When we first interviewed Erina Kamiya last year, she was one of the most popular members of masked idol group Kamen Joshi, her DVDs were second most popular in Japan in the idol gravure category, and her YouTube channel had scored over 47,000 subscribers and over 3.7 million views in her first week. Moreover, she had already made numerous appearances in everything from TV and Internet commercials, radio and television shows, TV dramas and feature films.

Photo by © Nathan Gey

But she resigned from Alice Project in November 30, 2018, only to re-emerge in the spotlight five months later with a new name and a decidedly more local focus on her native Shizuoka Prefecture.

We caught up with the new Erina Kamiya to learn more about her transition from self-proclaimed "G-Cup idol" and member of Kamen Joshi to her new role as Shizuoka celebrity and entertainer.


Interview

Meet the new Erina Kamiya

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

grape Japan (gJ): A year has passed since we last interviewed you. Beginning with your graduation from Kamen Joshi, you’ve experienced many changes. What has been the biggest change in your life?

Erina Kamiya (EK): For one thing, since I don’t perform live on stage every day, I’ve gotten out of shape (lol). But I have more opportunities to meet all kinds of people I never would have met before and I’m doing more things on my own initiative. I have the impression I’m in a new phase now where I’m learning more about the world.

gJ: Will you ever be an idol again?

EK: I’ll have many activities from now on, but they’ll never fall under the category of “idol” again!

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

gJ: Can you tell us why you changed the Japanese spelling of your name (from 神谷えりな to 上矢えり奈) and why you chose that particular spelling?

EK: I had an expert in seimei handan* choose an auspicious name for me! (lol) Also, with the beginning of a new era, the Reiwa Era, I wanted to turn over a new leaf. So, I wanted to reflect that feeling in my decision.

* A traditional Japanese form of fortune-telling based on the number of strokes needed to write a name in kanji, the pronunciation of the name, etc.

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

Shizuoka Love

gJ: You are visibly more active in Shizuoka these days and you even have “Shizuoka Love” in your Twitter profile. So, are your activities going to be mostly limited to Shizuoka from now on?

EK: Shizuoka is where I was born and raised, so I want to cherish it as much as I can.

gJ: Will most of your appearances at events and such be in Shizuoka, or will fans have opportunities to see you in Tokyo as well?

EK: I want to create opportunities not only in Shizuoka but all over the country (and Tokyo too, of course).

At a public broadcast of the show "Chocolate Nanananight" on Shizuoka local SBS Radio. One of the highlights for fans was getting face slapped by Erina

Erina recently appeared as a guest on "Teatime Speaker," a collaboration show between SBS Radio and West Shizuoka local radio FMHaro!

Yoerosun E

gJ: Beginning with Yoerosun E*, you’re a regular on several TV and radio shows now. Do you have a favorite?

EK: I enjoy all the work I can get! But my job on Yoerosun E is special. I get to be MC for a show based in my home of Shizuoka which I love. And since I can have precious experiences which I wouldn’t otherwise have, I find it particularly stimulating.

*Yoerosun E is a late-night variety entertainment show on Shizuoka local SBS TV. Erina has been MC on the show as well as its two predecessors, Yoerosun and Idol Binbin!Go since 2016. Originally a show about inquiring about everyday things you wondered about but were afraid to ask, Yoerosun owes its unusual name to the kanji 尋 in the verb tazuneru 尋ねる, meaning "ask" or "inquire," the component parts of which happen to resemble the katakana phonetic symbols ヨ (yo), エ (e), ロ (ro) and the kanji 寸, pronounced "sun." In its latest incarnation, Yoerosun E, the show is mainly focused on e-sports.

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

A half-page advertisement for Yoerosun E in a local Shizuoka newspaper

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

Erina in a variation of her outfit as MC in Yoerosun E

Erina's tweet after the first broadcast of Yoerosun E, in which she appeared together with comedian and game enthusiast Gorgeous. (In case you're wondering, the hand sign is meant to be ヨ the first letter in the show's name)

Livening up Shizuoka through film: The Bond Project

gJ: Now I’d like to ask you about the film called Bond* which you’ll be starring in as the lead. Could you tell us how you came to be involved in this wonderful project?

EK: The concept was to liven up Shizuoka through a movie which would be set there. And I was lucky to have been contacted since I’m a Shizuoka native!

gJ: Did the film makers have you in mind as the lead before they wrote the screenplay?

EK: No, they chose me for the lead after they completed the screenplay.

* A love letter to Shizuoka, Bond is the story of Hinata Sawai (Erina Kamiya), a Shizuoka-born hairdresser who has landed a job at a popular restaurant in Tokyo and her emotional development as she worries about her sick mother Satsuki (Azusa Watanabe) who is in and out of hospital, her romance with Kenta Mizushima, a man who works as a hospital clown, and her friendship with his street performer friends who all hang out at a local Shizuoka style oden shop, and finally, what she finally realizes once she begins working in Tokyo. The film will be directed by screenwriter Toshio Sekine, most famous for the "Tsuribaka nisshi" fishing comedy film series, and realized with the support of SBS Radio and a currently ongoing crowdfunding campaign (see below), which has already exceeded its funding goal.

gJ: Shizuoka style oden looks very tasty. Do you have any recommendations for local shops?

Kappa no danna | © PIXTA

Stock photo of Shizuoka style oden

EK: The miso oden at Matsumiya, at the World Heritage Site of Miho no Matsubara, is really delicious!

Other activities

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

gJ: One of the main goals of the Bond film project is boosting local development. There are also projects based on anime pilgrimage sites which have a similar purpose, such as in Numazu. Would you like to be involved in anime pilgrimage-based local development projects?

EK: If there’s something I can do, I’d certainly like to be involved!

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

YouTube

gJ: You changed your YouTube channel. What kind of YouTuber are you aiming to be now?

EK: Rather than being a YouTuber who uploads videos every day, I just want it to be a channel where I introduce things which I think are fun.

An avid motorcycle enthusiast, Erina often posts pictures of her riding her Suzuki (see below), and she recently posted a video of a special touring event for fans.

Photo shoots

gJ: Will you continue to have photo shoot sessions in the future?

EK: Yes, I intend having them regularly from now on.

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office

What's next?

gJ: Looking forward, is there something new you’d like to try?

EK: I would like to visit more places and see more sights, so I’d love to take a trip around the world!

Courtesy of Erina Kamiya / © Blue Lilly Office


Erina Kamiya information

Bond

Please support the Bond crowdfunding campaign, active until June 27th (JST)


By - Ben K.