This post is about to get incredibly gushy about Arashi. You have been warned. :)
After the stress of Friday and the excitement of knowing that I WAS GOING TO BE SEEING ARASHI IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS(!!!!!), I barely got any sleep on Friday night. I tossed and turned and finally gave up at 7am when I decided to get ready and line up at Tokyo Dome to buy concert merchandise.
Background note: Japanese fans are ridiculous when it comes to merchandise (or, as they say in Japanese, “goods”), especially when the band is as popular as Arashi. In fact, the demand for Arashi goods at this concert was so high that there was a pre-sale on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am-8pm in addition to the goods being sold on all four concert days (Thursday-Sunday) from 9/10am until late at night! Foolishly, I thought I was pretty good lining up at 8:30am for goods that weren’t going on sale until 10am.
I joined a queue of what must have been THOUSANDS as we snaked and meandered our way through most of Tokyo Dome City. I ended up standing in line for five hours before I finally made it to the booths, and then I was another 20 minutes standing in the various lines at the booths to buy the different goods.
However, it was well worth the wait – 5.5 hours and 7500 yen (~$75) later, I walked away with a T-shirt, a penlight, a reusable shopping bag, three uchiwas, and a limited edition Arashi at Tokyo Dome ribbon bracelet!
I had just enough time to grab McDonald’s as a late lunch before dashing back to my hotel to shower and get ready for the concert.
The doors at Tokyo Dome opened at 4pm and I got there just after 4:30pm. Not having anything else to do (and the crowds still being GINORMOUS outside of the stadium), I went in and took my seat.
Oh. My. God.
Words can’t describe the atmosphere of Tokyo Dome. First of all, the size is spectacular – it’s a huge baseball stadium, after all! I was on the arena floor, but there were three levels of stands above me that stretched all the way around. In all, the stadium seated 60,000 people for this concert. 60,000! The energy from the crowd was incredible. By the time the concert started at 6pm, I was almost shaking with excitement and anticipation, holding one of 60,000 penlights flashing in the dark and clutching my gigantic Jun-head uchiwa for all I was worth.
The stage set-up was interesting – there was a large main stage where the outfield would be, connected by a runway to a smaller, but still big, circular stage in the middle of the stadium. Three more runways branched off from the circular stage. I was off to the side of the main/circular stages, but still enough in front of them that I could appreciate most of the choreography. The most important thing was that I was SO CLOSE. The circular stage was only 15 rows in front of me, but sometimes they rode in carts or on a moving stage in a large circle around the outside of the runways only 5 rows behind me!!! I could see their facial expressions throughout most of the concert without needing to look at the large screens (although seeing their lovely faces 20+ feet tall and in perfectly clear HD was pretty awesome, too).
I’ll never forget the first time they circled around on a moving stage. Sho, Nino, and Aiba started on our side of the arena. The stage was about 20 feet high off the ground. When Nino peeked his head over to look down at our section, my heart literally skipped a beat. It’s Nino! He really does exist! He’s a real human being! And he’s less than five rows away from me! I was overwhelmed, to say the least. I couldn’t believe that I was actually watching my idols live instead of just on a DVD.
Several times throughout the concert, actually, I had to remind myself that I WAS ACTUALLY THERE. The show itself was phenomenal – there were fireworks, pyrotechnics, lasers, robotic light arms, hydraulic stages, moving stages, moving carts, countless back-up dancers, four gigantic video screens, a live band, a huge cloth dome that feature a light show… It was too good to be true.
(The concert made the morning news the next day – check out the video above to see clips from the concert!)
The audience was even given choreography for one song and everyone in the stadium danced it together! That was AMAZING. The entire stadium did one huge wave during it! You can see it in the above video starting at 1:34.
However, the thing that I liked the most about the concert (besides it sounding EXACTLY like their CD – no lip syncing here! (And man, can they ever dance!!!)) is how much fun Arashi seemed to have on stage. Throughout the entire concert, they were playing and joking with each other, completely at ease. They looked so happy and so genuine, and their happiness fed our happiness.
During one of my favourite songs, “Energy Song ~Zekkou chou chou~”, Aiba was on the runway nearest us. He is always super genki during this song (from what I’ve seen on the DVDs, anyway), but this time he got so excited that he actually fell over! I couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or not, but he looked slightly embarrassed afterwards. It was hilariously endearing.
Arashi seemed to really appreciate our presence, too. They kept waving at the audience, interacting with us, flashing us peace signs, and in general creating an amazing concert atmosphere. Early in the concert, Ohno even waved at me (or maybe it was the person next to me, but I swear, we made eye-contact)! They sang songs, MC’d instead of having a traditional intermission, sang more songs, then played two encores – all in all, performing 34 songs for us over three solid hours.
I honestly didn’t want the concert to end. I could have stayed there forever and just listened to them talk! I had such a wonderful experience. Luckily, that night also happened to be the night that they filmed for the DVD(!), so I’ll be able to re-live it again and again as soon as it comes out. I can’t wait!
I felt genuinely sad when the concert ended, so I cheered myself up by wandering around Tokyo Dome City, looking at all of the different illuminations and displays that they had set up for Christmas (and also waiting for all 60,000 other people to get on the trains home so I wouldn’t be squashed!).
The displays were beautiful, and I’m so glad I took the time to walk through them!
By 11pm, I was exhausted, so I took the Metro back to my 20th floor hotel room and sat on my window ledge, overlooking the Akasaka district of Tokyo while blasting Arashi on my iPod.
December 14, 2013, will be a day that I’ll never forget.