The Path to Budokan, and What Lies Ahead for Idols From There

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The Path to Budokan, and What Lies Ahead for Idols From There

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What Budokan means to idols

Azusa Sekine from Up Up Girls (Kari) spoke the word “Budokan” at their solo concert at ZEPP TOKYO on November 6th(Live Report Here). Although tickets didn’t sell out, there are very few idols capable of selling out the 2,700-person venue for a two-performance day event. Even though they put on a wonderful show and have made Budokan their next big goal, one can’t help but wonder if they’ll actually be able to achieve it.


Just looking at the numbers alone, Budokan seems like a particularly steep climb. It’s a huge event hall, which boasts a seating capacity of 10,000 people. By simple calculation alone, it’s not hard to see why it might be difficult for the group to attract a large enough audience to put on a successfully hold a concert there. Nevertheless, considering the current scale of their activity, part of me believes it’s possible that they could fill the venue. I can’t argue that part of my opinion stems from personal bias, but there is also evidence in support of it. This formula not only goes for Up Up Girls (Kari), but can be universally applied to all idols.

The shift in regular live house venues

The larger idols become, the larger the venues they perform at become. But why do so many idols speak of Budokan as their highest peak? For idols that accomplish their goal of performing at Budokan, it’s often a tear-shedding and emotional affair. Idols consider Budokan to be a special place. For idols that have made it to Budokan, their paths are almost always the same, giving it a much deeper meaning. So using real idols as an example, I would like to describe the formula behind their success.

I’ve compiled a list of major solo concert venues each idol has performed in before making their way to Budokan.




LIQUIDROOMZEPP TOKYOHibiya Yagai Dai OngakudouBudokan

・Up Up Girls (Kari)

Akasaka BLITZHibiya Yagai Dai OngakudouZEPP TOKYO




LIQUIDROOMAkasaka BLITZHibiya Yagai Dai Ongakudou

Contributor Wanted!!

Groups like BABYMETAL and have already successfully made it to Budokan, and there are many more idol groups who are aiming to do the same. While some may already be aware, it is apparent that each idol climbs up to the next step through the same venues. According to this formula, Up Up Girls (Kari) will likely need to tackle the following before being able to hold a performance at Budokan. Tracing the following path to Budokan, we describe our own personal impressions of each venue.

LIQUIDROOM / Capacity: 900 people
This is a live house and café located in Daikanyama. It hosts late-night private events as well as a variety of events from multiple genres. When the first floor, or the main floor has been sufficiently secured, you could say the scale of this live house serves as the gateway to Budokan.

Akasaka BLITZ / Capacity: 1,300 people
Although people tend to stay away from Akasaka itself, this live house gets frequent use. Successfully holding a performance here, they will generate considerable buzz among idol fans.

ZEPP Tokyo/Diver City Tokyo / Capacity: 2,500-2,700 people
Both venues are bigger live houses located in Odaiba. Because their names are so similar, they can be very easy to mix-up. Diver City is close to the large Gundam statue, while Tokyo is near the Ferris wheel. There aren’t many groups that make it to this point. If they are able to perform at this scale of venue, it’s not an exaggeration to say that it may only be a matter of time before they make it to Budokan.

Hibiya Yagai Dai Ongaku Dou / Capacity: 3,200 people
Located inside Yoyogi Park, the Hibiya Outdoor Large Music Hall, nicknamed Yaon, is difficult to reach. Finding the shortest route from the subway station nearby can be a challenge, however watching an outdoor concert here is downright exhilarating, and personally this venue is my favorite.

Nippon Budokan / Capacity: 20,000 people
Although its capacity is 20,000 people, because of its stage and set-up, it can only accommodate around 10,000. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that almost every idol has dreamed of standing on this venue’s stage at least once. It is often referred to as the Holy Land of Rock, and is considered to be a venue that is representative of Japan.


The Path to Budokan, and What Lies Ahead for Idols From There

Performing at Budokan is an idol’s dream come true, and for some it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it’s the most unforgettable moment of their life. While generally considered to be a goal of the idols themselves, seeing them come this far is also a happy moment for fans that have supported them along the way. In other words, it’s an honor for both idols and their fans when to see them stand on Budokan’s stage. However at the heart of things, Budokan shouldn’t be considered the real goal of most idols. Rather, it only serves as a passing point for most, and from there the real struggle begins.

Up until Budokan idols must win over idol fans, but from there it becomes necessary to win over regular people who aren’t idol fans. Until this point idols may have used opportunities for physical contact, such as handshake events, but at their current scale this becomes much harder. They may also have to change the style of their music to be more easily received by mainstream audiences. However in doing so, this often means losing some of the fans they had previously. Phrase “Budokan banare” (“Budokan separation”), which you’ll often hear, represents this sentiment.

It can be difficult to please both new and old fans, but for idols that continue to work hard after they move on to general audiences after Budokan, they have the opportunity to bask in the glory of becoming national idols. As far as name recognition is concerned, perhaps only the AKB groups and Momoiro Clover Z have reached this level to date.

With AKB48 celebrating their 10th anniversary, a considerable amount of time has passed since the rush of the Idol War era. Word on the street says that the Idol War era has already come to a close. Certainly it seems to have calmed down compared to when its momentum had peaked, but is it really over? Azusa Sekine tearfully declared that the end of the Idol War era is still not in sight, and Yui Yokoyama was newly appointed as the general director of AKB48. In my opinion, it only seems like the dawn of a new era, and in this new era, fans of a certain idol group like myself can only hope that they will shine in this new era as national idols.

Contributor Wanted!!

Translated by Jamie.K

Related Links:
Up Up Girls (Kari) Ofiicial:
BABYMETAL Official: Official:
Negicco Official:
Yurumerumo! Official:

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Growing up in Akihabara culture, ykmk became an otaku covering idol, anime, and pop music.

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