Sakura and Otome Gumi

by Lainay on July 10, 2006 · 15 comments · AddThis

Sakura Gumi Morning Musume Sakura Gumi
Otome Gumi Morning Musume Otome Gumi

In late 2003, the current 15 members of Morning Musume was split up into two groups: Sakura Gumi and Otome Gumi. This was done as a way to fit them on smaller venues (the groups had a tour separately), give more time to shine to members that didn’t usually get a chance to, and release more singles. Tsunku noted that the size of the groups were close to the same size as when Morning Musume got its start. When it was announced, fans all over were shocked, including myself. It was thought that Morning Musume would be forever gone and that it would only be these two new groups. (Fortunately, 15 member Morning Musume released a single soon after, and many more followed).

Morning Musume Sakura Gumi consisted of Natsumi Abe (the leader), Mari Yaguchi (the leader when Natsumi graduated Morning Musume in 2004), Ai Kago, Hitomi Yoshizawa, Ai Takahashi, Asami Konno, Risa Niigaki, and Eri Kamei. This group was cherry blossom themed (sakura means “cherry blossom”) and accordingly they wore a lot of pink. Their singles were low-paced ballads.

Morning Musume Otome Gumi consisted of Kaori Iida (the leader), Rika Ishikawa, Nozomi Tsuji, Makoto Ogawa, Reina Tanaka, Miki Fujimoto, and Sayumi Michishige. Otome somewhat translates to meaning “young girl”, and that made perfect sense, as three of the four newly added 6th generation members were in Otome Gumi. The songs also showed youth – they were fast-paced and exciting, but yet they were not songs that the H!P had encountered before.

The groups released their singles on the same day. The first of the two singles the groups released were released on September 18th, 2003. Sakura Gumi’s single was titled Hare Ame Nochi Suki, while Otome Gumi’s was Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~. The songs were both very different.

The second and last of the singles the separate groups released came out on February 25th, 2004. Sakura Gumi’s was Sakura Mankai while Otome Gumi’s was Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~ Yet again, the songs were complete opposite of each other.


Morning Musume Sakura Gumi

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Hare Ame Nochi Suki, Sakura Gumi’s first single, is a really beautiful ballad. It’s quite possibly my favorite ballad in the Hello! Project. Everybodies voices sound really sweet and soft in the verses (I can hear some echoing as well) and slowly build up to the greatly powerful chorus. It’s also great to hear those that don’t usually get a lot of solo’s get long spots. The guitar solo towards the end is a great accessory to the overall greatness. There’s a great sense of sadness and grief in the song, but there’s also happiness and love in there.

Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 out of 5)


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Sakura Mankai, Sakura Gumi’s second single, continues their discography of ballads, although this is quite different. It’s got a huge Japanese traditional feel to it, and is slower than Hare Ame Nochi Suki. I didn’t enjoy it the first few times I heard it, but it slowly grew on. I don’t think I was used to the Japanese instruments, but once I got to know them, I really fell in love with this song. The verses are really lovely, and also build up to the once again powerful choruses. This is another one of my favorite ballads.

Rating: ★★★★½ (4.6 out of 5)


iPod iPod version (0 MB)


Morning Musume Otome Gumi

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Ai no Sono ~Touch my Heart!~ is Otome Gumi’s first single. As I said before, Otome Gumi is TOTALLY different than Sakura Gumi. Ai no Sono is a totally fast paced, funky kinda disco song, in a way. Only not really. It’s hard to describe, as I’ve never heard this kind of song before. It keeps it’s fast beat and makes you wanna tap your foot the whole time. It starts out with a bunch of powerful (I use this word a lot) “AI”’s (funny, both Ai’s are in Sakura Gumi) and then the “HEY! EVERYTIME! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!” line, which is sung by those male voices you hear a lot. They come up a lot in this song. The verses keep the song energetic and kind of devious. The choruses are pretty vibrant as well, and very catchy. “NOW TOUCH MY HEART!!!”

Rating: ★★★★★ (4.8 out of 5)


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Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~ is Otome’s 2nd single. This song is also fast-paced and energetic, but takes on the “punk” genre. There are lots of “OI OI OI”ing in this song, and there’s always an electric guitar rocking chords. The words used in the lyrics are also kind of rebellious and young, such as “makenee” instead of “makenai” and “shinee” instead of “shinai”, etc. At the 2nd verse the song slows down a bit, just to get back to fast speed again. I think this is a great effect put on to the song. Overall, this song may be a bit sketchy, but I love it!

Rating: ★★★★½ (4.7 out of 5)


iPod iPod version (0 MB)


I hope this flashback to a few years ago has been helpful. This split of Morning Musume was indeed a strange concept at the time, but now that they are inactive groups and Morning Musume has been together for a while, I can appreciate it more.


Sakura Gumi

First single: Hare Ame Nochi Suki
Hare Ame Nochi Suki
01. Hare Ame Nochi Suki
02. Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru (Morning Musume Sakuragumi Version)
03. Hare Ame Nochi Suki (Instrumental)

Second single: Sakura Mankai
Sakura Mankai
01. Sakura Mankai
02. Daite HOLD ON ME! (Morning Musume Sakura Gumi Version)
03. Say Yeah! ~Motto Miracle Night~ (Morning Musume Sakura Gumi Version)
04. Sakura Mankai (instrumental)


Otome Gumi

First single: Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~
Ai no Sono ~Touch my Heart!~
01. Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~
02. Dekkai Uchuu ni Ai ga Aru (Morning Musume Otomegumi Version)
03. Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~ (Instrumental)

Second single: Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~
Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee~
01. Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~
02. Say Yeah! ~Motto Miracle Night~ (Morning Musume Otome Gumi Version)
03. Summer Night Town (Morning Musume Otome Gumi Version)
04. Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~ (Instrumental)

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Mishal UNITED STATES January 13, 2008 at 5:08 pm

@anh: Of course not. Most of the members are unavailable now anyway.

Sakura’s: Mari quit Morning Musume and Ai Kago got fired.

Otome’s: Nono and Kaori both now have families, and Makoto Ogawa left to study.


anh UNITED STATES January 8, 2008 at 7:18 pm

did the 2 groups go back together


Hendy INDONESIA September 12, 2007 at 12:59 am

Arigato, Laney…
what a great article…thanx for your information….


Britni UNITED STATES February 28, 2007 at 6:05 am

Thank you so much for all this. I have been looking all over for these mp3’s. EVERYWHERE!


Jamesha Walker UNITED STATES December 20, 2006 at 7:36 am

I like Otome Gumi better than Sakura. Their 1st single: Ai No Sono~ Touch My Heart!~
’cause it’s upbeat and cool. Now, I’d like to hear Summer Night Town Otome Gumi version. I’ll bet it’s cool too.


Mishal UNITED STATES December 5, 2006 at 8:28 pm

I liked this review, it pretty much opened me up to Sakura Gumi (who I love, by the way.) I love almost everyone in it, but I was partial to Otome Gumi since my favorite member (Tsuji) was in it. But Sakura Mankai is a very beatiful ballad, so I prefer Sakura Gumi now.


Kyarorin UNITED STATES November 20, 2006 at 3:41 am

Hey, I love Morning Musume, and I really enjoyed listening to the music. Thanks a lot for putting them up!

Matane ^_^>


Matthew Ramsden UNITED KINGDOM August 21, 2006 at 10:11 am

Lainay. Your articles always help me to understand Hello! Project groups and members. Also, you make some articles funny.

I prefer Sakura Gumi than Otomi Gumi. Maybe because I like classical music. Nope, I like pop. But, I just don’t like Otomi Gumi.

I visited your freewebs website and I think you put a lot of effort into all the things you do. I might start a website using freewebs. I had one before but it wasn’t easy to use.
Anyways – Nice article. *_*


Ryan UNITED STATES August 20, 2006 at 2:26 pm

I love both groups and this review. All the songs are AWESOME. I just laugh how they put the Obasan into the hyperactive group (Watch the “FUN – I don’t want to be reborn as Makoto” clip on Youtube)Hint: It’s not Kaorin


bluesakura July 29, 2006 at 4:11 pm

i love all the songs, and the two groups, hare ame nochi suki its just awsomeee, love that song


mhdsbrhsm July 25, 2006 at 3:37 am

sakura gumi’s songs are great.the musics especially sakura mankai is full of asian gumi for me is more like a romantic, slow sentimental, happy and gracefull song. Otome Gumi is stronger in terms of music. their appearance is gutsy and more powerfull is certaint elements. but i like both of them. no matter how Tsunku devide them. His song and music always catches my ears. he is the best composer ever


Kelvin Tan July 23, 2006 at 7:53 am

Nice review article. Like most others, I like Morning Musume for their upbeat songs and dance steps but, to be honest, I so much prefer Sakura Gumi’s style here.

The two ballads are beautiful, especially Hare Ame Nochi Suki. When Sakura Gumi sang this song during Nacchi’s graduation concert, Takahashi Ai was really choking in tears and that scene, to me, really brought this song to an all time high.


eyn CANADA July 12, 2006 at 11:28 pm

Thanks for this article Lainay, this is what I’ve been waiting for! :D

I really like the PV of “Sakura Mankai”, as well as the song of course. Even though I haven’t heard that many songs from Morning Musume, this will very likely be my favourite ballad for a long time to come. The Japanese instrument really fits well with the melody, and give the whole song a very unique touch that makes it different from other Morning Musume’s songs. Oh for the PV, I really like their dance with the Japanese fan, and the costume, and the pinky colour lol, everything is just perfect, really!

For Otome Gumi, I don’t think I like them as much as Sakura Gumi, but their song is much catchier. “Yuujou” is a definitely crazier than “Ai no Sono”, but I like both song equally much.

I’m thinking during this period Morning Musume was probably at its peak, was it not? We have 2 smaller separated group yet both of them were able to produce really nice singles and PV, compared to recently where most of their singles failed to impress. Anyway, great article overall, thanks for bringing us more information of these smaller groups, I think it’s an apt continuation of your previous summer shuffles series.


Aprilis CANADA July 11, 2006 at 10:39 pm

Another great and informative H!P article. Good job Lainay!

Sakura Mankai was one of the first Morning Musume I’ve heard. It’s also the first H!P CD that I’ve brought. I love this song’s melody. I really like the PV too: the scenario was peaceful and beautiful, and the dancing was great! But the end where they’re all biting… I’m still trying to figure out what they do that.
Hare Ame Nochi Suki is a catchy song too, especially the English lyrics. But still prefer Sakura Mankai’s melody.

Otome Gumi focused on up beat song that I can bounce to, much like a lot of other up beat songs that I like. Hence, their songs never really stood out for me. But both their singles are nice and catchy.

It would had been nice if they two groups had released an album together. Kind of like a mini H!P shuffle until CD.


mhdsbrhsm July 11, 2006 at 1:14 am

I don’t know but i just love this groups so much.


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