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    Meet The World's Only Hamburger Idol Group: Hamburgirl Z If you love song and dance that reminds you of hamburgers, look no further

    "Oh, they're a hamburger themed idol group."

    That's what Otaben, my friend and subject from our Japanese Idol Otaku interview, said to me as I was leaving. Just minutes earlier he had suggested I go see an idol group's performance live, so I could experience first hand what he was telling me about in our interview. I agreed, and he gave me a time and place. That's about when he dropped the "hamburger themed idol group" bomb on me.

    Little did he know, I love hamburgers.

    I had never been one to be interested in idols. Yet here I was, on a particularly sunny Sunday, standing in front of one of the most well known landmarks in Osaka: The Tsutenkaku Tower.

    hamburgirl z at the tsuutenkaku tower

    An entrance takes you to an underground lobby, where there are souvenir shops and a reception area.

    entering tsuutenkaku tower to see hamburgirl z

    Presumably this is where you pay the admission fee to gain access to the tower's observation deck. Maybe another time. I had some hamburger idols to see.

    As I descended the stairs, I began to hear an upbeat, catchy tune. Perhaps I smelled a hint of hamburgers cooking too, but that may have been my imagination. After turning a corner or two, I found them: A group of cute, smiling girls dancing and singing in hamburger costumes.

    hamburgirl z performing at tsuutenkaku

    Damn! The concert had already started. I stealthily sat down in the back and watched. For the rest of the concert, I attempted to solve the "why are these girls dressed up like hamburgers?" riddle that danced so joyously in front of me.

    Enter stage right: The West Japan Hamburgirl Z!

    hamburgirl z japanese idol group promo interview

    As of this moment, there is no East, South, or North Hamburgirl Z, so for the rest of this article I'm going to refer to them simply as "Hamburgirl Z." You, dear reader, can pronounce the "Z" part however you want, but true fans will know that this "Z" is pronounced "Zeta."

    Watching their concert, I was able to understand a few things.

    First, their purpose, it seems, is to sing and dance about hamburgers. It is almost as if they are promoting the idea of "hamburgers" itself.

    Second, each girl was a single hamburger ingredient and wore that ingredient on their head. There was: beef, lettuce, egg, tomato, Awajishima fish, Awajishima chicken, Awajishima W Onion (right), Awajishima W Onion (left), pork/bacon, pickles, avocado, pineapple, mushroom, green pepper, and egg plant. Whoever came up with eggplant clearly has never eaten a hamburger before.

    After the concert (this is also where I happened to meet the train-themed Japanese superhero, Rapi:tldier) I went home with more questions than answers. My idol otaku friend, who probably knows more about idols than nearly every other human being on this earth, sent me to see this idol group. Why?

    I decided there must be more to it, so I called the Hamburgirl Z producer, Shintaro Yabu. As it turns out, he's also the chairman of the West Japan Hamburger Association. Now I was getting somewhere. We didn't talk much on the phone, but he did invite me to go to another Hamburgirl Z performance at the Okamoto Shopping Street in Kobe. I was also promised some time to talk to the girls.

    "No Idol, No Burger!" As They Say…

    hamburgirl z interview no idol no burger

    Hamburgirl Z Hambuger Idol Group poster Before jumping to the actual Hamburgirl Z event, I think it's important for you to get to know the (Hambur)girls. I'll reference them later in the story, and if you are familiar with some of their personalities then maybe it will be more like you're there with me, and not just reading along. Plus, I think their bios are kind of cute.

    There are fifteen members and fourteen ingredients. Let's start with the most important part of the burger first: the beef.


    Awaji Beef: Rinya

    hamburgirl z interview rinya

    Name: Rina Maki

    Nickname: Rinya.

    Ingredient: Awaji Island Beef

    Color: Pink

    Favorite foods: Horse sashimi, sushi, and chicken nanban (which is fried chicken with vinegar and tartar sauce)

    Likes: Nail decoration, making accessories, and watching TV

    Special abilities: Classical ballet and badminton

    Charming point: Big eyes

    Dream: In the future, I'd like to be an actress and a TV personality.

    Favorite phrase: " しんじれば だれもがなれる シンデレラ." It means, "If you believe, anyone can be Cinderella."


    Awajishima Lettuce: Ku-chan

    hamburgirl z interview ku chan

    Name: Kurumi Ogawa

    Nickname: Ku-chan

    Ingredient: Awaji Island Lettuce

    Color: Yellow Green

    Favorite foods: Hamburger steak

    Likes: Listening to music and chatting with people

    Special abilities: Playing piano and practicing calligraphy

    Charming point: A dimple on one cheek

    Favorite phrase: "いつもありがとう♡" (Thank you always♡).


    Awajishima Egg: Kana

    hamburgirl z interview kana

    Name: Kana Morikawa

    Nickname: Kanakana

    Ingredient: Awaji Island Eggs

    Color: White

    Likes: Playing piano, shopping, and going out to eat

    Special ability: Bending my joints in odd ways

    Favorite food: Umeboshi

    Favorite word: "Smile"

    Dream: To be an actress.


    Awajishima Tomato: Hinata

    hamburgirl z interview hinata

    Name: Hinata Takasago

    Nickname: Nappe

    Ingredient: Awaji Island Tomatoes

    Color: Red

    Favorite food: Any kind of meat dish

    Likes: Playing piano and playing with my pets

    Special ability: Speaking "Babi-Go," which is a word game in which you have to add either ba, bi, bu, be, or bo after each letter in the word to match the sound of the letter before it. For example, my name ひなた becomes ひびなばたば!

    Charming point: Long legs

    Dream: I'd like to be a model or an actress in the future.

    Favorite phrase: "Life is full of ups and downs. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."


    Awajishima Fish: Akarin

    hamburgirl z interview akarin

    Name: Akari Sudo

    Nickname: Akarin

    Ingredient: Awaji Island Fish

    Color: Blue

    Favorite foods: Salted salmon roe, Ika-shiokara (cuttlefish pickled in salt), and macarons

    Likes: Singing, sleeping, eating, and cheering for the Hanshin Tigers

    Special abilities: Dancing, singing, and 目玉めだまリレー, which means an "Eyeball Relay." If you don't know what that is, here is a youtube video of an eyeball relay done by Michiko Kichise.

    Charming point: My cheeks

    Dream: To be a dental hygienist who can sing and dance

    Favorite saying: "Where there is a will, there is a way."


    Awaji Chicken: Honoka

    hamburgirl z interview honoka

    Name: Honoka Abe

    Nickname: The same as my first name

    Ingredient: Awaji Island Chicken

    Color: Orange

    Favorite food: Cheese

    Likes: Dancing, acting, and sleeping

    Special ability: Being able to memorize all of the lines from a drama and making hengao

    Charming point: My thick lips

    Dream: I want to be a cool and interesting actress

    Favorite phrase: "It must be daijoubu 大丈夫だいじょうぶ (fine)!"


    Awajishima W Onion (Right): Miitan

    hamburgirl z interview miitan

    Name: Mitsuki Tanigawa

    Nickname: Miitan

    Ingredient: Awaji Island Onions

    Color: Yellow

    Favorite foods: Curry udon and melon bread

    Likes: Watching dramas and learning to sing songs perfectly

    Special abilities: Dancing and singing

    Charming point: My smile

    Dream: To be an actress

    Favorite saying: "Always smile."


    Awajishima W Onion (Left): Rionyan

    hamburgirl z interview rionyan

    Name: Riona Tanigawa

    Nickname: Rionyan

    Ingredent: Awaji Island Onions

    Color: Yellow

    Favorite foods: Japanese plums and matcha

    Likes: Watching dramas and sleeping

    Special ability: Dancing and singing

    Charming point: My left eye with its double eyelids

    Dream: To be an actress

    Favorite word: " 百花繚乱ひゃっかりょうらん," which means, "An abundance of flowers."


    Bacon: Tsuumin

    hamburgirl z interview tsuumin

    Name: Yuuka Tsutsumi

    Nickname: Tsuumin

    Ingredient: BACON

    Color: Pink

    Favorite foods: Cherries and omelette rice

    Likes: Listening to music

    Special ability: Playing the flute

    Dream: I want to be an actress in the future

    Charming point: My ears

    Favorite word: "ありがとう" (Thank you).


    Pickles: Rinary

    hamburgirl z interview rinary

    Name: Rina Kadonaka

    Nickname: Rinary

    Ingredient: Pickles

    Color: Green

    Favorite food: Fruit (especially grapes)

    Likes: Listening to music

    Special ability: Solving a Rubik's Cube

    Dream: To be an actress

    Charming point: My cheeks

    Favorite term: "Silent Majority."


    Avocado: Mary

    hamburgirl z interview mary

    **Name: Arisa Kume

    Nickname: Mary

    Ingredient: Avocado

    Color: Green

    Favorite food: Any food as long as it's tasty

    Likes: Studying and playing guitar

    Special ability: reading Kobun(Classical Japanese) quickly

    Charming points: My eyes and hair

    Dream: To be an actress

    Favorite word: "Thank you."


    Pineapple: Chisapo

    hamburgirl z interview chisapo

    Name: Chisa Taguchi

    Nickname: Chisapo

    Ingredient: Pineapple

    Color: Orange

    Favorite foods: Japanese plums, lemons, and pickles

    Like: Watching concerts and performing at concerts. I also like sports

    Special abilities: Playing the drums and the piano, playing tennis, and also the javelin throw

    Charming points: My dimples shaped like cat whiskers (called nyanchusen にゃんちゅう せん in Japanese)

    Favorite sayings: "There are no limits for effort" and " 千日せんにち 稽古けいこ たんとし、 万日まんじつ 稽古けいこ れんとす" which means, "Train for a thousand days to acquire skills, then train for ten thousands days to develop them."


    Mushroom: Maimai

    hamburgirl z interview maimai

    Name: Mai Masukawa

    Nickname: Maimai

    Ingredient: Mushrooms

    Color: White

    Favorite foods: Pancakes and shao-mai, which is steamed Chinese shrimp dumpling

    Likes: Anime, games, and cosplay

    Special ability: Drawing

    Dream: To be an actress and a voice actress

    Charming point: I have a voice fit for anime

    Favorite phrase: "みんなで かなえる 物語ものがたり," which means, "A story to fulfill everyone's hopes."


    Green Pepper: Yuuri

    hamburgirl z interview yuuri

    Name: Yuuri Misaki

    Nickname: I'm just called Yuuri

    Ingredient: Green peppers

    Color: Blue

    Favorite foods: Warabimochi (bracken-starch dumpling), yakisoba, and matcha. Actually, we haven't found a hamburger that uses green pepper yet, so we are trying to make one! Look for it soon.

    Likes: Walking, watching TV, and collecting giraffe and stegosaurus merchandise

    Special ability: Swimming

    Charming point: A redundant tooth and my smile

    Favorite saying: "Good fortune and happiness will come to the home of those who smile."


    Eggplant: Minamin

    hamburgirl z interview minamin

    Name: Minami Kubo

    Nickname: Minamin

    Ingredient: Eggplants

    Color: Purple

    Favorite foods: Bean sprouts and dried wheat gluten snacks called fugashi ふ菓子ふがし

    Likes: Keeping up with idol news and doing my hair

    Special abilities: Singing, dancing, and volleyball

    Dream: I want to become a TV personality who also sings

    Charming point: My long, black hair

    Favorite phrase: "All for one, one for all."


    Note: Sadly, Tomato-girl (Akarin) and Avocado-girl (Mary) couldn't make it to the Okamoto street event. I'm sorry if you are a fan of theirs as they won't appear later the article.

    The Okamoto Shopping Street Event

    I had never been to Okamoto Shopping Street before. I originally assumed there would be a ceiling over the top, covering the street. But, it was completely open and the weather was not great. The stage and the chairs were set up in front of a local bank and there was no roof here either. I arrived extra early so as not to be late this time, which means I had a lot of waiting around to do in the rain. But, apparently I didn't arrive early enough. Already, the first three rows of seats were spoken for. Umbrellas were draped over chairs and stools, holding these spots for early fans.

    Looking through the audience, I actually recognized some of the people there. They were fans who also went to the Tsutenkaku event in Osaka. I wondered if they recognized me, too. As a woman, I certainly felt like I stood out just a little bit. Either way, I admired their dedication and wondered how early they had arrived so that they could be right next to the stage and their idols.

    hamburgirl z interview concert prep

    At around noon, the girls appeared on a corner just down the street from the stage. I went to greet them and the man himself: Mr. Yabu, the chairman of the West Japan Hamburger Association. It turns out they had arrived earlier than planned in order to hand out advertisement pocket tissues for a Softbank cellphone store. I thought this was awfully considerate of them. I imagined that the time before a concert would be hectic, but instead they were helping out local businesses… none of which sold hamburgers, by the way.

    hamburgirl z interview tissues

    Mr. Yabu greeted me with a warm grin as I made my way to him. All around me were the girls I had come to see, and every one of them awarded me with a bright and genuinely friendly smile. Their eyes were lit up with anticipation, though not a nervous kind. They were so happy to be there, and I could feel myself getting infected by their energy as well.

    Mr. Yabu told me that the girls were going to perform on the stage (raibu ライブらいぶ), sell their goods (buppan 物販ぶっぱん), and then work as honorary employees at several of the local shops (ichinichi-tenchou 一日店長いちにちてんちょう), such as clothing stores, goods shops, flower shops, and sweet shops.

    hamburgirl z interview ichinichi tenchou

    He exclaimed to nobody in particular: "We do it in order to help promote the Okamoto Shopping Street!" Maybe he wanted someone in particular to overhear, or maybe he thought I was hard of hearing. He then told me (in a much more normal voice) to enjoy the performance and snap as many pictures as I desired. After the performance, he and the members would be available to answer any of my questions while they were doing buppan (selling goods) and ichinichi-tenchou (1-day honorary employees).

    The Hamburgirl Z Performance

    hamburgirl z interview outdoor concert 1

    After a short rehearsal, their performance began right at 1:00pm. The weather gods must have been smiling upon us, because the rain turned to a light drizzle, just in time for them to take the stage and perform six of their songs. One of my favorites was "にっぽんバーガーダンス", which literally means, "Japanese Burger Dance."

    Like at Tentsukaku Tower, I found myself getting caught up in their catchy rhythms and upbeat melodies. Somehow, it made me think of a truth my Canadian husband and I uncovered in the early stages of our relationship: Even though we didn't understand each other's language, we could understand each other's hearts through hamburgers. I know it sounds cheesy… but I think we can all agree that a cheeseburger is better than a plain hamburger.

    hamburgirl z interview outdoor concert 2

    While the Hamburgirl Z idol group was kawaii, adorable, and put on a really fun show, their singing ability was mediocre at best. That being said, I feel the same way about some famous idol groups too. In my interview with the idol otaku, he expressed that idol fans aren't really looking for a spectacular performance, like the ones that Beyoncé or Ariana Grande can deliver.

    The idol craze in Japan is a whole other animal. Fans become part of the event by shouting along to the music. And, they don't attend these events with the sole purpose of watching a group of commendable, charming, and kind-hearted girls sing and dance to catchy music. Instead, it's a chance for them to let go and put on a performance of their own by singing, dancing, and cheering on the idols that are just a few feet in front of them.

    hamburgirl z interview outdoor concert 3

    That is how to enjoy idol concerts. There is a special name for people who don't let the essence of the concert atmosphere infect them: "Jizo." I suppose this is because they are stoic and stone-cold, like the Jizo statues you see all over Japan. It's probably not because they plan to save some children from hell later that evening.

    But, this was not like that. The first few rows consisted of a crazed stomping of feet, the thrashing of triumphant fists, and the calls of the Hamburgirl faithful. A pulse could be felt going through the crowd, and it got me shouting too. Those who just stand still and don't get involved with concerts, much as in life, will miss out on all the fun. It was at this point that I tossed the hamburger wrapper I had walked 25 minutes to get and started jumping and singing along with the other fans.

    The most exciting was the one in the video above: "Ikuze! Awajishima Hamburgirl Z." This one is set up really well for fan participation. If you want to cheer along as well, I've translated a guide made by a Hamburgirl Z fan named Tsujicho-san. You can view and download it here.

    And, in case you want to watch the whole thing, here's a playlist I found consisting of six videos, all shot by one of the Hamburgirl Z faithful.

    Memorabilia Time!

    hamburgirl z interview memorabilia

    When the lights faded and the music stopped, their performance moved off stage. It was now time for them to mingle with the fans and sell their memorabilia. Cheki-ken, a ticket for a polaroid picture with a member of their choosing, was available for 500 yen (that's about $5 USD). Pins (also 500 yen each), and two kinds of posters (1,000 yen each) were also for sale.

    If a fan wants closer contact with an idol, a special deal is offered to those who purchase a cheki-ken as well as a pin or poster. Unlike most other idol groups, Hamburgirl Z had never had a hand-shaking event before that day. Did I join? Of course I did! I wouldn't want to miss out on the first ever Hamburgirl Z hand-shaking event ever!

    hamburgirl z interview handshake 1

    I purchased a cheki-ken (polaroid ticket) and a poster to become eligible. This came to 1,500 yen total, but I only had two 1,000 yen bills and they didn't have any change. Apparently this is a pretty common occurrence in small idol events like this, so if you do decide to attend, I recommend bringing some 500 yen coins, just in case. To bring my total up to 2,000 yen, I added a pin featuring Beef Rinya, the leader of Hamburgirl Z. I was happy to see that she actually signed it too. Arigatou, Rinya!

    hamburgirl z interview and handshake with mami
    Clearly she was so happy to meet a celebrity such as myself
    hamburgirl z interview mushroom shakes hands with mami

    Next I slowly made my way down a long, colorful line of jubilant vegetable and meat products. I shook hands with each member and was able to do friendly chit chat with each of them. As I went down the line, I kept looking for the bacon Hamburgirl. I couldn't see her so I began to sweat. She had already become my favorite idol of the group, though that had nothing to do with her talents and everything to do with my favorite food.

    hamburgirl z interview bacon the best of them all

    Suddenly she appeared out from behind the stage and walked to her place at the end of the line. Then, she moved down an idol. Then another. With each step, she disappeared and reappeared behind a different Hamburgirl–Lettuce, Bacon, Tomato, Bacon, Onion, Bacon, Mushroom, Bacon–and I came to realize that this was exactly how I make my own hamburgers. This was clearly a sign. When I finally got to Bacon Tsuumin, I used my chekkin-ken.

    hamburgirl z interview polaroid of mami and bacon
    She wrote a lot on our polaroid. ありがとう!

    After I had collected my memorabilia, shook hands, and participated in some casual chit chat, I walked over to the side of Yabu-san again. If you remember, he promised to answer my questions after the concert. It was time for him to follow through on that promise.

    How A Hambirgirl Z is Cooked Up

    hamburgirl z interview handshake with fish and chicken

    Of course, my first question to Mr. Yabu, their producer, was "how did Hamburgirl Z get created?" Before he could answer I added: "And please don't say it was something you just cooked up."

    He chuckled politely and replied: "Actually, we kind of did just cook it up, in the sense that it instantly struck us as a great idea. I work not only as their producer, but also as the chairman of the Nishi-Nihon Hamburger Kyoukai." Translated, that's the "West Japan Hamburger Association."

    He continued. "In March of 2013, the Association of Awajishima Hamburgers and NHK came together to create the world's first burger idol group called 'Awajishima Hamburgirl.' The group was to be the singing, dancing support for the hamburgers of Awajishima Island."

    I had to take a second to admire their creativity. I've heard of creating mascots to promote a product–this is quite common practice in Japan–but a pop group? That's new to me.

    hamburgirl z interview handshake with pepper and onion

    "Our group hired a young, talented mini-orchestra called Easel Geijutsu Koubou イーゼル 芸術工房げいじゅつこうぼう (Easel Art Studio) to record the music for our songs. They also became our group's sound production team. Now, and here's the kicker, Easel Art Studio is also the honorary director of the West Japan Hamburger Association. Talk about a vested interest in deliciousness!" He impishly grinned.

    "I see, so that was the start, then? Yet, you just said 'Awajishima Hamburgirl,' but the group I saw today was 'Hamburgirl Z.'

    "Good point," he said, pointing a finger right at me. He cracked his knuckles and went on: "It's a bit of a long story, but if you don't mind…"

    "Of course I want to hear it!" I said, before he could weasel out of telling me what happened.

    "Okay. At first the group's name was 'Awajishima Hamburgirl,' and at that time we only had three girls. But, those three girls moved on to other things in April of 2014, so we had five new girls take their place. Since the group members changed completely, we felt it fitting that the group name also change. 'Awajishima Hamburgirl' became 'Awajishima Hamburgirl Z.'"

    "These five new girls were chosen following a public audition. However, the judges felt bad for the girls who didn't make it, so another idol group, called 'Princess Japan Burger' was formed. That group was short-lived and ended up merging with Awajishima Hamburgirl Z in November of the same year. Soon after, we grew beyond the island of Awajishima, and the group's name changed once again, this time to 'Nishi-Nihon Hamburgirl Z' (West Japan Hamburgirl Zeta). In April 2015 six more girls joined and we became the group you know and love today."

    All within a few deep breaths he finished what I expected to be a longer story.

    hamburgirl z interview hypes up the crowd

    "So what will you do in the future, then?"

    He had his answer ready. "Well, we are actually now thinking of expanding the group into the Tokyo area as well. Actually, we may form a 'Higashi-Nihon (East Japan) Hamburgirl Z.'"

    Now that I knew their origin story, I wanted to know how the girls were chosen. What made a tomato a tomato? Or an eggplant an eggplant? Very plainly, Mr. Yabu said: "It's all based on my first impression. I decided which ingredient each member would take command of based on how I felt when I first saw them."

    I could see he was quite serious about this topic, so I made sure to keep my internal chuckling internal. In my mind I imagined Mr. Yabu telling a girl "You look like a cucumber, so you'll take command of the cucumbers!" All that being said, if I was in this group, I'd clearly be bacon.

    hamburgirl z interview outdoor concert 4

    With such a long line, we had plenty more time to talk, so I asked Mr. Yabu about the Hamburgirl Z's daily expectations.

    "As you'd guess, we attend Awajishima events. Not just hamburger related ones either. Our concerts are held regularly, every weekend, in fact, in Tsutenkaku, where you saw us the first time. We attend special events occasionally, as well, like this one," he said, waiving a hand around in front of him.

    "We also stream a live podcast on SHOWROOM. In addition to that," he went on, "and a favorite of mine, we create special Hamburgirl Z hamburgers at select hamburger shops." He said this last bit in an excitement that forced him to rub his hands together. Later that night I found an example of one of these collaborations online. Hamburgirl Z teamed up with a hamburger shop called "Burgerlion" in Osaka this spring. Check out their beautiful creation – A hamburger with baby corn and miso sauce? Oishisou~

    hamburgirl z interview burgerlion promo

    It certainly sounds different and I really wanted to try it, but it was only available in March of 2015. Anyone have a spare time machine lying around?

    Another collaboration I found was this one:

    hamburgirl z interview burger promo

    As of the publication of this article, they are scheduled to make an appearance on November 15 at the Loft PlusOne West in Osaka. The address is 大阪府大阪市中央区宗右衛門町2-3 美松ビル3F. Apparently they'll be making a big announcement, too. Perhaps it's that "East-Japan Hamburgirl Z" we keep smelling hints of? A true Hamburgirl Z fan will be there to find out in person.

    The Hamburgirl Z Girls

    hamburgirl z interview at tsuutenkaku 2

    After spending so much time with Mr. Yabu, I decided it was time to get to the heart of the Hamburgirls. What were they all about, why were they here, and what were their hopes and dreams? The first question I asked, though, was "what kind of messages do you try to convey through your music?"

    Rinya, the leader, looked puzzled for a moment. I wondered if I had asked too obvious of a question. Or, perhaps it was too difficult. I wasn't sure.

    "All Hamburgirl Z songs are full of love for hamburgers." she replied, fidgeting with her hamburger skirt. "We want to have people of all generations interested in hamburgers. We truly love hamburgers, and we want everyone else to love them too. We want to hold hamburger events all over Japan and have a great time with as many people as possible."

    hamburgirl z interview at tsuutenkaku 3

    "First Japan and then the world, right?" I offered with a friendly smile and wink. "So, to make people love hamburgers," I confirmed. "what's the song that most helps you with that, you think?"

    This time, nearly everyone answered at the same time, "It's 行くぜっ!淡路島ハンバーガールZ (Ikuze! Awajishima Hamburgirl Z)." One of them went on to add that they're currently working on the music video for that song, and that's why there are only videos from live shows… for now.

    Behind The Scenes With Hamburgirl Z

    hamburgirl z interview with the rapitldier

    I directed my next question to the girl with big dimples. "How do you prepare for performances?" I asked.

    Ku-chan (Awajishima lettuce) blushed faintly and said: "We have lessons every Wednesday at Tsutenkaku in Osaka, but each of us practice individually at home every day because we want our next performance to be an improvement on our last performance."

    I took a moment to admire that sort of attitude. Certainly, it is an approach that will help one to reach a professional level of skill. Not something you typically see in youths nowadays.

    When Ku-chan noticed the short lull in our conversation, she continued on. "We also try to attend as many events that showcase other idols as we can, so we can learn from them. Of course, we learn about hamburgers and Awajishima daily, as well. After all, we are a hamburger idol group based in Awajishima."

    hamburgirl z interview onions together

    "What an impressive group of girls!" I thought to myself. I was comforted knowing that these are the types of girls that so many children across Japan admire. Like the Grinch, my heart grew a little larger that day… but perhaps that was from all the hamburger I had eaten earlier.

    "So you watch other idol groups to learn from them… but don't you feel a sense of competition too? Do you have any idol rivals?"

    My question was met only with silence as I watched the girls look at each other with faces probing for approval. Would acknowledging rivals publicly be considered rude in their world? Or, perhaps there was a Pizzagirl Z group that I didn't know about?

    In the end, it was Mr. Yabu who spoke for the girls. "Our rival is an idol group called "My Dreams," who performs at Tsutenkaku in Osaka, where we also perform each weekend as well.

    I validated his words with: "Yeah, I can see how a rivalry might develop there." Though, to be honest I was hoping for something a little juicier.

    "What about heroes you try to emulate?" I'd get them to say something about other idol groups yet.

    Mr. Yabu again: "Originally we tried to emulate キャンディーズ (Candies), but then we switched our focus to ももいろクローバー (Momoiro Clover). At the present time, we are trying to emulate AKB48, who has sister groups all over Japan."

    japanese idol group akb48 rival to the hamburgirl z interview group

    I asked him if that was also a goal of theirs. A momentary furl of confusion dipped across his eyebrows as he tilted his head slightly to the left. With an attempt to clarify, I said, "Do you hope to have sister groups throughout Japan one day, too?"

    To this question his head bolted swiftly up and transitioned into an understanding nod. "Yes, it is a goal of ours," he firmly stated. "We want to expand into the Tokyo area and make a sister group, "Higashi Nihon (East Japan) Hamburgirl Z. We also want to create more local Hamburgirl groups in places like Nagoya or Kyushu to support each region's local hamburger shops. Having said that, our most recent goal is to sell our original hamburgers in the Olympic Village during the Tokyo Olympics."

    And with that, he wrapped up his final thought on future endeavors by adding, "Hopefully we can perform concerts to promote hamburgers there, too."

    I attempted to broadcast my encouragement to each of them by saying, "I hope your dreams come true."

    hamburgirl z bacon posing with finger guns

    I thanked them all so much for their time and generosity for letting me interview them. In kind, they returned their thanks to me. However, I had to ask just one more question because I felt as though my love for hamburgers had grown over the course of this interview. "Where are your favorite places to eat hamburgers?" I asked.

    They came up with a list for me:

    That last one is kind of cheating, I think.

    As I walked back to the train station, I realized that I had become a fan of these girls. I wanted them to win, and I genuinely hoped their dreams would come true. I was a little startled by this change in my personality. I went from someone who had no interest in idols at all to someone who thought one particular idol group was great. Perhaps this is why you see the same, excited fans going to idol events day in and day out.

    I had one of the idol scene's biggest fans try to explain to me why idols and idol events are exciting and fun, and I still didn't understand. It took a couple events to convert me, and now I understand. But, I'm not sure if you really can understand unless you actually go, in person. And, you certainly can't judge anyone for going until you go yourself. Good luck, Hamburgirl Z! We'll cheer for you! (Or at least I will).

    Be sure to follow Hamburgirl Z on Twitter. Also, they regularly update their Hamburgirl blog, so check that out as well.

    And, oh no! I forgot to tell you about the ichinichi-tencho, didn't I? That's when they work at a shop for a little bit as an honorary employee. I think it's best to see it in action, anyway. Here is a fan video of their ichinichi-tencho work. Also, I appear at 6:20 and 7:30.

    Should you want to experience this world of idolatry for yourself, you can visit the Hamburgirl Z group in Osaka. They perform every weekend at Tsutenkaku, though make sure you check the Hamburgirl Z blog for more information.

    And lastly, as promised, here's their best and/or most famous song and its translation: "Bring it on! Awajishima Hamburgirl Z."

    Note: This is the video of the event I visited, which took place in Okamoto, Kobe, Hyogo. Therefore, they introduce themselves at the beginning as Okamoto Hamburgirl Z instead of Awajishima Hamburgirl Z. Also, Tomato-girl and Avocado-girl couldn't make it, as I mentioned above.

    If you would like the translation you can download it here.

    And, if you want to learn how to cheer them on, you can get it right here.

    They also made the English version of "Bring it on! Awajishima Hamburgirl Z" for you to enjoy. So, Enjoy!

    To learn the lyrics to their other songs, you can find them on their blog:

    That's all for me. I'm going to go eat a burger now.

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