08 October 2011

Hikaru Genji, Shining the Brightest and Crashing the Hardest

Members: Uchiumi Kohji, Osawa Mikio, Morohoshi Kazumi, Sato Hiroyuki, Yamamoto Junichi, Akasaka Akira & Sato Atsuhiro

Hikaru Genji (from left to right: top row - Uchiumi Kohji, Osawa Mikio, middle row - Yamamoto Junichi, Akasaka Akira, Sato Hiroyuki, bottom row - Morohoshi Kazumi, Sato Atsuhiro)

Hikaru Genji was one of the big groups of Johnny’s and the current sempai groups can be tied back to this group, such as SMAP and most of TOKIO being their back dancers before their debut. They debuted in 1987 and first broke up in 1994 when members Osawa and Hiroyuki left the group and agency. For a time the group was renamed Hikaru Genji Super 5 before that broke up only a year later in 1995. It is said they broke up because of in fighting between the members of the group.

The group’s name comes from the name of the main character from the first Japanese novel, The Tale of Genji. They were the first Johnny’s group to have sub-units, which were simply called Hikaru and Genji. Hikaru consisted of the two oldest members, Uchiumi Kohji and Osawa Mikio while Genji comprised of the younger five members. The group used roller skates in their performances as their way to stand out from the rest of the male idol groups out there. They were also the youngest male group to top the Oricon chart which they lost when the Junior group Hey! Say! 7 bet their record in 2007. Like Matchy they won the Japanese Records Award in the year they debuted.

 They are also the first group to sing Yuuki 100% which was used as the theme song for the anime series Nintama Rantaro. This song has been covered and released as a single by Junior group Ya-Ya-Yah (2002) and the group NYC (2010) and has been covered by Hey! Say! JUMP (2009), though their version was never released on CD. And all these covers have been used as the theme song for Nintama Rantaro as it’s one of the few anime series that just seems to go on forever.

Uchiumi Kohji is the oldest member of the group and one of the two that are still with Johnny’s & Associates. Like Higashiyama of Shounentai it’s said that he is a part of the agency’s management team, which with the fact he really does not do much as a solo artist anymore seems to be legit information though he will show up at Johnny’s Countdown, an annual New Year’s eve concert, from time to time.

Osawa Mikio was one of the first members to leave the group back in 1994. He has gone on to become an actor and has been in several Japanese movies and TV dramas.

Sato Hiroyuki left the group with Osawa in 1994. Unfortunately I couldn’t really find much information about him other than recently he joined with fellow ex-members, Morohoshi and Yamamoto to perform onstage together at a concert Morohoshi was having as a benefit for the tsunami victims.

Akasaka Akira, like Uchiumi, Atsuhiro and initially Yamamoto, stayed with Johnny’s after Super 5 split. He was active in stage work until 2007. He was in that year’s PLAYZONE musical but before the promotions began for the usual DVD release of the show he was caught possessing drugs. With Japan’s zero tolerance position on illegal drugs he was promptly dropped from the agency and the release of that PLAYZONE DVD was cancelled and the soundtrack that had already been released prior had its sales stopped. Unlike in the West Japan is not forgiving of illegal drug use or possession, especially by idols, and this marked the end of his career. While he was with Johnny’s he was considered to be one of the Dancing Kings of the agency.

Yamamoto Junichi stayed with the group until they disbanded completely in 1995. He stayed with the agency for a while but ultimately left in the end.

Sato Atsuhiro are still with Johnny’s & Associates as solo talents and these days do stage work though Atsuhiro had a brief solo career as a singer post-Hikaru Genji. At the time of his debut with Hikaru Genji he held the record of being the youngest Johnny’s to debut, he was 13, which was a record broken first in 2007 when Hey! Say! JUMP debuted with a member who was only 12.

Morohoshi Kazumi has continued on as a solo singer and still performs concerts to this day. In the past couple of years he has mentioned wanting to do a Hikaru Genji reunion but with two members still with Johnny’s and Akasaka’s arrests on drug charges it looks doubtful at the moment that his dream will come true.

Overall Hikaru Genji is one of the more important groups in Johnny's history. While groups and other acts from the agency were popular in their own right none as much as Hikaru Genji who were the third artist in Oricon history to have the number 1 and 2 single of the year and the second to have three of their singles be the top three singles on the Oricon charts as well. It's really no surprise that Johnny's keeps looking back on this group for inspiration for their new groups, the sub-units in V6 and Hey! Say! JUMP as well as Kis-My-Ft2 using roller skates. So while they did not last much longer than many of the Johnny's groups of the time they still left a strong and lasting impression on the agency and the groups that came after them.

Hikaru Genji Super 5 (from left to right - Yamamoto Junichi, Morohoshi Kazumi, Uchiumi Kohji, Akasaka Akira, Sato Atsuhiro)

TRIVIA: The group was originally formed in 1986 and was then simple called GENJI.

Yuuki 100% was even covered by the group themselves when they became Hikaru Genji Super 5.

Next Entry > Otokogumi, Rocking It Old School

Directory >
Johnny’s Juniors, full of rising stars and heartbreak
The Early and Rocky Path to Fame
Kondo Masahiko: Singer, Dancer, Actor, Professional Race Car Driver
Giving a New Meaning to Playzone, Shounentai
Hikaru Genji, Shining the Brightest and Crashing the Hardest
Otokogumi, Rocking It Old School
The Living Legend of SMAP
TOKIO, From Spaceships to the Over 30s World
Victory, Volleyball, Vegetable, Vicylce? V6
KinKi Kids, It's Not What You Think
Arashi, Storming to the Top
The Inseparable Duo, Tackey & Tsubasa
North, East, West, South ... It's big NEWS
Kansai Underdogs,  Kanjani∞
Cartoon? KAT-TUN!
Jumping to Their Dreams, Hey! Say! JUMP
Johnny's Black Sheep, Akanishi Jin
How to Debut Without Even Trying, Ikuta Toma
Kis-My-Ft2, Everybody Go (Roller Skating)!
Yamashita Tomohisa, Johnny’s Golden Boy
Entering the Sexy Zone
The 5Stars A.B.C-Z
International Ventures
Johnny's and Charity 
Odds & Ends


Jackie said...

Awesome, so many infortmations !!
Your posts really make me becoming a Johnny´s expert soon ;))
I realize that I don´t know anything about the past of Johnny´s, everytime I read your project posts.

Hikaru Genji, I´ve heard something about them in relation to Kisumai and their rollerskates. Finally I see photos of them as well !
Atsuhiro debuted at the age of 13 and Ryutaro was 12 and now Marius is even younger, 11 years old.

I knew that Yuuki 100% was an original song from an old Johnnys group but I din´t know it was Hikaru Genji.
Sorry, you might think that I´m totally failing as a Johnnys-fan right? But I´m not too long in JE fandom so still don´t know much what happened in the 80´s or 90´s.
But I´m glad that I can be informed by your posts.
Thank you as always!

Misa said...

ooooh my... pink and lilac suits for boys O_O
Today that would be a NO GO !!! LOL
Hehe but well, we´re talking about the 80´s XDD

It´s amazing how even today Yuuki100 is still performed so many times on SC or in different concerts. It´s a top classic Johnnys song after all.
And I remember seeing a Music Sation performance of NYC shortly after the earthquake singing this song. I got really moved afte that

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed reading about hikaru genji ! I like your "Johnnys past" entries~ ^^

Thennary Nak said...

@ Jackie

Thank you. I'm sure there's plenty of information that I'm missing but I hope it can at least be a good base to start learning about these groups.

I would not be surprised if Johnny's tries to debut a 10 year old next, though I don't think they can get much younger than that as the youngest Juniors are usually around 9.

Honestly there's a lot I'm learning for the first time when I research these groups and I know I'm in the minority when it comes to Johnny's fans in being interested in these older groups. But the more I learn about them the more I come to see just how important some of them were to the more recent groups and Johnny's in general.

@ Misa

Those suits are actually some of the better outfits this group has worn. If you really want to see embarrassing outfits search any of the live performances of the older groups and there will be plenty.

Yuuki 100% is really a timeless song and perfect for cheering up for. I don't think there was a better time for it to be performed than right after the March disaster and I was also really moved by it.

@ Anonymous

You're very welcome and I'm happy that you're enjoying these posts.

Anonymous said...

Hi, being a Hikaru Genji, quite surprise to have found this page. Though some of the information was not accurate, it was well enough.

They are doing well now.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for the information, I like your title "Shining the brightest and Crashing the hardest", totally suits them.

Though comparing to nowadays groups, they didn't last long and it seems that they bursted into success quite early which somehow led them to the down fall suddenly though, but I guess that was all the same for idol groups in early 90s. Usually, people remember them the most with the three top singles on Oricon 1988, that was the year they shone the brightest. If you read manga enough, there were some manga in late 80s and early 90s mentioned Hikaru Genji, mostly the image of Ka-kun though. That was totally impressing of them (and Johnny-san). There was also a manga about 2 idol groups that was totally them, even the characters resembled each member of Hikaru Genji.

It's still good to see Atsuhiro around at Countdowns, though no Kouji at all. I think in the early countdowns, like 98-99, you can see Yamamoto before he left the agency. I'm so glad that I could see Ka-kun, Hiro and Yamamoto again on the stage and they sang Yuukic100%. Recently, both Ka-kun and Mi-kun also star in the same movie, it makes me happy somehow too!

Again, thanks for the post. JE fashion has been always a disaster xD