“Shio Taiou”: When Japanese Idols Pour On The Salty Treatment
Idols are typically friendly, cheerful, and easy to approach but recently, there has been media attention given to a type of idol who could be considered a complete failure by those standards. The phrase for this is “shio taiou” (塩対応), which literally means “salty interaction”. It is where someone will be cold, blunt, and detached when you meet them. It differs slightly from the more common use of the word salty used to describe people who are mad and while this is generally seen as a detractor, it seems there are quite a few who like this treatment as well.
Most famous example of someone known for “shio taiou” in the world of Japanese idols is Haruka Shimazaki (aka Paruru) from AKB48. She has been called “ponkotsu”(piece of junk) by Yasushi Akimoto and other members of the group in the past for her miscues and even though it was proven that those claims were largely exaggerated, the tag has stuck with her. When “DOCUMENTARY OF AKB48 NO FLOWER WITHOUT RAIN” opened in theaters across Japan in 2013, there was a limited run of special popcorn boxes with Shimazaki’s image on them with the contents being marketed as “shio taiou-flavored”. Previously cast as “Paruru” in the 3rd season of the drama Majisuka Gakuen, Shimazaki was given the name “Salt” in seasons 4 and 5. Despite it all, she has climbed up the ranks of popular members in the group.
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