The relationship hasn’t exactly been a secret, but it came as a surprise anyway. 

A lot of hearts were broken when superstar Japanese boyband SMAP broke up. Though it’s been five years and the members are all still active with individual careers, the memory still hurts for some of us. But fans should be glad to know that the individual members of SMAP seem to be doing great post-breakup, both personally and professionally. In fact, the youngest member of the group, Shingo Katori, just got married.

▼ Shingo Katori

Katori, who is 44 years old, announced his marriage through his agency on December 28, but what really surprised fans was the news that he has been quietly dating his now-wife for 25 years. Essentially that means that he and his wife had been together since he was a teenager. His wife, who is not famous and whose identity hasn’t been revealed, is said to be two years older than him.

Apparently, they met in 1997 while SMAP was being featured in a magazine, and lately have been spotted occasionally going on dates together without any attempt at disguise or to hide from the press. In 2016 they traveled to Hawaii together and were seen with a young boy, and rumors that he and his girlfriend had a child together arose, but Katori has said on TV that he was the child of a friend and has never admitted to having a child of his own.

▼ Katori is also famous for his female persona, Shingo-mama.

Japanese fans were touched by the announcement that he married his longtime girlfriend, and no one seemed to resent Katori’s marriage, as some idol fans are wont to do.

“Wow! They managed to date so long without being sniffed out for the most part and without any (relationship shattering) betrayals.”
“People who have been fans of Shingo Katori since he was young are probably shocked to hear that he was dating someone for 25 years, but at this level, we should all publicly state how grateful we are that he protected the dreams of his fans for so long!”
“I’m really impressed by the woman’s mental strength in waiting 25 years to get married when she probably desperately wanted to.”
“25 years is amazing! That’s a true marriage there. What a way to do it.”
“When male celebrities date non-show business women for a long time, they tend to scrap older women and marry a younger, prettier girl, but I’m glad he didn’t do that.”
“If it were me, I’d have thought there was no prospect of marriage and cut the relationship off. This must be the perseverance of women. Wow.”

Though many netizens speculated that it was Katori who made his girlfriend wait, it could very well have been the other way around. Marriage seems to have been a long-awaited dream for him, as various comments he made over the last few years indicated he had a desire to get married. In 2017, when the topic of getting married was brought up on Fuij TV show Bokura no Jidai, Katori said “There’s no way I wouldn’t. I’m already in my 40s, so I really think I will.” In 2019 at a Christmas product PR event, he said his ideal Christmas Day celebration would be spending time with his wife and children at home.

▼ Katori posing with a Paralympic athlete on the TV show 7.2 Atarashii Betsu no Mado

But it didn’t seem like he felt sure he would be married any time soon. In 2019 on the ABEMA TV show 7.2 Atarashii Betsu no Mado, he said, “As for whether I’ll be getting married sooner or later, I think it’s probably closer to ‘later,’ as everyone thinks.” Whether that meant Katori was the one holding back or his girlfriend, we’ll probably never know.

We do know that Katori’s marriage comes on the eve of a successful year for him as an actor and celebrity, which could have contributed to his decision. At the beginning of this year, he had his first starring role in a drama since the breakup of SMAP in Anonymous, and he served as a special supporter for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics. He is also starring in the upcoming special drama about the Pacific War, London no Yamamoto Isoroku, which is a hot topic among drama fans.

▼ And of course, he continues to be active as a member of the group Atarashii Chizu, together with former SMAP members Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Goro Inagaki.

Katori is the fourth former member of SMAP to be married. Katsuyuki Mori, who left the band in 1996 to pursue a career in motorcycle racing, married in 1998. Handsome heartthrob Takuya Kimura married pop singer and actress Shizuka Kudo in 2000, and his daughter is now a famous model. Finally, fellow Atarashii Chizu member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi announced his marriage this time last year, making Shingo’s announcement one year later even more interesting for fans.

Though he is now married, Katori says he is going to continue to be active as a musician and actor. “I’ll still be continuing to seriously pursue my work,” he said. “Thank you for all of your support.” He’s scheduled to make his next TV appearance with his fellow Atarashii Chizu bandmates on 7.2 Atarashii Betsu no Mado on January 1, so it’ll be interesting to see if he mentions anything about his new marriage or shows any signs of being a happy newlywed!

Source: Sponichi Annex via Hachima Kiko, Hochi News
Top image: Gahag

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