Hundreds of Arashi fans take Ala Moana by surprise

Hundreds of Arashi fans take Ala Moana by surprise

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of fans lined up at Ala Moana Center to buy tickets for Saturday night's concert by the Japan boy band Arashi, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary in Hawaii.

The line of fans snaked around Shirokiya, many of them arriving from Japan and coming straight from the airport. The turnout took the store by surprise.

"Eighteen charter flights arrived from Japan, so its about 15,000 Japanese tourists are expected just for this concert alone," said Kevin Kaneshiro of Shirokiya. "And I guess we got the bulk of that today."

Kaneshiro said the line started forming at about noon. The visitors have already spent up to $5,000 for tour packages to see Arashi's Friday night concert at Ko Olina, and didn't hesitate to spend another $160 to see them a second time on Saturday.

When asked if it was worth it to wait three hours for a ticket, two members of the Arashi Fan Club from Japan immediately said "yes."

There were a few fans not from Japan, including Nealy Johnson and her sister Maria, who flew here from Kentucky for the concert. The two were born in Japan and are half Japanese.

"My friend introduced me to a drama, 'Hana Yori Dango,' and then I told my sister to watch it. And then we got into the music," said Nealy Johnson.

"And all their movies and those kinds of things, so it just started from there," added Maria Johnson.

Fans also stood in another line at the Arashi Blast store, where they could get anniversary concert merchandise, ranging from shirts to CD's and more. Most of the items have already sold out in Japan.

Arashi's concerts mark a long-awaited return to the place where the group formed.

"It was in Hawaii, on a boat in 1999," said Kaneshiro. "And then in 2001 they were supposed to do a concert here, September 15th I believe the date was. Then of course, the September 11th attacks happened, so they canceled everything."

But they're finally back. Promoters believe the concerts will bring $20 million in spending to Hawaii.

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