Japanese Entertainment – Introducing INKT

Well nice to meet you all, my name’s Meghan, today’s guest blogger. But that’s not all that important today since I’ll be introducing a new band to you all today.

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INTK taken from inkt.asia

Now a lot of you maybe thinking ‘what is this rock band doing on this blog?’ And some of you may be thinking ‘oh I see’. Lets clear the reasons up very quickly.

 

Last year Tanaka Koki was fired from Johnny’s due to a breach of his contract. I wont go into details since that isn’t the aim of this post, but after his one year restriction he is back with a new band in a new genre.

 

INKT would be what I personally would describe as a One Ok Rock – Abingdon Boys School hybrid. The songs display a good mix, some guitar/bass heavy, others featuring lots of keyboard. Koki also added some rapping in areas, giving the band a rather unique sound.

 

INKT consists of 5 members:
Vo. KOKI
Gt. Kei
Key. kissy
Dr. SASSY
Ba. mACKAz

Now we all know Koki as the ex-KAT-TUN member, but do you all know the rest?

mACKAz and SASSY used to be apart of the band High and Mighty Color, a rock band with a female vocalist. They disbanded a little while ago.

Kei and kissy were both freelance musicians, and had played together in KAT-TUN’s band during the Chain concerts in 2012.

 

In October, INKT was announced opening their website, opening a blog and starting their own fanclub. A teaser was released for their first song, Trigger which marked the announcement of their first album, released on November 8th.

 

Mini song reviews:

Trigger (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)
Trigger is what I refer to as the most ‘one ok rock’-like song on the album. Its got a good balance between all the instruments and really sets it clear from the start, this is a rock band. The key point in this song I think will be the lyrics. They are all about pushing forwards and the frustration of standing still.

 

Fight for freedom (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)
This one starts with what I can only describe as an anime opening sound. The song quickly loses this and becomes an interesting blend of keyboard, guitar and rap. The lyrics show a very battle-ready kind of attitude, showing that the band is ready to take on anything that may come their way. The lyrics talk a lot about fighting for freedom (like the title implies) and how they are ready to leave the past behind and to take on a new future.

 

A Whole New World (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kei)
This is definitely what I would call a more drum and guitar based song. The tune is more upbeat than fight for freedom. It has smooth transactions. From the title alone I got the image of Aladdin stuck in my head. Which in a way is what the lyrics are aiming for. There is a lot of talking about how everything is trapped in a boring world, and that we should break free into a new world where we can make our own place. The most catchy line is definitely ‘I’ll bring you to a whole new world’. It suits the image of the band. A rock band making their own place, taking fans from KAT-TUN and high and mighty colour and leading them to a new sound.

 

Past & Future (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kei)
This one starts with guitars in a way that I think is similar to Asian Kung fu generation. Its got a very mellow and smooth sound that makes for easily listening. Its lighter than the other songs musically, but seems to have a heavier lyric focus with phrases like “We won’t fight our way any more, We’ve got to start to run brand new way.” and “We will keep going with our life, till our hearts stop beating”.
This song I think features some great bass lines though, which you wouldn’t typically notice in other rock bands, unless you listen for it.

 

Shangri-La (Lyrics: Koki Music: mACKAz)
This is great upbeat song with a feeling of moving forwards. The composition reminds me of some of Asian Kung fu generation’s more heavier songs. But it holds it own unique style with the vocals leading the tune rather than the guitar or keyboard. Also its one of the fewer songs with a gentler hook rather than a heavy rock based one like trigger. The song’s lyrics are a lot about forgetting all their troubles and about just letting go and having fun.

 

Survivor (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)
This one is easily my favourite and from what I’ve seen of fan responses, is perhaps a fan favourite too. Its very vocal heavy, with what almost seems to be telling a story with phrases like ‘Tell me why? Tell me what to do’ and ‘Survivor, I’m a messenger’. The keyboard and guitars does a fantastic job in this song, backing up the image of the vocals perfectly.

 

FTW (Lyrics: Koki Music: SASSY)
A lot of people I know were really anticipating this one after the itunes previews were released. Its the only one with a rap start. Its a fast song with the guitar really leading the tune. Koki really worked hard with the lyrics of this one, and is clearly enjoying being able to swear in his songs now. The lyrics make me question a lot of things though as there are a lot of lines like “the manipulated gossip of the mass media, fuck that” and “Can’t say what I wanna say.” It makes me wonder what Koki is really trying to say in this song.

 

45′ (Lyrics: Koki Music: mACKAz)
This one seems almost like a mix of different genres. It takes elements of pop and electro and mixes it into a more rock style. The most interesting part I think is the chorus and the almost out of place piano after it. The lyrics talk a lot about keeping your mouth shut if you don’t know anything. Its very interesting, and is well interlaced with the other instruments and with rap to make it captivating. This song does make me realise that Koki has been working on his vocals and is really trying to make a good range of sounds for INKT.

 

Hide and Seek (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kei)
On this album, this one is probably the closest you would get to a slower song (accept Zutto, I’ll talk about that song at the end). You can hear the keyboard introducing a good lighter counter tune to the strong guitar in this song. I think its a good blend of the two to make a more emotional song with supportive lyrics talking about being together and carrying on together. Life, and maybe love too, is a bit like a game of hide and seek is what the song seems to be trying to convey. “I never leave you. Trust me.
It’s alright now. Don’t be afraid” It also is like a promise to the fan’s, they aren’t going to leave us.

 

Iron Heart (Lyrics: Koki Music: mACKAz)
I felt like this was a strong song to finish on. Its almost got a finale feeling to it with it long introduction, long instrumental and long outro. The lyrics seem to be leading this song. The lyrics itself is a little darker, talking about once being a robot with no feelings, but then being changed by love. This is a great thing, but then the song goes on to say that his love has now gone away, and he doesn’t know what to do with these feelings and that he can’t turn back any more. He has to continue forwards. Its a beautiful song when you listen to it, and the lyrics sound almost like a hopeless promise that you know will one day be fulfilled. I think this may be INKT’s musical promise of more.

 

Overall I think its a strong album. I think it shows elements of all the members strengths and really sets themselves in the rock genre.
I would really recommend Survivor, Shangri-La and FTW.

INKT do have two other songs, which were not released on the album, but are available for online download.

 

Zutto (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)

Zutto is one of them that also had a music video released for it. This one is a ballad, and gives a good contrast to the heavier rock songs that have been featured on the album.

 

Zutto is heartbreaking I think. The ballad is beautiful with a nice gentle mix between guitar and keyboard. Koki’s voice matches it well, but the pain of the lyrics really seep out. The song is about lost love and about scolding oneself for still not forgetting about it, like he is still trapped in love.

 

Nobody Knows (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)

This one sounds very upbeat and is a nice addition to their music. This one is almost like a smooth rock song with lots of guitar-keyboards in it. The lyrics talk about moving on after losing oneself and to step forward towards a new road. Its an uplifting song which is fun to listen to.

 

Im glad to see INKT starting out like this and I really look forward to what they are going to produce in the future.

 

Till next time x

 

INKT official website

INKT official blog

INKT official youtube

Lyric translations

 

 I’m Meghan, a South African who has lived all over the place. Currently I live in Japan where I am a teacher, a writer, a traveller, a translator, a blogger and a dreamer. Meghan’s blog

Japanese Entertainment: 3 Underrated Female Japanese Singers

Although Johnny’s is the main type of music that I like here in Japan, over the past few years of living here I have discovered a handful of female singers that have caught my attention. Some of these singers aren’t extremely popular as compared to big artists like Namie Amuro and Koda Kumi or idol groups like AKB48, but people will definitely know their name if you mention them. That is why I describe them as “Underrated” Female singers. In this post, I will introduce three Female singers that I feel are underrated and are also a good bridge into Female singers in Japan.

1: Becky

Most people will know her as a “Talento”, or a TV personality in Japan, but surprisingly she also has a singing career under the name ベッキー♪♯. As most people are, I was first introduced to her through the variety show ItteQ and some dramas where she made an appearance. She is half Japanese, half English and began her singing debut in 2009 with her single “Kokoro Komete” 「心こめて」. She is the oldest out of the artists in this post at 30 years old, but her personality is so vibrant that she still seems in her 20’s!

For her music, she has a very distinct pronunciation when she sings by emphasizing her vowels and I was very attracted to that when I first heard her debut single. She has a very “pure” sounding voice to me and her more upbeat songs are very fun and vibrant, really showcasing her personality that I see on Television. The songs I would recommend from her are her debut single 「心こめて」(Kokomo Komete) as well 「ヤルキスイッチ」(Yaruki Switch) and 「風のしらべ」(Kaze no Shirabe). She has a YouTube channel with her music videos on it, so head there from the music video for  「心こめて」(Kokoro Komete) linked below!

2: Ayaka

Ayaka is a Japanese singer from Osaka and made her debut in 2006 with “I Believe” for a Japanese drama. Her debut year was a huge success and her first album “First Message” topped the Oricon charts and became the highest selling debut album for a female singer in 7 years. She is married to famous actor Mizushima Hiro since 2009 and also in 2009 she announced a hiatus due to a diagnosis of Graves Disease. She was on hiatus until 2012 and made a comeback with her album “The beginning”.

I was introduced to Ayaka through a Johnny’s friend who invited me to her concert in 2013. I had heard some of her songs before, but I didn’t realize that it was Ayaka that had sung them. This year, I had the opportunity to see her live again, this time for an acoustic live. This time I really felt the power of her voice and her vocal range is amazing! She can be powerful, as well as soft in the same song and her voice is so clear. Ayaka mostly sings ballads from what i’ve heard from her. Some of my favorites songs from her are new single「にじいろ」(Nijiiro), as well as “Beautiful”, which was the theme song for the drama 「シェアハウスの恋人」(Share House no Koibito), and 「はじまりのとき」(Hajimari no Toki). She also has a YouTube channel with some of her music videos on there, so please check out “Nijiiro” below!

3: Nishino Kana.

Nishino Kana debuted in 2008 with “I”. She was originally signed to SME records in 2006 when she won a contest called the “Miss Phoenix Auditions”. One of her biggest hits was “Best Friend” in 2010, as well as well as 「会いたくて」 (Aitakute). She has been nominated and won many MTV Music Video awards and Japan Record awards. She also appears in many fashion magazines for her specific style, which is not quite “Gyaru” , but a popular type of style with college age girls and women in their early 20’s.

Compared to the other two artists, she has a bit more of a “Pop” like sound to her music, making it more mainstream than the other two artists. Though she has more of a pop sound, she still writes a lot of her music. Out of all of these artists today, Nishino Kana is probably my favorite, as I like the majority of the music that she releases. I also find her lyrics very relatable to the average person, especially women in their late teens and 20’s. My favorite songs by her are are “ SAKURA, I love you?” “We Don’t Stop”, and “Be Strong”, as well as “Best Friend”. She also has a YouTube channel, so please check out “We Don’t Stop” below!

Had you heard of these artists before? If so, who do you like? If you didn’t know them before, are there any of them that you became interested in? Please feel free to let me know in the comments below!

As always, please remember to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for new updates!

Johnny’s Goods Storage Ideas: Concert Tickets  

concert-tickets-1Tickets are one of those things that are tangible from an experience that you had, whether it be a movie or a concert or an event, which you want to keep safe to keep the memories alive. Johnny’s concerts are one of those things that are always important to me, so I keep my concert tickets in a safe place after I go to the show, to look back on the experience that I had and the memories associated with it.

Now, how can you store your Johnny’s concert tickets? There are many ideas, and I have tried a few of them over the years. Remember that storing your goods is a personal preference so the ideas that I present below are simply ideas to get your creative juices flowing and see what might work well for you!

Without further adue, here are 3 ideas on how to store your Johnny’s concert tickets!

Idea One: Scrapbooking binder with sticky pages

I used to use a binder with sticky pages for scrapbooking from the 100-yen (1 Dollar) store when I first moved to Japan, like this:

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I currently use this for Purikura and some old movie tickets now, but I used to fill it with all of my concert tickets!

I would recommend this method (but with better quality items) for people who like to scrapbook or like to add little personal touches to keep the memories in a more elaborate form. You also don’t have to worry about the size of the tickets because they will always be able to fit into the sticky pages. You can find very nice albums in many different sizes that specifically are made with sticky pages in many craft stores in Japan that are classified as photo albums. Overseas I have seen them in craft stores as well, like Hallmark or even Walmart and Target (for America) but they are classified under Scrapbooking. Some stores I recommend to look at for these in Japan are LOFT and Tokyu Hands. There are so many options that you can customize it exactly to how you want it to look like.

This didn’t work out for me personally because I didn’t like it visually, partly because of the cheap items I used for it though. I used to decorate and add comments to it, but I realized I didn’t need that extra element. I simply wanted to store my tickets to keep them safe and pull them out to look at.

Idea Two: Photo Album

A photo album is a great alternative to a scrapbook if you want nothing more but storage. I currently use a photo album because I have accumulated many tickets and I want easy access to them and also to preserve them as well.

The album that I currently use is this one I bought from LOFT:concert-album-3concert-ticket-2concert-album-4

 

It says L-Size pockets on the box, so you have to go to the store and make sure the pockets are big enough for Johnny’s concert tickets because they are quite large compared to tickets that I have seen before coming to Japan. LOFT is a bit pricey, but you can look at the samples of the albums before you buy them. Once again, Tokyu Hands also has them in Japan too. Overseas, regular photo albums work just as well too! You just need to make sure of the size of the pockets before you buy it.

Johnny’s has also sold albums specifically for concerts tickets in the past that you can probably at goods resale stores like Manadarake and Gorakudoh.

Idea Three: Simple box

In the beginning,  I first had a box that I would put everything into from concerts that I went to or Johnny’s things I had accumulated. It was an medium size box from my rain boots and I used to throw everything into there that was related to Johnny’s. I started out with this method, but eventually decided to change to a the sticky pages, and eventually a photo album.

The upside to this method is that everything is in once place, not just tickets. The downside is that it can be a bit messy to sort through if you have tons of things. If you keep your tickets together with just some pictures of the events that day, I think it would be a nice memory box to open and sort through sometimes. Once your collection grows though, I would recommend separating things to find them easier. The simple box is great for someone who wants to keep everything in one place though!

 

How do you guys store your Johnny’s concert tickets? Are there any other ideas you can share with everyone? Please comment below!

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Japanese Movie Review: Ohkura Tadayoshi in “Clover” 「クローバー」

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Photo credit to cinematoday.jp

On November 1st, the movie Clover starring Kanjani8’s Ohkura Tadayoshi and Emi Takei, was released in theaters! Both have starred in many movies and dramas, and have even acted together before!

I have been anticipating this movie for a while and it has been advertised pretty heavily the past few months in theaters and on television in Japan. The reason I have been looking forward to it is because it seemed different from the typical romance movies that have been coming out lately. Recently, it has either been sad love stories or cheezy high school romance stories, but Clover is different.

The storyline takes place in a Hotel, where the main character Suzuki Saya, played by Emi, works in the event planning department Ohkura plays her supervisor, Tsuge Susumu, and the character is very stoic with a poker face and is called “DoS”, which means a sadistic type of personality. Saya really doesn’t like him much because he is quite strict with her at work, but one day Susumu randomly asks Saya out. Everything starts with that and it spirals into a long distance relationship and a love triangle with Saya’s ex-boyfriend, and current crush, from Junior High School, who now happens to be a famous actor. The movie also dives into more adult themes by touching on the topic of work vs. love and how far you would go for work, which is different than the typical high school romance movies that have been around recently.

For the flow of the movie, it felt a bit long for the type of movie that it was (just under 2.5 hours long with previews at the beginning) but it was very detailed in the story and giving background information when needed and lots of character development. You can really see the change in Ohkura’s character as the movie progresses. Ohkura himself is a pretty decent actor, though not my favorite actor in Johnny’s or in general. I thought he was best during the romance scenes when he was being sweet. Emi on the other hand I thought nailed her role perfectly in this movie with all of the emotions that show through in her character.

I thought the music suited the movie amazingly well! It featured re-mixed versions of “Someday my Price Will Come” and “When you Wish Upon a Star” sung by JUJU, as well as the theme song “CloveR” by Kanjani8. This song was crafted very well to fit with the theme of the movie and a great coupling song, one of the best I think along with 「ここしかない景色」Koko shikanai Keshiki for Nishikido Ryo’s Movie 「県庁おもてなし課」”The Hospitality Department”.

If you would like a nice romance movie that has a decent story line and also adult romantic aspects to it, I would highly recommend Clover!

Stageplay Report: Masuda Takahisa 「フレンド -今夜此処での一と殷盛り-」 October 12th, 2014

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On October 12th, I had the opportunity to see Masuda Takahisa’s play 「フレンド -今夜此処での一と殷盛り-」two times at the Tokyo Globe Theater! The Tokyo Globe theater located at Shin-Okubo station, one stop away from Shinjuku going towards Ikebukuro station on the JR Yamanote Line. This is only the second time I have ever been to the Globe Theater, the first being for Shige’s play back in April “Naka no Hito” 「中の人」. The first showing of the play started at 1:00pm so my friend and I actually entered about 10 minutes before the first show started and I quickly bought goods and sat down. My seat was on the first floor, Row G on the right side when facing the stage. These seats weren’t bad for the first viewing because I felt like I was inside the play at the end (which I will get into later), even thought it was a bit low to the ground and me being small, sometimes seeing in-between other peoples’ heads in front of me wasn’t fun. Then the play started right at 1pm.

Play Overview

Please note there are spoilers following this, so please be careful if you are going to see the play!

The opening scene begins with Massu’s character helping a drunken person walk along, coming in from the right section of seats near the stage, then up the stage, and barging into a bar late at night when they are closed. Here you also meet the character that will become Massu’s character’s wife later on, Akiko. It then cuts to one of the characters explaining the setting of the play. The setting is a bar/ Izakaya called “Friend” (in Katakana) located near Shibuya Station in Tokyo. He also introduces some of the characters as well and after this the play starts.

The play takes place beginning in Showa Year 5 (1930) and continues through out the years until, I believe, probably between Showa year 17 or 20?(1942-1945) when the bombings of Tokyo happened. It is a “one room” setting play with only one set change towards the end of the play.

As a guide, here are the characters names that I mention here:

Actor’s Name – Character’s Name

Masuda Takahisa: Yasuhara Yoshihiro

Kaname Endo: Nakahara Chuuya (The Poet)

Aimi Satsukawa: Miyaji Akiko (Yasuhara’s Wife)

 

This play is actually based on a true story of a famous Japanese poet named Nakahara Chuuya. He was a famous poet in the early Showa period. Massu’s character, Yasuhara, went to school together in Kyoto with him they are good friends. Nakahara is going through struggles many struggles, including love problems and problems with his attitude and not getting along with people well, which leads to many funny scenes in the play, but also some emotional ones as well. The play has many themes, including friendship, love, and loss. Through the play, Yasuhara evolves as he grows older and he has to choose giving up working with Nakahara on writing and literature and the arts, which he loves, for having a stable job for income because he gets married. This decision comes from the cover that he drew for the author’s book being rejected by the publisher (which he helped get published in the first place) and him getting married as well. This ends up being one of the most emotional scenes in the play because he is rejecting to continue being Nakahara’s “partner”, but explains that he will stay his friend no matter what. This also happens on the day that Yasuhara’s engagement is being official. Other emotional scenes include the girl working at the bar, Akiko (who ends up being Yasuhara’s wife character’s wife), accepting the offer of the owners of the bar to become their daughter, as well as sending off their friends to War and the scene when Yasuhara came back from the funeral of Nakahara.

The play did a good job of blending in comedy with all of the emotional themes, which is why I called it an “emotional roller coaster” after I saw it for the first time. The funniest scene in the play for me was right after the really emotional scene of Akiko accepting the owner’s offer to become their daughter. At the beginning of this scene, Yasuhara is about to enter the bar, but stops when he sees the owners come down the stairs, so he quickly shuts the door and stands outside the bar listening to the whole conversation as it goes on. At the end of the scene, when Akiko accepts the offer to become their daughter, Yasuhara begins to bawl crying and everyone in the shop is confused to where it is coming from, and one of the other characters exits the shop and sees him crying and brings him inside. Massu was adorable and the way that he cried on the lamppost outside the shop was hilarious! I was laughing so hard after crying at the emotional scene before it. Yasuhara was a great combination of adorable and cheerful, but also surprisingly serious at certain points.

The ending of the play was a huge emotional punch. The play had been pretty steady up until about ¾ of the way through. After that it, speed up once the war started until all of a sudden sirens begin to go off. These are sirens during war for when an air-raid bombing is about to begin to warn people to take shelter. Bombs “go off” and then you see Yasuhara stumble out from the back of the theater as the bombings are going on, all covered in soot and dirty and he is searching for his wife. This is the part that you feel like you are in the play, as the play actually moves into the seating area. Yasuhara trips and falls (passing out) then the bombings all of a sudden “stop”. From the right side of the theater, Nakahara’s “ghost” appears and begins talking to Yasuhara and leads him back to Friend, just as he normally used to back in the day. The only catch? Friend is on fire. So this scene is very powerful and eerie as everything is like normal with everyone dead and alive there, but the bar is on fire. The sound effects then stop after showing that it was a gathering of some sort, and everyone begins reciting some poetry together (possibly from Nakahara’s poetry?) and then all of a sudden Yasuhara begins to be pulled back into the “real world”, saying that he can’t die now, as he made a promise Akiko (his wife) when they got engaged that he wouldn’t die as all of her family died in a bad earthquake and she didn’t want to be left alone. Yasuhara gets pulled behind the curtain and the Nakahara recites more of the poetry and exits out the back of the theater. It then turns to Tokyo being in rubble and Yasuhara waking up at Friend in rubble as well. On the right side of the stage you see the figure of someone approach and they take their hood off as she notices Nakahara. It is Akiko and they are finally reunited after the bombings. They have an emotional reunion with her showing some important things that she saved that were important during the play, as well as saying that the owners of the bar are safe. The play ends with them hugging and crying there in the rubble of Friend.

At both performances I was crying so hard at the end of the play that I still hadn’t stopped as the curtain call was going on. Massu’s acting was amazing and this play was such an emotional roller coaster. Tons of people were crying during this play, which really does show that the whole cast, not just Massu, did an amazing job. Even I, who still isn’t totally fluent in Japanese, was moved to tears. I wish that I could understand more of the poetry in this play, but poetry is difficult to understand in any language. There were  also some romantic scenes between Yasuhara and Akiko that were cute as well! There wasn’t any kissing, just hugging, which actually made it even cuter I think.

I also attended the second show that day and that one began at 6pm. I was in Row N towards the right side of the stage again and since it was elevated I had a very clear view of the stage and this was probably a better seat than the one I had at the first show because of that. I was also closer to where Massu entered a few times in the play.

IMG_2628Thank you Massu for an amazing play! It was more than I could ever imagine!

I hope that you all enjoyed this play report! I did my best to convey some highlights of the play without telling everything about it. Please leave any questions or comments down below.

Johnny’s Talk: What To Wear To A Johnny’s Concert/ Event?

One of the hardest things for me to decide on when I go to a Johnny’s concert or event is: What should I wear?

Now, I believe that fashion is very personal to everyone and what he or she chooses to wear is a reflection of who they are. Each person has their own style and what they like to wear and there is no right or wrong thing to wear to Johnny’s concerts! I personally like dresses and skirts and a more mature style of clothing, as well as when I go to Johnny’s concerts I don’t want to draw attention to myself more than I already do by being foreign. Some people like to dress up in cosplay or dress up to draw attention to themselves, so it is all based on personal preference and what you feel comfortable wearing! Even for Japanese fans there is a huge gap between the people who dress “normal” and the people who go all out and cosplay and dress up, so don’t worry too much about it! Fashion in Japan is so wide and varied that you won’t feel bad with whatever you decide to wear. So with all that being said, this post is about how I decide what to wear to a Johnny’s concert and maybe it could give you some ideas yourself on what to were when you go someday! Here are some questions that I ask myself when I go to a concert that help me decide what I will wear:

“What group am I going to see”? I always start out with this question. This is a big factor because each group has a different kind of presence and the fans dress differently and act differently as well. For example, NEWS fans are considered “fashionable” and the group itself has more of a “prince” type of image, so I will pick the overall theme of my clothing based off of that. KAT-TUN on the other hand has more of an edgy rock-like feel to them with darker colors, so I tend to wear darker colors to their concerts and try to be a bit edgier with what I wear, but still stick with my own personal style though. The most out-there group that I normally go to see is Kanjani8, and the way that the fans dress is very much a reflection of the group themselves. It’s always fun to see what Kanjani8 fans will wear to the concerts!

“Who is your favorite member”? Johnny’s groups usually have colors associated to the individual members in the group. An easy way for the fans and for the members themselves to identify whose fan you are is to wear your favorite member’s color to the concert. Sometimes I follow this, but other times I don’t. It all depends on the concert and the group for me, as well as where my seats are. For example, for Tegomassu no Seishun I chose not to wear my favorite member Massu’s yellow color in Fukuoka and Nagoya, but instead wore the green color that the concert goods and the theme of the concert was based off. In Yokohama and Osaka though, I wore Yellow.

What season is it and is the concert/ event outside or inside? This also plays a factor into what clothes I would wear as well. KAT-TUN’s countdown concert I wore dark clothes because it was winter and because they were edgier as well. NEWS’s concerts were inside and outside, so the outside concerts I didn’t dress up as much because it was in the middle of summer and I would be sweating a lot, but the inside concerts I decided to dress up a bit more because I wouldn’t be sweating as much. Also, waiting for goods outside can be a factor as well, so take that into consideration when you are choosing your outfit as well!

Will I be wearing any of the concert goods I am buying? For Kanjani8’s Jyuusai concert, there was a “happi” that they were selling and I wanted to buy it so I decided on the dress that I wore based on that. I thought the happi would look better with a collared dress, so I wore that. Another popular thing to do is to wear the concert T-shirt right after buying it or personalize the concert T-shirt for another show that you will go see in the same tour.

A note on Stage plays: For stage plays, I would recommend toning down what you wear to a concert if you normally cosplay or dress up a lot for these events. With stage plays you have to remember that the Johnny’s guy is only one member of the cast during this play (even thought he may be starring in it) and other people who aren’t Johnny’s fans will more than likely be attending as well for the other cast members who have nothing to do with Johnny’s. The purpose is to enjoy the stage play and support the Johnny’s guy, not for the Johnny’s guy to notice you or to draw attention to yourself, which is different than a concert. With this being said, there is a certain respect for the stage and arts when you go to see stage plays so please try to be respectful of that. The manners for concerts and stage plays are different is all, not that one is better than the other. For the most part, most people I see at stage plays dress normally and I don’t even know they are going to the play unless they are a carrying around a bag from the group that the Johnny’s guy in the play is in. I personally dress like I normally do everyday, but if it’s an evening show I might dress a bit more fancy.

Here are some pictures of what I have worn to past Johnny’s concerts!

Tegomassu no Seishun - Fukuoka

Tegomassu no Seishun – Fukuoka Picture courtesy Monica (blog: the beauty of existence)

Kanjani8 - Jyuusai

Kanjani8 – Jyuusai

Tegomassu no Seishun - Nagoya

Tegomassu no Seishun – Nagoya

Masuda Takahisa Stageplay - Strange Fruits in Osaka

Masuda Takahisa Stageplay: “Strange Fruits” – in Osaka

Was this helpful? What do you normally wear to Johnny’s concerts? Please let me know in the comments below!

Japanese Entertainment: The Relationship Between Japanese Idols And Their Fans

While I was writing my thesis for my MBA today, which is on the topic of Johnny’s and Associates and the Japanese music industry, the topic of the relationship between a Japanese Idol and their fans popped into my head. Actually, it had been in my head for a while now ever since an article by the Yomiyuri Newspaper about Koyama Keiichiro, a member of my favorite Idol group NEWS,  was released about a week and a half ago. Koyama became a news caster for “News Every” in Spring of 2010 and this January he became a main caster for four out of five weekdays, when the program runs. This article was about the human connection and how through news casting he has been able to connect more with many people, and his fans, more than before. Though he says it’s rare for idol groups to have that deep of a connection, I still think this reflects the relationship between idol groups and their fans.

What exactly is the relationship between Japanese idols and their fans? You can describe it in different ways but I like to simply describe it as like one of a girlfriend and boyfriend, or best friends, but also like parent and child.

The appeal of the Japanese idol is simple, they aren’t perfect. These idols are produced by an management company that trains them from when they are kids to sing and dance and act and be an all around entertainer. From when they enter into the company they are put into the spotlight. They aren’t told or trained to be perfect though and in fact, they are put on variety shows and other television shows where they are made to do wacky things and their personality really shows through. Of course there are parts of this that are artificially produced and controlled, like not having a boyfriend or girlfriend (in public at least) and being clean cut and not having a bad-boy or bad-girl image, but for the most part they are the boy or girl next door. They seem like a normal person that just walked off the street, not a celebrity that is far from reach.

Another aspect of this is that the fans have a say in what the Idol does. Since the fans are spending money on entertainment, the idol and the management company must give them just that. So, the management company and the idols listens closely to the fans to see what they want, and they give it to them. They also sometimes put on events specifically where the fans get to decide themselves what they want, like choosing the set-list for a concert or in AKB48’s case, the fans can vote on who they want to be the “center”, the person who is the focus of the whole routine. This way, the fans feel like they had a hand in the idol growing and the fans grow a long with them, or see them grow up like a parent. I see a lot of mothers and their daughters go to concerts together and support the idol together; the daughter sees the idol as supporting them like a girlfriend would a boyfriend and the mother sees it as supporting the idol like they would their own child.  When idol fans grow up and have their own family and children, another younger idol group has debuted and then their daughter gets into them and the cycle continues.

I also think that Idols give fans a dream, something to shoot for. While the idols grow up and reach their goals, the fans are inspired by them trying so hard, so they work hard for their dream while supporting the idol too. I have met many people that say that being a fan of an idol group has changed their life and made them have a dream and find something that they love or helped them at a hard time in their life. It might be dramatic to say this, but I feel the same way as well. If I hadn’t found my love for Japanese Idols, I wouldn’t have realized my love for Japanese entertainment and I wouldn’t have wanted to move to Japan and live here. So in a way, they help create dreams and the Idols cheer us on as well.

So in a nutshell, this is the relationship. The Idol gives entertainment and gives the fans something to support, the appeal being that they aren’t perfect and they can support the idol growing up and the fans take pride in being apart of that. The Fans spend money on the idol and they get the feeling of satisfaction and pride at being apart of something. They each give and receive something and its unique and pure in a way. Sure there is business behind it and brilliant marketing, but this relationship is something unique to Japan I think.

What do you think about the relationship between Japanese idols and their fans? Have they inspired you in someway? Let me know what you think about this topic below! I think it would be an interesting discussion!

Lauren’s Top 10 Favorite Johnny’s Releases of 2013

Though it is already May, I had this document sitting on my computer since the end of last year and I thought that it might be nice to share!

This time, I will be talking about my top 10 favorite Johnny’s releases of 2013. I made a YouTube video on my favorite Johnny’s releases of 2012 at the end of 2012 and people seemed to enjoy it, so I thought it would be good to wrap everything up again as well for 2013. These are in no particular order, I simply chose my top 10 favorite Johnny’s releases of 2013!

 

1: Tegomass – Sayonara ni Sayonara and Neko Cuudoku

テゴマス「サヨナラにさよなら」「猫中毒」

It’s no secret that Tegomass is one of my favorite Johnny’s groups and with that being said their two singles released this year, Sayonara no Sayonara and Neko Chuudoku are first two in my favorites of 2013! Tegomass hadn’t released a single since early 2011, which made it 2 years since their last single. These two singles are very different from eachother, but both reflect some of Tegomass’s charms. Sayonara ni Sayonara was cute, but with a adult twist and amazing calming vocals. Neko chuudoku was a new venture, Tegomass dancing for the first time in their music video which brought out their cute side, which they are famous for! I cannot explain how much I am in love with these singles and their B-sides as well! I have a review of Neko Chuudoku here if you are interested to hear more details!

 

2: Kanjani8 LIVE TOUR 8EST

関ジャニ8LIVE TOUR 8EST

This DVD was released in April 2013 and was their tour from 2012 and their 8 year anniversary. The DVD was filmed outside at Nagai Stadium in Osaka and the day it was filmed, it was pouring rain so you get to enjoy Kanjani8 acting funny in the rain. This DVD also has the first Eight Ranger comedy skit since their 2009 tour, PUZZLE. It was actually filmed during one of the performances I was able to attend and this tour holds a special place in many eighter’s hearts for the nostalgia and for representing how far Kanjani8 has come in just 8 years. This DVD is definitely for Eighters new and old alike! This was the coupling tour with there 8 year anniversary album by the same name “8EST” that was released in 2012.

 

3: NEWS LIVE TOUR 2012 Utsukushii koi ni sure yo!  DVD

NEWS LIVE TOUR 2012 〜美しい恋にするよ!〜

This NEWS DVD is one of my favorite DVD’s hands down and for many reasons. First is that this DVD was the first tour that NEWS did with just 4 members. Second, they preformed all the fan favorites that the fans decided on from their BEST album released in 2012, as well as the member favorites and solo songs. It was a special concert and was filmed with many emotions on the first day of the tour, which is rare for a Johnny’s concert that normally films towards the end of the tour. I didn’t see this tour the day that it was filmed and attended another location for this tour, but I felt the emotion pouring out through the DVD even through I wasn’t there. NEWS has become closer to their fans more than ever and this was an amazing comeback tour!

 

4: NEWS- “NEWS” Album

If I had to pick a favorite Johnnys album of all time, it would have to be this album, followed by NEWS Pacific and Tegomassu no Mahou. This was NEWS’s first album as 4 members with all the songs originally sung by the 4 of them. I love everything about this album, from the order the songs are in to the solo songs. They also included a DVD called LIFE OF NEWS where the members went on a day off together and introduced something they were really into to the other members and showed new NEWS’s dynamic. This album was the perfect combination of fun and mature and it marked NEWS’s new chapter as 4 members. If you would like more details on this album as well, I wrote a review about it here.

 

5: KAT-TUN – “Kusabi”

KAT-TUN 「楔-kusabi-」

KAT-TUN always ends up ninja-ing their way into my favorite list every year and this time it is with their mini album called kusabi. This was released in November and is the first release since Koki was asked to leave Johnny’s for breach of contract. I had been listened to this album non stop to prepare for the countdown concert and new years fan event that I went to at the end of last year and the beginning of 2014.  The title song, kusabi, is my favorite song on the album followed by Gimme luv. The reason I like this album so much is because I feel like they are starting to go back to the old KAT-TUN sound that I am used to when I got into KAT-TUN during queen of Pirates and Break the Records era.  Kudos KAT-TUN for a great mini album!

 

6: Yamada Ryosuke – “Mystery Virgin”

山田涼介「ミステリー ヴァージン」

When I first heard the title of this song I was like HUH? Because it really doesn’t make sense, even with the lyrics of the song it only clears up the title a bit. BUT despite that, I fell in love with the beat of this song and since Yamada Ryosuke was the reason I got into Johnnys and a song I loved by him Moonlight was a special song on one of the editions of this single, this is in my top 10 johnnys releases this year. This is also the theme song for the Kindachi Special drama that aired in January of 2013 year that Yamada starred in along with his fellow Hey! Say! JUMP member Daiki Airioka.

 

7. Kanjani8 – “JUKE BOX”Album

関ジャニ∞ 「JUKE BOX」

This was Kanjani8’s album released in October of 2013. This album is classic Kanjani8 with their combination of funny songs and band style songs, as well as the bonus features that came with the album, including being able to vote for your favorite unit performance for the JUKE BOX concert tour. They have all kinds of style of music from band style to ballads, to comedy to dubsteb electronic dance music, which make the album interesting! The main song this year for the PV that was included on a DVD with the album was “Takoyaki in my Heart” and it is very Kanjani8 like and is basically a member introduction.  They broke up into 2 Units this year and each wrote a song with the theme of “Manly”. The making of these songs were on the DVD with it as well. Kanjani never fails the fans with tons of bonus features for the price!

8. Hottake Band – Sayonara, Arigtou

堀田家BAND 「サヨナラ☆ありがとう」

This was the theme song for the drama that Kamenashi Kazuya from KAT-TUN was in back in the Fall called “Tokyo Bandwagon”. This was a special unit formed with the person that plays the father of Kame’s character, Tamaka Koji. I really like this song because it sounds like a drama theme song for me, not just a random song that was put in there. The guitar is so nice, with the combination of the airy acoustic guitar but also the electric guitar that pairs with it.  It gives a fall-like feel to me, which is when it aired! It also fit the theme of the drama as well, which was Family. It brings back so many memories of this past fall, good and bad, but mostly of my best friend returning to Japan! We listened to this song at Christmas while making Christmas dinner together, it being our first christmas without being with our families. I was sick a lot during December, and being able to spend christmas with her meant a lot to me so this song reminds me of that Christmas every time I play it and I smile.

9. Kanjani8 – He so magari/ koko shikanai keshiki

関ジャニ∞「へそ曲がり/ここしかない景色」

This was a double A side single released by Kanjani8, “He so magari” for the Drama Okura was in called “Tenki Onee-san” and 「ここしかない景色」 was for the movie that Ryo was in called “Kencho Omotenashi-ka” 「県庁おもてなし課」. 「へそ曲がり」 always reminds me of last spring and I love the beat of the song! I often find myself jamming out to it when I am walking around the city to and from school. 「ここしかない景色」is a band song for Kanjani8 and though it sounds kind of sounds like a generic band song, I like it! I like the acoustic guitar sound in band songs that keeps the rhythm of the song paired with the electric guitar back and forth.

10: KIS-MY-FT2 「キ・ス・ウ・マ・イ ~KISS YOUR MIND~ / S.O.S (Smile On Smile)」

Kis-My-Ft2 ninja-ed their way into my top 10 again this year as well! Though I am not a huge fan myself, I watch them from the sidelines and there seems to always be at least 1 song that I like from them each year. This year was another Double A-side single, but the song that I like is 「キ・ス・ウ・マ・イ ~KISS YOUR MIND~ 」。This song never fails to get stuck in my head! The beat is amazing, upbeat and a good up and down of pace throughout the song. I also love the choreography of the Dance in the PV (though I think the concept of the music video is kind of strange to be honest….) so I prefer watching the dance version of the PV because I actually tried to learn the choreography since I liked it so much.

 

So there you have it! My top 10 Johnny’s releases of 2013! What made your cut? Please comment below telling me your favorite Johnny’s releases below and why. I would love to hear new recommendations!

 

Johnny’s Talk: Lauren’s Guide To What To Bring To A Johnny’s Concert

Since many of you all might be coming to a Johnny’s concert here in Japan in the future, I thought I would give you some ideas on what to bring to a Johnny’s concert by telling you what I normally bring to a Johnny’s concert! This is what I bring most of the time when I attend a concert, but it changes sometimes on the show and also the weather as well. Let’s jump right in!

#1: Ticket

This may be obvious, but you can’t enter the concert venue without a ticket. Many a time I have seen on twitter and heard from my friends that they have accidentally forgot their ticket at home or in the hotel. Just double check your bag before you leave to make sure you have your ticket before leaving! This will save lots of trouble so you aren’t rushing to get your ticket at the last minute and risk being late for the show. Also, I personally recommend you buy your ticket before the actual day of the concert as well. This will save lots of hassle and worry if you will be able to attend the actual show. If you are interested on how to ballot for fan club tickets I made a post here about it previously, but if you would like a post about ways to get Johnny’s concert tickets without being in the fan club please let me know in the comments or tweet me!

#2 Money

Another obvious thing, but sometimes I have panicked on wether I had enough money to buy concert goods at the venue because I was rushing. Take that extra few minutes to calculate how much your goods will be and make sure you have enough money for them! It will save you time so you won’t have to get back inside the goods line again for things you couldn’t pay for. Also, when you are having fun at the venue you don’t want to have to worry about money for food and other things as well before or after the show.

#3 Water

Remember to hydrate hydrate hydrate! I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten a bottle or 2 of water and I have regretted it and searched frantically at the venue for a vending machine, only to find that they were all sold out (crazy Johnny’s fans….). Especially outside concerts it is important. Even if its not outside, you will be standing for at least 2 hours and not eating or drinking during that time. Normally during the MC I take out my bottle of water and drink it and have it handy at the top of my bag to drink during the concert as well. Normally the domes allow you to eat and drink inside of them, but there are some instances where you can’t at really small vanes. For this only bring water, not another type of drink. They do having vending machines or convenience stores around or inside the venue, so don’t fret if you forget! I just normally buy before entering inside because its cheaper for the most part and inside the venue might be sold out.

#4 Rain Items: Umbrella/ Poncho

Check the wether forecast if it’s going to rain. If it is going to rain, then I recommend going to a convenience store and buying a fold up umbrella, not a full sized one because it is long and the seats are small in Japan. Keep it inside your purse or concert goods bag! Most of the time the venues aren’t connected to the subway or trains or busses, so you will want to have one with you. The convenience store near the venues might become sold out, so try to buy near your hotel or home or someplace that isn’t near the venue. An umbrella is also handy if you have to stand outside in line for concerts goods, because at most venues the goods line is outside the venue.

Also, for outside concerts you are not allowed to have an umbrella up during the concerts and they are performed rain or shine. So buy a poncho at a convenience store or 100 yen store to keep somewhat dry! Buy an extra one to wrap your concert goods in so that they don’t get wet either.

#5 Recommended Concert Goods

You won’t bring these with you if you haven’t bought them yet, but I will at least say my recommended goods to bring or buy at the concert! This is also up to personal preference as well, so buy the goods that you will want to use! You also don’t have to buy the goods for the actual tour you are attending either ! You can buy them used if you are short on funds or if you prefer a past tour’s goods instead!

a. Penlight

A penlight is a must for a Johnny’s concert! I recommend a penlight because everyone brings them and uses them in the concert and it also in a way makes you part of the actual concert itself. You wave it in time with the music and do the hand motions of the songs with it! My first 2 concerts I went to for Johnnys in summer 2009 (KAT-TUN and Kanjani8) I didn’t buy a penlight and I felt left out because I didn’t realize how important they were until I went to my 3rd concert in 2010-2011 (Kanjani8 8Uppers countdown concert).

b. Towel

This is defiantly optional and up to everyone’s tastes, but recently I have been into buying concert towels because they are useful during the summer in Japan and for rainy days. I normally keep it around my shoulders during the concert. It helps with outside concerts and sweating (even inside concerts too!) and sometimes the guys have you twirl towels in the air to certain songs as well!

c. Uchiwa

Another optional item, but I didn’t know what the point of Uchiwas were when I went to my first Johnny’s concerts, but Uchiwas are the Japanese style fans with the face of your favorite member on them. You buy your favorite member’s (or members’) Uchiwa and it is not only telling the guys themselves who your favorite members are, but also the other fans as well. I always get asked at concerts who my favorite member is and its a great conversation starter with Japanese fans, as well as foreign fans! So hold your uchiwa proud! (but just to chest level… you don’t want to block the view of the fans behind you!)

d. Bag

To keep all of your concert goods in and for putting your newly bought concert goods inside, I recommend bringing a bag! Most of the goods that I buy won’t fit inside my purse so I always bring the tour bag with me.  When I went to Shige’s stageplay a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how many goods I was going to buy and it didn’t fit inside my purse, so I had to run to a nearby 100 yen store and buy a bag! So make sure for a stage play you bring a previous tour bag or your own bag to put the goods inside because stage plays don’t sell bags normally.

Having a tour bag is also another fun way to identify you as a fan of the group and Japanese fans might even come up and talk with you!

 

 

Well, these were my recommended items to bring to a Johnny’s concert! I hope you all enjoyed! If there is anything that you think I forgot or want to know if its okay to bring please comment below! Let me know what your concert essentials are if you have been to a Johnny’s concert before. Also, let me know if you like these types of posts!

 

Top 5 Spring-Like Songs of 2014

Spring is already in full swing here in Japan. The Cherry Blossoms bloomed, their petals have already fallen, and summer is beginning to peak on the horizon as the temperature continues to rise by the day. I find myself inspired by music that has a seasonal feel, so today I wanted to write a post on my top 5 favorite songs of this Spring before the season changes! They are in no particular order, just how I feel like presenting them! Also, I am a big fan of J-pop, so all of these songs are Japanese songs.

 

#1: SAKURA, I love you? – Nishino Kana (西野カナ)

Though this is a sad love song about not being able to get over some one, the beat and the sound of the song is very Spring-like to me. I can listen to this song over and over again and feel myself walking through a row of Cherry Blossom trees. Even when its not spring I like listening to this song to make me feel like I am back in Cherry Blossom season. The music video is beautiful and every time I go to Karaoke I have to sing this song with the music video playing in the background.

#2 “Sakura Girl”「サクラガール」- NEWS

This song has a lot of the same sounds as Nishino Kana’s song above. I think it is the synthesizer that makes the beat of the song very spring-like to me. It’s a sad love song about a fleeting love, just like the short time a cherry blossom tree blooms for. I love the harmony and the chorus of “La, La, Love, Sakura”. Just like the above song too, I can just imagine walking through a row of cherry blossom trees and can feel the emotion of not being with someone anymore who you loved dearly.

#3 “Sayonara ni Sayonara”「サヨナラにさよなら」-  Tegomass テゴマス

This is a slower song compared to the other two songs, but the softness and sweetness of the song and the lyrics make me think of a love that starts in the Spring and the promise of never saying goodbye. The Piano and the music video also give it a spring-like feel as well! This song was also released Spring of 2013 so I have the image of this song being a spring song in my head. This song is also my favorite Tegomass song, next to Kiss “Kaerimichi no Love song”「キッス帰り道のラブソング」。

#4 “Haru Meki”「ハルメキ」 – Tegomass テゴマス

Another Tegomass song! Somehow I relate Tegomass with Spring recently and I think it’s because in 2013 they had Spring single releases and this year they had a Spring tour. This song is a song off of their new album “Tegomass no Seishun” . The title means “Spring Like” or the “Coming of Spring” and the lyrics are all about how everything is becoming like spring and the flowers are blooming. I love this song because its very upbeat and is a different type of spring song than is mentioned above, because it isn’t a love song.

#5  “Hana ni Omoi wo”「花に想いを」 – Tegomass テゴマス

The final pick is also a Tegomass song. This was the B-side track from their “Neko Chuudoku” single and I had no idea it was the B-side until I heard them perform this song in the concert tour I went to. The Harmonica and the the country-like feel to this song really makes me feel like I am in the country side in America with a bunch of flowers around me. It’s a different feeling than the first few songs, because America and Japan have different perceptions of spring. Spring is about flowers blooming, but in Asia it’s specifically the Cherry blossoms and plum blossoms that it revolves around. In Americ,a its about flowers blooming in general and Easter. This song really makes me smile while I am listening to it walking somewhere recently, and I can really feel that spring is here!

 

I hope you all enjoyed this post! Please comment below and tell me your favorite songs of this Spring and why! I look forward to hearing them!