Monthly Archives: August 2010

Yukiina, Fujimon Tie the Knot

Kinoshita Yukina, Fujimoto Toshifumi

Their relationship has been known for some time, but still the media did a double take yesterday when it was revealed that comedian Fujimoto Toshifumi (39) and talento Kinoshita Yukina (22) have tied the knot. They are said to have registered their marriage at a Tokyo municipal office on August 28. The couple first met on the set of the Shimada Shinsuke-hosted Fuji TV variety show “Quiz! Hexagon II.” They are expected to make the first public announcement of their marriage on tomorrow’s edition of the show.

Their romance was first reported in the spring of last year, though partly due to the 17-year age difference it was often assumed to be a joke. Another reason is the wacky image promoted by Fujimoto, popularly known as Fujimon and one half of the Yoshimoto comedy duo Fujiwara. Yukiina, as she is usually called, is immensely popular with the young female demographic. When she got her TV break on Hexagon in 2008 she was a popular fashion magazine model, but her off-the-wall answers on the quiz show quickly earned her a place as one of the show’s “o-baka kyara” (idiot characters).

Kahara Tomomi Hits Bottom, Again

Kahara Tomomi, Komuro Tetsuya

Troubled singer Kahara Tomomi (36, photo left) has had another…health episode. Currently on an extended break from her career, she was taken to a Tokyo hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning after a suspected drug overdose. Kahara got in the back of a taxi near the Kabukicho entertainment district of Tokyo around 1am on Sunday but was unable to tell the taxi driver where she wanted to go. As he was unable to wake her up, the driver called the police for help. They found she had a temperature and called for an to take her to a nearby hospital. She didn’t appear to have been drinking.

Kahara was involved in an almost identical incident last year and it was reported at the time that she had taken an overdose of prescribed tranquilizers. This time, though she had the same pills in her possession, she insisted to police she hadn’t taken any medication. The incident comes about a month after she was taken into protective police custody when she was found walking the streets of Tokyo in a half-comatose state. These are just the latest in a series of what could be categorized as “cries for help” that have marked the long decline of a once-successful J-pop career.

Kahara was one of the most successful acts in the stable of producer Komuro Tetsuya (51, photo right) in the mid-1990s, with a series of chart-topping singles and albums. The two became romantically involved but there were rumors of drugs and other problems, and when their relationship ended, so did Kahara’s success. Suicide attempts followed and she became a poster girl for how the ruthless J-pop industry spits out its fallen idols. She tried in recent years to make a comeback and was visible in the media on and off, but sales have only been a tiny fraction of what she achieved in her heyday. She was fired by her talent agency in June 2007 after repeated personal problems. Komuro’s arrest and trial for fraud in 2008 is also said to have had a major impact on Kahara’s mental state.

Haruna Ai Finishes 85km Charity Run

Haruna Ai

The TV highlight of the weekend was the 33rd annual edition of NTV’s 24-hour telethon, “24-jikan Terebi – Ai wa Chikyu wo Suku.” And as usual, the main event was a long-distance run by a celebrity. This year, “new half” talento Haruna Ai (38) became the first transsexual to take on the challenge. She was reduced to tears when her father was surprise guest on Saturday night, and again when she was welcomed by her mother at the Nippon Budokan on Sunday having completed the 85km run in 25 hours 40 minutes. The gruelling run its toll not only on the knees but also on Haruna’s makeup, and she arrived looking a lot more like the Onishi Kenji she was originally named.

Johnny’s Jimusho group Tokio were the first to host the show for a third time, having last done the job back in 2003.

Another Johnny’s star was in pain over the weekend. Ueda Tatsuya (26) of the group KAT-TUN broke the big toe of his left foot during a concert in Taipei, Taiwan on Friday. But he still performed a second show on Saturday and flew back to do a solo concert in Hiroshima last night.

Kato Rosa, Tamaki Hiroshi an Item Again?

Kato Rosa, Tamaki Hiroshi

Romance is back on again between Tamaki Hiroshi (30) and Kato Rosa (25), according to this week’s issue of the gossip magazine “Friday.” The magazine even reported that they were seen in the company of Kato’s mother, so you know it must be serious! The two actors were first reported as a couple back in the autumn of 2004 but split up in 2007. They both got involved in other relationships, Kato with Johnny’s Jimusho heart throb Akanishi Jin (26) and Tamaki most recently with young actress Yoshitaka Yuriko (21). But in July and this month they were spotted driving around town together again. Management for the actress insist that the two are just good friends, while Tamaki’s agency refused to comment.
Related stories:
Yoshitaka Dumps Tamaki for Flumpool Bassist? (Apr. 15, 2010)
Romance for Rosa and Jin? (Jul. 27, 2007)

Wedding Party for Ebi-chan, Ilmari
Popular model Ebihara Yuri (30) and Rip Slyme member Ilmari (35) held a wedding party in central Tokyo yesterday. The couple tied the knot last December and held their wedding ceremony in Paris in June. Yesterday’s event was attended by about 200 people, including a host of celbrities including actor Sakai Masaaki (64) and singer Bonnie Pink (37), who gave a surpise performance of “A Perfect Sky” that reduced the bride to tears. Ebi-chan showed off her own wedding dress design, decorated with no less than 6,000 Swarovski crystals. She joked how her new nickname would have to be Ogi-chan – her Helsinki-born, half-Finnish husband’s full name is Ogiwara Ilmari Keisuke.

Puppet Master Dies at 85
Pioneering puppet animator Kawamoto Kihachiro died of pneumonia on August 23, it was reported yesterday. He was 85. He started out with the Toei movie studio but went freelance in 1950, and a few years later was part of the group that created Japan’s first puppet animation, based on a Kirin Beer mascot character. In the 1960s, he traveled extensively in eastern Europe and studied under the Czech master Jiri Trnka. In his later years, Kawamoto was the creator of such popular NHK shows as “Sangokushi” (1982-84) and “Heike Monogatari” (1993-95). His last work was an adaptation of the novel “Shisha no Sho” (Book of the Dead) in 2005. In 2007 a museum celebrating his work was opened in the city of Iida, Nagano Prefecture.

Shinohara Ryoko Back in the Lead

Ougon no Buta

Just a week after losing her father, actress Shinohara Ryoko (37) had a happier announcement yesterday. She is to play the lead role in an upcoming Nippon TV drama series about tax investigators. Starting in October and airing on Wednesday nights, “Ougon no Buta” (The Golden Pig) features Shinohara in her first drama starring role since she became a mother. Her last lead was in 2007’s “Haken no Hinkaku.” NTV have described the new series as a modern version of the long-running “Mito Komon.” The show also stars Oizumi Yo (37) and Okada Masaki (21).

Shinohara said of her father, who died on August 17, “For me, he was my biggest fan and the person who understood me better than anyone. I want to devote myself to my work and hope that my father will be smiling down on me.”

Oguro Maki to Take Medical Break
Singer songwriter Oguro Maki (40) is to take an indefinite break to undergo treatment for a variety of uterine diseases. She announced on her website that she will continue working until the end of October. She said that her medical problems have been getting progressively worse since they were first discovered at the end of 1996.

Oguro made her debut in 1992 and has had had a series of hits such as “Da-Ka-Ra” and “Natsu ga Kuru.” She married in 2003.

Oda Yuji is Married

Oda Yuji, Fukuyama Masaharu

Popular actor Oda Yuji (42, photo left, profile) shocked his legions of female fans with the weekend’s announcement that he had married. He said on his official website that he and his 30-year-old bride tied the knot on August 16. Oda has been a star for more than 20 years but has been the source of virtually no romance rumors and very rarely talks about his private life.

Along with Fukuyama Masaharu (41, photo right), Oda was considered one of Japan’s most handsome showbiz bachelors. He is the star of the “Odoru Daisosasen” (Bayside Shakedown) movie series, the most successful Japanese movie franchise of all time. The third episode is currently in theaters and, with current revenues of over ¥6.5 billion, is the biggest Japanese box-office hit of the year.

Japan Loses Top Showbiz Reporter

Nashimoto Masaru

Leading showbiz reporter Nashimoto Masaru died of lung cancer at a Tokyo hospital last Saturday, it was revealed yesterday. He was 65. His daughter, minor talento Nashimoto Marina (30), declined to speak to reporters gathered outside the family home as she headed to a temple for her father’s funeral.

Nashimoto spent most of his 40-year career as a reporter for TV Asahi before switching to TBS in 2005. He was a regular on many so-called wide shows, reporting on the various scandals and happy announcements from the showbiz world. He often butted heads with TV networks about what he could and couldn’t reveal on air, which of course added to his public appeal. His image was so strong that he often landed the role of showbiz reporter in TV dramas and movies. In 2006, he used his fame in slightly different way, making his debut as a soft porn video director.

His battle with cancer was made public in June. Though he was hospitalized for the last couple of months, he maintained his showbiz news blog almost up until the end.

Shinohara Ryoko’s Bittersweet Farewell to Father

Shinohara Ryoko, Ichimura Masachika

The father of actress Shinohara Ryoko (37, photo left) died just three days after finally seeing his daughter in her wedding dress, it was revealed yesterday. Shinohara Katsuo died on August 17 at a Gunma Prefecture hospital were he had been undergoing treatment for a liver ailment for more than a year. He was 71. On Saturday he was allowed to leave the hospital in a wheelchair to attend a reception held by his daughter and her husband, actor Ichimura Masachika (61, photo right). The couple married five years ago but never held a wedding ceremony.

The father of the “bride” was in tears Saturday when he saw his daughter wearing a white wedding dress. His condition worsened during the event and he left the room. The event was about to be brought to an early close when it was realized they hadn’t had the traditional reading of a letter from the bride to her parents. Katsuo returned for one more emotional scene before he was taken back to the hospital. Ryoko attended his wake and funeral but was too overcome with shock to speak with anyone. She is the youngest of three children and she says she in particular was spoiled by her father. Her mother died in a traffic accident when she was two years old. Her father initially objected strongly to her relationship with the divorced and much older Ichimura. But in the end it was he who persuaded her to hold a press conference to announce their marriage in December 2005.

No End to X Japan’s Money Problems

X Japan

Financial troubles never seem to be too far from Japan’s biggest rock band. Japan Music Agency, who manage X Japan leader Yoshiki, revealed to the media yesterday that they are being asked to pay ¥2 billion for the use of images of the band’s late guitarist Hide. JMA have said that, depending on how things play out, they may take the matter to court. The wrangling over money is just the latest of many that have plagued the group since it achieved commercial success.

Headworks Organization is the company that represents the estate of Hide, who died under controversial circumstances in 1998. The firm is run by his brother Matsumoto Hiroshi (42), who seemed to be on good terms with the rest of the band during a memorial service for Hide held in May. During last week’s two concerts in Yokohama, Hide’s image was used on stage as it has been at all the band’s shows since their reunion in 2008. But the money problems began some time ago.

When X Japan reunited in 2008, they signed a ¥600 million contract with music production company Nexstar Corporation, who put on the band’s concerts. The deal included the use of some recordings, advance royalties and contract money. Nexstar reportedly made some ¥2.5 billion from concert ticket and merchandise sales over the following two years. But JMA never saw the money, and Yoshiki filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against Nexstar back in March seeking ¥375 million in damages. Headworks has reportedly received ¥300 million from Nexstar, and they have now instructed JMA to pay ¥2 billion to Nexstar or no longer be allowed to use Hide’s image.

The tangled financial web will hopefully not hinder the band’s upcoming assault on North America, with a concert tour due to start in September. As Yoshiki said, “I think the one who is suffering most in this is Hide. But with or without his image, we are still spreading our wings together.”

A Fresh Start for Shoken?

Hagiwara Kenichi, Tomita Rika

The media is speculating today about a new romance for actor Hagiwara Kenichi (60). Today’s issue of the women’s weekly magazine “Josei Seven” claims that the actor is involved with popular “housewife model” Tomita Rika (48) and that the pair are basically co-habiting at Hagiwara’s Yokohama home. He denied that they are living together, insisting that they are just good friends. But last night Tomita posted on her blog that she had just finalized her divorce from her former husband (52).

Hagiwara, popularly known by his nickname of Shoken, has had a very up and down life. He found fame as a teen rock vocalist in the mid 1960s and became a hugely popular actor in the early 1970s. A drug arrest in 1983 derailed his career for a full year, but he bounced back. There were further arrests, for a traffic accident in 2004 and attempted blackmail in 2005, which led to a suspended 18-month prison sentence and the end of his second marriage. This year, he performed in concert for the first time in seven years.