Arashi: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Japan’s Favorite Male Idols

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  • The moment you arrived at the airport, you saw these 5 people at the Japan Tourism billboard. Then you saw them again in some beer advertisements. When you switched on the TV, there they were again on a game show. Then you walked into the music store, and you saw these people again on the album cover on a rack. ARASHI. Who are these people? Why are they everywhere?

    Who is Arashi?

    arashi cartoon

    If you think about idol groups, you will definitely think of people who are cool/cute, handsome/pretty, acting in movies or dramas (usually love stories), singing in a group (usually pop songs), modeling for magazines, and being a spokesperson for some brand of products. However, Arashi is not the typical Idol Group.

    Arashi is a group under Johnny and Associates talent agency. Arashi which literally means ‘storm’, consists of 5 members who are Ohno Satoshi (大野智, born 1980), Sakurai Sho (櫻井翔, born 1982), Aiba Masaki (相葉雅紀, born 1982), Ninomiya Kazunari (二宮和也, born 1983) and Matsumoto Jun (松本潤, born 1983). They debuted in Hawaii in 1999 with their first single A.R.A.S.H.I, which became the theme song for the Volleyball World Cup hosted by Japan. Apart from being the top idol group in Japan, they are also talented in other fields.

    Ohno Satoshi

    arashi ohno design

    Ohno is the leader of the group. Apart from being the oldest in the group, it was decided he would be the leader when he won the rock-paper-scissors game against Sakurai. Ohno has the most melodic voice in the group and is very talented in dancing. He has choreographed a few dances for Arashi’s songs such as Bittersweet, Tokei Jikake no Umbrella, TRAP and for most of his solo songs.

    In addition to his talent in choreography, he is also talented in drawing, sculpting, and photography. In 2008, he held his first art exhibition called Freestyle in Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, Sapporo, and Fukuoka. The exhibition displayed his clay models, photographs, paintings, and more. He also released a photobook of his behind-the-scene work in creating Freestyle.

    In July 2015, he held his second art exhibition called Freestyle 2 in Japan, and Freestyle 1 in Shanghai. Freestyle 2 showcased his new artworks. He had also released a Freestyle 2 photobook which contains the pictures of his artwork, and some behind-the-scene pictures. He also designed the merchandise that was sold during the exhibitions.

    Apart from making artwork for his exhibition, he was also given the chance to design NTV’s 24 Hour TV charity t-shirt in 2004, 2012 (collaborated with Nara Yoshimoto), and 2013 (collaborated with Yayoi Kusama). In 2015, he was given the opportunity by Japan Airlines Co. to design JAL’s aircraft for the ‘Fly to 2020’ campaign for the coming Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The aircrafts that have Ohno’s design on it are scheduled to operate until March 2016 for domestic flights.

    In addition to that, he also received many awards for his acting in Maou, Kagi no Kakatta Heya, Kaibutsu-kun, and Shinigami-kun.

    Sakurai Sho

    arashi news zero

    Sakurai is the rapper of the group. He wrote his own rap that is known as ‘Sakurap’ by his fans. His rap is not merely lyrics written to suit the songs but always contains a very deep message. He also co-wrote some of Arashi’s songs such as Summer Splash and Sketch. Sakurai also starred in many dramas and movies. He won a few Best Actor awards for his acting in Kazoku Game and Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato De.

    Sakurai is the only member of Arashi who attended university despite already having a career. He graduated with a degree in Economics from Keio University.

    Apart from being an idol, Sakurai is also a newscaster for NTV’s News Zero, appearing every Monday. He was appointed as the official newscaster for the news coverage on 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and 2012 London Summer Olympics. As an idol-newscaster, he does not only cover entertainment news, but he was entrusted to cover the House of Councillors general election in Japan, environmental issues, poverty, nuclear disarmament, and other serious topics.

    Aiba Masaki

    arashi shimura doubutsuen

    Aiba is the mood-maker of the group. People are always attracted to his refreshing smile and mostly his ‘baka-ness'(foolishness). He wrote the lyrics for Fight Song and 5×10, in collaboration with other Arashi members. He has won awards for his skillful acting in My Girl, portraying a young man who discovers that he has a five-year-old daughter after receiving the news that his girlfriend, who he has not seen in six years, was killed in an accident.

    Apart from that, Aiba is a co-host of Tensai Shimura Doubutsuen, an animal show, which allows him to interact with wild animals inside and outside Japan (UAE, Singapore, Philippines), and helping zoos in Japan to solve problems that they have with the animals in the zoo. Through his segment in the program, he has educated the public about various animals, solving issues in zoos and attracting more visitors to the zoos. Through this program, he gained a lot of young fans!

    He also hosts a program called Aiba Manabu (Learning Aiba), which is an informative program that allows viewers to learn together with Aiba regarding Japan’s undiscovered knowledge. Aiba learns something new in every episode. Some of it are tips in securing your house from robbers, learning how to make different flavors of tea from the same tea leaves, learning about famous western food that actually originated in Japan, and how to plant and grow flowers and vegetables inside the house.

    Ninomiya Kazunari

    Ninomiya (often called Nino), is the actor, composer, and lyricist of the group. He composed some of Arashi songs and his own solo songs such as Fight Song and Gimmick Game and wrote the lyrics for Niji and Sore wa Yappari Kimi Deshita, among others.

    He has acted the most movies and dramas among the members of Arashi. He acted in the Hollywood movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, directed by Clint Eastwood and was highly praised for his acting. New York Times film critic, A.O. Scott had chosen him among the ideal candidates for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his acting in that movie.

    He acted in a lot of moving films that are based on true stories, such as Door to Door (the story of Bill Porter, an American door-to-door salesman who achieved the highest sales for his company despite suffering from cerebral palsy), Marathon (true story of an autistic young man training to become a marathon runner), and Have I Returned a Bit of My Gratitude (true story of a young man diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma). Ninomiya had won Best Actor Award for his acting in Stand Up, Haikei Chichiue-sama, Yamada Taro Monogatari, Ryusei no Kizuna, and Freeter, Ie o Kau. He was also nominated for an Outstanding Actor award at 49th Monte Carlo Television Festival for his acting in Ryusei no Kizuna.

    Apart from acting in dramas and movies, he also ventured into being a voice actor in animation productions. He was the voice of Yattodetaman in Believe (An animation made to promote the movie Yatterman, which stars Sakurai), Kuro in Tekkon Kinkreet, and Koro-sensei in Assassination Classroom.

    Ninomiya was also the host for New Year’s Nippon Chousa (Investigation Japan) in 2013 and 2015. He investigated many things about Japan such as the origin of the practices during New Year, the fashions during the different eras in Japan, and ninja’s skills.

    Matsumoto Jun

    Matsumoto (often called as MatsuJun) is the youngest in the group. Many of Arashi’s fans were drawn into liking the group by watching him act in dramas such as Gokusen, Hana Yori Dango, or Kimi Wa Petto.

    His most prominent role was in Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) where he acted as Domyouji, who is a selfish, arrogant, and super-rich heir of the Domyouji group who falls in love with a plain and poor girl. Arashi sang all three theme songs for the series, which are Wish, Love So Sweet, and One Love. It was said that the popularity of Arashi which was declining before, rose again when they were given the opportunity to sing the theme song for the popular drama which MatsuJun acted in.

    Apart from acting in dramas, movies, and stage plays, and earning a few awards for those activities, MatsuJun is very much involved in the group’s concert planning. MatsuJun invented the Johnny’s Moving Stage, which is a transparent moving stage that moves on top of the audience. It was for them to be able to move closer to the audience members who were seated far away from the main stage during their concerts. Since then, the Moving Stage has become a must for Arashi and most of other Johnny’s artists’ concerts. This year, he introduced the ‘Flying Stage’ that was used during the Blast in Miyagi concert, with the same aim to move nearer to the audience. He is also involved in leading the staff and the members in deciding the concept of their concerts, the tracklist, and sequence of the songs, the lighting and many other aspects.

    Arashi as a group

    Despite the fact that their albums and singles are only released for the Japanese market, Arashi has a large fan based around the world. These fans, who call themselves Arashian, are from different countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia.

    In celebrating their 15th anniversary in 2014, they held their Arashi Blast in Hawaii concert at Ko Olina, Hawaii, after being invited by the Governor of Hawaii himself. The concert had helped to sell out 15,000 travel packages for Japanese fans that were brought to Hawaii by 18 exclusive charter flights by JAL especially for the concerts, filled 38,000 hotel rooms, and generated more than $20 million for Hawaii’s economy. Due to that, the State of Hawaii declared 19th September as ‘Arashi Day’.

    To date, Arashi has had at least 13 variety shows since 2001, such as Mayonaka no Arashi, G no Arashi, Mago-Mago Arashi, Arashi no Shukudai-kun, and Himitsu no Arashi-chan. VS Arashi and Arashi ni Shiyagare are their two ongoing variety shows broadcasted on Fuji TV and NTV respectively.

    In 2010, Arashi co-hosted NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen, which is an annual music show on New Year’s Eve, broadcasted by NHK on television and radio, nationally and internationally, for the first time. Arashi was the first group that was able to host as one group. They were the hosts from 2010 until 2014.

    Also in 2010, Arashi had been appointed by the Japan National Tourism Organization as Japan’s tourism ambassador, for their ‘Japan Endless Discovery’ campaign. They appeared in commercials, encouraging people from overseas to visit Japan. They also endorse products from different companies such as JAL, Coca-Cola, AU by KDDI, Nintendo, Uniqlo, Hitachi, and Kirin.

    On 16th March 2012, Tokyo Tower was illuminated in Arashi’s image colors (Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, and Purple), in promoting Fuji TV’s spring programs in which the Arashi members appeared. The tower was shown in the final episode of Lucky Seven starring MatsuJun.

    Their songs were also used as the theme song for NTV’s news coverage on the Olympics. ‘Hero’ was used for the 2004 Summer Olympics, ‘Kaze no Mukou e’ for the 2008 Summer Olympics, ‘Yurase, Ima o’ for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and ‘Akashi’ for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

    Arashi was also appointed as the main personality for NTV’s annual telethon 24-Hour Television in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2013. The aim of the charity program is to introduce existing conditions of social welfare in Japan as well as around the world and to appeal the need for assistance towards disadvantaged people. In 2012, Arashi raised ¥1,168,471,704 (approx. US$14,000,394.26) in donations.

    From their songs that are uplifting and give people motivation, the roles that they play in their dramas and movies, their involvement in charity works, news, planning and management, arts, and documentaries, to variety shows, game shows, animal shows, they are the group that has captured the heart of young kids, teenagers, adults, and even the elderly. You can definitely watch and enjoy their shows with every member of your family.

    Arashi (Storm) will definitely continue creating a storm around the world with their presence!

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