(Saitama Prefecture, 1955- )
Born Haga Takayuki in the city of Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Tokoro Joji (pronounced like George) is one of Japan's perennially popular TV personalities. He always ranks in the top 10 in the NHK polls of most popular male stars (No. 1 in 1997, No. 3 in 2000). He's a happy-go-lucky kind of guy with a reputation for being intelligent and stylish, in a young, grungy kind of way. He is also known as a serious collector, in particular of cars and bikes.
Tokoro Joji is far more laid back than his contemporaries, Beat Takeshi and Sanma. Though he is known as a comedian, he started out as a singer. Though he can still be seen performing as a musician, he usually just dispenses dry wit and style points on variety shows. He is also in demand for TV commercials as he is seen as someone with individuality and that people can trust. Popular commercials include those for Mr Donuts, Kirin Beer and Toyota, in which he larked about with his own dog. He is also active as an actor, writer and illustrator.
He appeared in Kurosawa Akira's last film Madadayo (Not Yet) in 1993. At the other end of the scale, he was the voice of Alf in the Japanese dubbed version of the American TV show.