The Possibility of Japanese Idol Culture for the Regional Promotion

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Dachgeschoss (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Yuki TAJIMA, Doshisha University, Japan
Recently, one of the most common popular culture in Japanese media is idol phenomenon, which attracts attention to not only in Japan, but also over the sea. Especially, ‘Local idol’, who in most cases are girls only and active mainly at their local areas: sometimes the prefecture or only the city in Japan, are becoming more popular from the 2010s. Simultaneously, a number of media works are concerned with local idols. For example, Amachan (2013) which is the 88th early morning television series on NHK in Japan has gained popularity. This drama depicts a heroine who lives in Kitasanriku-shi Iwate-ken(its background is Kuji-shi) and goes to Tokyo to be an idol. This drama also focuses on the heroine’s family and regional relationships. This narrative of ‘locality’ through Amachan is the archetype of idol culture in Japan. Additionally, success of this drama has brought about positive economic effects to Kuji and Kuji has its own local idol like this drama’s heroine.

Similarly, fans are often interested in the content of the works, and visit their original production site. Several studies have addressed tourism based around movie, animation, and so on is growing and recognized this situation as ‘contents tourism’ in Japan, especially referred to animation as ‘pilgrimages to sacred places’. In consequence, Amachan is regarded as one case of contents tourism. Furthermore Kuji’s idol plays a important role in the local development.

Accordingly, focusing on the case of Amachan and Kuji, this presentation explores the interaction between contents and local residents. Moreover this study aims to identify and evaluate the understanding key characteristics of Japanese local idols, thus  discusses the possibility of idol culture for regional promotion.