This Week in Tokyo Pop Culture | Nov 15: Who’s In and Who’s Out?

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This week in Tokyo pop culture has been a total zero-sum game, with each piece of entertainment news being instantly met by something from the exact opposite end of the spectrum. For example…

One Foreigner In, One Foreigner Out

On November 16, popular stand up comic Trevor Lock, who used to be a support comedian for the likes of Stewart Lee and Russell Brand, will perform in Tokyo at the Good Heavens British Bar. This will be Lock’s third performance in Japan this year after apparently having a great time in the country back in January and March. Known for a kind of surreal, off-beat comedy, this time Lock will be promoting his new “social experiment” show Gender Studies: Boy v Girl.

But what Japan gains with Lock, it loses with Placido Domingo. The famed Spanish opera singer, conductor and one of the Three Tenors was supposed to perform in Japan in April during a special pre-Olympic event that would mix elements of classic opera with traditional Japanese kabuki theater. However, on November 8, the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee announced that Domingo has backed out and will not be visiting Japan at that time. According the official release, Domingo said, “After thoughtful consideration I have made the decision not to participate in the Kabuki-Opera event due to the complexity of the project.”

Neither party has made any mention about the many sexual harassment allegations brought against the singer when discussing his decision to sit out the Tokyo event. However, the Dallas Opera, which also originally planned to host Domingo in 2020, was pretty straightforward about the scandal being the reason why they were cancelling his appearance.

As Kazunari Ninomiya Finds Love, Haru Still Hasn’t Started Looking

Kazunari Ninomiya, member of the insanely popular Japanese idol group Arashi, has officially tied the knot with “a 38-year-old woman,” his agency said refusing to disclose her name, already giving Mrs. Ninomiya a taste of what it’s like to be married to a celebrity. Ninomiya is the first member of Arashi to get married because popular Japanese performers are often forbidden by official contracts from even dating. Yet with news that the group will suspend their activities in late 2020, perhaps it was decided to grant the singer some human rights.

But while Ninomiya enjoys his honeymoon, Haru’s hunt for love still hasn’t begun. It will officially kick off next year when the popular actress (whom you might remember from the series You and I on the G-String) begins starring in the new NHK show Ru: Taiwan Express. The story will focus on Haru, an office worker who is sent to Taiwan where, as a young university student, she met a charming man named Eric. Will she run into him again? Yes, obviously, but we will have to wait until 2020 to find out what happens.

Yuki Furukawa Rides Newfound Fame While Kenji Ozawa Prepares for a Comeback

On November 11, TV Tokyo started airing Ten: Akagi Shigeru Soshiki Hen, a show based on the manga Ten: Tenhodori No Kaidanji by Nobuyuki Fukumoto about the world of mahjong. A follow-up to a 2018 series, the new show co-stars Yuki Furukawa, an actor whose fame has skyrocketed in the last few years. Maybe not in Japan but definitely in China where the Japanese-Chinese co-production Mysterious Summer starring Furukawa was seen more than 60 million times. And although Japanese mahjong is slightly different than the Chinese version, the game is still popular there, so the new series will definitely help maintain the young actor’s popularity on the mainland.

If he continues on his path, Furukawa may one day be as famous as musician Kenji Ozawa was in the ‘90s and even today. In 2017, when Ozawa made a rare appearance at the Fuji Rock Festival, it caused a massive traffic jam that continued for the rest of the day. That’s even more impressive if you consider that the artist hasn’t released a vocal album since 2002. But that all changed this month when he dropped So kakkoii Uchuu featuring a mix of already released singles and seven new songs.

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