama will be preparing for a stage role in “Curtains” that starts in February.

• A small fire caused the cancellation of last night’s scheduled preview screening of the movie “Rambling Heart.” There were no injuries at the Yamano Hall in Tokyo, where the fire broke out in the morning and burned the screen. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire. Just the night before, actor Kiriyama Ren (24) had pulled out of the event with the flu.