Monthly Archives: April 2010

Mano Erina Headed for Anime Expo

Mano Erina

Popular young aidoru Mano Erina (19) is making a U.S. debut of sorts this summer. With the popularity in recent years of J-horror movies, she can expect a lot of attention at the Anime Expo that opens in Los Angeles on July 1. She will be there to to promote her first movie starring role, in the horror flick “Kaidan Shin Mimibukuro: Kaiki.” Directed by Shinozaki Makoto, it is scheduled to be in Japanese theaters in September. It is based on two short films, “Tsukimono” and “Nozomi” from the omnibus horror television series “Kaidan Shin Mimibukuro” which aired on the TBS satellite channel in 2003. Mano, who just last month graduated from high school, will play two different roles in the big screen version – a university student and a high school girl haunted by the thought she caused the deah of her sister. She also sings the movie’s title song “Uchi e Kaerou” (Let’s Go Home) in English.

Mano is a member of the huge Hello! Project family. A fan of Matsuura Aya, she entered an audition in 2004, but wasn’t selected. She finally made it in 2006 and became a member of Hello! Pro Egg. She went solo in the spring of 2008. At this year’s Nihon Gold Disc Taisho music awards, she was named as one of several Best New Artists.

From Kabuki to Ironman

Nakamura Shido as Ironman

Paramount Pictures Japan recently held an online poll to find which celebrity people wanted to see dressed up as Ironman. Beating out singer-actor Fukuyama Masaharu and actor Karasawa Toshiaki was kabuki star Nakamura Shido (37), who donned the costume this week for a promotional event in Tokyo for the Hollywood superhero sequel “Ironman 2.” Echoing Robert Downey Jr.’s dual roles of businessman and suited hero, Nakamura presented reporters with a meishi (business card) that said, “Main Job: Kabuki Actor. Side Job: Ironman.”

Nakamura needed the help of three staff to put on the powered suit, which was home-made by a fan and won him a recent cosplay contest. The suit is said to have cost more than the ¥1 million prize money. “I got a bit carried away and put it on too early. Now I need to go to the toilet!” Asked to compare himself to the character of Tony Stark, the recently married Nakamura said, “I’m a playboy, too!”

Directed by Jon Favreau, the movie opens in Japanese theaters on June 11.

Sawajiri Erika Confirms Divorce Rumor

Sawajiri Erika, Takashiro Tsuyoshi

Actress Sawajiri Erika (24, photo left) has made her first formal statement regarding the recent rumors of her impending divorce. On her official website yesterday she wrote, “I wish to formally state that I, Sawajiri Erika, have determined to divorce my husband, Takashiro Tsuyoshi (45, photo right), and we are in talks under the auspices of my family.” The member of her family is believed to be her elder brother, a former actor who now runs a restaurant in Tokyo. The Sankei Sports newspaper reports that a source close to the actress told them that she talked about divorce with her former management agency at least three times before she was dumped by them last September. Last month it was reported that she had set up a personal management company in Spain, but it now seems that was more to do with Takashiro’s plans to base himself outside Japan. Sawajiri says that she has been taking vocal lessons and that after the divorce she will resume her acting and singing careers full-time under the Avex entertainment company.

For his part, Takashiro told Sankei Sports he does not want a divorce and has been trying unsuccessfully to meet and talk with his wife. There have been reports of his having debts and other financial problems.
Earlier stories:
Erika-sama Headed For Divorce? (Apr. 26, 2010)

Ohmori Nao, Asami Reina Have Lots in Common
Actor Ohmori Nao (38) and actress Asami Reina (26) are romantically involved, according to today’s issue of the weekly magazine “Friday.” The pair were recently spotted leaving Ohmori’s Tokyo home and out on the town. Both stars have recently seen their ex’s tie the knot. Ohmori was thought to be on the verge of marriage to Puffy member Yoshimura Yumi (35) until they split up last autumn. She married another guy on New Year’s Eve. Meanwhile, Asami ended a two-year relationship with actor Moriyama Mirai (25) last summer. He announced a shotgun wedding just last month.

SMAP to Perform Overseas for First Time


Though they have ruled the Japanese airwaves for much of the last 22 years, SMAP have never performed outside Japan. That’s finally about to change, as they are lined up to perform at the Shanghai World Expo in June. The event, to be called the “SMAP Banpaku Fan Tsudoi” (SMAP Expo Fan Gathering) will be held at the 18,000-seat Expo Cultural and Performing Arts Center from 1pm on June 13. Tickets will be free and people can reserve seats using an automated reservation system in the venue on the day.

The last few years have seen more and more Japanese artists, including some of their Johnny’s Jimusho stablemates, expand their horizons across Asia. And there is no doubt that SMAP have a large fan base in the region. They were the only Japanese artists formally invited to the expo’s opening event on May 1. Expo organizers announced, “They are representatives of Japanese popular culture not only at home but in Asia. We are sure they will add to the festive mood of the Expo.”

Essayist Shishido Yuuko Dies at 77

Shishido Yuuko

Essayist and former actress Shishido Yuuko died earlier this month, it was revealed yesterday. She was 77. It is believed that the cause of death was the cancer which she has been battling for the last couple of years. As part of her treatment, she underwent surgery in 2008 to have her stomach removed. Last year the cancer was found to have spread to her lungs and she was regularly in and out of hospital until her condition worsened in March. Her two sons, actor Kai (43) and his manager Hyou, were with her when she died, but her husband, actor Shishido Jo (76) was working. Up until her death Yuuko had been working on the realization of her dream – producing a movie starring her son and with her husband in a main supporting role.

Born in Manchuria in 1933, she met Shishido shortly after she joined the Nikkatsu movie studio in 1956 and they married in 1962. She became a full-time wife and mother but started a writing career in her 40s. Her last work was the novel “Owariyokereba Subeteyoshi” (All’s Well That Ends Well) which was published in January.

Oda Kazumasa’s Mega Long-Seller
Oda Kazumasa’s 2002 greatest hits collection “Jiko Best” has reached a new record milestone with its 400th week in the album charts. The record is based on appearances in the Top 300 of Oricon’s weekly chart. Meanwhile at the top of the same chart this week is “Vocalist 4,” the fourth album of covers by Tokunaga Hideaki (49). Rock band Bump of Chicken are at No.1 on the singles chart with “Mahou no Ryori/Kimikara Kimihe.”

Erika-sama Headed For Divorce?

Sawajiri Erika, Takashiro Tsuyoshi

Sawajiri Erika (24, photo left) is rumored to be on the verge of divorce, it was reported yesterday. Last night’s edition of the Fuji TV show “Mr. Sunday” carried the story as its top news. A reporter confronted Sawajiri outside her Tokyo home yesterday evening and asked about the rumor, to which she replied only, “Sorry, I can’t say anything now. Try again in a few days.”

The actress has been married to hypermedia creator Takashiro Tsuyoshi (45, photo right) for only a year and three months, and she has barely worked in showbiz since the infamous “Betsuni” incident in September 2007. She was formally dumped by her management agency last September, but in March she announced that she had opened a management office in Spain and signed a commercial contract with the Takano Yuri beauty clinic chain. She appeared with Takano at a PR event on March 16, and set media tongues wagging yet again with a 6-point privacy agreement that any reporter had to sign before she would speak with them.

Sawajiri and Takashiro are said to be separated and she is staying with her mother. Yesterday’s Fuji TV show speculated that the couple have been having money problems. A source told the Sankei Sports newspaper, “Takashiro has provided almost no financial support to his wife for her showbiz or personal expenses. Since she spent time studying in the U.K. and Spain, she has been stuck for money.” Another source said that while Takashiro is intent on basing himself overseas, his wife wants to take advantage of the many movie and recording offers that she has received in Japan.

Earlier stories:
Showbiz Bad Boys (and Girls) on the Comeback Trail (Mar. 4, 2010)
New Year Wedding for Erika-sama? (Dec. 30, 2008)
Celebrities in Damage Control Mode (Oct. 2, 2007)

Bieber Fever Hits Japan

Justin Bieber

Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber (16) performed for the first time for 1000 of his fans in Japan yesterday. He’s here in support of his album “My World 2.0.” which goes on sale in Japan on May 19. He played six songs, including his hit “Baby.” Tweeting about his initial impressions of the Big Mikan, he wrote “Exclusive kicks everywhere..great food..and heated toilet seats.” Showing a more adventurous side than some visitors, he tweeted, “Just had sushi dinner here in Japan. Food was incredible, but I didn’t know half the stuff I was eating.” After Japan, Bieber will head off for appearances in Australia and New Zealand.

Okamoto Mayo Hit Becomes 2010 Expo Tune

Okamoto Mayo

With the 2010 World Expo opening in Shanghai a couple of weeks away, organizers seem to have managed to dilute the scandal surrounding the event’s promo song. Since “Right Here Waiting For You 2010” was announced at the end of March, claims that it was a rip-off of a Japanese 90s hit have spread like wildfire on Chinese websites. Though some people predictably used the opportunity to bash Japan, the vast majority of opinion supported the Japanese artist, popular singer-songwriter Okamoto Mayo (36). Some went so far as to demand the death sentence for Miao Sen, the plagiarizing Chinese songwriter. Expo officials consulted with Okamoto’s management agency and a compromise was reached – “Sonomama no Kimi de ite,” a hit for Okamoto in 1997, would become the official promo song. This decision was officially announced yesterday, with a comment from Okamoto saying “It is wonderful and an honor to be given this chance to cooperate with the Shanghai World Expo, an event known around the world.”

The response from Chinese netizens has been overwhelmingly positive, with calls for Okamoto to visit Shanghai to perform the song. She has been popular in China since the release of a Taiwanese cover of her 1995 debut single “Tomorrow,” which sold 2 million copies in Japan. The scandal surrounding “Sonomama…” has seen the song climb the various charts for the first time in 13 years.

An Heir for Ukon, Haga Kenji

Ichikawa Ukon, Haga Kenji

Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ukon (46) announced this morning that his wife gave birth to a baby boy on Sunday. Though he is on his third marriage, the child is the first for Ichikawa.

Someone else getting a late start on fatherhood is former actor and talento Haga Kenji (48). His wife Mayu (32) gave birth to a baby girl yesterday. The couple got married at the end of 2006, shortly before Haga was arrested for fraud and attempted blackmail. A verdict in his favor was appealed by the Osaka District Court, and a decision is due to be handed down by the Osaka High Court next month.

Okada Doubles Up on SP Duty
Okada Yuichi (29), a member of the Johnny’s Jimusho idol group V6, appeared at a PR event yesterday for his latest action movie. It was announced that “SP – The Motion Picture,” the big screen spinoff from his 2007 Fuji TV drama series, will be released in two parts. Directed by Hatano Takafumi, the first episode, “Yabou-hen” will be in theaters from October 30, followed by the release of “Kakumei-hen” next spring. Fuji producer Kameyama Chihiro said, “We originally planned to make just one movie, but we had such an abundance of ideas that we decided we had enough for two.”

The term SP refers to the professional bodyguards who protect VIPs. In the TV drama, Okada played a rookie SP with a special set of skills. The show won several awards, including a Best Actor prize at the TV Drama Academy Awards. During his 10-month preparation before shooting began Okada, who did his own stunts, said he found he was constantly focused on his role. But that take a toll on his private life? After yesterday’s event reporters quizzed him about his recently reported breakup with actress Aoi Yu (24), but Okada declined to comment.

Nishida Natsu Splits With Yukinari

Yukinari, Nishida Natsu

Musician Yukinari (31) and talento Nishida Natsu (27) have formally ended their 6-year marriage. Management for Nishida confirmed yesterday that the divorce was finalized at the Tokyo Family Court on Friday. Yukinari, a former member of the hip hop group Da Pump, will pay ¥2 million in alimony. But in a relatively rare decision, he will have custody of their 5-year-old daughter.

The couple married in February 2004 and their daughter was born the following October. But they were reported to be in divorce arbitration as long ago as December 2007. At the time, Nishida spoke publicly about being the victim of domestic violence. Yukinari quit Da Pump a year later and returned to his native Okinawa. Last year he formed a dance unit with Ken (30), another former member of the group.

Real name Tamaki Miho, Nishida was a popular guravia idol and pro wrestler, but quit showbiz after getting married. She has recently joined a new management agency and plans to resume her career as an actress from this month.