Not Just a Trend, but Culture: The Idea That “Idols = Live Performances” Planted and Keep Continuing Since the 90s

| Idol | Posted
Not Just a Trend, but Culture: The Idea That “Idols = Live Performances” Planted and Keep Continuing Since the 90s

Sponsored Links

Live houses in Tokyo, centered in Shibuya and Akihabara, as well as Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, hold daily idol battle events. Naturally on the weekends, but also on weekdays, too, you can pretty much meet idols anytime you want.

But even though there are everyday concerts going on, where can you get information like where the venue is, when the concert starts, or what time each group is playing? Most likely idol official blogs and Twitter, right? Twitter has especially been a game-changing tool for the idol scene. Information is often tweeted like, “We’ll be going on later than planned,” or, “There’s been a time change for when tour goods go on sale,” and schedules can be confirmed in real time.

Like for idol battle concerts decided just three days beforehand, or deciding on the performer schedule the day before, even web media can’t keep up and get the information published in time. So idols leave it to their official Twitter or other SNS to get the information out.

But I think it’s because the current idol scene is built like it is. Since individual idols themselves have the means for getting their information out there, many fans turn up to see them.

Which begs the question, “What would happen if there wasn’t Twitter or other SNS?”

You’d get what was called “the idol winter age” of the 90s.

Instead of music or idol programs, idols were main guests on variety programs or were TV idols. During this time, the number of idol magazines had also decreased, and there were more and more idols not getting any media exposure. Still, there were some idols that found a way around “live” activity and make names for themselves. And despite all of this, there were still those who chose the idol path, and were able to break into the variety industry. This went against the “idol = variety” trend at the time, and some idols also rode the band boom that was popular. Little by little idols started being showing up at live houses and performing lives.


Those idols included Rumi Shishido (who is currently still active), Junko Kawada, and let’s see… Oh! Nanatsuboshi! Members of the Otomejuku group, CoCo, even appeared as main soloists at live houses. Or throwing a more familiar name out there, is an idol group created with the main goal of performing around live houses. That group was Tokyo Performance Doll.

They held regular performances at the Harajuku RUIDO venue located on Takeshita Street, and their seriousness when it came to performing is close to that of idols nowadays. After their shows they engaged in goods sales and fan meets, and it’s been said that this is where today’s format was originally created.

The 90s is when the idea that “idols = concerts” was first planted.

But then why did it fail to grow? One reason is because there weren’t many ways of getting information out there, and mostly depended on word of mouth. Even if it did happen to spread, it mostly remained within limited communities. It was comparable light not being able to break the surface, as in, if you didn’t first put yourself out there, the information just wasn’t obtainable.

But slowly it started being absorbed by the soil, and at last the soil became more fertile. This is where the current idol scene grew. It’s my belief that the biggest contributing factor of it spreading is through SNS giant Twitter. Just like in the 90s, there are idols that mainly perform “live”, even if they don’t perform in the media spotlight. However, by using SNS as a tool, each idol can plant their seeds into fertile land. Their buds bloom, and surely take root.

Recently I often hear the question, “When is the idol trend going to end?” But I have to wonder if it can even be called something as transient as a mere trend to begin with. The fact is, it’s been growing slowly for over 20 years, and has finally taken root. Of course, it will still take more time for it to become rooted as part of Japanese culture, but it is certainly headed that way.


Harajuku Ekimae Stage : Harajuku Parties

The concerts that Tokyo Performance Doll once gave at Harajuku RUIDO have now moved to Harajuku RUIDO 4K, and even now idol battles are still being held there. And now “Harajuku Ekimae Stage” and “Harajuku Ekimae Parties” are being performed in Harajuku.



…It definitely seems to be something that will keep continuing on.

* Featured song: “Tokyo Romance” / Tokyo Performance Doll

Related links
Harajuku Ekimae Stage :
Shinjuku RUIDO K4 official site :

Translated by Jamie Koide

Sponsored Links

Related Artists : Tokyo Performance Doll
Toshiro Arai

A producer of website "TOKYO IDOL NET", which "photography" and "idol" is its concept. He also writes for Tokyo Idol Project, and so on.

comments powered by Disqus