Thursday, October 3, 2013
New Idol Theater In Akihabara Welcomes Foreign Tourists
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Once a magnet for electronics-hungry shoppers from around the world, Tokyo's Akihabara district is now turning into a mecca for Japanese pop star fans from both near and far.
As part of broader efforts to introduce "idol culture" to the rest of the world, the Akiba Cultures Theater opened its doors on Oct. 1 to give fans a close-up glimpse of their favorite singers and dancers onstage.
Satellite broadcaster Tsukuba TV Inc., based in Tokyo, spent nearly 100 million yen to build the new theater in the first basement floor of the Akiba Cultures Zone commercial facility. The theater can seat up to 295 people, one of the largest capacities in the area, the company said.
Tsukuba TV plans to feature stars from major talent agencies as well as home-grown idol groups from across the country. It aims to make shows that are easily enjoyable for tourists from home and abroad and which are not too over-the-top.
Local nonprofit Akihabara Tourism Promotion Association, which has set safety standards for the shows, will lend a hand in attracting concert-goers.
With 10-20 seats reserved for foreign tourists, Tsukuba TV will encourage tour operators to include a stop at the theater on their trips for foreign visitors.
In addition, the theater will link up with overseas fans via videophone over the Internet. The company is also planning to run early morning shows for fans in North America and Europe. It expects a turnout of 70,000 to 80,000 spectators in its first year of operation.
Akihabara's idol culture has its roots in mini concerts held by budding teen stars on make-shift stages in front of the district's major electronics retailers. But so far, there have been only a few dedicated theaters in the densely packed commercial area, such as the AKB 48 Theater.
(The Nikkei, Oct. 1 morning edition)