Over the weekend, Rocky star Sylvester Stallone (64) was in Japan for the first time in more than two decades to promote his latest action flick “The Expendables.” He hooked up with an old friend from his last trip, former yokozuna (grand champion) Chinofuji (55), now known as Kokonoe oyakata (stable master).
The pair last met in 1988 (photo above), when Chiyonofuji – known as The Wolf – was at the peak of his dominance and Stallone was promoting “Rocky 3.” “The last time I saw him he took me to his house. He was in training. I do action in the movies but he does it for real. He’s a real superstar,” said Stallone. He added, “He looks younger now than he did then. He should be in the movies!”
He also got to watch live sumo for the first time, watching the second-to-last day at of the tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, and met current yokozuna Hakuho (25). The Mongolian sumo star lifted up the Hollywood star for the cameras. “He was heavy. I have no arm strength,” Hakuho said. Yesterday he went on to win his fourth tournament in a row and is now on a 62-bout winning streak. During this tournament he passed the 53-win mark of Chiyonofuji, and he will have Futabayama’s 71-year-old record of 69 in his sights at the next tournament in November.
With sumo’s recent troubles and scandals, a bit of Hollywood glitz and PR was very welcome. Stallone was more than happy to oblige, saying he was very impressed by the simplicity of Japan’s national sport. “It’s so fantastic about the fury of the sport,” he said. “It’s so easy to follow. The rules are simple. It’s why people love it. It’s man versus man.” The Expendables opens in Japanese theaters on October 16.
Rock band X Japan finally kicked off their first ever North American concert tour, performing for about 2,300 fans at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday. After the support act Vampires Everywhere!, X Japan took the stage at 9pm. Representatives of the band’s late guitarist Hide made it known the same day that they didn’t want the band to use his image onstage as they usually do. That led to some last-minute setlist changes, But the band were in good form, but they still played 14 songs, including recent additions “Jade” and “Born to be Free.” There was even a bit of stage diving by vocalist Toshi. The tour will take in seven cities and finish in New York on October 10. The band are due to tour Europe in the New Year.
Meanwhile it was announced that X Japan have signed a contract with the William Morris entertainment agency, the biggest in the world. A global version of their “Blue Blood” online fan club is on the way and radio promotion of the band’s first original album in 14 years is due to start in the U.S. on October 1.
The Sagamihara home of singer-songwriter UA (38) was completely destroyed in a fire on Saturday. The fire in the 300-sq.m. two-storey wooden house is believed to have started about 1:40am on Saturday morning. UA, real name Hasegawa Kaori, her husband (28) and their 3-year-old son were sleeping downstairs and they evacuated the house along with their elder son (13) and two school friends who were sleeping upstairs.
After the long hot summer, the weather in Japan has turned a lot cooler and the family used their wood-burning stove for the first time in months. According to local police the stove is thought to have been the cause of the fire. One of the firemen who helped put out the blaze said, “The fire burned trees more than 20m from the house. If it hadn’t been raining so hard, we probably would have had a forest fire on our hands.”
According to a neighbor, the house was built about 25 years ago by a soprano singer at a cost of about ¥50 million. It has an octagonal room that was used for small concerts. UA and her family have been renting it since she re-married in 2008. They work a neighboring field, where they also keep two goats. UA’s latest album, released in June, was recorded in a studio at the house. UA was married to actor Murakami Jun (37) from 1996 to 2006.