"TOKYO (AFP) - Forget about the courageous chivalry or serene mental concentration of the feudal-era samurai. Japan's coolest samurai today is clad in a dazzling golden kimono and shaking his hips to the rhythm of the samba.
Until 2003, Ken Matsudaira, fondly called by the nickname "Matsuken", was known in Japan as a solemn actor playing a heroic shogun in a television drama series that lasted for a quarter of a century.
But in a sign of a changing Japan, the feudal fighter is now swaying to a giddy beat from halfway across the globe.
He has caused a sensation among young and old alike with CDs of his latest song, the "Matsuken Samba II", complete with DVDs of his choreographer giving dancing tips, selling 500,000 copies. Other Matsuken goods on sale range from golden kimonos to top-knot wigs to postal stamps.
The audience goes wild with excitement as the one-time stoic hero, with snow-white make-up and glittering strands of hair dangling from the temples, appears on stage with a horde of gaudy female dancers.
"Hit the bongo, sound the samba!" Matsuken breaks into song, skipping about as the modern-day samurai invites young men and women to dance all night with him."
To hear a sample please