During my recent and on-going journey through the world of non anime/seiyuu-related Japanese idols, I’ve come across a bunch of cool groups. While most of them I have enjoyed and appreciated their talents, mainly through their music, I noticed that only a handful have truly resonated with me and gotten my full attention. Groups like TEAM SHACHI, BATTEN GIRLS, the =LOVE and ≠ME units, and even the now-defunct rirunede; while I do think of myself as an open-minded and easy person to please, I also feel that the right things need to click for me to like, like an idol group, and many of the ones I just named did exactly that.


One group that I’ve been following and also falls in line with my specific ‘tastes’ is Takane no Nadeshiko. I talked about them in my most recent J-Song Roundup post, but throughout the last two months since, I’ve really devoted a lot of time in becoming a fan of theirs. And in doing so, I noticed a lot of intriguing things about them that makes me curious about their overall image and their future as an aspiring idol unit. While I did already kinda discuss this in a short thread I wrote on Twitter, the minimal character limit and my thoughts at the time being pretty jumbled made me want to do a proper post. So that’s what we’re dealing with today.

But before we get into the main discussion at hand, allow me to give you a crash course on this group:

Takane no Nadeshiko (高嶺のなでしこ) is a ten-member idol group formed through the JDOL AUDITION program (supported by the people who run the TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL project). In July 2022, seven members were chosen out of thirty-six finalists; them being Kizuki Nao, Suzumi Su, Hazuki Saara, Haruno Riri, Higashiyama Erisa, Hinahata Hina and Hoshitani Mikuru. Additionally, three idols from the now-discontinued LAST IDOL project (Hashimoto Momoko, Matsumoto Momona and Momiyama Himeri) later joined the initial seven to create Takaneko’s final lineup.

L-R: Hazuki Saara, Hoshitani Mikuru, Suzumi Su, Hinahata Hina, Matsumoto Momona, Higashiyama Erisa, Momiyama Himeri, Kizuki Nao, Hashimoto Momoko and Haruno Riri

Managed by the TWIN PLANET agency office and most notably having HoneyWorks as their main music producer, the group eventually made their official debut in August 2022 when they performed at that year’s TOKYO IDOL FESTIVAL event. In October, Takane no Nadeshiko released their first original single, Antifan, where it ranked 18th during its two-week appearance on the Oricon weekly charts. But the group would gain a lot of exposure in November, when they came out with a cover of one of HoneyWorks’ recent viral hits, “Kawaiikute Gomen”. The music video garnered over 6.7 million views on YouTube and continues to be a popular choice for those who want to listen to that super catchy tune (alongside the renditions from utaite Capi and voice actress Hayami Saori). Since then, Takane no Nadeshiko have primarily recorded and released covers of other well-known HoneyWorks songs such as “Otomedomoyo” and most recently, “Otokonoko no Mokuteki ha Nani?”.

And allow me to just say: after becoming familiar with them through their music, social media posts, etc… I love them (lol). On the idol side, they all have looked really good when it comes to singing and dancing, and if anything, the potential is certainly there. But I think what has swayed me the most is getting to know each and every one of them on a personal level. Whether it’s watching clips from their individual SHOWROOM streams, constantly seeing Momona’s gorgeous photos on her Instagram, Riri’s funny TikToks or even appreciating Saara’s timid-yet-determined personality… similar to how I view most idol groups, everyone (and I mean, everyone) in Takaneko is lovable in their own right, and it’s been a blast watching their shenanigans and how much work they put in as aspiring idols. And most importantly, everyone is very adorable (but I guess that’s a given when you perform a song that’s all about being cute). On a related note, I’m always surprised by how young these idol groups can be, cause seeing a handful of Takaneko be in the ‘born in 2004-2007’ range… crazy.

Which brings me to a point I wanted to touch upon, that being Takaneko’s concept and overall image as a group. Unlike, what I assume to be, most people’s first impressions of them through the “Kawaiikute Gomen” music video, “Antifan” was my personal first look at Takane no Nadeshiko. And unlike the upbeat melodies and sparkly visuals of the former, “Antifan” took on a much more dark and ‘rebellious’ tone with both the song and the music video. The way it depicted Takaneko as idols who chose not to conform to the normalcies of the industry by firmly showing that they’re not singing because “an adult told them to” or them not wanting to be “treated like a doll”… normally the common folk don’t get to see an edgier side of idols, other than groups occasionally having one or two songs of that nature in their discography or if you’re a part of a unit like Keyakizaka46. So for me, to see an all-female idol group convey those thoughts and opinions, whether or not they actually believe them, was a nice breath of fresh air compared to the stuff I’ve always been used to.

As stated on the group’s fanclub website, the origin of their group name is from their desire to convey the qualities of a yamato nadeshiko: a cultural concept originating from nineteenth century/neo-Confucius Japan, essentially meaning a woman who possesses the ideal and most desirable attributes. One who is kind, respectful, wise, mature, humble, and beautiful. While this idea and label of Japanese women is considered very dated now, given that it came from hundreds of years ago, it still can be seen and expressed in specific ways; whether that be in fiction or someone in real life genuinely showing off the qualities of a yamato nadeshiko.

When it comes to Takane no Nadeshiko, at least in my eyes, their intention of doing so can be seen as a bit two-sided. While they definitely don’t take on the more traditional meanings of a yamato nadeshiko (i.e. loyal to her family, having a motherly nature), it seems that Takaneko focuses on having those neat, proper, beautiful and cute qualities. Which is true in some ways but their desire to have those ‘ideal’ characteristics, as stated in their group concept, doesn’t really hold up at times, especially when some of the songs they’ve performed so far have shown the opposite of that. The aforementioned “Antifan” was them debuting with a more rebellious image, affirming that they want to be idols on their own terms and to not be used by the adults in charge. “Kawaiikute Gomen” is literally a song that depicts a girl who loves being/acting cutesy and not giving the time of day to those who get annoyed by their behavior. And “Onnanoko wa Tsuyoi” (meaning ‘girls are strong’) deals with the struggles of young love, not knowing how to deal with new emotions, and trying to overcome said conflicts.

While all of this can be seen as a bit contradicting, another explanation could be looked at in a metaphorical sense. The group’s name also seems to be based off a species of flowers called the ‘dianthus speciosus’, or in Japanese, a ‘takane nadeshiko’. This variation of the ‘dianthus superbus’/’kawara nadeshiko’ perennial is one that normally grows in higher, mountainous alpine grassland areas like Hokkaido and northern Chubu, making them not very accessible to many people. So taking that in consideration: one could assume this that Takaneko does strive to obtain those ideal female traits, but given how difficult it can be to do so and how rare it is for women to want them nowadays, it’s essentially out of their reach and are then compelled to act a different way.

left: a Dianthus speciosus/Takane nadeshiko flower (image source)
right: Takane no Nadeshiko creating a flower before a performance

…critical thinking is definitely not a strength that I have (lol), so please do take what I just said with a grain of salt. But I do still think that makes some sense, and if that’s kinda what they were going for (based off the extremely rough DeepL translation I managed to get of what was stated on their fan club website), then I’d find the idea to be pretty dang cool, actually.

What I am a bit worried about, though, is that they still need to figure out what their overall image will be, visually and sound-wise. Will it be the darker/dramatic tone shown in “Antifan” or something more bright and upbeat like the various covers they’ve performed? Obviously they’re in the very early stages of their existence, so they have plenty of time to see what sticks and decide, but with how different their debut single was to what they’re mostly known for with “Kawaiikute Gomen”… I believe having a clearer direction regarding what they’re all about will be beneficial for them and their fans. And first impressions are important, because if they suddenly drop the edginess that was shown towards the beginning of their lifetime, the people who initially enjoyed and further expected that sort of image may end up being turned off by the drastic change.

Another interesting thing that I noticed is Takaneko’s discography so far. As of this post’s publication, the group has officially come out with two singles (which includes original tracks like “Antifan”, “Yumemusubi” and “Onnanoko wa Tsuyoi”) and three digital releases that are covers of HoneyWorks’ previous compositions (“Kawaiikute Gomen”, “Otomedomoyo” and “Otonoko no Mokutekiwa Nani?”).

When considering the covers that this group has done: I’d imagine since they have a very coveted and experienced composer in HoneyWorks behind them, Takaneko has taken full advantage of HW’s catalog of viral songs by doing their own renditions. There are probably many reasons why Takaneko and their producers went towards this direction such as it being a better way for them to get people’s attention, and even the already-available songs giving these ladies the opportunity to get their feet wet and gain more experience as idols/singers. When looking at it in that perspective, it makes perfect sense. They haven’t even been together for an entire year yet, and given that this is the first idol group that the majority of the members have been a part of, it’s essentially good practice for them to get comfortable with everything. On a related note, the producers of HoneyWorks intended for “Onnanoko wa Tsuyoi” to be a way for the group to show their determination to become stronger.

But while I have really enjoyed hearing their covers of these fun and well-known HoneyWorks songs… as many of them as they choose to do, it does make me more and more curious about their original stuff. I’ve very much enjoyed what Takaneko has had to offer when it comes to their own music and songs, especially with “Antifan”, so we know that the potential to do great things is there. It’s just that I hope they don’t end up falling down the hole of needing to mostly rely on these covers, rather than showing off their actual originality and the ideas/concepts they are capable of expressing. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have known that Takaneko has three whole other original songs in their arsenal (“Utsukushiku Ikiro”, “Kawaiitte Iwaretai” and “Watashi wa Kaibutsu”) unless you dig pretty deep, given that they were pretty much only shown off at their live events.

…am I overthinking things? Probably. Is it too early to discuss these small concerns? Absolutely.

But I feel like I’m talking about this stuff in detail because I genuinely admire this group and have a ton of faith in them. While I could say these things about any other idol group that’s on the newer side and has similar traits, Takaneko finds itself in an interesting situation, considering what they’ve shown off so far and the fact that they have a high quality music producer like HoneyWorks (whom are more known for doing songs relating to various anime and even creating their own multimedia franchise) on their side. Objectively speaking, Takaneko isn’t doing anything ‘wrong’, per se. They’ve been given the resources to kickstart their careers, and they’re just beginning to use them to improve and provide us with a taste of what’s to possibly come.

image source: PR Times

However, it just makes me curious about the kind of direction they will be going towards in a few months, a year and beyond. Cause it would be tragic, in my honest opinion, if Takaneko ends up being known by most as that one idol group who does covers of popular HoneyWorks songs.

But as much as I am ‘worried’, I have a massive amount of confidence that they won’t go down that specific path. All ten of them have the talent to do good things and with HoneyWorks’ great reputation and résumé (especially seen in their long-time collaboration with vocalist CHiCO)… I am looking forward to seeing what Takane no Nadeshiko has in store for us next! (please let it be a full album)

Aaaand that’s all I got for you today!

I guess I have to mention this, since I am of the belief that picking an idol to be an oshi of is mandatory whenever you get into a group: I like Momona, Nao, Himeri and Saara a lot. But like with most idol units, I really appreciate all of them!

L-R: Himeri, Saara, Nao and Momona

With that said: if you know about Takane no Nadeshiko or found anything to be interesting in this post, feel free to leave your thoughts on them! Don’t think there are many English-speaking Takaneko fans so I’d be cool to get another person’s perspective on this nice group.

Thanks for reading!! 😀


Posted by:alfredopasta

A 22-year-old guy who likes to discuss anime, watch baseball and is currently stuck in idol hell.

2 replies on “The Curious Case of Takane no Nadeshiko

  1. Another thing to take note of regarding where the group’s name takes inspiration from is the Japanese concept of the “takane no hana”. This phrase translates literally to ‘flower from a high place’, and is more than likely based on the very flower that you mention here. However in addition to that, the phrase actually sees a lot of use in Japanese media, particularly in youth romance stories wherein it’s used to describe *people* who are out of reach. In the West this more or less translates to when someone thinks they are out of their league with their love interest for one reason or another, perhaps because the persona sees themselves as inferior to the otherwise unreachable or unattainable ‘takane no hana’.

    In compounding that idea with the Japanese ideal of beauty that is the Yamato Nadeshiko, one way to interpret their name is that their group is envisioned to be these out of reach flowers whilst also embodying Yamato Nadeshiko qualities of being prim and promper. If you think about it, in some ways it’s kinda like like how fans already view Japanese Idols as a concept – personalities detached from the everyday life as an existence primarily looked at from an audience perspective (thus unreachable/unattainable) who also carry with them the notion of being pure and innocent (the Yamato Nadeshiko).

    Conversely, and in a more “meta” analysis of the marriage of these two similar concepts, one can also say that the name is intentional hyperbole. That perhaps the underlying message is them saying that these “ideals” that the Japanese look for in a person are so out of reach that they might as well be non-existent in the everyday life. That the ‘Nadeshiko of the Mountaintop’ can *only* be a Japanese Idol, in the sense that they are both existences that aren’t grounded in reality, so if one wanted to seek out such an embodiment they need not look any further than their group (which then kinda makes the message behind ‘Antifan’ that much more for ironic them to be singing, as a song that actually *rejects* ideals and expectations put on Idols specifically, lol)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate the input/insight!! You really did bring up some super valid interpretations and perspectives that I didn’t think about so I’m glad I could learn a bit more lol

      I think you bring up great points with all three (your second one’s probably my favorite lol) but I do feel like there’s still a big ‘theme’ of irony going on with them and what their name stands for. Just like you mentioned with “Antifan”, and even with one of their newer songs in “Kakumei no Jyoou” as it is surprisingly… graphic (if the DeepL translation I got is accurate in any way), they certainly are sticking with that edge image and prefer to go against the grain most of the time. Which is fine and IMHO preferable since they debuted with that likeness in mind but I dunno; their desires of embodying the yamato nadeshiko concept do feel *too* contradicting at times, at least when taking it in a more literal sense.

      But then again, this isn’t something to fret too TOO much about… now that I think about it 😛

      Liked by 2 people

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