Veteran filmmaker Katsumi Nishikawa died of pneumonia on Tuesday morning at a Tokyo hospital. He was 91 years old.
Nishikawa started his career as an assistant director for Shochiku in 1939. Fifteen years later, in 1954, he moved to Nikkatsu, where he directed films such as “Wakai Hito” (starring Yujiro Ishihara) and several Sayuri Yoshinaga vehicles like “Izu no Odoriko” and “Aoi Sanmyaku.” During the 1970s, his major works included “Shiosai” and “Shunkinsho,” which both starred the “golden couple” of Momoe Yamaguchi and Tomokazu Miura. His last film was “Ippai no Kakesoba” in 1992.
Momoe Yamaguchi (山口 百恵, Yamaguchi Momoe, born January 17, 1959) is a former Japanese singer, actress, and idol whose career lasted from 1972 to 1980. In that time, she became one of the most notable singers in Japanese music, and an acclaimed actress. She withdrew from the entertainment business at the peak of her career to marry her frequent costar, fellow actor Tomokazu Miura (三浦友和, Miura Tomokazu). More than twenty years after her retirement, she still commands public interest with constant inquiries about her coming back. And about coming back? Well how about available?
The legendary Yamaguchi Momoe (50) is finally entering the world of digital downloads. It was announced yesterday that the 12 major digital distributors have reached an agreement to sell the 274 songs she released – 32 singles and 242 album tracks – together with videos of live performances. The files will be released over a period of four weeks from January 17, her 51st birthday.
To date, six greatest hits albums have been released to commemorate anniversaries of her 1973 debut or 1980 retirement. Last month, a DVD box set featuring her many appearances on the “Best Ten” music show entered the Oricon charts at No.2. In her heyday, she was one of three pop starlets referred to as the “Hana no Naka 3 Trio.” Songs by the other two, Mori Mitsuko (51) and Sakurada Junko (51), are already available online, and Yamaguchi is believed to be the last of the Showa Era legends to go fully digital. Ironically, during her 7-year career, she never had a No.1 album and only four No.1 singles on the Oricon charts. But in 1978 she was popular enough to become the first – and still the only – teenager to be given the “tori” (headliner) position in NHK’s annual “Kohaku Uta Gassen” concert.