It’s Johnny’s World, and we’re just passing through


Johnny’s, the reclusive octogenarian mastermind of generations of Japanese boy bands, clearly owns the giant billboards over Shibuya Crossing, if not the entire world. Faced with so much early teen male beauty, we can only hurry past this wall of complex and poofie helmet hair.

Ground zero for fan girls in Harajuku

I have a sixth sense for fan girl devotion. Approaching a restaurant for a work lunch, I realized that I was at ground zero for Japanese and Japanophile fangirls, the official store of Johnny’s, the mastermind of dozens of boy bands, some now in their 40s, others barely 10 years old.

Thanks to Kathryn from Australia for telling me about its central role in fan girl culture back in December.

What’s amazing is how closely Johnny’s controls images of their male stars. They have somehow kept it off the internet, except for illegal sharing by Chinese fans. And so fan girls come to this store in a back alley of Harajuku to get their fix. Apparently the line up super early in the morning to get a number and time to return later in the day. That’s devotion!

(If you’re waiting for your appointed time, I highly recommend the chic Japanese restaurant upstairs. Lunch is very reasonable and tasty).

UPDATE: I forgot to add this funny detail. The afternoon I was there, unbeknownst to me, there was a “mass panic and crushing incident.” Initial media reports and Twitter accounts said that a rumor of a Hey! Say! Jump! appearance or impromptu concert propelled swarms of teen girls on Takeshita-dori. According to cnnGo, the media quickly changed the story to blame an Akihabara-type otaku women’s band AKB48. The change is again attributed to the enormous power of Johnny as a media shaper.

Sho shows (almost) all on an・an

Arashi’s Sakurai Sho bares (almost) all in anan magazine’s special “male body” issue. Sho is one of the most popular members of the Johnny’s boy band Arashi, a Keio graduate from a wealthy family, and now a night-time newscaster on Zero presenting serious news, including the current state and history of Japan-US relations. The husband thinks Sho aspires to become Prime Minister one day, which would be a great triumph for the boy band creator Johnny.

anan is a young Japanese woman’s version of Cosmo. The magazine focuses on sexuality, appearance, polls, and men, men, men. This must be one of their sluttiest issues ever. There are taxonomies of the 8 male body types portrayed by comics and tarentos (all variations of skinny and boyish, except the normal sized “Big Boy” and the one fatty), photos of athletes and professional wrestlers, and a pictorial about how you might imagine young men at work without their clothes.

Dear readers, do you think Sho showing his skin will help or hinder his political aspirations? And, before I get any complaints, despite the fact that Sho is made up, waxed, and air-brushed to look barely legal (or younger), he is in fact 27 years old. I think he looks a bit like a Ken doll, plastic and a bit sexless.

What do you say? Should I post more images from this pictorial?

People watching at Tokyo Dome

Tokyo Dome, Katun Fans

On a weekday afternoon, Tokyo Dome was alive with two groups of contiguous but not intersecting fans. On the upper level were hundreds of girls who had arrived hours early to watch a Johnny’s boy band called Katun. On the lower deck, hundreds of ojiisan (old guys) stand transfixed watching horse races on video screens and consulting their newspapers for betting stats.

Ojiisan horse betting, Tokyo Dome

I love the fan’s fan. Both groups have a similar intensity of purpose, no?

Katun fan's fan, Tokyo Dome

And the contrast between the girls’ “kawaii” fashions and the older gents’ uniforms of caps, muted colored slacks and jackets. There seems to be a group for everyone in Tokyo.

Ojiisan, horse race betting, Tokyo Dome