The Kawamitsu family got their start in stardom performing martial arts throughout the United States. The eldest of the four famous siblings, Aikashi, was obsessed with Jackie Chan. “I really wanted to be an action star,” Aikashi shares. “So I forced the younger ones [to join in]. And I would tell them you can’t eat food until you practice, and so I was really strict,” he says with a laugh.
But when the Kawamitsus moved back to Japan, siblings Aiki, Kanasa, Akino, and Akashi quickly discovered their love for singing and dancing, something their parents shared.
And that was the beginning of the Japanese pop group known as bless4. However, the Kawamitsus soon learned that Latter-day Saint values and a life in the entertainment world are not always easy to reconcile.
When bless4 first began touring and performing, they quickly discovered it would be difficult to stand for their beliefs. Their managers scheduled many shows on Sundays, the costume designers kept trying to push boundaries, and hardly anyone understood that the family didn’t drink or smoke.
So when it came time to renew their contract, bless4 decided to strike out on their own, with each family member chipping in to take care of scheduling, touring, costume designing, and writing music. In that way, they could control what days of the week they performed and what they wore.
Now, things have changed drastically for the Kawamitsus.
“Everywhere we go, everyone already knows our standards, so they say, ‘Bless4, they can’t drink, so orange juice.’ So without us telling, they already know,” Akino explains.
“Our standards protect us in a way,” Akashi says, explaining that because they perform together as a family, most people respect their standards and don’t expose them to harmful aspects of the entertainment world. “In a way we are protected because we are together as a family. And I think we are together as a family because we are part of the Church and that’s one of the commandments, to stay together as a family unit.”
“Our experience is unique because we are performing as a family and they love that image of a family that doesn’t drink and smoke,” Kanasa says.
While the Kawamitsus stand as examples in their day-to-day living, they also stand as an example to the people of Japan of the importance of family. To their fans, “Everyone calls our mom 'mom,'” Aikashi says. “So she’s everybody’s mom. And everybody calls me big brother, even if they are older than me. So it’s a big family experience. And at the same time they totally respect our views, because we are totally different from everyone else in the business.”
Even though staying together has helped protect and strengthen the Kawamitsu family, sisters Akino and Kanasa still felt the effects of the industry’s harsh views on women.
“It was really difficult because we are part of the music industry and we were on TV and people would comment and say [we were] fat,” Akino says. “It really hurt me so much to see that and I couldn’t sing for three years because of the pressure. And I was not myself because I was looking out to the world and seeing what I could change about myself.”
But through their struggles, Akino and Kanasa have gained new insight and have learned lessons every woman needs to hear.
“I have noticed that you shouldn’t be looking to the world; you should be looking to yourself and I call it 'beautiful heart,' that you should always remember your beautiful heart and . . . remember who you are,” Akino shares.
“Whether you are in the industry or not, on a normal basis you see women in magazines and how beautiful they are and you compare yourself to the person on the other side, which is normal,” Kanasa adds. “But it is also very hurtful when you compare your flaws with someone else’s strong parts. So what I would say is to look on the inside and to remember you are children of God and . . . made in His image. And that means you are perfect . . . You are beautiful and you are a child of God, so don’t forget that.”
Akino continues, “It doesn’t matter what skin color you have or what eye color, the most important thing is that we are all children of God and we are all unique, and that’s what makes us beautiful.”
For the first time in their lives, the Kawamitsu family has become divided as now their youngest member, Aiki, is serving a mission in the United States. And though bless4 has become bless3, the group remembers their brother by including videos of him in their performances. And through everything, the knowledge that gets them through is the fact that they are an eternal family, because to the Kawamitsus, that’s what matters most.