[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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[Translation] Nishino Kana – Have a nice day

5分おきに鳴る目覚まし
お願い寝かせてもう少し
まだ眠いしテレビも見たいしお腹すいた (Good morning!)
スマホを片手にコーヒー
気づけばヤバいもう8時
よっしゃ!駅まではダッシュするしかない

My alarm goes off every 5 minutes
Please just let me sleep a bit more
I’m still sleepy, I want to watch TV, and I am hungry (Good Morning!)
Smartphone in one hand while drink my coffee
When I realize the time it’s already 8am
Alrighty!  Looks like I’m gonna have to make a dash to the station.

愛とか恋とかラララララ
気になる彼は彼女がいた
ドンマイ ドンマイ
これも運命

Love and Romance, Lalalala
The guy I am interested in has a girlfriend.
Don’t mind, Don’t mind
This is also fate!

I say, がんばれ私! がんばれ今日も
「行ってきます」「行ってらっしゃい」
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
行け!行け!私! その調子、いい感じ!
がんばれ私! がんばれ今日も
「行ってきます」「行ってらっしゃい」
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
偉いぞ私 負けるな 焦るな くじけるな
そうやって今日だって
一生懸命生きてるから
I say, Have a nice day

I say,  do your best, me! Do your best today
“I’m heading out!” “Have a good day!”
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
Go! Go! Me! Just like that, good vibes!
Do your best, me! Do your best today
“I’m heading out!” “Have a good day!”
You’re doing great, me. Don’t loose, don’t get flustered, don’t get disheartened!
That’s right, today I’m living to the fullest.
I say, Have a nice day

たまにはパーっとしたいのに
まだまだやること山積み
もう眠いしまだ終わんないしお腹すいた (I’m hungry!)
みんな帰っちゃうお先に
気づけば夜も10時過ぎ
よっしゃ!こうなれば本気出すしかない

Sometimes I just want to take a break,
but the work just keeps piling up.
I’m tired, nothings finished, and I’m getting hungry (I’m hungry!)
Everyone’s already left before me,
and before I realized its already after 10pm
Alrighty! I’ve just gotta work harder on this.

夜中のスイーツラララララ
ダイエットはまた明日から
ドンマイ ドンマイ
これはご褒美

Midnight Sweets Lalalala
I’ll start my diet again tomorrow.
Don’t mind! Don’t mind!
This is my reward.

I say, がんばれ私! がんばれ今日も
「お疲れさん」「おやすみなさい」
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
週末まではあと2日 あと2日
がんばれ私! がんばれ今日も
「お疲れさん」「おやすみなさい」
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
凄いぞ私 優しく 可愛く イラつかず
そうやって今日だって
一生懸命生きてるから
I say, Have a nice day

I say,  do your best, me! Do your best today
“Good Work Today” “Goodnight!”
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
There are only 2 more days until the weekend, 2 more days!
Do your best, me! Do your best today
“Good Work Today” “Goodnight!”
That’s amazing!, me. You’re nice, sweet, and patient!
That’s right, today I’m living to the fullest.
I say, Have a nice day

Monday ブルーな溜め息の Tuesday
Wednesday 乗り切ったらやっと Thursday
華の Friday 夜更かしの Saturday
あっという間 眠りたくない Sunday
起きたら Monday

Monday with a blue sigh leads to Tuesday
Wednsday humpday, then its finally Thursday
Beautiful Friday, Late-night Saturday
Just like that I don’t want to go to sleep Sunday
When I wake up it’s Monday

I say, がんばれ私! がんばれ今日も
「行ってきます」「行ってらっしゃい」
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
行け!行け!私! その調子、いい感じ!
がんばれ私! がんばれ今日も
「行ってきます」「行ってらっしゃい」
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
偉いぞ私 負けるな 焦るな くじけるな
そうやって今日だって
一生懸命生きてるから
I say, Have a nice day

I say,  do your best, me! Do your best today
“I’m heading out!” “Have a good day!”
Happy Lucky Sunny Day
Go! Go! Me! Just like that, good vibes!
Do your best, me! Do your best today
“I’m heading out!” “Have a good day!”
You’re doing great, me. Don’t loose, don’t get flustered, don’t get disheartened!
That’s right, today I’m living to the fullest.
I say, Have a nice day


Translators Notes:

This was my translation of “Have a nice day” from her “Just LOVE” Album. Please note that Japanese is my second language and this translation is just my interpretation of the lyrics based on my knowledge of the Japanese and English language. If you have any suggestions to better it, please comment below! Also, I do not own the rights to these song lyrics.

I had such a fun time translating this really light and fun song! I love Nishino Kana’s lyrics and this song may seem childish, but if you look a bit deeper I see a song that is motivating and positive, telling you to work hard but don’t be too hard on yourself sometimes. Self-love I guess?

Seasons of Japan – June 2017 | nihonchique

June 2017. This is the month that marked the last in a chapter of my life. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get past this month in my life, almost like my blog was kind of frozen in time until I figured out what I was doing. I still now dont know what I am doing and what direction I am going in, but in June 2017, I had the huge high of the NEWS NEVERLAND tour in Tokyo dome with a close friend, followed straight after by the disappointment of hearing that the department/ website in my company I was working for for a year and half would be shutting down and my contract would not be continuing because of it. I was devastated and was extremely hurt that a company I had worked so hard for for a year and a half would just cut me so simply, but despite this I took this as a learning opportunity and got searching for jobs as soon as possible. (Spoiler, I found one and started it at the beginning of August 2017!).

On the topic of the NEWS NEVERLAND tour in Tokyo Dome, that was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. “U R not alone” since then has become my anthem and even when the DVD came out in January of this year, I cried again right long with them at “U R not alone” and had no shame. As I said in the 4th picture, the end of the NEVERLAND tour isn’t the end, and we truly are not alone. NEWS has been along with me on this journey for almost 10 years now. I feel like I have grown with them and they have supported me all of these years, almost half of them being in Japan.  Thank you NEWS. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you in Hiroshima for the EPCOTIA tour in April, 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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…)