I posted a lot of the facts and figures yesterday in the previous entry, now for my personal experiences…
My Wasamin support got off to a slow start this week. I didn’t attend the previous weekend’s pre-order events in Chiba and Ibaraki since 1) they were quite far from Tokyo, 2) I had studying to do, and 3) I didn’t feel like making any more pre-orders that would require me to pay for shipping. I did plan on going to the Monday events in Saitama, but that went out the window when I won a matinee AKB Theater show. That left me with the Wednesday through Saturday events, and while I would be unable to attend the early performances since they conflicted with work and school, the evening events were doable, as was the finale on Saturday. Ultimately I would attend four events and see five performances, which would be plenty to add to my stack of new CDs, many of which arrived in the mail Thursday morning from the various pre-order events I went to in December and January.
Wasamin’s management offers various pre-order and release week prizes to keep her fans engaged and encourage purchases. For the pre-order events we were given stamp cards you could turn in for various prizes like a Wasamin, pen, toothbrush, or T-shirt. While during the release week events they kept the tradition of fans drawing for various bonus prizes. For this single you could win a 2-shot cheki, your CD autographed, an autographed poster, or a 1-shot cheki. Also, if you collected 10 losing tickets you could turn them in for an 8th Single Clear file. As an additional bonus, people who attended the event at Akihabara UDX received a ‘Wasamin Version’ Choco Thunder Candy bar, which was additionally offered as a prize on Thursday. I collected five of the chocolate bars, four on Wednesday and one on Thursday. I tried one, it was nice.
This is the third edition of personalized Wasa-chocolate; Kit-Kat, LOOK, and now this one. And of course there are always the autograph boards and stickers which you get with each single purchase.
Wednesday at Akihabara UDX
I really wanted to attend this event since I thought it was going to be the press event for the single. Unbeknownst to be Wasamin held a separate press event without the fans that morning at a shrine near Sangenjaya. Given that I didn’t get off work until 6 p.m. I was worried that I would be late for the performance. However, my bosses didn’t have any more work for me, so I asked if I could take off a little early to make the event. I even hinted that I would write a report about the event that they could possibly use for publication. In any case, I got to Akihabara in plenty of time, and was able to participate in the seat lottery. My draw was crappy, but I still found a spot in the third row.
2. Koisuru Fortune Cookie (Enka ver.)
3. Wakare no Yokan
4. Koi no Owari Sangenjaya
To be honest, the crowd was quite underwhelming, and at the time I was especially worried about the lack of press in attendance. The event space at UDX, which is directly behind the AKB48 Theater, is a big place, but it doesn’t have too much foot traffic, and if somebody wanted to watch the event they would have to commit to stepping inside the event space. So it was pretty much limited to the Wasafan regulars, and a few random salarymen who ventured inside. The event was hosted by NagaraPro MC Nishiyori Higashi, who not only warned up the crowd but did sort of an impromptu interview with Wasamin between each song. BTW, I had purchased four copies of the CD, which would afford me two 2-shot shamekai.
I happened to still be wearing my work badge, which Wasamin took hold of. “Is this why you haven’t been coming to my events? Your job?” She sounded so sad when she said it that I could merely apologize. But as she looked at the badge she remarked “Sugoi Kurisuu, Seriously, Do your best okay?”
Most fans were doing poses with the candy bars, including me. Wasamin asked me if I had ever tried Black Thunder Candy before. I told her I hadn’t but was looking forward to it. I ate one right after the handshake, but had no more tickets, or so I thought. With one of my last tickets I drew the 2-shot cheki. Score-a-rooni!
I was able to inform her that I ate the candy and liked it. She asked if she would see me on Thursday, and then added “at the evening event, right?” Yep, that was my plan! And with that, my friend Kenji and I took off for a Spicy Nabe dinner at Akakara.
Thursday at Tower Records Urawa
This time there was no risk of me being late for the event since I had over two hours from the end of class to get there. In fact, I was going to take an express train up to Saitama, but when I scored a seat on the Keihin-Tohoku Line, I decided I would rather take a little longer and be comfortable than get crushed on the express train in rush hour. I even had time to relax with a cup of coffee before the event started. Eventually I headed upstairs to the record store where I have seen Wasamin perform so many times before…
2. Niji wo Watatte
3. Ohisashiburi ne
4. Koi no Owari Sangenjaya
After purchasing my CDs, I was able to find a spot on the far right side in front. But just before the show this one guy began pushing through the crowd, and proceeded to attempt to push me out of the front row. He’s a regular, and I have seen him do things like this before. After he kept persistently shoving at me, I finally asked “You want this spot?” He’s like “Yeah” Fine, take it…Jesus!! I moved toward the back where a couple of my friends were, including Goma-san, who I usually only meet when Wasamin comes to Urawa.
Wasamin normally doesn’t wear a Kimono at this venue, but she wore one today, probably because she had performed earlier in a Kimono and had her hair styled for that look. Also, this is one of those venues that doesn’t allow the fans to do calls, so we were pretty much limited to ‘golf claps’ throughout the performance. Another odd thing about this shop, they were promoting the Bohemian Rhapsody movie soundtrack, and for the entire event Wasamin was competing with a rather loud PA speaker blasting Queen songs. It wasn’t an issue while she was singing, but is was kind of distracting when she was doing MCs. Anyway, I purchased three CDs for one 2-shot and 1 regular handshake…
I told Wasamin that I watched the entire DVD from the new single…twice! She asked what I thought, and I told her that my favorite part was when she was walking down the street and talking about her 24th birthday coming up, and her hopes for 2019, although as I was explaining this I started to get pushed out, so it came out kinda jumbled. For the handshake we basically talked about me bringing friends to the event, and that I had also planned on bringing another friend to Friday night’s performance in Shibuya. Oh, and I won another 2-shot cheki!
Faito! The 2-shot cheki was considered the “Grand Prize” of the drawing bonuses, but to be honest I was really hoping to win one of the autographed posters. In fact, when my friend Kenji won a poster I asked if he wanted to trade, but I was denied. I mentioned to Wasamin that I had purchased a ticket for her upcoming play. She asked which performance, and I told her the 10th. Although I forgot to mention that it is for the matinee. Afterwards my friends and I ended up heading to Saizeriya for dinner, which ran far too late considering I had a ton of homework and a kanji test the next day to study for. I ended up studying until 2 a.m., and waking up at 6 a.m. to finish the homework. I got a decent grade on the test, so it was ultimately worth it.
Friday at HMV & Books, Shibuya Modi
We unexpectedly got a bit of snow late Friday morning, and at one point it looked like it was turning into a big storm, but it passed through quickly without messing up traffic or the rail commute. Once again, I arrived fairly early and grabbed a quick snack at Guzman y Gomez before heading over to the shop. When I got there I could hear the energetic sound of an idol show nearby, so I went around to the front of the building to find a Niji no Conquistador live event in full swing. However, I didn’t have too much time, so I only watched for a couple minutes before heading upstairs. In the meantime my friend who was supposed to accompany me to the show cancelled at the last minute. Oh well. I again purchased three CDs for a 2-shot and a handshake, and was able to find a spot close to the front, but then decided to move toward the back where the crowd was sparse. It’s a tiny venue anyway.
2. Ringo no Uta
3. Wakare no Yokan
4. Koi no Owari Sangenjaya
Interestingly, at this HMV they allow fan calls, and also allow the music volume to be fairly loud, at least sometimes. But the one thing they are adamant fans don’t do is jump. That’s right, No Jumping whatsoever allowed! Wasamin was kinda making a joke about this, since her fans never jump. Enka isn’t really ‘Jumping Music’, but we all agreed to refrain from any jumping for the duration of the live. She also mentioned how cold it was, and was happy people made it out despite the weather.
I had to explain to Wasamin that this was a hand gesture from the new single. Anyway, I apologized for my friend not coming after all, and reminded her which friend it was since Wasamin usually has a good memory with that stuff. I continued her joke about jumping, saying she should have a song called “Jumping no Owari Shibuya” At first she didn’t get it, so I had to explain it to her. “Kawaii Kurisuu!” For the handshake I told her that I started to write an article at work about her, and my bosses said they would publish it if they liked it. She grabbed both my hands and seriously said “Do your best!” Ya know, I would love to do her that favor and get an article about her published. Suffice it to say I think she would be very happy with me
Saturday FINAL at Ito-Yokado Yamato-Tsuruma, Kanagawa Prefecture
Despite this event being a bit of a trek from Tokyo, the release week FINAL is a bit of a ‘must’ for most Wasafans. Tsuruma is on the Odakyu Line on the way to Enoshima. I initially misjudged the travel time, but ultimately left early enough to catch the Rapid Express and make it to the mall 10 minutes before the first performance. I purchased four CDs, with the intention of possibly buying more later on. I’d see how it went. I put on my Happi coat and found a standing position toward the back. There were a lot of people there, perhaps the largest crowd of the week, at least from the crowds I saw. It was the first time she had ever performed in this town.
Oh, and I had made a setlist prediction, which I told my friend Kenji before the show. My predictions were as follows for the two events…
1. Mujineki and Gomen ne Tokyo
2. Blue Light Yokohama (I was sure of) and Niji wo Watatte (a wild guess)
3. Koi no Dorei and Anata
4. Sangenjaya x2
How did I do?
Setlist 1 p.m.
1. Saba Kaido
2. Blue Light Yokohama
3. Koi no Dorei
4. Koi no Owari Sangenjaya
Setlist 3:30 p.m.
1. Gomen ne Tokyo
2. Watashi no Kare wa Hidarikiki
4. Koi no Owari Sangenjaya
Not bad, eh? When you have seen Wasamin as much as I have, you begin to spot patterns in her setlists. I knew she would perform ‘Blue Light’ since she always does when she is in Kanagawa Prefecture. This week Anata and Koi no Dorei had been performed the least of all the c/w tracks. I had a feeling she would sing Gomen ne Tokyo since it was one of three of her original singles she hadn’t performed this week, and I figured it was the most likely of those three. And I knew she would pick an uptempo song for the late event, and I considered predicting “Hidarikiki” since it is very similar to ‘Watatte’ and has a similar “Wasamin” call. Ultimately it shows I am pretty good at spotting Wasamin’s patterns. Either that, or Ichikawa-san (Wasa-manager) and I think alike. When the first performance ended I immediately lined up since I wanted to have as much time as possible to eat lunch and find some kind of gift for Wasamin.
Sort of a scrunched-heart pose. Actually, we sort of had out fingers intertwined. I mentioned that I read a bunch of the articles from the press events on Wednesday, and like her I hope the song becomes a big hit. She thanked me, and assured me that if it does become a big hit, I, as her fan was a part of it. She kept emphasizing that we are a success together, which was very nice.
I knew the early handshake event would go on for a while so I headed downstairs to the mall food court, eventually settling for a Tendon/Soba set from Fuku Tendon which was quite filling. After lunch I was wandering around the downstairs area when I stumbled on a big flower mart at the rear of the mall. Lots of different flowers, and amazingly low prices. Flowers for Wasamin? This would be perfect! I chose a bouquet I thought was really pretty and colorful. But then I thought “Am I going to carry these around for 90 minutes until the next show? I headed back upstairs to see if the early event was still taking place. It was. Great! I can give them to her now. Only I really wanted to take a 2-shot with her and the flowers, which meant I would be using up all my tickets and would need to get more CDs/tickets for the later event.
You can’t totally see the flowers because of the paper wrapping, and there was even more wrapping on them before, which I peeled off with the help of the Takuma rep who always makes a big deal about me being there; “It’s Chris!!” The other issue was that the stems were all wet since I had just bought them. So when Wasamin mentioned the water I said that I would handle the bottom, and afterwards handed them directly to Ichikawa-san. However, this made my hands all wet, so I had to towel them off before I shook her hand. Oh, and I won the autographed poster, Yatta! I retreated to the nearby Dotour for some coffee, and to relax before the second show.
I walked around the mall for a while thinking about getting Wasamin another gift. In fact, they had a Godiva Chocolate outlet with a huge selection of Godiva gift boxes. But ultimately I figured the flowers were enough for the day, and an additional gift would be overdoing it. I headed back to the event and purchased another CD for the late performance, and then realized that it was my 37th CD. I am a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to numbers, and I consider “37”an unlucky number, so I turned around and purchased one more to make it “38,” LOL.
The stack has gotten bigger since I took that photo
By this time the crowd had really swelled, I was glad Kenji and I had found a good standing spot, with only two young girls in front of us. Watashi no Kare wa Hidariki is a great audience participation song, and the fans were putting a huge effort into it, enough for Wasamin to comment about it after the song. Of course Anata is so intense, it drew even more shoppers over to the stage area. It was a very nice “final” performance for the promotion. I waited for Kenji to purchase more CDs before lining up for one more 2-shot.
Zombie pose! Wasamin was wondering if I had thought about coming to her event at Minoh Spa in Osaka tomorrow, but I told her I had to study Kanji for a test on Monday, and that I am struggling a bit with Japanese class this semester. She confessed that Kanji is a weakness for her as well, and she understood why I might be having trouble. With that I congratulated her, and was on my way. I decided not to wait around for the end of the event since I already knew that a few of the ‘heavyweights’ had purchased boxes of CDs, and had stacks of handshake tickets. In fact for the last single the final event went for over 3 1/2 hours. So instead we headed back to Shinjuku for dinner.
After tomorrow, the only things currently on Wasamin’s schedule through March are the play at Meiji-za which runs for two weeks in the middle of the month (I have a ticket for the 2nd performance) and the chara-ani cheki event in late March. However, I am going to guess that at least a couple events will pop up on the schedule between now and the end of the month. But for now it will be interesting to see where this single finishes on the charts, and in overall sales. Hopefully we will see sales numbers at least in the same neighborhood as her 7th single Sado no Ondeko. I am cautiously optimistic.
CK in Tokyo