When you think of idols, what kind of image do you see? I bet there are many people out there who think of Akihabara. Akihabara and idols are closely tied together, but on the other hand, what about Shibuya? There aren’t many people who connect idols with Shibuya, right? But did you know that idols are part of both Akihabara and Shibuya culture? “Akishibu project” is an idol group on the paved road of a new era. Their name comes from the “aki” part of “Akihabara” and the “shibu” part of “Shibuya”. “Akishibu project” was formed in October of 2012, and the group’s current eight members are Yue Miyatani (leader), Hinako Kera, Saori Funaki, Yuuna Arakawa, Natsumi Ishikawa, Ami Iseki, Emiri Otani, and Miiro Taguchi. And, after three years of activity, their overseas debut is planned for November of 2015. They’ll perform at the “Cool Japan Festival” being held in the Philippines on November 7th and 8th. It’ll be a joint performance with internationally renowned cosplayer Alodia. They’re also scheduled to play at “Tokyo Crazy Kawaii Bangkok” being held in Thailand on January 22th-24th, 2016. Tokyo Girls’ Update sat with them for a quick word on their anticipated international activity.


– To begin, could you please tell us what kind of group Akishibu project is?

Yue: Our group works around the concept of uniting Akihabara (aki) and Shibuya (shibu) culture. We’re uniting the otaku culture of Akihabara and the gyaru culture of Shibuya. On the surface many of us look like gyaru-ish girls, and I even used to be a model for Ranzuki (a gyaru magazine), and some of us have lighter-colored hair. Our concept formed from wondering would happen if girls like us were to walk the path of an idol.

– Are some of you Shibuya style and some of you Akihabara style?

Yue: Well, we’re not exactly divided either way, though I’m more Shibuya style, but more like a black-haired gyaru, and Ami looks like she’d be the Shibuya or Harajuku type, but there’s an otaku side of her that likes anime and idols. There’s a lot more, but most of us like idols.

– On that note, could each of you please introduce yourself and tell us about what you like? It doesn’t have to be an idol- anything is OK.

Yue: She’s an idol, but I like Risako Sugaya from Berryz Kobo, even though they’re no longer active. Even just looking at her she really stands out, but I fell in love with her voice and performance.


Emiri: I’m Emiri Otani, a.k.a. Mirinya. I also like idols, and I often go and see them. I also like the Internet, and often watch NicoNico Douga (a video sharing site like YouTube).


– What kind of genre of videos do you like on NicoNico Douga?

Emiri: I like to hear covers (utattemita) or vocaloid (bokaro), but I also like watching dance videos (odottemita), and sometimes do them myself. I like watching and doing them.

Miiro: I’m Miiro Taguchi, a.k.a. Miichan. I love Disney, and like going to Disneyland and Disney Sea, along with all the Disney characters, and I also love Disney movies. Also, I look up to the model Nicole Fujita.


Ami: I’m Ami Iseki, or “Amirakuru”. I like idols, anime, and rock bands, but for anime I like more grotesque (“guro”) ones like Future Diary or When They Cry. For idols I really like BiS, even though they separated, and for rock bands I really like Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas.


Yuuna: I’m Yuuna Arakawa, or “Yuunarin”. For idols, I like Mai Shiraishi from Nogizaka 46.


– Come to think of it, you really resemble Mai Shiraishi, don’t you?

Yuuna: The members tell me that a lot, but I don’t think that’s fair to Shiraishi… But I’m glad to hear it. Also, I really like games, and I play a lot of app games on my cellphone, so I always check iTunes recommendations every Tuesday and download a lot of them. I play a lot of genres like girl (otome) games, adventure, and simulation games.

Saori: I’m Saori Funaki, or “Saorin”. I like Shibuya. I’m not too interested in anime. I like to shop at 109 and I love Shibuya street fashion.


– Do you have a favorite brand?

Saori: There’s not a particular brand I favor. It’s more like, if I go to 109 I can buy something good. Like if I’m going out, I’ll also go to Shibuya.

Hinako: I’m Hinako Kera, or “Hinahi”. I like idols, and my favorite idol is Miho Miyazaki from AKB48; she’s the reason I wanted to become an idol. Before I became an idol I liked AKB48 so much that I went to many of their concerts and handshake events, and Miho Miyazaki gave me the nickname “Hinahi”.


– When did you first get into them?

Hinako: Miho Miyazaki became my “oshi” (favorite) when I was in my first year of high school, which was four of five years ago. From then up until I became an idol, I was always going to concerts and handshake events.

– What do you like about her?

Hinako: First I just thought she was really good at dancing, but I began to pay closer attention to her because of her interesting talks on TV, and when I got a ticket and went to see her at a handshake event, she was so nice and funny, I really started to like her.

– Have you been to any concerts or handshake events recently?

Hinako: I would buy handshake event tickets, but there were many times I couldn’t go because they fell on the same days as our concerts, so they became “dead tickets”, and I started to think there wasn’t any point in buying them. But you can buy theater tickets two days before the show, so about half a year ago I went.

– So you all have things you’re an “otaku” about?

Hinako: Yes!

– Besides Yue, who is leader, do any of you have roles?

Yue: Everyone has their own personality. I think all of us stand out pretty well as individuals.

Hinako: I’m the oldest and the “energetic leader”! Or at least, that’s how I define it!

Everyone laughs.

– How about Emiri?

Emiri: Compared to the other members, I hardly speak at all, so I come off as a dark person with some kind of speaking problem(laugh).


– Speaking of which, you all like different things and your personalities are all different, so what do you talk about when you’re together?

Everyone: Um…

Yue: We talk about trivial stuff.

Saori: Or like what we’re wearing that day or our clothes.

Yuuna: Or we play each other a lot. (laugh)


– Who plays everyone the most?

Hinako: I think Yuechi (Yue) does…

Yue: That’s not true! (laugh)


Hinako: It’s really funny when Yuechi plays people.

Yuuna: When the two of them get together they’re really insufferable.

Yue: I’m not really trying to play anyone, but just raise the mood, so when I realize it, it’s like “Oh, did I play you?” But Natsumi Ishikawa, who couldn’t join us today, is even better at it.


– You all have a particular fashion you’re into, right? What kind of fashion do you like?

Yuuna: Yuechi (Yue) is our fashion leader and always looks down on our fashion choices.

Yue: I do not! (laugh)

Saori: But Yuunarin (Yuuna) isn’t stylish at all.

Yuuna: I’m not unstylish, I just don’t care about fashion like Yuechi does. But when we wear our own clothes to Akishibu Project events, people always tell me, “You look cute,” and fans seem to favor me. It’s kind of irritating to have members who aren’t favored as highly tell you that you’re not stylish. (laugh) If I were actually trying to be, I could be. I just don’t buy new clothes that often and wear the same ones over and over again.


– I see. Yue, how do you feel about being fashion leader?

Yue: Well, I don’t really think I am. It’s more like I just don’t care for simple clothes. But for those who are cute to begin with, they don’t see any need to dress up.

– Do you often hold events where you wear your own clothing?

Yue: Every now and then.

– So when you hold them, do you feel excited?

Yuuna: Yes! I just pick out what I would normally wear, so during those events, it’s like showing a part of myself, and it makes me excited.

– I see, so that’s why usually, you don’t really care about clothes very much?

Everyone laughs.

Yuuna: The clothes I’m wearing today are hand-me-downs from Yuechi, and I regularly wear them.


Saori: When we finish a show, even when she’s just getting in the car to go home, Yuechi changes into really nice clothing and fixes her make-up. All the other members just wear tracksuits. Even though we tell her, “You’re just going home so it doesn’t matter,” she’ll be like, “I never know who I’m going to meet.” I look up to her.

– I can see how you’d respect such a professional attitude. So do all the members consider her very leader-like?

Emiri: I think we all rely on her to some extent. She really looks out for us in a lot of ways.

– Next I heard you’ll perform in the Philippines and Thailand, but have any of you ever been to the Philippines or Thailand before?

Everyone: No, we haven’t.

– Have there been people from overseas in the audience at your concerts in Japan?

Everyone: Yes, during summer vacation.


– Which countries were most of them from?

Yue: There were many from Thailand.

– So since it’ll be your first time in the Philippines, are you planning to do anything in your free time?

Ami: I want to see the beautiful scenery. And durian! I want to try it.

Yue: All of us like to eat, so we’re looking forward to the food.

– What about the concert?

Yue: It’s our first time to perform overseas, so we’re a little worried about if it’ll go well or not, but as far as our music goes, I think we have a lot of songs that anyone will like, and we think people in the Philippines will like them, too. I feel like we’ve got our dances down, too, so even if our lyrics aren’t understood, I think everyone can enjoy the atmosphere of our show and our dancing.

– Is there something you’d be happy to see the fans in the Philippines do at the concert? There are many people from the Philippines who read Tokyo Girls’ Update so feel free to say something to them here!

Hinako: We’ll do our best to speak Tagalog or English, so please give us your kind support!

Yuuna: I don’t really know much about idol culture in the Philippines…

Hinako: It’d be great if they did the chants in Tagalog.

Yue: And I hope they dance, since dancing doesn’t have anything to do with language. I hope they’ll follow our lead.

– Are there any countries you’d like to visit other than the Philippines or Thailand?

Saori: I want to visit Korea. Their dancing and music is great, so I’d like to go.

Hinako: I hear Italian and French food is good, so I’d like to go and give it a try. I’d like to enjoy the mood there, too.

Emiri: I want to visit Hawaii or somewhere with a beautiful view of the ocean. We shot our PV for “Eternal Blue” by the sea, but the ocean was more grayish and not so blue then. So I’d like to shoot a PV with a beautiful view of the ocean.

– Is there something you’d like to tell people overseas about Japanese culture? Like, for example, the best things about Akihabara.

Yue: Well, because we’re part of Akishibu, we’d like to spread the culture of Akihabara and Shibuya not just across Japan, but to the whole world. Soon we’ll hold our first show overseas, and we’d like it if people started to like Japan because of us, or even better, if it made them aware of young Japanese culture.

– Thank you. Please give us a message for all of our Tokyo Girls’ Update readers overseas!

Yue: All of us in Akishibu project have a lot of big worries about our first concert abroad, but we want to do our best so we can make our international break. We’d love to become a group known in every country, but for now we want to enjoy performing with you all. We’re grateful for your support.

Everyone: Thanks for your support!

Finally, we filmed their comment video. Their talk their hope for their first international activity, so don’t miss it!

Contributor Wanted!!

Event Information
Cool Japan Festival in the Philippines
Date : November 7th (Sat) and 8th (Sun), 2015
Time : 10:00AM~8:00PM
Location : TriNoma Mall (Quezon City)

English website :http://cooljapanfestival.hallohallo.com/en/index.html
Facebook Event page : https://www.facebook.com/cooljapanfestival2015


Crazy Kawaii Bangkok in Thailand
Date : January 22nd (Fri) ~24th (Mon), 2016
Location : Central World (http://www.centralworld.co.th/)



Related links
Akishibu project Official site : http://akishibup.net/
Cool Japan Festival in Philippine : http://cooljapanfestival.hallohallo.com/en/
Tokyo Crazy Kawaii Bangkok http://www.crazykawaii.com/

Photo by Nathan Gey
Website : http://www.nathangey.com/
Facebook page :https://www.facebook.com/NathanGeyPhotography


Been working in girls’ fashion magazines for a long time and am now the chief editor of Tokyo Girls’ Update. I have more expertise in Japanese teen fashion than anyone else (probably)! I’m a huge fan of the Revolutionary Girl Utena and Bakemonogatari animes.

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