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BIG IN JAPAN
Rie Miyazawa

Rie MiyazawaRie Miyazawa was born in 1973 and raised single handedly by her mother (her Dutch father left before Rie was born). At the age of eleven, Rie made her debut in an ad for Kit-Kat. From there she picked up other campaigns with ease, becoming one of the first bishojo, a new trend where pretty young girls were used to promote goods on posters, telephone cards and TV commercials. When the bishojo boom began to trail off Rie was quick to move into more substantial work, and landed a role in a highly popular kids comedy, Bokura no Nanokakan Senso, in 1989. In order to advance and control her daughter' blossoming career, Rie's mother founded a talent agency in 1990. Under her guidance, Rie was making around JY385 million a year by 1991 just from her corporate ad campaigns.

Rie's next step was to drop her girl-next-door reputation by posing topless in a loincloth for a major calendar. Then in 1992 she appeared in the movie Erotic Liaisons, an updated version of the classic French novel "Dangerous Liaisons", and released "Santa Fe," a steamy nude photo book. NHK promptly dropped her from its popular "Kohaku" program. Being dropped from the show was ultimately of little consequence as, following a series of racy nude print ads in major newspapers, the book went on to sell 1.5 million copies in three months!

Things seemed to have gotten even better by October of that year when rising sumo star Takanohana proposed marriage. Rie accepted and the couple announced their engagement to a frenzied media (NHK reportedly offered one billion yen for the rights to screen the wedding). By the turn of 1993 things had started to sour due to a widening schism between the families, seemingly over whether Rie would continue to work or give up her career to be a "sumo wife." It was quite clear what Rie's mother wanted and soon the engagement was called off.

Following the split, Rie seemed to be on a downward spiral to self-destruction. In September of 1994 she cut her wrists with a broken glass in what was described as an "accident." The tabloids focused on Rie's drinking session, fights with her mother and her escape to a nearby hotel as signs of a failed suicide attempt. Rie, however, seemed to pull herself back from the brink, putting in a commendable performance in Ichikawa Kon's movie Chushingura that year. But the following February she pulled out of the drama Kura and in November backed out of the musical Kyote. Pictures of her looking decidedly gaunt began to circulate and there was speculation about whether she had developed an eating disorder. In early 1996 Rie fled to L.A. to begin her recovery from anorexia. But by May she was back on TV reporting from the Cannes Film Festival and later that year she appeared in two TV dramas, Hanayome Kaizoebito and Kysokyoku . Kyosokyoku turned out to be a great success and it seemed as if Rie's magic touch was back. In 1997 she made Mikeneko Homes (tasogare) Hoteru, and also appeared on stage. Now with a major role in 1999's NHK Taiga Drama, Rie has forced all those who wrote her off a couple of years back to amend the ends of their commentaries. Having proven everyone wrong, Rie definitely doesn't seem ready to give up the limelight-not just yet.


Matt Wilce

BIG IN JAPAN:
299: Nakamura Kankuro
Arizona lover and Kabuki actor
298: Miura Yuichiro
The Man Who Skied Down Everest
297: Iron Chef
Gourmet cuisine battles
296: "Katte wa ikenai"
"Don't buy these products"
295: Oda Yuji
The dancing detective
294: Enoki Takaaki
An artist who acts
293: Glay
Japan's reigning pop princes
292: Akebono
Hawaiian Sumo wrestler
291: Issey Miyake
Fashion designer
290: Murakami Ryu
Radical writer
289: Oshima Nagisa
Movie director
288: Takakura Ken
Crime film actor
287: Miura Kazuyoshi
Soccer player
286: Suzuki Koji
Author of the horror, Ring
285: Tezuka Osamu
God of Comics
284: Yuming
Singer/songwriter
283: Anpanman
Bean-powered superhero
282: Yamaguchi Takashi
Immersed in traditional Japanese music
281: Nasubi
Comedian
280: Doi Takako
First female Speaker of the House
279: Nakamura Kichiemon
Retiring Kabuki actor
278: Oe Kenzaburo
Nobel prize winning author
277: Kimura Takuya
SMAP member
276: Utada Hikaru
Teenage pop phenomenon
275: Bando Tamasaburo
Kabuki female role impersonator
274: Otomo Katsuhiro
Akira creator
273: Dreams Come True
Premier recording artist
272: Dango San Kyodai
Surprise hit of 1999
271: Banana Yoshimoto
Author
270: Matsuzaka Daisuke
Baseball player
269: Moritaka Chisato
Model and singer
268: Mukai Chiaki
Female astronaut
267: Natto
Traditional Japanese health food
266: Hiroaki Kikuoka
Shamisen player
265: Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Japan's most revered dramatist
264: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Oscar-winning musician
263: Shigeo Nagashima
Japan's Mr Baseball
262: Ayako Totsuka
Pioneer careerwoman
261: Yatsuhashi Kengyo
Koto player
260: Chiyotaikai
Sumo wrestler
259: Pocky
Japanese snack food
258: Itsuki Hiroshi
Enka singer
257: Pocket Monsters
Conquering the world
256: Classified ads
New concept in Japan
255: Chara
Japanese pop star
254: Pink Lady
1970's singing duo
253: Takashi Sorimachi
Japanese heartthrob
252: Ennosuke Ichikawa
Kabuki actor
251: Rie Miyazawa
Model and actress
250: Shazna
Visual-kei band

Issues 350 +
Issues 349 - 300/1
Issues 248/9 -