Idols You Should Meet: Morning Musume (Part 1)

Michishige Sayumi-400168


Name: Michishige Sayumi
Born: July 13th, 1989 in Yamaguchi Prefecture
Group: Morning Musume
Nickname: Sayumin, Sayu, Shige-san, Oyakata, Shige-pinku
Blog: Ameba Blog, Gree Blog
Hobbies: Collecting things, Talking
Talent: Braiding, Y-balance, Math

Currently the leader of Morning Musume and Hello!Project.
She is the oldest current member of Morning Musume at age 24.
Joined Morning Musume in 2003 as part of the 6th generation.
Her favorite color is pink.
Her favorite sport is tennis.
Her favorite animals are cats even though she is allergic to them.
Her motto is “Never refuse a gift”.
Her favorite foods are mentaiko spaghetti and chocolate.
Her least liked foods are avocado and milk.
She is a self proclaimed fan of AKB48, Idoling!!! and Perfume.
Well known as being the most narcissistic member of the group.
If she could be any other member of Hello!Project it would be C-ute’s Suzuki Airi so she can “sing songs with charm, just like her!”.
She doesn’t like when others call her “Shige-san”, because the kanji make her seem bigger. (重 is often used for heavy and weight)
Tsunku has praised her improved singing and reliability since becoming Morning Musume’s leader.
Fellow members Ishida Ayumi and Suzuki Kanon have both stated that they believe Michishige to be the perfect idol.




When I was properly introduced to Morning Musume, it was a tough time for them. Sales refused to break 60k for the past five years, their music was getting stale, and they were hardly getting any promotion outside of the hardcore fanbase. This was Morning Musume in 2010.

Fast forward to 2013. Three years and seven graduations later, Michishige Sayumi, the last remaining relic directly tied to Morning Musume’s legacy, is the captain of the bold and new Morning Musume.

Michishige Sayumi’s personality has been fascinating to watch since her debut into Morning Musume as a sixth generation member in 2003. At face value you first see a overly confident narcissist, but those who dig further will see rare glimpses behind the persona to discover Sayumi’s deep dedication to her craft as an idol and to her group.

She’ll be the first person to tell you what her fears and weaknesses are, but she’ll also tell you that she’s the cutest person in any given room. It’s this ability to say whatever she wishes with no fear that really stuck with me, and continued to surprise me. She is someone who learned to remove the filter from her mouth and earned the rare ability to speak freely, even if jokingly, things no one else would dare say.

Her work on variety programs is really something to behold, with scathing remarks and near sociopathic levels of narcissism that only idols who wish for career suicide would dare attempt. At face value it can be annoying and even offensive, but it’s when you’re invited to peek behind the curtain and see what kind of thought process and effort goes into her work that you feel like you’re in on the joke, and really appreciate what she brings to the table.

It’s in these rare opportunities, such as a candid discussion or an intimate interview, where she reveals the most interesting things about not only herself, but about being an idol in the industry. Discovering the reasons behind her defining characteristics transformed my initial perception of just simply an entertaining and cute idol, to someone I greatly admire and respect.

Even I was surprised at how well Sayumi has handled her leadership position, as everyone surely had their fill of jokes and doubt whenever the issue arose. Even Tsunku felt mixed about the prospect and didn’t appoint Sayumi as subleader when Niigaki Risa was head honcho. But her approachable personality, ability to be stern when needed, and newfound determination to promote her fellow members and Morning Musume in general has been really heartwarming and promising to see since her inauguration – to where even Tsunku has noted his pleasant surprise with how she’s been handling her role.

And now as the leader, she will also be undeniably tied to the sterling track record Morning Musume has achieved since her leadership began. I remember distinctly when Sayumi stated that her goal as a leader was to get Morning Musume ranked #1 on Oricon, and I’m happy to see that since her leadership, the group has broken out of their rut.

Not only did ‘One Two Three’ mark their first 100k+ seller in over a decade, but their three most recent singles have all ranked #1 on Oricon. I’m really glad this wish was granted to her and I hope Morning Musume continues to turn a new leaf in their music and promotion with their great new cast of members who seem to get stronger by the day.

Now, for some required reading:

The Study of How to be a Good Musume Ruler: Passed Down After 15 Years – A really fascinating discussion between Michishige Sayumi (the current leader) and Nakazawa Yuko (Morning Musume’s first original leader). Serves as a great example of how dedicated she is as a Morning Musume member and as a new leader, as well as some fascinating new trivia about Morning Musume in general.

Biography and trivia courtesy of Hello!Project Wiki

About NSK

New School Kaidan is a community-focused website for the Japanese idol industry international fan base. Between podcasts, broadcasts, events, and analytic articles, New School Kaidan aims to bring an understanding of idol culture to the masses.

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  1. Sayu really is amazing. Her cutesy character is really funny to watch and she is just insanely cute. I may have to admit that she probably is the cutest girl in the world! ^-^) lol

    Definitely someone everyone should meet, she’s a once in a life time idol (If that makes any sense).

  2. Thank you, it is really a helpful article & make know a lot about her.

    I really hope that NSK continue this segment, because it helped a lot in the past when I was still learning about AKB48 members & the sister groups,
    Keep up the good work

  3. Nice to see this article. I remember watching some of Momusu shows(HaroMoni?) few years ago, not really knowing what idols are and just watching it for the laughs. It was my first interacion with idols so I always had the Momusu image when someone mentioned idols.

    I lost intrest quickly after that though, but now for past few months I’ve been intrested in idols again, AKB48 being the reason…(=_=)

    Anyway, I have noticed that Momusu wasnt doing that good anymore, so reading this article somehow makes me happy :)
    I remember Michishige from the shows and I didnt really like her much, but seeing her as a hardworking leader now is nice.
    I will definitely pay more attention to Momusu now ^^

    Also, recently discovered this site. Keep up the good work. :D

  4. Best Sayu moment ever was when she hijacked the discussion of the single “Resonant Blue” on Music Fighter:

    The ” ‘ah’ taka ‘un’ taka” part was funny as hell to me and the assurance that her “Help Me!” was the key to the song seemed to give her strength. I often wonder if the single named “Help me” was a reference to this…

  5. It’s a nice article of my number one idol of all time, I enjoyed reading it. Sayumin is a wonderful idol and leader, I always had confidence in her. ♥

  6. In a completely “legit” way Sayu gradually became my all-time favorite idol. The more I glimpsed her hard work and dedication the more I admired her. It certainly helped that she’s drop dead cute. This is a terrific article and it confirms nicely that in spite of the language barrier, my impressions of Sayu were dead on. Yay! I’m indescribably happy that Momusu’s current success so exactly coincides with the time of her leadership. She must feel good about that and she deserves it. I’m looking forward to what is now guaranteed to be very loud send off at her graduation. (I’ll always love her but I’m afraid…it’s time.)

  7. I’m very happy there’s a momusu member over 20. Sayu’s nasally voice can be grating at times – and covered up by autotune – but it helps her stand out. And I actually really enjoy some of her solo/duet songs (Aishu Romantic, Lalala no Pipipi). I wonder if she has much input on the other aspects of those songs.
    Her leadership is obviously so vital to the younger members, which is basically everyone else. And yeah, she’s a looker – even if I tend to prefer “cute” over “stunning.”

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