Award Information

Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Cultural Anthropology
Dancing in the Dark: Idols and the Politics of Life in Contemporary Japan

This project examines issues of sexual violence surrounding “idols,” or performers that develop intimate relationships with fans, in contemporary Japan. In conditions of economic and social instability and uncertainty, idols have become a resource for many struggling to live, in particular female idols for male fans. Such men report feeling alive when interacting with idols, who give them a reason to live. “Underground” idols are particularly attractive, because men can get close to, and expect recognition from, such idols. Recent years have seen a troubling increase in violent attacks on idols by fans, who demand more from them than they can provide. While media relays gory details, little, if anything, is known about the lives of the fans and idols involved. Employing the methods of participant observation, this project focuses on 20 Japanese men who regularly attend idol performances at one of five locations in the Akihabara area of Tokyo.