“Even the times when we can’t meet you
We’re thinking of you all the time
No matter how far apart we may be
We’ll never forget about you” – Tadaima/Arashi
Today is the start of Arashi’s Japonism Show in Arena Tour.
Today may also change the way the fandom does things with the facial recognition system that is being introduced for the first time in an Arashi concert.
This tour is an extension of the Japonism Dome Tour last year, but they call it a “show” and marks their return to arena after nine years since Time – Kotoba no Chikara. Time was the tour where a friend and I baked under the sun while lining up for goods at Yokohama Arena; we didn’t manage to get tickets to the concert and it was quite a culture shock to find fangirls lined up outside the train station on the way to the arena holding looking-for-ticket signs. Things haven’t changed today.
Arena venues are obviously smaller than dome ones, with capacity ranging from 5,000-18,000, still a smaller number compared to domes that can accommodate up to 50,000.
The arena tour also adapts a performance schedule much similar to when Arashi was still starting out, with up to two shows a day.
- Sundome Fukui (capacity: 10,000)
- Hiroshima Green Arena (capacity: 8,000)
- Shizuoka Ecopa Arena (capacity: 10,000)
- Kagoshima Arena (capacity: 5,700)
- Nagano M-Wave (capacity: 18,000)
- Yokohama Arena (capacity: 17,000)
Nino said that fans go to domes most of the time to watch them but this time, they have decided to go to their fans.
It’s kind of symbolic and perhaps the song, Tadaima, that has been dubbed as the arena tour song, expresses what they want to say.
I can already imagine the fans singing “okaeri” at arena during this song. It would really be a symbolic and poignant moment.
“There’s a part of our hearts that we had to leave behind
Until we’d gotten big enough to come back here
We can’t put it into words well
But sorry for making you wait so long”
“Until we’d gotten big enough to come back here…” Those words made me teary because they speak volumes of the journey they have made so far, from the time of their debut in 1999, to the time they embarked on their dome tour for the first time also in 2007 (Kyocera Dome in Osaka and Tokyo Dome) and to where they are now.
As Aiba said in the NHK documentary filmed in Hawaii to mark their 15th year in 2014, “it is all right if we take a detour from now onwards.”
Perhaps it’s also because they can afford to take a step back now after establishing themselves not only as a successful J-pop group but also as bankable individual artistes. Despite their fame and success though, they haven’t forgotten their humble beginnings, the rough journey and their roots. Japonism, after all, is their work where they return to their roots — both culturally and their DNA as Johnnys.
Arashi has always taken things at their own pace and their own terms, even during their so-called dark years. So it’s no surprise that instead of embarking on what many might consider as big, forward steps (like another Asian tour as what many fans have been begging for), they instead choose to literally take a step back and perform in smaller venues again. They did say previously that they want to go to those places in Japan that they haven’t performed in yet, regardless of venue size. So imagine if you’re one of the audience in Kagoshima with only 5,700 of you. That’s the closest one could get to them unless you’re one of the privileged few who’d win the lottery to be part of the audience in their variety shows.
I’ve been an Arashi fan for over a decade now and counting, but each day that I follow them always feels like a first day as a fan. There’s always something new to discover about them. (If only Johnny’s were more friendly to fans outside Japan…)
Regardless, they’ve always been grateful for all the support they have been getting all these years. But to me, it is the other way around. They have done so much and given so much so their fans will be proud.
Arashi, thank YOU for everything.
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