Japan CK in Japan Spring 2015…The Grub

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It wouldn’t be a Japan trip without enjoying some awesome cuisine.  The great thing about Japan is that terrific food doesn’t have to be expensive.  In so many cases the dining experience is a lot of fun.  And with the expansive rail systems all over the country I never have to worry about drinking and driving.

I always have a list of restaurants that I want to visit during my trip, and I made it to most of them.  I didn’t get a chance to hit IWA, the AKB-themed Yakiniku restaurant.  There were also a couple of Ramen places I failed to eat at.  One in particular, a restaurant that specializes is French Fry topped ramen, I merely forgot about.  But I did find a few new places to enjoy…

Isomaru Suisan – Asakusabashi (multiple locations)

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This is actually an izakaya chain, but I had never noticed it before.  I tried the one near my hotel in Asakusabashi, but I later found locations in a few other parts of town including Akihabara.  They specialize in Sashimi and Grilled Shellfish which you cook right at your table.  Plenty of small dishes and an extensive bar menu.  Plus they are open 24/7!  So a great place to kick back if you miss your train!  For both of my visits I had a Sashimi Rice Bowl.  It was kinda small.  But considering the price, it was pretty good.

 

 

 

Marudai – Enoshima 

I have talked about this restaurant before.  I decided to head back to Enoshima early in my trip before Golden Week started.  I figured the town would be a madhouse after that.  Plus, the weather was quite nice.

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I decided against having the Turban Shell they are known for, instead opting for my favorite Grilled Squid and a side of Negitoro.  After lunch I ventured up the hill to pick up one of this giant Octopus crackers.  I had eaten the lobster version before, but this is their signature item.  The line was extremely long so I took one to go.

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But it is always nice to visit Enoshima island.  Suck a beautiful place, and it is so much fun to ride the Enoshima Electric Railway!

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Honmu Mon – Osaka

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This was the little Sushi restaurant in the Aeon Mall portion of Kishiwada Talktown.  It is also where Wasamin had lunch that day.  So in a way we ate together (hehe).  By the way, the cost for that lunch was approximately $10usd.  Try to find sushi that good for that price in the West.

 

 

Akakara Nabe – Machida (multiple locations)

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Geez, I never thought I would be eating Nabe again.  But it was my friend Kwan’s last night in Tokyo and this was what he wanted.  So how could I refuse?  This restaurant also came recommended by Wasamin.  So again, how could I refuse?  They serve much more than just motsunabe.  They are famous for their spicy dishes, including spicy Tebasaki.  I wasn’t in the mood to blow out my taste buds so early in the trip, so we opted for medium spicy.

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I have to admit that part of the reason I didn’t like motsunabe the first time probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was coming down with the flu at the time.  Experiencing it with a healthier body makes a big difference.  Not to mention I really like this restaurant’s style of making it spicy.  Quite frankly, part of my issue with the restaurant I ate at in Fukuoka was that it was too bland.  Anyway, I was sure to tell Wasamin that I ate Nabe again since she loves it so much!

 

Gindaco – Kitasuna (multiple locations)

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Here I go again trying Takoyaki, one of the Japanese foods I can never get into.  The other I have trouble with is curry.  Although I think in both cases the first time I ate them in Japan the restaurants weren’t that good.  Anyway, the reason I chose to give it another try was the Negitaco with vinegar and daikon on the side.  It wasn’t covered in sauce or bonito flakes either.  Ultimately it wasn’t too bad.  Having toppings I really like certainly helps.  But I don’t think I will ever be a huge Takoyaki fan.

 

 

The Rose & Crown Victorian Pub – Akihabara (multiple locations)

Another Izakaya restaurant with multiple locations in Tokyo.  They have great happy hour drink and food specials, and they specialize in Prime Rib!  Kind of an odd specialty for Tokyo.  I was well aware of this location since it is directly across from the AKB48 Cafe and Shop.  I first went there for happy hour and enjoyed an extremely large Kaku Highball for about 450 yen.  But the entire time I was there I could smell that Roast Beef cooking!

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The next day, after having my original dinner plans broken and having some bad luck with restaurant queues, I decided to return here and try their Roast Beef dinner.  At first the bartender told me they were sold out of Prime Rib, which seemed odd since a) it was only 7:45pm and b) it is their signature dish!  Then he paused and told me they were sold out until 8pm.  And he said it like that was a long time.  I was drinking, so I didn’t care.

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It did take a while to come out, over a half hour.  In fact I wondered if they ever put the order in.  And you know what, it was pretty good!  Not the best cut of Prime Rib I have ever eaten, but it was cooked well and the sauce was nice.  Oh, and I loved their crude little attempy at Yorkshire Pudding!  More like a Popover.

 

 

Tsubame Grill – Ueno

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This was recommended by a friend.  Actually, he first wanted to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, but I vetoed that idea.  This was his alternate choice, and it was quite a good one!  I had their signature item, the Tsubame Grill Hamburger Steak.  And that’s exactly what it tasted like, Steak!  The vegetables underneath were excellent, and the baked potato covered in Miso was surprisingly good.  Rumor has it their sausages are quite tasty as well.  I highly recommend this place.  It’s located in Atre, on the second floor inside Ueno Station.  Thay had quite a line too, but it moved quickly.

 

 

Gontran Cherrier – Shibuya

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I stumbled upon this place in between Wasamin shows in Shibuya.  Right around the corner from Marui City.  I needed someplace quick, and with Shibuya being so crowded this place was one of the few that didn’t have much of a line.  It is a French boulangerie with multiple locations in Japan.  I eat at places in Japan like Andersen’s Bakery and Vie de France all the time.  But this place blows them away!  I had a sandwich, and a few of their smaller items, which all come in bite-size squares.  I’m sorry I didn;t get any photos of my lunch.  But trust me, it is a must-visit!

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Shinkansen Ekiben Stall –  Shin-Osaka Station

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One of my favorite things to do in Japan is travel by Shinkansen.  And if I am traveling during the evening I love grabbing a dinner bento and a couple Suntory Highballs and enjoying the ride (if you know what I mean).  The toughest part is choosing just one as they all look so good!   After Wasamin’s performance in Osaka most of the Wasamin fans boarded trains back to Tokyo.  I boarded a different train for Nagoya, a much shorter ride.  But indeed long enough to enjoy a meal.  I was really in the mood for Unagi, but when I saw this bento I just had to try it!

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It wasn’t Kobe beef, and it wasn’t nearly as rare as it looked on the box, but it was very tasty.  An of course like many bentos it was served over a large portion of rice.  I didn’t pair it with red wine, instead opting for some harder stuff.  But to me a Shikansen ride isn’t complete without a bento and some booze.

Anyhow, that was just some of the places I enjoyed during my trip.  Unfortunately I have never properly trained myself to photograph my food so many lunches and dinners go unphotographed.  Plus, I eat at a lot of Kaitenzushi.  So if you want see pics of a stack of empty plates…  That said, these were probably the most memorable.  And I am happy to say that I did not frequent McDonalds even once.  Although I did visit Burger King one night to try their Onion Teriyaki Whopper.  Not bad, but my stomach felt like it had an anvil in it for the rest of the evening.  You live, you learn.  And with that I say…

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Kamen Rider Fourze Parfait, KITAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

CK in California

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AKB48, Japan CK in Japan Spring 2015 FINAL…The Otaku Shrine, & Other Nerdy Hangouts

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A quick elaboration on something I mentioned in the previous post.  I injured my right foot, specifically the two smallest toes tripping over a barrier outside my hotel in Kameido.  It was bad enough that I was limping significantly over the next two days, and for the last week I have not worn shoes. (Sandals are more comfortable)  Luckily nothing seemed to be broken, and my toes are slowly recovering.  By the way it isn’t the first time this has happened as a tore up my knee a couple of years ago tripping over a curb in Yokohama.

It was my first time staying at that particular hotel.  In fact, for the three hotels I stayed in on this trip it was my first time for all of them.  I have a knack for finding hotels with crazy good deals, and then using them until the deal runs out.  After that I search for more good bargain hotels.  Over the years I have stayed at eight different hotels in Tokyo, two different hotels in Osaka and Fukuoka, and I have stayed once each in Nagoya and Hiroshima.  The Smile Inn in Hakata (It isn’t called that anymore, they changed their name for the 2nd time in three years) was definitely the strangest hotel I ever stayed in.  The most luxurious being the Shinagawa Prince.  Anyway…

Let’s Henshin! for dinner!

I had two nights left before I returned to the States, so I met with a friend to have dinner at one of the two restaurants left on my “to visit” list.  We had decided to head over to IWA, Uchida Mayumi’s AKB-themed Yakiniku restaurant in Shin-Okubo.  Along the way we met up with three other AKB fans, all of whom I knew online but only one I had ever met before in person.  Arriving at IWA, we were met at the door by Uchida’s mom (as well as Nonaka Misato, who works there) who profusely apologized and informed us that the restaurant was booked solid for the evening.  She even offered to book us for the following evening, but my friend wasn’t sure he could make it.  So we went to our second choice, and perhaps a better choice since I had never been there before…

I haven’t mentioned this on my blog, but over the last year I have become quite the fan of the Kamen Rider television series.  I have managed to watch every single Heisei Era season, my favorite by far being Kamen Rider Kabuto.  I also loved Kuuga, Agito, Hibiki, and Kiva.  When I found out there was a Kamen Rider themed restaurant in Ikebukuro I just had to check it out.  Luckily Kamen Rider The Diner wasn’t booked.  In fact, we were seated immediately.

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It was quite a spacious restaurant for Tokyo, featuring tons of Kamen Rider momentos, scenes from the series playing on the television screens as well as the various theme songs playing on an endless loop.  All of the menu items were based, at least loosely on the various characters from the series.  The fun part happens when they deliver your food, the waiter will quote a line from whichever character your dish is based.  And sometimes it will trigger a scene to be played on the monitors.  I absolutely had to order the Kamen Rider Fourze parfait as it was known to trigger one of the most fun waiter/guest interactions on the menu…

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PARFAIT, KITAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!

The food was decent, I would say it is slightly better than the AKB48 Cafe.  It’s a bit pricey for what it is, but I think you are paying for the experience more than anything else.  I would probably go back, although I can’t say it made it to the top of my personal Tokyo restaurants list,  That said, Im glad I got to experience the place.

On my last evening in Tokyo I looked forward to hitting IWA, but those plans were dashed in the mid-afternoon.  What to do?  I first decided to head over to Gyukatsu Ichi Ni San since I did enjoy it last year.  However, the line was down the block.  After standing in the queue for over a half hour I realized it would probably be close to another hour before I was seated.  My second choice was an Izakaya across from the AKB48 Cafe that I had always wanted to try for dinner.  In fact I had gone to Rose and Crown for drinks a few days earlier.  But their signature dinner dish had always intrigued me, especially for Tokyo…

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I must say their prime rib wasn’t bad at all.  Not the best cut of meat I have ever had, but it was prepared very well.  Tobe honest I was kinda sad that I was spending such a lonely final evening of my trip.  But just then I received a text message from my new Wasa-buddy Kenji, wondering what I was doing for the rest of the evening.  I was so happy he had contacted me, and he had an excellent suggestion for something interesting to do…

Kanda Myojin (The Otaku Shrine)

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After all these years of going to Tokyo and spending so much time in Akihabara, I am somewhat embarassed that I have never visited this place.  Just a short walk from central Akihabara, and a block away from Ochanomizu Station, Kanda Myojin is a beautiful shrine sandwiched between various apartment and office buildings.  It is also the location where many AKB48 members, including Wasamin, have had their coming of age ceremonies.

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Visiting the shrine late at night was a special treat, even though it was tough to photograph many of the shrine’s features becase of the darkness.  There was a certain serenity that isn’t present with a daytime crowd, and it was really neat to see all of the lanterns lit up.

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I enjoyed visiting so much I had resolved to return the next day to take more photos.  I wanted a better shot at some of the architecture as well as some of ema, many of which held prayers for various Anime characters, as well as prayers for AKB members.  I am guessing there will be quite a few AKB fans visiting between now and the upcoming Senbatsu Sousenkyo.

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They were also preparing for the upcoming Kanda Matsuri, which is a major festival in Tokyo occurring every other year in May.  I was lucky enough to be in Tokyo for Kanda Matsuri 6 years ago.  This was another chance to see some of the Mikoshi they use in the parades.  Quite impressive.

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After one last Tokyo sushi lunch, I grabbed my bags an headed to the airport.  I was able to switch to a direct flight home, which cut my travel time by about five hours.  What a relief!  Anyway, another successful Japan trip in the books.  So happy I got to spend some real quality time with Wasamin.  I am glad our “relationship” seemed to level up this trip, due in part to my commitment to communicate with her more in Japanese.  I’m not sure when I will see Wasamin again in person.  Hopefully it won’t be too long.  I have been home for a few days now and I miss her already.  I will root for her in the Sousenkyo from afar.

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CK in California 

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Japan, Miscellaneous CK in Japan Spring 2015 Part 8…P.A.R.M.S. & Other Indie Idols

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Keeping my promises to all Enka proprietors

Wrapping up this series, Wasamin’s final promotional event of the week pretty much wrapped up my idol festivities for this trip.  Or did it?  The following day I had a mission, and it was lucky that I had a railpass to soften the blow on my Suica card.  Remember I ahd gone to all of those Wasamin “preorder” events the first week I was here?  Sunday was the day I decided to return to every single shop to pick up the CDs.  This was no simple task as these shops were literally all over Tokyo, not to mention one shop in Saitama, one close to Chiba, and the furthest one of all was practically in Yokohama.  Seven shops in all.  The other issue, considering this is Golden Week, was that there was no guarantee any of the shops would be open.

After 5 1/2 hours of traipsing all over Tokyo I managed to pick up 5 of the 7 preorders.  The other two were open the following day so I managed to pick those up as well.  I already had a ton of Wasamin CDs in my possession, so I suppose I could have just forgotten about these.  But I didn’t want the Wasamin fans to get a reputation of preordering CDs for handshake tickets and then flaking on the order.  Especially since a couple of the shopkeepers questioned whether or not I would come back.  At the end of the day I had 40 copies of Hatsuzake, 20 of which I managed to give away before I left Tokyo.  Additionally, I was able to give away half my copies of AKB48’s Green Flash.  So I had lightened my travel load considerably.

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(The five Wasa-packages from Sunday)

Anyway, one of the big thrills I had is trip was to be able to bring friends to some of these Wasamin events.  One friend in particular had been promising to attend one for over a year.  To be honest I had kinda given up on him, but he finally showed up at the Kitasuna events.  And he showed up to see her perform at Ikebukuro as well.  So I am glad she made a good imression on him.  In fact, shortly after the first performance he sent out this tweet…

“When you see Iwasa live in person in a Kimono, it’s pretty easy to see why Cristafari likes her. She’s quite stunning.”

 

Sampling Some New Idols

So after attending not one, but three events I decided a little payback was in order.  I would spend Monday with David (as well as a few other people) attending the type of events he likes to attend.  It didn’t take long, in fact he didn’t even make it to our meeting place as he got sidetracked into an small idol event on the way.  So I met him over at Twin Box Garage in Akihabara for my first taste of Aoyama Saint Hachamecha High School, a small idol group aiming to make their major label debut.

 

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To be honest they didn’t really do much for me.  The first song I heard was kinda cool.  But I didn’t find the group all that appealing, looks-wise.  Their color-scheme was very Momoclo-esque.  Kind of amateurish.  Then again, most indie ol groups are.  Luckily it was a 25-minute concert (and only 500 yen, which included a bottle of soda) so no big deal if I didn’t love it.  We headed out to Star Kebab, one of my favorite little Akiba haunts for lunch.

 

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After that it was time to venture over to visit a place many idol fans had tried to get me to come to.  And that was P.A.R.M.S., the home of Alice Project.  I think part of the reason why I was reluctant was the way the group was sold to me.  All I heard about was “going crazy” and “chekis”.  Not to mention I would meet my friends afterwards and they were covered in sweat.  I’m not a young guy anymore.  And I can take or leave the chekis.  So these descriptions did more to repel me than intrigue me.  Their free weekend afternoon sample show was described as more of an introduction to the group.  That I found much more palatable.

Alice Project

When we arrived I immediately realised that I had been to this venue before as it used to house a music shop called Ishimaru Soft, the top floors of which were used for idol events.  This was the place I saw Momoiro Clover for their “Pinky Jones” release event.  I also went to AKB48/SDN48 member Sato Yukari gravure DVD release here where she modeled for me.

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Alice Project’s free afternoon show offered a sampling of a few of the Alice Project Sub-Groups.  They would also offer their full menu of handshake and cheki opportunities after the show.  I must admit I was impressed with what they had done to the venue.  But I wasn’t too impressed with Slime Girls, the first group to perform.  There was nothing really catching my eyes or ears.  That reminds me…

I have always maintained that finding an oshimen, or favorite member should be a purely organic experience.  When I go to an event like this I will look for a member to catch my eye, and I will sub-consciously watch them…exclusively.  If it doesn’t happen, that means none of the members managed to catch me.  So that didn’t happen with Slime Girls, but it was a different story with Pa-Ken Girls.  Pa-Ken came out to a quirky little song that immediately had me hooked.

 

Ⅰ(あい) ♥(あい) 愛(あい)

 

Not only that, there was one particular member.  I wouldn’t call her gorgeous.  In fact it was her awkwardness that had me hooked.  In many ways she reminded me of NMB48’s Ichikawa Miori.  But I just thought she was adorable onstage.  She was the only member I watched during Pa-Ken’s entire set.

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Up next was Oz Girls, who had some really cute songs.  Although none of the members appealed to me individually.  Steam Girls were the last act, and you could tell they were the most polished of the four units.  I thought one member in particular was cute, kind of a cross between Kizaki Yuria and Hirajima Natsumi.  She had good energy.  But their songs weren’t very memorable either.  My favorite units by far were Pa-Ken Girls and Oz Girls.

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After the show there were a series of meeting opportunities, the first of which was a handshake event with the Sub-Unit of your choice.  The cost was purchasing an Alice Project CD for 1000 yen.  Of course I chose Pa-Ken, and the first member was the girl I liked, Araki Himeri.  I told her it was my first time ever coming to see Alice Project, and not only was Pa-Ken my favorite unit, but she was my favorite member.  Told her how much I loved the first song.  Jeez, this handshake was going for a long time!  I finally made it to the second girl who immediately asked me to oshi her.  Oh no, I have already made my choice!  Finally one of their managers came over and began moving the line a bit faster.  It wasn’t my fault, as the guy in front of me was talking to each girl for a long time.  Next up was the 2-shot opportunity.  When you get to the front of the queue you tell the manager who you want to see.  Unfortunately I didn’t know Himeri by name yet, so I was pointing in the general direction of Pa-Ken.  Apparently Himeri saw what was going on and immediately stepped forward to get the attention of the manager.  “He wants me!”   And she was right!  With that I had my first 2-shot…

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(Believe it or not, this girl is 20!)

But that’s not all.  Later they offer 4-shots, where you can take a photo with three of your favorite members.  Not to mention group shots where you take a pic with entire group or even all the groups.  I opted for the 4-shot, but there was one issue.  Only two girls really caught my fancy at all.  So I asked management if only two was okay.  They said yes…

So I headed up again.  Naturally I had picked Himeri one more time.  As I crossed the stage the other girl I chose, Maeda Natsumi had just finished taking a photo.  She turned to say hello to me, the hulking foreigner who had crossed her path.  Just then the Slime Girl photographer informed Natsumi that I had chosen her too.  She was excitedly surprised, loudly exclaiming “Oh Thank You!”  Before the photo I quickly told her where I was from, and that I really enjoyed watching her perform.  Oh, if you choose a larger photo (for more yen) one of the girls will autograph the pic…

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(Leaning to my left because I had thought I had broken two toes earlier in the day.  Could barely put any weight on my right foot)

And that was P.A.R.M.S.  They kicked the fans out shortly after to prepare for the evening show.  I would definitely consider making another visit.  Especially to see Himeri.  Don’t worry Wasamin, I’m not going to oshihen.  In fact, since Wasamin earlier admitted to reading my twitter, I refrained from tweeting any of my 2-shots.  You know, just to be sure.

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Iwasa Misaki, New Release CK in Japan Spring 2015 Part 7…The Emotional Final Day of the Wasatour

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This was the final Wasamin event for me this trip, which is always an emotional experience. I don’t know when I will see her again. There are 2-shot events for AKB this week, and although I will be in town I don’t have any tickets. But it gives me a chance to enjoy the other great things about Japan. It also gives me a chance to rest since I don’t have to run out to any events first thing in the morning. Just go at my own pace. I need that right now…

 
Iwasa Misaki 4th Single Live & Handshake Event FINAL 2015/05/02 at Aeon Mall Hanyu (Saitama Prefecture)

13:00 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake (Short ver.)
2. Hatachi no Meguriai
3. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

16:00 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake (Short ver.)
2. Mujineki
3. Let It Go ~Ari no Mama de~
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

I spent the night in Nagoya, which meant I had an extra long journey ahead of me. I managed to wake up around 5:15am, which allowed me to catch a really early Shinkansen back to Tokyo.

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Good morning Fujisan!

I am always amazed at some of the choices of venue when it comes to Wasamin. Hanyu could definitely be classified as “out in the sticks”, on the far Western end of Saitama Prefecture close to Gunma. Not close to any train station, they provide shuttle bus service for the 10-minute ride from Hanyu Station.

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Coming down the main road there it stood, a GIANT behemoth of a mall. By far the biggest Aeon Mall I have ever seen. The only one that might come close is Aeon Mall Hiroshima, where Wasamin performed last year. Filled with high end stores (Like Coach, Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Godiva to name a few), an enormous Supermarket and a multi-screen movie theater. It is definitely “the place to be” for the locals since the mall was packed.

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It was the second-largest crowd of the week after Shibuya. Wasamin was wearing a pale peach-colored kimono with yellow and green trim. She had her hair pulled pack into a ponytail. She performed every song from the single plus Mujineki. So happy that I got to hear each new song one last time. I also love when there is an escalator behind the stage because you can see the reaction of random people passing the event. I just love seeing the smiles on their faces. Since it was her first ever performance in Hanyu she remarked about the area, and asked who the local fans were. She once again pointed me out as her Kaigai fan who followed her around Japan. I pointed out that I had brought a friend for the Bay Area to the event so she had two kaigai fans on this day.

And for the first time I have ever seen, they cut-off the single sales. and they actually gave some sort of “rain check” to a few fans who still had a bunch of tickets in their pockets. The issue was that Wasamin needed to get to the airport in order to fly to Osaka for the AKB48 2-shot event tomorrow (today), and the handshake event was already approaching the two-hour mark. Quite the contrast to Nagoya, where the handshakes went on for maybe 30-40 minutes.

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Team Wasamin! Holding up our Wasa-sodas…Kanpai!!!

I am interested in seeing the final first week sales numbers for this single. Obviously it didn’t burn up the top of the Pop Chart, but that was to be expected. There was too much high-level competition. But an improvement over Tomobojo in sales would definitely be a good sign for Wasamin’s future as an Enka artist.

THE HANDSHAKES

We had a running gag going about which fan was my “teacher” for each handshake. I told her about my journey that morning. She didn’t know I had spent the night in Nagoya. I also introduced my friend. I like showing her that I bring other overseas fans to the events…

During the break between shows I decided to hunt for a gift. I already had a fan (love) letter all prepared for her. And I did bring her a gift from California when I arrived. My first thought was something Sake-related. But since I don’t know Sake very well I was afraid I would buy something lame. Jewelry and hair accoutrement is always good, and I looked in a few stores. But I am not a good judge for that stuff either. Wasamin dresses slightly conservative, but she is quite stylish. I didn’t want to get her crap she would never wear. Godiva chocolate would have been great, except the shop was right next to the stage. It would just seem so thoughtless to buy her something from a shop 10 feet away. Not to mention that was what a few other fans had already gotten for her. Oh the painstaking effort to get Wasamin a present…

I finally found the mall flower shop, and after searching the place for quite a while I finally found an arrangement that matched her outfit perfectly! Yellow, Pink and Green. It was the winner! By now it was 10 minutes to the late performance, and I was on the complete opposite side of this gigantic mall. So I forgot to take a pic as I rushed back to the stage.

For the first handshake she asked how much longer I would be in Japan. I told her 5 more days, but I didn’t have any Shamekai tickets for the upcoming week. We both did the little “pretend crying” sign. For the second handshake I presented her withe flowers and fan letter. She always asks if there is a Japanese translation. Of course. I always do that automatically. And I pointed out which fan helped me with that. And whaddya know, the flowers brought good karma!

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I saved my last ticket for close to the end because I don’t like spending all my tickets, then sitting there watching other fans for 45 minutes while I am empty handed. Plus, the last ticket is always an emotional experience. To keep it light I showed her the winning photo, and she asked if the English was okay. I told her it was PERFECT! I then said since it was the last time we would meet this trip, I wanted to tell her that I loved her. (BTW, the first time I had ever used the termAishiteru) She said she loved me too and hoped I would be back soon…

I did my best to keep my head together. But the fans had something else in mind. They organized a little impromptu goodbye ceremony, thanking me for coming from so far and being such an active participant. At that point the emotions got the best of me. Then, as I was leaving Wasamin’s management team came out and did the same. Damn, just as I was recoving…the tears came flowing back. But it was very nice thing for them to do.

And as a bonus, here is some of the Wasa-swag that was available at the events this week…
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The “Super-rare” image trading card. Fans got to draw them after each handshake. If you were lucky you would pull an autographed photo. Each event offered a different photocard. Ultimately there were 24 different cards (for the 24 events this month). I ended up with 19 varieties, so I am missing five.

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Signboards and Sticker Sets. The began giving these away on Tuesday in Ikebukuro when the single actually released. You were able to choose one or the other after each handshake.

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A Shibuya exclusive, Hatsuzake clear file. There were also five autographed clear files that were given away via Janken during the evening performance.

So that’s it for the Wasamin release week tour.  Although they already announced a Hatsuzake handshake event next week in Omiya. And of course the Hatsuzake 2-shot events are coming in May and June. If the last 12 months are any indication I am sure there will be tons more promotion for Wasamin and her single throughout the year.

I hope everyone enjoyed the reports.

 

CK in Tokyo

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New Release, SKE48 CK in Japan Part 6…A Quick Visit To Makuhari to Play With SKE48

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There were a lot of AKB-related events happening on Wednesday the 29th.  But I was going to be busy with Wasamin all day, so I couldn’t go to any other event.  Or could I?  The Hatsuzake release events didn’t start until 2:30pm.  Even though I wanted to be in the early queue for the seat lottery, it still gave me time to head over to Chiba for SKE48’s handshake event…

 

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SKE48 Coquettish Juutai Chuu Individual Handshake event 2015/04/29 at Makuhari Messe

For me this was really just a mini-event. The 29th also happened to be Wasamin’s big release event in Shibuya. As a result I could only stay for The first two handshake slots. I suppose I could have snuck in a handshake in Slot 3 but I didn’t want to chance it. The nice thing is that mumo.net keeps the application page open even after the initial lottery is done. That was if someone later decides they want to get tickets for the event they can provided the member they want isn’t sold out. Luckily everyone I like in SKE wasn’t sold out. On the other hand, most everyone I like was scheduled in the afternoon and evening. The only member in my “must see” list that had an early handshake time was Kaotan. No matter, I would take advantage of this situation and check out members I have had an interest in, but have never met…

I got to the venue around 8:15, which should give me plenty of time for the ole’ “foreigner ticket stamp” procedure. However, the place wasn’t open yet. Huh??? They usually open at least an hour early. Furthermore, there were only 9 people queued up to get in, and maybe another 30 milling around the hallway. Jeex, this is pretty pathetic. Then I realized that the first slot is a short slot, and pretty much every member scheduled that early could be classified as “not popular”. No wonder! Anyway, they finally opened the doors at 8:50. I went straight to the information booth….

Now let’s put that unfounded rumor about SKE events and foreigners to bed right now. This was even more painless than the Green Flash event. The guy running the booth completely understood the foreigner address issue. He took the time to explain it to the entire staff using my tickets and passport as an example. He stamped my tickets and I was on my way. So to answer the recently repeated concerns about foreigners being able to use tickets with SKE. It’s not a problem…at all!

Anyway, there were 13 lanes available, and not a line in any of them. Even in the 40 minute window before last call in Slot one I could have easily visited EVERY SINGLE open lane with time to spare. But I had only two tickets.

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My first visit was to Takagi Yumana (Team KII), who I have actually met before on a few occasions. However, it had been a while so I’m not sure if she remembered me. She looked kinda tired, just sitting there by herself wearing a sweatshirt. She pepped up a bit when she saw me coming down the lane. The problem is that I have no idea what to say to her since she barely participates in anything. I essentially told her that she was my favorite member of Team KII (not completely true she is my 3rd favorite behind Kaotan and Anna) and that I was rooting for her. She thanked me, and I was on my way. I immediately went down to the last lane to use my other Slot 1 ticket on a girl I have heard good things about. And she is good on TV…

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Koishi Kumiko (Team E): Slot 1? No line? I thought there was a buzz going on for Kumichan. She’s every bit as genki as you would think. Completely appreciated that I came to see her, exclaiming “HAPPY!”. I asked her if she speaks English well, since I heard around this forum that she was fluent. Let’s put that rumor to bed too. She might know a little English. But she is not the least bit fluent. I would say Mikitty AND Tani have a better grasp of the English language. But hey, don’t let that stop you from meeting her since she’s a sweetheart.

Okay, so it is now 9:07 and I have finished my tickets in slot 1. What to do? I noticed a tiny area with three tables set up for six Seitansei committees. Three of them were open. I was hoping someone I like was represented over there, aside from Ishida Anna whose card I signed at the Green Flash event. Luckily Yakata Miki’s committee was there. Just what I was hoping for! I wrote a nice little message and was sure to sign it from MISTER CHRIS. If you read my Green Flash report you will understand why I did that. After that I decided to queue up for goods while the line was still short…

It was a good strategy. I was 11th in line. By 10AM the line was pretty big. Unfortunately the goods selection was really lame. A few senbatsu member towels and t-shirts. Oshi-badges, and photo packs. Oh well, I will grab a few photopacks. Maybe I will get some Tani, Mikitty or Kaotan pics. While waiting in line I was watching the goods staff going though this painstaking and IMO completely unecessary procedure with the oshi badges. They would take them out of boxes, they would put them back into the boxes, they would write something on the bag and put them back into the box. Someone else would come along, take them out of the box and put others in the box. This went on for over 45 minutes, and it made the booth open late. Meanwhile, I had a great idea. I’m going to buy a Kaotan badge. After all, I am seeing her in Slot 2. Oh, and I got a great photo draw. No Kaotan, but I got Tani, Mikiity, Anna, Masanya, Churi, Dasu, Rena. I was happy. Meanwhile, Slot 2 already started…

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Yamashita Yukari (Team KII) Of course I wanted to meet Neymar. I actually find Yukapi to be strangely attractive. Anyway, I played up the Neymar angle. Told her her Portuguese was great. (Not sure how good it really was, just trying to make conversation and be complimentary) She was trying to talk to me in English. It was cute. I had one more ticket. As always with Kaotan, it was time to prepare…

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Matsumura Kaori (Team KII) I put on my Kaotan badge. Planned what to say and headed in. She had a humidifier on full blast right next to her. She saw me coming and immediately recognized me from the weekend. She pulled my hands into her cross-armed handshake. I immediately thanked her for the autograph, it meant so much to me. At this point she notices the badge, says “hey!”, and….

She rips the badge off of my shirt! Points to it and says “Where is your name???” I then noticed there is a spot where you are supposed to write your name. She repeats “Your name here!” “Write Chris here!”. For a minute I thought I wasn’t getting the badge back. :yikes: As I get pushed out she thanks me, then exclaims “Ikemen!” (liar!), and then “Nice Guy!” which she repeated twice. Never a dull moment with Kaotan!

It was 10:15AM, great! I would have plenty of time to get to Shibuya for Wasamin’s events. But first I had to meet @ShiningOjisan who I hadn’t seen in quite a long time. The nice thing was he drove me back to Tokyo so we could at least have time to catch up in the car.

And off I went to Shibuya!

 

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki, New Release CK in Japan Spring 2015 Part 5…The Big Media Day, and Hitting the Road With Wasamin

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The big day for Wasamin came on Wednesday.  That would be when the media would be covering her release in Shibuya.  There would be tons of fun to be had this day.  Then…it wouldn’t be a Wasamin release “tour” without a little travel.  To me this is where it becomes even more fun!

 

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Iwasa Misaki 4th Single Mini-live and Handshake Release Event 2015/04/29 at Marui City, Shibuya

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Setlist 14:00
1. Hatsuzake (Short ver.)
2. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari
3. Let It Go ~Ari no Mama de~
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

Setlist 18:30
1. Hatsuzake (Short ver.)
2. Hatachi no Meguriai
3. Let It Go ~Ari no Mama de~
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

Guest MC: Nishiyori Higashi from Nagara Pro

This was the big release event. Full press, special guest MC. And a huge crowd, perhaps the biggest I have ever seen at a Wasamin event. Wasamin was wearing her bright red kimono. Rumor has it that Fujie Reina was somewhere in the crowd, although I didn’t see her. However, I did see Wasamin’s parents in the audience…as well as her younger sister. And let me tell you, there is no mistaking that is Wasamin’s sister. They look so much alike! Except that she is much taller than Wasamin. (and ironically she looks older) Cute family, though. The first big surprise came during the 2nd MC, when Nishiyori-san asked Wasamin if she did any impressions. Some of you might remember Wasamin’s impression of Inagawa Junji, which she did on AKBingo! a year or so ago. After Wasamin did her manomane, out he came!
wasazake14.jpgWasamin was running around the stage trying to keep away from him. So cute. Later on we got another surprise. To celebrate Wasamin turning 20 they brought out a Sake cask and held a Kagami Biraki ceremony. Unfortunately I think the cask was empty.wasazake15.jpgThe other bonus was that today Wasamin debuted her performance of Let It Go ~Ari no Mama de~ from Frozen. It’s funny how much more you like a song when your oshimen sings it. In fact, I originally didn’t care for Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari at all. But when I hear Wasamin sing it, many emotions come up. There’s just something about Wasamin singing a sad or sentimental song that really affects me. I felt the same way when I heard her perform Nada Sousou during her Request Covers tour. Handshake event went on for close to two hours. The line was 20-30 minutes long for the first hour. The same thing happened at the evening event as well.During the second event Nishiyori-san again brought up Wasamin’s manomane of Inagawa Junji. Was he going to come out again? Then, he asked her if she did any other impressions. To everyone’s surprise, Wasamin does a PERFECT impression of Tani Marika!!! I swear, if you had your eyes closed you would have thought Tani was onstage. Wasamin said “Tani isn’t back there, is she?” I thought the same thing since SKE was actually in Tokyo that day for a handshake event. It was a memorable day, and Wasamin made all of us proud with a top notch performance. She nailed Let it Go on the first try!

BTW, here are a few more press shots from the event.

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As well as a group pic from Team Wasamin!

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THE HANDSHAKES

There a slightly less personal feel to the event because there were so many people. I know for the first handshake I asked her about Kagami Biraki since I was not familiar with the term. She tried to explain it to me. I ultimately told her I wished the cask was full. And of course I told her that I had seen her manomane of Inagawa-san on AKBingo! She was surprised I had seen it. It’s interesting, all the girls seem surprised when I tell them I have seen the TV shows. It;s like they don’t think the foreigners have ever seen them. After the second performance I told her how much I loved her Tani impression. She said, Oh, you know Tani??? Once again, the surprise. I mean jeez, Wasamin knows I have been an AKB fan for years, right? I debated telling her I went to the SKE event in the morning, but I was afraid she would ask who I went to see. I didn’t want to open up THAT can of worms. :fear: For the final handshake I told her that I saw her family. She was like “You saw them??? Where???” and started looking around. I’m not sure why she was that surprised her. Did she not know they were there? Did she not think I knew they were her family? I mean they were given VIP treatment, although they stood in the back for the performance.

On to Nagoya…

Iwasa Misaki 4th Single Live and Handshake Event 2015/04/30 at Nadya Park, Nagoya

 

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Hello Spider Tower!

 

14:30 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake (Short ver.)
2. Hatachi no Meguriai
3. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

17:30 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake (Short ver.)
2. Let It Go ~Ari no Mama de~ (Complete ver.!!!)
3. Hatachi no Meguriai
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

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Wasamin performed here last year in support of Tomonoura Bojou. I’m not sure why they choose this place. It is really a dead mall. Not much foot traffic at all aside from the office workers from the neighboring office building. It is right down the street from Sunshine Sakae and the SKE48 Theater. The crowd was around 50% Nagoya locals and 50% fans who traveled from Tokyo. Wasamin was wearing her Navy Blue Kimono and had her hair done in a way I had never seen before. Double curls in the back, similar to when she did her “Sheep” hairdo earlier this year.The big “surprise” came when Wasamin was singing Let It Go. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in Shibuya Wasamin was singing an abridged version of the song. She was all ready to go into the bridge when, to her surprise, the second verse came up. She had a momentary look of panic on her face, but then went right into singing it…perfectly I might add. The funny thing was that her manager never flinched. Even when Wasamin questiod her about it after the song. It makes me wonder if her manager planned that. But what a pro, Wasamin just rolled with it!Handshake sessions were relatively short, since the crowds were fairly small. But they must have known that since they have scheduled her for Nadya Park before and it was the exact same thing.

THE HANDSHAKES

I really wasn’t feeling that great during the early show. I was up early, had to haul my luggage down to Nagoya. I couldn’t get into my room so I had to go with what I was wearing. Oh, and then there was lunch…

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I decided to go to the SKE48 Cafe. It’s the only 48 Cafe I hadn’t been to. To be honest I don’t love any of the food. Compared to the wonderful cuisine you find all over Japan, it’s just crap. I went with Isohara Kyoka’s Taco Rice, which was more of a cross between a Taco Salad and Beef Curry. If you are going to make a Taco Salad, use chili sauce, not curry powder! So I told Wasamin I had a stomach ache. She asked why, and I said “Because I ate at the SKE48 Cafe!” :rofl:

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I had time to go back to my hotel and clean myself up before the evening event. So I felt a lot better. I also changed into my Wasamin Sousenkyo T-shirt which I hadn’t worn in a while. Wasamin immediately noted it. She pointed to it and said “Cute”. Yes it is! But my final handshake was the best. We were having Wasamin draw our photos to see if we could get an autographed one. Three of the four people in front of me got one. When it was my turn Wasamin drew…but it wasn’t a winner. We both frowned, then she kissed the photo before handing it to me. An indirect kiss from Wasamin!

Next up is Kishiwada Talktown Another “interesting” choice of location. Hopefully Wasamin’s Kansai fanbase represent. Last year Talktown drew a fairly decent sized crowd. It’s just that there’s a weird element to that mall. We’ll see how it goes.

Iwasa Misaki 4th Single Mini-Live and Handshake Release Event 2015/05/01 at Kishiwada Talktown, Osaka

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So this portion of the tour if like a repeat of Tomonoura Bojou last year. We went from Nadya Park in Nagoya to Talktown. After that we went further West to Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Kumamoto. This year we are turning around and going to the far West corner of Saitama Prefecture, near Tochigi and Gunma. I have a serious ride ahead of me tomorrow as I am still in Nagoya for the night. The land where the Jurinas and Renas roam free. Anyway…

Setlist 13:00
1. Hatsuzake (short ver.)
2. Hatachi no Meguriai
3. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari
4. Hatsuzake (full ver.)

Setlist 16:00
1. Hatsuzake (short ver.)
2. Mujineki
3. Akai Sweet Pea
4. Hatsuzake (full ver.)

Wasamin wearing a black kimono covered in a sakura design. OMG, her hair! She wore it down today, almost in a twintail fashion. But it was absolutely gorgeous. I mean Wasamin is ALWAYS gorgeous. But I love when she wears her hair down with a Kimono. Talktown is in an interesting part of Osaka. Not far from Kansai Airport, it is very much a blue-collar area. Not a high-level mall by any means. She draws a really good crowd of elderly fans at this mall. And they stake the place out early for good seats too! I got lucky. Her regulars knew I was coming out of Nagoya so I would be late. So they saved me a front row seat. Quite nice of them. The crowd was raucous today, to say the least. Wasamin was giggling because we were all cheering so hard. I reminded her “What do you expect, it’s Osaka!” During one MC Wasamin noted the two fans who have been to every promotional event this month. She also noted her overseas fan who had been to almost every event :D Although she forgot where in the USA I was from. She said “and he is from….uhh, Chris-san where are from again?” I said “Saaaaaannnnn” Wasamin cut in and said “San Francisco!!!” She just needed a little reminder. She also told the audience that she knows I study my Japanese really hard before each handshake, and she appreciates that I do that.

Wasamin created a little catchphrase earlier this week. At the end of the last show she says “Hatsuzake???” and the audience responds with “Kanpai!!!!” In Nagoya some of the fans bought a bunch of canned coffees. At the end of the show as she ws about to say it, we all lifted our cans. Wasamin was so surprised! “Nani????” So today we decided to one-up it a bit. One of the givaways is a Hatsuzake sticker set. The fans decided to cover the cans with Wasastickers. During the handshake portion Wasamin and her manager noticed something going on. She kept craning her neck to look. Finally she was like “What the hell are you guys doing over there???”

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Anyway, at the end of the day as Wasamin was saying farewell, we all lifted our Wasacans, and Wasamin burst out laughing! After the show we took our group shot on the stage. And as we got ready to leave Wasamin’s manager came out She wanted to take photos of us with the cans. Her staff is really cool. They come out and chat with us all the time.

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Oh, and the Team Photo from the previous night in Nagoya…

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BTW, this isn’t everyone who is traveling with her. The are a few fans who are a bit camera shy. Oh, and a cute story…Last year when Wasamin came to Nadya Park I met an SKE fan who happened to come to the event. He was a nice kid. He liked Wasamin. So I wondered if he would be there again this year. I didn’t see him at the early show. But when Wasamin finished her late performance, there he was standing in the back. (He is top right in the photo) He said one of the reasons he came was because he hoped I would be there. Wow! But then the strangest thing happened. We were all walking back to Sunshine Sakae to catch the subway to Nagoya Station. One moment we were talking, and the next moment he was gone. No “See ya later”, no “Gotta go”, nothing. I don’t know his email, facebook, twitter, LINE. It’s funny how people come and go in your life, eh?

THE HANDSHAKES

We spent most of the morning talking about Wasamin’s hairstyle and outfit. Again, I just thought her hair looked out of this world! And I love when she wears fiery colored kimonos like this black and pink one. And with the white and pink flower in her hair…damn! Oh, and Wasamin tried to say “Flower” in English. [hehe] She tried to imitate my American accent, and failed spectacularly. “Florruhrrer”

Their aren’t many decent choices for lunch around Talktown, but a bunch of us went to a little sushi bar next to the mall’s market. They have a bunch of lunch sets. I got the 1200 yen set becuse it came with Uni, which I love. We were talking about the most expensive set which came with a lot of Uni as well as some big pieces of Unagi among other things, and the chef remarked “That’s what Wasamin ordered for lunch today”. Great, we all ended up having the same lunch as Wasamin! So for the rest of the day Wasamin and I kept talking about our mutual love of sushi…especially Uni. It turns out most of our favorites are the same. We both love Uni, Kani Miso, Aji, Amaebi. So we have that in common, which is nice.

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A big group of us made the journey back to Shin-Osaka where some of us went our separate ways. For some of them it was their last event. So I won’t be seeing them again. Like Wild-san, who is one of my favorite Wasafans. I took a different train since I had a railpass and couldn’t take the Nozomi.

Anyway, one last set of events tomorrow. It is going to be bittersweet. I’m sure everyone who reads these posts notices how special these events are not only for her fans, but for Wasamin herself. It is her opportunity to be a star, and to be held in a place that she deserves because all of her hardcore fans just think the world of her. I often think about that when I see her standing alone on that stage with her beaming smile.

 

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki, New Release CK in Japan Spring 2015 Part 4…The CD Has Arrived!!!

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After going to a series of preorder events, the day had finally come where we would get our hands on the actual CD.

 

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Iwasa Misaki 4th Single Release Event!!! Mini-Live and Handshake event (2015/04/28) Tobu Department Store Sky Deck Square, Ikebukuro

As Wasamin pointed out on her Twitter this morning, it is Furage day for Hatsuzake!!! And that means…

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Score-a-rooni!”

Setlist 13:00
1. Hatsuzake (Abridged ver.)
2. Mujineki
3. Akai Sweet Pea
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

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(Some of the earlybirds doing their best to stay in the shade)

On the roof of Tobu Department Store in Ikebukuro Station. This as the first of two consecutive days outdoor events. Although with this one most of the audience is in the sun, and it was a pretty warm and sunny day. Wasamin noted in the first MC that she was worried about a of us being exposed in the hot sun like that. Wasamin was wearing her Navy Blue Kimono with Sakura decor. Surprisingly, she did none of the new single B-side tracks for the early live, instead saving them for the later event. She had a lot more fans later in the day, but it was the earlier show that drew more passersby and local office people. It should also be noted that the 16:00 show handshake segment went for almost 90 minutes, which is pretty good! And it wasn’t just a few people with a lot of tickets. The line of people snaked pretty far back for a good while.

Since this is finally release day there are a few additional bonuses being offered at the event. In addition to the “limited edition rare trading card”, fans also received their choice of either a signboard or Hatsuzake sticker set. Tomorrow they will also be offering hatsuzake clear files. Lots of Wasa-swag!

Most of her MCs were focused on a) Wasamin’s upcoming NicoNico appearance, b) the additional prizes being offered inside the CDs, like the “Wasamin Karaoke Party” c) Wasamin announced she recorded a performance for AKB48SHOW. So we have that to look forward to. Hopefully they will show it soon, and not wait until a month after it comes out (Like they did with Tomobojo)…

Oh and d) Wasamin’s new “selfie stick”, which led to an extremely memorable moment in the 2nd set.

THE HANDSHAKES

Wasamin had noticed Okaji-san (Wasamin Seitensai committee director) and I both had towels over our heads during the performance. She even remarked during the first MC that she was worried about all of us being in the hot sun. So she told me she was concerned. I mentioed that my blue eyes are very sensitive to sunlight. But I was willing to tough it out in order to support her. But isn’t that sweet? Nice to know Wasamin worries about me. Later on I thanked both her and her manager for giving me such good luck these past three days, after all on the first draw I got this, my third autographed pic in as many days!

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Somehow by Wasamin’s reaction everyone thought I had won another one and started clapping. (The exact same thing happened during the Request Covers tour when everyone thought I had won the grand prize, and I was merely happy that I had drawn a 2-shot) So I turned around and told the to calm down, I hadn’t won this time. For the90 minute break Me, David, and our new friend and Wasafan Kenji from Hong Kong decided to find cool shelter andperhaps a place to kick back somewhere in Ikebukuro Station…

Setlist 16:00
1. Hatsuzake (Abridged ver.)
2. Hatachi no Meguriai
3. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

This time I got a seat in the front row, so I would be assured of some shade in the late afternoon. Wasamin was heavily promoting the event tomorrow in Shibuya. It is really her best chance at a really nice sized crowd for the rest of the week since after that all of the remaining events are out of town. (And I have my railpass ready!) At the end of the performance wasamin brought out her brd new Selfie Stick in order to take a group shop of the crowd, and a funny thing happened…

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THE HANDSHAKES

Wasamin kept saying that the photo was no-good, and wanted to retake it. She kept looking over at me, so I had a feeling what was going on. After the third shot her manager asked if it was okay. And she responded “Demo, Chris-san hanbun!!” The entire time she was re-taking it to try and get me into the shot. She should have asked me to move over or something. Later she apologized but I told her not to worry about it. In reality, I loved how everything ultimately turned out. If nothing else, it just showed how Wasamin is always looking out for her Chris-san. In addition I taught her (and her manager) that the gadget she was using is commonly called a “Selfie Stick” in English. Both of them were repeating it to me. Later on I remembered Wasamin posting a photo if her Ipod on her blog and it showed she was listening to Man With A Mission. So I asked her if she was a big fan, but before I even finished the sentence she enthusiastically said “Hai!” I told her when I saw that on her blog I decided to give them a listen. I really liked some of their songs. The song that showed on her Ipod might have been my favorite too.

The next day Wasamin performed in Shibuya, which is also the media performance as well as her debut of Let it Go.
That will be the next report…

 

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki CK in Japan Spring 2015 Part 3…Further Along the Wasatour

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Iwasa Misaki 4th Single Mini-live and Handshake events 2015/04/27 at Ario Kitasuna AND Marui City Kinshicho

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Another day, more appearances for Wasamin.  Today she was graduating from the Enka shops to the Department Stores where ideally she would get a lot more foot traffic.  This was also a day where she would be doing three separate performances.  She will probably be wiped out by the end of it.  Also, this is the last of the “pre-order” events.  From tomorrow the CD will be available at every event.  But at some point I am going to have to go back to all of those locations I have visited to pick up all my pre-ordered CDs (Seven different shops all over Tokyo and Saitama!)

12:00 Setlist (Kitasuna)
1. Hatsuzake (Abridged ver.)
2. Hatachi no Meguriai
3. Akai Sweet Pea
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

15:00 Setlist (Kitasuna)
1. Hasuzake (Abridged ver.)
2. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari
3. Hatachi no Meguriai
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

Ario (Ito-Yokado) is actually a nice mid-to-upscale mall very close to Akihabara. The event was taking place right next to the food court, which is the perfect place to draw a nice crowd. So she drew plenty of gawkers for both performances. Oh, and they were playing the full-PV for Hatsuzake on the monitor. Gorgeous! Wasamin was wearing her pale purple kimono with her hair pulled back. She hasn’t lost a beat with Akai Sweet Pea. Her singing was right on point. Much of her MCs today surrounded a recent promotional event she is going to be doing on NicoNico next week. And I was so happy that my friend David came out and met me at the event. I am always excited to show other fans from overseas how great these Wasamin events are. And of course to show off what an amazingly talented performer she is.

Small bonus, during the break between shows I saw Wasamin’s crew ordering her lunch. So I know which restaurant she ate at today. This one…
(sorry about the finger, I took the shot hastily so not to annoy the restaurant staff)

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And here was my lunch.  Decided to take another crack at Takoyaki since the onions and Daikon looked good…

 

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HANDSHAKES

Right off the bat Wasamin thanks me for all the responses to her twitter last night. You see, I am a good Wasa-soldier and do what I’m told. [hehe] I asked her about the making of the PV. She told me it was filmed in Kyoto. I asked “Arashiyama?” She said yes. “Fushimi Inari Taisha?” She said “Wow, you know it?” I said “Of course, I have been there!” Both she and her manager were like “Hontoni?” I was actually surprised that they were surprised. It is a pretty big tourist attraction. Later on I explained to her when I came in the Summer and all the events were cancelled I did a lot of sightseeing. That included Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto as well as Tomonoura when I rode the Wasamin bus. She was happy to hear that I had the chance to ride the famous Wasabus. Interestingly I told her all of this in a fan letter. I hope she just forgot. I would hate to think she never got the letter, or never read it. I’m sure if she got it she read it. After all, she always asks me to write them. Finally she thanked me for bringing a friend to the event. Anyway, on my second trip my luck returned on the photo draw.

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Wow, two autographed pics in two days!

18:30 Setlist (Kinshicho)
1. Hatsuzake (Abridged ver.)
2. Mujineki
3. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari
4. Hatsuzake (Full ver.)

A 2 1/2 hour break before her third live in Kinshicho, which was less than 10 minues from the early location. The event was held in a conference hall on the roof of Marui City. This seemed quite odd as there was virtually NO foot traffic up there. A rooftop soccer pitch, a tiny Indian cafe, and special window with a really nice view of SkyTree. That’s it. The CD shop holding the promotion was actually across the street in front of the JR Station. I coincidentally took the train with one of the Wasamin event MCs and followed him there.

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Most of the fans were just vegging up on the top floor watching the live broadcast of Andare. At one point Wasamin’s manager came out and chatted with us for a little while. I spend that time prepping what I was going to talk to Wasamin about. I am getting pretty good at this. I carry an English/Japanese dictionary to help me with words I don’t know. Then I put together how I think I should say what I want to say. From there the other fans help me with the correct word order, particles (“ni” always confuses me), and verb conjugations. Even the fans that can’t speak English at all have helped me, which is nice because in the old days some of them would be shy around me a bit because we couldn’t converse.

We entered the room 20 minutes prior to the show and it was freezing. The AC was up way too high. Then the MC apparently turned the microphone off before she handed it to Wasamin. So when she started singing…..oops. This actually kinda threw Wasamin off for much of the first verse, and they had the music too low. Not to mention she looked a bit tired. I’m not surprised she hasn’t tweeted since the event ended. But once she warned up she was good to go. She kept forgetting the details of the NicoNico event during the MC. She was mentioning something about karaoke too but I wasn’t sure what that was about.

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HANDSHAKES

Continung our conversation from earlier, and at the urging of the other fans, I showed her the selfie I took in Tomonoura as an homage to her third single CD Jacket cover. I called it Tomonoura Bojou, Chris version. Of course she liked that. I also told her about my experience there and how the locals were asking me why a foreigner would come to Tomonoura. It was on Wasamin’s recommendation of course! Again like a good Wasa-soldier I also reported to her that I tried one of her recommended restaurants last Thursday after the event with my friend and fellow overseas Wasamin fan Kwan-san. It’s sort of an Izakaya chain that specializes in nabe and very spicy chicken. For some reason Wasamin found it humorous when I told her that I ate Nabe again. I wonder if she remembers the conversation we had last year when she was so disappointed that I didn’t care for her favorite dish. (Motsunabe) . After that I noticed the mall staff were very politely asking people who didn’t have any more tickets to leave. So I just bailed. My wi-fi router was out of juice anyway.

BTW, this is the Nabe restaurant…

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So preorder events are done. Release events begin tomorrow in Ikebukuro. Which means we finally get our hands on the CD! And we still haven;t heard her sing “Let it Go” yet. I believe she said during the MC she is saving that for Shibuya on Wednesday when the media will be present

 

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki CK in Japan Spring 2015 Part 2…Old School Wasamin

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Actually the first event I attended on this trip was a Wasamin event, and I was there less than three hours after my plane landed.  I was so happy my flight came in early as I wasn’t sure I would make it in time.  Anyway, This was the reason I was here.  And I was so excited to reconnect with Wasamin since I hadn’t seen her in so long.  I hoped she missed me as much as I missed her.  The first 5 days of events were strictly Preorder/Meet and Greets.  There was no performance.  The actual singing would start on Sunday after the Green Flash event.  And they were all being held in tiny Enka shops around Tokyo.  If you have ever visited one, they are quite a trip…
Iwasa Misaki 4th Single Preorder Handshake Events. 2015/04/22 – 2015/04/24
AND
Iwasa Misaki 4th Single Preorder Mini-live. 2015/04/26 at Yoro-do, Asakusa (Tokyo) AND 2015/04/26 at Onkokyu-do, Edogawa (Tokyo)

Today was the first of seven straight days of Wasamin mini-lives. At this point I plan on attending every single one. This tour actually started in the beginning of the previous week, with Wasamin doing five straight days of solo-handshake events (no performance) around Tokyo. I made it to town on Wednesday afternoon so I only missed the first two. All of last week’s handshake meetings, as well as today’s mini-lives were held at tiny Enka music shops. You can tell this is a big part of these shops’ livelihoods as every single one is filled with momentos of countless promotional performances by Enka artists.

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Anyway, to continue what I had brought up in the Green Flash experience post. There was something slightly different about Wasamin at these initial handshake events. I initially dismissed as just Wasamin becoming an adult, but more than that it was almost like she seemed slightly withdrawn. The conversations we were having seemed a bit stilted. She was nice, but I hadn’t seen her in over a year. I just thought she would be a little bit more excited to see me. I made a big deal about her new hairstyle after she went to the beauty parlor that morning. Told her I loved Hatsuzake. Wasamin told me that she loved my blue eyes. And she kept saying I was cute, which is a standard idol comeback. I basically brushed it off as perhaps she was tired. And maybe I’m just imagining things too. Then…

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Thursday’s event was held at a shop in Machida, which is quite a trek from Central Tokyo. A few of us were standing on the sidewalk about a half block away. All of a sudden here comes Wasamin’s manager smiling and waving to us. Totally drawing attention to the fact that Wasamin was walking down the street. To be honest if her manager hadn’t done that we might not have even noticed her at all. So we all wave and say “Hello Wasamin!” But she never acknowledged us, she didn’t even lift her head. She just briskly walked by as fast as she could. Now I have seen her in similar situations in the past, and she has always smiled and acknowledged us. This reaction was a first. And we had a similar experience the next day in Saitama. We were all queued on the sidewalk, and as Wasamin came out of a neighboring business to enter the shop she completely ignored all of us saying hello.

She was also beginning every single handshake by saying “Arigatou!” Perhaps they instructed her to do that? But it just seemed stilted and unnatural. I have had hundreds of handshakes with Wasamin and I have never experieced her as being on “autopilot” like that. To be fair, we don’t know what might be happening behind the scenes, or in Wasamin’s personal life. She, and her staff are obviously working very hard to make this single a success. I’m sure it is very stressful. But all of it me worried. What if Wasamin has changed? What if she is no longer happy being an Enka singer? Tons of scenarios rolled through my head. So when I go from these feelings to the experiences I had with Mikitty, Kaotan, Tani and company this weekend it honestly hurt my heart a little bit. I would hate to think of Wasamin as becoming jaded, or disillusioned…

But at this point it is all water under the bridge. Because the Wasamin I experienced today completely reinforced why she is my one and only Oshimen.

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Okay, let’s talk about Sunday’s Mini-live events. Wasamin doing what she does best…Sing!!!

THE ASAKUSA PERFORMANCE

13:00 Setlist
1. Hatzuzake
2. Hakimono to Kasa no Monogatari
3. Hatachi no Meguriai
4. Hatsuzake

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Cute little store right in the heart of Asakusa near the shrines. There were thousands of people walking by the shop. A couple of people walking by actually came in for the performance too! Overall Wasamin sounded great, and she was positively beaming! Out of the gate they had some volume problems with the music which caused Wasamin to have a little bit of trouble at the beginning of Hatsuzake. But any issues she had singing the song seemed to be ironed out at her 2nd set later on. Anyway, there seemed to be a temperature issue in the room. Everyone in the audience was cool and comfortable, but Wasamin kept complaining that she was really hot onstage.The other songs she performed very well. Suffice it to say Hakimono to Kasa is much more inspiring to me when Wasamin sings it. In fact I was going to tell her that at my first handshake, but Wasamin had other ideas…

THE HANDSHAKES

She immediately begins talking to me about looking at something and “RIP-ry” I keep repeating it back to her. “RIP-ry? Nani kore?” And he was kind of mumbling it too. After repeating it multiple times she eventually she gives up and exclaims “Oh, Chris-san!” Both of us are laughing. So I go downstairs and begin asking the other fans what “RIP-ry” is. They don’t know. It took me quite a few minutes, then it dawned on me…REPLY!!!!! Look? Reply? Is she talking about social media? I had just linked her on a post wishing her good luck. Did she actually reply? I checked my twitter. Wasamin hadn’t tweeted in over an hour. So that couldn’t be it. When I went for another handshake I asked her if she was trying to speak English and she said “Hai! RIP-ry” OMG, soooooooo cute!!! What she was actually asking me to do was reply on her social media, especially Twitter. There is much more to this story as the conversation continued at the next venue.

Oh, and the best part? On my second photo draw I got this…

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Never got an autographed photo at all the Tomobojo events. I’m glad I finally won an autographed photo this time around.

THE EDOGAWA PERFORMANCE

17:00 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Mujineki
3. Hatachi no Meguriai
4. Hatsuzake

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Like I said, she ironed out any difficulty she had earlier on Hatsuzake. Wasamin is at the point where I hardly even worry about her performances being good. She is a total pro now. She hits all her notes. She doesn’t have breathing issues anymore. She is completely comfortable onstage. The stage was in a tiny little room above this dingy and “lived in” little shop. In fact, all of these little Enka music stores seem to have that same dingy quality. Real old school. Nice sized crowd, and everyone was in a good mood. In fact at one point Wasamin asked if we all went out drinking before the event. :lol: So she still hasn’t performed “Let it Go” from Frozen. I wonder why they are saving it?

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THE HANDSHAKES

Continuing our conversation in Asakusa, I told her I told her that I already respond to her Twitter. I say “My twitter name is…” She cuts me off. “I know your twitter name. I look at it.” Wait what??? She then proceeds to tell me things that I have posted. And mind you, these were not things I posted to her. OMG, Wasamin reads my twitter!?!?!? I wonder how long she has been doing that???

For the second handshake I asked her if she enjoyed Zushi, referencing her incident yesterday getting on the train in the wrong direction, falling asleep, and ending up all the way out in Yokosuka. I asked if she had a nice sleep. She begins relating the story, but then gets sidetracked asking me if densha is “train” in English. I told her she was correct. As they were pushing me out I quickly told her the evening performance was wonderful. BTW, she was wearing a beautiful Cherry-colored Kimono for both events today. Slightly darker that the Kimono she is wearing in my avatar. Had her hair to one side, which is my favorite of her Enka-hairstyles. It looks good in black too. I was hoping to win another autographed pic, but no such luck. But there are at least a dozen in each event. Maybe even more. So the odds aren’t too impossible. Quite a few fans have won multiples already.

This is the first of seven straight days of performances. Twice per day. The handshake sessions earlier this week were nice. But watching her perform is really what makes these events worthwhile. I can already tell this is going to be amazing week!

 

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AKB48 CK in Japan Spring 2015…Time For Another Whirlwind Wasamin Tour

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Hi!  Remember me?  It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?  In part that’s because I haven’t been in Japan for almost a year.  Not that I haven’t been involved in the idol world at all.  Of course there were many idol events in California over the past year like Itano Tomomi and Tokyo Girls Style in San Francisco, as well as Babymetal and Perfume in LA.  I went to all of those events.  Got all sorts of cool swag too, including a nice “5-shot” from TGS.  But this blog is mainly about my experiences traveling to Japan.  AND, these days it is primarily about supporting my oshimen Iwasa Misaki.  Or as many call her, Wasamin!
That’s why it has been so long since I have been in Japan.  I was waiting for Wasamin’s next release.  It was finally announced a couple of months ago.  Later they finally they announced her promotional tour schedule, and it’s a doozy!  Two weeks long!  In fact I had already booked my flight before the dates were announced so I missed the first two days.  But that’s okay.  There would be plenty of Wasafun once I arrive.  BTW, the single releases this Wednesday.  Check out the PV preview!
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
But before I get into Wasamin I did schedule two other AKB-related events for this trip.  The first one being the AKB48 Green Flash handshake event at Pacifico Yokohama.  I didn;t go too overboard on the tickets because…well, this was more of a bonus event for me rather than the reason I came.  But even with just 15 tickets it was a blast.  Read it and see!
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Green Flash Individual Handshake Event @ Pacifico Yokohama 2015/04/25
I can’t believe it has been almost two years since I have been to an individual handshake event. These days I usually come mainly for Wasamin’s releases, which is why I am in Japan now. I also had Labrador Retriever tickets last year, but…well, we all know what happened with that. So it was time to take a short break in the middle of two straight weeks of Wasamin solo events and see some AKB48 Group members I haven’t interacted with in quite a while.I wanted to be prepared for this event in order to minimize any awkward moments with my poor Japanese, so I stayed up all night planning the things I wanted to talk about. Took notes, made sure I had the proper verb conjugations, that kind of stuff. I headed to Yokohama early in order to avoid any hassle with the infamous “foreigner ticket stamp procedures” as well as the security. But all that proved to be much ado about nothing as the venue was relatively empty. At least in the morning. Anyway, got my tickets stamped. I was ready to go. I had a bunch of Wasamin tickets in the early slots, but I wanted to get my first handshake out of the way before she saw me. That way she wouldn’t wonder who else I was going to see…By the way, I would say about 80% of these conversations were in Japanese. I actually surprised myself that I was able to pull it off as well as I did. I was even able to comprehend questons and answer them. So perhaps my Japanese is getting a little better. Now it’s just “kinda shitty”. It did help that I “crammed for the test” the night before.
Goto Izumi (Slot 1):

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Surprisingly, I haven’t met very many HKT members that haven’t once been in AKB. There’s Tani. Then there’s…well Tani. That’s it. And she isn’t even in HKT anymore. The only two HKT members that I am really drawn to these days are Tomiyoshi and Iichan. Since I was limiting my tickets for this event, I chose Izumi. As I approached her I got the requisite “A foreigner!” look, her smile is as beautiful as I have seen on TV. And that’s basically what I said to her. I wanted to meet her because I think she has the most wonderful smile. She was sweet, and genki, just a nice experience. I am glad I finally got to meet her.

Iwasa Misaki (Slots 1-2):

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Now I have already seen Wasamin a whole bunch this week while she is doing her preorder tour. But I actually hadn’t talked to her in person for over a year. To be honest, her personality has subtly changed since she turned 20. In fact, she has been slightly salty for the first few days. Not just to me personally, but in general. I will talk about that more when I do a Wasamin solo writeup.Wasamin seemed more genki on this day. We mainly talked about her new single, which we got to listen to in its entirety last night in Saitama. I told her last night I love all of the songs, but I said my favorite is Hatachi no Meguriai. I asked which was her favorite, figuring she would say “all of them” But she said Hatsuzake is definitely her favorite of the four. That makes sense, since that is “her” song while the others are covers. Speaking of Hatsuzake, Wasamin asked me if I drink alcohol, and which kind of drinks I like best. She guessed beer (wonder why [hehe]) But I told her I also liked Sake, and Hiballs. I also complimented her recent performances of Obayo and Koi no Hallelujah, and suggested a Request Covers 2 Album. I will need to mention that again when her manager is around. You know, plant the seed. It turns out Wasamin was actually really tired as she reported on Twitter after the event that she accidentally got on the wrong train, then fell asleep endng up way out in Zushi. I still have 14 more Wasamin events to go between now and May 2nd, so plenty more Wasa-conversation to be had. We may need to have one about not burning herself out.

Oh, and a little aside. Wasamin was next to Miichan and Kojimako. During one of my Wasamin handshakes Mako’s queue was empty, and she was watching my interaction with Wasamin. It was cute.

Tsuchiasu Mizuki (Slot 3):

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Yes, redemption. Two years ago I went to the 15th gen debut at the theater and got to sit front row center. I had the most awesome interations with Mizuki for the entire show. It was an amazing experience. A few months later I finally got to meet her at a National Handshake Event in Iwate. I was hoping she would remember me from her first show. But I fumbled the words and completely confused her which lead to a completely awkward experience. It is NEVER good when an idol frustratedly exclaims “Nani???” at you. This time I was ready. I knew exactly what i wanted to say to her. When I got to the front of the queue Mizuki was completely excited and genki, which was a great sign! I reminded her about that fateful first show. I don’t know if she remembered or not, but she seemed to really like the story as she gave me an excited reaction. Later I told her that her that she does the best version of Kuchi Utsushi no Chocolate. Mizuki is just sooo sexy. I didn’t tell her that, but that was the underlying meaning to my compliment.

Anyway, I can finally put to bed my long frustration over a bad handshake experience with Mizuki last year. This totally made up for it.

Yokoyama Yui (Slot 4):

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I used to go see Yui all the time. She had even given me the nickname “California-san”, which these days she also calls @Tensai . But it had been a very long time since I had seen her. Not sure if she remembered me or not, but I quickly congratulated her on her promotion and told her I bought her new photobook. She asked what I thought if it, which I responded that I thought it was beautifully done. But There was no “California-san”, so it looks like Tensai has taken that moniker from me. :asdfgh:

The rest of my tickets were for SKE48 members. And let me tell you, these were among some of the craziest moments I have ever had at handshake events. And as usual it involved many of the same cast of characters that were involved in my last insane handshake experience back in 2013.

Yakata Miki (Slot 4):

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Mikitty and Tani are my two favorite SKE members. If you read the above spoiler I think you might understand my feelings for Miki. Not to mention this experience from last year…

Lane 9: Isohara Kyoka/Kinoshita Yukiko/Yakata Miki (x3) Saving the best for “almost” last, I have made a new best friend in SKE, and that is Mikitty! I posted about my insane experience with her back in June. http://stage48.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=113&start=5625#p716892 The moment she reacted after seeing me in the exit lane I knew I was in for a great time with her. The only problem was that for some reason I don’t really connect with Yukiko…
But it was pretty clear who I was in that queue to see. I reminded her of our exchange at Makuhari, which she remembered. She then asked me to come back through their lane. I got a big “I LOVE YOU” the 2nd time around, and the last time she asked me my name. When I answered she loudly repeated it back “Chris! Chris!” I have obviously connected with her in a major way, evidenced by her Google+ entry after the event. I didn’t even think to look, but one of her local fans found me on twitter and told me about it.https://plus.google.com/102565671074822095382/posts/VxoUmmvtJEp So yeah, Lane 9 was a huge WIN!

So I see Mikitty’s empty queue, along with every other SKE girls’ empty queue in the immediate vicinity. Such a shame. I enter the lane. Immediately Matsumoto Chikako, who was to Mikitty’s right pops up and runs into Mikitty’s lane. I can venture a guess as to what she said to her, and Miki immediately begins craning her neck around the guard to see who is coming. The moment she sees me she waves and loudly yells. “HEY! I REMEMBER YOU!!! MISTER CHRIS!!!” Now this catches Tsuzuki Rika’s attention who is next to Chikako. So now I am having a threeway experience as the two other girls are partcipating. I apologized for not seeing her in so long and that her little white hat was adorable. She thanked me as the other two girls were squeeing away. As I walked away I hear Mikitty again shouting “MISTER CHRIS!! I LOVE YOU MISTER CHRIS!! I NEED YOU MISTER CHRIS!!!” Total win, right? But it gets even better…

With a smile still firmly attached to my face, I notice the three girls’ queues are still empty. I figure I am going to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. So I head back into Miki’s queue. The first one who sees me is Rikachu, who begins jumping up and down in delight and frantically waving to me. I begin pointing back to her which resulted in the most indescribable reaction of joy. This is already hilarious. Chikako is eyeing me with this huge grin on her face. Then Mikkitty gives me a quote for the ages…

“MISTER CHRIS…YOU COME TWICE!!!”

I’m sure I don’t have to tell most of you why I found that hysterically funny. And might I add sexy. But lets keep it clean, since for Miki it was an innocent comment. And I was impressed with how much English she was actually speaking. I told her that I loved her SKE baito episode. She thanked me for watching it. Once again as I walked out the exit I can hear her still exclaiming “THANK YOU MISTER CHRIS! COME SEE ME AGAIN MISTER CHRIS”

I left wishing I had another 10 tickets for Mikitty.  Althou I’m not sure I would be able to contain myself if Mikitty said “Mister Chris, you come five times!!!”  And wait…this was not the only crazy experience I had with the SKE girls. But first…

Tani Marika (Slot 3)

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Now I have met Tani before, but it was only once and a long time ago. That said, I absolutely adore her. If it wasn’t for Wasamin, Tani would quite possibly be my oshimen right now. I get the surpised look and Tani immediately goes into her random English. I immediately chime in “Hello cute face Tani Marika, busu ja nai!” She responds. “You think I’m cute? I think you’re cute! Am I your oshimen?” Now this is a question I do not like lying over. As much as I love Marika, I cannot call her my oshimen. So instead I told her she was my favorite member in SKE. I think that satisfied her. She asked me to come see her again. not a problem as I had a ticket for her in Slot 5. As I walked away down the long exit Tani resumed the random English, filled with “Thank You” and “I love you” and what not. The nice thing was that Marika was much more interactive than before. She was actually listening to me as opposed to the old days when she would just talk at me…

Finally, Slot 5. Oh boy…

I had two tickets for my last slot of the day. One for Tani, and one for Kaotan. And they were right next to each other. This had disaster written all over it. How was I going to navigate this? Especially after my previous experiences with the both of them.

Tani Marika (Slot 5) As I walked down the lane Kaotan is with another fan, but I can see her spying me out of the corner of her eye. I head straight in for Marika and get the same excited reaction as before. I decide to tell her that I bought the AKB49 DVD. She asked if I had seen it (which I had). I told her that she and Kaotan were the best part of the show, and I purposefully said it loudly in hope that Kaotan would hear it. Anyway, Tani was happy with my response. Again, the random English. I shot backwith an obnoxious “Tani Marika…Tani Marika!” which got giggles from the people in Kaotan’s queue. I finally turned and waved at her. I had one ticket left, and I had to go prep.

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Matsumura Kaori (Slot 5) It was Kaotan. And as much as I love her, she can be intimidating as hell. But I was ready. The last time I saw her she asked “Why Why Why! do I like her?” I would begin the handshake by answering that question. The moment I walked in, Kaotan gave me her infamous crossed-arm handshake and I immediately said “Kaotan is so cool!”“Eehhh? Thank you I love you!” was her response. I then told her that I was able to buy her Matsumurabu CD and that the PV is the best. The guard begins pushing me out…

“Chotto Matte!” she says, and she tugs me back over to her. She stubbornly tells the guard that she isn’t finished with me yet. He lets go. She then grabs a pen and asks me to spell my name. I’m thinking “what the hell is this about?”. “Chris?” she asks. All of a sudden I hear my name being chirped from the right over and over.“Chris! Chris!” Tani is now part of this. The guards again begin pushing me out and Kaotan again yells at them to stop. I apologize to the guards and they both say it’s okay, and step back. It was then I knew what Kaotan was up to as I have heard about it before. She was going to give me a present. I said “Oh! Kaotan no famous business caado?” “Hai!”

Just then I hear a third voice chime in “Hello!” from the other booth next to Kaotan. I respond “Hajimemashite Narumi-chan!” Ichino responds “Oh, you know?!?!?”and smiles. By now Kaotan is done and I get my present…

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To the guard’s relief Kaori finally lets me leave. I thank her profusely and she asks me to see her again, which reminds me I have a ticket for Kaotan at the SKE event this week too. So I tell her I will see her on Wednesday. And I leave to a chorus of “Bye Chris!” from both Tani and Kaotan.

Yeah…I love SKE48. Such awesome members!

Aside from those interaction I did have a few other interesting experiences. First with Motomura Aoi’s Seitensai committee who ambushed me to sign a birthday card for her. We had an interesting conversation about DD while I signed it. But this is already too long. They also gave me a 12Byou theater version for my troubles.

Additionally I got swept into the middle of Ikoma Rina’s farewell speech since this was her last event for AKB. I just accidentally happened to be in a good spot when she came out. But the fans were so desperate to get closer As a result I ended up getting pushed further and further away. I finally bailed when I couldn’t even see her anymore.

Oh, and they played he full PV of the new AKB single at the event on Saturday. It was excellent!

That’s all for now. It was a tiring day and afterward I had dinner with a couple of Stage48 users who shall remain nameless :D I need to do some Wasamin solo tour writeups. But first I need sleep.

 
CK in Tokyo
 
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