A new album, new tour announcement, and a concert filled with songs chosen by fans, Arashi’s National Stadium concert in Tokyo on September 20 was a big one for those 70,000 with tickets, reports TV Asahi and Sankei Sports.
It has been reported towards the end of yesterday’s concert, the words “重大発表 (Important Annoucement)” flashed onto the giant screen. Fans screamed as the group announced they were releasing a new album “Popcorn” on October 31, and had another tour coming up within the year.
It will be Arashi’s first dome stadium tour in two years, which will go around five venues in Japan, starting with Osaka’s Kyocera Dome on November 18. Although the group have had dome stadium tours regularly since 2008, last year’s Tokyo Dome concert was cancelled following the devastating Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident. Instead, the group had arranged a more electricity-saving event for fans, the 嵐のワクワク学校 (Arashi no Waku-waku Gakkou).
“The circumstances weren’t right to hold a concert in Tokyo Dome last year, but I’m really happy we can do one this year,” Masaki Aiba said.
It has been reported the total number of fans the upcoming tour is expected to attract, plus the number of fans who had (or will) attend group’s two National Stadium concerts yesterday and today, will top 870,000. This is the biggest number to date for Arashi. The group have said they want to make it a fun concert tour which focuses on a characteristically pop style.
Yesterday’s concert was special because the song list had been chosen by fans who had voted for songs online. It has been reported more than 270,000 votes had been counted to select 37 songs, the most popular being “Face Down”. In fact, some of the chosen songs had not been performed for years so some members literally had to re-learn them.
“Aiba-kun had forgotten most of them,” Jun Matsumoto said.
“He’d start singing other people’s parts with them,” Sho Sakurai said.
“Hey, you’d forgotten them too! It wasn’t a case of remembering what the songs were like, it was more like I had to re-learn some of them from scratch which was hard,” Aiba said.
Another thing which made yesterday’s concert special was there were no Johnny’s Jr. back dancers, just the five Arashi members.
“I felt like I was back in Johnny’s Jr. It was something different,” Kazunari Ninomiya said.
“We wanted this to be a concert where the five of us could be with all 70,000 of you,” Matsumoto said.
Arashi might be picked up to be NHK’s New Year’s Eve music special hosts for the third time, reports Tokyo Sports on September 7.
It has been reported NHK producers are beginning to look for potential hosts for Kohaku Uta Gassen’s red (akagumi) female artist team, and white (shirogumi) male artist team.
“A production team for the show has been finalised, and now they’ve begun discussions about what to do this year. At this rate, Arashi will probably be asked to be the shirogumi hosts for the third straight year,” said one source from NHK.
Although no one can definitely say this will happen, there is no denying the fact the group attracted TV ratings of over 40% in their past two Kohaku shows.
It has beee reported the most likely candidate for the women’s akagumi host this year will be actress Maki Horikita, who has been playing the main character in NHK’s popular drama 梅ちゃん先生 (Ume-chan Sensei).
Weekly magazine Josei Seven has reported two stories about Arashi members Satoshi Ohno and Sho Sakurai which TV audiences never got to see.
It has been reported Satoshi Ohno’s visit to 11-year-old Saki Wada meant more to her than what was shown on TV.
The karate girl living in Kamaishi made a promise to her mother she would make it past the first round at karate nationals, but sadly Saki had lost her mother and home to last year’s devastating tsunami. When the 24Hr TV team wanted to do a piece about her, Saki said she was told a comedian would come visit her.
“They told me Sugi-chan was coming. So I was shocked when Ohno-kun turned up.
“We played badminton in front of the house. He’s so good that I lost though. Then we planted radish seeds and did some wood chopping. Ohno-kun was having trouble with chopping wood.”
But it has been reported something else made Saki even happier.
“The best part was hearing him cheer me on, telling me, ‘you can do it, you can get past the first round!’,” she said.
Saki’s coach said Ohno had also made sure he did not miss Saki’s training sessions.
“Ohno-san came around to the dojo we use to practice at around 9pm. He was meant to come around 7pm, but everyone in the neighbourhood had heard a celebrity was coming so I guess they kept him from coming in,” he said.
There is no doubt Ohno’s cheers gave Saki a lot of motivation, even more since Ohno is Saki’s favourite Arashi member.
“He stayed for dinner and ate curry with me at my house! He said it tasted really good.”
It has been reported Sho Sakurai did as much practice as he could to prepare for his special soccer match.
Sakurai had visited high school girls’ soccer team Mizusawa UFC Princess, whose top player Shiori Koyama was lost to last year’s tsunami. In memory of their team mate, the team and Sakurai played a special match against their lost member’s favourite soccer player, Homare Sawa, and her INAC Kobe Leonessa soccer league team.
It has been reported Sakurai had practiced with the girls in their hometown before the match day.
“I think the last thing he (Sakurai) wanted was to meet the girls on the match day and say ‘let’s do this’. He probably wanted to see where Shiori-san had trained with his own eyes,” said one TV staff member.
One team member confirms this.
“Sakurai-kun came to our training ground a few days before our game with INAC. It was during the day, but no one hanging around the field noticed who he was. He was good with the ball, but got tired easily (laughs),” said one team member.
It has been reported the same team member said Sakurai did not lose his focus during the game itself too.
“He’d sigh and shout when he made a mistake, he was taking it seriously. When I’d ask him to run out front for a long pass, he’d say ‘leave it to me’.”
Another team member found it funny watching Sakurai.
“Some of us were saying that Sakurai-kun’s shorts were short. They’re made for girls, so they were a little small for him and really tight. He said it was embarrassing so would try and push the shorts down, but after running around on the field the shorts would ride up again. It was like watching a soccer player from the old days,” said the team member.