UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Stand on the Stage of Dreams For 1st Nippon Budokan Live!

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UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Stand on the Stage of Dreams For 1st Nippon Budokan Live!

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UPUPGIRLS (KARI) made history as the first independent idol group to hold a solo concert at the legendary Nippon Budokan titled “UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Nippon Budokan Cho-Kessen vol.1” on November 8, 2016.


A giant “kari” (仮) symbol adorned the massive stage which was flanked on both sides by the tapestries from their Zepp tour. The 1st floor balcony was a hot point of attention as the guest seating area was full of former Hello! Pro Eggs who had performed with UPUPGIRLS (KARI) as well as members of ANGERME, Ongaku Gatas, Ciao Bella Cinquetti, LoVendoЯ, and Morning Musume.’16.

After a blazing 6-song medley by T-Palette labelmates Idol Renaissance got the audience warmed up, the familiar sounds of Underworld’s “Born Slippy” pumped from the speakers, signaling that UPUPGIRLS (KARI)’s biggest challenge was about to begin, the fans growing louder and more animated with each notification of time remaining.

A lone shamisen player appeared under a spotlight on the stage, unleashing a flurry of percussive notes that reverberated through the dark arena. Thousands of yellow penlights lit up as Akari Saho walked onto the stage wearing a karate gi with her newly acquired black belt tied around her waist. Performing a kata and unleashing a fierce shout, the fans cheered. A block of ice was brought onstage and with a decisive swing of her fist, it split into 2 pieces. Akari bowed before picking up the microphone at the side of the stage, shouting, “Let’s get excited!”

The Budokan seemed to shake when UPUPGIRLS (KARI)’s overture rang out, the fans jumping and shouting as the members marched out onto the stage. Cocking their wrists as the shamisen player plucked out the opening melody of “Zenryoku! Pump Up!!”, the members turned up the heat right from the beginning. Exploding right into “Ichiban Girls!”, the atmosphere was stifling. Greeting the “Upga Family” (fans), the members were showered with applause and cheers as they introduced themselves, the “kari” (仮) symbol and penlights changing color accordingly. Saki Mori reminded the audience to be careful so that they’ll be around when they do a vol.2. Konatsu Furukawa declared that she would shine the brightest so they better not take their eyes off of her. Manami Arai, Gunma’s very own “Araigunmachan”, made sure that no one forgot where she was from, welcoming the audience to the Budokan as the representative of her home prefecture. Akari pointed out that many of UPUPGIRLS (KARI)’s Hello! Pro Egg comrades had come to witness their historic night, causing many in the audience to turn immediately to the 1st floor balcony. Seeing all the familiar faces smiling back at her in support, she felt there was nothing to fear. Leader Minami Sengoku was overcome with emotion as she fought back tears and proudly announced that 4,158 people had come through the doors. Ayano Sato promised that they had a great live planned for the day, leading in to the introduction of the next song “Respect Tokyo”.


Joined by Arukuma (Nagano) and Gunmachan (Gunma), yurukyara from Azusa Sekine and Manami’s home prefectures, the performance shifted gears as cuteness took over. As Gunmachan and Arukuma shuffled off the stage, the members jokingly wondered how many seats they must have taken up on the Shinkansen coming to Tokyo. Manami reminded the fans that the members were hooked up to the HeartSync app so it would be possible to track their heart rates during the live. However, it was probably the pulses of the audience that were racing as UPUPGIRLS (KARI) swung their way through the coquettish “Bare Bare I LOVE YOU”, Konatsu whispering “daisuki” and Azusa blowing kisses to the fans.

A 7-colored rainbow of lights during “Kira Kira Mirai” shined down on UPUPGIRLS (KARI) as they rocked through “Kira Kira Mirai” and rushed around the stage festively to “Yuudachi! Through the Rainbow”. Heart rates were elevated again as the members turned on their feminine charms for “Niji Iro Mosaic”, beginning as soon as Ayano whispered the title of the song, continuing as the members pointed out at the fans repeatedly, and with Azusa’s declarations of love. Taking aim with their finger guns, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) shot straight to the hearts of the audience with a high-caliber performance of “Onegai Miwaku no Target”. Lamenting that they had been having so much fun that they hadn’t realized that an hour had already passed, the members asked Konatsu to perform one of her famous front rolls on the Budokan stage.

A pianist and a violinist performed a duet as UPUPGIRLS (KARI) left the stage momentarily, returning in white outfits accented with their colors. Harmonizing their voices over the sparse arrangement, the members captivated the audience with “Beautiful Dreamer”. After a raucous performance of their new song “!!!!!!!!” it was time for the solo corner of the concert, Saki Mori alternating seamlessly through the traditional idol sounds and full-blown insanity of “Mega-Mori! Ma vie!!” as the Budokan glowed green and “Moriti” shouts rang out.

Up next was Akari, walking out with a pair of angel wings strapped to her back for “Abyssal Drop”. Securing herself in the lift that was graciously loaned to UPUPGIRLS (KARI) by enka legend Sachiko Kobayashi, she was raised high over the stage as the mood switched over to that of an EDM festival. As promised, Konatsu finished up the solo corner by shining brightly with a suit adorned with hundreds of flashing LEDs during her dance solo as pink lights and laser beams flashed from the stage.

Shifting into high gear, an intense medley began with “Future&Past!”, brain-rattling bass notes rumbling through the arena and trap beats rattling out as UPUPGIRLS (KARI) roared through “Bijo no Yajuu”. Tearing off their white dresses to reveal their new 2-piece outfits, the members turned up the heat once again as they switched back and forth between “Survival Girls” and “(KARI) wa Kaesuze☆be your soul”. A teaser of “Party People Alien” made a brief appearance as the members showed off their finely-tuned dance skills with a series of solos. Closing out with “UPPER ROCK” and “Seishun no Namida”, the full fury of “Party People Alien” was unleashed, with thousands dancing along, including the 50 special supporters of their Budokan crowdfunding campaign who won the privilege of joining UPUPGIRLS (KARI) on the stage in the middle of the arena floor.

The dance party from outer space ending, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) thanked and waved to the “nice paripi” as they returned to their seats and picked up their towels to switch the mood to Japanese festival with “UPUP Typhoon”. Minami remained behind as the other members were carted back to the main stage, climbing atop a mikoshi (神輿, portable shrine) from the famous Sanja Matsuri (三社祭) carried by the stars of DDT Professional Wrestling. With the thousands of voices shouting out as the mikoshi made its way back to the stage, it was as if the Sanja Matsuri had been recreated inside the Budokan!

With all 7 members back on the main stage, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) dove right into a mashup of “Jumper!” and “Chopper☆Chopper”, Akari banging her head furiously and Konatsu popping her chest rapidly. Improvising on their “No Music, No Idol!” call and response during the song, the members threw in “Bu-Do-Kan” and other variations. Just as they had done during their Zepp tour, “Jumper” sped up to near superhuman speeds, which would have provided shocking numbers for anyone who was checking the Heart Sync app during the song instead of attempting to keep up with UPUPGIRLS (KARI). Following Akari’s closing chop which knocked out the audience, Konatsu ran to the front of the stage to begin “Appaare”, continuing the onslaught of high-tempo songs which concluded with “Uppercut!”.


The main part of the concert drew to a close with one of UPUPGIRLS (KARI)’s newest songs, the emotional “Kimi toiu Kasetsu”. Ayano called for the audience to sing along with them as there would only be one “1st Budokan live” for them. The arena was filled with the sound of the fans singing along as they were unified with the group in celebrating their landmark evening together. Thanking the fans for coming to see them, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) took their bows and went offstage.

After a few minutes of encore calls, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) returned, igniting the crowd with “Going my ↑”, their very first original song they had released in 2012. Expressing their happiness at being able to perform their first song at Nippon Budokan, the members thanked the fans for supporting them and everyone else who helped them make their dreams become reality. Ayano shared that she had produced all the outfits that the group had worn during the performance and even though it might have been reckless for them to do so, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) had become the first indies idol group to perform at the Budokan. Having waited all evening to make an announcement, the first one being that they would be doing a countdown performance at Nagoya Diamond Hall on December 31st was not that surprising since they had done it in 2015 but, the news that followed was a big surprise. The way that Minami began it sounded a lot like a graduation announcement since she mentioned how she had turned 25, not an unusual age for young women to think about retirement but, it turned out that UPUPGIRLS (KARI) would be opening auditions for a second generation of members! UPUPGIRLS (2) would be open to any girls between the ages of 12 and 23 but it was added that those who refuse to give up on their dreams would be considered as well. Below is an excerpt from that announcement. So far, the details on what UPUPGIRLS (2) will be are still “provisional” and not set in stone.

Contributor Wanted!!

Returning to the arena floor to end the evening with “Summer Beam” as streamers fluttered down from the rafters, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) put their arms around each other and swayed from side to side as they sang along with their fans. Returning to the stage, they raised their hands high and thanked their fans (who also had their hands raised) before taking their final bow and leaving the stage.


UPUPGIRLS (KARI) made history as the first indies idol group to perform at the legendary Nippon Budokan, a stage that musicians from all over the world dream of standing on. Even though they did not match Juice=Juice or any of the other Hello! Project groups who also performed there as far as attendance or extravagance, they more than rose to the occasion and made it an evening to be remembered for years to come. With all the challenges they have taken on as a group, it will be exciting to see what they will be capable of when they return for “UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Nippon Budokan Cho-Kessen vol.2”!

Set List

00 overture (Kari)
01 Zenryoku! Pump Up!!
02 Ichiban Girls!
03 Respect Tokyo
04 Bare Bare I LOVE YOU
05 Kira Kira Mirai
06 Yuudachi! Through the Rainbow
07 Niji Iro Mosaic
08 Onegai Miwaku no Target
09 Beautiful Dreamer
10 !!!!!!!!
11 Mega-Mori! Ma vie!!
12 Abyssal Drop
13 Konatsu Furukawa dance solo
14 Medley
– Future&Past!
– Bijo no Yajuu
– Survival Girls
– (KARI) wa Kaesuze☆be your soul
– Party People Alien (remix)
– Seishun no Namida
15 Party People Alien
16 UPUP Typhoon
17 Jumper!/Chopper☆Chopper mix
18 Appaare
19 Uppercut!
20 Kimi toiu Kasetsu

E1 Going my ↑
E2 Summer Beam

Buy Item

!!!!!!!! / Kimi to Iu Kasetsu / Up Up Girls (Kari)
!!!!!!!! / Kimi to Iu Kasetsu / Up Up Girls (Kari)
!!!!!!!! / Kimi to Iu Kasetsu / Up Up Girls (Kari)

Related Links

UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Official site:

UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Official Twitter:

UPUPGIRLS (KARI) YouTube channel:

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Kai Okudara

Writer, researcher, photographer, foodie, KSDD

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