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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Bringing Japanese Pop Culture to the World

[From June Issue 2015]



In March 2015, the “TOKYO IDOL PROJECT” to promote Japan’s idol (pop star) culture in and outside Japan, was launched. HAMADA Shunya – who works as an account producer for the Content Division of Fuji TV – stated at a press conference for the event, “By communicating the appeal of idols, not just to their existing fans, but also to the general public, I hope to get the nation and Tokyo fired up about the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.”

Five groups of idols – Denpagumi. Inc., Idoling!!!, Babyraids JAPAN, Negicco and HKT48 – made an appearance at the same press conference to perform songs. They then talked about their ambition “to let people know Japan has wonderful idols in every region” and “to help the world discover positive aspects of Japan through us idols.”

A large number of idols are active in Japan’s entertainment business. Most are all female or all male groups with two to a few dozen members. As a rule, their popularity is based not on their beauty, nor on their singing and dancing abilities, but on their cuteness, friendliness, and dedication. Nowadays, idols have branched out into different fields; for instance there are also so-called local idols whose role is to advertise a particular product or region.

Typically, Japanese fans not only watch their favorite idol’s performance but also root enthusiastically for them to become more famous, or for their status to rise within the group. That’s why many people attend fan events such as meet-and-greet sessions. Some of these events are large enough to be broadcast live on TV. Idols and the movements spawned by their fans have become part of Japan’s pop culture and their popularity is on the rise overseas, more particularly in Asia.

The TOKYO IDOL PROJECT was launched to further promote this idol culture. It broadcasts details of the idols’ activities and charms through various media, including television, the web, magazines, newspapers, and radio. It’s mostly female idols that are covered and at the time of writing, there are four main points through which the campaign is run.

The TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL is one of these projects and is a large scale event that has been held since 2010. In 2014, 138 groups of idols performed and more than 40,000 spectators attended. This year it’ll be held on August 1 and 2 at Odaiba, Tokyo.

TOKYO IDOL PROJECT LIVE is the main vehicle for TOKYO IDOL PROJECT and will be held every month in different parts of Japan. TOKYO IDOL WEB is one of the world’s largest idol websites offering, among other things, articles, and videos of lives shows. The website is unusual in that it aims to redefine idols by publishing essays about idols by its columnists. TOKYO IDOL PROJECT TV broadcasts clips from concerts and provides up-to-date information about idols.


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