Japanese idol facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
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Girl idol group Momoiro Clover Z
Girl idol group AKB48

In Japanese pop culture idol is a term typically used to refer to young manufactured stars/starlets marketed to be admired for their cuteness. Idols are intended to be role models. They are supposed to maintain a good public image and be good examples for young people. Idols aim to play a wide range of roles as media personalities (tarento): e.g. pop singers, panelists of variety programs, bit-part actors, models for magazines and advertisements.

The term is commercialized by Japanese talent agents. The talent agencies hold auditions for cute boys and girls and make them stars. Idols are intended to be an ideal object of love of frenzied fans. There is also a view that the Japanese people see idols as sisters or girls next door.

Japanese idol singers work across genres of the Japanese pop music. This is usually whatever is most popular at the moment. Their songs do not require great singing skills, but the artist must be beautiful, sweet and nice to sing them. In their everyday life, idols must also match the songs they sing. They must have a perfect public image and be good examples to young people.

The biggest annual idol concert festival is the Tokyo Idol Festival (TIF) held since 2010. More than 200 idol groups and about 1500 idols performed, attracting more than 80,000 spectators in 2017.


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Fairies on stage, 2013

The phenomenon appeared in the early 1970s. It was thanks to the popularity of young French actress Sylvie Vartan and the movie she played in called Cherchez l'idole ("Look for the Idol"). The movie came out in Japan in November 1964 under the title Aidoru o Sagase. The term "idol" started being used for girls, mostly between 14 and 16, who were just beginning their path to stardom or for very young new stars.

Selective list of notable idols and idol groups

Idols with total record sales of more than 10 million

Name Years active Genre Studio albums Sales
Seiko Matsuda 1980–present (39 years) Kayōkyoku / J-pop / Jazz 51 29 million
Akina Nakamori 1982–1989, 1990–2010,
2014–present (32 years)
Kayōkyoku / J-pop 25 25 million
Momoe Yamaguchi 1973–1980 (8 years) Kayōkyoku 22 16 million
Hiromi Go 1972–present (47 years) Kayōkyoku / J-pop / R&B 40 15 million
Kenji Sawada 1967–present (52 years) J-pop / Kayōkyoku / Glam rock 45 15 million
Shizuka Kudo 1987–present (31 years) Kayōkyoku / J-pop 17 14 million
Kyōko Koizumi 1982–present (37 years) Kayōkyoku / J-pop 26 14 million
Hideki Saijo 1972–present (47 years) J-pop 24 13 million
Toshihiko Tahara 1979–present (40 years) J-pop 24 12 million
Masahiko Kondō 1980–present (38 years) J-pop / Kayōkyoku 20 12 million
Tomomi Kahara 1995–2006, 2013–present (17 years) J-pop 6 12 million

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Japanese idol Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.