Michael Jackson fans, some paying $1,000 for a sleepover among his possessions, swarmed to Tokyo Tower on Friday to commemorate the first anniversary of the singer’s death with a candlelight vigil, gospel concert and silent prayer session.
Though Jackson fans gathered around the world to mark his death one year ago, the Tokyo “Lifetime Collection” event was the only overseas exhibition of Jackson memorabilia that has the sanction of his estate, promoters said.
“I don’t know what to say, seeing all his things makes it all come back to me,” said Yumiko Sasaki, a 48—year—old Tokyo officer worker who has been a Jackson fan since she was 12. “It makes me so sad to think that he is gone. He was wonderful.”
Guests paying $1,100 each were to sleep overnight at the Tokyo landmark, where they would have catered food, watch a gospel choir and dance to Michael Jackson’s music, before observing a period of silence as the sun rose.
Matt Taylor, the event’s organizer, said more than 10,000 fans applied for the 50 sleepover slots. He said proceeds would go to the estate, Jackson’s mother and children and charities that he supported.
He said the final 200 were chosen at random, and then the guests were screened by telephone interview to make sure they were emotionally stable.
“We had to be careful because people in Japan are very emotional about Michael Jackson,” he said. “There is even a Michael Jackson depression, a kind of shock over his death. We wanted to make sure that the people who came here would not be overwhelmed by the moment.”
Mr. Taylor said the sleepover was a “once in a lifetime” chance for the fans to be surrounded by such items from the singer’s life as the gate at his Neverland residence, costumes from his many tours, shoes, hats and even a 1967 Rolls Royce Phantom that he used to drive around Los Angeles with friend and actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Along with the VIP guests, hundreds of fans not able or willing to shell out the $1,100 for the full night event shuffled through the Tokyo Tower grounds to offer flowers and other gifts to the King of Pop, who died at age 50.