A General Guide: How to Meet Your Favorite Japanese Music Artist in Japan

Having been a big fan of Japanese contemporary music from overseas, I never would have imagined meeting them when I moved to Japan. But then, the news hit me: meeting them can actually be a lot easier than you would expect. The only down side is --- sometimes it costs a little bit of money. Normally, the bigger the group, the more you would have to spend. Having said that, I guess it means that “meeting your favorite [Japanese] music artist”, runs on an incentive-based system. For example, the more CDs you buy, the more benefits you can receive. 

Also, keep in mind that while a good amount of groups allow “meet-and-greets”, some just might not allow it due to certain circumstances. Be sure to do research beforehand on if your group does meet-and-greets! 

Helpful tip:
When researching on whether your group does meet-and-greets, inputting the keyword “握手会” (akushukai or handshake meeting) or “インストアイベント” (insutoa-ibento or in-store event), after the group name can bring up more results as compared to searching entirely in English.

Note: If you’re into visual-kei (Japanese metal) music, you’re in luck! This is because visual-kei groups are the groups that are most likely to do handshake meetings, in-store events, etc., so the chances of meeting them (possibly more than once) goes up!

The break down

Japan still has a big CD culture. Pretty much every group (indies or major) releases their music via CDs. Although some groups do sell their music via iTunes and other Japanese music providers, music is mainly released in the form of CDs. In many cases, music groups will upload only previews of their new song and/or music video online to encourage the sale of CDs.

This is a new release set of CDs for the visual kei group Xaa Xaa that need to be bought in order to participate in events via https://mobile.twitter.com/xaaxaa_official/status/950287032110034944

Having mentioned that, the sale of CDs is a big factor (and the main factor) to meeting your favorite group! If the group is small, the release of a new single/album or a tour would be enough to instigate meet-and-greets and in-store events. Thus, buying said latest single/album (which is normally sold in a set of two), will be able to get you a “参加券” (sanka-ken) or event participation ticket. 

The ticket you receive will allow participate in the event at the store you bought it from. Note that if your group is having many events, the event you will be able to participate in corresponds with the store you bought your CDs at.

This is normally what an event ticket will look like. It will have the group's name, the store, date and time, rules, etc.

For example, if the group is having events in Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Ikebukuro, but you bought your CDs at a shop in Shinjuku, your ticket is valid only for the event in Shinjuku. 

If you would like to participate in all events, you would have to buy the CDs from the stores in Shibuya and Ikebukuro as well. The good news is that, if you’re down for that, no one will stop you! Since the sales of CDs are encouraged, this is actually common practice, especially for hard core fans. 

In-Store Event Listings

As stated, the release of a new single/album is enough to fuel an in-store event. This doesn’t mean that there’s going to be just one event, but more than one. Thus, it gives everyone a chance, and you can choose which event is convenient for you. 

If the group is on –tour- though, in-store events will be held outside of Tokyo as well and at tour locations. For example, if the tour starts in Tokyo, then heads down south to Nagoya and Osaka, in-store events will be held in those locations as well. In other words, you don’t even have to be in Tokyo to meet your favorite group. Although Tokyo is the easiest place to meet them, it’s also possible to meet them outside of Tokyo, and the chances rise if the group is on tour.

This is Xaa Xaa's in-store event listing for one of their newer albums. It contains when, where, and what kind of activities the event will be having via https://mobile.twitter.com/xaaxaa_official/status/950287032110034944

Benefits of an event

Now, what kind of benefits does an event have? This normally depends on the group. For some, it might just be a meet-and-greet, or a little talk show, a signature on one of your special items, or a polaroid picture with the group as a whole/your favorite member. Heck, it might even be a bingo game and if you win you get a special present from the band. In any case, it’s definitely an experience!

I've been to in-store events for the visual kei groups Dadaroma (left) and Xaa Xaa (right). For both, I was able to take a polaroid photo, and for Dadaroma, the lead singer signed the photo too!

So, which group will you go to see? Have fun folks! 

Angie Rin