Japanese Idols Reach New Level of Danger Due to Fans’ Behavior | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Japanese Idols Reach New Level of Danger Due to Fans’ Behavior

An emergency round-table discussion: With the death of Mr. Janney, a time of great change has come. From dangerous fans who cause stalking incidents, to predictions for the next generation of groups, to the current state of the exiting talents. ......

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New Year’s Eve 2020. Fans gathered to catch a glimpse of Johnny’s at Kawasaki Daishi for Hatsumode after the countdown live performance.Every summer, idol live performances and stages are held every day. The idol market has been changing in recent years with the rise of K-pop idols, but Johnny’s continues to produce successful performers. Since its establishment in 1962, the agency has produced a string of male idols, but with the passing of the charismatic Johnny Kitagawa (87 years old), the long-established agency is now facing a major turning point.At the same time, on the other hand, its unique way of being a fan has recently been attracting attention. In this issue, we gathered four fan girls and asked them to speak frankly about their experiences.


Okkake fans vs. idols

On May 18, a high school girl (17) from Yokohama was arrested on suspicion of violating the Stalking Control Law and the Violent Activities Law. The victim is Taiko Sasaki (20), a member of Johnny’s Jr. group “7 MEN Samurai”. The high school girl told the police that she had fallen in love at first sight with him when they passed by each other on a street near Shibuya station last April. The three girls talk about the history of the fanbase JaniOta and idols.


Mei: “There are different types of chasing, and there are oriki (1) and yarakashi (2)” (with explanation of numbered terms below).

Yuka: “Some of the Oriki are good friends with the driver of the office car (3), and I heard that he even tells them that there is a reporter from a weekly magazine.”

Aya: “There was once a time when Jin Akanishi’s (38) yarakashi stole a utility bill payment slip from Akanishi’s mailbox and paid for the bills without permission. It was bizarre that he did not only steal it but also paid for it.”

Mei: “From the ’90s to the ’00s, I heard that Nakai (Masahiro) (49) came home one time and found that the furniture had been moved to a different position. He used the name “Tamura” to describe the person who was breaking into his house, but it was terrifying to hear that someone in his own group (4) had been subjected to such a situation.”

The Rise of the “Heisei Maiden Army,” the Most Terrifying Group

Among these, Hey! Say! JUMP’s yarakashi has become legendary among otakus because of its viciousness.

Aya: “After all, the “Heisei Maiden Army” are the most dreadful. They are the most feared of all.”

Mei: “I heard that the origin of this group is that radical fans who bought up seats on the planes in which Hey! Say! JUMP members boarded and sat near the members and hit it off with each other. As they made friends, they escalated further, stealing members’ personal belongings, cutting other fans’ hair, and so on.”

Yuka: “I heard that Erika Yamada, a member of the group, was camping out in front of Ryosuke Yamada’s (29) parents’ house.”

Aya: “The leader of the group, Mare Nakajima, is particularly absurd. When Yuto Nakajima (28) turned her to the police in a fit of anger over her stalking, he told her, ‘I want to see your parents’ faces.’ She mistook this for a marriage proposal and sent a joyful e-mail to her friends.

The group’s movements then became most active in 2009. The police searched for the members, but most of them were not arrested.

Yuka: “The girls in the corps were around high school to college age at the time. Lately, I haven’t heard any more rumors, and maybe they have already stopped.”

However, in 2019, Nakajima’s stalker was arrested.

November 2018. Yuto Nakajima of “Hey! Say! JUMP” gets into a car after leaving the building of an affiliated company. He is the ace of the group. 

The difference between Johnny and Tacky.

On July 9, 2019, Mr. Johnny Kitagawa passed away at the hospital where he was admitted. It had been 60 years since Mr. Johnny, who worked at the American Embassy after the war, gathered elementary and junior high school students to form a grass baseball team. How will his death affect idols in the future?


Yuka: “After Mr. Johnny’s death, the biggest change is the treatment of the Jr. 6 kids.”

Aya: “After Mr. Johnny passed away, Hideaki Takizawa (40) became the president of “Johnny’s Island” (7), and the training of Jr. was left entirely to Tackey.

Shino: “During Mr. Johnny’s time, there were kids like Juri Tanaka (27) and Fuma Kikuchi (27), but Takizawa wanted Jr. to be well-behaved and to be disciplined. He punishes them in a firm manner.”

Yuka: “If private pictures were leaked, they would be suspended. I think it’s also because it’s getting harder to get kids with yankee characters to pass the entrance exam. If you look at Tackey’s group of his favorite kids, “IMPACTors”, you can see what the current sales line is.”


Aya: “Mr. Johnny was fine with having a variety of kids, but I think Tackey has a clear ideal image of Jr. I think this is only possible with his stoicism. But Takizawa has no experience working with groups of more than three, so I don’t think he can handle as much.”

July 12, 2019. Takizawa sits in the passenger seat of the car holding up Johnny’s portrait. On that day, 150 people gathered in one place.

The activities of “Snow Man”

Shino: “Snow Man (8), which actually sold well with Takizawa’s attention, has a way of attracting people as a group with one dominant center and the rest of the members. Takizawa’s approach is in line with that of K-pop, which is very popular.”

Aya: “Snow Man is a group that Tackey has nurtured since they were Jr. members, and he handed over the “Takizawa Kabuki” to them. They are very attentive and have been trained to be courteous to their seniors.”

Yuuka: “SixTONES made their debut at the same time, so it was in the form of a competition between Johnny and Tackey’s way of doing things.”

Shino: “Snow Man is the K-POP way, and SixTONES is the J-POP way that Johnny likes. So far, Snow Man is selling better.”

Aya: “However, I feel that since the death of Mr. Johnny, there are no more surprise debuts. In the past, groups debuted right after they joined, but that was only possible because of Johnny’s aesthetic sense. When there is no one left who can make such decisions, we have no choice but to let them debut in order of age.”

Yuka: “They became stricter on my personal life, but now I can debut if I work hard and earnestly. I don’t know which is better.”

”Snow Man” attended the stage greeting for the blockbuster hit “Osomatsu-san”, where they starred in, on April 2 Marriage Rush in “Arashi”

On September 28, 2021, Masaki Aiba (39) and Sho Sakurai (40), both members of “Arashi”, announced their marriage. Sakurai married a classmate from his college days, and Aiba married a woman he had been dating for 10 years. “Arashi” is currently on hiatus. What are their future plans? And where will the “Arashi-loss” janitors go?

Shino: “What surprised me about their marriage is that Aiba’s girlfriend has been with him for 10 years without being noticed.”

Mei: “After the suspension, more and more members got married. The only thing is, Ohno Satoshi (41) should have suspended his activities in the first place because he wanted to lead a normal life. What on earth is he doing? In two years’ time, the 25th anniversary of the formation of the group will come, and I think many fans are expecting a revival concert. From now on, I wonder if Arashi members will turn to nurturing younger members like Tackey and Kanjani.”

Shino: “For a long time, Arashi has often invited junior members to their shows. Both in “VS Arashi” and “Arashi no Wakuwaku Gakkou” (Arashi’s Exciting School) (11).”

Yuka: “There are also a lot of times when they work with Arashi (12).”

Sakurai has the most FRIDAY sightings among the five. In September 2014, he was seen at a theater in Shibuya without being seen.
Around 11pm in May 2017. He enjoyed yakiniku with Yutaka Yokoyama and Junta Nakama, his junior, at Azabu Juban, and left the restaurant looking happy. 

The next “Arashi” will be “King & Prince”.

Mei: “Among them, Alasic (13) often becomes Tiara (14). In terms of fan club members, King & Prince is now second only to Arashi.”


Shino: “When King & Prince debuted, Sho Hirano (25), the center of the group, was in the drama “Hana-no-chi-hare” (TBS). Moreover, he played the role of a sergeant who admires Domyoji, who was played by Jun Matsumoto in “Boys Over Flowers”. The theme song is also “Cinderella Girl” by King & Prince. Since he has done exactly the same thing as “Arashi” in the past, you will get the image of his successor.”

Yuka: “Recently, Jun Matsumoto’s role as a producer has been getting more and more recognition, but everyone loves Matsumoto as Domyoji. People are looking for someone similar.”


Mei: “Jun Matsumoto was a surprise guest in “Hana-no-chi-hare” and King & Prince was often seen in Arashi’s shows and events during that period.”

Shino: “Also, like Arashi, King & Prince’s songs are about a bright future or a wonderful love story, things that anyone would universally like to hear. The high key makes it easy to sing at karaoke. There are the same number of people in the group of five, so maybe they are trying to make it easier for the original fans to feel sympathy.”

Yuka: “Recently, there has been an increase in the number of people who are cross-channeling between King & Prince and “Naniwa Danshi,” which debuted last year. If King & Prince is Arashi’s son, Naniwa Danshi is their grandson. Even with such a big loss, there are successor groups, so once you become a fan, it’s hard to stop (laughs).

“Tens of thousands of people apply for the auditions at Johnny’s every year. Of those, only a few are successful. Currently, there are about 200 Jr. members, but only a handful of them make their CD debut in this tough world. Those who have broken their dreams and left the office have gone on to various careers. Many of the most successful celebrities on TV are actually former Johnny’s Jr. How do these girls view them?”

Mei: “Even if they say they quit and become Jr. (15), there are those who stay in the entertainment industry, those who change jobs, and those who go behind the scenes.”

Shino: “Some get arrested (16) and some put pearls in their manhood (17).”

Aya: “Generally, when a new group debuts, they quit. When Sato Shori (25) debuted as “Sexy Zone” at the age of 15, less than a year after joining the group, he quit. When Shimofuri Myojo became the youngest winner at M-1, a lot of comedians quit. It may be similar to the phenomenon of a string of people quitting as comedians when Akira Shimobori became the youngest winner of the M-1.”

Mei: “People like Kemio (26) are active on the stage after quitting.”

Shino: “Recently, there was a lot of controversy over the resignation of a member of Johnny’s WEST in Kansai who left the group after its debut.”

Aya: “There’s Kaneuchi Toma who published his autobiography right after he announced that he would give up his title of Johnny’s and work hard as a hairdresser, or Hayashi Matori who quit Jr. and stayed in the office as a choreographer.”

Mei: “He was called ‘yakitori’ (grilled chicken) and ‘barbecue’ because he’s always “on fire”.”

Shino “In the past, it was common for Jr. members to have graduated from high school or junior high school, so after quitting, they often started their own idol groups like Johnny’s grasshoppers, and it was often disastrous. Nowadays, people try to use the title of Jr. to get buzz on social networking sites or try to become YouTubers. But kids these days are also studying hard.”

Aya: “I have a friend who is in the same university circle as my classmate who left high school after graduation (laughs). When I went to a job offering ceremony, I found out that my former classmate had joined the company as a member of the same group.”

Mei: “I hope Jr. members can go back to being ordinary people, but it may be more difficult for debutants after they leave the group.”

Shino: “Shibutani Subaru (40), Nishikido Ryo (37), and Tegoshi Yuya (34) are entertainers for life even after leaving the group. Even the fans cannot know whether they can support them or not until they leave the group.”

Aya: “If I had to say so, I would say that one of the most important things are: if you are going to use the title of “Johnny’s,” be honest, don’t continue to be an entertainer just to make a little money, and don’t touch the fans after you leave the group.”

The big sign that says “Johnny’s” will always weigh heavily on both the talent and the fans.

July 2020, Yuya Tegoshi volunteers to deliver boxed lunches. After the delivery, he returned to the office with a satisfied look on his face.
October 2017. Shingo Murakami and You Yokoyama, who were also members of Kanjani Eight, were in Shibuya, hanging out together.Mei (22)

She works at a video production company. She loves all Johnny’s, but she especially likes Junta Nakama of Johnny’s West.

Yuka (23)

Real estate sales. She loves “Arashi” and “King & Prince”, and has to attend at least 3 shows in one tour to feel satisfied.

Shino (24)

Hair stylist. She likes Johnny’s Jr. in general and posts illustrations of her favorite idols on her otaku Twitter account.

Aya (21)

Works at a bank. She is a fan of Snow Man. During live shows, she takes detailed notes on the songs performed, costumes, and comments by the members.

Glossary of janitorial terms

(1) Abbreviation for someone who puts a lot of effort (riki) for their idols. They are mainly waiting to catch a glimpse of their idols at the end of a live radio broadcast or stage performance. They are organized and long-time fans are in charge of the place.

(2) “Chasing fans” refers to those who wait for idols to leave the venue and follow the car in which the idol member rides to try to locate his/her home or exchange contact information. They are called “yarakashi” because they do not follow the rules. They often ride in light cars or motor scooters and are highly mobile.

(3) A car prepared by the office to transport idols to and from the office.

(4) The idol whom they support the most. In principle, there can be more than one “guesser,” but only one “jibun” can be a “jibun”. In recent years, this term has been spreading to the host industry as well.

5) Those who have a crush on a member of “Hey! Say! JUMP”, they call themselves “virgins” until they are embraced by a member of “Hey! Say! JUMP” All members of the group take the surname of their favorite idol plus a pseudonym. There are about 10 members in the group. Some of them transfer to the same school as their favorite member, and some of them repeatedly stay in the same grade to be in the same class, so the members’ ages are unknown.

(6) Talent who has not made a CD debut. In contrast, the talents who have made their CD debut are called “debutantes”; during Jr. who reached the age of 22 in January 2009, a system was announced whereby they had to discuss their subsequent contract with the office by the following March 31, and if no agreement was reached, their activities would be terminated.

(7) Abbreviated name for “Johnny’s Island,” a subsidiary of Johnny’s Office. It mainly produces Johnny’s Jr. Takizawa launched the company in January 2007 when he retired as an idol. The annual Johnny’s stage production of the same name, “JOHNNY’S ISLAND” is also called “Jannii”.

(8) Abbreviated name for the nine-member group “Snow Man”. It is often called “Snost” together with “Sto”, the abbreviation of “SixTONES”, which made its debut at the same time. (ix) The group was founded in 2006 with the name “Takiya”

(9) A traditional Johnny’s stage that began in 2006 under the name “Takizawa Enbujo”. Since 2010, the venue has been moved from the Shinbashi Enbujo to the Nissay Theatre, where it has been performed as “Takizawa Kabuki”. The lead actor is Hideaki Takizawa. In 2007, “Snow Man,” who has appeared as a semi-main cast member since 2012, replaced Takizawa as the lead actor. The famous performance is “Gastric Drumming,” in which the performers strip naked and beat Japanese drums for more than 10 minutes in the position of stomach muscles.

(10) Abbreviated name for “Sexy Zone. 

(11) A charity event held in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. About 250,000 people attend the event every year. “Arashi” acts as a teacher and conducts experiments and games using the venue as a classroom. Since 2003, they have started inviting junior members of the group as assistants. The event is recognized among fans as an event with a high ticket-winning ratio, and is now scheduled to be handed over to a junior group.

(12) A fan who supports more than one group.

(13) A generic term for fans of Arashi.

(14) A generic term for fans of King & Prince.

(15) Abbreviation for Jr. who left the office. It is an otaku term containing negative nuance, and the person himself often calls himself “ex-Jr”.

(16) Former “KAT-TUN” member Sei Tanaka (36)

(17) Ibid.

From “FRIDAY,” June 24 and July 1, 2022 issue.

  • PHOTO Takao Kawakami, Takero Yuzuku, Kojiro Yamada, Hiroyuki Komatsu

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