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Happiness According to Idol Fans Part 3 : Idol Birthday Festivals and Fan Birthday Festivals

アイドルの生誕祭、オタクの生誕祭
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Happiness According to Idol Fans Part 3 : Idol Birthday Festivals and Fan Birthday Festivals

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Fall is setting upon Japan, and idol fans are busy as usual setting aside for their favorite idols. How have you all been doing?

For me, the season began on October 2, where I spent around eight hours at Akihabara’s Dear Stage. Or rather, worries about whether I’d be able to get in or not, I lined up more than hour before doors opened, so you could say I spent about half of the day doing that. But for what reason, you may ask? It was for Mimi Chikage’s “Mimi-chan’s Birthday Party Event”.

mimi-chikage-seitansai-main

The image is a screen shot of official website

The “Birthday Festivals” that start up approaching idols’ birthdays are one-time, annual big events. In order to attend Mimi Chikage’s, I went through great pains to cancel my plans to attend Idol Renaissance and Yufu Terashima’s two-artist event, so that should give you at least a small inkling of how important this birthday event was.

At the event, I bought the three-card bromide (photo) set, limited t-shirt, and two-short cheki (polaroid) set they had, plus food and drinks inside. For each 1,000 yen you spend there you earn a one point stamp, and because I’d collected 12 points in no time, I received a vocal and video CD-ROM of her. I could easily tell you how much I spent, but it’s probably better that I don’t…

So, with that, I first had a bite to eat on the second floor before moving to the live house located on the first floor. There I saw just how many Mimi Chikage fans were there, getting ready for the event to start.

At idol birthday festivals, it’s not only about the staff members running the event and lining up the items for sale, but it’s also common for fans to bring presents. There were standing flowers, messages written from fans, and a special cake. More prep is involved with festivals like these than just casual birthday events, almost like there’s a ceremonial aspect to it.

Mimi Chikage adores and respects Seiko Oomori, and I, with some help from friends, was able to help prepare a personal message from her. I’m not a newcomer to Mimi’s concerts and events, so I couldn’t just sit back and relax like one. Making my way down to the first floor, I began discussing with Mimi’s TO about when would be the best time to present the message from Seiko. You see, these birthday festivals are something that all of the fans work to put on together. So if I were to just butt in whenever, it would ruin the atmosphere.

The TO (“T”op “O”taku, the leader otaku of an idol group or a member) took my concerns into consideration, and so it was decided that the best time to give her personal message from Seiko would be during the two-shot cheki (polaroid) time (with me being called first), where I witnessed Mimi’s tears at the gesture. She looked down at my hands and cried, “I can’t believe it!” with teary eyes, and the shutter went off, capturing the on the polaroid I received, her eyes closed in it.

On this day she performed many covers of Seiko Oomori’s songs, but her rendition of “Nostalgic J-pop” was especially wonderful, and I urge you to give it a listen whenever you visit.

Then, two days later, it was the birthday of another fan, and friend of mine, who had also attended Mimi’s birthday festival. We put on our own birthday festival for him, complete with a curtain call at the venue. But why celebrate a fan’s birthday in such a big way with another festival? Moreover, since so many people came to celebrate, we had our own polaroid picture system with him in place. Well, the final surprise was what everyone was waiting for, where Mimi herself put on a special performance, which was the surprise we had all been waiting for.

From a critical standpoint, idol fans are a rather ironic bunch. Not only do we pull out all the stops when celebrating the birthdays of our favorite idols, but perhaps also to celebrate the birthdays of those really ridiculously insane fans in our group, too. You could say it’s just another unique point of Japanese culture.

Translated by Jamie Koide

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Author
munekata
munekata

Born in 1972, Akimasa Munekata is a music critic who has written for MUSIC MAGAZINE and Record Collectors for rock in Japan after HAPPY END, pop, the flow of western rock and pop after Beach Boys, world music, and folk music. Recently, he has hopped on the bandwagon and begun writing about idols as well.

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