Japan’s Idols: AKB48
On a stage in Japan, dozens of cute girls in mini-skirt uniforms dance and smile, singing “I love you! I need you!” They have millions of fans who watch them on television. The lucky ones travel hundreds of miles to see them live in concert. The group is called AKB48 and they are the most popular “idol” group in Japan. AKB48 is one of the only girl groups with its own theater in Japan, located in the Akihabara area of Tokyo.
The group has several “teams” of girls who perform in many different places. Each team has a different theme of “image” with its own costumes and personalities. Fans can meet the idols at special events and shake their hands. Every year, there is a big event where fans can vote for the most popular member of the group. When a fan of the group buys one of the group’s CDs, they get one vote. Many AKB48 fans buy more than 10 copies of the same CD just so they can vote many times for their favorite performer.
The girls in the group range in age from their late teens to early 20s. After spending a few years in AKB48, a girl “graduates” and leaves the group. AKB48 members always appear on television variety shows in Japan. They are also in commercials and on posters. AKB48 has grown throughout the years. There are now almost 150 members of the group. The group has sold 30 million CDs in Japan. It made $130 million US dollars in 2013. It seems AKB48 will remain popular for a long time.