The Top 10 Most Popular Japanese Boy Bands
It was very difficult to narrow this list down to just 10 of the most famous Japanese boy bands. I rank them based on how familiar I am with the members and how popular they are on social media. For example, I am a fan of Jun Matsumoto (he is a member of Arashi), and I am familiar with Arashi. I also love the group Hey! Say! JUMP, especially Yuri Chinen.
If you aren’t familiar with any of these names, then let me introduce you to my personal picks for the 10 most popular Japanese boy bands.
Top 10 Japanese Boy Bands
- Hey! Say! JUMP
- Generation from Exile Tribe
- Johnny's West
- Kanjani Eight
Arashi is one of the most popular idol groups in Japan. It consists of five members, namely Satoshi Ohno, Sho Sakurai, Masaki Aiba, Kazunari Ninomiya, and Jun Matsumoto.
The boy band officially formed in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 15, 1999. They were initially signed to Pony Canyon with whom they released one debut album and six singles on November 3, 1999. They band later moved to J Storm (a subsidiary of Johnny's and Associates) in 2001 and released many records with this label.
Their popularity soared when they became the first artist/group to place in the top two on the yearly Oricon Singles Chart for two consecutive years with their singles "Truth/Kaze no Mukō e" and "One Love" in 2008 and "Believe/Kumorinochi, Kaisei" and "Ashita no Kioku/Crazy Moon (Kimi wa Muteki)" in 2009.
Aside from singing, Arashi members also engage in acting. In fact, in October 2014, they released their album The Digitalian. It contained 16 tracks, including "Bittersweet" from Jun Matsumoto's drama Shitsuren Chocolatier, "GUTS!" from Kazunari Ninomiya's drama Yowakutemo Katemasu, and "Daremo Shiranai" from Satoshi Ohno's drama Shinigami-kun.
2. Hey! Say! JUMP
Hey! Say! JUMP is another idol band from Japan. It consists of nine members, namely Ryosuke Yamada, Yuto Nakajima, Yuri Chinen, Keito Okamoto, Daiki Arioka, Kei Inoo, Yuya Takaki, Hikaru Yaotome, Kota Yabu.
The group released their first single “Hey! Say!" on August 1, 2007. While the A-side "Hey! Say!" was used as the second opening song for the anime Lovely Complex, the single's B-side "Bon Bon" was used as the second ending song for the same anime. The single went on to sell 120,520 copies in its first week, which made Hey! Say! JUMP the youngest male group to top the Oricon Singles Chart.
They held their first Asian tour from March to June of 2012, with a series of concerts in Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.The group continued releasing singles in 2014, and their third album S3ART went to number one the week it was released.
The members are active on variety shows, and Yaotome and Arioka are now regulars on the show Hirunandesu!.
SMAP consists of five members: Masahiro Nakai,Takuya Kimura, Goro Inagaki, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, and Shingo Katori. The group's name is an acronym that stands for Sports Music Assemble People.
They released their first CD in 1991 and has since released over fifty singles and twenty albums. Approximately more than half of the singles and half of the albums have reached the top of the Japanese Oricon music charts. In recent years, they have been slower to release single CDs and are now releasing approximately one per year.
The members of the group are also engaged in television variety shows, dramas, commercials, and movies, and they are one of the most popular Johnny's groups. Due to the popularity of this band, Johnny & Associates became the most successful agency in Japan in 1995, with earnings of almost three billion Japanese yen.
KAT-TUN consists of six members. The group's name is derived from the first letter of each members' family name: Kazuya Kamenashi, Jin Akanishi, Junnosuke Taguchi, Koki Tanaka, Tatsuya Ueda, and Yuichi Nakamaru.
They made their debut on March 22, 2006 with a tripartite release of a CD single, an album, and a music DVD on their exclusive record label, J-One Records. Since then, all of their singles, albums, and music DVD releases have debuted at number one on the Oricon music and DVD charts.
In 2010, Akanishi left the group to start a solo career. The band's acronym remained the same, but the "A" represented the "A" in KAmenashi's name instead. In 2013, Tanaka's contract was terminated for several violations. KAT-TUN became a four-man ensemble, and the "T" from Tatsuya Ueda's name was used to keep the band's acronym.
The group's current members are Kazuya Kamenashi, Junnosuke Taguchi, Tatsuya Ueda, and Yuichi Nakamura.
NEWS is a four-member band, including singers Keiichiro Koyama, Takahisa Masuda, Shigeaki Kato, and Yuya Tegoshi. The group's name is an acronym based on the cardinal directions (North, East, West, South). NEWS released a promotional single "NEWS Nippon," which was used for the Volleyball World Championships.
Ryo Nishikido and Tomohisa Yamashita were formerly part of the group but left in 2011. They are now both engaged in acting and are well-known actors in Japan.
Japanese idols do not focus only on singing but also engage in acting. Some of these idols have been doing J-dramas for many years, and some have became successful actors after retiring from music.
6. Generations from Exile Tribe
Generations from Exile Tribe (stylized as GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE), but also known simply as Generations, is a 7-member Japanese boy band signed to the Avex Group label Rhythm Zone. The group belongs to the talent agency LDH and is part of the collective "Exile Tribe," related to Exile. The group debuted in November 2012.
The current members are Alan Shirahama, Ryota Katayose, Ryuto Kazuhara, Hayato Komori, Reo Sano, Mandy Sekiguchi, and Yuta Nakatsuka.
7. Johnny's West
Johnny's West consists of seven members. The band's name is an amalgamation of the band's origins with Johnny's talent agency and the members' hometown of Kansai, which lies in the western region of Japan. They are the first group to come out of Kansai since Kanjani Eight (a group that debuted 10 years before them). They released their first single, "Eejanaika," in 2014, and they sing mainly in the Kansai dialect.
The group's current members are Daiki Shigeoka, Junta Nakama, Takahiro Hamada, Akito Kiriyama, Tomohiro Kamiyama, Ryusei Fujii, and Nozomu Kotaki.
NYC is a Japanese boy band that formed in 2010 with Ryosuke Yamada and Yuri Chinen of Hey! Say! JUMP and Yuma Nakayama from Johnny's Jr. Before that, the seven-member unit, NYC Boys, formed on June 7, 2009 to promote the FIVB World Grand Prix 2009, an event that began on July 31 and ended on August 23, 2009. They performed the theme song "NYC" in Tokyo and Osaka before each game.
9. Kanjani Eight
Kanjani Eight consists of seven members from Japan's Kansai region. They are managed by the multimedia talent agency Johnny & Associates and are signed to Imperial Records. The group formed in 2002 and released their first album titled Johnny's Modern Enka Group in 2004. After 2006, their sound and style became a mix of pop and rock.
Kanjani Eight's current members are You Yokoyama, Ryuhei Maruyama, Tadayoshi Okura, Subaru Shibutani, Ryo Nishikido, Shota Yasuda, and Shingo Murakami.
W-inds is Japanese boy band managed by Vision Factory. It has been signed to the Pony Canyon label since 2000. The group consists of three members, namely Ryohei Chiba, Keita Tachibana, and Ryuichi Ogata. They made their formal debut in 2001 and, to date, have released 30 singles. In addition to their popularity in Japan, they have a relatively large fan base in other Asian countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong, and they regularly make television appearances there.
The group's members are Keita Tachibana, Ryohei Chiba, and Ryuichi Ogata.
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