Guitarist Matsui Ryo (38, photo left) has quit the rock band The Brilliant Green. He made the sudden announcement yesterday on the group’s official website, saying only that the decision was for “personal reasons.” He addressed fans, saying, “I’m proud to have been a member of The Brilliant Green. I hope you will continue to support them.” The band only recently moved to the Warner Music Japan label and got back to business for the first time in two years. They released the single “Like Yesterday” in February.
Made up of Matsui, vocalist Kawase Tomoko (35, photo center), and bassist Okuda Shunsaku (38, photo right), The Brilliant Green was formed in 1995. They made their major label debut with the all-English “Bye Bye Mr. Mug” in 1997. The following year they had a breakthrough hit with “There will be love there,” which was also the theme for the TBS drama series “Love Again.” But between 2001 and 2007, Kawase worked more on her solo career as Tommy February6, and Matsui had a stint with his own band, Meister.
The New Faces of DoCoMo
Actor Watanabe Ken (50) is one of the new faces of NTT’s DoCoMo mobile phone network. He teams up with young actor Okada Masaki (20) for a new TV commercial that airs from today, while actress Horikita Maki (21) and singer Kimura Kaela (25) pair up in a CM from next Tuesday. The four appeared at a PR even in Tokyo on Monday to announce the “Hitorito, Hitotsu” campaign. Asked what a mobile phone means to him, the Hollywood-based Watanabe said, “Due to my work, I’m often overseas or far away from my family. So for me it’s an important tool, a lifeline.”
Everyone was taken by surprise at the weekend when rock vocalist Tamaki Koji (51) and talento Aota Noriko (42) both officially announced their relationship online. But no one was more angry about it than Tamaki’s former girlfriend, actress Ishihara Mari (46). That eventful relationship goes way back, as far as 1983, though 23 years and several marriages came and went before they were reunited in February 2009 (see below – she later changed her name to Mari). They tried to tie the knot at the time but it turned out that Ishihara’s divorce from her American husband had not been finalized. Then it was reported back in September that they had split up, but Ishihara says they were still trying to work things out. On her blog yesterday she said she was “stunned” by Tamaki’s announcement. “If a person refuses to face up to a problem they caused, and then tries to pass the buck, well that’s just perverse.”
Anzen Chitai singer Tamaki has been divorced three times, while former C.C. Girls member Aota has one marriage under her bodicon belt. She has been a fan since her youth, when she was a sex symbol of Japan’s late 1980’s bubble years, and the pair have known each other for some 20 years. Romance is said to have blossomed at the beginning of this year, though sources say they are not yet considering marriage. Tamaki and his band are currently preparing for a nationwide concert tour from July but the media will no doubt be more focused on his love life.
Tamaki Koji, Ishihara Mariko Together At Last (Feb. 26, 2009)
Ebi-chan, Ilmari a Done Deal
One step ahead are hip hop musician Ilmari (34) and popular model Ebihara Yuri (30), who announced yesterday that they have tied the knot. There was no mention of when they registered their marriage, but they visited Paris together in February and plan to hold their wedding ceremony in a church on the outskirts of the city on June 16. Romance between Ebi-chan and the half-Finnish member of hip hop group Rip Slyme was first reported about a year ago.
The group of companies established by former sumo yokozuna Hanada Masaru (39, photo left) has filed for bankruptcy. Three companies, including the Dream Ark firm that ran the Chanko Dining Waka chain restaurants, filed at the Tokyo District Court yesterday. The group has outstanding debts in the region of ¥450 million.
Hanada set up the company in 2002 and opened the first Waka restaurant in the central Tokyo district of Roppongi in March 2003. The restaurant specialized in the chanko food that helps sumo wrestlers stay so bulky. With expansion into such foods as yakiniku and udon, the chain grew to 29 restaurants. Hanada ran the company until 2008, after which he only acted as an advisor. In 2009, six former franchisees sued Dream Ark for unpaid overtime. According to the company’s website, the chain currently has 14 restaurants across Japan and one in Seoul, South Korea. Most of those franchises are expected to remain in business for the time being.
Though not directly connected with the bankruptcy, it is yet another blow to Hanada. After injuries forced the popular champion – who used his father’s ring name of Wakanohana – to retire as relatively early from sumo in 2000, he made an unsuccessful attempt to get into the NFL, playing briefly in the local X League. He then switched to TV, appearing as a sportscaster and talento on the variety show circuit. While initially successful as a businessman, his personal life was a mess. 2005 saw a very public rift with his younger brother Takanohana and the death of their father. In 2007, he divorced his wife Mieko after a 5-year separation. The couple have four children.
Japan Loses Two Veteran Actors
Actress Kitabayashi Tanie (photo center) died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital at the end of April, it was reported yesterday. She was 98. A founding member of the Gekidan Mingei theater group, she is best remembered for her roles as an “obaasan” (grandmother). Her most famous role was as the mother who loses nine children during WWII, in “Taisanboku no Kinoshitade” (Under the Magnolia Tree). After playing the role for the last time in 2003, she retired and lived with her son.
And actor Sato Kei died on May 2, also of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital. He was 81. Renowned for his portrayals of cool villains, from the mid-1950s he appeared in several movies directed by the great Oshima Nagisa (profile). He is perhaps best remembered for the 1981 movie “Hakujitsumu” (Daydream, photo right), though the movie’s reputation was less about the acting than the unsimulated sex scenes.
Talento Moto Fuyuki (59) says that he has found happiness in spite of age and a receding hairline. He and Yumi (49), his girlfriend of more than ten years, spoke to reporters in Tokyo after they tied the knot yesterday, Moto’s birthday. Jokes about his lack of hair have been part of his image for years, and yesterday was no different. But he insisted, “I’m not ‘hage’ (bald), I’m just ‘hagekakateiru’ (balding)!” Yumi is a divorcee with a 20-year-old daughter. “She calls me ‘Papa,’ because I don’t like ‘hage’!”
The couple have been living together since the end of last year. They are not planning to have a wedding ceremony, but will hold a reception later this month. Asked if they plan to have children, Moto quipped, “It’s a bit difficult, technically.”
A regular on the comedy and variety show circuit, Moto (real name Muto Hiro) started out as a serious – though unsuccessful – pop musician and is renowned as one of the best guitarists in the showbiz scene. He, Gucci Yuuzo and Uganda Tora formed the popular comic band Busy Four in 1978.
Hiki Rie to Marry High School Classmate
Also making a marriage announcement this week was actress Hiki Rie (44). She said on Tuesday’s edition of the NTV show “Majotachi no 22-ji” that she and stage designer Nakagoshi Tsukasa (44) will tie the knot this month. The two were classmates in high school but not even friends. They met again in 2004 and romance blossomed the following year. They made wedding plans in 2007 but both lost their fathers during the year. Hiki has also undergone treatment for uterine cancer.
Hiki started out in 1979 as a teenage aidoru singer but never achieved much chart success. As an actress she has worked mainly in theater.
A memorial service was held this week for Hide, the late X Japan guitarist. A 2km line of fans estimated at 35,000 snaked along the Sumida River waiting to pay their respects to the musician who died in 1998 at the age of 33. “hide-The 13th Memorial-Our Pink Spider” was held at the Tsukiji Honganji temple in central Tokyo, the same venue where massive crowds turned out for hide’s funeral. That day saw mass hysteria and panic, so this time preparations were more thorough. But as the crowds grew well before the scheduled 12pm start time, organizers decided to start early. Hide’s younger brother and business manager, Matsumoto Yuji (42, photo center), spoke at 8:52am, the time his brother was confirmed dead on May 2, 1998.
X Japan leader Yoshiki (top photo right) flew in from Los Angeles for the day, referring to his “friend forever, a band member forever, like a brother in arms.” He later flew by helicopter over the Nissan Stadium, where X Japan will play a concert in mid-August, before heading to Narita Airport and back to the U.S. It was also announced this week that “Pink Spider,” a musical featuring hide’s music, will be staged at the Tokyo Globe Theater next spring.
Hide was born in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture and while in high school he joined the band Saber Tiger. After that band broke up, he planned to become a hairdresser but was persuaded by Yoshiki to join the band known then simply as X. A decade of huge success came to an end in 1987 and he continued his solo work with the bands hide with Spread Beaver and Zilch.
Actor Itoh Atsushi (26, photo right) got married on May 1, his management agency announced today. They described his new bride as a 27-year-old ippanjin company employee. The two met through a mutual friend about four years ago. In a statement to the media, Itoh said, “Together with my family I hope to build a bright future.” His younger brother Takahiro (photo left) died a year ago in an apparent suicide (see below).
Itoh has been acting since he was a child and has played a wide variety of roles in various TV dramas in the last few years. But he is perhaps best known for his breakthrough in “Densha Otoko.” He played an otaku who falls for a beautiful woman, who he calls Hermes, and relays his bumbling attempts at romance to an online audience. The show reflected the social phenomenon that has evolved around the 2Channel online community. Itoh is currently working on the Fuji TV medical drama series “Team Batista 2: General Rouge no Gaisen.” He also has a role in this summer’s expected blockbuster “Odoru Daisosasen The Movie 3.”
Itoh Takahiro in Apparent Suicide (Mar. 9, 2009)