Niigaki Risa (新垣里沙)
- Nicknames: Gaki-san (ガキさん), Omame-chan (お豆ちゃん), Mame (マメ), Niinii (ニイニイ)
- Birthdate: October 20, 1988
- Birthplace: Kagoshima, Japan (Raised in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan)
- Sign: Libra
- Blood Type: B
- Height: 154.4 cm
- Hobbies: Collect Accessories, Basketball.
- Favorite Colors: Light Blue and Pink
- Favorite Morning Musume Songs: Memory Seishun no Hikari, Koi no Dance Site, Ai Araba ~It’s All Right~
- Skills: Hangul, tidying up, sending phone emails without looking at the buttons, self-styled Disney connoisseur
- Hobbies: Going to Disneyland
- Motto: If you open it, close it! Where there’s hills, there’s valleys.
- Favorite food: Ray [i.e. stingray, mantaray] fillet, Mickey waffles, plain grilled conger eel, parfait
- Favorite words: Do what you can to be considerate every day.
- Favorite colors: Yellow-green, white
Niigaki Risa joined Morning Musume in 2001 along with Takahashi Ai, Konno Asami and Ogawa Makoto. She grew up in Yokohama after moving there at age six.
Niigaki was the runner-up for the “Kiss Girl Audition” in becoming Tomy image girl before joining Morning Musume. She also appeared with the winner Hasegawa Ai in a Tomy Karaoke Machine commercial.
In 2001, Niigaki joined Morning Musume as the fifth generation along with Takahashi Ai, Konno Asami, and Ogawa Makoto. Morning Musume producer Tsunku said he chose Niigaki because she “shined during the final studio recording” for the audition song that all the finalists had to sing. She debuted on the group’s 13th single, “Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~”. In the summer of that year, she also debuted in a shuffle unit, as part of Happy 7, coincidentally with two other members of her generation (Takahashi Ai and Ogawa Makoto).
Later in September, all fifth generation members were placed into subgroups. Niigaki was placed into Tanpopo as a member of the third generation, along with Konno Asami. The new grouping only managed to release one single before becoming inactive.
Niigaki, along with many other members of Morning Musume at that time, starred in a drama entitled Angel Hearts which was released in 2002.
In 2003, she was placed into Sakuragumi, which released two singles before also becoming inactive.
In early 2007, Niigaki was chosen to be a member of Morning Musume Tanjou 10-nen Kinentai (モーニング娘。誕生10年記念隊) along with Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Goto Maki and Kusumi Koharu – a unit created to celebrate Morning Musume’s 10th anniversary. Their first single, Bokura ga Ikiru My Asia (僕らが生きるMy Asia), was released on January 24, 2007.
On June 1, 2007, following then-leader Fujimoto Miki’s resignation from Morning Musume, Takahashi Ai replaced Fujimoto as leader, while Niigaki Risa took Takahashi’s place as sub-leader.
Following Tsuji Nozomi’s pregnancy announcement, Niigaki took over the role of Athena in the animation series Robby & Kerobby. In October 2007, Niigaki was placed in the unit Athena & Robikerottsu along with fellow Morning Musume member Mitsui Aika, as well as Nakajima Saki and Okai Chisato of °C-ute.
It was announced in July 2008, that Niigaki and fellow Morning Musume member Takahashi Ai would play the 80s J-pop duo Pink Lady in the TV Drama Hitmaker Aku Yuu Monogatari.
From August 6, 2008 through August 25, Morning Musume along with members of the Takarazuka Revue performed a version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella with Niigaki as the Prince.
On January 17, 2009, Niigaki and Takahashi became the longest serving members in Morning Musume history, breaking the four year old record set by Iida Kaori.
On July 2009 it was revealed that Niigaki Risa would be part of ZYX-α along with Kusumi Koharu, Tsugunaga Momoko, Sudou Maasa, Chinami Tokunaga, Umeda Erika, Wada Ayaka, and Ogawa Saki.
- Her two best friends are Takahashi Ai and Kamei Eri.
- Her nickname “Gaki-san” was given to her by Okamura Takashi from comedy group Ninety-nine, on the show Mecha Mecha Iketeru, and since then it has been popular.
- Love Audition 21 audition songs:
- Round 1: “Otome Pasta ni Kandou” (Tanpopo)
- Round 2: “Chu! Natsu Party” (3nin Matsuri)
- Although born in Kagoshima, Niigaki moved at age 6 to Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture. Her grandparents are from Okinawa.
- Morning Musume producer Tsunku said he chose Niigaki because she “shined during the final studio recording”.
- Niigaki’s original nickname, “Omame,” was given to her by Yaguchi Mari shortly after Niigaki joined Morning Musume; mame means “bean,” and it supposedly referred to Niigaki’s small body and face. She was later given the nickname “Gaki-san” by Okamura Takashi during the Mechaike Bakajo Kimatsu Test; gaki means “kid” or “brat,” making the nickname a pun on the fact that she was the youngest member of Morning Musume at the time. In the years since then, “Gaki-san” (usually pronounced “Gakksan”) has become her most frequently used nickname among both the fans and the other members of the group, although some graduated members still call her “Mame-chan.”
- Only Goto Maki calls her “Nii Nii”.
- Has stated that she has excellent vision and that she can clearly see the faces of the audience in the very back row of a performance hall, as well as on the second and third floors.
- Her trademark “Mayuge Beam” (“Eyebrow Beam”) move is derived from the “Sexy Beam” move from “Koi no Dance Site”. Niigaki has said that her favorite part of her face are her eyebrows.
- Calls her grandmother “Baba-chan.”
- Was a big fan of Morning Musume before joining the group, and even collected bromides and telephone cards.
- Named Abe Natsumi as the member she admired the most. Stated in Music Fighter that when she was young asked her mother to cut her hair like Abe’s which made her looked like Gegege no Kitaro instead, leaving her traumatized.
- Is close friends with Takahashi Ai and Kamei Eri.
- She and Takahashi Ai currently have the longest tenures of any Morning Musume members.
- She said in a 2004 interview that her rivals were fellow 5th generation members Takahashi Ai, Konno Asami, and Ogawa Makoto.
- To date, she is the youngest member of Morning Musume to become sub-leader, at only 18.
- She is allergic to pollen.
- Her shoe size is 37.
- Has said that the song that gets her fired up at concerts is “HOW DO YOU LIKE JAPAN? ~Nihon wa Donna Kanji Dekka?~” and the song that fits her perfectly is “Shanimuni Paradise”.
- These are her opinions of the characters of the other Morning Musume members:
- Takahashi Ai: Sabaa! (Refreshing!)
- Kamei Eri: PPP!! (Poke Poke Puu~)
- Michishige Sayumi: Surprisingly quick!!!
- Tanaka Reina: Hyper Hyper Girl.
- Kusumi Koharu: Does things at her own pace.
- Mitsui Aika: Intelligent.
- Junjun: Crybaby.
- Linlin: Interesting.
- These are the other members’ opinions on Niigaki’s character:
- Takahashi: Reliable person.
- Kamei: Sparkling!!
- Michishige: Nice!!
- Tanaka: Reliable.
- Kusumi: Reliable.
- Mitsui: Reliable.
- Junjun: Hardworking.
- Linlin: Green princess.
- Niigaki’s best friend within Hello! Project is her fellow Morning Musume member, Takahashi Ai.
- In a Jpop Wave interview, she said that her favorite Korean artists are BoA, Se7en and TVXQ.
- Morning Musume (2001 – )
- Morning Musume Tanjou 10nen Kinentai (2007)
- Tanpopo (2002)
- Morning Musume Sakura Gumi (2003 – 2004)
- Athena & Robikerottsu (2007 – 2008)
- Happy 7 (2002)
- 7Air (2003)
- H.P. All Stars (2004)
- ZYX-α (2009 – )