J-pop has been in the news recently and for all the wrong reasons ! ! ! Minami Minegishi one of the founding members of the group was photographed leaving the house of her boyfriend and has made a public apology and as a symbol of her regret she has shaved her head.
This has become big international news and of course the western newspapers are enjoying yet another “wierd Japan” story. It is really rather tiresome how lazy some journalists are ! ! !
However, I think there are somethings that the incident does highlight and are worth talking about. The first is the role of apologising in Japanese culture.
In our culture we apologize all the time. we say Sumimasen or Gomen nasai for every type of minor inconvenience. In a crowded country like Japan and in cities like Tokyo this is really important to like oil the wheels of just moving around. But it does cause a problem when you really do need to make a sincere apology.
Normally you would go to the person and make a deep bow or maybe even go on your knees and bow as you say sorry. However, sometimes a visual symbol of the apology is needed. Yakuza ( gangsters ) famously cut off part of their finger if they offend their boss badly. Fortunately AKB 48 is not a Yakuza clan, but the girl felt the need to really make a visual symbol to show her regret and she adopted a traditional ( but extremely unusual ) way for women to do this, and shaved her hair.
Of course the second point is why should she have to apologise at all ? ? ? Well there is a no dating clause in her contract. The logic behind this is to preserve the pure image of the girls in the band. However, it is actually doubtful that the such a clause in a contract is legal in Japan and an attempt to enforce it would be very difficult indeed. But this is where some parts of J-pop establishment start to behave a little like the gangsters. If you want your career, then you can not challenge such a clause. Your career would be ruined if you tried to go against the powerful management companies. So really she had no option but to make this step or leave the band.
These types of clauses are not something that has always been common in J-pop. Actually one of the first time this type of contract was issued for a pop group was by Yasushi Akimoto (who founded AKB48) with his first group Onyanko Club in 1985. Before this J-pop singers had a more sexy image and dating was not a problem. But this obsession with controlling every aspect of a young girls life has reached ridiculous level now. It is time to STOP ! ! !
It is really time that contracts which limit the personal freedom of the girls to engage in perfectly legal and normal activities are wiped out of the music business. They are stupid, and harmful, and anyway, I really doubt they actually sell more records.
So please join me in my campaign to . . . .
FREE THE AKB 48 ! ! !
AKB 48′s Team A Performing The River Live
Other news ! ! !
As you all know YUI has announced a hiatus from music. However there were rumors about a fantastic new singer songwriter performing in small Live Houses around the Kansai area. This singer that was causing quite some commotion was performing a short set of six new songs under the name of Flower Flower. Rumors started that FLower Flower was really YUI and her management team have now said that this is true. Her management team said this was just a fun activity for her and she is still on hiatus I am happy she is having fun with music again ! ! !
Goosehouse - New Video ! ! !
Goosehouse are our favourite musical workers collective and they have released a video of an acoustic version of their single Sky. The girls and boys of Goosehouse have been busy with a lot of live performances this year both as the full group and in smaller combos.
Here is the video to cheer everyone up ! ! !
Gooosehouse - Sky
A date for your diary ! ! !
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to play London ! ! !
Eccentric and talented and very smart young lady Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is playing a concert in London ! ! !
She will play in the Islington O2 Academy on February the 13th. It will be a great opportunity for you to see a great J-pop act live. I think it should be a great fun evening ! ! !
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Ponponpon