Now, if you guys read my blog at all you’ll know that I have very conflicting feelings about the no dating rule in the idol world. I have made a few posts on their own about it. My most recent, and in my humble opinion my best piece on the subject was, The no dating rule and Johnny’s special treatment. In that post I was able to vent all my frustrations about how male idols have it a lot easier than female idols do in regards to relationships. And the post was partially fueled by all the anger I accumulated over the years from beloved idols that were ripped out of their groups because of scandals.
The deeper and deeper I venture into the idol fandom the more clearly I see things, and the stronger an opinion I form about certain things. While I do still believe that male idols are getting special treatment in the short-term, I’m also starting to think that male idols may be getting the short end of the stick in the end after all.
And this post is of course talking about marriage. Marriage is considered one of the biggest, and arguably most important, moments in someone’s life. Certain people have to fight for the right just to be able to get married, and it seems idols aren’t any different. Male idols anyway.
Think for a moment of some of your favorite former female idols. Chances are around half of them have gotten married already and in some cases even have children. Even Nakazawa Yuko’s time finally came. Now think about the ages of these former idols. And more specifically think about the ages these idols were when they got married. Female idols have gotten married anywhere from 20-40. Now let’s look at the ages of male idols. If you exclude the younger members of Sexy Zone, the ages of debuted Johnny’s members range from 18-50. And of those only a small few are actually married.
Let’s look at the youngest former idol that got married that I’m aware of. It’s of course former Morning Musume member Tsuji Nozomi. Tsuji got married when she was just 20 years old. Now let’s look at the roster of Johnny’s members who are around that age. Sato Shori and Kotaki Nozomu are 18 years old. Kikuchi Fuma is 19 years old. Nakayama Yuma and Nakajima Kento are 20 years old. Kamiyama Tomohiro, Hashimoto Ryosuke, Fujii Ryusei, Okamoto Keito, Nakajima Yuto, Chinen Yuri, and Yamada Ryosuke are 21 years. Shigeoka Daiki is 22 years old.
That’s a baker’s dozen of male idols who could technically get married any day now if they were allowed to. Now there are of course several things to factor in. Not every single person wants to get married, not every single person wants to have kids, and not every single person wants to get married that young. And that is true. But for the sake of this blog post let’s pretend that every single male idol does in fact want to get married.
The average age a person gets married is between 25-32 years old. In the United States it’s 27 for women and 29 for men. In Japan it’s 28 for women and 30 for men. But because that’s just the average age and people obviously get married above or below the average I’m going to use the 25-32 age range for the sake of argument. Now let’s see which Johnny’s members fall into that age range shall we?
Kiriyama Akito is 25 years old. Miyata Toshiya, and Hamada Takahiro are 26 years old. Fujigaya Taisuke, Tegoshi Yuya, Kato Shigeaki, Kawai Fumito, and Nakama Junta are 27 years old. Masuda Takahisa, Kamenashi Kazuya, Yokoo Wataru, and Tsukada Ryoichi are 28 years old. Yamashita Tomohisa, Taguchi Junnosuke, Okura Tadayoshi, Kitayama Hiromitsu, Totsuka Shota, and Goseki Koichi are 29 years old. Yasuda Shota, Koyama Keiichiro, and Nishikido Ryo are 30 years old. Maruyama Ryuhei, Ninomiya Kazunari, Matsumoto Jun, Ueda Tatsuya, and Nakamaru Yuichi are 31 years old. Takizawa Hideaki, Murakami Shingo, Sakurai Sho, and Aiba Masaki are 32 years old.
That’s a whopping 30 members of Johnny’s that are around the marrying age. Even if only half of them have any desire to get married and/or have a family that’s still 15 members. Seems like a rather large number if you ask me.
And these are just the male idols that fall into the standard marrying age. It has nothing to do with the members who are younger or older than this who also want to get married. And let me tell you Johnny’s of various ages have voiced their desires to get married. Johnny’s Junior member Kyomoto Taiga said that he wants to be married by the time he’s 30. Yasui Kentaro said he wants to be a father by the time he’s 30. And Iwahashi Genki mentioned how he wants to be a father as kind and understanding as his own father on an episode of Gamushara J’s party.
But I don’t think anything is more heartbreaking than the members who are older and desperately want to get married but can’t. I’m sure all the unmarried members of SMAP and Arashi have probably mentioned at least once that they want to get married. I know for a fact that Arashi members have. MatsuJun even joked that on Arashi’s 10th anniversary all the members should announce their marriages at once. But when it comes to members wanting to get married no member mentions it as frequently and as heartfelt as Sakurai Sho.
But since Sho knows that he’s an idol and the fans would be upset he almost always either downplays, or doesn’t even mention, the wife aspect. Instead he mentions how much he wants to have children. He’s mentioned that he doesn’t even care about having a wife, but he wants a family and he wants to bring a large blanket and have a picnic with them in the park.
He also mentioned that if he has anything else in life he wants to live to be old and have his grandchildren visit him on New Years.
(translation credit to onaji_sora)
And if that’s not the most heartbreaking thing you’ve ever heard your soul must be missing. We have a poor man who desperately wants to get married but isn’t allowed to because he happens to be an idol. And it’s especially impossible for Arashi since they are national idols. So I ask you dears reader which is truly worse, being a female idol that has to graduate at 25 but after that gets to have a life, family, and most likely a new career, or being a male idol and having the freedom to continue to be an idol for as long as they wish to, but in return has to give up on one of the most important moments of their lives?
And with each passing year it gets worse and worse for every older unmarried Johnny’s member. They are starting to be too old to have kids or at least starting to have it be too difficult to keep up with those kids. Now sure you can have kids whenever you want. There have been people who had kids in their 60s. And my Aunt didn’t have her first and only kid until she was 41. But going from personal experience it makes everything harder. My father turned 35 a month after I was born. I’m 22 now which makes my father 57 years old. And I was my father’s 2nd child.
Since my father was already 40 years old by the time I was a child he was already having a bit of trouble keeping up with me while playing. My childhood friend and I would also joke about how old of a man he was. And he was always the 2nd oldest father in my class. (He only lost because one kid’s father was 60 years old.) You also always hear older men say how much they don’t want a child at this point in their life because they’ll be 60 years old once they graduate high school.
Now of course you could have kids at any age if you’re really willing to, and I’m sure some people are thinking I’m being ridiculous to focus on the age thing so much, but let’s be honest having a child that old isn’t really ideal at all.
And it’s really sad when you think about this because in one sense Sho’s life is completely passing him by. He can have all the success in the world but it doesn’t really mean anything to him because he doesn’t have a family to share it with. He would probably be fine with any level of success just as long as he has a family. And I really feel for the man, I do. Sometimes I wish they would let him be the one Arashi member to get married already. But at the same time it seems unfair because I’m sure every other Arashi member wants to get married just as badly as Sho does.
That’s why no matter how big of an Arashi fan I am, and no matter how upset I’d be, I would understand 100% if they disbanded the group tomorrow so the members could go off and start families. I’ve actually kind of mentally prepared myself for that announcement to happen any day now. The members are always kind of vague when it comes to the future. They’ll say things like they don’t think much about what they’ll be doing in a years time, or they want to continue doing their best in the future. They even once said that Arashi will continue for as long as Ohno is able to keep up with the dances and that it all depends on him.
However, at the same time it’s absurd that male idols have to either give up on having a family or quit. It’s just like Kago Ai said, idols are puppets. They are alive but they are unable to feel or love. Sure, male idols might seem to have the good life initially, partying and having a different girl every night. But eventually you grow up and you realize you want something more substantial than that. But they can’t because someone is pulling their strings.
And the fans don’t make it any easier. They certainly treat idols like puppets, dolls, or another play thing. They wind them up and watch them dance. They dress them up however they like but they must never touch. They place them on a shelf until they gather dust and swiftly cast them aside for the latest model.
People seem to forget that even though they are idols they are still people. That beneath that hard porcelain is a live beating heart. And that honestly has to be the hardest part about being an idol, living for someone else other than yourself.