|No, I didn't think this pre-pubescent looking|
guy was actually the leader of Arashi when I first joined
the fandom either. He's just too... pretty!
But let's backtrack, lest you think that Riida is just a pretty face with a pretty voice. He is talented, yes, and often acknowledged as the most talented in Arashi, but there is so much more to him than mere talent! His absolute passivity makes him quite a character in the industry. I mean, how often do you see an idol not say a single word on screen for 28 consecutive minutes on a game show that he is co-hosting? Or a celebrity who generally looks like he's ready to fall asleep when he's supposed to be interviewing/entertaining a guest on his own band's show? Ohno Satoshi may be the eldest in Arashi, but when he's not in his element on a performance stage, he is quite content to let everyone else take care of the business while he enters his wordless state of "nothingness," as he calls it. His clothes (up to the age of 26) were all bought by his mother. Sho elicited quite an affectionate laugh from the rest of Arashi when he revealed that Riida finally bought his own shoes for the first time sometime circa 2006. During interviews and shows, he lets Sho do the talking, and waits to be prompted (by either the other members or the staff offstage) before saying anything. Even at concerts, he (and the ever air-headed Aiba) sometimes forgets a costume change cue and relies on MatsuJun to nudge him into action.
|Nino's never too far away from his beloved touching toy.|
Why does everyone just do all these things for him, you might ask? Why do his bandmates feel such a need to pamper their leader like he's a baby? And why do millions of fans' hearts melt at that sleepy, blank stare? These questions probably have complex answers, but my intuition is that if there's one thing people love more than an incredibly gifted artist, it's an incredibly gifted and humble artist who shies away from the attention. And of course, the more he shies away, the more attention you want to give him. So our Oh-chan eventually ends up not only debuting, but also pushed to the forefront as Japan's top idol group's leader.
Born Nov. 26, 1980 in Tokyo. Is one of the shortest members of Arashi at 166 cm (take this with a grain of salt, since reported heights are often different from actual heights). And I say "one of the shortest" because I'm never sure if it's Nino or Ohno. Has an older sister. Joined Johnny's in Oct. 1994 and spent a lot of time in Kyoto for the stage play Kyo to Kyo during his junior days. Nicknames: He's mostly addressed as "Riida" (the Japanese way of saying "leader"), though there was a period in the mid-2000s when his bandmates liked to call him "Captain." Sakurai likes to call him "Ohno-san" or "Satoshi-kun" while Nino and Aiba are perfectly comfortable calling him "Oh-chan" at times. Fans also lovingly refer to him as "Oh-chan."
|Ohno with bangs. OMFGsafsglibrvle!!!|
Ohno and Aiba are very similar in certain ways, enough to make Japanese fans nickname them the "tennen combi." They're both approachable, and if I were to guess who else in Arashi would get called out on the street without an honorific after their name, it would be Ohno. He's a celebrity that acts so normal. People might be intimidated by Sho's educational credentials or by Jun's aloof, superstar coolness, or by Nino's sharp wit and even sharper tongue, but it's so very hard to be intimidated by Ohno. He may have heart shattering vocals and dance moves to rival Korean boybands, but his quiet, supportive presence seems to have a recuperative effect that cancels out any intimidation one might feel when approaching someone with so much sheer talent. As I said above, his humility is such that one gets the unsettling feeling that he might actually be embarrassed by all the attention he's been getting, which of course ends up firing to max intensity the maternal instinct in every fan's chest. So everyone ends up thinking "aawwwww, look at him, so shy!" and pampering him, and making sure he's comfortable, and secretly wanting to pinch those tanned cheeks, and maybe putting a kiss or two on that little scar on his face, too... But naturally, no one actually gets to do that (in public) except his bandmates, and it's mostly Nino who actually takes advantage of it.
Oh-chan's humility is very real, though. Whenever he reflects upon his debut, and in interviews done shortly after Arashi's debut, he will reveal how insecure he was about his popularity with the fans. He had spent a lot of his junior days in Kyoto doing a stage play, and therefore he wasn't as well exposed as the other four who all were frequently seen on Johnny's Jr.s TV programs in Tokyo. He would spend a lot of time answering fan mail and would always feel gratified at the sight of his uchiwa at concerts. He has admitted that he used to read what people wrote about him online in the early Arashi days, and that he would feel really happy knowing there was so much online support for him.
|Ohno in his junior days|
|Teary-eyed Ohno during |
Aiba's letter reading
His gentle disposition is pretty well known around Japan, and other celebrities who guest on Arashi's shows often say the impression they have of Ohno is "yasashii," which basically means kind or tender. He may not be as talkative as Sho or Nino, but he shows his concern for the other members in private quite plainly. His eyes welled up with tears when Aiba read his famous letter in 2004 about the pneumothorax, and he was also the first one in Arashi to give the customary New-Year's money (sort of like the lucky money that Chinese people give kids during Chinese New Year) to his kouhais. Of course, he also gave some to his bandmates since they are technically his kouhais as well, and they bantered about it a bit on TV while he looked embarrassed. Aiba has said that he thinks Ohno is the best person to go to if you need to talk about things with someone, adding jokingly that even though one could never tell whether or not Ohno was listening, his presence alone gave a sense of quiet acceptance and support. When MatsuJun guested on another show, Ohno sent some words of praise for the MC to read out, saying that Jun was "flawless," making Jun blush slightly. Nino, in his 2008 letter to Arashi, thanked Riida for always putting up with them and staying by their sides even when he would rather be alone. Yasashii, ne?
Riida loves to eat, and we all know how basically every Arashi variety show (except for VSA) features food in every. damn. episode. Being the passive person he is, he usually stands to one side and waits to be served. No matter what it is (and they've been confronted with some pretty horrendous foods in the past), and no matter how repulsed the others are by the dish, you can always expect Ohno to be there at the end, patiently waiting to eat it. He has a pretty high tolerance for, well, everything. He can eat really really spicy things (things that make Aiba and Jun cry), and really really weird things (icky desserts, strange food combos, expired goods). And every time after he puts it in his mouth, he will say "Umai!" with a wide-eyed look of surprise and content. It is too cute.
Ohno seem to be a rather private person when it comes to his personal life. In this, he and MatsuJun are similar. For the longest time, no one in even Arashi knew where Ohno's house was located, and his bandmates would also complain that Ohno wouldn't pick up their calls. Ohno replied that he had heard it ringing and just sat there at home, debating whether or not to answer it, decided that he was too lazy to pick it up, and just let it ring on. Ohno, along with Nino, are perhaps the two big lazy-asses in Arashi. Members have joked about how Ohno may choose to end a VS Arashi game quickly on purpose just so he could get out of the studio and have more time for fishing. But of course, that's just a joke, as we all know how hardworking and considerate of the fans Oh-chan is.
Ohno shares a very close relationship with his mother. We know she buys all his clothes for him, and makes sure he eats properly. He lived with his parents until his mid-twenties, I believe. And his favorite thing to say on national TV on his birthday is something along the lines of "Thank you, Mother, for giving birth to me." He even nudged Nino to say this line for his birthday, haha! Oh, and on a side note, watch out for his pout! It is perhaps the cutest, most effective pout in all history. No one can pout like Oh-chan.
|Ohno bringing it in the |
opening of P.A.R.A.D.O.X
|Oh-chan means business.|
|Arashi performing Mada Minu Sekai e. Oh-chan is leading it front and center!|
|Ohno showing off his catch on Utaban.|
|Left: Ohno's English self-introduction. Right: Ohno playing with a fishing rod in the Hitachi CM|
|Ohno's famous pout.|
|Top L: Kaibutsu-kun; Top R: Maou. |
Bottom L: Uta no Onii-san; Bottom R: Kyo no Hi wa Sayonara
I'll leave you with one of my favorite Ohno get-ups: