Kago Ai (加護亜依)
- Nicknames: Aibon (あいぼん), Kago-chan, Ai-chan, Aipi (her mother called her this first)
- Birthday: February 7, 1988
- Birthplace: Yamatotakada, Nara, Japan
- Blood type: AB
- Hobbies: Karaoke, cooking, studying
- Height: 150 cm
- Weight: 39 kg
- Favorite color: White
- Favorite flowers: Tulips
- Favorite word: Happy
- Favorite food: Nattou, ponzu, deserts and ramen
- Disliked food: Carrots
- Speciality: Impressions (Gackt)
Kago Ai was born on February 7th 1988 to her parents in Yamatotakada, Nara, Japan. They named their daughter Ai, which is a homonym for love (愛). Kago has previously said in interviews that she was named that by her parents because she was conceived out of wedlock, but written with “亜依” it has no real meaning.
At age 12, Kago succeeded in passing the National Audition for Morning Musume held by Up-Front Works Agency in 2000. She joined as a part of the fourth generation alongside Yoshizawa Hitomi, Ishikawa Rika and Tsuji Nozomi. Kago debuted on Morning Musume’s ninth single, “Happy Summer Wedding” with her album debut on the group’s fourth album, “4th Ikimasshoi!”.
Kago and Tsuji met during the auditions and when they both found themselves in Morning Musume the two became fast friends. The two were the youngest members in Morning Musume at the time and as such took it upon themselves to become the hyperactice troublemakers of the group. Although at first both girls were shy about being on camera they soon warmed up to being recorded.
Kago and Tsuji were accepted by Morning Musume’s fans quickly and they ended up being dubbed “The Twins” due to their similair looks and personalities. The girls each developed a strong fanbase each in time although fans found it difficult to think of one without the other. As well as being known as “The Twins”, Kago and Tsuji were also known as “Two Top” as on a television special they were both the least knowledgeable when given surprise pop quizzes on several grade school problems, Tsuji being the least knowledgeable and Kago being the second least knowledgeable.
Along with Yaguchi Mari from Morning Musume and Tsuji Nozomi, Kago approached Tsunku with a proposal of the formation of a new sub-group. The idea was that the group could only have members who were 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in height or shorter. It was to show that ‘Small people could achieve Big things’. Mika Todd from Coconuts Musume was added before the group’s debut and the group recieved their name, Mini Moni. The group’s debut single became a #1 hit.
Kago also participated in the 2001 shuffle unit, 3-nin Matsuri and competed against the other two units for sales, eventually beating the others and rising to the top.
In 2002, Kago participated in a drama alongside her fellow Morning Musume members titled “Angel Hearts”. She also released a duo photobook with Tsuji Nozomi. Kago continued her career in Morning Musume during 2002 and into 2003 as well as Mini Moni and Tanpopo. She also participated in the 2002 Happiness Groups as a member of Happy 7.
Kago continued with her duties in Morning Musume and Mini Moni, remaining active in each. In a surprise move by Tsunku, Morning Musume was split into two halfs – Morning Musume Otome Gumi and Morning Musume Sakura Gumi – so that the large group could perform in smaller towns that could not hold the larger numbers the full ensemble needed. Kago was placed into Sakura Gumi and released two singles with the group before the groups merged together and formed Morning Musume once more. Kago was included in the 2003 Elemental Shuffle Groups as a member of SALT5.
In August 2004, Kago Ai and Tsuji Nozomi graduated from Morning Musume together, whereas Mini Moni began their indefinite hiatus. Under the arrangement of the Up-Front Works Agency, Kago and Tsuji formed a new pop duo, W, which released a total of two albums and six singles.
On February 9, 2006 it was confirmed that the magazine Friday (フライデー) (the same one that provoked Yaguchi Mari’s sudden departure from Morning Musume) would publish photos showing Kago smoking. The legal age for smoking in Japan is 20, and Kago had just turned 18 two days prior to the incident. On February 10, Hello! Project issued a press statement saying that the singer had been suspended “indefinitely.”
According to an interview in the March 9, 2007 issue of Friday–the very same magazine responsible for her suspension–Kago revealed she had been serving tea, answering phones and doing assorted secretarial work at the Up-Front Works agency since January 23, 2007, when her employers found it fit for her to return to Tokyo, after she spent most of 2006 secluded at her family’s residence in Nara.
In the same interview the young idol claimed to have had undergone several changes in regard to her outlook on life, to have become more responsible. Additionally she met up with the other members for the first time at Yokohama Arena, after a lengthy period of time, though the group couldn’t quite recognize her at first, given the fact she had lost some weight.
The agency said that they were working on her comeback, though the details were not clear.
On March 26, 2007 following a newly publicized scandal involving Kago dating a 37-year-old man as well as smoking again, it was announced by the Up Front Agency that her contract had been canceled. An English translation of the announcement:
“To whom it may concern:
Regarding our client Kago Ai and the article in the weekly magazine that went on sale on March 26th, the information in the article has been verified with Kago herself, to our regret.
One year ago, when Kago was 17 and the smoking problem happened, we still considered her future in this company, and as punishment, she was imposed to house arrest in her parents’ home. Seeing how she had progressed over that year, it was decided to start from scratch and start preparing for a comeback by bringing her to Tokyo and having her do clerical and other office duties, starting on January 23rd. Although this worked out well for two months, there was another incident and the comeback plan was abandoned. After consulting with the family, as she is a minor, it has been confirmed, and she has been released from her contract.
We’re very sorry that it has come to this, and accept full responsibility.
We feel a renewed sense of responsibility for the future, especially when it comes to minors.
2007/3/26 Kawaguchi Yuukichi, Representative Director, Up Front Agency ”
Post-Hello! Project Life
On May 5, 2007, the Tokyo Broadcasting System’s newscast reported that Kago’s mother was trying to sign her to a new talent agency in her hometown of Nara. On August 25, 2007, an interview with Kago’s mother in the magazine Josei Seven revealed that after parting company with Hello! Project, Kago left Japan and started residing in New York City.
On April 6, 2008, it was reported by Yahoo! News that Kago was returning to the entertainment industry. Also, in an interview by OhmyNews, Kago admitted that she had begun smoking to feel more like an adult without realizing the impact it would have on her peers and young fans. She stated that she had actually not gone to New York, but rather to Los Angeles for three months in 2007 with her boyfriend. She said she took the trip because she felt like a criminal in Japan. While in LA she met many new people who encouraged her (including Winona Ryder) and was able to reflect on her situation and begin her new life. She also admitted to having considered suicide and having inflicted self-injury upon herself by cutting her wrists. At the end of the interview, Kago states that even though she is now 20 years old and can legally smoke cigarettes, she no longer does or has any desire to do so.
On April 24, 2008, Kago announced on her personal blog website, “Biscuit Club”, that she will be appearing in Hong Kong movie Kung Fu Chef with Sammo Hung.
On August 25, 2008, Kago Ai released a book entitled “Kago Ai LIVE ~ Kago Ai no Miseinen Hakusho”. On a July 13, 2008 post to her personal blog website, “Biscuit Club”, Kago Ai describes the book as “a book where I talk to young teens about their various troubles and dreams. Idols-in-waiting, exchange students, high school girls, otaku. The teenage years can be tough, and I had a lot of troubles in those days. But it’s important to break through those troubles.”
In June 24, 2009 Kago Ai released her first single “no hesitAtIon” under the label “In Da Groove” since being involved in the scandal.
In January, FRIDAY reported a romance between Kago Ai (20) and actor Mizumoto Hidejiro (33), but the rumor was denied by Kago’s agency at the time. Now, the matter has surfaced again, as Mizumoto’s ex-wife is seeking damages against both Mizumoto and Kago.
Mizumoto and his wife, Asato (25), had divorced on January 8, before the FRIDAY article had appeared. But Asato claims that the reason for their divorce is that Mizumoto and Kago were having an affair. As a result, she is seeking monetary damages, reportedly on the order of 10 million yen from Kago and 50 million yen from Mizumoto. She is also asking for some of Mizumoto’s assets and child support for their three children. The judge has apparently already received Asato’s claim, which means that the matter may be taken to court if it is not settled.
Kago met Mizumoto through his mother, the psychic Yoshiko Shimo, whom Kago had often consulted before her comeback to show business. The pair reportedly became intimate after working together on the movie “Benten-dori no Hitobito,” which opens in April.
Asato plans to submit Mizumoto’s script for “Benten-dori no Hitobito” as evidence. In the back, Kago wrote a message to Mizumoto, which included lines like “I love you” and “If we get married, I want to have a boy,” ending jokingly with “This message is a work of fiction.”
It is also said that Kago has been living with Mizumoto in his apartment in Kanagawa since the end of last year. Asato has obtained photographic evidence of Kago’s underwear, clothes, cosmetics, and other items at the apartment.
Kago’s agency has declined to comment.
- In the Mechaike Bakajo Kimatsu Test, Kago narrowly missed out on being crowned bakajo (Idiot Girl) after scoring two points more than Tsuji. However, in the Mechaike Okajo Taiikusai Test Kago was crowned kusojo (Crap Girl) with a score of 29 out of 100.
- Kago and Tsuji shared the world record for the largest hula hoop spun at 4.08 m (13.4 ft) in diameter. They set their record on 1 January 2004, during a live New Year’s Day television special at Nippon Television Network, Tokyo, Japan. The record appeared in the 2005 and 2006 editions of the Guiness Book of World Records. The record was eventually broken by Ashrita Furman (USA) in September 2005.
- Her Morning Musume mentor was Goto Maki.
- Morning Musume (2000–2004)
- W (2004–2006)
- Tanpopo (2000–2002)
- Minimoni (2000–2004)
- Morning Musume Sakura Gumi (2003–2004)
- Kiiro 5 (Second Generation) (2000)
- 3nin Matsuri (2001)
- Happy 7 (2002)
- SALT5 (2003)
- H.P. All Stars (2004)