Monthly Archives: September 2011

Wedding Roundup

Hoshino Aki, Miura Kousei, Ogura Yuko

Some recent expected and surprising showbiz wedding news. Busty talento Hoshino Aki (34, photo left) and racing jockey Miura Kousei (21, photo center) tied the knot on Sunday, an auspicious taian day on the traditional calendar. News of the couple’s romance and speculation about a wedding started at the end of last year and at the time they were expected to get hitched in the spring. They are said to be hoping to hold a wedding ceremony and reception before the end of the year.
Related stories:
Hoshino, Miura Not in a Sprint for the Finish Line (Nov. 12, 2010)

Married for the sixth time is flamboyant media magnate and movie producer Kadokawa Haruki (69), this time to a singer 40 years his junior. The news was revealed by his daughter Keiko (37), though not in the way you might expect. A writer, she posted the news in a website article in which she says she knew about the relationship between her father and singer Asuka (29) but had no idea they were married. She learned about it from a reporter for the weekly magazine “Shuukan Bunshun,” currently in the middle of a court battle with her father. Asuka appeared as a witness in the case and gave her family name as Kadokawa and the cat was out of the bag. Kadokawa is said to have spotted Asuka in 2006 and produced her debut single the following year. Romance between the two was first reported in November 2009. Since February of this year Asuka has been on an extended break from music due to health problems. Kadokawa is a leading figure in the Japanese movie industry with many blockbusters under his belt, but also has an arrest record for embezzlement and drug smuggling.

This morning talento Ogura Yuko (27, photo right) and hair stylist Kikuchi Isao (40) announced plans to get married in Hawaii on October 10. Just last weekend Ogura was promoting a new photo book shot in Hawaii and, when asked at the time about her marriage plans, said that it wouldn’t be “this week or next but sometime soon.”

Bucking the trend of marrying someone much older or younger is singer Iwasawa Kouji (34). One half of the popular duo Yuzu, he is reportedly getting married next month and his bride-to-be is described as an ippanjin in her 30s from Yokohama. The couple have been in a relationship since their late teens.

Typhoon Roke

Here at Japan Store we escaped any direct damage from Typhoon Roke (or just Typhoon #15 as it’s known in Japan), but it has caused major disruptions in some areas of the country. Parcel delivery companies are experiencing major delays and as a result our shipping schedule is a day or more behind for most orders. However the post office is open and working as usual so if we happen to have your items here in the office we can ship to you right away.

We’re still waiting for some deliveries that should have come in this morning. Hopefully we’ll get the shipment in time for this afternoon’s post office pickup.

If not, we plan to pack and ship tomorrow (a national holiday) and over the weekend if necessary.

As always, we’ll update you once your order has been shipped.

Angela Aki to be a Mom

Angela Aki

Popular singer-songwriter Angela Aki (34) and her music director husband are expecting their first child, it was revealed today. The baby is due at the end of February but Aki has said that she plans to go ahead with her planned year-end concert at the Nippon Budokan. The concert has been an annual event since 2006, when she became the first solo pianist to perform at the hallowed venue.

Aki is the daughter of Aki Kiyoshi, founder of the Aeon chain of English conversation schools, and an Italian-American mother. Born in Tokushima Prefecture, she started playing piano at the age of 3. She spent her high school years in Hawaii where she was into surfing and the music of Nirvana and Green Day. While at university in Washington D.C. she attended a campus concert by Sara McLachlan and decided that she wanted to pursue a career in music. She had her breakthrough in 2001 when one of her tunes was used in a TV commercial but it wasn’t until September 2005 that she made her major label debut with the single “Home.” She had her first Oricon chart topper with the 2007 album “Today.”

In March 2007 she announced that she was getting married, while also revealing for the first time that it would be her second marriage. Her husband was the music director assigned to her by the Epic Records label, though he has since become a freelancer.

Hinano, Mikiti Also in the Family Way

Another celebrity expecting a baby and about to be twice-married is talento Yoshikawa Hinano (31). She and her husband (36), the CEO of a music/fashion sales related company, are planning to register their marriage soon and Yoshikawa is expecting next spring. The couple are said to have been introduced in early 2008. A young Yoshikawa was at the peak of her popularity when she married cross-dressing visual-kei rock vocalist Izam back in 1999. But that marriage lasted only seven months and was widely regarded as having been more of a game for the couple.

Also announcing a pregnancy this week was singer Fujimoto Miki (26), popularly known by her nickname Mikiti. She and comedian Shoji Tomoharu married in July 2009. She is expecting their first baby in March. Fujimoto is a member of the Hello! Project and has been in the lineup of Morning Musume and various other associated projects for the last decade.

Never Too Late

Midai Junka, Nakamoto Koji

If it’s good enough for the 68-year-old Kato Cha…The veteran comedian shocked the showbiz world recently by marrying a woman 45 years younger. Well, his former Drifters comrade Nakamoto Koji (70) may soon be following suit, as his working relationship with enka singer Midai Junka seems to have turned romantic, according to this week’s issue of “Shuukan Bunshun” magazine.

Nakamoto has three children from his previous marriages. His first wife died in 1982 and he remarried in 1991 to a woman 25 years younger. They had a son and two daughters but divorced in 2004. Nakamoto and Midai have been close for about five years and released a music CD of duets in 2008. Her age is not given in the magazine article but it says she is “in her 30’s.” Nakamoto’s mother died in June, so there will certainly be no marriage announcements until the first anniversary of that date.

In addition to Kato, other elders of the showbiz world who have got remarried in their twilight years to much younger ippanjin include singer Terada Minori (68), who married a 33-year-old last week; actor Kobayashi Kaoru (60), who it was revealed just earlier this month remarried to a 30-something woman a few years ago and now has a baby son; and actor Sakai Masaaki, who chose his 65th birthday last month to marry a 43-year-old woman.

Yuukorin in New Legal Battle

Ogura Yuuko, Kikuchi Isao

It looks like the legal battle between ditzy talento Ogura Yuko (27, photo left) and her former management agency will continue for a while. The Tokyo District Court handed down a decision in Ogura’s favor in July, saying that her contract with the Avila agency terminated at the end of 2010. The agency immediately filed an objection, while Ogura announced that she had found new management and would continue her showbiz career. But yesterday Avila announced that it had filed a new civil suit against Ogura on September 9 seeking recognition of their contract. The company also filed a suit against publisher Kodansha seeking a stop to the scheduled September 16 publication of “Kofukuron,” a photo book featuring Ogura.

Popularly known by her nickname Yuukorin, Ogura can be seen as just another pawn – albeit a successful one – in the massive industry that recruits, markets and disposes of pretty young women. She was formally with the now defunct Avant Garde agency, whose CEO was arrested on tax evasion charges in 2009. On a brighter note, Ogura is still planning to marry hair stylist Kikuchi Isao (40, photo right), though the date is now said to be sometime in the autumn.

Related stories:
Yuukorin Engaged (Nov. 9, 2010)
Avant Garde CEO Arrested (Aug. 26, 2009)

Wideshow Reporter Missing 5 Months

Okuyama Eishi

Okuyama Eishi (62), one of the best-known faces on the afternoon “wideshow” circuit, has been missing since the spring, it was revealed earlier today in the “Shuukan Josei” weekly magazine. His management at the Yoshimoto Kogyo talent agency say they were able to establish that he was okay after the earthquake and tsunami in March but have had no contact with him since. They were contacted by his family on May 19 and a staff member visited his apartment in Kawasaki, where he lives alone. The apartment was undisturbed, there was laundry on the balcony washing line and water in the bathtub. The only thing that appeared to have been missing was his bank savings book. Okuyama’s family put in an application to the police for a missing person search the next day.

Okuyama was formerly a showbiz reporter for Fuji TV. Yoshimoto say that his last work assignment for the agency was at a comedy event in Tokyo in February of last year. He has a long history of working as an afternoon show reporter on such major events as the JAL Flight 123 jumbo crash of 1985 and the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.

Japan Misses Out on Universe Title

Miss Universe 2011, Kamiyama Maria

Japan will have to wait another year to capture its next world beauty crown. Kamiyama Maria (24, photo right) was hoping to repeat the success of Japanese entries in recent years, including the crowning of 2007 Miss Universe Mori Rio (24), but failed to make the last 16 of this year’s event held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The local favorite came in 3rd, behind the Ukrainian runner-up and Miss Universe 2011, business student Leila Lopes (25, photo left) of Angola.

Kamiyama, a native of the Tokyo youth mecca of Shibuya, is very much in the mold of recent Japanese fashion models with a look that could easily be half-western. But her main exposure to English came from a year taken off from college and spent working in Hawaii. She may not have made the final cut on the world stage but like Mori and 2006 runner-up Tachibana Kurara (29), she will surely continue to be in demand at home.

Kago Ai in Suicide Attempt

Kago Ai

Troubled former Morning Musume member Kago Ai (23) was admitted to a Tokyo hospital yesterday morning after an attempted suicide. An employee of her management company rushed to her apartment in the capital at about 11:55am after receiving a phone call in which Kago said she was about to kill herself. The staffer found Kago semiconscious on the floor, with shallow cuts on her wrists, and called emergency services. She was taken to the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center in Hiroo. According to police at the Azabu station in central Tokyo, the talento was diagnosed with acute drug intoxication from an overdose, believed to have been tranquilizers, but her condition is not believed to be life-threatening.

Kago’s actions were no doubt triggered by last Tuesday’s arrest of her 44-year-old boyfriend Ando Haruhiko on charges of attempted extortion. Kago was present at the time and also subjected to police questioning. Ando describes himself as the director of a restaurant business but is allegedly running something closer to a prostitution ring for elite Tokyo businessmen and celebrities. He has been charged with using his connections with the Yamaguchigumi, Japan’s most notorious yakuza organization, to get out of debts totaling some ¥20 million. Police are in the middle of a coordinated campaign to sever ties between organized crime and showbiz. Exposed relations with the Yamaguchigumi is what recently forced top star Shimada Shinsuke (55) to retire.

Kago, who has been in showbiz since she joined Morning Musume at the age of 12, was fired from the group in March 2007 for repeatedly breaking non-smoking rules. She has written and spoken publicly about her history of wrist cutting, and she appeared at a suicide prevention event in September 2008. Though her relationship with Ando is probably not a healthy one for her, it did allow her to rebuild something of a career. She released her comeback solo single in 2009, performed solo overseas for the first time last year in New York, and this year she released a jazz DVD. Kago, a country girl from Nara, has continued to enjoy a rich lifestyle and lives in Ando’s apartment in the luxurious 25-story Ark Towers East close to the Spanish embassy.

Kago has been trying to leave her management agency, Mainstream, for several months. But the company insists that she honor the two years remaining on her contract. She has fought back by holding a concert and starting up a blog without company approval. In an attempt to buy her way out, she is said to have turned to Ando for help. Speaking to reporters at the hospital yesterday Mainstream president Itoh Kazuyuki said Kago refuses to see him. He said he thought she was no longer living with Ando and he has repeatedly urged her to leave him.

Shindo Gets Oscar Nod at 99

Shindo Kaneto, Ichimai no Hagaki

Japan’s entry for next year’s Oscars has been chosen. The 7-member overseas selection committee of the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (known by the Japanese abbreviation Eiren) met this week to choose from 22 candidates. They settled on “Ichimai no Hagaki” (One Postcard) by the veteran director Shindo Kaneto (99, photo center). Committee member and movie critic Shinada Yukichi said, “This movie is the pinnacle of Shindo-san’s long career and it towered above the other productions. We look forward to seeing how the final movie by a 99-year-old director will be received at the Academy Awards.” Among the other films considered by the committee were Suo Masayuki’s “Dancing Chaplin” and “Yokame no Semi” by Narushima Izuru.

“Ichimai…” is based on Shindo’s experiences during World War II and tells how a family is torn apart and rebuilds following the death of one young soldier. The strong cast includes (photo rear, L-R) Toyokawa Etsushi, Ohtake Shinobu and Musaka Naomasa. Shindo has said the movie is his last, and it won him a special jury prize at this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. He is scheduled to appear at an event at the Ginza Theatre Cinema in Tokyo tomorrow and give his reaction to his film’s latest recognition.

The shortlist of movies that will vie for the Best Foreign Film award will be announced in January and the Oscar ceremony will be held in February. Last year’s selection, “Kokuhaku” managed to make the shortlist but failed to repeat the 2009 success of “Okuribito.”

Marriage for Rock Offspring

Miyuji, Hinata San

Musician Miyuji (30) and actress Hinata San (27) are engaged to be married and are expecting their first child in the autumn, according to the Sports Hochi newspaper. Both are fairly minor celebrities, but Miyuji is the son of rock singer Kuwana Masahiro (58) and his former wife, singer Ann Lewis (55), while Hinata is a former star of the Takarazuka theatrical troupe. Kuwana was one of the most influential rock vocalists of the late 1970s and 80s and had a major hit with “Sexual Violet No.1” in 1979. He and Lewis were married from 1980-84. Born to a Japanese mother and U.S. navy father, she was a child actress and later became a pinup idol and pop singer before switching to rock vocals. She had several hits in the 1970s.

Miyuji was born in Hawaii and made his first recording on his mother’s single “Hyogara to Pink” in 1998. He made his TV acting debut the following year. He released his debut album in 2001 and now mostly performs live. Hinata entered the all-female Takarazuka school in 1999 and went on to become a star in male roles. She retired from the troupe in November 2009 but has continued her career as an actress. She and Miyuji started dating after they worked together last year in the stage musical “Welcome to Jubilee.” They haven’t announced a date for a formal wedding.