Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki First Concert at Asakusa Kokaido (2016//01/30)

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From twitter, to Wasamin’s Stage48 thread, to private chat I feel like I have really talked out the subject of this concert. But I haven’t really done it in the form of a proper experience post. So here goes. Starting back a few months ago when she announced the event…

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I really had no plans to be going to Japan, in fact I was considering taking a Japan vacation for a little while. So when announced the show my first thought was “Oh shoot, this is a “must-attend” event for me. However, logistically there would be a few hurdles to climb over. But I would worry about that when the time came. First order was to get a ticket. Luckily a friend of mine in Japan immediately PMd me and asked if I wanted to go with them, and she would get the tickets. Later someone else contacted me and wanted me to get them a ticket to go with me. This was a huge dilemma. I knew if I got this person a ticket too I would end up having to entertain them much of the day and would miss much of the Wasafan pre and post show festivities. But I didn’t want to be a jerk so I relented and got him a ticket as well. To make a long story short, my friend came through with amazing seats (2nd row center!), I was able to handle the logistics not only for attending the concert, but Wasamin’s single release. So I was set!  But it was going to be a long day…

 

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The day began first thing in the morning with a Wasamin Seitensai committee meeting. We had rented a conference room near Ueno in order to begin the process of a) sorting all of the committee t-shirts and goodies. We were also starting the process of putting together the little package for her AKB48 Birthday show. My job was a) to put the little uchiwa (which I haven’t even looked at yet. I am guessing it is similar to the shirt design) in the t-shirt packages, then b) folding the audience instruction sheets to be passed out at her birthday show. We had rented the place for three hours, but ended up finishing our work in half the time. After the thorough cleanup of the room (we left it cleaner than when we arrived, even took our garbage with us) we had 5-6 hours to kill until showtime…

I headed over to Akihabara for lunch, and to check if what they had left of Wasamin birthday stuff at the Cafe/Shop. I ended up sitting in Tully’s behind the Donki watching some anime group do a mini-live in front of UDX. After that I headed over to Asakusa at around 1:45. It was a good thing I did since when I found the venue the goods line was already getting really big. I wasn’t going to miss out on the Wasaconcert swag, so I queued up (around 70th in line) Later on the line ballooned up to around 300-400. Luckily they had made a pre-packaged “everything” set which included all of the new goods for 9000 yen. Many of the fans bought that set, so the line moved relatively fast. We also got a special present from Wasamin, an autographed signboard with her handprint. But there was one more thing to get…

 

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The first 150 people to buy a CD would get an autographed clear file with the concert date on it. Once I saw my spot in line to get in (I was outside on the street) I thought I would never get it, but I queued for it anyway after I went upstairs. Luckily I was 149th in line! The guy behind me got the last one.

 

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Oh, one other prize they offered (which I didn’t win was backstage passes to the show. I assumed the 21 winners would mainly be Wasamin event regulars, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the winners were people I had never seen before. In fact, there were only 4 “regulars” among them. One of their perks was a special pre-show one-song performance of Toki no Nagare ni Miwo Makase. (from Request Covers) Pretty cool! Anyway, that is plenty of pre-show experience. After heading through the hall filled with flowers. I did’nt see who they were all from, but I did see NHK, TBS, AKS, OJS, and of course flowers from our committee. I headed into the venue to my awesome seat to put on my concert shirt and get ready for the show.

 

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Wasamin did the Kageana and admitted that she was excited and nervous, then started laughing at our reacting. The lights went dim and the huge curtain opened. First thought, “WOW a live band!!!” This was going to be a special show. Wasamin took one look at the huge crowd cheering for her and lost it. Luckily Hatsuzake has a very long intro which gave her time to recover. I guess I should post the full setlist at this point…

Concert Setlist (Wasamin in black autumn leaves patterned kimono)
0. Toki no Nagare ni Miwo Makase (special pre-show performance only seen by winners of the “backstage tour”)
1. Hatsuzake
2. Tomonoura Bojou
MC (Wasamin crying)
~AKB Enka Version Medley~
3. Flying Get
4. Halloween Night
5. Let it Go! ~Ari no Mama de~
6. Heavy Rotation
7. Koisuru Fortune Cookie
MC (Talking about goods)
8. Tsugaru Kaikyō Fuyugeshiki
9. Anko Tsubaki wa Koi no Hana
10. Amagigoe
MC
11. Onna no Blues
VTR (Watarirouka Hashiritai Member Cheer Comments
(Wasamin roaming the audience, photos allowed during this portion of the show)
12. Tokyo Boogie Woogie (3rd Floor) [AKB Members spotted in the balcony]
13. Koisuru Natsu no Hi (2nd Floor)
14. Tokyo no Bus Girl (1st Floor)
15. Blue Light Yokohama (1st Floor)
16. Seto no Hanayome (1st Floor)
17. Akai Sweet Pea (Stage)
~End of photo session~
18. Nada Sousou (Wasamin on guitar!)
19. Nagori Yuki (Wasamin on guitar!!)
MC Happy Birthday! presented by special guest Matsui Sakiko. (Cake prepared by Wasamin’s older sister)
20. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari (Matsui Sakiko on piano)
21. Tsubasa wo Kudasai (Matsui Sakiko on piano)
22. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
End Main Set/Encore Call (WA-SA-MIN!)
VTR: Collage of photos and videos from birth until today
Wasamin in White Floral Pattern Kimono
Encore 1: Kawa no Nagare no You ni
MC: Band Introduction
Encore 2: Gomen ne Tokyo
MC: Graduation Announcement
Encore 3: Mujineki
Show End

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As expected, Wasamin was absolutely glowing. During the first MC she went down to bow and couldn’t get back up because the crying started again. Wasamin with that half-laugh/half-crying. She knows it’s funny. The first couple of MCs were pretty much talking about the venue, what an important day it was. Later she talked about the goods, specifically the shirt and penlight. Having the official penlight be yellow was her idea. And I must say the shirt is so cool!

 

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For the first half-dozen songs are so it was pretty much what one would expect from a Wasamin concert. That was until after the second MC when Wasamin did a set of songs that she has never recorded. And I don’t think she has ever performed most of them either. (Iirc she HAS performed Amagigoe before) I have to admit I was absolutely floored by her performance of Anko Tsubaki wa Koi no Hana. It kept with the traditional style, but was definitely an “updated” verion. Wasamin absolutely nailed it I was looking at the faces of some of the fans around me and they felt the same way. Just brilliant!

Midway through all of the new songs there was a VTR. Much like the one that accompanied her first single, this video featured former members of Watarirouka Hashiritai sending Wasamin their best wishes. First CinDy, followed by Lovetan, Ayarin, Harugon and finally Mayu. I must admit I saw kinda sad that Komorin didn’t participate. I mean she was Wasamin’s first “best friend” in AKB. But alas, Komorin’s days in show business are long over. On the other hand, the fun was just beginning for us…

 

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“Get your cellphone cameras ready, in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1″ All of a sudden Wasamin comes through the doors on the third floor singing Tokyo Boogie Woogie I was really impressed with the way she could go up and down the aisles, literally posing for people while singing the song perfectly. This was also about the time we spotted around 10 AKB members sitting in the top balcony. A video camera followed her through the outside corridor as she went from floor to floor. The second floor got one song as well. However most of the fans were on floor level, so it took 2 1/2 songs for her to cover that level. She came back to the stage at the end of Seto no Hanayome. Before the photo-op portion of the show finished she gave us a few “poses”. Actually those were some of the best shots I took!

 

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The stage went dark, but those of us up close could see the staff bringing out a chair and her guitar. I mentioned three weeks ago that I actually ran into Wasamin in Hamamatsucho and she was carrying a guitar at the time. When I asked the fans about that some of them told me it was going to be a concert surprise and to keep quiet about it. Unfortunately I had already blogged about it. :fp: Anyway, I was really excited to hear how well she could play. I remember how she was during the Give Me Five days. She exceeded all expections. She had trouble playing some of the bar chords, but other than that she was great. And needless to say her singing was flawless. Nada Sousou and Nagoriyuki are not easy songs to sing even without playing a guitar.

 

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Next up was the birthday celebration. Of course in addition to being her first concert, it was also Wasamin’s 21st birthday. To help her celebrate was special guest and AKB48 graduate Matsui Sakiko who presented Wasamin with a birthday cake specially prepared by Wasamin’s older sister (a professional patissier) And we couldn’t have Sakippe on stage without a dual performance. This was yet another memorable moment. Sakippe played on special versions of Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari and Tubasa wo Kudasai. After one more song Wasamin left the stage…

 

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I’m not sure if the committee planned out an encore call, but all of a sudden the back of the venue started an “Encoree” chant. Not to be outdone, the front of the venue immediately started a WA-SA-MIN chant which quickly engulfed the venue. In fact the conductor of the live band was even conducting the chant. I laughed when I saw that. Eventually the video screen came down…

The second VTR was a “History of Wasamin”, only this time much of it had to do with her time before joining AKB. There were tons of photos of Wasamin growing up. Pictures in school, playing sports, with her family. I was getting so choked up. I have always wanted to know more about Wasamin before she became an idol. I was getting my fill in this moment. Eventually it moved to the 7th gen auditions where we learned for the first time that TGSK actually mispronounced her name when he announced that she passed. (Iwase Misaki) The accompanying music was very dramatic, and built up to a big climax. It was at that point that I felt almost for sure she was going to graduate from AKB on this night. Two songs later, she did exactly that.

 

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I think as fans we were probably just as conflicted as she was. There was no way her moment of announcing it wouldn’t be emotional. As much as we know that in many ways it isn’t going to change much. It’s a big move to make, and in some ways very scary. She is moving on to the next level in her career, without the crutch of AKB to hold on to. As she said in her announcement there will be tough times ahead, but I know most of her fans are ready to go on that journey with her. It as also very sad when she said that she knew that announcement probably meant that some of her fans would be leaving her. Of course we all said “no way”, but I get what she meant.  And on some level she is probably right. Though for her biggest fans I don’t think this change will make a bit of difference…

 

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After a final performance of Mujineki the show was over. many of us stuck around to take a group photo in front of the stage. I then headed out to take photos of the costumes on display in a side room. I was so excited to see Wasamin’s “Ebi” costume from the last Janken. My friend was complaining that he was hungry, so we left to get dinner. Unfortunately I ended up missing the post-concert dinner attended by many of the committee members. Oh well, I am sure there will be more down the road.

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Obviously this will go down as one of, if not THE most memorable moment in my 10 years of being an idol fan and coming to Japan. I have been dying to communicate with Wasamin ever since the show ended. I am going to see her perform live tonight for the NHK Kayou Concert, and of course this weekend is an AKB 2-shot event. Then next week is 1) Enka Matsuri/Wasamin cheki-event AND 2) another AKB 2-shot weekend. So there is going to be no shortage in playing with Wasamin. I think for all the fans (and probably for Wasamin too) having some fun together will be great medicine.

 

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Wasamin Live at Nippon Cultural Broadcasting!

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Nippon Cultural Broadcasting x Nagara Group Joint RADIO (2016/01/11)

All of the members of Nagara Pro’s Enka stable visited the radio station doing interviews, weather forecasts, and in the case of Wasamin and Hayabusa, perform outside the station. This was also to promote the upcoming NagaraPro Enka festival next month, which Wasamin will be participating in. I was able to score a ticket to the Nagoya show today. I would love to go to the Tokyo show, except I already have tickets to a conflicting event. So to Aichi I will go! Here are a few pics of Wasamin on the radio…

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Hayabusa & Iwasa Misaki Free Live at Nippon Broadcasting First Floor Square, Hamamatsucho

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Can you spot me?

Iwasa Misaki Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Ajisai-bashi
3. Hatachi no Meguriai
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

It was interesting to see Hayabusa perform live for the first time. It was also interesting to see all the Wasafans mingling with all the Hayabusa fans in the queue. And believe me, there were quite a few Hayabusa fans there. They had their swag. They knew their chants. They were ready to go!

Like Hiroshima this was another outdoor event, and it quite chilly outside today. Once again Wasamin thanked the fans for their dedication, and especially acknowledged the fans at the front of the line who had queued up at 6am.

As for Hayabusa, obviously I have no plans to oshihen. They are all very talented singers. As for the songs, I didn’t like the first one. It just didn’t match the image I had of them. But the last two were pretty good.

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BTW, I had another “close encounter” with Wasamin today. After the event I went to lunch with a friend who also attended the event. Later we went over to Lawson so she could help me print my ticket to the Enka Festival. We were talking across the street from Hamamatsucho Station when my friend suddenly said “Oh…” Wasamin and her manager were walking up right behind me. We quickly moved to the side to let them pass. Wasamin was in street clothes, wearing a mask and carrying a guitar. I knew she took up guitar back in the “Give Me Five” days. I didn’t know she was still playing though. Good for her! I always feel a little awkward in those situations. I knew she was tired, and was probably ready for a little break after a week+ of entertaining her fans. So I am glad I technically didn’t see her until she was passing me so she really didn’t have to “switch on”.

As far as I know she doesn’t have anything scheduled until Request Hour, so hopefully she’ll get a couple of days off to rest.

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki, New Release Iwasa Misaki 5th Single Promotional Tour, Gomen ne Tokyo (Days 4-6)

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The tour continues.  This time from Hiroshima back toward Tokyo.  The connection between Wasamin and I kicked into high gear quickly.  But wait, it gets even better…

Iwasa Misaki 5th Single Release Week Day 4 at Ito-Yokado Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture (2016/01/08)

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** with special guest, Roller-chan! (Fukuyama Community Mascot)

 

Setlist 13:00
1. Mujineki
2. Kawa no Nagare no You Ni
3. Tomonoura Bojou (“Duet” with Roller-chan)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

Setlist 16:00
1. Hatsuzake
2. Ettou Tsubame
3. Tomonoura Bojou (“Duet” with Roller-chan)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

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**Wasamin wearing pale purple kimono

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**Wasamin spent much of 2014 promoting her 3rd single in Fukuyama, and notably in the coastal town of Tomonoura. So this was a sort of homecoming. I know last year they said the “Wasamin-bus” was still operating, but on an irregular schedule. In any case, the sign for it has been taken down. Glad I got the chance to ride it when I did! Roller-chan, along with representatives from the Fukuyama community organization were on hand to welcome her back.

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**For some reason they decided to move the event outside at the last minute (it was on the Tokuma page this morning) It was a much bigger space, but the temperature was under 10 degrees (celcius) and got even colder for the late event. Fortunately she only performed outside. All the post-live festivities (handshakes, etc.) were moved inside the mall.

**Decent sized crowd, certainly better than yesterday in Fukuoka. Seating was for about 200, and it was about 2/3 filled for both events. However there were plenty of people standing too.

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Ito-Yokado is just a short bus ride away from Fukuyama Station. I arrived at 11:30 and couldn’t believe it when I saw the stage setup outdoors. Granted, there is sort of a roof above the the area, but that doesn’t really stop the biting cold wind from whistling through. The early show was okay, but by 3pm it got really cold out there. Wasamin’s manager looked absolutely miserable. Of course Wasamin was worried about the fans, but you could tell she was really cold too. She kept switching the mic between hands and hiding her hands in her kimono. Despite all that she performed just fine.

As expected there was a focus on Wasamin’s 3rd single, Tomonoura Bojou since that song is her “love letter” to the area. In both performances Roller-chan appeared on stage during the 2nd MC and stuck around for the third song. BTW, before the first show I saw Roller-chan behind the stage and she started playing “peek-a-boo” with me, LOL.

Handshakes (Part 1)
I started off reminiscing about Roller-chan, and how I first got to meet her 2 years ago in Ikebukuro (and again in Hiroshima) I was hoping to have slightly different karma today with the drawing, but drew a losing ticket. I immediately went back up, and before I could say anything Wasamin quoted a recent tweet I made. There she goes, Wasamin reading my twitter feed again. I wonder how often she really checks it out. All the time, or only when I am in town? She also noted that I talked about Roller-chan on my twitter too. Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and apologize to Wasamin for not letting her draw my ticket yesterday. As a peace offering I allowed her to do it again. And whaddya know, she drew me a signed CD! And I got a nice bonus message to boot…

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When Wasamin handed it to me she said something to the effect of “Good luck trying to read it”, LOL

Handshakes (Part 2)
Everyone was just happy to be out of the cold. BTW, there was a girl at the event who I had never met before. Cute female fans at Wasamin’s events are sort of few and far between (for lack of a better term), but this girl was so cute. She looked just like Churi. In fact, for a minute I thought it WAS Churi. Apparently she’s a regular, and I think she might even be on the committee. There were a couple other cute girls at the event too. All three of them bought a lot of CDs!

Wasamin always worries about her fans. I reminded her that we were all more worried about her since she is only wearing a Kimono. I mentioned I was mostly worried about her manager because she looked like she was freezing. Oh, and I finally learned her managers’ names. They both laughed when I called her “Kantoku-san”. Her manager is Ichikawa-san and her assistant is Saso-san. Next I had told her that I understood what she wrote on my CD. On a related note I told her that I planned on starting more formal Japanese lessons beginning next week. She gave me a “fai-ting!” chant to that news. I had one more chance to win something after technically I had pulled 12 losing tickets in a row. The win rate is around 30%, so 12 consecutive losing tickets really sucks. After telling Wasamin that she was again wearing my favorite of her enka hairstyles (long on one side, pulled back on the other) I finally pulled a winner. Another clear file. As Ichikawa-san noted that was my 4th clear file this week. Amazing that she’s keeping track.

And with that our day in the freezing cold was over. A group of us ran to catch the bus back to Fukuyama Station where we all parted ways. It seems we all had different itineraries getting to Osaka. Some were taking the bus, others were taking local trains, some were taking the Nozomi, I was taking the Sakura. But we’ll all see each other tomorrow in Hyogo Prefecture.

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Iwasa Misaki 5th Single Realease Week Day 5 at Aeon Mall Itami Koya, Hyōgo Prefecture (2016/01/09)

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Setlist 13:00
1. Mujineki
2. Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki
3. Halloween Night (Enka version)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

Setlist 16:00
1. Tomonoura Bojou
2. Kawa no Nagare no You Ni
3. Ippome Ondo (Iwasa Misaki version)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

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**Wasamin wearing bright red kimono
**This was her first time performing in Itami

Itami is just outside of Osaka, not too far from Itami Airport and the Takarazuka Theater. It took a 20+ minute bus ride to get to the mall. In fact, none of the last three locations were near train stations. So I am getting a crash course in the various bus lines of Japan. And they are ALL different. Some have tickets, some don’t. Some you pay at the beginning, some at the end. It always makes for an awkward moment when I board the bus and can’t fogure out what the local etiquette is. Luckily I arrived at the same time as a few other Wasafans and we all boarded the bus together. Anyway…

Most of the regulars were camped out 2 hours before showtime. The first thing I noticed was how small a space they were using, AND how few seats they were putting out. It was over an hour before the show and there were already more people waiting than there were seats. At noon they opened the space and the rush was on. I was going to sit in the back (been in the front row for the past two days) but some of the fans saved me a seat at the end of the first row. For the late show I stood in the back.

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Overall the crowd was comperable to Hiroshima, perhaps slightly larger. Alrthough the handshakes went significantly longer. That was because, as I predicted, some of the Tokyo regulars unltimately decided to come out. Fans and onlookers packed the area, and were also viewing from the upstairs verandas. Wasamin also noted that there were quite a few children at the show, especially the late performance. She absolutely LOVES to play with the kids who come to see her live. In fact I think she annoyed the guards as she was being escorted out of the area because she stopped to play with a little girl in a stroller.

Handshakes (Part 1)
I remarked to Wasamin that it was also my first time in Itami (as well as Hyōgo Prefecture) and I noted how good the crowd was. I screwed up the part about the crowd but she eventually figured out what I meant. I also congratulated her on being #1 in sales at Tower Records. Of course it helped that Tower supported the events at Saitama and Fukuoka. For my last ticket she was talking to the fan in front of me and kept saying “Hoho” “Hoho”. I went “Hoho nani?”. She immediately laughed. “That’s his name! Hoho-san. He is Hoho-san, I am Misaki-chan, and you are Chris-san.” Although later in the day my honorific changed. (Hehe). I asked she and Ichikawa-san what foods Hyogo Prefecture was famous for. It stumped her for a minute, but she finally said it was Sake. Sounds good to me!

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Handshakes (Part 2)
I have mentioned multiple times that Wasamin’s confidence and abilities have graduated to another level. It couldn’t be any more evident in the way she performs Tomonoura Bojou. She has changed the style in which she sings a few songs, but this this one she has really changed. My favorite part is where she sings the line “Hitotsubu porori, miren ga porori” Not only does she sing it differently, but she does an entire routine with her body and hands. I was really impressed the first time I saw it. She also pointed me out to the crowd today. I was kinda half-listening so I didn’t hear what she said about me. All of a sudden everyone was looking at me, pointing lightsticks and smiling, including Wasamin. I was like “Nani? What?” LOL.

So for the first handshake I told her I no longer live in San Francisco, and have moved to Los Angeles now. She responded “But now you live in Itabashi!” Yeah!!!!! I wanted to tell her how I felt about Tomobojo. She seemed to really appreciate it. Then she asked me to sing it with her and do the hand motions. Then she got everyone to watch us do it. Too funny. That was so much fun that I asked her if we could sing my favorite part of Hatsuzake. Last year she noted that while everyone else is clapping, I follow her hand motions on the second to last verse. That’s because I think it is so cute. So we sang it and did the hand motions together. At the end she told me that from now on she wanted me to call her Misaki-chan, and she wants to call me Chris-kun. Pet names, cute!

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BTW, these are the autographed Clear Files I have been talking about

After that it was time for many of us, including Wasamin to head back to Tokyo. The final event of this particular promotional tour will take place tomorrow in Odawara, which is on the outskirts of Kanagawa Prefecture. It’s close enough to draw the Tokyo crowd. We have three performances left to help her end the week successfully. Actually she has a free performance on Monday in Hammamatsucho. However that is more of a Nagara Pro promotion than for her singly specifically. Regardless, I will be in attendance!

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Iwasa Misaki 5th Single Release Week, Day 6 at Dynacity Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture (2016/01/10)

The Tour Finale!

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12pm Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Kikyou (Iwasa Misaki Version)
3. Kawa no Nagare no You Ni
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

15:00 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Seto no Hanayome
3. Halloween Night (Enka Version)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

18:00 Setlist
1. Tomonoura Bojou
2. Ihoujin
3. Ippome Ondo (Iwasa Misaki Version)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

**Wasamin wearing off-white Kimono with light pink floral trim.
**As expected it was a very big crowd. Seating was reserved for those who bought the CD, and even in that section it was standing room only. I was in the 7th row for the early set, then moved up to the 3rd row for the last two sets.
^^There were additional prizes given away today. In all of the events from Wednesday through today you gt to draw for the chance to win either 1) getting your CD signed, 2) Getting “anything” signed. 3) An autographed poster from one of Wasamin’s previous releases. 4) An autographed clear file 5) A Wasamin cheki (these were occasionally signed) 6) A 2-shot 7) A 2-shot cheki Today they added 1) An autographed Mujineki tissue box and 2) Personalized notes written by Wasamin with cute little characters drawn on them.

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So this was the final stop on the Release Week Wasatour, Odawara. About 30-70 minutes outside of Tokyo depending on what train you take. It is also the home of one of my favorite restaurants in Japan. Unfortunately I wouldn’t have time to go there as there was barely an hour of down time between events.

I think for everyone, including Wasamin, there is a mixture of sadness and relief at the end of the tour. For me it was a little different than usual. Normally this is the last time I will be seeing Wasamin during my visit. However this time that isn’t the case. In fact we wouldn’t have long at all as Wasamin was doing a free radio station mini-live in Tokyo the very next day. Later this month we have Wasamin’s big birthday concert, and February is filled with AKB AND Wasamin solo events. So there will be plenty of Wasatime to come. Anyway…

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Handshakes (Part 1)
For the first set of handshakes we mainly talked about her upcoming appearances in Hamamatsucho, as well as NagaraPro Enka Matsuri. I told her I wanted to see her in Tokyo tomorrow. “Come on! Come on, Chris-kun!” When I mentioned Enka Matsuri Ichikawa-san seemed surprised. Oh, and we stuck to our pact to call each other Misaki-chan and Chris-kun. I also mentioned how it had been a long time since I had heard her perform Kikyou in person, so she sang a little bit for me. Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared, or I would have joined in. The ittle duets Wasamin and I did in Itami were so much fun!

Handshakes (Part 2)
Wasamin had asked me how much of her songs lyrics I actually understand. To be honest even with English music I don’t focus on lyrics. I am more into the rhythm and melody. So I told her only a little. However I did tell her that I do understand a lot of what she says during MCs.

Next I finally decided to ask her how well she knew the girls from the idol group Festive. When I saw Festive perform in San Francisco they claimed to be froends with Wasamin. None of the fans seemed to know who they were. But when we mentioned them to Saso-san (her manager’s assistant) he said “Yeah, they’re all ugly girls”. As I feared when I mentioned them to Wasamin her immediate reaction was something to the effect of “Oh, so you like other girls eh?” I tried to explain that they were all fans of her, but then one of the other fans spilled the beans and told her I have a bunch of 2-shots with Festive on my phone. I immediately got the “bull horns” reaction.

For my final handshake of the session Wasamin’s first question was who do I love more, Festive or Misaki-chan? And when I thought things were going so well between us. :( I told her that Festive is cool, but there is nobody I love more than Misaki-chan. “Yay, because I love Chris-kun”

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Handshakes (Part 3)
It was the last day of the tour, and that meant it was time for me to give Wasamin flowers and a fan letter. I had the letter already written and translated before I got to Tokyo. However that means I need to write another one because thereis already new stuff I want to talk with her about. Anyway, I went to the mall flower shop and had them arrange me somethipretty in Pink and Yellow. It turd out really pretty. I took a quick shot of them hiding in my bag, so you can’t really see the arrgement to well…

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Giving Wasamin flowers is always a WIN. She dances and smiles. “Flowers??? For me???” This time she was dancing around waving her arms. “Flowers…Flowers…Flowers…” [hehe] So success, and this time I did my best not to be embarassed about giving them to her since I notice so many other fans are like “Awww, what a great idea!”

Later on I told her where my seat is going to be for her Solo Concert. 2nd Row! I had one more ticket, and then an amazing thing happened…

A couple of big buyers, who had already purchased a lot of CDs went up and bought a bunch more. It was around this point that the shop said “Last Call” for CDs since the mall was closing early on Sunday Night. I immediately went up and bought 2 more copies. And then the frenzy happened. Somebody said “Let’s buy em out”. That’s exactly what happened. Everyone lined up and bought more CDs until the regular version was sold out. Wasamin was watching. Saso-san was like “Sugoi!!!!!”

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Oh, this sort of pissed off security at the mall since it seemed nonoe of them wanted to work late. Although everything got done just a few minutes after eight. Anyway, the rest of our talk was just a bunch of lovey-dovey stuff Wasamin and I usually exchange. I told her I was excited about tomorrow. She gave a nice long speech thanking everyone at the end, and acknowledged the four of us who made it to all 13 performances.

And that was it. 6 days, 6 prefectures, around 45 handshakes, another fun Wasatour in the books. And as far as prizes, I ended up winning 2 2-shot shamekai, 1 2-shot cheki, 2 signed CDs, and 4 autographed Clear Files. And of course I have a nice stack of Autograph Boards and Stickers.

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(The Wasa-half of my second Shamekai)

A special bonus coming up….

CK in Tokyo
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Iwasa Misaki, New Release Iwasa Misaki 5th Single Live Tour…Gomen ne Tokyo. Days 1-3 (of 6)

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So the end of 2015 saw some major life changes happening for me.  As a result I find myself living in Japan.  For how long?  That’s a great question.  If it were purely up to me it would be a permanent change.  But things like this aren’t that simple, especially for someone my age.  But I’m here, and that’s what counts for now.  What the future holds?  We’ll see…

I landed in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve.  I would have loved to party all night like half of Tokyo, but the jet lag was just too strong.  That’s okay.  It wasn’t too long after the new year that Wasamin kicked off her one-week tour in support of her 5th single.  I was all ready to go full force to support my oshimen…

Iwasa Misaki 5th Single Release Day Mini-Live & Handshake Event at Yoro-do (Asakusa) and Shimbashi SL Square (2016/01/05)

FURAGE DAY!!!

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12:00 Setlist (Asakusa)
1. Tomonoura Bojou
2. Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki
3. Hatsuzake
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

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***Special opening act: Minyo Girls
http://talent-debut.com/talent-all/minyo_girls/

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17:00 Setlist (Shimbashi)
1. Hatsuzake
2. Halloween Night (Enka Version)
3. Kawa no Nagare no You Ni (Debut Performance)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

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***Shimbashi event hosted by Nishiyori Higashi
***Wasamin’s second time performing at SL Square (First time was for release of Mujineki)
***Surprise Guests: Nakamura Tamao and Tagawa Toshimi, both from Nagara Pro. Shimi is of course one of NagaraPro’s enka singers. Tamao-san is a famous old-time actress. You might remember Wasamin appeared alongside her for an episode of Haru no Kuishin Boys back in 2012 where they cruised around Roppongi sampling various restaurants.

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***Wasamin was presented with a gigantic platter of 365 ebi to celebrate the release. Handshake event was delayed over an hour due to press coverage (and presumably to eat a few shrimp)

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EVENT REPORT

Asakusa
I have been here almost a week already, but this is the first chance I have had to see Wasamin in 8 months. So needless to say I was excited. I was halfway to Asakusa when my friend PMd me to say the queue was starting to get big. I stepped into the shop and per usual I got that “What does this lost foreigner need” look. I need Wasamin CDs! After her incredulous look and giggle I got entry #46, good enough for an aisle seat around 8 rows from the stage. I didn’t realize until I got to the show that there would be an opening act…

I guess Minyo Girls is a new enka idol group being groomed by Nagara Pro. Extremely cute (you can click their link above), but still very green. Their setlist was a mix of very traditional sounding songs and a few pop sounding songs, although all of the singing is done in that very traditional style. And of course part of their appeal is the tiny little lead singer. They offered a group 2-shot if you purchased their CD (500 yen), so I went for it. Why not, right? So that was fun, and it was time for the main event.

Early Performance
Wasamin came out a few minutes later, and as usual she was simply glowing. She always gets excited when her new CD comes out. It took her a few moment, but she spotted me and gave me a little acknowledgement.

She didn’t debut any of her new songs, with the exception of Gomen ne Tokyo. Every year I say she has shown dramatic improvement in her performance ability, and this year is no exception. I was amazed. She is “stylizing” a lot of the lyrics, she is much more expressive. If I haven’t said it before, she has definitely become a pro enka singer. It was my first time hearing Gomen ne Tokyo live, and it is a great dramatic song. The bonus was that she was looking straight at me for a full verse.

Handshake session #1
I had two handshake tickets. For the first one Wasamin leaned forward and in a teary voice exclaimed “Chris-san sashiburi!” Wasamin I know, but I am going to be here for three months! “Hontoni???” Hai! I have rented an apartment in Tokyo! For the second handshake I told her a little bit more about where I was living, and told her I was look forward to many Wasa-events while I was here. She acknowledged that she understood my Japanese. In fact, many of the fans say my Japanese is getting better, although I still feel like it’s horrible at best. I headed off to Ueno for an extended lunchbreak (and to activate my railpass for the week) before going to Shimbashi.

Shimbashi
I love the idea of Wasamin performing here. Yes, the logistics are somewhat of a challenge since there are thousands of people walking through the square coming in and out of the JR station, but it also makes for an automatically huge audience. Even better was the fact that her performance was playing on the big screen that overlooks the square, also in plain view of the Keihin-Tohoku Line platform. This was also the press event, so there were many cameras set up behind and in front of the crowd. As for the new songs…

The performance
Halloween Night (Enka version) sounds more like Halloween Night (SEXY version) since it is basically a slowed down version of the original. I don’t know that I would call it enka. Kawa no Nagare no You Ni is done pretty much like the original. This song is somewhat of a challenge for Wasamin. It has a few parts of the verse that go into her lower register. In the debut performance she would either lose some of her projection or fall slightly off-key. So I really looking forward to how she handles singing it throughout the week. She hasn’t done Ippome Ondo yet, but I have listened to the CD and am really looking forward to it.

After Nishiyori-san got her talking about her Ebi costume from the janken, out came Tamao-san and Shimi-san to present her with the 365 prawns. Wasamin was really touched, kind of mixed laughing and crying at the same time. Nakamura Tamao is so funny. For a woman pushing 80 she is just a barrel of energy, which is why she is so good on variety. She kept yelling at the crowd to buy the CD.

There was over an hour delay after the performance to the handshakes. Much of that was due to interviews and photo-ops for the press. However, I think it also was due to Wasamin munching on a few ebi. Finally she came out, and the line was really huge! Handshakes took almost 90 minutes.

Handshake session #2
For the first handshake I asked her where my plate of shrimp was. She responded in English. “Chris-san, do you love shrimp?” Why of course Wasamin, I DO love shrimp. I eat it all the time! So that was our English handshake. For our second I wanted to tell her that I remembered her appearance with Tamao-san on TV a few years ago. Usually she replies with “You saw that???” But not this time, she basically told me that it was fun and she liked the food.

So that was Day one. We have a full week of Wasamin events. Today is in Saitama, and from there we head out of town to Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Osaka, Odawara, and back to Tokyo. It’s a lot of travel time, but it will surely make for a lot of fond memories. So more reports to come.

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Iwasa Misaki 5th Single Release Week Day 2 at Aeon Mall Laketown, Saitama Prefecture. (2016/01/06)

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Setlist 13:00
1. Mujineki
2. Kawa no Nagare no You Ni
3. Akai Sweet Pea
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

Setlist 16:00
1. Moshi mo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
2. Tsugaru Kaikyo Fuyugeshiki
3. Halloween Night (SEXY version)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

****Wasamin wearing fiery red kimono. Well, since I have a pic…

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This is a huge mall. HUGE! And when I say huge, I mean it takes over 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other. The stage was set up on the far end of the mall. Couldn’t get any further away from the train station without being in the parking lot. Despite that there was plenty of foot traffic. All the seats were filled, and plenty of people hanging from the upstairs rafters. Right off the bat they had some serious sound issues. The speakers carrying her voice to the crowd weren’t working at all. However, Wasamin didn’t realize this since the speakers were working fine aimed at her. She didn’t even realize it until midway through the MC when they finally solved the issue. It made for an extremely funny moment. She was like “So this is the first time you are actually hearing me?” In fact there were a few funny moments today. Wasamin got “mad” at her manager regarding some of the bonus prizes for the fans. Later on she started razzing the MC for butchering the title of Moshisora.

There were lots of prizes to win today. 2-shot shamekai. 2-shot cheki, autograph “anything”, autograph CD jacket, autographed cheki, autographed CD poster, autographed clear file. I had 5 handshake tickets, and actually won 4 out of 5 times. 2-shot shamekai, autograph anything, and two autographed clear files.

She sang the Misora Hibari song again. Marked improvement from the debut. I noticed that she still drops her projection in the beginning of the verse. However she does the same thing on the recorded track. So it is actually on purpose. I should know better than to doubt Wasamin’s ability, right? Once again I noticed how expressive she is while performing Gomen ne Tokyo. This is one of the aspects of her performance I’m talking about when I say she has taken her ability to the next level. She is no longer clutching her fist to her chest so much. As good as she is, I don’t think she was always completely at ease performing live. After all this time you can tell how easy it has become for her. I am amazed by her, because she is a total pro.

HANDSHAKES (Part 1)
Wasamin announced the prizes midway through the first set, which got everyone enthusiastic about purchasing more copies. For my first handshake I told her how I waited all morning to see the TV reports about her event last night. After sitting through multiple reports about Kintaro’s pending marriage (???), Wasamin’s event was finally a topic on PON (with Mariko-sama and Kato Koji) Right off the bat I pulled the 2-shot. That ended up being the topic of our second encounter. Wasamin was trying to figure out how to congratulate me in English. Then when I pulled the autograph ticket she stopped talking to the person behind me to congratulate me again.

The nice thing was those 2 wins got me two more encounters with Wasamin. The first was to sign my CD, And now it is documented…

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Yes, Wasamin loves me. I actually suggested a marriage certificate, but we settled on the CD instead. I immediately came back up for my shamekai, and Wasamin suggested the “Nyan Nyan” pose. At the end of the day it was a nice pic. I was just happy to play with Wasamin a little longer. And it was time for lunch…

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I promised Wasamin I would have some ebi for lunch. At Sushizanmai…

HANDSHAKES (Part 2)
I led off by showing her our “Nyan Nyan” 2-shot. She was trying to tell me something, but there was this word I didn’t understand. Luckily the fan behind me spoke some English, so he tracked me down to tell me that she wanted me to make the 2-shot my homescreen. I dutifully complied and went back up to show her, and it was time for another impromptu English/Japanese lesson. I got her to say “Homescreen”, and she said something “gamen”, which I heard as Kamen. I was like “Kamen? Kamen Rider?” I won the clear file, which I really needed to protect all the autograph boards I had. All this luck inspired me to buy one more CD, and with the handshake ticket I told her my bit about Halloween Night being a “sexy” version as opposed to an “enka version” Wasamin asked “Am I sexy?”, obviously knowing how I feel. “I am sexy, Chris-san is cute” Fun tiems. I ended it by telling her I would see her in Fukuoka tomorrow. In fact, when she asked the crowd a surprisingly large number of fans said they were going to the Fukuoka event.

BTW, I won another autographed clear file. (I din’t have time to photograph them, but I will post them later) So now we travel to Western Japan for Part Two of the tour.

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My shinkansen bento. Ginger Pork and Minced Meat Cutlet, with a few Hi-balls to wash it down. Bullet Train bentos are just another of the awesome things about Japan.

It’s a full week of Wasamin events, which will definitely be exhausting, but surely be a lot of fun. I made it as far as Osaka tonight, and it is on to Fukuoka tomorow morning for Day 3 of the Wasa-extravaganza.

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Iwasa Misaki 5th Single Release Week Day 3 at Aeon Mall Wakamatsu, Fukuoka Prefecture (2016/01/07)

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Setlist 13:00
1. Mujineki
2. Kawa no Nagare no You Ni
3. Haloween Night (Enka Version)
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

Setlist 16:00
1. Tomonoura Bojou
2. Kita no Yado Kara
3. Ippome Ondo (Iwasa Misaki Version) <– Debut Performance!!!
4. Gomen ne Tokyo

**Third time performing at this venue in Kitakyushu. I saw her here during the Tomobojo tour. She was also here a few months ago for Hatsuzake.
**Surprisingly decent number of fans made it out from Tokyo. I’d say at least 15. Most of the regulars said they will be skipping the Western Japan shows and wait for Odawara on Sunday. However, many have been known to change their minds.

**Wasamin wearing multi-colored floral pattern Kimono. Here ya go…

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The crowd overall wasn’t very big. Well, the CD buying crowd wasn’t very big. Plenty of locals showed up for the early performance, but most just come to watch and don’t buy the CD. On the other hand I was standing near the Tower Records table before the 2nd show and noticed that some of the elderly fans DO buy the CD, and reject the handshake ticket.

Second day in a row of sound trouble. This time it had to do with the Karaoke CD. Mujineki kept starting and stopping a few seconds in. Wasamin had to do some impromptu MCing for a few minutes while they ironed it out. Moments later they started the wrong song, so it was a complete mess. That’s okay, we all had fun with it.

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(Today I had a front row seat for both performances)

HANDSHAKES (Part 1)
Leading off I asked her if she was genki this morning. She first said she was, then she said “I am blue”. I responded “Kowai so” and immediately pulled another Autographed Clear file. So that’s 5 of 6 for wins. The fix must be in, right? WRONG! I pulled seven losing tickets in a row after that. We later got to talking about shrimp again, and Sushizanmei (Sushi chain in Japan) That inspired our cheki pose, it’s the pose the guy does at the end of their television commercial. We later talked about Shinkansen bentos where Wasamin told me she likes Ginger Pork too.

HANDSHAKES (Part 2)
First off, she finally sang Ippome Ondo live. KITAAAA! It’s a really fun live song, very much like her version of KFC. I had told her that some of the overseas fans had been asking me about the song, and they would be happy to know that she finally sang it live. Oh, and she did a great job with it. I hope she sings it more this week, since I think it is a real crowd pleaser.

At this point I had lost three draws in a row, so Wasamin offered to draw my next ballot….and I lost again! She kept apologizing, but when I came back around she offered to pull it again. I immediately responded “NOOOO!”, which got her mad at me. “Hidoi Chris-san!”. And of course I pulled another losing ticket anyway. So karma nailed me. Finally I told her my birthday was a couple of weeks ago, so she sang Happy Birthday to me, which was nice.

After pulling 7 losing tickets in a row, one of the fans took pity on me and gave me one of his cheki winners, which is why I got a photo after all. So thank you to Kimura-san! After making it back to Kokura I ended up falling asleep for over half the ride back to Osaka. I went to bed early too, so I should have plenty of energy for the Hiroshima event today. Hopefully we will get a much bigger crowd.

Part 2 to come!

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Iwasa Misaki It Is Finally Official…Iwasa Misaki Solo Concert Coming in January 2016!

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If was about this time one year ago, shortly after the Janken event during an episode of All Night Nippon when AkiP casually announced that Wasamin would be getting a solo concert…one of these days.  That was the key part of the announcement he didn’t make clear.  When would this concert take place?  Our hearts sank a little bit acouple of months later when Wasamin tweeted that she didn’t even know if AkiP was talking about this year.  So in many ways wasamin’s first big solo concert was backburnered in the minds of the Wasafans….

But we never forgot.  We always held out hope that it was just a matter of time.  And this weekend Wasamin’s dream, and by extension our dreams, finally came true.

January 30th, 2016, Iwasa Misaki Solo Live at Asakusa Public Hall in Tokyo!

Asakusa Public Hall is a multi-purpose venue, seating 1082 people.  It’s a stone’s throw away from the famous Senso-ji and Asakusa Shrine.  The hall hosts a wide variety of events, but specializes in more traditional performances like Kabuki and Taiko.  This is perfect!  Right up Wasamin’s alley.

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With four singles and an album, Wasamin has amassed quite a song catalog.  That doesn’t even count the many other songs she has performed on NHK.  I think we can count on quite a few surprises.  Speaking of surprises, there will surely be “special guests” during the show.  Possible from AKB, definitely some of her senpai at Nagara Pro.  Jeez, I am getting excited just thinking about it.

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(Wasamin celebrating the happy announcement with Takamina)

So extremely happy news in Wasaworld.  But that’s not the only big venue concert she will be appearing in.  It was also recently announced that this coming November Wasamin will be appearing at the Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival at Tokyo National Gymnasium.  It’s a three day event, November 6th through the 8th.  Wasamin will be performing alongside quite a few notable acts, including Golden Bomber, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Dempagumi, Inc., 9nine, World Order, May’n, capsule among others.

wasavent65(Wasamin performing earlier this year at Asakasa Sacas)

Not to mention her performance last month at Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival last month.  I blogged about that performance a few weeks ago.  Wasamin has been getting quite the indoctrination into performing solo in front of large crowds.  BTW, here are some highlights from that show.  (Wasamin’s part begins at 3:20)

 

So now that the big announcement has been made, I now need to figure out how I am going to make it to this show.  To me this is an absolute must-see event, and I will be very sad if I have to miss it for some reason.  But when there’s a will there’s a way, right?

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(Wasamin praying that I make it to the show)

CK in California

 

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Concerts, Japan, Pop Idols J-Pop Summit San Francisco 2015…Ssshh, Don’t Tell Wasamin I Was Flirting With Another Idol

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This year was the 7th Annual J-Pop Summit in San Francisco, and the 4th time I have attended in the last five years.  It has probably become the biggest Japanese-themed con in the Bay Area.  Well, there is Comic Con in San Jose.  We also had Japan Expo in San Jose/San Mateo which once boasted an idol lineup of Kikkawa Yuu and Dempagumi, Inc.  But it looks like that one may no longer go on.

I almost chose to skip J-pop Summit this year.  Frankly, there weren’t any idols/artists on the bill that I was too excited about seeing.  Over the last few years this event has managed to bring quite a few notable idol acts.  Danceroid in 2011, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and LoVendoЯ in 2013 , Itano Tomomi and Tokyo Girls Style in 2014, plus the US premiere of AKB48’s first documentary in 2011.  I was hopeful this year would bring another fun idol act that could muster up some enthusiasm.

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My TGS 6-shot from last year)

Then of course last year’s event left a slightly bad taste in my mouth with the neighboring Ramen Festival turning the entire event into a complete clusterfuck.  It was next to impossible to walk through the event because the ramen booth queues overwhelmed the entire street.  This year, instead of the traditional free street fair J-pop Summit always was, they actually held it in a convention hall.  And for the first time they actually charged admission.

It wasn’t until some of my friends who were flying in asked to stay at my house that I decided to go.  I’m glad I did.  Despite the fact that they were charging admission, despite the fact that I didn’t really know any of the musical acts, and despite the fact that the Fort Mason location would make it somewhat inconvenient to get there via public transportation, it was by far the best J-pop Summit ever!

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(The food trucks, not bad.  At least the lines weren’t huge, and not difficult to find a seat)

To my surprise the event went off with hardly a hitch.  There were plenty of booths, most of which were highy interactive.  Lots of free food, including a free Shochu tasting booth, Miso Soup, Calbee Products, and Onigirasu (a sandwich shaped Onigiri) served to you by idol group Musubizm.  I entered both days for the H.I.S. trip to Japan contest.   Unfortunately I forgot to go the the actual drawing both times.  Anyway, on to the idol acts…

The first concert took place 15 minutes after doors opened.  The performers were…

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FES☆TIVE: A relatively new idol act who just signed with Tokuma Records.  The same label as Wasamin I might add. (More on that later).  They recently released their first major single, Omatsuri Hero.

 

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LittleGlee Monster: A sextet known for their harmonizing and general singing prowess

 

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Faint☆Star:  An idol duo, also known for their quality singing.

 

The crowd was quite small, which meant their wasn’t too much synergy going on.  But it did mean that everyone there got to be extremely close to the stage.   On first listen I was most impressed with Little Glee Monster.  They really aren’t idols as much as they are a true vocal group.  They mixed their original songs with covers of The Jackson Five’s I Want You Back and Pharrell Williams’ Happy.  I was definitely interested in purchasing some of their CD’s, which I did later on for their autograph event on Sunday.

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FES☆TIVE actually led off the event.  And per usual I let my subconscious mind and eyes decide if there is a member who will catch my fancy.  My friends thought I would be drawn to Suzuki Mitsuki, the petite blonde member.  But if you are familiar with my blog (and my taste) you will know that a gorgeous smile will catch my attention every time.  It didn’t take me long to find the girl I liked.  It was the Orange member, Aoba Hinari.  I just couldn’t take my eyes off of her the entire set.  Not to mention she noticed me watching her, and immediately responded.

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Of all the acts to appear the only traditional idols were FES☆TIVE, and Musubizm who performed later that afternoon as part of the MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON ensemble.  This was another smart move by the event producers.  It seemed that all of the performers came sponsored by the various vendors.  So instead of having to pay for all the talent, I am guessing it was done on more of a barter system for sponsorship and booth space.   FES☆TIVE came in support of the CHEERZ Phone App.  Little Glee Monster, Gacharic Spin, and Eir Aoi seemed to be associated with Kinokinuya, as well as another J-pop music app.

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The other nice thing was that pretty much every group had scheduled Meet and Greet and/or Autograph events, only a couple of which were “VIP Only”.  The only group who had no events like that scheduled were FES☆TIVE, which was disappointing to my friends since that was the group they came to see.  Little did we know that they would become the most accessible group of the entire weekend.  Which brings me to the highlight of my weekend, and pretty much why I thought the entire event was so awesome…

MY WEEKEND WITH FES☆TIVE…AND MY NEW “SECRET GIRLFRIEND” AOBA HINARI

popsummit 189(Luckily my friend had a cheki camera.  Note the spelling of “Sanf Rancisco”)

 

One of FES☆TIVE’s Japanese fans had flown in for the event, and he had a dialogue going with their manager.  He let us know that despite there being no “official” fan interaction scheduled, they would be spending a lot of time at the CHEERZ booth throughout the weekend.  On Saturday that meant we were allowed to take group shots.  I was one of the first to go…

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Now the cool thing was that for most everyone else’s shots the fan was the only person in the CHEERZ frame.  But I had been “playing” with Hinarin the entire time.  So when it was my turn she decided to lean into the frame with me.  I took plenty of other photos of Hinari that day, and she always seemed to be striking a pose for me.

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Then came Sunday, and it was a FES☆TIVE “free for all”!  2-shots, Group Shots, Autographs, Conversation.  We pretty much hung out with the group the entire day.  Now on the first day I went pretty much “incognito”, but on the second day I decided to represent with my Wasamin sousenkyo T-shirt.  The first person to notice it was Hinarin, who immediately dropped the bombshell “I know Wasamin, she is my friend!”  Really?  Well, they are both from Chiba (I really seem to be attracted to Chiba girls XD), close to the same age, and they are on the same recording label.  Oh no, this could be a total disaster!  Or…it could be a good way to make Wasamin jealous.  So I told her to be sure and tell Wasamin that we met.  A couple of the other members also noticed my shirt, as well as all of Little Glee Monster.  So Wasamin is well known among idols.

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(Autographs)

Later on Hinarin delivered a message to me via the Japanese fan (who also happened to be a Hinarin oshi)  She wanted to thank me for supporting her, and that she was so happy I became her fan.  Then, as we were leaving her event we again ran into the group in the parking lot.  Hinarin immediately gave me the “heart” hand symbol.  Later that night she was busy favoring a bunch of my tweets, something she has continued to do all the way up until today.  So as far as I was concerned it was mission accomplished.  I managed to find an idol I really liked and made quite the impression on her.

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She wrote on my hand too!)

BTW, here is one of their PVs.  There is a lot of YouTube content on their official site.

 

So that was pretty much my fun at J-Pop Summit.  If you are wondering why I didn’t talk more about the other performing artists.  Well, they really weren’t the type of groups I am in to.  Gacharic Spin are definitly talented and exciting, although I didn’t really care fmost of their songs.  JAM Project was just a trip!  Five Heavy Metalesque singers on stage like they are idols or something.  It was all so campy I couldn’t help but giggle most of the time.  The other highlight for me was running into my old friend “K”, who I hadn’t seen in over 5 years.  K was the author of a blog called Mini Moni Mania, and one of my biggest inspirations to get into blogging in the first place.  In fact I remember asking K for advice when I started my first blog.  So it is always nice to run into old friends like that.  Oh, and then there’s this…

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So all in all a great weekend.  I was happily surprised at how big a success J-Pop Summit turned out to be.  It has instantly turned into an event I am going to look forward to every year…

Now if we can just get Wasamin to come and perform!

CK in California

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki at the Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival

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Late last month Wasamin’s management reported that she would have a fairly heavy promotional schedule for August.  As a Wasamin fan, this is always great news.  Not only does it give her fans a chance to see her perform more often, but it is a sign that NagaraPro and Tokuma Records are still committed to promoting her as a solo artist.  Even better news, it was announced that she would be kicking off this round of promotion with an appearance at major Tokyo Summer event, the Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival in Shinjuku.

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This festival takes place next door to the National Stadium, at the home of the Yakult Swallows of the NPB.  Wasamin would be performing on the second stage, next door at the softball stadium.  The artist lineup featured most of NagaraPro’s major talent, as well as a few idol groups including Dempagumi, Inc.

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Festival Lineup

For this day Wasamin performed in her brand new Yukata.  Usually she performs in a more traditional Kimono, but I thnk given the event this attire was appropriate.  And I must say she looks adorable!

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As for the setlist, Wasamin led off with her rendition of Let It Go ~Ari no Mama de~, followed by her latest single Hatsuzake.  Unfortunately it was only the abridged version.  So it was a fairly short set.  Although she got a great review from Nikkan Sports.  Hey…anything to spread the Wasa-awareness, right?

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Nikkan Sports Article, via Yahoo

Like I said in the beginning of this post, Wasamin has a fairly busy schedule over the next month, with over a dozen mini-live events between now and early September.  A few of the venues she is performing at are the same places she performed during her release tour in April/May, so I guess those little Enka shops were satisfied with the turnout during her previous visit…

8/13 16:00 Akasaka Sacas, Tokyo (She will also be recording for a TBS television appearance)
8/17 13:00/16:00 Nittoh Mall Kumagaya, Saitama Pref.
8/21 13:00 Yoro-do, Asakusa
8/21 17:00 Music Shop Dan, Higashijujo Tokyo
8/23 13:00/16:00 Aeon Mall Ishioka, Ibaraki Pref.
8/28 12:00 Shinseido Kashiwa, China Pref.
8/28 17:00 Ongokyu-do, Koiwa Tokyo
8/29 13:00/16:00 Aeon Mall Sayama, Saitama Pref.
9/05 13:00/16:00 Savia Hanno, Saitama Pref.

Always great news to see Wasamin keeping busy with her solo career.  Not only does it give her fans ample opportunity to see her perform, it further cements her as an established Enka artist.  I am sure we will see Wasamin performing a lot more during the rest of 2015.  Hopefully she will be at some special events like the one she performed at yesterday.  It begs the question of how long until Wasamin is in the discussion of performers at the annual Kouhaku Uta Gassen?

 

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A small bonus, Wasamin’s outfit at Sunday’s AKB Handshake Event. What is this cuteness?

 

Ganbatte Wasamin!  With every passing day I become more and more proud of you!

CK in California

 

 

 

 

 

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Iwasa Misaki, Television Wasamin Singin’ the Oldies…Live on NHK

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Oftentimes it can be an extremely dispiriting endeavor being an AKB48 fan who oshis Wasamin.  Everyday there seems to be something new going on with the group, and rarely…RARELY does Wasamin get to participate.  It’s a good thing she has her solo career.  Even if the majority of 48-group fans pay her no mind since she isn’t one of the “chosen few”, not to mention she sings Enka (da hahrer!), those of us in the know have gotten to witness the blossoming career of a highly talented young singer.  So while you won’t find h front and center at any AKB48 concerts, you WILL find her taking center stage for NHK’s many live concerts.  Wasamin has participated in quite a few of those shows is Summer, even servine as a co-MC for one show.  Misaki-chan has treated us to some incredible performances of some all-time classics.

First up, a duet.  Wasamin sharing the stage with another young Enka talent, 16-year old Sakura Maya.  Together they performed an amzing rendition of the 1955 classic “Suki ga Totte mo Aoi Kara”, originally recorded by Tsugawara Tsuzuko in 1955.

 

Wasamin has mentioned that she grew up with her grandparents living in the same house, and they had a huge influence on her choosing the path of Enka singer.  In any case, I am always impressed whenshe performs a classic selection like that one.  Speaking of classics…

Wasamin and a pack of genki cheerleaders peforming Matsuda Saeiko’s 1981 hit “Natsu no Tobira”

 

Misaki once again showing she can sing in many different styles.  The ripple effect of this performance was that it got me started perusing through Matsuda’s song catalog, and I have found a bunch of songs I am really excited about.  So I will very likely be starting a Matsuda Seiko CD collection sooner than later.  Anyway…

 

This is an older performance, but definitely worth checking out.  Wasamin performing Naoko Ken’s hit song “Abayo” from 1976.  Very pretty song, and Misaki-chan does a great job with it!

 

Of course Wasamin wants to promote her own records.  So here is the latest live performance of her 4th single, “Hatsuzake”

This is why I decided to start blogging about more than my trips. I really don’t think enough people are seeing what progress Wasamin in making in the “real world” of music. Hopefully I will have more performances to show in the near furure. And hopefully these YouTube videos stay up for a while.

 

CK in California

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki Live in Osaka and Chiba, The Promotional Tour Continues…

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One of the things I really like about Tokuma (Wasamin’s label) and Nagara Pro (Her agency) is how busy they keep her throughout the year.  Wasamin has a tough road establishing herself in a niche musical genre like Enka which is dominated by older and more established artists.  Not that she doesn’t have the talent…she really does.  And the more she puts herself outhere the more people realize that she is a legitimate talent.  Anyway…

Wasamin is currently having a pretty busy week.  So let’s start with the appearances she did over the past weekend.  Unfortunately for Wasamin her teeth were bothering her, and according to her G+ and fan accounts she may have been suffering from flu-like symptoms.  Oh, and she was obsessing about eating shrimp!

 

Iwasa Misaki Singing Event 2015/06/12 at Aeon Mall Dainichi, Osaka

 

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13:00 Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Hitachi no Meguriai
3. Hatsuzake

 

*Wasamin wearing black and white Kimono with Gold Band (hopefully she will post a pic)

 

**Apparently they cut the performance down to three songs because of Wasamin’s sore throat, which she mentioned last night on twitter.  Not sure what is going to happen with the late performance.

 

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16:00 Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogotari
3. Hatsuzake

 

**Once again a short set.  According to fans Wasamin’s throat ailment was noticeably affecting her performance.  They also noted that her entire staff were wearing surgical masks, which isn’t the norm.  Not to mention her one mysterious G+ entry after the performance about being cold hints that she is fighting a bug of some sort. 

 

Here are some shots from her two radio appearances yesterday promoting today’s live event…

 

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At KBS-Kyoto.  During Wasamin’s appearance they played “Let it Go” and “Hatsuzake”

 

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At Radio Osaka.  The station did a cute writeup about her appearance….

 

So after about 36 hours of Wasafans worrying about her health, the Sunday event happened as planned…

 

 

Iwasa Misaki Singing Event 2015/06/14 @ Aeon Mall Tsudanuma, Chiba Prefecture

 

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Setlist 13:00
1. Tomonoura Bojou
2. Akai Sweet Pea
3. Hatsuzake

 

Setlist 16:00
1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
2. Hatachi no Meguriai
3. Hatsuzake

 

**Once again Wasamin going with a 3-song set as opposed to her usual 4 songs.  Despite that, fans said her voice sounded much better than it did on Friday and she looked as if she was feeling better.  Nice what a day of rest and a little home cooking can do for you.

 

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Anyway, lets all keep our fingers crossed and some some good energy to Wasamin as she has two very important Enka Festival Appearances this week.  Those reports coming soon.

 

CK in California
(I noticed someone trying to search for my email address, so I left my ask.fm address on my “about” page.  And of course you can always reach me by commenting here.  All of my comments get screened before I post them.

 

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Wasamin at The Yamano Enka Festival

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So I have decided instead of having this blog go silent between my visits to Japan, I will keep everyone updates on the last Wasamin goings-on.  Misaki-chan has a busy couple of weeks coming up, starting with the Enka Festival at Yamano Music in Ginza.

 

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The Yamano Enka Festival is a series of performances by notable Enka Artists beginning in late May and running for one month.  Wasamin was one of quite a few artists on the schedule.  Yamano Music is as much a musical instrument shop as it is a CD shop, with floor after floor of most every musical instrument imagineable.  “Jam Spot”, the performance hall is on the top floor.  I remember visiting there last year, it was the very first stop of Wasamin’s promotional tour for Tomonoura Bojou.

 

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Here is the setlist…

 

Setlist

1. Mujineki (1st Single)
2. Seto no Hanayome (Mujineki c/w)
3. Tsugunai (from Request Covers)
4. Toki no Nagareni Miwo Makase (from request Covers)
5. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara (2nd Single)
6. Hatsuzake (New Single)

 

I think that’s the biggest setlist she has ever done!  Quite impressive.  She performed three of her singles, plus three of her notable covers.  As for her Kimono…

 

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Nice!

 

I always love Wasamin’s darker colored Kimonos.  They look especially good on her.  Anyway, quite a busy week for Wasamin coming up.  Some of us were worried because yesterday Wasamin was complaining that she was having issues with her Wisdom Teeth.  But she didn’t mention her teeth at all, so hopefully she is feeling better!  I’d hate to see her miss any of her upcoming appearances…

 

06/11: Two radio appearances.  11:00 KBS Radio Kyoto, 14:06 Radio Osaka
06/12: Hatsuzake Release Event, 13:00, 16:00. Aeon Mall Dainichi, Osaka
06/14: Hatsuzake Release Event, 13:00, 16:00. Aeon Mall Tsudanuma, Chiba
06/16, 06/18: Two NHK Enka Concert Appearances
06/20. 06/21: Hatsuzake 2-shot Events, Tokyo

 

Speaking of the 2-shot events.  Wasamin announced that she would be bringing multiple outfits to each event to add more variety to the fans’ 2-shots.  These were the four outfits she wore at the Osaka event…

 

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Wasamin still loves wearing those chokers. <3

 

So look forward to more Wasamin appearance posts.  If last year was any indication, Wasamin will be a busy girl for the rest of 2015.

 

CK in California
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