Iida Kaori (飯田圭織)
- Nickname: Johnson, Kaorin, Kao-tan
- Birthdate: August 8, 1981
- Birthplace: Muroran, Hokkaido, Japan
- Blood type: A
- Height: 168 cm
- Hobbies: Drawing, cooking
- Special skills: Communicating, making puns
- Favorite words: LOVE & PEACE
- Favorite color: Red
- Favorite flowers: Roses, tulips
- Favorite season: Summer
- Favorite food: Oysters, scallions, cream bread
- Disliked food: Fried tofu, bacon
Iida Kaori was one of 5 runner-ups in 1997 that was offered by Tsunku the chance to be taken under his wing on one condition: that they sell 50,000 CDs of their song “Ai no Tane” in 5 days. The quintet accomplished that task in four and, thus, in 1997, Morning Musume was born (and their first official single “Morning Coffee” was released in 1998).
In 1999, Tsunku placed Iida into the subgroup Tanpopo with Ishiguro Aya and 2nd generation Morning Musume member Yaguchi Mari, where they specialized in singing slower, more mature songs. Together they made four singles and an album. After Ishiguro graduated from Morning Musume and Tanpopo in January 2000, Iida and Yaguchi performed Tanpopo songs as a duet until Tsunku placed 4th generation Morning Musume members Kago Ai and Ishikawa Rika into the subgroup. Tanpopo’s style was also given a revamping, with songs being more upbeat, but nonetheless still slower than Morning Musume. In this formation, Tanpopo released 3 more singles, a compilation album, and a compilation DVD.
After Morning Musume’s then-leader Nakazawa Yuko graduated in the Spring of 2001, Iida took on the role as the group’s leader. Additionally, when Morning Musume “split” into 2 subgroups in 2003—Iida was leader of Morning Musume Otomegumi.
In July 2002, Tanpopo, along with other Morning Musume subgroups Pucchimoni and Mini Moni, experienced changes in their membership – partly due to graduating Morning Musume members and partly to showcase the newer members. As a result, Iida (along with Yaguchi and Kago) graduated from Tanpopo.
As with Hello! Project’s shuffle groups, Iida was placed in Aoiro 7 in 2000, 10-nin Matsuri in 2001, Odoru 11 in 2002, and 11Water in 2003. She also participated in the 2004 summer shuffle group H.P. All Stars. In 2005, she participated in the shuffle group Puripuri Pink. She is the only member of Hello! Project to have participated in all the shuffle groups since the tradition started.
Additionally, Iida is pursuing a solo career as an artist and singer. Her solo musical career includes two albums outside of Hello! Project where she sings covers of French, Greek, and Italian songs (in their respective languages). She also has two singles in Japanese, released in advance of her impending graduation from Morning Musume—though still set in a Mediterranean style; many Western fans of Morning Musume and Hello! Project have described the style of Iida’s solo material as “Euro-enka”. In Morning Musume, Iida mostly sang harmony with a few solo lines. Her signature song in Morning Musume is “Yume no Naka”, from the group’s first album.
On December 29, 2004, Iida released her third album, this time within Hello! Project and in Japanese.
On January 30, 2005, Iida—the last First Generation member to still be in Morning Musume—graduated from the group to further pursue her solo singing and art careers. Yaguchi Mari took over her role as Morning Musume’s leader upon Iida’s graduation. Her tenure of over 7 years was the longest of any Morning Musume member, a record Iida would hold until January 2009 when fifth generation members Takahashi Ai and Niigaki Risa broke it. As of January 2009, she is one of only four members to remain in the group for over 7 years (4th generation member Yoshizawa Hitomi would later achieve this honor just weeks before her graduation in 2007 and 5th generation members Takahashi Ai and Niigaki Risa reached this mark in mid-September 2008).
On December 21, 2005, Iida released Plein D’amour ~Ai ga Ippai~, her fourth album. This album featured songs in Japanese and many European cover songs in their original languages. This was her first album to be released since she graduated from Morning Musume.
In early 2007, Iida was chosen to be a member of Morning Musume Tanjou 10nen Kinentai (モーニング娘。誕生10年記念隊) —a unit created to celebrate Morning Musume’s 10th anniversary as a group. Morning Musume Tanjou 10nen Kinentai also consists of Abe Natsumi, Goto Maki, Niigaki Risa and Kusumi Koharu. Their first single, Bokura ga Ikiru My Asia (僕らが生きるMy Asia), was released on January 24, 2007.
On July 6, 2007, Iida’s agency announced that she was ten weeks pregnant and getting married to Kenji, a former member of the disbanded 7 House, a band formed by Tsunku; Iida’s marriage took place the next day. Iida began maternity leave after the Morning Musume 10th Year Anniversary Concert Tour ~Summer ’07 Thank You My Dearest~ on September 1, 2007.
On February 3, 2008, Iida released a statement to her fan club that she had given birth to a baby boy on January 22, 2008 at 10:30 am. It was announced on November 28, 2008 that her son had died on July 27, 2008 from renal failure.
After the death of her son, she stated that in his memory, she will continue her career. She returned to the concert stage at the Hello! Project 2009 Winter Elder Club-Thank you for your LOVE!- series, her first performance in one year and four months. She also performed at the Hello Pro Award ’09 ~Elder Club Sotsugyou Kinen Special~ concert on February 1, 2009, which celebrated her graduation from Hello! Project along with 21 other Elder Club Members.
On March 31, 2009 Iida Kaori along with the rest of the Elder Club graduated from Hello! Project.
Beginning April 2009, she will be part of M-Line, the official Morning Musume graduate fan club.
- As a member of Morning Musume, Iida had the most singles under her belt with a grand total of 26 (counting “Ai no Tane”) until 5th Generation members Takahashi Ai and Niigaki Risa surpassed this amount in 2009.
- Is an experienced acoustic guitar player.
- Her nickname “Johnson” comes from the hosts of Utaban constantly referring to her as such. The origin comes from the 1999.02.16 episode where Ishibashi Takaaki decided to associate each member with a baseball player (so he could remember them easier), and Iida supposedly resembled Davey Johnson. Iida’s nickname is the only one that stuck.
- Is the only member of Hello! Project to have been in a shuffle unit each year, and each year she has been in the largest group, with the exception of 2005, in which she was in Puripuri Pink which tied Elegies for largest, both with four members.
- Attended Hokkaido Sapporo Tousei High School and later transferred to Tokyo Municipal Yoyogi High School, where she was the same year as SPEED member Uehara Takako.
- Loves to draw and has published a few children’s books.
- Her long hair was a trademark of her image, but she cut it short not long after her graduation from Morning Musume. Since then, she has grown it out long again.
- Fans and members have remarked that she must be “communicating with aliens,” due to her frequent blank and spacey expressions.
- She is the one who came up with the nickname “Ayaya” for Matsuura Aya.
- Maeda Yuki joined Hello! Project thanks to Iida.
- Prior to joining Morning Musume, she appeared in a battery commercial back in Sapporo. She was even a finalist in Komuro Tetsuya’s auditions held by ASAYAN at the same time.
- She once said in an interview that her future dream was to be a happy mother.
- She considers herself her rival.
- Morning Musume (1997-2005)
- Tanpopo (1998-2002)
- Morning Musume Otomegumi (2003-2004)
- Aoiro 7 (2000)
- 10-nin Matsuri (2001)
- Odoru 11 (2002)
- 11Water (2003)
- H.P. All Stars (2004)
- Puripuri Pink (2005)
- Morning Musume Tanjou 10nen Kinentai (2007)