LOOKING EAST: When Idols Meet Rock Groups, the Feelings Will Be Intense

By Sakurai, Takamasa | The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), April 12, 2014 | Go to article overview

LOOKING EAST: When Idols Meet Rock Groups, the Feelings Will Be Intense


Sakurai, Takamasa, The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)


The Japanese music industry has been subject to a phenomenon dubbed the "Idol Warring Period" for several years. Innumerable young female idol groups exist now, a development not found in other countries.

Some people may think idols are all the same. But honestly, Japanese female idols are a very diverse bunch. There is great variety across many domains, from song genres to the personalities of groups and the style of their live performances.

There are a considerable number of Japanese idol fans outside Japan. When I traveled to other countries and territories as part of my cultural diplomacy projects, I was sometimes surprised at the great numbers of Japanese idol fans.

Ask these overseas Japanese idol fans, "Doesn't your country have something like Japanese idols?" and they will reply in the same way, "No, we don't." Some countries have something with a passing similarity to Japanese idols, but they are completely different from them.

It is similar to the way that people in some other countries use the Japanese word "kawaii" in their own languages. They say the nuance of kawaii might be close to the English term "cute," but it is actually not. When people in other countries use the word kawaii mixed with their own languages, in many cases they use the Japanese term to evaluate something with "Japanese" or "Tokyo" elements.

Overseas fans of Japanese pop idols have expressed their impressions to me:

"Their performances on the stage are overwhelming. However, if you read the idols' blogs, they have lifestyles similar to those of their fans and share with them foods and fashions they like. There are no such idols in my country" or "Japanese idols become stars, but not celebrities." I feel the same way.

One Japanese idol group that is very popular around the world is Morning Musume '14. It was a live show with Morning Musume and other idol groups that first got me addicted to idols. A live concert is a single moment that never occurs again. It is a precious encounter with a golden opportunity. Every live performance of an idol or an idol group is different.

During concerts for idols I really like, whether they are individual idols or idol groups, it is hard to predict when the peak of my feeling will come each time. …

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