Article: Top 10 Japanese Singers Who Started Their Journey From Reality Shows

Becoming a professional singer is not as easy and simple as people might think it is. In countries like Japan and South Korea, it is especially hard to get established as a singer, or more specifically an ‘idol’. More often than not individuals have to audition for entertainment companies where they might get selected as trainees, and this training period can go up to several years. For this reason, reality and survival shows exist- once passed, it is a road to success from then onwards. Here is a list of 10 Japanese singers who were not only talented enough but also the love of the public by their side as they debuted.

1. Yamaguchi Mako

Mako participated in the Nizi Project which was a Japanese reality competition show produced by JYP Entertainment and Sony Entertainment, ultimately debuting under NiziU in December 2020. She ranked first in the competition which led her to become the leader of her group. Being one of the older members in the group she wants to guide and help the rest of her members.


2. Honda Hitomi

Although a member of the extremely popular Japanese group AKB48, Honda wanted to try her hand at reality competition shows. In 2018, she participated in the survival show Produce 48. Ranking 9th, she became the lead dancer and vocalist of the Korean-Japanese group Iz*one. All this while she went on hiatus with her previous group AKB48. Unfortunately, Iz*one disbanded in 2021, ending her contract with the group. Currently, she is under Toyota and is still a member of AKB48’s Team B.


3. Sakamoto Mashiro

Mashiro trained under various entertainment companies like JYP, Pledis and 143, before finally participating in the Korean reality competition show Girls Planet 999, in 2021. During her time in the show she was voted as the leader for every team competition she partook in. She debuted as the co-leader and dancer of the group Kep1er after ranking 8th in the show. Despite being the only Japanese member in the group, she speaks fluent Korean due to her years spent training under Korean entertainment companies.


4. Watanabe Haruto

One of the youngest members of his group, he participated in the survival show YG Treasure Box, produced by YG entertainment. This talented and handsome rapper was the first to be announced for being a member of the group Treasure. Considered as “Treasure Box’s Number 1 Visual”, he also had the most viewed fancams on Weibo with over 1.5 billion views. Besides being a rapper, he is also an amazing dancer, and beatboxer and often takes part in writing the lyrics for their songs.


5. Yabuki Nako

Training for over 4 years, Nako then took part in the survival show Produce 48, eventually ranking 6th and debuting as the sub-vocalist of the group Iz*one. Amongst the Japanese members in the group, she was the best at Korean and the shortest trainee in the entire show. Currently, she is a member of HKT48, an exclusive model for “Love Berry” and has had supporting roles in a few tv shows.


6. Suzuno Miihi

Miihi participated in the Nizi Project and ranked 6th, becoming the lead vocalist and lead dancer of the group. Before auditioning for the show, she was a trainee of JYP and had managed to impress the CEO of the company with her Korean speaking skills. She has also appeared in a few music videos for different groups under JYP.


7. Takada Kenta

Kenta was a participant of Produce 101, a reality competition franchise under CJ E&M, after being a trainee for over a year. Unfortunately, he was not able to finish the competition and was eliminated on the 10th episode of the show, ranking 24th. However, after the show came to an end, he joined the fan-requested group JBJ. With the disbandment of JBJ in 2018, he and another group member formed the group JBJ95, where he is currently the main vocalist and main dancer.


8. Arai Ayaka

Ayaka dropped out of high school just so she could devote her entire time and energy to participating in the Nizi Project. Thankfully luck was on her side and ranked 8th in the contest, emerging as the visual and vocalist of the group. Despite being only 18 years old she is the tallest member of her group!


9. Takata Mashiho

Mashiho, lovingly nicknamed “Shiho” by his fans and teammates, joined YG entertainment as a trainee in 2013. He was one of the first YG Japan trainees and after being trained for over 7 years and participating in YG Treasure Box, he finally debuted as the main dancer and vocalist for the group Treasure.


10. Watanabe Rui

The last and final singer on this list is Rui who participated in YG’s survival show MIXNINE in 2017, before being eliminated in the 13th episode, ranking 25th. Her career has been through a lot as she was also the leader, rapper, vocalist and dancer of the group H.U.B before the group became inactive in 2019. Her contract with the company ended in 2021 and her current whereabouts are unknown.