Erina Kamiya is used to being in the media spotlight, whether as one of the most popular members of masked idol group Kamen Joshi, in the pages of countless magazines and websites as a gravure model, or on screen as a rising YouTube celebrity.

The 26 year-old native of Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture, has not only made a name for herself on stage as an idol (former leader of Steam Girls, and most recently, member of Alice Juban), she has made numerous appearances in everything from TV and Internet commercials, radio and television shows, TV dramas and feature films. Her DVDs are second most popular in Japan in the idol gravure category. In her YouTube channel's first week, she scored over 47,000 subscribers and over 3.7 million views.

We had the good fortune of interviewing Erina Kamiya earlier this month at Kamen Joshi's P.A.R.M.S Theater in Akihabara, to learn more about her story and gain some insight into her YouTube success.

(This is Part 2 of our interview. To read from the beginning, please go to Part 1)

Photo by © Nathan Gey

YouTube Fame (continued from Part 1)

grape Japan (gJ): On a more serious note, you also did a video entitled: “Non-Fiction: I’ll tell you my real salary” and you really showed your pay slip. What was your intent in making that video?

Erina Kamiya (EK): That’s something you really can’t show on TV. If you try to show or say actual numbers of that kind, they’ll pixelate it or cover the sound with a beep. So, I wanted to make an “only on YouTube” kind of video. Also, people wonder how much money an idol makes. It’s a job that fulfills dreams, so not too many people talk about such details. That’s why I wanted to send a message to girls who are considering becoming idols and their parents: “I’m an idol and this is what I make. I’m earning enough to make a living. This is how much you can make if you try hard.” I’ve experienced just scraping by, but I worked hard, and I was able to get to where I am now. That’s the message I wanted to send through that video.

gJ: I see. Almost like a public service announcement.

EK: Yes. I think there are many girls who are considering becoming idols but it’s often the case that their parents are against it, I think. So, if this message comes from an idol working in the industry, they’ll have a better understanding of what it’s really like.

Photo by © Nathan Gey

gJ: So, you have over 270,000 subscribers right now. Do you have something like a goal you want to achieve through your YouTube channel?

EK: I want to break the one million wall before 2018 is over. I know it’s an audacious goal, but that’s what I’m aiming for, one million people subscribed to my YouTube channel.

gJ: Amazing. And is there something else waiting for you once you’ve achieved that goal?

EK: Not personally, but I’ll get a gold award plaque from YouTube.

gJ: When you reached 100,000, not too long ago…

EK: In that video, I showed my silver plaque for reaching 100,000 subscribers. I’ll get a gold one when I reach a million.

gJ: And then what happens? That’s your goal for 2018, but do you have any bigger long-term goals for your channel?

EK: Well, right now, many people within Japan are looking at my channel, but I’d like more people from around world to know about me.

gJ: Going global.

EK: Many people abroad seem to have watched that one video where I shoot an energy beam from my breasts...

gJ: Yes, we even wrote an article about it.

EK: Thank you. As did many other foreign media sites, so that one spread outside of Japan, but my other videos are mostly seen domestically. I’d like more foreigners to see them.

gJ: If you want to do that, how do you intend to overcome the language barrier?

EK: I really can’t speak any foreign languages, so I think I could add some languages to my video.

gJ: Language support?

EK: Yes, subtitles on my videos so that they can understand what I’m saying.

Photo by © Nathan Gey

gJ: Oh, I see. And what about travelling abroad? Are you considering that possibility?

EK: I want to go, I really do! Kamen Joshi do get invited to perform abroad, but I’m never chosen as one of the members who get to go. But I have a channel on Facebook, and there are some countries where I’ve been getting noticed. So, I’d really like to go there, not only for performances but also to attend events!

gJ: I’m sure I speak for our readers when I say this but, I really hope that will happen!

EK: It would be wonderful (laughs).

Photo by © Nathan Gey


[Note: Gravure, pronounced gurabia グラビア in Japanese, is the term for glamour photography in Japan, from the gravure printing process used to print magazines like Heibon Punch (1964-88) and GORO (1974-92) which popularized the genre in the 1960s and 70s.]

gJ: Switching gears a bit, can you talk about your “maid” phase back in 2011? It seems there are quite a few images online of you in maid outfits from that time.

EK: It was for an event, a curry event, to be specific. It was a collaboration with a manga, and the main character wore a maid outfit. You could say I was cosplaying that character. Several media sources covered it, and I became known as “that girl in the maid outfit,” so I wore maid outfits quite often after that.

gJ: Was it because you thought you looked good in maid outfits?

EK: Well, I think that rather than maid outfits, it was more because it emphasized my breasts.

gJ: I see.

EK: Yes, it was very low-cut. You could see my cleavage very well. And I think everyone paid attention to that.

gJ: Were you already doing gravure work at the time?

EK: I got more offers for that kind of work after that.

Photo by © Nathan Gey

gJ: How did you feel about the attention you got?

EK: I had no idea that people would notice me because of my breasts.

gJ: Until then, you never thought of that as an attractive feature of yours?

EK: I didn’t. My manager got upset with me, saying: “You’re chubby so lose weight!” So, I never imagined I could do gravure. The girls who do gravure all have attractive figures, so never even considered it. But then, I began losing weight, and I got opportunities to do gravure and it was fun!

Photo by © Nathan Gey

gJ: You’ve had a lot of experience doing gravure. Is there anything new you’d like to try, new situations, locations, or themes?

EK: I’d like to try cosplaying in gravure.

gJ: You mean, apart from maid outfits.

EK: Yes, I think it would be fun.

gJ: Also, I’ve released one photo book but I’d like to do a second one. That’s one of my goals.

Photo by © Nathan Gey

Future Goals

gJ: Do you have any other things you’d like to do, other than gravure?

EK: Like, acting?

gJ: Right, you wanted to become an actress at first, didn’t you?

EK: Yes, I was attracted to working as an actress, so I’d like to get more experience acting if I can.

gJ: You’ve already had some experience in a local Shizuoka TV drama and even a starring role in a feature film, Umi ni noseta Gazu no yume ("Gaz's Dreams on the Sea").

EK: Opportunities I am truly grateful for.

gJ: So, what kind of roles would you like to have?

EK: It would be great if I could be in a nationally broadcast TV drama.

Photo by © Nathan Gey

Message for grape Japan readers

I’m sure many of you are learning about me through this interview for the first time, but I’m a YouTuber and I perform live on stage as an idol almost every day. I hope you’ll watch my videos! And if you can come to Akihabara, we have an actual theater there and I’d be so happy if you came to meet me in person! Also, I like to make all kinds of content through my videos, so it would be great if you could give me advice or leave me comments through Twitter or other social media.

Photo by © Nathan Gey


Erina Kamiya