Arashi’s Kazunari Ninomiya is married and Japanese fans are not happy about it

Singers Ohno Satoshi, Matsumoto Jun, Aiba Masaki, Ninomiya Kazunari and Sakurai Sho of Japanese band Arashi meet fans on November 11, 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan of China. (Photo by VCG/Getty Images)

By: Yian Lu

There has been a whirlwind of events happening for Japanese idol group Arashi recently. First, they held an unprecedented YouTube live earlier this month. Then, they had the Jet Storm press conference which came to and left Singapore like a storm last week. And now, one of the group members Kazunari Ninomiya is married?!

Apparently, Ninomiya announced this shocking news to the fans through Arashi’s fan club site on 12 November. The handwritten note revealed that he is married and hopes that people will accept this announcement and continue to support him.

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With the announcement, Ninomiya became the first member of Arashi — whose talent agency Johnny & Associates is notorious for restricting their artistes from making their relationships public — to tie the knot.

Although it was not disclosed in his message who he is married to, Japanese media claimed that she is the 38-years-old former news announcer Ayako Ito. The two first met in 2012 on a news programme and later in 2014 on Arashi’s variety show. They were subsequently reported going out on dates in 2016.

However, it seems Japanese fans are not taking the news so well. Some were okay with Ninomiya getting married, but not to Ito. They did not like how Ito subtly hinted at their relationship on her blog and even collated a list of these “hints”, such as Ito making hamburgs which is Ninomiya’s favourite food, Ito posting photos which have Arashi’s CD or poster in the background, Ito uploading photos of the bouquets Ninomiya received at events.

Others found that it is a weird timing for Ninomiya to be announcing this now, in view that Arashi’s hiatus is just one more year to go. Fans were speculating whether the announcement is due to Ito being pregnant. One fan even decided to add a little humour by creating a Twitter account for “their baby”.

The location reads, “In the tummy of Ayako Ito”.

Another fan decided to up the game and made a Twitter account for Ninomiya’s grandson. The location reads, “In the tummy of Ayako Ito’s baby”.

As Ninomiya was married on 11 November, Chinese fans also joked that he is anxious to leave the singles life on Singles’ Day.

Among all of these dramas, the most innocent is Japanese comedian Asako Ito, whom people misunderstood she is the wife of Ninomiya due to the similarity in their names. Some even left  congratulatory messages on her Twitter! Given fans’ bias against Ayako Ito, they surely would not mind if the 36-year-old Ninomiya is really marrying the 49-year-old Asako Ito.

Despite fans’ unhappiness with this piece of news, other members of Arashi still wished Ninomiya well. Masaki Aiba, who has known Ninomiya for 24 years, commented, “This is the path my close friend chose. All the best Kazunari Ninomiya!” Sho Sakurai who is childhood friends with Ninomiya since middle school also added that he hoped Ninomiya will have a blissful marriage.