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1. AKB48 (and the rest of the 48 franchise)

Maeda Atsuko, the center, was one of AKB48’s most popular members until she retired from the group.

In December 2005, producer Yasushi Akimoto created the idol group “AKB 48”. With the concept “Idols you can meet everyday”, AKB 48 performs at the exclusive AKB48 Theater in Akihabara almost every day. As of May 2011 there are 18 members on team A, 18 members on team K and 18 members on team B, 23 members on team Trainee with a total of 61.

AKB48 began as an idol group based in Akihabara, hence the “AKB.” The other 48 groups also have their base name in the title – for instance, SKE48 is from Sakae in central Nagoya and HKT48 is from the Hakata area of Fukuoka.

Because of the success of AKB48, the franchise has extended to various other cities in Japan and abroad. These “sister groups” include SKE48 from Nagoya, NMB48 from Osaka, HKT48 from Fukuoka, JKT48 from Jakarta, Indonesia, and SNH48 from Shanghai, China. These sister groups often participate in AKB48’s concerts and promotional events.

2. Arashi

“Popcorn” was a studio album release by Arashi where they dressed up as popcorn. Japanese idols at their best.

Arashi (嵐, literally Storm) is a popular Japanese idol group consisting of five members formed under the Johnny’s Entertainment talent agency. The group was officially formed on September 15, 1999 in Honolulu, Hawaii and made their debut CD on November 3, 1999.

In 2010, all six of Arashi’s singles ranked within the top ten of the Oricon singles yearly chart, and their million-selling studio album Boku no Miteiru Fūkei was named the best-selling album of the year in Japan.

The group’s popularity spurred the Asahi Shimbun to publish an article with illustrations of the members done by manga artists.

Arashi’s members consist of Ohno Satoshi, Matsumoto Jun, Ninomiya Kazunari, Aiba Masaki and Sakurai Sho.

On October 25, entertainment magazine ‘Ori★Suta’ revealed their 10th annual “favorite artist” ranking. First place for this year’s ranking went to none other than Arashi. With this, they have become the first artist to take first place for this ranking 4 years in a row. They have also surpassed Utada Hikaru who held the #1 title a total of 3 times.


SMAP was one of the groups responsible for the boom in male idols during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

SMAP is a Japanese boy band formed by Johnny & Associates. …The group currently consists of five [members]: Masahiro Nakai, Takuya Kimura, Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori. The group’s name is an acronym standing for Sports Music Assemble People. SMAP released their first CD in 1991 and has since released over forty singles and twenty albums. Approximately half the singles and a third of the albums have reached the top of the Japanese Oricon music charts.

Their variety program SMAP×SMAP shows several types of entertainments ranging from cooking, comedy, and games to singing and dancing, often with celebrity guests such as Tohoshinki, Mariah Carey, Ayumi Hamasaki, Michael Jackson, Will Smith, Perfume, Hikaru Utada, BoA, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Backstreet Boys, Paris Hilton, Matt Damon, Madonna, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Justin Timberlake, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sheryl Crow, Richard Gere, Avril Lavigne…

4. Morning Musume

Morning Musume (モーニング娘。 Mōningu Musume.), sometimes referred to as Momusu (モー娘。 Mōmusu), is a Japanese girl group formed in 1997 by rock singer-songwriter turned record producer Tsunku, who later composed a vast majority of the group’s songs over the decade. They are the lead group of Hello! Project, which specialises in upbeat, pop-oriented music coupled with dance performance.

Morning Musume has been around for so long, they have multiple generations and retirees who have “graduated” from the group.

Morning Musume are one of the most successful Japanese pop idol girl groups, holding the second highest overall single sales (of a female group) on the Oricon charts as of February 2012, with the Oricon record of most top ten singles with an amount of 50, and they have sold over 18 million copies in Japan alone.

5. Momoiro Clover Z

Momoiro Clover is a girls unit created by Stardust Promotion featuring Reni Takagi, Kanako Momota, Ayaka Sasaki, Shiori Tamai and Momoka Ariyasu. The group was first formed in Spring of 2008, and was named based on the concept of ‘spreading happiness’, and thus got the name ‘Momoiro Clover’ – where momoiro means ‘pink’.

The group has had several different concepts over the years.

The group of six that were previously known as ‘Momoiro Clover’ had become five, and thus changed their name to ‘Momoiro Clover Z”, and with the new name became even more determined to continue the spirit that Momoiro Clover had given the world before.

A 2013 survey shows that the group attracts the highest level of interest of all the female idol groups in Japan. (According to a survey published by an economic newspaper, the group’s steady raise in popularity from 2011 to 2012 eventually led them to be ranked number one in early 2013.)

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