The first member who really stood out for me. One of the first AKB songs I saw was A1’s ‘AKB48’, and I remember watching Kaya and thinking ‘who is this baby and why is she on stage??’
Where are they now?
Kaya actually debuted in the entertainment industry when she was 3! And pre-AKB debut, she sang the original ‘Tarako’ song, which was a CM song that became a Japanese meme. (youtube it, you may recognise it.)
She was the youngest of the first gen members, at only 11 years old, almost a decade younger than oldest member Ayunee. When AKB first debuted younger members didn’t get much push (the three youngest, Miichan, Nacchan and Kaya didn’t get a unit in A1 and were Acchan's 'Nagisa no Cherry' backdancers in A2.) So Kaya never played a huge role in AKB performances or promotions. She did release a single as part of Honegumi subgroup tho. ;)
Kaya was originally to transfer to Team B with CinDy, Shiho and Nacchan, but Ayunee’s graduation from A meant Kaya stayed put.
In 2007 Kaya got a lead role in drama ‘Chocomimi’, and graduated soon after to focus on acting. Whilst signed to Parfit Productions, Kaya appeared in a range of dramas, movies, CMs, and even sang opening and ending themes to anime. Although she only played small-medium parts, she got regular work. She also appeared every year at AKB’s Top 100 event at Shibuya AX, and every year the members would be amazed at how tall she had become. And Takamina would cry because little Kaya was now taller than her lol. (until they stopped inviting graduates to Top 100, ;-; as a graduate oshi this is super disappointing to me.)
In summer 2011, Kaya left her agency and took a hiatus from the entertainment industry to focus on college entrance exams. But she came back to the industry this year! Appearing in films ‘Aio sora shiroi kumo’ and ‘Ikenie no Jirenma’.
Kaya is close to many AKB members, particularly graduates Maimai, Yukki, Risa, Ayunee and Erepyon. (It seems to be AKB tradition that youngest members are close to oldest members aka Maachan/Nonti/Yukarin, Jurina/Mariko, etc lol)
At Tomochin’s graduation with Kojiharu, Hiipink, Nacchan and Hana.
Kaya at SDN’s final perf with Ayunee and Yukki.
With Acchan at AKB theatre after the 2011 disaster.
Kaya currently has no blog or twitter as she has only just returned to acting.