Celebrities Bid Farewell To Late Johnny Kitagawa

Celebrities bid farewell to late Johnny Kitagawa

Japanese celebrity performers bid farewell to the late Johnny Kitagawa, the man who helped to launch the careers of a number of male pop idols.

Kitagawa founded the talent agency Johnny & Associates in 1962. The agency produced SMAP, Arashi and many other popular groups.

Kitagawa also worked as a music producer and stage director. He died of stroke in July at the age of 87.

Wednesday's farewell ceremony at Tokyo Dome was attended by 154 Johnny performers.

Masahiko Kondo, speaking on their behalf, called on Kitagawa to let them send him off with a smile, because, as he would say, "The show must go on."

Koichi Domoto of Kinki Kids recalled that they used to clash over stage direction, but said he hopes to teach younger people what he learned from Kitagawa.

Kazunari Ninomiya of Arashi said Kitagawa told him to experience everything. He said he was taught that the important thing is to try, even though you may not be able to achieve it.

Sho Sakurai said he was not a stand-out initially, but he was praised by Kitagawa. He said Kitagawa was the first person who taught him that if you work hard, someone will be watching.

Jun Matsumoto said he will work with his colleagues to continue what Kitagawa would have wanted to do.