Sunday, 13 May 2012

Up Close and Personal - Sho Sakurai

Sho Sakurai (櫻井 Sakurai Shō) (born January 25, 1982) is a Japanese idol, singer, rapper, actor, newscaster, host and former radio host. He is a member of Japanese boy band Arashi.
Sakurai began his career in the entertainment industry when he joined the Japanese talent agency Johnny & Associates in 1995 at the age of 13. About seven years after his debut as a singer with Arashi in 1999, he became a newscaster in 2006, appearing in the news program News Zero every Monday. In 2008, he was appointed the official newscaster for the news coverage of the Olympic Games in Beijing on NTV. For his work as an actor, singer and newscaster, Sakurai became one of the recipients of GQ Japan’s Men of the Year award in 2009.

Early life
Sakurai was born in Minato, Tokyo as the oldest child of his family. He has two younger siblings: a sister who is four years younger and a brother who is thirteen years younger.
Sakurai attended Keio Yochisha Elementary School, an affiliated elementary school to Keio University, after passing the entrance examinations. Despite already having an established career with Arashi by the time he graduated from high school, Sakurai went on to attend Keio University, graduating with a degree in economics in 2004.

Music career
Sakurai is the designated rapper of Arashi and, although he had written rap lyrics (known to fans as Sakurap) for some of the group’s earlier releases under the pen name “Show”, his first major contribution was for the A-side song “Kotoba Yori Taisetsu na Mono”. While not the first artist from Johnny’s to take on rapping, his breakthrough made it easier for his juniors to rap as well despite being idols. According to Taichi Kokubun of Tokio, KAT-TUN member Koki Tanaka (田中  Tanaka Kōki) began to rap because of him.
He became the first member in Arashi to hold a solo concert called The Show in 2006. Sakurai was also a part of a special group with his Kisarazu Cat’s Eye World Series co-stars that same year. Specially formed to promote the movie, they released the movie’s theme song “Seaside Bye-Bye” (シーサイドばいばい, “Shisaido Baibai”) as a single on October 25, 2006.

Acting career
Unlike the other members of Arashi who made their major acting debut on stage, Sakurai made his debut on television in Arashi’s volleyball-centered short drama V no Arashi (Vの嵐) in 1999. In 2001, he took part in his first drama series called Tengoku ni Ichiban Chikai Otoko 2 (天国に一番近い男 教師編 The Man Closest to Heaven 2) with Masahiro Matsuoka as his teacher. His role as a student with two conflicting characters won him Best Newcomer in the 5th Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix Awards.
In 2003, Sakurai was given his first lead role in the drama Yoiko no Mikata (よい子の味方 Ally of Good Childre). He portrayed Taiyō Suzuki (鈴木太陽 Suzuki Taiyō), a man who strives to prove himself capable of being a nursery school teacher. After Yoiko no Mikata, Sakurai took up many drama specials and mini-dramas until 2005. He even acted in a NHK late-night drama series called Tokio, in which each episode lasted for fifteen minutes each.

Sakurai and bandmate Kazunari Ninomiya co-starred together in the manga-based comedy drama Yamada Tarō Monogatari in 2007. Although there was no release of dramas, movies or stageplays from Sakurai in 2008 due to his involvement with the Olympic Games in Beijing and Arashi’s concert tours, 2009 saw his first lead role in a drama series since Yoiko no Mikata in 2003. In the drama The Quiz Show 2 with You Yokoyama, he portrayed an amnesic host of a live TV quiz program. Sakurai rounded off 2009 with a small guest appearance on the final episode of the drama My Girl, which was bandmate Masaki Aiba’s first starring role in a serial drama.
On January 9, 2010, Sakurai co-starred with the other members of Arashi in the human suspense drama special Saigo no Yakusoku (最後の約束 Last Promise). He portrayed Yukio Tomizawa (富澤友紀夫 Tomizawa Yukio), a 28-year-old life insurance salesman who is caught up in a building hijack. Sakurai appeared in the docudrama special Kobe Shimbun no Nanokakan (神戸新聞の7日間 7 Days of the Kobe Newspaper) on January 16, 2010. He portrayed Tomohiko Mitsuyama (三津山朋彦 Mitsuyama Tomohiko), a real photo reporter who worked for the Kobe Shimbun and helped keep the newspaper running without interruption despite the damage inflicted from the Kobe earthquake.
On January 17, 2010, TBS aired the first episode of Sakurai and Maki Horikita’s comedy drama Tokujo Kabachi!! (特上カバチ!! lit. Extraordinary Quibbling).

In 2002, Sakurai made his motion picture debut in Arashi’s first movie together, Pikanchi Life Is Hard Dakedo Happy (ピカ☆ンチ Life is HardだけどHappy Pikanchi Life is Hard But Happy). He portrayed Chu, a yankee who dropped out of high school after an incident involving his teacher and the girl he had a crush on. That same year, he took on the role of Bambi, a college student who becomes part of a burglar ring at the beckoning of his cancer-stricken friend Bussan in order to make Bussan’s final days worthwhile. In the drama Kisarazu Cat’s Eyewith Junichi Okada playing the character Bussan, the drama would eventually span into two movie sequels entitled Kisarazu Cat’s Eye: Nihon Series and Kisarazu Cat’s Eye: World Series in 2003 and 2006 respectively.
In 2004, he reprised his role for the sequel of Pikanchi Life Is Hard Dakedo HappyPikanchi Life Is Hard Dakara Happy (ピカ☆☆ンチ Life is HardだからHappy Pikanchi Life is Hard Therefore Happy).
While training for a rowing competition with the rest of Arashi on their variety show Mago Mago Arashi in 2005, Sakurai filmed for his first starring movie role in the manga-based live-action film Honey and Clover. He portrayed the mellow Yūta Takemoto (竹本 祐太 Takemoto Yūta).
In 2007, all the members of Arashi co-starred in their third movie together, Kiiroi Namida (黄色い涙 Yellow Tears), with Sakurai playing the role of an aspiring writer. By the end of the year, it was announced that he would star as Gan-chan in the Takashi Miike movie Yatterman, which was not released in theaters until the beginning of 2009.
It was announced on June 8, 2010 that Sakurai will co-star with Aoi Miyazaki in the novel-based movieKamisama no Karute (神様のカルテ God’s Medical Records), which is scheduled to be released in theaters in 2011.

Other ventures
From October 5, 2002 to March 30, 2008, Sakurai hosted his own radio show called Sho Beat on FM Fuji.
In 2006, he became a newscaster for News Zero with newscaster Nobutaka Murao (村尾信尚 Nobutaka Murao)and actress Mao Kobayashi. In 2007, he was chosen to help host NTV’s Zero x Senkyo 2007, a special program, regarding the upcoming House of Councillors elections. Sakurai became the first pop idol to host such a program.[26] Following that same year, he was chosen as the main caster for Fuji TV’s broadcast of the 2007 Volleyball World Cup, marking it the first time in eight years that he has been involved with the Volleyball World Cup.
In 2008, Sakurai was appointed as the main caster for the news coverage of the Olympic Games in Beijing on NTV. On June 7, 2009, Sakurai was one of the main newscasters for a special program entitled Touch! Eco 2009, which focused on environmental issues.[28] On August 30, 2009, he was appointed the official caster for the second part of NTV’s special program, which covered Japan’s 2009 general elections, entitled Zero x Senkyo 2009.
Sakurai was the special newscaster for the 2010 Winter Olympics news coverage on NTV with Shizuka Arakawa as the main newscaster.

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