W-inds: The Japanese Boy Band to Beat

W-inds 101: Getting to know them

We all live in the era where the boy band group is a hot commodity. For the Japanese, the W-inds is what they consider as a music icon and an inspiration to all the fans. They were formally introduced in 2001 under the management of Rising Production, or formerly known as Vision Factory. The Vision Factory is a Japanese Talent Agency that has produced a large number of performers and musician in the Japanese Entertainment Industry. They have been signed under the label, Pony Canyon Inc. or Ponican ever since the group was created in 2000.

Since their debut, they have already released 30 singles. They are not only popular in Japan but they also have a large fan base in other Asian countries such as Taiwan and Hong Kong. They often travel to these neighboring countries to make television appearances and visit their fans. This well-known group specializes in genres like Pop, R&B, Hip Hop and Dance. The group is composed of three members namely Ryohei Chiba, Keita Tachibana, and Ryuichi Ogata.

W-inds Members

Chiba is 33 years old, who was born on November 18, 1984, in Sapporo. He is the group's backup vocal, backup dancer, and the rapper. He attended Kitashiroishi Elementary and Middle School. Then, he also went to a dance school in Sapporo where he met fellow group member, Ryuichi Ogata. Eventually, when he started to join W-inds, he transferred to Tokyo. He composed his first solo rap song, Stand Your Ground, where he performed it in 2004 on the Prime of Life Tour. While they were in Dance school, auditions were held when he and Ogata passed and eventually became members of W-inds. On October 2017, he was married secretly to a non-showbiz woman.

Ogata is the second member of the group W-inds, he was born on December 17, 1985, and is currently 32 years old. Just like Chiba, he originated in Sapporo Japan. He is the group's backup dancer, backup vocalist, and a rapper as well. Then, in 2013, he became the front man of a rock band he formed, All City Steppers. In addition to this, he is also the guitarist for another independent rock band he is a member of, Radio Foundation. He also performed his only solo rap song, Energy, during the Prime of Life Tour 2004.

Tachibana is the third member of the pop group W-inds, he is the lead singer among the three members that originated from the province of Fukuoka. He was born on December 16, 1985, and is currently 32 years old. He has three siblings and the second oldest, her sister is also a well-known singer, Mio Tachibana. Aside from singing and dancing, he is also talented in playing instruments like piano, guitar and bass guitar. Aside from being a member of the group, he was also able to produce singles that became the official soundtrack for Anime. His debut single Michishirube was used as ending theme for the animation series, Reborn. In addition to this, he was able to debut a single, friend, for another animation series Blue Dragon that became its opening theme song. In 2013, he announced his marriage to Aya Matsuura who is also a famous Japanese singer.  Finally, in 2014 their family was blessed with a baby girl.

History and Background

The three of them were selected during auditions. Chiba and Ogata were chosen during an audition in their dance school where they both attended at the same time. Tachibana, on the other hand, was selected in the Starlight audition produced by the Vision Factory. Then, all the three of them were gathered together to form the famous group. When they moved to Tokyo, they jump-started their career by performing in the streets of Yoyogi Park and Shibuya. From then on, they began to attract fans and admirers due to their undeniable talents.

In March of 2001, they released their first single, Forever Memories. Eventually, they upscale their performance from dancing on the street to their first ever stage performance at the Asahikawa Medical University Medical Festival that was held in Hokkaido. That same year, they announced the release of their first album, 1st Message, which made it to the top of the weekly charts.

TAKA@P.P.R.S [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

During the year 2002, they were able to release four of their singles: Try your Emotions, Another Day, Because of You and New Paradise. One of their singles, Another Day, was then used in Family Mart commercial. It was also in 2002 that they had their first nationwide tour that expanded their fan base to Shanghai, China. At the end of the year, they successfully launched their second album, The System of Alive. The highlight of the year was when they were given a chance to perform their song, New Paradise, in an annual New Year's music show that is shown in the whole of Japan and even international.

Their success has been unstoppable from 2003 onwards. During that year, they released more singles and additional new songs. In 2004, they also expanded their popularity to Taiwan by including it in their Prime Life Tour where the tickets were immediately sold out by their rising fan base.

In 2006, there has been a rumor that W-inds will break up due to Tachibana launching his solo career. This is also when he released his first single, Michishirube, which was used in the Anime called Reborn. In November 2006, Tachibana's first solo album, Koe, made its debut.

In 2007, the famous group flew to Beijing to participate in the China-Japan Music Festival. In July of the same year, they also visited Hong Kong to attend Pop Rock Gala. They continued to gain more fans and admirers outside of Japan.  Their single, Love is the Greatest Thing, was used in the Japanese version of Shrek the third. In 2008, they launched their new album Seventh Ave that unfortunately made lousy sales after its release.

During the year 2009, Not only did they release their Double A-side single, Can't get back, it was immediately followed by the debut of another Double-A single, Rain is Fallin'. It was also in 2009 that they made the Sweet Fantasy Tour starting from Japan and all the way to Taiwan and Hong Kong.  In December of the same year, they announced the release of another double-A single, New World, which eventually reached the number 2 slot in the Oricon Weekly Charts. American singer and composer Ne-yo and B. Howard recognized their talents and composed their single, Truth.

W-inds Popular Songs

Be as one and its lyrics

This group has been known for performing songs that are usually used for Anime. The song, Be as One, has been used as the sixth ending theme for a very famous Anime, Fairy Tail. The Fairy Tale series is a well written Japanese Manga written by Hiro Mashima that was later adapted into an Anime.

 It is a song about a person declaring his faithful and undying love for another person. The lyrics of the song talks about finding everlasting love, and how the singer never wants to leave the side of the one he loves and how he will not let go. It is like a declaration of love and how fate and miracle have brought them together.

In love with the Music

This is a song from their album, Blue Blood, which was released during the year 2015. This is one of their most popular songs and its beat and harmony are familiar to many millennials in Japan. It is one of the songs that truly made them popular not only in Japan but also in other Asian countries like Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, China, and Korea. 

W-inds.TV and W-inds.day: Updates and Announcements

W-inds.TV is the boy group's official channel. It contains a list of upcoming and past milestones for the W-inds. In addition to this, it also has a list of the group's appearances on TV, Radio, Magazines, and internet sites. Furthermore, it indicates new album releases and the debut of their singles. This site also has the full list of all their album and singles for reference. Not only that, the group is also active in Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Line, and YouTube.

W-ind.day is the official fan site exclusively for members. It provides access to radio and TV appearances as well as magazine write-ups about the group. In addition to this, it shows TV appearances of each member of the group. Although some links are exclusive for member only such as Staff Report and Movies. They have a membership fee of 2,200 Japanese Yen upon sign-up of a new account, it is also being offered to overseas fans especially in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Some of the membership privileges are Staff Reports, links to their movies, updated photos in the gallery and the group's schedule. In addition to this, It announces early ticket sales for the concerts and shows that can only be viewed by a member of this site.

W-inds: Awards and Achievements

In the span of their career in Music, this group has achieved a number of awards in terms of their music and talents. Their first award was in 2001 as the Best New Artist from Japan's Composer's Association Award for their song the Paradox. Then, the following year, they won the Best New Artist for Magazine Publishers Association Award and Recording Industry Association of Japan Awards as well as the first prize in the Japan Composer's Association for Japan awards for the song, Because of You.

TAKA@P.P.R.S [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In 2003, for the song called the Long Road, they bagged the first prize for Japan Composer's Association Award. In 2004, Yahoo Music Awards in Hong Kong awarded them as the Best International Group.  In addition to this, they also got the Best Album Award for Prime of Life.

In 2006, they had won third time as first prize award for Japan Composer Association. It was indeed a good year for the group as they had gained a lot of awards for their talents and hard work. Their additional awards are as follows: Best Dance artist for the MTV Student Voice Awards, Most popular Musical Artists for HITO Awards for their song – Kirei Da, Most Popular Group for Japan in MTV Mandarin awards, Best Asia Pop Artist Award for MNET KM Music Award in Korea, Best International Group for Yahoo Music Awards, and Best Selling Awards in Hong Kong for their album – Thanks.

They received, yet again, their fourth award as the first prize for Japan Composers Association Award for their single – Love is the Greatest Thing. They were also recognized as Best Group for both MTV Student Awards and International Pop Poll Awards.  In addition to this, they also got the Best International Group for Yahoo! Hong Kong Music Buzz Awards. Then, lastly, in 2008 they had won their fifth award for First Prize in Japan Composers Association Award for their song – Ame Ato.

Aside from their various shows and performances, they also had a radio show that ran from 2001 to 2008. The show is entitled W-inds' Windy Street. They also got to be the face of Bourbon Gum that lasted from 2003 to 2007, showcasing a new song for every new commercial. The trio also appeared as three soccer players in a movie called Nurse no Ashigoto, The Movie. Some of their songs were also featured as theme songs for popular Anime like Fairy Tail and Katekyo Hitman Reborn. Thus, this had made them more popular among the Japanese population.

Big Bang: Korean Boy Band Group

If Japan has W-inds, Korea has their very own version of a boy band group and they are Big Bang. They not only won the heart of fans in Korea but also in the other parts of the world, including the Philippines. The members of Big Bang are G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri. They are currently being managed by YG Entertainment. They were believed to be one of the most influential in terms of establishing the K-pop popularity within Asia. Just like the group W-inds, they also focus on genres like Pop, Dance, Hip Hop, and Electronics. As of today, Big Bang continues to spread the K-pop wave through their fans in all of Asia.