“Oh my god! Are you kidding!?? That’s Akanishi Jin!!! He’s a pop star!!!!”
My Chinese friend, Jennifer, squealed these words to my French friend, Colette, upon learning that the guy Colette had just met at a night club gave her his phone number.
Clubbing and karaoke are the things to do for university students and young professionals in Tokyo on weekend nights. And the night doesn’t end before 5AM, which is when the metro opens (the Tokyo metro closes at midnight).
Clubs in Tokyo—especially the upscale ones– can be pretty expensive: it is not unusual to pay an entrance charge of $40 for guys and $30 for girls. If a popular DJ is at the club, the price might be double. But with the right fairy godmother—or the right friends– it might never cost a penny.
Colette was certainly the right friend. She had been invited to dinner by the manager of one of the high-end nightclubs in Tokyo. Plus, he told her that she was welcome to bring a couple of her friends. This was just before I arrived in Tokyo and met Colette (she was living in the same guest house where I was living). Upon meeting her, I quickly became one of the friends that she invited to the dinner date, along with Jennifer. During dinner, our host invited us to attend a special weekly event at the club, the Wednesday night party. This turned into a standing invitation, and soon afterwards we were given VIP status at the club, gratis. Needless to say, with the VIP free entrance and unlimited free drinks in a special lounge, we became very frequent flyers, especially on the weekends.
One night while Jennifer and Colette were in the VIP lounge, one of the men who approached Colette gave her his phone number and asked her to call him. Colette later told me about this encounter, noting that she had no interest in going out with him. It was then that Jennifer elatedly described his pop star status: His name is Akanishi Jin and he had been a member of the Japanese pop group KAT-TAN, as well as a TV personality. Suddenly, Colette’s disinterest gave way to intense curiosity and she started to meet him weekly at the club— she gradually became enamored of him. By the 3rd week, the relationship suddenly went south after Colette had about five cosmopolitans too many. She started to cling to Jin, begging to be with him continually. It was quite odd—this was not the same person I knew. Apparently, it was not the same person she knew either, as she has absolutely no recollection of what happened that night. Her behavior was so strange and off-putting, that Jin insisted that I take her home. She never heard from him again. We call this the night she was ‘drunk on Jin.’
P.S. A month later, while browsing through a market in Tokyo, I found a stall with fan club paraphernalia and souvenirs adorned with photos of various famous personalities. Curious, I stopped to see if they had any items with Jin’s photos. Sure enough, there was an entire section filled with everything from key chains to fly swatters decorated his smiling face. I bought a paper fan (uchiwa) covered with Jin’s face, wrapped it up and attached a note to it saying “I am your biggest fan,” and left it on the door to Colette’s room. She later told me that she couldn’t stop laughing.