Learn both what Sutopuri is and what makes them special on the same day!
“Please go to Harajuku.”
This was the message that our Japanese-speaking reporter Takashi Harada suddenly obtained from his teenage niece. As a guy whose hobbies include eating obscenely big steaks and playing made-up sports like soccer that pulls his pants up to his collarbone, Takashi doesn’t spend much time in Harajuku, the Tokyo ward that’s the Japan’s youth fashion capital. Harajuku is a very short train ride from SoraNews24’s headquarters in the Shinjuku district, so he was happy to grant her request.
▼ Also, as a veteran member of the SN24 team, Takashi knows that whenever you have the opportunity to step away from the office, where things like this can happen at any time, you take it.
And that’s how Takashi found himself at the entrance of the Sutopuri Summer Strawberry Cultural Festival. You don’t know what Sutopuri is? Neither did Takashi, until about 20 minutes before he stood in the huge line of people waiting to enter the room.
Let’s go back a bit. Sutopuri is the official nickname of Strawberry Prince, an idol unit that straddles the line between anime characters, virtual YouTubers, and a real boy band. Takashi knew absolutely nothing about any of this until he received his niece’s text message asking him to get some limited edition merchandise at the Sutopuri Culture Festival fan event, prompting him to ask another SoraNews24 reporter Ikuna Kamezawa “Umm… do you know what Sutopuri is?” Ikuna, whose own niece is also a fan of Sutopuri, explained that the band members are usually represented by their pictured avatars, and their faces are only seen by fans lucky enough to attend their live concerts.
Armed with this information, Takashi made sure to double-check which character was his niece’s. oshi, or favorite, so they know which character-specific product to buy. Turns out she’s a fan of Satomiwhose image color is pinkwhile Ikuna’s niece’s heart belongs to blue boy Koron.
OK, so now Takashi knew what the event was and what he should do there, although he still felt a little awkward about being in a crowd of mostly young women around half his age. age.
Once inside, one of the first things you see is a series of member profile displays. Sure enough, even in the live concert photos, the members’ faces are covered by stamps of their picture versions. Here, Takashi learned that the other main members of the group include Riinu (image color red), which appears to have the ears and tail of a dog, and Root (yellow color image), which is neophyte Sutopuri Takashi’s personal favorite, thanks to his hardworking personality. But the only reason Takashi was at the event was, of course, Satomi.
The “Festival of Culture” part of the event name refers to open house-style festivals held in Japanese high schools, and so each character panel included a keepsake from student days. Satomi was a bittersweet tale of when he found out the classmate he had a crush on had a boyfriend and spotted them walking to class together in the morning. Takashi felt sympathy for the teenage heartache story, and I hope Satomi can take solace in the fact that he now has thousands and thousands of fans.
Other highlights of the event were an exhibition of Sutopuri concert stage costumes…
…a viewing area for band concert videos…
…even more character illustrations…
…and photo spacesthough the meaning behind the giant glasses completely went over Takashi’s head.
There was also a snack bar, where Takashi refreshed himself with shaved ice (naturally, he chose the pink syrup flavor, so his niece could enjoy it vicariously), and, of course, the gift shop, where he bought souvenirs for his and Ikuna’s niece.
Back at SoraNews24 headquarters, Takashi gave Ikuna half the ride, who immediately started taking pictures with his phone, and Takashi reflected on not only what he saw at the event, but also who he saw.
The majority of participants were women in their teens or early twenties, who had come as part of a group of friends. He had also spotted father/daughter pairs, however, and not the bratty-kid-drags-grump-dad-around type either. The fathers knew their stuff and were actively engaging in conversations with their daughter about Sutopuri, having clearly done their homework on the members’ backgrounds. There were even a few mother/son groupsand while in some of them the mother seemed much more interested in the subject than the son, it was always parent and child connecting and communicating, which often becomes more and more difficult to make a once a child reaches adolescence. .
In the end, Takashi came away with a deep appreciation for Sutopuri’s power to bring people together. Of course, you can argue that it’s silly for superfans to get so attached to what are, for the most part, fictional characters. But just a minute after Ikuna sent the merchandising photo to her niece, she received a thank you stamp…
…and this moment of shared joy between the two of them is as real as it gets.
Sutopuri Summer Strawberry Cultural Festival / すとぷり夏の苺文化祭
Location: Yodobashi J6 Building / ヨドバシJ6 ビル
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 6-35-6
Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Until August 28
Entrance 1,800 yen (13 USD)