08/14 [news] SS501 flying towards the dream stage, Japan's Budokan

Leader Kim Hyun Joong's half-naked upper body sent Japanese fans into a daze.

For Japanese singers, there are 2 dream stages. One is the famous "Budokan", this is an indoor martial arts hall in Japan, the other dream is Tokyo Dome, which can hold 50,000 people at once.

Korea's famous group Dong Bang Shin Ki had previously held a concert in Tokyo Dome, back then it created much talk, because being able to successfully hold a concert at the Dome, not only is news-worthy, but also means this group or singer can attract 50,000 audience at once, this is a shiny dream for singers. On the other hand, as compared to Tokyo Dome, Budokan's seating capacity is lesser, having roughly 14,471 seats, but this is also a dream stage for Japanese singers, because it holds a special significance to the Japanese.

Budokan was opened in 1964, back then in order for Tokyo to host the Olympics, the CEO back then worked hard to prepare for this building, after it was completed it was an awe and source of pride for the Japanese. During the Olympics, it was the venue for Judo, Aikido, Kendo, etc, various Japanese martial arts competition. Subsequently, wrestling matches were also held here, and after that, it became a venue for large-scale concerts and musical performances etc.

Budokan is named as such because the Japanese had looked upon it as "Japan's sacred place for martial arts and Judo", based on this concept, one can imagine how the Japanese feel towards Budokan. And in 1966, in an unprecedented move, Beatles became the first to be allowed to sing at Budokan, opening the path for other singers to sing at this sacred ground. After that, many famous artistes targeted Budokan when they came to Japan for concerts, the late Michael Jackson was another who had performed here before. Local Japanese singers look upon singing at Budokan as a lifelong goal, and its also an indicator of becoming a top singer approved by everyone, so its not wrong to name Budokan as a "dream stage" for singers.

Therefore, most Korean singers hope to either perform at Budokan or Tokyo Dome when having concerts in Japan. This is an understandable reality, and also a path that one must go through to prove one's popularity in Japan.


▲ Japan concert's dream stage - Budokan

Up till now, only a few Korean singers have successfully stepped into this sacred place, for example, a top Korean Hallyu star in Japan, Rhu Shi-won, Park Yong-ha, Rain and Dong Bang Shin Ki etc, but now, on the 13th, these lively boys of ours, SS501, have successfully entered the sacred place - Budokan.

SS501 had entered the Japan market and released Japanese albums from 2007, slowly letting Japanese fans know about them, even though they didn't shoot to fame overnight, but they've finally completed the blueprint of their dreams. And the concert in Budokan this time round had 2 sessions, one in the afternoon and one at night, all the tickets were sold out. Starting from 13th noon, we arrived there and prepared for the interview, the sun was hot that day, the heat was stifling, but the fans we saw queuing remained enthusiastic, their faces were full of expectation and we could feel their love for these 5 grown-up boys. From the subway station till outside the venue, it was full of Japanese women, they had only one aim, to quickly see the SS501 that they support.


▲ From far the queue to enter can be seen

Within and outside of the venue were full of crowds, and of course the stalls that were selling concert merchandise were crowded as well, everyone enthusiastically discussed about which product to buy, from photobook to posters, everything was available. SS501's fans, regardless of what product it was, as long as it had the faces of the members they supported, they'd want to bring it home, as long as they liked it, they were willing to buy it, this also led to many opportunities for sellers.

It was also this reporter's first time to Budokan, feeling very nervous yet full of anticipation. As I slowly walked towards the sacred grounds for local and overseas singers, my anticipation doubled. The view outside the venue is really beautiful, letting visitors to fully understand Japanese culture, quiet, ancient and very Japanese.

Budokan's interior is full of history, the whole architecture is very authoritative, a very high ceiling and the huge national flag of Japan, first floor seats are leveled, starting from the second floor it feels like a building that was made of one piece, its a rather impressive building, causing one to feel in awe while standing inside.


▲ A concert for roughly 10 thousand people, SS501's Budokan concert officially starts

On this very humid and hot day, the people who love SS501 gathered together to support them, after entering, due to the large amount of people, the air within was very stifling, but everyone's already in their seats, and the seats on the 2nd floor actually don't have cushioning, everyone must have felt very uncomfortable, but they all sat and anxiously waited for the concert to start. As the venue wasn't built for concerts, many seats within weren't suitable, but everyone didn't care, because its a form of approval to be able to enter and watch the idol you like performing.

Finally, Korean singers have once again successfully entered Japan, this is a very satisfying. This concert started 15 minutes later than it was supposed to, at 1:15pm, the lights suddenly switched off, everyone's nerves were pulled tight, after a series of cheers, SS501's first show in Budokan officially opened.


▲ Magnificent entrance lets everyone see superstars SS501

On 1st and 2nd August (Seoul time), SS501 had already shown their magnificent and wonderful performance to their Korean fans. Their stage for this tour is T-shaped, great attention was paid to the lighting on stage, and the videos that were played on the big screens etc, the dazzling stage effects once again proved how much the organizers invested, and also showed that the abilities of Korean megastars are worth investing in.

SS501 were dressed in black with gold ornaments, opening with fast songs and hot dances, using the familiar "Deja Vu" to heat up the atmosphere. The strong and powerful dance not only displayed strength and beauty, but also caused the 10,000 odd female fans to be immersed in it, the following songs were increasingly beautiful, SS501 totally grabbed the hearts of their fans.

"Hi, we're SS501". After the 5 of them sang together, it was time to chat, once the members said their greetings the screams from the fans were deafening. "We've actually been waiting for this chance, we wanted to try standing on this stage, now that we've done it, we want to share this satisfaction with everyone!!" But it was a pity that, perhaps the members hadn't performed in Japan for a long time, so they weren't very familiar with their Japanese, but the enthusiasm of the fans didn't decrease because of this.

Actually SS501 really worked hard, with no translator present, the 5 of them were singers as well as translators, they really made a great effort. And of course, the most talkative was Park Jung Min, who's ability to speak Japanese is the best, he can already converse in Japanese, but the other members can only carry on a simple conversation, leader Hyun Joong was his usually quiet self, its not clear if he had almost forgotten his Japanese, many times using expressions to express himself.

The whole concert lasted 2 1/2 hours, singing around 20 songs, and amongst them, almost 70% of the songs were fast dance songs, we never saw expressions of tiredness on their faces, only satisfaction, and the different charms they exuded. During the 2 1/2 hours performance, they changed about 6, 7 different sets of clothes, and rest of the time was spent performing hard for their fans, the fans who were fully immersed in it all felt that the time passed too quickly, and were reluctant to part.


▲ Regardless if it was powerful dance moves, or if they were covered in sweat, there were no signs of tiredness on SS501

Songs like "Deja Vu", "Warning", "4chance", "A Song Calling for You", "Hey G", "Wassup", "Never Again", "Because I'm Stupid", "U R Man", "Fighter", "Nameless Memory", "Crazy" etc, along with the songs from their 2nd official album that's to be released in September, SS501 sang it all for the fans, including a song that SS501 wrote the lyrics for, a song for the fans "Fan Song", it talks about how they thank the fans that's been by their side and supporting them all along, they're grateful for everyone's support that led to the SS501 of today.

The songs were linked together by the members' solo songs, there was acapella singing, amazing dances, and also sexy elements full of masculine beauty within. But the most shocking is definitely Hyun Joong's performance that came towards the later half of the concert. Dressed in a black, tight wifebeater, Kim Hyun Joong tore his wifebeater going along with the ups-and-downs of the song, showing his muscular chest and stomach, subsequently he even tore it off fully, and was half-naked, and a disturbance was created when he threw it towards the audience.

Although Kim Hyun Joong is famous as a small-faced pretty boy, but the shape of his body is very manly, so when he was half-naked we saw a muscular chest line and a beautiful stomach muscles, this caused the 10,000 odd audience to continually scream. The Yoon Ji Hoo in "Boys over Flower" that's currently airing in Japan is this man on-stage that is full of masculine beauty, different from the gentle and quiet Yoon Ji Hoo in BOF, everyone is won over by Kim Hyun Joong's sexiness and manliness on stage.


▲ Right at the moment where the sweet smiling pretty boy tore open his wifebeater and showed his perfect chest, the passion of Budokan was ignited

There was almost no chance for the fans to rest in the 2 1/2 hours, SS501, in the final encore songs, expressed their gratitude and love to the fans, enthusiasm and reluctance to leave interweaved throughout the whole concert, and SS501's Asia Tour Japan stop also came to a close as the curtains fell.

Even though these 5 boys haven't had much activities in Japan in the past year, but in this past year void they've never stopped being concerned about their fans. Singing at Budokan with the enthusiastic support of their fans, and unimaginably, under the circumstances where almost 99% of the songs were Korean, the fans remained supportive and immersed in the concert, it really is rare and touching.

Actually there were little accidents as the concert progressed, like the microphone being problematic, and the screen at the back not displaying the proper visual during intense dances, and also the little drops in atmosphere due to the members' poor Japanese, even though there are still many areas for improvement, and the five of them don't dare to say it was a perfect performance, but after seeing it, it's not to point out what they lack, instead, what we see is seriousness and being responsible for the performance. SS501 had no rest in the 2 1/2 hours, their faces were full of enthusiasm and satisfaction, even though there was areas for improvement, they remained smiling, humbly and slowly expressing, everyone can see their hard work. This natural and loveable looks is the SS501 that we love, and their mistakes are also their right and privilege, everyone will only love them more.

Korean idols officially entering the Japanese market, they are our SS501. The next step, we hope they'll be back with more fluent Japanese (?), the next time we want to see these 5 boys stepping onto the other dream stage - Tokyo Dome.

Credits: JPNnews + (Chinese translation) julieann@ hyunjoongchina.com + (English translation) SS5014ever @ WS501|quainte501

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