Japan agog over sumo and his sexy love

TOKYO — TOKYO -- For one afternoon and evening, political scandals and global recession scarcely got mentioned. Japan's TV newscasters had a bigger story: the country's two most sensational teen idols are going to break millions of hearts by marrying.

The bride-to-be: Rie Miyazawa, 19, petite idol of the bubble-gum set since her first movie at age 15 and of the skin-book set since last year, when she successfully defied Japan's ban on pubic hair pictures in a million-selling volume called "Santa Fe," after the U.S. city where it was photographed.


Her groom-to-be: Takahanada, a 293-pound wrestler who was 18 when he began to set the sumo world aflame, 19 last January when he became the youngest ever to win a grand sumo tournament and 20 when he won his second tournament last month.

At less than 300 pounds, Takahanada -- whose real name is Koji Hanada -- is relatively small as sumo wrestlers go. But he's a heart throb.


"When I look at the sumo ring, I get that pitter-patter in my heart -- it's, like, so great," said Ms. Miyazawa.

When Mr. Takahanada's father confirmed that they would soon be engaged, even the recently completed Japan baseball championship got bumped off the front pages of sports tabloids.

Suddenly handed the kind of story they love and spend millions to cover, Japanese TV producers filled screens for hours with the boy-faced Japanese sumo idol and the ingenue-turned-sexpot daughter of a Dutch father and a Japanese mother. They also made ample use of a new excuse to re-run the most famous nude photos in the history of Japanese womanhood.

Even Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, no relation to the bride-to-be, couldn't resist answering when reporters asked him about it. "Some story, isn't it," he said. "What a surprise!"