The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo

Illustration for article titled The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo
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This is kind of strange!

Back in 2013, Japanese pop star Minami Minegishi suddenly appeared in a YouTube video with her head shaved, sobbing and apologizing. Minegishi is a member of AKB48, one of Japan’s most popular girl groups, and this video was uploaded to AKB48’s official YouTube channel. It racked up millions of views before being widely criticized and set to private.

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Illustration for article titled The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo

[Image via TOMIKKU NET 2nd CH]

What sparked all this? Minegishi was rumored to have a boyfriend, which is a no-no for idols like Minegishi. The incident (more here) made international news. She’s continued her successful singing and TV career and has even poked fun at this whole thing.

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But now, for some reason, photos from the infamous clip are being spotted in Europe.

Recently, Twitter user ajapermaho noticed bald-headed Minegishi photos plastered on a Paris street near a Japanese restaurant.

Illustration for article titled The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo

[Photo: ajapermaho]

Illustration for article titled The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo
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[Photo: ajapermaho]

These photos have been retweeted over 20,000 times. Many Japanese Twitter users thought it was very odd to see this on a Paris street. It is! Or is it?

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Back in 2013, another Twitter user noticed the same thing in Paris (as you can see in the top photo). Hrm...

Here’s where things get stranger. Another Twitter user replied to Ajapermaho, uploading another bald Minegishi photo. This one, however, was apparently taken in Sarajevo.

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Illustration for article titled The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo

[Photo: nqkojqponec]

Another person replied, with a bald Minegishi photo supposedly plastered in Germany.

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Illustration for article titled The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo

[Photo: carbonium1213]

Illustration for article titled The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo
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[Photo: carbonium1213]

The assumption is that this is some European thing, no? Well, the same photo was also spotted in Kyoto...

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Illustration for article titled The Mystery of the Infamous Japanese Pop Star Photo

[Photo: Der_Mike133]

As noted on Byokan Sunday, there are a bunch of theories floating around. Maybe, the image is supposed to be insulting? Or critical? Maybe it’s an art project? Maybe it’s some kind of cult? Doubt that last one, but who knows!

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Top photo: makimuuuuuu

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter@Brian_Ashcraft.

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Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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DISCUSSION

I’m guessing that it was done by her die-hard fans in those countries as an extreme act of insult, that, or someone is pulling some weird social experiment related to Internet infamy.