Saturday, October 18, 2008

Akira Kobayashi banned from NHK and Japan's PGA after partying with yakuza

by Chris MaGee

I don't tend to write gossip or scandal stories here on the blog, but when it involves classic yakuza eiga and action star Akira Kobayashi I just can't resist. Of course many of you will know Kobayashi from his tough guy roles in films like Seijun Suzuki's "Kanto Wanderer", Yasuharu Hasebe's "Bloody Territories" and Kinji Fukasaku's "Battles without Honour and Humanity" series, but now it looks like the now 69-year-old celebrity and enka singer has gotten into a whole heap of trouble for hanging out with real tough guys in the Japanese mob.

According to Japan Zone Kobayahsi was amongst five popular enka stars who participated in a golf game and party that took place in September in Shizuoka Prefecture to celebrate the birthday of Goto Tadamasa, a gang boss in the Yamaguchi-gumi, one of the largest yakuza clans in Japan.

The discovery of this got all five singers, including Kobayashi, banned from appearing on NHK television programmes at least until the end of the year when they would normally appear on popular televised New Year's programming.

But if that wasn't bad enough Japan Zone is now reporting that Kobayashi won't be playing golf with anybody, yakuza or otherwise, in the foreseeable future. Kobayashi is an avid golfer and actually became a pro in the Japanese PGA's senior tour last fall, but now he's been stripped of his membership in the PGA and will no longer be able to compete in any events.

I kind of feel bad for Kobayashi-san. Well, I guess we won't see performances like the one below anytime soon. Ladies and Gentleman, Akira Kobayashi performing his own song "Ori Kami Jinsei".

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