After executing the first half of my weekend plans by seeing Kiss Bee in Central Tokyo, on Sunday I would be heading out to Yokohama where an all-day idol live event was taking place in celebration of Sasaki Ayaka’s (Momoiro Clover Z) solo concert at Yokohama Arena. I didn’t plan on staying there all day, figuring I would show up to see Minyo Girls, do buppan, and then leave. In fact I might not have gone at all, except that I wanted to get a ticket for the Mingaru one-man live next weekend, and by purchasing it here I could get 2-shot tickets, as well as points on my point card. It would be a relatively pedestrian affair, except…
I woke up in the morning with my throat in major pain. Moreover, my nose was running, I felt weak, and my chest felt really tight. Oh no, was I catching some sort of bug? I felt so out of sorts that I figured it would probably be a bad idea for me to go to Yokohama, and I had pretty much resigned myself to staying in all day. However, I really wanted to go to this show. I ate breakfast, took some medicine, and a hot shower. I still had some time, and figured I could do everything I could to overcome my ailments and do what I wanted to do. The medicine hadn’t kicked in yet, but it was time for me to go. I packed my bag with cold medicine, throat lozenges, and surgical masks, and was on my way.
Yokohama A-rin Collection Idol Live
A-rin 2019 concert T-shirt. The older versions were also hot pink, with A-rin’s face prominently featured
A-rin, is the ‘pink’ member of Momoiro Clover Z, who also has a bit of a solo career outside of her main group. If you aren’t familiar with my personal history with Momoclo, I used to be a fan of them back when they were an indie. I used to go see them around Akihabara where they would have 20-30 fans in the audience, and were literally begging fans to come see them. I have met all of the members, including the two who have since graduated. In fact, I have all sorts of old 2-shots and signed goods from back in the day. However, when Momoclo became big I felt that they kind of abandoned their old fans. Suddenly I couldn’t win concerts, and when I tried to go to a signing event I was essentially told I couldn’t participate. Quite the about face from nine years ago. So I figured “screw them.” and stopped purchasing anything from them over six years ago. That said…
The pre-concert festivities planned by the organizers of A-rin’s solo concert were a great idea. They created two festivals outside of the main arena, first at the goods booths, where they also had food booths and whatnot, and then this idol live event, which turned out to be much bigger than I thought. It was a 5+ hour event featuring 24 idol groups on two stages, with all sorts of special buppan benefits. Of the 24 groups on the schedule, I really only knew four of them (including Minyo Girls) and I had only seen two of them before.
I arrived in Shin-Yokohama, and as I walked closer to the arena I was greeted by an increasing crowd of people dressed head to toe in Hot Pink. The queues around the venue were huge, which reminded me of when I saw AKB48 play there in 2010. I headed to the rear of the arena, and luckily the queue to get into the idol event was not long at all. I asked the girl at the door which of the two stages this was, but she kept trying to look in my bag. “Chotto Matte!” I wasn’t sure if I was going in yet. Eventually she told me both stages were accessible via this entrance. Okay, so I opened my bag, which she looked into for all of one second, and let me through.
The second stage was just inside the doors, where a group called Hyakki Otome were in the middle of their energetic set. I walked to the opposite side of the venue, where I found the buppan area, and the other stage. Minyo Girls were due to play in fifteen minutes, but I did catch the very end of Hakoiri♡Musume. I saw a few Mingaru fans in the crowd, as well as Miyabi-chan’s mother, so I knew I was in the right place. Eventually it was Minyo Girls’ turn. Six of the nine members were performing; Miyabi, Ramu, Yutori, Rina, Ryo, and Minori. They did a four song set, their two major singles and two of their higher energy minyo-styled songs. As with most of the groups there that day, they spent a bit of time talking about what big fans of Momoclo they all are. Actually, I already knew this, especially in the case of Minori who often solo-performs Momoclo songs at Minyo Girls’ one-man lives. They also had a special offer, which I found out later most groups were doing; one free 2-shot cheki (or in some cases shamekai) for all “new” fans. As for their performance, it was an excellent opportunity to showcase Miyabi’s singing talents, as she is one of the group’s singing ‘aces.’ She sounded really good, and seemed like she was totally into performing for the crowd of A-rin fans. Ramu looked totally intense as well on the shamisen, and Yutori ran a great MC, jumping up in the air at one point. Overall it was a nice performance, and the setlist was a good mix of their new songs, and well as some traditional songs which showcase their unique style.
After their set I immediately headed over to the buppan area, and noticed that quite a few Momoclo fans also came over. The girls began handing out free 2-shot tickets to the new fans, and the line for buppan became quite long. I queued up to buy the ticket I wanted, and got two 2-shot tickets which I planned to use on Miyabi and Ramu. I would be there quite a while, since the queue was still long when I finished my first shamekai, and the area quickly became crowded not only with Hakoiri♡Musume fans, but also the fans of KOTO who were at the neighboring buppan tables. By the way, here are my two shamekai…
With Miyabi, I basically told her that I like the new costumes. They are a nice change of pace since their last two costumes were both black. With Ramukyun I asked her if she is a Momoclo fan, and noted that I knew she was a big AKB fan. You don’t get too much time to talk with them during 2-shots, mainly time for a handshake, thank you, and a few words. With that I left the buppan area. My plan was to go to lunch, and then probably leave for the day. However, before I left I watched a little bit of Yamakatsu and Asuko Kyoka, and thought to myself “this is a fun event.” Not only that, the meds were beginning to kick in and I was feeling somewhat better. I decided to go to lunch nearby and then come back, especially since there was one other group I was sort of interested in seeing.
I should also mention that a few of the groups were hanging around outside the exit of the bigger stage handing out flyers and inviting people to come see them. Probably the most aggressive was a group called Seiza Hyakkei, who were there pretty much all day. Unfortunately, they performed while I was at lunch. Other groups soliciting people there were Hakoiri Musume, and Hot Dog Cat. I ended up talking to the Hot Dog Cat girl for a couple minutes. She was surprised I knew they were a sister group of Ready to Kiss, and she also noticed my iPhone case, exclaiming. “AKB, Wasamin!”
Anyway, I returned from lunch, and watched a little bit of Ponica Road’s performance before going back to the main stage for the group I had specifically come back to see. I had seen Desu Rabbits (Death Rabbits) once before two years ago at Shinjuku ReNY, and I remembered thinking how strange I thought they were at the time. At the same time, I also remembered Bucho-san, the guy in the storm trooper garb being a really nice guy. In fact earlier in the day he had quickly said hello to me. Did he remember me from two years ago?
If you have never seen Desu Rabbits perform before, they are a little like the original Ladybaby. Cute idols performing with a dude singing in a sort of death metal style. Bucho-san also functions as the group DJ, doing mixes live on stage. I wasn’t sure if the female members are the same from two years ago, but they looked more mature than when I first saw them. (I checked, they are the same) And actually, I really liked their set. Their songs are catchy, and fun. I also love Bucho’s antics on stage, beckoning the fans to do mixes, leading them in chants, coming off stage to hand people flyers mid-song. Overall their three-song set was great, and I was glad I decided to come back.
The group made the same “free 2-shot” offer that many of the other groups had done, and I definitely planned on taking advantage. In the meantime a group called ROSARIO+CROSS took the stage, and had a distinct SDN48/K-pop vibe to them. I was actually tempted to watch them, but I wanted to do Desu Rabbit buppan, so…
The buppan area had become much busier later in the day. Moreover, there were a lot more A-rin fans there since it was a lot closer to the evening concert. Still, I found the free buppan line for the group and queued up. Bucho-san immediately spotted me and came over, thanking me for coming. (He speaks relatively fluent English) I had mentioned to him that I had seen them 2 years ago, and was excited to see them again. I also asked which CD the second song in their set is from, but he was called away before he could answer. (I found out later it was their second single, Koisuru Kisetsu) Eventually he returned to the queue asking everyone which member they would like a 2-shot with. When it was my turn I immediately pointed to his picture, prompting a laugh from everyone around me. Bucho-san was totally stoked though, and gave me a hug, LOL.
So it turned out everyone was asking for a full-group photo, so I asked for the same thing. However, when I got my phone back there was a little surprise on it…
Hahaha, he was secretly snapping selfies while we were setting up for the pose. How cool is that! He took seven in total. I talked to the members for a moment, mainly Yuzu who seemed the most interested in me. I then thanked Bucho-san once more before excusing myself. However, before I left I was approached my two fans offering me a copy of the group’s latest single. Cool, I hope the song I really liked is on it. (I haven’t played it yet)
I went to check out the groups currently on stage, catching most of Nanking Pepper, who were pretty good. Genshoku Theater, and Mugen Crescendo, who had one member that reminded me of former SKE48 member Yakata Miki. I did want to check out Hot Dog Cat, since Rin (the blue member) had taken the time to talk to me. I watched one song, and unfortunately wasn’t impressed. I want back to the main stage where Appare!Harajuku were performing. Now this group I really liked. I ended up staying for most of their set. However, I noticed the entire venue was becoming completely crowded, mainly with Momoclo fans. It was becoming impossible to get close to any of the stages, or to even move around as A-rin fans were now pouring into the venue. So I decided I had enough. there were only two other groups left to perform anyway. As I exited I noticed the line to get into this event had become a 20-minute wait. Yep, I was leaving at the right time.
By the way, a friend of mine asked me why I didn’t take advantage of all the groups offering free 2-shots and take photos with more idols. Frankly, that’s not the way I think. If I have no connection to a group, or if I don’t know or care for their music, I see no point in taking photos with them, even if they are offering the benefit for free. To me the act of doing buppan with a group is in a way an acknowledgement that I like them on some level. So taking photos with some random idol group just because they offer it to me seems rather pointless. I mean there were a couple other groups I considered doing buppan with, but unfortunately their slot times conflicted with other things I wanted to do and see.
I had planned on having dinner in Yokohama, but it was still a little early. I instead headed over to The Hub and grabbed a couple cocktails before heading over to the Yokohama Ramen Museum for dinner. It’s a place I had wanted to visit for a long time, and this was the perfect opportunity. If you like ramen, I definitely recommend it.
Ramen Museum, designed to look like a Tokyo Street in the late 1950’s
I am surprised I was able to survive such an eventful day considering I was fighting this little virus the entire time. In fact I ended up taking the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, and pretty much crashed into bed the moment I got home. It’s a mild bug, but it has wreaked havoc on my sinuses, and zapped my energy, but I am glad I was able to keep it at bay long enough to have a fun time on Sunday. In the meantime, my plans for next weekend are pretty much set. On Saturday I will be going to the Iwasa Misaki ‘Sangenjaya Party,’ event I won by sending in the postcards from her 8th single. Then on Sunday I will be seeing Minyo Girls’ one-man live.
CK in Tokyo