Pop gigs pulled as flu hits Japan

Concerts canceled, theme parks closed

TOKYO — Swine flu, which has erupted in Western Japan with 193 reported cases as of Tuesday and closed more than 4,400 schools and colleges for the week, is also causing havoc in the entertainment biz.

The affected region includes the major cities of Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto.

Boy band Johnny’s Jr. has postponed four concerts skedded for Osaka on Saturday and Sunday.

Talent shop Avex Management has canceled six concerts by pop divas Ayumi Hamasaki, Ai Otsuka and Kumi Koda between Wednesday and Sunday in Osaka.

Meanwhile, theme park KidZania Koshien in Nishinomiya has closed and will remain so until May 25.

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka is still open, but checking visitors’ temperatures as they enter the park.

USJ is also supplying restrooms and restaurants with antiseptic soap, selling flu masks at park shops and urging visitors to practice “sneezing etiquette” by covering their mouth and nose with a handkerchief. 

 The fall-out from the flu scare has yet to spread to the exhibition biz. Last weekend’s box office numbers held steady and many film fans wore masks to theaters. It remains to be seen whether this remains the case in the coming weekend.

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