Momota performing at the 2012 Japan Expo.
|Native name||百田 夏菜子|
July 12, 1994|
|Other names||Kanako, Deko-chan|
|Associated acts||Momoiro Clover Z|
Kanako Momota (百田 夏菜子 Momota Kanako, born July 12, 1994) is a Japanese idol singer. She is best known as the leader of the female idol group Momoiro Clover Z. Momota was ranked 12th most popular Japanese idol of 2013 by Nihon Keizai Shimbun. She is represented by Stardust Promotion talent agency.
Momota has been taking rhythmic gymnastics classes since the age of three, and jazz dance lessons since she was in the third grade of elementary school. She enrolled in dance classes at the suggestion of her coach, who thought she needed a better dance foundation. Other students at the dance school sometimes auditioned for the entertainment industry, a common topic of conversation among parents. Momota's mother decided she should audition too and answered an advertisement announcing an open audition for the Stardust Promotion talent agency. They applied and when still in the fifth grade, Kanako Momota won the audition and was subsequently signed to the agency's 3B Junior section, dedicated to training girls under 18 to become actresses.
In the spring of 2008, Stardust Promotion put her in a then unnamed idol (vocal and dance) group consisting of girls close to Momota's age. The project was very low budget, so they performed on the walkways in Yoyogi Park in Shibuya, Tokyo. A few months later, Momota replaced Reni Takagi as group leader. In a later interview, Momoiro Clover's manager Akira Kawakami recalled that from the very beginning Momota was the hardest worker and stated that she could be serious when needed, but naïve and spontaneous at the same time.
In 2011, Momota appeared in Mika Ninagawa's cosplay photoshoot series in the fashion magazine Zipper dressed as a bee and a ladybug. She continued to appear as a model in Ninagawa's works in Mgirl magazine from Fall/Winter 2011/2012 and again in the issue from Spring/Summer 2013. On April 14, 2012, Momota succeeded famous child actress Mana Ashida as subhost of the Nippon Television show Meringue no Kimochi. At that time, neither she nor Momoiro Clover Z was widely known. But when in 2013 it was announced that she would leave the program after almost a year and a half, there were worries that it would affect the popularity of the show. In August 2013, Momota became the first person to appear on both the front and back covers of an issue of QuickJapan magazine, which also published a lengthy interview with her.
Momota's trademark stunt is a "shrimp jump" (jumping with an arched back and both legs bent backwards), which she performs during the song "Ikuze! Kaitō Shōjo" and which some consider a highlight of the group's live concerts. On October 4, 2013, she failed to land the jump and fell on her buttocks. The accident caused a stir among fans and was widely reported by the Japanese media, appearing at the top of Yahoo! Japan website. Momota was not injured.