Tanabata Star Lovers

You think that Romeo and Juliet are the only popular Star Crossed lovers in the world as immortalized by the work of Shakespeare. However, Japanese legends have always told of the story of the real star crossed lovers and even celebrate their love in one of the popular festivals in their country. Just like any tragic love story, the tale of the star crossed lovers is a heart break.

As the story goes, a young seamstress named Princess Orihime who wove beautiful clothes by the heavenly river. As she worked endlessly, she became weary and lost all hope of finding true love. Seeing his daughter in despair, the God of the Heavens arranged her daughter to meet with the cow herder living across the river – Hikoboshi. They instantly fell in love, but Orihime lost all her time to him and failed to weave beautiful clothes.

Orihime and Hikoboshi, once a year during the Tanabata

Basically, the Tanabata Star Crossed lovers show that through the many obstacles in life love will always prevail. The sad part about this legend is that unlike normal fairy tales, the lovers don’t have a happy ending. There will be no part of the story where they will overcome their obstacles and be together for the rest of their happy lives. It’s a tragedy because of the fact that there can only be one time of the year where they can truly be together. Her forgetfulness of her responsibilities angered her father that they were doomed to never meet again unless Orihime weaves beautifully once again.

Though the story of the Tanabata lovers seem tragic for many, looking at the story in its entirety is actually hopeful. There is a promise that when Orihime and Hikoboshi works hard, they will be given a chance to be together. It was also said that when it rains, it means that the lovers were not able to unite, explaining that they failed to work hard enough to be worthy of being together. It is a symbol of hope that in love not everything will always be a happy ending and so that a relationship will last, there must be hard work. Without the compromise and the hard work, no relationship would be healthy.

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The World’s Love-Hate Relationship with Late Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito was a man of many firsts, he was able to bring about some radical changes to the lives of the Japanese people and even bring about a revolution into the Imperial throne. He was Japan’s longest reigning monarch, ascending into the throne in 1926 upon the death of his father until his death in 1989. But he actually ruled longer than that when he became regent to his chronically ill father and assumed the duties of an emperor in 1921. He was also an emperor at the darkest stage in contemporary Japanese history, calling on difficult decisions and watching his people and his men suffer heart breaking conditions due to the Second World War.

Emperor Hirohito in Imperial Robes

Soon after he was inducted into the throne, there was political turmoil in his country. With the changing tides in the position of the Emperor and his influence in the government, it was believed that he had limited influence over the military and its politics.  He was even said to be a reluctant supporter of the Sino-Japanese war, knowing what his country might possibly lose. Since then, there had been a great number of unverifiable controversy regarding his true role and influence in Japan’s operations during the WWII.

It is difficult to say whether or not the world really has the right to strongly dislike the emperor. He was accused of forcing his men to commit atrocities to their neighbouring countries during the Second World War; this included the Japan comfort women, which has become quite a controversial issue lately, in spite of the fact that the Japanese government made a very public apology and offered millions of dollars in atonement as long ago as the 1990s. Or perhaps it is rooted from the fact that his country signed the Tripartite Pact with two of the most notoriously powerful countries at the time – Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The simple agreement was that they would assist one another should any of them be attacked by a country that is involved in the war.

At the time, Japan was also among the nations that had advanced military artillery and training, if it was anything that the Emperor has done, it was solely to protect the people. The two powerful countries will be able to provide protection for Japan against their vulnerability, being powerful yet alone in their continent they surely need to defend themselves. What the western media has always labelled as Japan’s dream of ruling Asia, then the world, can never be entirely accused solely on the emperor for their dreams for Asia were truly grand. However, it would be difficult to say if it was for the benefit of all those that would be involved.

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Koji Tamaki, the Music Legend

Koji Tamaki was a popular singer during the 1980s and was then known as one of the most popular pop idols in Japan. Though Jpop has not yet been fully established as it is today, they are the earlier equivalents of the popular Japanese singers and pop idols of their time. Even though he is a Japanese singer, he also is a songwriter where he writes ballads and songs for himself and other artists. On top of that, he also works as an actor when he is not on the stage or his recording studio performing.

He was not originally a solo artist, and he was the vocalist of the band Anzen Chitai which has debuted in 1982. He worked tirelessly as the main vocals and songwriter of their band. Despite working with a band, it was in 1987 when he released his first solo single entitled “All I Do”. When his band suspended their performances in 1993, he continued his solo career and was able to release a great deal of studio albums and singles. While working as a singer and songwriter, he used his spare time to appear in films and television dramas. Just when his singing career was at its peak, he also debuted as an actor in 1986 when he played a role in the Prussian Blue No Shozo film.

Album Cover

 

Other than his music career and acting gigs, his personal life was also a source of awe and enjoyment for the fans. During his entire career he was married a total of three times, marrying an actress named Hiroko Yakushimaru and his keyboardist Satoko Ando. The most interesting aspect about his love life that truly intrigued many was his affair with Actress Mariko Ishihara when he was married to his first wife. There were many speculations during the time in the 80s but the affair was only confirmed when Ishihara wrote about their affair in her autobiography published in 2006.  However, when Tamaki retired from his music career due to deteriorating health he and Ishihara met once again and made sure that they would not separate anymore. Just a year after reuniting with each other, they have registered their marriage in Tokyo in 2009.

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The Golden Voice of Miho Fukuhara

The music industry of Japan, just like that of China, Taiwan and South Korea, has been continuously growing over the past years and decades. Jpop idols and groups have been increasing popularity all over the world now that the internet has provided accessibility for non-Japanese listeners. One of the popular Japanese celebrities that have been gaining popularity and continuously challenges herself over the years is Jpop singer Miho Fukuhara.

It was in the 2006 when she debuted in the music industry. Just after two years in the music scene she has already scored on the yearly Japanese Top 100 chart. Aside from her very powerful and velvety voice, she also gained popularity because of her impressively good looks. Anyone listening to her would definitely assess her voice to be very similar to Mariah Carey with an added twist of her own style and techniques. Most of her songs are R&B and pop ballad and has been influenced greatly by her musically inclined family. At a young age she was exposed to different music, songs and artists that have been legends in the music industry because of the wide record collection of her parents.

Album cover for her first album, Rainbow

Though she only debuted in 2006, she was kind of discovered when she joined a local karaoke contest and impressed the judges with her rendition of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. Though many music scouts have already invited her, she respectfully declined saying that she wishes to finish high school before she starts her musical career.

The single The Roots, her cover of Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder, her Because You Loved Me Celine Dion Cover are among her most popular songs. Her debut album was Rainbow which she released in 2008 after a series of singles and covers since her debut in 2006. She has released a total of 13 Singles and eight albums since her debut in 2006 showing a great deal of accomplishments in less than a decade in the industry. Though she is yet to release her latest album for 2014 after being signed by Sweetbox, many of her fans are anticipating new pieces from this soul siren.

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Love her, hate her, she’s still Pamyu Pamyu

It is known by many that there are a great deal of unusual entertainment, fashion and styles in Japan. It is actually what makes them interestingly attractive to many people, particularly foreigners. But, there is only one particular celebrity that embodies all three simultaneously – she is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu with her Teddy bear head dress

There are a lot of Japanese people that are actually confused about how they feel about Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. They think that she is ridiculous but this is a great part of her charm. Seeing her anywhere will make anyone give her a second glance because she is a truly interesting character. If you think that Lady Gaga is already crazily daring with her avant garde costumes, head dresses, make up and the like, you have not seen enough yet. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is like the Lady Gaga of Japan, only much colorful. Her daring outfits are a source of awe for many Japanese because she has the guts to wear such outfits considering the very conservative nature of the Japanese society.

She is a Japanese model and singer and she is the best manifestation and symbol of kawaisa and decora – both of which are popular fashion cultures in Japan. Her music is mostly electronic and techno pop and her signature song is PonPonPon which she released in 2011. She gained popularity in Japan, then in different parts of Asia. Today, she has also penetrated the western world when many of her music videos have gone viral on the internet. She has been dubbed a the Harajuku Pop Princess and has been covers of many popular magazines because of her eccentric but cute style.

She is known to have made remarkably unusual remarks especially when she has stated in an interview that she likes “scary things that become traumatic with their cuteness”. She explained that she find brains and eyeballs important in balancing cuteness. Though what she means about the balance between scary and cuteness are unclear, she is still in a very love-hate relationship with the Japanese audiences. Her eccentric style, colorful hair and enormous hair bows  have made her cringe-worthily lovable for many audiences.

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Cute and Lovable Kobayashi Seiran

Any person who has watched her will surely fall in love with her cute charms and innocent looks. She is one of the most popular child actresses in Japan and has been working in tandem with a lot of established personalities in the entertainment industry. Seiran Kobayashi is definitely a small person filled with sunshine and happiness. Whether it is just watching her or working with her, all stresses will be relieved with just one glimpse of this adorable little girl.

Even at her very young age of 10, she has been in many dramas and appearances that the finger can count. She has been on the big screen as well acting along great actors and actresses. She even has her own commercials and advertisements. Being on screen is not the only challenge that she gave herself. She even has a few singles that has been released as promotions for her dramas and shows. In fact, she is in a duo with her best friend and also a child actress, Tani Kanon. Their duo is called Star Flower and they debuted as record artists in August of 2012.

Seiran Kobayashi

She may be young but she is a very talented actress. She acts very naturally and embodies her roles as if they are her real persona. The emotions which she portrays not only are shown in the face but it is also passionately shown from the heart and would surely touch any audience watching her. One of her most impressive roles was in Natsu No Koi wa Nijiro ni Kagayaku where she portrayed the role of the sweet and shy daughter of a widow. Her powerfully sweet role made her an established name in the industry.

It was in 2009, when she was merely five years old when she first appeared on a TV commercial for Calpis. Because of her cuteness and charm, many more commercials were offered to her and she eventually moved on from commercials to small roles in dramas until she played roles for the main cast. Her popularity has not gained her any awards so far, but she has surely captured the hearts of the audiences where she won second place for the cutest and most adorable child actors in Japan.

The Charms of Yuya Yagira

There are a number of young Japanese male actors of today that used to be very popular child actors. These are the kinds of actors that the entire Japanese community and media watched grow into the men and women they are at present. Though he is not as popular as he used to be when he was young, he grew into an intelligent young man with passion and aspiration to become one of the greatest Japanese actors of all time. Yuya Yagira never failed to impress his fans through his charms and talent. Yuya Yagira became famous from the heart-wrenching drama film, No Body Knows in 2004 where he portrayed the 12-year old boy left by their mother to care for his siblings. His portrayal for his role gained him numerous awards and media attention. It was the time that the people discovered his true skills in acting.

Yuya Yagira at the Age of 24

This young man was born in 1990 making him a very youthful actor. Just shy from his 25th birthday, he has already accomplished a great deal of achievements that many actors achieve throughout their long careers. One of his most impressive award is the Best Actor Award from the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for his character (12 year old Akira) in the movie No Body Knows.

Many child actors suffer from extreme stress and difficulty growing up under the limelight and the scrutiny of the audiences. Often, when they reach a certain age many child actors experience trauma and rebel against their old perfect lives. The young Yuya Yagira was one of these child actors. It was in 2008 when he was hospitalized for a drug overdose. It has been reported by the media that it was Yuya Yagira’s  suicide attempt. To counter these wrongful accusations, he released a statement saying that he was not trying to kill himself by noting the fact that he personally called an ambulance. After a couple of years of rest, Yuya Yagira returned to the big screen in 2010 and immediately starred in many roles for film and for Television Drama. It was also in 2010 when Yagira married a Television personality named Ellie Toyota.

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The Best Japanese Comedian: Tomonori Jinnai

Making people laugh is a gift that not many people possess. Often, actors can make the audiences fall in love, cry from pain and even become angry. However, prolonged and intended laughter are normally intended by comedians. Comedy has been a great source of entertainment for many people all over the world starting the time when theater and cinema gained popularity. Laughter and joy uplifts the spirit and can bring the energy of a person to high levels. Because of this fact, different forms of performances and arts in comedy has been made and used for the past years. There are now gag shows that focuses on performing funny pranks and gags to other people or to one’s self. There are also forms of comedy that come in games and the like. There are also others that use their words and stories to make their audiences and listeners laugh.

While in a Skit

The Japanese Owarai, or also known as Japanese Comedy is a very common segment on Japanese television shows. Many Japanese artists put their passion and craft into creating skits and segments that will truly make their audiences cheer, jeer and laugh. In fact, over the recent years there has been an increase in the popularity of the Owarai on television because of the great talents of Japan’s famous comedians. One man that makes all these possible would be Tomonori Jinnai who is known to be one of the Best Japanese Comedians of All time.

Videos of his works have actually gained popularity on the internet and every episode that is uploaded almost immediately becomes viral. People often remark that he is very hilarious and funny in ways that he will not put other people to shame, which is one common way of making others laugh.  Popular Tomonori Jinnai skits include Cooking Navigator, Pet Ban, Hair Salon, Gas station and many more. He has also been a part of movies such as Cinnamon the Movie, Inuyasha the Movie 4 and more. He has also been a part of Television dramas including Card Queen, Reset and the like. Jinnai is one of the funniest men in Japan and has brought laughter and joy to Japanese audiences.

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Empress Michiko, Her life and Her Legacies

Empress Michiko has a very wide fan base; she is one of the most loved women in all of Japan. She is well respected, not only because of her title, but also because of the kindly manner that she has. Every royal family has a story about the first commoner princess and these kinds of stories always get the awe and excitement from the masses. Empress Michiko, then known as Michiko Shoda, fit the role just perfectly. She is the first member of the royal family that was married into the royalty that has neither royal nor aristocratic descent. Despite that, her family was very wealthy, powerful and well connected. In fact, her father was Asia’s riches flour and noodle maker.  She was born in Tokyo in October 1934. As a young woman, she always had that power and charm within her that truly demands authority and attention. She is also very intelligent. In her senior year while studying English at Sacred Heart’s University, she was elected as president of the student body and was the valedictorian of her class.

The Empress and Her Eldest Son in 1960.

The story of how the then Crown Prince Akihito met her was a romantic story that the press labelled as the Tennis Court Romance. The two met while playing Tennis and they immediately felt the connection. Crown Prince Akihito has sought the approval of the council. Once they have approved, it was up to the Imperial Parents to decide and approve of their engagement. His father, Emperor Hirohito approved of the marriage but it took a much longer time to impress then Empress Nagako. But soon, she also grudgingly approved. Since Michiko was the first commoner married into the royal family, the Japanese people found it easier to relate themselves with the royal family. It was then that they realized that the Royal Family is also a Japanese family.  However, Empress Michiko, then the Crown Princess Michiko, had a very difficult relationship with her mother-in-law.

She was a symbol of change, transition and modernization for the Japanese Royal Family because of the many traditions that she healthily broke and brought about a stronger sense of family and simplicity in the family.

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Crayon Shin Chan

There are a lot of popular anime in Japan that has reached popularity even in different parts of the world. This may be because of the interesting stories and the lovable characters of the anime. One of these manga and anime that has reached popularity in other countries aside from Japan is Shin Chan. This manga series was written and illustrated by Yoshito Usui. It revolves around the story of a young, five year old boy named Shinnosuke, also known as Shin, Nohara and all his interesting adventures.

Poster for “Crayon Shin Chan”

One of the many reasons why it is so popular is because of the many jokes that are found within the series. Shin Chan is no ordinary, innocent boy. He has a love for mischievousness and has continued to bring headaches and laughter to his friends, mother, baby sister and their dog. Another reason why it is appealing for many is the daring, yet absolutely humorous way for which Shin chan uses weir and inappropriate language. Normally, he is most funny when he uses the wrong phrases for the wrong occasions. There are cases where instead of saying “I am Home” he uses “Welcome Back” and many more.

Even though the manga began in the late 1980s, it was in 1992 when the first anime adaptation was aired on Television. It was so popular that it was dubbed to more than 10 different languages including French, Korean, Chinese, English, German and many more. Sadly, the manga officially yet unexpectedly ended on September 2009 when the author, Yoshito Usui died. The anime series also officially ended in 2010. On a positive light, it was announced in December 2009 that by 2010 a new manga would be released by the members of Usui’s Team.

Though it is a cartoon, or an animation and even if it may be very funny, it is very inappropriate for very young audiences. Some journalists particularly those that write for family magazines have commented on the vulgarity of some of the actions and languages that the small character was portraying and might teach young children many bad behavior. But, on top of this, many fans will never forget the witty and mischievous young Shin Chan.

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