Hello! Project (ハロー!プロジェクト Harō! Purojekuto ) is the umbrella name for all female idol Japanese pop recording artists collective that are under contract with the Up-Front Group. The "mothership" group of Hello! Project is the super-group Morning Musume. The main producer and songwriter is Tsunku, the lead singer of Sharam Q.
In 1997, Japanese rock group Sharam Q, fronted by Tsunku, began auditions for a female vocalist. These auditions aired via reality show Asayan, and resulted in Michiyo Heike being crowned winner. Tsunku, however, decided to give five of the runners-up, Yuko Nakazawa, Natsumi Abe, Kaori Iida, Asuka Fukuda and Aya Ishiguro, a chance to become a group in their own right. The girls were set the task of selling 50,000 copies of first single "Ai no Tane", their demo single, in just five days. The girls sold the required number of copies in four days, and subsequently became an official group.
Morning Musume's debut single, "Morning Coffee", was released on January 28, 1998 on the One Up Music label and charted at #6 on the Oricon weekly chart. The group's first official appearance was a joint live in August 1998, at Shibuya Public Hall (now Shibuya C.C. Lemon Hall), under the name "Michiyo Heike and Morning Musume" (平家みちよとモーニング娘。), the fanclub of the two acts called "Hello!". The first official "units" were Tanpopo and Petitmoni, created in October 1998. The first "Michiyo Heike & Morning Musume Imotōbun Audition" took place, resulting in the "second generation" of Morning Musume to be added, made up of Sayaka Ichii, Mari Yaguchi and Kei Yasuda.
In January 1999, auditions for Country Musume were held on "Idol o Sagase!" (アイドルをさがせ! Search For an Idol! ). In April of that year the girls' official fanclub was renamed "Hello! Project". Auditions were once again held on Asayan between April and July, resulting in Taiyō to Ciscomoon and Coconuts Musume, with Country Musume's official formation announced. In July, the first live concert as Hello! Project, "Hello! Project '99 at Yokohama Arena", was held.
In March 2001, Morning Musume co-founder and leader Yuko Nakazawa announced her graduation from the group. The actual graduation took place in April, and Nakazawa was subsequently named as leader of the entirety of Hello! Project. Nakazawa's was the first graduation in the history of Hello! Project, and garnered considerable media attention as a result, the first time the group had truly caught the attention of the mainstream press.
Between April and June 2002, the first, and to date only, Hello! Project Kids auditions were held. These auditions resulted in the future members of Japanese idol groups Berryz Kobo and C-ute, who would go on to debut in March 2004 and February 2007 respectively, also spawning off-shoot auditions such as auditions for Hello! Pro Egg and Hello! Project Kansai. On July 31, a major reform of all of the groups within Hello! Project began, which was referred to as "Haromageddon" (ハローマゲドン) (a pun on Hello (ハロー, Harō) and Armageddon (ハルマゲドン, "Harumagedon")) and "the 7/31 incident" by fans.
In February 2006, former Morning Musume member and sub-leader of duo W, Ai Kago was caught smoking in public while underage and dating a much older man. Kago was suspended from her activities and eventually began an attempt to return to recording.
On March 26, 2007, Kago was again caught smoking. Her contract was instantly terminated and she underwent no graduation ceremony, as had become standard for leaving members, due to having disgraced herself. In June, it was announced that Asami Konno, who had graduated from Hello! Project a year prior to study at university, would be returning. Konno became the first person to have graduated from Hello! Project to return. In October Tsunku established a new unit, the Nice Girl Project, as well as The Possible, a group made up of Hello! Pro Eggs. Soon after, Maki Goto, who had been inactive for some time, graduated from Hello! Project as a soloist. She later transferred to Avex.
In February 2007, C-ute officially debuted with the single Sakura Chirari. In 2007, Hello! Project started the Taiwanese "Morning Family New Star Audition"; an audition aimed at recruiting new Taiwanese members to join Hello! Project.
In April 2008, the debut of Hello! Project Kansai group Sina (SI☆NA) was announced. The group still have yet to actually debut; though they occasionally appear on television shows and radio they have never recorded a song. In September it was announced that, as a result of the Taiwanese auditions, the group Ice Creamusume (アイスクリー娘。) would be formed, consisting of six members. Duo Francis & Aiko, both still only children, was also announced from the same audition. On October 19, 2008, Hello! Project announced its entire Elder Club would be graduating on March 31, 2009. 2008 also marked the first time in a decade that Morning Musume had not performed at the annual Kōhaku Uta Gassen event, after ten consecutive appearances. The only Hello! Project member to appear on that year's show was Mai Satoda, marking the first appearance of a member of Country Musume.
In February 2009, it was announced that Hello! Project would begin a series of auditions in South Korea. On February 1, 2009, at the Yokohama Arena, Hello! Project held its largest concert ever—the Hello! Pro Awards '09: Elder Club Graduation Special (決定！ハロ☆プロアワード’０９ ～エルダークラブ卒業記念スべシャル～ Kettei! Hello Pro Awards '09: Elder Club Sotsugyō Kinen Special )—featuring 21 groups and 72 members. Former Morning Musume member Nozomi Tsuji performed in her first official event in a year and nine months, after marrying actor Taiyō Sugiura in June 2007 and giving birth to her daughter, Noa, that November. During the concert, former Hello! Project leader Yuko Nakazawa passed her leadership position to Morning Musume leader Ai Takahashi. This mass-graduation caused another large surge of fan backlash, resulting in even more fanclub cancellations and merchandise boycotts, and is considered the "third coming of Haromageddon". Later in 2009, several of the old, dormant units were revived. Tanpopo, Minimoni, Petitmoni, ZYX, Aa! and v-u-den all returned with new line-ups, and High-King returned from hiatus with its original members. These groups became a new concert unit, "Champloo". In April 2009, Tsunku announced a new group consisting of four Hello! Pro Egg members, named S/mileage. They would later go on to have their official debut in May 2010 with the single 'Yume Miru 15'.
In August 2009, Morning Musume released their 40th single, 'Nanchatte Ren'ai'.
On September 30, 2011, Ai Takahashi graduated and handed her position as leader of Morning Musume and Hello! Project over to Risa Niigaki. In 2011, the most members were added since Hello! Project Kids back in 2002 - Morning Musume's 9th generation in January, S/mileage's 2nd generation in August, and Morning Musume's 10th generation in September.
On January 2, at the Hello! Project 2012 Winter concert, Morning Musume leader Risa Niigaki announced that she would graduate at the end of Morning Musume's 2012 Spring tour. In July 2012, Morning Musume released their 50th single, 'One Two Three / The Matenrō Show'.
In the last concert of the Winter 2013 Hello! Project concert, a new unit consisting of Hello! Pro Kenshuusei members Miyamoto Karin, Kanazawa Tomoko, Uemura Akari, Otsuka Aina and Takagi Sayuki, and Miyazaki Yuka was announced, although it has been stated that this is not the definite lineup and members may change about if they are to officially debut. It was subsequently announced on February 25 that the new unit would be called Juice=Juice and it would very soon release its first indie single. At a Hello Project concert series held on March 2–3, Juice=Juice already premiered the song.
Line-up as of 2013 
Hello! Project 
- Morning Musume
- Berryz Kobo
- Cute (°C-ute)
- Aika Mitsui
- Tokyo Girls' Style
- Hello! Project Eggs (ハロプロエッグ)
Hello! Project leaders 
|#||Name||Period of time|
|1st||Yuko Nakazawa||April 15, 2001 - March 31, 2009|
|2nd||Ai Takahashi||April 2009 - September 30, 2011|
|3rd||Risa Niigaki||October 1, 2011 - May 18, 2012|
|4th||Sayumi Michishige||May 19, 2012 - current|
Main Group Leaders 
|Group||Name||Period of time*|
|Morning Musume||Sayumi Michishige||May 19, 2012 – present|
|Berryz Kobo||Saki Shimizu||January 14, 2004 – present|
|Cute||Maimi Yajima||December, 2006 – present|
|S/mileage||Ayaka Wada||April 4, 2009 – present|
* All except Michishige have been leaders of their respective groups since formation.
Former artists and groups 
To leave Hello! Project is referred to as a graduation (卒業 sotsugyō ). There is also the possibility of a singer graduating from a subgroup and remaining in Hello! Project as a soloist.
A graduation is a member's final performance either with Morning Musume or one of its many subgroups or associated acts, in which case they are either beginning a solo career or new group within Hello! Project— or, rarely, leaving the Hello! Project umbrella entirely. These departures are usually voluntary and amicable.
The magazine Friday has, on three occasions, published photographs of Morning Musume members that has caused them either to quit the group or be fired. These members are Mari Yaguchi, Miki Fujimoto and Ai Kago. Because of these "scandals", and their subsequent sudden departures from the group, Mari Yaguchi and Miki Fujimoto are the only members of Morning Musume to have not undergone a "graduation ceremony" from the band before starting or resuming a solo career. Yaguchi was photographed with her then-boyfriend Shun Oguri in 2005, and although 22 at the time left voluntarily, stating that she could not maintain the "idol" image required to stay in the group. Yaguchi did have a graduation ceremony three years earlier when she departed MiniMoni, the subgroup she co-founded, in 2002, but did not receive another. Fujimoto was photographed with boyfriend Shōji Tomoharu (whom she later married) in 2007. Ai Kago, although having a graduation ceremony from Morning Musume, did not have a ceremony for leaving Hello! Project, since her repeated scandals resulted in her contract being dissolved and later fired from the agency.
All four of the main groups in Hello! Project (Morning Musume, Berryz Kobo, C-ute and S/mileage) have all had at least one graduation within the group.
Conversely, Melon Kinenbi is the only group in the history of Hello! Project to not undergo a graduation or other personnel change in its entire existence.
Disbanded groups 
Shuffle units 
Concert units 
Former artists 
One-shot and special units 
Acts and performances 
- Hello! Morning (ハロー!モーニング。) on TV Tokyo
- Utaban (うたばん) on TBS
- Haromoni@ (ハロモニ＠) on TV Tokyo
- Yorosen! (よろセン!) on TV Tokyo
- Hello Pro! Time (ハロプロ!TIME) on TV Tokyo
|Name||Start date||End date||Performances||Release format (date)|
|1st Concert "Hello!"||July 12, 1998||July 27, 1998||3 in 3 cities||VHS|
|Hello! Project Happy New Year '99||January 2, 1999||January 3, 1999||2 in 1 cities||VHS|
|Hello! Project Summer Concert '99||August 14, 1999||August 26, 1999||4 in 3 cities||VHS|
|Hello! Project Happy New Year 2000||January 2, 2000||January 30, 2000||16 in 3 cities||VHS|
|Hello! Project 2000 Atsumare! Summer Party||July 15, 2000||September 10, 2000||In 12 cities||VHS|
|Hello! Project 2001 Sugoizo! Nijū-seiki||January 2, 2001||February 25, 2001||19 in 3 cities||VHS|
|Hello! Project 2001 Together! Summer Party!||July 14, 2001||July 29, 2001||13 in 3 cities||VHS, DVD|
|Hello! Project 2002 ~Kotoshi mo Sugoizo~||January 2, 2002||February 17, 2002||28 in 7 cities||VHS, DVD (March 20, 2002)|
|Hello! Project 2002 ~One Happy Summer Day~||July 13, 2002||July 28, 2002||12 in 3 cities||VHS, DVD (October 17, 2002)|
|Hello! Project 2003 Winter ~Tanoshinjattemasu!~||January 2, 2003||February 2, 2003||25 in 4 cities||VHS, DVD (March 19, 2003)|
|Hello! Project 2003 Summer ~Yosha! Bikkuri Summer!!~||July 19, 2003||July 27, 2003||12 in 3 cities||VHS, DVD (October 8, 2003)|
|Hello! Project 2004 Winter ~C'mon! Dance World~||January 3, 2004||January 25, 2004||23 in 4 cities||DVD (March 17, 2004)|
|Hello! Project 2004 Summer ~Natsu no Dōn!~||July 17, 2004||August 1, 2004||12 in 3 cities||DVD (October 6, 2004)|
|Hello! Project 2005 Winter All Stars Dairanbu
~A Happy New Power! Kaori Iida Graduation Special~
|January 29, 2005
||January 30, 2005
||2 in Yokohama
||DVD (March 16, 2005)|
|Hello! Project 2005 Natsu no Kayō Show ~'05 Selection Collection!~||July 10, 2005||July 24, 2005||8 in 3 cities||DVD (October 5, 2005)|
|Hello! Project 2006 Winter ~Zeninshū Go!~
||January 28, 2006
||January 29, 2006
||2 in Yokohama
||DVD (cancelled original release: March 29, 2006. Released later as a fan club item on December 20, 2008)|
|Hello! Project 2006 Summer ~Wonderful Hearts Land~||July 9, 2006||July 23, 2006||7 in 3 cities||DVD (October 4, 2006)|
|Hello! Project 2007 Winter Shūketsu! 10th Anniversary
||January 27, 2007
||January 28, 2007
||3 in Yokohama
||DVD (4-disc DVD set including footage from the three concerts and backstage, Winter Shūketsu! 10th Anniversary: March 28, 2007)|
|Hello! Project 2007 Summer 10th Anniversary Dai Kanshasai
~Hello☆Pro Natsu Matsuri!~
|July 15, 2007||July 29, 2007||11 in 3 cities||DVD (October 16, 2007)|
|Hello! Project 2008 Winter ~Kettei! Hello☆Pro Awards '08~
||January 26, 2008
||January 27, 2008
||3 in Yokohama
||DVD (Kettei! Hello☆Pro Awards '08, Kashimashi Elder Club, Wonderful Hearts Nenjū Mukyū: March 26, 2008)|
|Hello! Project 2008 Summer Wonderful Hearts Kōen
~Hishochi de Date Itashima Show~
|July 19, 2008||August 3, 2008||11 in 3 cities||DVD (October 22, 2008)|
|Hello! Project 2009 Winter
Kettei! Hello☆Pro Awards '09 ~Elder Club Graduation Special~
|January 31, 2009
||February 2, 2009
||3 in Yokohama
||DVD (Thank You For Your Love!, Kakumei Gannen: March 25, 2009, Kettei! Hello☆Pro Awards '09 ~Elder Club Graduation Special: April 15, 2009)|
|Hello! Project 2009 Summer Kakumei Gannen ~Hello! Champloo~||July 19, 2009||August 3, 2009||12 in 3 cities||DVD (November 14, 2009)|
|Hello! Project 2010 Winter Kachō Fūgetsu ~Shuffle Date~
||January 5, 2010
||January 24, 2010
||8 in 3 cities
||DVD (Shuffle Date: March 31, 2010, Mobekimasu: April 8, 2010), Blu-ray Disc (Shuffle Date and Mobekimasu: August 4, 2010)|
|Hello! Project 2010 Summer ~Fankora!~||July 18, 2010||August 8, 2010||13 in 4 cities||DVD (October 27, 2010), Blu-ray Disc (December 15, 2010)|
|Hello! Project 2011 Winter ~Kangei Shinsen Matsuri~||January 2, 2011||January 23, 2011||20 in 3 cities||DVD (A Gana Live, B Kkuri Live: April 27, 2011), Blu-ray Disc (a Full Edition: May 18, 2011)|
|Hello! Project 2011 Summer ~Nippon no Mirai wa~||July 16, 2011||August 14, 2011||18 in 3 cities||DVD (Wow Wow Live, Yeah Yeah Live: November 16, 2011), Blu-ray Disc (a Full Edition: December 14, 2012)|
|Hello! Project 2012 Winter ~Hello☆Pro Tengoku~||January 2, 2012||January 22, 2012||19 in 3 cities||DVD (Rock Zzang, Punky Zzang: April 11, 2012), Blu-ray Disc (a Full Edition: May 16, 2012)|
|Hello! Project Tanjou 15th Anniversary Live 2012 Summer||July 21, 2011||August 19, 2011||18 in 3 cities||DVD (Ktkr, Wkwk: November 14, 2012), Blu-ray Disc (a Full Edition: December 5, 2012)|
|Hello! Project Tanjou 15th Anniversary Live 2013 Winter||January 2, 2013||February 3, 2013||24 in 4 cities|
- Ribbon no Kishi: The Musical (August 1, 2006 – August 27, 2006)
- Cinderella: The Musical (2008)
- Fashionable: The Musical (2010)
Sports festivals 
- Hello! Project Daiundōkai (March 31, 2001 at Saitama Super Arena)
- Hello! Project Daiundōkai (November 3, 2002 at Osaka Dome)
- Hello! Project Sports Festival 2003 (November 16, 2003 at Osaka Dome)
- Hello! Project Sports Festival 2003 (November 22, 2003 at Tokyo Dome)
- Hello! Project Sports Festival 2004 (November 14, 2004 at Toyota Stadium)
- Hello! Project Sports Festival 2004 (December 5, 2004 at Saitama Super Arena)
- Hello! Project Sports Festival 2006 ~Hello!Diva Athlete~ (March 19, 2006 at Saitama Super Arena)
See also 
- "New Star Audition website" (in Chinese). helloproject.com.tw. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
- "New Star Audition information" (in Chinese). helloproject.com.tw. May 13, 2008. Retrieved June 22, 2008.
- "Ice creamusume blog" (in Chinese). Pixnet. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
- "Elder Club members to graduate from Hello! Project". Hello!Online. October 19, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2008.
- "Japanese Girl Band Seeks Korean Member". The Korea Times. February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2009.
- "Japan's Hello! Project to Recruit Korean Members" (in Japanese). Yonhap News. February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2009.[dead link]
- "The end of an era: Elder Club graduates". Hello!Online. February 1, 2009.
- "ハロプロ研修生内、新ユニット結成のお知らせ。". オフィシャルファンクラブWebサイト Hello! Project (in Japanese). 3 February 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "ハロプロ研修生のユニット名決定". Daily Sports Online (in Japanese). 2013-02-25. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- "新アイドルユニット“Juice=Juice”、ハロプロ公演でデビュー曲初披露". De View (Oricon). 2013-03-04. Retrieved 2013-04-02.
- "Ｓ/ｍｉｌｅａｇｅ ユニット名 由来・意味について" (in Japanese). Tsunku Official Blog. 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- "ハロー！プロジェクト オフィシャルサイト". Hello! Project. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
- "高橋愛の画像、高橋愛の経歴・プロフィールならオリコン芸能人事典-ORICON STYLE". Oricon. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
- "【HMV-エルパカBOOKS限定特典付き】 ハロー!チャンネル Vol.8 カドカワムック｜エルパカBOOKS". HMV ONLINE. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
- "Pocket Morning Weekly Q&A (2/20/2013)". Hello! Online. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
- (Japanese) Hello! Project official website
- (Chinese) Hello! Project official Taiwanese website
- (English) Hello! Project news feeds at Hello!Online
- (Thai) Hello! project (Unofficial Website Fanclub) Thailand