Planetoids immortalize sci-fi hero

Kyodo

Two minor planets that were found in 1995 and given names in honor of the science fiction hero “Kamen Rider” and the TV actor who portrayed the character have been registered with the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union Circulars in the United States, according to a local planetarium official.

The asteroids are named Kamenrider and Fujioka, named after actor Hiroshi Fujioka, 54, who played the motorcycle-riding superhero in a TV series.

Akimasa Nakamura, 39, an employee of the Kuma Kogen planetarium in Kuma, Ehime Prefecture, found the two planetoids. They were the 26th and 27th new asteroids he has found.

Kamenrider has a diameter of 5 km and is some 140 million km away from Earth. Fujioka is 6 km in diameter and about 170 million km from Earth. Both asteroids are located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and take 3.7 years to go around the sun.

Said Nakamura: “I watched ‘Kamen Rider’ on television when I was an elementary and a junior high school student. So I gave the names to the minor planets to encourage Mr. Fujioka.”

And Fujioka: “It is a great honor for me and I am moved. And I am even more pleased that the stars were found in my hometown. ‘Kamen Rider’ is just like another self and so it is great and wonderful that it and my family name will be the names of stars forever.”

“Kamen Rider” (“Masked Rider”) was made into a cartoon by animation artist Shotaro Ishinomori , who died in January 1998. It was and later made into a live-action TV series.

Nakamura has mainly named asteroids he has found after people and places related to Ehime Prefecture and his home prefecture of Yamaguchi.

Among the other planetoids he has found are: Shinsaku, named after Takasugi Shinsaku, a patriot in the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate who hailed from Yamaguchi; and Juzoitami, named after the late film director Juzo Itami, known for such films as “Tampopo” (“Dandelion”) and “Ososhiki” (“The Funeral”), who graduated from a high school here.