Tokio is a Japanese rock/pop band formed by Johnny & Associates that debuted in 1994. It is made up of five men who were signed with Sony Music Entertainment from 1994 to 2001, with Universal Music Japan from 2001 to 2008, and are now signed under J Storm, a label owned by Johnny & Associates. In addition to their activities as a band, the members of Tokio also act in dozens of dramas and host variety programmes, both as a group and individually.
The group's name "Tokio" was the old English romanization for Japan's capital Tokyo, and remains the current transliteration in several European languages. Unlike most other bands under Johnny & Associates, where all of the band members are usually only vocalists, Tokio only has one main vocalist, a drummer, a guitarist, a bassist, and a keyboardist. Subsequently, less choreography is used in concerts and promotional videos, and their music is often more rock-centric.
Like the members of SMAP, the members of Tokio performed as background dancers for the idol group Hikaru Genji mainly in the form of the back-dancing group Heikeha, which also involved members of the band V6. In 1989, guitarist Shigeru Joshima and bassist Tatsuya Yamaguchi discovered they both played instruments in their own bands and decided to form their own, practicing in private and unknown to the company, calling themselves Joshima Band, or "Joh Band" for short. At one point, they also called themselves 'JURIA', combining their names using Joshima's "J", "URI" from the melon-shape of Yamaguchi's face, and rhythm-guitarist member Takehito Asakura's "A". Eventually, Johnny accepted them as a band, giving them the name "Tokio Band". At this point, members included Joshima, Yamaguchi, and new support member, rhythm guitarist Kazuhisa Watanabe.
In 1990, the original Tokio was formed when Joshima was put together with drummer Masahiro Matsuoka and keyboardist Taichi Kokubun, both of whom had also joined Joshima and Yamaguchi in a few of their practices in the past. Rhythm guitarist and vocalist Hiromu Kojima joined the group soon after this. During this time, Joshima underwent negotiations with Johnny Kitagawa himself into allowing Yamaguchi to join the band, and soon he became an official member as well. Tomoya Nagase, another Junior vocalist who had been making more and more headlines, began appearing with the newly formed Tokio on occasion as a support member, which created a bit of odd tension as the group appeared in magazines and on the radio with five members, but on TV and live performances with six members. One of their first live tours included one with the band SAY・S and included all six members.
1994–1999: Debut and onward
In 1994, just before the release of the band's debut single, "Love You Only", founding member Hiromu Kojima was succeeded by Nagase following Kojima's departure. Their debut single was released on September 21, 1994. Two months later, on November 21, 1994, their debut and self-titled album, Tokio was released. Their very first performance after their debut was held on New Year's Eve at the 1994 NHK Kouhakutagassen.
Soon after the release of Tokio, the band's first remix album was released in 1995, titled Tokio Remix. In 1996, the band recorded the song "7 O'Clock News" to be used as the theme song for the anime version of Kodocha. Due to licensing issues however, the song was not used as the theme song for the North American release of the series. Also in 1996, the band's first compilation album was released, titled Best E.P Selection of Tokio.
Throughout the rest of the decade, Tokio released 18 more singles and four more studio albums: Bad Boys Bound, Blowing, Wild & Mild, and Graffiti. From 1997 and onwards, some of the band's singles were used as theme songs in television shows, usually drama shows. In 1997, "Furarete Genki" was used as the theme song to Psychometrer Eiji a drama Matsuoka starred in, and "Julia" was used as the theme song for Seiji No Mikata, a drama that starred Taichi Kokubun. In 1999, "Love & Peace" was used as the theme song to Love and Peace, another drama that Matsuoka starred in, and "Ai no Arashi" was used as the theme song for Psychometrer Eiji 2.
2000–2004: Rise in popularity
In early 2000, Tokio released the album Yesterday & Today. Following the release of the single "Doitsu Mo Koitsu Mo" in early 2001, Tokio switch recording labels from Sony Music Entertainment to UMG. From the following single, "Oh!Heaven" was the theme song for Tengoku ni Ichiban Chikai Otoko, a drama that starred Matsuoka, and "Hitoribotchino haburashi" was the theme song for Mukodono!, a drama starring Tomoya Nagase. From then on, the majority of subsequently released singles would be used as theme songs for dramas starring members of Tokio. In December 2001, the first album under Universal Music, 5 Ahead, was released.
In May 2001, Tokio released their second compilation album, titled Best EP Selection of Tokio II. Since the release of the single "Ding Dong / Glider" in late 2002, the promotional videos for Tokio songs are directed by Masahiro Matsuoka. 2003 saw the release of the seventh studio album, Glider in February. In 2003, "Ambitious Japan!" was used as the theme song for JR Central's nozomi train services.
In 2004, Taichi Kokubun took a leave from Tokio to form the temporary music unit Toraji Haiji with KinKi Kids member Tsuyoshi Domoto. Together they recorded the theme song for the movie Fantastipo, in which they starred in. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of their debut, Tokio released their first cover album, TOK10 in September 2004.
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In February 2005, the tenth full-length album (not including compilation albums), Act II was released. They released the single "Ashita o Mezashite!" on December 7, 2005. Tomoya Nagase composed and co-arranged the single with his lyrics, making it their first single composed by a member of the group. In 2005, Tokio was selected to be the host for the Johnny's Countdown 2005-2006 concert, a yearly event that counts down to the New Year. In 2006, Tokio released the single "Sorafune", which sold over 400,000 copies and charted for over four months, making it their most successful single. The Tokio single "Get Your Dream" was used as the theme song in Japan for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Later in 2006, the group released their longest studio album to date, Harvest, containing seventeen tracks and two remix tracks.
In 2008, Tokio's shortest album was released, titled Sugar. The seven-track album contains the three singles released 2007. Also in 2008, the band changed recording labels for the second time, switching to J Storm, a label owned by Johnny & Associates. Subsequently, all albums, singles, and other releases previously released under Universal Music were re-released on June 24, 2009.
Their first release under the new label was the four-track single "Amagasa/Akireru Kurai Bokura wa Negaō" on September 3, 2008. "Amagasa" was composed by Ringo Shiina with her lyrics and was arranged by Tokyo Jihen. Tokio released another four-track single titled "Taiyō to Sabaku no Bara/Subeki Koto" on August 19, 2009. After releasing the single "Advance/Mata Asa ga Kuru" on February 3, 2010, they released the single "Haruka" on June 16, 2010. "Haruka" went on to become their first number-one since December 2007.
- Current members
- Shigeru Joshima (城島 茂 Jōshima Shigeru) is the guitarist, vocalist and leader of Tokio. He was the original member, having founded the band in 1989.
- Tomoya Nagase (長瀬 智也 Nagase Tomoya) is the lead vocalist and guitarist. He is occasionally known for being the youngest member of the band. He is also an actor and has starred in numerous dramas, such as My Boss My Hero. Nagase was the last member to join Tokio, joining in 1994, but having made appearances with them before that. He was fifteen years old when the band debuted.
- Masahiro Matsuoka (松岡 昌宏 Matsuoka Masahiro) is the drummer and vocalist for the band, having joined in 1990.
- Taichi Kokubun (国分 太一 Kokubun Taichi) is the keyboardist, pianist and vocalist. He joined in 1990.
- Former members
- Hiromu Kojima (小島 啓 Kojima Hiromu), like most of the other band members, joined in 1990, but left the band in 1994, just prior to their debut. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist, and was replaced by Tomoya Nagase.
- Tatsuya Yamaguchi (山口 達也 Yamaguchi Tatsuya) was the bassist and vocalist for Tokio, who also joined in 1989. He left the band in 2018.
- 1994: Tokio
- 1995: Bad Boys Bound
- 1996: Blowing
- 1997: Wild & Mild
- 1998: Graffiti
- 2000: Yesterday & Today
- 2001: 5 Ahead
- 2003: Glider
- 2004: Act II
- 2006: Harvest
- 2008: Sugar
- 2012: 17
- 2015: "20th Heart"
Tokio currently hosts TOKIO Kakeru (TOKIOカケル) and has previously hosted Mentore G (メントレG) and 5LDK, all variety shows. Tokio members have also performed in other variety shows both as a group, such as on Tetsuwan Dash (ザ!鉄腕!DASH!!), as well as individually. Below is a list of individual performances:
- Brain Power Expedition Quiz! Homunculus (脳力探険クイズ! ホムクル Nouryoku Tanken Kuizu! Homukuru) – Taichi Kokubun (with regular guest Shigeru Joshima)
- Love Apron (愛のエプロン Ai no Apron) – Shigeru Joshima
- Leaders's How To Book (リーダー'S ハウ トゥ Book Riidaa's Hau Tu Book) – Shigeru Joshima
- OneeMANS (おネエMANS) – Tatsuya Yamaguchi
- R30 – Taichi Kokubun
- The Shounen Club Premium (ザ少年倶楽部プレミアム Za Shounen Gakubu Puremiamu) – Taichi Kokubun
- Kaitai-Shin Show (解体新ショー Kaitai Shin Shō) – Taichi Kokubun
- Aura no Izumi (オーラの泉) – Taichi Kokubun
- Ninkimono de Ikou! (人気者でいこう！) – Shigeru Joshima
- "TOKIO - artists - JaME U.S.A." Retrieved 2009-09-29.
- "allmusic ((( Tokio > Biography )))". Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "Shounen Club Premium interview with Tatsuya Yamaguchi, aired 2007.08.19" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2006-04-11. Retrieved 2009-10-06.
- "Ashita o Mezashite!" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- "TOKIO、ニューシングル発売が決定！" [It Was Decided That Tokio's New Single Would Be Released!] (in Japanese). Oricon. 2005-11-10. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- "TOKIO-ORICON STYLE ミュージック" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "Charts: KAT-TUN, TOKIO". Tokyograph. 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
- "Johnny's net – TOKIO". Retrieved 3 November 2012.
- "TOKIO Kakeru on FujiTV" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2015-07-23.
- "Mentore G on FujiTV" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on June 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- "5LDK on FujiTV" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2009-11-27.
- New Fukushima website - Tokio advertisement. Retrieved 2013-11-10. (in Japanese)