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Akihiro Miwa

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Akihiro Miwa (美輪 明宏 Miwa Akihiro?), (May 15, 1935 - ) is a Japanese singer, actor, and theatre director from Nagasaki in Nagasaki Prefecture. His real name is Maruyama Akihiro. He writes most of his own music and has written over 20 books. His nickname is Maru-san.

Miwa was born to a family which ran a small cafe. After seeing the movie Boy Soprano at the age of 11, he claims to have had a dream in which he was standing on stage in a concert hall, singing. It was this which inspired his interest in music. He then attended the National Music University of Japan at the age of 15.

He started his career as a professional cabaret singer in Ginza at the age of 17 when moving out to Tokyo in 1952. He started working in the nightclub"gin Paris(銀巴里)" singing his favourite of the French chansons such as those of Édith Piaf, Yvette Guilbert and Marie Dubas, eventually getting a job at a specific club at which he worked continually for 40 years. His claim to fame came rather early in 1957, with a smash-hit called "Meke-Meke(Mais-qué mais-qué)" which included a string of profanities not used in media at the time. He was also renowned for his effeminate beauty, making him a hit with the media.

Along the way he ran into various movie producers and actors such as Yujiro Ishihara, as well as his lifelong love, Yukio Mishima. The relationship started in the cabaret when Mishima allegedly said to Miwa, "Maruyama, you only have one flaw. That you could never fall in love with me."

Miwa has written many books as well, and is known for his outspoken stances on social issues and war. This can be attributed to his having experienced the worst of it; he was in Nagasaki when it was destroyed by an atomic bomb, but he escaped relatively unhurt. He is highly critical of the government at all his concerts.

Although Miwa is best known as a cabaret singer he has also appeared in a number of films, beginning with Shuji Terayama's Aomori-ken no Shimushi Otoko in 1967. In 1968 he starred in and composed the theme song for Kinji Fukasaku's Black Lizard, based on Mishima's stage adaptation of the Edogawa Rampo novel; Mishima also had a cameo in the film as a statue. The next year Miwa made another film with Fukasaku, Black Rose Mansion. In recent years he has voiced characters in Hayao Miyazaki's internationally successful cartoon films Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle, and appeared in Takeshi Kitano's 2005 film Takeshis'.

In March 2007, Miwa performed the role of Empress Sisi in the play L’Aigle á Deux Tetes by writer Jean Cocteau at Parco Theatre in Shibuya.

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