Denny Sinnoh's "Akihabara Starlight"

Posts tagged ‘Japanese Actresses’

Haruka Kodama and Denny’s broken heart.

It is with some sadness That I have to report the HKT48/AKB48 graduation of Miss Haruka Kodama. Haruppi (her nickname) was always one of my favorite members of the AKB family. She was a fan favorite, and had ranked as high as 9th in the last AKB election she participated in. Together with Sakura Miyawaki, they were HKT48’s power duo!

I am not usually sad about a members graduation, as I always wish them well in their new careers. However, in the case of Kodama-san, she had to graduate because of a medical illness. Her official graduation date is June 9, but there will be no HKT graduation performance or ceremony due to her illness. Haruka has not been performing with HKT48 for about a year now, and there has been a lot of fan speculation about what happened to her. “Was there a scandal?” “Is she pregnant and in hiding?” A lot of rumors were flying around until management announced that she would take a hiatus due to illness. Then more time gone from HKT. She never came back from the extended hiatus.

Some fans thought that Haruka was depressed because Sakura was assigned to go to Korea to be a K-Pop star — and not her too. There was some discussion that she had developed an eating disorder, bulimia and self-image problem. I found this troubling. This was the most common speculation. It may have been leaked by people in the know. My friend Derek and the others on the video-blog 48Talk had also discussed this possibility. But what do I know anyway?

If that is the case, then it really makes me very sad. Haruppi is (I don’t want to say “was”) one of the most beautiful members of the AKB Family – which is another way of saying — she was among the most beautiful women in the world. It tears me up a little to think that this lovely young woman could look in the mirror and see someone unattractive. How could she think that she was not good enough? How could the self-esteem of such a lovely woman fall so much, so fast? But what do I know?

She may have had a low self-image, but there was no reason to feel that way. It is true, she was not among the top singers in AKB, but there is much more to being an Idol than just the singing. She was fine within the larger group of singers of course, but I don’t think that she would have had a solo music career. What do I know — I’ve been out of the Idol loop.

Her main claim to fame was modeling and acting. There was no better fashion model than Haruka Kodama, as some of my past blog posts suggest.

Officially she is graduating to become an actress, and has already landed a major role in a Japanese stage play. She is scheduled to star in the stage play ‘Watashi ni Ai ni Kite‘, which will be performed in Tokyo this September. Read more on this link. That is encouraging.

Some fans speculated about her weight gain and “puffy” face. Everyone knew that something was going on in her most recent performances. I hope it was not bulimia, and my guess it was something else. She did not look like someone gaining weight slowly. She had the look of someone who was prescribed steroids for a medical condition – with the side effects of bloating. I have seen this situation before, where these medicines will deal a harsh blow to a young lady’s looks. Sometimes a medicine saves your life, but then you balloon up.

Haruppi was said to be crying at handshake events when fans asked what happened to her. Which makes ME want to cry.

It pains me to do so, but if you look at one of the last PVs that she did with the group “11 Gatsu no Anklet” (linked here see time 1:57) she looks a lot different. There is the weight, plus she does not seem to have that Happy Haruppi sparkle.

This was when we all started to worry. They kind of have her in the back row of the performance too.

Even with her prolonged illness and appearance change, she is still a beautiful lady. She is still prettier than > 99.9% of all women in this world. Unfortunately, her self-image problems and/or health has ended her career as an idol. I wonder if Sakura had not been reassigned to the K-Pop groups, if that might have made a difference.

If I could tell her … I sure would, but we live on opposite sides of the world, speak different languages, are of a different generation (and may even be different species). I would say …

“We love you Haruppi. You have given us a lot of happiness over the years. You will not be forgotten. You ARE beautiful – and always will be.”

There are more Haruka memories on my old Pinterest account here:

If anyone has an HKT48 playlist, or anything to share, please leave it in the comments below.

Let me choke back my tears and get back to the silly butt jokes I always make … (Denny slaps head, tries to make one of his lame jokes … ) here goes … 

Did you know that Haruka and I were once in a commercialHaruka is not on the thumbnail, but she features prominently in this clip. This was one of my favorite AKB songs, and you will not find it on YouTube. Haruppi plays this beautiful young lady who interacts with her friends on social media. The full video really shows the beauty and innocence of the younger members. Haruppi texts this story of how she met this handsome boy at a bus stop. She sits there at the bus stop shelter — and you can literally see her creaming over this surfer-dude. Thinking about this surfer, and stewing in her own juices — even though she barely moves and does not much to him. This MV was Haruka at her yummiest.

So I was asked to do this foot cream commercial, one thing led to another, then I ended up in an AKB video. I’m the big fat guy in case you can’t tell.

See the video time 2:14 to 2:20 minutes. There is this scene where Haruka is sitting on the couch. Off camera, to the right, there is a shadow which is me saying my lines. It went like this:

WHAT? — DANG IT — THEY CUT MY PART OUT OF THE FULL VIDEO!

Well, all the better because Haruka and the other girls get more time then. As you can see, the movie “BirdMan” stole their final scene from our video. But what do I know?

Starlight: Haruka Kodama (兒玉 遥 Kodama Haruka, born 19 September 1996), joined HKT48 in 2011.

In Birthdays today: The wholesome Mayu Watanabe

In Birthdays today: The wholesome Mayu Watanabe

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Happy Birthday Mayuyu!!! Born March 26th, 1994. Wholesome, yes. If you were expecting images of Mayu’s butt, see someone else’s blog.

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You should not be so “taken aback” Mayu, indeed YOU ARE are a very talented and WHOLESOME young lady.

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How I think of Mayu. Far from the “cyborg” of her early days. Mayu is a sweet Lolita. She is like sweet cotton candy … only not nearly as sticky.

ohio state mayu 34f8227996385433f65ad7fb567bf568

Mayu, you went to Ohio State too? So did I!!! …  come here and give your fellow alumnus a big hug! (Denny hugging Mayu). Mmmmmm … We will beat Michigan TOGETHER, Mayu …  Mmmmmmm. We will show that bad team from up north … Mmmmmmmmmmm … Just you and me Mayu … Mmmmmmmmm … That’s right …. Mmmmmmmm … just me and you Mayu …. Mmmmmmm … (Denny turns to readers mouthing words: I really didn’t go to Ohio State, hee hee.)

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AKB48 Trivia: Not many fans know that Mayuyu is also the official spokeswoman for the Jehovah’s Waitresses.

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(Denny inside the costume). Of all my hair-brained “Lucy” schemes, this one actually worked.

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Few Idols mark “Chester Cheese‘s Birthday” as an official holiday, Mayu.

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At first I was excited when Ensign Watanabe ordered me to  “swab the poop deck“.

mayu watanabe is not ticklish

Ha ha ha. You did not tell me your feet were so TICKLISH, Miss Watanabe … Ha Ha … You silly, silly girl, Hee Hee … let me try that foot rub again and

BZZZT – BZZZT –  BZZZT –  BZZZT –  BZZZT – BZZZT – BZZZT – BZZZT –  BZZZT –  BZZZT –  BZZZT – BZZZT – 

Oh, damn that alarm clock!!! Oh, what day is it … oh crap-on-a-stick, I have to go to work today….

————————————————————————————————————————-

Oh, you can make your own lame captions …

… just wish Mayuyu a happy birthday (Japan is 12 hours ahead of me).

A song? Of course there should be a song. I love that little teacup.

Remember this funny Mayu moment from AKBINGO? Will anyone be KISSED? Funny in English subs!

Every once in a while, pure MAGIC is captured on low quality video. Sigh.

See more Mayuyu fashions on my Pinterest board for her linked here.

Starlight: Mayu Watanabe born March 26, 1994. I remember that day … I got fired. Well, they say that God closes one door but opens another. True, I was shunned by pompous narcissistic pseudo-intellectuals, but …

… BABY MAYU CAME INTO THE WORLD!!!!  

Happy Birthday Miss Kashiwagi! / Krazy Kool Kashiwagi Kaptions

Yukiring

Dear Yukirin,

I know that I have not been able to use WordPress much lately, however I wanted to be the first in my time zone to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY on July 15th. Japan is 12 hours ahead of me, so I wanted to time my greeting before you start going out to nightclubs and such tonight. Be careful, young one!

Uncle Denny.

Everyone else: Please enjoy my tribute to Yuki Kashiwagi  柏木 由紀  (Kashiwagi Yuki), born July 15, 1991 in Kagoshima Prefecture of Kyushu, Japan. The delightful Yukirin was born in the shadow of Mount Sakurajima, an active strato-volcano! (Ask a Geology-nerd what that is).

Yukirin is my second-favorite AKB Member … and the subject of my photo tribute for her special day.

oddlythiswasmydreamlastnight

You know, except for the salt, this WAS my dream last night, Yukirin.

isaidtakedownthedrapes

Yuki-chan … I said TAKE DOWN the drapes not WEAR them!

http://www.b-idol.com/bbs1/

CLUE:  OK, I have Colonel Mustard … with the Candlestick … in the Library … Or was it all Yukirin ?.

yuki an apple a day

Remember Yukirin: an apple a day …  er … uh … um … er … heh heh .. what was I saying?

show up with Doritos then Yuki

Note for future reference: All I had to do was show up at the pool party holding a bag of “Doritos” and Miss Kashiwagi immediately kicked off her shorts!

Yuki-Kashiwagi-obama callled told

Kashiwagi-sama: Obama called, he said something about you “getting off your high horse” …

Yuki-Kashiwagi-clint eastwood called

… then Clint Eastwood called. He says you can KEEP the chair now.

yukiwenttofinishingschool

(Denny imitating British actor Sir John Gielgud) Yes, I know that you went to “Finishing School” dear girl, I can still smell the varnish!

help me yukirin i have scurvey

Help me Yukirin! I think I have scurvey!

ohyourememberedmyfavoriteflavor

Yes, indeed! You did bring my favorite flavor Yukirin!

i have the same kilt

Aye, Yukirin, I have the same kilt meself.

schlitz beer 6b843bc4cea9dc495b1a0de803162209

Are you kidding Yuki? Auto workers in the USA LOVE Schlitz beer!

http://www.b-idol.com

HA! Well, I will have you know that I made a FORTUNE in weight guessing young lady!

there you are honey

Yuki?  Yuki?  Oh, there you are HONEY  … 

wait let me turn off the wind

WHAT??? … WHAT??? Wait, let me turn OFF the wind machine Yukirin!

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Last time I lend Yukirin my credit card number.

extended warranty

Yes, Miss Kashiwagi, I would be happy to give you my 100,000 mile “bumper-to-bumper” extended warranty !

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You are CORRECT Yukirin, this place does need a good set of door-knockers!

yuki stay at the y

Yes, thank you for the recommendation Yukirin, indeed I think I will “stay at the Y” tonight!

volume half full

Some say the volume is half-full, some say it is half-empty. I say “sit down you morons” I can’t see Yukirin!

warmandfuzzyfeelings

What?!?  I will have you people know that I only have “warm and fuzzy” feelings for Kashiwagi-san.

yuki two seam fastball

Yes, thank you for explaining how your “two seam fastball” breaks down-and-in on right-handed batters. Oh, and how can I get one of those “milk-fed” mustaches?

oksowhereisthesmoke

Please do not be JEALOUS ladies, Yuki only looks this good because she “does it all with mirrors”.

So much Yuki! … so little room. Enjoy my retrospective Yukirin SlideShow!

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Happy Birthday Miss Kashiwagi!

I wish I could do justice to how talented Ms. Kashiwagi is. She is a trooper. I wanted to link some performance videos of her amazing 3rd solo concert, however Record Industry Weasels have removed every last one! … every last one!

See more Yukirin on my Pinterest board linked here.

 

KIMONOS ON MONDAY: Japanese actress Mirei Kiritani

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Mirei Kiranti is a Japanese actress. (My spell-checker always wants to change her name to “Marie” – the silly thing.) Kiritini-san has appeared in dozens of Japanese TV series and movies. Her 2105 films include Koisuru Vampire, Heroine Shikkaku and the live-action Assassination Classroom. (Some of those are upcoming.)

marei kiritani non19

Gamers should note that in 2015 she was the voice of Mayoi Ayasato in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Her voice was also used in Dragon Quest Heroes: Yamiryuu to Sekaiju no Shiro.  She may be a voice-talent, and an in-demand actress, but she also dazzles here in summer kimono!

She has the right combination of cuteness, sexiness, humor and fashion smarts as you can see in this slide show:

Starlight: 桐谷 美玲  Kiritani Mire — born December 16th, 1989

KIMONOS ON MONDAY: Looking into the future with Emi Takei

Emi Takei is one of the most popular Japanese actresses. She has appeared in dozens of films, including the great Rurouni Kenshin live action films. Is there any actress who looks better in a kimono?

Remember that you saw these kimonos here first! Commander Sulu from the USS Excelsior was able to “beam back” these images from her 2016 kimono collection. Oh my …

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Actually, George — if you wanted it to rhyme, shouldn’t you say: “Oh – MAY”. Everyone else, just enjoy this refection from the future.

I also invite you to warp ahead to 2017, to enjoy this slideshow:

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No Kidding, each photo is more lovely than the next. It is very hard to pick a favorite! Emi Takei all the way!

Emi Takei — my last K.O.M. in May!

Starlight: Don’t worry about all of that light speed, space-time continuum science stuff, just enjoy the kimonos!

 

KIMONOS ON MONDAY: Kimono costume wardrobe worn in the 1980 TV series “Shogun”

Blackthorne: “Is this the Japans?”

Shogun scene mariko and blackthorne

Kimono costume wardrobe in the 1980 TV series “Shogun”:

I watched the “Shogun” TV miniseries when it first aired way back in 1980. I watched it again last year. Now that I have a much greater interest in kimonos and Japanese culture, I enjoyed it a lot more.

The show was a ground breaking series. Much as European countries knew little about “The Japans” in the 16th century, most Americans knew little about Japanese culture in 1980. (Yes, count me too.) I can recall back then when the “urination scene” and the “beheading scene” caused a lot of reaction.* The great thing about re-watching it on Netflix DVD was that there are many “making of” special features and interviews included.  One of the irritating things is that there are no subtitles or closed captions. Like Richard Chamberlain‘s “Blackthorne” character, the viewer has to keep asking “What did he say”?  The sets, the artwork and the costumes were great.  It was a treat to watch the great Toshiro Mifune as Shogun Toranaga. At one point in the interviews, the director said that millions of American men fell in love with the “Mariko” character. (Yes, count me too.) The actress Yoko Shimada was cast at the last minute, when the original actress left for a singing career. She was  fascinating to watch.

*I encourage you to watch-it-again-for-the-first-time!

Here is a snippet from the gentle musical soundtrack (from there, YouTube links to more).

Starlight: It took 34 years for me to re-view this wonderful TV miniseries! 

KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #34): Kimono wardrobe used in “The Equinox Flower”

fujiko in equinox flower

Kimono wardrobe utilized in Ozu’s 1958 film”The Equinox Flower”:

EquinoxFlowerPoster2

“Equinox Flower”  was the first color film by the great Japanese film director Yasujiro Ozu. Although this movie was not specifically about kimonos, a variety of kimonos were worn by the actresses.  The kimonos were just a part of daily life and are seen in a variety of home and work situations.  I might use the phrase “a slice of life” to describe many of the Ozu films.  He was very good at depicting people in everyday situations.  Very little is “over the top” in an Ozu film. Yet they are still beautiful, and poetic. They draw you in. We feel as if we are living in the moments depicted in the film. When I watch an Ozu film, I feel less like I am watching a movie and more like I am reading a good book.  Sometimes I watch a portion of an Ozu film before bedtime, the way I might read for a while before bed. I know full well that I will not finish in one night, and I want to savor the experience over time.

The story itself is about an influential businessman (Shin Saburi) who is was often sought after for his straightforward and honest advice by his various business associates, family and friends. Despite his astute analysis and advice for others, he mishandles a situation closer to home.  His daughter informs him that she wishes to marry a man that she loves, rather than enter into an arranged marriage that he wants. These changing, postwar cultural attitudes are explored in this gentle Ozu film.

I watch a lot of  older Japanese cinema. It is always a treat for me when the great Chishu Ryu makes an appearance!  Ozu often used him in his movies (ex. “Tokyo Story”). Here Ryu plays a man who seeks advice from the Saburi character. They have a good time at a reunion, where Ryu receites poetry.  Note the “man kimono”.

Equinox Flower very long poem at reunion

Note the man’s kimono worn by Ryu-san in this scene. That was one long poem! Good thing there was a lot of Japanese beer at this reunion.

Japanese actress Fujiko Yamamoto steals the show for me.  She had a small but pivotal  part as the daughters friend. Here is a cute fan art caricature of her in the movie : )

drawing of fujiko yamamoto in equinox flower

I recommend “The Equinox Flower” for your Netflix queue!

KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #27): The “eternal virgin” Setsuko Hara

legendary actress setsuko hara

I think I fell in love with Setsuko Hara through her character “Noriko” in the Yasujiro Ozu film Tokyo Story.  She played a beautiful, and traditional Japanese woman – a widowed daughter-in-law, still devoted to her in-laws. Especially in the Ozu films, she epitomized such beauty of modern Japanese women.  Such warmth. Although she was not mainly known for wearing kimonos in film, I was still able to find a few kimono images from the Internet. Please enjoy this gallery.  Then go rent one of her movies!

It is unfortunate that this endearing actress chose to cut her career short. She disappeared from movies to lead a solitary life at age 43. Satsuko Hara (real name Masae Aida) is 94 years young, and lives (in seclusion) in Kamakura Japan. She never married. There is much speculation as to why she abandoned her film career. She retied soon after Ozu passed away, fueling more mystery and speculation. Satsuko Hara is attributed to be the inspiration for the late Satoshi Kon’s anime film “Millennium Actress” (trailer here).

setsuko hara was in tokyo story

Dear lady, let us celebrate our birthday’s together next year!

You can see more of the great Setsuko Hara here on on my Pinterest board.

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MY MINAMI MINEGISHI TV PILOT PITCH

miichan photo1

I got to thinking since my last post about Miichan’s birthday. I like to fantasize while driving, so I composed a proposal/pitch to the FOX Network for my Minami Minegishi sitcom idea.

America loves a good “fish-out-of-water” story!

Miichan will play a Japanese college student who comes to America to study English at a major American University.

The show will be tentatively called “Learning Engrish” — or maybe something like “Please Speak Engrish!”. The network execs would probably want it to take place in California, but I think that there would be a bigger cultural contrast if the series took place in the American Midwest. (St. “Rouis” or somewhere like that). Besides, California already has a substantial Asian/Japanese population, so that would not be enough contrast.

Miichan’s TV character will also be called “Miichan”.  It is a great name, that sounds great when it will be yelled by the characters … MIIIIIIII – CHAN!!!!  Her last name will be different, and it has to be something that would sound funny to the American ear – something like “Fukyumama” could be the basis of a running  joke.

She will be an exchange student living with her Japanese-America aunt who is married to a (white, maybe Jewish) American.  I’m thinking someone like Billy Crystal as the uncle-in-law.

Every week, Miichan will innocently get into some type of trouble, due to a language or otherwise cultural misunderstanding.  This is where I will have to do some creative writing, but bear with me. Also, Miichan is a little troublemaker, and she has a sarcastic wit.  It would be great if Miichan could make fun of goofy aspects of American culture.  She would innocently point out how ILLOGICAL much of American culture is.  She could deconstruct various American “sacred cows” and tell us exactly how our Emperor is not wearing any clothes. (Ex. Why are US game shows so boring?)

Hilarious differences between traditional Japanese foods vs American cuisine could be jokes: “What are you eating Miichan?”  “Octopus tentacles … want some … I like how the little suction cups hold a little bit of the mollusk juice when you bite into them.”  Between the show’s segments and commercials there can be a real “Engrish” sign or image the audience can laugh at. Examples can be seen at this Engrish website linked here.  It must be kept in mind that such images are not making fun or East Asian language speakers, it is just that these things are often unintentionally hilarious.

In fact, one of the goals of the show would be to DISPEL MYTHS AND ASIAN STEREOTYPES!

The audience could also learn a little more about anime-manga-Idol culture from Japan as well, as Miichan would share her interests with her friends.  She might even have some fan service possiblities with her new American gal pals.  Again, completely innocent. There has not been an American show that features Japanese okatu culture yet, despite the growing popularity (Are you listening Hollywood?  I thought not. Originality is in short supply on American TV).

It would be great if the old Japanese grandmother character would have a catch-phrase running joke line. For example, whenever anything odd or bad would happen, the camera could zoom into the grandmother and she would mutter: “Damn Roosevelt…”. The joke being that anything bad have originated with the American president who ordered Japanese American citizens into internment camps.

Also, one of Miichan’s American wacky friends would clearly be a lesbian. Everyone knows it. Her family, the audience, the postman, etc. Everyone EXCEPT Miichan of course, who allows herself to get caught in racy situations with the American dyke. Her friend could give her backrubs, and just at the moment we think something will happen, Miichan is distracted in some hilarious way.  (Again, the writers will have to make the jokes.)

About FAN SERVICE: I know it might be a little derivative, but I think the uncle (Billy Crystal) could often catch a glimpse of the scantily-clad Minegishi-san.  Remember how in the old “King of the Hill” episodes, Hank Hill would walk in on Luanne in an undressed-sexy pose, and she would say “Hi Uncle Hank” much to Hanks consternation?

I’m thinking that in one episode, Miichan needs cash, and agrees to be a “nude model” at the University Art classroom.  Uncle Bill could find out about it,rush to the art department, only to see Miichan already on the pedestal. “Hi Uncle Billy-san”.  Then the uncle would look at the drawings made by the the (male) students, and they would all be just stick figures and the like.  They were just drawing her so they could look at her naked – get it?

Of course there would have to be a wacky neighbor.  Remember this is American television.

I’m thinking that each episode would end with Billy Crystal and Miichan sitting on a bench at a park or a mall.  They would be making fun of people as they walk by.  A lot of this would be ad-libbed.

So what do you think?  Would it be a good show?  Please comment and help me flesh out this pilot!

PS: Comedy is hard.  Failing that, maybe Miichan would be good in one of those crime CSI detective snoop shows!

miichan possible tv role

I love Miichan! HORRYWOOD HERE WE COME!!!

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KIMONOS ON MONDAY (Week #19): Kyōko Kagawa

kyoko kagawa BW kimono2

This week I will feature legendary Japanese actress Kyōko Kagawa.

kyoko kagawa bW kimono1

Kyōko Kagawa (香川 京子 Kagawa Kyōko ) has always been one of my favorite Japanese actresses!  She is famous for her roles in films such as “Tokyo Story” and “The Crucified Lovers” as well as the landmark Japanese monster movie “Mothra”. Kyoko-san originally wanted to become a ballerina.  She was discovered by a film studio after winning a beauty contest and began a career in acting.   And she was a beauty (well, still is in her 90s!)

kyoko kagawa red kimono

She also appeared in several Akira Kurosawa films, in which she often played the love interest or wife of the Toshiro Mifune characters.  Kurosawa used her in “The Bad Sleep Well”, “High and Low” and “Red Beard”.   Kagawa married and followed her husband to live in New York City in the 1960s, where she acted in television.  She later returned to the cinema, in Kurosawa’s film “Madadayo”.  In total, she has appeared in 118 films, the last one in 2009.  The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo  honored her long career and her contribution to Japanese cinema with an exhibition titled ‘Kyoko Kagawa, Film Actress’ In 2011.  (Source: Wikipedia, and my hazy memory)

For more (non-kimono) photos of Kyōko Kagawa, please see my Pinterest board for her linked here.

Denny’s Crazy idea:  I loved Kyoko Kagawa in “Mothra”, although she was never part of the same scene with the giant flying moth.  Nonetheless, do you think that a “Mothra Pattern” would be good design for a kimono? 

Mothra_1961

Discuss, discuss.

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5th to 18th century Buddhist Art of the Himalayas

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The medium for cultural understanding, economic cooperation and fostering peace.

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Eloquent Entropy

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Asking The Big Questions on Anime and Manga

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