TW Pop Culture Weekly: Ken Shimura Tests Positive for Coronavirus

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When Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were diagnosed with coronavirus and quarantined in Australia, it made the whole situation real for a lot of Americans. Because if someone of his status, means, and karmic surplus can succumb to the virus, then really anyone is at risk. Japan didn’t have that kind of celebrity infection to illustrate the scope of this pandemic. Until now.

The Strange Old Guy is Sick

The name “Ken Shimura” might not mean much to Western audiences, but in Japan, it actually commands a lot of respect, despite belonging to a man who once starred in a farting samurai duel skit.

Shimura has been a Japanese comedy mainstay for more than 45 years. One of his most famous bits is “Henna Ojisan” where he portrays a perverted man who gets caught in embarrassing situations and ultimately states “That’s right, I’m a strange old guy.” It has its fans. Enough for news that Shimura has the coronavirus to shock all of Japan. The 70-year-old performer was hospitalized on March 20 before being positively diagnosed with COVID-19 on the 23rd. He’s currently under observation.

Kiko Mizuhara’s #MeToo Moment Reemerges

The popular American-Japanese model, actress, and singer Kiko Mizuhara has starred in such hits as Norwegian Wood and Nobunaga Concerto, designed her own fashion line, collaborated with Rihanna and Beyoncé, and generally lived life to the fullest. But that life hasn’t been perfect.

In 2013, she modeled nude for an ad campaign for the Japanese cosmetic giant Shiseido, and during the shoot, more than 20 of the company’s executives were there to ogle at her. Despite Mizuhara’s protests, the score of men refused to leave and told her this is all part of her job, leaving her feeling objectified and vulnerable.

This all came out in 2018 but didn’t really make a splash. However, on March 20, Twitter user @phie_hardison recalled the story in a post that currently has been liked nearly 100,000 times, bringing attention to it all over again. So far, Shiseido has not responded.

Erika Sawajiri’s Ex-husband Paid His Dues – or Not

Ex-mega star Erika Sawajiri was all over the news last month when she received a suspended three-year sentence for the possession of MDMA and LSD. It wasn’t the first time the tabloids were all over her, though, like the time in 2009 when she married Tsuyoshi Takashiro, a commercial filmmaker 22 years her senior. Still, an age difference shouldn’t make a… difference, as long as people love each other, right?

Recently, the couple’s alleged prenup came to light, which reportedly dictated how many times they would have sex a month. Five was Sawajiri’s limit, after which Takashiro was supposed to pay her ¥436,000 (~$3,900) every time they did it. He was allowed to step out on Sawajiri, though he’d have to pay. Dating another woman would cost Takashiro ¥8.6 million (~$77,000), paying twice that if they ended up having sex. For some reason the couple divorced in 2013.

Trailer for Hokusai Biopic Drops

Katsushika Hokusai is one of Japan’s most famous artists. A master of the ukiyo-e genre (which you might recognize from “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”), he often looked for inspiration within cities and its inhabitants, including merchants and geishas. As a young artist, this made him somewhat of a wild maverick, so it’s kind of fitting that Yuya Yagira, known for portraying the psychotic Kojima in The Fable, will portray the young Hokusai in an upcoming biopic premiering on May 29. Here’s the trailer for it:

About Sam Is Saved by Its Cast

Stories about the troubles and tribulations of professional performers are nothing new but what elevates About Sam (which premiered March 21 on dTV) above the rest is its authenticity. For a story about five members of a former idol group, one of whom supposedly killed herself but maybe not really, the show got the perfect actresses: actual idol group singers. The titular Sam and her friends are all played by members of Nogizaka46, the official “rivals” to AKB48. They bring in a lot of genuine emotions to a clichéd story to the point where you care what happens to them and sort of want to know what happens next. And that’s enough.

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