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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Haru Koizumi | Girl suspected of poisoning mother won't discuss family

A 16-year-old girl arrested on suspicion of attempting to poison her mother to death with thallium avoids talking about her family during police questioning, but speaks a lot about her interests, such as dissecting animals, a police source said Saturday.
According to the source, the first-year high school student of Izunokuni, Shizuoka Prefecture, is interested in small animals and said she dissected a snake when she was at middle school.
She added she liked to preserve dissected animals in formalin, and the police have found chemicals and preserved small animals in her room.
The student told police that a teacher once stopped her from dissecting a rabbit, saying she should not do so because it was a pet.
Investigators of Mishima Police Station and the Shizuoka prefectural police are seeking to learn the motive and background behind the murder attempt by asking the girl about her life when a primary and middle school student.
The source said the girl talked a lot about figures and mathematical formulas and liked to play games with police officers involving guessing chemical symbols. But when asked about some subjects, particularly about her family, she has refused to talk, saying, "Let's leave that for now."
According to the police, although the girl seemed emotionally unstable shortly after her arrest, she has calmed down and responds to questioning.
Investigators found that the girl had taken sleeping pills before she was arrested, and had been taken to hospital.
According to the police, members of the girl's family became suspicious about the health of the girl's 47-year-old mother after she was hospitalized. On Oct. 20, the hospital reported the matter to the police and the following day, the girl was found weakened in her room and was taken to hospital.

Minori Aoi | Yoko Ono apologizes for 'June with spoon' comment

Yoko Ono has apologized to Paul McCartney for insinuating that his songs are trite.

Accepting an award on behalf of John Lennon last month, Ono said Lennon had sometimes felt insecure about his songs, asking "why they always cover Paul's songs and never mine."

"I said, `You're a good songwriter, it's not June with spoon that you write.'"

After reports of the apparent slight circulated, Ono apologized in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, now on newsstands.

"I certainly did not mean to hurt Paul, and if I did, I am very sorry," she says.

McCartney has sometimes clashed with Ono, Lennon's widow.

She objected when McCartney reversed the traditional "Lennon-McCartney" songwriting credit on his 2002 album, "Back in the U.S." Ono's spokesman accused him of attempting to "rewrite history."

Hana & Chihiro | Puffy heads big names joining Mainichi Weekly

Grrrl Power duo Puffy, currently making a name for themselves in the U.S., head the list of big names who join the Mainichi Weekly as columnists from the Oct. 1 issue.
Joining Puffy, whose "Hi Hi Puffy English" column appears courtesy of J-Wave, 81.3 on the FM radio band, will be Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Seattle Mariners relief pitcher lauded for his efforts on the mound and at mastering English.
Another star attraction is Ai Sugiyama, the most dominant Japanese female tennis player on the world circuit for the past decade.
Glen S. Fukushima, President & CEO of Airbus Japan and onetime head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, has also joined the Mainichi Weekly team to provide an honest look at Japanese business and politics.
Mainichi Weekly is a weekly publication aimed at students of the English language. (Mainichi Daily News)

Naomi Kawashima | Japanese 'street fashion' takes world by storm

Young Japanese people's "street fashion" style has recently become a focus of world attention.
"Japanese young people are good at keeping up on 'what's new' and adopting it to their own styles, which look interesting to many people from outside Japan. It is what it takes to anticipate international trends," says Yoko Kawashima, Trend PR Department Manager at Itochu Fashion System.
Specializing in market research, Kawashima receives a string of requests as a guide for visits from abroad as well as business lectures around the nation.

Koyuki Matsumoto | Popularity of Halloween on the up

Orange pumpkins with carved smiling faces are on display at confectioners and flower shops wherever you look at this time of the year. These vegetables, along with dolls and other goods sporting pumpkin designs or motifs, are the common trappings seen in Japan for Halloween, which is celebrated on Oct. 31.
Halloween, with origins in an ancient Celtic festival, was popularized in the United States by Irish immigrants. In recent years, it has become a seasonal fixture at kindergartens, schools and in local communities across Japan.
Loft Co.'s Shinjuku shop has set aside a space this autumn for its Halloween goods display featuring about 1,000 different kinds of seasonal goods, including candlesticks, small ornaments and costumes.
This year's annual "Hello Halloween Pumpkin Parade" along Omotesando avenue in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, is scheduled for Sunday. Several thousand people are expected to take part, with a special guest appearance by 1980s pop icon Cyndi Lauper.
The first Halloween parade in Japan was held 22 years ago and organized by Kiddy Land, a toy store in Harajuku, Shibuya Ward. Only about 100 people, most of them children of foreign residents, took part in that parade as the concept was not then familiar to Japanese, according to Kyoichi Sakurai of Kiddy Land's publicity department. Japanese who saw the parade that day just watched with curiosity, Sakurai said.
This year, similar parades and festival events are planned for Tokyo Disney Land in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka and shopping districts of Kawasaki and Kyoto.
The orange pumpkins used for Halloween decorations are cultivated in the United States and Europe. Shipments of palm-sized Puccini pumpkins and the much larger head-sized Autumn Gold, both imported from the United States and grown around Japan, have increased this season, according to Ota Floriculture Auction Co.

Koyuki Matsumoto | Girls get misty-eyed over bespectacled blokes

In bygone days, Japanese women may have seen bespectacled blokes as a bit of a turn off, but now, according to Spa! (11/8), gals are making spectacles of themselves going gaga over guys in goggles.
Nearly all of the hottest male celebrities in Japan at the moment Razor Ramon HG, Masaharu Fukuyama, Sho Aikawa -- wear glasses of some sort.
Psychologist Yasufumi Nagoshi, himself bespectacled, agrees that growing numbers of women only have four-eyes for guys in eyeglasses.
"The relationship between a face and spectacles is the same as that between a work of art and its frame," the pshrink tells Spa! "Women tend to rely on their feelings a lot more than men do, which means they often try to deduce a person's character in a number of ways, such as considering the words they use and their facial expressions. They really pay a lot of attention to the eyes, which reflect an enormous amount of emotion. As spectacles are part of a set with the eyes, it's almost like a guy's eyes are a reflection of his personality. The excited look in the eyes of an aroused guy is basically the same thing as an unhidden genital. Spectacles play a large role in enhancing that."
Another reason for why eyeglass-wearing guys now seem to have the right kind of specs in women's eyes is apparently a matter of timing.
"Nowadays, what women are looking for in men is intellect. And that's why men wearing glasses are suddenly so hot. Women now have economic strength and can live independently. But, that also brings stresses," Nagoshi tells Spa! "But women don't want their men to provide macho brawn, or even financial muscle. They want somebody who is going to listen to them, or help them with their problems. They want intellect and kindness. You can see this trend underlying the enormous popularity of (bespectacled South Korean actor) Bae Young-Joon. And by 'intellect' I mean kindness and an ability to listen and recognize subtle signs. Spectacles are an embodiment of the idea that 'delicacy equals intellect.'"
Nagoshi continues, arguing that intellect can also easily be extended to include eroticism.
"Take, for instance, the case of a young couple visiting an art gallery. The bespectacled guy could stand and stare at an oil painting the woman has skirted by. This could influence the woman to believe that the guy she's with is an intellectual type not afraid to express his emotions. She could become aroused at the thought that the guy has something that she doesn't have, which is why he's staring at the painting for so long. This arousal is a form of eroticism," Nagoshi tells Spa! "Mind you, the guy may be looking at the painting thinking along the lines of 'I wonder how that stain got there.' But, that's not important. It's the glasses that make him look like an intellectual, which is exactly what the woman wants him to look like." (By Ryann Connell)
November 2, 2005

Koyuki Matsumoto | Fresh-faced drama queen told to act her age

Japan's 40-something empress of the airwaves is copping flak for refusing to use make-up that will make her look old, according to Shukan Jitsuwa (11/17).
Hitomi Kuroki is arguably Japan's hottest female performer, with the wildly popular 45-year-old roundly praised for her cheerful attitude and knockout looks.
But it's a different matter when it comes to Kuroki's thespianism.
Kuroki's attitude to acting is coming under fire, with TV drama production insiders accusing her of putting on airs by refusing to allow herself to be made up to look older than she really is.
"She acts the same in every role," Shukan Jitsuwa hears from a young producer with network TBS, which is making Kuroki's current show "Koi no Jikan."
"When she appeared in (another TV drama) 'Namida Soso,' she played the part of an elderly woman, but all she did to make herself look older was wear this ridiculous looking white wig. There wasn't a single wrinkle on her face at all. I suppose she thinks she can get by with her acting skills, but she really should take a leaf out of the books of Hollywood actresses, who'll make themselves look really fat or really ugly if that's what the part involves. I suppose she thinks that wearing the wig's enough."
Kuroki also played a grandmother figure in yet another drama last year, "Sato Kibiki Batake no Uta," in which she performed alongside Sanma Akashiya for NTV.
"She didn't have any make-up wrinkles when she performed then, either," a producer with NTV tells Shukan Jitsuwa. "There's no realism to her performances, which detracts from the atmosphere created in other parts of the show. I don't know what she's thinking."
A Kuroki pal offers little support for the actress, who first made her name as a performer in the Takarazuka all-girl dance troupe more than two decades ago.
"She probably thinks that being convincing in the role of an old lady is all she needs to make the part work," the buddy says. "That's fine if her acting is up to scratch. Frankly, though, Kuroki's acting career basically ended when she left Takarazuka. Everybody around her keeps telling her what a great housewife role she plays and now she probably thinks she's a fantastic actress."
The unnamed friend tells the men's weekly that despite the doubts about Kuroki's performances, there's little likelihood that anybody will approach her about them directly.
"Kuroki has the backing of a really powerful producer known as a 'TV drama genius.' Network executives love the guy and give him whatever he wants," the buddy tells Shukan Jitsuwa. "I'd love to be able to tell the producer that Kuroki has him right where she wants him."

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