A Star Studded Cast Gears Up for the 2012 Taiga Taira no Kiyomori

Who has watched a Taiga in your lifetime? Any Taiga will do. My last one was 2010’s Ryomaden due to my Fukuyama Masaharu bias, but I mostly skip all the ones in in the last decade or so. This year’s Taiga is the female-centric Gou headlining Ueno Juri, so it sorta makes sense that next year’s Taiga swings the opposite direction and is completely male-centric. Not only that, it’s the most hot guys in a Taiga line up I’ve seen in probably ever.

Starring as the titular Taira no Kiyomori (a General in the 12th century Heian period who ended up founding the first samurai government of Japan) is Matsuyama Kenichi (who is having a great year, having just married Koyuki and with a baby due early 2012), with my wonderful Daito Shunsuke playing younger brother Taira no Iemori. Tamaki Hiroshi plays rival Minamoto no Yoshitomo, and super cutie Okada Masaki plays his youngest son Minamoto no Yoritomo.

Matsuda Shota of the cheekbones and the pout plays Emperor Goshirakawa, and last but not least, Fujiki Naohito is the famous poet Saigyo Hoshi. Whew, that is A LOT of attractive men who can act their pants off. We only need MatsuJun and Miura Haruma to complete the round up. This is one drama I am watching come January 1, 2012.

Of course there are ladies in this drama, most notably Fukada Kyoko (who I last saw a decade ago in Kamisama with Takeshi Kaneshiro) will be playing the wife of Taira no Kiyomori and famous songstress Matsuda Seiko as Gion no Nyougo, a mother-like figure who watches over the young and powerful Taira no Kiyomori. In short, this cast is pretty incredible. Have some pictures for the road.

I need my Japanese history book to make sense of this character chart.


A Star Studded Cast Gears Up for the 2012 Taiga Taira no Kiyomori — 44 Comments

      • This is the first time I’ve heard of a Taiga (but then I’m more of a kdrama fan) and it sound EPIC. Just looked at the list of actors from previous years and it had like some of legendary ones.

    • a yearly period piece put on by the television station, NHK. The Taiga drama works like this: NHK, every year since 1963 runs a new show about some aspect of Japanese history (usually fuedal era). What’s more, they are top quality material, some of the best jidaigeki you will ever see. Great acting, large budget, historical accuracy. if you like samurai movies, I suggest attempting to get your hands on a Taiga drama. (Komyou ga tsuji even has Yukie Nakama in it).



  1. This looks definitely worth a watch (especially for my Fujiki Naohito, lol). It’ll be my first time watching a taiga; I’m a bit of a sageuk lover but I haven’t tried the Japanese equivalent yet. This cast looks so tempting! Usually the Koreans win in the ‘pretty’ competition, but these are solid acting chops here.

  2. I’ve never been able to make it through a taiga before but with all these pretty guys and Takei Emi, I’m going to have put some time aside to watch this when it airs.

  3. What an interesting concept! One episode a week for almost an entire year? Does that mean they film all year at the pace of one episode a week, or do they film it all at once in, say, four or five (or six or seven, I don’t know how complicated the shoots would be) months and then everyone goes off and does their own thing? Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article I found doesn’t have any explanations about the shooting at all.

    • They shoot for pretty much the entire year, but without the rush of the K-drama live shoot since its only one episode a week at 45 mins a pop. But this also allows for script revisions based on ratings. The lead actor in a Taiga is commited for an entire year, no if buts or exceptions. Clearly he/she won’t die until the last ep, or if at all, so no chance of an early out.

      Which is why there are no singer-actors cast in as the leads in Taigas, because you can’t juggle a dual career that year. Also most singer-actors aren’t considered thespians by the Japanese audience, and Taigas require the highest caliber actors.

      To get tapped for a Taiga lead is like winning an Oscar already. Ryomaden completely reinvigorated Masa’s career. It’s actually a great Taiga, one of the few not set in the Edo, Sengoku, or Heian period. I think Ryomaden might be the Taiga set in the most modern period to date, which is not saying much since it was set in the Bakumutsu period leading into Commodore Perry and the Black Ships. Shinsengumi! was also set in that period but a little before.

      • fukuyama masaharu IS a singer-actor, so is katori shingo, who was one of the leads of shinsengumi!. the bakumatsu are the final years of the edo period, so Ryomaden is also set in edo. and yoritomo is the son of yoshitomo, not his younger brother.

      • And Yoshitsune starred Takizawa Hideaki, who is also a singer-actor of Tackey & Tsubasa fame! If you’re a Tackey fan and haven’t seen it yet, I recommend it! Takey + samurai battle gear = total hotness.

  4. Woo – I have seen a Taiga before (gosh I feel really old or I just have a lot of time or something). I believe the only Taiga that I have watch all the way through was the one that had Takizawa Hideaki (Tackey) – which I can’t even remember the name of. But it was quite good – the acting and all. I haven’t seen one lately though. I guess too much time investment. It is a really great honor (in j-ent) to be selected for one of these and even more so as the lead.

    And wow – what an amazing cast!! 🙂 I honestly think Jdrama correlation charts are so complicated to understand. I think I will have to check this one out. Thanks Ms Koala for the info.

    • yes, i did watched Tackey’s taiga in its entirety (minus some due to broken links), a few yrs ago when i was on a Tackey’s spree cos i totally heart him. Cant recall d title even d ending was a bit hazy.
      Growing up, our local channel did show a few taigas here n there, that was pre-cable or broadband. Feel so ancient now..

  5. This was on my radar because of the incredible male cast but I wasn’t playing to watch it. Now with the new-found affection for Daito Shunsuke and your illumination on his presence in the cast of this taiga, it has become a must watch. Wow, my first taiga.

  6. The pretties! Shouta and Masada… yummmm. I get lost during Chinese and Korean historials, so if this was subbed at all (maybe hopefully) need lots of historial notes.

  7. I’ve never watched a Taiga. It’s just too freaking long! But when I read about this drama a few months ago I KNEW I HAD TO SEE IT! I mean when and where are you going to get almost every male actor you love, like or want to see in one drama, eh?
    I’m extremely excited. Men running around doing what they do best is going to be entirely too fun to watch 😉

  8. I have been excited for this ever since I first heard about this, all they had to do was have Kenichi Matsuyama and Tamaki Hiroshi(MINE) next to each other in the same pic and I was in…I had no idea till now that Matsuda Shota (aka the man that has chemistry with any living/non-living thing) would also be in this…I guess that means a reunion for one of my fav duos from Love Shuffle!! YAYYYY Panda!!!!

  9. Love the line up. And am a big fan of most of the actors in this taiga. Looking forward to watching it. It’s been a pleasure seeing the acting careers of Kenichi, Hiroshi, Shunsuke, Masaki, Shota and Naohito blossom.

  10. You did not mention that devilish Kamikawa Takaya is also in this. Back row, 3rd from right. Loved him as Umeda Hokuto in Hana Kimi. He stole the show. Looking foward to this show. Keep us posted, and otsukaresama deshita!

  11. WOW. I’m a newbie to J-entertainment (the madness began after I was suckered into watching Buzzer Beat! after reading your wonderful review, thank you! :D), but I actually recognize several of these names: Matsuda Shota (LOVELOVE!), Tamaki Hiroshi, Okada Masaki, Fujiki Naohito and Daito Shunsuke.

    I had to look up the definition of a taiga, but this one looks solid. So it’s an episode a week for the full year? Whew! I will definitely be checking this one out!

  12. Eeeek! I squealed when I saw MatsuKen front and center!!! How beautiful is this cast? Even better, how talented and beautiful? Tamaki Hiroshi and Fujiki Naohito alone are enough to send me swooning for an entire year…whoa!!!

    The only way to make this cast perfect is if they can somehow add my Ryo-chan, Tackey, Miura Haruma, or Junichi Okada in this line-up. But I can’t be too greedy now, can I? 😉

    I’ve never really watched a taiga before but I’m now looking forward to this one. Thanksies for the heads-up!

    • I’d throw in Kaname Jun and Mukai Osamu, too. Why not. Let’s have a pretty boy good actor parade. Though both Jun and Osamu have done their Taiga stints a few years ago.

      • oh dear, i forgot about Kaname Jun. he’s so smexy! *sigh*

        too many hot men, too little time. i need to work hard on my Nihongo. haha.

  13. This looks so interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever caught a Taiga before – I usually watch all the Chinese-based ones or Korean saeguks. Character charts are always complicated but even more so when its a historical one (whether its based on reality or is fiction) – this one looks crazy haha.. Slight problem however. I (and I’m sure many others here) can’t really understand any Japanese. Do you know if Taigas are ever english subbed at all? Or do you plan on doing recaps for this 2012 Taiga since its so chock full of epic talent (and eye candy haha)? *gives eucalyptus leaves to Daito for bribing purposes and shoves him forward*

      • HAHAHA yes Daito..use your powers of smexy epic-ness on Ms. Koala here!! XDDD

        All joking aside, yeah it would be pretty daunting to recap. Has fansub group ever taken one on? Just out of curiousity..I’ll most likely watch it subbed or not lols

      • LOL

        Hrm, I really want to watch but would be problematic if they’re normally not subbed. I only know extremely basic Japanese. Heck, even if I was fluent, if Korean saguek dramas are any indication, even complete fluency in Japanese might not help.

      • Maybe instead of a recap because that would be so so daunting, there could be an open discussion every once in a while? I think a number of us will attempt it because of teh pretty, but will not have much clue what’s going on.

  14. Currently I’m watching the current year taiga: Gou with Ueno Juri bcoz I’m her fan. This taiga is full with amazing senior actor, but Mukai Osamu is also here playing as Ueno Juri’s husband.
    But, oh my, the upcoming one is is a really hot star studded taiga…
    I heart Matsuyama Kenichi, Tamaki Hiroshi, Matsuda Shota, Daito Shunsuke.
    Look forward for this.

  15. Wow, this is one stellar cast.. i mean when tsumabuki sataoshi did his Taiga drama Tenchijin few years ago he had Oguri Shun, Fukada kyouko, Yuusuke, Shirota yu, aibu saki and a few others as well but this is a much more heavy cast.. I mean Matsuyama Kenichi, Tamakai Hiroshi, Matsuda Shota and Daito Shunsuke..Okada Masaki.. and according to the picture you attached with the female cast besides Fukada Kyouko, I see Anne, Ryo, Takei Emi, Kato Ai and Narumi Riko… now this is just crazy!! Not just a heavy male cast, but a strong female cast to back them up…

    I really would like to watch this when it is aired but Taiga’s are soo long (don’t have time and patience to watch) and complicated to understand since they are speaking in ancient Japanese dialect(Japanese speaker and still have trouble) so it actually takes more work for me to try and watch it..

    But I’m hoping I’ll catch a few episodes just to see this plays out.. Thanks for posting! 🙂

  16. I’m definetely going to watch this! Hoping its better then Gou which to my suprise was a letdown (Juri isn’t really suitable for historical dramas)
    The female cast isn’t that intriguing as the male cast, Takei Emi can be quite stiff in her acting and Fukada Kyoko isn’t a good actress at all but Yasuko Matsuda and Ryo are fabolous.
    I really loved Atsuhime though, Aoi Miyazaki and the rest were fantastic and it also had Matsuda Shouta as Tokugawa Iemochi.

  17. I watch J-dramas too but could never get around to remembering their names (they are mostly pretty long and don’t know how to pronounce properly). Ockoala and everyone here absolutely impress me with the indepth of knowledge you have of J-dramas and all the actors/actresses!

    I have only one question: 4th picture from the top, is he the guy who acted as “L” in Death Note? If so, what’s his name? And on a separate issue, what is your take on Kamenashi Kazuya? Love both actors. Appreciate Ockoala’s or any kind soul’s reply!

      • Wow, now I understand why everyone here is all excited about the upcoming drama! Absolutely love “L”. He is such a wonderful character, so intelligent, brave and yet sensitive and understated. Matsuyama Kenichi played “L” to perfection, with that hunched posture, quirky mannerism and cool expression. The first picture (with him in the centre grey suit) and the 4th looked quite different. Anyway, he must truly be recognised for his acting capabilities to be casted as the lead for such a serious and prestigious undertaking. Thanks Mookie!

    • mookie answered your Kenichi query (he was L in Death Note, he does very edgy characters). He is VERY talented. Can you believe he recently turned 26 years old! The mind, it boggles.

      As for Kame, I’m okay with him. Rather indifferent until he does a great role. I don’t watch his dramas per se (like I watch all Yamapi dramas), but if there is a drama I’m interested in based on story and he’s the lead, I’ll watch it and appreciate his performance if he does a good job. I think he’s one of the few Johnnys that can act. Others being Toma and MatsuJun.

      • Now that you mention he’s “VERY talented”, think I’m going to google and watch some more of his works. But I have a feeling that his drama/movies are all likely to be the type that will evoke a lot of emotions – “L” broke my heart knowing that he will die in the end.

        I like the fact that actors (especially good looking, idol types) in Japan can get married, have kids and still continue to hone their craft, gain acknowledgment for their talents and flourish in their careers. Artistes need to have a balanced life too.

        Kame (that’s his popular nickname?) is so lovable in Only One Love and Wallflower (can’t recall the long Jap name). He’s kinda like a Jang Keun Suk, Japanese version to me although they may be of different personalities. And yes, Kame can act. Thanks!

  18. planning to ring in 2012 with this Taiga as well. I’m not sure how well I fare watching it weekly, It’s too much a commitment and I ended up binging like my last, Tenchijin (<3) . Last one live was wayyy back: Toshiie and Matsu. It's Toshiaki+ MyYutaka+Sorimachi (and ojisan<3 Miura Tomokazu). Taira no Kiyomori is totally leashing me on like Toshiie and Matsu. I only need Miura Haruma added to make me drowned some more in my own droolz, but that's really too greeedy.

    • I need to watch Tenchjin. Been meaning to but never got around to it. I know Masa does nothing for you, but Ryomaden is actually very good. I like the early parts with Ryoma the Dreamer and Ryoma the Adventurer. Ryoma the Navigator and Ryoma the Hope get a little draggy.

      Yay, let’s watch Taira no Kiyomori together, ne? 😀

  19. OMG Tamaki Hiroshi, Shota Matsuda, AND Daito Shunsuke in ONE SHOW (oh yeah the others ain’t too shabby either, but these three I just LOVE TO PIECES)?? I think I might just explode!

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