HKT48 “Saikou ka Yo” Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama (2016/10/15)

I’m finally getting a chance to do this writeup. In fact I went to two SKE events last month that I still haven’t talked about. But this particular event was quite special…

HKT48 “Saikou ka Yo” Individual Handshake Event at Pacifico Yokohama (2016/10/15)

This was my first opportunity to attend an exclusive HKT handshake event. SKE has been my favorite 48-group for a while now, but HKT is quickly gaining on them. Especially after I went to four of the Sashiko du Soliel concerts. The other issue is that I have met so few of the HKT48 members. I met Sasshi and Rabutan back when they were AKB. I met Tani when she was in HKT, but she transferred. Then there was Iichan. :( I finally met Vivian and Tomiyoshi earlier this year, and it left me wanting to meet more of them. Anyway…

I had eleven tickets, and would be meeting a half a dozen girls for the first time. A couple of other features of this event. 1) the group lanes, where you could do handshakes with more than one girl at once. This was similar to a National Handshake, but it gave you an opportunity to meet a new member if they were paired with someone you liked There was also a side stage, where various members would come out and do random performances. The new gen members were on that stage quite a bit. Anyway…

Murakawa Vivian (3 tickets): After meeting Vivian in February I was eager to see her again. That bright smile is simply intoxicating. I’m not sure if she remembered me from before, but she didn’t ask me if I understood Japanese, so maybe she did remember. Vivian always looks really trendy, and I loved the cute little hat she wears. I essentially said that I was excited to see her again and that I loved her outfit.

Group Lane: Okamoto Naoko, Fuchigami Mai: I was really in this lane to see Maichan, but I do kind of like Naopon. In fact while I was in line for Vivian I could see that this lane was all sorts of crazy. That was mainly thanks to Naopon. She is shot out of a cannon. Okamoto brings the energy up in whatever lane she is in. So I pretty much came into this lane expecting to be attacked. Of course, it was a barrage of English. I barely had a chance to tell Naopon that I was excited about visiting her “Chaos Lane” later on. (That description is coming in a few paragraphs) Anyway, I didn’t really get a chance to say anything to Maichan because Naoko was so dominant. But that was okay since I had a Fuchigami ticket for later on…

I spent my downtime over at the birthday booths. I signed cards for Yuka-chan, Mai-chan, and Aoitan. Interestingly, I would be having first time meeting with all of them later that day, which I told each of the committee reps.

Akiyoshi Yuka: Oh boy…this is one ticket I was really looking forward to. I have always wanted to meet Akiyoshi, but either chickened out, or out of not wanting to have too many tickets I eliminated her. This time I was committed to meeting her, and she did not disappoint.

She had no queue, so as I came down the lane she had this look on her face like she was shocked someone like me would be coming to see her. It was all a big fishing tactic, and it was so adorable. I took her hand, and told her how I had wanted to meet her for a long time, and I was glad to finally see her. She immediately responded to me in English, and not just idol English, it was like she barely had an accent. I was so impressed. She asked my name and immediately repeated it back. I left that lane floating on air. She was such an awesome first handshake. I mentioned to my friends that if I could trade all my remaining tickets for Yukachan tickets I would. But there was more fun to come…

Motomura Aoi: This was one of those last-minute tickets as I was trying to fill out my schedule. I remembered a couple years ago when a group of Aoitan fans tried to enroll me into supporting her. They were really nice guys, so I thought I would finally meet her.

It was by far the longest queue I endured all day, and it was painfully slow. I sat in the lane watching the Sakura fans looping her line next door. I mean Sakura’s line was long, but it moved. In fact I saw our fearless admin ItheBigC go through the line twice while I waited for Aoitan. But it did give me quite a bit of time to watch Sakura interact with her fans. I also watched Sasshi work on a huge queue in the Handicapped lane. When I finally got to the front of the queue (behind three guys who all had 10+ tickets) I realized I really didn’t have anything to say to her. BTW, Aoitan is tiny! I always thought she would be bigger based on the chubby cheeks, but her cheeks are the only big thing about her. She is really petite and cute. I basically told her that I enjoyed watching her on Odekake, I also complimented her smile. She did that universal “finger in the dimples” smile move as I was pushed out. She is a nice girl…

Murashige Anna: This was another after-thought ticket. I needed tickets for the lunch slot, and since I had already lost for the Vivian/Maria group lane I decided to meet Anna. After all, I have always be a fan of strong variety types, and Murashige certainly fits that bill.

As the slot started I watched as Imamura and Vivian walked to their lane. What an amazing dynamic that was! Vivian is petite, and she was towering over Maria. The two of them together was just too cute for words. I gestured over to that lane and said to my friend “Look at all those lucky people, about to have the time of their lives with those two”

So I jumped into Anna’s queue, which was pretty short. Again, I didn’t have much to say to her, and was kinda hoping she would take the lead. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, so it was basically a generic “nice to meet you” type of handshake. But that was my fault.

Tomiyoshi Asuka: I have had two previous lukewarm meetings with Asuka-chan, but at this point I have stuck with her since I have liked her within the group for a long time. That and she is the spitting image of a friend of mine in America. Anyway, she had on this slick leather jacket which I said was kakkoi. She laughed and said, “Yeah, cool!” I congratulated her on being in the Bagutte Iijan senbatsu. And that was basically it. She is pretty much just a reactor when it comes to handshakes, which is fine. However I am becoming a bit less-enthused about meeting her in the future. For me she’s like the HKT-version of Yokoyama Yui. I like them, but their handshakes are lacking a bit of electricity.

Fuchigami Mai: I was interested in seeing how she would react to seeing me again after meeting me in the group lane hours earlier. She had a very excited initial reaction, so I told her that I had a lot of fun in her lane with Naopon, and they made a great team. Then right as I was being tapped to leave she said in English “I want to see you again, please come back, okay? Promise?” My heart absolutely melted. The way she said it was so sincere. I stuck out my pinky and quickly said “Yakusoku!” And I really meant it. I am definitely putting her on top of my HKT priority list.

BTW, while I was waiting in Maichan’s queue I noticed this cute girl in cosplay over in the next lane. I checked the sign to see who it was.Yamada Marina. Wow, I had never paid attention to her before! My friend said that she dresses in cosplay quite often. I said “So she is kinda like Tanamin?” Anyway, Marina has entered my “possible future handshake” list.

“The Chaos Lane” <Okamoto, Murashige, Akiyoshi, Murakawa> (2 tickets) This lane promised to be the limit. It was filled with fun personalities, and then you had Akiyoshi who is my new BFF. Not surprisingly Naopon dominated the lane. Yukachan was trying to compete with Naopon, and the other two kinda stayed off to the side. It was another side of Vivian I had never noticed before. When around her senpai she gets sorta quiet and shy. Anyway, I went into the lane.

Two girls took each hand, and the four of them began talking at me at the same time. I remarked that this was the greatest group lane ever and they all started laughing. By the way, the entire time Akiyoshi kept saying my name. I was so impressed. A few minutes later I went in with my last ticket for the night. I told all four of them that it was great to finally meet all of them and that I had a lot of fun. (for three of them this was the first day I had talked to them) I think it was Anna who said she also had fun. Akiyoshi said “Thank you Chris” I then asked her if she considered herself to be good in English, which she denied. We will see the next time I see her. Anyway my tickets were done. I would sit for almost three hours outside near Queen’s Square playing Pokemon Go! while I waited for my friends to finish using their tickets…

By the end of the evening I couldn’t stop talking about Akiyoshi. I had such a great time with her. Same with Fuchigami. Both of them were really great experiences. I have always contended that meeting the members will often change who you want to root for, and in the case of HKT that is very true for me. I was so motivated to see Yukachan and Maichan again I went home and immediately applied for handshake tickets for the upcoming AKB48 single. It was already in the 7th round, but I was able to secure tickets for Akiyoshi, Fuchigami, and Vivian. I also applied for my favorite SKE members, as well as one Tanamin ticket. It is funny that I didn’t even begin applying until the 7th round but I got every ticket that I wanted.

A couple days later HKT announced resale for their upcoming handshake event at Makuhari, so I grabbed a few tickets for that, including one ticket for the infamous Imamura/Vivian group lane. I am really excited to see Akiyoshi and Fuchigami again. I want them to know they both cultivated a new fan.

In the meantime I attended a Wasamin event this evening at the Ginza Enka Festival and had an extremely memorable moment. It isn’t often that an idol goes the extra mile for a fan. But that’s exactly what Wasamin and her manager did for me tonight.

CK in Tokyo