NiziU: Profiles, Facts, Debut, ‘Nizi Project’

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Get to Know the Profile of NiziU, A New Girl Group Under JYP Entertainment

Some time ago, one of the major Korean agencies and part of the Big 3 companies in Korea, JYP Entertainment, made a survival program in collaboration with Sony Music Entertainment. The program was called Nizi Project and it was airing in Japan. After several months of broadcasting, 9 trainees were finally selected to debut. The trainees debuted in a girl group called NiziU on June 30th, 2020, with the release of their debut mini-album titled Make You Happy.

The group consists of nine beautiful and talented women from Japan, namely Mako, Maya, Riku, Rima, Miihi, Ayaka, Nina, Mayuka, and Rio. NiziU is taken from the word ‘Niji’ which means rainbow. The name carries the hope that in the future, NiziU will become a group that emits beautiful lights with various colors like a rainbow. Meanwhile, ‘U’ is defined as ‘need you’. It can mean that a group cannot stand alone without the support of fans. NiziU has members aged 15 to 19, who are fluent in three languages ​​namely Japanese, Korean, and English.

As a multilingual group, they plan to promote overseas and become a global icon. Are you curious to know more about this new exciting girl group? Let’s take a look at the profiles of the charming 9 NiziU members below!

 

NiziU Profile

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  • Group Name: NiziU
  • Origin: Tokyo, Japan
  • Genre: Pop
  • Members: 9
  • Debut date: June 30th, 2020
  • Labels: Sony Music Entertainment ft. JYP Entertainment
  • Debut album: Make You Happy
  • Pre-debut appearance: Nizi ProjectNizi Project Season 2
  • NiziU Fandom Name: WithU
  • NiziU Official Colors: –
  • Official Sites: Official Website, Official Instagram, Artist Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

 

Mako’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Yamaguchi Mako (山口真子/やまぐち まこ/야마구치 마코)
  • Stage Name: Mako (真子/マコ/마코)
  • Birthday: April 4th, 2001
  • Zodiac Sign: Aries
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Snake
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 1st
  • Position: Leader, Center, Main Dancer, Lead Vocalist, Rapper
  • Blood Type: A
  • Representative Color: Red

 

Facts about Mako

  • Fukuoka Prefecture, Yame City, is her hometown
  • She was 18–19 years old when she was participating in the Nizi Project
  • She has dreamed of becoming a K-pop idol since her childhood and then she started studying Korean on her own when she was in elementary school
  • One time during middle school, she went to a Korean restaurant near her home and asked to check her Korean
  • She was the class president and was part of the student council in the 9th grade
  • When auditioning for Nizi Project, she was already a JYP trainee along with Rima and Miihi
  • She is the member with the longest training period (3 years)
  • She became a trainee of JYP Entertainment in February 2017
  • She auditioned for Nizi Project in Tokyo
  • At the 13th JYP public audition in South Korea, she sang “Uru” by Freesia and danced to JYP’s “The One”
  • For the 13th JYP public audition, she competed against 3,500 contestants and was ranked #3 out of all contestants and #1 among female contestants
  • On Nizi Project Season 1, she wore braces
  • She ranked first in both Season 1 and Season 2 of Nizi Project
  • Her positions in NiziU are leader, center, main dancer, lead vocalist, and rapper
  • She feels like she has to teach and guide the members as a leader
  • It was revealed that she was one of the potential trainees to debut in ITZY
  • Watching dramas, learning languages, and keeping a diary are her hobbies
  • Eating a lot of food and eating lemons without reaction are her specialties
  • Yogurt is her favorite food
  • She can eat a lemon and maintain a poker face
  • Her older sister is named Atsuko Yamaguchi
  • She said that her impression of Rio changed the most because she used to see Rio as mature in the Tokyo training camp, but later realized that Rio is a very bright and funny person when they became friends
  • She wants to become the cook of NiziU
  • She appeared in Stray Kids’ MV “God’s Menu” along with Rio, Maya, Ayaka, Rima, and Miihi and in Stray Kids‘ MV “Back Door” with Riku, Nina, Rio, Maya, Ayaka, Mayuka, and Rima
  • She mentioned she practiced strength training to prepare for her 2PM “I’ll Be Back” dance rendition during Nizi Project Season 1
  • According to JYP, she has great condition by being fast, powerful, and light
  • Her body management routine included weighing herself first thing every morning, stretching, dancing aerobics, and strength training
  • Her representative color is red

 

Rio’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Hanabashi Rio (花橋梨緒/はなば し りお/하나바시 리오)
  • Stage Name: Rio (梨緒/リオ/리오)
  • Birthday: February 4th, 2002
  • Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Horse
  • Height: 159 cm (5’2″)
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 4th
  • Position: Main Dancer, Rapper, Vocalist
  • Blood Type: B
  • Representative Color: Indigo

 

Facts about Rio

  • She comes from Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya
  • She is the third oldest member of NiziU
  • Her family name, Hanabashi, is very rare and it is said that only around 60 people use that last name in Japan
  • She used to be torn between her two dreams (acting and music) and decided to audition for Nizi Project so she could look for an answer
  • She was 18 years old when she took part in the Nizi Project
  • JYP praised her for dancing with full emotions and confidence
  • In Nizi Project, she acquired 3 out of the 4 pendants (dance, vocal, and personality) and only missed one pendant (power)
  • She ranked 13th on the vocal test in Nizi Project; 9th on the dance test; 10th in overall Season 1; and 4th in the final season
  • She started dancing when she was only in second grade and is seen as a dancing prodigy
  • She sees dancing as her own life since she has been dancing for more than half of her life
  • She attended the same academy as TWICE’s Sana called EXPG (Exile Professional Gym) when she was in 8th grade
  • She used to be a member of EXILE (a contemporary acrobatic dance & vocal performance group) since the second year of junior high school back in 2015 but later left to join EXPGLab, and became a member of KIZZY/BUNNIES under the name HanaRio
  • In order to pursue acting, she left EXPGLab on March 4th, 2019
  • Since leaving EXPGLab, she dreamed of becoming an idol so she decided to audition for JYP Entertainment in Nagoya
  • She said that her dream was “to be a person who shines brightly”
  • According to JYP, she looks like an actress
  • Fashion is her hobby
  • Freestyle dancing and eating a lot of eggs are her hobbies
  • In NiziU, she is seen as the source of energy
  • She said that her impression of Mako changed the most because she used to see Mako as a very serious and honored student, but later was surprised about how much Mako plays around
  • She appeared in Stray Kids’ MV “God’s Menu” along with Mako, Maya, Ayaka, Rima, and Miihi and in Stray Kids‘ MV “Back Door” with Riku, Nina, Mako, Maya, Ayaka, Mayuka, and Rima
  • Her representative color is indigo

 

Maya’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Katsumura Maya (勝村摩耶/かつむら まや/카츠무라 마야)
  • Stage Name: Maya (まや/マヤ/마야)
  • Birthday: April 8th, 2002
  • Zodiac Sign: Aries
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Horse
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 5th
  • Position: Lead Vocalist
  • Blood Type: O
  • Representative Color: Orange

 

Facts About Maya

  • She comes from Ishikawa Prefecture, Hakusan City
  • She studied at Hakusan City Hoku Elementary School and Hakusan City Hikarino Junior High School
  • Prior to joining JYP Entertainment, she was a trainee under YG Japan for a year (she moved to Tokyo in order to be a YG trainee)
  • She was scouted by JYPE at a TWICE concert in Japan and became a JYPE trainee in 2019
  • She auditioned for Nizi Project in Tokyo
  • She has been learning some Korean
  • Painting and collecting skincare products are her hobbies
  • Cooking is her specialty, especially when it comes to tamagoyaki
  • She cooks for everyone at the dorm
  • She acts like the mom in NiziU, she is even named ‘um-maya’ which is a wordplay of ‘mom’ in Korean
  • Her face is said to resemble TWICE’s Mina
  • She is given the nickname Cowl Chan by her dance trainer which means ‘warm tone’
  • In NiziU, she is seen as the swan of the group
  • She chose Mako as the member with whom she wants to switch abilities because Mako does various dances well
  • She said that her impression of Mako changed the most because she used to see Mako as a perfect leader and a very solid person, but she began seeing Mako’s cute sides
  • She appeared in Stray Kids’ MV “God’s Menu” along with Mako, Rio, Ayaka, Rima, and Miihi and in Stray Kids‘ MV “Back Door” with Riku, Nina, Mako, Rio, Ayaka, Mayuka, and Rima
  • Her representative color is orange 

 

Riku’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Oe Riku (大江梨久/おおえ りく/오오에 리쿠)
  • Stage Name: Riku (陸/リク/리쿠)
  • Birthday: October 26th, 2002
  • Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Horse
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 2nd
  • Position: Lead Vocalist
  • Blood Type: AB
  • Representative Color: Green

 

Facts About Riku

  • Kyoto, Japan, is her birthplace
  • She is the fourth oldest member of NiziU
  • She was 17 years old when she took part in the Nizi Project
  • When joining the Nizi Project, she had no prior experience as a trainee
  • She has a brother
  • She speaks in the Kansai dialect
  • Since she and Miihi were both born in Kyoto, they both often talk about their hometown together
  • She is an ITZY fan
  • She attended a K-pop academy prior to the audition
  • She has been learning some Korean
  • Karate and remembering dates are her specialties
  • She has been practicing karate for seven years and has a third-degree belt
  • In NiziU, she is seen as the energetic squirrel since she is known for her energetic and cheerful personality as well as being very affectionate and friendly
  • During middle school, she used to be part of the brass band club and played the trumpet
  • She said that she’d choose Mayuka if she’d have to date someone from NiziU, because they both are really close since Mayuka is a nice girl that can think about others and notices little changes so she loves Mayuka a lot
  • She said that her impression of Ayaka changed the most because she used to see Ayaka as a serious and quiet person, but Ayaka gradually opened to them and showed her the funny side
  • She appeared in Stray Kids‘ MV “Back Door” with Mako, Nina, Mako, Rio, Ayaka, Mayuka, and Rima
  • Her representative color is green

 

Ayaka’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Arai Ayaka (新井彩香/あらい あやか/아라이 아야카)
  • Stage Name: Ayaka (あやか/アヤカ/아야카)
  • Birthday: June 20th, 2003
  • Zodiac Sign: Gemini
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Goat
  • Height: 168 cm (5’6″) – Estimated
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 8th
  • Position: Visual, Vocalist
  • Blood Type: A
  • Representative Color: Purple

 

Facts about Ayaka

  • Tokyo, Japan, is her birthplace
  • She studied at Akatsuka First Junior High School and Kokugakuin High School (but later chose to drop out to participate in the Nizi Project)
  • She is the fifth oldest member of NiziU
  • She was 16 years old when she took part in the Nizi Project
  • She ranked 18th in singing on the Nizi Project Season 1; 16th in dancing; and 8th in the overall final season
  • During the early stages of Nizi Project, she was heavily criticized by JYP but later she quickly gained his trust after demonstrating her perseverance and growth potential
  • She attracted the netizens’ attention with her resemblance to Suzy Bae
  • Eating delicious foods is her hobby
  • Doing a swimming breaststroke and sleeping anywhere are her specialties
  • When it was revealed that she would go to a training camp in Korea, she couldn’t believe it but after a while, her confidence increased
  • The worst dish that she’s ever eaten is a tofu hamburger steak that she and Miihi made in the dormitory
  • In NiziU, she is seen as the beauty of healing
  • She has a shy and quiet personality
  • She has a unique type of laughing and walking
  • She won a small tournament in tennis since she has been playing for 3 years
  • She shared a room with Sato Ana in the Tokyo Camp for Nizi Project Season 1
  • She said that her impression of Miihi changed the most because she used to see Miihi as a very girly girl, but was surprised when Miihi wasn’t
  • According to other NiziU members, she, along with Mayuka, were voted as the members that changed the most because both of them grew their skills significantly during the show
  • She appeared in Stray Kids‘ MV “Back Door” with Mako, Nina, Maya, Rio, Riku, Mayuka, and Rima
  • Her representative color is purple

 

Mayuka’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Ogou Mayuka (おごうまゆか/小合麻由佳/오고 마유카)
  • Stage Name: Mayuka (まゆか/マユカ/마유카)
  • Birthday: November 13th, 2003
  • Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Goat
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 7th
  • Position: Lead Rapper, Vocalist
  • Blood Type: A
  • Representative Color: Yellow

 

Facts about Mayuka

  • Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto Tanabe, is her birthplace
  • She studied at Tanabe Junior High School
  • She is the fourth-youngest member of NiziU
  • She was 16 years old when she took part in the Nizi Project
  • She joined Nizi Project with no prior experience as a trainee
  • She ranked 18th in singing on Nizi Project Season 1; 16th in dancing; and 8th in the overall final season
  • In the attitude evaluation of Nizi Project, she got the highest score out of all the other NiziU members
  • According to the staff and trainers of Nizi Project, she is the member with the best attitude
  • Watching movies is her hobby
  • During Nizi Project Season 1, she was supposed to play the piano of the “Star Quality,” but the staff told her that she cannot play the piano, so her mother searched for the easiest instrument to play, then she chose to play “Ocarina,” only 2 weeks in preparation for the Tokyo Training Camp
  • Playing the piano is her specialty
  • In NiziU, she is seen as the chameleon of the group because she can do it all
  • She is close with all the NiziU members and is considered the popular girl
  • She is said to resemble EVERGLOW’s Onda
  • She said that she’d choose Rima if she’d have to date someone from NiziU, because Rima’s good at talking, she is funny and nice
  • She chose Nina as the member with whom she wants to switch abilities because she loves listening to Nina’s vocals and it would be great to sing like her once
  • She said that her impression of Rio changed the most because she thought Rio was a little scary but Rio is actually a very chill person
  • She shares a room with Rima in the dorm
  • According to other NiziU members, she, along with Ayaka, were voted as the members that changed the most because both of them grew their skills significantly during the show
  • She appeared in Stray Kids‘ MV “Back Door” with Mako, Nina, Maya, Rio, Riku, Ayaka, and Rima
  • Her representative color is yellow

 

Rima’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Yokoi Rima (横井りま/よこい りま/요코이 리마)
  • Stage Name: Rima (りま/リマ/리마)
  • Birthday: March 26th, 2004
  • Zodiac Sign: Aries
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Monkey
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 3rd
  • Position: Main Rapper, Lead Dancer, Vocalist
  • Blood Type: O
  • Representative Color: Sky blue

 

Facts about Rima

  • She studied at Aoba Japan International School, International School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo (but later chose to drop out to participate in the Nizi Project)
  • She is the third-youngest member of NiziU
  • She was 15–16 years old when she appeared in the Nizi Project
  • When auditioning for Nizi Project, she was already a JYP trainee along with Mako and Miihi
  • She ranked 7th in singing on Nizi Project Season 1; 7th in dancing; and 3rd in the overall final season
  • Since she was 2 years old, she has been going to an international school 
  • She is the child of a ‘rapper’ dad and a ‘model’ mom
  • Her dad is a former member of the hip-hop group Giddra under the name Zeebra (birthname: Yokoi Hideyuki) and is one of the most popular, influential, but controversial, Japanese hip-hop artists and pioneers, while her mother is a model, Nakabayashi Miwa
  • Not only that, she is the grandchild of the former president of the Hotel New Japan and businessman Hideki Yokoi (from her father’s side), and an architect that works in Tokyo Midtown (from her mother’s side)
  • She has 2 half-brothers named Kento and Ren and one sister named Kanon
  • Until she was 10 years old, she still did photoshoots with her family 
  • She appeared in the 2010 Sega CF along with her mother and sister
  • Doing skincare, makeup, and games are her hobbies
  • Eating lots of noodles, eating fast, and doing lettering are her specialties
  • She loves noodles a lot
  • She once ate two servings of pasta in four mouths
  • During the weekends, she relaxes by drawing herself under her character’s name, Reenu
  • She can speak Japanese, English, and Korean fluently
  • She thinks English is easier for her than Japanese
  • She became a trainee of JYP Entertainment in February 2019 and even participated in JYP’s trainee showcase
  • She performed Miss A‘s “Good Girl, Bad Girl” and Wonder Girls‘ “Irony” where she wrote her own English lyrics in the JYP auditions
  • She writes her own rap lyrics
  • She wants to go to bed early and get up early
  • In NiziU, she is seen as the charming voice
  • She chose to have short hair because it was able to show her cool side
  • She shares a room with Mayuka in the dorm
  • She said that her impression of Mayuka changed the most because they hadn’t talked at all in the Tokyo camp, but when they began being friends, she saw that they are really similar and Mayuka is a funny, kind, and loud person
  • She appeared in Stray Kids‘ MV “Back Door” with Mako, Nina, Maya, Rio, Riku, Ayaka, and Mayuka
  • Her representative color is sky blue

 

Miihi’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Suzuno Miihi (すずの みいひ/鈴野未光/스즈노 미이히)
  • Stage Name: Miihi (みいひ/ミイヒ/미이히)
  • Birthday: August 12th, 2004
  • Zodiac Sign: Leo
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Monkey
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 6th
  • Position: Lead Vocalist, Lead Dancer
  • Blood Type: O
  • Representative Color: Blue

 

Facts about Miihi

  • Kyoto City, Japan, is her hometown
  • She studied at Tinkerbell Music School in Kyoto
  • She is the second-youngest member of NiziU
  • She was 15 years old when she took part in the Nizi Project
  • When auditioning for Nizi Project, she was already a JYP trainee along with Mako and Rima
  • She ranked 3rd in singing on Nizi Project Season 1; 2nd in dancing; and 6th in the overall final season
  • The name Miihi, is quite rare in Japan
  • Since she and Riku were both born in Kyoto, they both often talk about their hometown together
  • She wanted to open a cake shop when she was young
  • Out of all the other members, she’s the one who isn’t scared of insects and thus is responsible for killing bugs
  • She is quite good at Korean
  • She was asked by JYP, who was impressed with how fluent she was, on Nizi Project’s audition if she could speak and understand Korean and her Korean just came out naturally, and she answered she was only fluent around 60% and wasn’t confident
  • She said that meeting JYP makes her nervous and uneasy because she considers him as a ‘successful/big’ person
  • JYP praised her for having a perfect audition, except for fixing her crescendo
  • She is a big TWICE fan, especially Tzuyu
  • When attending a TWICE Japan Concert, she was scouted by JYP Entertainment
  • She became a trainee of JYP Entertainment in late 2018/early 2019 and has participated in JYP’s trainee showcase 
  • She performed “Precious” – 伊藤由奈 during the Nizi Project audition, she said that her choice of song is about love, but since she doesn’t have someone like that so she thought about the Japanese trainees she came with to the audition
  • During Nizi Project, fans were concerned with her drastic weight loss, and JYP even told Miihi to try to eat a bit more and that she was looking a little thin (The phrase “Miihi, have some food” by JYP became popular)
  • She is said to resemble Cravity/X1’s Hyeongjun since they both have a snaggletooth
  • She used to wear braces
  • Eating delicious foods is her hobby
  • To fall asleep straight away is her specialty
  • In NiziU, she is seen as the smile maker of the group
  • She can talk in her sleep
  • The worst dish that she’s ever eaten is a tofu hamburger steak that she and Ayaka made in the dormitory
  • She has a self-paced personality
  • She said that her impression of Maya changed the most because she used to see Maya as a quiet and elegant person, but Maya is actually very funny, talkative and playful
  • She appeared in Stray Kids’ MV “God’s Menu” along with Rio, Maya, Ayaka, Rima, and Mako
  • Her representative color is blue

Nina’s Profile

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  • Birth Name: Nina Makino-Hillman (牧野仁菜/牧野まきの 仁菜にな/ニナ ヒルマン/니나 힐먼/마키노 니나)
  • Stage Name: Nina (仁菜/ニナ/니나)
  • Birthday: February 27th, 2005
  • Zodiac Sign: Pisces
  • Chinese Zodiac Sign: Rooster
  • Rank in Nizi Project: 9th
  • Position: Main Vocalist, Maknae
  • Height: 164 cm (5’5″)
  • Blood Type: O
  • Representative Color: Magenta

 

Facts About Nina

  • Seattle, Washington, USA, is her hometown
  • She is the youngest member (maknae) of NiziU
  • She was 15 years old when she took part in the Nizi Project
  • She ranked 2nd in the vocal ranking of Nizi Project Season 1; 24th in the dance ranking; and 9th in the overall final season
  • She is a mix of American (her father) and Japanese (her mother)
  • Makino is her mom’s surname and Hillman is her father’s surname
  • She has an older sister
  • She lives in Nagoya, Japan
  • When she first arrived in Japan around the age of 12–13, she didn’t know Japanese so she studied hard until she was fluent
  • She attended a normal Japanese middle school and thus helped her improve her Japanese very quickly
  • Since she missed the JYP Nagoya audition date, she went to the Sendai audition
  • She performed TWICE’s “What Is Love?” (Japanese Ver.) and “Brand New Day” – 安田レイ’ for the Nizi Project audition
  • Before entering for their audition, she knocked and became the first person to do so
  • Prior to becoming a NiziU member, she was known for being a child actress in both America and Japan and she has played many roles
  • She is a musical theater actress in America
  • She debuted on the 5th Avenue as the understudy of Mary Lennox and she appeared in Book-It Theater’s production of Brothers K as Young Bet
  • She starred in ACT’s (A Contemporary Theatre)’s show Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2015) as Trixie
  • She also appeared in a Women empowerment video titled “How girls will change the world #STEM”
  • She appeared in the American TV Show Divine Shadow and played the role of Mieu Everest
  • She also appeared in the Japanese Movies titled Shiba Park and Blood Friend
  • She was the reporter for NHK E TV’s variety show Suiensā
  • She can speak Japanese, English, and French
  • Singing, dancing, playing piano, jet-skiing are her specialties
  • She said that she wants to have a voice like IU, which is so wonderful
  • In 2017, she passed the Amuse (a Japanese entertainment company) Multilingual Audition
  • She is left-handed
  • She is said to resemble Jeon Somi
  • Listening to music and exercising are her hobbies
  • She said that Stray Kids is her favorite boy group
  • She wants to show a bright personality and empower everyone
  • In NiziU, she is seen as the bright youngest of the group
  • Woof Woof is her nickname because she acts like a baby and follows everyone like a puppy, that’s the reason why she uses a dog face in her autograph
  • She wants to have an English lesson with the fans
  • She said that her impression of Rima changed the most because Rima looked very cool at first, but turned out to be a high-spirited and bright person
  • She appeared in Stray Kids‘ MV “Back Door” with Mako, Rima, Maya, Rio, Riku, Ayaka, and Mayuka
  • Her representative color is magenta
  • She ranked 2nd in the vocal ranking and 24th in the dance ranking on Season 1 of Nizi Project