It’s finally official – X Japan have been formally named as the only Japanese artists in the lineup of this year’s Lollapalooza rock festival in August. In what will be the band’s long-awaited first concert appearance in the U.S., leader Yoshiki said yesterday that they will be performing new material from an album now in the works. Sources say the album will be a mix of new songs and fan favorites such as “Rusty Nail,” and will be all in English. Due for a summer release, it is the band’s first original album in 14 years.
Though the band recently played on a rooftop in Hollywood as part of a promotional video shoot, American fans have had to wait more than 20 years to see X Japan live on stage. Concerts have been announced in the U.S. and Europe several times over the years but have never happened, due to a variety of contractual, medical and personal reasons. When they take to the stage in Grant Park, Chicago in early August, it’ll be the realization of a dream for the band members themselves, though sadly too late for the late guitarist Hide, who died in 1998. After a hiatus of ten years, the band reunited in 2008, with Hide appearing on stage as a “hologram.” Though he has since been replaced in the lineup by former Luna Sea guitarist Sugizo, it will be interesting to see if he “appears” at Lollapalooza.
This year’s festival lineup also features the likes of Green Day, Lady Gaga and the eagerly awaited reunion of grunge pioneers Soundgarden.
Yoshiki Says X Japan Will Play Lollapolooza (Feb. 2, 2010)
Otsuka Ai Cancels Appearances
J-pop star Otsuka Ai (27) has canceled all upcoming professional engagements while she undergoes testing for suspected acute abdominal condition, which is often caused by appendicitis. Management for the popular singer said she was admitted to hospital yesterday after suffering severe pains, and they have canceled several scheduled radio appearances over the rest of the week.
New Member of the Watanabe Clan
Actor Watanabe Ken (49) is a grandfather for the second time. His son, Dai (25), announced on his blog that his wife gave birth to a baby girl at the end of March. Married since March 2008, they had a son the following August. Dai stars in the popular TV Asahi detective series “Rinjo,” which returns for a second season from tonight.
Comedian Razor Ramon HG (34, photo left) is determined not to be remembered as a one-hit wonder, and is making a comeback from serious injury. Hugely popular for a couple of years with his Hard Gay character, he made a switch from comedy to full-time professional wrestling with the Hustle promotion. But he suffered multiple fractures in his left foot following a dive from the ring at Korakuen Hall last July. He was taken to a Tokyo hospital but told that, as the injury wasn’t life threatening, he’d have to wait three weeks for surgery. Wrestling associates introduced him to another hospital where, a week later, he had 12 bolts inserted to hold his foot together. He spent the following two months in hospital and required a skin graft to repair his foot.
Real name Sumitani Masaki, HG has been unable to work since the accident, undergoing two major operations. He’s set to make his return as a regular on the TBS variety show “Sekai Waraeru! Journal” later this month. Asked if he was stuck for money, he replied, “Over the last eight months, I’ve made as little as ¥7,000 ($75) a month. I was like a pimp! But I was okay because my wife was earning about ¥1 million.” He married former pin-up girl Suzuki Anna (27) in 2006 and they had a son in July 2008.
Holding the leg brace he wore for several months, HG said yesterday, “I’ve retired from wrestling and I’m going to get back to TV and acting. I’m aiming to be a two-hit wonder!”
Nagayama Yoko to be an Arafo Mother
Enka singer Nagayama Yoko (42, photo right) is finally realizing her dream. As a girl, she planned to get married and have a baby around the age of 20. Well she was only two decades late in achieving the first of those when she married American businessman Mark Smith (41) a year ago. And yesterday she announced on her blog the happy news that she is expecting her first child. She said she is a five months pregnant but won’t be taking maternity leave until after she records the June 23 edition of her regular TV Tokyo show.
Nagayama says she plans to continue her career: “Being a mother and working, these are both precious treasures in my life. As for my work, I will try not to be a burden to my fellow staff.” Speaking about having her first baby in her 40s, she said, “To be honest, I am a bit nervous. But I hope I can be an inspiration to other women of the ‘arafo’ generation.” The term ‘arafo’ has been widely used in the last few years to refer to people, particularly those getting married or having children, who are “around forty.”
Korean pop quintet Tohoshinki received plenty of love from fans across Japan and Asia after their weekend announcement that they are indefinitely suspending all performances. Thousands of messages flooded in to their official website, and a spokesperson for the Avex record label said most of them were positive and expressed a desire for activity in the group’s fan club to continue. The announcement wasn’t entirely a surprise, as there had been rumors circulating for some time. Last July three of the five members – Jejung (24), Junsu (23), and Yunchun (23) – got into a legal dispute with their SM Entertainment management agency about the fairness of the 13-year contract they were signed to and the way profits were shared. The three won a court decision in October and set up a new management company, and several scheduled concerts were canceled.
The dance-vocal group debuted in South Korea in 2004 and in Japan the following year. They have had considerable success in Japan, with several No.1 hits, CD sales of over 5 million, and appearances on NHK’s annual “Kohaku Uta Gassen” New Year’s Eve concert and Nihon Record Taisho awards the last couple of years. Their last performance was a CDTV Special last New Year. All five members are said to be considering solo careers, and Jejung is to appear in a Japanese TV drama series later this month.
Kimura Takuya in Shanghai
SMAP’s Kimura Takuya (37) was in Shanghai over the weekend to start shooting his latest drama series for Fuji TV. “Tsuki no Koibito – Moon Lovers” will air from May 10 and is KimuTaku’s first romantic drama in about 10 years. Playing an interior design company president, he will have not one but three love interests, one of whom is popular Chinese model Lin Zhiling (35). The other main female roles will be played by Shinohara Ryoko (36), in her first drama role since becoming a mother in 2008, and Kitagawa Keiko (23).
Though very few Japanese dramas have ever been aired on Chinese TV, KimuTaku has a large following across Asia, and hundreds of fans turned out for a glimpse of him on location around Shanghai, including a restaurant near the landmark Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
Actor Asano Tadanobu (36, photo left) has been romantically linked with model Diana Chiaki (22, photo right), according to this week’s issue of weekly magazine “Friday.” Asano and singer Chara (42) took the showbiz world by surprise when they divorced in July of last year, and that news was quickly followed by rumors of another woman. It turns out that she was Chiaki, whose mother is Japanese and father is Irish-American and who is with Elite Model Management in Tokyo. The pair were spotted at a Tokyo restaurant recently, with Chiaki returning to Asano’s home in his Mercedes. Management for both celebrities refused to comment on the story.
Asano and Chara were married for 15 years, and she has custody of their two children. Shortly after the divorce, she released the single “Breaking Hearts.”
Chara Sings of Split With Asano (Jul. 27, 2009)
A Speedy Wedding for Shimizu
Olympic speedskating gold medalist Shimizu Hiroyasu and fashion model Takagaki Reiko (30) announced on their blogs yesterday that they are married. The newlyweds were spotted by reporters at Narita Airport yesterday evening as they headed off for their beach wedding ceremony in Hawaii. A beaming Takagaki was more than happy to show off her Harry Winston diamond ring. A source close to the couple said they registered their marriage at a Tokyo municipal office on March 31, and they plan to hold a large reception at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo in July.
Shimizu won the 500m speedskating gold at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. Takagaki is a popular model for the “AneCam” fashion magazine.