Twenty years since their debut, Japanese pop boyband ARASHI is set to conquer the global music scene by storm as they had finally decided to make their music available on music streaming services so that fans can continue to enjoy their music whenever they want to, even after they go on hiatus.
That was what member Matsumoto Jun shared during their whirlwind press conference and fanmeet session at Jewel Changi Airport last November 12, which was a part of their promotional tour in Asia dubbed “JET STORM” that aims for them to get closer to their fans beyond Japan.
It can be recalled that Jun catapulted to immense popularity in the early 2000s when he portrayed Domyoji Tsukasa, the counterpart of the Meteor Garden’s iconic lead protagonist Dao Ming Si in the Japanese iteration of the phenomenal series that was also shown and garnered a huge following in the Philippines.
Joining him on the event attended by over 1,000 fans were his four other band mates, namely Satoshi Ono, Sho Sakurai, Masaki Aiba, and Kazunari Ninomiya, who all expressed their gratitude to the Arashians (or how they fondly call their fans) from both Japan and overseas for their outpouring and unwavering support in the past 20 years.
Thus, they assured them that fans can expect more social media activities from them on their official accounts on social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Weibo, which they simultaneously launched last November 3, alongside their YouTube channel wherein a few of their music videos, songs, and snippets of their live performances are uploaded. Their official channel has now over two million subscribers.
Apart from that, they also marked the 20th anniversary of their CD debut by uploading their first digital single titled “Turning Up”, which has now raked in more than 10 million views as of this writing.
With these upgrades, they can now be able to update their fans from all over the world about their activities real-time, which was used to be barred by their agency. They’re actually the first debuted group in their agency to open social media accounts and the first to make their music available on various streaming platforms.
Prior to this, the only way Arashians can listen to their music before they arrived on YouTube and streaming platforms was through buying their physical CDs and DVDs, to which their international fans had to make extra effort by ordering them from online stores.
Taking an indefinite break
Their decision to join social media and begin global distribution of all their singles came after their shocking announcement early this year that they will go on hiatus effective December 31, 2020.
In an article published in the online news site Japan Times, group leader Satoshi Ono revealed in a press conference in Tokyo that it was him who wished to “end the activities as Arashi for now” because he “wanted to live freely”. According to him, it was around the middle of June 2017 when he initially told the other members and discussed about it many, until they arrived at the decision to do it by the end of 2020.
“I wanted to get away from this world and experience a normal life,” he said, adding that he was actually planning to quit their agency, Johnny and Associates, in order for him to do so. However, after further deliberation, they finally agreed for Arashi to take an indefinite break, as the five members, according to the statement they issued, “had a strong and unwavering feeling that the activities of Arashi should be conducted by the five of them.”
The formidable journey
In the past two decades, Arashi is able to skyrocket as one of the best-selling acts in Japan. Their songs never failed to make it to the Oricon sales chart – the corporate group that supplies statistical information on the music industry in the archipelago – for singles, albums, and music DVDs, not to mention that the tickets for their concerts and stadium tours sell like hotcakes too, ever since their debut.
Derived from the Japanese term for “storm”, Arashi was created by Johnny and Associates talent agency headed by the late Johnny Kitagawa in their pursuit to “create a storm throughout the world”. The 5-piece ensemble was officially formed on September 15, 1999 and was introduced to the public riding atop a cruiser in Honolulu, Hawaii.
They debuted with the song “A.Ra.Shi” on November 3, 1999, which became the theme song of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup hosted by Japan on that year, and had their inaugural concert tour at Osaka Hall on April 5, 2000. A year after, they were able to release their first album Arashi No. 1 Ichigou: Arashi wa Arashi o Yobu!
The group rose to fame in Asia in 2005, when Matsumoto became the lead star of Hana Yori Dango, the Japanese adaptation of the popular Taiwanese series Meteor Garden, with the group as the voice behind its OST, "Wish."
In 2006, they held their first Asian publicity tour called “Jet Storm”. They flew to Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea in a single day to conduct press conferences, promoting their sixth album, Arashic. Shortly after the Jet Storm tour, they performed in Taipei and South Korea for concerts, except Thailand because of the military coup d'etat during that time).
Continuing their successful Asia tour, they staged their first biggest concert tour billed “Arashi Around Asia in Dome” at Kyocera Dome (Osaka) and Tokyo Dome. At the same time, their 18th single and theme song of Hana Yori Dango Returns, “Love So Sweet”, claimed the number one spot in the daily and weekly charts. It was also their first single to sell more than 200 thousand copies in a week in almost five years.
In the years following their steady climb as national idols, they also became the first group to perform at the National Olympic Stadium for six consecutive years (2007-2013) before it was renovated for the upcoming Summer Olympics next year. Besides, they will be the first to perform as well in the newly-renovated National Olympic Stadium on December 2019 and May 2020 before the Tokyo Olympics.
To date, the boyband has released 56 singles, 16 studio albums as of today, mostly claiming the number 1 spot in charts.
Apart from music, they are also in-demand stars for movies, dramas, television and radio programs, and commercials. At present, they’re currently hosting two regular variety shows on Japanese primetime.
A few of their songs were also used as theme songs for the different Olympic events covered by NTV, namely, “Hero” for the 2004 Summer Olympics, “Kaze no Muko e” for the 2008 Summer Olympics, “Yurase, Ima o” for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and “Akashi” for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The group was also appointed by the Japan Tourism Agency as ambassadors for their Japan Endless Discovery” national tourism campaign in 2010, which extended to 2011 shortly after the Great East Japan earthquake to invite more people to visit the country.
Last November 9, a day before their second Jet Storm publicity tour, Arashi had the opportunity to perform for the new emperor and empress of Japan in the celebration of their enthronement.
The dashing, talented members
Despite being active as a group, each of the members excel individually not just in music, but in their respective endeavors as well.
As what we have mentioned, Matsumoto Jun gained immense popularity in Asia when he was tapped to portray Domyoji Tsukasa, the Japanese counterpart of the iconic Meteor Garden character Dao Ming Si, in its Japanese incarnation Hana Yori Dango in the early 2000s that was also shown in the Philippines.
Kazunari Ninomiya, on the other hand, was known for being the first in their agency to land a role in a Hollywood movie directed by Clint Eastwood, "Letters from Iwo Jima." He also won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in 2016 movie, "Haha to Kuraseba (Living With My Mother)."
The band’s resident rapper Sho Sakurai graduated from Keio University with a degree in Economics while in Arashi and has been an active newscaster for 13 years.
Meanwhile, Masaki Aiba is also a regular host for two other variety shows, one in which he has been in since 2004 titled Tensai Shimura Doubutsuen. It was also through his job as host that he’s able to set his foot in the Philippines around 2005 to visit and experience taking good care of animals in Baluarte Zoo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and in Malabon Zoo that was featured in one of his shows.
Last, but definitely not the least, is group leader Satoshi Ono who was the first in the agency to hold an art exhibition called “Freestyle” in 2008 and 2016.
In the past decades, a lot of entertainment groups from different countries have disbanded after a long time of working together, but not Arashi, who has remained strong over the years. In spite of the differences in their personalities, the five members were able to establish an unbreakable bond that their beloved Arashians truly admire after being together since their early teens and as they climbed to adulthood together.
Get ready to be hit by the storm named Arashi as they’re going to surely make you ‘love them so sweet’ and they’ll be one of your sources of “Happiness”.
Mary Ann Bardinas