ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A History of "Hello! Project" the Record Label That Has Many Japanese Female Musical Artists

Updated on March 14, 2020
CELEBSFAN78 profile image

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

A photo of Maimi Yajima, Now Former Leader of Hello! Project


What is "Hello! Project?"

For fans of Japanese pop music they may be wondering what actually is Hello! Project? I have been wondering about this too for a long time. To make it easier for readers to understand this, let’s just say that Hello! Project is actually a name or label assigned to all female Japanese pop music groups that are under contract with an agency called Up-Front Group. It is described as the “umbrella name” for all of the Japanese female performers and recording artists. To phrase this more simply, let’s just say that it is like a record label without actually being one in the traditional sense. This puts perspective on the deepness of the Japanese entertainment scene. Hello! Project is one level below the talent agency. This talent agency has the record label that these artists are signed to.

Hello! Project: the early years which were 1997 and 1998

The earliest roots of Hello! Project go back to 1997 when rock group Sharam Q was actively looking for female vocalists. There were auditions that aired by way of a reality show. The winner of that audition, Michiyo Heike was chosen as the first female vocalist in Hello Project history. However, there were a group of five young girls that lead vocalist of Sharam Q Tsunku decided that should be given a chance to form their own musical group. But the condition was that they had to sell 50,000 copies of their debut single Ai No Tane. This group of girls sold that required number in just four days. It was at this moment that the group Morning Musume was formed.

The first lineup consisted of the following members:

Yuko Nakazawa

Natsumi Abe

Kaori Iida

Asuka Fukuda

Aya Ishiguro

The band’s first single Morning Coffee was released in January 1998 on the One Up music label. The single came in at #6 on the Japanese music charts. That’s really impressive for a first single. Several months later, the group’s first live appearance came at Shibuya Music Hall now known as Shibuya C.C. Lemon Hall. With the introduction of Morning Musume, the whole Hello Project label was born.

Hello! Project groups as of 2014

Hello! Project now consists of the following musical groups: (note: this lineup was the one at the end of 2014).

Morning Musume (the most famous of all these groups)

Berryz Kobo


Erina Mano



Aika Mitsui


Hello! Project Eggs

And Tomoiki: Ki o Uetai.

Some of these groups are now no longer a part of Hello! Project.

Saki Nakajima of the girl group C-ute

Saki Nakajima spreading the love to her fans!
Saki Nakajima spreading the love to her fans!

Hello! Project: 2001-2011

In 2001, the Hello! Project saga continued with the establishment of a TV show called Hello! Morning which lasted for four years from 2001 through 2005. It was in March 2001 that then Morning Musume band leader and co-founder Yuko Nakazawa announced her intention to graduate from the group to focus on other things in her 30s. Nakazawa is now 46 years old. This announcement really caught the attention of the press in Japan. Between the months of April and June 2002, there were auditions held for Hello! Project Kids. These auditions gave birth to two more girl groups Berryz Kobo and C-ute. It was in 2007 that Hello! Project started the Morning Family New Star Audition and it did so because the objective was to get Taiwanese girls to join Hello! Project. In April of 2008, it was decided that the group IceCreamusume would be formed with six members. The end of 2008 also would be the first time that Morning Musume would not appear at the year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen tournament. This is a singing contest where there are to teams, the red team and the white team. Each team is assigned a team captain. Actress Mao Inoue was one of the captains for that contest at the end of 2011.

The song called Wakuteka Take a Chance

Hello! Project: group name changes

In 2014, Morning Musume changed their name to Morning Musume 14. And they now have a new leader. That leader is ninth generation member Mizuki Fukumura who started her leadership work at just 18 years old. It was also announced that idol group Country Musume who be reformed under the new name of Country Girls. Berryz Kobo member Momoko Tsugunaga will be one of the new members when the group begins their activities in 2015. Note: Country Musume now operates under the name Country Girls. You have now seen a brief history of Hello! Project beginning with how it was created up until the present time. As of 2015, Hello! Project has had five leaders. The first leader was first generation member Yuko Nakazawa who served from April 2001 through March 15, 2009. Following Yuko’s departure, Ai Takahashi served as leader from April 2009 through September 30, 2011. Takahashi has since gotten married to comedian Koji Abe. Risa Niigaki would serve as Hello! Project leader from October 2011 until her graduation in May 2012. Maimi Yajima of the idol group C-ute has been serving as leader since Niigaki’s departure.

Maimi Yajima with Ayaka Wada in 2009

Maimi Yajima (right) is seen here with S/Mileage member Ayaka Wada in 2009.
Maimi Yajima (right) is seen here with S/Mileage member Ayaka Wada in 2009.

Graduation of Kanon Suzuki

In February 2016, 9th generation member of Morning Musume Kanon Suzuki announced that she intends to graduate from the group at the conclusion of their concert tour. The date for her graduation is May 31, 2016.

Hello! Project Leadership Change and Group Roster in 2018

Much has happened since this article was first written. As of this current moment, February 2018, the leader of Hello! Project is one of the singers of the girl group ANGERME Ayaka Wada. There have also been changes to the status of the various girl groups in Hello! Project. As of 2018, the current roster of the groups reads like this:

  • Morning Musume 18
  • Juice-Juice
  • Country Girls
  • Kobushi Factory
  • Tsubaki Factory

At the end of 2018, it was announced that Mizuki Fukumura would become the new leader of Hello! Project after the graduation of Ayaka Wada, member of girl group ANGERME.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)