KBG84, Japans newest pop band, has 33 members, a massive hit single, and an average age of 84.
The band KBG84 stands for Kohamajima Ba-chan Gasshodan (Kohamajima grandma chorus) which is a play on the name of teeny bopper girl band known as AKB48.
The band has just released a single called, “Come on and Dance, Kohama Island,” accompanied by a music video shot on the tiny honeymoon isle of Kohama in the Okinawa Prefecture.
Group member Tomi Menaka, 92, told The Japan Times she misunderstood what it meant to be an idol.
“When I first heard someone call us ‘idols’ I thought an idol meant someone who had lived a long life and was at the gates of heaven,” she said.
“But in Toyko they told me it was an entertainer – which is a relief because I thought it meant I was on my way to heaven,” she said before giggling. “I hadn’t been to Toyko or Osaka. I wanted to go there before I went to heaven. Going to Tokyo for the first time, I thought I was so lucky to be born. I got to meet my grandchildren. I’ll never forget it. I was moved to tears.”
The pop band are now completing a sellout Japan tour and taking the Japanese music scene by storm recently signing a record deal.
Well known for their high life expectancies, Okinawan islanders have a diet that consists of more vegetables and less sugar than mainland Japanese, including the staple local sweet potato they choose over rice.
However the groups eldest member Haru Yamashiro, 97, says she likes meat and sweet things.
“I look after my health by cleaning my home, wiping the floors, steaming rice. I stay in the shade when it’s too hot. I don’t want to tan. I have to take care of my skin – I’m still young at heart,” she said.
And it seems life in paradise has barely changed for the pop stars as Hideko Kedamori, 86, explained.
“We felt like stars in Tokyo. Everyone in the audience had a big smile, which gave us the energy to sing our hearts out. We’re blessed to have been born in Kohama. Our lyrics are about the island and nature — whales in the sea spouting or dolphins doing somersaults,” she said.
“We still sit around gossiping about life. If we fight, we quickly make up again, just like when we were kids. We are all together with the same heart. All for one and one for all,” Kedamori said.