How and why I’m a fan of Japanese music

Ever since I started this blog I always wanted to make a post about my history with Japanese music and how I got into Japanese music in the first place. And when my post about my love hate relationship with AAA was featured on
International Wota, Ray said he would like me to talk more about Jrock (And Hinoi Team. But he wanted me to go release by release and give my opinions on them, which I’m honestly not going to do in this post. Perhaps I will sometime in the future.) And that was pretty much an excuse for me to write this post now. It’s taken me this long to write it because I was hesitant to post about it at all, because I’m not sure if people really care about my backstory too much. But whether a lot of people care about this post or not, I really felt like writing it.  Half because I think some people are curious to see how my taste in music has evolved over the years and half because the reason I got into Japanese music is so random that it’s almost laughable. It wasn’t really as cut-and-dry as when I first started to like Kpop. Since I was already into Japanese music the jump wasn’t that hard. Also, this is most likely going to be a giant wall of text, you’ve been warned.

Obviously, everyone found out about Japanese music a ton of different ways for a ton of different reasons. I like to think that most people found out about it in some grand way like stumbling upon it on the internet or hearing a Japanese song at the end of a Japanese movie and then searching for the song. Or even through anime or videogames. I guess that’s not really all that grand, but I’ve always though the way I got into Japanese music is slightly silly and ridiculous. Even though it’s just past 7 years that I’ve been into Japanese music I can honestly remember the reason I got into it like it was yesterday. It was the first day of 7th grade, I was sitting at a table with people I wasn’t friends with at all. And among them was this girl who was pretty much labeled weird by everyone. So, to make things less awkward it was randomly asked “if you could learn any language which one would you learn?” Come to think of it, I might have actually be the person who asked this question. Which completely proves how awkward and shy I am around people I don’t know. Everyone answered with obvious languages like French or Spanish, I said Italian, but this random girl was different. She said Japanese. And I remember just being completely dumbfounded. Being 12 years old at the time I knew absolutely nothing about Japan at all. To me Japan was such a random country that was so out of the ordinary. And at the time I could not fathom why she would pick such an unusual language. I later found out she only liked Japan because of anime, but I didn’t even really know or care what anime was at the time.

And for some reason that honest and strange responce really stuck with me. I kept asking myself, “Why Japan? What is so great about this country?” So, when I got home from school I started looking up Japan just to find out what was so appealing about it. And I looked up Japan for a while. I think it was about a month. But since I was 12 in all honesty, it was probably closer to a week. I remember looking up everything, history, culture, fashion, food, etc. And because I had been doing that for a while I started to think Japan was an interesting country. Then one day it just hit me, I had an idea. And it is such a clear vivid memory that I can honestly remember the exact moment it happened. I simply just though to myself, “Since I like Japan so much, I wonder what the music from Japan sounds like?” And that simple  question, because I was curious about everything at the time, started everything. Actually I’ve always been like that. I remeber when we started learning about astronomy for the first time in 3rd grade I was so interested in it I started watching anything I could about space. I was the only nerdy 9 year old in my class that watched the science channel. XD

But anyway, back to the topic at hand. I did a simple google search of Japanese music. And I came across a website that was streaming a few songs. Among them were the artists I bothered listening to, which were Hamasaki Ayumi and Dir en grey.  The songs on the site that I listened to were M and Duty by Hamasaki Ayumi, and The Final by Dir en grey. I think I might have also listened to Embryo, but I honestly can’t remember. Looking back that moment was completely symbolic.  Those 2 artists represented complete opposite ends of the spectrum. And it was the defining moment as a fan, as whoever I chose would determine what type of Japanese music fan I would become. I do admit from the moment I heard both artists I completely fell in love with all of the songs. However, in the end I did gravitate more to Dir en grey. I just found the music to be so different then anything I had ever heard before. At the time I didn’t have my own taste of music. I was still pretty impressionable and just listened to whatever my older sister was listening to at the time. Which was Green Day, Blink 182, The Offspring, things like that. Which probably also swayed my opinion a bit. I just found Dir en grey’s music to be interesting and enticing. That and the fact that I thought Kyo was incredibly gorgeous. Which is slightly shallow, but what can I say?

And just like that I started to really get into Jrock. I listened to basically anything I could get my hands on. Though my main focuses were Dir en grey, Gazette, Alice Nine, An Cafe, and Miyavi. And when I say I was into Jrock I was really into it. Usually when I like something I can’t just like it casually, I usually latch onto it and absorb myself completely in it. Which some people might take as being obsessive. But I prefer to think I’m just enthusiastic about the things I like, and maybe with a touch of zealous. So, when I got into Jrock I got into it 150%. It was the majority of what I listened to for months, it was all I talked about, I wanted to dress Jrock, all other music was inferior, etc. I also used to quote Jrock lyrics frequently. No, seriously I’d quote them. Not the actual lyrics but the translations. My favorite quotes I used to reiterate frequently were: “Even loved ones scatter like petals from flowers in my hand. So even if I engraved the meaning that I lived in my hand, it will only be known as flowers of vanity.” Which is from The Final by Dir en grey. I also used to quote, “And a flower, doesn’t even know it’s own beauty it’s entire life. Sad isn’t it?” Which is from Miyavi’s Girls be Ambitious. I also called Kyo a prohet a couple dozen times. Which is something Kyo fans used to, and still probably do, call him. Which I am so over and is slightly embarassing to admit now. And let’s not forget the absolute hatred I had for Kisaki. Full on I wished he was dead hatred. And the reason for such an intense hatred? Well, a rumor of course. I’m sure Jrock fans immediately know what I’m reffering to. And if you don’t here’s the story. Everyone is probably well aware that before Dir en grey was formed all the members minus Toshiya were in a band called La:Sadie’s. In La:Sadie’s instead of Toshiya being the bassist it was instead Kisaki. The rumor then goes like this: Kyo had a girlfriend, I’ve also heard fiance, back then. Allegedly Kisaki slept with her. Which devestated Kyo and since then he’s refused to write happy songs. Which is sort of true. Kyo’s girlfriend did cheat on him back then, however no one knows 100% why or who it was with. But fans love to place blame. And I was one of them. I started to hate Kisaki and refused to listen to Phantasmagoria. Pretty ridiculous right? And I seriously never listened to them, the first song I ever heard by them was Kami no Uta which was their final song, that was released in 2007. However, as much as I loved, and still love, Kyo my full focus and fangirl attention went 100% to Miyavi. I followed him insanely closely, closer than anyone I had ever followed up until then, and even now. There is not 1 artist that I like half as much as Miyavi. Not even Morning Musume. You could add every idol group I love and maybe that would equal my love and adoration. Which should show how much I love Miyavi. I remember I boasted about knowing everything about Miyavi to my sister once. And she made the mistake of asking, “what do you mean everything?” So I preceded to tell her everything which took 45 miutes. Which I mentioned to her the other day when I told her about Berryz Koubou coming to AnimeNEXT, in which she said, “Oh god, don’t remind me.” There was also that one time my friend insulted Miyavi in front of me and I had to literally stop myself from slapping her. Good times. XD

I was so silly and obnoxious back then. I was the type of fan everyone hates. But I was 12-14 for god’s sake. Obviously, I’ve changed considerably since then. I just wanted to show the kind of mindset I had back then. Which is why I never gave Super Junior or Arashi a second look. Both groups were insanely popular on internet at the time, so of course I had to look them up. They were so happy and upbeat that it was laughable. I was listening to guys singing about suicide and sleeping with their mother (Seriously, Gazette’s Sugar Pain is a hilarious song.) that I couldn’t take them seriously. Which is a contradiction really because An Cafe’s and Miyavi’s music was incredibly upbeat and happy. Even Alice Nine has never been really heavy. And I did still listen to Jpop at the time. But I guess it made sense to me at the time. XD But I think it was really mainly because they were overly happy and they were guys, if they were females I probably would have listened to them. An Cafe and Miyavi were fine to me because they were still Jrock. Despite being insanely upbeat they still dressed and were Jrock. At the time I was more interested in Jrock guys than the male idol look. That has to have been my mindset.

But when I first got into Japanese music even though I was heavily into Jrock it’s not all I listened to. I did another google search of Japanese music and discovered Puffy AmiYumi and Otsuka Ai. And a couple months after I got into Japanese music for some reason we switched to cable. And I begged my mother to get the anime network that they offered just so I could get bento beat box to be able to watch Japanese music videos on TV. We only ended up having cable for a few months but it was enough time to discover some new music. I honestly can’t remeber all the music they offered, I can only remember the music I liked. Oh for some reason I also remember vividly that Chemistry was one of the artists, only because I remember saying that they were awful. The songs I did like were Shouchi no Suke by Suitei Shoujo, Shining Star Wasurenai Kara by Tamaki Nami and Rainy Days Never Stays by The Brilliant Green. I was so in love with those songs that I tapped the videos off my TV. I still have that VHS tape floating around my house somewhere. And because of the anime network, I became a pretty big fan of Tamaki Nami and Tommy Heavnly6/February6. I also googled which artists videos we featured in the opening of bento beatbox and discovered Koda Kumi and ZONE that way. Also, like I said before in my AAA post I was incredibly into Hinoi Team at the time. They were a group I randomly found and became attached to because they had just formed and they were my age. I’ve already talked about them a great deal and don’t feel like repeating it again, so if you really care about how I felt about Hinoi Team you can read the post here.

Somewhere in the midst of this youtube was created. Which helped me get into Japanese music much more. I used to have to download everything which I absolutely hated. Youtube was a big part of how I got into Jrock as much as I said I did above. There was only maybe a 6 month period of being a Japanese music fan before youtube was created. Which makes some of this chronologically out of order. But not by much. And let me just say that my family could not stand that I liked Japanese music at all. They didn’t want to hear about it and was convinced it was simply a phase. And because of that my mom refused to buy me anything Japanese related. No movies, no music, and no language books. She didn’t buy me a Japanese CD until I was 16. Which is why I have hardly any Japanese CDs. And also why despite being a Japanese music fan for 7 years I can’t speak Japanese. I only know phrases and very basic Japanese. Because for some reason my mom still refuses to buy me language books. And about a year after I got into Japanese music I told my best friend at the time that I liked Japanese music and she literally laughed in my face. Which are the main reasons I feel slightly embarrassed for liking Japanese music and why I don’t tell people I like idol music or even about this blog. Just the negative way people would react, I’d rather not experience it.

Also, around the end of 2005 or early 2006, which was 1 year before I got into Morning Musume and Hello!Project, I was in love with Mini Moni. Which might not makes sense that I would like them and not even know or care about H!P, but it happened. I remember that sometime in around 2006 I randomly heard Strawberry Pie. I cannot for the life of me remember how or why, but I just did. I thought the song was so adorable that I fell in love with Mini Moni. I mean really in love. I watched all about them. Their TV appearances, their anime, Mini Moni The Documents, and even half of their movie. Back then I actually liked Mari the best. Which I think is funny. Which is why in the beginning of getting into Morning Musume I was a Mari fan. Anyway, I pretty much only listened to Mini Moni. I randomly heard that Mari was in Morning Musume, so I decided to download a song by them. That’s right I just downloaded Go Girl ~Koi no Victory~, and nothing else. I didn’t google the group or even watch the PV. I did like the song, I ended up putting it on a mix CD. But for some reason I just didn’t look up Morning Musume beyond that.

It wasn’t until 2007 that I finally got into Hello!Project, but it was by complete accident. And I got my first, well actually second, taste of it in 2006 when I went on youtube to search for a PV by Jrock singer Moon Kana, who at the time simply went by Kana. And when I tried to look her up the first result I got was Koi Kana by Kusumi Koharu. Can you imagine that if Kana switched her name to Moon Kana a few years earlier I probably wouldn’t be a H!P fan at all? Anyway, I was so intrigued by the video that I clicked on it, and it was literally love at first sight. I fell 100% in love with the song. To such a degree that I memorized all the gestures she did in the PV and would copy them while I watched the video, I even ended up learning the dance. This was around the time the song came out so it was June of 2006, or maybe a month or 2 afterwards. And even though I was so smitten with the song I didn’t look up Koharu at all. Instead I would just youtube her name every so often to see if she had a new song out. And I did that up until Happy was released. And by that time I was completely in love with all 3 of her singles that I decided to find out what this girl named Kusumi Koharu was all about. I quickly found out she was part of Morning Musume. And by then I actually cared, so I looked up Morning Musume. I found out that Kanashimi Twilight was their most recent single and listened to it. I absolutely loved everything about it. It was happy and it was amazing. I then went on a  myspace group for Momusu to learn about the members. The group showed promo pics of each girl in their Kanashimi Twilight outfits with their names under it. I remember just sitting there, closing my eyes and repeating their names over and over until I could remember every single name and put each face to the name. I remember that I wanted to follow these girls because they were all very close to my age. And because of that I became instantly drawn to Koharu and Aika, because Koharu was my age and Aika was only 1 year younger. And when I first got into Morning Musume I used to read a certain blog everyday, it’s where I got all my news from before I discovered Hello-Online. The blog is called Hello Non-Pro Hour. It was a big inspiration for me as it was one of the reasons I decided to start my own blog. The blog went down a couple months before I started my own blog, and later one of the writers, Gaki, moved on to Pure Idol Heart. Which is a big reason I support Pure Idol Heart so much. But apparently Hello Non-Pro Hour has been making posts again, well a few months ago they did, which I was completely unaware of until I googled the site just now for this post because I couldn’t remember the blog’s name. 

So, I was so inspired that I decided to make a blog. And Janakya Mottainai was born, but it wasn’t really the JM you know today. When I first started my blog I wasn’t the avid idol fan that I am today. I was actually mainly a Morning Musume and Buono fan. (Obviously I was a Buono fan since I named my blog after one of their songs.) I only had minimal interest and knowledge about Berryz Koubou, C-ute, and past groups. I was a casual fan of theirs. Where I heard some music, but not all. My main focus and attention went on Morning Musume. And like I’ve said on my blog before, when I started JM I didn’t even know all of Berryz Koubou and C-ute’s names yet. It was just that when I made JM I wanted to feature all of H!P on my blog, so I did despite not being an expert on most of H!P yet and because I felt people wanted to read about all of H!P and not just Buono and Morning Musume. So, I featured them from day one and learned everything about them on the fly and of course as I blogged I found out a lot more about them just by following them extremely closely. Obviously since then, I have now learned nearly everything there is to know about past and present H!P. Their music, songs, concerts, and members themselves. And I owe all of that to my blog. Because since day one I’ve always tried to give readers what they wanted and to make the best blog possible. If it wasn’t for that drive to please everyone and myself, I probably wouldn’t be the huge H!P fan and idol fan I am now.
But that’s not the only reason why JM is different today. Since a majority of my readers haven’t been reading my blog since day one they might be surprised to know how clustered, unorganized, and pretty much unsure of what it was, JM was back then. Despite the fact that I wanted it to be a Jpop blog I had posts dedicated to H!P, Jpop, and Jrock. Early on I discovered that wasn’t going to work and ended up dropping Jpop and Jrock all together. Which helped fuel my love and passion for H!P. And that’s pretty much it. Every step of the way in my H!P fandom after that has been detailed in my blog. If you want to know further you can check out past posts.

But the way I got into JE is another story all together. And believe it or not, again, it was by an accident. Being a fan of Hello!Project I knew that Johnny’s existed. Especially since I was a fan when Arihara Kanna was caught with Johnny’s Junior Hashimoto Ryosuke. And I was also around for Natsuyaki Miyabi’s scandal that was allegedly with Hey! Say! JUMP member Inoo Kei. (Can I just say I doubt it was Inoo. Mostly because if there’s one JE member that is legitimately gay, I’m like 80% sure it’s Inoo. XD Which could be an offensive statement to Inoo fans, or anyone reading this really, but look at the way he carries himself. You can’t pretend you haven’t thought that at least once yourself.) But at the time I had absolutely no idea who either person was. I remember looking up both guys and saying how each girl could do better. But even though I knew they existed I never listened to them or really knew what they were all about. That is until I decided to join a dubbing group. Let me first off start by saying, I love dubbing groups and I love group dubbing. Though I honestly haven’t been in one in a while. The last one I was in had me record 3 songs and then they were just never released and I was removed from the group with zero warning. A lot of people are ok with dubbing as long as the dubbers can actually sing. Which I don’t agree with and I think is completely unfair. I’ve personally been spreading my medicore, or teribble depending on who you ask, voice to the masses over the years. I absolutely could care less what people think of my voice or me for it. I love idol music, so of course I love singing idol music. It’s not fair that only people with amazing voices should be allowed to sing. People feel the same way about karaoke. But screw that, I love to sing and I’m not going to let my lack of ability stop me. And if people don’t like it, don’t listen to group dubs. Because there are only a handful of dubbers that can actually sing.

Ok, that was extremely off topic, but it makes me angry that people feel that way. So, I joined this group. Which I won’t name because, what am I their promoter? And besides that I’m not active there anymore and never really was. I joined the group and was put into my group. We actually covered 2 NEWS songs, Cherish and Ai no Matador, and I wasn’t really aware at the time, and didn’t care because I was more focused on learning the song than whether it was a good song or who it was by. Since I was placed into this group I decided to listen to some of their past releases. They did a cover of Weeeeek and this was back when idol agencies didn’t really crack down on copyright as much as they do now, and group dubs could post their group dubs over videos a lot more, and have youtube channels of them. Which you don’t see as often anymore. This group covered Weeeeek and I thought that they did such a good job that I fell in love with the song. (I also discovered Kuchibiru Kara Romantica that way as well.) I fell in love with it so much that I had to hear the original. So, I watched the PV and that was it. With just one listen I was absolutely in love with them. I told one of the girls from the dub group that I was friends with at the time that I was watching the PV and that the group seemed to be really good. So, she of course asked which member I liked. I googled and it and it turned out to Ryo. She then proceeded to tell me I shouldn’t become a fan of his because of how much of a jerk he was. Good times. XD
I actually did come into contact with JE 2 times before, but I was completely unaware of it at the time. Both times were in 2007. The first time was when I was talking to a friend I made through myspace. We mainly used to fangirl over Miyavi together, but we occasionally talked about regular Jpop too. And because of that she knew that I was a huge Tamaki Nami fan, so she sent me a news clip that talked about the new stage play that Nami was in, a Japanese version of High School musical. Along with Tamaki Nami the stage play also starred Koyama Keiichiro, but at the time I had no idea who he or NEWS was. And my only response to her was that I didn’t even like High School Musical but really wanted to see it because Nami was in it. And I also remember clearly saying to her that the random guy that kisses Nami is hideous. To which she said, “I think he’s cute.” Look how much sooner I would have been a NEWS fan if that was Ryo-chan instead of Kei-chan in the play. The second time was when I watched the movie Boku wa Imouto ni Koi o Suru which starred Matsumoto Jun. I had already seen the OVA because I found it randomly online and just had to see it because it was about incest which I found to be so odd and laughable. And once I found out they made a moive about it I just had to see the ridiculousness in live action. So, I watched the movie shortly after it was released. Well, I didn’t actually watch the whole thing. I watched half of it because it was terrible. And I actually thought the main actor, which was MatsuJun, was hideous. And rightfully so, because he didn’t really look that good in the movie. And I was more excited that Komatsu Ayaka from PGSM was in it. And finding out who the cute classmate was. Which was Hiraoka Yuta, who I still love today.

Shortly after discovering NEWS I completely engulfed myself in them. I started with their most recent single, which was Summer Time. I also watched their concerts to find out what music was good and watched anything with them I could get my hands on. So, for a good 6 months I listened to nothing but NEWS, well within Johnny’s anyway. It wasn’t until I watched the Johnny’s Countdown concert for that year that I was exposed to the other Johnny’s groups. Which I actually didn’t care about, or even plan on getting into other groups, I was just watching the concert for NEWS and NEWS alone.

But of course that’s not what happened, and I discovered another group too, completely by accident. I was watching the Johnny’s Countdown concert for 2008 and heard a song I liked. I had absolutely no idea who the group was or what the song was called, I just remember thinking, “Oh, I like that song about cherries.” And I literally googled Johnny’s song cherries. Obviously that song turned out to be Mayonaka no Shadow Boy by Hey! Say! JUMP, and it obviously wasn’t about cherries. So, shortly after that I started to get into HSJ. On my blog I did some NEWS related posts in 2008. But after the Johnny’s Countdown I decided to cover Johnny’s a lot more and started covering all the groups despite only being a fan of NEWS and HSJ. Ironically, that hasn’t really changed. I am still mainly a NEWS and HSJ fan, but I do know a lot more about the other Johnny’s groups than I did back then. Also, every step of the way in my JE fandom after that has been detailed in my blog. And you can see how much better my writing about JE has gotten as I started to know more about each group.

Random note, I realize that I wrote twice as much about JE as I did about H!P. The reason for that is I’ve been into and blogging about H!P a lot longer then JE. My blog has pretty much tracked my H!P fandom extremely closely. I have never really gotten a chance to write about how I got into JE before. Well, until now that is.

Shortly after adding Johnny’s to my blog I became more aware that AKB48 existed. As an idol fan I knew they existed and listened to their songs because they were similar to H!P. But since I was an H!P fan I saw no point in really getting into them since at the time H!P was pretty much all I wanted and was interested in. Also, I thought the girls of AKB48 weren’t really cute or appealing. But shortly after that I saw a few of the blog that I read featuring AKB48. So, I became interested in them and decided to listen to their newest single, 10nen Zakura, and became hooked. A couple months after that I turned Janakya Mottainai into 100% an idol blog. But all that meant was that I would feature H!P, JE, and AKB48. Hardly an idol blog really. Since then I have started featuring more idol groups, but only the idol groups I genuinely like. I have felt pressured at times to cover all idol groups even groups I’m not a fan of just to gain more readers and to make my blog a mecca of idol groups and coverage. But I absolutely will not do that. I think my writing and blog as a whole would suffer if I started covering groups I don’t like just because they fall into the idol category. Which is why I might not be covering your favorite idol group. The best example of this is Tokyo Girl’s Style. I just don’t see anything spectacular about them to became a fan of theirs.

I think that’s pretty much it. My 7 year history of Japanese music as best as I can remember. And as short as I could make it while still getting all the main details out. If there’s anything else you would possibly want to know that I haven’t mentioned here, feel free to ask. And I would also love to hear how everyone else started to listen to Japanese music.