The latest showbiz gossip brings together a couple who’ve both been on the romantic roller coaster. Model Tominaga Ai (28) dropped a hint last month that her love life was healthy but didn’t name any names. But according to the Sankei Sports newspaper it turns out that the man in her life is none other than photographer/film director Kiriya Kazuaki (42). The two divorcees have been spotted out on dates in and around the capital several times this year.
Kiriya married J-pop star Utada Hikaru (27) in September 2002, a marriage that lasted four and a half years. Some saw it as the relatively unknown Kiriya riding on his wife’s coat tails, and during the next few years he directed promotional videos for her and made his big screen debut with “Casshern.” Tominaga married a Paris-based Japanese patissier in October 2004 and gave birth to a baby boy the following March. But that marriage ended in April of last year and she and her 5-year-old son moved back to her family home in the Tokyo suburbs. With her son starting school next spring, Tominaga recently bought a home in the city, which also allowed her and Kiriya to spend more time together.
Utada’s Final Round
In related news, it was announced that Utada will provide the theme song for the latest big screen adaptation of the popular boxing manga/anime “Ashita no Jo.” The new song, “Show Me Love (Not a Dream),” was recorded for her upcoming hits album but was also penned at the request of the movie’s director, Sori Fumihiko (46). Starring Johnny’s Jimusho aidoru Yamashita Tomohisa (25), the movie opens on February 11, 2011. Utada recently announced that she will be taking an indefinite break from her music career. Her final scheduled live performances, at the Yokohama Arena on December 8-9, will be broadcast live at 69 cinemas across the country.
Happier news for actress Hara Chiaki (36), who made a tearful announcement to the media yesterday. She revealed that she recently got married, while also talking about her ongoing battle with cancer. She said that she met her TV producer husband (37) on the set of a Fuji TV drama in 2007. When they started dating, she told him that she had undergone surgery for uterine cancer in February 2005 and was believed to have made a full recovery. But the cancer reappeared at the end of last year and she had her womb surgically removed in January.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Hara tearfully thanked her husband for having been hugely supportive throughout the ordeal. She said that due to the ongoing treatment and because she has to wear a wig and suffers from swelling, she doesn’t wear a wedding ring and they have no plans for a wedding ceremony. She is scheduled to continue chemotherapy until May of next year.
Songwriter Hoshino Tetsuro died of heart failure at a Tokyo hospital yesterday. He was 85. His funeral will be held in the central Tokyo district of Minami Aoyama on November 19. One of the most prolific lyricists of the postwar era, credited with more than 4,000 songs, Hoshino received multiple cultural awards for his contributions to the arts. He was chairman of the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers and honorary chairman of the Japanese Lyricists Association. Among his many hits, he penned the theme song for the hugely popular “Otoko wa Tsurai Yo” movie series and such enka classics as “Hakodate no Onna” (Kitajima Saburo, 1965), “365-ho no March” (Suizenji Kiyoko, 1968, photo right), and “Midaregami” (Misora Hibari, 1987).
After graduating high school, Hoshino went to work on a deep-sea fishing trawler. In 1952, while recovering from illness, he entered a magazine lyric writing contest. His work was recognized and he made his professional debut as a writer the following year. In his lyrics he portrayed the subtleties of human nature and the joys and suffering of life in a way that resonated with fans of enka ballads.
Tokyo police are investigating as a suicide the death of former actress Matsumoto Yuri (42) at the Meguro Ward, Tokyo home where she lived with her husband, actor Matsudaira Ken (56). She was found hanging by the neck from the doorknob of her bedroom by a babysitter at about 3am on Monday morning. According to management for Matsudaira, he has been away from home since November 2, as he is appearing in a stage production in Kyushu.
The couple married in October 2005 and held their wedding ceremony in April 2006 (photo), a period during which Matsudaira was riding a huge wave of popularity following the runaway success of his “MatsuKen Samba II” single. The story even made it as far as the New York Times. The cheesy song represented a complete change of image for the veteran actor, who was already a household name due to his lead role in the long-running TV Asahi samurai drama series “Abarenbo Shogun” (1978-2004). He was married to actress and former Takarazuka star Daichi Mao (54) from 1990 to 2004. Real name Suzuki Yuriko, Matsumoto was the daughter of an actor and a Takarazuka star. Her own career started out in 1983 when she was spotted performing with her father in an amateur song contest. She debuted as an aidorusinger the following year, a path she followed only briefly before making the switch to acting, mostly on the stage. Her showbiz career came to an end after she and Matsudaira married. She gave birth to a son in October 2006.
Popular talento Satoda Mai (26, photo left) is romantically involved with young baseball star Tanaka Masahiro (22, photo center). The two first met on the set of a TV show at the New Year. Both are natives of Hokkaido and Satoda performed on the official theme song for Tanaka’s team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles. They had enough in common that a relationship started early in the summer. When rumors of their romance broke in the media yesterday, they both updated their blogs acknowledging the relationship.
Satoda passed an audition to become a member of pop idol group Morning Musume in 2000 but decided to go to high school instead. She did become a member of the Hello! Project in 2002 when she assed an audition for Country Musume. She performed in a variety of pop idols groups until 2009, during which time she became a regular on TV variety shows and established a career as a talento and actress.
Tanaka became a national sensation in 2005 when he led the Komadai Tomakomai team to a second successive victory at the Koshien high school championship. The following year saw an epic battle between “Ma-kun,” then in his senior year, and Waseda Jitsugyo’s Saito Yuki, who became known as the “Handkerchief Prince.” Waseda won the showdown over two days and went on to win the championship. When Saito decided to go to Waseda University rather than turn pro, Tanaka became the hottest ticket in the draft. He has had a strong first few years but injury kept him out for much of the recently finished season.
From Hostess to Bride
Club hostess turned TV celeb Tachibana Kurumi (29, photo right) announced yesterday on the live TBS show “Sunday Japon” that she is married. She and the president of a major talent agency (42) registered their marriage on the romantic Tanabata holiday on July 7, and they held a wedding ceremony in Honolulu on November 11. Tachibana, who is famous for having been a top “kyabakura” (cabaret club) hostess and for proudly showing her cleavage on TV, is also a writer and a regular guest on the Sunday show. Indeed it was an appearance on the show last December that drew the attention of her future hubby, who contacted her through her publishing company. Yesterday she showed off her Harry Winston diamond wedding ring and also announced – as if it were an afterthought – that she is seven months pregnant.
Another showbiz engagement announcement came…and went yesterday. It was reported in several newspapers that talento Hoshino Aki (33, photo left) and young JRA jockey Miura Kousei (20, photo right) were planning to tie the knot next March. The most likely date was thought to be March 14, Hoshino’s birthday and also the romantically themed White Day. But Hoshino’s management agency released a statement saying the couple, while enjoying a happy relationship and hoping to get married at some point, have not yet made any decision about doing so. Though she once said that she didn’t want to marry before turning 40, the clock is ticking for Hoshino. Meanwhile, Miura is said to want to prove himself on the race track by at least winning a Grade 1 race before settling down.
The couple were brought together in October 2008 when Miura was named as a last-minute replacement to ride the debut race by 4-year-old mare Hashite Hoshiino, named after the starlet. Miura himself was in his debut season, which saw him win 91 races, breaking the 21-year-old record for a rookie held by Take Yutaka.
Meanwhile, Yoshimoto Creative Agency announced today that comedian Kosugi Ryuichi (37) has actually tied the knot. According to a press release, he married a 23-year-old ippanjinon November 7. Kosugi is one half of the comedy duo Black Mayonnaise, who broke onto the scene in 2005 when they won the M-1 comedy knockout competition.
Move over Morning Musume, AKB48 are now the new queens of the oversized female pop unit world. The group have seen their 18th single, “Beginner,” become another No.1 hit on the Oricon chart. But it is also the first single in more than three years to sell over a million copies in a month. The song has sold 1.03 million copies since it was released on October 27 and yesterday it was formally recognized by the Japan Record Association as a million seller for October. The group’s label, King Records, issued a statement saying, “In a time when CD sales are in constant decline, we are delighted to have a million seller. We’d like to thank all the fans who every day give us such huge encouragement and support.” The last single to break the monthly million barrier was “Sen no Kaze ni Natte” by tenor Akikawa Masafumi in August 2007.
Now in their fifth year, the AKB48 concept was created by producer Akimoto Yasushi (54, photo left). Based in the geek mecca of Akihabara, the group is made up of constantly changing sub groups who perform there daily in a special theater. The concept has spawned a slew of spinoff groups and similar troupes in the central Nagoya district of Sakae (SKE48) and Namba in Osaka (NMB48). On Tuesday, Akimoto and several AKB48 members were on hand to receive an award from the Shogakkan-published young businessmen’s magazine “Dime” (photo). The award acknowledged the group and World Cup soccer star Hasebe Makoto (26) as the leading personality trends of the last year, while the main award went to the Viera 3D TV from Panasonic.
Talento Natsukawa Jun (30, photo left) is engaged to be married, it was revealed yesterday. She and her 29-year-old fiance, the owner of a cafe/restaurant in the trendy central Tokyo district of Roppongi, are planning to tie the knot in early January but don’t have plans for a formal ceremony. The couple are said to have been introduced by a mutual friend several years ago and got engaged at the beginning of this year. Natsukawa, who started out as a pinup model and has since expanded into acting and regular appearances on variety TV, was previously romantically linked to a popular hair stylist in 2008, but at the time she denied that they were any more than friends.
Meanwhile, comedian Red Yoshida (45, photo right) announced on his blog yesterday that his wife is expecting their fifth child next February. He joked, “The missus and I are already up to our eyeballs with four kids, and now number five is on the way!” Yoshida is the tsukkomi half of the popular comedy duo TIM.
Inexplicably popular talento Ogura Yuuko (27) is engaged to be married, according to the Sankei Sports newspaper. She and “charisma hair stylist” Kikuchi Isao (40) have been dating for about two years and are already living together in Tokyo. They are said to have told friends about their engagement at the end of October and are planning to have their wedding ceremony in Hawaii next February. The couple’s relationship was revealed in January when they posted the same photo of the first sunrise of the year on their respective blogs.
Ogura, popularly known by her nickname Yuukorin, made her name as one of TV’s “obaka kyara” or celebrities famous for being dim-witted. To add a bit of individuality, Ogura claims to be an alien who hails from the planet Korinsei. Even when she shows talents other than appearing stupid, such as when she launched her own brand of wedding fashion last year, she can’t resist playing up her image. When asked about her marriage hopes at the time, she said, “I want to marry by the age of 28. I want a prince to come from the planet Korinsei in his strawberry carriage.” Meanwhile, Kikuchi includes among his regular clients actor Tsutsumi Shinichi (46) and the members of Japan’s premier heart-throb band SMAP. He’s also the owner of the hair salon “ing” in the trendy Tokyo district of Minami Aoyama. Described as thin and boyishly handsome, he is a divorcee.
Nishizaki Yoshinobu (photo top left), the producer who brought one of Japan’s most popular mangas to the TV screen, has died in an apparent drowning. He was 75. The classic 1974 science fiction anime “Uchusenkan Yamato” (Space Cruiser Yamato) is one of the most famous works of Matsumoto Leiji (72, bottom left), but he shares writing credit with Nishizaki, who originally conceived the project in 1973. There were many sequels and spinoffs and the two men fought over legal ownership and credits for years. The matter was taken to court, but the two reached an amicable settlement in 2003. That wasn’t Nishizaki’s only trouble with the law – he was arrested several times for possession of drugs and firearms, serving almost three years in prison. Nishizaki’s most recent anime work, “Uchusenkan Yamato – Fukkatsu Hen” (Yamato Rebirth), was delayed for some time by his imprisonment and further legal conflict before finally hitting theaters in December 2009. A new live action movie, “Space Battleship Yamato,” starring Kimura Takuya and Kuroki Meisa, is due for release on December 1.
Nishizaki’s untimely end came while he was sailing with an 8-man crew on the 485-tonne research ship “Yamato” of the coast of Chichijima in the Ogasawara Islands. His body was found in the water on Sunday afternoon. He was wearing a wetsuit and is thought to have fallen overboard.
Manabe Quits Blogosphere
Talento Manabe Kaori (30) has quit the online forum that over the last few years established her as “Queen of the Japanese Blogosphere.” She started the blog, “Manabe Kaori no Kokodake no Hanashi” on Nifty’s Cocolog service in June 2004. Her plain way of speaking and unique point of view quickly drew in a large fan base. A collection of entries was published in paperback form in 2005 and became a bestseller. The blog now carries a brief message saying that it was taken offline on October 31. Archived entries are no longer viewable.