Interview With Multiplatinum Songwriter Jovette Rivera| nihonchique

Most people who follow me on social media and my blog know that I am obsessed with Johnnys. It’s not just the idols themselves I am interested in, but the business behind it as well, which includes the songwriters themselves.

Back in July, I had the opportunity to sit down with multiplatinum Jpop songwriter Jovette Rivera and interview him all about his career and what it is like to work in the Japanese entertainment industry, as he does more than just songwriting. He has written song for some of Japan’s top artists, including Johnnys groups like KAT-TUN, Sexy Zone, Kis-my-ft2 and more. He gave some amazing insight into the Japanese entertainment industry and his whole story was so fascinating to me, especially that he is a  self-taught songwriter.

If you would like more insight into the Japanese entertainment industry and learn about an amazingly talented interview,  head on over to the website I work for Izanau for the two part interview that I conducted with Jovette.

Part 1: https://izanau.com/article/jovette-interview

Part 2: https://izanau.com/article/jovette-interview-2

If you would like to check out more details about Jovette, head on over to his twitter and his company website, Royal Kingdom Music.

Advertisements

24Hour Television 39 – NEWS Showers Japan with Love!

The last weekend of August, Nippon TV hosted their 39th annual 24 Hour Television marathon. This year in particular I was very interested because my favorite Japanese idol group NEWS was the main personality this year! They had hosted the television program back in 2009 when they were 6 members, when Yamashita Tomohisa and Nishikido Ryo were still in the group. While I did not watch the early morning hours of the show, I watched most of it and I was really impressed at how they handled everything. You could really tell how they had grown in the 7 years since they had hosted their first 24Hour TV.

I think the thing that impressed me most was how the entire 24Hour staff, including NEWS, handled the scandal regarding Takahata Yuta. Takahata was chosen as one of the 24Hour TV personalities, and a few days before it started he was arrested for sexual assault of a female hotel employee. Everything with his face on it regarding 24Hour TV with removed in hours, including his appearance in the special 24Hour TV drama “Blind Teacher Yoshinori”, that NEWS member Kato Shigeaki starred in. The next day, it was announced that they would be re-filming the parts that he was in and NEWS member Koyama would be taking his place as the rehab employee. The effort that everyone has put into the refilling and rearranging the schedule really impressed me.

I want to thank NEWS and the staff for putting on an amazing 24Hour Television this year! I was moved and NEWS’s “Member Ai” really showed

Also, if you want to read more about my thoughts on this year’s 24Hour TV, head over to the website I work for Izanau and read this article here!

Why I am a proud “Johnny’s Otaku”

This post is a reaction post to the Otaku post on Tofugu. I know this post mostly covers anime otaku, but I thought it was a good article to describe Otaku culture in general.

A few months back, I was invited out to lunch by a co-worker at the last minute. We mostly talked about happenings in the office and somehow the subject of me going to a concert in Tokyo dome recently came up. I told her “Yes, I am a huge fan of Johnny’s” and I explained how I go to many concerts in the same tour, especially for NEWS. The topic of my MBA thesis also came up from this, which was the business of Johnnys and if/how they could go overseas. I was proud to tell her all of this and at the end she told me “You really do not look like the type that would be into something like Johnny’s”

If you had asked me about this a few years back, I would not have had the same opinion at all. In fact, I used to hate the word “Otaku”, especially “Johnny’s Otaku”. In America, the word “Otaku” comes from being a huge anime fan or loving Japan, and to me it was on the same level as “Weaboo”…. basically “crazy Japan lover”. So, Johnny’s Otaku basically meant “Crazy Johnny’s fan” to me. I don’t dress up for Johnny’s concerts (I prefer to go in regular clothes…. I already stand out being foreign) , I don’t go out to the store and buy the CD’s anymore (once I began my career I began to order the CD’s online because they got to you just as fast as if you went to the store here in Japan and I don’t have to rush out of work), I don’t want to marry any Johnnys guys or even be in a romantic relationship with any of them, and my whole life does not revolve around a concert tour.  What I DO do though is I buy all of NEWS’s CD and DVD releases religiously, I follow all of the information online of all of the Johnnys groups and know basically what is going on in the agency as a whole, I watch the TV shows when I am home, and I go to many different Johnny’s concerts. Even with just simply “Otaku” tacked on as a title, I am not anti-social and I do not just have Johnny’s as my only interest. I also consider myself a part of the fandom, though I support my favorites and the agency as a whole in my own way. I balance my fandom life with my career and my other interests, such as traveling and fashion.

So, why would I still be considered a “Johnny’s Otaku” if I don’t do a lot of the conventional things that I consider being a “Crazy Johnny’s fan?” or “Otaku” in general? Well, I am still involved in the fandom. I might dip my feet in on my own terms, but I still interact with other fans and some of my best friends I have made out of our mutual love for Johnny’s. I also know a lot more information than the conventional person would about the groups and the inter-working of the agency because I am naturally curious about the things that interest me and it was my research/thesis topic for my MBA program. I get told quite a lot “Wow! You know more information about Johnnys than me and I am even Japanese!”. This knowledge of information and interaction in the fandom is what I believe makes me a “Johnny’s Otaku”. You don’t even have to be in the fandom to be an Otaku because fundamentally you can just know a lot of information and still be a fan. There is nothing that says you have to interact with other fans and buy the goods to be an Otaku. In fact, I have heard stories of people actually hiding that they are a Johnny’s fan and do not buy goods or items at all, but still follow everything religiously and go to concerts….They still take possession of what they love and make it into their own.

In the post by Tofugu, they say “Otaku take possession of what they love and make it their own…..this possession is the result of remixing the source material and contributing it to the community” I love Johnny’s and I take possession of that and make it my own by writing an MBA thesis on it, and by choosing what I want to consume. To someone else, this could mean fan fiction, creating cosplay for concerts, making Uchiwas, creating a copy group and more. The post by Tofugu continues on to say, with a quote from Tamaki Saitou“(Otaku are) not just fans, but connoisseurs, critics, and authors themselves. This blurring of the distinction between producer and consumer is another characteristic of the otaku.” I love Johnny’s, but I am also very critical about the agency and it is a reason I chose to research it and made it into my MBA thesis and why I dabble in fandom on my own terms. Everyone has their own way that they do this in and no way is wrong, as long as it is considerate of the unspoken and spoken fan concert manners, as these types of manners all fandoms have.

I suppose to sum it up: To me, being an Otaku means supporting your interest (wether it be anime, video games, boybands etc.) in whatever way suits YOU and YOUR lifestyle best. I am a proud Johnny’s Otaku and I do not see that changing anytime soon.

How To Get Tickets To A Johnny’s Concert As An Overseas Fan

In the past year or so, a lot of people have commented on my post about joining the Johnnys fan club, asking how they could get tickets as a foreign fan and to be honest, I really wasn’t sure how to answer them, as there is no simple way to go about it.

*EDIT OCTOBER 1, 2018*

As a forward to this article, due to the amount of comments I get on this post, I want to emphasize that I am unable to help people to get tickets to Johnny’s concerts personally. I wrote this article as a guide for fans, not as a way to contact me about tickets. I would like you to take this article as a guide on how to find long term success in getting tickets, not as a quick fix. Have fun making long term friendships with other fans! It’s worth it in the end.

*EDIT JANUARY 28th, 2019*

To anyone looking to ballot for Arashi Tickets before their hiatus, please be aware that only fanclub members are allowed to ballot for the remaining shows in 2019 and only can ballot 1 time as the “companion” and 1 time as the “main balloter”, and each person has to be in the Arashi fanclub. This will make it extremely difficult for fans coming from overseas to see the concerts later in 2019.

To put it very simply, it is extremely hard to get tickets as a foreign fan living overseas. Even as a fan living in Japan (Japanese or foreign)  it can be hard to get tickets to a Johnny’s concert, as it is all up to the random balloting system, which no fan has any control over. You get lucky sometimes, and sometimes you don’t.

Though this is the case, not all hope is lost. With the help of other fans, it is totally possible to be able to go to a concert when you are in Japan, though it may take a lot of time and effort to find the tickets.

1. Join the fan club

The first way to get Johnnys tickets is to be living in Japan or have a friend living in Japan who can enter the Johnny’s fan club and properly ballot for you (or to be able to call for play guide tickets if they release tickets to the public, which sometimes they do not depending on the group and the tour). Even then, it is not guaranteed that you will get tickets. I have been living in Japan for almost 4 years, being in the fan club for the same amount of time,  and even when I ballot for tickets through the correct system through the fan club, I do not hit sometimes or only hit for 1 show. If I do not hit, I go to my twitter followers and ask around if people are giving up tickets for certain shows and buy the tickets from them at the regular price.

There is also apparently a “sponsor” program for the fan club, so that a fan that has a fan club in Japan can sponsor a person overseas. I do not know the details of this program, but I’ll save this for a time when I can properly research this and then report back at a later date.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: It is illegal and against the Johnny’s ticket policy to resell your tickets for an increased price. There are auction sites that people sell these tickets on for ridiculous prices, but they are illegal and you could get in trouble if it is found out that you bought from these auction sites, as well as actually getting kicked out of the concert if you make it to your seat and your seat has been blacklisted.  For this reason, I will not be mentioning these auction sites in this post, nor do I recommend to buy tickets for over the resale price.

Hearing all of this can be a bit overwhelming, and can seem a bit negative for foreign fans, but not all hope is lost. The next one is for those who do not live in Japan and who do not have anyone to enter the fan club for them (maybe not yet, at least).

2. Network with other fans

Social media is a powerful tool nowadays, and I also use it for myself when I do not hit for tickets. I have built a network of fans that I can reach out to for tickets when the time calls for it. Most of these fans are Japanese now, but for the foreign fans, a lot of foreigners living in Japan will give their tickets to a foreign fan. The first thing that I do when I have extra tickets is reach out to my foreign fan community first to see if anyone would like the tickets, in the event that I cannot go, because I know it is hard for them to get tickets themselves. With this being said, foreign fans must be aware of the fan manners, so someone that can understand the fan manners is also someone I will prioritize over others.

I advise you to not just become friends with fans that are in the same area, or the same culture as you, though for building a community near you and one that you can relate to with a similar culture, it is perfect. If your goal is to go to a concert, you will need a larger network than just that community. Now, when I say this it does not mean become friends with all of the foreign fans that live in Japan, or fans that have connections to travel to Japan a lot and see concerts a lot,  just for the sake of going to a concert later on. A lot of us fans that live in Japan love to share our experience with other fans coming to Japan or the concerts, but most of us have jobs and live normal lives here and fandom is just one part of that. We want to make real friends we can connect with, not just people wanting to help them get tickets and have no connection beyond that. So my best advice is to find the people you can connect with and stick with them, form a support network and help each other out with all the information that you can get about it. That’s the best way to go about it, I think.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: When a fan gives you their tickets to use, there are certain fan manners attached to the ticket. Personal information is written on the ticket, including name and fan club number, so please do not take a picture of the ticket and upload it to social media. Before I upload any pictures of my tickets to social media, I always hide my personal information in it so that people do not get it. This is also a way to get tickets and a fan club membership blacklisted for possible reselling tickets, so please do not chance it.

All in all, it is not easy to get tickets to a Johnnys concert, but it isn’t impossible. Just ask around and form a network, and though not guaranteed, it is not a 0% chance.

Why I Go To A Johnny’s Concert More Than One Time

The third week in March of 2015, I took the Shinkansen about 50 minutes to Nagoya to see NEWS LIVE TOUR 2015 WHITE. NEWS hadn’t toured in 2 years and it was hard not to feel the excitement inside and outside of Nippon Gaishi Hall, all the fans teeming in anticipation about what NEWS had in store for this tour. The actual concert itself was all-new, with many mistakes, as Nagoya was the fist stop on a 3 month long tour.

Fast-forward to the weekend after and my best friend Meghan and I are on our way to Sapporo, a 2-hour flight away from our home base of Kansai. The feeling of Sapporo was different than Nagoya, the venue being more intimate than other venues that I had been to with the members of NEWS themselves coming into the audience. The fans were very warm and inviting despite the cold weather of Sapporo and we made a new friend along the way!

A few months pass and finally NEWS comes to where I live in Osaka in early May. Since I had already been to this tour 3 times previously, and it was on my own stomping grounds, everything seemed very familiar. During the actual concert, you could tell the members were confortable with the set-list and the fans knew what to expect as well, as this was many fans’ multiple time seeing this concert as well.

When I tell people that I have traveled around the country to see my favorite Jpop group, many laugh in disbelief and/ or awe at how many times I have attended and the distance I have traveled just to see a group preform live. Every time this happens I think to myself how much I enjoyed attending and how I do not regret it at all. I often wonder why it seems strange to people the amount of times that I go and the distance that I travel to see these Johnny’s groups. To me, each show and each venue is a different experience, even if the set list is the same. Sometimes they even change the set list to fit the venue or the time of year (for example insert Christmas songs at a concert close to Christmas). Also, the gap between the beginning of a tour and the end of the tour and that evolution is very interesting to see as well. Johnny’s in particular tweaks things even between an afternoon and evening show. There is also a difference between arena venues and dome venues as well, arena venues being smaller and intimate, the artists coming directly into the crowd, and the domes being more elaborate performances complete with pyrotechnics, waterworks, lasers and huge moving stages.

For Johnny’s in particular, the MC’s also change each time. MC’s are the talk portion of the concert where the group takes a break and just talks to the audience about recent happenings or informing them of upcoming events. Each concert is different and you get a little bit more of an insight into the members themselves and the group dynamics. For somebody that is a fan, this is fascinating. As for myself, I enjoy getting to know the members as people and not as celebrities and during these concerts, little parts of their personalities pop out each time.

Last, but not least, it is about supporting the artists themselves. Sure I buy all the singles and a lot of memorabilia, but also going and supporting them in person is something that is important to me as well. Seeing a performance live and listening to it on a CD are two totally different experiences. Concerts are one of the only true times that the fans and the artists can meet face to face. Fans come together and support their group and create a bond that can’t be explained easily in words. You become friends online through the same bond and you finally get to meet in person at the concerts and share the same joy and excitement for seeing the group.

Going to a concert multiple times might seem crazy at first glance, but next time you speak with someone who does see the same show multiple times, maybe try to look beyond the surface and ask yourself if you have anything that you are passionate about that you would do or see multiple times.

NEWS Live Tour 2015 “WHITE” Memories – Part 1

I can remember clearly when the WHITE tour was announced. It was Christmas Day and the message was sent out as a Christmas present from NEWS via email. I was walking to work while reading the message; so happy that another Christmas away from home was made special by my favorite group. WHITE was a very special and different concert tour for me for many reasons; one is that I had started working and making my own money. Two is that I was more involved in the fandom than ever before. After Tegomass, I had begun to find more fans online and this was the first tour that I was able to branch out and meet more people and go to different venues than I had before. I was able to travel all the way to Sapporo for this tour, while making new friends and interacting with old friends the whole time. I attended the Nagoya, Sapporo, and Osaka legs of the tour.  Here are some of my memories from this past tour.

Nagoya – March 21st ~March 22nd, 2015

Nagoya was the first part of the tour and I was teaming with excitement at the thought of finally seeing my favorite group live after 2 years. This tour was a bit different for me than other tours, as I had just started working and didn’t have the flexibility that I used to have as a graduate student. I also felt more mature than I had before, as I had my own salary and could decide how to spend my own money as I pleased. This would be a theme of the tour, being able to handle my own money and what I was able to do while working.

When I first arrived in Nagoya, I immediately met up with my friends at the hotel, dropped our things off, and went to buy goods at the venue. Even though Nagoya is only a 45 minute Shinkansen ride away from Osaka, it was better to stay in a hotel overnight for 1 night than spending the money for the shinkansen home. I was only able to go to the last show of Nagoya, going around Nagoya by myself while my friends were in the other shows. I went to the Johnny’s shop on Sunday morning before I finally went to the first show! We were in Arena D Block (the very last block of the floor seats) and my friends said that NEWS wouldn’t come back to these seats. It was a bit hard to see, but surprisingly NEWS came on the carts right next to our section. More specifically, Massu (Masuda Takahisa) was right next to us during Koi Matsuri. I had my Massu Uchiwa up while spinning the towel in the air during the song when Massu noticed me and pointed in my direction and acknowledged that I was holding his Uchiwa. Of all of the times that I have been to a Johnny’s concert, this was the first time that I had direct fan service. It was a new experience for me and it is something I will never forget! I was smiling and spinning the towel during the entire song until finally he left on the cart and when the song was over, I remember turning around to put my towel back on the chair and covering my mouth with my hand to hide the excited tears welling up in my eyes. I am not one to be emotional during concerts, but actually being acknowledged with fan service from my favorite Johnny’s after being a fan and attending the concerts for so long made me so happy, even if it was only for just a second.

After the show was over, my friends and I headed back to the hotel to pick up our things and then head back to our respective homes, Osaka and Tokyo, with the excitement of meeting up the next weekend in Sapporo for the next leg of the tour.

(to be continued…)

Memories of Tegomass 4th Live “Tegomass no Seishun”

Tegomass no Seishun was the first tour I went to, and travelled around the country to see, since I started living in Japan. Previously, I had only been to the Kansai Area where I live, or Tokyo and occasionally Nagyoa, which is the closest venue to Kansai. For Tegomass no Seishun, I went to Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, and Yokohama. Each venue was a different experience for me and I wanted to share some of those memories.

Osaka

Osaka was the first leg of the tour and I was able to hit for tickets, despite it being one of the smallest venues of the tour. I hit for the first day, second show so it was one of my first times going to the first day of any Johnny’s concert tour. The day before was presale goods, so I took the train out from Kyoto, where I had been living at the time, in the heavy snow and went to buy goods for me and some other friends. The fondest memory I had was this mother and her son in front of me in line and the boy was just chatting away about Massu the whole time.

The next day, one of my friends came down from Nagoya and we hung out before the show, being at the venue when the first show of the day got out. You could see everyone was in high spirits as they came out and I was so excited when they finally let us into the venue for the second show. I had no idea what the set list was going to be like, so during the concert I got excited when certain songs came on. The venue was so small, so we really could hear Massu and Tegoshi when they sang “Aoi Bench” with out any microphones. I cried at that song, and every other time I heard it when I went to the tour. My first impression of the concert tour was “Wow! Tegomass has grown so much!” I had been to the Mahou tour over 2 years ago, so it was almost like a “Hey! It’s been a while” and “Wow! Look how much we all have grown”.

Yokohama

I went home to America a few days after the Osaka venue for almost a month, and when I came back I was still on Spring break from my MBA program. My friend Rosie from Thailand and I had been planning a trip for this tour since it was announced, so after a brief trip to Hiroshima for sight seeing, I went to Yokohama and met up with Rosie. We were only able to go to 1 of the 4 shows, but this time was a different feeling because it was an arena venue, not a small hall like Osaka.

To be honest, Yokohama was not my favorite show because they seemed too focused on the technicalities versus showing the fans a good time. They were filming at the afternoon show I went to, but I believe that the evening show is what was actually put onto the DVD and the afternoon show was just a dress rehearsal for recording the night show. It was still an amazing show, but I think it was because the last show I had been to was in a small hall where they could give the fans more attention, it was a bit of a change to go to an Arena venue. When I go back and look at the DVD, they did an amazing job at filming this tour though! I am glad they filmed Yokohama.

Fukuoka

After the Yokohama venue, Rosie and I took the Shinkansen 5 hours from Tokyo to Hakata for the next part of the tour. This was my first time to Fukuoka, so I was excited to explore southern Japan a bit! It was the beginning of April, so the Cherry Blossoms had just bloomed in Fukuoka. It was quite warm for the beginning of April and the venue was right by the sea, so we were walking around the pier before the concert. It was so pretty!

My favorite memory was when we were standing around the side of the venue near the pier and we saw a group of girls gathered around looking towards the venue. They would like squeal every few minutes at something and Rosie, my other friend Monica and I, couldn’t figure out why. Eventually after a few times, we figured out it was a soccer ball that popped up every so often over the top of the venue wall. Everyone knows that Tegoshi plays soccer before the concerts, so we all assumed that it was him playing with a few people before the show. Eventually, the security guard began to shoo everyone away.

Fukuoka was my favorite leg of this tour. Tegomass were both in high spirits and the venue itself, Marine Messe Fukuoka, was big, but not huge. You had a good view of the stage and the layout from wherever you were sitting. We went to both days, the first day we were in the 10th row of the stands and the second show we were up towards the back of the stands on the second floor. In both seats you felt involved in the show!

Nagoya

A last minute decision spurred me to go to Nagoya, the last venue for the tour. Nagoya is only a 45 minute Shinkansen ride from Kyoto, so about a week previous, I decided to go, at the invitation of some of my friends who were also going. I met up with some amazing Tegomass/ NEWS fans and we talked for so long about the concert and everything that happened! I stayed at my friend’s place in Nagoya with her other friend and it was basically a whole slumber party in her small apartment with blankets everywhere on the floor! We talked until the late hours of the night and was one of my favorite concert memories to this date.

I ended up in the Arena right near the back stage, and Massu and Tegoshi both came close to me and were singing “Kiss kaeremichi no love song” in front of where I was. My favorite memories of this concert was Massu jumping down from the stage and handing a child one of the sign balls near the back stage.

“See you Next Live” appeared on the screen after the encore at every concert. In Nagoya it held an even more special meaning to me, because it marked the end of my first tour I had traveled for. Tegomass is my favorite concert to see live because of the live music and the band that backs them up. I can see them time and time again and never get bored becauase each time is totally different.

This tour I spent with such a variety of people and made so many memories. A concert is more than just seeing the group live, its connecting with fellow fans who love the same thing as you as well.

To Tegomass and all the people who I met back in February 2014 to April 2014, Thank you. It’s a tour I will never forget.