Koji Seto

Born on May 18, 1988, Koji Seto is a well known actor and singer in Japan. He was born in Kama, Fukoka, and was the eldest child with 2 younger siblings. Seto dreamed of being a veterinarian, but his plans changed when he was able to watch the TV series Orange Days while he was still in Junior High School. He then planned to become an actor, being inspired by the performance of Satoshi Tsumabuki in the series. He then enrolled in an acting school, with his parents providing full support to their son. In 2005, Seto got a role as Makoto Kanno in the comedy TV series Rocket Boys.

Koji Seto

 

After finishing his filming for the series (which took 6 months to air), he was surprised by his parents with a letter stating that Seto made it to the final round of the D-Boys audition by Watanabe Entertainment. Koji Seto then won the Grand Prix 2nd Winner award for his performance of “Himawari”, which was originally sung by Fukuyama Masaharu. in 2006, Seto starred along with his fellow D-Boys members in their own show, titled “D-Boys”. He also got the part for Eiji Kikumaru in Tenimyu, who is an energetic and highly acrobatic tennis player. He then popularized his nickname “Setomaru”, which was a combination of his last name, Seto, and the last name of Kikumaru. It became a household name in Japan with Seto’s 151 performances under the nickname. In 2007, Seto, along with stage partner Yukihiro Takiguchi, were given the Best Actors Album, and were given praise and acclaim by the creator. In 2009, Seto was casted for the latest sequel to the Ju-On movie which was entitled “Ju-On – Black Girl”. Seto then played again his role as Wataru Kurenai for the Kamen Rider Decade’s first and last episode. He also starred later that year for the TV series Atashinchi no Danshi as Satoru Okura, who is described as ill-tempered, but genius and witty.

 

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Order in the World through Dance!

World Order, a Japanese dance group and band, is one of the most interesting and innovative dancers there are. It is not like the typical hip hop, jazz or whatever that people see from typical dance competitions and dance groups. The way that World Order dances is something else beyond compare and beyond description. Genki Sudo used to be a Mixed Martial Artist who formed the band World Order after he retired from his martial arts career. He did not MMA and was able to complete and win multiple tournaments and competitions during his time.

genki sudo world order members

Members of the World Order

Their first and most impressive song “Machine Civilization” made them well-known throughout the world. This song was produced as their response to the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami calamity of Japan. Their forte would be choreographed robotic dances that have beaten our every notion of robotic dance. It shows mind-blowing synchronization, choreography and illusion. Most of their dances, though they seem as if they are parodying other artists are artistic homages to the greatest artists and musicians of our time. Their appeal to audiences may not be as significant as international artists from different corners of the world but they have dominated the Japan and other parts of the world with their innovation and creativity.

The group is composed of seven dancers who are known to push the boundaries beyond entertainment and awe. They even incorporate actual machinery in their dance that make them look as if they are live robots dancing to the tune of the music. What made them catch attention is the fact that they simply go out in public places, dance and leave as if nothing happened. This is their appeal, their uniqueness and quirkiness and the confusion of why they dance that way will certainly pull in audiences and invite them further to watch.

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The Success of JPOP

The Japanese Pop music industry, more commonly referred to as JPOP, is an international sensation. Its unique appeal is known throughout the world and makes even non-Japanese speakers sing along. It is a popular musical genre which started in Japan around the 1990s and are deeply rooted from and influenced by traditional Japanese music. However, even if it is influenced by traditional Japanese music, post war Japanese music has started being influenced by western music such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys. By the 1970s, prior being labelled as pop music, this genre was considered as “new wave” with strong accents of electronic beats and many more.

Back in the 1990s, boy bands and girl groups were very popular that a lot of groups started sprouting out of nowhere. However, as the world reached the new millennium music was significantly changed again. Members from old boy bands and girl groups started opting for solo careers and venturing into other genres of music. Surprisingly, it was in the late 2000s that girl groups and boy bands started going back to the music scene; this time bringing even more surprises and flavor. Most of these groups become ambassadors of fashion, where trends are newly set influencing not only the Japanese but neighboring countries as well.  Most often than not, these groups are not only talented in singing. Majority of members are also great dancers, actors and models. The JPOP artists of today are much more diverse and holistic  – venturing into different forms of media. A group normally have strong dancers, great voices and even rappers for many. They diversify not only their talents but the quality of their music as well. Singing ballads and love songs are not the only focus that they have.

ARASHI – Most popular Japanese male idol group

It was because of the appeal of the artists that attracted millions of fans all over the world. Non-Japanese singers become die-hard fans of these JPOP groups that they start learning the language through listening to the songs. The biggest competition of the JPOP would be their Korean counterparts, aptly called as KPOP music. JPOP, though its popularity has been challenged in the recent years still continue to flourish not only in Japan but throughout the globe.

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Of Boys and Bands

The JPOP industry made all local Japanese music popular in different parts of the world. This genre of music has been in the industry since the late 1970s when new wave groups started to fuse with Japanese music. It was a term used by the media to distinguish foreign music from the Japanese Popular Music. JPOP is not only a music genre, it also more of an identity. It has great influences in fashion, style, and many more – often mimicked by many neighboring Asian regions.

Through the years, the Japanese Popular Culture has grown into a more distinguished form of art and has reached a level of popularity that no other industry in Japan has ever reached.  Sales of music outside of Japan started to become famous and the fan base grew throughout the world. Simply put, JPOP was taking the world by storm. What made the Japanese Popular music ever so popular in the world are the boy bands that exemplify not only talents but style. They have pretty faces with strongly masculine flares. They set fashion trends, hair styles and even make up for men. Any fan girl would definitely go crazy at the sight of their favourite boy band.

Japanese Boy Bands Setting Fashion Trends

Boy bands were really popular in the 1990s however, these kinds of groups lost their lustre as ELECTRPOP, Party Music and EDM started to become popular in Hollywood and other parts of the West.  Anyone who has never listened to nor is familiar of the JPOP industry would think that Japan is rather traditional, thinking that it is unusual for this day and age to become a fan of a boy band. But, JPOP has given boy bands a new blaze for these kinds of Japanese bands play electropop and party music other than the normal romantic songs. Furthermore, among the most popular actors of today are idols from famous JPOP groups – diversifying their career from music to modelling and even acting.

Among the most popular Japanese Pop Idol Groups are Arashi, Da-Ice B’z and many more. Also popular today are girl bands or girl idol groups – setting a new image of the Japanese Kawaii. These include AKB48, Princess and Speed among others. JPOP, though only recently coined, gave the Japanese music industry a new face.

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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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Sumo Wrestler Akebono Taro

Taro is an American born sumo wrestler that is famous for his very gigantic stature and build. To use this naturally given advantage, he began training for wrestling and was taken under the wing of the Hawaiian Sumo wrestler Takamiyama. He officially joined the Japanese sport, Sumo wrestling, when he was only about 19 years old in 1988. Any spectator and critic would know that his talent is not something to be taken lightly. He quickly rose up the rankings and after only two tournament championships, he gained a title nobody else had at the time. Only after about five years into the sport, he was the first non-Japanese born wrestler to ever rank Yokozuna, or the highest rank. There are different Sumo Wrestling ranks and ways on how to attain them, but he was really talented.

His rise to fame did not come easily, of course. Takamiyama, his coach, was initially concerned about his height and his legs. Even if his size and build seems to be made for the sport, he seems to be too tall for his weight division. Since his weight and his height are not in the perfect proportion, his long legs might become a disadvantage for him in the future. Soon enough he proved wrong all of these misjudgements against him.

Around 2000, Akebono suffered a severe injury that made him sit out many of his important competitions. He retired because of this, not wanting to work on getting back his fighting build. He did not go far off from his original sport since he worked as an Oyakata, or a Sumo coach after he retired. Sadly, his pay as a coach was not enough to sustain his family so he decided to change his direction a little bit and train as a professional wrestler for MMA or mixed martial arts.

In truth, he is not really Japanese by blood. His real name is Chad Rowan and his country of origin is Hawaii. But for the love of the sport and its origin country, he became a Japanese citizen in 1996. He gave up his American citizenship and even changed his name from Chad Rowan to Akebono Taro. Though he is now retired, he chose to stay in Japan to become coach in the Azumazeki Stable for a couple of years. Soon, he realized that he didn’t want to let go of his wrestling career, he joined the All Japan Pro wrestling promotion and is now a professional wrestler. He even won titles and belts such as the Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion, Unified World Tag Team Champion and All Asia Tag Team Champion.

Akebono Taro

Akebono Taro

Photo by Chijanfuji

 

Oda Yuji

Oda Yuji was born in 1967 in Kanagawa Prefecture. Oda was undeniable athletic and was simply assured of a promising future in sports. Unfortunately, he had this terrible knee injury that left him to do one thing – reconsider his ambitions. Just like anyone who is somewhat sure of what he wants, it was definitely hard to accept that at one instant, he had no choice but to stop and start over again. Time, we may say, is good to him, as it wasn’t that difficult for him to pursue an acting career.

He started by entering a drama school where he learned the basics. In 1987, he made his first debut movie Boom Boom Boom where he played a role of a school dropout. In 1991, he was fortunate to have given his lead role in smash TV romantic comedy Tokyo Love Story. At that time, this movie was a hit and was simply a great opportunity for him, leading him to becoming an overnight star. There are more to the list of movie and it was during the 90s that Oda was given his biggest roles. He starred in various renzoku dorama or drama series such as Okanae ga nai and Mahriu no Tsuki. In 1997, he was given a role in Odoru Daisosasen, a TV cop comedy-drama, which surprisingly was a smash hit. The following year, a spinoff movie of the same name was released and became a box-office hit.

Aside from being a renowned actor, Oda was as well wanted in various TV commercials. One of his most popular appearances would be in DoCoMo mobile phone company where he became the pitchman. Also, he pursued singing for most of his career even if he wasn’t really smooth in carrying a tune well. More to his movie/acting career would be his revival movie in 2003. The movie was a sequel of his box office movie and was even better than the original. It was even considered to be Japan’s all-time-box-office smashes mainly because of its star-studded cast and the hype that was given for its release. In 2004, Oda again was given another big role. He announced that he will soon star another drama series since Tokyo Love Story.

The success of Oda was undeniable and for his case, overwhelming. He is fortunate that even if we all know that his passion is for sports, he was still able to be good in something else. His efforts and willingness surely led him to becoming the man that he is now.

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Takakura Ken

Oda Goichi, more popularly known as Takakura or “tough one”, has been an actor since 1955. First working with the Toei company at age 24, his first role was a salaryman and gangster. It was timing that he spent the times growing up in Kitakyushi in Fukuoka which was also the time that he was starting his career in the entertainment industry. What made things easier for him is that during those times, movies about the underworld were booming. Since then, he became evident in films. Various roles were given to him and still, he was able to make people see that acting is something natural for him. Indeed, he was fortunate to have such talent and we can say that he was assured of a good future. Nevertheless, he found the need of finishing his education; it was surely admirable of him to still see the purpose of it even if stardom was enough to keep him going. Unlike his fellow 60s yakuza star Tsuruta Koji, Takakura graduated from Meiji University.

Aside from being studious, Takakura never failed that part of him that was driven to work and be of purpose. Aside from graduating in a prestigious university, he was as well a virtual teetotaller. We can say that his experiences back when he wasn’t in the industry formed him to becoming really natural in acting. His perseverance and commitment, we may say, made him successfully portray his more often than not violent roles.

If you take time considering the span present between his starting year and the year when he left his first handler/company, you will see that he was definitely assured of a great fortune, having been able to appear in over 180 films. These appearances, take note, often involve the most popular yakuza movie series; he was in demand and this is something we are sure of. Obviously, in this over a hundred movies that he appeared in, he was given varying roles. He had the chance of playing a baseball manager role, a station master, a cop, etc. It was quite obvious as well that his image was somewhat maintained in all his roles mainly because most often than not, he played this role that is aggressive and at times, requires him to do bad things but always for a good reason. The trust given to him and the efforts exerted just to keep that good image made him known for this kind of respected father-figure. This figure made him wanted simply because it is this kind of father that Japan finds lacking today.

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Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune, a known Japanese actor, was born on April 1, 1920. His success was undeniable mainly because he appeared in almost 170 films and even had the opportunity of working with filmmaker Akira Kurosawa in a 16-film collaboration, which actually marked his career. Before even getting into detail of his career and achievements, let’s first talk about his personal life and see if there are traces of where his talent came from. Born in Tsingtao, Shandong, China, his parents were both Methodist missionaries assigned to work in China. It was only when Mifune reached 19 years old that their family decided to move back to Japan. Upon returning back, he served in the Aerial Photography unit during World War II. More specifically, he became part of the Imperial Japanese Army Aviation division.

More to his personal life would be his married life. Toshiro Mifune married Sachiko Yoshimine who is one the 32 contestant in the new faces competition. At first though, Yoshimine’s parents weren’t at all fans of this relationship; they simply opposed to it. This, though, didn’t at all stop Mifune from pursuing his love, to think that he already proposed to her. With the help of Akira Kurosawa and Director Senkichi Taniguchi, Sahicko’s parents were convinced to allow the marriage. With this, their marriage did push through in February 1950. Also in the same year, in the month of October, their first son was born. Give years after, their second son was born. In 1982, an affair surprised the public. Mika Kitagawa, Mifune’s mistress, gave birth to their daughter Mika.

Focusing on his career, this Japanese actor was probably the most famous during his time. Not to mention, he was as well made easily known to Western audiences, thanks to director Akira Kurosawa. Mifune had the opportunity of playing a variety of roles, from being a samurai or ronin, to characters lacking manners. There is no doubt that he is one versatile actor. Nonetheless, he was admired for his sense of humor which often helped him portraying his film roles. Aside from this, he was renowned for the effort he puts into his performances; he was simply professional.

There are definitely more to admire about this great actor’s career. Through his perseverance and commitment, stardom and success were easier for him to attain. Luckily as well, he was blessed with people who simply believe in his capabilities. He is indeed one amazing Japanese icon!

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Manabu Oshio

Born on May 6, 1978, Manabu Oshio was back then known to be a singer and actor in Japan. He used to be the vocalist of the band LIV and nonetheless known for being a lyricist, guitarist, and even composer. This talented man was raised in Los Angeles, California and it was only when he reached 12 years old that he decided to go back to his birthplace, Tokyo, Japan. More to his being musically inclined, he was actually able to write lyrics both in English and Japanese. As for his acting career, he was in fact given much opportunity to star in various TV shows, commercials, dramas, and even movies. Take note that he was not only given the chance to perform in Japan but also in China.

It was in 1997 that Ai, Tokidoki Uso was featured, which as well marks the start of his acting career. In 2002, he was able to form a band which he referred to as the LIV. In January of the same year, the band released their very first single Without You and nonetheless, their debut album The First Chapter in October. The following year, in May, the band released their second single entitled Try which instantly hit the Oricon charts. There were more to the list of achievements in Music. Though unfortunately, in the year 2005, there were reports on Oshio’s decision on quitting acting and just focus on his musical career. With this, he really did quit his management agency and chose to join Daiki Sound, an indie label. In the following year, he decided to pursue another change in his life and married Akiko Yada.

Manabu Oshio with his wife

The career of Oshio, both in acting and Music, was undeniably successful. Not to mention, he decided to go back to acting in 2008 and was given another opportunity by the Avex Entertainment, where he signed a contract in. It was also in the same year that he was open to expanding his career internationally. Sadly, the career of Oshio ended in the most unwanted or we say, undesirable way. In 2009, he was arrested for possessing MDMA. He was arrested at Roppongi Hills. What made things worse is that this arrest took place during a death investigation of a hostess. Because of this controversy, his management agency had no choice but to drop the contract and his music labels distribution was as well cancelled. After the said arrest, his wife decided to file for divorce. Simply, the path to failure of this used-to-be great actor was as quick as his path to success.

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