2020 has been an incredibly challenging year, but at least it’s now slowly coming to an end. And the good news, or at least something approaching it, is that after the unpleasantness of the last 11 months, we will soon be saying goodbye to 2020 with some fantastic musical events, courtesy of Yoshiki and the 71st Kohaku Uta Gassen song contest.

“YOSHIKI: Under The Sky” Is Coming at the End of December

On November 20, Yoshiki, the multi-instrumental prodigy and co-founder of X Japan, announced that he’d be organizing a massive online musical event in collaboration with YouTube. Titled “YOSHIKI: Under The Sky,” the project will be streamed on December 23 and feature a lineup of international artists. So far, 11 have confirmed their involvement with UTS, including Marilyn Manson, The Chainsmokers, HYDE, Jane Zhang, Scorpions, and more. Some of the acts seem to be spillovers from KNOTFEST JAPAN, the huge rock and metal festival headlined by Slipknot that was supposed to take place back in March but was moved to January of 2021, though whether it’ll take place then remains to be seen.

“Under The Sky” promises to be much more than just an online concert, with Yoshiki working with many of the performing artists on an original collab song. Knowing Japan’s stringent copyright system, it may be a while before any of those songs become legally available, so be sure to catch the event live when it first streams.

Kohaku Tries to Rise to the Challenge

In Japan, there’s no New Year celebration without Kohaku Uta Gassen. The yearly song contest helps the country relax and reflect on the past year, so the 71st edition of Kohaku really has its work cut out for it. Thankfully, their first right decision was choosing the perfect leaders of the competing White and Red teams. In 2020, the Whites will be led by actor Yo Oizumi (Food Luck, A Banana? At This Time of Night?, My Dad is a Heel Wrestler etc.) while the Red leader will be Fumi Nikaido (Tapestry, Fly Me to Saitama, A Farewell to Jinu etc.) Both performers aren’t exactly known for chewing the scenery and dominating the stage but their past roles have often seen them keeping cool in the middle of total, unbridled chaos, which might be a bit too on the nose for the 2020 edition.


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The competing musical acts have also been announced and will include JUJU, Sakurazaka46, Perfume, MISIA, SixTONES, Mr.Children, and BABYMETAL (interestingly another KNOTFEST act). Kohaku will air on December 31, starting from 7:30 pm.

Masahiko Kondo Suspended Indefinitely for Definitely Having an Affair

Masahiko Kondo has led quite the life. Back in the ’80s, as part of the Tanokin Trio idol group, he briefly became something of a cultural icon before recording a string of hit songs, becoming a semi-professional race car driver, and holding the distinction of being the oldest (56yo) talent represented by Johnny’s & Associates. Well, until very recently, at least. The talent agency has suspended Kondo’s activities after it was revealed that he’d been cheating on his wife with the same woman for the past five years. It’s probably not the image the company wanted for a guy that they once cast in a movie titled Love Forever.

Kondo fessed up immediately after the allegations emerged. He announced that he also wouldn’t be participating in the Super GT racing series’s final round, and the 5th, 6th and final round of Super Formula as a manager of Kondo Racing.

Rina Kawaei Reaches Out to Victims of Domestic Abuse

According to research, the Covid pandemic has spawned many smaller pandemics, like the global rise of domestic abuse cases. Japan’s Cabinet Office has created new services meant to help those living in abusive households but very few people have actually heard about, say, the new number for consultation services for domestic violence (“#8008”) and child abuse (“189.”) Rina Kawaei, who became a mother last year, has been chosen to try and change all of that.

Once a popular member of AKB48, now an actress, Kawaei will be the spokeswoman for the fight against domestic abuse, and will be appearing in government TV/online commercials that will reportedly also highlight that abuse comes in many forms, including verbal.

TW Pop Culture Update is a Tokyo Weekender monthly series covering the latest and most significant entertainment news from Japan.