Name: 小林梓 (Kobayashi Azusa)
Stage names: AZUSA, 林華鈴 (Hayashi Karin), 森田ひろみ (Morita Hiromi)
Date of birth: January 30th, 1978
Place of birth: Hokkaido, Japan

Date of debut: April 27th, 1999 (Member #14)
Graduated: July 30th, 1999

Official site | Official blog | Official photo room | Twitter | hitomibore
 

Azusa Kobayashi is a Japanese singer, producer, actress and cosplay model.

She started her career as a model in 1994, eventually becoming a member of the group Country Musume in 1999. She graduated the same year, and ended up doing gravure modeling and cosplay until releasing her debut album in 2013. Kobayashi's trade mark is a doll she carries with her.

History

Kobayashi Azusa started out working as a model at the age of 15, signed to Junes acting and modeling. She got her first jobs in 1994 and appeared in several gravure magazines and gravure commercials.

At the age of 21, she signed up for an audition held by Tsunku and Yoshitake Tanaka (Country Musume’s original producer). Nine girls went through voice and dance lessons at a farm in Hokkaido, and three girls ended up being chosen. They were Hiromi Yanagihara, Rinne Toda and Kobayashi. As the oldest member she became the leader of the group.

A few days before the release of their first single, Hiromi Yanagihara died in a car accident. The group still released their debut single, but Kobayashi left only a month after, alledgedly because the pain of the loss of Hiromi was to great.
The real reason might be that she was fired because pictures of adult nature of her had surfaced.

A month after her departure she released "again4", an adult photobook, under the name Morita Hiromi. Around the same time Hello! Project held a concert, where Rinne Toda performed as the only remaining member of the group. She read there Kobayashi’s farewell letter, which said: 

“Dear Fans, I would like to sincerely thank you for supporting us till this day. Despite how short it has been, I still would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Three of us were supposed to start a new group with high hopes and dreams. However, my dearest and best friend, Hitomi, lost her life suddenly and that took heavy mental toll on me. I’d like to apologize to my fans as well as my staff for my weakness in times when I need to be stronger, and all the trouble this may have caused. And once again, thank you very much for your support. Sincerely, Azusa Kobayashi.”

In 2000, she became a talento, changing her name to Hayashi Karin. She worked as a model and actress, doing live singing performances and also cosplay modeling and running her own site. She changed her name back to Azusa Kobayashi and has since 2008 been performing at small venues, away from the spotlight.

In 2013, she released her first mini-album, entitled «Distance». She said in an interview: «Usually, I am not so great with carrying conversations and expressing my feelings, so I wrote the lyrics as if I was jotting down my inner thoughts and ideas on a notebook. […] Five years of my thoughts, feelings, and histories are neatly packed in this album.«

Live concerts were held on the 18th and 27th of September at Nishikawa-guchi Hearts in Saitama Prefecture to promote the album. The same year she appeared in the music video for TADACy EYE(S).

In 2014, Kobayashi opened her new official site which also stated she would be producing three idol groups: PalmSugar, AISHNG FAIRY and Mysterious Roses. And in September Kobayashi announced the release of her second «album» Alexandrite, set for an October release.

AISHNG FAIRY disbanded the same year, and when PalmSugar entered their 3rd stage Kobayashi wasn't mentioned as their producer anymore.

In 2015 she released her first single, Tear drop, and an indies single called My Daughter. The following year, she released two more singles, Inner Heart and Mousou Prologue.