TV Celebrities in Japan

April 6, 2006

No, this is not a list of names of the celebrities in Japan, nor does this article contains gossips about the celebrity world in Japan. Rather, I’m trying to give you a description of ‘who’ are the Celebrities. What kind of person doing what kind of job can be considered as a Celebrity. And, my guess about how much their income is.

!!! Before Reading any further: Please dont take this as the whole truth. These are only my observations and I could be wrong. Be warned !!!

First of all, how to say celebrity in Japanese. It’s ‘gennoujin’. And the celebrity world, in Japanese is ‘gennoukai’. So, what is a celebrity anyway. Basically, in my opinion, a celebrity is a person that is well known or famous to the people especially in entertainment bussiness (but not limited). Usually because of their special talent or skill they became well-knowned to people. So as far as my observation, celebrities in Japan consists of these groups:

  • Comedian / Entertainer
  • Actor / Actresses
  • Singer
  • Idols
  • MC
  • Announcer
  • Various

Now let’s see about the TV program in Japan. As far as my observation, Japanese Television program consists only a small portion of movie and drama. Rather, most of the TV program consists of TV talk shows and quizzes. In Japan, these talk shows and quizzes are called as ‘Variety’ program. Coming from Indonesia, where variety programs are not so many, I’m a bit surprised about how the inner workings of these ‘variety’ programs.

Lets begin, as usual with any talk shows or any programs, we have to have an announcer to guide the show. During the lifetime of the program these people are rarely changed. What is unique in Japan, is that the guests, especially for quizzes, usually doesn’t change much. So that every episode of the shows contains generally the same person. These gennoujin who regularly appears at the show is called the ‘Regular’s of the show. And the people who are the guests just for the episode are called, of course, as ‘guest’. Once in a while, sometime there are some changes between the Regulars member. In Japan, TV shows usually divided per season. So, usually some changes are expected, although usually only in a small amount, are to be expected. (Big changes, like new program or discontinuation of a program usually happens one a year in early spring. Just in the same time as the School Graduation and the Sakura Blossom. Romantic, huh?). With this set up, actually a ‘Regular’s’ chair in a program itself is a competition. People who doesn’t raise enough interests eventually will be sorted out from the ‘Regular’s’ position.

How about the actor/actresses? Unlike music, Japan’s movie industry are not going that good. One every sometime sure, a good movie might come out. But, it will only gain popularity for a little while. As far as I see, not so many Japanese people go to the movies (I could be wrong). Anyway, with so many actor/actresses today in Japan especially the young ones, where does the senior actor/actresses go? The answer is Some live a quite life, sometime taking a part in one or two dramas, and some went in as a regular or as guests in Variety programs.

Speaking of gennoukai, how much do people in the gennoukai world earn? In my country, to be able to appear on TV as celebrity means that person is a wealthy person and have well above ordinary people wages. To my surprise, a gennoujin here in Japan doesnt really earn as much as I think before. In actuallity, their wages and an office worker wages here in Japan basically comparable. And so, in Japan, whether you went on TV and well knowned by people or you’re just an ordinary office worker, doesnt really make a difference.

Last note, I always thought that celebrities are paid on contract for a session, but my suspicion is that not necesarily a must. Most of the ‘ordinary celebrities’ might as well getting paid monthly. Another guess is that while actor/actresses and singers gains money from the number of sales they made, when they dont have a film to shoot or a show to do, they went as a ‘regular’ for a while.


  1. A Japanese friend told me, that Japanese TV program usually changes in April and in October. That is twice a year while TV Dramas has a cycle of 3 months. 

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