How to be a K-Pop Fan in Tokyo
A Guide To Concerts, Merch And Fan Groups In The City
The influence K-pop has on young Tokyoites can be felt across the city. With there being an increasing amount of concerts and fan events, there is no better time or place to be a K-pop fan.
In the last few years, Korean-pop (often shortened to K-pop), has really become a global phenomenon. Unsurprisingly, this music genre has always been popular in Japan given that it feels familiar and shares similarities to its own idol culture. For the most part, after a group has found success in Korea, their next goal is to find success in Japan. That’s why Japan is seen as one of the best places to be a committed K-pop fan as idols often promote themselves here.
If you live in Tokyo or have just moved, you are in luck! It is arguably the best place in Japan to be a committed K-pop fan as most of the concerts and events happen here. In this guide, we will be giving a rundown of the best ways you can be a part of the fandom here.
Join a fan club
K-pop groups and idols often come to Japan for fan signs and tours, especially because many groups have Japanese members. However, getting to go to even just one of these events is not as easy as you may think. Given that Japan has one of the biggest K-pop fanbases in the world, there is stiff competition to try and see your favorite idol or group in person.
If there is a group that you want to see live in Japan, your best bet is to join their official fan club. To join, you will have to pay a membership fee but by doing so, you get several fan benefits such as exclusive merchandise in addition to the chance to get your hands on concert tickets. However, it should be noted that you are not instantly guaranteed tickets by joining the fan club. You are just automatically put into a lottery to win some alongside other hopeful superfans.
Here are some of the biggest K-pop fan clubs in Japan:
For those who don’t want to commit to joining one fan club, you can go to other major events such as K-con which happens every May. This event normally spans across three days and gives you the opportunity to see a number of different groups perform. However, similar to individual concerts, tickets can be quite hard to get so you have to be prepared to wait in a virtual queue. The Summer Sonic music festival held in Chiba is also another good event to try to go to as an increasing number of K-pop groups are performing on the main stage.
By far the easiest way to support your favorite groups is to buy their merchandise. Unsurprisingly, the best place to look for K-pop merchandise is at Tokyo’s own Koreatown, Shin-Okubo. The main street is filled with shops selling an endless stock of K-pop photo cards, banners and more. Notably, much of the merchandise that you can get in Shin-Okubo is unofficial and although that means it is often more reasonable, it may not be the best quality. However, if you are someone who likes the idea of fan-made goods, then Shin-Okubo is ideal.
If you want to buy officially licensed products, going to Tower Records is the better option since they sell different versions of the official albums and other exclusive goods like keyrings and posters. Idols are regularly featured on the front cover of different Japanese and international magazines, the big Tsutaya in Daikanyama is one of the best places to go since it has a whole section dedicated to magazine issues that have idols on the front cover, just recently the members of girl group NewJeans were pictured visiting the store.
Shopping malls like Shibuya 109 often collaborate with different groups, hosting exclusive pop-up events at their stores and selling exclusive merchandise. These tend to happen when a group releases a new Japanese single or EP. Although you will normally see posters promoting such events, the best way to find out about them is by keeping up-to-date with the fan club.
Go to special events
Many of the cafes in Shin-Okubo will host mini fan events when it is an idol’s birthday or when a group is celebrating their anniversary. At these special events, you can expect to meet lots of other loyal fans as well as buy a special themed drink or product the cafe has created for the event.
Popular groups in Japan, like Seventeen, often have limited-time official fan cafe events where you can buy your different members’ favorite food and drinks. Sadly, you cannot just walk into such cafes spontaneously but will need to book a time slot through the event website.
Support up-and-coming groups
When walking down the streets, you will also notice Korean and Japanese idols handing out leaflets, trying to promote their showcases, many groups such as BTS started off doing this back in the day so it is always good to try and support up-and-coming groups as much as possible as one day they may become big names in the industry.
Join a K-pop dance club or group
Many fans love to learn the choreography of their favorite songs. Various dance studios all over Tokyo offer K-pop dance classes where you can dance to trending songs in a fun, social and supportive environment. Many budding idols actually start off by attending classes like these so there’s a chance you could end up loving and having a talent for performing.
Such dance classes can end up costing a bit so another option is to join a more casual K-pop dance cover group. These types of groups normally consist of friends or smaller dance crews who casually dance to K-pop in public and record it for social media. To find a group like this, simply search for “K-pop public dance in Tokyo” on Tiktok, scroll through and message the ones you are interested to know more about.
What do you enjoy most about being a K-pop fan in Tokyo?