Hi! Remember me? It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? In part that’s because I haven’t been in Japan for almost a year. Not that I haven’t been involved in the idol world at all. Of course there were many idol events in California over the past year like Itano Tomomi and Tokyo Girls Style in San Francisco, as well as Babymetal and Perfume in LA. I went to all of those events. Got all sorts of cool swag too, including a nice “5-shot” from TGS. But this blog is mainly about my experiences traveling to Japan. AND, these days it is primarily about supporting my oshimen Iwasa Misaki. Or as many call her, Wasamin!
That’s why it has been so long since I have been in Japan. I was waiting for Wasamin’s next release. It was finally announced a couple of months ago. Later they finally they announced her promotional tour schedule, and it’s a doozy! Two weeks long! In fact I had already booked my flight before the dates were announced so I missed the first two days. But that’s okay. There would be plenty of Wasafun once I arrive. BTW, the single releases this Wednesday. Check out the PV preview!
But before I get into Wasamin I did schedule two other AKB-related events for this trip. The first one being the AKB48 Green Flash handshake event at Pacifico Yokohama. I didn;t go too overboard on the tickets because…well, this was more of a bonus event for me rather than the reason I came. But even with just 15 tickets it was a blast. Read it and see!
Green Flash Individual Handshake Event @ Pacifico Yokohama 2015/04/25
I can’t believe it has been almost two years since I have been to an individual handshake event. These days I usually come mainly for Wasamin’s releases, which is why I am in Japan now. I also had Labrador Retriever tickets last year, but…well, we all know what happened with that. So it was time to take a short break in the middle of two straight weeks of Wasamin solo events and see some AKB48 Group members I haven’t interacted with in quite a while.I wanted to be prepared for this event in order to minimize any awkward moments with my poor Japanese, so I stayed up all night planning the things I wanted to talk about. Took notes, made sure I had the proper verb conjugations, that kind of stuff. I headed to Yokohama early in order to avoid any hassle with the infamous “foreigner ticket stamp procedures” as well as the security. But all that proved to be much ado about nothing as the venue was relatively empty. At least in the morning. Anyway, got my tickets stamped. I was ready to go. I had a bunch of Wasamin tickets in the early slots, but I wanted to get my first handshake out of the way before she saw me. That way she wouldn’t wonder who else I was going to see…By the way, I would say about 80% of these conversations were in Japanese. I actually surprised myself that I was able to pull it off as well as I did. I was even able to comprehend questons and answer them. So perhaps my Japanese is getting a little better. Now it’s just “kinda shitty”. It did help that I “crammed for the test” the night before.
Goto Izumi (Slot 1):
Surprisingly, I haven’t met very many HKT members that haven’t once been in AKB. There’s Tani. Then there’s…well Tani. That’s it. And she isn’t even in HKT anymore. The only two HKT members that I am really drawn to these days are Tomiyoshi and Iichan. Since I was limiting my tickets for this event, I chose Izumi. As I approached her I got the requisite “A foreigner!” look, her smile is as beautiful as I have seen on TV. And that’s basically what I said to her. I wanted to meet her because I think she has the most wonderful smile. She was sweet, and genki, just a nice experience. I am glad I finally got to meet her.
Iwasa Misaki (Slots 1-2):
Now I have already seen Wasamin a whole bunch this week while she is doing her preorder tour. But I actually hadn’t talked to her in person for over a year. To be honest, her personality has subtly changed since she turned 20. In fact, she has been slightly salty for the first few days. Not just to me personally, but in general. I will talk about that more when I do a Wasamin solo writeup.Wasamin seemed more genki on this day. We mainly talked about her new single, which we got to listen to in its entirety last night in Saitama. I told her last night I love all of the songs, but I said my favorite is Hatachi no Meguriai. I asked which was her favorite, figuring she would say “all of them” But she said Hatsuzake is definitely her favorite of the four. That makes sense, since that is “her” song while the others are covers. Speaking of Hatsuzake, Wasamin asked me if I drink alcohol, and which kind of drinks I like best. She guessed beer (wonder why ) But I told her I also liked Sake, and Hiballs. I also complimented her recent performances of Obayo and Koi no Hallelujah, and suggested a Request Covers 2 Album. I will need to mention that again when her manager is around. You know, plant the seed. It turns out Wasamin was actually really tired as she reported on Twitter after the event that she accidentally got on the wrong train, then fell asleep endng up way out in Zushi. I still have 14 more Wasamin events to go between now and May 2nd, so plenty more Wasa-conversation to be had. We may need to have one about not burning herself out.
Oh, and a little aside. Wasamin was next to Miichan and Kojimako. During one of my Wasamin handshakes Mako’s queue was empty, and she was watching my interaction with Wasamin. It was cute.
Tsuchiasu Mizuki (Slot 3):
Yes, redemption. Two years ago I went to the 15th gen debut at the theater and got to sit front row center. I had the most awesome interations with Mizuki for the entire show. It was an amazing experience. A few months later I finally got to meet her at a National Handshake Event in Iwate. I was hoping she would remember me from her first show. But I fumbled the words and completely confused her which lead to a completely awkward experience. It is NEVER good when an idol frustratedly exclaims “Nani???” at you. This time I was ready. I knew exactly what i wanted to say to her. When I got to the front of the queue Mizuki was completely excited and genki, which was a great sign! I reminded her about that fateful first show. I don’t know if she remembered or not, but she seemed to really like the story as she gave me an excited reaction. Later I told her that her that she does the best version of Kuchi Utsushi no Chocolate. Mizuki is just sooo sexy. I didn’t tell her that, but that was the underlying meaning to my compliment.
Anyway, I can finally put to bed my long frustration over a bad handshake experience with Mizuki last year. This totally made up for it.
Yokoyama Yui (Slot 4):
I used to go see Yui all the time. She had even given me the nickname “California-san”, which these days she also calls @Tensai . But it had been a very long time since I had seen her. Not sure if she remembered me or not, but I quickly congratulated her on her promotion and told her I bought her new photobook. She asked what I thought if it, which I responded that I thought it was beautifully done. But There was no “California-san”, so it looks like Tensai has taken that moniker from me.
The rest of my tickets were for SKE48 members. And let me tell you, these were among some of the craziest moments I have ever had at handshake events. And as usual it involved many of the same cast of characters that were involved in my last insane handshake experience back in 2013.
Yakata Miki (Slot 4):
Mikitty and Tani are my two favorite SKE members. If you read the above spoiler I think you might understand my feelings for Miki. Not to mention this experience from last year…
Lane 9: Isohara Kyoka/Kinoshita Yukiko/Yakata Miki (x3) Saving the best for “almost” last, I have made a new best friend in SKE, and that is Mikitty! I posted about my insane experience with her back in June. http://stage48.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=113&start=5625#p716892 The moment she reacted after seeing me in the exit lane I knew I was in for a great time with her. The only problem was that for some reason I don’t really connect with Yukiko… But it was pretty clear who I was in that queue to see. I reminded her of our exchange at Makuhari, which she remembered. She then asked me to come back through their lane. I got a big “I LOVE YOU” the 2nd time around, and the last time she asked me my name. When I answered she loudly repeated it back “Chris! Chris!” I have obviously connected with her in a major way, evidenced by her Google+ entry after the event. I didn’t even think to look, but one of her local fans found me on twitter and told me about it.https://plus.google.com/102565671074822095382/posts/VxoUmmvtJEp So yeah, Lane 9 was a huge WIN!
So I see Mikitty’s empty queue, along with every other SKE girls’ empty queue in the immediate vicinity. Such a shame. I enter the lane. Immediately Matsumoto Chikako, who was to Mikitty’s right pops up and runs into Mikitty’s lane. I can venture a guess as to what she said to her, and Miki immediately begins craning her neck around the guard to see who is coming. The moment she sees me she waves and loudly yells. “HEY! I REMEMBER YOU!!! MISTER CHRIS!!!” Now this catches Tsuzuki Rika’s attention who is next to Chikako. So now I am having a threeway experience as the two other girls are partcipating. I apologized for not seeing her in so long and that her little white hat was adorable. She thanked me as the other two girls were squeeing away. As I walked away I hear Mikitty again shouting “MISTER CHRIS!! I LOVE YOU MISTER CHRIS!! I NEED YOU MISTER CHRIS!!!” Total win, right? But it gets even better…
With a smile still firmly attached to my face, I notice the three girls’ queues are still empty. I figure I am going to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. So I head back into Miki’s queue. The first one who sees me is Rikachu, who begins jumping up and down in delight and frantically waving to me. I begin pointing back to her which resulted in the most indescribable reaction of joy. This is already hilarious. Chikako is eyeing me with this huge grin on her face. Then Mikkitty gives me a quote for the ages…
“MISTER CHRIS…YOU COME TWICE!!!”
I’m sure I don’t have to tell most of you why I found that hysterically funny. And might I add sexy. But lets keep it clean, since for Miki it was an innocent comment. And I was impressed with how much English she was actually speaking. I told her that I loved her SKE baito episode. She thanked me for watching it. Once again as I walked out the exit I can hear her still exclaiming “THANK YOU MISTER CHRIS! COME SEE ME AGAIN MISTER CHRIS”
I left wishing I had another 10 tickets for Mikitty. Althou I’m not sure I would be able to contain myself if Mikitty said “Mister Chris, you come five times!!!” And wait…this was not the only crazy experience I had with the SKE girls. But first…
Tani Marika (Slot 3)
Now I have met Tani before, but it was only once and a long time ago. That said, I absolutely adore her. If it wasn’t for Wasamin, Tani would quite possibly be my oshimen right now. I get the surpised look and Tani immediately goes into her random English. I immediately chime in “Hello cute face Tani Marika, busu ja nai!” She responds. “You think I’m cute? I think you’re cute! Am I your oshimen?” Now this is a question I do not like lying over. As much as I love Marika, I cannot call her my oshimen. So instead I told her she was my favorite member in SKE. I think that satisfied her. She asked me to come see her again. not a problem as I had a ticket for her in Slot 5. As I walked away down the long exit Tani resumed the random English, filled with “Thank You” and “I love you” and what not. The nice thing was that Marika was much more interactive than before. She was actually listening to me as opposed to the old days when she would just talk at me…
Finally, Slot 5. Oh boy…
I had two tickets for my last slot of the day. One for Tani, and one for Kaotan. And they were right next to each other. This had disaster written all over it. How was I going to navigate this? Especially after my previous experiences with the both of them.
Tani Marika (Slot 5) As I walked down the lane Kaotan is with another fan, but I can see her spying me out of the corner of her eye. I head straight in for Marika and get the same excited reaction as before. I decide to tell her that I bought the AKB49 DVD. She asked if I had seen it (which I had). I told her that she and Kaotan were the best part of the show, and I purposefully said it loudly in hope that Kaotan would hear it. Anyway, Tani was happy with my response. Again, the random English. I shot backwith an obnoxious “Tani Marika…Tani Marika!” which got giggles from the people in Kaotan’s queue. I finally turned and waved at her. I had one ticket left, and I had to go prep.
Matsumura Kaori (Slot 5) It was Kaotan. And as much as I love her, she can be intimidating as hell. But I was ready. The last time I saw her she asked “Why Why Why! do I like her?” I would begin the handshake by answering that question. The moment I walked in, Kaotan gave me her infamous crossed-arm handshake and I immediately said “Kaotan is so cool!”“Eehhh? Thank you I love you!” was her response. I then told her that I was able to buy her Matsumurabu CD and that the PV is the best. The guard begins pushing me out…
“Chotto Matte!” she says, and she tugs me back over to her. She stubbornly tells the guard that she isn’t finished with me yet. He lets go. She then grabs a pen and asks me to spell my name. I’m thinking “what the hell is this about?”. “Chris?” she asks. All of a sudden I hear my name being chirped from the right over and over.“Chris! Chris!” Tani is now part of this. The guards again begin pushing me out and Kaotan again yells at them to stop. I apologize to the guards and they both say it’s okay, and step back. It was then I knew what Kaotan was up to as I have heard about it before. She was going to give me a present. I said “Oh! Kaotan no famous business caado?” “Hai!”…
Just then I hear a third voice chime in “Hello!” from the other booth next to Kaotan. I respond “Hajimemashite Narumi-chan!” Ichino responds “Oh, you know?!?!?”and smiles. By now Kaotan is done and I get my present…
To the guard’s relief Kaori finally lets me leave. I thank her profusely and she asks me to see her again, which reminds me I have a ticket for Kaotan at the SKE event this week too. So I tell her I will see her on Wednesday. And I leave to a chorus of “Bye Chris!” from both Tani and Kaotan.
Yeah…I love SKE48. Such awesome members!
Aside from those interaction I did have a few other interesting experiences. First with Motomura Aoi’s Seitensai committee who ambushed me to sign a birthday card for her. We had an interesting conversation about DD while I signed it. But this is already too long. They also gave me a 12Byou theater version for my troubles.
Additionally I got swept into the middle of Ikoma Rina’s farewell speech since this was her last event for AKB. I just accidentally happened to be in a good spot when she came out. But the fans were so desperate to get closer As a result I ended up getting pushed further and further away. I finally bailed when I couldn’t even see her anymore.
Oh, and they played he full PV of the new AKB single at the event on Saturday. It was excellent!
That’s all for now. It was a tiring day and afterward I had dinner with a couple of Stage48 users who shall remain nameless I need to do some Wasamin solo tour writeups. But first I need sleep.