Entering the J-pop scene in the early ‘90s, Masaharu Fukuyama, nicknamed Masha, retained steady popularity for years to come, thanks to a combination of great looks (he charts in the "sexiest" lists regularly) and sweet pop/rock melodies that he mostly writes himself. He is also an accomplished TV actor and a product endorser who starred in ads for Panasonic, Apple, Dunlop, and Toshiba, as well as a radio host, a producer, and a prominent photographer.
Fukuyama was born in 1969 in Nagasaki and debuted as a musician in 1990 with the single "Tsuioku no Ame no Naka" and the album Dengon, out on BMG. He released three more albums in 1991-1992, and made his TV debut in 1991, but broke through only in 1992 on the strength of the single "Good Night" that received wide exposure due to a tie-in with the drama Ai wa Dou Da, in which he starred as himself. Fukuyama did his first big tour the same year, cementing his popularity, and started his radio show, which ran until 1998; by 1993 his fifth album, Calling, topped the Oricon and shifted 450,000 units, and Fukuyama himself received an invitation to the New Year TV show Kohaku Uta Gassen, which is the ultimate measure of success for a Japanese pop artist. He had his first -- but not only -- million seller in 1994 with the single "It's Only Love/Sorry Baby," and topped the charts with the album On and On, but then slowed down his recording activities for the rest of the ‘90s, releasing only one album, Sing a Song (1998); he made up for this with a number of TV dramas, and his singles continued to sell like hotcakes.
He returned to music in full force in the beginning of the 2000s (switching to Universal in the process): his single "Sakura Zaka" sold over two-million copies, and the album made it to number two and shifted 870,000 more. Fukuyama also worked as a photographer for TV Asahi at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and reinstated his radio show the same year. The single "Niji/Himawari/Sore ga Subete Sa" (2003), tied in with the drama Water Boys, topped the charts for five weeks, but the new album didn't arrive until 2006, when "Go-nen Mono" scored another number one. In 2007, Fukuyama played his first TV drama role in four years in Galileo, which brought him the Best Actor Award at the Japanese TV drama award ceremony, and formed the band KOH+ with Kou Shibasaki, his partner in the series. KOH+ had two singles out in 2007-2008, but in 2009, Fukuyama returned to solo work, releasing Zankyo, which again charted at number one. He also opened his own photo gallery in Nagasaki in 2008 and scored the title role in the 2010 season of the historical Taiga drama, the ultimate staple of Japanese TV.