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Controlled Karaoke: I Got To See The Arashi Textbook, Nippon No Arashi

Nippon No Arashi, the new textbook about the members of Arashi going around Japan and teaching students about Japanese cultures, made it to school libraries this week. And only school libraries, because Arashi fans seem to be going absolutely bonkers that they can’t get a copy of this book for themselves.

Unlike all of those poor souls across Japan, I actually had the chance to look at Nippon No Arashi this past Wednesday. Like 80 percent of all Westerners in Japan, I work in a school and for some reason one of the teachers I work with asked if I wanted to see the Arashi textbook. I couldn’t resist…though I did fight off the urge to pocket the book and sell it to desperate fans for some extra scratch…and spent half-an-hour with the book.

My biggest surprise probably shouldn’t have been a shock considering the book does focus on a J-Pop boy band but still…this thing barely feels like an educational material. Now, I cop to not being an expert when it comes to Japanese textbook design outside of the English books I use, but Nippon No Arashi looks more like one of those fan books they sell in stores with nothing but photos of the dudes with maybe a few paragraphs about their favorite food thrown in. This book had a lot more text…presumably about the places Arashi visit…but still left me a bit boggled. It’s important to once again note this isn’t actually a book any teacher will be using in class but rather just a supplemental read available in the library, so it’s all cool in the end. If kids learn a few facts about Japan as they stare at photos of pop idols, great.

If you were wondering where the boys in Arashi travel to, each member goes to a different place. One goes to some snow-filled place in the north, another goes to a retirement home and a special needs facility to teach us how we should respect everyone…which is a big enough problem in Japan wherein several days of the year my schools have days devoted to teaching kids that old folks are still people…and so on. The coolest/most bizarre moment comes with a chapter devoted to Nintendo…one Arashi dude pays a visit to Nintendo headquarters to play video games, watch them make video game music and live out ten-year-old-me’s dream of hanging out with Shigeru Miyamoto.

What I’m trying to say…I work at three school, two books at each, total of six books. Let’s hear some bids for these things.