Risa Niigaki

Risa Niigaki
新垣 里沙

Risa Niigaki at the Japan Expo on July 3, 2010
Born (1988-10-20) October 20, 1988
Other names Gaki-san, Omame-chan
Spouse(s) Yoshikazu Kotani (m. 2016)
Website Official Website - Official Blog - Official Agency Profile

Musical career

Instruments Vocals
Years active 2001-Present
Associated acts

Risa Niigaki (新垣 里沙 Niigaki Risa, born October 20, 1988 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan) is a Japanese idol, singer, and actress formerly associated with Hello! Project. She was a fifth generation member of the Japanese pop group Morning Musume. She joined Morning Musume in 2001 along with Ai Takahashi, Asami Konno and Makoto Ogawa. She grew up in Yokohama after moving there at age six. She was the longest serving member of Morning Musume, and was the leader of the group from October 2011 to her graduation on May 18, 2012.



Niigaki performing at Morning Musume's Platinum 9 Disco concert tour in May 2009

Niigaki was the runner-up for the 'Kiss Girl Audition' in becoming Tomy image girl before joining Morning Musume. She appeared with the winner Ai Hasegawa in a Tomy Karaoke Machine commercial.

In 2001, Niigaki joined Morning Musume as the fifth generation along with Ai Takahashi, Asami Konno, and Makoto Ogawa. 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.[1] She debuted and lead on the group's 13th single, "Mr. Moonlight (Ai no Big Band)" making her one of the few members of Morning Musume who was able to lead on her debut single. She first appeared in their 4th album, 4th Ikimasshoi!. In the summer of that year, she also debuted in a shuffle unit as part of Happy 7, with two other members of her generation (Ai Takahashi and Makoto Ogawa).

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 Asami Konno. The new line-up only released one single before becoming inactive.[2]

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.[3]

In early 2007, Niigaki was chosen to be a member of Morning Musume Tanjō 10nen Kinentai (モーニング娘。誕生10年記念隊) along with Kaori Iida, Natsumi Abe, Maki Goto and Koharu Kusumi - 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 Miki Fujimoto's resignation from Morning Musume,[4][5] Ai Takahashi replaced Fujimoto as leader, while Risa Niigaki took Takahashi's place as sub-leader.

Following the announcement of Nozomi Tsuji's pregnancy, Niigaki took over Tsuji's role as Athena in the animation series Robby & Kerobby. In October 2007, Niigaki was placed in the unit Athena & Robikerottsu along with fellow Morning Musume member Aika Mitsui, as well as Saki Nakajima and Chisato Okai of Cute.

It was announced in July 2008 that Niigaki and Ai Takahashi would play the 70s idol J-pop duo Pink Lady in the TV drama Hitmaker Aku Yū Monogatari.[6][7]

From August 6 until August 25, 2008, Morning Musume performed a version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella with the Takarazuka Revue, in which Niigaki starred as the Prince.

On February 12, 2009, it was announced that Morning Musume would be performing in the United States at the 2009 Anime Expo, the nation's largest anime convention, as one of the first official guests of honor.[8] In an interview Niigaki stated that "The movies that Disney makes are full of dreams, but when I have children, I'd like them to know about war, the pain of death and such things, so I hope they will watch [anime]."[8] Niigaki also revealed that her favorite anime was Sailor Moon, stating that "we copied the hairstyles and had a 'Sailor Moon' playhouse in kindergarten."

On August 26, 2008, Niigaki became one of four members to remain in Morning Musume for seven years or more (the others being Kaori Iida, Hitomi Yoshizawa and fellow fifth generation member Ai Takahashi).

On January 17, 2009, Niigaki and Takahashi became the longest-serving members in Morning Musume history, breaking the four-year-old record set by Kaori Iida.

On August 26, 2009, Niigaki and Takahashi became the first members to remain in Morning Musume for eight years.

In 2009, Niigaki was assigned to be a part of the new shuffle group ZYX-α with Koharu Kusumi, Maasa Sudo, Momoko Tsugunaga, Erika Umeda, Chinami Tokunaga, Saki Ogawa, and Ayaka Wada.

On January 9, 2011, it was announced that Ai Takahashi will graduate from Morning Musume and Hello! Project at the end of their autumn 2011 concert tour. Niigaki would take over the position as leader of Morning Musume after Takahashi's graduation.[9] After Takahashi's graduation, Niigaki became the only member of Hello! Project that had joined before the Hello! Project Kids, and holds the record for the longest serving member of Morning Musume and Hello! Project.

It was announced on January 2, 2012, that she would graduate from Morning Musume and Hello! Project on the last day of their Spring Concert Tour, May 18, at Nippon Budokan. Niigaki will be the fourth Morning Musume member to graduate at the Budokan. On May 18, 2012, Niigaki graduated from Morning Musume and Hello! Project alongside Aika Mitsui. She handed down her position as leader of Morning Musume to Sayumi Michishige.

On June 13, 2016 it was confirmed that Niigaki will be marrying fellow actor Yoshikazu Kotani after two years of dating. They met each other after starring in a stageplay inspired by the manga Absolute Boyfriend back in 2013; both parties have confirmed the news on their respective blogs.[10]

On July 11, 2016, the couple had their official marriage ceremony.



# Title Release date Publisher ISBN Photobook information
5 - Morning Musume 5 Ki Generation Member Shashinshū (5 モーニング娘。5期メンバー写真集) 2002-08-16 Wani Books ISBN 4-8470-2721-3 Photobook starring all of the 5th generation members
1 Niigaki Risa (1stソロ写真集「新垣里沙」) 2004-10-07 Wani Books ISBN 4-8470-2827-9 First solo photobook
2 Ama Natsu (2ndソロ写真集「あま夏」) 2006-06-25 Wani Books ISBN 4-8470-2941-0 Second solo photobook
3 Isshun (3rdソロ写真集「一瞬」) 2007-05-27 Wani Books ISBN 4-8470-4013-9 Third solo photobook
4 Happy Girl (4thソロ写真集「Happy Girl」) 2008-04-25 Wani Books ISBN 4-8470-4080-5 Fourth solo photobook





Television shows

Show Start date End date
Hello! Morning (ハロー!モーニング。) 2001 April 1, 2007
Tin Tin Town! (ティンティンTown!) July 5, 2002 March 26, 2004
Sore Yuke! Gorokkies (それゆけ!ゴロッキーズ) September 29, 2003 December 26, 2003
Futarigoto (二人ゴト) July 1, 2004 July 2, 2004
July 23, 2004 July 29, 2004
Majokko Rika-chan no Magical v-u-den (魔女っ娘。梨華ちゃんのマジカル美勇伝) October 21, 2004 November 10, 2004
Musume Dokyu! (娘Dokyu!) June 13, 2005
Haromoni@ (ハロモニ@) April 8, 2007 September 28, 2008


Program Start date End date
Tanpopo Henshūbu Oh-So-Ro! (タンポポ編集部 Oh-So-Ro!) September 24, 2002 September 23, 2003
TBC Fun Fīrudo Mōretsu Mōdasshu (TBC Funふぃーるど・モーレツモーダッシュ) April 1, 2005 April 15, 2005
July 25, 2005 August 5, 2005
Hello Pro Yanen!! (ハロプロやねん!!) June 10, 2005 June 24, 2005


  1. Morning Musume 5th generation audition on muSix! (TV Tokyo), broadcast in 2001.
  2. "Tanpopo discography" (in Japanese). Hello! Project.com. Retrieved 2007-02-17.
  3. "Morning Musume Sakuragumi discography" (in Japanese). Hello! Project.com. Retrieved 2007-01-23.
  4. モー娘藤本美貴、熱愛発覚でグループ脱退 (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports News. 2007-06-01.
  5. "Yahoo! Japan News" (in Japanese). 2007-06-01.
  6. "Ai Takahashi & Risa Niigaki are Pink Lady" (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports News. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
  7. 高橋愛&新垣里沙でペッパー警部よ…日テレ系「阿久悠物語」でピンク・レディー役 (in Japanese). The Hochi Shimbun. 2008-07-01. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
  8. 1 2 Robert Michael Poole (2009-06-26). "Anime conventions still set trends". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  9. モーニング娘。高橋愛 卒業に関するお知らせ (in Japanese). Up-Front Agency. 2011-01-09. Archived from the original on January 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
  10. http://www.asahi.com/and_w/interest/entertainment/CORI2073332.html
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Ai Takahashi
Leader of Morning Musume
2011 – 2012
Succeeded by
Sayumi Michishige
Preceded by
Ai Takahashi
Leader of Hello!Project
2011 - 2012
Succeeded by
Sayumi Michishige
Preceded by
Ai Takahashi
Sub-leader of Morning Musume
2007 – 2011
Title next held by
Mizuki Fukumura and Haruna Iikubo
Preceded by
Ai Takahashi
Longest serving member of Morning Musume
2001 – 2012

(held with Takahashi Ai until September 2011)

Succeeded by
Sayumi Michishige
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