The SKE/NMB/HKT Makuhari Messe Extravaganza (2017/11/23)

(SKE 21st Single Akushukai, NMB 3rd Album Shamekai, HKT 10th Single Akushukai)

It was a ‘perfect storm’ of events at Makuhari Messe on Thursday, which happened to be Japan’s Labor Thanksgiving Holiday. SKE, NMB, and HKT all had major events to support their latest releases. For HKT, it also served as sort of a kickoff for their 6th Anniversary Celebration. For the most daring of wota, this could be an exercise of how you can handle going to three group events at the same time. This was compounded by the fact that while SKE and NMB were in neighboring halls, HKT was in a different building entirely, on the other side of the property. As for me, I had meticulously planned my day far in advance, scheduling all of my HKT tickets for the morning and early afternoon, and all of my SKE tickets for the evening. (I didn’t have any NMB tickets) So I didn’t need to worry about going back and forth from event to event. I basically stayed at HKT all day, and moved over to the main halls after 4pm.

The was the first Tokyo event celebrating HKT’s 10th single, Kiss wo Matsushikanai no Deshouka?. The have a second Tokyo event in early January. I had 14 tickets for today, ranging from the first slot through slot five (including the lunch slot) However, it was announced a couple of days earlier that Rikopi would not be attending the January event, so her tickets could be used on this day instead. Since I had one January ticket for her, that made 15 tickets to use today. I know I have said this before, but I HATE going to Slot 1 at these events. It requires me to get on a very early train, something I don’t love doing on a weekend or holiday. But when you favorite member is scheduled early, you tend to want to go early. In any case, I got there on time, and got my tickets stamped. (The girl initially questioned the absence of my middle name, but the supervisor said no problem) With nine minutes to go before the gate closed, I had two tickets for the same lane…

Slot One

‘Group Lane’ Akiyoshi Yuka/Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 23) With less than nine minutes, I wasn’t sure if I would have time to loop this line, so I decided just to use both tickets at once. When I was five away from the front, both Rikopi and Yuka had already spotted me and started waving, since the guard was creating this weird delay between fan visits. When I finally got to the front, it was an English buffet from the girls. Of course the first thing I noticed was that Yuka-chan had cut her hair short, so I went on and on about how cute it was, at which point Rikopi began playing with her hair. Oh, and I might note that Rikopi was wearing a Jack Daniels T-shirt, which I found quite humorous. Since the guard was delaying the next fan after I was pushed out, they kept taking and flirting with me until I was a good 30 meters away. In the meantime, I met up with one of the heads of Yuka-chan’s birthday committee (who is REALLY cute!) since she wanted to give me a copy of the birthday scrapbook. It is a really nice book, professionally done. Eight pages total, with photos, trivia, and an Akiyoshi quiz/crossword on the back.

There were two long queues in the back of the venue, one for goods, the other for pics. I wanted to see what kind of goods they had, but couldn’t get anywhere near the sign. I would check it out later. I also met up with my friend Yukikaze, who is a Rikopi fan, but also a member of the Wasamin fan club. I wanted to confirm with him what I had read on the message board about Rikopi’s January tickets.

Slot Two

Yamamoto Mao (lane 2) I bought this ticket since I had such great time meeting Mao last Summer at the HKT National Event. But it had been quite a few months since I had that ‘kami’ experience. I wondered if the same ‘electricity’ would still exist. Her queue wasn’t very big, so I lined up right at the beginning of the slot. While I waited, I noticed Ui Mashiro was staring at me from over in the first lane. She wasn’t smiling, or waving, she was just staring at me. I got a weird vibe from her, so I avoided her gaze. In the meantime, the moment Mao saw me she began jumping up and down in excitement. Yes!!! This is precisely the attitude that inspired me to get a ticket for her in the first place. So I explained to her that she made such an impression on me last Summer, that I wanted to see her again. She was genki, and thankful, and at the end I was very happy I got that ticket. And yes, I do want to see her again.

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 9) I always go into Bibian’s lane not knowing what to say, and then coming up with something at the last second. Imamura was in the lane next to her, with nobody in her queue. Poor Maria, she was wrapped in a blanket looking cold and lonely. As I got closer to the front I noticed Bibian was fascinated the the cosplay (I guess you could call it cosplay) the guy in front of me was wearing. So I commented to Bibian that he was wearing very interesting clothes, and that he looked like Sherlock Holmes. Just then, Bibian lit up; Yes! Holmes-san!!! So I used my ten seconds to gossip about another fan. Sounds good.

Slot Three

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 8) I had two tickets for third slot, and they were in neighboring lanes. I have been kinda taxed to come up with things to talk with Maichan about as well, although last event I was saved by the Hawks winning the Japan Series. In any case, struggling with what to say, I just blurted out that her hat was cute. She was like “really, you like it?” “Maichan always wears cute clothes!” I had another ticket for Maichan next slot. Could I come up with more to say?

By the way, while I was waiting in line for Mai, I had a good view of Sakura working with her fans. I admit that I am not the biggest Sakura fan by a longshot, but Sakura DOES try very hard to be genki and connect with her fans. I almost didn’t recognize her, since I am not used to seeing her interact with fans. She is much different than how she comes across on stage on on television.

Tomonaga Mio (Lane 7) I was really excited to see Mio since I saw her perform recently at the AKB theater. I wanted to tell her how much I liked her performance. I actually did. It was my first time seeing her perform in the theater live, and I thought she was adorable. When my turn came, Mio was smiling, hardly reacting. Hmm, I thought she would remember seeing me at the theater. “I saw you perform with Team 4!” Still not much of a reaction. “I wrote to the ticket center that you were the show MVP!” THAT got the reaction. “Yatta!” as she lifted her hand for a high-five. I broke through, so I was happy. I know Mio sorta has a rep for not being the most exciting handshake experience, but do really like her. So I will go the extra mile in order to make a connection.

Slot Four

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) <2 tickets> Including those morning group tickets, I would have seven meetings wi Yuka-chan today, so I better have a lot to talk about. Of course I could always help her with her English. So for the first ticket I told her that the group slot was a lot of fun, and that I do really like her hair. The short hair, coupled with the sexy outfit she had on, really made her look more mature. Of course, she still has that babyface of hers. I also mentioned that I really liked Rikopi’s Jack Daniel’s T-shirt, and explained that it is a famous American whiskey. I quickly looped around, since her line was pretty short. It was at this time I told her that I would be going to California for Winter vacation. She aid that she didn’t know that was where I was from, which kind of surprised me, so she asked when I was coming back, and I told her before New Year’s.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 8) For my second ticket, not sure what to talk about with Maichan, I decided to expand on the last conversation. I mentioned that I oftem look at her social media, since she is always wearing ‘cute’ outfits. This is actually true…well, partially true. The truth is that I often look at her social media since I think Mai is extremely sexy, and I think she picks out clothes that emphasize her body very well. But couldn’t say it to her that way, could I? Could I? I got pushed out rather quickly this time, so it hardly mattered.

It was around this time that I ran into my friend Panda, who had his usual stack of Mikurin tickets. He was also going back and forth from the HKT and SKE events. The queue for goods had gotten considerably smaller, so we decided to check out what they had for sale….

At first glance, it a lot of senbatsu stuff, and a bunch of T-shirts, which I usually ignore since that rarely have my size. They did have new 6th Anniversary keychains for all of the members, so I decided I would get one for Yuka-chan. They also had gacha balls, where you could win a small member pin, and a guitar pick. But it was random, and I was only interested in getting Yuka-chan. As we exited the goods area, I noticed that the T-shirts all came in XL size. Wait a second! I took a better look at the 6th Anniversary T-shirts. Oh my god, they are all modeled after famous Hard Rock logos! One of them was even tie-dyed. This changes everything! The ‘Nirvana’ shirt was cool, but I have never really liked them. The main logo was an AC/DC version, but I didn’t like that it prominently said “ROCK”, and not HKT48. Since the last shirt was based on the logo of a band I used to really like a long time ago, the choice became clear.

I got the ‘Metallica’ version. It is the least colorful, but it ticked every other box of what I like in a shirt. I really would have liked to have gotten them all, but I didn’t want to overspend. Perhaps if I get another opportunity, I will pick up another one.

Lunch Slot

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) I wanted to show off my new Yuka-chan keychain. She was like “Oh, you got it!” Yuka grabbed on to it to get a better look. It is small, but she looks really cute on it. I also mentioned that I got the T-shirt.

By the way, Toyonaga Aki was in the next lane over. Not only did she look really cute, she was really outgoing with her fans. I have met her before, but it was back when she was a relatively new kenkyuusei. My, how she has blossomed. Just a mental note; I may want to meet her again in the future


‘Rikopi Challenge’ Posters were hung all around her lane

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 15) <2 tickets> I had decided that I would use that ‘extra’ ticket that I was suddenly tasked with using in this slot. However, I think a lot of people had the same idea, as it was pretty much the longest queue I had ever seen for Rikopi. My friend Yukikaze informed me that Rikopi would also be holding the “Rikopi Challenge” with the fans in her lane. What the hell is that? He tried to explain it to me, and I got the gist, but I couldn’t understand just enough to make me apprehensive about it. I decided to start out by using only one ticket. Since the Lunch Slot is short, I ran the risk of not being able to use the other ticket, but oh well. When I got to the front, it was basically another handshake. Of course this was Rikopi, so there was lots of English, and goofing around. I told her that her T-shirt was awesome, and asked if she had ever tried Jack Daniels before. She said that one time she had a little bit. Hmmm, not sure I’m entirely believing her. I told her that I drink it all the time, LOL. The good news was that there was still time left in the slot, so i was able to requeue and use my January ticket. It was at this time that I asked her about the Rikopi Challenge. So she stretched her hand and said “Let’s play Janken” After three ties, she won, which meant I had to play a batsu game. The punishment was basically her slapping my wrist with her fingers. If I had won, she would have given me a special message, or blow me a kiss.

Slot Five

This would be my final slot before switching over to SKE. While waiting I watched some of the special stages the members do at the event. People were queuing for these very early, and the viewing area was always packed. So while I walked by during a few of the events, i only watched one for an extended period since Bibian was on stage, along with Imamura Maria, Yamauchi Yuna, Ui Mashiro, and another member I couldn’t recognize since I was pretty far back. They had a contest on who was most skilled at playing the recorder. Amazingly, Bibian was actually quite good at it.

A short time later I had a random fan walk up to me and ask me if Akiyoshi was my oshimen. I said yes. He reached into his bag and pulled out an Akiyoshi gacha pin to give me. SCORE! And I didn’t even have to try to win one. Unfortunately, he only gave me the pin, and not the guitar pick, but who am I to complain? I had three tickets for the last slot, two for Yuka-chan, and my fifth Rikopi ticket of the day. Sheesh! That was kind of an anomaly, I didn’t plan to see her so much.

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) <2 tickets> My last two tickets for Yuka-chan, for the first one I showed her my gacha pin. She asked if I actually won it at the machine, but I explained to her that I got it as a gift. For my last ticket, I told her that I really liked her sweater, and that she is a very nice dresser. She thanked me, and asked when I would see her again. I told her I would see her at the January event.

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 15) Running out of stuff to say, I told Rikopi about my Winter Vacation plans. Her initial reaction was almost like a panic. She was like “You are coming back, right???” I said, don’t worry, I am coming back to Japan. For some reason she laughed at the way I said it, but I’m not sure why.

I was finally done with all of my HKT tickets, and I had 90 minutes until I needed to be at SKE, so I hing around in the HKT venue for a while, running into BigC and Panda. I also waited until the end of the slot so I could wave goodbye to Yuka-chan with the rest of her fans. After that I slowly made my way across the bridge to the main halls, grabbing a snack at the conbini along the way, and quickly meeting up with my friend Nori, who was exclusively at the NMB event.


From the SKE48 costume display area

This was the second Tokyo event promoting the Igai ni Mango single. The first event was all the way back in July. I got most of my tickets for the first event, and only got these tickets after I reserved my HKT stuff, so I knew there wouldn’t be any overlap. I had four tickets total, but there was a dinner break between the slots. So it would basically be two tickets, then a long wait, then the last two tickets. Instead of by slot, I will report these by member.

Oh, and it was around slot A4 and into the dinner break that Yuasa was announcing the next single senbatsu via twitter, so I hoped (in vain) that I would be congratulating the girls at some point. Oh, and one other interesting note. I forgot to get my tickets stamped, and had no problem whatsoever using them in the lanes. However, it should be noted that I do have a Japanese identification, and almost everything on it matches the info on my tickets.

Slots A4-A5

Tani Marika (Lane 17) When I got toward the front of the queue, I noticed there was a cameraman near her, occasionally filming. In any case, I decided to play with her a little bit. Marika immediately noted that she has seen a lot of me lately. So I told her that last week I tried her Cup Ramen recipe (from the AKB recipe event a couple of weeks ago) She asked how it came out. “Oishii!!” I got a big thumbs up. Nice.

When I was waiting for her in the last slot, once again she was being followed around my a cameraman. So I asked her what the filming was about. She initially played dumb with me. I said that I saw the camera, and asked if they were making a movie about her. She still played dumb, so I basically said that I want to see a “Documentary of Tani” That she liked. LOL.

In-between slots I did check out the goods line, although it was the exact same stuff I saw in July. 90% of it was sold out too. I could have picked up a Kaotan oshi towel if I wanted, but I have enough oshi towels in my life already, so bail.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 13) For the first ticket I asked her which song I should vote for at Request Hour. Personally, I would vote for Matsumurabu in a second if it was eligible, but it isn’t. So she recommended Koko de Ippatsu. Interestingly, she didn’t recommend Koi Yori mo Dream. I wonder why? Per usual, Kaotan immediately asked me how many tickets I have, and if I would be seeing her in both slots. This time, I could answer affirmatively. So she was happy. BTW, Kaotan’s lane was right next to Oya Masana. This would be Masanya’s final handshake event. I was bummed that I didn’t get a ticket for her today, but I did see her couple of times recently. And she did spot me in Kaotan’s queue. Anyway…

After a long and tiring 10-hour day, I was finally on my last ticket. Since I am sure Detective Kaotan would want to know, I told her my Holiday plans. Interestingly, she immediately responded “You are spending Christmas with family?” Yep. “When are you coming back to Japan? January?” No, December, the 29th. I will see you in January. “Good, enjoy California!

I contemplated sticking around for Masanya’s farewell, but it meant sticking around for at least another 90 minutes. Normally I wouldn’t really care, but I DO have a history with Masanya that goes back to the early days of SKE, and in that respect I really wanted to be there. However, I was exhausted, hungry, and I had Japanese studying that I needed to get done. So I decided not to wait around. I did see the ceremony on Kaotan’s Periscope, so that was a nice consolation.

So that’s it for me and the 48-groups in 2017. It was been an extremely exciting year. And the next events kick off in the first week of January. In the meantime, I do have a few Wasamin events coming up before I head to Cali, including her ‘Love Live’ acoustic concert this weekend.

CK in Tokyo