Why Entertainers and Religion — Including Junko Sakurada, are Inseparable | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why Entertainers and Religion — Including Junko Sakurada, are Inseparable

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Junko Sakurada, a member of the now popular Unification Church, held a “joint wedding ceremony” with her followers. The event highlighted the deep relationship between celebrities and religion…

The shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has brought the “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (former Unification Church)” back into the spotlight after 30 years. Day after day, reports about its involvement with the Liberal Democratic Party continue uninterruptedly.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Unification Church was already the subject of a campaign by some weekly magazines to warn people against the “psychic business” that was already becoming a problem.

However, there were still many people who did not even know its name, let alone what it really was. It was the “joint wedding ceremony” held in Seoul, Korea, in August 1992, 30 years ago, that brought the name of this organization to the attention of the whole country.

Thousands of believers, men and women, were united in a ceremony in which the founder, Moon Myung Moon, chose the combination that would bring them together. Most of them met for the first time at the venue.

This year’s joint wedding ceremony was held at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul, with more than 20,000 couples participating. There is a reason why this event made the headlines. Junko Sakurada was one of the participants.

She was no longer an idol at the time, but was still active as an actress, and had won several awards for her role in the movie “Oshikkoshi” released the following year in 1993 (it was her last film).

Moreover, Hiroko Yamazaki (who later left the association), then the queen of rhythmic gymnastics, Atsuko Tokuda, a popular badminton player, and Keiko Iiboshi (who later left the association), the daughter of a famous writer and a wide-show anchor, were also present at the joint wedding that year. How could they not be a topic of conversation?

At the time, Sakurada held a press conference to announce her participation in the joint wedding ceremony as a “billboard.

I have no worries because we are gathering people who share the same values and the same purpose in life,” he declared.

I am not anxious about it. Naturally, television and weekly magazines began to report on the Unification Church with all their might.

This joint wedding ceremony got many people interested in the church, and the presence of celebrities and entertainers was a major factor in this. In a survey of “interesting articles” in magazines at the time, articles on “celebrities and religion” were always at the top of the list. That must have been why readers were so interested in them.

In particular, when a new religion or an emerging religion that differs from traditional religions, or a religious group with a new history and not generally known to the public, came to the attention of the public for some reason, the editor-in-chief would invariably ask the reporter, “What do you think?

“Find out if any celebrities are members of this religion.

This is one of the reasons why the editor-in-chief always orders reporters to “find out if any celebrities have joined the church.

The Aum Shinrikyo organization has terrorized Japan since the Matsumoto Sarin gas attack in 1994 and the Sarin gas attack on the subway in the following year. Aum also had a celebrity follower. Tomoko Kashima. Kashima was a singer and dancer from the Nichigeki Dancing Team.

In 1982, she suffered a spinal injury in a snowmobile accident and was unable to perform anymore. She worked as a billboard for the cult.

In 1994, she conspired with a cult leader to abduct her eldest daughter (then 19 years old), who was not a believer, in an attempt to ordain her, and was later arrested for confinement. She left Aum while in custody, but was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for four years.

As one might expect, not many celebrities become Aum Shinrikyo followers, and the public was astonished when Kashima was ordained. The weekly magazine also covered her story in the flesh at her trial. Some media also published an article in which her grandfather talked about the process of “why he leaned toward Aum.

In 1998, six years after the Unification Church’s “joint wedding ceremony” scandal, the “Nijo-kai” scandal broke out.

The official name of this group is “Reiji Kikugaku Nijokai,” and it is an association of chiaroscience and destiny analysis. Strictly speaking, it may not be a religious organization, but in light of the fact that it gathered members and held religious ceremonies, it could be considered a religious organization in the broadest sense of the word.

One of the most talked-about activities was “Nenkin purification (Nenkin),” in which paper money entrusted by members was “smoked” to purify it, which was said to have the effect of increasing luck. The paper money was kept by the organizer, but since the organizer’s ex-husband absconded with the money, it could no longer be returned to the members.

The organizer’s ex-husband absconded with the money and was unable to return it to the members. Civil lawsuits demanding refunds began to appear one after another, and wide TV shows and weekly magazines all picked up on the story. Many of you may remember the footage of the burning of the bills on TV.

Actress Yoshiko Sakuma was the poster child for this “Nijokai. A civil suit was filed against her, claiming that she was also responsible, but the court ruled that she was not liable.

It was also alleged that Sakuma and Keizo Obuchi, the prime minister at the time, were on friendly phone calls during this period, and that the “general manager” of the association had told the members about this relationship. In other words, the association used the then prime minister as a “billboard.

The marriage of actress Mayumi Wakamura to Kanehiro Ono, the head of the religious group Shakushonkai, in 2003 was also a shock. After her husband died of liver failure in 2007, she resumed her entertainment activities, which had stopped abruptly.

In recent years, the name of Shimizu Fumika, a follower of “Happy Science,” who was ordained as a priest in 2005 and changed her Buddhist name to “Sengan Miko,” has also been fresh in our memories and has been the topic of much discussion.

The background that celebrities engaged in the uncertain and unstable business of “entertainment” often seek salvation from religion, and the fact that they (or they) have social influence and are promoted as billboards, attracts people’s interest.

This is compounded by a curiosity about the doctrines and practices of the religions. A photographer for a weekly photo magazine said.

I think it falls into the “mountain worship” genre, but there was a time when a photographer for a new religion was instructed by a beautiful actress who is still active today to “climb a mountain and take pictures of her worshipping the sunrise. She was bathed in light and looked like Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, as she clasped her hands together in worship of the sunrise.

Religion and celebrity. Religion and celebrity are an “inseparable relationship” that will never end.

  • Interview and text by Hiroyuki Sasaki (Entertainment Journalist)

    Born in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Hiroyuki Sasaki became a reporter for FRIDAY at the age of 31, reporting numerous scoops during his time with FRIDAY and later working mainly for the weekly magazine. Currently he also appears on TV and radio as a commentator.

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