Why is AKB48 So Popular in Japan?
AKB48 is a Japanese idol pop group, consists of 89 girls (2013). AKB stands for “Akihabara” which is Electronic/Anime district in Tokyo, and it is also known as the “home ground for Otaku people”. The number “48” in AKB48 came from the number of original members. This group was produced by Yasushi Akimoto for fans to see their performance on stage rather than on TV. Fans can see them more closely and get more intimate experience through their live events. The intimate experience is one of the main reasons that AKB48 has become so popular. The group is separated into “A”, “K”, “B”, and “4” small teams, so they can go to different cities to have live concerts at same time. The group sometimes holds ‘handshake events’, so the fans can see their favourite idols. In order to give their idols a handshake, the fans need to buy a CD because the CD comes with a ticket to enter the handshake event. A fan can only shake hands with an AKB48 member for 10 seconds. For AKB48 members, this event is a crucial part of devloping their “Top Popular Idol” ranking for the annual AKB48 election. The members make an effort to keep their fans happy and encourage them to be supportive at the election. The person who is ranked at the Top can stand in the middle of the stage.
The group gradually became popular and made record sales of over $200 million in 2011. There are sister groups such as SKE48(Nagoya), NMB48(Osaka), HKT48(Fukuoka), JKT48(Indonesia), and SNH48(China).
Here are some videos of AKB48.
Koisuru Fortune Cookie by AKB48
Oogoe Diamond by AKB48
Here is a part of a TV show which features a handshake event with their fans. About 100,000 fans come to the big handshake events. Some very popular AKB48 members spend more than 8 hours shaking hands with their fans. The amount of handshakes a member does changes depending on how popular she is.