The desire to achieve cultural icon status drove our team to undergo hair and clothing makeovers for hefty transformations. How were the end results?

Takuya Kimura, nicknamed Kimutaku, is a legendary Japanese entertainer. Besides achieving prolific success through an acting career and as a member of the mega-idol boy group SMAP, he was also the definition of male heartthrob in Japan in the 90s and beyond. Like a fine wine, that status also doesn’t seem to be diminishing with age–now at 47 years old, he seems conversely cooler than ever in the public’s eye.

Many men have longed to achieve even a fraction of Kimutaku’s success and celebrity status, and one of the first ways to attempt this is to try and emulate his outward appearance. Getting one’s hair styled in a manner similar to his is a promising start, but would that alone be enough for an ordinary man to achieve a complete image overhaul? To find out, five male members of our Japanese-language editing department decided to transform into Kimutaku themselves!

Make me into Kimutaku

Enter the five middle-aged dudes (median age: 37) who aspired to become even a fraction of an inch closer to Kimutaku. We’ll introduce them here along with the particular Kimutaku hairstyle that they wanted to achieve and a note about which celebrity they’ve been told they resemble in the past.

1. Takashi Harada (36 years old), sports-loving writer from Fukuoka

  • Kimutaku hairstyle of choice: HERO (2001 drama)
  • Celebrity resemblance: Nobuyuki Shirota (competitive eater)

2. Go Hattori (40 years old), user of 100-yen shop hair extension bangs

  • Kimutaku hairstyle of choice: Nemureru Mori (1998 drama)
  • Celebrity resemblance: Johnny Depp (actor)

3. Seiji Nakazawa (37 years old), hair transplant surgery patient

  • Kimutaku hairstyle of choice: Long Vacation (1996 drama)
  • Celebrity resemblance: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (former Team Japan soccer goalkeeper)

4. Ahiruneko (34 years old), once assigned to have pigeons crap on him

  • Kimutaku hairstyle of choice: Le Grande Maison Tokyo (2019 drama)–permed version
  • Celebrity resemblance: Manabu Oshio (singer)

5. Yoshio (38 years old), wore the same socks for five days and made everyone smell them

  • Kimutaku hairstyle of choice: Le Grande Maison Tokyo (2019 drama)–swept-back version
  • Celebrity resemblance: Kiichi Nakai (actor)

To achieve the transformations, our motley crew ventured over to a chic salon in Tokyo’s Aoyama district called SHEA that agrees to our team’s other occasional strange styling requests. Mr. Sato (no relation to our own infamous reporter) would be the stylist taking care of them today.

When Mr. Sato caught wind of our members’ latest whim of fancy, he laughingly commented on how splendid a plan it sounded. Indeed it was–if only middle-aged men anywhere could become Kimutaku in the blink of an eye, the world might be a happier place.

First up was Takashi, who had been letting his hair grow out for seven months. “Well, well, don’t you already look a little like him?” Mr. Sato mused. This guy certainly knew how to raise his customers’ spirits right from the start!

The Kimutaku hairstyle that Takashi wanted to emulate was from the 2001 drama HERO. Before anything else, his unkempt hair needed a little trimming around the edges.

HERO had aired 19 years ago and that particular hairstyle did have a certain turn-of-the-century vibe to it. Takashi in turn worried that it might look lame on top of his head, but he put trust in the name of the mission.

▼ Go Hattori patiently waiting his turn in the back

Mr. Sato parted his bangs and ever so slightly curled the sides. A quick spray to set everything in place and it was done!

If Takashi could be so bold to say for himself…

…there was a strong resemblance to Kimutaku’s hair!

The back and the sides of his head were unmistakable replicas!

The front, however, left a little to be desired.

At the very least, Takashi definitely felt that he had distanced himself from Nobuyuki Shirota, the celebrity that he is most often compared to in likeness. It’s amazing how much a single change in hair can do.

▼ Takashi Harada (“Takataku”) final stage

With Takashi’s hair success paving the way, the four remaining members each had their hair styled in turn. Among them, Seiji had been growing his out for almost two years, and Ahiruneko had his hair trimmed with barber’s shears for the first time in his life. This wasn’t only a mission to become someone else, but an important new chapter in their cosmetic lives.

Finally, after much anticipation…

…the wait was over! We’ll showcase each of their results now one at a time.

Go Hattori had always envied Kimutaku’s luscious long locks in 1998’s Nemureru Mori. He himself sports long hair on a regular basis, so he was unsure how much a trip to the salon would be able to dramatically transform him. Lo and behold…

There was definitely something fresh about it, even if it wasn’t a drastically huge difference!

Go Hattori (“Hatotaku”) final stage

Ahiruneko’s hairstyle of choice was from last year’s Le Grande Maison Tokyo, in which Kimutaku’s characteristic ‘do is a perm. Since the drama had aired so recently it was sure to remain in many people’s memories. How would the look fare with Ahiruneko’s facial features, though…?

It turns out that it resulted in a fairly huge image change! Wow–the team felt it was good enough that he could be featured in a magazine spread. They all marveled over the close-cropped look and Ahiruneko himself lamented that he had never gotten a shorter cut earlier.

Ahiruneko (“Nekotaku”) final stage

Fourth in line was Seiji, whose dream style embodied what might be the hairstyle most frequently associated with Kimutaku–another long, side-swept ‘do.

Kimutaku’s appearance at this time embodied the pinnacle of his sexy, stylish status as a cultural icon, so Seiji was anxious to see how it would turn out on himself.

Upon completion, he did a dramatically slow spin for the rest of the team…


Was that Nagano (a comedian)…?

Maybe it was just his imagination, but that was his first reaction. The particular expression on his face didn’t exactly help much, either.

▼ Seiji Nakazawa (“Nakataku”) final stage

Yoshio, our final member, had decided to go for another variation look from Le Grande Maison Tokyo. Kimutaku plays a chef in this drama so the swept-back version lent a fresh crisp sense of cleanliness to his role. How would the look fare on Yoshio once he had removed his glasses…?

Unfortunately for him, the transformation only made him look even more like Kiichi Nakai, the actor to whom he’s already regularly compared.

Yup, no doubt about it. At this rate, he could even win a celebrity impersonation contest. He should’ve gone with a different Kimutaku-era hairstyle.

▼ Yoshio (“Yoshitaku”) final stage

While the five of them had some mixed results with the hair, they decided to further push the envelope by attending to their dress and appearance as well.

First up was a challenge to recreate a recent McDonald’s commercial starring Kimutaku. The ad had gotten quite a lot of buzz for the unusual way in which he held a burger in it. To further the likeness, they all bought matching shirts at Uniqlo as well. After taking great care to position their elbows correctly and gaze in the exact same direction, the official photo shoot began.


Something was off…

Despite having the same hair, pose, and sex as Kimutaku, the team felt a bit disappointed that they couldn’t seem to achieve the same cool-guy vibe as the icon himself.

However, not to be completely thrown for a loop, the members decided to keep moving forward because of one minor complication–the hairspray holding their new ‘dos together had a fixed limit and once the clock struck 12 they would revert back into regular middle-aged dudes. 

They quickly sprung into action for the next challenge based on another commercial Kimutaku starred in for Suntory’s Kinmugi beer:

This shot perhaps came out a little better, but it still looked like they were just fooling around. Maybe some sunglasses would make them appear edgier.

They looked a tiny bit cooler, but their similarity to Kimutaku hadn’t increased. Perhaps the addition of some gentleman-like refinery would do the trick. They donned some suits next.

They had transformed into salarymen…or rather, a slightly scary-looking mob. Still undeterred, they attempted to create a group pose like on an album cover or CD jacket:

▼ OK, definitely goofing around here

For their final trump card, they parodied the covers of two famous SMAP songs, including 24th single “Dynamite” (1997):

…and 5th single “Egao no Genki” (1992):

They quickly decided that these alternate versions would never sell.

There was something about the way that true idols can subtly adjust their expressions and overall auras that they would never be able to capture. It was at this point that they finally realized what Kimutaku had that they were missing– overwhelmingly above-average facial features. The moment they were able to accept this hard truth, one more realization dawned on them.

Even if they could never get truly close to Kimutaku’s status as an icon, to paraphrase from what is perhaps SMAP’s most famous song of all (2003’s “Sekai ni Hitosu Dake no Hana”), each one of them was the only one flower in the world…and each unique in their own ways.

All images © SoraNews24
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