Seitou-ha: What Comes to Mind When Someone Says the Word “Idol”?

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Seitou-ha: What Comes to Mind When Someone Says the Word “Idol”?

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In Japan the word “idol” generally has the image of a certain kind of person: cute, youthful, energetic, and friendly. This was certainly true of idols from the Showa Era (1926–1989) with groups like Candies, Pink Lady, and Onyanko Club or soloists like Seiko Matsuda and Akina Nakamori. Seitou-ha (正統派), which literally means “orthodox school”, is a term that has been used to describe the kind of performers who adhere to those standards.

Here are some examples of idols who are currently active that can be considered to be in the seitou-ha category. They are generally conservative in appearance and have a “girl next door” quality to them, maintaining a friendly and approachable manner of carrying themselves. While it is not always the case, the music of seitou-ha idols is light and easy to listen to. In the case of Sunmyu~ and Idol Renaissance, most of their songs are covers of hits from the past.

The video below by Harajuku lolita idols MELTIA shows the kind of behavior expected of idols and some hilarious examples of what not to do. Although lolita is not considered to be a conventional concept for a Seitou-ha idol, many of the behaviors they discuss are generally accepted as proper for an idol.

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The definition of what an “idol” is has been evolving since the dawn of the “Idol Warring States Period” (Aidoru Sengoku Jidai) around 2010 but, seitou-ha idols are the established standard. Even though AKB48 (and their sister groups) are the “national idols” of Japan, with so many different personalities, they cannot really be considered seitou-ha. Members like Rino Sashihara (HKT48) and Kaori Matsumura (SKE48) have been fairly aggressive about calling attention to themselves by any means necessary. While it may be extremely valuable to self-promote with all the new ways to reach audiences, it is a definite change from the demure and girly types of idols from their parent’s generation.

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Kai Okudara

Writer, researcher, photographer, foodie, KSDD

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