Matsuyama Kenichi and Ayase Haruka Taiga Stars

On December 20th, a “baton touch” ceremony between the current NHK Taiga drama star and upcoming Taiga drama star, was held at NHK Broadcasting Center. Matsuyama Kenichi who is starring in ongoing Taiga drama “Taira no Kiyomori“, and Ayase Haruka who will star in next Taiga drama “Yae no Sakura” attended the ceremony.

At the “passing the baton” ceremony, the stars usually exchange presents, so Matsuyama gave Kobe beef while Ayase gave “Okiagari-Koboshi”, a traditional doll from Aizu region of Fukushima prefecture. The “Okiagari-Koboshi” dolls were painted by Ayase herself, and she revealed, “I painted them yesterday, and it took a while until 3 o’clock in the morning, but I forgot to paint their hair.” Matsuyama answered happily, but repressing his laughter, “But, it is only one in the world.”

Matsuyama commented regarding the filming which took a year and 2 months, “At first, I was so nervous to be the lead actor of the Taiga drama that has a long history. I was too nervous, so it caused me to restrict the range of my acting. It took me a while to get out of there.” Then Ayase who just begin filming in September, agreed him with, “Yes. You get stiff when you are nervous. I was just wising that I could relax more, and enjoy the filming.”

As announced previously, the upcoming Taiga drama, “Yae no Sakura” will depict the life of Niijima Yae, the wife of Niijima Jo who is the founder of Doshisha University, who strongly lived through that turbulent period. The script was written by Yamamoto Mutsumi, who was also in charge of the script for NHK’s morning drama “Gegege no Nyobo.”

“Yae no Sakura” will begin airing starting on January 6th after “Taira no Kiyomori” that will air its final episode on December 23rd.

Ayase Haruka, Kimura Takuya to star in “Nankyoku Tairiku”

Actress Ayase Haruka (26) has just been revealed as the heroine of the big-budget TBS drama series “Nankyoku Tairiku” that will air this fall. This teams her up once again with SMAP’s Kimura Takuya (38), as they previously co-starred in the 2009 series “MR.BRAIN” and the 2006 drama special for the “HERO” franchise.

As announced in January, “Nankyoku Tairiku” focuses on the difficulties faced by Japan’s first Antarctic research expedition team, who were also the subject of the hit 1983 film “Nankyoku Monogatari.” In particular, one of the most notable aspects of that expedition was the miraculous survival of two of the dogs – out of the original 19 Sakhalin Huskies – even after the expedition team was forced to leave them behind and retreat from their base due to extreme weather conditions.

Kimura plays a researcher named Kuramochi Takeshi, one of the leaders of the team. Ayase plays the part of an elementary school teacher named Takaoka Miyuki, the younger sister of Kuramochi’s deceased wife. The role is said to be a painful one, as she deals with the loneliness and uneasiness caused by Kuramochi being on the dangerous Antarctic expedition.

“Nankyoku Tairiku” will premiere this October in TBS’s Sunday 9:00pm time slot.