Events, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki 7th Single Karaoke Party at Big Echo Ikebukuro (2018/06/02) ~Singing a Duet With Wasamin~

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Some of the most fun times I have had as a Wasamin fan have been with the special events you can send away for with the inserts in her releases. Back in 2016 I won her BBQ Party, which was the Grand Prize in her album insert. Last year, for Wasamin’s 6th single, I won the second prize which was the Karaoke Party. With Sado no Ondeko, I again won the second prize, which again was the Karaoke party. Yatta!

Now I have to admit, when I filled out the postcards I was really aiming for the Grand Prize, which was another BBQ Party. So when I received my winning postcard in the mail there was a slight tinge of disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to win any prize, since the “real” prize is spending time with Wasamin. However, the BBQ party I attended was so much fun, and the food was so abundant and good, that I was really hoping to go. When I filled out the postcards (which had to be mailed like three days after the single released to be eligible) I was tempted to apply for the BBQ party only, but I threw in a few applications for the Karaoke Party…just in case. Ultimately, I’m thankful I did that, or I may have been shut out entirely. Anyway…

I arrived in Ikebukuro and Big Echo around 10 minutes before “doors” opened. It was at the same location of last year’s karaoke event. The lunch I had before the event wasn’t totally agreeing with me, so I was hoping the unlimited Oolong Tea would help settle my stomach down. We were led in groups to the basement hall, where there were four tables set up for eight people each. I took a seat at the far end of the first table on the right. After being served our first round of drinks, Wasamin’s assistant informed us that Misaki-chan would sing a first round of songs. Then we would play janken for the opportunity to sing a duet with her, after that she would take requests. Oh, and the people who sing with Wasamin would also get an autographed Sado no Ondeko poster and clear file. Two things I already have, but oh well. Anyway, she led off with these two songs…


clear file

1. Natsu no Tobira
2. Goodbye My Love

I just happened to watch Wasamin’s 4th concert DVD before I left, and when I got to the part where she sang Goodbye My Love I thought this would be a great song to duet with her in the unlikely event I win the janken. So while I love that she sang it, it kinda threw me for a loop. After the second song, Wasamin was talking to some of the people who came. When she came to me she asked how her English was, and I told her it is becoming very good. She also asked if I would say the English lines of Goodbye My Love for her, so I repeated them back in my California accent (actually, most people say the origination of my speaking style is quite confusing, and sounds like it could be from a few different regions of America) Everyone got a big kick out of it.

Janken for a Duet with Wasamin

Okay, now on one hand I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to do a proper duet with Misaki-chan. On the other, it is kinda worrisome. What song can I sing with her? Which Japanese song do I know well enough to sing? We went through three rounds of Janken. The first guy picked a cute 80’s or 90’s pop song. Not sure what it was, but the chorus has a bunch of lines like “Co-co-co-co-coconuts, I-I-I Love You, Sekushi Island” or something like that. The second guy chose Temodemo no Namida, after Wasamin asked if he was coming to her event on Sunday, and he admitted he was going to the AKB event at Pacifico. She gave him a bit of crap for it, but little did she know there were a few people in the room (including myself) with the same plan, LOL. After the third person won (and chose a relatively new song by one of the artists who happened to be on Utacon with Wasamin a couple weeks ago) I figured oh well, at least I will get a photo that looks like we sang a duet. That was until Sasou-san announced one more round of Janken…

Now I had managed to get myself eliminated on the first round of each previous contest. But in this last contest I happened to win the first round. Okay, not a good chance of that happening twice, right? Wrong. I won again. It was down to four of us, and we kept deadlocking for like four rounds. But eventually, it came down to two of us. The guy I was going against was behind me, and I literally had my head down looking in the opposite direction, so I was going strictly by Wasamin’s reaction only. And after SIX times drawing the same thing, who won? This guy did, that’s who. It was a moment of panic, as I didn’t know what I could sing, but I went up to the stage anyway…

Wasamin asked me where I was from, and his time I said California while hearing a couple people uttering “Itabashi” from the tables, a longstanding fan gag, LOL. I explained to her that I originally wanted to sing Goodbye My Love, but she already sang it. She offered to sing it again, but I pointed out that the karaoke script had no small Hiragana over any of the kanji, so it might be too difficult. Then it dawned on me, and I told her the time I was on Fuji television and sang Mujineki, so I would probably be able to sing that okay, It was settled. As someone in the audience pointed out, this was “Chris-san’s Challenge Campaign” LOL

So we sang together, and it was absolutely incredible to stand up there and sing a full song with her, and it went so well. I aced the first verse, had a tiny bit of trouble on the second verse, and was fine on the end. Every time I would look over at Wasamin she was staring into my eyes with a warm smile. I wanted to just stare back at her the entire time, but I had to look away to see the lyrics. By the end, Wasamin was surprised, as were the other fans, and probably more than anyone else, I was surprised. I had such a feeling of joy as she nodded in approval and gave me a thumbs up. Wasamin handed me my prizes, and I sat back down.


poster

She went around taking various requests from all the fans, and decided on the 2-3 songs she was most comfortable singing. Then finally she performed Sado no Ondeko, and that ended the event. We went up one by one to say goodbye, and take a commemorative cheki. I had originally planned on presenting her with a small gift, but then I thought maybe I would take a photo with the prizes. The problem was whatever I posed with needed to be small since we were supposed to be doing a singing pose with the microphones. At the last minute I decided on the gift after all…

I am taking a Kanji intensive course, and last week we did a little bit of calligraphy. This was one of the two kanji I chose to do. Look familiar? It’s “IWA,” as in Iwasa. Needless to say, Wasamin really liked it. After we took the photo she handed it back to me, but then I asked her if she wanted to keep it. She was like “Really?” I explained that I had another one with the Kanji for “HASU,” so it was okay. Wasamin handed me a small gift pack of senbei crackers. They look like they might be spicy. I hope they are! After that I headed to the bus stop, and back to my place for a relaxing Saturday afternoon.

This totally goes to show that everything happens for a reason. If given the choice now of having the experience I had today,or taking it all away for the BBQ party, I would without a doubt pick this experience. It was like 4 minutes of nobody else in the world except me and Wasamin, and it was awesome!

CK in Tokyo

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Concerts, Minyo Girls Minyo Girls: “Mingaru Dream Paradise” One-Man Live at Asakusa Gold Sounds (2018/05/27)

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Minyo Girls have been doing their monthly “Dream Paradise” stage at Asakusa Gold Sounds for a while now. It’s a nice little venue located very close to central Asakusa and Senso-ji Shrine. The Minyo’s do a full one-man live with special games and prizes. This is also where they make a lot of their big announcements. It’s a lot of fun. They also use this show to showcase a different side of the group. Today’s theme was ‘Solo Performances.’


Limited Edition photo w/ our lottery drawing number on the back

I was excited to see their one-man live again after missing last month’s edition. I had a really low-numbered entry ticket, which would guarantee me a really good spot too. However, I lost track of time and left my apartment quite late. Based on the train schedule I would arrive 5 minutes before doors. It takes three minutes to walk to the venue from the station entrance. I might make it after all. I turned the corner with one minute to spare, and was disappointed to see they had just opened the doors. Damn! I still managed to get toward the front of the queue, only a couple of places back from where I should have been. Once inside I positioned myself just behind the people standing against the stage at the far left. Not bad.

The show started with the girls’ usual giggle-filled Kage-ana, and then their exotic intro music. Once again, the members were in plain clothes for this performance. Some of them dressed in theme for the solos they were going to do, others went for a cute outfit. After member introductions, the girls went directly into their solos….


Minori

Minori (Yeah! Meccha Holiday!- Matsuura Aya) Once again, Minori shows that she is a true otaku at heart (last time she did a Momoclo song) Minori’s not one of the strongest singers, but like the last time I saw them she had a lot of fun and bounced around the stage quite a bit.


Matsuri

Matsuri (Boombayah!-Black Pink) This was more of a dance exhibition than a singing performance. However, Matsuri did sing parts of the song. This reminded me a lot of watching my nieces dance in the living room to their favorite pop songs. And by the way, I now have Matsuri to thank because I have been listening to Black Pink for the past couple of days, LOL


Rio

Rio (Moonlight Densetsu-from Sailor Moon) Rio was decked out in her Sailor Moon t-shirt and belted out this song quite well.

Izumi (Heart Shaker-Twice) More K-pop, and another dance performance. Izumin didn’t sing at all, instead trying to incite the crowd to jump, dance, chant etc. Dancing is more Izumin’s forte anyway, so probably for the best.

Yutori (Nagori Yuki- Kaguya Hime) Yutori on guitar and singing. The last time she performed on guitar I mentioned that she played the same chord the entire time. Well, she showed me! She played quite well, and sang the song decently too, albeit at a slightly low volume. This is a song that Wasamin also sings and performs on guitar. And I would say that Yutori’s guitar playing is close to Wasamin’s level.

Kako (Traditional Minyo-style Song) I have no idea what song it was, but Kako’s strong point is belting out that traditional Enka vibrato. She she was on-point in that respect.

Ramu (Shamisen solo) We finally get a chance to hear Ramu actually play. She was all ‘plugged in.’ I don’t think this was a particular song per se, more like general riffing. From the start I thought she was channeling George Thorogood. Really hard chords, and bending the notes. Toward the middle she changed to a more nuanced and traditional type of sound. But it was a nice showcase. It didn’t seem perfect, as I thought I might have heard a few mistakes along the way, but given I didn’t know what she was supposed to be playing, I wasn’t sure. Oh, and Ramukyun had on the cutest outfit of all. The little animal ears were adorable.


Miyabi 

Miyabi (Amuro Namie song) Miyabi in seifuku and a pink wig. Cute! I don’t know which song this was, but per usual she did an excellent job, and showed why she is one of the best singers in the group.


Yuua

Yuua (Inoue Azumi song) I had to ask Yuua about the artist since I had never heard of her before. It was a standard pop song. Like Miyabi, Yuua did a great job.


Rinacchi

Rina (???) I have no idea what pop song this was, or who the artist was, but Rinacchi was awesome! It is becoming apparent when it comes to singing, she is an absolute ace, and I expect her to be taking an even more front-line position in this group going forward.

The girls collectively asked how they did, and the audience gave them an enthusiastic response. Next, it was time for games and contests. The first was a batsu/prize game featuring that infamous “box” with a mystery item that the audience can see, but the girls can’t. They had to guess what was in the box. Now, this had the potential to be a hysterically funny segment, except Miyabi led off, and with no fear shoved her hands in there and started to feel around. She pretty much gave away that it wasn’t anything scary (although she wasn’t sure what it was) so the rest were all pretty much fearless in doing this too. Eventually most of the girls figured out what it was, and in unison revealed it was corn on the cob, LOL. The winners all got cotton candy, while the losers had to do something silly on twitter later on.


Miyabi and Yutori

The next segment was the fan prize contest. Usually it’s signed photos, a framed picture, goods. But this one was really weird. It was basically like a garage sale. The girls were giving away a personal item. It was all very random (a pencil box, throw pillow, compact mirror) This was one time I sincerely hoped I didn’t win, and thankfully I didn’t. They did one more song, which was the photo-op portion of the show. I did get a few nice shots being close to the stage. Unfortunately I was far from Ramu-kyun, and didn’t get any real good shots of her. After this they left the stage.

Encore

The encore chant didn’t last very long before they came back out and sang their upcoming single Kirari ☆ Yume Ondo. Afterwards it was time for announcements. The first announcement had to do with the future of their monthly one-man lives. They are skipping June since they will be doing single release festivities instead. However, in July and August they will be moving their monthly show to Shinjuku Marz, which is a club I have never been to. Although I have eaten at the restaurant on top of it a few times. (Sekai no Yamachan) The last announcement was they will be doing a performance in Korea. They were all really excited about that. In fact they were all so excited that Izumin bumped her head and had to be taken off-stage for a few moments. After seeing the debut of the new full PV, they finished the live with their standard Ureshii Namida.

 

The above video is the 30-second TV Spot for the upcoming single.  You get the gist of the entie video from the preview, but what they don’t show is some of the graphics they use to ID the members, and show what they are shouting in spots (Think the old Batman TV show)  It’s a pretty fierce PV, and I love the outfits.

Post-show

I was greeted by Yuua’s mom in the beginning of the show, and by both Miyabi and Izumi’s moms afterwards. There was another mom there who I had never seen before. She was kinda young and petite. Ramukyun’s mom? Maybe Yutori’s? I didn’t ask. I hadn’t yet bought goods, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to get. My original plan was to get a second t-shirt and a couple of buttons, which would afford me two signed chekis. However, they ran out of buttons, and there was nothing else on the main table I wanted. They had a separate single pre-order table, where you got a signed cheki for every two singles you bought. (Well, each cheki is one ticket, and each signing is one ticket) Since the pick-up shop was HMV Shibuya, I decided to go that route. I would be getting a signed cheki for both Yuua and Miyabi. I would love to get one for Ramukyun too, but I have to limit myself, and as much as I love Ramukyun she is third-banana in this group for me.

They do the photos and the signing in two separate processes. Oh, and they now also offer a shamekai option. Oh, and their newest kenkyuusei Ryou was helping run the cheki process. She is so tiny, but she is very outgoing. I was surprised. Between the two segments I went outside to get some air, Miyabi’s mom was like “You’re leaving?” No, I’ll be back in a few minutes! I did the signings pretty much consecutively. I asked Miyabi if she was a big Namie Amuro fan. She was like “Huh?” but Yuua heard me and asked her on my behalf. She was kinda non-committal about it, LOLZ. This was also when I asked Yuua the name of the artist she sang. When it was my turn with Yuua, I told her that I missed seeing her when the group went to Kamisato, which is close to where she is from. I assumed she was busy. She was like “Yeah, I wasn’t there, but I live close” Yeah, I know that. Rinacchi was right next to her, so I took the opportunity to tell her that I thought her performance was great. She smiled and thanked me, and then Rio nudged her shoulder as if to say “You see? You were good!” LOLZ.


I should be pretty easy to find

With that I left to have lunch, and go to Wasamin’s mini-live in Minowa. (Which you can read about in the Wasamin thread) Not sure when my next encounter with the Minyos will take place. I’ll have to check the schedule.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Iwasa Misaki Iwasa Misaki 4th Concert DVD Release Week Event Report (2018/05/26-27)

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Wasamin crunched her concert DVD/BluRay promotional events all into this past weekend, performing twice each on Saturday and Sunday at various Enka Record shops around the Tokyo area. I had quite a busy schedule myself, with tickets to AKB’s handshake event from dawn till dusk on Saturday, then Minyo Girls’ one-man live Sunday morning. As a result I could only make it to the last event on Sunday afternoon. Nevertheless, I do have the setlists from all four events since Wild-san made the trip down from Shiga to support Wasamin’s release. Wild-san keeps detailed tabs on how many times she has performed every song in her catalog, and presented Wasamin with a gift commemorating her 300th performance of Mujineki, which took place at Yoro-do in Asakusa today. Interestingly, Wasamin sometimes makes fun of Wild-san for always taking notes at her events. She has occasionally turned to him and said “What are you writing???” LOLZ. Anyway, here are the four setlists…

Saturday 12pm Ongokyu-do, Koiwa
1. Hatsuzake
2. Toshishita no Otokonoko
3. Yume Shibai
4. Sado no Ondeko

Saturday 3:30pm Tenmori-do, Kameido
1. Saba Kaido
2. Tokyo no Bus Girl
3. Kukou
4. Sado no Ondeko

Sunday 12pm Yoro-do, Asakusa
1. Mujineki
2. Ringo no Uta
3. Yume Shibai
4. Sado no Ondeko

Sunday 3:30pm Mitsui Music, Minowa
1. Saba Kaido
2. Gakusei Jidai
3. Kukou
4. Sado no Ondeko

So the funny thing was that Minyo Girls’ one-man live today was literally right down the street from Yoro-do, where Wasamin was performing. Unfortunately both shows started and ended at roughly the same time, so it was impossible for me to see both. On the other hand, it saved me from having to buy too many copies of her concert DVD. But I didn’t want to blow off her entire weekend, and I had yet to purchase a DVD version of the concert. So after Minyo Girls finished up, I walked down toward Senso-ji temple to have lunch, and from there I would take the train to Minowa. After I finished lunch, I noticed that Mitsui Music, the Minowa record shop where Wasamin was performing, was technically on the same street that I was eating lunch on, albeit pretty far down. I decided to make the 20-25 minute walk. I was early, and had plenty of time anyway.

I arrived over 30 minutes before the event, hot and sweaty from the long walk. I toweled myself off and grabbed a cold drink before going into the shop and buying my DVD copy. It was an interesting shop. It was very old, had all the markings of an Enka shop with old Enka autographed Enka posters, but it also had a significant pop selection. There was even an AKB48 section, with advertisements for the new single. The other interesting thing about this shop was the location itself. The area around Minowa is very old. It is very close to Yoshiwara, the old ‘red light’ district of Tokyo back in the Edo period. It is also known as being a Barakumin neighborhood back in those days as well. Even today it is one of the more gritty parts of Tokyo.

The people who got their early had priority tickets for the seating, so I positioned myself far in the back. It was a small shop, so even being in the very back wasn’t too far away. Wasamin was in kind of a jokey mood, and kept laughing and giggling throughout the performance. She also had some microphone trouble in the very beginning, but one of her assistants ran up and fixed the issue before she had to sing her first line. There were a few locals in the shop, but it was probably 90% Wasa-regulars. And by the way, mine wasn’t the only Minyo Girls’ t-shirt in the audience. A few people at the Mingaru show made it over to Minowa as well. After the show, the line snaked around the store aisles. I decided to go outside and have another drink before queueing up. I was checking out some of their goods. The shop had a 6-year old Limited Box Set of Hamasaki Ayumi’s 13th album for sale. Jeez, I wonder how valuable that is? They were selling it for around 27500 yen. Eventually it was my turn, and I decided to pose with my new DVD.

First thing, Wasamin noticed my new haircut. Yatta! After Zunchan noticed it at the AKB event on Saturday, Wasamin better notice too! Anyway, she said she liked it. I told her I was more comfortable with it short. I also mentioned that I saw her performance at NHK Hall earlier in the week, which she thanked me for and asked if I enjoyed it. She also asked me if I had watched the concert DVD yet. I told her no, and explained that although I had already purchased and received the BluRay, I do not currently own a BluRay player. Now that I had purchased the DVD I could finally watch. It gave everyone a good laugh.

I only had the one 2-shot ticket, and I could tell that the shop owners were trying to shoo people out of the store once they were done, so I took off. I noticed that the Eastern terminus of the Toden Arakawa Line Streetcar was right across the street. It would take a bit longer to get home than the subway, but it is a nice, scenic ride, and it avoids Central Tokyo, instead going through smaller and interesting neighborhoods.

My next Wasamin event will be her Karaoke Party on June 2nd, which I won via the Sado no Ondeko insert contest. After that it will be her Yokohama Concert on the 17th. She also has a few mini-lives, but three of them I cannot make because of school, or the June 3rd AKB Jabaja event. I could go to the event on June 10th, but it’s at one of those out of the way malls that’s nowhere near any train station. So we’ll see.

By the way, Wasamin announced this afternoon that in August there will be a re-release of her 7th single with new covers and B-side tracks.  So look out for updates on that!

CK in Tokyo  

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AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 51st Single “Jabaja” Individual Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2017/05/26)

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One of the greatest changes they made to the chara-ani handshake system was the addition of the “oshi-mashi” option. Sometimes the application period for these singles is so far in advance that a fan’s tastes and interests may have changed by the time the event finally rolls around. Case in point, one of the handshake dates for the next AKB48 single is in late October. It’s FIVE months from now. I may feel differently about the members I chose in five months. I may have started to like a new member. Moreover, for me it is a lot more fun to be able to choose a member to meet “on the day” than to send the CD and ticket back for a 1000 yen refund when a member is absent. I bring this up because there are a couple of members who have recently come under my radar who I would really like to meet. If you have read my recent posts (hint: read the posts about NGT48 and the AKB48 Theater Stage I posted earlier this week) you will know which members I am talking about. Under the old system I would have to wait for the 53rd single events (in the Fall? Winter?) to properly meet these girls.

So I had the oshi-mashi option at my disposal, and I intended to take full advantage of it. However, this raised a couple of issues. First, which of my existing tickets was I willing to give up? Second, when I reserved these tickets I had scheduled everything for the late afternoon into the evening. The problem was that one of these members was scheduled for the 9am slot only, meaning if I wanted to see her I would have to get to Makuhari Messe 4 1/2 hours earlier, and then have 3 1/2 hours of time to kill until my next ticket. I would let my body decide. So when I woke up at 5:45 this morning, I figured “Well, I’m up. Might as well get down to Makuhari extra early.

It also helped that my last Akiyoshi ticket was cancelled because all of the HKT members had to catch a plane back to Fukuoka to get ready for tomorrow’s big concert. So that was one oshi-mashi ticket. As for the other, I was deciding among my Tani, Maichan, and Zunchan tickets. Tani was an “automatic” win ticket for the prize, so I kept that one. Of the three, Zunchan was the only one who I had multiple tickets for. So it was decided. I caught a 7:45 train out of Itabashi and made it to Makuhari just after the beginning of Slot 1. Here we go…

Slot 1

Kobayashi Ran (Lane 17) This was the girl I came 4 1/2 hours early for. After Wednesday night’s show, where she made a great impression on me, I really wanted to meet her, and I didn’t want to wait until next week when her slot is mid-day. I got to her lane at 9:20, and I thought I read that the 30 minute oshi-mashi rule was waived for the draftees. My friend said it wasn’t, but they let me through. Perhaps it was because her lane was empty, or maybe they didn’t want to deal with the foreigner. But whatever. Ran-chan was waving to me from the moment I walked into her lane. However, when I got within 30 meters her expression completely changed. I hadn’t even entered the booth yet when she exclaimed “You were at the theater show!!!” She handed me her business card (the ‘gift’ given by the draftees to all visitors)

I told her what an awesome time I had at the show, her performance was great, and that I really wanted to meet her. She just kept thanking me over and over. I promised I would come back and see her next week too. The guards were pushing me out almost the entire time, but whatever. I have made contact. It was a good connection, and I will see her next week.

And with that I decided that since I still had time, I might as well do my other oshi-mashi ticket now…

 

Oguma Tsugumi (Lane 81) Technically I met Tsugumin the same day I caught her ball at the NGT event, but that was a brief, 3-second hello. I wanted to “keep the ball rollin,” so to speak and have a proper handshake with her. Her line was only a few people deep, so I only had to wait a minute or two. She greeted me with an English “Oh, hello.” Huh, had she forgotten already? So I told her that before last week I wasn’t really an NGT fan, but after catching her ball she has become my favorite member in NGT48. The cute thing was that she was repeating my Japanese back to me as I said it, as if to be sure she understood every word. Very cute.

My oshi-mashi tickets were done, and it was about 9:45. My next ticket was scheduled almost four hours later. After waving goodbye to Ranchan at the end of her slot, I ended up ‘cafe-hopping’ for 3 1/2 hours having coffee, tea, danishes, lunch. At one point I even dozed off in one of the cafes. Eventually the clock passed 1pm, so I made my way back to Halls 9-11 to begin my original handshake schedule, minus two tickets…

Slot 4

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 40) With the rest of my tickets I was now eligible for the day’s prizes. The big prize of the day were these autographed stickers, which came in different sizes. I didn’t have any tickets for those. In fact, almost all of my tickets, save for one, were for either the 2-shot selfie or the 1-shot video. With Maichan I usually run about a 50/50 chance, and on this day I won the selfie. Her line was very short, so I was in and out fairly quickly.

I asked her about leaving early today to return to Fukuoka, which she confirmed. I wished her the best of luck at the concert tomorrow, and she responded with “Ganbarimasu……oh, I love you” which seems to be the m.o. of every handshake I have with her. We used to have a lot more to talk about. I need to brush up on my Maichan knowledge.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 37) For a moment I thought this was the slot of my Zukky ticket, and almost walked into the wrong lane. Of course Zunchan’s lane was filled with signs and messages to her fans. It is sooooo cute the way she sets her lane up to give fans a different experience. I lost the lottery for a signed card, so it would just be a regular handshake. When I walked into the booth the first thing she said was “You got a haircut???” Wow, I am amazed she noticed. I acknowledged that I did indeed get a haircut, and then I “wowed” her back by saying hello to Gabriel, her stuffed frog. She was like “Yes, Gabriel! You remembered”. I told her that I love her signs because they help me practice Japanese. This made her really happy, and she told me to continue to work hard with my Japanese studying. It was at this point that I sincerely regretted doing osh-mashi with her ticket on someone else. But I have tickets for her next week, so all good.

Slot 5

Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 36) Zukky’s line was fairly big all day, although it was slightly shorter than usual when I queued up. The good news was that I won the 1-shot video. Which one should I choose? When I was in Zunchan’s lane I noticed that Zukky looked even cuter than usual. So when I saw there was a “fashion show” option to the one-shot video, I picked it. In the meantime one of the members of her SSK committee gave me a flyer, it is very nicely done.

I also had a nice three-way view of Zunchan, Zukky, and Asai Nanami while I waited. Lots of fun watching those three working with their fans. Finally it was my turn and they handed her my video request. She looked taken aback for a quick second, and then went into full “fashion mode”

Isn’t that a cute video? I told her I selected that because I saw her outfit earlier and thought it was extremely cute. I mean Zukky looks cute regardless, but I love the twin-tails, suspenders, and the choker. Such a great combination. Anyway, this was my only Slot 5 ticket, so I had a big break, and spent part of it eating the new chili-cheese fries at one of the event food trucks.

Interestingly, the rest of my tickets were ALL automatic wins, meaning I was assured of getting the bonus prize for each one. Sad, because I want all of these members to be more popular. However, some of us noticed that there were a lot of very short lines throughout the day, and there were a lot of girls with “automatic win” that don’t normally have it. Perhaps it was because people were saving for the SSK?

Slot 6

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 44) Since I won the bonus prize in all of these slots, there was much less time for talking. Yukachan greeted me with “Yaho Kurisu!” We immediately set of for the pose and took it.

I said “You are leaving early?” She affirmed it, so I mentioned that I had tickets for the cancelled slot. I mean I could have oshi-mashi’d the ticket here with her, or even next week. I simply chose not to use it that way. At any rate, I still wished her the best of luck tomorrow, and I would see her next week. Damn, I keep forgetting to mention the “Calcium Now!” thing she keeps doing on twitter.

Sakaki Miyu [Cuca] (Lane 71) When I met with Cuca two weeks ago I lamented that I didn’t have enough to talk to her about, so winning the prize here alleviated that a bit. I actually had a choice between the video or the selfie, but seeing I was going to have four selfies and 2 videos, I chose the video to ‘even things out.’ Moreover, last time I had the video prize with Cuca I cut off the first couple of seconds of the video. I wouldn’t be making that mistake again.

Frankly, most of the video script choices they offered were kinda lame. This was the only other one I really liked. Other people said they kinda liked the Janken one as well. Anyway, after the video I quickly thanked her and was on my way.

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 96) It wasn’t even 30-minutes into Slot 6 and I was already on to my 3rd ticket. Once again, this was an automatic win. However, none of these video scripts fit Kaotan’s personality at all. I decided to pick the fashion show again, not that I thought she would do it, but that I thought it would give her a good opportunity to improvise. In fact, when she looked at the sheet she surprisingly said “Fashion?” I told her to just do anything she wants. And keep in mind that the videos are supposed to last at the most 10-15 seconds…

Holy Moly! A 62-second ramble that covered pretty much anything she wanted to talk about, and she DID do a fashion show of sorts. Of course she took an opportunity to hustle me for Sousenkyo votes. And by the way, 62 seconds!!!!! These videos are supposed to be like 10 seconds or so. THIS is just one of the many reasons why Kaotan is an awesome girl to visit and be a fan of. She really takes care of her fans. But that’s not all…


Your choice of video scripts.

As I was leaving, Kaotan just happened to mention to me that she saw photos of me on the Wasamin Bus Tour. Huh??? After I got over my initial shock I laughed and said “Yes, the bus tour was a lot of fun.” And then I mentioned I would see her in the next slot for the selfie. It’s a good thing, since I wanted to clarify which photos she saw.

Slot 7

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 96) After an 90 minute wait, during which time I saw Yuasa and another staff member head out to the food/smoking area to check something out, I came back in a little early and pre-queued for Kaotan. There was nobody there, so I was first in line. When I checked in, for some reason the girl didn’t give me the 2-shot paper. At first I thought this was because everyone won. But when I saw the guy behind me get one, I went back and questioned them. They said they thought I didn’t want it. Funny, they never asked me. Interestingly, most of the queues were extremely short. Kaotan’s lane had just me and one other guy. Obamina’s lane was completely empty. In fact, when she finally came out she looked completely annoyed. It inspired a pow-wow among a bunch of members, Oba, Churi, Mikoto who seemed to be complaining that all the lines seemed oddly short. Oba kept looking down to the outside saying “Aren’t you guys coming in?” But there weren’t very many people outside either. Kaotan eventually came out. They called me into the booth, and she realized she didn’t have her footstool with her, so I had to wait a minute while she went to get it. As I set up for the selfie she kept trying to instruct me. At one point she got a little frustrated and grabbed my phone to show me, but then gave it back. I eventually set it up to her satisfaction and took the shot.


Hey, I’m getting pretty good at these selfies.

I think this is my nicest selfie of the day. Good job Kaotan. I asked her where she saw the Bus Tour photos. She said she saw them on Wasamin’s twitter, and then she saw a couple more in the responses (One fan took a couple of shots of me picking tea, so I think those are the photos she meant, as well as the group shot) She asked why I wanted to know, and I told her because I also posted Bus Tour photos on twitter. She responded with something I didn’t catch, but I said I would see her next week.

Tani Marika (Lane 87) When I got to Tani’s lane it was completely empty, but before I could enter four guys jumped in. I know Tani gets lonely when her line dies down, so this was good. It was just a couple minutes later that I got my turn.

It was very quick, we took the pic, I thanked Tani, and was out of there. Perhaps she wasn’t as talkative as usual, or maybe the short queues were annoying her too. It is Sousenkyo time after all.

Next week I have tickets to the Jabaja event in Yokohama, and I need to decide which ticket I am going to oshi-mash for Ranchan. I have two tickets in particular that I am thinking of, and since Mio has been a bit flakey about events lately, I will probably use hers, but we’ll see. Tomorrow I have a double dose of Nagara Group, first seeing Minyo Girls’ one-man live in Asakusa, then heading to Minowa for Wasamin’s final 4th Concert DVD release event. So no AKB48 Zenkoku event for me, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, FES☆TIVE FES☆TIVE Release Event Live at HMV & Books Shibuya…and a Cute Hinarin Side Story (2018/05/24)

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I mentioned around eight posts back that I attended two mini-live events at Tower Records Shibuya for KissBee and FES☆TIVE.  What I didn’t post about was the return trip I made a couple of days later to see FES☆TIVE at Tower Records Shinjuku.  I didn’t create a new blog entry for it since a lot of it would have been repeating what I had already said in the previous post, save for one little anecdote.  Hinarin is always a fun handshake, and we have had many conversations that have occasionally even stretched beyond the usual idol handshake material.  However this particular handshake and cheki encounter was quite memorable…

 

I was fifth in line to see Hinarin. When it was my turn I told her that I had a lot of fun the previous evening, and wanted to come back and see her again. Her response totally floored me….

She told me she read my twitter post about her the previous evening. She then recited my entire post, almost word for word (in Japanese, of course) She said it made her very happy to read it…

In that tweet, I basically said I went to the event, and all the new members were really cute. However, Hinarin remains my #1 girl in FESTIVE.

I told her I absolutely meant it. Hinarin then went in for the kill and again started hammering me to go to their event on Friday night. I told her that I already had plans to do something else, but I would come to more of the preorder events.

It just goes to show, idols really appreciate when you write nice things to them.  Anyway, it is in that spirit that I decided to see FES☆TIVE at least once during their release week promotions…

I was trying to decide between two events on Thursday and Friday. One was Keyaki Matsuri, and the other to see FES☆TIVE. Since Keyaki Matsuri is all about beer, I decided to do that one on Thursday just in case I imbibed a little too much it would give me time to recover for Friday night, as opposed to Saturday when I will be at AKB’s handshake event all day.  After a couple hours and a few small beers in Saitama, I got a little bored of beer drinking and figured I would go to see FES☆TIVE after all, and one the way I could knock one other thing off of my “to-do” list and pick up all of my single preorders.

I really wanted to see FES☆TIVE this week since the announcement of Hiyo and Reia’s pending graduation. Not so much for them, but I could tell that Hinarin was stressing quite a bit over all the changes within the group, and I thought perhaps I could help cheer her up. Anyhow, I still got to Shibuya relatively early, and spent some time in the cafe across the street before going into MODI, I made it upstairs around 20 minutes before curtain, bought two more copies of the CD (which makes 2 of each version for me) and got a spot on the far left end of the rail by the DJ. There weren’t very many people in attendance. In fact you could have gotten within 6 feet of the stage up to five minutes before the show, although a few more trickled in at the last minute. I talked to Pin (a FES☆TIVE superfan, who has been going to see them since forever) and she asked where my friend Anthony was. Apparently Anthony told her that he was coming to see the group with me. I was like “Huh?” When I asked him a few days prior he said he might be busy. Oh well.

Before the show started Saeko popped out few times for unknown reasons, as did Reia. Well, Reia was talking to the music tech, and playing with his board, LOL. She seemed fairly “devil may care” since announcing graduation. Hiyo-chan seemed unaffected though. One interesting thing, and I didn’t know what to make of it, but at one point there was a very pretty girl standing in the back, and the girls asked shop staff to bring her up to the front, which they did. She was standing right next to me, but in the staff area. I was really curious who she was? Was it an idol from another group? Was it the sister of one of the members? (She looked A LOT like Piano) or could it have been a future member??? She was kinda tall, so maybe Hiyo-chan’s replacement? Ultimately I don’t know, but the girls paid a lot of attention to her throughout the show, and she disappeared right after the final MC.

Another interesting aspect of the show, the new girls are starting to fish me a little bit. First it was Saeko (new green), who was making a lot of eye contact with me and smiling during the rehearsal. Later on it was Minami Marika. (new blue) It seemed like every time I looked her way she was staring right back at me. She was really trying to get my attention.

It took a while to get the cheki portion of the event started. The girls spent quite a few minutes in the dressing room, then they do group handshake and individual handshake before chekis. I had two tickets, and was first in line to use them both on Hinarin. I was surprised, however, how short ALL of the lines were. Hinari had the longest line, with six people in it. After standing there for over 15 minutes, Piano and Marika’s lines were still completely empty, and Saeko’s line had one person. WTF?

Eventually it was my turn. I asked the staff to be careful with my bag. Hinari asked why, and I told her there was beer inside. She laughed, and said she could smell beer on my breath, LOL. (It had been over three hours, I was sober at this point) I asked her how she was doing, and she made the comment about being the only original member left. I told her when I read that I wanted to come see her, and that everything would be okay. It was cute, she dropped the genki demeanor for a few seconds and seemed completely authentic. We also reminisced about San Francisco, when the original group was still intact. At that point I noticed the guy never took our cheki. He forgot…

Hinari called the guy over, and he quickly snapped the pic as I was just turning, and still talking to Hinari, hence the weird facial expression. Unfortunately when she gave me the pic it hadn’t yet completely developed, and she had already signed it, so I felt bad about asking for another one. But I knew the moment he snapped it that it would turn out that way. Oh, and this is the second time a FES☆TIVE photographer has snapped me in mid-talk. In fact the last time I was not even looking at the camera, LOL. I finished off by reassuring her the the future of the group would be good, and that I still support her. And with that I took off.

I will be so busy this weekend with other stuff that I will not have the chance to go to any more of FES☆TIVE’s release events, so I am not sure when I will see them again.  However, I look forward to seeing who their new members will be, assuming they continue with that tradition of quickly filling in new girls.

CK in Tokyo 

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AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Idol Shugyou Chuu! Stage (2018/05/23)

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It looked like my theater show drought was finally coming to an end. I only briefly mentioned it on the NSK Podcast post here a few months ago, but I won my 40th theater show back in early January, and since then I have had 4 consecutive really high cancel machi invitations, and ultimately didn’t get into the theater on any of them. Well…I did win the ‘last chance’ “High Wave” draw a couple of times, where you get to enter the theater after the show and greet the members, but no actual show wins.

On Monday I received a cancel machi email for Wednesday night’s show. The good news was that it was a Fan Club cancel machi, meaning the number (#35) would be a lot lower, thus increasing my chances of winning. I checked the show roster, it was the Kashiwagi Yuki produced stage, which features many the 3rd Gen draftees, as well as some of the 16th Gen kenkyuusei. There were really no members I was a huge fan of, and I had never seen the new AKB draftees before, so I would be going into this fresh, providing I actually won.

One of the Wasafans I hung out with Tuesday night checked the show history, and for this stage the cancel machi has always gone over 50. That’s good. I spent the morning periodically checking the ticket center to see how many early cancellations there were. It was really slow going at first, but after the rainstorm came the number started increasing. I headed over to Akihabara and the Donki a little earlier than usual, and went upstairs around 15 minutes before the cancel machi call. To make a long story short I got into the seat lottery. I was good to go. It was my 41st theater show. Now the question was how good my draw in would be.

There was a slight delay because a couple of the people with family and women’s seats disappeared, and they wanted to find them before beginning the lottery draw. The first group to draw in was #100-109. Oh well, that was never going to be me. Next was #200-209. Damn! Those were the cancel machi people ahead of me. Next #110-119, then #240-250, which only had three people. A moment later, #210-#219, Nice, I should certainly be able to get a decent seat with this draw. After going through the metal detector I scanned the room, and noticed the entire left side front row was empty save for one person. I made a beeline for that row and got the 4th seat left of the pillar…

FRONT ROW BABY!!! THIS IS GOING TO BE GREAT!

It’s funny though, it is usually feast or famine for me with these draws. I either get the first row, or I am stuffed somewhere in a back corner staring above many shoulders. But this meant I was gonna get a really closeup view of the members, and of course it meant I was going to get fished a lot. The question was by who? And how much?

The Show


Suzuki 

Suzuki Kurumi did the Kage-ana, and the show started a few moments later. This stage is relatively new, and for the most part has a very strong setlist. At least that seems to be the consensus. There is a lot of energy to the stage, and it is sprinkled with quite a few iconic songs like Blue Rose, River, Nage Kisu de Uchi Otose, and Enkyori Poster. It also includes one of my old favorites, Sobakasu no Kiss. My first impression of the show was that all the members were full of energy. It helped that it seemed to be a really rambunctious crowd, even more so than usual. And it wasn’t a minute into the song that I had my first fishing attempt. This draftee member came right up to the edge of the stage and started pointing right at me. She was adorable too, but I didn’t know who she was. Later on in the same song I had a similar interaction with Kurumi, but I could not wait to get to the MC to find out that girl’s name!

First MC

There are quite a few goofy members in this new gens, and there were two members in particular acting crazy through the entire MC. One was Maeda Ayaka, who I didn’t remember being like this. The other one was Sato Shiori, the draftee from Hokkaido. In a way, she reminds me a bit of Zunchan. Her devilish grin also reminds me a bit of Tani. Anyway, Shiori just acts goofy all the time, even when she is performing. I was cracking up watching her dance during Tsundere. Oh, and that cute draftee who fished me? It was Kobayashi Ran, (Ranchan!) Great, now I know who I am rooting for during the show.

Units

 

Blue Rose just happens to be my original oshimen’s unit. That said, I thought all four girls fit the song very well. I was closest to Kurosu, and in a way it felt like she was channeling Meetan. Nage Kissu also reminded me a lot of the AKB ‘old days.’ The chant on this song is always a lot of fun. Kurumi does a good job as center, AND it has Ranchan in it! I had fun all night yelling her name. The ballad was okay. Tsundere! was complete silliness, from Shiori’s over-animated ‘guitar’ playing, to Manaka’s playacting, to Kana-chan’s big goofy smile. And then there was Yahagi…


Yahagi 

By now it is no secret that Yahagi Moeka is a superior singer. She was great control and nuance. In fact, I’d say singing-wise she is superior to Akimoto Sayaka. My only complaint is that she is a bit frozen for the first two verses of Mushi no Ballad, and then goes into ‘spasm’ mode on the last verse. It was a lot of herky-jerky convulsing. So in that respect I think she still needs to work on matching the proper emoting that Akimoto was so brilliant at doing in the original K-Stage. But singing-wise, two enthusiastic thumbs-up!

Post-Unit

One of the funnier MCs was when the girls were discussing what physical or character trait they admire, or want to ‘take’ from the other members. A couple of them agreed that they admired Yahagi’s singing prowess, but I was surprised when Kurosu said that she wanted Ranchan’s oshiri. Really? She’s kinda young. Then again, Kurosu is super-skinny, and probably lacking back there in the curve department. I was ecstatic to hear them perform Sobakasu no Kiss, which is one of my old faves. Moreover, I also know all the hand motions to it, so I was ‘dancing’ along with the girls on stage. That got me quite a bit of attention; first from Kana-chan then Shiori, and finally Taya Misaki who started fishing me really hard toward the end of the show. Although I think she calmed down when she saw me screaming for Ranchan, who was right next to her at the time. Like Team B Oshi, the “fresh” version is just as big a mess, but I do get that it is a bit of a crowd-pleaser. I was wondering how the girls always remember the order, especially with the lineup occasionally changing.

Notable Members (These are the members who fished me, or otherwise left me with a good impression)


Kobayashi

Kobayashi Ran: Ranchan made a wise move by focusing on me so early in the show, since it guaranteed I would be focused on her for the rest of it. I think she has great energy, enthusiasm, and is really cute. She reminds me a bit of Ariyasu Momoka (former Momoclo) and Sato Minami (16th gen) Anyway, she came away as my show MVP, and someone I want to meet during handshake events.


Sato 

Sato Shiori: She didn’t interact with me until much later in the stage, but we exchanged a couple of funny facial expressions toward the end. This girl is all about goofing off, all the time, She was reacting to everyone’s MC, either laughing, or making a funny gesture with her partner in crime, Maeda Ayaka. I can definitely see her following in the footsteps of Tani Marika (SKE) or Yamada Noe. (NGT)

Suzuki Kurumi: I started noticing it earlier this year, but Kurumi is fast becoming a true stage leader. It surprises me since early on I found her to be kinda bland and uninteresting. But she has grown a lot, and is someone to watch.

Yahagi Moeka: Exceptional singer, good personality. She caught my eye quite a bit during the show, and I was impressed overall with her solo unit. At one at the end of the show she spotted me and started waving, then accidentally almost missed her queue to talk. She was caught off-guard, LOL.


Otake 

Otake Hitomi: Reminds me a lot of Anai Chihiro, looks-wise. She was one of two draftees who came across as more mature, both in looks and demeanor, the other being Honda Sora. Both of their presence was abundantly felt throughout the show.


Inagaki 

Inagaki Kaori: I have to mention Kaori. This wasn’t her first show back from injury, but the fans gave her a huge ovation just the same. I almost didn’t recognize her, since it looked like she lost a bit of weight since I last saw her. But Inagaki seemed thrilled to be performing every step of the way. Anyway, she has great energy, and I am happy to see her back on the AKB stage. Finally…

Taya Misaki: Who made a significant effort to fish me during Team ‘Fresh’ Oshi, pointing at me and then herself. She has tried with me before, so she gets points for that.

Ending

Before we left for ‘High Wave’ we were treated to the full Teacher Teacher MV. Visually, I like the PV quite a bit. In fact to me the visual is a lot more memorable than the actual song. And I get why people think the ‘mountain’ scene seemed a bit out of place, but it didn’t bother me at all.

The members returned to the stage, and there was a couple of minutes until we filed out of the room. In the meantime I was lucky enough to get Ranchan and Yasuda Kana right in front of me. Ranchan gave me and the guy next to me a really enthusiastic wave. The other guy told her that her performance was awesome, and I nodded in agreement. She thanked both of us. Ranchan also jumped up and down when I passed her leaving the theater, LOL Kana and I are ‘old friends’ so to speak, so she waved and said hello to me too. The other member to notably focus on me during high-wave was Yahagi, who actually stepped right to follow and try to talk to me, LOL.

I left the theater, and quickly queued up to get the group photo set, which now has a limited edition folder drawn by Miyupon. From there I grabbed my umbrella, and took off for dinner, and then home.

Suffice it to say I am extremely impressed with the AKB 3rd Gen draftees, especially those I mentioned during this writeup. So far I have seen the SKE, NGT, and now the AKB draftees, and to me these girls are the most impressive (I really like SKE’s as well) I was worried when most of the 16th gen got promoted since their stage was my favorite (and easiest) to win. But now I will be happy to watch the draftees perform any time, especially for Yukirin’s stage, which is a lot of fun to watch…

And I will be rooting for RAAAAAAAAAAANCHAAAAAAAAANNNN!

CK in Tokyo

(some photos “borrowed” from ModelPress)

Iwasa Misaki, Television Wasamin on NHK’s Utacon (2018/05/22)

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With your hosts Ogo Tomoko and Tanihara Shosuke

I love going to NHK’s TV show recordings when Wasamin performs. I have been to the NHK Kaiyou Concert a couple of times, as well as Music Japan quite a few years ago (where I saw SKE48, SDN48, Perfume, Kara, Speed, Ikimono Gakari, and NEWS, quite the lineup!) This time Wasamin was performing at Utacon, which is more of a mix of pop and traditional music. Tickets for these shows are usually relatively easy to get via the reseller shops, and they are generally pretty cheap. However, I didn’t have to worry about that this time around since one of the Wasafans had an extra ticket and asked if I wanted to come along. Score-a-rooni!

I had a little bit of trouble arranging when he wanted to meet me at the venue. At first he said 2pm, which I thought was really odd. Then he said 4pm, since according to him the show started at 6pm. Okay, I had nothing else to do on Tuesday except study Kanji, so I headed out to Harajuku and to NHK Hall, where he was waiting for me in front of the venue. I found it curious that it was kinda quiet around the hall, and when I looked at his ticket I saw that the show started at 7:15pm, not 6pm. Doors opened at 6:15pm. Why the heck were we here 2 1/2 hours before doors, and 3 1/2 hours before the show?

It turned out that it was his first NHK Hall show, so I guess he was under the impression the earlier you get there, the better off you are. As someone who has been to multiple NHK Hall shows before, I know from experience that this isn’t the case at all. In fact, the best ticket I ever got was when I showed up right as doors opened, and was far back in the queue. Anyhow, there was a small line already, which steadily got bigger as the hours rolled by. The front queue is under a bunch of trees, which was nice since Tokyo is currently experiencing a small heatwave. I spent most of the time playing Pokemon Go! while patiently waiting for 6pm to roll around. (LOL) Finally, at around 6:10, the queue began to move. We were among the first people to get into the venue. And when staff handed us our tickets, my expectations were realized, we got 3rd floor seats, albeit the first row of the third floor, so we at least had an unobstructed view. But you see? We were there 3 1/2 hours early to get nosebleed seats.

The theme of the show was a celebration of Tokyo in the 70’s and 80’s. So most of the songs would be Tokyo-centric. Among the cast were a few 70’s-80’s idols, and a few younger artists. In addition to Wasamin, the cast included…

E-Girls: who performed YMCA.
Hosokawa Takashi: has been on Kohaku 39 times since the mid-70s, and was in one of the famous Tora-san films. In fact they showed a clip from that movie. (I really want to see some of that film series! If you aren’t familiar, HKT48 did a send-up of it during their Spring Tour a couple years ago, with Akiyoshi playing Tora-san!)
Nagayama Yoko: an idol from the 80’s
Oginome Yoko: another 80’s idol
Miyama Hiroshi: A popular enka singer
Nishida Ai and Mori Konomi: who performed a duet.

There were a few other artists, but these were the most notable. Anyway, the director came out at 7:15 along with a few of his assistants, and they spent the 15 minute pre-show going over how the filming works, as well as a couple of key points where were would expected to do audience participation. We practiced our parts a few times before it was finally 7:30 and time for the show to begin….

I’ll spare you too many non-Wasamin related details. Basically the performers sang a bunch of songs related to Tokyo, inter-cut with video scenes of Tokyo in the 70’s and 80’s and old NHK Utacon clips. The main problem for us Wasafans was that aside from the short opening medley, Wasamin was largely absent for the first 2/3 of the concert. She was sitting in a gallery where the interviews take place, but she wasn’t involved in the conversation.


E-Girls

Probably the most awkward part of the show was the transition into E-Girls 2nd performance. Last week Saiji Hideki, who is well-known for his Japanese version of the Village People’s Y.M.C.A., passed away. They did a retrospective of his live on the VTR. It was extremely touching, and a couple people on stage started to tear up, especially Nagayama Yoko who was crying very hard. This directly transitioned into E-Girls, and going from such a depressing moment into such an upbeat and fun song was quite odd. If you have ever heard Casey Kasem’s infamous rant about a dog death dedication, this is exactly what I am referring to. As a former radio host, I am keenly aware of the importance of smooth transitions. This was quite the opposite.

 

Around 45 minutes or so in, it was finally Wasamin’s turn. What she did was kinda different. She and Fukuda Kohei, another performer, both narrated videos about different locales in Japan. Wasamin was talking about Sadogashima, which led into her performing Sado no Ondeko. They had an ‘Oni’ Taiko Drummer on stage too, which was kinda cool. But it was also kind of odd, since the theme of the show was about Tokyo, and most of the performers sang cover songs. Both Wasamin and Fukuda’s performances just seemed kind of tacked on. As cool as her performance was, I would have loved to hear her do something related to the show theme.


Oginome Yoko

Since it was a television show, it ended exactly on schedule. However, they do a couple more non-TV interviews after the show, and we get a couple more performances. Personally, I wanted to get out of there and have dinner, but we had to sit through the new singles of Nishida Ai, Mori Konomi, and Miyama Hiyoshi before our show actually ended.


Wasamin pulling faces with Nishida Ai

Ultimately it is fun to watch these shows being produced for a live presentation, the way the cameramen, directors, and staff work off-camera while the show is going on is just amazing. Granted, I didn’t enjoy this particular show as much because Wasamin was barely in it, but that won’t stop me from going to see these shows in the future if/when the opportunity presents itself. Anyway, I joined a group of Wasafans at a nearby izakaya for a post-show celebration. It was a long-ass day, and I need some rest.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, HKT48 HKT48 1st Album Shamekai Event at TOC Gotanda Messe (2018/05/20)

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This was the last in the series of both AKB48 and HKT48’s album shamekai events. Despite only having three usable tickets the first time around, I had a lot of fun during ‘Sports Day’ where the members wore sporty clothing and we took photos with sports themed backdrops. I was also really looking forward to seeing Yukachan again since it had been a while. I didn’t win a ticket for the Romeo and Juliet musical, and I had to oshimashi my Yukachan ticket at the 48-group event last week since she was out for the day (I used it on Yamauchi Suzuran) I also got the great news that Tomonaga Mio would be attending the event, and those of us who couldn’t use our Mio tickets last time could use them at this event as a makeup. That gave me five tickets in total to use.

TOC Gotanda Messe is similar to Tokyo Ryutsu Center in that it is extremely small compared to Pacifico, Makuhari, or Big Sight. And like Ryutsu Center, the lanes were spread out over two different rooms. Both rooms were relatively similar in size. The first room contained lanes 14-22, which were generally the girls who usually have shorter queues. It also had the entrance/bag check, information desks, and handicapped seating area. The far room had lanes 1-13, plus lane 23 which was the ‘Group Shamekai’ lane. I didn’t notice they had added this feature, and Yukachan’s group sold out before I tried to apply. In-between the two rooms was a large hallway, where they moved spillover queues, then the outside parking lot had food, goods, and photo trading. I got in before the 2nd slot started, and immediately queued for Yukachan…

Slot 2

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) “Otona Ressha”: While waiting in queue for Yukachan, Hokazono Hazuki’s lane already opened. Hazuki was wearing tight, black leather pants and a red leather jacket from the 10th single Platinum Girls B-side, and with her red hair she looked totally hawt. In fact, at one point she caught me checking her out and smiled at me. Meanwhile, Yukachan’s lane finally opened up. Great to see her out of her cast and without her legs covered. Plus, she was wearing the outfit of one of, if my my favorite 48-group songs of all time, cool! When I was third in queue I caught her eye and she smiled at me. Finally it was my turn. “Kurissuuuu” However I hadn’t even sat down yet and the guards were already yelling “pose, pose!” So we quickly did a heart pose.

I tried to say something to Yukachan but they were pushing me out withing a micro-second of me shaking her hand. Oh well, maybe I will get a chance to say something to her next time around.

I had loads of time, and wanted to get something to eat before the food queues got too long, so I went out through the hall and toward the food booths. Karaage, Gyu Bowls, and skewers. I still find it interesting that they offer skewers on sharp wooden sticks inside the venue. Nobody sees the irony in that? I got a Gyutan Bowl.

I also noticed that were selling the guidebook. After seeing the Yukachan photo from the book, it was pretty much a given I was going to buy it. Plus, I would get a bonus photo from buying at an event. Anyway, I went back into the venue to use my other Yukachan ticket…

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) <2nd ticket> This time I was determined to say something other than hello. The line was short, so I was to the front within a minute or two. Once again, the guards were yelling “pose, pose” and we did an usagi pose.

The guards were trying to push me out, but I managed to ask her about her performance in Romeo and Juliet. However, I think she assumed, based on my question, that I had seen the play, so she thanked me for seeing it. As I was being pushed out, I didn’t have the chance to correct her. That’s okay, if she assumes I saw it, that’s better for my fan cred, LOL. I turned back and she was still looking at me and smiling as I was collecting my bag, so I smiled and waved back to her one more time. I’ll have plenty of time to talk to her at the upcoming Jabaja handshake events, so no biggie.

I left Yukachan’s lane, and the was still around 5-10 minutes before the gates closed. I decided to get my makeup ticket done right then and there. I didn’t want to lose out on my chance later on (a wise move, as you will find out)

Tomonaga Mio (Lane 7) “Hitsuzenteki Koibito”: This was the only ticket I had for the ‘senbatsu room’ where most of the long queues were. I had checked earlier, and Mio’s queue was fairly long. When I returned it was somewhat shorter, as were the queues of most of the members, but it still extended outside the lane itself. The nice thing was since my ticket was a make-up from April, I could use it in any slot I wanted. I wanted to get it done ASAP just in case Mio bailed on the event at some point (which she later did!) Once again, it was extremely noticeable how quickly they were processing fans through the shamekai. In fact, the queue past check-in was getting shorter, despite the larger queue outside. They were taking 2-shots faster than they were checking people in, LOL. The gate had already closed by the time it was my turn. Mio was sitting with her legs covered in a blanket, much like Yukachan a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure what song her costume was from, but I thought all the pills affixed to her shirt were funny. She greeted me with an English “Hello” and I asked how she was doing. We quickly posed and took our shot.

Afterwards I thanked her for making it to the event while the guard was pulling me toward the exit, LOL. That beings me to the subject of time…

So the scuttlebutt around the venue was that all the lanes were being handled in much the same way. People were being rushed through the process. This especially pissed off people who had multiple tickets. As a result, people were complaining at the information booth, and I happen to agree with them. If you show up with 12 tickets, your entire experience shouldn’t take less than a minute, including the pics. What they were doing was rapidly taking the pics, then allowing 2-3 seconds for a handshake regardless of the amount of tickets you had. I only use one ticket at a time, so it didn’t affect me too much, but I get why some people were pissed off.

Anyway, I used this time to queue up and buy the guidebook, and got Ota Nao as my bonus pic. They were pretty much sold out of everything else I was interested in. I held up the photo as I walked through the traders, but since these were HKT fans, none of them were interested. I got the same “Nope!” look over and over. At one point someone asked who I was looking for, and when I said Akiyoshi they responded “Yeah, good luck!” In the meantime, I ran into Carey, who had purchased multiple books for the photos. He didn’t want the extra books, so he gave one to me. Shit, had I known that was going to happen I wouldn’t have wasted my time buying one! Anyway, on to the next 2-shot…

Slot 3

Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 15) “Shekarashika!” It had been a while since I had hung out with Rikopi, so I was looking forward to seeing her. I had to ask what costume this was, and when she said it was from her first senbatsu selection I was kinda surprised. I always think of the yankii uniforms they wear in the PV when I think of that song. Anyway, when it was my turn I got a big ‘hisashiburi’ greeting from Rikopi, she is always super genki at these events.

Once again, it was a rushed process. In fact, the guard took my phone and ran outside the booth with it trying to get me to chase him, LOL. Rikopi noticed my ticket holder, and asked who was on it as I was being led out, but I just smiled and waved to her.

I had over an hour until my last ticket, so I went back outside to the food and goods area. I had to maneuver my way past the spillover lines, which were taking up much of the space in the center hall all day. During each slot, the lines of Sakura, Mikurin, and Hana (yes, Hana!) stretched so long that they had to move them outside the room and to the hallway. Mio also had a relatively long queue since she was doing make-ups for multiple missed events, but her queue didn’t quite make it to the hallway. Part of the issue was that the queuing areas were so small, that even a medium sized line crated havoc for the guards, plus the waiting area outside the lanes was so tiny that there was hardly room for anyone to stand.

This also became an issue for my final handshake of the day. I had a similar issue at the first HKT shamekai. My last ticket was for Maichan, and her lane was in the hall of the ‘lesser popular’ members for some reason. Moreover, it was in the far corner furthest from the doorway to the hall. I tried to get over there early so I could get the jump on Maichan’s queue in the next slot, however Piichan was finishing up her last slot. Like last time, Piichan has this huge entourage of fans who want to do this big production when she finishes her last handshake. Rikopi’s fans also had a similar plan, so getting near those two lanes was almost impossible. Piichan’s fans did their thing, and they almost immediately re-opened the lane for pre-queueing…

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 14) “Sakura, Minna de Tabeta”: I managed to push my way through the mass of Piichan fans coming the other way and made it 4th in line to check-in. This also gave me a front row seat to the Rikopi fans’ festivities. That was fun. As I was 4th in line, this didn’t affect me, but I noticed that line for Maichan became insanely long and had a snaking queue outside the lane in the waiting area. If the lane were closer to the door, they surely would have put it out in the hall, but that wasn’t feasible. The guards kept trying to get us all to scrunch closer together to make more room in the line, it was getting ridiculous. Maichan was a few minutes late too, which didn’t help. Maichan looks cute in anything she wears, but she especially looks cute in the Sakura, Minna outfit.

There wasn’t much of an exchange between Maichan and I during the handshake, except as I was leaving she shouted “I love you, Matta ne!” while I was outside the queue. It was around 2:45, and I was done. I had a plan for the afternoon, but I stopped to chat with my friend Panda before I left the venue.

Postscript

So a couple of interesting things happened to me after the event. I headed to Shinjuku to hang out at the Oedo Beer Festival, and I still had on my HKT48 jersey and concert t-shirt. Every once in a while I would hear the name “Akiyoshi” being muttered from someone behind me. Then after I got to the beer festival, this girl grabbed me. She opened up my jersey. “HKT48, you like them???” “You are fan of Sashihara?” She was even more surprised when she found out I was a fan of Akiyoshi. This girl ended up hanging out with me for two hours talking about idols, LOL. Later on, my friend, a Sasshi fan, came over since he couldn’t use his Sasshi tickets, and we had a couple of brews.

The other funny thing was that I had earlier tweeted my Yukachan and Mio pics, and it was retweeted by a couple of Yukachan fans I know. However, by the evening I was getting a constant stream of Like and Retweet notifications that went well into the night, and is still happening sporadically today. So my Yukachan pic kinda went viral, LOL.

Today is my day of lounging around and doing nothing, but the rest of my week is kinda hectic. Tuesday: I have a ticket for NHK Utacon, Wasamin is performing,Wednesday: AKB48 Theater show, Thursday: FESTIVE single release event Friday: Keyaki Beer Festival Saitama, Saturday: AKB group Jabaja Handshake event, Sunday: Minyo Girls One-Man Live, then Wasamin 4th concert DVD release event. And that will end my 30 day vacation. It’s been fun!

CK in Tokyo

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NGT48 NGT48 3rd Single National Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2018/05/19)

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This is the second time I have ever been to an NGT exclusive event. The first time was their Zenkoku event for the 2nd single, and I mainly went to that one out of sheer coincidence, since both HKT and AKB were also doing events at Makuhari on the same day. Actually, I hadn’t planned on going to this event at all. However, my friend Derek asked me to keep him posted on when the next NGT48 event would be, and when I reminded him he just assumed we would be going to the event together. So technically my main motivation in going was merely to hang around with Derek, the event was secondary. That said, one never knows when a magical idol experience might occur. And today ultimately ended up being very special…

I resolved that if I was going to attend this event, I was going to limit myself to two tickets. However, after checking the lane assignments there were three lanes I was interested in…

Lane #4: Nishigata Marina/Kado Yuria. I met Marina at the first event I went to, and she was really sweet. So I kinda wanted to see her again.
Lane #10: Yamaguchi Maho/Yamada Noe. Noe tried to fish me hard at that first event, and she was coupled with Maho, who I wouldn’t mind meeting.
Lane #1: Ogino Yuka/Murakamo Fuka. My brief encounter with Ogiyuka at Horipro Fes was quite memorable, so I considered this lane as well.


Marina was a possible for my two tickets. Rika I wasn’t so keen on meeting this time.

As for which of those lanes I wouldn’t visit, I decided I would let the event determine. Let’s see if any of these girls grab my attention during the live. I met with Derek outside the train station, and we headed to the hall to purchase CDs and get tickets. We also happened to run into Paul again, so we decided to all hang out together during the live. That is, unless we got different section tickets, but we all got section B, so we were cool. We positioned ourselves on the far right side of the standing area, just in case the members walked around the hall, we would have a great view. Although I wasn’t sure this would take place at all since there was no bag or body check before the show. At 1pm the Overture started, and here’s the setlist…

Setlist
1. Haru wa Doko Kara Kuru no ka?
2. Midori to Mori no Undokouen
MC: Member intros
3. Ato de
4. Hansei Soda
5. Watcha Gonna Do
6. Kimi no Koto ga Suki Dakara
7. Jouhatsu Shita Suibun
8. Max Toki 315go

After the fifth song the NGT draftees came out and did their intros. I can’t really tell you which ones stood out for me, although a couple of them seemed extremely genki and outgoing, while a couple of them seemed more reserved. They were also playing a series of games, where a question was asked and everyone wrote their best answer. For example, “your favorite place in Niigata?” Most of the wrote the NGT Theater, although one member wrote “My room” and another wrote Niigata Eki, LOL. I thought the unit songs were kinda cute, although Watcha Gonna Do is quite fierce, and it was by far the loudest song of the set. At one point they asked who was seeing them for the first time, they also asked who was coming to their individual handshake event on Sunday. I heard a bunch of people muttering about the HKT Shamekai event, LOL. I mentioned to the three guys in front of me that I was also going to HKT, and we all started laughing. Oh, and there was another guy in front of me who smelled like a soiled diaper. I don’t know why I often find myself next to these guys. I wanted to move, however I had a really nice view from where I was standing, and didn’t want to give it up. But I was holding my towel over my face for quite a bit of the show.

They ended the show with their signature MaxToki, with all of the members roaming around the audience. They also had the plastic balls with personal messages to throw into the crowd. It seemed like all of the members kinda congregated in one general area, but then they spread out again, and only at the very end of the song did they start throwing the balls. All of a sudden I saw a ball coming in my general direction, but it was going to land a bit short of where I was standing. Then I watched it bounce, bounce, bounce until it hit me right in the chest…


Both sides of the ball, and a gift coaster from the fan in front of me who I think tipped it into my chest.

I jammed it into my pocket as fast as I could. I guess nobody really noticed that I caught it, as a few minutes later I pulled it back out of my pocket, and everyone around me kinda gasped. “Sugoi, you caught it!” I didn’t know who threw it to me, so the fans told me it was Tsugumin. To be honest, I had never noticed this girl before. But that all changed after catching that ball.

So now I had a big dilemma. There was no way I was going to miss the chance of meeting Tsugumin after catching her ball. The question was which ONE of the other three lanes would I visit? I eliminated the Ogiyuka lane right off the bat, since I have never considered myself her fan. I do like her however. It came down to which lane I thought I would have the most fun with. Derek and I re-queued for the handshake portion of the event (I don’t know where Paul disappeared to :( ) After going through security, I checked out Tsugumin’s Lane assignment to see who she was paired with. I also wanted to memorize their faces since I had never met either of them before, and if they looked any way similar I might mix them up.

(Lane #2) Oguma Tsugumi/Kusakabe Aina: I checked their official profiles. Oh look, Tsugumin’s birthday is one day apart from mine, neat! But crap, they have the exact same facial expression on their profile pic. It was just then that I happened to see one of the Wasafans come out of her lane, but he kinda disappeared before I could catch him. As I was standing outside the lane still trying to memorize the girls’ looks, he came back. So I jumped in the queue behind him and asked him if Tsugumin was on the right or the left. He told me she was first, on the right. But then he took it a step further…

I entered the booth, and the first thing Tsugumin says to me is “Kurisu!!! Omedetou!!!!” It turns out that not only did he tell the girls I caught the ball, but he also told them my name. So both Tsugumin and Aina yelling my name and congratulating me, and Aina eventually asked where I was originally from, so it was an awesome experience. I left the lane so happy!

I considered using my second ticket for looping their line. But I believe in ending on a high note, and I will definitely see Tsugumin again, so I decided to instead use my 2nd ticket on someone else…

 

(Lane #10) Yamaguchi Maho/Yamada Noe: I know Noepii is always like ‘shot out of a cannon’ from meeting her before, but Mahohon seemed like an intriguing member to meet, plus she was highly noticeable in Watcha Gonna Do. I entered the lane, and Maho kinda put her hand on her chin and smiled as I told her that I enjoyed her performance on the song. She winked at me, and then thanked me. Nice and subtle, unlike Noe. As expected, I was immediately greeted with a rapid fire of English, which I parroted back at her. Eventually I reminded her that me met at their last Tokyo event, it was just then that I got a good shove from the guard. BTW, Noepii looked MUCH cuter than the first time I met her. In fact, now I am wondering why I didn’t think she was that cute the first time I saw her. Oh well…

And those were my two tickets. I considered getting one more, as they were still selling CDs inside the venue. However, I purposely brought a small amount of cash so I wouldn’t overspend. Instead I took photos of the cardboard stands before leaving the venue, and running into another Stage48 user (Riina!)

Ultimately, I am very happy that I decided to go to this event, despite the fact that I have never really considered myself an NGT48 fan at all. Moreover, I have never really had a favorite member in NGT. But when Tsugumin’s ball found its way into my hands it honestly felt like a fated moment. Couple that with the extra special way she greeted me during the handshake, and BAM!

I have found my favorite NGT member.

CK in Tokyo

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Events, Iwasa Misaki The Iwasa Misaki Fan Club Bus Tour to Shizuoka (2018/05/16)

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I went back and revisited my post last year of Wasamin’s 2017 ‘Valentines Bus Tour’ just to remind myself of what an amazing time it was. Suffice it to say, I was really looking forward to this year’s edition. This year’s event kept with a tradition of moving further and further away from Central Tokyo. The first edition drove to various places around Tokyo, last year was the general Yokohama area, and this year we would be heading 75 miles Southwest of Central Tokyo, to Shizuoka. There we would be visiting the Mishima Sky Walk attraction, enjoying a fabulous lunch, Tea Picking, our traditional shrine visit, as well as all the fun during the bus ride. I’ll tell you right now, this year’s tour was even more special than last year’s, for numerous reasons.

I set two alarms since I didn’t want to oversleep and miss the event. Luckily, I was up at the crack of dawn, and out the door quite early. The event started at 8am in the bus parking lot at Tokyo Station. My first concern was which of the two buses I would be on, since last year I was on Bus #2, in the very back, and it felt like the 2nd bus kind of got a secondary experience. Luckily, I was on Bus #1 this time, albeit in the back row again. Although I had my section to myself, so I could stretch out. The buses were scheduled to leave at 8:30, but Wasamin was ‘fashionably’ a few minutes late. which amused most of the fans.

Bus Ride #1

Lucky Bus #1 got Wasamin on-board first. After a few introductions, where we were given a basic rundown of how the day would unfold, Wasamin had everyone in the bus introduce themselves, and then give some background of how they became a Wasafan, or why they are a fan now. There were 38 fans on each bus, so this took the better part of an hour. In fact, when we reached the mid-point rest area of the drive out, we still had five people left to do the introduction, including myself. (I was last) I essentially told the story about the first time seeing Wasamin perform in the theater in April 2009, and how special I thought she was even from that first encounter. Then I talked about meeting her in New York later that year, and that was how she became my oshimen. I know Wasamin remembers our New York meeting (she has mentioned that she does) but I don’t know if I had ever told her the theater show story before, and how I rushed back to the hotel to figure out who she was, LOL. Anyway, we were then given 15 minutes at the rest area to use the toilet, or whatever.

This was a lively rest area, to say the least. There were lots of food stalls selling melon pan, steamed buns, and meat skewers. Everyone lined up at the various booths to grab a snack, including Wasamin. Wasamin had two photographers filming her every move on this trip, so people at the rest stop began to notice. Everywhere I heard people muttering to one another. “She’s the Enka singer from AKB!” I was so proud of her. She looked so beautiful, and was catching the eye of everyone, yet she is hardly a diva, and is totally comfortable milling around with the fans, and everyone else.


Our one chance to see Mt. Fuji. No worries, I have seen it many many times.

We re-boarded the buses, this time with Wasamin on Bus #2, and proceeded 75 minutes to our next destination. For this part of the ride we were entertained with Wasamusic over the bus sound system.

Mishima Sky Walk

Mishima Sky Walk is essentially a 400 meter long walking bridge over a small valley on the opposite side of Lake Ashi from Hakone. It also provides beautiful views of Mount Fuji on a clear day, which unfortunately this wasn’t. Of course there are also food stalls and gift shops with local products. Wasamin handed each of us our tickets and guidebook, and we proceeded to the bridge entrance where we took a group shot, and then had a Wasamin photo session. The sessions were broken up into four groups, I was in the ‘kiro’ (yellow) group, which usually went second.

At this point I will mention that I kind of have a fear of heights, a concern I mentioned to Wasamin a couple weeks ago. In this case, it’s not that I feared the bridge falling down, it’s that I think I am somehow going to fall over the side. Ultimately, it ended up being quite the pleasant walk, despite the fact that the floor of the bridge was a metal grate, and you could see the valley below under your feet. Since it is a suspension bridge, it sways a bit too. There were a few fans that didn’t cross, and a few others that did, but were petrified the entire way. LOL.

Once across, Wasamin took some photos on the other side. There were food stalls here too, including a guy steam-roasting chestnuts. He saw our large group come across and immediately got to work steaming, but nobody went to his stall. Ultimately Kimura-san and I each bought a bag. Another feature of the Sky Walk is the ‘flower drop’ where you get a small wooden ‘flower’ disc and write a wish on it, then throw it over the side of the bridge. I bought a yellow one, (Wasamin’s color) wrote a small wish for myself, and a small message to Wasamin, and threw mine around mid-way, where the stream passed. When I threw it, it went into a really fast spin, and practically floated to the bottom of the valley, and I am pretty sure it landed in the water, which is what I was aiming for.

We were given discount coupons for the soft cream shop, so a lot of people lined up for that. The rest of us loaded back on to the bus for the next stop. While we were waiting, one of the fans told me he had an extra ticket for Wasamin’s Utacon performance next week, and invited me to come. SCORE! I was about to send a message out to the fans asking if anyone had an extra, so that worked out perfectly!

Soba Lunch

Wasamin was back on our bus for the ride to lunch, which took over 30 minutes to a town called Izunokuni, which is near Atami. The bus had a karaoke system, so Wasamin sang 2 songs for us along the way. First Tokyo no Bus Guide, and then Tegami (The song she sang at her most recent challenge stage) Much to Wasamin’s surprise, our bus guide had never heard the bus guide song before, LOL. The other nice thing was, Wasamin performed the 2nd song at the rear of the bus, so they were really focused on paying attention to everyone this time around.

So lunch…Actually, we were in more of a catering hall, which seems to be a regular stop for Tobu Top Tours, since we weren’t the only tour group there. We could essentially sit wherever we wanted for lunch, and our food was already set at the table, waiting for us to eat. I grabbed a spot at the end of the center table, which ended up being a primo seat later.

Cold soba, tempura, sushi, soup, veggies, and green tea jello. Quite the bounty, eh? The tempura was served with green tea/salt, which from what I understand is a popular local condiment. Everything was delicious, and we all finished rather quickly, which gave us time to go the local gift shop in the regular restaurant, where Wasamin was having lunch with staff. One of the fans, whose name I always forget, came out with an interesting looking bottle. What was it? Unagi Cola??? It has Unagi in it??? I had to try this, so I went inside and bought a bottle.

All the fans were crowding around me. “What is that? Unagi Cola? How does taste?” To be honest, it just tasted like cola. But it ultimately got me a lot of attention, so well worth the purchase. After that we headed inside the dining hall, where we would be getting an impromptu photo session with Wasamin…

 

I strategically placed my Unagi Cola bottle right at the edge of the table. The first person to notice it was the photographer, and then Ichikawa-san (Wasa-manager) who came over to take photos, ask what it tastes like, etc. Wasamin was moving from table to table, posing while asking us about lunch. I got awesome closeups since I was in the first seat. And, I got a special pose…

Yes, that Unagi Cola was a wise purchase indeed…

Tea Picking at Kuraya-Narusawa

A short ride away we arrived at the site of our tea-picking experience. Before leaving the bus we were given a bandanna, and a bag to collect tea leaves. This was also our chance to take 2-shots with Wasamin with her wearing her tea-picking outfit. The tea fields were up on a hill, and had a beautiful view of Fuji…on a clear day. Today was really hazy.


Looking thoroughly confused, not sure which leaves were the right ones…

They didn’t really give us much instruction on tea picking, so I kept asking everyone around me if I was picking correctly, and getting laughed at each time. People were like “What the heck are you picking?” and removing half the leaves from my bag. Ultimately people threw a bunch of handfuls in my bag. I guess I will make some tea with it eventually. To be honest, I was kind of distracted as I had noticed that the property also housed a microbrewery called Hansharo Beer. I was more excited to visit the gift shop than anything else. So I headed back down the hill.

Wow, I would have loved to buy just about everything in that store. They had just about everything tea or wasabi related imaginable. Tea tasting, green tea soft cream, and of course Hansharo Beer! Ultimately I picked up a 4-bottle variety pack, along with a few Wasabi related items. I really wanted to buy the fresh wasabi too, but their graters were kinda pricey, and I had already spent quite a bit, so I passed.

Mishima Taisha

Back to Mishima, where our last ‘event’ would be a visit to a traditional Shinto Shrine to pray for Wasamin and her fans. We did the same thing last year on the tour to Yokohama. Ya know, it is this moment, watching Wasamin praying, that I really get that at the end of the day she’s just a human being with hopes and dreams, just like the rest of us. Anyhow, it was a short ceremony, and we all got a small cup of sake at the end. After a few minutes where everyone bought fortunes and charms, we re-boarded the bus. BTW, my fortune was kinda mediocre. The fans I asked either said “slightly taihen” or “it’s okay” Anyway, I tied it to the wall just the same hoping that it will bring me good luck anyway.

The Ride Home

Once again, Wasamin split the ride home between Bus #1 and #2, we got the first leg. We had been running around 20 minutes late all day, so we would only have a short stop in Ebina for a toilet break, and for Wasamin to switch buses. For starters, Wasamin went around the bus asking various people what they thought of the trip. When she came to me, I told her that I was happy because I had a delicious lunch, bought a lot of omiyage, and got to be with Misaki-chan all day. She asked about the omiyage, and when I showed her the beer she said “You really like beer!” She was referring to the conversation we had a couple weeks ago, when I told her about going to a bunch of Golden Week beer festivals. Wasamin also mentioned to me that she had been reading my twitter updates on the trip all day. Afterwards, she was speaking to the woman who was also in the back of the bus, and sat down in the seat right next to me. My first reaction was to move in order to give her some space. But then I thought “What the heck am I doing? Wasamin sat her cute little booty right down next to me!” So I stayed right where I was.

Next was janken for prizes. She had 10 signed clear files with unique messages, plus a personally signed 2018 Calendar. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but I did come close on the second round of Clear Files, losing on the final round. Misaki-chan rounded out this leg of the trip with more karaoke. Unfortunately a lot of the songs we were requesting (including my request of Niji wo Watatte) weren’t in the system, so Wasamin ended up singing a lot of songs acappella. Finally, as we left the bus we were given a thank you card from Wasamin, as well as Wasa-chocolate (and a gift of green tea from the Tour Company)

For the rest of our bus tour, we were treated to a karaoke performance by our Bus Guide, who was a total doll. Bus #2 got an older guide, we got the cute, idol-level guide. Finally a few fans did Karaoke before we arrived in Tokyo. We all said our goodbyes outside Tokyo Station, and went our separate ways.


Our idol-caliber bus guide

Summary

Chalk it up to another incredible 10-hour experience with my favorite girl in the world. Everything about this event was an upgrade from last year. The bus rides were more evenly distributed, had more activities, and she paid attention to the people in the rear of the bus too. We had more interaction with Wasamin, more photo-ops, and it was a beautiful place to take a bus tour. Wasamin is a wonderful host, and it seemed as if she had as much fun on the tour as we did. I know I had a blast, and I look forward to whatever the next big event is.

Actually, my next ‘big’ Wasamin event is her karaoke party, which is in three weeks. But we also have Utacon next week, Wasamin’s DVD release weekend, and the concert at DMM VR Theater. So lots coming up!

CK in Tokyo

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