(伊集院光), real name Ken Shinooka (篠岡 建), maiden name Tanaka (田中), born 11th Nov 1967, is a Japanese celebrity, radio personality, computer game reviewer and commentator. Originally a rakugo artist, comedian and columnist. He was in the Hoshi Kikaku (星企画 lit: ‘Star Plan’, the talent agency related to the 5th generation of the Sanyuutei Enraku group), also was a freelancer and now works under the Horipro (ホリプロ) talent agency. He was born in the Tokyo Metropolitan area of Arakawa-ku Nishiogu. His height is 183 cm and weight is 125 kg (tending to fluctuate around 5 kg of that value). He dropped out of Tokyo Metropolitan Adachi Shinden High School. He is married to former idol Mika Shinooka (篠岡美佳).
Hikaru is a large-framed ‘fat celebrity’ (デブタレント). He has a strong image as an affable yet humble personality on TV and enjoys success as a panellist on quiz shows. His knowledge of trivia is not great (has trouble with history and so on) but couples vague memories with logic to break down difficult questions.
He doesn’t pay so much attention to his TV appearance; his life-work is in radio so he currently concentrates on ‘Ijuin Hikaru Shinya no Baka-chikara’ (lit: ‘Hikaru Ijuin’s Late Night Great Physical Power’). On radio he is known as ‘Kuroi Ijuin’ (lit: ‘Black Ijuin’) for his potty mouth and dirty gags, uniquely reckless remarks, self-deprecatory gags and tyrannical attitude towards young celebrities which is a completely different identity to that seen on TV.
In April 2008, he ended his radio shows (‘Nichiyou Taishougun’ (lit: ‘Sunday Commander-in-Chief’) and ’Nichiyoubi no Himitsu Kichi’ (lit: ‘Sunday’s Secret Base’)) which had continued for close to 10 years. In 2007, facing turning 40, he revealed his talent agency refused his wish for himself to ‘find himself’ (previously on radio he had ridiculed the boom of people ‘finding themselves’ calling it ‘chiizakashii’ (a gag translating to ‘petty searching’) and saying, “If you go on a journey to find yourself, don’t ever come back!”). Also he revealed on Nichiyoubi no Himitsu Kichi that his focus on radio was beginning to be blurred out and he deeply wanted to return to his origins, concentrating on late night radio.
In July, 1984, based on an introduction to one of his father’s contacts, Mr Yoshikawa ((吉河さん) who, it was discovered later, was the younger brother of the grand teacher, the 5th Enraku Sanyuutei(三遊亭圓楽)), Hikaru entered the Enraku troupe. At the time, because each minor performer had so many students, he became a student of Rakutarou Sanyuutei (三遊亭楽太郎). The 5th Enraku took the ‘Ta’ (田 lit: ‘rice paddy’) from Hikaru’s maiden name ‘Tanaka’ and gave Hikaru the name ‘Dengaku Sanyuutei’ (三遊亭田楽), but Hikaru refused the name saying, “I hate it!”. Rakutarou was next to him in a cold sweat; Enraku said, “You’re large(大)! Okay, ‘Rakudai’(楽大)!” and Hikaru began to flourish as Rakudai Sanyuutei (三遊亭楽大). Later, in the second month of his third year at high school, he dropped out.
He started to appear under the name ‘Hikaru Ijuin’ in radio shows and in 1988 he had his second break. In his fifth year, in the 17th NHK Rakugo Newcomer Competition (NHK新人落語コンクール), now the NHK Newcomer Entertainment Prize for Rakugo (NHK新人演芸大賞「落語の部」), he made it to the final selection stage through his retelling of Kohome (子褒めlit: ‘The Praise of Children’); the other four participants in the final selection had over 10 years of study. At his introductory negotiations he received over 40 to 50 assignments from Rakutarou. Because of his link as Rakutarou’s student, and Rakutarou having a bond with wrestlers from All Japan Pro Wrestling (全日本プロレス), there was some intermingling, and Hikaru received shoes from Giant Baba (ジャイアント馬場) as a present and acted as coordinator at Akira Taue’s (田上明) wedding ceremony.
In 1990, a problem arose in that the Enraku troupe discovered that Hikaru had been appearing on a radio show under a different name and he departed from his role as a rakugo artist (not excommunicated but rather an independent discontinuation). At that time, Rakutarou supported Hikaru (but did not dissuade him from resigning as a rakugo artist) and in April 2003 made him appear at the Rakutarou Sanyuutei Family Meeting (三遊亭楽太郎一門会) and co-starred with him on radio and television (for example, on ‘Quiz Presen Variety Q-Sama!!’ (クイズプレゼンバラエティーQさま!!)). Also, Hikaru openly refers to Rakutarou as his ‘master’ on radio and television.
Now, the Rakudai Sanyuutei name is inherited by other rakugo artists who become Rakutarou’s students (for fixed term appearances on the show ‘Ryougoku Yose’ (両国寄席)). Commonly, those stricken from the industry do not have their names inherited, but it is reported that Rakutarou has explained to Hikaru about the inheritance of his former title.
Under the name Hikaru Ijuin he appeared in the comedy audition show ‘Gekitotsu! Ago-hazushi Show’ (激突!あごはずしショー, Oct 1987 to Mar 1988); he participated in the challenge a second time under the name of Haruka Ayanokouji (綾小路遥). At that time his catchphrase was ‘Opera no Kaijin’ (lit: The Phantom of the Opera). He sang parody songs in an opera singer’s style, for example ‘O Sole Mio’ changed to ‘Osorezan no Itako’ (lit: Itako of the Scary Mountain) and ‘Katsuo-fuumi no Hondashi’ (the Ajinomoto (味の素) food company’s commercial jingle) became ‘Katsuo-fuumi no Fundoshi’ (lit: The Tuna Flavored Jockstrap).
Hikaru received an invitation from his original senior as an apprentice (the first generation Hanarakkyou Sanyuutei (初代三遊亭花楽京), now broadcast author Akihiro Ishida (石田章洋)), and appeared on the Ago-hazushi Show, but the director of both shows, Yoshirou Yasuoka (安岡喜郎) planned for the concealment of Hikaru Ijuin’s rakugo origins.
After the Ago-hazushi Show had ended, Hikaru was a reporter amongst other roles in the show ‘Yamaguchi Ryouichi no Sore Yuke! Doyoubi Koushinkyoku’ (山口良一のそれゆけ!土曜日行進曲). From Oct 1988 he was on the same channel on ‘Ijuin Hikaru no All Night Nippon’ (伊集院光のオールナイトニッポン). From Oct 1989 he appeared weekly as a regular on ‘CREATIVE COMPANY Tomita Waon Kabushikigaisha’ (CREATIVE COMPANY 冨田和音株式会社, CBC Radio) overseen by Fujio Iwai (岩井富士夫) who had appeared with him on the Ago-hazushi Show (Hikaru has since intermittently had regularly appearances there, even though it is in Nagoya).
All Night Nippon gradually gained core popularity with such content as the creation of an imaginary idol, Yui Haga (芳賀ゆい). Later Hikaru was in the final selection as Aftershow Personality Choice in the popular weekday evening show ‘Miyake Yuuji no Young Paradise’(三宅裕司のヤングパラダイス). The winner was Yutao Uchimi (内海ゆたお), now known as Yutaka (ゆたか), with his show ‘Uchiumi Yutao no Yoru ha Dokkan!’ (内海ゆたおの夜はドッカーン!). However, due to mental stress, in November his show was dropped and ‘Ijuin Hikaru no Oh! Deka-night’ (伊集院光のOh!デカナイト) was started.
Hikaru was occasionally called to perform as a parody opera singer on the ‘Waratte Ii Tomo!’ (笑っていいとも!) show’s corner entitled ‘Ucchan Nanchan no Yaru Nara Yaraneba!’ (ウッチャンナンチャンのやるならやらねば!). When he moved to the Horipro talent agency he dropped the opera singer name even though he previously studied hard regarding opera in order to maintain the authenticity of his act. Hikaru revealed his past as a rakugo artist to his listeners during Oh! Big Night. When he was a parody opera singer he would often use the respectful ‘Watashi’ when referring to himself, however after this era he started using the more colloquial, rougher, ‘Ore’ and ‘Boku’ more. At that time he called himself the ‘Adachi Shinden High School Vocal Music Section Dropout’ (however Adachi Shinden High School has no such department).
Oh! Deka-night is a popular show, continuing for over 4 years, but in April 1995 it was dropped from the schedule. When the show was dropped, a TBS producer who had had an interview with Hikaru at TBS TV, Mamoru Nagata (永田守), in conflict with Nippon Housou, entered a studio during a live broadcast of a tune and began a forceful recruitment pitch, “You’re quitting, right? Come to TBS, start from next week, we’ve already thought up the show title”. When the program finished, it is reported that Mamoru treated the Nippon Housou staff to pizza and apologized (actually, Mamoru was playing up the fact that when he had appeared as a guest on ‘Oodeka Friday Special’ (オーデカフライデースペシャル, broadcast 26th Feb 1993), he had taken pizza and jokingly invited Hikaru to TBS). Regarding the incident, Hikaru himself often jokes that he was exiled from Nippon Housou for doing an overhead throw on the station boss at a drinking hall. However, it can be seen that the cause of the friction was with senior officials Waro Moriya (森谷和郎, now the organization director) and Kouichi Miyamoto (宮本幸一, now the managing director); as a guest on the ‘Bakushou Mondai no Nichiyou Sunday’ show broadcast on 25th Oct 2009, Hikaru didn’t name names but said in a discordant tone that there were two people in particular that he doesn’t want to meet from Nippon Housou. Also, in the final part of the show, he made the joke that the staff didn’t even visit him when he was in hospital for hernia. Due to this, in a one night special broadcast for the 50th anniversary of the opening of the station (開局50周年記念日スペシャル番組), Oh! Deka-night was banned until 2004 and he also wasn’t called in as a guest.
Under a schedule for Oh! Deka-night he teamed up with Kouji Kubo (久保こーじ) and released rap CDs (the singles and album were one CD each) under the name of Arakawa Rap Brothers (荒川ラップブラザーズ, ARP for short). In Feb 2007, 3 of their tunes were made available through the karaoke-on-demand service DAM.
Most of Hikaru’s radio work transferred to TBS Radio with the late night show ‘Shinya no Baka-chikara’ (深夜の馬鹿力) in Oct 1995. Similarly other personalities moved from Nippon Housou to TBS Radio. For example, Ken Miyagawa (宮川賢), Amano Hiroyuki (天野ひろゆき) and Bakushou Mondai (爆笑問題). Shinya no Baka-chikara continues on into 2010; from April 1998 to March 2008 Hikaru had worked on Sunday afternoon general-topic shows, ‘Nichiyou Taishougun’ and ’Nichiyoubi no Himitsu Kichi’.
• His work at TBS Radio has gained excellent repute with a history of prize-winning. In 2000, station-chief Kozakura (小桜局長) held the ‘Croquette Party’ (essentially an achievement award). In 2001 he received the Golden Mic Award (ゴールデンマイク賞) from TBS Radio but the station head stopped him from passing on the trophy to a listener as a present. In 2003 he received the Galaxy Prize DJ Personality Award (ギャラクシー賞DJパーソナリティ賞) from the broadcasting review panel; at the acceptance awards, under a scheme for his show Shinya no Baka-chikara, he wore an adult diaper and proceeded to urinate during his acceptance speech. Also, in Feb 2006 he won the Galaxy Radio Group Major Award (ギャラクシー大賞ラジオ部門) for a corner on Nichiyoubi no Himitsu Kichi’s Special Week entitled ‘Doko no Dareka ha Shiranai keredo, Hanashite Mitara Sugee Hito Special’ (どこの誰かは知らないけれど、話してみたらスゲー人スペシャル).
• Every year on New Year’s Eve on Tokyo’s 3 different stations (TBS Radio, Bunka Housou and Nippon Housou) there is the Zen-Minpou AM Radio Station (全民放AMラジオ局) and Radio Tanpa (ラジオたんぱ) fusion show ‘Yukutoshi Kurutoshi’; Hikaru supervised this 3 times from 1992 to 1993 (at Nippon Housou) and 1996 to 1997 and 1999 to 2000 (at TBS Radio).