This week’s latest example of toxic fan culture comes from Japan, where a man managed to find an idol group member’s house by zooming in on photos she posted on social media.
Hibiki Sato, 26 years old, zoomed in on photos of Ena Matsuoka, a member of the J-pop group Tenshitsukinukeniyomi, and was clued in by an image of a train station reflected on her eyes, NHK reported. He also reportedly used videos showing the idol’s curtains and took note of how lights shone through her windows.
Using Google Street View, Sato found the station's exact location and followed the idol home on Sept. 1. Upon arriving, he allegedly approached Matsuoka from behind, covered her mouth with a towel, and pulled her into a corner where he groped and injured her.
Authorities arrested Sato on Sept. 17; he has admitted to attacking Matsuoka.
This isn’t the first instance of stalkers attacking idols. In 2016, Japan revised its anti-stalking laws to include online harassment cases after singer Mayu Tomita was stabbed multiple times by a stalker. The singer was initially dismissed by the police when she tried to report her stalker, so she filed a case suing the government for $700,000 in damages.
Idol groups are big in Japan and other parts of Asia. They are comprised of entertainers who are rigorously trained and are meant to have emotional connections with their fanbase. Because of this, the fan culture is very intense.