All About Japan

Meet Amina—Japan’s First African-American Idol

J-Pop Music

Japan is home to an exhaustive collection of idol groups, ranging from the ever popular AKB48 to the suave five-man vocal unit of Arashi. What isn't all that common in idol groups, though, are non-Japanese performers. But one exception in Japan is Amina du Jean, also known as Aminyan: Japan’s first black idol.

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Amina grew up fascinated by Japanese idol groups. “I really liked Morning Musume and AKB48. I wanted to be like Watanabe Mayu. Now I want to be more like Pour Lui or women/idols who create a space for themselves,” she told NextShark in an interview.

Amina was 18 years old when she first came to Japan in January 2015 and was lucky enough to be offered an idol contract to join an idol group called Chick Girls.

You might be thinking she’s cleared the language barrier by becoming fluent in Japanese, but she admits to not being at that linguistic level. “I can participate in group conversations with my friends, text, go to doctors appointments and understand TV, so that counts for something. Can’t read books meant for ages 12 and up, though,” Amina explains. Now 20 years of age, Amina has also branched into gravure shoots that were featured in Japan’s Weekly Playboy.

On top of being a full-time university student in Tokyo, this down-to-earth girl supports herself by tutoring Advanced History between her forays into musical or bikini glamor. Just only entering adulthood, Amina is already juggling an amount of work that people twice her age struggle with.

All is not peachy however, and in a conservative country like Japan where people can face discrimination just because of the color of their skin, it can certainly dampen anyone’s spirits. Nevertheless, Amina has a positive outlook that many of us can take a page from. “I like breaking barriers, and we definitely need more diversity,” she explains to Japan Times in an interview. “I don’t want it to be a niche, but that’s what draws people in. Then I can inspire them with my personality and perseverance, and I think that’s for the better.”

If you’re interested to know more about Amina, you can check out her YouTube channel and official website, though it seems like she’s currently taking a break from Chick Girls to concentrate on her studies.

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