Enka singer Sakamoto Fuyumi (43) chose a couple of stars of yesteryear for her first collaboration with overseas artists. In Tokyo yesterday she joined former Mr. Big frontman Eric Martin (50) and 80s pop queen Debbie Gibson (40), who were in town to promote a pair of cover albums of Japanese songs. Martin has a long affinity with Japan – Mr. Big put out three albums under the name “Raw Like Sushi” – and this week he released the third of his “Mr. Vocalist” albums. The albums consist of cover versions of hit ballads by Japanese female singers. He and Sakamoto did an English/Japanese duet of her 2009 hit “Mata Kimini Koishiteru.” Gibson was brought in to give it a different angle, releasing the first “Ms. Vocalist” album.
A Canadian actor who had a minor part in this year’s ongoing NHK taiga drama series has been arrested and tried on drug charges, it was revealed today. The actor, named as Troy Alexander Caspi (37) appeared in the October 31 episode of “Ryomaden,” a dramatization of the life of legendary samurai Sakamoto Ryoma, starring Fukuyama Masaharu. According to the Sankei Sports newspaper, Kanagawa police arrested him at his apartment in Kamakura on September 10 for possession of marijuana.
In the drama, the Canadian played the part of a British seaman who is killed by a samurai in Nagasaki. NHK say the episode was filmed in August and they only learned of the arrest and trial when a viewer contacted them after watching last Sunday’s episode. For this Saturday’s repeat broadcast, the actor’s name will be removed from the credits.
Actor Mizushima Hiro (26) has certainly hit the ground running as a novelist. Publishing company Poplar today named his very first book, “Kagerou,” as the ‘taisho’ (top prize) winner in their 5th annual awards, pretty much guaranteeing that it will be a bestseller. Mizushima, who wrote the novel using the real name Saito Tomohiro, declined the ¥20 million prize money that came with the award. In announcing the winner, Poplar said, “The book has its rough edges but they were more than compensated for by its power,” adding that 8 of the 13 editors on the judging panel had voted for the book. In accepting the award in Tokyo this morning, Mizushima also addressed his recent decision – announced just in September – to quit the agency that had managed him as an actor in order to focus on his writing.
The Poplar awards were established in 2005 and, apart from the first year, there had been no winner of the taisho award until this year. Kagerou was one of 1285 novels submitted this year, by authors ranging in age from 11 to 85. That number was whittled down to seven finalists. Two other novels, “Giniro no Maameido” (The Silver Mermaid) and “Agein” (Again) , received special prizes.
Mizushima was scouted as a fashion model while in university, and in 2006 he landed the starring role as TV and movie action hero “Kamen Rider Kabuto.” Over the following years he had roles in several hit TV drama series. In 2009 he married popular singer Ayaka, and they announced that she was taking an extended break from her music career to battle Graves Disease.
Mizushima Hiro Quits Acting to Write (Sep. 22, 2010)
Mizushima Hiro, Ayaka Married (Apr. 4, 2009)