I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kawashima Naomi - 「GEMINI」

When I was living in Japan in the mid-80s as a teenager, one of my favorite shows was the 中京テレビ/ Chukyo TV regional kids variety program, "Owarai Manga Dojo"お笑いマンガ道場』  which was syndicated on the 日本テレビネットワーク/Nihon TV channel and ran from 1976-1994. The show was structured like a celebrity game show in which a panel of personalities would be assigned a number of humorous challenges in which they would need to draw various manga/cartoons using keywords or containing specific items. You might say it was a combination of "Kamishibai"/紙芝居 with "Rakugo"/落語 but with a modern twist. The show was hosted by announcer Kashimura Takeaki/柏村武昭 and featured as regulars popular syndicated newspaper comic artists Suzuki Yoshiji/鈴木義司 and Tominaga Ichiro/富永一朗 and TV personality/comedian Kuruma Dankichi/車だん吉 (who is probably familiar to most as being one of the regular roving reporters for TBS TV's Japanese Travelog program  『そこが知りたい. Rounding out the cast was perky and cute former radio DJ Kawashima Naomi/川島なお美 (who joined the cast in 1982). 

Naomi wasn't a professional artist but she did have artistic talent, a wicked sense of humor and was very personable. In fact, she became so popular that she was given a joint segment with Dankichi separate from the show called "Dankichi and Naomi's Omake Corner" 「だん吉・なお美のおまけコーナー」 in which they would answer fan mail and give away special gifts to their loyal fans. Naomi had aspirations of being an idol and released a number of singles during her stint on "Owarai Manga Dojo" including the above song "GEMINI" which was written and produced by Nakahara Meiko/中原めいこ and was a minor hit for Naomi. J-Wiki mentions that although she got her big break on "Owarai Manga Dojo", she wasn't really happy being on the show and is said to have even wanted to be taken off the show. However, Naomi stayed with the show for a good majority of its run in the 80s and eventually left the show just a year shy of the show's final season in 1994. Wanting to distance herself from the show and shake off her "good girl" image, Naomi decided to release a "hair nude"/ヘアヌー photo book called 『WOMAN』. It must of came as quite a shock to her young fans who had grown up watching her as kids. She further shocked fans with her very sexual and provocative performance as Matsubara Rinko in the syndicated TV Drama adaptation of the popular 1997 bestselling novel "Shitsurakuen"/失楽園』 AKA "Paradise Lost" by Watanabe Junichi/渡辺 淳一 which was also made into a popular film the same year by Morita Yoshimitsu/森田 芳光. 

In recent years, Naomi has since come to terms with her past on "Owarai Manga Dojo" but still tries to downplay her involvement on program preferring to highlight instead her various TV drama appearances and hobby interests. An avid cook and wine connoisseur, she has frequently been on various cooking shows. She also has a keen interest in cigars and dogs and has two miniature Dachshunds whom she named Coconuts 「ココナッツ」 and Cinammon 「シナモン」. 

Here's a clip from 『お笑いマンガ道場』 - unfortunately Naomi isn't in this particular clip

Here's a fairly recent promotional clip featuring Naomi with actor Jean Reno promoting his film Chef! 「シェフ!~三ツ星レストランの舞台裏へようこ­そ~」. Naomi shows off some of her impressive French speaking skills.

And lastly here's a performance from 1985 of her song 黄昏のチャイナタウン/Tasogare No Chinatown

Courtesy of Bob Walls 2006 from Flickr

1 comment:

  1. It's quite a revelation to see Kawashima in her singing days since I've only known her as the somewhat risque actress/personality during my time in Japan. I was not aware of her French abilities but as a former NOVA teacher, I knew of her being an English student at one of the NOVA branches in Tokyo. Apparently, she was a Level 3 (Level 7C was an absolute tabula rasa beginner while Level 1 was a native speaker) which placed her at the Advanced category without having lived long-term overseas.


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