Japan female idol group shine as cab drivers to gain more fans

Members from a female idol group in central Japan have taken to driving taxis on the side in a bid to widen their fan base by providing an interactive experience with "chauffeurs who can sing and dance."

Model Tomoyo Kuno, 30, actress Marina Ichiki, 38, and Haruka Umeoka, 24, from the group Taxi'shez, all have permits for driving passengers, with their side work also providing a stable source of income. Their pink taxis mainly operate in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

The project was launched in February last year as a joint project by local taxi operator Fuji Taxi Group and talent agency Miraikuru. The women take turns driving a pink taxi during the day between jobs in the entertainment industry and perform songs as a unit on the weekends.

The side hustle also provides some flexibility for the women, who often receive job offers in entertainment at a moment's notice.

"It stabilizes our income, and we're able to focus on our main occupation," said Kuno. "It's rewarding to make new fans by driving a taxi."

Customers are given a pink certificate shaped like a business card as souvenirs, which the group promotes as a gift that will bestow the holder good luck with money.

Working as a cab driver also gives the three women an opportunity to publicize their individual activities to customers, although their current goal is to hold a solo concert as a unit.

"We want to make a name for ourselves enough to receive independent job offers," Ichiki said.

© Kyodo News