Concerts, Iwasa Misaki A Wasamin Weekend Part Two: The Nagara Group Enka Festival (2018/02/18)

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The Nagara Group Enka Festival at NHK Hall, plus a couple of Wasa-News Updates

Today was the Tokyo leg of the Nagara Group Enka Festival. Earlier this week they performed in Nagoya, and two weeks from now they will be in Osaka. I will give a semi-brief experience review. But first, a few news items…

1. Wasamin will again be performing with Umezawa Fumio in a play/performance at the Meijiza Theater in Tokyo.
This is similar to the play she was in last Summer in Osaka. That play starred Umezawa, as well as Wasamin senpai Tegawa Toshimi. This time alongside Umezawa, Wasamin will also be sharing the stage with Enka artist Ken Naoko. The show will take place from 31 August through 25 September, and there will be special offers for Wasamin Fan Club members.

2. Wasamin confirmed today that Akimoto Yasushi composed and produced her 7th single.
I was wondering if Aki-P would be continuing his support of Wasamin’s Enka career. I guess I should have asked her at some point. But she confirmed it in today’s concert during the MC. Emcee Nishiyori Higashi remarked that it’s really nice that Akimoto has continued to support her post-graduation

3. MusicVoice article touts Wasamin’s versatility as a singer.
This is essentially a concert review from her Ebisu show two weeks ago. The writer notes Wasamin’s singing ability, and considers the possibility of Enka reinventing itself for a new generation…or something like that
http://www.musicvoice.jp/news/20180217087323/ (in Japanese)

Anyway…

I will keep this review somewhat brief. NagaraPro’s Enka Festival is a showcase for their top music talent, and stars heavyweights of the genre like Hikawa Kiyoshi, Mizumori Kaori, Tegawa Toshimi, and Yamakawa Yutaka, all of whom have appeared multiple times on NHK’s Kouhaku Uta Gassen. The show also features Wasamin, Hayabusa, Fujino Toshie, and Shiina Sakiko. Wasamin does spend considerable time on the stage, and did get the chance to sing her upcoming single, but the NagaraPro “Big Four” are definitely the stars of the show. On the other hand, it is really neat seeing Misaki-chan standing shoulder to shoulder with such big and important recording artists.

Before the Show

I originally debated whether I wanted to go at all. The tickets were quite expensive. 10,000 Yen for a seat on the floor or 1st balcony. 8,500 Yen for the Third Floor. However, they set up a special booth for tickets at Wasamin’s Love Live back in November, and you got to handpick your seat, so I went for it. I picked the perfect seat too. It was a “double aisle” seat, meaning I had an aisle in front of me and on the left of me. Given that the NagaraPro artists roam the venue during the show, this would be a great chance to see them up close.

Pre-show festivites, including a Wasa-handshake session.

I was running late all day, but got to the venue just as doors opened. The queue to get in was really big, but didn’t take too long. I immediately headed to the goods booths. All of the artists sell CDs, DVDs and other stuff at the shows (In fact, Wasamin’s 4th concert goods were all there) Additionally, both Wasamin and Hayabusa do a pre-show handshake event. I was originally just gonna get one CD, but when I saw they were giving away Sado no Ondeko clear files, I bought a 2nd copy. As for the handshake, I used both tickets at once since they were running late and Wasamin was going to have to leave soon. “Chris-kun!” “Misaki-chan!” The first thing I noticed was that Wasamin was again wearing the green Kimono given to her by Toshimi-senpai. She asked if I liked it. Now she was standing right next to Hikaru from Hayabusa, so I told Wasamin that I was also looking forward to Hayabusa’s “Spider Man” song. (Kumoo no Dansu) Just then Hikaru turned to me and said “Yeah, Spiderman!” I mentioned that I saw him perform it in Saitama. Meanwhile, Wasamin was mildly amused at my interaction with Hayabusa. I turned back to her, leaned in close, clasped her hand in both of mine and told her to do her best.

Part One (in brief) 

The show actually started early, with one of NagaraPro’s new Enka performers on stage. Last year they did the same thing with Minyo Girls. I found my seat, which was a little higher than I expected, but still a great strategic spot. After introducing the performers, Kiyoshi lead off with his infamous Kiyoshi no Zundoko Bushi. The first half of the show mainly focused on the top four’s big hits. The rest of the performers sang in group songs. It was after the intermission that things got more interesting. By the way, I was kinda dozing off in parts of the show, so during the break I drank one of those Vitamin C Boosters AND a large black coffee. Needless to say I didn’t doze off again, LOL.

Part Two (the best part!)

The second part of the show begins with a Nagara Group staple, all the performers roam the audience and shake hands with the fans for like a six song set. It is a lot of fun, and they always sing the Japanese version of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” We were all excited to see who we would get on the second floor, and all the obasans in my section gasped when they saw we had Kiyoshi. We also got Toshimi-san. After 3-4 songs, they all switch floors. Would I get Wasamin in the second part? Nope. Instead we got Mizumori and Hayabusa. Now remember I mentioned I was in the perfect spot for this portion of the show? Here were my experiences…

Hikawa Kiyoshi: It’s The Prince of Enka! Toshimi actually started off closer to me, but Kiyoshi made his way toward my section rather quickly. Oh my God!!! All the women go absolutely batshit for him. They are climbing all over each other to get close to him. He is flanked by like six guards who actually have to pull these women down, fight them off. It’s really funny to watch. They even get out of their seats (which they aren’t supposed to do) At one point I watched a guard jousting with this little old lady who was doing everything she could to run past him and get to Kiyoshi. Anyway, he passed right in front of me and immediately thrust his hand right toward me, so I shook his hand. He quickly glanced at me and smiled before getting mobbed by more obasans, LOL.

Tegawa Toshimi: I really like the sound of her voice! I always think of her as older, but she is actually the same age as Kiyoshi. Anyway, she finally made it to my section, and shook hands with the people on my left. After that she turned around to the people in front of me and passed me by. Oh rats! But then, she turned around and saw me. Her eyes got real wide, she waved and mouthed “hello” to me. Nice save!

Mizumori Kaori: This was the best interaction! I was really hoping she would come to me since I have always wanted to meet her. Mizumori is so cute, she is like a kid. It is astounding that she is almost the same age as me. She came across my section, and like Toshimi-san she shook hands with the people to my right, and then turned around and focused on the rows in front of me. Rats, I got skipped again! Or so I thought. Eventually she turned around and saw the two Wasamin fans sitting across from me. She motioned toward their Wasa-Happi coats and gave them a thumbs up, and out of the corner of her eye she saw me. It was like her jaw hit the floor. She came running straight toward me, grabbed my hand, said Hello, and Thank You! Her smile is so beautiful too. Just awesome!!!

Hayabusa: Unfortunately never came by me during the show. Both Hikaru and Yamato got close, but then the last song ended. That’s okay, since I have met both of them before, and talked to Hikaru before the show. Wasamin and Yamakawa Yutaka didn’t come to the 2nd floor, but I have met Yutaka-san before, and Wasamin, well….

The End 

After a couple of long MCs, all the members got to perform their new and/or upcoming singles. It was great to hear Wasamin belt out Sado no Ondeko on such a big stage. She did a great job! They had a Taiko drummer in the live band, and he actually sounded better than the Taiko on the recorded version of the song. I do like Hayabusa’s new single too. Actually, it seems that pretty much all of them have new releases coming out in the next month or two. Overall it was a really nice show, but I think the real fun happens after the intermission. The part in the audience is pretty much what everyone waits for. I enjoy the Nagara Group shows, but it isn’t the type of concert I could sit through more than once. That said…

Nagara Pro also has a special “Ward Concert” that they do every year, and this year happens to be the Ward I live in. In fact, I could almost walk to the venue, although I will probably jump on the train. That’s coming up in April. And of course the big push for the new single begins next weekend. So a lot of Wasafun coming up.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Iwasa Misaki A Wasamin Weekend Part One: Sado no Ondeko Mini-Live (2018/02/17)

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Iwasa Misaki 7th Single Preorder Mini-Live and Handshake Event at Aeon Town Yukarigaoka, Chiba Pref.

After skipping both of Wasamin’s “Non-Performance” preorder events this week in Tokyo, I felt compelled to make the journey to outer Chiba to see Misaki-chan’s two-set mini-live. I had actually been to this mall before. Wasamin did a promotional event for her 2nd album there in late-2016.

I was slightly hungover from the previous night of drinking in Shibuya. But after a couple bottles of Pocari Sweat I was ready for the 90-minute four train journey. I made it to the mall around 30 minutes before the 1st event, preordered some CDs, and grabbed a seat. Here are the setlists from the two shows…

1:30 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Toshishita no Otokonoko
3. Yume Shibai
4. Sado no Ondeko

4:00 Setlist
1. Saba Kaido
2. Ihoujin
3. Shitamachi no Taiyou
4. Sado no Ondeko

Wasamin told a few interesting stories during her MCs. Apparently when she was younger, (not sure if this was before or after joining AKB) her mother used to take her shopping at that mall for dance clothes. (It isn’t that far from where Wasamin supposedly grew up)  Yes, in addition to singing lessons, Wasamin took dance lessons.

Also, if you have been reading Wasamin’s twitter, she has been talking a lot about the Olympics, particularly the figure skating. She talked about the Olympics in both events. Hanyu and Uno won their gold and silver medals during the break between shows, so she was really excited in the late afternoon.

Finally, it was just announced that Wasamin will be appearing in a special performance from August 31st through September 25th at the Meijiza Theater in Tokyo. I’m not sure if this is a play, or concert, or both. But she will be performing alongside Umezawa Fumio and Ken Naoko. Pretty awesome company!
info is here

I had three handshake tickets. I used one after the first performance, and two in the late afternoon.

Handshake #1: I was third in line. Wasamin immediately greeted me as “Chris-kun.” I was in the middle of saying “Wasamin,” then awkwardly changed to “Misaki-chan” I told her that I had studied about Sado Island in school and knew a bit about it. I also told her that I really want to visit the island and hope there might be a fan club event in the works. Both Wasamin and Ichikawa-san gave me a big thumbs up, which I took to mean that we should be hearing about a Sado Island event in the near future. SCORE!

Handshake #2: This time I greeted her as “Misaki-chan.” I basically reminisced with her about the last time she performed at Yukarigaoka.

Handshake #3: I asked Wasamin if she was excited about tomorrow’s show. She confirmed that I was coming. She also asked if I planned on coming to Meijiza. I told her I read Ichikawa-san’s blog post about it, and that I wanted to come. I also threw in that I looked forward to hearing Hayabusa’s “Spider Man” song tomorrow. LOLZ.

Tomorrow is the NagaroPro Enka Festival at NHK Hall in Tokyo. I will be seeing Wasamin, as well as Hikawa Kiyoshi, Mizumori Kaori, Tagawa Toshimi, Yamakawa Yutaka, and Hayabusa. Should be fun. Better be, considering the price of the ticket.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, New Release Itano Tomomi 10th Single “Just as I Am” and “Wanderer” Photobook Pre-order Event at Lalaport Toyosu (2018/02/10)

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Ya know it’s funny, I was never a fan of Tomochin when she was in AKB. It was after she graduated that I really started to like her music…

I came across Itano Tomomi’s new PV quite accidentally, and I really liked it.  It is filmed in Southern California, specifically in Venice Beach and the desert around Lancaster.  So I went to Tomo’s official site to check on the promotion dates for the new single. To my surprise, the CD release is in direct competition with Wasamin’s new single, releasing on the 27th of this month. There are five promotional events scheduled in the next three weeks, three of which are in Tokyo. However, the first event was the only one that didn’t conflict with other commitments I have. So, it was now or never. I would have rather waited for the release week, but oh well.

She had two performances scheduled at 1pm and 4pm, but I really only needed to see one of them. So I headed out to Toyosu in the early afternoon. Lalaport brings back a lot of memories for me. When I first started visiting Japan, a girl I dated lived near that mall, and I would go there to see her. Also, this is where I had my infamous run-in with Momoiro Clover Z as they were waiting for their manager to pick them up. To make a long story short, I would always meet my friend in the same spot, and one day when I arrived there were a bunch of girls standing there. I thought “Who the hell are these damn girls standing in my spot???” A moment later, Momoka and Shiori both turned around and looked at me. “Oh Shit!” All the members were there, except for Reni. I hurriedly walked to another spot. Anyway…


Running into Momoclo 6 years ago

 

After grabbing some lunch, I went to the usual spot where they do events. It was outside. Luckily it wasn’t that cold today. The deal was you got a “high touch” ticket for a CD, or a handshake ticket for a CD/Photobook combo. Somewhere I read you can get a 2-shot if you purchase 5 photobooks, but there was no way in hell I was doing that. I just wanted a CD. The high touch was fine. I went to grab a spot around 35 minutes before the event, and there weren’t that many people there. However, it really filled up in the last 5-10 minutes. The setlist was as follows…

1. Ii, Ne
2. Fui ni
MC
3. Just as I Am

I said it wasn’t that cold, but it wasn’t warm either. Tomo came out wearing some long coat/robe thing (I’m not sure how to describe it), and after greeting the crowd and thanking us for braving the weather, went into her first song. She was a little shaky at the start, but her regular fans knew all the chants and hand motions, so eventually Tomo got into it. Her best performance was on the new single. I think the song really fits her. Also, there was an ice skating rink just above the stage, and you could see a lot of the kids and parents who were skating getting into the performance too.

I’m not sure who the guy was who did the MC. I am guessing it was someone from King Records. They talked a lot about her time in California filming the video and doing the photobook shoot simultaneously. In fact, at one point she sort of admitted that the PV is like a video version of the PB, but then she said “Buy both!!!” I believe she also mentioned something about doing concerts in the Spring. Ultimately, the mini-live was around 30 minutes, and then they set up for the meet and greet.

I was actually fifth in line for the handshake event. The way they did it was kind of odd. They didn’t have separate lines for the high touch and handshake people, they would just call out what you had as you came up to her. So I basically raised my hand and gave her a high-five as she smiled and thanked me for coming. I quickly blurted out at it is a good PV. Ultimately I think I probably could have stayed a couple of seconds longer, but since I was very early in the line I didn’t have a good feel of how much time they were allowing. But that’s okay. I got to say hello, and she was very nice. So all good.

And that was it. As I mentioned, I am probably not going to any of the other events. But I will continue to keep tabs on her activity.  I’m just glad I stumbled upon her new PV on YouTube, otherwise I might have missed it.

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Events, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki 4th Solo Concert at Ebisu Garden Hall (2018/02/04)

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Plus, Wasamin meets her fans a few days later…

 

(Cross-posted from Wasamin thread)
Okay, let’s finally do this! I’m sorry this post is coming so late. Usually I try to put up major Wasamin stories within a day or so, but this week I have been crushed with responsibilities, studying, and social stuff, so I barely had time to do the writeup. But alas, today is the beginning of a 4-day weekend…

The day finally came. It was the event Wasafans had been anticipating since late last year. The great thing about Wasamin’s solo concerts is that it’s the chance to see her perform on a big stage. We are also treated to the surprise of what pop-songs she will perform during the photo-op portion of the show. Of course there is also the possibility of a major announcement too.

Since this was Wasamin’s solo concert, the fan club was offered the exclusive opportunity to purchase “Ichigo Seats,” which not only guarantee a seat in the first three rows, but also come with other exclusive benefits. For this show, an Ichigo Seat for the matinee came with the opportunity to go to TBS radio and watch Wasamin record episodes of her weekly radio show. The evening Ichigo Seats came with a special “Wasamin Party,” which I talked about in the previous post. That said, this was the first time I didn’t purchase the Ichigo Seat for all shows. To make a long story short, 1) I had a mix-up with AKB handshake tickets, so I was trying to free up part of the day to use the handshake tickets I had accidentally purchased. 2) Ichigo Seats are quite expensive, so I decided I would be frugal and save myself 10000 yen. As a result, I bailed on the radio recording, and only went to the party. Luckily enough, my “regular” seat for the matinee was in the row right behind the Ichigo section. So from a seat standpoint, it didn’t really make much difference.

Ebisu Garden Hall is just across a walking bridge from Ebisu Station, in the same complex as the Yebisu Brewery Museum and many high-priced restaurants, including my favorite restaurant on the planet, Lawry’s. For some reason I had forgotten what time the matinee show started, arriving in Ebisu just before 11am. When I got to the hall, and only saw one other fan standing there, I realized I was a bit early. Luckily, there was a sign on the door stating that the goods booth would be open for early bids at 12pm. I passed the time watching people ice skate on the portable rink in the middle of the square. I went back and forth on whether to get all the new goods, despite the fact that the shirt and hoodie they were selling came in XL. Japanese XL is somewhat of a crapshoot for me, as sometimes they fit, and sometimes they don’t I considered blowing off the hoodie, but ultimately bought the full set since it also came with a bonus photo of Wasamin modeling all the goods. The irony was that ultimately the hoodie “kinda” fit, but the T-shirt is way too small. XL my ass! It is smaller than the M-size shirts Wasamin had for her first two concerts! Anyway, eventually it was show time.


The “hoodie” kinda fits me


I love the little Sanrio Enka character, too bad I really can’t wear this shirt.


Wasamin modeling all the new goods. Yes, I got the oshi-towel and the acrylic stand too


Another Wasa-ballpen, yatta! You got that if you pre-ordered a single at the venue.

My matinee seat was in the 4th row, which had a huge aisle right in front. Could this mean that I will have some “up close and personal” time with Wasamin? Here is the matinee setlist…

Matinee Show 2pm
01. Saba Kaido (6th Single)
02. Tomonoura Bojou (3rd Single)
MC 1 “Introductory MC”
03. Hi no Kuni no Onna (Sakamoto Fuyumi, 1991)
04. Kaze no Bon Koi Uta (Ishikawa Sayuri, 1989)
MC 2 “Where did people come from?”
05. Wakasa no Yado (6th Single c/w Memorial Ver.)
06. Ettou Tsubame (from Request Covers)
07. Kita no Yado Kara (from Request Covers)
MC 3 “Q: How many times has she performed Mujineki?”
08. Mujineki (1st Single)
(costume change, Wasamin recorded audio message)
Photoshoot Time!
09. Tenshi no Wink (Matsuda Seiko, 1985)
10. Touch (Iwasaki Yoshimi, 1985)
11. Sentimental Journey (YUKI, 2003)
12. Watashi ga Obasan ni Natte mo (Moritaka Chisato, 1992)
13. UFO (Pink Lady, 1977)
(end photo time)
MC 4 Goods Table
(Wasamin guitar section)
14. Taiyou ga Kureta Kisetsu (Aoi Sankaku Jouji, 1972)
15. Konayuki (Remio Romen 2006)
16. Chippokena Ai no Uta (Ohara Sakurako, 2006)
MC 5 “Talk about her acoustic “Love Live” concerts”
17. Watashi no Joukamachi (Koyanagi Rumiko, 1971)
18. Goodbye My Love (Onitsuka Chihiro, 2016)
MC 6 “Masaaki Hirao mini-tribute”
19. Kukou (Theresa Teng, 1974)
20. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara (2nd Single)
(end regular set)
VTR: Review of Wasamin’s first six singles, introducion of her 7th single)
EN1. Sado no Ondeko (7th Single)
MC 7 “Noting the debut of the new single”
EN2. Gomen, ne Tokyo (5th Single)
EN3. Hatsuzake (4th Single)

THE SONGS
I have to admit, at the beginning it felt like “just another Wasamin concert.” It wasn’t until she got to the pop stuff and acoustic guitar stuff that I really started to get into it. A couple of those songs she had performed before, but it was really nice to hear her sing UFO. My favorite part was her performance of Goodbye My Love, which contains an English-spoken verse. I just melt when I hear Wasamin trying to speak English. The other question was whether or not she would perform the new song, Sado no Ondeko. Our question was answered during the Encore VTR, which was a retrospective of Wasamin’s past PVs, leading into an introduction of the new song. Her performance was spot on, despite the fact that she later said she was really nervous. Not only that, she is really demonstrative with her body movement while singing it. I am looking forward to seeing her perform it more, as it is quickly becoming my all-time favorite Wasa-single.

GUITAR
Wasamin is still diligently practicing on her guitar work, and ultimately she seems a lot more comfortable playing while singing. However, she completely screwed up on Konayuki to the point where she stopped, sighed, and then picked it back up, LOL.

PHOTO-OP
That black dress was so cute! I love when she wears stuff that shows off her sexy little legs. The bummer was that during the photo-op portion of the show, Wasamin seemed to forget to come over near where I was sitting. I don’t know if it was on oversight, or she just took too long in the other sections, but I was in the perfect spot to get some awesome closeup shots, and she never came by.

Anyway, after a very short break, it was time to enter the venue for the evening show. Wasamin’s family was on hand for the finale, although I’m not sure where they sat. They are usually somewhere in the middle-back of the venue. My ticket was in the Ichigo section, on the opposite side of the stage from where I sat in the matinee. Here is the setlist for the evening show…

Evening Show 6pm
01. Hatsuzake (4th Single)
02. Gomen, ne Tokyo (5th Single)
MC 1 “Introductory MC”
03. Hi no Kuni no Onna (Sakamoto Fuyumi, 1991)
04. Kaze no Bon Koi Uta (Ishikawa Sayuri, 1989)
MC 2 “Wasamin’s visit to Ueno Zoo to see the Giant Panda”
05. Wakasa no Yado (6th Single c/w Memorial Ver.)
06. Ettou Tsubame (from Request Covers)
07. Kita no Yado Kara (from Request Covers)
MC 3 “Where did everyone travel from?”
08. Mujineki (1st Single)
(costume change, Wasamin recorded audio message)
Photoshoot Time!
09. Kamome ga Tonda Hi (Watanabe Machiko, 1978)
10. Watashi no Kare wa Hidarikiki (Asaoka Megumi, 1973)
11. Toshishita no Otokonoko (Candies, 1975)
12. Fuyu no Inazuma (Alice, 1977)
13. Pepper Keibu (Pink Lady, 1976)
(end photo time)
MC 4 Goods Table
(Wasamin guitar section)
14. Kabukichou no Joou (Shiina Ringo, 1998)
15. Heroine (???)
16. Kokoro no Tabi (Tulip, 1973)
MC 5 “Promotion of the bottled water company”
17. Watashi no Joukamachi (Koyanagi Rumiko, 1971)
18. Goodbye My Love (Onitsuka Chihiro, 2016)
MC 6 “Maasaki Hirao tribute”
19. Kukou (Theresa Teng, 1974)
20. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara (2nd Single)
(end regular set)
VTR: Review of Wasamin’s first six singles, introducion of her 7th single)
EN1. Sado no Ondeko (7th Single)
MC 7 “Story behind her green Kimono”
EN2. Tomonoura Bojou (3rd Single)
EN3. Saba Kaido (6th Single)

SETLIST
The main difference between the setlists were 1) songs 9-16 were completely different for each show (there are some gems in there too!), and 2) Songs 1-2 and encore songs EN2-EN3 were swapped in the later show Between the morning and evening setlists, I liked this one a lot more. “Hidarikiki” and “Otokonoko” are both crowd-pleasing covers she does a lot, and her cover of Pepper Keibu was awesome!

STAGE VIEW/PHOTO-OP
Despite being just one row closer, I had a much better angle to the stage, and a much better view overall. Plus, Wasamin did come over to where I was sitting, so I got a few nice closeup shots. This may have had something to do with why I enjoyed this show more.

COSTUMES
I mentioned the black dress, which you can see in my photos. The other costume of note was the green Kimono she wore at the end of the show. That was a gift from Wasamin’s senpai Tagawa Toshimi, I believe it had something to do with the play Wasamin performed in last year in Osaka, which Shimi-san starred in.

FLOWERS: Here ya go…

Fan Club flowers, and then the row of flowers, which stretched all the was across the lobby (the pic shows about half of them)

At the end of the day I don’t even other critiquing Wasamin’s singing performance, as it is always spot-on. Her setlists have taken on somewhat of a predictable format, however there are enough surprises throughout the show to keep it interesting. It is a nice mix of enka, pop, and a few classic oldies. The 1000 seat venue was for the most part filled, although it wasn’t sold out. They were selling tickets at the venue before the show. So this seems like the appropriate size venue for her to perform in at this point. As for the ichigo seats, I like to get them, but the truth is I was fine with my non-Ichigo seat as well, so we will see what I will do in future concerts.

Post-show Event: Iwasa Misaki Handshake Event at Tower-mini, Diver City (2018/02/08)

It is always nice to be able to give Wasamin support and feedback after a show. Sometimes we get to do that, like at “Love Live,” but other times we have to wait until the next handshake event. Luckily, Wasamin is promoting her new single, and had a non-singing event scheduled in Odaiba. I actually got to Odaiba five hours early, and spent the day shopping, eating, and hanging out while I waited for the event. Diver City, and Odaiba in general, is a great place to pass the time. The Tower Records in the mall is kinda hidden. Luckily, I had been there before for KissBee, so I knew where it was. I was one of the first fans to arrive, and bought two CDs for two tickets. Wasamin eventually came out, sporting a fresh look. Her hair was black again, and cut a bit shorter.

1st Handshake: I had things to say to Wasamin, but of course I was sidetracked by the new hairstyle, so we spent most of the handshake talking about that. I then told her my favorite performances at the concert were Sado no Ondeko, Pepper Keibu, and Goodbye My Love. Wasamin immediately laughed and asked how her English was. I said “Jouzu and Kawaii!”

2nd Handshake: I told her I read her tweet when she talked about being really nervous when she performed the new song. I then said her performance was excellent. She squeezed my hand really tight; “Hontoni???” I gave her a big thumbs up. I could tell it meant something to her for fans to tell her that. And I really did love the performance!

Anyway, Wasamin is down in Western Japan this weekend. Next week begins the NagaraPro Enka Festival. She is doing a couple of events in Tokyo later in the week, leading up to the NagaraPro Concert at NHK Hall over the weekend. After that, we gear up for the big push of the new single. I’m not sure how many events I will be able to attend, given some of them conflict with my personal schedule, but I will try to make as many as I can.

 

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events, Iwasa Misaki Wasamin 4th Concert Pre-Game Festivities & A Quick Visit to Pacifico Yokohama For AKB (2018/02/03)

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I had been worried about how this day would unfold ever since I realized the quandary I was in….

It all started back when the 50th Single Chara-Ani preorder was in its initial stages. It was the third round of applications, and I was trying to decide which days I wanted to attend. I knew I could not go to the February 4th event since it conflicted with Wasamin’s big concert. However, Wasamin usually doesn’t do an event the day before her big show since she needs to rehearse. So I decided to start putting in applications for the February 3rd event…

Unfortunately for me, around the day of the third round results, I received a mailer from the Wasamin fan club with a description of the “Ichigo Seat” benefits. (Ichigo Seat is kind of a VIP package, with guaranteed seat in the first few rows and other benefits and events) To my surprise, this time they were holding the “Ichigo” events on the 3rd instead of the day of the show. This meant that I really couldn’t go the the AKB handshake event on the 3rd, except I had already won four tickets. Shoot!

Ultimately I decided to only apply for “Ichigo” for one of Wasamin’s two concerts, as this could clear part of my day to go to Yokohama and use my handshake tickets on someone, most likely as “oshi-mashi” tickets as I didn’t know the time of my Wasamin events until a week and a half ago. So it was decided…sort of. I wouldn’t decide until the morning of the events if I would go to Yokohama before the Wasamin party, or afterwards…

If I went early, I could use two of my four tickets as scheduled, for Zunchan and Maichan. Among my early oshi-mashi candidates were Hidaka Yuzuki and Mio. If I went late, I could possibly make it in time to use my Akiyoshi ticket, and then oshi-mashi my other three tickets on Kaotan, Lemon, or maybe Chori. Ultimately I decided to go with the later schedule since Akiyoshi and Kaotan are my personal “2-top”

Off to the Wasa Party!!!!!

 
The snacks were kinda picked over at this point

The Wasamin Pre-Concert Party was set up similarly to the party they held on the third concert, except that it was being held in some random church just a stone’s throw from the entrance to Yasukuni Shrine. I arrived shortly before doors opened, there was a smatteringn of Wasafans milling around outside the church. Eventually we were let in, checked in, given a bottle of Wasawater, and led down to a small conference room in the basement of the church. We ate little snacks and listened to Wasa CDs while we waited for the event to begin. Eventually they announced the event was about to start. They had us call out for Wasamin, and we are all staring at the door waiting for her to burst through it……

But we didn’t notice that there was a second, more discreet entrance on the other side of the room. So Wasamin comes bouncing into the room, and we are ALL staring in the opposite direction, LOLOL! She was like “I came in, and nobody is looking at me!” She started off by modeling her outfit for us, which she had sorta previewed on Twitter a few minutes earlier. We did our infamous “water toast,” and then there was a 30-minute interview and Q&A session. Most of the questions asked by the interviewer focused on her turning 23 years old. She also spoke quite a bit about the making of the new music video for Sado no Ondeko.

As for the Q&A, the first thing we wanted to know was what the official lightstick color was for the new single. Wasamin originally decided pink, but the fans didn’t think that really matched a song with an Oni in it. So it was ultimately suggested and decided by the fans that the 7th single official color is purple. Fans also asked her about her recent trip to Ueno Zoo, as well as what Lovetan got her for her birthday. But Wasamin explained that she actually hasn’t hung out with Aika for a while, so they haven’t had the chance to exchange gifts yet.

After that it was time for our promised 2-shots. This would also be my chance to give Wasamin her birthday present. I asked Ichikawa-san, her manager if it was okay to give her a gift today, and she said no problem. I always have trouble deciding what I want to give her. I settled on a gift box of soaps and bath salts from Lush Cosmetics. I had so much that I wanted to say to her, but since this was a 2-shot, and they seemed to be rushing people through, I didn’t really get a chance to say much. Just a quick happy birthday, that I would be giving her a new fan letter soon, and finally that I love the new PV. I also wanted to tell her that I think a Fan Club trip/event at Sado Island, where she filmed the PV, would be awesome. I guess I will save that for next time. She has plenty of events planned in the next 3-4 weeks, so there will be lots of time to chat.

Anyway, I didn’t know if the event was over, and the line for 2-shots was still very long, so I decided to split and head to Yokohama. It was still early enough to make my Slot 6 ticket….

AKB48-Group 50th Single Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama

I was able to catch a limited-express train out to Yokohama, which got me to the event in record time. I hustled over to Pacifico, and since my tickets were already stamped in January I wouldn’t he to deal with that delay. I headed right over to Yuka-chan’s lane…

Slot 6

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 50) <2 tickets> I wouldn’t have time to visit any other lane this slot, so I decided to use two of my four tickets right here. The queue was going very slow since it was a signed photo slot. (which I lost) I finally made it to the front. I expected Yuka-chan to notice my Wasamin Ichigo badge, which I was still wearing, but instead she noticed my New England Patriots wool hat. I explained to her that it was an American Football Team, and that they were playing in the Super Bowl. She sounded as if she had heard of the Super Bowl, but not the team. In any case, I wanted to tell her that I saw the photos from her performance at Sasshi’s solo concert, and she looked cute and cool.

With that I went to dinner at Queen’s Square. I had almost 90 minutes until I could oshi-mashi my final two tickets in Slot 7. I knew I was using one on Kaotan, but I was still up in the air on the last ticket. Part of me wanted to use it on Lemon or Akiyoshi, but it isn’t too often I have oshi-mashi tickets. I like using them on someone I want to meet, or haven’t seen in a long time. With that spirit in mind….

Slot 7

Mutou Orin (Lane 102) At the last national event I shook hands with EVERY member of the 16th gen with the exception of Orin. Both Orin and Zunchan were excluded from the handshake event since they were on stage all day with Ijiri-san. But I did matome with Zunchan. I decided I would take the time to talk to Orin since she is one of the 16th gen I like, and I wanted to “complete the set,” in a matter of speaking…

I waited for the 30-minute mark so I could queue up, all the while watching my friend, and former Wasamin committee captain Okajiji-san circling her line. At about 6:59 people started jumping into the lane, so I ran in as quickly as I could and checked in. It wasn’t a long wait. Ultimately I told Orin that I had been to many 16th gen shows, and she always gives me such a great reaction at “high wave.” So I thanked her, just as I got pushed out. In the meantime, she pumped her fist and said “Yeahhh!!!” when I said that, so it was a successful meeting.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 8) I had plenty of time to journey to the opposite end of the halls, and Kaotan’s queue wasn’t too long either, although the three guys in front of me all had 8-12 tickets. While I was standing in line the guy behind my gestured to my Patriots hat and asked if I was from Boston. I told him I had never been to Boston in my life, but I don’t really like any of the California teams. It turned out he had spent some time in Boston, and actually spoke pretty good English, so we chatted away about the Patriots, and our histories with AKB while we waited in line. It turned out this was his first time ever meeting Kaotan, and he asked what she was like. I told him how she used to be very feisty, but as she has gotten older she has become very sweet and caring toward her fans. He noted that she has gotten much cuter as she has gotten older. Finally it was my turn…

Of course I started by wishing her a happy birthday. I told her that I really wanted to apply for her Seitensai, but I had school that evening. Kaotan grabbed on to my Wasamin Ichigo badge, and said “Wasamin’s concert is this weekend, right?” She then confirmed that Wasamin is my Kami-oshimen, but asked if she is next in line. LOL, I said she was. In the mean time she made me wish her a big Happy Birthday in English. I said it once, but she wanted it louder. That got the entire queue laughing.


The front-side of my Ichigo Badge. It caught many eyes as I walked through the venue

I waited a minute to see how my new friend Shota’s handshake went. I saw him gesturing toward me, and Kaotan looking at me, but I don’t know what was said. In any case, he said it was an enjoyable experience, and she was really cute. With that I took my leave. I had a long journey home, and I was really thirsty.

I know I’m a bit late on this Wasamin concert report, but I promise I will get to it VERY soon!

 

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Minyo Girls Minyo Girls Challenge Stage Vol. 3 Live at Yokohama O-Site (2018/01/21)…Plus an Amazing Post-Show Interaction!

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After seeing and having such a great time at their Vol. 2 Challenge Stage last Summer, I was really looking forward to attending Minyo Girls’ next big solo live. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. This show was full of surprises. New songs, new members, and then the biggest surprise that happened after the show as I was leaving the venue.


Unfortunately I am just out of the picture, but you can see my penlight on the far left side of the pic

Yokohama O-Site is a short walk from Yokohama Station, right in the middle of a major shopping and entertainment area outside the West Exit. I didn’t get to the venue until shortly before doors were opened. I wasn’t sure if it was festival seating or not. I mean I did have a ticket, and it had a number on it, but it wasn’t clear if it was a seat number. Once I saw the seating chart I decided there was no need for me to be in queue, so I instead went to the goods booth. The two big items they were debuting were a group T-Shirt and a Hoodie. They both came in XL size, however Japanese XL’s are kinda hit and miss with me, so I decided to just pick up the T-shirt. Additionally, I picked up one of their CDs (a friend wanted it) and a presale ticket to their solo live in February. That would afford me three post-show 2-shot/group shot tickets. Anyway, I made it to my seat, and put on my Minyo gear, this time remembering to wear not only my Miyabi pins, but my Yuua pins as well. I was in the second row, but had the last seat on the far right, right in front of the speakers.


I still haven’t tried on the shirt yet, LOLZ

THE SHOW

The setlist had a few of the songs from their new CD. However, they also debuted three new songs they had never performed before. The first one was an original song called Hankachi DROP. Later they performed two old traditional songs, Akita Ondo, which was awesome. I think it instantly became my favorite Minyo Girls song. It almost sounds like something BABYMETAL could perform. Finally, Kokiriko Bushi, which they have released on video…

I hope they release more videos from the show, especially Akita Ondo!

As usual for the Minyo’s, they did have a photo-op portion of the show (much like Wasamin’s) Unfortunately for me, my seat was not very advantageous for photos, and I ended up trashing a whole bunch for being too blurry. However, I did get a few good shots in…

 


Miki and her Shamisen

However, the biggest surprise was when they introduced their new “kenkyuusei” member, Rina-chan. Interestingly, Rina-chan looks like she might be in the upper-half of the group, age-wise. They haven’t added her to the official site yet, so I’m not sure. But I am guessing that performing ability is a major factor in her selection since pretty much every member is a decent singer.


Left: Rina-chan, the new kenkyuusei. Right: Matsuri-chan (from Matsuri’s Twitter)

CHEKIS AND STUFF

After enjoying my prerequisite 600 yen cola, I went back into the venue to line up for photos. I wasn’t sure why there were two separate queues, but once the event started, I realized the shorter queue was for group shots. Since I usually do group shots with this group, I switched over to that queue.


Have my two favorite members flanking me, and Yutori has her doll again, this time on top of my head.

I was kinda hoping Rina-chan would be in the group shot as well, but they had her helping with the sales table. In any case, the single-member cheki queue had grown considerably, so there was a bit of a wait. When my turn came I chose Miyabi, and she was very thankful. I confirmed that they sang three new songs in the setlist, and told her that she performed really well. At the end, she gave me a big “Thank You CK-San!” This would become very funny later on.


Miyabi

After the cheki I went back to the sales booth because I really wanted to take a cheki with Yuua as well. I still hadn’t purchased a ticket for their March Solo Live, so perfect. I bought the March ticket, and am now covered for the Minyo’s over the next two months. I could take another cheki too.


Yuua

Yuua is such a sweetheart, although she isn’t quite as conversational during chekis. It is sorta surprising since she (and Fuuka) are essentially the main MCs of the group. I did manage to tell her that I love their new MV. Anyway, I didn’t want to spend any more cash, so I changed out of my Happi, gathered my things, and headed for the exit. It was at this point the most interesting thing happened……


One lonely flower basket =( Some of the fans (and family) also brought flowers

A SURREAL POST-SHOW EXPERIENCE

A woman was waiting for me at the exit. As I stepped out she said Hello, and asked me my name. she then introduced herself, as Yuua’s mother. She was standing there with Yuua’s Dad and younger sister and they were thanking me profusely for supporting Minyo Girls. We talked for a few minutes; she was asking me about what I was doing in Japan, and how I came to know the group. Her English was quite good (she said she takes lessons) I was about to leave, and she tells me to follow her….


“CK-San!” ~ Miyabi


Yuua in action!

 


Yutori stopped, like “Hey, I’m posing for you, take a shot!” and I blurred the pic.

She takes me over to this group of women standing by the staircase and intruduces me to them in Japanese. Just then, the first woman says “Is this CK-San?” Hahahahaha!!!! I know exactly who this is. Like mother, like daughter, she was Miyabi’s mom. I told her the story about how Miyabi surprised me the first time she started calling me “CK-San.” The other two were Fuuka and Izumi’s mothers, along with Fuuka’s younger sister. It was just incredible to be invited into this little pow-wow with the parents of the members. I mean I have met Wasamin’s parents before, and once met Himeri from DISDOL’s (and former Alice Project) mother, but never on the level of this. It was pretty neat, and I have a feeling I will be talking to them more in the future.


Another show perk; free pic!


Moar Minyo tickets!

After a few minutes I bid my farewell and headed downstairs to find lunch.  But yeah, quite a neat experience overall, eh?  Minyo Girls are definitely a group that is demanding more attention in the idol world, so I invite you all to really check them out!

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts, Iwasa Misaki, Minyo Girls A Quick Update; A Theater Show, and a Cross-Promotion

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A few things…

I wanted to cross promote a YouTube Show I was on last week.  My buddy David (DLJ) from New School Kaidan and I had a nice little conversation.  David and I have hung out in Japan, and when FESTIVE came to San Francisco he bunked at my condo.  In the audio-only video we talked about living in Japan, Wasamin (of course) AKB48, and indie idols, particularly Minyo Girls.  Please check it out!!!

Also…

Earlier this month I happended to win my 40th theater show.  It was once again Team Kenkyuusei (16th Gen) plus a few of the Draft Nominees as special guests.  I have discussed this theater show so many times that it feels like well-covered ground.  However, the cool thing was that it was just a couple of days before the January 6-7 AKB Handshake Events at Makuhari Messe.  So I got great reactions when I met the 16th Gen members (I met ALL of them, except for Orin) at the handshake events since they remembered me from the theater shows.  You can read about those interactions a couple of posts down from this one.

And of course I picked up the commemorative photo pack as a keepsake.

 

Finally, I am starting to get the occasional comment, which is nice.  I was beginning to get really discouraged because it seemed like I was getting readers, but nobody ever bothered to comment.  So please, comments are welcome!

And since somebody asked, here are the best places to keep track of Wasamin’s schedule.

Wasamin’s official Nagara Pro event page
http://www.nagarapro.co.jp/top/artist/concert.php?id=36

Also, Ichikawa-san, Wasamin’s manager’s official blog is a great place for news and info…
https://ameblo.jp/wasamin-staff/

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki 7th Single Reservation Events, Part II (2018/01/11-14)

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Wasamin wrapped up her week and a half of promotional events with two appearances on Thursday.  Then after a “day off” where she recorded a television program, and an event in Osaka, (which I did not attend, see the previous post) she finished up with two shows at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro.

Iwasa Misaki 7th Single Reservation Events; Nakano and Shinjuku (2018/01/11)

This would be the seventh consecutive day of Wasamin doing promotional events. This would also be the second consecutive day I would be attending both events. First heading out to Nakano in the mid-afternoon, and then going directly to Shinjuku, where I would be conducting a little business, and then finding two friends who would decide to accompany me to the mini-live. First up, Nakano…

I have been to Nakano Broadway many many times. Not only is it home to a major branch of Mandarake, but it is the original home of Trio2, which back in the day was a mecca for collecting AKB merchandise and pics. Not to mention it is right across the street from Nakano SunPlaza, which was a frequent stop for the Hello!Project groups when they performed in Tokyo. I saw Morning Musume there a couple of times in the late 2000s, as well as C-ute during the “1,2,3” Tour.

Meikyoku-do, the Enka shop Wasamin would be performing in, is on the “hidden” 2nd floor of Nakano Broadway. I saw that because the escalators there do not stop on the 2nd floor, going straight from level 1 to level 3. You have to take a side staircase to get on the 2nd level. But I knew that already. I had never taken a good look at this shop before. And boy was it tiny!

Of all the little Enka shops Wasamin has performed inside of, this has to be the smallest of all. Not only that, it is filled, floor to ceiling with random collectibles and souvenirs, many of which had nothing to do with Enka. Actually, I thought it was quite adorable. I actually got their early, and was able to sit front and center. I was literally inches away from Wasamin while she performed. Here is the matinee setlist.

Setlist: Nakano
1. Mujineki
2. Ringo no Uta
3. Wakare no Yokan
4. Saba Kaido

It was a special treat to hear Wakare no Yokan, since it is a song Wasamin has only recently started to perform. Also, we were all instructed not to cheer loudly since it was such a small shop and it may bother the neighboring shops. So most of us either 1) did a very low cheer, or 2) pantomimed cheering. Both had Wasamin laughing. I had two handshake tickets, and for the first one I commented on how cute the shop was. I pointed to the pictures of Mizumori Kaori-san right above her head, as well as the shop’s Alcohol collection. Yes, they had a full assortment of booze on one wall. Wasamin asked me if I liked drinking. Of course! I usually go to the bar before her evening events. For my second handshake, since I know Wasamin was once an H!P fan, I told her my experiences of the concerts across the street. Wasamin asked me if I still liked H!P, but I told her not anymore.

It was a small place, but I took off after my second ticket. The shop proprietor stopped me to thank me for coming as I left, which was nice.

Tower Records Shinjuku

 

I got to Shinjuku early since I was meeting a friend for coffee. Also, another friend of mine was nearby getting his smartphone repaired. So after talking with my friend for a while, I got ready to leave to go to the event. I asked her if she was interested in going to the event. To my surprise, she emphatically said “YES, I want to meet Wasamin!” She is well familiar with AKB48, but has never seen any 48-group event in person before, so she was excited to meet a “real- live idol.” Around the same time, my other friend (A Sasshi fan) had finished his business, and announced he was coming to the event too, since he hadn’t talked to Wasamin since she was in AKB. Awesome! Two friends!

We got to the event around 20 minutes early. My friend Aya was in awe of how small the venue was, and we were right against the stage. She asked why I wasn’t wearing my Happi, so I offered to let her wear it instead. Just then, I turned around a saw an unexpected familiar face, or so I thought. I walked over and whispered to one of my Wasafan friends; “That’s Miki from Minyo Girls, isn’t it?” Yes it is! Miki is the Shamisen player in Minyo Girls, who I have talked about often on my blog, and in the Stage48 thread I created for the group. She was hanging out, talking with the fans. I caught her eye and she waved to me. So cool, Wasamin had a “celebrity” guest, LOL. Here was the evening setlist…

Setlist: Shinjuku
1. Gomen, ne Tokyo
2. Niji wo Watatte
3. Toshishita no Otokonoko
4. Saba Kaido

Niji wo Watatte is one of the most fun songs to hear Wasamin perform since the fans chant her name between each line of the verse. It was also a treat to hear “Otokonoko” since that is another song she seldom performs. I was watching my friend Aya during the performance, and she had the greatest smile on her face. I could tell she was having a great time. In fact, Wasamin actually talked to her at one point during the show noting that it was her first time at an event, yet she was wearing a Wasa-Happi. She would find out later that it was my coat.

So for my first handshake Wasamin thanked me for bringing to fans to the event, and also noted that I brought Derek to the event the day before. She really appreciates that I bring friends to see her. For the second handshake I had mentioned that Frank was also in town, and wanted to come see her, but came down with the flu at the last minute. She gave me the “crying” gesture. But I told her that he would try to come to an event when he returns. I forgot to mention that I have another Wasa-fan friend coming to town next week. (Kenjimaru, who she knows) Hopefully he will make to an event too.

Iwasa Misaki 7th Single Reservation Event at Sunshine City, Ikebukuro (2018/01/14)

This event was the culmination of a week and a half of mini-live events, beginning in Northern Japan, and after four days of Tokyo events, a quick trip to Osaka before finishing here. Wasamin didn’t have a live performance on Friday, but it turned out she was recording a television program that day with her senpai from Nagara Pro.

Considering this event was being held at Sunshine City’s fountain square, many fans were anticipating an announcement of some sort. This is usually where Wasamin holds her furage and/or press events, not to mention it is a high-profile place to hold an event. Sunshine City is a huge mall, and on the weekend it is slammed with shoppers. Ultimately there were no big announcements. Just a big live event, with a nice turnout.

I had a weird run-in with the staff of Shinseido, who run the Sunshine City events. When you preorder CDs for this event, you get to draw for priority seating. I filled out my preorder form, purchasing three CDs. At this point the clerk began asking me a question. I was reasonably certain I knew what he asked. He was saying that I can only select priority seating for one of the two events. It’s dumb, but you have to fill out two separate preorder forms to get two priority seats. In any case, I told him the last event. But he is telling me I don’t understand the question. So I repeat, the last event. Again, I don’t understand. I tell the guy I want to go to both events. And he is saying I need two forms. He is holding up the forms. So I say fine, I want a ticket for the last event. Again, I don’t understand. So now I think I really don’t understand, so I tell him how I am going to distribute my handshake tickets at the event. Now he is frustrated, so he gets a clerk who speaks English. She explains to me what they are asking, which is what I thought they were asking. I said. “I told him three times already, I want a ticket to the last event!” It just pissed me off that I did understand the question, answered appropriately, and he treated me like I was an idiot. It was compounded when he told me my total was 3702 yen, and he gave me a confused look when I put 5202 yen in the tray. I mean, c’mon! I got the last laugh, however, drawing priority entry #3. I got to be front row center, and actually had a pretty good vantage point for the early show too, although I was standing. Anyway, here are the setlists…

1:00 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Koisuru Fortune Cookie (Enka ver.)
3. Ihoujin
4. Saba Kaido

3:30 Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Toshishita no Otokonoko
3. Kikyou (Iwasa Misaki ver.)
4. Saba Kaido

Whenever Wasamin performs at a big mall like this, I love to people watch, watching the reactions to the passers-by. Quite a few of them will recognize her from her AKB days, and get really excited. It’s just neat to see the smiles on the faces of people who are seeing Wasamin perform live for the first time. And again with the “Otokonoko” song. I wonder if this is a preview of one of the new single B-sides?

I ultimately had three handshake tickets for the two events. I used one in the early show, and told Wasamin that I ate Saba the previous evening. Suddenly she said “Oh yeah, I saw your tweet last night!” (I had tweeted a pic of the saba and linked it to her) She asked if I went to dinner alone, but I told her that I was with friends at Iso Maru Suisan, which is a 24-hour izakaya chain that specializes in fish, particularly grilled shellfish. Wasamin is well familiar with this restaurant chain, and seemed to be somewhat surprised that I ate there. But I actually eat there all the time, and have for quite a while.

For my second ticket I told her about my adventure going out to Kumagaya to see Minyo Girls and Hayabusa on Saturday. She remembered that Kumagaya was Nittoh Mall, and asked who I shook hands with. She laughed when I told her that I only shook hands with Minyo Girls. Finally, for my last ticket I mentioned that it was finally my last day of vacation, and that I would be heading back to school on Monday. I told her the classes I was taking, although in the moment I forgot the word for “culture,” so I described the class as the study of Japanese people, LOL. She said my Japanese was getting to be very good, to which I responded “Chotto….” I wasn’t feeling too confident in that moment, especially after that interaction with the Shinseido dude.

Wasamin will be resuming her promotional tour over the next two weekends with three events in Chiba. I won’t be able to make the first two, but I may be able to make the last one. We’ll see. But after that, it will be Wasamin’s big concert at Ebisu Garden Hall. Exciting!

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Minyo Girls Minyo Girls Live (with Hayabusa) at Nittoh Mall Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture (2017/01/13)

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Before I begin this post I should probably point out that Minyo Girls have recently released two new MV’s, one from their Minyo Girls III CD and a brand new one from their Minyo Girls IV CD.  So here they are!!!



I love both of the new PVs, especially the one from the new CD. So pretty, and such a cute concept. Anyway, I had an open Saturday. And since Wasamin was down in Osaka for the day, I decided to see what other groups I like might be performing. Luckily, Minyo Girls added this appearance to their calendar at the last minute. I have been itching to see Minyo Girls live ever since their new CD came out around Christmas. This was the first chance I had, although Kumagaya is quite the trek. It is in Northern Saitama Prefecture, almost to Gunma, and takes over an hour to get there from Shinjuku. However, it is a direct shot on the Shonan-Shinjuku/Takasaki Line, so I decided to go for it. My other option was to go see KissBee in Laketown, but I opted for this. BTW, I saw Wasamin at this mall last year, so I was familiar with the layout.

 

The setup was basically each group alternated doing their event. Minyo Girls were 1st and 3rd, Hayabusa was 2nd and 4th. For some reason, they tore down all the other group’s stuff when one was performing. I’m not sure why they didn’t just keep everything up the entire time. Also, they were doing a cross-promotion with some hand cream/facial cream company, and were doing “treatments” on people right next to the event. (You got samples when you purchased CDs, LOL)

Another interesting, although not surprising phenomenon; I arrived 45 minutes early, but ALL THE SEATS were already reserved by Hayabusa fans. Female fans, jeez. They are more rabid and obsessive than the guys, I swear. Minyo Girls were performing first, but pretty much ALL of their fans were relegated to the standing area in the back. A couple of the Hayabusa fans eventually “Loaned” their seats to Minyo Girls fans, but not very many. They pretty much camped out in the seats for all four shows. The rest of the seats were taken by the local elderly crowd, who usually flock to events like this in small, out of the way towns. Anyway, I got my hands on a couple copies of the new release…

 

The odd thing was that the booth was only selling copies of “Minyo Girls I” when I got there. It was only after the girls started performing that they brought out the rest of the merchandise (although they were sold out of Minyo Girls II) They didn’t have very many copies of the new CD either, and sold out early on. Also, here is the new flyer they were passing out, with the animated versions of the members from the “zashikiwarashi” PV.

I ended up getting three tickets, hoping to do at least a couple of chekis with Miyabi and Yua. Unfortunately, they weren’t offering chekis for this event. Instead, one ticket got you a group shamekai. On one hand that’s pretty cool, except I really didn’t want THREE of basically the same group shot. I think I could have saved the ticket for a later date, but I wasn’t sure. So I just did the three shots…

 

There were only six members at the event, who happened to be all the members who live closest to Saitama. In fact, Yua is from Saitama, so they made a big deal out of that. I did get a brief chance to say hello to Miyabi and Yua (my two favorite members) while they were passing out their “business cards.” Yua came over to me, and Miyabi ran up right after like “I was ginna give him one!” LOL. I also had a chance to talk to Miki the shamisen player, who was selling CDs. Miki actually came to Wasamin’s event in Shinjuku on Thursday. So I asked her if she had fun. She said she had a lot of fun hanging out with the Wasamin fans. COOL!

And here are a few performance pics. I’ll put one of Hayabusa on the bottom, since I did watch their early performance.

 

I was considering bailing on Wasamin’s late performance on Sunday to go see Minyo Girls at Tokyo Dome City. (Yes, while the AKB shows were going on) However, since I got to see them on Saturday, I stuck with Wasamin on Sunday. Next up for me and Minyo Girls will be their Solo Live next Sunday in Yokohama.

 

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki 7th Single Reservation Events, Part One (2018/01/09-10)

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After a 1-month Wasa-vacation, I finally got a chance to visit with her on Tuesday. <3

Yes, the last time I spent time with Wasamin was at her Fan Club boat event on December 9th. It was just two days later that I would take off to California for 2 1/2 weeks, returning just in time for New Years Eve. When I got home, aside from dropping my bags, I was most looking forward to checking my mailbox, hoping there would be a ticket to Wasamin’s New Year’s Live in Ginza with Mizumori and Hayabusa, but unfortunately I got skunked for the 3rd year in a row :(

However, there WAS a correspondence from Wasamin in my mailbox. It was the latest edition of Misaki Magazine! Here are a few pages…

I was surprised there was such a tiny mention of the San Francisco event. The magazine focused on her Love Live Concert, and the Boat event. But it’s a really nice magazine, and I always look forward to receiving it. A couple of days later I received this…

A New Year’s Card from Wasamin, yatta! I got one of these last year as well. Anyway…

This past weekend, Misaki started her new single promotions, beginning with three days in Northern Japan, performing in Morioka, Aomori, and Miyagi. Beginning Monday she started her Tokyo portion of the tour. Two stops each Monday through Thursday. Then after a day off, she goes to Osaka on Saturday, then back to Tokyo on Sunday which looks to be an important day since she is performing at Sunshine City. That is usually where Wasamin makes big announcements and visits with the press. So I am guessing we may be hearing the new song, or at least finding out the title. Anyway, here is her schedule from yesterday (Monday)

1/8 Cultural Broadcasting Building, 12pm Mini-Live (w/ Hayabusa)
(The rest are mini-live plus handshake event)
1/8 Ario Nishiarai, 7pm
1/9 Yoro-do Asakusa, 2pm
1/9 Tower Gran Tree Musashi Kosugi, 7:30p
1/10 Music Shop Dan Higashi-Jujo, 2pm
1/10 Tower Records Ikebukuro, 7pm
1/11 Meikyoku-Do Nakano, 3pm
1/11 Tower Records Shinjuku, 7pm
1/13 Kishiwada Talktown Osaka, 1pm, 3:30pm
1/14 Sunshine City Ikebukuro, 1pm, 3:30pm

She also has a few appearances scheduled in Chiba toward the end of January, including her monthly challenge campaign. BTW, this was the Setlist for Tuesday’s performance in Asakusa

Yoro-do Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Gakusai Jidai
3. Wakasa no Yado
4. Saba Kaido

In one of the MCs Wasamin was going on an on about how her manager is a very interesting person, and that is always surprised by her manager’s stories. Of course Ichikawa-san got all embarrassed, since Wasamin was implying that she was weird, LOL. For the rest she was promoting her upcoming concert, as well as the rest of the events this week.

It was a relatively small crowd. Then again, it was in the middle of a work day. Perhaps she will get more people in the evening, and on Sunday. I chose not to go yesterday because I was really tired from the weekend, not to mention the rain. As for tonight, I just didn’t feel like trekking out to Yokohama. I will probably go to most, if not all of the remaining Tokyo events this week.

It should be noted that like with Saba Kaido, Wasamin has a stamp card for this single. Among the prizes are an oshi-towel, tote bag, and a Jacket! But you need to buy A LOT of CDs for that one. I bought two CDs today, and had two handshakes….

For the first handshake, Wasamin welcomed me back, and I told her a little about my trip, mainly about the weather being nice in California, warm enough that I could go swimming. She was like “Ehhhhh???” When I looped back around Wasamin remembered that the NagaraPro Sakura Festival is in Itabashi, so she asked if I lived close to the venue. I told her I could almost walk to it. (Actually, it would be quite a long walk, better to take the train) But I told her I would be there since she will be in my neighborhood. Well, technically she will be in my neighborhood tomorrow as well since Music Shop Dan is probably closer to my house than Itabashi Cultural Hall.

Anyhow, I took off and went to Senso-ji to enjoy some New Year’s festival food. I ate grilled fish and grilled crab. Yum! I would be ready for a Wasa-doubleheader on Wednesday.

 

Higashi-Jujo and Ikebukuro Reservation Events! (2018/01/10)

I finally participated in a full day of Wasamin pre-order events, after missing out on Monday entirely and only attending the early Tuesday event. Since there are ten Tokyo-area events this week, I am trying to pace myself. Although I promised Wasamin I would go to the Nakano event today (Thursday) and I am meeting a friend in Shinjuku in the afternoon, which is right by where she is performing in the evening. So I guess I will be attending both shows today too.

The first stop was one of Wasamin’s usual enka shop stops, Music Shop Dan in Higashi-Jujo, which is almost within walking distance to my apartment. I met up with my friend Derek for a little New York Pizza lunch before heading over. I have been to this shop to see Wasamin a couple of times before, and they usually hold the performance in a small community center around the corner. However, this time they would be holding the event inside the tiny shop. Like the little Enka shop in Warabi, they had to squeeze us in.

Here is the setlist…

Higashi-Jujo 2pm
1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
2. Blue Light Yokohama
3. Kita no Hotaru
4. Saba Kaido

I wanted to tell Wasamin about my interaction with Shiichan and Myao on Saturday. Since I know Wasamin is good friends with Myao, I made the story primarily about her, and explained that Myao thought I was an HKT fan since I was wearing my HKT48 T-shirt, but I corrected her and told her I am a Wasamin-oshi! Wasamin and Ichikawa-san both laughed,and I told them that Shiichan was also part of the conversation. She asked me who else was in the lane, and kinda giggled when I mentioned Chori. Also, Wasamin was happy I brought Derek again, and thanked me for helping him with what he wanted to tell her in Japanese. I would head home and relax for a while beforgoing to Ikebukuro for the evening event.

Tower Ikebukuro 7:30pm
1. Mujineki
2. Nora
3. Tomonoura Bojou
4. Saba Kaido

Wasamin had a considerable larger crowd for the evening show. (I suspect the same thing occurred on Tuesday night, and will probably happen tonight) I showed up just before showtime after having a couple cocktails at The Hub. Wasamin was wearing her black Kimono, which is one of my favorites. When I told her it was one of my favorite Kimonos, she asked me how many points. I wasn’t sure how to answer that, so I told her “full points.” LOL, I think I made the point.

Most of the fans were still filling out their pre-orders, so I looped the line. I mentioned that Nakano Broadway is where I used to buy all of my Wasamin photos when she was in AKB. Trio II in Nakano Broadway was AKB Photo Mecca back then. She asked if that meant I was coming tomorrow, which I confirmed. I kinda wanted to make this an early night, so I took off right after my second ticket.

So back on the horse tonight, so to speak. I will have two more events to report. As for Sunday, I’m not sure how that is going to play out. I do want to see Wasamin, and will definitely be at the early event. But I am torn between hanging out for the second event, or taking off to see Minyo Girls in Suidobashi. I guess I will let the time make the determination, as it will depend on how late Wasamin’s first event goes.

 

CK in Tokyo

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