HONG KONG — The Taylor Swift phenomenon swept Asia this week, with fans from across the continent flocking to Japan to see the latest leg of the American pop star’s “Eras Tour” — while those at home are hoping she can make it back to the U.S. in time to watch boyfriend Travis Kelce in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
The streets of Tokyo, where Swift is playing four sold-out shows from Wednesday to Saturday, have been swept with snow and the excited buzz of fans from around the world.
Katherine Medina, a 29-year-old from the Dominican Republic who lives in Japan, attended the Thursday show at the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome.
“I was sitting next to a girl from China. The girls in front of me were from the Philippines. A girl behind me was from the United States, Indiana,” she said.
Medina, who was sitting separately from her friends, said they had the same experience, forging instant connections with the Swift fans around them even if there were language barriers.
“Maybe they don’t have the ‘How are you?’ conversation, but they were like crying together,” she said.
Among those in the audience at Swift’s first show on Wednesday was Rosé from the South Korean girl group Blackpink, who posted video of herself singing along to the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.”
Japan is the first stop in Asia for Swift’s “Eras Tour,” which began last year and is the first to break the billion-dollar mark, while giving a boost to local economies as well.
Ticket revenue and other spending related to the four shows in Japan are estimated to have an economic impact of 34 billion yen ($230 million), according to the Economic Impact Research Laboratory.
“That’s just from one person performing four nights!” said Mitsumasa Etou, a researcher at Tokyo City University who did the calculation.
Japan is the world’s second-largest music market after the United States, but live music was hampered during the Covid-19 pandemic by border closures and other restrictions.
“We’ve had a rather long period where we didn’t actually have a lot of artists coming to Japan because of Covid,” said Barbara Greene, a lecturer in contemporary Japanese culture at Tokyo International University. “And I think Swift is the first really huge artist that people can’t wait to see.”
Since Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl, there has been fevered speculation as to whether Swift can make it to Las Vegas in time for the Sunday-afternoon game after her Saturday-night concert in Tokyo.
Not to worry, the Japanese Embassy in Washington says, noting that Tokyo is 17 hours ahead of Las Vegas — a time difference that works in her favor traveling toward the U.S.
“We wanted to confirm that anyone concerned can be Fearless in knowing that this talented performer can wow Japanese audiences and still make it to Las Vegas to support the Chiefs when they take the field for the Super Bowl wearing Red,” the embassy said in a Feb. 2 statement.
After the Super Bowl, Swift heads to Australia for seven concerts in Melbourne and Sydney later this month, then to Singapore for six concerts in March.