If you’ve ever heard of idol fans stalking their favorite member in the dead of night in a Roppongi side alley and thought, “wow, that’s insane,” then good–this list is for you. Here’s how to find out where and how to meet your favorite idol or group in a safer, official, alley-less way.
The AKB48 Theater (Akihabara)
It’s not actually “Japan’s most sophisticated show,” as the sign says, but if you like the 48 franchise it’s probably worth a visit.
The AKB48 Theater is located in the Electric Town area of Akihabara on the 8th floor of the Don Quixote store. If you’re looking to see a performance, you first have to apply for a ticket as the theater is pretty small and can only accommodate so many people. Luckily the franchise has recently introduced a “Super long distance category” with 6 reserved seats so that even foreigners can try for the ticket lottery. In order to apply you will have to write who your favorite team is so that you will be able to go to their show instead of another team’s.
If you’re a bigger fan of SKE48 or NMB48, they have their own theaters in their respective areas (Nagoya and Osaka), so you’ll only be able to see AKB48 perform at the theater in Akihabara.
The entrance to the Akihabara Donki, with a large sign for the AKB theater on the 8th floor.
An example of the theater tickets.
Sunshine City (Ikebukuro)
Sunshine City is one of Tokyo’s biggest shopping centers, with the added bonus of seeing idol meet-and-greets and mini concerts.
Sunshine City is a shopping and entertainment complex located in Ikebukuro (it even has an aquarium). While the building and its annexes aren’t officially affiliated with any idols, groups or individuals often use Sunshine City as a place to hold meet-and-greets, handshake events or small concerts. It’s not uncommon to be walking in the complex and stumble upon a large group of fans waiting to see their favorite idols. Even Korean groups use Sunshine City as a place to gather their fans and hold events.
It’s not always easy to figure out if and/or when a group will be at Sunshine City, as the information is not usually widely distributed or the event is limited to a certain number of fans. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. You can always call Sunshine City or reach out to other fans or the official fanclub to find out more details of an event.
Small concerts and events are often held in this area, where shoppers and fans can look down from the upper floors.
A view of Shin-Okubo, or Koreatown, from the station road overpass.
Shin-Okubo is usually referred to as Tokyo’s Koreatown. Immediately upon exiting the station and turning right, the district is packed with Korean restaurants, bars, bakeries, cosmetic stores, Korean goods stores and idol shops. If you like Korean idols, this is the place to be–not just to buy official (and unofficial) goods, but also to attend an autograph signing or a meet-and-greet.
Because Shin-Okubo refers to the area, there isn’t a specific place where idols usually hold their events, and the more popular acts probably won’t risk showing up and hosting something in such a small space with a lot of traffic. However, smaller-name groups and individual idols sometimes use Shin-Okubo as their “headquarters” for events, especially if they don’t have a huge number of fans in Japan. Details regarding these events are usually found through the artist or their company, or even through Twitter as fans mobilize.
One of the many Korean idol shops that are common in Shin-Okubo. If you can’t attend a meet-and-greet, just stop by this store and stock up on merchandise.
Shin-Okubo is located on the JR Yamanote line. To reach the Koreatown district, exit the station (there is one exit) and immediately turn right.
Tokyo Dome/Zepp Tokyo
When your idol has made it big, chances are they’ll hold a concert at Tokyo Dome.
Of course, you can always see your favorite idol doing what they do best: holding a concert (okay, it may not be what they do best, but it’s what they do). Depending on who the artist is, they might play Tokyo Dome, Zepp Tokyo or even both, although big-name idols from companies such as Johnny’s and Hello Project stick to the domes.
Zepp has a capacity of about 2,000, while Tokyo Dome has 55,000 seats. Zepp is the more intimate affair, while the ability to fill Tokyo Dome means that an idol group or individual has a pretty wide fanbase.
Information on obtaining tickets depends on the idol’s agency. Some do lotteries, while others can be bought through ticket services.
In every big Japanese city, there is a dome as well as a Zepp.
The crowd at Zepp Tokyo.
Television Network Studios (throughout Tokyo)
The headquarters of Fuji Television, located in Odaiba. In addition to events, TV stations also have gift shops that sell merchandise based on their popular shows, so you might be able to find something there.
If your favorite idol group or member is a regular on a television show–or even if they host a television show–networks in Japan sometimes hold events that fans can attend. This doesn’t happen very often, but if you happen to be in town when it does, it’s always worth it to stop by. Information can be found on the network’s website, usually in the section pertaining to the show.
The NTV headquarters in the Shiodome area of Minato, Tokyo.
TV Stations and Locations:
Fuji TV: Odaiba
Nippon Television (NTV): ShiodomeTV
Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS): AkasakaNHK: Shibuya