One of the things you just have to see and experience: the Nippon Budokan (Kitanomaru Park) in Tokyo. It can hold up to 14200 people and is used for martial arts competitions like kendo, judo, karate, aikido, kempo and naginata. However, most foreingers (like me) know the Budokan for the huge concerts that are being held there.
Credit: wikimedia Commons
One of the most famous ones and also the first is the Beatles-concert in 1966. Back then a large group was against the rockgroup performing there because it would ‘defile’ the Budokan. Since the English name for the Budokan is the Japan Martial Arts Hall I kinda get where they were coming from. To use the ‘sacred’ martial arts hall for Western rockmusic? However, the concert was a great succes and the rest is, as they say, history.
In preparation for a martial arts competition. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Music at the Budokan
The history of this place is also one of the reasons why you should see a concert there. Many artists have recorded a ‘live at the Budokan’ – album. Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam, Avril Lavigne, Kiss and even the Backstreet Boys to name a few. The hall is of course also very popular with Japanese bands. A few big ones in the visual kei-scene have already played there, like The Gazette en Dir en Grey, and the famous popgroup AKB0048 also had a massive concert there. Why? They all say it’s because of the great vibe they get while performing there.
AKB0048 concert at Nippon Budokan. Credit: bingsu
Mood at Nippon Budokan
If you see the photo’s of the AKB0048-concert you’ll probably notice why. The hall is build well, so the acoustics are great. However, it’s the setting that’s truly interesting. Usually the crowd that watches the concert is on one side and the artists on stage on the other side. In this case they stand right in the middle of the crowd, which gives a very different experience for both the crowd and the artist. And (of course) the way Japanese fans appreciate ‘their’ favorite bands that play there is ‘almost overappreciative’ (Eric Clapton).
All members of AKB0048 on stage. Credit: music lounge
And besides the great response bands get from their fans, there’s also that little thing called status. The Budokan is the second greatest hall for concerts, with Tokyo Dome (the baseball stadium) being the greatest. However, the Dome was build fairly recently (80’s), so playing in the Budokan has more ‘weight’. The Budokan is a symbol for Japanese bands: only if you have performed there you belong to the ‘top’.
East meets West
And there’s that thing I mentioned above: the hall was and is originally used for martial arts from the east. To perform rock music from the west in an almost sacred eastern venue gives everything a little extra. Big, prestigious, historial, great acoustics and a great vibe from the crowd: definitely worth a visit if you’re there.
Also read: SID.