Archive for the ‘Iwasa Misaki’ Category

Iwasa Misaki, Television Wasamin on NHK’s Utacon (2018/05/22)

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With your hosts Ogo Tomoko and Tanihara Shosuke

I love going to NHK’s TV show recordings when Wasamin performs. I have been to the NHK Kaiyou Concert a couple of times, as well as Music Japan quite a few years ago (where I saw SKE48, SDN48, Perfume, Kara, Speed, Ikimono Gakari, and NEWS, quite the lineup!) This time Wasamin was performing at Utacon, which is more of a mix of pop and traditional music. Tickets for these shows are usually relatively easy to get via the reseller shops, and they are generally pretty cheap. However, I didn’t have to worry about that this time around since one of the Wasafans had an extra ticket and asked if I wanted to come along. Score-a-rooni!

I had a little bit of trouble arranging when he wanted to meet me at the venue. At first he said 2pm, which I thought was really odd. Then he said 4pm, since according to him the show started at 6pm. Okay, I had nothing else to do on Tuesday except study Kanji, so I headed out to Harajuku and to NHK Hall, where he was waiting for me in front of the venue. I found it curious that it was kinda quiet around the hall, and when I looked at his ticket I saw that the show started at 7:15pm, not 6pm. Doors opened at 6:15pm. Why the heck were we here 2 1/2 hours before doors, and 3 1/2 hours before the show?

It turned out that it was his first NHK Hall show, so I guess he was under the impression the earlier you get there, the better off you are. As someone who has been to multiple NHK Hall shows before, I know from experience that this isn’t the case at all. In fact, the best ticket I ever got was when I showed up right as doors opened, and was far back in the queue. Anyhow, there was a small line already, which steadily got bigger as the hours rolled by. The front queue is under a bunch of trees, which was nice since Tokyo is currently experiencing a small heatwave. I spent most of the time playing Pokemon Go! while patiently waiting for 6pm to roll around. (LOL) Finally, at around 6:10, the queue began to move. We were among the first people to get into the venue. And when staff handed us our tickets, my expectations were realized, we got 3rd floor seats, albeit the first row of the third floor, so we at least had an unobstructed view. But you see? We were there 3 1/2 hours early to get nosebleed seats.

The theme of the show was a celebration of Tokyo in the 70’s and 80’s. So most of the songs would be Tokyo-centric. Among the cast were a few 70’s-80’s idols, and a few younger artists. In addition to Wasamin, the cast included…

E-Girls: who performed YMCA.
Hosokawa Takashi: has been on Kohaku 39 times since the mid-70s, and was in one of the famous Tora-san films. In fact they showed a clip from that movie. (I really want to see some of that film series! If you aren’t familiar, HKT48 did a send-up of it during their Spring Tour a couple years ago, with Akiyoshi playing Tora-san!)
Nagayama Yoko: an idol from the 80’s
Oginome Yoko: another 80’s idol
Miyama Hiroshi: A popular enka singer
Nishida Ai and Mori Konomi: who performed a duet.

There were a few other artists, but these were the most notable. Anyway, the director came out at 7:15 along with a few of his assistants, and they spent the 15 minute pre-show going over how the filming works, as well as a couple of key points where were would expected to do audience participation. We practiced our parts a few times before it was finally 7:30 and time for the show to begin….

I’ll spare you too many non-Wasamin related details. Basically the performers sang a bunch of songs related to Tokyo, inter-cut with video scenes of Tokyo in the 70’s and 80’s and old NHK Utacon clips. The main problem for us Wasafans was that aside from the short opening medley, Wasamin was largely absent for the first 2/3 of the concert. She was sitting in a gallery where the interviews take place, but she wasn’t involved in the conversation.


E-Girls

Probably the most awkward part of the show was the transition into E-Girls 2nd performance. Last week Saiji Hideki, who is well-known for his Japanese version of the Village People’s Y.M.C.A., passed away. They did a retrospective of his live on the VTR. It was extremely touching, and a couple people on stage started to tear up, especially Nagayama Yoko who was crying very hard. This directly transitioned into E-Girls, and going from such a depressing moment into such an upbeat and fun song was quite odd. If you have ever heard Casey Kasem’s infamous rant about a dog death dedication, this is exactly what I am referring to. As a former radio host, I am keenly aware of the importance of smooth transitions. This was quite the opposite.

 

Around 45 minutes or so in, it was finally Wasamin’s turn. What she did was kinda different. She and Fukuda Kohei, another performer, both narrated videos about different locales in Japan. Wasamin was talking about Sadogashima, which led into her performing Sado no Ondeko. They had an ‘Oni’ Taiko Drummer on stage too, which was kinda cool. But it was also kind of odd, since the theme of the show was about Tokyo, and most of the performers sang cover songs. Both Wasamin and Fukuda’s performances just seemed kind of tacked on. As cool as her performance was, I would have loved to hear her do something related to the show theme.


Oginome Yoko

Since it was a television show, it ended exactly on schedule. However, they do a couple more non-TV interviews after the show, and we get a couple more performances. Personally, I wanted to get out of there and have dinner, but we had to sit through the new singles of Nishida Ai, Mori Konomi, and Miyama Hiyoshi before our show actually ended.


Wasamin pulling faces with Nishida Ai

Ultimately it is fun to watch these shows being produced for a live presentation, the way the cameramen, directors, and staff work off-camera while the show is going on is just amazing. Granted, I didn’t enjoy this particular show as much because Wasamin was barely in it, but that won’t stop me from going to see these shows in the future if/when the opportunity presents itself. Anyway, I joined a group of Wasafans at a nearby izakaya for a post-show celebration. It was a long-ass day, and I need some rest.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Iwasa Misaki The Iwasa Misaki Fan Club Bus Tour to Shizuoka (2018/05/16)

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I went back and revisited my post last year of Wasamin’s 2017 ‘Valentines Bus Tour’ just to remind myself of what an amazing time it was. Suffice it to say, I was really looking forward to this year’s edition. This year’s event kept with a tradition of moving further and further away from Central Tokyo. The first edition drove to various places around Tokyo, last year was the general Yokohama area, and this year we would be heading 75 miles Southwest of Central Tokyo, to Shizuoka. There we would be visiting the Mishima Sky Walk attraction, enjoying a fabulous lunch, Tea Picking, our traditional shrine visit, as well as all the fun during the bus ride. I’ll tell you right now, this year’s tour was even more special than last year’s, for numerous reasons.

I set two alarms since I didn’t want to oversleep and miss the event. Luckily, I was up at the crack of dawn, and out the door quite early. The event started at 8am in the bus parking lot at Tokyo Station. My first concern was which of the two buses I would be on, since last year I was on Bus #2, in the very back, and it felt like the 2nd bus kind of got a secondary experience. Luckily, I was on Bus #1 this time, albeit in the back row again. Although I had my section to myself, so I could stretch out. The buses were scheduled to leave at 8:30, but Wasamin was ‘fashionably’ a few minutes late. which amused most of the fans.

Bus Ride #1

Lucky Bus #1 got Wasamin on-board first. After a few introductions, where we were given a basic rundown of how the day would unfold, Wasamin had everyone in the bus introduce themselves, and then give some background of how they became a Wasafan, or why they are a fan now. There were 38 fans on each bus, so this took the better part of an hour. In fact, when we reached the mid-point rest area of the drive out, we still had five people left to do the introduction, including myself. (I was last) I essentially told the story about the first time seeing Wasamin perform in the theater in April 2009, and how special I thought she was even from that first encounter. Then I talked about meeting her in New York later that year, and that was how she became my oshimen. I know Wasamin remembers our New York meeting (she has mentioned that she does) but I don’t know if I had ever told her the theater show story before, and how I rushed back to the hotel to figure out who she was, LOL. Anyway, we were then given 15 minutes at the rest area to use the toilet, or whatever.

This was a lively rest area, to say the least. There were lots of food stalls selling melon pan, steamed buns, and meat skewers. Everyone lined up at the various booths to grab a snack, including Wasamin. Wasamin had two photographers filming her every move on this trip, so people at the rest stop began to notice. Everywhere I heard people muttering to one another. “She’s the Enka singer from AKB!” I was so proud of her. She looked so beautiful, and was catching the eye of everyone, yet she is hardly a diva, and is totally comfortable milling around with the fans, and everyone else.


Our one chance to see Mt. Fuji. No worries, I have seen it many many times.

We re-boarded the buses, this time with Wasamin on Bus #2, and proceeded 75 minutes to our next destination. For this part of the ride we were entertained with Wasamusic over the bus sound system.

Mishima Sky Walk

Mishima Sky Walk is essentially a 400 meter long walking bridge over a small valley on the opposite side of Lake Ashi from Hakone. It also provides beautiful views of Mount Fuji on a clear day, which unfortunately this wasn’t. Of course there are also food stalls and gift shops with local products. Wasamin handed each of us our tickets and guidebook, and we proceeded to the bridge entrance where we took a group shot, and then had a Wasamin photo session. The sessions were broken up into four groups, I was in the ‘kiro’ (yellow) group, which usually went second.

At this point I will mention that I kind of have a fear of heights, a concern I mentioned to Wasamin a couple weeks ago. In this case, it’s not that I feared the bridge falling down, it’s that I think I am somehow going to fall over the side. Ultimately, it ended up being quite the pleasant walk, despite the fact that the floor of the bridge was a metal grate, and you could see the valley below under your feet. Since it is a suspension bridge, it sways a bit too. There were a few fans that didn’t cross, and a few others that did, but were petrified the entire way. LOL.

Once across, Wasamin took some photos on the other side. There were food stalls here too, including a guy steam-roasting chestnuts. He saw our large group come across and immediately got to work steaming, but nobody went to his stall. Ultimately Kimura-san and I each bought a bag. Another feature of the Sky Walk is the ‘flower drop’ where you get a small wooden ‘flower’ disc and write a wish on it, then throw it over the side of the bridge. I bought a yellow one, (Wasamin’s color) wrote a small wish for myself, and a small message to Wasamin, and threw mine around mid-way, where the stream passed. When I threw it, it went into a really fast spin, and practically floated to the bottom of the valley, and I am pretty sure it landed in the water, which is what I was aiming for.

We were given discount coupons for the soft cream shop, so a lot of people lined up for that. The rest of us loaded back on to the bus for the next stop. While we were waiting, one of the fans told me he had an extra ticket for Wasamin’s Utacon performance next week, and invited me to come. SCORE! I was about to send a message out to the fans asking if anyone had an extra, so that worked out perfectly!

Soba Lunch

Wasamin was back on our bus for the ride to lunch, which took over 30 minutes to a town called Izunokuni, which is near Atami. The bus had a karaoke system, so Wasamin sang 2 songs for us along the way. First Tokyo no Bus Guide, and then Tegami (The song she sang at her most recent challenge stage) Much to Wasamin’s surprise, our bus guide had never heard the bus guide song before, LOL. The other nice thing was, Wasamin performed the 2nd song at the rear of the bus, so they were really focused on paying attention to everyone this time around.

So lunch…Actually, we were in more of a catering hall, which seems to be a regular stop for Tobu Top Tours, since we weren’t the only tour group there. We could essentially sit wherever we wanted for lunch, and our food was already set at the table, waiting for us to eat. I grabbed a spot at the end of the center table, which ended up being a primo seat later.

Cold soba, tempura, sushi, soup, veggies, and green tea jello. Quite the bounty, eh? The tempura was served with green tea/salt, which from what I understand is a popular local condiment. Everything was delicious, and we all finished rather quickly, which gave us time to go the local gift shop in the regular restaurant, where Wasamin was having lunch with staff. One of the fans, whose name I always forget, came out with an interesting looking bottle. What was it? Unagi Cola??? It has Unagi in it??? I had to try this, so I went inside and bought a bottle.

All the fans were crowding around me. “What is that? Unagi Cola? How does taste?” To be honest, it just tasted like cola. But it ultimately got me a lot of attention, so well worth the purchase. After that we headed inside the dining hall, where we would be getting an impromptu photo session with Wasamin…

 

I strategically placed my Unagi Cola bottle right at the edge of the table. The first person to notice it was the photographer, and then Ichikawa-san (Wasa-manager) who came over to take photos, ask what it tastes like, etc. Wasamin was moving from table to table, posing while asking us about lunch. I got awesome closeups since I was in the first seat. And, I got a special pose…

Yes, that Unagi Cola was a wise purchase indeed…

Tea Picking at Kuraya-Narusawa

A short ride away we arrived at the site of our tea-picking experience. Before leaving the bus we were given a bandanna, and a bag to collect tea leaves. This was also our chance to take 2-shots with Wasamin with her wearing her tea-picking outfit. The tea fields were up on a hill, and had a beautiful view of Fuji…on a clear day. Today was really hazy.


Looking thoroughly confused, not sure which leaves were the right ones…

They didn’t really give us much instruction on tea picking, so I kept asking everyone around me if I was picking correctly, and getting laughed at each time. People were like “What the heck are you picking?” and removing half the leaves from my bag. Ultimately people threw a bunch of handfuls in my bag. I guess I will make some tea with it eventually. To be honest, I was kind of distracted as I had noticed that the property also housed a microbrewery called Hansharo Beer. I was more excited to visit the gift shop than anything else. So I headed back down the hill.

Wow, I would have loved to buy just about everything in that store. They had just about everything tea or wasabi related imaginable. Tea tasting, green tea soft cream, and of course Hansharo Beer! Ultimately I picked up a 4-bottle variety pack, along with a few Wasabi related items. I really wanted to buy the fresh wasabi too, but their graters were kinda pricey, and I had already spent quite a bit, so I passed.

Mishima Taisha

Back to Mishima, where our last ‘event’ would be a visit to a traditional Shinto Shrine to pray for Wasamin and her fans. We did the same thing last year on the tour to Yokohama. Ya know, it is this moment, watching Wasamin praying, that I really get that at the end of the day she’s just a human being with hopes and dreams, just like the rest of us. Anyhow, it was a short ceremony, and we all got a small cup of sake at the end. After a few minutes where everyone bought fortunes and charms, we re-boarded the bus. BTW, my fortune was kinda mediocre. The fans I asked either said “slightly taihen” or “it’s okay” Anyway, I tied it to the wall just the same hoping that it will bring me good luck anyway.

The Ride Home

Once again, Wasamin split the ride home between Bus #1 and #2, we got the first leg. We had been running around 20 minutes late all day, so we would only have a short stop in Ebina for a toilet break, and for Wasamin to switch buses. For starters, Wasamin went around the bus asking various people what they thought of the trip. When she came to me, I told her that I was happy because I had a delicious lunch, bought a lot of omiyage, and got to be with Misaki-chan all day. She asked about the omiyage, and when I showed her the beer she said “You really like beer!” She was referring to the conversation we had a couple weeks ago, when I told her about going to a bunch of Golden Week beer festivals. Wasamin also mentioned to me that she had been reading my twitter updates on the trip all day. Afterwards, she was speaking to the woman who was also in the back of the bus, and sat down in the seat right next to me. My first reaction was to move in order to give her some space. But then I thought “What the heck am I doing? Wasamin sat her cute little booty right down next to me!” So I stayed right where I was.

Next was janken for prizes. She had 10 signed clear files with unique messages, plus a personally signed 2018 Calendar. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but I did come close on the second round of Clear Files, losing on the final round. Misaki-chan rounded out this leg of the trip with more karaoke. Unfortunately a lot of the songs we were requesting (including my request of Niji wo Watatte) weren’t in the system, so Wasamin ended up singing a lot of songs acappella. Finally, as we left the bus we were given a thank you card from Wasamin, as well as Wasa-chocolate (and a gift of green tea from the Tour Company)

For the rest of our bus tour, we were treated to a karaoke performance by our Bus Guide, who was a total doll. Bus #2 got an older guide, we got the cute, idol-level guide. Finally a few fans did Karaoke before we arrived in Tokyo. We all said our goodbyes outside Tokyo Station, and went our separate ways.


Our idol-caliber bus guide

Summary

Chalk it up to another incredible 10-hour experience with my favorite girl in the world. Everything about this event was an upgrade from last year. The bus rides were more evenly distributed, had more activities, and she paid attention to the people in the rear of the bus too. We had more interaction with Wasamin, more photo-ops, and it was a beautiful place to take a bus tour. Wasamin is a wonderful host, and it seemed as if she had as much fun on the tour as we did. I know I had a blast, and I look forward to whatever the next big event is.

Actually, my next ‘big’ Wasamin event is her karaoke party, which is in three weeks. But we also have Utacon next week, Wasamin’s DVD release weekend, and the concert at DMM VR Theater. So lots coming up!

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki/Minyo Girls Joint Mini-Live at Aeon Town Kamisato, Saitama Prefecture. (2018/05/06)

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Part 1 of 2

So I had a change of plans…

Originally I planned to hit Wasamin’s Saturday Event in Yokohama, and skip the Northern Saitama event since 1) Kamisato is friggin’ far from Tokyo, and 2) The Mall is not near the station, and there is no bus that can take you there. However, as I was going through the schedules of the various groups I like, I noticed that Minyo Girls was also performing at Kamisato on Sunday. Ahhhhhh, it’s a dual-live event. That changed everything! Although I did have tentative plans to go to the various Golden Week festivals in Odaiba on Sunday, I decided to skip them since I was getting both Wasamin and the Minyos in one shot.


Minyo Girls

By the way, although I didn’t go, I still have the lowdown on the Yokohama appearance. Wasamin hinted that she would be doing more than the usual four songs at the Yokohama events. Here are the setlists from Saturday…

2:30 Setlist – Yokohama
1. Hatsuzake
2. Koisuru Fortune Cookie (Enka Version)
3. Ihoujin
4. Blue Light Yokohama
5. Kukou
6. Sado no Ondeko

5:30pm Setlist – Yokohama
1. Saba Kaido
2. Heavy Rotation (Enka Version)
3. Toshishita no Otokonoko
4. Niji wo Watatte
5. Yume Shibai
6. Sado no Ondeko

So on Sunday I knew I had a long ride ahead of me, and the first Minyo Girls event started at 11:30am, so I headed to Akabane Station around 8:45am. By the time I arrive there were no Express or Rapid trains leaving until 9;40, so I grabbed some breakfast at the station while I waited. The nice thing, despite the 85 minute ride, is that it was only one train. Or so I thought, I didn’t realize the train split in half around halfway there, and I was in the wrong half of the train, so I had to hoof down the platform to the other side. Aside from that, it was a smooth ride. My next dilemma was how I was going to get to the mall. According to the map, it was a 2.4km walk. Not too bad, except I only had 30 minutes to get there. Luckily, there were a couple of other Minyo fans on the train, and we split a taxi. I made it on time, yatta!

I’m going to skip the Minyo Girls portion of the report, and focus on Wasamin (I will post about the Minyos in their thread) For starters, here are the setlists for Kamisato…

1pm Setlist – Kamisato
1. Saba Kaido
2. Ringo no Uta
3. Shitamachi no Taiyo
4. Sado no Ondeko

4pm Setlist – Kamisato
1. Mujineki
2. Gakusei Jidai
3. Yume Shibai
4. Sado no Ondeko

Kamisato is just below Gunma Prefecture in Northern Saitama. In fact, there were a few big Wasamin fans from Gunma in attendance. I had never met these guys before, but one of them, Tanaka-san seemed to know who I was. He also knew @Tensai from TV. Ultimately, he ended up being my buddy for the day.

During the first performance Wasamin was asking where everyone was from. Some of the locals kept looking at me expecting me to say something, but I kept quiet. I always say now I’m from Itabashi, LOL. Wasamin also forgot her little cheat sheet that she used to talk about her upcoming appearances and stuff, so she had to wing it. Ultimately she told everyone to just check her website, LOL. She also talked about how often she has performed at this mall. For me, it was my first time seeing her here, but according to fans she has performed in Kamisato on six different occasions.

They had a weird system for pre-ordering at the sales desk, although they were offering free shipping. I had already pre-ordered four copies of Minyo Girls’ new single, so I decided to be frugal with Wasamin and skip the Concert DVD preorder. Instead I bought three copies of her 7th single, which afforded me one shamekai, which I use in the first set, and one handshake, which I did in the second set.

Wasamin and I doing one of the poses from her Sado no Ondeko routine, although I have it totally screwed up. Afterwards I told her that I knew from memory all of her promotions that she was supposed to do. However, as I rattled them off I forgot one of them, which she reminded me of. But I think she was impressed that I knew most of them. The TV appearance, the radio show, the upcoming play, the Yokohama concert, and some Karaoke event she is part of. For my handshake she asked me if I enjoyed Minyo Girls, it was just then that she noticed that I was wearing a Minyo Girls T-Shirt. Jeez, Wasamin, I have worn it to your event at least 3-4 times! Ichikawa-san was laughing since she is well aware that I am a Minyo fan. I whispered to her that I also have a Minyo Girls’ Happi coat. Anyway, I told her that I had an extremely fun Golden Week, and told her a little bit about my adventures in Odaiba last week before my time was up. Wasamin was like “too much beer!”

After the event, the fans who drove carpooled some of us back to Jimbohara Station so we didn’t have to take the big walk. Since this was the end of Golden Week, the train was packed with people returning to Tokyo. Suitcases everywhere. It was a local train too, so it took extra long. But I finally made it back to Akabane around 7pm, had dinner, then went home and crashed out!

I’m skipping Wasamin’s two events next weekend. Saturday she is in Shimotsuma, which is on the outskirts of Ibaraki Prefecture, and just too difficult to get to without a car. Sunday she is performing in Akita Prefecture, which is almost to Hokkaido. Not to mention I am going to AKB’s Shamekai event that day anyway. So my next Wasamin encounter will be her Bus Tour on the 16th! After that, just waiting on her concert DVD release week schedule.

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki 7th Single/4th Concert DVD Mini-Live at Elumi-Konosu Mall, Saitama Prefecture (2018/05/04)

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If you look at a map of the major JR Lines from Tokyo through Saitama Prefecture, you will find that almost every station has a big mall either very close to it, or attached to it. I was thinking about this as I was traveling on the Takasaki Line today. There are NINE Stations on that line from Akabane to Jimbohara where Wasamin has performed. If you add the other major trains that travel through that area, you can add around 6 more stops. It is safe to say that Wasamin has heavily promoted herself throughout the main Saitama corridor.

This is not the first time Wasamin has performed at Elumi-Konosu, although it was the first time I had seen her there. The mall is actually connected to Konosu Station. Go out the station gate, and there’s the mall. It wasn’t the most lively mall, although I wouldn’t call it empty either. It just seemed as if there wasn’t much of a selection of shops, so nobody would really go there merely to browse around. The stage setup was in the center court, against the escalators and opposite the food court. A great place to attract passers-by and casual onlookers for her two performances. Most of the locals had camped out the seats early, so many of the Wasafans stood in the back, including myself. I was also happy to see Wild-san, who had made the trip from Shiga Prefecture, and well as Mizuyu-san, who hadn’t been to an event in a while. Here are the setlists…

Setlist 13:00
1. Saba Kaido
2. Tokyo no Bus Girl
3. Kukou
4. Sado no Ondeko

Setlist 15:30
1. Mujineki
2. Ringo no Uta
3. Yume Shibai
4. Sado no Ondeko

The audio system sounded terrible. This was probably another situation where the mall demands the volume be kept at an unreasonable low level. Quite odd since their ads promoted many musical appearances in the coming weeks. But it also sounded quite muddy too. I think it was affecting Wasamin a little bit too as she got a tiny bit pitchy a couple of times, which is unusual for her.

I decided not to do any preordering of the 4th concert DVD today, instead buying CDs. I ultimately went for a 2-shot in the early event, and a handshake in the second.

Wasamin and I doing a pose from Sado no Ondeko. Anyway, I decided to tell Wasamin all about my first ever trip to see a Japanese Major League Baseball Game. I was also relating the story of how I got to go onto the field take a photo with all of the mascots after the game, including the Phillie Phanatic, who was there as a special guest. Wasamin has performed at Maiji-Jingo Stadium before, so she agreed when I said I thought it was a very nice venue.


I took this while in queue for the photo. They are sending me the pic later.

For my second visit I showed her a picture of the mascots. (Not my group shot, they haven’t sent it to me yet) But I wanted to show her the Phillie Phanatic since he looks almost exactly like SLYLY, the mascot of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, who Wasamin has also taken a photo with. Finally, I wanted to confirm the radio show Wasamin was going to be on. I thought I heard her say “Rajio Beverly Hills,” and I was right. When I told her that Beverly Hills is the town I grew up in, she asked me how to pronounce it, which led to the always hilarious Japanese trying to fake an American accent, LOL.


Wasamin and SLYLY back in 2014

Wasamin has performances in Yokohama on Saturday, and back up to Saitama Prefecture on Sunday. Her appearances on Sunday, and the following Saturday in Ibaraki are both at malls in extremely remote locations that are very hard to get to. No train, no direct bus. So I am probably going to skip those. I will probably hit tomorrow’s Yokohama events though. After that, next up is Wasamin’s Bus Tour to Shizuoka. That promises to be a lot of fun!

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki Challenge Stage at Shinseido Kashiwa (2018/05/01)

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I am currently on holiday, which means I can finally go to one of Wasamin’s monthly challenge stages which she holds in Kashiwa every month. But before we get to that, it’s time to flip the Wasa-calendar…

Of all the photos in Wasamin’s 2018 calendar, the Spring photos are my favorites by far. I mean she looks absolutely stunning! Anyway…

It has been a while since I have been to a Wasamin mini-live. Frankly, lately most of them have been way out in the sticks and require at least an hour train ride from Tokyo, sometimes more. In fact, her next few also fall into this category. So I’m not sure how many I will be attending. But I do like to go to her “Challenge Stage” whenever I get the chance, which is like 2-3 times per year since it is held on weekdays around lunch time when I am usually busy.

This is also the beginning of her new concert BluRay/DVD promotion since it comes out in late-May. The gimmick is you can pre-order the concert and get two handshake tickets plus a concert poster. BTW, some of the posters are randomly signed. You can also purchase her latest single for one handshake ticket (plus signboard or sticker) No matter which you buy, you can use two tickets for a shamekai, or one ticket for a handshake. I got to Shinseido around twenty minutes before the event, and filled out a pre-order form. I bought a Blu-Ray, as well as one CD for three tickets. I had a long day ahead of me after the event, so I didn’t open my poster. Instead I put it in my bag and prayed it 1) wouldn’t get bent, and 2) was autographed. By the time I was done, it was almost time for the show. I decided to go to the very back of the viewing area.

At this point, a little old lady with a walker came over and started talking to me. At first I didn’t realize it, but she was speaking English. She was asking me if I was a fan, and how long. After that it was the usual why are you in Japan, etc. etc. I showed her some of my Wasa 2-shots, as well as my Mizumori 2-shot. It was about then that the show started. Here is the setlist…

Setlist
1. Mujineki
2. Tegami (Originally recorded by Yuki Saori 1970)
3. Ringo no Uta
4. Sado no Ondeko

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I am familiar with Yuki Saori since she co-starred in an old NHK Asadora I really like. But it was nice to hear Wasamin perform again. Since the stage area at Shinseido is outside on a heavily walked street, she gets the attention of a lot of passers-by. During the MCs Wasamin was asking who was on vacation for Golden Week, as well as promoting her numerous upcoming TV appearances. Once the show ended, the little old lady said goodbye, but before she left I gave her the copy of Wasamin’s single I had purchased. At first she didn’t accept, until I reminded her I was a Wasafan and already have many many copies, LOL. In the meantime, I noticed that the shop also had an autographed Nogizaka46 poster for their latest release…

I waited a few minutes before lining up. Since there were shamekai, the line was moving quite slowly. I decided to take my shamekai first. I couldn’t decide what to talk to her about first. I had a few things in mind. Eventually it was my turn. Wasamin asked me what pose I wanted to do, I said “Hearto-pose, because I love you”

The moment the shot finished, Wasamin wanted to talk about the Enka Festival in Itabashi. You know, the one where I ended up being the center of attention? BTW, Wasamin thought it was great. I told her it was all Mizumori’s fault, as she was the one who got Higashi’s attention and told him to address me. Wasamin knew I was embarrassed, but she thought the entire exchange was cute and that I should be happy about it. I told her after the show everyone in the audience was calling me by name.

I felt a little queasy, but I decided to requeue and use my second ticket. I asked her about the photo she took in Okinawa in front of the A&W. Did she try the Root Beer? I know a lot of Japanese people hate Root Beer. At first Wasamin was hesitant to answer, and told me to ask her manager. Ichikawa-san said she hated it. Then Wasamin admitted she also hated it, LOL. She assumed i liked it, which I do. I then told her that I am excited about the Bus Tour and Bridge Walk, but I am somewhat afraid of heights. She told me not to worry.

I waited for the end of the event, and then took off for Odaiba. Since it is Golden Week, Odaiba is filled with festivals. There’s Niku-Fes. There is also a Beer & BBQ Festival, which has really great food. Finally my favorite, Oktoberfest, which is a real blast. I headed over for a few beers and some Currywurst, before heading back home. Luckily, my poster survived the entire day, and when I opened it…

Score-a-rooni! My first one too. I’m not sure what percentage of the posters are signed, but it didn’t seem like too many people got signed versions, so it was just my lucky day!

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Nagara Group Enka Festival at Itabashi Cultural Hall (2018/04/18)

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Imagine how excited I was when I found out Wasamin and the rest of the gang from Nagara Pro would be coming to my neighborhood for a big performance. It turns out they make this an annual tradition, traveling to different Tokyo Wards for a performance. This year’s show would be a short distance from my apartment, near my local ward offices. Of course this didn’t get past Wasamin, or the rest of the fans. Wasamin knows I live in Itabashi, and she was counting on me to be there.

This was going to be a really big show. All the Nagara Pro regulars were there; Hikawa Kiyoshi, Mizumori Kaori, Tagawa Toshimi, Yamakawa Yutaka, Fujino Toshie, Hayabusa, and of course Wasamin. The show also featured Sasaki Isao, Billyken, Shiina Sachiko, and Nagara Pro’s new regular performer. Tatsumi Yuuto. As usual, the MC was Nishiyori Higashi.

 

There were two performances scheduled, but I wasn’t sure I could sit through a full Enka show twice in one day, so I opted only for the evening performance, which I applied for via the Wasamin fan club. In the meantime, when I met Mizumori Kaori (Wasamin senpai) in Asakusa a month or so ago I also told her I lived in Itabashi and would be at the show. The only thing left was to get my ticket….

 

BAM! Front row! Right on the aisle too. This was going to be great. Or would it be? Sometimes being the token foreigner and being in a high-visibility seat can come with some interesting interactions and responsibilities. And today, well…let’s start by saying by the end of the show everyone in the 1200 seat hall knew who I was. But I digress….

 

I could almost walk there, but I decided to take the train for convenience sake. I arrived a little early since I had never been there before, and wasn’t sure of the layout. There was already a queue down the side of the building. After grabbing a cup of coffee to wake myself up (I have been sick and on medication the past few days) I queued up. Once inside, it was a madhouse! Per usual, all of the artists had sales tables.  Hayabusa, Billyken, and Wasamin were doing handshakes for people who bought their goods. I saw Wasamin’s sales booth, but didn’t see her. Then I found her all the way at the end. So I doubled back to grab two CDs and handshake tickets, fighting waves of obasans coming in the other direction. I got my CDs, and went back to the handshake table. In the meantime, Hikaru from Hayabusa spotted me and started waving hello. Ya know, they are really nice guys, and I always ignore them at these events…

So I went to see Wasamin, and they were being really generous, giving us about 30-40 seconds per ticket. I welcomed Wasamin to Itabashi. She asked how close my apartment was to the venue (hehe) and I told her two stops away, but very close. I just kept telling her how excited I was that she was performing in Itabashi. She noticed I was sweating, and asked if I was okay. I told her it was because of the crowd of people, which was actually half true. I was also kinda weak from being sick, and all the hustle and bustle in the lobby was getting to me. I told her I had another ticket, and would be back in a minute….

 

I doubled back over to the sales booth, and I found what I was looking for. I always tell Hayabusa that I like their latest single, I should finally pick up a copy, which I did. I went back over to the handshake table, but this time to see Hayabusa. Yamato was first, and I basically told both of them the same thing. I see them all the time, and I never meet them after performances because I am always there to see Wasamin or Minyo Girls, but this time I wanted to say hello to them. Hikaru actually tried speaking some English with me, but he wasn’t very good at it. Also, I wasn’t aware that the third member of Hayabusa retired from the group a few weeks ago. I noticed he was out the last time I saw them at NHK Hall, and then I noticed all their new promotional material only has Hikaru and Yamato on it. Oh well…

After that I went back to use my second Wasamin ticket. She was showing me these honey glazed walnuts she found at a conbini, and asked if I liked them. I told her I did and asked which conbini she got them from, but she couldn’t remember. Then I showed her my ticket, and that I was in the front row. She was very happy for me. I mentioned meeting Hayabusa, and also told her the story about taking a 2-shot with Mizumori-san, but she acted like she already knew, so I guess Mizumori-san told her. I wished her the best and told her to have a great show. I got away from the craziness in the lobby and headed down to my front row seat…


Yep, right against the stage!

It turned out I was sitting next to one of the other Wasafan club members, so that was nice. A few fans came up to me and noticed my Wasamin Happi, most of the crowd were Kiyoshi supporters, but there were patches of supporters for everyone throughout the theater. The show started with a group song and introduction of all the performers. I spied Wasamin staring at me a couple of times, and then Mizumori saw me and gave me a little nod and wave. It was the end of the MC, and all of the sudden Mizumori-san tried to get Higashi-san’s attention, and started pointing to me. Oh jeez….

It’s time for “Look, there’s a foreigner in the audience” Today’s special guest? Me! Yutaka-san, who I think speaks decent English, came to the front of the stage and asked my name. At first he didn’t hear what I said, and then Wasamin blurted out “Chris-san!” Higashi-san then mentioned to Yutaka that he had spoken to me previously, and that I could speak Japanese. Well, that was all fun, but it didn’t end there…

Each performer sang a random song, either an older single, or like in the case of Wasamin, one of her new B-side tracks, Yume Shibai. Kiyoshi, of course, sang his classic Kiyoshi no Zundoko Bushi. After that is was time for the guest performances of Sasaki Isao and Billyken. Isao-san sang his famous theme from Space Battleship Yamato. Next were the long MCs, first Wasamin, Hayabusa, Sachiko-san, and Yuuto. After that it was the big guns. Kiyoshi was wearing an interesting suit, which he described as “Keema Curry.”

Then at one point during the MC, Yutaka again turned to me and said “You understand?” Higashi-san was like, “You okay over there Chris?” Ya know, I didn’t really want to co-star in this show, and of course the fans are having a great time with it. It’s one of those things I will look back on fondly. But in the moment, I was dying. “Just leave me alone!”

The final part of the show was interesting. Each star sang their current single, with the music video playing on the big screen behind them. It’s interesting, since most of the PVs are basically the same. Mainly lots of closeups of the singer, alternating with a picturesque backdrop and an in-studio style backdrop. Only Wasamin’s PV, as well as Kiyoshi’s really seemed to have any directorial or production on them. In fact, I really liked Kiyoshi’s song and PV…

They didn’t play Hayabusa’s Mushi Dance PV I’m guessing because the their member left, instead just projecting their performance on the screen. After one last group song with everyone, including Higashi-san singing, the show was over. As I left I heard my name called by various people about a dozen times or so. And of course the other Wasamin fans were laughing at me. I wanted to join them for beers, but I had to go home and study for final exams.

It was a great show. Being in the first row is really a different experience, even from being in the second row. Unfortunately, they didn’t do their usual “walking around the audience” portion of the show. I was really in a great spot if they had done it, but oh well. And now I really want to see Wasamin too so we can talk about all the attention I got. After all, Wasamin always says that I’m famous. LOL

CK in Tokyo

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Events, HKT48, Iwasa Misaki HKT48 1st Album Shamekai Event at Tokyo Ryutsu Center, Plus a Quick Visit & Photo-op With Wasamin (2018/04/15)

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I have been anticipating these HKT shamekai events for a while now. Although I had heard mixed reviews about the event. As you may have noticed, HKT’s album was coming out right before AKB’s album, which meant that HKT fans would have to double-down on album purchases. Not to mention HKT’s album ‘theater version’ was more expensive than AKB’s. This ultimately negatively impacted HKT’s album sales. I know it affected me, as I originally bought only six cds/tickets, three for each Tokyo event, although I ended up purchasing two more in a later resale round to make eight total.

The other thing I heard was “Well, it’s basically the same as an AKB event.” We’ll see about that.

I had also purchased a ticket for Wasamin’s cheki event in the late afternoon, so the plan was to get out of the HKT event as quickly as possible and then head over to nearby Gotanda to see Wasamin.  I arrived at Ryutsu Center at 11:45, shortly after the beginning of Slot 2. The venue is in the middle of an industrial area without much surrounding it, and you have to take the Tokyo Monorail to get there, which is a slight pain, although it does drop you off right at the entrance of the building. There was a big queue to get in, but it went fairly quickly, a little more than five minutes. It was a strange setup, since the event rooms are extremely small, especially compared to Yokohama and Makuhari. In fact, they couldn’t even fit all the lanes on one floor. Lanes 1-13 were on the first floor, and lanes 14-24 were upstairs on the 2nd floor. LOL. The fan area was tiny too, so most people just went outside when they weren’t doing handshakes. Also, it was hot as hell inside, so I had no desire hanging out in there longer than I had to. I went to my Slot 2 lane, said hello to a couple of fans I knew, and headed in…

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 5) I got a message from a friend that Akiyoshi looked lonely sandwiched between Mikurin and Sakura. I told him I was on the way! As expected, she had no queue, all of her fans were hanging outside the lane. She’s still in a cast and on crutches, so she stayed seated. The neat thing is each lane has a special backdrop that is based on whatever the day’s theme is. Today is “Sports Day.” the girls are also supposed to dress sporty. I waited for two people to go before it was my turn. Yukachan greeted me with a big smile and I gestured toward the food on the table. “Tabetai! Of course, I could have been talking about her. (LOL) She asked what pose, and we did the one I usually do with Maichan.

BTW, we’ll give Yukachan a pass for not dressing ‘sporty’. It’s a really nice pic, right? In fact, the first person I sent this to thought we really took the pic in a bowling alley. Anyway, Yukachan said see you again, but I told her that I only had one ticket for today. I think I disappointed her. :(

I went over to the map to see which lanes my other three tickets were, but I couldn’t find one of the members. Where was she? I double-checked the kanji to make sure I wasn’t overlooking her, and then I saw two members were out for the day, one being Tomonaga Mio. Oh no! I found out she recently had knee surgery, so I don’t know if she will even be back for the next Tokyo shamekai event. It’s times like these when I wish they offered oshimashi. I would’ve happily used the ticket on somebody else. Anyway, I spent the next 90 minutes outside. My plan was to do my one Slot 3 ticket toward the end f the time period, and then prequeue for my Slot 4 ticket since I needed to get out of there ASAP to go to Wasamin’s cheki event. Unfortunately, there were ants everywhere, and at one point I had a couple crawling on me. I was sure to brush them all off before I headed back in for Slot 3…

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 21) My one trip upstairs. Surprisingly, it was much cooler in the upstairs hall than the downstairs, but I think that was mainly because downstairs had all the senbatsu, and was much more crowded. Bibian’s lane was completely empty, and I could see her fiddling with her phone while in her booth. She spotted me coming down the lane and began waving to me. It’s nice when the experience begins early like that. I immediately noticed all the basketballs, and the schoolyard court scene as the backdrop. I asked her if I could pick up one of the balls. It was cool, we both grabbed one…

I think this pic is great. In fact, most everyone I have shown it too has really liked it. It makes me wonder what people were saying about it being “the same as AKB’s shamekai” I think it’s completely different. It’s also fun to play off the backdrop. Bibian asked if she would see me again soon. I wasn’t sure if I had any Bibian tickets coming up. Later I checked, and found I have one in July for the last Jabaja event. So it will be awhile. Oh well…

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 3) I got to the queue early, and maneuvered my way around all the Piichan fans who were waiting to say goodbye to her. I managed to get third in the queue, which was good since the queue got extremely long before the lane opened. I got a peak at the decor when the guard pulled the curtain for a moment. It was darts. Okay, bowling, darts, beer drinking sports, LOL. Maichan had a cute little tennis outfit on. She asked what pose, and I suggested that we pretend we are throwing darts. I didn’t notice that there were actual darts as a prop on the table. To my surprise, Maichan reaches in and hands me one. Really??? With all the caution about weapons? The guard immediately lunges over like “Nooo!!!” Maichan quickly grabbed it back from me. I actually left it resting in my open hand instead of clutching it since I had a feeling the guards would have an issue with this. I started laughing since I found whole exchange to be quite comical.

Ultimately, she was able to hold a dart, while I just had to fake it. No problem. It’s another cute pic. As I left the lane I heard the guards discussing with her about the darts. So I doubt they had that issue anymore. But yeah, interesting prop considering the safety concerns.

Ultimately, I really like the way these photos came out. The whole idea of the backdrops and the themed clothing is a really good one. They should definitely think about doing this again in the future. AKB could even do it.

BTW, the other HKT48 Shamekai event in Tokyo is next month. I was hoping that maybe I would be able to do a makeup for Mio’s tickets, but she might not be back by then. My other four tickets for that event are for Akiyoshi (x2) Maichan, and Rikopi. I’m looking forward to it.  Anyway, I had plenty of time to get to Gotanda to Wasamin’s cheki event, so I didn’t need to rush.

 

Iwasa Misaki ‘Sado no Ondeko’ Cheki Event at Tokuma/Nippon Crown (2018/04/15)

When Ichikawa-san announced the dates for Wasamin’s 7th single chara-ani events, I was disappointed to see that the first date fell on the same day as the HKT48 Shamekai event. I quickly checked the second date, and noticed I had nothing else scheduled, so that was a relief. However, I didn’t have very many HKT tickets, so I compared my HKT schedule with Wasamin’s cheki schedule and figured out that my last HKT ticket was at 2:30, while Wasamin’s 3rd and last cheki slot was at 3:30. So I could definitely make it. In that spirit, I purchased one ticket.

Well, all went according to plan. I finished with HKT at around 2:40, and made it to Wasamin’s event by 3:15. When I got upstairs, they had a booth set up to get additional tickets if you wanted. I never saw them announce this, but that’s ok. I wanted to make the most of the trip over, so I purchased an additional cd/ticket. I went into the pre-queue room, and all the Wasafans noticed that a) They hadn’t seen me in a while, since I have missed the last few Wasamin mini-lives, and b) I was wearing HKT gear (LOL) While we were waiting I showed them my shamekai from the HKT event.

Eventually I was called into the main queue. In the meantime I took off my HKT jersey. Sasou-san saw me peaking from around the corner and started laughing. Wasamin eventually saw me and exclaimed ‘KURISUUUU!!!” with kind of a crying face, indicating to me that she missed me, and perhaps wondered where I had been. I immediately noticed she was wearing the dress from her Ebisu Garden Hall concert., and she had on sexy red heels. She asked if I wanted to take a full body shot, but I said the face and torso were fine. I got two pics…

I got most of the dress anyway. Sasou-san is a pro at taking chekis. In the meantime, I was telling her about the big paper that I had to write tonight, and that I also had to write an essay in Japanese. She asked what the essay was about, and then asked if she would be seeing me again soon. (Actually, I didn’t mean to miss a bunch of events, it’s just that her events recently have either conflicted with the AKB handshake events, or have been very far away. Admittedly, I missed one because I had a hangover.) I reminded her that I would see her on Wednesday since she is performing very close to where I live. She was like, “Oh yeah Itabashi!”

And with that I took off. I rushed home to start my paper, but instead I am writing this report. :fp: I’ll get it all done one way or another.

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki Wasamin’s Mini-Live in Ebina, plus a funny little story (2018/03/10)

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So this is essentially a report about Wasamin’s Event in Kanagawa Prefecture today.  But first, last month I wrote a post about Wasamin’s pre-concert party, where I mentioned giving her a birthday gift…

“After that it was time for our promised 2-shots. This would also be my chance to give Wasamin her birthday present. I asked Ichikawa-san, her manager if it was okay to give her a gift today, and she said no problem. I always have trouble deciding what I want to give her. I settled on a gift box of soaps and bath salts from Lush Cosmetics.”

 

And the other day Wasamin tweeted this…


https://twitter.com/wasaminnn/status/970299888264142848

Wasamin tweeting about using bubble bath and bath salts she received as a gift. Could it be???

In all honesty, bath salts are a popular gift, and LUSH is a popular place to buy gifts since they create very nice gift boxes.. That said, I’d like to believe that is my present she is using. I know she likes LUSH products since she has mentioned it in the past. I’m debating about asking her.

It’s funny though. A few years ago I gave her this big brown scarf/shawl as a gift. And I have occasionally seen her post photos with her wearing something very similar. I have always wondered if it was the scarf I gave her.

Anyway, on with the performance….

Iwasa Misaki ‘Sado no Ondeko” Mini Live & Handshake/2-Shot Event @ Lalaport Ebina (2017/03/10)

 

One week after the big push for the new single, Wasamin was back at it with an event out in Kanagawa Prefecture, not too far from Atsugi Airbase. In fact, going to Ebina brings back memories, since this is also the town where Wasamin had her Christmas Eve Dinner Show back in 2016. Such an awesome memory.

I debated whether I wanted to trek all the way out to this event. But I really have nothing else to do this weekend, so I decided to go for it. I got to Ebina 90 minutes early, with the idea that I would enjoy a nice lunch before the event. However, I often run into this problem any time I go to a huge mall in a relatively small town. It seems like the entire city population heads to the mall on the weekend, which makes the mall insanely crowded. Moreover, it is nearly impossible to get a table anywhere. In the restaurants, in the food court, it is insane. I took a number at the Kaitenzushi, and after waiting 40 minutes I gave up. I ultimately had a Subway Sub for lunch, and even that restaurant was packed!

The event was actually being held inside the small music shop in the mall, Vanda Records. I had never heard of this chain before. They seem to have a lot of shops in Hokkaido. They had a stage setup just inside the entrance, with a few chairs and a small standing area. However, a lot of people watched the event from outside the shop, since like most mall shops it had an open front. I was in the standing section for both events, sporting my Wasa-Happi. Here are the setlists…

1pm Setlist
1. Saba Kaido
2. Blue Light Yokohama
3. Kukou
4. Sado no Ondeko

3pm Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Akai Sweet Pea
3. Yume Shibai
4. Sado no Ondeko

Wow, I don’t remember the last time we heard Wasamin perform Akai Sweet Pea. According to Wasamin, it was by request of her manager. Also, it seems as if Wasamin likes to perform Blue Light Yokohama whenever she’s in Kanagawa Prefecture, for obvious reasons. She was once again wearing her new Blue Happi Coat, which she has pretty much worn consistently throughout the 7th single campaign. She also spent some time promoting that television show she did with Mizumori Kaori, which I guess will be broadcast relatively soon.

They were still offering the 2-shot if you used two tickets. I had a total of three for the two events, so I decided to do the 2-shot early…

They gave me a little extra time to talk with Wasamin, so I discussed her SHOWROOM from the previous evening. Actually, I only watched half of it, but I saw when she did a drawing of an Oni. I told her my favorite was the Oni’s surf shorts, and I called him “Surfing Oni,” which got a laugh.

In-between performances I hung out in the Tully’s, one of the few places you could find a seat. I also did a little shopping. And since White Day is coming up, I decided to pick something up for Wasamin. I found this cute little set of gourmet cakes, which looked good. I also bought a smaller set for myself, and they are very tasty. Anyway, I was excited to have a gift for Wasamin…

It was odd, when the 2nd handshake event started, nobody seemed to want to line up. So after two people, the line was completely empty. Heck, I’ll go! So I went up with my present, and wished Wasamin a happy “White Day” I asked her if this was the correct custom, and she asked “Do they have White Day in California?” To which I replied “No, just Valentine’s Day.” So she asked me what you give on Valentines, and I said flowers or Chocolate. But I pointed out that my gift was cake. I’m sure she will enjoy it. I liked mine.

So it was nice to spend a Saturday afternoon with Wasamin. She has another event next Saturday as well in Saitama. I’m debating whether or not I want to go. It’s actually not far from my apartment, train-wise. But it is one of those malls that isn’t close to the train station, so you have to find a bus or taxi to ultimately get there. So we’ll see.

CK in Tokyo

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Iwasa Misaki, New Release Iwasa Misaki 7th Single ‘Sado no Ondeko’ Release Week FINAL @ Ito-Yokado Higashi-Yamatoshi, West Tokyo (2018/03/04)

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Yeah, I knew this would end up being a crazy day. For Wasamin’s release week, she performed in a few ‘off the beaten path’ areas on the outskirts of the Kanto District. The final event was no exception, out in the burbs of Western Tokyo. For me it was about an hour ride, and then about a 15-minute walk to the mall. I got there relatively early, but the place was already bustling.

Wasafans have made a tradition of doing one last big push on the final day. There were two performances, each followed by a handshake/2-shot event. The last event went for over three hours. There were a few fans with over a hundred tickets. Personally, I considered leaving since I did have work to do, and I was really tired, but I held on to the end. Here is the early setlist…

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

Wasamin was again wearing her new, personally designed Kimono, which you can see in the two shamekai. BTW, I was sporting my newly signed Wasa-Happi coat, as well as an Oni mask I picked up in Asakusa last week. I managed to get quite a few laughs from the fans AND the passing locals. I purchased five copies, leaving the option to purchase more later if I wanted to. If I wanted to do a shamekai, it would cost two tickets. A handshake was one ticket, and they were doing the special prize giveaway. For my first handshake, I chose the shamekai…

I’m actually not the first person to bring an Oni mask to the event. I couple fans brought them during the preorder events. But since I brought it, I figured I had to use it in the photo, right? Wasamin asked me where I got it, and when I bought it. I explained to her that I picked it up when I went to get my CDs from Yoro-do.

After my handshake, I drew two tickets. They were both losers. However, if you had 10 losing draws, you could get a Wasamin pin. I had eight so far, and I had three handshake tickets left. If I got two losing tickets out of those, I would get a pin. However, I was saving my three tickets for the late event. In the meantime, I grabbed some Tempura and cold Udon for lunch.

3:30 Setlist
1. Hatsuzake
2. Koisuru Fortune Cookie (Enka ver.)
3. Yume Shibai
4. Sado no Ondeko

I was able to nab a front and enter seat for the late performance, so I had a nice view. Sasou-san was taking photos of the audience, so I kept my Oni mask on for much of the performance. However, I didn’t want to make Wasamin laugh. She smiled at me a few times.

I waited a little bit to queue up in the handshake line. For this 2-shot, I decided we could hold up my Happi coat. Most fans who get their coats signed do a ‘signed Happi’ shamekai, and some do it the way I do it. Others do it with their back to the camera.

After the photo, I asked Wasamin if she noticed my hair. She was like “What, huh??” In the meantime, Wasamin’s manager is totally acknowledging my haircut. I finally pointed to my head, and said “Kami???” “Doko???” She burst out laughing at that. I can’t believe she didn’t notice that I buzzed most of my hair off, LOL. And of course I got to draw two more tickets. Hey Hey!!! A winner…

I got the autographed poster, which I was extremely happy about. The only other prize that I would really want aside from the two I had won this week was the signed CD. I had one ticket left. I had decided that if I didn’t win a prize, it would be my last ticket. If I did win a prize, I would purchase another CD. Eventually I queued up. I decided to talk to Wasamin about the DVD portion of the single, which I had watched over the weekend.

BTW, the ‘making of’ video is very nice. It starts with her ferry ride to the island, followed by a pre-recording dinner. Wasamin looked adorable, and was scarfing down food. She also visited some sort of aquarium. It was very low-key, with various fish in tanks. Wasamin has fun scaring the squid into squirting ink. Anyway, if you pick up the Limited Version, it is worth the watch!

I told Wasamin that I enjoyed it, and I would love to eat at that restaurant. I lost the last draw, which meant I had enough to get one of the Wasamin pins. The one I draw isn’t a photo of her, but a drawing she did of an elephant, LOL. Since I got my pin, I decided that was enough for today. What I didn’t know was that the handshake event would go on for another two hours or so. I contemplated getting more tickets, but ultimately just ended up watching people circle the queue. And it was a good thing that I stayed, since one of the fans reminded me that the deadline to send in the postcards for the single prizes is Tuesday. I thought it was mid-month. So I spent most of this evening filling out postcards so I can get them in the post box by tomorrow. The Grand Prize is a BBQ Party, 2nd Prize is the Karaoke Party, and the 3rd Prize is a personalized and signed poster. I already have a signed poster, and last year’s BBQ Party was awesome. So I put most of my tickets in for that, and a few for the Karaoke party, just in case.

And that was it. A group of us headed to Saizeriya for a post-show dinner, before heading back to Central Tokyo. The next event is next weekend in Kanagawa Prefecture, and then the following weekend in Saitama. Hopefully Wasamin will get a little break in the next two weeks.

Oh, and Sado no Ondeko has been hovering around the 10th Spot on Oricon for the entire week, so I am guessing we will see a Top 10 finish for the week. What I am really interested in is how the single fared compared to her previous releases.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Iwasa Misaki, New Release Iwasa Misaki 7th Single Sado no Ondeko Release Week Festivities (2018/02/24-2018/03/04)

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I remember during Wasamin’s early singles, I would make it a point to attend every single release week event. Of course this was back when I was merely visiting Japan, and had a railpass that enabled me to travel far distances more easily. My how things have changed…

Wasamin’s final big push for her new single started last weekend, with events at DynaCity Odawara, and at Aeontown Kamisato, which is in Northern Saitama Prefecture, almost to Gunma Prefecture. I had already planned and bought a ticket for a concert on Sunday, so that was out. And then I won cancel machi for AKB48 on Saturday. It was a tough decision, since I make it a personal rule to never skip out on any AKB48 Theater win, even a cancel machi. As a result, I ended up not seeing Wasamin the entire weekend. Then on Monday, I missed her furage event at Shibuya Tsutaya since I had two mid-term exams to study for. Those exams also caused me to miss her Tuesday matinee event in Asakusa. It wasn’t until Tuesday night that I would finally be able to attend a release event. But first…


(BTW, this stack has doubled in size since I took this pic)

Wasamin has been doing preorder events around Tokyo for pretty much the last two months. When I attend the events, I usually choose the ‘pick up’ option, instead of paying for shipping at each venue. Since I had five hours to kill before Wasamin’s release event at Osaki Gate City, I decided to use the afternoon for a whirlwind trip around Tokyo picking up various preorders. And what a trip it was. Here was the itinerary….

Shirokane-Takanawa Station (starting point)
Tokyo Metro Namboku Line…
JR Yamanote Line
TWTR Rinkai Line (33 minute ride in total)

Tokyo Teleport Station (CD pickup at Diver City)
Yurikamome Line (16 minutes)
Toyosu Station (CD Pickup at Lalaport Toyosu)
Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line (25 minutes)
Ikebukuro Station (CD Pickup at 2 locations, on opposite sides of Ikebukuro)
JR Yamanote Line
JR Sobu Line (14 minute ride in total)

Nakano Station (CD Pickup at Nakano Broadway)
JR Chuo Line (4 minutes)
Shinjuku Station (CD pickup at Tower Shinjuku)
JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line (12 minutes)
Osaki Station (Wasamin Release event, and CD pickup)
JR Saikyo Line
Toei Mita Line (28 minute ride in total)

HOME!

Over 2 hours of train time, on ten different lines!  That doesn’t include the walk time.  I was able to hit all but two of the shops that I has preorder pickups, and ultimately had around 16 CDs stuffed into my bag. (along with my school books) I made it to Wasamin’s event with around 30 minutes to spare…

Release Day Press Event at Osaki Gate City (2018/02/27)

This area is a relatively new development, built onto the South End of Osaki Station. It is a beautiful office complex/restaurant and shopping complex. Anyway, as I came down the escalator I saw the rows of cameras positioned opposite the stage, as well as the huge stage backdrop promoting Wasamin’s single. This is a bustling mall, with lots of restaurants positioned all around the atrium, so the event promised to draw plenty of onlookers who would be passing by. I immediately went to the CD booth and purchased three copies of the new single, and grabbed a seat in the third row. In the meantime, Nishiyori Higashi, NagaraPro’s emcee, was warming up the crowd. He asked us not to use lightsticks, and then tested our cheering to see how loud we would echo in the venue. Ultimately it was decided that calls and cheers were okay.


Nishiyori Higashi

Then Higashi-san turned to me and asked where I was from, which I thought was slightly odd since by now I have seen him enough for him to know I probably live in Tokyo. After I told him I was an American, a few minutes later he turned back to me and acknowledged that he was pretty sure I lived in Japan, and asked where. When I said Tokyo, he was like “Yeah, there are like 23 wards in Tokyo, which one?” When I said Itabashi, he was amused that someone would come from America to live in Itabashi, LOL. After all that, it was finally time for the event. Here is the setlist…

Setlist 18:00
1. Saba Kaido
2. Yume Shibai
3. Toshishita no Otokonoko
4. Sado no Ondeko

Also, her matinee setlist, which I didn’t attend…

Setlist 13:00
1. Hatsuzake
2. Shitamachi no Taiyo
3. Nora
4. Sado no Ondeko

Wasamin was wearing a new blue Kimono, which was made especially for her. The event itself was extra long since 1) Higashi-san was emceeing, and 2) there was a section reserved for press photography. In fact, the press cameras were moving all over the venue recording and photographing the event. (I looked for footage in YouTube, but haven’t found any yet) It was also announced that her fourth concert DVD/BluRay is in the works, which was expected. It was a lot of fun watching Wasamin interact with the photographers. It reminded me of her old AKB days, and the way she can effortlessly shift from pose to pose. One funny moment, when Wasamin announced that she was going to sing Yume Shibai, they accidentally played Shitamachi no Taiyou. Wasamin looked confused for a second, then started laughing. Ultimately, they turned it into a promotion since both songs are on the new single. After Wasamin disappeared for around 30 minutes for press interviews, she came back out for the handshake/2-shot portion of the event.


Signboard and sticker bonuses

Yes, they were offering a shamekai option for release week. They were also doing a drawing for prizes, where you could win either 1) Your CD signed, 2) Personal item signed, 3) Release poster, or 4) signed 1-shot cheki. I’ll tell you right off the bat that I got skunked on prizes, although my friend and fellow Wasafan Andy-san won. It was his first Wasamin event in almost four years, I was so happy to see him. As for the 2-shot, you simply needed to use two tickets, which was easier than last year, where you had to buy one of each version for the 2-shot. Oh, and while I was waiting in line, Higashi-san was standing off to the side, so I went over to him and told him that I was really surprised to see him sing at NHK Hall last week, and that he was a surprisingly good singer. He laughed, shook my hand, and thanked me. Meanwhile…

Basically, for my two trips to see Wasamin I was telling her about my experience at Enka Matsuri last week, and that I had a prefect seat and got to meet all of the big stars. I also told her how Mizumori-san gave me total kami-taiyo treatment, and was trying to speak English with me. Wasamin was laughing, saying that it is so like her to do that, but she was also laughing at my Japanese. It’s odd, when I mention the other Enka singers, for some strange reason I always forget to add an honorific when saying Mizumori-san’s name. I use them for everyone else (Kiyoshi-san, Toshimi-san), but I always just say “Mizumori.” Anyway, Wasamin thought it was kinda funny.

The 2 1/2 hour event finally ended, and it was late. I needed to go home and do some reading. I had another ‘date’ with Wasamin tomorrow night…

Sado no Ondeko Release Event at Tower Vivre, Yokohama (2018/02/28)

When I left for the day, I almost forgot to grab my Wasamin Happi Coat. I hate stuffing it into an already semi-full bag, but I wanted to have it in the off-chance I won a prize at the event. Anyway, I was off at 4:45, and it is an easy trip down to Yokohama from Azabu, so I arrived in Yokohama two hours early. After spending an hour at 82 Ale House for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, I headed over to Tower records. There were only a couple of people there, so I was able to buy my CDs and get a spot right in front. It was 40 minutes before the show. As they were doing the pre-show instructions and promotions, Wasamin sneaked up onto the stage while we were looking the other way, LOL. Here is the show setlist…

Setlist 19:30
1. Hatsuzake
2. Blue Light Yokohama
3. Shitamachi no Taiyou
4. Sado no Ondeko

And for those keeping score, here is her matinee setlist from her Koiwa event, which I didn’t attend..

Setlist 14:00
1. Saba Kaido
2. Gakusei Jidai
3. Kukou
4. Sado no Ondeko

It isn’t often that I am front and center for Wasamin events, but it is fun to be two feet away from her while she performs. During her performance of Sado no Ondeko, I was trying to mimic some of her hand gestures. There is also a ‘call’ portion during the instrumental part where she does various ‘oni’ poses. She was again wearing her new blue kimono, which I got a nice look at. Wasamin was commenting how she knows many of her fans do work, and can’t make the matinee shows, so she was thankful people came out after work.

Once again, the 2-shot option, as well as the prize option were on the table. I also asked about the stamp card promotion, which ended. I am a card short for getting the bag, but Ichikawa-san said it was okay. They also have another prize where if you have 10 losing draws you can get a Wasamin pin as a consolation prize. Like the previous day, I had three tickets, and planned to do one 2-shot and one handshake…

And whaddya know, I won the signed personal item prize. FINALLY, I was going to have my Happi coat signed!!! But I would have to wait until the end of the event for that. For my first visit I was telling Wasamin about seeing Minyo Girls perform recently, and a few of the songs they sang were also in Wasamin’s catalog. (Momen no Handkerchief, Shochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu, Valentine Kiss) Wasamin was surprised to hear this. I told her that Yuua-chan (from Minyo Girls) was also surprised when I mentioned it to her. Oh, and we sang a few bars of Sochuu Omimai together.  Later, we talked about the hand motions, as she said she was watching me try to to them. I told her that it is because I have idol fan roots, LOL.


(I’m in dire need of a haircut)

And here is my signed Happi! I have leveled up, and am now among those with a signed version. I can’t tell you how happy I am about this!


I even got a special Wasamin ‘neko’ drawing!

Wasamin flew to Fukuoka this morning, and will be doing appearances in Tenjin and Osaka, as well as the last date of the Nagara Pro tour, before coming back for one final event on Sunday in Western Tokyo. I’m sure the Wasafans will be out in full force for this one!

Note: Sado no Ondeko debuted at #2 on the Oricon pop chart (behind Arashi) and dropped to #14 today. Not a bad start at all!

CK in Tokyo

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