The city of Dazaifu, located in Fukuoka Prefecture, has a couple of nice cultural sites, such as the Tenmangu Shinto shrine and Komyozenji Buddhist temple. It’s pretty short on modern, youth-oriented attractions, though, so many of the city’s younger residents were probably thrilled when they heard that Momoiro Clover Z, one of Japan’s most popular idol units, would be holding a concert in their relatively sleepy town.

Many of them were less thrilled, though, when it was announced that the concert would be held only for male fans, a decision that’s drawn complaints from a local women’s group.

This year the Kyushu National Museum, which is located in Dazaifu, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its founding, and the concert is being planned as part of the festivities. By chance, the head priest of Tenmangu Shrine and Momoiro Clover Z have a common acquaintance, and the idea to have the group come and perform in Dazaifu was initially put forward by the priest.

In July, a committee was formed including representatives of Tenmangu, the Kyushu National Museum, and the Dazaifu city government. Things progressed smoothly, but in late August it became apparent that the group intended to hold a concert only for male fans. The priest asked the idol unit’s representatives to reconsider, but was told “This is how we want to do it.”

This is a particularly surprising move for Momoiro Clover Z. Yes, the group does consist of a team of five young, good-looking women who dance and sing in brightly colored outfits, which makes it tempting to lump their act in with all of the others in the Japanese idol industry that are designed primarily to appeal to males. However, Momoiro Clover Z actually has a pretty large contingency of female fans too, enough so that the group was given the nod to perform the theme song for Sailor Moon Crystal, an anime marketed almost exclusively to women in Japan.

Though rare, single-sex concerts aren’t unheard of in Japan. Popular male solo vocalist Masaharu Fukuyama gives an annual concert just for his female fans, for example, but he then turns things around with a concert for guys, usually taking place the same week. In the case of Momoiro Clover Z’s Dazaifu concert, though, no corresponding women-only performance is planned. This imbalance is rubbing some locals the wrong way, including members of an area women’s group that have voiced complaints about a commemorative event for a community museum essentially barring half of said community.

It’s currently unknown whether the group will change its admission policy in light of such criticisms, but if it’s going to it’d better act fast, since the concert is scheduled for October 31.

Source: Yahoo! News Japan/Asahi Shimbun Digital via Jin