Archive for the ‘Concerts’ Category

Concerts, Minyo Girls An Afternoon with Minyo Girls at Ueno Park (Yes, Idols Do Check Out Their Fans’Twitter) (2017/08/13)

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This worked into being a perfect day.  I have mentioned on social media that the one thing that makes the sweaty, sticky Tokyo Summer tolerable is all of the Summer festivals.  Like the state and county fairs in America, they are filled with fun, food, and great music.  So when I was going over the schedules of my favorite idol groups this week, I noticed that Minyo Girls would be playing a festival in Ueno Park this weekend.  For me, Summer Festivals + Idols = super-fun tiems.  So Sunday morning I headed to Ueno Park…

As expected, the holiday weekend drew a huge crowd to Ueno Park for picnics, the zoo, the museum, and of course this event, which was the Pakistan & Japan Friendship Festival.  It was the usual festival atmosphere, with tons of booths filled with festival food, drink, crafts, including many Middle Eastern themed dishes.  There was also a wall to wall entertainment schedule of both Japanese and Pakistani artists.  And of course there were plenty of idols on the schedule as well, including P.IDL, Chu-Bit, Banzai Japan, and Caprice.  Minyo Girls were on the Sunday schedule, with two performances in the late morning and early afternoon.

Seven of the ten Minyo Girls were at the event.  Notable missing were three of the youngest members, Matsuri, Yutori, and Yua, who is arguably my favorite member.  But no matter, my other favorite member, Miyabi, was there, and given the lack of competition she was definitely fishing me a bit, but I will talk about that later.  As I have mentioned before on this blog, Minyo Girls’ song catalog has become a bit more “idol-ish” after their early stuff was a lot more traditional and folk-y.  For these two setlists, they were singing both kinds of songs.  BTW, the nice thing is that Minyo Girls does allow fans to take photos and film, so both performances are on YouTube.  Here ya go…


 

And here are a few photos I took at the event.  I stood at opposite sides for the performances, so you get both aspects of the show.  And of course I try to get a few shots focused on Miyabi.

 


From the first performance


From the second performance


Miyabi

After the first performance, I was trying to decide what I wanted to buy.  Pretty much everything they had was either 2000 or 3000 yen, and came with a ticket.  For one ticket you could either get a signed cheki, shamekai, or something signed.  For two tickets you could take a group shamekai, which is something I like to do with this group.  The only issue is that I already have multiple copies of all their EPs, so what would I get?  At the end of the day I decided on their second EP, Minyo Girls II, since it is my favorite, and I think I have the fewest copies.  And since I was sweaty, I got their oshi towel.  I decided to take my group shamekai, and Miyabi actually asked to be up front with me.  You see?  Fishing…LOL.


Yeah, the sun was irritating my eyes, which is why they are technically closed

Leaning in, like “this is MY fan!”  These girls learn the art of being an idol very young, don’t they.  But I do like Miyabi, and she was very talkative with me today. Asking me where I was from, how long I have lived in Tokyo, and whatnot.

I should point out, that with the absence of Yutori and Yua, most of the members I interact with were absent.  In fact I think a couple of them didn’t really recognize me from past shows, since I noticed Izumi came up to me like I had never seen the group before and handed me flyers.  But once I put my Happi coat on, they knew I was a fan.  Anyhow, for the second post-performance event, I had decided I would do a signed cheki with Miyabi, and I was trying to decide between their new penlight, which was 3000 yen, or their sensu (folding fan), which was 2000.  Meanwhile, Fuu-chan kept telling me to line up for the cheki, but I didn’t want to be first in line.  I think she was getting frustrated with me, but Kaku was just laughing. (BTW, Kaku was engaging me quite a bit too throughout the day)  So after buying my sensu, I lined up third to see Miyabi, and get my cheki…

Now the funny part was when she signed the cheki she asked me if should sign it to “CK”. The interesting thing is a) I have never told her my name, furthermore in person I do not use my online nicks (CK, Cristafari) So I was puzzled for a second how she came up with “CK”, then of course I remembered that idols read twitter, and that IS my twitter handle. So I asked her if she looked at my Twitter, which she admitted. LOL. I told her she could call me Chris from now on.  But check the top of the cheki, LOL.  She is the first idol EVER to call me by that nickname!

 

After my cheki, I was totally parched (and a bit sunburned) so I purchased an orange smoothie, before finally heading back to Ueno Station, and ultimately back home.  But it was a fun time.  I got to see TWO performances, and Minyo Girls seem to be doing a lot more activities lately, including one-man lives, so I’m sure I will be seeing a lot more of them in the near future.

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Pop Idols, Tokyo CLEARS, Yuki Himeri Tokyo CLEARS’ New Home Base, No Plan’s Free Live, and a Bunch of Other Cute Idols

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Vacation Starto!

Yes, I finally completed all of my coursework for the Summer semester, which means I will be graduating from the school I am currently attending with an Associates degree, and moving on to a different school to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree, which is another hurdle toward living in Japan.  However, this will be a short vacation, as orientation for the new University I am attending will begin the third week in August.  In the meantime, I have a bunch of free time, and what better way to get it started than by attending a few idol events.  First up, Tokyo CLEARS…

When Tokyo CLEARS announced that they will be doing a monthly show in Meguro, I promised Riochi that I would attend the first event.  I always do my best to keep the promises I make to idols, so on Wednesday afternoon I headed out to Meguro for the show.

Meguro Rockmayan is your typical little music theater, located in a basement underneath a couple of restaurants.  Actually, this is not your random club after all, as the displays on the hallway walls have signboards from lots of now famous Japanese rock bands.  Among them were Dir en Grey, Glay.  So pretty cool, especially for a dingy little club that could probably fit a couple hundred people at the most.

In addition to Tokyo CLEARS, they announced there would also be guest artists performing at their monthly event.  Gunma CLEARS was there, which was no surprise since the CLEARS sister groups often perform together.  I had never heard of the other two groups.  The first was a trio called expiece (group homepage), who had a cute center girl.

The other group was called Ikoku no Palpitante (group homepage), which I actually really liked.  All of the members were cute, they had a gothic lolita image, and they were extremely fun to watch.  In fact all of them reminded me of 48-group girls for some reason.  The lead singer looked kinda like Ishida Anna, they had a tall girl who looked a lot like Yukirin, a young and cute redhead who was like a baby-Tanamin, and then one girl who I guess was a trainee?  She looked like Naopon from HKT.  The other regular member is like the moodmaker of the group.

A few cool aspects of their show, the trainee member spent the entire time working among the crowd, getting them to cheer, do calls, etc.  In fact, one of the other members jumped into the crowd as well.  They also had one sing where the girls draw sticks in the middle of the song to decide who sings the big solo part.  And, they hold up signs with their names, so if you want to cheer for a member, and don’t know their name…Anyway, here is a video of them in action…

Of course I was there to see Rion, so my focus was on Tokyo CLEARS.  They opened the show with one song, after which the all the groups came on stage to play some kind of “Telephone charades” game.  It’s when the first person gets a word or phrase, and then acts it out to the next girl, all the way to the end then the last member guesses what it is.  I was in the front row, and for the second one Rion asked me if I could read the kanji (I actually knew the second kanji, but not the first one)  However, when Ruka (from CLEARS) acted it out, I knew exactly what it was, so I blurted out to Rion that I knew.  (It was Sadako from The Ring)  However, what was even funnier was the next game, where somehow the girls interpreted the phrase as “Rion taking a stinky shit”  which of course wasn’t the right answer.

The supporting groups got 15-20 minute sets, while TC’s set was at least 30, their opening song is one of my favorites, and is one of the B-sides from their most recent single, called “Fuite Fuite”  It has a fun dance that the fans get to participate in as well.  Oh, and as part of the fun, the members drew on each other’s faces, which made for some interesting chekis.


Rion, and Sayuri

You could tell that Sayuri loved the artwork on her face, as she kept saying “Open eye, close eye!” to me.  Rion, didn’t believe me when I said her artwork was cute too.  But I told her that I was happy to be at their first performance at this club, and that my new school was very close by, so it will be easy for me to see them perform there.

CLEARS’ chekis are a little pricey, and as a result I decided not to do anything with the Palpitante group.  As much as I liked them overall, there wasn’t one particular member who stood out to me.  I mean they all stood out in some way or another, which I guess makes me a Palpitante MD.

NO PLAN

Fast forward to Thursday.  I had an appointment in Shinjuku in the afternoon, and of all the groups I like, the only one playing that day was No Plan, which features one of my favorite idols, Yuki Himeri, who used to be in Alice Project.  They were headlining four groups at Yoyogi Muse, which is a music school near the JR Yoyogi Station.  The best part was, this was a FREE live.  I love those!

Himeri recently announced that she would be graduating from No Plan this month, and I am not sure what she will be up to after that, aside from the occasional gravure work she does.  So I want to see her as much as I can before she leaves the group.  BTW, although I have attended a No Plan meet and greet one before at Shinjuku ReNY, I had never seen them perform before.  So I was looking forward to that as well.  However, I would have to sit through the first three acts before I got to see Himeri…

Doors opened a little after 5pm, this was going to be an early show.  Most of the fans wanted to stand in the back where they could move around more, so I took a seat in the front row.  Why they had chairs set up, I do not know.  Personally, I like it better when it is all standing. But whatever.  The show started a few minutes late, leading off with a duo called Semicolon.  LOL, wait until you hear the name of the third act, it was “Punctuation Thursday” I guess.  However, the one girl in the group was drop dead adorable.  I could not take my eyes off of her.  Unfortunately of the two members, the other one was a far better singer.  But my biggest surprise was when I got home and looked the group up…


Reon

It turns out the cute one I mentioned is actually a well-known gravure idol and anime singer named Kurosaki Reon. (Reon’s homepage) Not only that, she is 26 years old!  Damn, I thought this girl was 19-20 tops.  Now I am really kicking myself for not taking a cheki with her when I had the chance.  They didn’t have much of a line either, so I will count that as a blown opportunity.  But I will keep my eye out for them in the future.


Reon Live Solo Performance

After Semicolon, a soloist named Yamashita Haruka performed.  It almost seemed like she didn’t have too much experience, but she did say that she recently performed at Japan Expo in Malaysia.  Unfortunately for Haruka, at one point the sound system screwed up and started skipping on her support music, which made for a pretty funny and awkward moment since she was singing with live-assist, harmonizing with her own backup vocals.  After her, the third act, and the second half of the “punctuation” performed, a four-girl group called Asterisk, (group homepage) which featured two main members and two backdancers.

There were two really cool things about Asterisk.  First off, the two lead girls really could sing, which is always a nice bonus when it comes to idols.  The second thing, one of the lead girls, Minami Nico wore nerd glasses, which to me made her look incredibly sexy.  Good singer, nerd-cute, nice figure, gothic outfit.  What a combination!!!  I almost wanted to take a cheki with her too, and they were cheap (500 yen)


Nico

Finally it was No Plan‘s turn.  As I mentioned, this would be the first time I actually saw them perform, and at first I was surprised there were so many of them, like 8-10 members!  All of their songs were very upbeat and fun, kinda like CLEARS, or FESTIVE.  Of course I had my eyes on Himeri the entire time, and she nodded, pointed, and smiled at me many times throughout the show.  I also wasn’t aware that is she the “Leader” of the group, which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise since she was the leader of Alice Project’s Pa-ken Girls too.  But she has such a high and funny voice, it is a hoot to hear her run the group MC.  Anyway, the show ended, and it was time for group perks outside.


No Plan Live

All of the groups assembled in the small reception area in the courtyard outside.  Per usual, it was very small, and difficult to move around.  It turned out most everyone was there to see No Plan, so the line to buy tickets was a bit of a clusterf**k.  It didn’t help that the manager was doing double-duty of selling tickets AND taking chekis.  I kept getting pushed and shoved, and then some jerk started pushing me and yelling at me to be more forceful.  But what was I going to do, since one of the members had already politely asked me to wait a moment.  So I just ignored the guy.  Eventually I got my two tickets…

I couldn’t even get to Himeri, the lines were so crowded together.  Eventually Himeri found me standing in the back and waved to me, but I motioned that I couldn’t get through.  That was when, like Moses and the Red Sea, she moved everyone aside.  “Kurisuuuu, kochi kochi!!!” LOLZ…

The first thing she told me was that she was soooo happy when she saw me in the audience.  I told her that I would love to see her more, but idol shows can be expensive, so i do not go all the time.  I asked about her graduation, and told her I would be graduating too, but going to another school.  She asked what I was studying, and I told her Japanese.  At that point she said she remembered when we first met, and that my Japanese is so much better now.  I told her I was doing my best, but I was still learning.  She apologized, saying she doesn’t really know any English.  But that’s okay, it is better for me to practice Japanese.  Still, she tried to write a little bit of English on the Chekis.  At the end she tried to sell me one of her Graduation T-shirts, but I was a bit low on cash, and told her it would have to be next time.  Hopefully she will still have XXL the next time I see her…

And what a deal, two signed chekis and two Shamekai for 2000 yen.  I love it!  And what I love about Himeri is that she makes such a big deal out of seeing me.  It really makes me feel special as a fan.  She has a bunch more appearances before her graduation, so I will make it a point to see her as much as I can before she leaves the group.

So there ya go, two fun shows, and a few more cool groups discovered, although I don’t know that I will go out of my way to see Palpitante, or Semicolon, or Asterisk, but I would certainly entertain doing chekis with them if I run into them again.  In the meantime, I am kinda busy this week, so I don’t plan on going to Tokyo Idol Festival.  If I decide to go at all, it would be Sunday.  But 8K yen for a one-day ticket?  Kinda steep, and there are really only 2-3 groups I am interested in seeing, not to mention, 10 hours of straight idols???  Too much stimulation for me. LOL

CK in Tokyo 

AKB48, Concerts ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ 16th Gen Stage Live at the Donki, 2:30pm Matinee (2017/07/30)

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I was strolling around Tokyo Big Sight, waiting to use my Slot 2 tickets at the SKE48 handshake event, when I saw I had an email from the ticket center. Hmm, I had a funny feeling I might be winning something soon. I noticed immediately that it wasn’t a win, but a cancel machi. Figures. I then saw the cancel machi number, 137. Yeah right, like I have a chance in hell winning with that number. After all, this is a brand new stage, it is a weekend show, and I haven’t seen the cancal machi go that high in a while. Still, I decided I would go and check it out. Even if I didn’t win, I could catch some of the show on the monitors until I left for my backup plan, to see FESTIVE in Ikebukuro. Also, I firmly believe that you get a few ‘brownie points’ for showing up for cancel machi even if you don’t win. I mean they do take down the names and numbers of everyone who shows up.

The Setup

I got to Akihabara around an hour early, and had lunch and coffee at the Excelssior Cafe across the street. It was a usual busy Sunday in Akihabara, with the main boulevard closed and tons of people walking in every direction. I headed over to the Donki around five minutes before cutoff. Let’s get this over with. However….

When I got upstairs I was surprised to see that there was virtually no line whatsoever for the box office. Furthermore, there weren’t very many cancel machi people standing there either. A couple of minutes later they announced that anyone with cancel machi 60 or below could buy tickets immediately. Wow, so the cancel machi is going to BEGIN at 61? Could I possibly have a chance? From there staff was rapid firing cancel machi numbers, through the 60’s, 70’s 80’s, finally it began slowing down, and he announced the initial cutoff at 90….

After this staff asked all of the people who hadn’t won yet to come forward. Lo and behold, there were only nine of us left. After a short discussion, it was decided. We would ALL be getting to see the show today. WOW!!! (Actually, I think they originally planned to let eight of us in, but when they saw there were nine of us, they decided not to screw over just one person) I have said this many times, I have seen the cancel machi go all the way to 150 multiple times. So even if you think your chances are slim, never say never. But yeah, 137. For me this is the highest cancel machi I have personally ever won with.

So, this would be my 35th theater show, and the second time I won in July. That doesn’t count the July 11th cancel machi I had and lost. So technically, I almost had three wins this month. Glad to see my theater luck has changed for the good. This ALSO meant that I would be getting to see the 16th Gen kenkyuusei’s brand new stage that they just debuted on Friday night. I was stoked, and who cares if I would probably have a horrible vantage point. I was just glad to be part of the show. I was third to last in, and at first I didn’t see anywhere I could stand, so I shuffled all the way to the other side of the rear of the theater and found a spot. A minute later a family of three in front of me decided they didn’t like their spot and moved. So I moved up, and actually had a decent vantage point. The pillar was blocking the center of the stage, but other than that, I could see pretty much everything.

The Show

I had briefly read the stage setlist here on the forum Friday night, so I remembered what some of the songs would be. And frankly, I was really excited. SDN? Watarirouka? Old Team B? Great stuff! And of course I was happy to be seeing my favorite AKB48 member, Zunchan, and my other favorite kenkyuusei, Zukkii. I was really excited to see her solo performance of the Fujita Nana song.

The opening songlist has a lot of high energy numbers, highlighted by one of my favorite Team B songs, Minnasan mo go Issho ni. So in that, it was a lot of fun. However, on more than one occasion the members seemed out of sync with the song. The dancing was a little bit disorganized, the lip-syncing was way off, and the member who did the narrative part on ‘Minnasan’ did more panting than actual talking. (Was that Nanami? I don’t remember) So I think the members still need a bit more practice on this portion of the setlist to tighten things up.

I loved most of the unit selections, and Zukkii’s solo, plus Cross were both highlights. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Yasuda Kana could center a song, especially a song like that. She was fierce. Of course I loved Kanpeki Guu no ne, especially since Zunchan was in it, and she was adorable. However, it seemed like they had the song slightly slowed down? Perhaps I was hearing things, but it just seemed slightly slower to me. the other two songs were alright, but didn’t stand out to me like the other three.

In the second half of the show, the girls seemed to be more into it, especially on Kodoku na Runner, Zutto Zutto, and especially ‘Wasshoi’ (Let’s Go Kenkyuusei) But it was around here that I noticed how much different the fans are at theater shows than they were when I used to go to the theater, and these song were new. Hardly anyone knows the calls to these songs anymore, and barely anyone knows the hand movements. Most of the people there are just waving penlights around. Oh, and I have the feeling hardly anybody there knew SDN at all, as I didn’t hear the distinct fan calls, or see the hand movements, at all for ‘Runner’. To me this is a disappointment. I know it is fun to wave penlights around, but in the old days of the theater hardly anyone brought penlights, but virtually everyone knew the calls and stuff. I think it was a lot more fun like that, and added to the energy of the performance. Penlights just don’t do that.

After the group shot, it was time for ‘High Wave.” There was another member who caught my eye a few times, but I don;t know her name. Oh well, she will have to capture me again. On the other hand, both Zunchan and Zukkii were great, and Yasuda Kana really impressed me a lot. And of course the little loli Sato Manami is cute.

At the end of the day, I was happy that I won the show, got to see Zunchan, and got to see a brand new stage. Since much of my luck seems to be with 16th gen shows, I look forward to hopefully winning the chance to see them perform this again, and perhaps they will be much improved.

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Picspam From Wasamin’s 3rd Concert at Yomiuri Otemachi Hall

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As I have mentioned on my concert reports, one of the features of Wasamin’s solo concerts is the opportunity for fans to take photos during part of the show.  Wasamin even roams the entire venue and poses for fans while she sings, so you have an excellent chance of getting some choice photos, even if you aren’t seated close to the stage.

So this post is what I think are the 30 best shots I took at the concert, ten from each show.  I probably took between 50-100 pics at each show.  I deleted a bunch that were blurry, or didn’t come out right, and probably kept around 25-30 from each show in total.

 

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki 3rd Solo Concert at Yomiuri Otemachi Hall, Tokyo (2017/07/22-23)

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Iwasa Misaki 3rd Solo Concert at Yomiuri Otemachi Hall, Tokyo (2017/07/22-23)

It’s about time that they decided to let Wasamin have more than one solo concert per year. Actually, if you count her ‘Acoustic Love Live’ shows, as well as her solo concert coming up this September, that makes six solo concerts in 2017 (Well, eight. Since this was three shows) This show was announced at the end of Wasamin’s January concert, and we knew that this venue was about half the size of Asakusa Kokaido. But what we didn’t know until we received our fan club mailers was that it would be three separate shows. One on Saturday, and two on Sunday. We also found out that they would once again be offering “Ichigo Seating,” which are not only the best seats in the house, but also offer some kind of special bonus. Ichigo Seats are 3x the price of the regular seats, so would it be worth it to spend so much on tickets to three shows???

Since I am a Wasamin fan, one would think that answer would be simple. But many people, (including me) questioned whether or not the Ichigo Seats were worth it at the last show. The bonus “rehearsal and high touch was kinda short, and rushed. Not to mention we get to shake hands with Wasamin all the time for the price of a CD. So at the end of the day we paid a big premium to be guaranteed the best seats. Also, they were offering a discount if you bought ‘regular’ seats to all three shows. Ultimately, I bit the bullet, and my devotion won out. I headed to the post office and paid to apply for Ichigo Seats for each show. It would take almost four months to find out if I won, and where my seats were. Which brings up another little ‘issue.’

Random Lottery?

One would think, since it was ‘supposed’ to be a lottery, that our Ichigo seats would have been scattered around the front section. But they really weren’t. People who won front row seemed to get it for all three shows. People with sixth row got it for all three shows. I was third row center, for all three shows. I think they need to do something about that. Not that it’s a big deal, since it is a small venue, and third row is still VERY close to the stage, but it doesn’t seem completely fair. Oh, and I don’t think it was favoritism either, since some of the biggest spenders at her CD events did not have front row. But let’s talk about the Ichigo Bonuses.

Ichigo Bonuses


Ichigo Seat Badges, hand-signed!

Each show had a different Ichigo Bonus to go with the premium seating. Obviously they wanted to make sure fans wanted to enjoy all of the bonuses, since if they made them all the same it might cause people to just buy one. The Saturday night bonus was a “Post-Show After-Party” where we would also be getting to take some kind of personal video with Wasamin. After the show they led us into a medium sized conference room, where they had snacks and water for us to enjoy while we waited. They asked us to get into a loose circle (there were around 50 of us) where they explained what would be happening. Eventually Wasamin came in, followed by her manager, Ichikawa-san, and a cameraman. (By the way, they were filming everything around this concert, including the fans outside the venue) Wasamin went into the center of the circle, and started asking us how we liked the show. We basically chit-chatted about the songs she hose, the costumes she wore, and whatnot. After a few minutes it was time for the ‘video shooting’ The way it worked was that in groups, we formed semi-circles of 15 people, and then Wasamin made a short speech, and then came around and gave each of us a quick ‘Thank You’ message. Here, check it out…

“Uhh, Hello Wasamin!” After this we got back into a circle, and Wasamin started asking us about the Ichigo Bonus. She said that she had read some of the comments online last January where people questioned if it was worth it. So this time she said she really wanted to do something worthwhile for the fans. Furthermore, she said she would do her best to think of something really fun to do the next day so we all felt good about spending so much money on Ichigo Seats. After that, we said our goodbyes, and she left the room, with us being allowed to leave a short time later…

The Sunday morning bonus was similar to the Ichigo Bonus we got in January, an opportunity to watch some of the rehearsal and soundcheck. Only this time, instead of being delayed at the end of the event by the press, she did her press interviews before the rehearsal, which ultimately caused us to be a half hour late getting in, so it was a good thing this was being done two hours before the show. The other bonus was that we would be getting to take a group photo with Wasamin on the stage, which we did in three groups.

The other nice thing was that we got to see MORE of the rehearsal. In January it was a quick MC, one song, and done. This time it was two longer MCs, and two songs. So a bit more…

For the final bonus on Sunday night, we got to enjoy a second encore. This was really nice too. Wasamin’s family was in the audience for this show, and also stuck around for this. When the show ended, they told us to stay in our seats while the rest of the fans filed out. Then after a 5-10 minute break the lights dimmed and the curtain opened again. It was extremely intimate, quite like one of her mini in-store lives. After a quick talk, the first song she sang AND performed on guitar was Nada Sousou. After this she once again brought up the Ichigo Bonuses, and asked us if we thought they better than last time. She also asked us which one’s were our favorites. (I chose Saturday night) After that she asked us if we were going to her September concert, or her October dinner show, and then she finished by performing Kikyou. So at the end of the day I think they did a great job making sure the Ichigo Seat bonuses were worth our while…

Outside The Venue

Yomiuri Otemachi Hall is actually upstairs in the main offices of the Yomiuri Shinbun in the business district near Tokyo Station. It was the weekend, so the neighborhood was pretty much deserted, and most of the restaurants were closed. The nice thing was that the building is directly over Otemachi Station, which also happens to be on the train line by my apartment, so very easy to get to and from. On the third floor waiting area, they had placed all of the flowers, as well as one table where you could pre-order Wasamin’s upcoming CD. Then on the fifth floor they had the goods tables, a small bar, and a booth to buy ‘day of’ tickets since none of the shows actually sold out. I actually bought one of every souvenir they had on the first day. However, they had a different acrylic stand for each day, so most fans lined up the second day just to get the second stand. Also, they ran out of L-size T-shirts the first day, so some people had to wait until the second day for that too. In addition, they were offering an autographed Saba Kaido clear file if you pre-ordered the CD. At first I bailed on this, since I already have multiple autographed Saba Kaido clear files. But when I saw that it was a new version of the clear file, I broke down on got one on the second day.

You can see the goods on this post in the Wasamin thread on Stage48…
http://stage48.net/forum/index.php?…asa-misaki-wasamin.1886/page-145#post-1344620


Fan Club Flowers

Also, they had a huge film crew for this show. It was almost as if they were filming a documentary, as they seemed to be filming everything going on the entire weekend, both inside and outside the venue. Even when the fan club members decided to take a group pic after the show, the camera crew ran out and recorded us doing it. However, they did cause one big issue the first evening. When we got into the venue, they had cameras and crew set up in a lot of seats. Unfortunately, people bought tickets for these seats, and they were GREAT seats. At first they were telling people where they could sit further back. But the fans were not going to accept this, and eventually the camera crews were all moved somewhere else. Ultimately it caused a fifteen minute delay to the start of the show. This didn’t seem to be an issue on Sunday though, as the cameras were back to their original positions. In fact, for the last show I was right behind the cameraman, and could watch his monitors with all of the camera angles.

The Setlists

They promised that all of the setlists would be different, and they were, although not completely. Some of her singles moved around the setlist, and they changed the songs during the guitar segment, and the ‘roaming around the audience’ segment. Oh, and they also added Seto no Hanayome to Sunday’s performances due to the death of singer/songwriter Hirao Masaaki, who many of you may know as one of the judges on the AKBingo! DIVA Championships.

——————————————————————————————————-

Saturday Night Setlist (7/22)
01. Mujineki
02. Kanashimi Honsen Nihon Kai
MC (Wasamin winging it)
03. Ginza Kan Kan Musume
04. Shitamachi no Taiyou
05. Nangoku Tosa wo Ato ni Shite
MC (Monthly challenge campaign)
06. Yume Shibai
MC (More on the challenge campaign)
07. Omoidezake
08. Futarizake
09. Hatsuzake
MC (VTR Highlights of Wasamin ‘Love Live’ show in May)
[Next segment on guitar]
10. Misaki Meguri
11. Kandagawa
12. Ito
MC (Introduction of photo shooting session)
13. Momen no Handkerchief
14. Watashi no Aoi Tori
15. Heart no Ace ga Detekonai
16. Sailor Fuku wo Nugasanaide
17. Koi no Dial 6700
MC (End of photo shooting)
18. Nora
19. Ihoujin
20. Ajisai-bashi
21. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
End of Main Show
(VTR- Deleted scenes, making of Saba Kaido PV)
EN1. Tomonoura Bojou
EN2. Gomen ne Tokyo
MC (Wasamin 4th concert will be held February 4th at Ebisu Garden Hall!!!)
EN3. Saba KaidoShow End

Sunday Matinee Setlist
Ichigo Seat Holder Special Rehearsal Setlist
(All Ichigo Seat holders got to take a group shot with Wasamin before the performance)
R1. Saba Kaido
MC: (Congratulations to Ichigo Seat holders. Wasamin didn’t realize the ichigo rehearsal bonus was two hours before the show, LOL. I guess that’s why there was a 20 minute delay)
R2. Mujineki
01. Gomen ne Tokyo
02. Kanashimi Honsen Nihon Kai
MC
03. Ginza Kan Kan Musume
04. Shitamachi no Taiyou
05. Nangoku Tosa wo Ato ni Shite
06. Yume Shibai
MC (Monthly challenge campaign)
07. Seto no Hanayome
MC (Looking for audience members who came from far away)
08. Omoidezake
09. Futarizake
10. Hatsuzake
MC (VTR Highlights of Wasamin ‘Love Live’ show in May)
[Next segment on guitar]
11. Thank You
12. Kaze ni Naru
13. Ito
MC (Introduction of photo shooting session)
14. Shochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu
15. Natsu no Ojousan
16. Natsu no Tobira
17. Toshishita no Otokonoko
18. Aoi Sangoshou
MC (End of photo shooting, goods presentation w/ discussion of which colors represent which singles)
19. Nora
20. Ihoujin
21. Ajisai-bashi
22. Mujineki
End of Main Show
(VTR- Deleted scenes, making of Saba Kaido PV)
EN1. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
EN2. Tomonoura Bojou
MC (Wasamin 4th concert will be held February 4th at Ebisu Garden Hall!!! Also, it is decided. Official song penlight colors are: Mujineki=white, Moshisora=skyblue, Tomobojo-red, Hatsuzake=green, Gomen ne Tokyo=yellow, Saba Kaido=dark blue)
EN3. Saba Kaido

Show End

Sunday Night Finale Setlist
01. Tomonoura Bojou
02. Kanashimi Honsen Nihon Kai
MC (Wasamin winging it)
03. Ginza Kan Kan Musume
04. Shitamachi no Taiyou
05. Nangoku Tosa wo Ato ni Shite
06. Yume Shibai
MC (More on the challenge campaign)
07. Seto no Hanayome
MC
08. Omoidezake
09. Futarizake
10. Hatsuzake
MC (VTR Highlights of Wasamin ‘Love Live’ show in May)
[Next segment on guitar]
11. Marunouchi Sadistic
12. Silly
13. Ito
MC (Introduction of photo shooting session)
14. Dancing Hero (Eat You Up)
15. Watashi no Aoi Tori
16. Shoujo A
17. Playback Part Two
18. Kazari Janai no yo Namida wa
MC (End of photo shooting)
19. Nora
20. Ihoujin
21. Ajisai-bashi
22. Gomen ne Tokyo
End of Main Show
(VTR- Deleted scenes, making of Saba Kaido PV)
EN1. Mujineki
EN2. Moshimo Watashi ga Sora ni Sundeitara
MC (Wasamin 4th concert will be held February 4th at Ebisu Garden Hall!!!)
EN3. Saba KaidoIchigo Seat Members Exclusive Bonus Encore Performance
EN-2A. Nada Sousou (on guitar)
EN-2B. Kikyou

Show End

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It had been a while since many of her fans had seen her perform live, aside from her performance in the play she did in Osaka, since she hasn’t really had any CDs to promote. But many of the fans remarked after the first show that there was something slightly different and more professional about Wasamin’s performance. Her singing was top notch, and she was also using her body in a much different way. You could tell it was having a positive effect on her singing.

One of the other features of the three shows was that she wore different costumes for the guitar and audience photography portions of each show, which was also a nice touch. Speaking of that, like I mentioned before she switched up the songs she performed on guitar, and the songs she sang when she roamed the audience. These are the highlights of the shows because they are in many ways the biggest surprises of each show, seeing what songs she will perform. I must admit I was shocked when she performed Sailor Fuku wo Nugasanaide and Koi no Dial 6700, not to mention Shochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu. She also had a few nice choices for her guitar songs, including the Leo and Sheena Ringo songs. Wasamin still has some work to do on improving her guitar work, but it is neat to see her on stage doing her best every time.

Of course they also had a photo-op portion of the show, where fans were free to take photos. I put a couple of examples on this post, but I will try to do a photo collection post here a little later. They also announced Wasamin’s 4th concert will be taking place on February 4th in Ebisu, not to mention she will be doing a Winter ‘Love Live’ show in November. So lots of concerts to keep the fans happy.

Oh, and a couple other cute stories.
1) Wasamin’s family are usually in the audience for her big concerts. For this show they came for the last performance. However, it was the first time I have ever seen Wasamin address them in the middle of the show. While she was performing in the audience, as she passed them she stopped, pointed and said. “It’s my Mom and Dad!” Cute!
2) this will be good for those of you going to see her in San Francisco, but part of one of the MCs was to talk about the goods. All of us really like the penlight which has a preview function where you can scroll through the colors without changing the color of your glowstick. During the third show we were having races to see who could change their glowstick to a specific color the most quickly. But in the second show Wasamin decided each of her singles has a distinct “Official Color” So here they are…
Mujineki=white
Moshisora=Light Blue
TomoBojo=Red
Hatsuzake=Green
Gomen ne Tokyo=Yellow
Saba Kaido=Blue

Anyway, you guys going to her San Francisco show can have fun with that. But be sure and tell them how you found out.


(This was the first photo we took, the one with her manager we took later)

After the shows the fans took one last group pic, which Wasamin’s manager joined in on, and then we went on our merry ways. Overall the shows were a lot of fun, and to me they never got boring, especially since she switched up so many of the songs. Next up for us is her September concert in Chiba. But in the meantime she will be doing a bunch of promotional appearances in late August to promote the ‘memorial’ release of her 6th single. So plenty of Wasafun in the wings

 

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Events, KissBee, Tokyo CLEARS Idol Extravaganza, Summer 2017! Part One (KissBee and Tokyo CLEARS)

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Although it is late, I am tired, and I have a ton of work to do, I need to get this post done now since Wasamin’s big concert weekend is coming up tomorrow.  Speaking of Wasamin….

It has been almost eight weeks since I have personally interacted with Misaki-chan.  The last event I went to that had any sort of “meet and greet” was her Karaoke party in late May.  Since then the only time I have seen her perform was at her play in Osaka, but even that was over a month ago.  Since Wasamin doesn’t really have any new products to promote and sell, I guess she is taking a bit of a break from fan events until her new “memorial version” of Saba Kaido comes out in late August.  So what’s an idol fan to do when his kami-oshimen is hiding out and not actively doing events???

He goes to see other idols of course.  And that is precisely what I have been up to, especially over the last three weeks or so.  It turns out that a few of the “other” idol groups I like have new releases coming out this Summer, and they are out actively promoting their new products.  This means there are many mini-lives to attend, and quite a few of them are free admission performances.  Since I like to aim for the free performances, this has kept me quite busy in July.  So who have I been going to see?

KissBee

As I mentioned recently on this blog, this is the group I stumbled upon in Odaiba during Golden Week, and I was totally taken with their “ace” member, Tanifuji Misaki.  They are promoting a new single that isn’t coming out until late-August, and they have a huge schedule of free appearances beginning in July, all the way to release week.  Furthermore, they are offering all sorts of bonuses, depending on the amount of events you attend AND the amount of CDs you buy.  The first event I went to was outside of Diver City, the exact same place I ran into them the first time I ever saw them perform…

Unfortunately Misaki-chan had announced the previous evening that she wouldn’t be at this particular event because of a scheduling conflict.  But I took that as an opportunity to meet a couple of the other members I like,  Specifically, Otawa Sakura and Oe Rena.

They were both very nice, but I really like Sakura a lot.  She reminds me very much of former AKB48 member Nishino Miki, both in looks and personality.  Unfortunately, I have already gone “all-in” on Tanifuji, so while I may go see her once in a while, she is not the focal point of my attention to this group.

I got to catch up with Misaki-chan at the next KissBee event I attended, which took place at Village Vanguard in Skytree Town.  This was a weird event for a lot of reasons.  First off, the management of the shop insisted that the music be performed at an extremely low volume.  I mean this is supposed to be a live event, but they somehow didn’t want the performance to interfere with anything else going on in the shop.  It was really ridiculous.  The second problem was that there was something terribly wrong with the sound system.  It got so bad that the girls eventually had to abandon their microphones and sing without them.

Eventually the show came to its merciful end, and it was time for perks.  Like most groups, there is something quirky about their cheki/handshake system.  One ticket gets you a handshake, plus a signature (on a cheki, or picture)  Two tickets get you an unsigned cheki, which makes a signed cheki rather expensive.  They also offer a ‘group shot’ for four tickets, of a shamekai for one ticket.  However, those two items are off the table for these free events.

I took the opportunity to catch up with Misaki-chan and take a cheki.  When I told her that I went to Odaiba, she asked if I had read her blog.  I told her I did, and that I wanted to see KissBee anyway.  She also apologized for the microphones being shitty.  I told her it was funny.  I had one more ticket, and since the girls are giving fans signed photos, I decided to visit a girl that I hadn’t met yet, and was making a lot of eye contact with me during the show.  She is a newer member in the group, and her name is Maeda Rion.

She didn’t have anyone in her line.  She watched me as I slowly walked toward her, almost pretending like I was just randomly walking around.  I then surprised her by pulling out the ticket.  It was kinda funny.  Anyway, she isn’t a very popular member, so I think she was just pleasantly surprised a came to see her.  Eventually I want to meet…well most of the members.

Yesterday I caught KissBee at HMV-Shibuya/MODI, which is quickly becoming a popular place for live events.  I have seen Wasamin here, as well as FES☆TIVE, and Chaki twice.  Once again, they had all sorts of issues with their sound system.  Only this time I think it was due more to the incompetence of the sound engineer.  The music was far too loud, the microphones were totally uneven, and a couple had feedback issues, including Tanifuji’s.

Another bonus they do at most of their lives is play Janken with the fans for a chance to win a signed poster.  In addition to that, some of the chairs had a special letter from one of the members taped to the bottom.  Unfortunately, I was not one of the lucky winners, and I am yet to win the poster Janken.  Hopefully one day I will get lucky.

I used all of my tickets on Tanifuji this time, getting a cheki and a signed photo.  I told her I saw the new music video they did with Sanrio, which may or may not be the new KissBee single.  (I think that’s what she told me)  I also saw this wacky video where she and another member played this weird batsu game with some British Vlogger.  It was funny because she tries to speak English in it.


The good news is that I am beginning to make friends with some of the KissBee regulars.  They have been following and talking to me on twitter.  Not to mention, Misaki-chan likes any KissBee related tweet I make.  In any case, quite a few lives on the schedule, so I am sure I will be seeing them a bunch more…

 

Tokyo CLEARS

I had really missed seeing Rion, so I am glad I have had a few opportunities to see Tokyo CLEARS this month.  The first show I saw was at Omotesando Ground.  There were quite a few other groups playing that night as well, including Idol College, and Hyper Motivation, which I really liked too.  CLEARS were the third group to perform, but what I didn’t know was that this was the kind of show where all the sales booths would be occurring after the show.  This meant I would have to wait almost 90 minutes before I could see Rion.  I decided I didn’t want to wait that long, so I took off after their set.  But not before seeing the group walking through Omotesando picking up trash, since being “environmentally responsible” is their entire M.O.  I suppose I could have gone over and helped them, but I didn’t want to intrude.  Anyway, I would make it up to them a few days later…

The following weekend CLEARS were doing a free live at the Aeon Mall Makuhari.  They were the headlining act, and among the other three groups performing was an idol unit called Barbee, which features former AKB kenkyuusei Sakamoto Rio.  Unfortunately, I read a few days later that Barbee will be disbanding next month.

The biggest issue was that the show was going on outside, and it was an extremely hot day.  I’m not sure how many of you have experienced Japan in the Summer, but the weather sucks.  Hot, humid, sticky, just totally unpleasant.  I had decided that I wouldn’t even bother with the other groups, and would simply wait for CLEARS to come on before going outside.

It wasn’t too large a crowd, and there was a little girl who couldn’t have been older than seven, and is evidently a huge CLEARS fan.  She knew all the dance moves, and knew all the songs.  She was really amazing to watch, and management let her stand in front of the barrier between the group and the fans, so she got a lot of attention from the girls too.

I decided to take a cheki with both Rion and Sayuri, since Sayuri has been especially attentive to me lately.  She is really a nice girl too, and she does all the right things to make me want to oshi her.  Even when they are performing she pays a lot of attention to me.  But, like with Tanifuji in KissBee, I am “all-in” with Rion, so Sayuri will always play second fiddle.

CLEARS weren’t promoting any new single since their latest release came out a month or two ago, but they are promoting a new venue in Naka-Meguro they will be appearing at regularly.  So that’s exciting, and I look forward to seeing them perform there.

I still have two more groups to talk about, but this post has already become long, so look forward to Part 2 coming VERY soon.

CK in Tokyo

AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Team 8 Live at the AKB48 Theater (2017/07/01, 11:30am Matinee)

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I still get surprised whenever I get some sort of “winning” email from the ticket center. In fact, yesterday I originally thought it was another website maintenance email, and only later opened it to find out I had cancel machi for the early matinee show on Saturday. So great, cancel machi. I had a shot.

The last time I had cancel machi was back in April, and I didn’t get in. But this time I had a lower lottery number, so my chances were better, although it definitely wasn’t a “sure thing.” However, by the time I left my apartment to head to Akihabara, the cancel machi number on the website had already reached 30. (In case you aren’t aware, if you win cancel machi, there is a counter on your lottery page that tells you how many people have cancelled via the website, so the higher that number goes, the better your chances) I got to Akiba a bit early, grabbed a coffee at Tully’s across the street. I stored my bag in the lockers behind the Donki (in that little parking lot) and headed up.

Per usual, a huge percentage of people who win show up at the last second, which makes the ticket queue very big leading up to the cutoff. With every person coming up the escalator, I felt my chances getting smaller. At exactly 11am they started calling cancel machi numbers, starting with #32 since they had 32 cancellations already, anyone with cancel machi #31 or less had already won and purchased a ticket. As he got into the 40’s, the staff member kept checking his counter. Uh oh, if he is looking at it that intently, we must be getting toward the end. Miraculously, he made it all the way to #59 before he called it closed. Bummer. However, since it got that high I actually had a pretty good chance of getting into the secondary lottery.

After cancel machi fills, they begin the theater entry lottery. At that point they estimate how many more people they can accommodate. However, these people will be the last to enter the theater. It’s usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 people. Since there weren’t that many people left waiting, I knew my chances were good. He had called all the way up to #70, and only two people were there. Finally, my number was called. They called three more people after me, and then cut it off. So cool, I was going to my 34th theater show. I’d be in the very back, but it was definitely better than losing, and watching on the monitors…

The Show

The last time I saw Team 8 was at their Saitama Super Arena concert earlier this year. It was a decent enough show, but I didn’t come away as a huge Team 8 fan. Moreover, there were no members that really grabbed my attention in a major way. When I looked at today’s lineup, I noticed a few familiar names, but nobody I was dying to see. That was fine, I would just enjoy the show, after all it was Aitakatta, which is a great stage. I grabbed a standing spot just right of center, where I had a decent, but not great look at the stage. I had barely been standing for a minute when the Kage-ana began, and then the show. Like I said before, I love the Aitakatta stage, and it had been quite a while since I had seen it performed live. But it has so many great old songs like Namida no Shounan, Rio no Kakumei, and Nagisa no Cherry. In any case, I wanted to see which members grabbed my attention, and a few did. Here ya go…

 

Takahashi Ayane (Saitama) – This girl is really cute, kind of a Komiharu/Paru type. She also reminds me a little of Kitazawa Saki (which may not be a good thing) Then it dawned on me,she was one of the girls I kinda liked when I saw them at Saitama! Just something about her smile, and I loved the way she danced on Nagisa no Cherry Unfortunately, she tended to “disappear” into the shadows quite often. She isn’t a front line member but I enjoyed her occasional moments up front.

 

Oda Erina (Kanagawa) – I think this girl is a champ. She just carries herself like a “pro-idol,” especially the way she toys with the audience members. I know she is somewhat popular, but I am surprised she doesn’t get more “love,” especially when I compare her to some of the Team 8 members who seem to be the most popular. She is also kind of tall. In fact, there was another “tall” members who I kinda liked. At first I decided Erina was better, so I started ignoring the other girl…..

Miyazato Rira (Okinawa) – As much as I tried not to pay attention to Rira, my eyes kept getting drawn to her until she finally won me over. She spends a lot of time in front, and has quite a fun aura. The funny thing is, according to our wiki she is only 155cm? That is even shorter than Wasamin! I dunno, she just came across as taller to me. Perhaps that is a testament to her energy on stage. She plays “bigger” than she is…

 

Yaguchi Moka (Miyazaki) – Her stocky build just draws your eyes every time. Idols come in all shapes and sizes, and this girl is really unique…

There were a few others I noticed, but I couldn’t remember every name. Terada Misaki (Nagasaki) was one, but that was in part because of her first name. Sato Nanami (Iwate) was another “tall” one that kinda stood out for me too. Then of course there’s Kuranoo Narumi. Now I do get that she has good stage presence, but I’m just not on board with her like the rest of the fans seem to be. Sometimes I am just puzzled by the fan’s general consensus. It’s the same with Orin Mutou in the 16th gen. I just think she has so many more talented and cuter peers, yet she gets all the attention. Oh well…

As expected, they had a second encore, which was mainly Team 8 songs, plus the new single. There was also a VTR advert for a a Team 8 documentary on YouTube. BTW, I love Seifuku no Hane, probably my favorite Team 8 song. I also remember really liking it when I heard HKT48 perform it earlier this year. Surprisingly, the new single, and its “waltz” time signature, is quite nice to see live.

Anyway, show ended. Time for “High Wave.” Unlike the last AKB show I won, I was one of the first to go through. I decided to give little “signals” to Ayane, Erina, and Rira to see how they would react. Erina reacted, but the other two didnt. Ayane was at the very end though. I did get a couple of “Hello!”‘s, but I can’t remember from who. I made it out, and was led to the back stairwell to exit. Is that a regular thing now? Maybe because it was a Saturday afternoon, but that was the first time for me that we weren’t allowed to use the escalators to leave.

So I seem to be winning at a rate of “once a month,” which is nice. It is a welcome change compared to what it was like before. And as I have ALWAYS maintained, there is nothing compared to seeing the 48-groups performing at their theater. NOTHING! This is a prime example. I went to see them at a major venue like SSA, and I came away “meh.” Go see them at the Donki, and I am a much more enthusiastic. To me idols are not meant to be seen at Stadiums, or major concert halls. They are meant to be seen in clubs, small places. It is in these intimate environments that you can really get what makes idols so special…

Anyway, that’s what I think.

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, FES☆TIVE, KissBee FES☆TIVE, KissBee, and a BIG Surprise at Shinjuku ReNY Super Live (2017/06/08)

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Continuing an extremely busy week, I headed over to Shinjuku ReNY to check out Idol Super Live Vol. 19, which featured over twenty different idol groups.  As I have mentioned before on this blog, I usually only go to these types of shows when there are AT LEAST two different groups I like, since the admission is not cheap.  This way I feel like I am getting more value for my ‘idol dollar’, even if ultimately I am going to spend more to get the benefits for each group.  This particular show would be featuring two idol groups that I really like, FES☆TIVE and KissBee.  So this was perfect, two groups.

I have been following FES☆TIVE for two years now, ever since I saw them for the first time at J-Pop Summit in San Francsico.  On the other hand, I am relatively new to KissBee.  This was only the third time I would be seeing them, and the second time was just a few days ago.  The two groups were scheduled an hour apart from one another, which was perfect.  I would see KissBee at 7:10, and then visit their booth for handshakes and 2-shots.  After that I would go see FES☆TIVE and do the same thing.  The only issue was that I finished with my part-time job at 2:30, so I would have 3-4 hours to kill before the show.  But no matter, I can easily find ways to waste a few hours.  After going to Dotour for coffee, Excelssior Cafe for Tea, and The Hub for a quick snack and cocktail, I headed over to the show.  I would get there a bit early to get my bearings before KissBee started their set.  However, I was not aware that there was another idol there who I have a bit of history with.

ReNY is a pretty cool venue, and it does A LOT of idol shows.  Their stage and sound system is great.  On the other hand, the lobby where the groups do the post show benefits is very small, and there are usually around five groups selling stuff at any given time.  It makes for some pretty tight quarters.  I showed the ticket taker my reservation, (which also got me a 500 yen discount)  paid for my prerequisite drink ticket, and I was in.  I would first check out which groups would be at which tables.  As I passed through the entrance there was a group immediately to the left doing signed chekis and handshakes.  As I passed them I caught a glimpse of one member taking a selfie with a fan.  Jeez, she looks sort of familiar.  I turned to get a better look.  Our eyes met and she smiled at me.  It had been over a year, but I was pretty sure I knew this girl.  So I asked the group’s manager (in Japanese) how much a signed cheki cost.  He tried to answer me in English (one-hundred yen) which I knew was wrong, he switched to Japanese at that point.  I then asked him the name of the blonde girl on the left.  He immediately responded “Yuki…..” and I finished his sentence….

“Himeri!!!!!!!”  I was right!!!

Yuki Himeri is a former member of Alice Project who graduated over a year ago.  Araki Himeri, as she was known in A.P., was my favorite member, and her departure is the reason  I no longer go to P.A.R.M.S.  I started following her new twitter, and knew that she had been doing some gravure modeling.  I was also aware that she had recently joined an idol group.  However, I had no idea that they were at this show.  I paid for my cheki, and waited my turn.  The manager called to Himeri, and she came bouncing over in the exact same fashion she used to when I would see her at P.A.R.M.S., as she loudly exclaimed “Kurisuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!!”

The manager gave us a ton of time to chat, and we spent that time catching up.  I told her how much I had missed her, and I had hoped to see her again one day.  I also told her about some of the changes in my life since we last met.  I didn’t see her group actually perform.  Their name is “Nopuran” (No Plan)  She actually asked which group I was there to see.  However, for the most part we just kept squeeing at one another and flirting while she did a major number on the cheki.

Himeri then offered to take a selfie with me as a free extra bonus.  Of course I accepted, although I wasn’t sure if it was free or not.  But I figured even if she asked for another thousand yen it would be worth it.  My time was finally up, and we parted ways.   But I was soooo happy.  I really liked Himeri, and I did miss her since she was always so much fun and always made a big deal out of it when I came to see her.  And by the way, she looks really hawt with the blonde hair.

I headed deeper into the lobby, passing idol groups looking to attract customers.  I was admiring my Himeri cheki when a random guy came over.  “You are here to see KissBee?”  It turned out he was also at the Venue Fort show I went to last weekend, and he saw me there.  He is also a fan of Tanifuji Misaki, just like me.  I  got a few nods from some of the other KissBee fans after we went into the actual hall, so I guess a few of their fans noticed me on Sunday.  But before KissBee came on I watched a group called Diamond Luffy, who were actually really talented.  Once their set was done I grabbed a good spot on the right side for the KissBee performance, which was three songs and an MC.  However, they performed my favorite song of theirs.  I’m not sure of the title, I just call it the “Love Me Kiss Me Chupa Chupa” song.  I got a quick smile and wave from Misaki-chan after the third song.  Afterwards I immediately went out to do handshakes, 2-shots and whatnot.

They started with a free high touch, which I was happy about since it gave me a chance to quickly talk to a couple of the other members that I like.  First of all Sakura, who is always “liking” my tweets when I mention KissBee, then Rena, who I would probably call my 2nd favorite of the group.  Anyway, I thanked Sakura for “liking” my twitter posts, and told Rena that she was awesome!  I got great reactions from both of them, especially because I addressed both of them by name.  Afterwards we lined up for individual benefits.  I chose to do a cheki and a shamekai.  While in line I was talking to the guy I met earlier,as well as another KissBee fan who was fluent in English. I had forgotten that their manager takes the chekis ‘sideways’, which I don’t love.  On the other hand, he takes the shamekai at a weird angle too.  However, they actually look kinda cool.  Misaki was excited that I came back to see them again, and I told her I was happy they sang the “Chupa Chupa” song again.  She also asked if I was American.  I told her I was from California, but I live in Itabashi now.  She laughed, “Oh, that’s right, you said it before!”  One of these days I need to tell her my name.  After our second interaction, it was almost time for the FES☆TIVE set, so I headed back into the hall.


My Misaki-chan Shamekai 

The hall was a lot more packed for FES☆TIVE, but I waded my way into the fan cheering area, and got as close to the stage as I could.  Unfortunately I got stuck behind this obnoxious group of kids that I see at every  FES☆TIVE show these days.  But whatever, I would just focus on cheering for Hinari.  By the way, most of the groups get about fifteen minutes to perform, but I guess FES☆TIVE  was considered a headliner, since they were one of the few groups who actually got a 30-minute set.  I had my orange glowsticks, so I managed to get Hinarin’s attention despite the fact that I was fairly far back.  One of the songs they performed was their second major single, “Kingyo no Kin-chan” which is a sing about a goldfish.  It is very cute.


Anyway, the show finally ended, so I headed out to grab a Hinarin cheki ticket.  The line for benefits got really huge, going across two other booths with some less popular idol groups.  One of those groups is called ‘Death Rabbits‘, and features three idols and a big dude in some kind of Stormtrooper outfit.  Outrageous!  In fact he came over to me and started talking to me for a few moments while the girls were waiting for customers.  I actually caught a few moments of their set since they were on right after KissBee.  My first reaction was “WTF?”  Also, while I was waiting in line for Hinari all of the members of KissBee walked right by me as they headed out of the club, and I got waves and reactions from all of them…especially Misaki.  My turn to see Hinari eventually came.  And she had something she wanted to tell me…


Death Rabbits (or is it Desu Rabbits?) LOLZ

After greeting me and thanking me for coming, she asked me if I went to the Wasamin event with Matsui Sakiko on Sunday.  (Hinari knows I oshi Wasamin)  Apparently Hinari was there and saw it, although I didn’t understand what the circumstances were.  Hmmm, I wonder if they spoke, and if my name was mentioned?  Anyway, I told her that I didn’t go as I had plans with a friend that day.  (That is also the day I went to see KissBee, but I ‘conveniently’ left that part out)  But Hinari was excited to tell me that she saw Wasamin.  In the meantime I gave her the update on my Japan residential status, and I got a big “High Five”

I wasn’t going to deal with Hinari’s crazy line again, so I decided to just limit it to one cheki.  I had already spent plenty anyway when you consider admission, benefits for three groups (not to mention dinner and drinks)  Instead I went back into the hall since a group one of my friends kinda likes, Disdol was about to play.  However, when I got in there the groups were running very late.  So instead I watched El Float, who weren’t bad.  It was getting late though, so I decided not to stick around.

Needless to say it was a great night.  An idol-trifecta, if you will.  It made me think that I should go to see these idol showcases more often, especially at ReNY since it is a really nice venue, and it is very close to where I work and take classes.  Of course that is a dangerous thought, as far as my wallet is concerned.  So I will likely stick with my plan of only going to those shows when I can see two or more groups that I am interested in.  Unfortunately for my wallet my ‘stable’ of idol groups I am interested in is steadily growing, and now I have to add Nopuran to that list since Himeri is an active pop-idol once again….

Oh jeez!

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, New Release, Tokyo CLEARS Tokyo CLEARS New Single, ‘Heart Wash’ Release Events in Tokyo! (2017/06/06-07)

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Talk about ‘osashiburi’!  I consider Tokyo CLEARS to be one of my favorite idol groups, and yet I hadn’t seen them perform in almost nine months!  The last time was for their previous single release.  Now I check their performance schedule regularly, but I couldn’t find the time to see a show.  That all changed this week.  But before I get into the events, let me backtrack a bit and give you a bit of my history with this group, since I’m not sure if I have spoken about them much on this blog before.

A couple of years ago, my friend David, a former 48-group fan who had gone the ‘indie-idol’ route, was trying to get me visit P.A.R.M.S., the home theater of Alice Project.  I was originally resistant, but eventually acquiesced since he came to a couple of Wasamin events with me.  I didn’t exactly love Alice Project, but it did plant the seed for me to start paying more attention to the indie idol scene.  A few months later I went to see an Alice Project show, and they had a few guest idol groups on the bill.  This wasn’t the first time I had been there where they had done that, and usually the groups that played there didn’t impress me that much.  However, one night I caught this one group, and one girl in particular caught my eye.  Short, reddish-brown hair, really cute, but with this ‘devilish’ expression on her face, and a certain twinkle in her eye.  I was immediately drawn to her, and began watching her intently on the stage.  It didn’t take long for her to notice me watching her, and she immediately started gesturing to me.  Smiling, waving, winking.  She just hooked me right in.  That girl was Sawabe Rion, and the group was Tokyo CLEARS.

When I finally met her, she was really nice.  Down to earth, mature, and a lot of fun.  I later learned that not only was she a former Gravure Idol, but she was also a former member of Ebisu Muscats.  She was the perfect combination of sexiness and kawaii.  what I also loved was that I could talk to Rion about anything.  It wasn’t always idol-ly B.S.  It was almost like talking to a friend, or a peer.  Anyway, I made it a point to see CLEARS as often as I could.  And I did.  They were in my regular ‘rotation’ of groups a often saw.  However, last year I decided to cut down on my indie idol spending, especially since Wasamin was draining my wallet on a regular basis.  As a result, I failed to go seeCLEARS for the better part of a year.  I really felt bad about it too, and wondered if Rion felt like I had abandoned her.  But I really didn’t.  I was always planning to see them, I just never pulled the trigger.  However…

A week or so ago I noticed that CLEARS were releasing a new single.  BTW, I call them CLEARS because the group actually has branches all over Japan.  In addition to Tokyo Clears, there’s Yokohama CLEARS, Gunma CLEARS, Kawagoe CLEARS, and a bunch more.  Oh, and the theme of the group is “Cleaning.”  One of their monthly events is to go clean up litter around Tokyo.  Yes, you can go out with the group and pick up trash with them.  Fun Tiems?  Anyway…

First Event at Sunshine City, Ikebukuro (2017/06/06)

They were doing two release events in Tokyo.  The first was on Tuesday in Ikebukuro.  However, I had already made plans with my friend Derek to have dinner with him.  I asked him if we could augment the plans, but he wouldn’t budge.  Oh well, I wasn’t going to break plans with a friend just to see an idol group.  I would just have to settle for the second show on Wednesday.  However, we ended up finishing dinner rather early.  If I hurried, I could make it to Ikebukuro and catch some of the event.  So with Derek’s blessing, I took off, and hustled to Sunshine City as fast as I could.

When I got to the venue, I was surprised to find out that the event was actually going to start a half hour late.  It was perfect!  I hadn’t missed anything!  I checked out the goods table.  The new single came in four versions, and with each copy you bought you got a member-specific meet and greet ticket.  They were also giving away the promotional poster for the single.  I grabbed a copy of each version, and got four Rion tickets.  I then took my place in the standing area.  It was just about showtime.

Tokyo CLEARS took the stage, and it took Rion all of about 10 seconds to spot me in the crowd.  She immediately lit up and started waving to me.  I was so happy!  They started with their new song, “Heart Wash” which I had never heard before.  It’s a cute song, and has a fun PV.  Here is a short version from the official Avex channel…

Eventually Tokyo CLEARS left the stage, while Gunma CLEARS, Yokohama CLEARS, and CLEARS Smile entered to further promote the single.  I actually took off to the bathroom at this point, and came back closer to the end when Rion came back on stage.  I was mainly there to see her anyway.  Eventually the show ended, and it was time for benefits.

 

Tokyo CLEARS is the flagship group, and had the longest line by far.  I immediately queued up, and decided I would do a signed cheki with Rion.  She had a big smile on her face as she reached out to me with both hands.  “I’m so happy to see you again!”  As she signed the cheki I was busy apologizing to her that I hadn’t seen her in so long, and that I had been going to far fewer idol events. (A ‘partial’ truth, as you know from reading this blog)  She said it was okay, and that she was happy that I was there now.  Anyway, I got my cheki, and I was happy.  I immediately went to re-queue.  However, I forgot to mention that there is another CLEARS member, Yamato Sayuri, who REALLY likes me, and is ALWAYS trying to fish me.  All of a sudden I felt bad for only getting Rion tickets.  I went back to the table to see if I could change one of my Rion tickets for a Sayuri ticket, which they allowed me to do.  I had a little plan anyway.  I could have both of them sign my poster, which was another benefit they were offering.

I came back to Rion, and asked her to sign the poster.  Somehow in the 5-10 minutes since the cheki she forgot how to spell my name, which is funny since she spelled it right on the cheki without even asking.  While she was signing, I also told her the news that I would be in Tokyo even longer than originally planned.  (I’m hoping to make it a permanent residence, but one step at a time)  She congratulated me, and asked me for details.  It was then I noticed that she was signing quite a lot of the poster, so I asked her to leave some space for Sayuri to sign as well.  Sayuri immediately came running over…”You are talking about me, Chris???”  Hahaha, Sayuri gets a bit jealous about my fawning over Rion.  I told her that I would be coming back around for her to sign the poster.  I got back to the front a few minutes later, and had Sayuri sign the poster.  I also apologized to her for not seeing them for so long.  It was then that she made me promise to come to the Wednesday night event.  Pinky out, “Yakusoku???’  Ummmmmm, okay fine!


(
Rion signed on the left (and bottom right), Sayuri on the right.  BTW, Rion is on the far left side of the poster, and Sayuri is just above her.)

And with that I was done, I waved goodbye to both Sayuri and Rion, and made my way to the bus stop to go home.  Oh, and when I read Rion’s blog that night, she mentioned seeing a fan she hadn’t seen for quite a while.  Wow, that is actually the second time she has referenced me on her blog!

Second Event at Naka-Meguro Club TRY (2017/06/07)

After a long day, I made it over to Meguro in the afternoon.  Actually, I went to Ebisu first since it was early.  I decided to grab a couple of beers are Yebisu Brewery Museum, and hit Shake Shack for dinner.  After that I would walk over to Naka-Meguro, which was less than a kilometer away.  I eventually found the club, which was steps away from the station.  There was short queue, so I decided to line up early.  I’m glad I did, because there was actually seating for this show.  And since I was one of the first people in I could grab a front row seat!  I bought three more copies of the CD, got another poster, and three member tickets.  Two for Rion, and one for Sayuri.

The show started, only this time the other groups, Yokohama, Gunma, and Smile performed first.  I’m not a big fan of Gunma CLEARS, but the Yokohama girls are ALL cute.  There is one girl in Smile that I really like too.  But I wasn’t going to go crazy, especially since I was again, mainly there to see Rion.  Yokohama also sang my favorite CLEARS song, Kansha Fanfare.  Unfortunately the one girl who was trying to fish me was from Gunma CLEARS, and I kept trying to avoid her gaze.  “No, I don’t wanna be fished by you!”

The main group finally came out, and I immediately had Rion positioned about three feet in front of me.  Since I was in front I was getting the chance to interact with all of them, although I think they all know I am Rion’s.  Of course that never stops Sayuri, but was paying a lot of attention to me throughout the show.  Oh, and Tokyo CLEARS has a c/w on the Type-B version called Fuite Fuite, which IMO the best song of the release.  Rion is the center of it, too!

For my first ticket, I decided to visit Rion to have her sign one of my CDs, since they were offering that benefit for this event.  While she was signing I asked about the ‘Fuite’ song, and that was when she told me that it was a c/w for this release.  I was stoked, since that meant I could put it on my ipod.  I then re-queued for Sayuri to sign another version, and she promptly misspelled my name (forgot the H, a common mistake)  She managed to jam an H in there.  I reminded her that I kept my promise to show up to the event.  She was like, “You did, Thank you Chris!”  For my last visit with Rion, I decided I wanted a signed cheki, but I needed another ticket, so I broke down and bought one more copy, which gave me two complete sets of the single.  I suggested the “namida” pose (from Fuite Fuite).  While she signed she said something that really touched my heart…

I started by telling her how happy I was to see her two days in a row, and that I was really sorry I didn’t come for so long.  I just said I was busy, and the lat semester at school was quite difficult.  Her response was amazing.  She told me that she had noticed I wasn’t coming.  She went on to say she never forgot about me, and often wondered what I was doing.  I was floored when she said that.  Now I could be cynical and say that she is just saying that as a fishing tactic.  But I think I know her personality pretty well, and I don’t think she would just make that up.

Anyway, I was done, and my wallet was actually empty.  I had about 450 yen in change in my pocket, so it was time to go home.  Rion reminded me of why was so enamored with her to begin with.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take me so long to see her again.  In the meantime I have another idol show to go to tomorrow.  This has been a very busy week for me, idol-wise.  AKB48 16th Gen, Wasamin (still need to do that writeup), CLEARS x2, tomorrow FESTIVE and KissBee together in Shinjuku, then finally the AKB Shoot Sign event on Saturday, where I will get to play with Akiyoshi.  I think I will need a short idol break after this!

CK in Tokyo

Concerts, Hatakeyama Chisaki Chaki Live at HMV Shibuya…With a Very Special Guest! (2017/05/25)

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It was time for me to catch up with a few idols I have been neglecting over the past few months.  Granted, Chaki doesn’t perform nearly as often as some of these idol groups, but she does appear at least a couple of times every month.

These days I have become a bit more selective when it comes to these ‘Live House’ shows, since they are not cheap.  Not only that, the artist will certainly want to sell you CDs and other goods when you go.  You can pretty much count on dropping at least $60-$100 a show.  On the other hand, once in a while these groups will do ‘free’ lives, so you don’t have to pay the $25-$40 admission just to come through the door.  The other factor I consider is whether it is a ‘one-man live’, or a bunch of groups playing.  With a solo live you are going to see the group you like for at least 30 minutes, probably more.  When there is a bunch of groups on the bill, each one normally plays for only 10-15 minutes.  So I try to find shows with at least two different groups I like, to give me more bang for the buck.

Anyway, Chaki has been out promoting not only her latest single, which came out in January, but also a compilation CD which features her, along with a few other groups.  One of them happens to be Minyo Girls, which I have mentioned on this blog a few different times.  In fact, about a month ago Chaki AND Minyo Girls appeared together in Western Tokyo, but I was sick and chose not to go.  This particular show would be Chaki, and another singer named YUSA, who I had never heard of.  But no matter, I would go, buy a couple of CDs, and cheer for Chaki for a little while.


(
from Chaki’s Instagram)

I got to Shibuya a little early, and grabbed a couple drinks at The Hub before heading over to Modi, and HMV.  The last time I saw Chaki here she had a really small crowd.  I hoped that this night would be different.  As I got up to the 6th floor I heard Chaki rehearsing behind a curtain.  I looked around, and didn’t notice anyone that seemed to be waiting for the show.  That’s odd, it was only like 20 minutes before showtime.  I looked around for the table selling the products for the show, but there was only a small table with a few CDs on it, and some papers strewn about.  This was odd.  It almost felt like the show was an afterthought…

Eventually the curtains came up, and we were allowed to go into the live viewing area.  By ‘we’, I mean me and one other guy, since we were the only two there for the show.  As I stood there, I noticed this pretty girl over by the coffee bar looking at me.  Then I noticed she was standing next to Chaki.  The girl smiled, sorta pointed to me and said something to Chaki, which caused her to turn.  All of a sudden Chaki is waving, and trying to get my attention.  As a joke, I pretended not to recognize her, but she kept waving.  She then asked me if I came to see her?  Hahaha, why does she think I’m there, LOL.  The pretty girl she was with turned out to be YUSA.


(from Chaki’s Instagram)

It was curtain time, and the crowd had “ballooned” to about 5-6 people.  YUSA would be the first to perform.  YUSA is from Kochi Prefecture, and fashions her self as an R&B singer.  I loved her songs, despite the fact that I am not much of an R&B fan.  These were lest R&B style, and more like soft pop.  But they were very pretty, and she sang them very well.  The few people who were there weren’t too enthusiastic, so I decided to make up for it and I clapped, and responded to her audience interaction.  While this was going on Chaki actually came over and stood next to me.  I was watching the show together with Chaki!  It was like a date!  BTW, here is YUSA’s official PV…

 

YUSA set ended, and it was immediately Chaki’s turn.  Chaki did about a 20-30 minute set consisting mainly of songs from her album, ‘Chakiism’ , which I absolutely love and highly recommend.  She also performed her latest single, which is growing on me.  (TBH, I didn’t love it the first time I heard it,)  BTW, the crowd had grown to around 15-20 people when Chaki took the stage.  Also, she sounded GREAT!  I’m used to seeing idol shows, where the ‘singing’ can be less than stellar at times.  So it is always refreshing to see good singers once in a while.  Of course Wasamin always sounds amazing.  Anyway, after Chaki’s show ended, it was time for fan benefits, but there was one problem…

Remember the lonely table I mentioned above?  It was still in the same condition.  In fact people were milling around wondering how to buy the goods.  I decided to take a look at YUSA’s CD, which happened to be on the table.  When I picked it up, YUSA immediately came running over to me saying that if I buy it, I will get all sorts of benefits.  Well, I really liked the songs she sang, and they were ALL on this CD.  Okay, I’ll go for it.  I also figured out that you had to buy Chaki’s CD at the main register, and they were “preorder” items, since the store was out of stock on Chaki CDs.  So I made my purchases, and got my tickets, I was good to go…

(Oh, I went through a huge ordeal picking up my CDs the following week.  First they told me I had to go to a different store, then they said the event didn’t happen there, then they couldn’t find the CDs.  Twenty minutes and two managers later they finally found my order, LOL)

Chaki wasn’t ready to receive fans yet, so I decided to go see YUSA first.  She was sooooo gracious!  I hadn’t opened the CD yet, so she took the time to unwrap it and sign it, all the while asking me where I was from, how long I had lived in Tokyo.  She also asked me if I used SNS.  She was telling me that she had moved to Tokyo from a small town a couple years ago.  It was all very sweet.  I told her that I thought she sounded great, and I really liked her songs.  After she signed my CD, she signed a picture, and then we took a Shamekai.

Meanwhile, Chaki started talking to both of us, and she thanked me for supporting YUSA.  I told Chaki not to worry, and that I had tickets for her too since I bought the Sakura Girls compilation CD.  So she asked me if I wanted a signed Sakura Girls poster, and gestured me to come over to her.  However, she didn’t notice that a queue had already formed to see her.  I was ready to go back a queue up, but the fans were cool, and told me to go ahead.  I thanked her for singing so many songs from her album, and then told YUSA that Chaki’s album is one of my favorites.  I also apologized to her that I hadn’t seen her since December.  Anyway, I got my autographed poster, and I was done.  It was time to head home…

It is strange, Chaki seems to draw bigger crowds at clubs, than when she plays free ‘in-store’ lives.  I’m not sure why that is.  I do know that she has that ‘stamp card’ that gets you invited to a special party with Chaki, and they only stamp the card at paid venues.  That might be the motivating factor.  But I would love to see Chaki drawing more people.  She is so talented.  At the end of the day, I think I am better off biting the bullet and seeing her in some of these clubs, even if it means I have to pay admission to get in.

On the other hand YUSA was a really pleasant surprise.  She hasn’t been doing this for nearly as long, but she is a great singer.  I love her look too.  And she is a really nice girl.  She is someone I will keep my eye on in the future.  When I got home I immediately followed her twitter, and friended her on Facebook.  She accepted my request within a few minutes.  Yatta!

CK in Tokyo

 

 

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