AKB48 is a Japanese female idol group produced by Yasushi Akimoto. The group has achieved enormous popularity in Japan. The band has sold over ten million records. More precisely, with 11,787,000 CD single sales according to Oricon, AKB48 holds the record for most singles sold in Japan by a girl group, formerly held by Morning Musume.
Yasushi Akimoto is also expanding his theater-based idol group concept to other cities and, since recently, countries. He has formed SKE48 (based at a theater in the Sakae area of Nagoya), SDN48 (intended to have a more mature image), NMB48 (Namba, Osaka), HKT48 (Hakata, Fukuoka), JKT48 (Jakarta, Indonesia), TPE48 (Taipei, Taiwan), SNH48 (Shanghai, China). Another of his recent creations, Nogizaka46, was announced as an official rival for AKB48.
AKB48 is named after Akihabara (Akiba for short), the area in Tokyo where, on the 8th floor of a Don Quijote store, the band's own theater is located. Akimoto's idea, later advertised as "idols you can meet", was to create a theater-based idol group whose fans could see the girls live daily. AKB48 still performs at the theater every day, although, due to great demand, tickets are now distributed only via a lottery.