For the uninitiated, the "idol" culture in Japan is kind of a big deal. It's a national phenomenon that everyone from your brother to your uncles, even your grandpa has some sort of knowledge into this vast and colorful world. You've got your music idols, your TV and movie idols, your AV idols, your seiyuu idols. There are too many kinds to mention, really, and somehow, the industry keeps creating new classifications all the time. For now, let's focus on the world of Japanese gravure modeling and its idols. A gravure idol (often abbreviated to "gradol") is a Japanese female model who poses for magazines (for men, in particular), photo books, and even DVDs. Gravure idols appear in a wide range of photographic styles and genres depending on the need and circumstance.
Photos are aimed mostly at male audiences with poses and appearances that are more provocative and suggestive but never in a grotesque, distasteful, or showing full nudity. Gravure idols usually start quite young with the industry as early as their pre-teen years all the way to their thirties. These are typically short-lived careers though as these women usually treat this as a way to jumpstart their careers and make their way to other industries or their preferred ones. There have been countless gravure idols over the years. If you've been wondering, check out our list of some of the best Japanese gravure idols below. Let us know what you think of these beautiful, lovely ladies and tell us your own favorite in the comment section below.
Anri Sugihara was born on June 12, 1982, and is from Fukuyama, Hiroshima. After finishing high school, she moved to Tokyo and gave gravure modeling a try. Outside of modeling, she likes to travel, Thailand being one of her favorite destinations, was successful in stock investment. Back in 2012, she was officially appointed as a secretary of the Hiroshima Prefecture tourism.
Leah Donna Dizon was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 24, 1986. She is a singer and model that was quite popular in Japan very early on. She then moved there in 2006 to pursue a career in entertainment. She briefly stepped away from the industry to focus on her marriage and daughter. She moved back to Las Vegas in 2012 to pursue finished her education and resume her singing career.
Mitsu Dan, the professional name of Shizuka Saito, was born on December 3, 1980, in Akita Prefecture, Japan. She has a long and varied career as an actress, gravure idol, and writer. Apart from her career as a gravure idol, she has starred and appeared in numerous movies, TV series, and variety shows throughout the years. Her most recent escapades include moonlighting as a writer for various magazine columns.
Sara Oshino was born on June 3, 1995, in Tokyo, Japan. This 24-year-old beauty is one of the new up and comers in the Japanese gravure industry and is quickly rising in the ranks as one of its best idols since she started. Not much is known about her as of now but you'll definitely be seeing more of from now on. Check her IG and other social media accounts while you're at it.
Asuka Kishi was born on April 11, 1991, in the Osaka Prefecture, Japan. She started her modeling career in Osaka and put up her own office in 2012 and was chosen as a member of the Daiichi Shokai image girl unit, D Dream Girls. She has delved into acting and appeared in various variety TV shows since.
Nozomi Sasaki was born on February 8, 1988, in the Akita Prefecture, Japan. She worked as a fashion model for the better part of a decade before she became famous as a gravure idol, releasing multiple photo books and DVDs throughout that time. She had a long and successful career in TV and film with her pursuing a career in music as well recently.
Reimi Osawa is another new up and comer in the world of gravure modeling. She hails from the Saitama Prefecture in Japan and was born on May 8, 1993. Not much is known about this mysterious beauty but we do know that she has transitioned into an acting career as suggested by her recent lead role in the 2018 movie, Hatsukoi Sukecchi: Maitchingu Machiko Sensei.
Reon Kadena (also known as Leon Kadena or Minamo Kusano) is a Japanese actress and former gravure idol. She was born in the Osaka Prefecture on February 19, 1986. She released her very first gravure photobook back in 2004 and various gravure video appearances the year after in 2005. This was also around the same time when she made her debut as an actress in the erotic drama Piikan Fufu and marked a shift from modeling to acting from then on.
Rio Uchida is a Japanese gravure idol and actress that was born on September 27, 1991, in Hachioji, Tokyo. She debuted back in 2010 with her agency, LesPros Entertainment. She did various gravure modeling gigs until she got her first big acting break by landing a lead role in the TV series, Kamen Rider Drive.
Aki Hoshino is a Japanese bikini and gravure model that was born on March 14, 1977. She has appeared in various men's magazines as well as TV shows throughout her career. In 2010, she was named as one of the "7 most irresistibly cute Japanese idols" by mens magazine, FHM Thailand. Around the same time that year, she authored a beauty and health book called Hoshino Body. She married horse racing jockey, Kosei Miura, back on September 25, 2011, and had their first child on April 12, 2012.
Yoko Matsugane is a Japanese gravure idol that has made a name for herself in the industry for her voluptuous figure. She was born on May 26, 1982, and she's from the Ibaraki Prefecture. She has released various gravure DVDs and photobooks since 2002 as well as appearing on various TV shows in Japan. Aside from gravure modeling, she is also a traveling DJ that has performed in various clubs across Japan, Australia, and Singapore.
Rio Natsume is a Japanese gravure idol that was born on February 20, 1985. She released her first gravure work back in 2003 and has released various photobooks and DVDs all throughout the early 2000s. In 2005 she was featured in a video game called Gal of the Sparrow 2. She appeared together with other popular Japanese idols such as Chikako Sakuragi, Saori Yamamoto, and Yuka Watanabe to name a few.
"Idol" is an all-encompassing term used to describe young entertainers in Japan? This can refer to idols from across various industries such as music, acting, entertainment, and modeling. The influence and impact of these idols in society can't be underestimated. As such idols are not seen as just entertainers but are also regarded as role models for the younger generation. Due to this, idols must always maintain a positive image from public perception. Idols are expected to work very hard to maintain their image and keep their reputation high. To be able to achieve this, they need to tour around the world, take on projects, communicate with fans, stay in shape. All of this just to try their best to stay relevant in their respective industries.
Being an idol is an attractive option for younger people looking to gain fame and fortune. It is not without its downside though as is the case with most things. Whether you're a music idol, a gravure model, in acting, or in entertainment, the societal pressure that it entails is all too real. This does not guarantee that everyone in the industry will make it. It does provide an opportunity that would otherwise not be available to regular people. Regardless of which side of the fence you are about it, the idol industry is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
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