Continuing from the previous entry. I chose not to stay in Nagoya, instead going straight to Osaka. At least this way I would have a full day of not having to lug my bags around. It was a really cute hotel too, right next to Shin-Osaka Station. Anyway, it was time for the next Tomonoura Bojou promotional event…
Wasatour Day Four: 2014/01/09 Talktown, Higashi-Kishiwada Osaka
We got word that the single dropped to #4 on Oricon’s daily chart. But it should be noted that the Nagoya crowd wasn’t very big. Not a good mall, strategy-wise. I’m sure that had an effect. The crowd at Talktown in Osaka was relatively bigger. Plus, they put the stage right at the main entrance to the mall. So it drew quite a few curious shoppers in.
Also, there were a couple of “heavy hitters” among the Osaka fans who bought a lot of CDs. I think overall Wasamin’s people were very happy with the results on this night. The staff from Young’s Music (the CD shop that was supporting the event) looked really happy with the sales. Even Yoshida-san came back out at the end to personally thank us. So we were hoping we would see a result higher than #4 on the next Oricon report.
I’m not sure what to make of Higashi-Kishiwada. I am guessing it is a bit of a blue collar area, based on the shops and the clientele. There also seemed to be a few homeless(?) (not sure if they were homeless, but…) who gravitated to the event. One of them hung out for the 3pm and 5pm event, talking to himself the entire time…
Wasamin was wearing a pale-orange Kimono, with her hair done the same way it was done on Tuesday. I think she looks sooooo adorable with her hair that way. Ya know, photos don’t do Wasamin justice. You think she is cute in these pictures? Stand right in front of her. Up close she is even more beautiful.
The setlist was exactly the same as Nagoya (my guess was it would be the same at Hiroshima too) Sound quality wasn’t that good. The system seemed to be echoing a bit. I think it was the acoustics of the mall causing it. So it couldn’t be helped.
At one point in the 2nd set an older fan came up to the stage and began handing her gifts…in the middle of Tomonoura Bojou! Her managers had temporarily disappeared at the moment, and when they came back they looked puzzled as to why there were presents on the stage next to Wasamin. Management fail! Although if there was any trouble the Wasa-wota would have taken care of it!
This little girl, around 7-8 years old showed up at the 2nd event with her grandmother. She was so enamored with Wasamin, and the fans. She hung out with us all afternoon and evening. They looked like a poor family, so the fans kept handing her handshake tickets. She must have ultimately gone up to Wasamin 10 times! Her mom finally gave her 1000 yen to get her own CD. (Not sure why we didn’t just give her CDs, as we all had bags of them) But you could tell the girl was having the time of her life. Her mom and grandmother (who was deaf) just kept thanking us, over and over.
At the late event a ton of shoppers kept snapping pictures. Staff was running all over the mall trying to get them to stop. They caught one lady twice. After they asked her to stop she went to the other side and tried again. There are signs all over the place asking people not to photograph the event.
Also funny, a bunch of the fans took to wearing strang costumes throughout the day. My friend Macky was wearing a horse mask. Wasamin kept punching him. She finally yanked the mask off his head. Other members were wearing rabbit ears, masks, and one guy was dressed in drag. That made for some fun Wasa MCs.
Some of the photos are randomly signed at the event (although not many, as only a couple get won per day) There is also one photo she draws pictures on. One of the guys I was with won it. She had drawn a little Octopus since it was Osaka.
For my handshakes I congratulated Wasamin on Oricon #1. They mentioned it a couple of times that day. I told her that she is now “Iwasa-sama”. She responded “Hontoni!?!?” Later on she mentioned she wanted to try Basashi in Kumamoto. So I had told her I was scared to try it. And asked her if I would like it. I mentioned I really wanted to try Hiroshima Oysters. She asked if I had tried them before, but I said this would be the first time (hopefully) At the end I told her I was excited to go to Hiroshima for the first time, and I would see her tomorrow.
So it was off to Hiroshima. I had never been there before, I couldn’t wait to get there…
Day Five: 2014/01/10 Aeon Mall, Fuchu Hiroshima
It was nice that this mall was very close to Hiroshima Station. It made it easy to do a little sightseeing before the events. To begin here is a report on the day from a local TV station…
Plus some promotional shots from her Google+
It was an awesome day…for so many reasons.
Not to get off-topic, but the previous day I didn’t get to do much in Osaka. I wanted to go down to Namba, see the NMB theater. But at the end of the night the Wasa-faithful decided to spend the evening at a McDonalds in Tennoji.
I wasn’t going to let that happen again. This was my first ever visit to Hiroshima, and I wanted to really sample what the town was about. Plus, it gives me stuff to talk about with Wasamin. I had plenty of time. Since Wasamin was doing the events in Tomonoura, the singing events started late in the afternoon…
This mall was very nice. Lots of high-end shops. Great food. Nice crowd. Great for Wasamin!
It should be noted that I have had a great seat in every event…until today. The Hiroshma fans arrived very early, and held seats for hours. So I never got close to the seating area. BTW, that is just fine. The Wasa-faithful are happy to stand in the back while the new fans get a close look. We see Wasamin all the time. It was a very nice sized crowd!
The Fukuyama/Tomonoura contingency, and the local press were there for the event. Awesome! We want as much publicity as possible for our girl! Check out the video above…
The volume on the speakers was quite low during the event. I think this causes a problem for Wasamin. When the volume is low, she doesn’t project as much. As a result she has the occasional breathing issues on songs. I was pumping my fists at her to help her put more force into the lyrics. Hopefully I helped. But keep this in mind…it is all relative. Her vocals are awesome. But sometimes they are not quite up to Wasa-standards.
She wore a sky-blue Kimono with roses on it. They made a big deal about it when Roura-san came on stage. I asked her if it was the first time she had worn it. But she told me it was the third time. She asked me if I thought Roura-chan was cute. But I told her that she was much cuter.
Crowds were the biggest for the first and third event. It’s a relatively busy mall, so she got quite a few passers-by to get into the event. And as I said before, I couldn’t get close to a seat.
A couple of heavy-hitters bought over 100 CDs, but they were from Osaka and Tokyo. Most of the local fans were younger. I mentioned before that around 6 Tokyo fans were making the entire trip. It is actually closer to 12. And we had another group of 4-6 come in from Osaka. The staff really appreciated our efforts. As they came out after the event to personally thank us. (They did the same in Osaka and Nagoya) Oh, and check this out…
Awesome! And if you were wondering, there is a #1 Mujineki. It is #2′s daughter.
As for my handshakes, I bought 6 CDs today. Three to start, but I kept adding more. For the first one I told her I her I had Kaki to Champagne for lunch. She was surprised by the champagne comment, but her manager was quite impressed.
Later I had also told her I had visited Hiroshima Peace Park. Wasamin asked me what I thought, and I told her my impression was that it was Peaceful, yet lonely and sad. Wasamin seemed impressed that I was able to articulate that. (I had been practicing ) Wasamin is always happy when I say things in Japanese.
But the best was when I showed her Manager the picture of Wasamin and I from 4 years ago. “Look at cute twin-tailed Wasamin!” Her manager seemed shocked that I had been a fan for so long. Then Wasamin chimed in and said that she remembered when we took the picture. OMG, she is so wonderful. I love her so much for remembering things like that!
At the end I presented her with my first gift of the trip, and little souvenir that I bought for her at Disneyland California over the holidays. I told her I was thinking about her when I was at Disneyland. Wasamin loves Disney, so she was happy to receive the gift. I even got an “I Love You” as a result.
I mentioned earlier that there are random autographed photos. (Andy won one today) But there is one per day with a special message. Here is today’s, with a Hiroshima Oyster on it…I think. We were laughing at her attempt to draw an oyster. I couldn’t help but wonder if Wasamin drew an oyster as a result of our conversation yesterday…
At the end of the night Wasamin invented a “Kaki” chant that she had us do. It was too cute. Totally Wasamin! ”Se…no…KAKIII!”
Anyway, I needed to get an early start tomorrow. Off to Hakata. Then the Fukuoka event. We were in the home stretch. I could tell Wasamin was getting a little tired. I’m sure. We as fans were getting tired. So I can imagine how she felt. But the Wasa-marathon is worth every step!
Day Six: 2014/01/11 Aeon Mall Wakamatsu, Fukuoka
My first big tactical error of the trip. Staying out late and partying a little too hard in Hiroshima. I was paying for it on Saturday. So frankly my Saturday report was a bit on the short side…
Crowd wasn’t quite as big as Hiroshima. Earlier crowd was definitely the bigger of the two. Wakamatsu is really out in the sticks. It kind of reminded me of going to Suzuka for the Request Covers events. Around a 55 minute train ride from Hakata. The train goes through some seriously rural areas. However, a few more of the big Tokyo fans flew down for the weekend. One of them bought a box of CDs! And the word was a few more were coming down for the last event.
Speaker volume was higher, and as a result Wasamin’s projection and breathing was much better. Since there were only two events, one of the questions was which song would be left out. Surprisingly, it was Koisuru Fortune Cookie-enka version. She sang Akai Sweet Pea at 1p, and Ihoujin at 4p
She was wearing a dark blue Kimono. Hairstyle back to her traditional Enka look. Just like Hiroshima.
The highlights of the day were some of the youngsters at the event. A little boy, couldn’t have been older than 7 or 8 bought Wasamin a toy. It was a little “light up” trinket. So cute!
Later on six young teenage girls happened upon the event. When they saw Wasamin…wow. They were completely star struck. Then one of the heavy hitters gave them all handshake tickets. Half of them cried when they met Wasamin. One in particular was just beside herself in awe. The crowd was rolling with laughter as the girls’ reactions were just priceless! Earlier another teenage girl cried when she met Wasamin. My guess is they don’t get too many idols visiting that part of the country.
As for my handshakes, I kept it small today since I was really tired. But we talked about my visit to Hakata after the Request Covers campaign. She had commented that she really wanted to try Motsunabe. I told her I really liked Hakata Ramen. Finally I gave her my fan letter. Now Wasamin has a little habit of opening the fan letters and reading them out loud while you are standing there. But I lucked out. She opened it as if she was going to read it. But then remarked that she was happy with the Japanese translation I included.
Lastly, she sent me a little message. She said she knew I had trouble with Japanese conversation. And she could tell I was trying very hard to communicate with her in Japanese. She wanted to pay me a compliment and tell me that she really appreciated the effort I am making. And that it really meant a lot to her.
Anyhow, I really needed some sleep. I had to take the Shinkansen out to Kumamoto in the AM. We were all hoping for a big and successful finale! But beore that more pics from Wasamin’s visit to Fukuyama…
With every handshe you got a bonus pic and an autograph board. A few of the photos were autographed, but they were really hard to get (I got zero in 30 chances ) Then there was one grand prize photo per day. I posted the Kaki pic from Hiroshima on a previous post. Here are a few others…
Day Seven FINAL: 2014/01/12 Aeon Mall, Uki Kumamoto
After the Fukuoka events on Saturday night, reports came trickling in of various Tokyo fans making last minute plane reservations. This I predicted. I knew the opportunity to give Wasamin one last push would be too important for many to pass up. For those of us who were staying in Hakata, it was a short Shinkansen ride away.
Uki is a cute little community on the outskirts of Kumamoto, which is one of the larger cities in Kyushu. Unlike Saturday’s events in Wakamatsu, which was really out in the middle of nowhere. Now this was the final event of the promotion, and usually at the final event many fans like to give Wasamin flowers. However, this was the first mall we came across without a flower shop. My friend Andy was despondent. It was like the world was going to end if he couldn’t give Wasamin flowers. He ended up paying a guy to drive him back to Kumamoto to find a flower shop. What an ordeal!
Now this was weird. Before the events some guy walks up to me in the mall, gets right in my face and begins staring at me. Andy asked him what he wanted, and he just mumbled and pointed at my Wasashirt. This kept happening, all day. The guy kept getting in my face! In fact he ended up hanging out at the event all afternoon, and even photobombed our group picture! I don’t think he was a Wasamin fan, I think he was a weird dude who just happened upon the event.
They had some local mall-idol do a warm up show before each event. I think she is there to entertain the kids, judging by the material. But we had fun cheering for her. Not to mention, she wasn’t bad-looking at all.
Wasamin had her hair semi-down again, just the way I love it. She was in her hot-pink Kimono. Singing was good…except she missed a breath in the middle of Ihoujin and completely flubbed a line. It happens. However, she got right back on track a moment later. No biggie. In fact, I sort of laughed at her when it happened. I was in the 2nd row. For her MC she wanted to acknowledge those of us who traveled with her all the way from Tokyo, and also pointed out Andy and I coming from overseas. I felt proud to be one of the 10 or so who made it to every event. This was no easy task. We traveled a long way! Tokyo to Nagoya to Osaka to Hiroshima to Fukuoka to Kumamoto. That is a serious trek!
I bought 6 CDs for the last day (which brought my total to 30). So for my first handshake I wanted to tell Wasamin that I got her message from the previous day acknowledging my efforts to speak Japanese with her, and that I wished I could say even more. I also told her I ate Motsunabe for dinner last night (which she recommended) She asked how I liked it, and I told her it was just okay. She was shocked, telling me how delicious it was. But I just blurted out “Nai!” which caused uproarious laughter from staff. Later when she saw Andy she told him she was really surprised I didn’t love Motsunabe. But he explained it really isn’t part of the American palate. I later told her that I didn’t hate it, I just think meat is so much tastier. Then I turned to her manager and said that I also think strawberries are much tastier. (Wasamin had commented on Saturday that her manager loved strawberries)
Second set went off without a hitch. She performed Akai Sweet Pea as the B-side track. Frankly, I was surprised she didn’t sing KFC all weekend. It was a real crowd pleaser during the week. Wasamin spent the MCs reflecting on the week. And also mentioned that she wanted to eat Basashi. This of course had Andy’s mind spinning. He wanted Basashi for dinner. But I told him “no effing way!” I was still qeasy from the Motsunabe he insisted on the previous night.
For the final handshakes I wrote her a congratulatory letter, which I presented to her with a pink rose. I told her it was a wonderful week, but I looked forward to sleeping. For my last handshake, per usual I told her that I loved her, and that I hoped to see her again soon. She said “I love you”, and as part of her new tradition asked me to say “Love is Over” one more time.
After the show ended we all lined up near the exit and cheered her as she left the venue. When she got to the final corner she kept poking her head back out, then poked and waved her arms out, then she was gone…
Her manager’s assistant came out, and thanked us for our support. We asked to take a group picture on the stage before they tore it down. He got in the picture with us. So that was cool! All of her staff are really nice.
Here is the celebratory photo, complete with the photobombing weirdo. (Tan pants, front and center) Unfortunately a few of her big fans had already left because they had earlier flights back to Tokyo. After this photo staff told us to expect good news very soon (I think they already had word the single was going to be #1)
EDIT: a Yahoo article with a reaction from Wasamin…
Later on that evening I came down with a horrible case of gastroenteritis. It was really bad. Funny thing though, Wasamin’s G+ was eerily silent after the events. Perhaps she was just tired???Nope, Wasamin got sick that night…with gastroenteritis. Isn’t that cute? We got ill together. Although if Wasamin’s bout was anyhing like mine, she was no fun to be around!
But it was an amazing trip! Quite different from the “Request Covers” campaign, where most of the events were within a commutable distance from Tokyo. All of us lugging our suitases from town to town in support of our oshimen. Finding these random malls in random towns. Eating at restaurants featuring the local speacialties. There was an intense feeling of comeraderie among the fans. In fact, it was the first time I remember seeing the guys hugging one another after the show. (Not a common practice among the Japanese)
But yeah, it was that kind of week. And Wasamin was a big part of it. We were traveling with her (so to speak), experiencing the areas together, and telling her about our experiences. Now how many idols do you get to do that with?
And how many idols can you share enough time with to catch the same illness? But I recovered around 36 hours later. So my guess is Wasamin should be feeling a lot better by now.
So there ya go. Another awesome Wasa-love Tour in the books!
And the great news is…Oricon Weekly #1!!!!!!! Congratulations to Wasamin!
Most of the CD shops have a display with the top sellers of the week in order. Tomonoura Bojou will hold that spot ALL WEEK! In fact, Tsutaya put flowers on her promotion display for the #1 placing.
It was a great time. I was so glad I went. Even if I got sick twice. Being in Japan and spending time with Wasamins always a pleasure. But for now it was back to California…
CK in California