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Wildly popular boy-band Arashi were in the eye of the storm at rehearsals for NHK’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (“Red and White Song Battle”), the long-running “competition” that this year pits 22 popular male bands and singers against their female counterparts and will be broadcast live on New Year’s Eve from NHK Hall in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

While hardly strangers to the spotlight, the five members of Arashi looked genuinely startled by the flurry of attention they received as they fronted the press after their Wednesday afternoon rehearsal. “Wow. The number of camera flashes makes you realize just how focused everyone is on ‘Kohaku,’ ” said a still-blinking Jun Matsumoto, immediately after the press photo session.

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