A Japanese pop star from the AKB48 girl group has shaved her head and made a tearful YouTube apology after spending the night with a man.
Pictures of the roughly-shorn head of Minami Minegishi were emblazoned on national newspapers and Japan's Twitter scene was abuzz Friday over news that the pop princess had broken the band's cardinal rule: No Dating.
The 20-year-old had been photographed leaving the apartment of Alan Shirahama, a dancer in an off-shoot of the popular boy band Exile.
She told fans she had decided to shave her head as an act of contrition.
"I don't believe just doing this means I can be forgiven for what I did, but the first thing I thought was that I don't want to quit AKB48," she said in the video, which has been viewed on YouTube more than three million times.
She said her actions were "thoughtless and immature" and pleads to remain with the band.
"If it is possible, I wish from the bottom of my heart to stay in the band. Everything I did is entirely my fault, I am so sorry."
AKB48, a 90-strong pool of girls in their teens and early 20s, makes much of the accessibility - and the implied availability - of its idols.
Fans have frequent opportunities to meet their favourites, who are rotated in and out of the public eye, according to popularity.
In return for their fame, they must follow strict rules of behaviour.
They are allowed to have "one-sided romantic feelings" for a boy but can never progress beyond hinting at their crush - and must never disabuse their legions of male fans that they might one day stand a chance with their fantasy woman.
In June last year, another AKB48 member, Rino Sashihara, 20, made a pained apology after a magazine article revealed her free-wheeling history with a boy. She was demoted to a regional sub-group as a punishment.
While much is made of their supposed innocence, the band is heavily marketed on its sex appeal, with skimpy outfits and coquettish smiles the order of the day.
A television commercial in which the girls seductively passed candy from mouth to mouth was a huge hit, despite -- or because -- of its homoerotic overtones, which sparked complaints from more conservative sections of society.
Most recently, a photograph that showed naked former AKB48 member Tomomi Kasai with a young, apparently Caucasian or Eurasian child cupping her breasts, set off police probe and led to the destruction of about 670,000 copies of a popular weekly magazine.