So this post is going to be a combination of two separate AKB Shamekai events. The first was on February 7th in Chiba, the second a week later in Kanagawa. Ultimately I reserved tickets for four of the events in support of AKB48’s latest album, but in only one event (the last event) did I get a bunch of tickets.
I only had three tickets for the first event. For one, the album’s theater version ain’t cheap. Since I am going to a bunch of these events I wanted to kinda space out my tickets. Of course I have Wasamin tickets for each event. In fact for one of the events in March she is the only member I have tickets for. The only event I have more than just a few is for the one in late March.
My first ticket wasn’t until Slot 6, so I technically didn’t need to be at Makuhari until 4:30pm. However we had a Wasamin Seitensei committee meeting at 2:45, not to mention I wanted to help with the birthday booth. So I got to the venue around 1pm. Wasamin’s booth was over in the graduate section, sandwiched in between Nakky and Umechan. For a while I had the duty of holding up the sign to guide people to the booth. However Umeda’s team was fairly aggressive, and had three people out there completely blocking the Wasabooth. Not to be outdone I moved outside of them. It was fun, and I will probably hep with the booth this weekend too. In the meantime…
I walked around the birthday area looking for members to write cards to. Unfortunately hardly any of the members I really like have birthdays in the Spring. I found the Lemon booth, so there was one. The rest of the time I tried to dodge the other committees, many of which love to get English messages into their book. Normally if someone asks I will go sign a card. In fact at one point I got pulled over to the Jurina booth by a fan who spoke fluent English. So I wished J a happy birthday and congratulated her on her Request Hour ranking.
Later on the Tano fans tried to pull me over to her booth, but this is where I had to draw the line. I have only had a couple of brief encounters with Tanochan. However, I always had the impression that she didn’t like me for some reason. So as nice as her fans were I had to decline. I just have the feeling Yuka wouldn’t want me writing in her birthday book. Anyway, sometime after 4pm I headed down to the “pit” to get my tickets stamped and see which lanes I would be going to. This is when my worst fears were realized…
Yui: Lane 52 No problem, the middle of the hall
Tanamin: Lane 21…
Wasamin: Lane 22 Oh no! They are right next to each other!
Normally I go “Wasa-exclusive” when she is on the floor. The problem was both she and Tanamin were Slot 8 only. So if I was going to see Tanamin it would be while Wasamin was around. In the last five years Wasamin has only once ever seen me in another member lane (ironically it was also Tanamin) and she gave me a sad little frown. But I would worry about that later. After eating a “Karaage Taco” (which for some odd reason was slathered in yellow mustard) I headed for Yui’s lane, which to my surprise was fairly short.
Yokoyama Yui (Slot 6)
As I got close to the front of the queue I noticed Yui looked quite stunning. I mean I have always thought she was really pretty, but the turtleneck sweater with the necklace she was wearing looked very classy. I walked in and as I am saying “sashiburi” she is already asking what pose I want. Unfortunately I hadn’t though of what pose to do so I just blurted out “faiting pose” Okay…
So they took the shot. By the way, since this was my first table and chair experience I ended up in weird angles on every picture (which is why I edited myself out) I really need to figure out how to play that table more to my advantage. Anyway, Yui turned to me and said “sashiburi”, then she began asking me something. However one guard was literally pulling me out of the chair while another was shoving my phone back into my hand. I was barely allowed to turn to say goodbye. This brings me to my little rant, and I have said this before…
To me there is no poorer a value AKB offers than the shamekai events. Especially when it comes to the more popular members. I mean it is such a rushed process. “Is your camera ready?”, “sit down”, “what pose do you want?”, “get out of the chair”, “look at your photo, is it okay?”, “leave!” As far as I am concerned spending that time actually talking to the member is much better time spent. 2-shot events are all about getting a souvenir. So my advice to anyone planning a first trip over is if you want to actually talk to your favorite member choose a handshake event. For the 3000yen you spend for one 2-shot you can get three handshake tickets which will give you plenty of facetime.
I had 2+ hours until my last two tickets, so I went back upstairs to the Wasabooth. I ran into a bunch of overseas fans later on, including @MurasakiSora , @rscl , and @naruse. Finally Slot 8 arrived. Since one of my friends had a Tanamin ticket and the other had a Wasamin ticket we would queue together. This ended up being a godsend. First up, Tanamin…
Tanabe Miku (Slot 8)
Both Wasamin and Tanamin had decent sized queues to start the slot. As I feared, Wasamin’s table had a clear view into Tanamin’s lane. However, my friend is like 6’2″ So I basically hid behind him the entire time. Of course I was still in plain view of all the Wasafans, who were making fun of me.
Meanwhile my friend and I noticed Kobayashi Kana in the next booth over. She had nobody in her queue, and looked completely annoyed with the entire proceedings. It was too bad, because she looked really cute. At one point she left for almost 10 minutes, forcing the couple of fans who eventually arrived to wait for quite a long time. Even when she came back she barely broke a smile. I have a feeling that she is just mentally “done” with this AKB business.
Ultimately I was successful in dodging Wasamin’s glance, and made it to Tanamin’s table. Of course, she always has on something cute and interesting. The first thing she said was “sashiburi”, and then immediately noticed my Wasamin concert shirt. She was like “So you are a Wasamin fan?” I said, “Yes, and so are you since you also went to the concert” She was like “Yeah, I went to the concert too” But before I suggested a pose (I actually had a couple in mind for her, like a “Kaijin” pose, or perhaps a “Beer Drinking” pose) she basically said “Lets do a faiting pose”, and boom, the photo was taken.
I barely had time to look at the camera. The nice thing was that the guards actually let us talk for a few moments in the beginning. Some of the guards are definitely more strict than others. Usually they are more strict in the bigger lines, but it isn’t always the gauge. I have been in really short lines where they push you out quickly too. I grabbed my other friend and we queued up in Wasamin’s line, which was even bigger than before!
Iwasa Misaki (Slot 8)
I was back in Wasamin’s queue, all was right in the world! (And she hadn’t caught me “cheating” on her ) BTW, this was actually Wasamin’s first chance since her concert (and graduation announcement) to talk with her fans in person. Luckily, her guards were giving fans plenty of time to talk with her. She was super-genki, and had a cute conservative outfit on. I eventually made it to the front, and was greeted with “Chris-kun!!!” I told her that I loved her concert so much, and when she cried I had tears as well. I also told her I was impressed with her guitar playing, and that my favorite song of the night was Anko Tsubaki wa Koi no Hana. I suggested she record it some day. She was like “umm, okay” She asked what pose and I suggested the “porori” pose (in reference to Tomonoura Bojou. It’s a running gag she and I have from her release tour) “Porori? Kawaii Chris-san!”
I was able to tell her that I liked her outfit before I was eventually escorted out. Then my friends and I bailed for dinner. The good news was that her line was still really long. In fact it was the longest queue on that side of the hall.
The following weekend I had four tickets. One for Wasamin, as well as my SKE trio of Mikitty, Tani and Kaotan. If nothing else it should be fun tiems! I think this was a day most of the fans were sure to get tickets. After all it was Valentine’s Day! Who wouldn’t want to spend this day with their oshimen? I was no exception.
For this day I had four tickets, one for each slot 5-8. In fact, for each member it was either their last slot of the day or only slot of the day. So there would be no overlapping. Per usual I spent most of the day outside in the birthday/graduation section. It is just too damn hot and humid inside the venue, epecially in the middle of the day when the place is packed. I headed in around 20 minute before slot 5, quickly got my tickets stamped, bought a couple of items from the goods booth. I was ready to go. First up, always a challenge…
Matsumura Kaori (Slot 5)
It’s funny, Kaotan really does like me. But more than that, she LOVES giving me a hard time. She had a fairly long queue, and they had us packed in there quite tight since Dasu’s lane was taking up a lot of space (per usual) In fact, I had a clear site of Dasu’s table and was quickly reminded of how much fun I used to have going to her for handshakes. It has probably been around three years since I last saw her, same with Masanya who was in the lane to my right. I was right behind another foreign fan. Not sure where she was from though. I spent the time in queue trying to take my jacket off since it was sooo hot…
We got to the front of the queue. Kaotan immediately thought the girl and I were friends. We were like “No no, we have never met before!” It was my turn, I was sure to cover up my Wasamin shirt before I headed in…
Kaotan: Nice to meet you!
Me: Nice to meet you??? What the hell?
(I think she was just using the phrase as a greeting. I have met her quite a few times in the past)
Kaotan: Happy Valentines Day!
Me: By the way, I love your “Sashinshuu”
Kaotan: Photobook? Thank you! What kind of pose do you want to do?
Me: How about a Happy Valentine’s Day pose?
Kaotan grabs a little heart balloon and hands it to me. We leaned in holding our props and did the usual hearto pose…
Me: Arigatou Kaori-chan, I will come to see you again.
Kaotan: Thank you…..
(I’m stepping out of the booth)
Kaotan speaking loudly: Nice guy…..
(I’m grabbing my bag and looking at my photo)
Kaotan at the top of her lungs: I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: I LOVE YOU TOO KAORI-CHAN!
Meanwhile, the entire line is cracking up. Not to mention Dasu’s line as well. However I am used to this kind of treatment from Kaotan so it doesn’t phase me nearly as much anymore. So one down, three to go. Meanwhile I went over to Lane 1 to check on my “date” for Slot 6. Since she had taken off sick the previous day I wasn’t sure she was going to make it on Sunday. Luckily her line was open, so I was set…
Tani Marika (Slot 6)
Since Marika was just coming off of being ill I wasn’t sure if we would get the spastically genki Tani that we usually experience. The first thing I noticed was that the same girl from before was also in Tani’s queue. Jeez, we have the same taste! I wonder if I will see her in any other queues? In the meantime I was next to another foreign fan from Thailand. We were talking about our past experiences with Marika. I was telling him that she always gives me a super experience. He said he hadn’t had such luck, and that she always thinks he is from Taiwan. The line wasn’t long when I first queued, but Tani was 20 minutes late. Luckily I had lined up early since the line was really long by this point.
As I got closer to the front, I noticed that Marika wasn’t very loud. I also caught her coughing a couple of times. So she was still bit under the weather. I decided if nothing else I would get her to smile. Soon it was my turn.
Tani: Ah, Wasamin fan!
Me: That’s right, I am a Wasamin fan.
Tani: Yes! I like Wasamin too! (pumps her fists)
Me: Wasamin’s manomane of Marika is great.
Tani: Hai (nodding in acknowledgement), let’s do candy pose.
(most of the girls had prop candy boxes on their tables. She wanted me to hand it to her)
Me: Okay, Choco for Tani! (snap)
Tani: You are from America, right?
Me: Hai, California.
Tani: I remember. See you again?
Me: Of course!
Tani: Thank you!
It wasn’t the high octane Tani I have experienced before, but she is still a sweet girl. I have plenty more opportunites to see her over the next couple of months. Same with Kaotan.
Since there is a long break between Slots 6 and 7, I headed upstairs. I wouldn’t have to come back down for like 2 hours. I passed the time by a) vegging b) hanging out at the Wasabooth c) running into various other fans I know and d) checking out the other birthday booths. And today one particular booth was quite intent on having me sign a card. So I went for it. I was thinking of signing a card for this member anyway. Happy Birthday Nishino Miki!
Yakata Miki (Slot 7)
Aside from Wasamin, this is the member I get the most excited about seeing. She is just so much fun. I had to wait a little while since@Tensai wanted to go in with me and he only had an “open” ticket. It wasn’t until it got close to 7pm that we headed toward Mikitty’s queue. She immediately spotted us hanging out outside the lanes and began yelling to get our attention. At first I thought she already recognized me from over 50 feet away. I soon realized she just got excited to see foreigners…
“My name is Miki!!!!”
“I like movies!!!”
“I love Star Wars”
This was just some of the stuff she was yelling at us. Actually, Miki’s English is pretty damn good. Every time I would point back at her she would jump up and down, scream something else. It was all too comical, and eerily reminiscent of my fateful first encounter with her a few years ago. Eventually a friend from the Umemoto Madoka committee I had seen earlier came over since he had a Mikitty ticket too. He offered to introduce us. I was like “you don’t need to introduce us, she knows who I am” We walked in together. The moment she saw Tensai and I heading her way she got really excited. My friend went in first…
Friend: I brought your friend Chris-san
Miki: Ohhh, Chris!!!!!
Me: Mister Chris!
My friend finished his 2-shot so I headed in. Mikitty is bouncing all over the walls
Me: Miki, long time no see. Happy Valentines Day!
Miki: Happy Valentines Day! (looks at my shirt) Wasamin!
Me: Yes, I went to the Wasamin concert.
Miki: Yatta! What pose shold we do. How about Chocolate?
Me: Okay (She hands me the infamous prop choco box)
Me: Next week I have four tickets for Mikitty!
Miki: Honto?? Yayy!!!
Me: See you next week!!!
I love her! She is so much fun. So cute. So great! I cannot recommend her any more highly for any foreign fan who wants to have a really fun handshake. I can’t wait to see her next week! I had one ticket left. Always end the evening on a high note…
Iwasa Misaki (Slot 8)
I couldn’t wait to see what Wasamin was wearing. I was also excited to ask her about her new perfume she received as a present from Kana the day before. (She had blogged about it the previous evening) I waited for a while, but the line wasn’t getting any shorter so I queued up with the rest of the Wasafaithful. In the meantime Tanamin spots me in Wasamin’s queue and begins waving to me. I felt so bad since I didn’t have a ticket for her. I waved back and smiled, but I felt so sheepish.
(oops, we were forgetting to use our pet names )
Me: What about this new perfume?
(Wasamin leans forward and brushes her hair into my face. We then sit down)
Misaki: What do you think?
(Wasamin almost falls off the chair laughing)
Me: Yes, Wasamin is delicious!
(Wasamin is clapping and laughing, even the guard is chuckling)
Wasamin: I will give you chocolate for Valentine’s Day
(leans forward like she is giving me the choco box) Snap…
Me: Wasamin, I got the new Man With A Mission CD! (Since I know she likes the group too)
Me: It is a good CD!
Wasamin: Arigatou Chris-chan!
(Now I am wondering if she thinks I bought her the CD)
I waited until the end of the slot to see Wasamin off. She waved to us for a while, then began waving at us through Tanamin’s queue. Then she was in Kana’s queue, and finally Komariko. The four of them were all waving to us as they walked backstage. I headed over to the Nakky lane just to see her end of the day sendoff, since it is always such a commotion. Wasamin spotted me over there and started waving to me again. So a small bonus.
The following week was the 42nd single handshake event. It was also the Tokyo stop of Enka Matsuri. I wasn’t going to the concert (saw it in Nagoya) but I did have one cheki-ticket for Wasamin’s post concert event. The question was did I blow off my last 2-3 handshake tickets so I can run back to Tokyo and have a cheki with Wasamin? Wasamin chekis are so much fun. Here are the two I took with her last week in Nagoya…
CK in Tokyo