Yamashita Tomohisa (山下智久) was born in Chiba, Japan on April 9, 1985. He is an idol of Johnny's Entertainment, which he joined at the age of 11. He became part of Johnny's juniors because he greatly respected Takizawa Hideaki of the same agency. He graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo in the spring of 2008. Nicknames for Yamashita include Yamapi (coined by Takizawa Hideaki) or simply "Pi".
During his junior time, Yamashita was in two different groups. The first of these groups was B.I.G., and then in a more well known group 4Tops, who also were the elite of the juniors. After leading juniors Takizawa Hideaki and Tsubasa Imai debuted together, Yamashita became the unofficial leader of juniors. Yamashita debuted in 2003 with 8 other juniors in the group NEWS as the leader of the group.
Yamashita has also appeared in many dorama roles to critical acclaim. He had his first drama role in 1998, but the first role to get him widespread attention was the role of Mizuno Shun in Ikebukuro West Gate Park in 2000. He won the award "Best Supporting Actor" for this role in the Japanese Television Academy Awards, which is awarded for every drama season.
In 2005, Yamashita appeared in two dramas, Dragon Zakura and Nobuta wo Produce, both to high ratings and critical acclaim. A temporary unit with KAT-TUN's Kamenashi Kazuya (also a Johnny's group member) was formed to promote Nobuta wo Produce. The unit was named "Shuji to Akira," after the characters that the two actors portrayed in the drama.
Shuji to Akira released one single, Seishun Amigo, the title track of which is the theme of Nobuta wo Produce. The single debuted at #1 on the Oricon charts in the last two weeks of 2005, moving enough units to top the year as the #1 single of the year. Sales carrying over into 2006 were high enough that they also ranked in the yearly charts of 2006 (with only the copies sold in 2006) as #4 of the year. To date, this single has sold over 1.6 million copies and is the #6 single since 2000 (as of April 24th, 2006).
During the hiatus of NEWS in 2006, Yamashita Tomohisa was also the first NEWS member to debut solo, with the single Daite Señorita, the title track of which was the theme song of Yamashita's drama of the same year/season, Kurosagi.
During the same hiatus and year, he formed a temporary unit with the two Thai Johnny's brothers and other Johnny's Jr. The unit was named Kitty GYM, and the purpose was to support the Japanese team in the FIVB Volleyball World Championships 2006. The temporary unit released one single, Fever to Future.
On New Year's Eve for 2007, NEWS returned as a group. Yamashita Tomohisa continued as the leader of NEWS until October 2011 when he left the group to pursue a solo career.
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