As promised, here is the first of our series profiling the groups and individuals that will be attending Tokyo Idol Festival 2018. We thought that we’d start at the top. This year, Sashihara Rino will be the Chairman for the festival. She was also the Chairman last year and did a commendable job of bringing everything together.

Rino is an extremely well known idol. Having been a member of AKB48 and now being the manager of HKT48 (team H). At the young age of 25, she’s already achieved an incredible amount.

Her career started with AKB48, and she was quickly flying high. Apart from appearing on numerous variety programs, she scored the starring role as the lead on a TV show (“Muse no Kagame”).  In 2012, her career ratcheted up another step when it was announced that she would be producing “Yubi Matsuri”, a festival to be held at Budokaan.  It was an important career move as the festival hosted some of the leading idol groups of the time, who have since progressed to become even bigger – Momoiro Clover Z and Passpo being just two of these.

In Mid 2012, Rino faced an extremely difficult time. A man came out to the press claiming to be her past boyfriend. Obviously this was against contract. Rino vehemently denied this, stating that they were just friends, but none the less, she was demoted to HKT48. She suffered panic attacks and anxiety due to stress, and had an on-stage breakdown.

After hitting bottom, Rino picked herself up and pushed forward to carve out an extremely strong career. She’s proven herself to be a strong manager, a savvy businesswoman and a relentless self-promoter.

In 2013, she beat out Oshima Yuko to have the most votes in the AKB general election. This led to her being the center on the massive hit single “Koisuru Fortune Cookie”.

Her success didn’t stop there. In 2014 she released her first autobiography, which was a candid look at her early days as a shut in, and documented her rise to management of one of the world’s top idol groups. The popularity of the book was huge, and it has been reprinted a number of times.

This kicked off the unstoppable freight train of popularity that is Rino Sashihara. She won AKB’s general election in 2015. She won AKB’s general election in 2016. She won AKB’s general election in 2017.

Such an experienced, passionate and dedicated heavy-hitter in the idol world is sure to bring to light the best that Tokyo Idol Festival has to offer.

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