Japan's Aimyon Owns Stage at First Budokan Concert With Only Acoustic Guitar

Takuya Nagamine 


J-pop singer-songwriter Aimyon performed her first-ever solo-headlining concert at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on Monday (Feb. 18).

The gifted 23-year-old stood alone on the stage set up in the middle of the historic venue and sang from start to end by herself, accompanied by just her acoustic guitar.

Surrounded by a crowd of 14,000, she kicked off her set with the long-running hit "Marigold," a streaming favorite that continues to chart in the top 5 of the Billboard Japan Hot 100 (dated Feb. 18). The decision to open the show with one of her biggest hits, which she also performed in the prestigious year-end Kohaku Uta Gassen live music extravaganza in 2018, sent the message that she was seriously fired up for her first Budokan gig.

The long-haired singer dressed in yellow took a moment to welcome her fans, remarking, "It's not often one gets to see this 360-degree sight," as she looked around the packed venue. She then delivered "Ai wo Tsutaetai datoka" and "Wakattenai" in succession, then asked the crowd to clap along to the next number, "Mangetsu no Yoru nara." "I don't do this very often," she admitted, "but I figured I'd do something for the first time at my first Budokan concert." 

After her performance of "?? chan," a song she wrote for an old friend who gave her the moniker she now goes by, she broke the news that her new song "Harunohi" had been chosen as the opener for the next Crayon Shinchan movie and premiered the number that evening.

She reminisced about her days busking in the streets of Namba in Osaka and Shibuya in Tokyo, commenting on how far she'd come in a relatively short time, then broke into the acoustic rendition of her sensational debut single, "Anata Kaibo Jun'aika - Shine" (loosely meaning, "dissecting you - a pure love song - drop dead") only to trip up on the lyrics at the outset. She stopped and cracked a joke before redoing the intense love song, which features over-the-top lyrics expressing the desire to monopolize a lover in various disturbing ways.

After a break, she opened the latter half of the concert with "Akogarete kitanda," then performed another breakout hit from last year, "Konya Konomama," illuminated in lights projecting bubbles, a key image in the song.

She explained that the title of the concert, Aimyon Budokan -1995-, was taken from her birth year. "When I told my mom about this Budokan concert, she seemed happier than when I was selected to appear on Kohaku," she shared before performing the new song "1995" written for the show. "So I decided to use the year she gave birth to me as the title. 1995 is my starting line, and singing with a guitar is my starting line as a singer-songwriter."

The last song of the engaging 18-song set was "Kimi wa Rock wo Kikanai" ("You don't listen to rock"), her 2017 mid-tempo ode to songs and falling in love, during which the audience sang in joyous unison. She thanked her fans for giving her "the number-one premium seat" after finishing the song. "Thank you for bringing me to such a place from performing on the streets!" she said before stepping off the stage with a huge grin on her face.

The sold-out Budokan concert was the biggest solo show of her career so far, but Aimyon's frank, down-to-earth character and arresting musicianship created an intimate atmosphere that made the large space feel like sitting in her living room to watch her perform.