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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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.

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

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

1. Join the fan club

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

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

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

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

2. Network with other fans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEWS Live Tour 2015 “WHITE” Memories – Part 1

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

Nagoya – March 21st ~March 22nd, 2015

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

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

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

(to be continued…)

Memories of Tegomass 4th Live “Tegomass no Seishun”

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

Osaka

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

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

Yokohama

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

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

Fukuoka

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

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

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

Nagoya

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny’s Talk – Concert Rules

The first time I went to a Johnny’s concert back in 2009, I had no idea about concert manners. I didn’t understand why people held these things with messages or people’s faces on them (later finding out they were called “Uchiwas”) and waved glow sticks in unison (called penlights) or why there were no photos allowed inside the venue. Over the years, I learned the concert manners and now understand why these things, and many others, happen. In this post, I will discuss some major concert rules and why they are there.

No Photography or Video allowed During the Concert or in the Venue.

The number one thing you will notice when you get in line for a Johnny’s concert is that they search your bag. During this check they ask you if you have a camera, the reason being you are not allowed to take pictures or videos during concerts. This is one of the biggest rules that might be a huge contrast to your own home country. In America, and many other countries, you are allowed to take video and pictures during a concert or inside the venue. In Japan for the most part you can’t, even for concerts outside Johnny’s. This doesn’t mean as a visitor to Japan and as a foreigner that this rule doesn’t apply to you though.

The reason for no pictures or videos during the concert or inside the venue is because they don’t want anything shared on social media or to be shared without their consent. This may seem constraining, but that is how the Japanese music industry works. In return, they usually release a DVD and official pictures. Another reason is etiquette, holding a camera up in the air the whole concert may mean blocking other people’s view around you. In some venues, cameras are also seen as a health and safety hazard.

Uchiwa Etiquette

Uchiwas are those things that fans hold with the member’s faces on it or a message written on it. In a concert in America, you are allowed to make signs or something to hold during a concert, but since they are too big, Japan uses Uchiwas to do the same thing. Now, these Uchiwas are not allowed to be held over your face or be more than the typical Uchiwa size. If you do not know the size of an uchiwa and want to make one, click here for the proper dimensions.

The reason that these rules are in place is because if you raise the Uchiwa over your head, it blocks the view of the person behind you and ruins the concert experience for them. This also goes for the amount of Uchiwas you hold at the same time. You are only allowed to hold 2 Uchiwas at a time in your hands, as it will block the person to the side and behind you from seeing properly.

Stay in your Assigned Seat

As a health and safety standard, as well as to keep things orderly and to protect the safety of the talents, stay in your assigned seat. Even if you are on the end of a row, don’t step out into the aisle. Also, don’t run to catch any streamers that are falling further away from your seat.

Listen to the Venue Staff

The staff members are in the venue for a reason, to help direct the audience and make sure everything is in order. You will see the staff members everywhere, and they will also be directing you to where to go and what to do. When you are in and around the venue, follow their instructions. They are the people holding the signs that tell you to take no pictures in the venue and also direct you if you need help. If they approach you about something, please be respectful and do what they say. The staff do not bother you if you aren’t doing something out of line. I am not perfect about this, and I have snapped at a staff member before, but also know that they are just doing their job.

I hope you guys have enjoyed this post and give it a like if you found it helpful! Please let me know in the comments below what you think and if you have any other things to add from your experience.