Name: 稲葉貴子 (Inaba Atsuko)
Date of birth: March 13th, 1974
Place of birth: Osaka, Japan
Date of debut: February 21st, 1999 (Member #11)
Graduated: March 31st, 2009
Atsuko Inaba is a Japanese singer and actress.
She started her musical career as a member of the group Osaka Performance Doll in 1993, moving on to the group Taiyou to Ciscomoon in 1999. After the disbanding of the group in 2000, she remained a part of the H!P agency until her contract expired in 2009. She took a break from show business, but returned in 2014 as part of the duo Pirit Color.
In an interview back in 1999, Inaba had said:
“I always liked singing since I was little and I was singing all the time at home. But I never had annyambition to become a singer. When I was a senior high school student, someone told me to take a singing lesson if I liked singing so much. So I began taking lessons and the next step for me wasn’t directly related to the entertainment industry, but out of curiosity, I tried out for a radio audition for a female music group, and I passed. As I continued my student life, I continued the singing and dancing lessons.
The next news I heard [back in 1992/1993] was an audition process for OPD, (Osaka Performance Doll). Again, out of curiosity, I took the audition and luckily I passed once again. I realized at that point that in order to become a professional performer, you really had to commit yourself to it.”
The group was a sister group to the famous Tokyo Performance Doll. OPD consisted of five main members (called F/Unit), but since the group was theatre-based in Osaka there were several other members for live performances. There were also «trainees», girls who would be training to eventually become fully fledged members of OPD..
Inaba was in OPD for three years, leaving the group in March 1996.
When she was in OPD she was part of seven singles and two albums. She also released a fan club single, called «Sugar Time».
After leaving OPD, Inaba had an inactive solo career for two years. She said in an interview that she was almost at the point of giving it all up. When suddenly she was watching TV and heard an audition process for Taiyo To Ciscomoon.
So Inaba signed up for the audition hoping to be a part of the new group produced by Tsunku of Sharan Q. The auditions were shown on the tv show ASAYAN, like all of Tsunku’s auditions at this time. She and three other girls passed, and each of them was sent for training in different cities around the US. The group would be named Taiyou to Ciscomoon and they released their debut single on April 21st, 1999.
In the spring of 2000, Tsunku decided to shuffle all the artists he managed under Hello! Project. He split all the artist into three groups, and Inaba ended up in the 7nin group Aoiro7. The whole purpose of the shuffling and three groups was to see which group would sell the most singles. Aoiro7 ended up in third place with total sales of 385.540 copies.
For unknown reasons Taiyou to Ciscomoon (which now had been renamed to T&C Bomber) was disbanded in late 2000. The other girls left the agency (UFA), but Inaba stayed as part of Hello! Project. There are rumors saying that the reason she got to stay, is that she is related to Tsunku.
A new audition was announced, called «Inaba Atsuko Atarashii Unit Audition» («Inaba Atsuko New Unit Audition»). This ran from December 2000 up until May 2001, but the audition was unsuccesful and a new unit featuring Inaba was shelved.
Her role in Hello! Project would be to participate in shuffle groups, MC-ing a concerts, performing as a chorus singer and dancer at concerts, and teaching choreography to other groups within Hello! Project.
In 2002, UFA started releasing a bunch of children’s songs albums, entitled «Doyou Pops». The albums were themed according to the season, and Inaba participated on five of these albums. At the end of the year a dvd called Hello!Project Douyou Eizou shuu Ponkikies 21 was released. It is a dvd accompaning all the doyou pops album released this year, with promotional videos for some of the songs.
Around Christmas, a special Christmas single was released, called «Ai no Merry Christmas» («Merry Christmas of Love»). It was a collaboration between 21 of the girls in H!P (Inaba being one of them) and enka singers Hiroshi Itsuki and Takao Horiuchi.
She wasn’t part of the shuffles in 2001 and 2002, but she got to be part of the shuffles in 2003. She was put in the group 7AIR with six of the other girls. This year Tsunku made a big change, as there would be no competition to see who sold the most singles. The three songs from the three groups were on the same single, with everyone singing on the b-side «Oh! Be My Friend». 7AIR’s song is called «Kowarenai Ai ga Hoshii no», in which Inaba sung most of the rap parts.
In 2003, she also started hosting a radio show with Hitomi Yoshozawa called Ikinari Inaba Yoroshiku Yossi which went off the air a year later. She also had a radio show in the summer of 2005 which was scheduled to run for a week. It was called TBC Fun Firudo Mouretsu Moudasshu.
In December of 2004, Tsunku made an all-star group of all the members in Hello! Project, which at this time was over 50 girls. Inaba was a part of this group, which was given the name H!P All Stars. Their single, «ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL», sold 61.440 copies. The single also had two b-sides, «Sankaku Kankei» («Love Triangle») and «Suki ni Naccha Ikenai Hito» (The Person I Shouldn’t Fall in Love With»). Inaba sings on «Sankaku Kankei» with Ayumi Shibata, Masae Ohtani and Aya Matsuura.
For the 2005 shuffles, Tsunku decided to team Inaba up with three other old school girls; Yuko Nakazawa, Kei Yasuda and Kaori Iida, creating the shuffle group PuriPuri Pink. Their song, «Hitoshirezu Mune wo Kanaderu Yoru no Aki», would be a slow ballad enka styled. The song was released on the maxi single «Onna, Kanashii, Otona / Inshouha Renoir no You ni / Hitoshirezu Mune wo Kanaderu Yoru no Aki», which went on to sell 34.587 copies.
2008 would turn out to be a busy year for Inaba:
OPD got together for their 15 years anniversary, holding a live concert and releasing a best-of album. Taiyou to Ciscomoon would also get together for a 10 year reunion. They opened a blog for the anniversary, and held a few live concerts and released a best-of album. In late 2008, it was announced that Inaba along with the rest of the Elder Club in Hello! Project would graduate from on March 31, 2009.
After her graduation, Inaba remained a part of the same talent agency responsible for H!P; UFA. Only six months after the mass graduation, it was announced that her contract with the agency had ended. She commented on this herself saying «I’ve been active in show business for 16 years now, and I’ve now decided I want to change my viewpoint and see the world from a different angle. I want to work hard to make this new start (…) So I hope you’ll all watch over me kindly from now on.»
Inaba was out of the spot light for five years. In the summer of 2014, it was announced that Inaba had teamed up with fellow OPD-member Ayano Furutani to create the unit Pirit color (shortened to Pirikara). They had their first live event, called Pirikara Live 2014, on September 27th at Yotsuya Live inn Magic, and has had several live events in 2015 and 2016.