Idol Chatter


Originally published on on October 2009

Photo by Chris Betros

Photo by Chris Betros

It’s fitting that Akina Minami does TV commercials for an energy drink. The 20-year-old gravure idol, model, actress and all-round tarento needs as much energy as she can to keep up with her busy schedule.

Minami (above, third from left) has the cute looks and bubbly demeanor that Japan’s cookie-cutter entertainment companies produce year after year. She has been one of the country’s It-girls for about 18 months, doing ads for Coca-Cola, KDDI and skin care products, as well as appearing in anti-shoplifting posters in her home prefecture of Kanagawa. Her film credits this year include Kamen Rider Deno & Decade, in which she plays a miniskirted fighter battling assorted monsters in the 15th-century Muromachi period. She’s also a regular on Fuji TV’s popular midday variety show Waratte Iitomo.

  • SATURDAY: Minami’s busy week begins at the Tokyo Girls Collection before legions of screaming fans, many of whom have copied her hairstyle (for which she won the “Beauty Fresh” category at last year’s Beauty Week Awards). “I created the idea for this hairstyle by myself. I’m very happy to see people imitate it,” she says.
  • MONDAY: Since her hairstyle has attracted fans, Minami is hoping her line of clothing for fashion chain g.u. will do likewise. At an event in Roppongi Hills to unveil the fall-winter line of jeans, shirts, skirts and knitwear, all of which sell for ¥990, Minami says, “I’d like to see more girls dress cute and realize the appeal. My boyfriend always tells me he likes what I wear when we go on a date.”
  • TUESDAY: Hello Kitty fashion would seem to be a natural for Minami, who shows up for the feline’s birthday bash in a frilly pink miniskirt and ears at Harajuku’s Laforet Museum. “Isn’t she adorable?” is the sum total of Minami’s opinion on the famous Kitty.
  • WEDNESDAY: Next on Minami’s schedule is a promotion at Tokyo Midtown for Taipei International Flora Exposition, at which she is joined by Gui Lun-mei, a popular Taiwanese actress. Minami is given a flower crown for the expo, which starts in November 2010. Naturally, we’re interested in her favorite flowers. “I’d like a bouquet of gerberas, preferably from a guy who is cute and taller than me,” she coos.
  • FRIDAY: Time for the “au Smart Sports Run & Walk,” where Minami lines up with Q-taro Suzuki, 35, and Hiroaki Matsuda, 32, of comedy duo Hiking Walking. KDDI’s “sports support service” utilizes motion sensors in handsets and GPS technology to calculate calories burned, speed and distance, as well as displaying the route taken. Minami sports a cute, athletic pink number and black tights for the event, which is held on a circular track assembled inside Tokyo Midtown. She says she keeps in shape by taking her two dogs for a walk every day. As for the au service, she adds: “The handsets and service are cool, and walking is good for one’s beauty.”

Minami says she is enjoying the fast pace of her life, but adds wistfully, “There are times when I just want to hang out with my friends and go to the seaside or festivals, but instead I end up putting a lot more effort into working.”

Chris Betros is the editor of Japan Today (