[Johnnys 101] So You Have Begun to Stan A Johnnys Group – All the basics you need to know

So… you have begun to stan a Johnnys group. Welcome! It’s going to be a very sparkly and emotional ride, but let me give you some tips to help you start out.

This is a new series on my blog called “Johnny’s 101”, where I answer as much in depth about the infamous Japanese boyband agency Johnny’s and associates as I possibly can. As a bit of background, I have been a Johnnys fan for over 10 years now, and have also written my graduate school thesis on the business of Johnny’s. I don’t know everything (as Johnny’s can be mysterious in a lot of ways) but I hope I can give an insight into Johnny’s that you might not know yet.

But first… What is Johnnys?

Johnnys is an all-male talent agency founded in the 1960s by Johnny Kitagawa. The agency is mostly known for training boys (called Johnny’s Juniors) in different parts of the entertainment industry (singing, dancing, acting, etc.) from a young age by having them back dance for the debuted groups, seeing which ones are popular, and then debuting a select few. They aren’t just simply boybands but are involved in many different activities in the entertainment industry in Japan, such as television, movies, fashion, and even novel writing and newscasting. Some of the most popular groups that have come out of Johnnys are SMAP and Arashi.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get to today’s topic which is basics of the agency and the fandom that you should know as a new fan (and maybe a reminder or refresher for those OG fans out there!)

1. Johnny’s is extremely strict (as are the fans) and behind the times

Johnny’s hasn’t digitalized yet (even worse than the rest of Japan… which is saying something) which means there are no YouTube videos or digital music downloads. Hard copies only, my friends! They are super strict with what is uploaded to social media and media sites as well. Around 2014 or so is when they actually put their artist’s pictures on their OWN website and their fan club was super analog until about 2 years ago (hard copy tickets, paying via bank transfer and all) Shocker isn’t it? In my opinion, this is a huge barrier to growth for them, especially internationally. BUT! With that being said recently they have made some huge changes, like Johnny’s official shop goods being sold online within Japan, revamp of the online fan club system, and especially so with the juniors YouTube channel, which is promising. My question though: is it too slow? Let me know what you think!

As for the fans, concert manners and sharing media online is policed pretty strictly. This varies from group to group though, as each fan base has a different “culture” so to speak. An example of this is with my favorite group NEWS, concert spoilers during the tour are kinda a big no-no, as NEWS themselves said a few years back they prefer all the fans to be surprised, so…. you won’t see the set list and hardly any detailed spoilers until after the final show is finished. It’s not to “end game” level, but we protect from spoilers as much as possible. MC is perfectly fine to spoil so bring all the weird things they say!

2. Johnnys is based in Japan and caters mostly to a Japanese audience

Johnny’s is based in Japan and caters to Japanese fans within Japan. I see a lot of fans getting upset that Johnny’s doesn’t do much for international fans and say “Johnny’s hate international fans” but at this point in time with the current stage of the agency, I think these thoughts are misguided. I could make an entirely separate blog post about this (comment below if you want it!), but to sum it up the Japanese music industry is #2 in the world only after the United States. Because of this, Johnny’s can make enough money just within Japan no problem only catering to Japanese fans. Why should they spend the money to expand overseas when they dominate the Japanese market and make enough money anyway? Even fans inside of Japan have a hard time getting concert tickets even when they are in the fan club and the artists only have enough hours in a day, so how can they expand and think of going overseas when they are at capacity inside of Japan? If you think about it that way, you can see why Johnny’s wouldn’t want to cater to foreign fans, as they have their hands full inside of Japan already. Does this mean they shouldn’t share media outside of Japan? No, I think YouTube and social media is essential, but in terms of an international fan club and translating things into many languages, it’s not going to work for a long time and not a good choice business wise. They first need to get the digital infrastructure up and running in Japan first.

3. The Twitter community is probably the strongest to find fan friends (Japanese and foreign)and get the latest information.

Back in the day, LiveJournal used to be the community of choice but in the past 5 years or so that community has pretty much died and everyone is on Twitter. If you want to make fandom friends, make a twitter account and get started by talking with other fans! Japanese fans are also heavy users of Twitter (as Twitter is the dominant social media platform in Japan besides Instagram) so you can get almost any piece of information you need on there. For the most part, us fans are extremely friendly and are more than happy to point you in the direction of what you see looking for. Just be sure to respect the other fans and don’t assume that the way things are done in your country are done that way in Japan and in Johnny’s.

4. No Johnny’s talents have individual Twitter or Instagram accounts or even social media

Okay okay, there is 1 exception that literally happened when I was writing this, which is Yamapi! He was on Weibo, but then on May 16th, he made an Instagram, a Johnny’s first. In general, though, Johnnys do not have social media (including youtube… except the Junior’s channel I mentioned above!) and their “blogs”, called Jwebs, are behind a paywall and are only in Japanese. This poses an interesting dynamic, as the world has moved rapidly towards an era of social media and digital music downloads and streaming, in which Johnnys is pretty archaic. So, if you want to find any information about the group or see their music videos you will have to go on a hunt around the internet.

 

Did I miss anything? What information would you like as a new Johnnys fan or as an OG fan what advice would you give to new fans?

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[REVIEW] NEWS Arena Tour 2018 EPCOTIA – DVD/ Blu-Ray


From the world of “NEVERLAND” in 2017, in 2018 NEWS takes you on a journey into outer space onboard the EPCOTIA Liner – flight 009; NEWS hosting as the 4 flight attendants. A tour based around their album released in March 2018, NEWS once again immerses you into the theme of the album, which has been a “thing” for them since their 2015 album “WHITE”.

In this review, I will be discussing 2 categories – Theme and DVD contents – to give an overall rundown of the DVD itself and if its worth it to buy.

Theme – Outer Space??

Let’s begin with Theme! To be honest, I was skeptical of this space theme from the minute I saw the names of the songs on the album that were basically all a bunch of space themed words thrown together like “BLACKHOLE” and “UFO”. Nothing could top NEVERLAND (tour and album) for me… it was the perfect theming for a group like NEWS who is bright and has bouncy songs with some rock thrown in from time to time, so EPCOTIA had a lot to live up to… and I think NEWS was feeling the pressure too.  Before going into the tour itself in April, I liked about only 50% of the songs but after seeing the tour in Hiroshima I was hooked on about 90% of them for the performance.

You can tell NEWS made an extensive effort to separate NEVERLAND from EPCOTIA as themes, and to not make it a continuation (despite NEWS doing theming for N-E-W-S for the next few years) . NEVERLAND had a more steam punk feel to it with the costumes and had a more typical stage setup for NEWS, while EPCOTIA was a center stage and more “futuristic” with monochrome theming and costumes, lots of strobe light affects and a center stage where they really pushed the limits with what they could do with it. (Bungee jumping around the stage in the middle of the concert, hanging from the celling during the opening and having a huge model space shuttle on the stage? Now THAT’S entertainment!) I felt they had a higher budget this year as compared to previous years, as it was their 15th anniversary and probably after the success of the NEVERLAND theming the year previously.

Also, on a side note, the tickets were adorable with “Boarding Pass” written on the back of them with the EPCOTIA logo on it … the theming was on point the entire time from beginning to end. I think with NEVERLAND they pushed the limits for theming where they had fallen short with QUARTETTO the year previous and then with EPCOTIA, they really took what they learned with NEVERLAND and ran with it full speed ahead.

CONTENTS – less than previous DVD’s?

Credit to Johnnys Entertainment Inc.

The contents of the DVD are very straight forward this time around, containing only the final day of the tour in Saitama Arena in May 2018 plus “EPCOTIA MULTI ANGLES LIVE”, which special to just the limited edition of the DVD. The only difference between the Regular Edition and the Limited Edition is this “Multi Angles live” for both the Blu-ray and DVD versions. Click HERE for all the information on what the DVD contains (Japanese Only).

This time the DVD didn’t have as many extras as in the past… more than likely because NEWS had 3 “tours” in 2018 (EPCOTIA Arena Tour,  15th Anniversary Live STRAWBERRY, and EPCOTIA – encore- Dome Tour)  and I predict that because of this, they are wanting to release the arena tour but for a lower price point so that they can release the other concerts later on in 2019. (A double sided DVD between Strawberry and EPCOTIA – encore-? You heard it being called here first, folks!)

I thought the Multi Angles live was a smart move on Johnny’s part to keep the budget low: Take footage of a handful of songs that they already had recorded at the concert and release it at different angles. Essentially, they have cameras pointed at each of the members during the concert at all times and they compiled that footage of 4 of the popular songs, LIVE,  BLACKHOLE, Erotica, and U R not alone for each member’s angle. Not just that, but you don’t have to choose just 1 member for the entire time, you can choose different members for different parts of the song, letting you control the editing of the song and how you want to see it. I thought you could only choose 1 member for the entire song, but I was happily surprised you can choose the angle at each point in the song. Very interactive, as there are so many combinations you can make between the 4 members’ parts.

“Happy Ending”

Overall, Outer Space wasn’t a theme that I was extremely excited about but the execution and how they kept to theming the entire time was extremely impressive. NEVERLAND is close to my heart and for me, unfortunately, EPCOTIA did not surpass that. The content of the DVD was less than previous years, but hopefully there will be some releases of the other 2018 concerts later in 2019 to make up for it. (My wallet is READY!) 

If you can get your hands on the Limited Edition of this DVD, I think it is worth it for the multi-angles lives, but the Regular Edition doesn’t have much to offer besides the actual concert.

 With that being said though,  I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the VR themed “WORLDISTA” for 2019!

6 Things to Organize and Store Your Johnny’s Goods

Becoming a fan or collector of anything raised the question of how exactly to your organize all of the goods accumulated from said activity. Johnny’s (and other idol groups) have many types of goods to collect with many different high and low end options to help you organize them. Over the years I have collected and used my fair share of these organization items, so here are 6 products to help organize and store your Johnny’s goods.

1. Ticket Holder

Johnnys has now started to go away from the paper ticketing system for some of their artists in favor of digital tickets, but there are still many shows that have paper tickets to collect. A regular photo album to store all of your tickets in is ideal, rather than spending money on an expensive “ticket holder”, and it works just as well. I have another post I wrote a while back where I talk about this particular item, so check it out HERE if you are interested!

2. Uchiwa Storage Box

Now, you might not think that this is revolutionary, but I am telling you that this has changed my storage game for all of my uchiwas – which used to be shoved into a drawer, laying flat and taking up too much space. This particular one is from a series of idol storage/ protective goods that the “3 Coins” shop (or 300 yen shop) produced in Japan a few years back. It was only supposed to be a limited run, but it was so popular that they brought it back permanently and added more to the line. This uchiwa box in particular I wanted because I needed a place to place my slightly too large uchiwa collection I’ve accumulated over the years. It can safely fit about 20 uchiwas inside and though it’s a bit flimsy at times, it does the job for 300 yen ($3 USD) and keeps your uchiwas tucked away together safely in one place.

3. Streamer Holder

Credit to Tower Records Japan

Credit to Tower Records Japan

This is the newest addition to my goods storage and another game changer for me. Over the years I had collected so many streamers from concerts that they also ended up in my “Johnnys goods drawer of doom and chaos”. One day while browsing in Tower Records with a friend, I spotted this and I was mind blown. I bought it right away and now my streamers are organized and the holder itself looks really pretty on my shelf… and also looks like I put effort into storing my Johnnys goods, instead of leaving a pile of them sitting at the back of aforementioned drawer.

You can also find this at the 300 yen store, but the one that I decided to buy was a bit pricer and from Tower Records for just over 1000 yen or $10 USD. It is sturdier than the 3 Coin store one and is magnetic to hold the opening shut.

4. Photo Album for Shop Photos

Shop photos are one of those staple items that all Johnnys fans eventually purchase. Over the years I have accumulated hundreds of photos and have organized them in these photo albums from the 100 yen store. I believe these particular ones are from CanDo, but any photo album of your choice will due! I personally don’t like inviting a ton of money into storage for shop photos, because I have a lot of them, so I just hop on over to the 100 yen store and get mine. LOFT and Tokyu Hands will also have them, but for a higher price point.

I personally organize mine by member and group, so I have individual albums for each member (for NEWS I buy all the photosets at the concert) and then I have a separate album for group photos. Feel free to organize yours however you please!

5. Glass Cup for Showcasing Penlights

Once again, going back that “Johnnys goods drawer of doom”, all of my penlights also used to be in there. After a while, I wanted to proudly display my favorite ones in my room to always look at, but I didn’t have a way to keep them standing up. So, I be-bopped my way over to the 100 yen store (more specifically Daiso) and saw they had so many options for mini cups that are the perfect size to place your penlights inside of them to stand them up. For my larger penlights, I have a bit larger glasses but for the most part they are the smallest glasses I could find there.

6. Binder for storing magazine scans

If you are an idol fan, you are probably buying magazines to read interviews with your favorite entertainers. Some people want to keep their magazines in restive condition, but after you buy them year after year, they start to pile up. After the first time I moved inside of Japan, I realized I had accumulated WAY too magazines over those 2 years and decided to cut them up and take out only the pages that I wanted to keep. It would reduce space in my apartment and make it easier to sift through all of the scans that I wanted. I am still not done, but I have accumulated a large amount of binders filled with magazine scans that I have cut out over the years. The magazines come in all different sizes, so I normally pick a normal size A4 binder with extra pocket refill, as well as an XL wide size binder meant for fashion magazines to make sure all of my bases are covered.  Below is the Rakuten link to the ones that I have bought, but you can also go to any stationary store, like LOFT or Tokyu Hands to buy it. I tend to buy in bulk when I buy them, so its cheaper to buy them on Rakuten. If you are not looking to buy over 1-2 of them, LOFT and Tokyu Hands is probably the best to buy them at. Make sure you don’t forget the re-fills for them! They only come with maybe 10 pockets inside.

A4-S Size Binder

Magazine Binder

This is an amazing way to organize all of your magazines without the extra room and weight attached!


What would you be interested in buying? Are there any other goods that you don’t know how organize or store? Let me know in the comments below!

Translation: “U R not alone” – NEWS

Translation for “U R not alone” by NEWS, on the NEVERLAND album.
Lyrics and music by GReeeeN.

拝啓あの日の僕へ
今はココで立っています
誰かに笑われた夢を
今もココで見続けてます

To the me of that day,
I am standing here now.
The dream that people laughed at,
I am still continuing to reach for.

時に見失いそうになって
時に全てをあきらめて
あせって望んでは傷ついた
僕の中の弱虫笑ってた
それでも(Hey) どこかで明日を
諦めてないから今日もまた
傷だらけ(Hey) のこの足で
なんとか立っている

Sometimes I almost lost sight of it,
Sometimes I gave up completely,
In my flustered desire, I kept getting hurt,
and the weakling inside me laughed.
Even so (hey!) I still haven’t given up that tomorrow,
so with these broken legs (hey) I will somehow keep standing.

例えばこの声が届くならば誰でもいい
聞こえますか 胸張ってさあ叫ぶんだ
全部詰め込んだこの宣誓を
僕は誓うよ 一切引かないし 一切負けない
自分で決めた道のうえ 全てをかけて
笑えるように やり抜くぞ

For example, if this voice could reach, would anyone listen?
I stick out my chest and shout,
and pack everything into this oath
I vow to never back down and never surrender.
I will risk everything for the path I chose.
To accomplish it so I can be able to smile.

あの頃の僕は負けそうに
なると誰かのせいにして逃げて
諦めた言い訳はそりゃ楽で
そうして僕はまた自分に負ける
それでも(Hey) 戦っている
そんな他人(ひと)はきっと他所(ほか)にいる
それでいいの?(Hey) 目指す場所へ
行くと決めたんだろう?

Back in those days when I was about to loose,
I blamed someone else for it and escaped.
It was easier to give excuses and give up,
And thus I kept on loosing to myself.
Even so (hey!) I am still fighting on.
There are surely other people who are like that too.
Is that really okay though? (hey!)
You decided to go that place you aimed for, didn’t you?

確かな答えは 何処にもないから
探すんだ 恐れないでその足で迷っていい
何度も諦めるかって言えばいい
今までの超えた日々が僕らにはあるじゃないか
だからこそココに吹いてる
向かい風にホラ立ち向かう

There is no correct answer anywhere
So you have to search for it. It’s okay to be afraid and get lost on the way
It’s okay to say “I’ll give up” many times
Haven’t we already gone through everyday until now?
Because of this, we will face the headwind that’s blowing here.

あの日つまずいて
しゃがみこんでしまうほどの痛みさえ
わきだして かけだして
助走に変えて いけるように

On that day that I stumbled
The pain that left me doubled over on all fours
Spring up, start running
Change it into an approach run in order to live

ああどうか 力を貸してくれないか
昨日までの僕よ 共に乗り越えてきたじゃないか
僕は誓うよ 一切引かないし 一切負けない
生まれた日から今日までの 僕が見てる
明日もそう
少しずつ前へ not alone

Ah, could you please assist me somehow,
The me up until yesterday? We overcame this together, didn’t we?
I vow to never stand down and never surrender
The me from the day I was born until now is watching
Tomorrow as well
Moving forward bit by bit, not alone


Translators note:

“U R not alone” sung by NEWS from their Neverland album was one of the hardest things that I have translated from Japanese to English because I really wanted to give justice to this song. I don’t think I fully did because of my own language skills and I feel like English doesn’t even come close to being able to convey the meaning of the song, but I wanted to give the fans who can’t understand Japanese just a bit of an idea of the deep meaning the song has. I will always be grateful to  have heard this song live and have heard the rawness of NEWS’s voices when they sang it. It is so relatable to me, and to everyone I think, as everyone struggles with things in their life and want to give up at some point. It made me cry so hard in Sapporo and I had to hold back crying when I saw it in Nagoya with my boyfriend (as I would have been totally embarrassing, right?).

The beginning of the song when it says:

” To the me of that day,
I am standing here now.
The dream that people laughed at,
I am still continuing to reach for.”

I really feel that it’s so true. Sometimes I felt like my dream of moving to Japan and creating a life here was laughed at sometimes, but I’m still here and continuing to live that dream. The oath in the song about not backing down or surrendering is something that after I heard this song, I vowed to myself that I will give everything I have and never give up, even if I am doubled over in pain and want to give up. I hope that everyone that listens to this song will feel the same way and receive that power, just like it did for me.

I am still actively learning Japanese and I am not a professional translator, so if I translated something wrong or want an explanation on why I translated it the way I did, please comment below! 

Photo Diary – January 2017 | nihonchique

January  was a whirlwind of traveling for pleasure and for work. I went to see Kanjani8, went to Kyoto 2 times,  and made my first trip to Toba City in Mie. I want to keep up this pace for traveling to areas around Kansai and taking more photos, as it has been a form of healing for me and a way to direct my some of my energy into something that I have had an interest in for a while.

One of the most exciting parts of this month was starting my very first goshuinchō, or special stamp book that you can buy from shrines and temples. With this in hand, you can get a stamp at most shrines and temples that you go to, documenting all of the places that you have been to. January 2017 is the beginning of my journey to see more temples and shrines in Japan and travel more.

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Some of my favorite things ❤

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鳥羽はキレイ〜! Toba is beautiful!!

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Pearl Flower Brooch at Mikimoto Pearl Island!

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Another fun day exploring Kyoto!

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Aqueducts at Nanzenji in Kyoto!

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Johnny and Associates Case Study- Being Published For the First Time!

Most of you who have read my blog for a while now know that the reason I moved to Japan in the first place was to get my MBA at Doshisha University in their Global MBA program. In order to graduate from the program, writing a thesis is necessary and the topic that I chose was Johnny and Associates.

This was a teaching case on how Johnnys could go international. My initial piece that I wrote was accepted by the school and I graduated in September of 2014. After that, my advisor for the thesis, Tim Craig, put together book of 10 case studies, that included more,  that had to do with the “Cool Japan” initiative, which includes J-pop, Anime, Fashion, Games and more! The book is called “Cool Japan: Case Studies from Japan’s Cultural and Creative Industries” and the chapter that I co-authored, which came from my thesis, is “Johnny & Associates: Japanese Pop Idol Producer Faces a Changing World”. This covers the history of Johnnys, looking into the Idol industry  in Japan and Johnnys business model and explores if Johnnys is able to go abroad or not.

The book is still not published yet, but you can read the online version here. Please feel free to leave comments below! I would love to start a discussion here regarding it.

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.