Morning Musume Otome Gumi (モーニング娘。おとめ組, Morning Musume. Maiden Team) was one of the subgroups that divided the Japanese pop group Morning Musume in 2003 to enable towns with smaller venues a chance to see the idols perform. The group's counterpart was Morning Musume Sakura Gumi.
Otome Gumi remained active from 2003 to 2004 before the two groups merged once more. Morning Musume would not tour separately again until 2020, when restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic would force all of Hello! Project to tour as smaller teams.
The words otome (おとめ) and gumi (組) Reflecting this, the group contains many of Morning Musume's younger members, including three members of the newly-added sixth generation.mean "maiden" and "group," respectively. The theme of the group was to represent gendaikko, the modern youth.
The sole purpose of Morning Musume Otome Gumi — as well as its counterpart, Sakura Gumi — was to separately perform in small towns that couldn't provide large enough venues for the full ensemble. Aside from their separate tours, the groups also released two singles each. Both groups became inactive in the Spring of 2004 when they merged back together as Morning Musume.
- Iida Kaori (飯田圭織; Light Blue)
- Ishikawa Rika (石川梨華; Yellow)
- Tsuji Nozomi (辻希美; Blue)
- Ogawa Makoto (小川麻琴; Green)
- Fujimoto Miki (藤本美貴; Red)
- Michishige Sayumi (道重さゆみ; Purple)
- Tanaka Reina (田中れいな; Orange)
The news of Morning Musume's planned split into two separate halves was announced in 2003 and was met with dismay by fans. It wasn't made clear at first that the group was not split for good and as a result much confusion arose concerning Morning Musume's future.
On September 18, 2003 the group's debut single was released, "Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~." The single contained an upbeat title track that was supposed to represent the modern Japanese woman. Their counterparts sang slower paced songs about the traditional Japanese woman and the groups competed for sales with Otome Gumi losing to the more popular image of Sakura Gumi.
This was the second and final year of Otome Gumi's existence as a separate group and they soon joined back into Morning Musume. However they released one more single before the merge, once again competing for sales with Sakura Gumi. "Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~" was released on February 25, 2004 and once again lost to Sakura Gumi's single.
After nearly 3 years of being merged into one group, both Sakura Gumi and Otome Gumi performed once again in Hello! Project 2007 Winter ~Shuuketsu! 10th Anniversary~. Ogawa Makoto was studying abroad during this period and did not appear at the concert.
All members of Otome Gumi reunited to perform at Hello! Project 2009 Winter Elder Club Kouen ~Thank you for your LOVE!~, during a mass graduation concert.
- [2003.09.18] Ai no Sono ~Touch My Heart!~ (愛の園 ~Touch My Heart!~)
- [2004.02.25] Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~ (友情 ~心のブスにはならねぇ!~)
- [2004.03.24] Sakura Mankai/Yuujou ~Kokoro no Busu ni wa Naranee!~ (さくら満開/友情～心のブスにはならねぇ～) (Collaboration with Morning Musume Sakura Gumi)
- [2003.11.06] Alo-Hello! Morning Musume Sakura Gumi & Otome Gumi DVD (アロハロ!モーニング娘。さくら組&おとめ組DVD) (Collaboration with Morning Musume Sakura Gumi)
- [2004.06.09] Morning Musume Otome Gumi ~Otome Chikku~ (モーニング娘。おとめ組～おとめチック～)
- [2003.10.27] Alo-Hello! Morning Musume Sakura Gumi & Otome Gumi
- [2004.02.10] Adventure Morning Musume Sakura Gumi & Otome Gumi
- Morning Musume Otome Gumi never sold as many copies of their singles as their counterparts in Morning Musume Sakura Gumi.
- Otome Gumi had one less member that Sakura Gumi (until the graduation of Sakura Gumi's leader, Abe Natsumi) and three of those members were from the newest generation of Morning Musume.
- ^ Kumi (くみ) is the furigana of the kanji "組" when used alone. If the kanji is as part of a compound word, as it is in this case with otome (乙女), the furigana will be gumi (ぐみ).
- For more on this, see Hello! Project 2020 Summer COVERS ~The Ballad~, Hello! Project 2020 Autumn ~The Ballad~ Extra Number, Hello! Project 2021 Winter ~STEP BY STEP~, Hello! Project 2021 Haru "Kachou Fuugetsu", Hello! Project 2021 Summer Sapphire & Ruby, and Hello! Project 2021 Aki "Zoku Kachou Fuugetsu".
- モーニング娘。おとめ組 (in Japanese.) Tsunku.net. (archived)
- Official Discography Page (archived)