I summarised my entire experience in 14 pointers!
1. Tokyo Dome is the biggest concert venue in Japan.
Being able to perform inside the Tokyo Dome is the golden standard for artists in Japan as it can accommodate between 50,000 to 70,000 audience, depending on the stage set-up and seating arrangement.
Artists that have achieved this feat:
International – Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift
Korean – TVXQ, Super Junior, Big Bang, JYJ, 2PM, Kara, Girls Generation, SHINee
2. There are many attractions around the Tokyo Dome, including a theme park and a shopping mall.
Tokyo Dome City is an extensive entertainment hub which houses a shopping mall, a theme park – with a roller coaster (reminds me of the New York New York coaster in Las Vegas) which can reach up to 130km/h and the first centerless ferris wheel (60m) in the world. It also has a hotspring within its premises – Spa LaQua. There’s also a hotel nearby – Tokyo Dome Hotel.
3. Do go early if you plan to buy concert merchandise.
We reached the venue at about 2PM, 3 hours before the concert. We saw tons and tons of people.. and many queues which we can’t really tell what they were queueing up for. The merchandise queue however, was suspiciously short. I guess people who wanted to purchase would have already came and bought their items early in the morning and the popular items were sold out by the time we reached. The entire merchandise sales booth was very well-organized with 1 straight row of tentage which contains 20 to 30 service counters and safety barricades.
By the way, you don’t have to show your ticket when you purchase the items. This means that even if you don’t own a ticket, you can still buy the concert merchandise.. I guess this is what all the resellers do..
4. English is scarce in the area, in fact everywhere Japan
It is so hard to find English in Japan. Even important signs like Exit（出口）is only in Chinese/Jap. The only english words that I could spot within the vicinity was probably “Tokyo Dome” – at least I know I am at the right place.
There are many queues for various booths in the area. One of which belonged to the concert merchandise queue, the other belongs to an official fanclub queue to buy official and exclusive merchandises and another.. to win a lucky dip or be eligible for a draw whereby SHINee members will call you? Haha all these are my guess-timation as ALL the information the were displayed in Japanese.
I don’t know if it’s just me alone but I find it hard to approach Japanese for help. Whether we need help in directions or photo taking, I feel that there’s an invisible wall between us, in comparison to Korea. Maybe it was the language or perhaps I was just far more comfortable in Korea. Random Japanese along the streets always look busy somehow – looking at their phones, rushing for time, walking too fast..
Nevertheless, we can’t exactly blame the Japanese as they are known to be very nationalistic in terms of their language and culture. However in recent years, they are changing as more restaurants now have English menu, as compared to the past. Seems like I have to start learning Japanese in preparation for my next Japan trip.
5. Cosplay – at a different level
Cosplay is commonly used as a term to describe people dressing up to bring out the anime characters. At concert venues, Cosplaying of celebrities/artists/singers is a common sight.
We spotted this group of 5 boys (probably aged between 7 and 12) at a quiet area surrounding the Dome, performing to SHINee dance tracks. Skinny Jeans + Boots, coordinated outfits, somewhat similar hairstyle (minus the hair colour) and dancing to the soft music played by this plastic speaker/amp. They were very professional for their age. Even after missing a step, they could get back into beat and continue dancing. They were not just performing one song. They were at least dancing for a whole 15 minutes while I was loitering around that area. I wonder how much practice that had before gathering the courage to perform outside. And No, they were not busking. They were probably just dancing to gain some stage presence, and perhaps entertain the noonas cheering them on.
When I spotted this group of girls wearing bathrobes, I was confused. So I did a little bit of research and found the gif on the right. SHINee members wore bathrobes for their SWC3 concert while they were singing to the song “Girls, Girls, Girls”.
Another brave lady (yes a female) was spotted cosplaying Santa Jonghyun. She wore a skin-colour spag inside to create the effect of “not wearing anything underneath”. Give her credit for braving the cold. It was about 13 degrees, with wind, that day if I didn’t remember wrongly.. Oh and these cosplayers have their fair share of attention from the crowd! They are more than willing to post in your photos and I think I overheard some fans going over and compliment them for their efforts! (Made this inference from the body language of shaking hands and bowing at one another to give thanks.)
They even cosplay airport fashion. Alright, maybe this isn’t cosplay. It is just.. trying to dress up the same way as your idols/celebrities. Well, I own a baseball jacket and a beanie too. Maybe I can try it out next time.. but i’m not gonna cut my hair short for it =/
Apart from Cosplaying, there were many people spotted wearing coordinated outfits with their friend or even cliques of friends. Some of the outfits looked custom-made while others are really coordinated from top to toe D: (How on earth do they do it and not feel awkward)
In Korea, usually only couples match their outfit. In Japan, you can coordinate your outfit with your BFF, classmate, clique, CCA Mates, and the list goes on.. I guess the clothes that you wear can represent a persona, identity? I can’t understand this part of their culture but it looks fun and perfect for my camera to snap away.
6. Don’t forget to chop your SM Town Passport
To those that have bought the SM Town Passport 3 to 4 years ago, don’t forget to chop your passport whenever you attend SM concerts. They are pretty strict at the counter and they only allow you to chop the SM Town PINK Passport, and nothing else. What a pity, I don’t own a passport.. but even if I do, I wouldn’t have a lot of chops…
7. Grab some food before entering
Japanese concerts (at least the one I attended) are usually very long. This one was 4 hours long D: I was happy yet sad that I had to drop my plans of visiting Tokyo Skytree as it was too late.
Anyway, It is highly recommended to eat something prior to entering the Dome as the food choices inside are limited and slightly pricey. Furthermore, concerts are a tiring affair. Even though we sat at the balcony seats, 99% of the audience stand and wave their hands throughout the concert! The only times you get to sit is during the VCR (when they are not on stage) and when they tell you to sit down. Even though I was wearing my supposedly comfortable Timberland boots, the fact that I have been out and walking since 6AM in the morning, the soreness on your feet is no joke. I concluded that no matter how expensive and comfortable your shoe are, standing 16 hours a day will still cause red and soreness in your feet. S:
On the other hand, do not drink too much water as it would be very inconvenient for yourself, and also the people sitting the same row as you if you have to visit the restroom midway, unless you are sitting on the aisle. The seats are very steep and cramp and you might even have to stand up to let someone exit the row..
For this concert, the tickets (sold by Ticketbo) were balloted and you can only purchase a maximum of 2 tickets per transaction? Furthermore, the exact seats were only announced few days before the concert >_<
Japan has a very strict stance against black market ticket sales and they will try all means and methods to prevent it but at the same time, the profiteers will try everything else to tackle against it. Right.
Anyway, our tickets were.. bad, but not so bad after all. We were seated at 2nd Level (Balcony) Section 10, Row 20, Seat 189. We were the 10th row from the back. Well, I’m not gonna complain because attending a concert inside Tokyo Dome was something that I have never dreamt about and suddenly I was there.
Okay so the cool thing about this Ticketbo purchase was that everything is done online and paid using a Credit Card. This is very foreigner-friendly and you can purchase the tickets without bothering a jap friend for collection/payment. The ticket comes in the form of QR Code (which you can only download once from this website). Furthermore, you only have to print screen the QR code onto your phone, and not print it out (save the trees). While entering, their device is able to scan the QR code from your phone.
QR tickets serve as a huge deterrence against re-sale as a lot of trust is required in buying secondhand as someone can just use the QR code and enter the premises before you and you will be stuck outside.. Sighs.. and QR code tickets increase cheating and resulting in more people getting scammed. Oh wells. All I can say is.. try your best to get tickets the legit way every single time.
9. Leave your cameras at home, Bring your binoculars instead.
Yes like every concert that I have attended, there would be a bag check before you enter. My friend bought a DSLR and we manage to pass the bag check but she did not take her camera out of her bag the entire concert. I brought my compact canon camera too, but I did not dare to take any photos with it either. Photography and taking videos are strictly prohibited in most Japanese concerts. If you are found with a camera prior to entering, you would be asked to store them in the coin lockers.
When you enter the dome, you will see staff holding boards (like the one below) warning the fans against taking photos/videos. If you observe the graphic, it actually shows a phone and a camera. If you are caught, you will most likely be asked to leave immediately and not allowed to return.
If you think that you can try to fool the staff, you will be in a constant lookout for them and not enjoy the concert. The staff there do not only use their eye power to stare at you, they even comb the stairs and up and down throughout the concert, serving as a deterrence against people who try to cheat. (Somewhat like invigilators inside the exam halls..)
On the other hand, the binoculars could just be your best friend for the next few hours! The screens can be useful, but it does not focus on your bias all the time! Thus, having your own binoculars gives you the leeway to focus on whoever you want to, at all time. Unless.. you are here for a solo act.
10. Enter the Dome early
We entered the Dome at about 4PM, 1 hour before the concert start but there were still tons and tons of people outside. Nope, they were not queueing up to enter. In fact, there was NO queue to enter. These people were just waiting.. not sure if they are waiting for something to happen but just like everywhere else in the world, people don’t like to enter concert venues early.
Look at the number of empty seats when we entered.. Well, within the next hour or so, all 55,000 seats will be filled up. Attached to our seats, there was a plastic bag which contained a “Fan Project Banner” (Mine was yellow), a special wristwatch or rather wrist light since it doesn’t tell the time, and a few information leaflets.
If you are wondering why I took the photographs despite warning you against taking them earlier.. Well, I need these photos for blogging purposes =p All the photos inside the Dome were taken using an iPhone 5S. Thankfully I wasn’t caught and thrown out and I live to share my story!
I like it that the arena seats are arranged like a diamond. or rather, urm in the shape of the baseball court.
Anyway, my seats turned out to be not too bad after all as I was in full view of the whole concert at all times. It doesn’t matter which of the 3 stages they were at as I could see everything live in front of me, and not just staring at the screens.
11. Surprise of the night: Intelligent Wrist Light
Alright this technology is not new. I was just kind of suaku (mountain tortoise) but it has been used in concerts all over the world already. So basically, you are given this wrist light which is controlled by a centralized system. I THINK it is RFID technology so pardon me if I am wrong.
We kind of got a shocked when all the wrist lights were lighted up automatically without any warning. When it happened, we were doubting ourselves, questioning if we had pressed the power button at all.. Ha, so we were really amazed to find out that our wrist lights were not controllable by us. I tried to switch it off, but to no avail!
And so if you are wondering why the audience in Japan Concert DVDs always look so cooperative with their massive ocean of lights.. nope the fans didn’t have to pay extra money to buy that light stick as it was often included in the concert prices and nope the entire audience did not choose to turn on their light sticks all at the same time. The lights were controlled and coordinated by a centralized programming system.
And nope you cannot control the colour of your light. After the concert ends, the only colour that remains is the official Pearlescent Sky Blue colour.
The next surprise of the wrist light is you can never expect what combination the programmers can come up with. They were even able to alternate the colours between the arena, level 1 and level 2 and various zones of the audience.. I was very impressed.
And I really like this performance in 100 years where the colours changed accordingly to represent the colours of the singer. Green – Onew; Jonghyun – Red; Key – Pink; Minho – Blue; Taemin – Yellow. For the chorus, it was multi-coloured as everyone was singing!
Even the stage lights were coordinated and oh gosh I really love the rainbow streaks T_T
*Always depend on the koreans to give you the best fancams*
If I’m not wrong, I read somewhere that this wrist light was something that SHINee wanted and wished for.. It was really amazing for the concert organizers to absorb this cost for us and them.. All to create a wonderful concert experience for each and everyone of us. Well, the concert tickets were only priced at 9800Y (inclusive of memorial CD – 1 song: Your Number). 9800Y is even cheaper than the cheapest ticket of any KPOP concert in Singapore. Yet.. the organizers are willing to go the extra mile and introduce such a cool wrist light for us.. and also to organize the entire fan project.
12. Real Voices and Live Music
A lot of people think that K-pop is not real music as there’s a lot of auto-tuning and lip-sync involve as the real focus is on the dance but here in Japan, all artistes have to be be confident about their real voices and singing ability. They place a lot of emphasis on live performances, unlike the music shows in Korea. (Maybe that’s why FT Island and CN Blue does so well in Japan)
Most, if not all, of the concerts held in Japan has a Live Band and the singers have to sing for real, even for their dance tracks. It is.. kind of tiring actually but I guess they get a huge sense of achievement after a successful show.
Also, they set aside time during the concert to showcase and appreciate each and every performer on stage, from the band crew, to the dancers. Each of them has an individual shout out and solo performance between 10 to 15 seconds. Even their names are flashed on the screens! Though this is not uncommon as I’ve seen it very often in other Taiwanese concerts, but it is pretty rare in the Korean scene.
This is my favourite ballad performance of the whole night.
Anyway, if you want to know how cool the lightings and crowd that night, I really like this video taken by a Korean. Her seat was kind of far.. but she was able to capture the entire atmosphere of Tokyo Dome that night!
13. Fan Project and Tears
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a banner in the plastic which was attached to our seat. Behind the “banner”, it was a chunk of Japanese which I obviously don’t understand. But it was kind of obvious that it was a Fan Project as some concerts that I attended previously had such a thing whereby you are supposed to wave or hold something at some point of the concert, usually the end. Usually, it is a banner which contains words which could be a HAPPY BIRTHDAY or something. However, this time, mine was just a slip of Yellow Paper.
It’s the first time.. I’m holding something which belongs to a mosaic of a bigger picture.. I suppose every audience (unless you are in the planning community) in the crowd don’t know what it was until we all held it out. And yes, this is the photo I took. I was shocked and touched beyond words. How did they do the planning for a crowd of 55,000? (On the hindsight, concerts are so frequent in Japan.. this could be a every other weekend affair for the fans..)
And I was sitting at the last vertical row of the U. The person towards my left was holding the blue paper.
And.. as predicted, they cried. Maybe with the exception of Taemin for the first night.
The first night (14 March 2015) shows “THANK U SHINee” while the second night (15 March 2015) shows ” WE LOVE SHINee”.
Here are my iPhone 5S photos: nothing too impressive but some sort of a momento for me to keep and reminisce on the happy 4 hours that I had in Tokyo Dome.
14. Evacuation of the Dome was pretty efficient
As much as you would not like to leave the Dome so quickly, you don’t have a choice. After you here the announcement, it indicates that the concert has officially ended and there would be no more encores. It is now time to pack up and.. evacuate the Dome before the staff/security guards start chasing you out.
If you think that 55,000 people leaving a venue would be a nightmare, I have no idea how Japan does it but we managed to leave the premises within 10 minutes. Add another 5 more minutes, we were already at the JR Station.
Yep and that’s the end of my concert experience in Tokyo Dome, watching SHINee.
I’ve heard about them during Ring Ding Dong days where they came to Singapore to perform in the e-awards at floating platform? Somewhat officially started following them during the pre-Hello era. and that was.. 2010. Saw them five times in Singapore (e-awards 2009, swc 1 2011, bno 2012, swc2 2012, smtown 2012, etude house event 2013) and now in Japan is the 6th time.. maybe one day i will graduate from this.. till then..
Continue reading about my Tokyo Dome 2016 – Always With SHINee experience
Check out the other entries:
- JR Pass – To buy or not to buy & other train tips
- Tokyo – Tsukiji Fish Market
- Tokyo – Tokyo Dome and SHINee World Concert Special Edition in Tokyo Dome
- One night in Tokyo – Oedo Onsen Spa
- Half Day in Kyoto – Yasaka Shrine + Kiyomizudera
- Universal Studios Japan Express 5 – March 2015
- Free bicycle rental in Himeji + Kobe
- Osaka Aquarium
- Eating & Shopping in Osaka