Monthly Archives: March 2011

Joy Hospitalized

Joy, Johnny Depp, Maya Miki

Popular male model/talento Joy (25, photo left) has been admitted to hospital with pneumonia. Speaking after he failed to show up yesterday to a press conference for tomorrow’s Tokyo Girls Collection fashion show, his management said he had shown signs of illness during filming of a TV show the day before. Diagnosed with pneumonia that night, he was told he’d likely need to spend at least two weeks in hospital. His management have canceled scheduled appearances in 10 different TV shows.

Depp Plays the Tourist in Japan
Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp (47) was in Tokyo yesterday on his 8th visit to Japan. This time he’s in Japan for the premiere of “The Tourist,” his big screen collaboration with Angelina Jolie (35) that opens in theaters here tomorrow. Depp and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (37) attended a PR event and were presented with bouquets of flowers by actress Maya Miki (47, photo right). The thriller/romance set in Venice has generally received negative reviews – though it did famously garner some Golden Globe nominations as a comedy – and has needed to rely on the global fan base of its stars to make the vast majority of its box office revenue.

Also in town this week is Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne (26). She gave a free concert for 600 invited fans at Akasaka Blitz on Tuesday, her first shiow here for about two and a half years. Yesterday morning she was in Ginza for the opening of a new flagship store by Gap. She was also helping sell some 200 pairs of limited edition jeans that are a tie up between Gap and her own fashion brand, Abbey Dawn.

Nanno’s Wedding Day


Actress Minamino Yoko (43, photo left) is tying the knot today with a 38-year-old Internet entrepreneur, it was announced yesterday. According to sources, the couple plan to register their marriage at a Tokyo municipal office and then hold a small ceremony at a Shinto shrine. Last summer Minamino’s four-year relationship with creative director Yanai Michihiko (46), which had led reporters to speculate on a wedding date, came to an end due among other things to Yanai’s busy work schedule. Minamino also had a busy year in 2010, celebrating the 25th anniversary of her showbiz career, releasing a DVD box set and publishing a book. She is said to have met her new love about two months after splitting with Yanai.

Minamino became an overnight star in 1985 when she was cast in the lead role of the TV drama series “Sukeban Deka.” As a top aidoru, and popularly known by the nickname Nanno, she churned out a string of hit singles and albums during the late 1980s, but her musical releases since 1991 have consisted almost entirely of compilation albums. Her acting has also been mostly in supporting or guest roles since that early peak, though she appears regularly in a couple of TV dramas most years and a handful of movies over the last decade. She reportedly plans to continue her acting career after marriage.

Could it be Twins for Nishioka?
Minnesota Twins baseball player Nishioka Tsuyoshi (26, center) and his wife, popular model Tokuzawa Naoko (26, right) are expecting their first child. Tokuzawa is said to be heading to the U.S. in April and is planning to have the baby there in August. She had planned to join her husband last month in Florida, where the Twins were in spring training, but cancelled when she learned of her pregnancy. The couple tied the knot in July of last year.
Related stories:
Marines Star, CanCam Model an Item (Jan. 27, 2010)

Keanu’s “47 Ronin” has A-List Japanese Cast

Keanu Reeves, 47 Ronin

It’s finally official. Rumors and sketchy reports of a Hollywood project starring Keanu Reeves as a medieval samurai were confirmed yesterday by a formal press conference and cast announcement in London. To be directed by Carl Rinsch and with a budget reported at $170-200 million, “47 Ronin” is an adaptation of the famous Chushingura story of samurai loyalty and revenge based around real events that took place in the early 1700s. The story has been adapted countless times for stage, TV and the big screen but never before in English.

The choice of Reeves (46) for the lead role as a Japanese warrior has many people scratching their heads, but the latest report says his character Kai will be “half-Japanese, half-British.” And he will have some seriously heavyweight Japanese acting support. Named to the cast yesterday were (left to right):

47 Ronin

Asano Tadanobu (37), star of “Mongol” and Miike Takashi’s “Ichi the Killer,” who has a couple of other Hollywood projects coming up – a supporting role in “Thor” and “Battleship”. He will play shogunate official Kira Yoshinaka;

Kikuchi Rinko (30), nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role in “Babel.” She has the role of the mysterious lady Mizuki who helps Kira in his quest for power;

Sanada Hiroyuki (50), best known overseas for his roles in “The Last Samurai,” “Speed Racer” and the final season of “Lost.” He will play the key role of chief samurai Oishi Kuranosuke;

Shibasaki Kou (29), who made her movie debut in 2000 in Fukasaku Kinji’s acclaimed “Battle Royale.” Shibasaki said she is “so excited” to play Reeve’s love interest Mika, the daughter of samurai Asano Naganori.

Rinsch caught the attention of movie studios with the storytelling of his commercials, such as the short sci-fi film “The Gift,” and at one point he was named to direct a prequel to Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” More recently Universal Studios have signed him to follow up his debut on the Reeves feature with a remake of “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” Speaking yesterday about 47 Ronin, he said, “What drew me to it were the universal themes. Love, hate, revenge, these are ideas that translate all over the world. This take is so different, it’s about visualising the dream of Japan from a Western view. Instead of it being a historic epic we wanted to turn it into a fantasy.” Shooting starts March 14 in Hungary and will later move to Shepperton Studios in the UK, with unspecified plans to also shoot in Japan. The movie will be in 3D and has a release date of November, 2012.

Japan Zone eagerly awaits the movie’s release for one other reason – we were chosen by the 47 Ronin production team to supply a variety of costume items for the movie. So if you want to be seen in the same footwear as Keanu Reeves and Co., visit our Japan Store!

Kishidan’s Nazi Gear Draws Ire


The popular “tsuppari rock” band Kishidan has drawn the ire of a leading Jewish human rights group with its ill-advised fashion sense. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, based in Los Angeles, has complained to the band and their management agency, Sony Music Artists Inc., about the SS-like uniforms they wore in an interview aired on MTV Japan on February 23.

Kishidan are not the types to take themselves too seriously and usually appear in the retro style of teenage bosozoku gangs, with coiffed hair and stylized school uniforms. But in a statement, associate dean of the SWC Rabbi Abraham Cooper said, “Such garb like the uniform worn by Kishidan is never tolerated in the mainstream of any civilized country outside of Japan. As someone who has visited Japan over 30 times, I am fully aware that many young Japanese are woefully uneducated about the crimes against humanity committed during World War II by Imperial Japan in occupied-Asia, let alone about Nazi Germany’s genocidal ‘Final Solution’ against the Jews in Europe.” He added, “But global entities like MTV and Sony Music should know better.”

In the last few years, band leader Ayanokoji Sho has used other personas, appearing as the commercially successful but controversial DJ Ozma, in the overtly commercial band FANTA, and even as a Las Vegas showgirl with comedy duo Tunnels.
Related stories:
Japanese Music Just Got a Bit Weirder (Mar. 11, 2010)
Tunnels, Kishidan Frontman are Yajima Biyoshitsu (Sep. 26, 2008)

Mattchan Sues Flash for Libel
Top Yoshimoto Kogyo comedian Matsumoto Hitoshi (47) has sued the Kobunsha publishing company for libel, it was revealed yesterday. The lawsuit is over an article published in the weekly gossip magazine “Flash” last September 7. The article claimed that Matsumoto, one half of the duo Downtown (profile), was out partying on the town at a time when he was on leave from work while recovering from hip surgery. As the medical leave affected his work schedule for more than a month, any suggestion that he was exaggerating his physical condition would have commercial implications. Matsumoto has asked for ¥11 million in damages and a public apology.