Former AKB48 idol singer gets proposed to on first date, says yes, is now married

Graduating from Japan’s biggest idol group means liberation from its no-romance clause, and this former member has now found the love of her life.

It’s pretty standard for idol singers in Japan to have contracts prohibiting them from dating or otherwise engaging in romantic relationships. Ostensibly this is to keep them focused on improving their musical and dancing performances, out of respect to their devoted fans, but you could also make a pretty convincing argument that the real reason is so said fans can more easily fantasize that maybe, just maybe, the idol is saving herself for a guy like them.

Either way, though, if you’re an idol, you’re not dating, and that even goes for the highest idol power in the land, Akihabara-based AKB48. However, when Mariko Shinoda, one of the group’s original Kami 7 (the seven highest-ranking idols in its periodic popularity polls) “graduated” from AKB48 in 2013, her seven-year stint in the no-dating zone also came to an end.

▼ Mariko Shinoda

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表紙「週間 東京ウォーカー+3号」 今日1/23(水)発売です! ぜひ見てください! #キメ #ツイッターも見てね

A post shared by 篠田麻里子 (@shinodamariko3) on Jan 22, 2019 at 7:16pm PST

Since Shinoda was 19 years old when she joined the group, leaving AKB48 provided her with her first opportunity to date as an adult, and perhaps she spent the next few years leisurely enjoying the single life of a highly eligible bachelorette. However, this week the now 32-year-old Shinoda announced that she’s tied the knot, and she did so with blazing speed.

▼ Shinoda and her dog-obscured husband, who’s the owner of a beauty salon and other business ventures

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私事で恐縮ではございますがこの度、婚姻届けを提出させて頂きました。 彼はとても優しく、思いやりがあり、小さな幸せを毎日感じることができます。 自分が素でいられるとても大きな存在で、結婚するイメージを持てなかった自分が 『一生一緒にいたい』と心から思えた方です。 これから笑顔の絶えない家庭を築いていきたいと思います。 お仕事はこれからも一生懸命続けさせて頂きます。 これからも篠田麻里子を応援宜しくお願いいたします。 #玄米婚#必殺目隠し

A post shared by 篠田麻里子 (@shinodamariko3) on Feb 20, 2019 at 1:39pm PST

In a handwritten note posted as an image on her fan club members-only website on February 20, Shinoda revealed that she’d gotten married the previous Saturday. She describes her husband as an “ordinary man,” a term commonly used in Japanese show business to describe someone who’s not in the



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