We often think of celebrities as being surreal objects; a distant society most of us can’t understand or associate with. They wear the latest designs, have no bad hair days, and lead a life full of glitter. But once in a while the news reminds us that they’re just like us — occasionally even falling in love with their coworkers. While theirs might not be the typical office romance, here are six famous Japanese couples who met at the workplace and took their relationship off-screen.
1. Miho Kanno and Masato Sakai (菅野美穂&堺雅人)
The Castle of Crossed Destinies (大奥～永遠～)
Two of Japan’s most established acting couples, Sakai and Kanno met on the set of The Castle of Crossed Destinies (大奥～永遠～) in 2012. The film, set in feudal-era Japan, depicts a court ruled by a fictional matriarchy (Kanno) who enjoys the company of 3,000 men (ahem, lovers), until one day Emonnosuke (Sakai) comes into the court, changing her life forever. The two’s passionate on-screen romance became real after the movie was released and they announced their marriage in 2013, just three months after they started dating. Rumors have it that Sakai fell madly in love with Kanno while filming the movie, asking her out on a number of occasions. She agreed to it under the condition that he be serious about the relationship — which he was. The two now have a son born in 2015 and in July 2018, Kanno announced her second pregnancy.
2. Riisa Naka and Akiyoshi Nakao (仲里依紗&中尾明慶)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女)
Known as two of the funniest and most down-to-earth celebrities in Japan, Naka and Nakao started their relationship in 2012 after being friends for years. The two originally met on the set of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (時をかける少女), the 2010 movie adaptation of Yasutaka Tsutsui’s novel of the same name and a sequel to the original 1983 film adaptation. The movie follows the story of Akari (Naka) who travels back in time to search for her mother’s first love. She meets Ryota Mizorogi (Nakao) along the way who helps her until fate plays a bad trick on them. Naka and Nakao became close friends on the set of the movie, but they didn’t start dating until the end of 2012 when they co-started in the TV drama Tsurukame Josanin. In March 2013, five months after starting dating, the two sent a fax to the media announcing that they were engaged to be married and that they were expecting their first child. Both Naka and Nakao are very active on social media, where they often publish humorous posts of their private life.
3. Koyuki and Kenichi Matsuyama (小雪&松山ケンイチ)
Kamui Gaiden (カムイ外伝)
It took a long time for Matsuyama to persuade Koyuki to marry him, but the marriage that many were sceptical about in the beginning, turned out to be one of the strongest in the history of Japan’s showbusiness. The two originally met on the set of Kamui Gaiden (カムイ外伝), the 2009 film based on the popular manga series of the same title, which follows the story of a fugitive ninja (Matsuyama). Matsuyama fell in love with Koyuki, but she repeatedly turned him down, saying he was too immature for her (he is eight years younger than her). The two eventually tied the knot in April 2011 and now have two sons and one daughter.
4. Atsuko Maeda and Ryo Katsuji（前田敦子&勝地涼）
Former AKB48 idol Atsuko Maeda shocked millions of fans this July when she announced her marriage to actor Ryo Katsuji, in a happy love affair that literally no one expected. The two met on the set of the 2015 TV series The Gutsy Frog (ど根性ガエル) and had been friends even prior to that, but they only started dating this spring after co-starring in Eating Women (食べる女). The film, which follows the love and food lives of eight women, was released in Japan in autumn 2018, quickly becoming one of the most popular titles of the year. Maeda and Katsuji’s marriage announcement certainly contributed to this. Just two months after announcing their marriage, the couple also announced Maeda’s pregnancy with their first child, making their story one of the biggest headlines of the year.
5. Yuu Kashii and Joe Odagiri (香椎由宇&オダギリジョー)
Kashii and Odagiri met on the set of The Pavillion Salamandre (パビリオン山椒魚) in 2006, an odd comedy about an X-ray genius (Odagiri) and a mystery surrounding a salamander that everyone wants to know about. The two reportedly started dating after Odagiri fell in love with Kashii on set, eventually announcing their marriage in 2008 when the actress was still just 20 years old. The couple’s first son was born in 2011, the second in 2014 and the third in 2016. Rarely in the spotlight, the couple is known for skillfully managing to keep their private life away from publicity.
6. Aoi Miyazaki and Junichi Okada (宮崎あおい&岡田准一)
One of Japan’s most celebrated and award-winning actresses, Aoi Miyazaki and idol group V6 member Junichi Okada’s love reportedly began while the two were shooting the 2008 human drama Flowers in the Shadows (陰日向に咲く), in which they played a married couple. In December 2017, the two married in real life and in October 2018 they announced the birth of their first child, a baby boy. Miyazaki is known for her roles in Nana, Solanin and The Great Passage. She was selected as one of the four “muses of Japanese Cinema” at the 2017 Tokyo International Film Festival, together with other iconic actresses Sakura Ando, Yu Aoi and Hikari Mitsushima. Miyazaki and Okada also co-starred in 2012’s historical drama Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer (天地明察).
Cheers to a happy ending!
Text by Alexandra Homma