MUSIC Kaori Asada, better known as J-pop singer Bonnie Pink, loves Christmas, and her present to fans this year is a minialbum titled “Chain,” a sweet, fruity concoction that includes playful covers of yuletide classics, such as “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Maybe it’s mushy, but hey — it’s Christmas. (2) [THE JAPAN TIMES]
(c) Studio Ghibli 2008
MOVIES/TV Legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki’s latest movie, “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea” sold an estimated 1.5 billion yen ($13.9 million) worth of tickets during its three-days opening weekend in Japan last week. (23)
CELEBRITIES Avex officially confirmed Thursday that the company has signed former Morning Musume member Maki Goto. The singer has been inactive for the past several months since she left the Hello! Project amid the scandal caused by her brother’s arrest in October for multiple counts of theft. [TOKYOGRAPH]
MOVIES/TV Veteran actor Koji Yakusho is directing and starring in a new film titled “Gama no Abura.” The movie, which has been shooting for the past month, marks Yakusho’s first time in the director’s chair.
CELEBRITIES Nachiko Shudo, an announcer with Japanese public broadcaster NHK, got married to a movie company employee in spring this year, officials said on Wednesday. (1) [MAINICHI]
CELEBRITIES Actress Ryoko Hirosue was awarded 1.2 million yen in damages after the Tokyo District Court ruled a story in Josei Seven women’s weekly magazine defamed her by implying she was involved in an extramarital affair. [MAINICHI]
Yokai Jinja shrine, in Sakaiminato.
Photo: Dao-hui Chen. Creative Commons
BOOKS/MANGA Sakaiminato municipal government in Tottori Prefecture–hometown of Shigeru Mizuki, a cartoonist known for the “Gegege no Kitaro” series–has applied to register the trademark of Yokai Jinja shrine, a privately run tourist attraction featuring characters from the series, with the government’s Patent Office. [YOMIURI]
MUSIC Pop group Arashi announced during their performance at the Tokyo Dome on Sunday that the they will be holding a short Asia concert tour later this year. They completed their first Asia tour in 2006, but this one will include two significant milestones: a concert in Shanghai and a concert at Tokyo’s National Stadium. (1) [TOKYOGRAPH]
CELEBRITIES Comedian Nahomi Matsushima, part of the popular duo Othello, married Martha’s Sound Machine frontman Toshihiro Hisada on Sunday. [MAINICHI]
BOOKS/MANGA A budget panel of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly on Wednesday approved a controversial plan to invest an additional 40 billion yen for Shinginko Tokyo on condition that the metropolitan government strengthens its surveillance of the heavily indebted bank and spends no more taxpayers’ money on it. [KYODO]
MOVIES/TV “Shakariki!,” the first manga series by artist Masahito Soda, is being adapted as a live-action film, starring members of the acting group D-BOYS. Serialized in Shonen Champion from 1992 to 1995, the comic focused on high schoolers involved in the sport of bicycle racing. [TOKYOGRAPH]
Foreign Minister Mashiko Komura appoints anime character Doraemon anime ambassador.
Photo: (c) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
MOVIES/TV Japan has created an unusual government post to promote animation, and named a perfect figure Wednesday to the position: Doraemon. (6) [INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE]
MOVIES/TV A Tokyo cinema decided against showing a controversial documentary film by a Chinese director on the war-related Yasukuni Shrine, citing the potential “inconvenience” it may cause to other tenants in the same building, an official of movie theater operator T- Joy Co. said Tuesday. [KYODO]
CELEBRITIES The overturning of actress Serena Kozakura’s conviction for willful destruction of property after the defense had proved the size of Kozakura’s breasts made it unlikely she had committed the crime will not be appealed, the prosecutor said Monday.
BOOKS/MANGA Popular manga artist Naoki Urasawa, who probably is best known for such works as “Yawara!” and “20th Century Boys,” will teach at an art university starting in April. [YOMIURI]
CELEBRITIES 27-year-old actress and pop singer Ryoko Hirosue announced Thursday on her agency’s website that she has divorced husband, designer Takahiro Okazawa, after nearly four years of marriage. (13)
MOVIES/TV Entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. will team up with several Japanese companies to produce animation for television in Japan, a leading market, a Disney official said Thursday. [MAINICHI]
GAMES Sony said on Tuesday it will add the Skype telephone service to its slim PlayStation Portable handheld console in Japan this month, enabling users to make free or low-cost telephone calls. [AFP]
CELEBRITIES Actress Serena Kozakura’s conviction for willful destruction of property has been overturned by the Tokyo High Court because her large breasts revealed flaws in the testimony against her. [MAINICHI]
MOVIES/TV After a 22-year hiatus, cult director Yoshihiko Matsui is back with an off-beat love story about a gay shophand and a transsexual bar hostess. [THE JAPAN TIMES]