Talk:Japanese idol

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I came to this page because I was watching a movie featuring a japanese idol group, and i didn't really understand what that was. after reading this page I got the impression they are manufactured pop acts a la Britney Spears, but then I clicked on Beppin mag and that is some sort of mens mag/Playboy/naked centerfold thing? I think this article may need some clarification as to how much of this scene is for teens and how much of it is a sex industry thing aimed at adults, as this seems to me to be an important distinction between the japanese idol scene and the manufactured pop scene in the west. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:10, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

Were are they now?[edit]

What happens to the ones that go out of favor with the public?

Well they just return to anonimity and a normal social life, get a job, get married, etc... A few of them try to catch on their brief celebrity for a few months more by appearing as "guests" in TV programs, or even by selling "nude phoobooks" of them, a not-so-rare surprising move for these "innocent girls". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:51, 7 November 2008 (UTC)


I think this is an interesting article, but it also contains a huge flaw in that it gives the mistaken impression that idols are exclusively female. This is quite clearly false - the role of male idols such as SMAP, V6 and Shonentai is almost (if not equally) as important as those of their female counterparts in Japanese pop culture. Surely they need to be mentioned?

Whoops, forgot to sign Poltergeist 09:54, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I wrote "mostly female", I hope this is OK with you. Maikel (talk) 19:17, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
marker mostly for myself to come back and edit this: that's not really good enough, because there isn't even a single mention of males otherwise, and the article still gives the impression that idols are exclusively female. which isn't even remotely true. johnny & associates, the most powerful idol machine in japanese entertainment, only handles boys. there are a lot of male idols, and some make it just as big as some female ones -- just looking at the oricon charts bears that out. there is also no mention here of the companies that crank out these manufactured celebrities; should have at least links to those, because without them there would be no idols. piranha]] [[User talk:Piranha|(notify) (talk) 21:14, 3 March 2011 (UTC)


"Good examples of this are Ayumi Hamasaki, Noriko Sakai, Ryoko Hirosue and Namie Amuro."

This sentence is vague; what is "this" referring to?

Also, I suggest alphabetizing the list of idols at the end, unless there is some reason why it isn't already (which is why I haven't done it). Commander Nemet 20:31, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Utada Hikaru an idol?[edit]

I think she's more of a performance artist... But aside from that, if the definition of "idol" here is appearance-oriented, I would contend that Utada is NOT an "idol", as she is not marketed by her looks. --OneTopJob6 20:13, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

The list of idols[edit]

Seems too long and (as noted above) a bit vauge. I'd like to see it cut down to perhaps five. - brenneman{T}{L} 06:06, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Nor is Ayu, really, nor was she at the beginning of her career. The author is using the term rather broadly, as do many Westerners. Ayu, Utada, they are pop singers primarily. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:55, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

I agree and I think that the inclusion criteria should be least one appearance on Kohaku (by themselves so groups that invite their sister groups to be a part of their performance wouldn't count) along with at least one number one on the Oricon charts with the exceptions being:

  • If the person in question changed the industry in some way. Onyanko Club would be and example of this with the introduction of sub groups that have been used in many Idols after them;
  • Oldest, youngest debut, biggest selling, most number ones ect If there is a notable source.

I saw Perfume included under "First j-electro group, first girl group to have 5 consecutive #1 dvd releases, 2nd electronic group to perform in the Tokyo dome, won mnet award for best asia pop artist" this is an example of someone not using judgement. First to have #5 DVD releases? Not really that important. DSQ (talk) 11:39, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

Leaving out main idols[edit]

Possibly the two main artists who come to my mind when I think of AIDORU are Rie Miyazawa and Aya Ueto. I'm suprised that they are not mentioned at all.

And this was mainly prominent in the 1980s, where there was a big movement of idols who were popular, but I see mostly not-so-popular recent artists mentioned.

Also, from what I can see, the list is extremely unorganized and frankly too long. I think just the biggest idols should be listed. I wish I knew more about the subject on a larger scale because personally I think this page does need to be cleaned up a lot. Mizerunmei 14:58, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Namie Amuro[edit]

Her album SWEET 19 BLUES was never the best selling album of Japan with 3 million copies. globe with their first album sold 4 million copies only in Japan in 1996, so that's impossible, and only Utada 's album outsold it later. Clouded 22:04, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Verificable content?[edit]

If you read the Japanese version of this same article there are many important differences. In fact, the english version is poorly accurate about idol definition. For example, Namie Amuro wasn't an idol, but a "post-idol artist" (ISBN:0-674-01773-0) and Utada Hikaru is a Top Artist/composer but not an Idol. Even in Japan the common people can understand about these differences, since they call "aidoru" to just some kind of artists, for example, these with "buri-buri iso" costumes, “purehearted and pretty,” sweet, childlike, humble, and honest people. Same girls or boys, Idols MUST BE into this classification. All other artists are "Celebrities" or "Top Artist" or "Singers", or "Tarento" or anything else. I propose to search Verificable Sources (books, magazine articles, JAPANESE VERSION of this same article, etc) for improve or to accurate the content. --Cbpm 03:23, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

I see, it's similar to "Boy Band", in that not every group involving multiple male performers is a "Boy Band", it's a specific type of group? (For example, the group Slipknot is made up of male performers, and is a band, but not a "Boy band", whereas Backstreet Boys is). Kuronue 04:39, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
Slipknot were in their twenties when they started out, so they wouldn't be called a boy band for that reason alone. Maikel (talk) 19:28, 22 December 2007 (UTC)


In my mind Japanese idols owe their career to being heavily "produced and promoted" by agencies and the media industry, rather than owing their success to personal talent and ambition, and therefore this should be included in the introduction. I won't put it in there personally as I'm not really competent in this matter. What do you think? Maikel (talk) 19:16, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Wait What?[edit]

I just read "For a fuller understanding of both role play and the idealisation of youth in Japanese media and culture it is worth reading articles by Dr Sharon Kinsella, referenced below" could someone tell me why Wikipedia is telling people to read a book instead of going into detail about something. (talk) 23:00, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

A better definition and a rewrite[edit]

The article needs to be rewritten. The lead section is unclear to those without prior knowledge.

Since the article is largely unsourced anyway and it can't be made any worse (IMO), the solution for me would be to randomly rewrite it (randomly at random times).

Here a citation from myself. Someone asked what the article (in some other language) was about exactly. I can add random stuff like this:

The article is about a segment of the Japanese entertainment (entertainment industry). There are performers of certain style that are called "idols". You can say being a idol is a profession, like being a singer or a dancer. But you can only be an idol when you are young. When idols grow up, they leave the idol industry (it's called "they graduate") and either return to being normal people (e.g. go to college to get a normal profession) or become singers and actors.
An "idol" is like a "starlet". It's like if a being a starlet would be a separate profession. A profession for young people.
Everything I say will be mainly about the Japanese music industry ("idol singers"). Being an idol is not considered to be a serious profession, it's like "I can sing and dance a little bit and I'm too cute for words".
For example, this pop group (Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku) is actually marketed to have the image of a band of middleschoolers who can't really sing or dance (they actually can sing and dance, though): [1], [2].
Being an idol (idol singer) means they sing cute songs and are marketed in a certain way. They are targeted mainly to the fans of opposite sex and they are not allowed to have boyfriends/girlfriends. They must be cute and perfect. If they disbehave, they are excluded. (There have been some scandals like that. For example, a person can be banned from activites for a certain period of time for smoking.)
All idols have a fervent following (idol fans) who act in a certain crazy way. (It looks like if the fans would "worship" them.) At the concert, the fans do what is called "wotagei". You can say it's like cheerleading, they support their idols when they perform. They actually invent something like a chant (a sequence of shouts) for every song, so the concerts sound very impressive thanks to the fans' chants. Watch the videos: [3] (Momoiro Clover Z), [4] (Cute).
You can say being an idol fan is like a subculture. It's somewhat similar to being a metalhead. Only metal fans mosh at the concerts and idol fans do the wotagei.
There are many companies that specialize in idols or have a separate section for creating idols.
The other thing is that kids usually become idols through auditions. (So it's kind of similar to TV shows like "Americal idol". I'm not sure if the idea and the usage of the word "idol" in this context were stolen from the Japanese.)
so as I said, idols are a type of Japanese entertainers who are marketed as cute ordinary people who can sing and dance and model, but are not professional at either singing or dancing or modelling. They are ordinary "girls/boys next door". It's like an idea of an ordinary girl who is so cute and adorable that the whole Japan falls in love with her and everyone wants to marry her or be her boyfriend. (But she can't have a boyfriend cause if she does, people won't worship her anymore.)
I would like to explain all this in the article (starting with the English one), but it's too difficult...

Another citation from myself.
The question was about the definition. "Who decides they are cute? The fans or the employer?"

[Who decides they are cute? The fans or the employer?] — The employer. An employer employs a girl or a boy as an idol (usually through an audition).
"Idol" is like a profession. It's like if being a starlet were a profession. It's not considered a serious profession, though. It's like "I can sing and dance a little bit and I'm cute". But Japanese idols are marketed in a certain way. And all idols have a ferocious following that acts in a certain way. What idol fans do is called "wotagei", it's like an art. The fans learn how to shout at live concerts, how to wave lightsticks. To do it correctly, you need to learn chants for every song. The fans with their chants are practically part of the show, watch the videos: [5], [6].

Anyway, you see, no one understands. Something must be done.

I propose (since the article is largely unsourced anyway) to write what we have to write. To write a better definition and add many other stuff so that the readers could actually understand what the article was about. And we can find sources later. --Moscow Connection (talk) 10:51, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

Rewriting has started[edit]

I have finally rewritten the lead. I must say that the more I edit it, the harder it is going to be to source it. I started with (almost) everything easily sourceable, but since have added much more. I basically have no other choice but to do it like that cause the topic is rather complicated.

I hope no one objects, cause there are basically two choices: 1. to return to equally unsourced previous version that was terrible, too; 2. to leave a version by someone who have been thoroughly thinking about it for, like, two years and after several years of being horrified by this article finally decided to rewrite it a little bit. :)

Since if I don't want to source it now and I would prefer to leave it like that for some time (cause the absence of references makes it easier to read and change), I will now post a few excepts from reliable sources that can prove that what I added is sourceable.

Here it is. I will post more here. Cause when I was writing I was thinking "I've heard this, I remember I've read this somewhere", so there is much more I can find sources for.

an attractive young actor, male or female, packaged and promoted as an adolescent role model .. The author explores how the idol-manufacturing industry absorbs young people into its system of production, molds them into marketable personalities, commercializes their images, and contributes to the construction of ideal images of the adolescent self.
A final musical genre is an idoru or "idol," largely a product of Japanese merchandising. Idol refers to the cute, girl-next-door singers who are designed, controlled, and marketed just like any other product. Talent agencies promote such starlets in advertising, music, television dramas, and performance tours.
'idols,' or heavily produced and promoted men and women who perform across media genres and platforms. They appear in magazines and advertisements, perform on TV and on stage, recorded and live.
In the Japanese context, though, The Alfee are not idols and should be seen as “serious” performers in the field

... rather than "manufactured stars" such as idols (Aoyagi 1999).
For major entertainment reporter Masaru Nashimoto, an idol must be young and have a frenzied following to the point of being a social phenomenon.

The 1980s is considered the golden age of idols, when devout fans formed "shineitai" cheering groups, taking in every concert and other public appearance of the target of their affections: usually a cute teen singer, with the latter being optional.

The 1990s saw attractive young singers snub the idol typecast, preferring to be viewed as artists who could sing, dance and perform, he said.

The concept of idol also evolved into subtypes: photogravure or magazine idols mainly pose as models, often in swimsuits, for magazines and DVDs; variety idols mainly appear on TV variety programs. Nashimoto meanwhile doubts magazine and variety idols actually qualify.

In the 1990s, singing programs began to lose viewers mainly because audiences grew tired of such programs, Nashimoto said. Young, good-looking singers were striving to become artists instead of idols.

"The definition of idols is blurry now. I'm not sure (photogravure and variety types) are idols, because they are very different from what idols were in the 1980s. But if they are, we could say there are numerous idols," Nashimoto said.
Idols do not belong to categories such as a singer, an actress, or a model. They are, just like Ellis, kawaii-cute-female-child-lolita-like persons in show business. Everyone adores the beauty and cuteness of the idols. They are not necessarily professional singers, but their CDs sell a lot, because their voices are kawaii, cute. They appear on TV programs and commercials, and even in the movies. Many people say that idols are just like "cute sisters next door", probably this is the main reason why idols were accepted by so many ordinary people in Japan.
—, This source is not reliable, though.
Большую часть певцов-идолов образуют представительницы прекрасного пола. Их типичный репертуар состоит из простеньких мелодий, следующих преобладающей в данный момент моде в популярной музыке. Музыкальные способности не играют особо большой роли, - достижения певцов-идолов основываются в значительной мере на привлекательности их публичного имиджа.

--Moscow Connection (talk) 05:11, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

This is due to the comparatively overrepresentation of "idol" singers in the Japanese music industry. Japanese idols are carefully manufactured consumer products who do well for a few years before they retire to make room for the next rising star.
Fans describe idols, and by extension their relationships with them, as "pure" (junsui).

This purity also implies a sort of chastity on the part of the idol, ...

For example, in their often uncoordinated and unpolished dances, idols seem to be having fun; this is a "performance of pleasure" or "show of enjoyment" that is "not directed towards mastery" (McDonald 1997, 288–293). They are imagined to be in a place where (and a time, "youth," when) excellence is not demanded.
...adolescent fans can easily empathize with idols who are embarking on their own growth journey: from inexperienced debutantes to experienced public figures and performers....

states that people "adore idols for their sweetness and purity, ...

Pop idols emerged in Japan as a commercial genre in the general category of kayōkyoku (popular music) during the late 1960s and early 1070s.

Two broad points emerge from the interview data. One is that Japanese idols constitute a sort of "brand," not just pop singers or actors, but a lifestyle of urban affluence...

This consists of a series of adolescent personalities — aidoru, or "pop idols" — who are commodified as public role models in adolescent fashions and lifestyles.

Hundreds of young people participate in contests each year, hoping to become idols.

Until the early 1990s, the most common feature embodied by pop idols to enhance the sense of companionship was cuteness. Kawaiko-chan, or "cute boys and boys," became a synonym for pop idols in 1970s and 1980s (Figure 7.2).

... according to Kuroyanagi Tetsuko, ..., people adore cute idols for their sweetness, which evokes the sense that "they should be protected carefully" ...
Modern Japanese music is dominated by “idols,” a term in Japan referring to youthful performers who for the most part exude a wholesome image and put an emphasis on connecting with fans through all sorts of promotions.
Groups such as AKB48, Arashi, Momoiro Clover Z and many more define Japan’s contemporary idol scene, ...

Yet the history of idol music hasn’t been so steady, and has gone through various periods en route to becoming the country’s dominant form of J-pop.

Performers like Amachi Mari pushed a pure image (her nickname was “Snow White”) while also seeming more girl-next-door, the sort of singer young women could picture becoming or young men could see dating. Smoking, drinking or dating in public were (and are still) huge no-nos. These idols weren’t necessarily polished performers – part of the appeal lied in watching them blossom over time, giving fans a personal stake in the singers.

--Moscow Connection (talk) 06:14, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

One impossible thing to ignore in Japanese society is the obsession of everything cute.
Examining Japan’s obsession with cuteness.
Japanese culture has an obsession with youth and innocence; 13-year-old girls, like Shinobu in Love Hina, are considered ...
Idol characters such as the "cute style" and the "life-sized" persona (above average, but not outstanding) are introduced, ...

We then examine how "idol" singers are cultivated and promoted, ...

Today kayōukyoku, broadly defined, includes enka as well as "idols songs", "new music", theme songs. and Japanese rock. Idols songs are Western-style made-in-Japan versions of light rock, ballads, folk songs, or standards; this is the genre most popular among Japanese teenagers and young adults today.

Depending on her talent and appearance — the budding starlet might become a new teenage idol singer — a young professional who, with some lack, would last past her twenty-first birthday.

The depth of feeling and range of emotion in idol songs typically does not venture much beyond the "girl meets boy and lives happily ever after" variety, though the inverse variant, "girl loses boy and will be miserable forever," is also occasionally found.

the simple boy-girl idol music

a long list of idols and idol group which have dominated Japan's popular culture since 1960s.

Idol songs are typically romantic fantasies, which dwell on the well-worn themes of being in love, hoping to win the heart of another, and physical desire.

Promotion agencies, of course, orchestrated the development and marketing of idols and idol groups.

There are many idols and idol magazines in Taiwan that imitate Japanese idols and magazines.

According to Keith Cahoon, youth, looks, and “sentimentality” are the only requirements for a Japanese idol. Musical talent is of little ...
The Japanese pronunciation of “idol,” came into use in the 1970s and 1980s
... their early teens and groomed by production companies. ... Idols did not only sing, but also worked as actors, models, talk show hosts, and commercial sports people, suggesting that time spent in front of ...

They were idols in the sense that media exposure was intense and many of his singers began performing in their early-to-mid teens, but their aesthetic was totally different: Komure repackaged the female idol as part of the worldwide trend in dance music.

In this decade, it would be the male idols who would become one of the most important genre in the music market, ...

... pop to folk, and then New Music, back to the industry created idol ...

--Moscow Connection (talk) 08:13, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

.. idols and celebrities. However, these celebrities are manufactured and promoted by the media, attaining their celebrity only as a consequence of their appearance in the media.

... for example, corporate press releases ... often involve formal, staged press events that;, in order to attract the media, employ idols ands celebrities as "image characters" (...) or spokepersons.
The value of idols does not necessarily lie in any distinctive singing ability. The main feature of what is called the Japanese aidoru (iodol) system is the production of an intimacy between stars and audiences and the blurring of the distance between professionals and amateurs...

--Moscow Connection (talk) 23:18, 19 July 2014 (UTC)