Events, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki Fan Club Holiday Lunch/River Cruise Event (2017/12/09)

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It’s always exciting when I receive a mailer from Wasamin. I never know what surprises might be contained within. Will there be some new, exclusive fan club items? A special event? Perhaps another dinner show or concert? The last major mailer had a few interesting promotions. Wasamin’s 4th solo concert, Nagara Pro’s Enka Matsuri, and a fan club event, which was the biggest surprise of all…

As a special treat, Wasamin announced that her end of the year fan club event would be taking place on a boat, complete with lunch, entertainment, games, and a cruise down the Sumida River past Sky Tree. Sounds like fun, eh?

I quickly sent my application in well before the deadline, since I wanted to make sure I didn’t get shut out of this event. Interestingly, I got a telephone call from Nagara Pro a couple of days later. When I sent in my payment I naturally added 600 yen to the price of the ticket, which has been standard procedure with every Wasamin event I have ever paid for. However, it turned out that they weren’t charging the fee on this event. They didn’t want to send the money back to me, so they extended my fan club annual membership an extra month. At the deadline, Wasamin’s manager made the announcement that they had a very response to the event, and they would be renting a very large cruise boat so everyone could fit. Cool beans!


Check-in Queue

I made it out to the Etchujima docks in the late morning, and there were lots of fans milling around, waiting for check-in. I wanted to take a picture of the boat, but when I got there Wasamin was doing a photo-shoot on the top deck. When she finished, she waved to us and went below. At check-in they gave us a Nagara Pro guest pass, and told us where our seat assignment would be. I would be at table 3-B. I figured that would be somewhere in the middle, which was probably good since I sometimes, not often, but sometimes can get a little queasy on small boats. Although this was a river cruise, and the boat wasn’t that small. It was funny though, since we are supposed to show our fan club ID at check-in, but since I am the only foreigner the girl immediately exclaimed “Christopher-san!” without me even showing my ID, LOL. I have seen my name on the manifest before, and it does sorta stick out since it’s the only one not in kanji, AND it’s in all-caps. One by one we boarded the boat, storing our shoes since it had a tatami floor. There were small placards with our names at our assigned seats, and our bento lunch was waiting for us. Once we were all boarded, the boat left the dock. Wasamin was immediately introduced, and we were asked to open the bento.

Quite a luxurious lunch, eh? It has just about everything on it. But that wasn’t all. They would also be bringing out tempura, and soup. As for drinks, we had unlimited oolong tea.

So that is squid, fish, sweet potato, and of course, EBI! Now at one point one of the fans asked Wasamin if she was eating a bento box too, but she said she couldn’t eat at the event. However, that ALL went out the window when the tempura came out. Wasamin took one look at the squid and was like “I wan’t squid too!” She immediately sat at one of the tables and took a piece, LOL. Ichikawa-san came running over with an extra plate, a napkin, and a drink. The funny thing is, I think all of us were wishing she had stolen our tempura. (the fan got another piece) Not surprisingly, it happened again when the Ebi came out. Wasamin saw the giant shrimp and practically started drooling, so they brought out a piece for her too. LOL

Wasamin also promised there would be fun and games too. The first contest was a sort of “Name That Tune” type of game where they would play a one-second snippet of a Wasamin song, and you had to guess what it was. Only one person got them all correct. People that got four or five won prizes. I only got two correct. But it actually was quite difficult. Not very many people got 4 or better. BTW, the answers were 1. Saba Kaido, 2. Heavy Rotation (Enka ver.) 3. Nagori Yuki, 4. Kita no Hotaru, 5. Namida no Sanbashi.

The rest of the contests were all Janken. I came close on the first contest, but ultimately didn’t win. As for the prizes? It was mainly a bunch of leftover stuff from Wasamin’s trip to France. T-shirts, Uchiwa. Oh, and everyone who didn’t win got a random bromide, also from the France events.

Wasamin reminisced about the past year, and all the different things she got to do, like travel and perform overseas. We were also counting how many solo concerts she did. Ultimately she did EIGHT major solo performances, and that isn’t event counting the Enka ensemble concerts she regularly appears in. That’s a lot of shows. It makes one wonder why they are still using the counter (2nd concert, 3rd concert etc.) At one point she started asking us how we liked her hair. She first asked if we like when she grows her hair long, and a lot of people raised their hand. Then she asked if we liked it the way she just got it cut. Oh crap! She trapped us. WASAMIN! So of course most everyone raised their hand. That was the answer she was fishing for, LOL.  Finally, it wouldn’t be a Wasamin event without a bit of singing. After all, they DID have a full karaoke setup on the boat too. The short, 2-song setlist…

1. Watarasebashi
2. Saba Kaido

And keeping with tradition, we were allowed to shoot photos during this portion of the event. Here are some of my best shots….

And that ended the event. One by one we filed off the boat, where Wasamin was waiting for us for a short handshake and talk. I told her I was going out of town for Christmas and my birthday. At first she confirmed I was coming back, then wished me a happy birthday. Once everyone was off the boat, Wasamin gave us all one last farewell, and boat took off back to its main dock; Wasamin giving us one last wave from the window.

And that will likely be my last Wasamin event for 2017, unless she has something pop up just before the new year. The next event I can attend will be her Yamano Music event on January 2nd, but I have to win the ticket first. But yeah, it has been an incredible year to be a Wasamin fan. So many concerts, dinner shows, fan club events, mini-lives. She totally spoils her fans, which is why I have heard many fans of other AKB members say they are jealous of all the access Wasafans get to their oshimen. I should go back and count how many Wasamin events I went to this year. Perhaps I’ll have some time to do that over the holidays.

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Minyo Girls Minyo Girls Solo ‘Countdown’ Live at Hamamatsucho Cultural Hall (2017/11/25)

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I mentioned on a previous post how I had scored a ticket to this show after the website declared it sold out. I really do like Minyo Girls a lot. I usually don’t see them very often, despite the fact that they are now appearing regularly at idol live events. However, they usually only perform on weekends, and they are usually the first act in the morning. Frankly, I prefer to see them solo where they have a much longer set. Actually, I pretty much feel that way about most idols. Solo lives are better than multi-act lives.

I took an afternoon nap before the show, and woke up quite late. So I was going as fast as I could trying to make it to the show on time. It was a good thing I knew where this venue was from seeing both Wasamin and Minyo Girls perform there in the past. I got there around five minutes before curtain, passed up the goods table for the time being, and get to my seat. It turned out that my Row J ticket was actually in the very last row….technically. They had seats set up against the back and side walls too, so there were people behind me.

Two cool things about this show. First, they were going to have a photo-op portion of the concert. This is becoming the new tradition for a lot of groups these days, although Minyo Girls have been doing it for quite a while. Second, this was going to be Minyo Girls’ ‘Countdown Live’, the ten most requested Minyo Girls song, voted on by fans on a dedicated website. As for the setlist, I am sorta doing this by memory since I have not seen any setlist posted anywhere on the internet. But here is pretty much what it was…

Setlist
10. Iyouutsu! Kabuki Mono
09. Zashikiwarashi
08. Hanagasa Ondo
07. Himitsu no Yoru
06. Aizu Bandai
05. O-men Men Men
04. Ureshi Namida!
03. SAKURA☆ Kishi
02. Takeda no Komori Uta
01. Let’s Go Takarajima!
(New PV “Making of” VTR)
EN1. Toryanse (New song from upcoming release!)
EN2. Ureshi Namida!
(Note: I might be slightly off with this setlist)

Here is a video of the new song performed in the encore, AND the VTR of the new PV filming.

Overall, I thought it was a really nice setlist, and pretty much covered all of their best songs. My only two complaints. As usual, the song that fans like the most (Let’s Go Takarajima!) is not one of my favorites at all. Contrarily, Oni-san Da~are is one of my favorite songs, but didn’t make the list at all. It was, however, the play-out song as the girls left the stage after the encore.

A couple of thoughts after watching the show…

1) These girls really are superior performers. They are good dancers. They can definitely sing well. Miki is a competent shamisen player. Overall they are a an extremely talented ensemble of young idols. Unfortunately they haven’t quite caught on yet do to 1) their association with enka, despite the fact that they are becoming more of an idol group as of late. and 2) Their ages. Most of them are 12-13, with one 11 year-old, and three aged 14-17. Speaking of age…

2) I really like that they are adopting a more crossover Minyo/Pop style, as it makes them a lot more fun to watch. That said, I think it is important that they maintain the traditional/folk image as I think that’s what truly makes them special.

3) They are all definitely becoming more idol-like in personality, although talking to them it is obvious by their demeanor that they are young kids. It makes it slightly awkward to talk to them at times, but they are doing their best. This is why I almost prefer taking group shots with them as opposed to individual chekis. It feels odd being fished by a 12-year old, and Miyabi is a definite fisher.


Miyabi

4) I still have sort of a difficult time deciding who my favorite member is. I want to say it is Miyabi, since she makes a tremendous effort to get me to oshi her. Even in this show, when they roamed the audience, Miyabi was sure to look directly into my camera a bunch of times trying to give me a lot of good shots. I really like Yua too. She is adorable, and an extremely energetic performer.


Yua

5) At the end of the show, they made two announcements. First, that they would be selling tickets to the group’s Christmas Live Event, which I would love to attend but can’t. They also had tickets to their January Solo Live in Yokohama, which I CAN go to. The second, and biggest announcement was the upcoming release of Minyo Girls IV, their fourth mini-album (not counting their first indie release) Unfortunately for me that will be releasing in December while I am out of town, so I will probably miss most of the release week festivities.


This photo, taken at their latest PV shoot, was sitting on our chairs when we came in

After the show I went down to the lobby to decide which goods I would purchase for handshake tickets. I picked up a ticket to the Yokohama show, but they don’t give you tickets to that. The only items they had which I don’t already own were the T-shirt (too small) and the cheki book. I decided to get the cheki book, which would get me two meet and greet tickets. I could either use one each for chekis with Miyabi and Yua, or take a group shot. Ultimately I decided on the group shot…

When my tun came they all greeted me, and I asked Yutori who the doll was that she was holding. They all yelled in unison “Gangan,” or something like that. I thought it was cute that Yutori would bring a doll out for the event. After the photo I told them all they did a great job, and that I had a lot of fun. And with that, I took my leave. I was in a drinkin’ mood.

Finally, some of the photos I took at the event….

Miyabi

(l-r) Minori, Yutori, and Kako

Yua

Fuuka

Minori

(l-r) Miki on shamisen, Yua, Miyabi, Fuuka

Final Group Shot


I’m in the far back, but you can see me since I am holding a lightstick in front of my face

I can’t stress enough what a great group these girls are. Their music is great, they sing well, their costumes are beautiful, and they are a lot of fun to watch. If you have the chance, please check them out. I already have my ticket for their January live. Hopefully I will be able to catch them before that too.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, FES☆TIVE, New Release OIDEMASE!! ~Gokuraku~ FES☆TIVE New Release Events. (2017/11/27-28)

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It has been a while since I reported on FES☆TIVE. Actually, it had been a while since I had seen FES☆TIVE too. But I did happen to catch them in July when they released their single Go to FES! Which I’m sure without accident was released just before Tokyo Idol Festival 2017. In fact, I happened to catch them on Furage day at Tower Kinshicho, so I was able to get all versions in one shot, without the pain in the ass of preordering. Here is the full PV…

The other interesting aspect of this event was that a bunch of former Wasamin assistants were now working as staff for FES☆TIVE. Yamaue-san had been working for them for a while, and so had the DJ. But now Sasou-san and another Tokuma rep were there too. (Wasamin and FES☆TIVE share the same label, and the members are always excited to tell me when they encounter Wasamin, LOL) The funny thing was that they were all on staff for Wasamin’s July concert at Otemachi too, which is why at one point Yamaue-san had dubbed me the “Tokuma Fan”. Anyway…

I had enough tickets to visit with both Hinari and Hiyo. I took a cheki with Hinari, and did a handshake with Hiyo. It was basically a chance to play catch up and for me to explain why I hadn’t been around lately. Actually, there are a couple of reasons, which I will explain below. But there was that, I participated in the release week, and got my singles. I considered going to a couple of their weekend events as well, but blew them off. Little did I know it would be almost five months until I would see them again. This time, for a new single. OIDEMASE!! ~Gokuraku~

It was actually a complete whim that I decided to go see them. I was home with nothing to do, and I started checking to see if any of the idol groups I like had shows that evening. Lo and behold, FES☆TIVE was doing a release event in Ikebukuro. But I would have to leave soon if I wanted to make it, and I was also hungry. I left my apartment, not sure where I was going, when the bus came down the street. Well, I guess the universe was telling me something, since that bus was going to Ikebukuro, so I jumped on. FES☆TIVE here I come!

It turned out the CD was coming out this week, and this was the last Preorder event. I ended up getting two copies so I could get an autographed cheki with Hinarin. I few of FES☆TIVE’s regulars were there, and they said that Hinari would surely be happy to see me again, since it had been a while. They also informed me that there would only be six members at this event. Yuna-chan hd another event she needed to attend, but the other member…Well, that’s another story. I don’t want to spread rumors, but the scuttlebutt is that another FES☆TIVE graduation may be on the horizon.

At least Hinari was there, since she is the main reason I go see this group. They performed the new song, along with Go to FES! and a couple of their older songs. I noticed two things during the performance. 1) FES☆TIVE are not great singers, and my favorite member is no exception. Most of the groups I see these days have good singers. Wasamin is good, Minyo Girls are good, Chaki is good, even KissBee is good. So it was kind of odd to go watch a group that is sorta off-key and screechy. The second thing I noticed was that the guy standing next to me smelled horrible. I swear it was like he was hiding a corpse in his jacket. It was so overwhelming that I had to move to the back of the venue.

Anyway, the singing isn’t really one of the big reasons I haven’t been going to see FES☆TIVE lately, but it may have a little to do with it. I have been cutting down on my indie idol stuff a lot. It is just so expensive to be doing day after day. Also, FES☆TIVE had developed this small contingency of young dickhead fans who annoy the shit out of everyone. It was just a pain to share space with these little clowns. I will still try to see them when they play at TwinBox Akihabara, but they have to catch me on a good night. And they aren’t the only ones. I haven’t seen Tokyo CLEARS or Chaki in ages either. Anyway…

I was one of the first in line to take a cheki with Hinarin, but I would have to wait for the handshake only people to go first. As promised, she was very happy to see me, and we spent a little time catching up. She also dropped the bombshell that Yamaue-san got married. I told her I was jealous, since I always thought Yamaue-san was cute. (although they have a really cute girl working with them now) I told her I saw Sasou-san the day before at Wasamin’s concert in Hamamatsucho. Meanwhile, their manager was laughing that Hinarin is busy gossiping with the foreign fan about the Tokuma staff. She also asked me if I was coming to see them in Shibuya for Furage day, and like a sucker I said okay.

I was fine with going to Tower Shibuya since I was in the mood for Mexican food, and they just opened another Guzman Y Gomez branch right across the street from the store. Plus, I had never been on the Sky Deck of Tower Records before. It’s kinda cool, although I think it would be nicer on a Summer afternoon. The good news was that the group sounded a lot better at this event. Their singing wasn’t as bad, and they were a lot more energetic, so that made me happy. A couple of performance shots from their official Twitter…

There was an extremely long delay between the performance and the meet and greet. Luckily I wasn’t too far back in Hinari’s queue, which is usually the longest. Since the event was outdoors at night, (in late November!) the members wore coats over their outfits and Tower aprons. Meanwhile Hiyo-chan and Miki weren’t busy, so they were waving hello to me and smiling. I felt bad that I didn’t get a ticket for Hiyo. Same with Miki, since she is so nice, but I rarely get a ticket for her.

I had assumed that the delay was that they could go get the girls’ jackets. So I asked Hinari if that was a new jacket. She said it was, and that she bought it in Takadanobaba for 1000 yen. What a great deal, I exclaimed! I told her I liked the SkyDeck, and asked if FES☆TIVE has ever performed on top of Seibu Ikebukuro. (KissBee performs there a lot, and I really like it) Hinari said they played there just recently, and she agreed that it was nice. By the way, they took a commemorative shot with the fans…


Where’s CK? 

And with that I took off since I did have homework to do that night. I’m not sure when I will see FES☆TIVE again, but hopefully it won’t be five months from now.

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki Acoustic ‘Love Live’ at Hamamatsucho Cultural Hall (2017/11/26)

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We are winding down the year to the last couple of major Wasamin events in 2017. Her ‘Love Live’ Acoustic shows are becoming a twice yearly tradition, dating back to last year. This is not an Enka concert. Wasamin instead sings classic pop songs and ballads while playing guitar in an attempt to branch out and not be pigeonholed into one musical genre. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the first one in September of last year, but I have attended the last two.

This time, Wasamin would be holding two shows, one in the morning, and the other in the late afternoon. The venue, which is in a radio station building across the street from Hamamatsucho station, is extremely small, seating less than 200 people. I got a good look at it the previous evening when I went to see Minyo Girls’ solo performance. As usual, fan club members got first crack at tickets, and I scored pretty good seats; second row center for the matinee, and sixth row center aisle for the late show. I headed out early to queue up for goods, since I didn’t want to miss out on the cool new soccer jersey Wasamin was selling. (as well as her 2018 calendar) The shirt actually came in XXL size, which is a rarity in Japan.  BTW, Wasamin posted a video promoting the new goods…


I got me goods, and immediately tried on the shirt. Slightly snug. Normally in America I wear XL shirts, and I can usually wear an XL in Japan too. But for some reason when it is a Jersey, XXL is more like a regular large. Oh well. I also picked up a couple of CDs since Wasamin would be holding a handshake event after each show. Doors opened at 11 a.m., and since the venue was on the 12th floor, we were taken up in groups of ten via the elevators. The fan club came through with another beautiful flower/ balloon set.

The show started with a music box version of Hatsuzake, as Wasamin hit the stage. For this show, she would have a piano accompanist. She was wearing a very pretty black dress, that from my vantage point really showed off her cute legs. Here is the matinee setlist…

Matinee Performance
1. Snow Halation (μ’s)
2. Chippokena Ai no Uta (Ohara Sakurako)
MC Nagara Pro’s relationship with the Cultural Broadcasting station
3. Kandagawa (Kaguyahime)
4. Nagori Yuki (Kaguyahime)
MC Wasamin doesn’t like Winter, it is too cold. History of ‘Love Live’ concerts
5. Sweet Memories (Matsuda Seiko)
6. Watarasebashi (Moritaka Chisato)
7. Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni (Kamifusen)
8. Fuyu ga Hajimaru yo (Makihara Noriyuki)
MC Summary of Winter themed songs
9. Nora (Kinoshita Yuko)
MC Today’s new goods
10. Himawari no Yakusoku (Hata Motohiro)
MC Special drawing, five fans win a signed cheki
11. Orion (Nakashima Mika)
MC Introduction of the pianist
12. Yuki no Hana (Nakashima Mika)
EN1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara (Iwasa Misaki)

END SHOW

Interestingly, quite a few of the songs Wasamin performed had English lyrics. It is no secret that her English is not very good, so I am always interested in hearing her singing in English. It just melts my heart. Her English, as bad as it is, is soooo cute! Also, her performance of Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni was incredible. It is a really powerful song, and Wasamin doesn’t often sing with THAT much power. I was really impressed! For the encore she changed into her new soccer jersey, which looked really cute under her black skirt.

The post-show handshake event was held in the station lobby, down on the second floor. I told Misaki-chan that I LOVED Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni, and that I also enjoy when she sings in English. She asked how her English sounded. I gave her a big thumbs up and said Cho-Kawaii!

We had almost two hours until doors opened for the late show, so I decided to eat lunch at Devilcraft, and have a couple of beers. That may not have been the best choice since the beers started hitting me in the late show, and I suddenly felt really tired. In fact, I think I dozed off briefly. But I was able to shake myself awake and pay attention. I don’t think Wasamin would appreciate me sleeping in her show.

In addition to the goods, they were also selling tickets to Wasamin’s 4th concert in Ebisu, as well as tickets to NagaraPro Enka Matsuri in January. I have already pre-ordered my 4th Concert tickets, but I still hadn’t decided whether I wanted to go to the Nagara Pro NHK Hall Show. The tickets are quite expensive. (10,000 yen!) But since they were actually selling tickets for the special Wasamin cheering section, I bit the bullet and bought a ticket for the late performance. Once is usually enough for me and Nagara Pro Enka Matsuri, even if Wasamin promises to sing different songs in each show. The real stars of the event are Kiyoshi and Mizumori anyway.

Late Performance
1. Kabukicho no Joou (Shiina Ringo)
2. I Wanna See You (Abe Mao)
MC Promoting Cultural Broadcasting
3. Heroine (Back Number)
4. Konayuki (Remioromen)
MC Promotion of the water company Wasamin is the image girl for
5. Sweet Memories (Matsuda Seiko)
6. Watarasebashi (Moritaka Chisato)
7. Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni (Kamifusen)
8. Fuyu ga Hajimaru yo (Makihara Noriyuki)
MC Backstory of Watarasebashi, apparently it’s a favorite of her manager?
9. Nora (Kinoshita Yuko)
MC Promotion of new goods
10. Chippokena Ai no Uta (Ohara Sakurako)
MC Special fan drawing for signed chekis
11. Orion (Nakashima Mika)
MC Pianist introduction
12. Yuki no Hana (Nakashima Mika)
EN1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara (Iwasa Misaki)

END SHOW

Around 2/3 of the set was the same, but there were a few songs changed up in the beginning, and toward the end. Wasamin had on the same outfit, but she changed her earrings. And of course the MCs were somewhat different. I was really hoping she would sing Sweet Memories and Fuyu ga Kuru Mae ni again, which she did. And there were even more English lyrics in the second set.

And about that drawing. Unfortunately I didn’t win any of the signed chekis, although I did come close. The seat two to the right of me (B-12, I was B-10) won in the early show. Wasamin announced “B…juu….ni!” Dammit, I thought for a second I had it! Instead it was Yukikaze, who I also mentioned in my HKT/SKE handshake report on my last post.

I was one of the first in line for the post show handshake. I thanked Wasamin for the show, and told her she was great. I also explained to her that the #23, which is the number on the back of the soccer jersey, is also famous in America as being the uniform number of Michael Jordan. All the people in line behind me, as well as her manager, went like “Ooohhh” since I am sure they have seen people wear that old Bulls jersey in the past. I think Wasamin knew who I was talking about, although I didn’t confirm it with her.

I wasn’t hungry, so I decided to head home and get some homework done. I also wanted to check out the calendar. As Wasamin said in her video in the above post, it is a cute calendar. The same CD Jewel Box style she sold last year. And I think I will be joying the Spring, as April and May are among my favorite of the the photos.

And here is the soccer jersey…

Next up for me is Wasamin’s River Cruise luncheon on December 9th. I got my official confirmation in the mail this week, as well as a cute little gift from Wasamin…

Cute!!!

 

CK in Tokyo

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Events, HKT48, SKE48 The SKE/NMB/HKT Makuhari Messe Extravaganza (2017/11/23)

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(SKE 21st Single Akushukai, NMB 3rd Album Shamekai, HKT 10th Single Akushukai)

It was a ‘perfect storm’ of events at Makuhari Messe on Thursday, which happened to be Japan’s Labor Thanksgiving Holiday. SKE, NMB, and HKT all had major events to support their latest releases. For HKT, it also served as sort of a kickoff for their 6th Anniversary Celebration. For the most daring of wota, this could be an exercise of how you can handle going to three group events at the same time. This was compounded by the fact that while SKE and NMB were in neighboring halls, HKT was in a different building entirely, on the other side of the property. As for me, I had meticulously planned my day far in advance, scheduling all of my HKT tickets for the morning and early afternoon, and all of my SKE tickets for the evening. (I didn’t have any NMB tickets) So I didn’t need to worry about going back and forth from event to event. I basically stayed at HKT all day, and moved over to the main halls after 4pm.

The was the first Tokyo event celebrating HKT’s 10th single, Kiss wo Matsushikanai no Deshouka?. The have a second Tokyo event in early January. I had 14 tickets for today, ranging from the first slot through slot five (including the lunch slot) However, it was announced a couple of days earlier that Rikopi would not be attending the January event, so her tickets could be used on this day instead. Since I had one January ticket for her, that made 15 tickets to use today. I know I have said this before, but I HATE going to Slot 1 at these events. It requires me to get on a very early train, something I don’t love doing on a weekend or holiday. But when you favorite member is scheduled early, you tend to want to go early. In any case, I got there on time, and got my tickets stamped. (The girl initially questioned the absence of my middle name, but the supervisor said no problem) With nine minutes to go before the gate closed, I had two tickets for the same lane…

Slot One

‘Group Lane’ Akiyoshi Yuka/Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 23) With less than nine minutes, I wasn’t sure if I would have time to loop this line, so I decided just to use both tickets at once. When I was five away from the front, both Rikopi and Yuka had already spotted me and started waving, since the guard was creating this weird delay between fan visits. When I finally got to the front, it was an English buffet from the girls. Of course the first thing I noticed was that Yuka-chan had cut her hair short, so I went on and on about how cute it was, at which point Rikopi began playing with her hair. Oh, and I might note that Rikopi was wearing a Jack Daniels T-shirt, which I found quite humorous. Since the guard was delaying the next fan after I was pushed out, they kept taking and flirting with me until I was a good 30 meters away. In the meantime, I met up with one of the heads of Yuka-chan’s birthday committee (who is REALLY cute!) since she wanted to give me a copy of the birthday scrapbook. It is a really nice book, professionally done. Eight pages total, with photos, trivia, and an Akiyoshi quiz/crossword on the back.

There were two long queues in the back of the venue, one for goods, the other for pics. I wanted to see what kind of goods they had, but couldn’t get anywhere near the sign. I would check it out later. I also met up with my friend Yukikaze, who is a Rikopi fan, but also a member of the Wasamin fan club. I wanted to confirm with him what I had read on the message board about Rikopi’s January tickets.

Slot Two

 

Yamamoto Mao (lane 2) I bought this ticket since I had such great time meeting Mao last Summer at the HKT National Event. But it had been quite a few months since I had that ‘kami’ experience. I wondered if the same ‘electricity’ would still exist. Her queue wasn’t very big, so I lined up right at the beginning of the slot. While I waited, I noticed Ui Mashiro was staring at me from over in the first lane. She wasn’t smiling, or waving, she was just staring at me. I got a weird vibe from her, so I avoided her gaze. In the meantime, the moment Mao saw me she began jumping up and down in excitement. Yes!!! This is precisely the attitude that inspired me to get a ticket for her in the first place. So I explained to her that she made such an impression on me last Summer, that I wanted to see her again. She was genki, and thankful, and at the end I was very happy I got that ticket. And yes, I do want to see her again.

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 9) I always go into Bibian’s lane not knowing what to say, and then coming up with something at the last second. Imamura was in the lane next to her, with nobody in her queue. Poor Maria, she was wrapped in a blanket looking cold and lonely. As I got closer to the front I noticed Bibian was fascinated the the cosplay (I guess you could call it cosplay) the guy in front of me was wearing. So I commented to Bibian that he was wearing very interesting clothes, and that he looked like Sherlock Holmes. Just then, Bibian lit up; Yes! Holmes-san!!! So I used my ten seconds to gossip about another fan. Sounds good.

Slot Three

 

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 8) I had two tickets for third slot, and they were in neighboring lanes. I have been kinda taxed to come up with things to talk with Maichan about as well, although last event I was saved by the Hawks winning the Japan Series. In any case, struggling with what to say, I just blurted out that her hat was cute. She was like “really, you like it?” “Maichan always wears cute clothes!” I had another ticket for Maichan next slot. Could I come up with more to say?

By the way, while I was waiting in line for Mai, I had a good view of Sakura working with her fans. I admit that I am not the biggest Sakura fan by a longshot, but Sakura DOES try very hard to be genki and connect with her fans. I almost didn’t recognize her, since I am not used to seeing her interact with fans. She is much different than how she comes across on stage on on television.

 

Tomonaga Mio (Lane 7) I was really excited to see Mio since I saw her perform recently at the AKB theater. I wanted to tell her how much I liked her performance. I actually did. It was my first time seeing her perform in the theater live, and I thought she was adorable. When my turn came, Mio was smiling, hardly reacting. Hmm, I thought she would remember seeing me at the theater. “I saw you perform with Team 4!” Still not much of a reaction. “I wrote to the ticket center that you were the show MVP!” THAT got the reaction. “Yatta!” as she lifted her hand for a high-five. I broke through, so I was happy. I know Mio sorta has a rep for not being the most exciting handshake experience, but do really like her. So I will go the extra mile in order to make a connection.

Slot Four

 

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) <2 tickets> Including those morning group tickets, I would have seven meetings wi Yuka-chan today, so I better have a lot to talk about. Of course I could always help her with her English. So for the first ticket I told her that the group slot was a lot of fun, and that I do really like her hair. The short hair, coupled with the sexy outfit she had on, really made her look more mature. Of course, she still has that babyface of hers. I also mentioned that I really liked Rikopi’s Jack Daniel’s T-shirt, and explained that it is a famous American whiskey. I quickly looped around, since her line was pretty short. It was at this time I told her that I would be going to California for Winter vacation. She aid that she didn’t know that was where I was from, which kind of surprised me, so she asked when I was coming back, and I told her before New Year’s.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 8) For my second ticket, not sure what to talk about with Maichan, I decided to expand on the last conversation. I mentioned that I oftem look at her social media, since she is always wearing ‘cute’ outfits. This is actually true…well, partially true. The truth is that I often look at her social media since I think Mai is extremely sexy, and I think she picks out clothes that emphasize her body very well. But couldn’t say it to her that way, could I? Could I? I got pushed out rather quickly this time, so it hardly mattered.

It was around this time that I ran into my friend Panda, who had his usual stack of Mikurin tickets. He was also going back and forth from the HKT and SKE events. The queue for goods had gotten considerably smaller, so we decided to check out what they had for sale….

At first glance, it a lot of senbatsu stuff, and a bunch of T-shirts, which I usually ignore since that rarely have my size. They did have new 6th Anniversary keychains for all of the members, so I decided I would get one for Yuka-chan. They also had gacha balls, where you could win a small member pin, and a guitar pick. But it was random, and I was only interested in getting Yuka-chan. As we exited the goods area, I noticed that the T-shirts all came in XL size. Wait a second! I took a better look at the 6th Anniversary T-shirts. Oh my god, they are all modeled after famous Hard Rock logos! One of them was even tie-dyed. This changes everything! The ‘Nirvana’ shirt was cool, but I have never really liked them. The main logo was an AC/DC version, but I didn’t like that it prominently said “ROCK”, and not HKT48. Since the last shirt was based on the logo of a band I used to really like a long time ago, the choice became clear.

I got the ‘Metallica’ version. It is the least colorful, but it ticked every other box of what I like in a shirt. I really would have liked to have gotten them all, but I didn’t want to overspend. Perhaps if I get another opportunity, I will pick up another one.

Lunch Slot

 

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) I wanted to show off my new Yuka-chan keychain. She was like “Oh, you got it!” Yuka grabbed on to it to get a better look. It is small, but she looks really cute on it. I also mentioned that I got the T-shirt.

By the way, Toyonaga Aki was in the next lane over. Not only did she look really cute, she was really outgoing with her fans. I have met her before, but it was back when she was a relatively new kenkyuusei. My, how she has blossomed. Just a mental note; I may want to meet her again in the future


‘Rikopi Challenge’ Posters were hung all around her lane

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 15) <2 tickets> I had decided that I would use that ‘extra’ ticket that I was suddenly tasked with using in this slot. However, I think a lot of people had the same idea, as it was pretty much the longest queue I had ever seen for Rikopi. My friend Yukikaze informed me that Rikopi would also be holding the “Rikopi Challenge” with the fans in her lane. What the hell is that? He tried to explain it to me, and I got the gist, but I couldn’t understand just enough to make me apprehensive about it. I decided to start out by using only one ticket. Since the Lunch Slot is short, I ran the risk of not being able to use the other ticket, but oh well. When I got to the front, it was basically another handshake. Of course this was Rikopi, so there was lots of English, and goofing around. I told her that her T-shirt was awesome, and asked if she had ever tried Jack Daniels before. She said that one time she had a little bit. Hmmm, not sure I’m entirely believing her. I told her that I drink it all the time, LOL. The good news was that there was still time left in the slot, so i was able to requeue and use my January ticket. It was at this time that I asked her about the Rikopi Challenge. So she stretched her hand and said “Let’s play Janken” After three ties, she won, which meant I had to play a batsu game. The punishment was basically her slapping my wrist with her fingers. If I had won, she would have given me a special message, or blow me a kiss.

Slot Five

This would be my final slot before switching over to SKE. While waiting I watched some of the special stages the members do at the event. People were queuing for these very early, and the viewing area was always packed. So while I walked by during a few of the events, i only watched one for an extended period since Bibian was on stage, along with Imamura Maria, Yamauchi Yuna, Ui Mashiro, and another member I couldn’t recognize since I was pretty far back. They had a contest on who was most skilled at playing the recorder. Amazingly, Bibian was actually quite good at it.

A short time later I had a random fan walk up to me and ask me if Akiyoshi was my oshimen. I said yes. He reached into his bag and pulled out an Akiyoshi gacha pin to give me. SCORE! And I didn’t even have to try to win one. Unfortunately, he only gave me the pin, and not the guitar pick, but who am I to complain? I had three tickets for the last slot, two for Yuka-chan, and my fifth Rikopi ticket of the day. Sheesh! That was kind of an anomaly, I didn’t plan to see her so much.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) <2 tickets> My last two tickets for Yuka-chan, for the first one I showed her my gacha pin. She asked if I actually won it at the machine, but I explained to her that I got it as a gift. For my last ticket, I told her that I really liked her sweater, and that she is a very nice dresser. She thanked me, and asked when I would see her again. I told her I would see her at the January event.

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 15) Running out of stuff to say, I told Rikopi about my Winter Vacation plans. Her initial reaction was almost like a panic. She was like “You are coming back, right???” I said, don’t worry, I am coming back to Japan. For some reason she laughed at the way I said it, but I’m not sure why.

I was finally done with all of my HKT tickets, and I had 90 minutes until I needed to be at SKE, so I hing around in the HKT venue for a while, running into BigC and Panda. I also waited until the end of the slot so I could wave goodbye to Yuka-chan with the rest of her fans. After that I slowly made my way across the bridge to the main halls, grabbing a snack at the conbini along the way, and quickly meeting up with my friend Nori, who was exclusively at the NMB event.


From the SKE48 costume display area

This was the second Tokyo event promoting the Igai ni Mango single. The first event was all the way back in July. I got most of my tickets for the first event, and only got these tickets after I reserved my HKT stuff, so I knew there wouldn’t be any overlap. I had four tickets total, but there was a dinner break between the slots. So it would basically be two tickets, then a long wait, then the last two tickets. Instead of by slot, I will report these by member.

Oh, and it was around slot A4 and into the dinner break that Yuasa was announcing the next single senbatsu via twitter, so I hoped (in vain) that I would be congratulating the girls at some point. Oh, and one other interesting note. I forgot to get my tickets stamped, and had no problem whatsoever using them in the lanes. However, it should be noted that I do have a Japanese identification, and almost everything on it matches the info on my tickets.

Slots A4-A5

Tani Marika (Lane 17) When I got toward the front of the queue, I noticed there was a cameraman near her, occasionally filming. In any case, I decided to play with her a little bit. Marika immediately noted that she has seen a lot of me lately. So I told her that last week I tried her Cup Ramen recipe (from the AKB recipe event a couple of weeks ago) She asked how it came out. “Oishii!!” I got a big thumbs up. Nice.

When I was waiting for her in the last slot, once again she was being followed around my a cameraman. So I asked her what the filming was about. She initially played dumb with me. I said that I saw the camera, and asked if they were making a movie about her. She still played dumb, so I basically said that I want to see a “Documentary of Tani” That she liked. LOL.

In-between slots I did check out the goods line, although it was the exact same stuff I saw in July. 90% of it was sold out too. I could have picked up a Kaotan oshi towel if I wanted, but I have enough oshi towels in my life already, so bail.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 13) For the first ticket I asked her which song I should vote for at Request Hour. Personally, I would vote for Matsumurabu in a second if it was eligible, but it isn’t. So she recommended Koko de Ippatsu. Interestingly, she didn’t recommend Koi Yori mo Dream. I wonder why? Per usual, Kaotan immediately asked me how many tickets I have, and if I would be seeing her in both slots. This time, I could answer affirmatively. So she was happy. BTW, Kaotan’s lane was right next to Oya Masana. This would be Masanya’s final handshake event. I was bummed that I didn’t get a ticket for her today, but I did see her couple of times recently. And she did spot me in Kaotan’s queue. Anyway…

After a long and tiring 10-hour day, I was finally on my last ticket. Since I am sure Detective Kaotan would want to know, I told her my Holiday plans. Interestingly, she immediately responded “You are spending Christmas with family?” Yep. “When are you coming back to Japan? January?” No, December, the 29th. I will see you in January. “Good, enjoy California!

I contemplated sticking around for Masanya’s farewell, but it meant sticking around for at least another 90 minutes. Normally I wouldn’t really care, but I DO have a history with Masanya that goes back to the early days of SKE, and in that respect I really wanted to be there. However, I was exhausted, hungry, and I had Japanese studying that I needed to get done. So I decided not to wait around. I did see the ceremony on Kaotan’s Periscope, so that was a nice consolation.

So that’s it for me and the 48-groups in 2017. It was been an extremely exciting year. And the next events kick off in the first week of January. In the meantime, I do have a few Wasamin events coming up before I head to Cali, including her ‘Love Live’ acoustic concert this weekend.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Iwasa Misaki The Wasamin Weekend Enka Shop Tour (2017/11/18-19)

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The was a last-minute addition to Wasamin’s schedule, although she does do these on occasion, especially during her single pre-ordering period. Perhaps they wanted to give her a bit of a warm-up before her ‘Love Live’ shows next weekend? Not sure, but it was only a week or so ago that they announced Wasamin would be appearing at four different Enka shops on Saturday and Sunday.

Prior to this announcement, I thought I would be having a relatively light weekend. Minyo Girls were doing a free live in Asakusa on Saturday, and KissBee were doing an appearance on top of Tobu Department Store in Ikebukuro on Sunday. However, that ALL went out the window for me when these events were announced, especially since most of the Enka shops Wasamin would be performing in were very close to my apartment. On the other hand, did I really want to go to all four of these events. I mean I love going to see Wasamin, but at each event I need to buy more copies of Saba Kaido. I have lost count of how many copies I have purchased in the last year, but it is easily in the triple-digits. Ultimately I decided I would go to three events; the two on Saturday, and then the late event on Sunday. I chose to skip the early Sunday show since it was in Koiwa, which is not near my house. Okay, my plans were set, until….

I had just finished eating lunch at Akabane Station, and was getting ready to board a train to Higashi-Jujo, when I got the email. I had gotten cancel machi for an AKB48 theater show. 16th Gen, Sunday afternoon. Yatta! Oh wait. Sunday afternoon. That would conflict with the Wasamin event. And the Sunday afternoon event was the on within walking distance from my apartment. Oh no!!! This was a dilemma, especially since it was cancel machi, and not a great cancel machi number, I might add. (#103) If I chose to go to see AKB, there was a decent chance i wouldn’t get in, and then I would be missing out on both events. However, I make it rule to ALWAYS go to the theater when have a win or cancel machi, so that was it. I guess I wouldn’t be seeing Wasamin on Sunday, unless I made the trek out to Koiwa in the morning. Ugghh!

I made it over to Music Shop Dan in Higashi-Jujo around 10 minutes before the event. This is the second time I had been to this shop. The first time was furage day for Saba Kaido, back in January. They were selling Wasamin CDs outside in the drizzle. I bought one copy, and headed down the street to a local community center where they hold their events. (The shop is extremely small) There were about 30 people in the room.

Higashi-Jujo Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Ringo no Uta
3. Shitamachi no Taiyou
4. Saba Kaido

I only had one handshake ticket. During one of Wasamin’s MCs she was talking how cold it was this weekend, and mentioned that she was wearing ‘Heat-tech’ underneath. So I told her that I was also wearing Uniqlo’s Heat-tech. She asked if i had on tops and bottoms, but I told her just bottoms. She then asked if I would be going out to Saitama for the late event, which I affirmed…

Now there was over 2 hours to kill between the first and second events, and Warabi, which is in Saitama, is only 10 minutes away. I decided to kill some time by going to the local Dotour for a cup of coffee. I sat in the coffee shop for around 30 minutes or so, before heading back to the station. However, it dawned on me that Wasamin usually doesn’t leave the shops until a little while later. I hope I don’t awkwardly run into her on the street. As I walked past the shop, there was no sign of Wasamin. Cool. So I headed back to the station. I would still be getting to Warabi fairly early. I would figure out what to do when I got there. I went down the stairs to the platform. Oh shit…..

There’s Wasamin, standing there with her manager and assistant, waiting to board the train.

I quickly motioned an apology (praying hands) and walked down to the other end of the platform. For good measure, when we got to Warabi, I took a seat on the platform for about five minutes or so, and waited for Wasamin to hopefully exit the station before heading out myself. That would be the fourth time I have run into Wasamin out in public. And I know she likes her private time, so I don’t want to disturb her like that. With nothing to do, and an hour to kill, I went into the Warabi Dotour and had another cup of coffee.

I headed to the shop, which I had also been to before during Hatsuzake preorder. It is a tiny shop, and I wondered how the heck they were going to hold a performance there, unless, like many other shops, they had some kind of private performance area in the attic or something. Wasamin’s assistant opened the door, and said “Chris-san come in!” As I was purchasing my CDs at the door, I explained to her why I was still in Higashi-Jujo, and apologized for running into them at the station. She laughed, and said it was all good. A Tokuma rep happened to be there, and wondering what we were talking about, so she related the story. Anyway, they jammed us into this tiny store. It was so tight that shortly before the event they asked us to scrunch over to the left when Wasamin came in, so she could get through, LOL.

Warabi Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Gakusei Jidai
3. Niji wo Watatte
4. Saba Kaido

I had two tickets for this event. As I stood in line, a couple of fans asked me what I did between the two events, and I related the story about seeing Wasamin at the station. I also mentioned my cancel machi for AKB, and they all thougt that I probably wouldn’t win. Anyhow, Wasamin had talked about all of the cassettes in the store. So when it was my turn I told her that when I was a kid, that is how I listened to music. (I neglected to mention that I actually go as far back as vinyl and 8-tracks) It was at this point she asked if I would be coming to the Sunday events. When I said I wasn’t sure, she was like “Ehhh, why?” But I was being pushed away. I had another ticket though. So when I came back around, she again asked why I wasn’t sure about Sunday. I was like “Well, I have cancel machi for AKB…” She immediately yanked her hand back, folded her arms and gave me the pouting look, LOL. I was over a barrel, so I immediately blurted out that I would be coming to Koiwa. She started giggling, and said she was only kidding. Phew, I don’t want to get on Wasamin’s bad side. After that I quickly bailed back to Tokyo since I had dinner plans, and I wanted to pick up a postcard to apply for Wasamin’s New Year Enka appearance.

Apparently Ikeda Megumi, who is a presenter for TBS Radio, was at the event. I didn’t notice her. Perhaps she was backstage.


Ginza Yamano Music’s Christmas Tree 

I decided to not bring my Happi-coat on Sunday since I was going to be out all day, into the evening, and didn’t feel like carrying it around all day. I made it to Koiwa around 15 minutes before the event. In fact, all the fans were already inside the upstairs venue. Once again, around 30 people. This is actually the third time I have been to this place. Again, for Hatsuzake preorder, and for Saba Kaido release week..

Koiwa Setlist
1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
2. Tokyo no Bus Girl
3. Wakare no Yokan
4. Saba Kaido

During the MC, Wasamin again brought up all the people who weren’t wearing their Happi. Dammit! I was wearing it yesterday! Then she made a big deal out of who was going to the event in Akabane later on. Wasamin indirectly giving me crap via the MC? Anyhow, I only had one ticket to see her this time, and as I got to the front Wasamin again pointed out that I always do the hand motions on her songs. In fact, she said it as “We do it together,” and said she actually aims it at me sometimes. (I actually noticed that a couple of days ago, she was aiming at me when she pointed to the audience) told her that I went to Ginza and got a postcard for January, so she was happy about that. Normally these Enka shops don’t want you milling around after you are done with your tickets, so I took off. I had a lot of time to kill before the AKB show (Which I ended up winning, it is on the previous post) but I also had a couple of errands to run. Oh, and I do have the setlist for Akabane…

Akabane Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Toshishita no Otokonoko
3. Mugon-Zaka (the song she debuted at her challenge campaign this week)
4. Saba Kaido

I really like the Otokonoko song, so I am kind of sorry I missed it. Anyhow, Wasamin will be spending this week rehearsing for her ‘Love Live’ concert in Tokyo on Sunday. The following weekend she will be performing in Hiroshima and Fukuoka. The weekend after that will be her Lunch Cruise event, which I am really looking forward to. So still lots going on between now and when I jet over to Cali for Christmas. And one more bonus, Wasamin modeled one of the new goods available at Sunday’s show…

A soccer jersey? Awesome! I hope they have my size!

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts 16th Gen ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ 16th Gen Stage Live, 4pm Late Show (2017/11/19)

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This was supposed to be an “all-Wasamin” weekend…

Actually this was supposed to be a light weekend. The type of weekend where I could catch up on personal stuff. But then at the last minute Wasamin announced that she would be doing a slew of mini-lives, most of which were taking place around the Northern part of Tokyo, very close to my apartment. So my plan was to go to most of those events, and spend the rest of my time on personal stuff. I was just getting on the train to go to Wasamin’s first event when I got the email…

Sunday Afternoon Show, 16th Gen Kenkyuusei. Cancel Machi #103.

I am always happy to win a show, but this put me in a real quandary. When I was deciding which Wasamin events to attend, the one I was most excited about was the Sunday afternoon one since it was within walking distance to my house. I had also resolved to skip Wasamin’s early Sunday event, since of the four, it was the furthest away from me. But I have a personal rule, which I have mentioned before in this thread. If I win a show, or get cancel machi, regardless of how high the number, I will go.

But Cancel Machi #103, sheesh. There were no guarantees with this one. In fact, the odds were on me not getting in at all, which means I could be blowing off Wasamin, and not seeing AKB either. But, I decided to take the chance. And since Wasamin specifically asked me if she was seeing me on Sunday, I bit the bullet, and went to the early event in Koiwa…

So after seeing Wasamin in the late morning, running errands across town, eating lunch in Shinjuku, I headed over to Akiba. Quite the zig-zag, as I was basically going back and forth on the Sobu Line, LOL. After vegging out in Excelssior Cafe for a while, I headed over to the Donki. The online pre-cancels for the show were already close to #40. Additionally, there wasn’t a long line for tickets, and there weren’t too many people waiting for cancel machi. I started feeling more confident about my chances. There was no real last-minute rush, so they started calling cancel machi numbers right at 3:30pm. From the 40’s, into the 60’s, he started slowing down. The call then resumed and went all the way up to #80 before it was cut off. Okay, I wasn’t counting on making it into the seat lottery. I surveyed the room. There were exactly 16 cancel machi people left, and since they usually allow 10 more in via the second chance lottery, I felt I had a decent chance now. I got slightly worried when the first couple numbers were present, but eventually he crossed the 100 threshold, and called my number. I was ultimately the 2nd to last person called, as they cut it off after the guy behind me (#108)

So great, I won the show! Who cares if I was going to ultimately be the 2nd to last person to enter the theater, right? This would be my 39th Theater Show, my fifth time seeing the 16th Gen Kenkyuusei, and my 4th time seeing the “Let’s Go Kenkyuusei” Stage. Right now the 16th gen is by far my favorite AKB team, so I am more than fine winning all of these kenkyuusei shows. As expected, when I entered there was only standing room in the very back, but oddly most people were jammed into the left and right side, the center back was not nearly as packed as usual. So I ended up standing dead center. I had to look over people’s shoulders, but I had a fairly good view of the center stage, although I couldn’t see the sides at all.

I’m ultimately going to do this review slightly different. I mean, you guys know how stage shows work, and I have already talked about this stage three times on this blog. I feel like I am getting to know these members. As such, while I was watching I started compiling a list of the members I like, and why. I will also tie this in with the “high-wave” at the end, since I put a lot of stock into how members react to me, and it affects who I ultimately like.

Zunchan: is currently my favorite member in AKB. I love watching her perform. The way she moves, her expressions, they way she plays with the other members, and the fans. She has an adorable face. And I am not even getting into the experience of seeing her at handshakes. This girl is top notch, needs to be promoted, and when she is promoted, she needs to be prominent in the group. Period! She is always at the very end of the “High Wave” line, and since I see her at handshake events, I always get a good reaction.

Zukkii: Is the other “All-Star” in the 16th gen. And since they put her in the U-17 Senbatsu, and she has a solo unit in this stage, I would say they have plans for her. It is also amazing the way she transforms when putting on the leather and garter for that unit too. Normally she looks very young, and she has has a body like a bean pole. Oh, and I love the “shocked” expression she gave me tonight in High Wave.

Satomina: Right now I call her my #3. She is one of those that I like, but then I am afraid to like her too much since she is kinda ‘babyish’. But it really seemed like she took it to the next level tonight. She was out front for many of the songs, and she was much more outgoing in the MCs. I love that expression on her face, where she always has her mouth open. It’s cute. On the other hand, I got virtually no reaction from her at the High Wave, so I fear if I meet her, she might be a disappointment, personality-wise.

Anyway, those are my top three. As for others who make an impression…


Ayamin

Ayamin, Naamin: The two ‘tall girls’ aside from Zukkii. I must admit that I always notice them every time I see the 16th gen, but I kind of bypass them since I don’t consider them my favorite. All that said, it is time to admit that they always catch my attention since they are always performing to a level to make me notice them. Ayamin also seems exceptionally confident on stage. She is also one of the members who tries to speak English with me during High Wave. I would put both of these members in the upper tier of 16th gen.

Kana: I have gone back and forth in my mind over Kana. Sometimes I like her, and sometimes I think she looks ‘goony’. However, she is the main reason I think the ‘Cross’ unit is so awesome. Her performance is especially fierce, and in my opinion, has the intensity that Team 4’s ‘Confession’ unit is missing. Oh, and she is one of the others who tries to speak English with me, so fishing points for her.

Orin: I originally didn’t care for Orin, or perhaps I should say that I didn’t want to like Orin. I didn’t care for the way that everyone seemed to ‘pile on’ to being her fan since she is Tomu’s sister. She was the one 16th gen (iirc) that made senbatsu, and to me she didn’t necessarily deserve it. Her bloodline got those votes. I also think, like Kana, that she is kinda of goofy looking, LOL. On the other hand, for the last three shows she has tried very hard to make an impression on me, either during the show or in High-Wave. Now, I am usually a sucker for a good fisher, but it doesn’t always work. I have had idols who I had no interest in whatsoever try to fish me, and I thought “yeah, who are you kidding?” Inagaki has done this with me on occasion, but not as consistently as Orin. Anyhow, Orin gets points for effort.

As for the rest. Well, they just don’t make an impression on me, for whatever reason. I will say that I noticed some of them really trying to appeal to the fans tonight. Tacchan in particular comes to mind. But my head is not on a swivel, and I try to pay as much attention to my ‘Top 3″ as possible.

So anyway, I finished high touch, retrieved my bag, and decided to finally purchase one of those photosets they offer after the show. I had always blown them off, until I actually looked at the most expensive set.

It is really nice! With the cute folder you can also put your ticket into. I may get these from now on, they are a nice keepsake. 1200 yen, it is probably a bit more expensive than it should be, but what the heck. What they should probably do is throw in a pic of one member too.

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki Monthly “Challenge Campaign” at Shinseido Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture (2017/11/15)

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It isn’t often that I have the opportunity to go to Wasamin’s monthly challenge campaign. It is held during the week, and during lunch time. So for the many who work, or go to school, or both, it is tough to make it out to the event. In fact, in almost two years this is only the fourth time I have been able to attend. It’s too bad because, not only does Wasamin debut a new song, (meaning a sing she has never performed before) this is also her hometown. Well, I think it is her hometown. Wasamin doesn’t reveal exactly where she grew up, and where her parents still live. But from the clues she has given over the years, we are fairly sure she is from this general vicinity. Anyway….

This is the 20th Challenge Campaign event Misaki-chan has done. Wow, going on two years! Quite a few of the songs she has debuted here in the past have ended up on her 2nd album, singles, or regularly performed songs at her concerts and events. Here is the list of the songs she has debuted here, thanks to Wasamin Superfan Wild-san…

01. Itako Hanayome-san (1960)
02. Gakusei Jidai (1964)
03. Ringo no Uta (1945)
04. Kita no Hotaru (1984)
05. Namida no Sanbashi (1977)
06. Futarizake (1980)
07. Ishikari Banka (1975)
08. Shitamachi no Taiyou (1963)
09. Namida no Renrakusen (1965)
10. Hibari no Hana Uri Musume (1951)
11. Ginza Kan Kan Musume (1949)
12. Osaka Rhapsody (1976)
13. Nangoku Tosa wa Atoni Shite (1953)
14. Yume Shibai (1982)
15. Okaasan (1974)
16. Kukou (1974)
17. Koi no Dorei (1969)
18. Osashiburi ne (1983)
19. Michizure (1978)
20. ———–

Sings 1-7 all ended up being recorded for Wasamin’s 2nd album, and her 6th single. Makes you wonder which of those songs might become the c/w tracks of her future singles. And quite the range, from 1945-1983. What would she sing today?

Setlist
1. Gomen ne, Tokyo
2. Mugon Zaka (1993, originally recorded by Kouzai Kaori)
3. Gakusei Jidai
4. Saba Kaido

Wow, 1993! That’s relatively new compared to what she usually performs. But it is a beautiful ballad.

Some of the fans noted that it was a smaller than usual crowd, although Wasamin usually gets a lot of ‘walk-ups’ when she performs here since she is technically performing outside on a crowded shopping street. During her performance, a lot of people will walk over to check out who is performing. Many just keep walking, but some will stay and watch for awhile.

Since I grabbed a quick lunch right before the show, I didn’t have time to buy CDs beforehand, but I managed to be first in line to get two CDs/tickets after Wasamin finished singing. I was outside talking to a couple of fans, and didn’t notice that the handshake session had started, so I quickly jumped into the line. For my first handshake, I happened to have my study sheet from the Kanji test I took earlier in the day. I showed Wasamin the sheet, which happened to have the kanji for “song” (Uta) on it. I told her that I can always remember this kanji because I think of her standing in front of a microphone. She got a big kick out of that. She then noticed that on my sheet, next to the kanji, is a drawing of a cute girl singing into a standing microphone. She was like, “Yeah, it is me!” LOL

In-between handshakes I had asked the other fans if the Yamano Music shop upstairs from the event sold Wasamin CDs, and if they had the postcards that we can send in to apply for Wasamin’s January performance in Ginza. They told me that they do indeed have them, since Shinseido and Yamano are like partner stores. I interpreted that to mean that it was all one shop, so as I passed the sales table, I asked the woman in charge if they had the postcards upstairs. The fans next to me began to laugh; “Chris, that’s a different store!” Huh, I thought they just told me it was all one shop….

So as I get to the front of the line, Shim-san begins to relate this story to Wasamin and Ichikawa-san, and they all get a good laugh at my expense. In the meantime I was giving them the ‘sad, puffy lipped’ look. And as Misaki-chan grabbed my hand I exclaimed “But I want to see Wasamin in Ginza!” Anyhow, I told her that I would be spending Winter vacation in California. She said she would miss me while I was gone.

I did a little shopping around Kashiwa before heading back to Tokyo. In the meantime my tickets for Wasamin’s ‘Love Live’ later this month arrived in the mail…

 

2nd row and 6th row. Not bad at all! For the last ‘Love Live’ in the late Spring I was around the 13th row, in the second section. I also have my Minyo Girls ticket for Saturday, which is 10th row.

Wasamin has a bunch of events coming up this weekend. Saturday she will be in Higashi-Jujo and Warabi, then on Sunday she will perform in Koiwa and Akabane. I should note that both the Jujo and Akabane locations are almost within walking distance from my apartment, and Warabi isn’t too far from me either. So I have Misaki-chan hanging around my neighborhood for the weekend. Fun tiems!

And special bonus, Wasamin commercial for the water company she is the image girl for.

Good job Misaki-chan!

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events, HKT48, SKE48 AKB48-Group 49th Single #Sukinanda Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama. (2017/11/05)

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Back to Yokohama for the second half of the 48-groups big handshake weekend. This time I had a few more tickets than on Saturday, and I had a variety of different prizes I could potentially win. 1-shot videos, 2-shot selfies, autographed member recipe cards, and the autographed alternate CD jacket. The question was whether or not I would be lucky and win at least one of each prize. I also took pictures of a bunch of the member recipe cards. Let’s get right into the action…

SLOT 2

Tani Marika (Lane 53) I only had the one Slot 2 ticket, so I didn’t really need to get to the venue until after 11am. Tani didn’t have too big of a queue. I checked in, drew on the lottery, and won. Good start! It was a choice of 1-shot video, or 2-shot selfie. Since I suck at taking selfies, and Tani, is so funny, I chose the video…

Looks like I got a girlfriend, eh??? Yatta! In that case, I better grab some Tani gear ASAP! I asked Tani if she was still a Soft Bank Hawks fan, and she replied affirmatively by exclaiming yes and pumping her fist. So I gave her a quick “omedetou” before getting pushed out. In the meantime, I ran into Matto, as well as Naruse . I also ran into a Hong Kong fan who I believe I met once before, but I don’t remember his name. Oh, and I signed a birthday card for Marika (as well as Bibian) and her fans gave me some Tani tissues!

 

SLOT 3

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 55) I decided to queue up early of Zunchan’s lane since it has a tendency to get very long. I lined up around 20 minutes early, just as Aramaki Misaki was finishing up with her last fan. I didn’t win the selfie/video prize, which wasn’t too big of a surprise since she is a bit harder to win for. Anyway, a short time later Zunchan entered her booth. What the hell, she is 20 minutes early? She wasn’t there to start meeting the members, she was there to decorate her booth. Balloons, streamers, toys, stuffed animals. It is amazing watching her do all of this. And it takes her over 10-15 minutes to get it all done. In the meantime, everyone from the neighboring queues are also watching and laughing in amazement. Even Shoji Nagisa came in to see what she had done to her booth. That isn’t even all. She then has a bunch of handwritten signs that she asks the staff to strategically place all over the lane. It is absolutely amazing what she does, and you can see it all from halfway across the hall!

 

Needless to say when it came to my turn I told her I watched her put her booth together, and that it was amazing and totally cute. I then said that her bedroom at home is probably the same. LOL.  She basically laughed along with me. Later on I took my friend Nori over to see it, and he thought it was great. He said he had never seen anything like it before. I have seen members decorate their lanes before, but never to this level.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 62) After Yuka-chan stole my heart on Saturday, I was really looking forward to seeing her again on Sunday. Luckily, I won the 2-shot selfie. But was this really good news? I suck at taking selfies. So while I was waiting in the queue (she did have a bit of a line) I practiced taking selfies so I wouldn’t blow it. I got her in perfect position, I had a good grip on my phone, I extended my arm out as far as I could, cracked a half-smile, and…

 

Success! I finally took a proper selfie. In my quick visit I noted that the sweater she was wearing was just as cute as yesterday, and that she always wears very nice clothes. She quickly thanked me as I got pushed out. But I would be seeing her again to lead off the next slot…

SLOT 4

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 62) This time, surprisingly, I did not win for the 1-shot video. I wasn’t to disappointed though, since I already have three of those with her from recent events. I instead decided to congratulate her on the Hawks win. I noted that I was looking at her twiiter last night, and saw all of her Japan Series tweets, and that I saw she ate dinner with Meru. Anyhow, I hoped I would have better luck when I visited Yuka again in Slot 6.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 73) Keeping with the theme, I had already set up with Maichan that I would be rooting along with her for the Hawks on Saturday night. I didn’t win the alternative jacket prize, meanwhile Maichan had a decent sized queue. However, I guess nomany people were winning since her line went very fast. In any case, when it was my turn she already knew what we were going to talk about, and started pumping her fist and cheering before I even got into the booth. I congratulated her, and she gave me a big High-Five. Maichan is so much fun.

 

I had no Slot 5 tickets. So after visiting with my friend Nori for a little while, I bailed back to Queen’s Square for a late lunch and a cocktail.

SLOT 6

Sakaki Miyu [Cuca] (Lane 32) I had three tickets for Slot 6, and decided to get Cuca done first since she never has a line. However, when I got there, she DID have a small queue. So I decided to wait for it to clear out, but it didn’t. More people kept entering her lane. This is really good news. She is starting to cultivate more fans! Her lane was still “automatic win” for the prize, so I would be getting the autographed recipe.

So I decided to ask her about the recipe. I neglected to tell her that I do not like dishes with cooked tuna in them like that. Instead I asked her if it was an Okinawan recipe since a friend of mine thought it might be. She insisted that it wasn’t. She also sincerely thanked me for coming, and asked if I lived in Japan. Since this is like the 4th or 5th time I have met her, I think she is getting that I really do like her.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 62) One final visit with Yukachan, and I won her recipe card too! It seemed like most people were winning, since in my immediate vicinity everyone had won, save for one unlucky guy.

Her recipe was for a fried rice dish, so I asked her if it was Chinese inspired. She told me that it is actually her father’s recipe, something he makes at home. The guards were calling time, but Yukachan spent extra time on the autograph, even drawing a mikan at the bottom, as well as a special message. So a total score. I look forward to seeing her again at the HKT event in late-November.

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 58) Bibian had quite the queue, I was really surprised. It didn’t really matter, since it would be a while until I could use my final ticket. I didn’t win the 1-shot video, oh well. Bibian was completely decked out in Adidas gear, so I noted that when I entered the lane. And like with the other HKT members, I asked her if she was a Hawks fan. And then congratulated her on the Japan Series win. Short and sweet.

 

So we would have to wait until after the dinner break before Slot 7 started. This is why I usually try to be done after Slot 6. However, oftentimes some of my favorite members, like Tani, Kaotan, Bibian, and even Yukachan only have after dinner slots. In this case one member I like was only Slot 7-8, and since I didn’t even see her at all on Saturday, I would brave the wait.

SLOT 7

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 41) I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to enter Kaotan’s lane early, or wait a while. But her queue kept getting bigger, so I decided to get in there before it got out of hand. In any case, she likes to take her time with the fans. I didn’t win the “alternative CD jacket” prize, but you never know with Kaotan. In the meantime her lane was positioned right next to the Handicapped lane for SKE. So I had a really closeup view of all the members coming over to that lane. It is really interesting how that lane operates too. The first member who came over was Ego-chan, then Ryoha, Hidaka Yuzuki, Suuchan, Obamina, Kaotan, and finally Masanya when I was really close to the front. Masanya spotted me and waved hello too. It’s funny, every time I think I am seeing Masanya for the last time, I end up running into her again. Is it fate? Anyway…

I also noticed that Kaotan seemed to be signing jackets for everyone, regardless of whether or not they won. Cool! Except, when I was five away they switched guard staff, and the one new guard asked why she was signing jackets for people who lost. The exiting guard basically shrugged. So it would be interesting what would happen when it was my turn, since the three people in front of me all won. So it was finally my turn, as expected Kaotan reached for a jacket to sign, but the guard interjected and said “No, he didn’t win!” She was like “Oh, he didn’t? I’m sorry.” I just played dumb the entire time, although I was slightly bummed that I got cock-blocked by the new guard. In any case, I told her I was just happy to see her. I then asked her about her Banana Juice recipe, and if it was better than the Butterbeer she had at USJ a few days ago. She then asked if I was coming back for Slot 8, and maybe I would win the recipe card. But I told her the next time I would see her was at the SKE event at the end of the month. After saying our goodbyes, I was done for the evening.

———————————————————————————————–

Prizes

I ultimately went 4 for 9, which isn’t a bad percentage. I would have liked to have won at least one of those alternate jackets, and I would LOVE to get a selfie or a video of Zunchan. But oh well, maybe next time.

Recipe Bonus

Here are the recipe cards I took photos of on the wall at the far end of the hall. I mainly took pictures of members that I like, with a few others thrown in for friends. And of course, Tani’s infamous recipe for Cup Ramen…

So rounding out the year, I have the SKE and HKT handshake events on November 23rd, and that is basically it for me and the 48-groups until 2018 since I will be back in the U.S. for 2 1/2 weeks in December. That is unless I happen to win another show. And of course I also have a bunch of Wasamin stuff between now and mid-December. So it’s all good.

 

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events, HKT48, NMB48, SKE48 AKB48-Group 49th Single #Sukinanda Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama. (2017/11/04)

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For me, this event was more of an hors d’oeuvre before tomorrow’s (Sunday) event since I originally planned on only going on Sunday. However, during the application period, I saw Team 8 perform in the theater and briefly took a liking to Takahashi Ayane. Saturday was the only day she was appearing, so I was compelled to buy a few tickets for this day. Now the irony is that I actually did an oshimashi handshake with Amane a couple of month ago, and…well, I wasn’t inspired to see her again. So ultimately I ended up doing an oshimashi with her ticket today. LOL

But it was still a worthwhile day, even with the few tickets I had. I had all my tickets stacked into Slots 2-4, which worked out perfectly since I had another event I wanted to attend in Akihabara later on in the day.

Of course this was another event where you could draw special prizes (2-shots, 1-shots, signed photos, etc.) Interestingly, of the six tickets I had, none of them offered any kind of recording or photo prize. They were all either for a signed photo, or a signed drawing the members all did.. Ultimately I won 2 of 6 (well, 2 of 5 since I blew off my Ayane ticket, and you can’t draw for prizes on oshimashi) Anyway, I arrived at Pacifico Yokohama toward the end of Slot 2, which was enough time to get my Slot 2 tickets done. AKB must have had at least 4 halls rented out for this event, as there were over 100 lanes, a stage area, some drawing exhibit, and all the other booths they have (info, Aikabu, etc.) Despite that, 5 of my 6 tickets were all located in the same corner of the hall.

Slot 2

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 73) Yuka-chan didn’t have much of a queue, which is usual for her at the end of the slot. I checked in and immediately won the signed photo. After waiting for 2 fans in front of me. Yuka-chan reached out with both hands and exclaimed “Chris-san!!!” She had on the cutest sweater, kind of 2-tone flesh color and dark green, it almost looked like a low cut blouse, but it wasn’t.

As she signed the card I told her how pretty her sweater was, and I asked if she had a fun birthday, and I saw some of the pictures online. She thanked me and asked if I had heard about their new album. I told her I want to get it, although it is quite expensive. She nodded in agreement, and then out of nowhere she said “Chris-san, I love you so much!” Wow!! I remember when Wasamin said something like that to me a few years back, and I almost got weak in the knees. Same here, Akiyoshi just made my heart flutter.

There was still 10 minutes left in the slot, and I wondered if there was someone available who I could use my “extra” ticket on. Originally I wanted to use it on Cuca, but her slot wasn’t until later in the day, after I panned to leave. I didn’t have a ticket for Zunchan today either, but these days her lanes don’t have the oshimashi “star.” As I walked through the HKT section I found Bibian, Rikopi, and Mio, all starred lanes, all short queues. Okay, this was it. Who would I pick???

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 57) So this is who I ultimately ended up using my Amane ticket for. I like Rikopi, she is usually a fun handshake, and I hadn’t seen her in a while. I could tell Rikopi wanted to say my name, but just couldn’t recall it in that moment. Instead she just started practicing her English with me. I did ask her about the upcoming HKT album, and told her I was excited about it.

SLOT 3

Tani Marika (Lane 54) Despite the fact that I promised Marika I would wear Tani-gear in the future, I failed to bring anything of her’s to wear. And frankly, it has been slim pickings at the goods booth for this single. I actually do have some Tani stuff in my storage unit in the U.S., but that doesn’t do me any good here. Anyway, I won the signed photo, so at least that would keep her occupied.

Oh, and she was wearing a “Chucky” (from Child’s Play) t-shirt. So I immediately got her talking about that as I pointed and said “Chucky!” I then told her that I saw her Halloween cosplay tweets. She asked if I thought they were cute. I took a chance and said they were “scary and cute,” and noted the white contacts she wore. At the end she again reminded me that I was supposed to be wearing Tani accoutrement. So I didn’t get off scot-free after all.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 62) Maichan had the only really long line I went to all day. I don’t seem to have good luck drawing Maichan’s prizes, and alas, I didn’t win. After around 20 minutes in the queue I finally got my turn. Now I know Maichan is a big Soft Bank Hawks fan. Actually, lately all of the HKT girls have been posting about the Hawks, but Maichan supports them all season. So I asked Mai if she was going to watch the game tonight. I didn’t totally get her response, but I think she said something to the effect that she wouldn’t have time. But she did say that she hoped that they win tonight. So I told her I would root for the Hawks too, and for that I got a High-Five. I told her I would see her tomorrow as the guard pushed me out.

SLOT 4

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 73) When I entered the queue shortly before the start of the slot, there was still a bit of a queue for Jitoe Nene, and one guy in particular who had a ton of tickets, so they ended up moving the rest of her queue into another lane. In the meantime, while we waited for Yuka-chan to come out I was watching Matsuoka Hana playing with her fans in the next lane. Eventually Yuka-chan came out. It was my goal to get this ticket, and my final ticket in this slot done as quickly as possible because I needed to hustle to Akihabara by the late afternoon. BTW, here is Yuka-chan in her pretty sweater I talked about before…

Surprisingly, I didn’t win the prize. But that’s okay since the cooler prize was the first one, which I did win. In any case, I decided to ask Yuka-chan if she is a Soft Bank Hawks fan too. She said yes, and then pointed out that I was wearing my HKT48-Hawks Baseball Jersey. (In fact, I got comments from a lot of people today around Tokyo assuming I was a Soft Bank Hawks fan, LOL) Like with Maichan, I told Yuka that I would root for the Hawks to win. After telling her I would be at the event tomorrow too, I hoofed it over to the far end of the hall for my last ticket…

Ichikawa Miori (Lane 5) Miorin had a fairly short queue. Since I lost the prize when I visited her last time, I really wanted to win this time. The fan in front of me had three tickets, so he pressed the button three times, and he won ALL THREE. SHIT, I just knew the next one would be a loser, and almost pulled my ticket and ID back, but it was already too late, they had marked my ticket. And of course, I didn’t win the prize, again. So I would have to come up with something to talk about with Miorin. Well, she was wearing this cute and fuzzy little hat. So after the usual pleasantries I commented that her hat was very cute. I also mentioned at first I thought the fuzzy stuff sticking out was her hair. She immediately, and almost defiantly said it wasn’t her hair. As I laughed, the guard, rather forcefully, pushed me out.

I immediately bailed back to Tokyo, and to my little event in Akihabara. Tomorrow I have a few more tickets. I again have tickets for Yukachan, Maichan, and Tani, plus tickets for Zunchan, Kaotan, Bibian, and Cuca. Not to mention many of the prizes I am trying for are video and 2-shots, so hopefully my luck will be a little better than today.

 

CK in Tokyo

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