It’s known that baseball super star pitcher TANAKA Masahiro – who currently plays for the New York Yankees – makes his entrance on the pitch accompanied by the music of the five member female idol group, Momoiro Clover Z.
Japan has a unique “idol” culture; loved by young people and children, female groups are particularly popular.
One contemporary characteristic can be seen in groups like AKB48: “They’re accessible idols who fans can easily meet.”
Through meet and greet events, photo opportunities and high fives, they provide excellent service to their fans.
In recent years, AKB48 has held a “senbatsu sousenkyo” (selection general election) at the end of spring, and this has generated a considerable buzz among young people.
The term “sousenkyo” is used to describe the general election of the House of Representatives, but nowadays websites related to AKB48 rank higher in an Internet keyword search.
The aim of the AKB48 general election is to select members to sing their next single with a vote.
One vote is given to passionate fans who purchase CDs, and so forth; they vote for their favorite idol from among the member candidates.
The idol who comes top in the election, can stand in the center of the stage.
Some years ago former member MAEDA Atsuko caused a stir when coming first in the election by saying, “Even if you don’t like me, don’t dislike AKB48.”
Japanese female idols in their cute costumes resemble anime characters.
K-pop idols, such as KARA and Shojo Jidai (Girls’ Generation), who are often compared to them, look like models, have an good sense of style and go through a strict regime of singing and dancing lessons before their debut.
Their sales point is their polished adult appeal.
Another characteristic of Japanese female idols is that fans support idols making their debut, and enjoy the process of their progress.
It’s been said that behind the scenes there is the influence of lolikon (sexual attraction to young girls) otaku culture.
Pink Lady, a female duo that appeared about 40 years ago, could be said to have been the first idol group; many of their tracks sold over a million copies.
After that, female idol groups, such as Onyanko Club and Morning Musume, appeared and were very popular.
Sister AKB48 groups have been formed in Nagoya, Osaka, Hakata, Shanghai and Jakarta.
The public is increasingly familiar with female idols and local female idol groups have appeared in many places all over Japan.
They have lent their services to town revitalization projects, corporate advertising, support for areas struck by disaster and more.
Idol culture has become so diversified that new terms, including “baradoru” (variety program idols) and “mamadoru” (idols that have become mothers), have been created.
However, some people have criticized them by saying that Japanese female idols are just cute, but have no talent for singing and dancing.
On the other hand, many people are sympathetic to them as the time they actually spend in the spotlight is short, their income is low and they face severe competition against other members.
In addition, some people point out that those engaged in the idol business are only interested in scouting girls while they’re cute, but not in developing their potential talent or in their future.
Nevertheless, it is true that they are granting girls the dream of becoming idols.
Japanese idol culture manufactures “girl next door” idols that the majority of girls can relate to.
(From June issue, 2014 / 2014年6月号より）
(the) New York Yankees
go/5 nin yunitto no
five [unit] member
(the) idol group
Momoiro Kuro-ba- Z
Momoiro Clover Z
makes (his) entrance
aidoru’ bunka ga
(an) idol culture
ai ni ikeru
(who) can (easily) meet
(through) meet and greet events
(and) high fives
service to (their) fans
In recent years
haru ga owaru koro ni
at (the) end of spring
“senbatsu sou’senkyo” o/wo
(a) selection general election
has held and
(this) has generated
Sousenkyo to iu
female idols [group]
making (their) debut
shinka shite iku
(the) process (of)
Kono haikei niwa/ha,
behind (the) scenes
sexual attraction to young girls
(it)’s been said
josei dhuo no
(a) female duo
Pinku Redhi- wa/ha,
could be said
to have been
mirion sera- to
(a) million copies
have been formed
yori miji/dika na mono ni nari,
(the public) is increasingly familiar with and
many places all over Japan
(female) idol groups
town revitalization projects
support for areas struck by disaster
kouken shite imasu.
have lent (their) services
(hahaoya ni natta aidoru)
idols that have become mothers
have been created
has become diversified
sainou ga nai
have no talent
have criticized (them)
hitotachi mo imasu.
on the other hand
(they) actually spend in