Posts Tagged ‘AKB48’

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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AKB48, Concerts, HKT48 A Weekend at Saitama Super Arena (HKT48 & AKB48 Spring Concerts) 2018/03/31-04/01

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When they announced that not only HKT48, not only SKE48, but also AKB48 would be performing Spring concerts at Saitama Super Arena, I figured my chance to win tickets were pretty good.  After all, SSA is a pretty big place.  SKE and HKT have been playing at much smaller venues, even when they were arguably more popular.  But I wasn’t sure how easy the tickets would ultimately be to win, so I decided to put in applications for all four shows.  Now I don’t often do this, but it’s time for my rant…

For many of you who have been to Japan, and have tried to win either theater shows or concerts for AKB48, you know how difficult, even impossible it seems to be.  I’ve never come out and said it before on my blog, but there is something seriously “rotten in  the state of Denmark” when it comes to that ticket center.  The reason I say this is not only because I lost for all four shows, in all three rounds of applications, but most everyone I know who won, won all four shows.  It was pretty much feast or famine.  People who won, won them all, people who didn’t win, got shut out entirely.  That, in and of itself is strange.  But it got even stranger…

When they announced the third round of applications, it was because the concerts didn’t sell out.  Wait a second?  Didn’t sell out?  But I lost all four applications?  How can this be???  Moreover, after the third round was over, they announced that it still didn’t sell out, and tickets would be available at the box office on the day of the concert.  This begs the question; Why are people losing, and the show didn’t sell out?  I’m not saying this is exclusive to foreign fans either, since I know a lot of Japanese fans who also got shut out of the lottery.  Not to mention, I also know foreigners who won all the shows.  But this kind of stuff just makes it even more obvious that there is nothing really random about the ticket center at all.  And to be honest, it really pisses me off.  I remember a time before the ticket center existed when the AKB48 lottery process seemed completely random and fair.  I have no idea why the company has turned it into what it is, but it is obvious that they are screening all applications, and deciding who gets to win, and who doesn’t.  Anyway, rant over.

I already knew I was going to the HKT show since I had friends with extra tickets.  As far as the rest of the shows, I really wanted to see SKE, but I wasn’t sure about AKB.  Also, at my age sitting through two concerts in one day is a bit of a hassle.  So I had to decide, which additional shows, if any, would I try to see?  I had pretty much decided to skip the SKE show since ultimately I didn’t know how many extra tickets were available, and I didn’t want to head out to Saitama first thing in the morning to find out that it had already sold out.  However, when I DID arrive at Saitama later in the day, I learned two things…

First, the HKT48 concert ultimately didn’t sell out.  They were still trying to sell tickets just before the show started.  Second, reliable sources told me that there were “lots of tickets” left for both AKB shows.  So I decided that I would head back over on Sunday, and get a ticket for one of the AKB shows too.  So that was my plan, one show for each day.

So after having lunch and meeting my friend in Akabane, we headed over to the arena.  The first thing we wanted to do was check out the goods tables, which were set up outside the arena.  Since the SKE concert was still going on, there was no line for their tent.  However, their selection was kind of picked over.  But I did get this…

Kaotan the JK, I love it!  The girl selling it started laughing at my friend’s and my reaction to seeing the button.  After that we headed to the HKT side.  The HKT booths had been open for a while, so the queue was short.  That is, unless you wanted to buy the manually decorated Uchiwa.  There was a big queue to use the tables for that.  Ultimately I decided to grab a new Akiyoshi ticket holder, and a concert towel.  They had some shirts in XXL, but I didn’t love them.

So after hanging around the arena for a couple hours, we finally got our tickets and headed into the venue.  But not before I had a chance to snap a couple of pics of the HKT flags.  I first found Bibian, but she was in the middle of the photo trading area, so I could only get a long shot.  I couldn’t find Maichan’s flag, but I found Yukachan right at the arena level entrance.  I had my friend hold it steady since it was kinda windy.

We headed up to our 400 level seats, pretty much the top deck.  There is a small Level 500, where you are practically hanging from the ceiling.  But we were low, 4th row, in the back left corner.  It was a direct view, but we were high up.  Anyway, here is my brief review of the HKT48 concert…

They started with a VTR on the proper use of uchiwas.  This is one of the things I love about HKT concerts, their little vignettes in the VTRs are so funny.  The star was Imamura Maria, but Akiyoshi also had a nice little part in it.  At one point Imamura is cheering for Yukachan with a giant onigiri uchiwa, and smashing it into the other fans.  Later on, she has one of the homemade uchiwas, and is cheering for two different members by flipping it around.  Meanwhile, Akiyoshi is peeking from behind the curtain and pissed off, LOL.  Dirty DD!

BTW, some sample video I took during the “camera ok!” time…


After the opening set, they showed a second VTR with certain members “in disguise” complaining about wanting a chance to be center.  The funny part was when it was Imamura’s turn, she was too short and could be seen behind the smoked glass.  Conversely, Natsumikan was too tall.  Finally, Ueki Nao’s chin was exposed, which is kind of her charm point.  This led into a huge series of solo songs by each and every member.  Despite the songs being shortened, it was still a really long set, with 23 consecutive songs.  Among my favorites, Motomura Aoi’s Akai Pinheel to Professor was really good, with really neat video effects.  Nako, Maichan, and Tomiyoshi also had really strong performances too.  Yukachan also centered a song, but it wasn’t really a solo.  Speaking of Yukachan…

I didn’t see it, but at beginning of the concert she fell off one of the stage runways and broke her foot.  Amazingly, she performed the rest of the concert, and only afterwards did they realize that there was a serious issue.  I saw her dancing and running around.  Heck, she even had a big part in the live skit in the middle of the concert.  BTW, I talk more about Yukachan’s broken foot in my previous post.


This is about as close as Tomiyoshi and Piichan came to me

My two biggest complaints were 1) The sound was really bad in the arena.  I don’t know if it was just where I was sitting, but it seemed like all of the sound was in the front of the concert, and we were just getting the echoes in the back.  I noticed that all the speakers seemed to be facing one direction too.  My second issue is that Sakura should not be singing the lead in Otona Ressha in place of Haruppi.  Otona Ressha might be my all-time favorite 48-group song, and I felt Sakura did a weak job of singing the lead.  The concert finally came to an end, but not before they flashed an ominous sign on the screens telling fans to check Twitter in 15 minutes.  Ultimately it was the new single senbatsu announcement.  Not sure why they couldn’t do that in the arena, but whatever.  All I know is that the new single Senbatsu is severely lacking in the Akiyoshi department.  Anyway, on to AKB…

I arrived at the arena on Sunday around 30 minutes before doors were scheduled to open for the matinee.  I went to the box office expecting to see a queue.  Uhhh, like five people in queue.  You had to fill out a form when you bought the ticket, and they asked me which show I wanted to buy for (or if I wanted both)  It was at that moment I decided to go for the matinee since I was already there.  The other option was to go all the way back home and come back six hours later.  In the meantime a friend of mine who is an SKE and Team 8 fan came to get a ticket, so we decided to renban the show.  Nice to have some company.  Our tickets were again 400 level, but on the other side of the venue in row 15.  So pretty much the same view, but out of the opposite eye, LOL.  I went to check the goods.  The line was huge.  Not to mention, there was really nothing I wanted that badly, so I decided to skip AKB goods all together.  We headed in and found our seats.  There were lots of empty spots all around us.  As for the show…

The first thing I was interested in was the sound, and for some reason the sound was much better than the previous day.  Now on one hand, I was in a different part of the venue.  But I also noticed that the speaker stacks were now facing multiple directions, so I think they made some overnight adjustments.  The show started with all the kennin members performing Enjou Rosen, followed by a stupid VTR and another overture.  BTW, I heard some fans were pissed about that, and felt it was somehow disrespectful to the kennin members. (Somebody tried to explain why, but I didn’t get it)

The main theme of the show were the Teams.  First, the current Teams (A, K, B, 4, Kenkyuusei, and Team 8) all performed songs.  Then the new teams came out and performed.  Since it was so high up, I didn’t get a real good feel for any differences in style or dynamic.  But the point was that the shuffle is moving forward.  After all that, we got a few units…

Surprisingly, Sakura’s performance of Maeda Atsuko’s solo debut Flower was surprisingly good.  I never think of Sakura as an exceptional performer, bu she pulled Maeda’s song off quite well.  On the other hand, Nako, Ryoha, and Nagisa’s rendition of Maria was the worst performance of that song I had ever seen.  It had no power, poor singing, just a mess.  She’s Gone, centered by Iriyama and Miru, was just slightly less bad.  They sounded so shrill on the chorus.  BTW, they allowed us to film in this show too.  Here is a sample video I took…



The best part of the show was when they allowed us to record and take pics.  They did this in the HKT show too, but the members came nowhere near us.  This time we got a bunch of 16th Gen get pretty close to us, so that was a lot of fun.

Overall, I liked the AKB show a bit more than the HKT show, but that was mainly because of the sound.  These days I’m a much bigger fan of HKT than AKB.  But since the sound was louder and more full, it seemed more exciting, which makes a big difference.

After the show ended, I briefly contemplated buying a ticket for the evening show.  But ultimately decided I would be happier not shelling out the extra 8000 yen, and instead wemt home to enjoy the rest of Sunday.  After seeing that the evening show was pretty much more of the same thing, I was happy with my decision.  I’m more of a theater guy anyway.  But it was nice to at least experience some of the 48-groups’ Spring Tour.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events AKB48-Group 11-Gatsu no Anklet Individual Handshake Event at Makuhari Messe (2018/03/03)

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It seemed like it had been a while since I had been to a 48-group related handshake event. Since the first weekend of 2018 I had only been to one, and that was kind of a blur since I basically showed up at the end of the night and oshi-mashi’d all of my tickets. So it was nice to spend a proper afternoon meeting with members.

I had eight tickets in total, spread out between Slots 4 and 7, pretty much all for my regular girls. That meant I could cruise into Makuhari in the early afternoon. I actually tried to get there early and have a leisurely lunch before the event, but there was a delay on the Yurakucho Line that caused me to miss my transfer, and get in a lot later than I had planned. I still managed to shovel in a quick lunch before heading to the halls. I didn’t need my tickets stamped, so once I got through security I went to queue up for my first ticket.

And a reminder, the prizes were in play. The usual 1-shot videos, 2-shot selfies, signed photos, and the trump game. BTW, here’s what the back side of the trump game prizes looked like. The other side is the member photo, and signing spot, which you will see below.


They gave you a plastic slip to put these in, but I couldn’t figure out how they fit, until I realized you are supposed to fold them, LOL!

Slot 4 

Tani Marika (Lane 96) Marika’s queue wasn’t very long. However, she wasn’t in her booth yet, and Slot 4 had already started. I didn’t win the signed photo, drats! In the meantime I had a good view into both Goto Rara and Tsuzuki Rika’s lanes. Eventually Tani came out, but she was taking a long time signing the photos for people who won the prize. When it came my turn I congratulated her on her 400th theater show. Tani did her usual “Yeah, let me hear it” pose. However, I mentioned that I have never seen her perform in a theater show, and I really want to win one day. She was like “Yeah, you gotta come see me!” LOL.

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 18) <1st ticket> As expected, Zunchan’s queue was really long, and that was just to get to check in. The inner queue was at capacity. Interestingly, she was in the lane right next to Okada Nana, and during Slot 4 actually had a longer queue than Naachan. I didn’t win the prize for either ticket, which were 1) 2-shot/1-shot and 2) signed photo. I have actually gotten to know a couple of Zunchan’s big fans, so I had people to chat with during the wait. There were also other Wasafans in her queue, as well as the queue to my right, so we were talking as well. Per usual, Zunchan’s lane was filled with all the signs and decor. Jeez, I wish I could take a pic, it is all so cute. I already planned what I wanted to say to her for the first ticket, so I didn’t pay too much attention to the signs. I essentially told her that I had gotten cancel machi last weekend, but didn’t make it into the show, so I was sorry I didn’t get to see her.

Slot 5

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 95) <1st ticket> I got to her lane just before it opened, and only one person walked in. So I ended up second in line. Finally I had won a prize, the 2-shot/1-shot. I know I’m a glutton for punishment, but I decided to go for the selfie, despite the fact I am horrible at taking them. Kaotan had a really cute skirt on, which unfortunately wasn’t going to show up in the pic. I mentioned my lack of photo-taking skills to Kaotan, so she helped me steady the camera, and voila! I had a nice selfie!

Afterwords she asked how I was, and I told her that I was a little worried. She asked why, and I blurted out “Don’t graduate!!!” She started laughing, “That was just a joke” I knew that, and told her that I saw it being talked about online. Anyway, we had a good laugh.

It was somewhere around this time that they showed the HKT, NGT, STU, and whatever that other PV was. (They must have shown SKE and NMB’s before I arrived) To be honest, none of them got me too excited, although STU’s seemed quite nice. I was really only paying half attention to them though…

Yamane Suzuha (Lane 18) <2nd ticket> After heading off to another lane, I came back to find Zunchan’s queue only slightly smaller than before. I compared it again to Naachan’s lane, and this time Naachan’s was somewhat bigger. But I point this out to show that Zunchan’s popularity has reached the level of the big members of AKB, and that management should take a look at her potential for being a significant part of the group’s future. Anyway, I couldn’t think of much more to say to her, but I did notice the big sign behind her. It was something about “Hina Matsuri” and eating Chirashi “something of other” The rest was about looking forward to eating it. So I asked Zunchan what it meant, It was Chirashizushi. Okay, I should know that! She asked me if I had eaten it, which I had. So I told her I have eaten it, and liked it.

Slot 6

Matsumura Kaori (Lane 95) <2nd ticket> Again I got there before the slot started, but this time four people jumped in, so I was fifth in the queue. This was important since I had three tickets for Slot 6, and I was trying to fit all the tickets in. Then Kaotan was like ten minutes late to the lane. I passed the time watching Kitagawa Ryoha in the neighboring lane. Eventually it was my turn, and I got to play the Trump card game with Kaotan. It worked somewhat differently than before, and I didn’t really understand it. I just picked a card, and she said I won. GREAT! So I got a signed photo.

While she was signing it, I mentioned that the Trump card game is okay, but Trump the President sucks. She was like “Huh?” I was really surprised that she didn’t get it. After explaining it a couple of times, it finally clicked for her who I was talking about. “Oh yeah, people don’t like him, ne?” After she finished signing, she asked when she would see me again, and I said the SKE handshake event (forgetting the AKB shamekai is a week earlier) Oh well, by then she will have forgotten what I said.

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 76) I was actually heading to Akiyoshi’s lane, when I saw that Maichan’s queue was virtually empty. Really? At the January event her lane was ridiculously long. In fact, I ended up skipping her ticket as a result. In any case, I figured I would take advantage, and I won the prize, which was the 1-shot video. Per usual, Maichan looked adorable. Amazing looking one-piece dress, and the twin tails, WOW! Made me very thankful I won the video…

It had been a long time since I had talked to her, and she pointed that out. Probably because she saw me at the last couple events where I didn’t go to her. Anyway, I told her I loved the outfit, and that I hope to see her during HKT’s Spring Tour. She kinda spun around and did a quick modeling for me. She really knows how to melt a guys heart!

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 71) <1st ticket> Yuka-chan had a decent sized queue, and I was in line right behind the old guy who always tried to be first in her queue. This was later in the slot, while he was looping the queue. He and I were talking about Yuka-chan’s trip to Singapore, and how she tried speaking English and Chinese. According to him, she had limited success. So we decided I would give her an English lesson. While I waited I was watching Yamashita Emiri in the next queue, who was wearing a somewhat revealing black top. Finally it was my turn. This was another Trump game, and according to Yuka, I won, GREAT! While she was signing I said to her in English; “Did you Enjoy Singapore?” and then “What was your favorite thing in Singapore?” This time she admitted that she didn’t understand the 2nd question, so I repeated it in Japanese. She said that the Singaporean Chicken and Rice was OISHII!!!

I had to wait an hour before I could use my last Akiyoshi ticket. In the meantime I went out to the food garden, and they have gotten a bunch of new food trucks, including this one!

Skewers!!! Pork, beef, chicken, shellfish, tons of great stuff! So much better than when our choices were pretty much ramen or gyudon. I had a Pork Kalbi and a Sazae skewer while I waited for Slot 7 to begin…

Slot 7

Akiyoshi Yuka (lane 71) <2nd ticket> I pre-queued fairly early, and ended up being 2nd in line, and I won the prize! Again I was tasked with the choice of the 2-shot selfie, or 1-shot video. Since the last selfie I attempted to take with her came out badly, I decided to try and redeem myself. I told her about the last one coming out poorly, so she told me to take my time and make sure the shot looked good.

Well…at least it isn’t blurry. The guard was pretty much pushing me out from the moment I finished taking the pic, but I confirmed with her that she was not going to be performing with HKT at Sendai. She said she would only be at Saitama. I told her I would see her at the upcoming 2-shot events, and was off…

For those keeping score, I was 5 for 8 on the prizes, which is damn good! I got skunked on Zunchan though which was a bummer, and didn’t get any autographed pics. But hey, I was 4 for 4 with my 2-top, Akiyoshi and Kaotan. Yay!

Before leaving Makuhari, I stopped at the 7-11 by the station and picked up my ticket for Horipro Matsuri, which is in a couple weeks. The show is at Zepp Diver City, which is mainly standing room only. I got a great queue number too, so hopefully I will be very close to the stage.

 

I am not attending next week’s handshake event, which means that aside from the aforementioned concert, my next 48-group related events won’t be until April, where I will be attending AKB and HKT’s album shamekai events, plus SKE’s single event. So things to look forward to. And tomorrow is the last day of Wasamin’s 7th single release week promotion. It should be a crazy day!

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts, Iwasa Misaki, Minyo Girls A Quick Update; A Theater Show, and a Cross-Promotion

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A few things…

I wanted to cross promote a YouTube Show I was on last week.  My buddy David (DLJ) from New School Kaidan and I had a nice little conversation.  David and I have hung out in Japan, and when FESTIVE came to San Francisco he bunked at my condo.  In the audio-only video we talked about living in Japan, Wasamin (of course) AKB48, and indie idols, particularly Minyo Girls.  Please check it out!!!

Also…

Earlier this month I happended to win my 40th theater show.  It was once again Team Kenkyuusei (16th Gen) plus a few of the Draft Nominees as special guests.  I have discussed this theater show so many times that it feels like well-covered ground.  However, the cool thing was that it was just a couple of days before the January 6-7 AKB Handshake Events at Makuhari Messe.  So I got great reactions when I met the 16th Gen members (I met ALL of them, except for Orin) at the handshake events since they remembered me from the theater shows.  You can read about those interactions a couple of posts down from this one.

And of course I picked up the commemorative photo pack as a keepsake.

 

Finally, I am starting to get the occasional comment, which is nice.  I was beginning to get really discouraged because it seemed like I was getting readers, but nobody ever bothered to comment.  So please, comments are welcome!

And since somebody asked, here are the best places to keep track of Wasamin’s schedule.

Wasamin’s official Nagara Pro event page
http://www.nagarapro.co.jp/top/artist/concert.php?id=36

Also, Ichikawa-san, Wasamin’s manager’s official blog is a great place for news and info…
https://ameblo.jp/wasamin-staff/

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Events, HKT48 HKT48 10th Single Individual Event, NGT48 2nd Single National Event, AKB48 49th/50th Single National Event at Makuhari Messe (2018/01/06)

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This was originally supposed to be an easy day. I had seven HKT tickets scheduled from 10am until 2pm or so, and I would be heading home. But then they announced the AKB National Event. HKT was my priority, but I would really like to have a little face time with the 16th Gen Kenkyuusei since I have seen them so much in the theater over the past six months. I resolved that I would get a hold of a few AKB tickets, and head on over after I finish with HKT. Easy enough, or so I thought.

I was trying to decide how I would write this up, and decided I would do it in one big post, in time order. It would sound more fun that way, and individually each report is kinda short. I headed out to Makuhari pretty early. Early enough to stop for breakfast along the way. It was around the time I arrived that my friends informed me there was an NGT National Event taking place as well. Hmmm? There was also an Idolmaster concert taking place all weekend, so Makuhari was truly “Otaku Central!” Anyway, I got into the HKT event after passing the enormous queue for NGT, and went to get my tickets stamped, forgetting they had already been stamped at the previous event. So I was all good. I went to use my first ticket…

HKT48 Event (Hall Six)

Slot 2

 

Murakawa Bibian (Lane 9) Always at a loss of what to say to Bibian, I led off by wishing her a happy new year. She was like “Yeah yeah! Happy New Year!” I then noticed she was wearing this interesting necklace, which was kinda “rockin,” so I told her it was kakkoi. She said she bought it in Shiga Prefecture. In any case, I made it through other Bibian handshake. At the end of the day, her genkiness always makes for a fun time.


Special Stages

Part of HKT’s events are the special stages they put on throughout the day. They do not announce who will be on each stage, or what they will be doing. It is usually various games and stuff. After I finished with Bibian I had a lot of time before my next ticket. They were just beginning to form the queue for the first stage. I thought, based on the schedule, that there would be a decent chance that Akiyoshi would be involved in one of the early stages, so I decided to queue up. I was seventh in line, which meant I would be right against the railing. What I didn’t know was that it would be over 45 minutes until the event actually started. I almost considered abandoning the mission, but I had a good spot, so I would take the chance.

The first event finally started, and out walked Bibian. LOL. Okay, at least it is someone I like. Along with Bibian was fairy w!nk, Unjo and Aramaki. Okay, this was going to be a fairy w!nk event. Bibian announced that this would be a “make me laugh” game, where the contestants must make fairy w!nk laugh, or suffer a penalty. Out came the contestants. Murashige…Natsumikan…Komada, and…..AKIYOSHI!!! I guessed right. Yukachan immediately spotted me in the front row and waved to me. It was the first time I had seen her in like a month and a half (I think) It was the typical gag game, with a table of props for the girls to use. Murashige tried her best, and Natsumikan actually got Aramaki to giggle once, but at the end of the day they failed miserably. The penalty was that they had to shove their face into a plate of flour. Oh, and since Bibian’s team failed, she also had to pay the penalty. All of them were covered in flour, blowing on to one another’s clothes. It was a mess. And that was the show.

What I didn’t realize is that they started a new feature with the special stages. After the show, if you buy a CD you can get a ticket for a special lane to meet the members from that stage. Damn, I could’ve had an extra Akiyoshi ticket! Maybe next time. Oh, and I did drop by the special stage a couple other times. One group, hosted by Hokazono Hazuki, did a bento demonstration. I saw quite a few members, but nobody else I wanted to buy a CD to meet. Anyway, onto my next tickets…

Slots 3/4

Fuchigami Mai (Lane 8) <2 tickets> For some reason when I purchased tickets for this event I only got tickets for three members. So I had two tickets for Maichan in consecutive slots. I pretty much started everyone off with a Happy New Year. I then told Maichan that I went to California. She asked if I had fun, and I was getting pushed out as I answered. So when I came back to see her in Slot 4, I continued by telling her that I had fun, saw family, and the weather was very warm, so I wore short pants the entire trip. She asked if I went swimming while I was there, which I did, LOL.

It was around this time that I went upstairs for lunch. I saw the booth selling NGT singles, and there was a very short queue. So I headed over and bought two copies (A and B) This would give me two handshake tickets to use later. Who I would use them on? I had no idea.

Slots 4/5

Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 19) <4 tickets> With four tickets today, and three the next day at the AKB event, I would have to come up with a lot to talk about with Yukachan. Fortunately that special stage gave us a nice starting off point. When I got into the booth she immediately commented on how I was in the first row. I told her that I queued up hoping she would be in that stage, and got lucky. I also checked to make sure she got all of the flour off of her clothes and hair, LOL. Later on I told her a bit about my trip to California, pretty much the same stuff I talked about with Maichan, and I added the part about it being warm enough for me to go swimming. I also mentioned that it was the first time I had seen my father and brother in almost two years, which kinda took her aback. She realized I have loved ones back in the states that I do not get to see. Finally, I told her I would be seeing her tomorrow. Oh, and at some point I mentioned that I loved the dress she was wearing. It was really cute.

So that was it for HKT. After visiting with BigC and Panda for a few minutes, I headed upstairs to figure out this NGT thing.

NGT48 Event (Hall 4)

The mini-live had ended, and they kicked everyone out of the hall while they re-formatted the hall. There was an enormous queue outside waiting to be let back in. Oh well, I guess I better line up. It probably took the better part of 30-45 minutes, but I eventually made it into the hall, dreading how long these queues would be. However, when I got inside none of the queues seemed very long at all, at least the ones I was interested in going to. Where did all those people in the queue disappear to? And who would I go see?

Let’s see, in NGT I know Nakai…and, uhh, Nakai. And…is Kitahara still in the group? Oh, I know that girl who did well at SSK, but I don’t care about her at all. And then there was that girl I liked when they were brand new. What was her name? I went to the one lane I was sure I wanted to go…

Nakai Rika, Yamada Noe (Lane 8) I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of Nakai, but I do know who she is, and I do think she is cute, so I thought I would give her a shot. To my surprise, there were a bunch of Wasafans in the queue, and the queue next to us. As I got close to the front, a friend of mine came over and warned me that Noe was especially genki today, and would likely give me a good experience. Anyway, I made it to the front of the queue. First up was Nakai, so I explained to her that this was my first ever NGT event, and I was happy to meet her. But then Yamada came bombing over, like “OMG!!! Hello Hello!!” She basically tore me away from Nakai, LOL. And as I got pushed out, then the “I Love You”‘s came. I responded “Whhoooahh” as everyone in the queue, plus the guards were laughing since she was screaming so loud. Safe to say that Noe made an impression on me, although TBH she isn’t really the type of idol I go for. So we’ll see.

Nishigata Marina, Takahashi Mau (Lane 9) Since Nishigata was the first NGT member I was ever interested in, I decided I should meet her at least once. So I chose her lane. A couple of my Wasafan friends were queued ahead of me. So when they came out I asked them if Marina was on the left or the right, just in case I was confused when I got into the booth. Marina was up first. I basically told her that this was my first NGT event, but I had liked her for a long time, and I was so happy that I finally got to meet her. She was like “Hontoni?” and gave me a crying face. It was a nice little connection. In fact, I hardly remember Mau at all since I was still sorta talking to Marina while I was in front of her, saying that she is doing a great job. The nice thing was that they seemed to give the fans a little extra time, despite the fact that it was a National Event.

So ultimately that didn’t take very long at all. And now I can say I have met a couple of the NGT members. Too bad I didn’t see the mini-live. I had eight AKB tickets, and was hoping I could get a couple of them done before the break…

AKB48 Event (Halls 9-10)

My main goal in going to the AKB event was to meet with the 16th Gen Kenkyuusei. Luckily most of them were bunched together into three lanes. However, two of the members very high on my list to meet, Zunchan and Orin, were not participating in the handshake portion of the event. Instead they were participating in a game on the main stage, hosted by Ijiri-san. However, they would be participating in the matome portion of the event, so I would save some tickets to see Zunchan at the end. When I arrived, the place was packed, and it seemed like every queue was enormous. Oh well, I decided to first head into the queue I wanted to go to the most, and I would play the rest by ear…

Lane 9: Asai Nanami, Suzuki Kurumi, Taguchi Manaka, Yamauchi Mizuki Mind you, there were a lot of members in the 16th Gen lanes, so many of my pass-throughs went by like a blur. However, I did stop in front of Asai long enough to say that I long yelling her nickname at shows. And after quick hello’s to Kurumi and Manaka, I got the same awesome reaction from Zukki that I get in “high wave.” I told her that I love 16th Gen, and that she is extremely skillful on stage.

Lane 15: Nagatomo Ayumi, Hari Nanami, Homma Mai, Maeda Ayaka, Michieda Saki, Yasuda Kana I was trying to decide which of the remaining 16th gen lanes to visit first, just in case I ran out of time. Both lane 14 and 15 had relatively short queues, but I decided on this lane since Kana tries to fish me at the theater shows. Nagatomo was up first, and immediately noticed my Akiyoshi ticket holder. “Akiyoshi-san, MIKAN MIKAN!!!!” Yes, Mikan! As I passed through the next four I again thanked them and told them that I enjoyed their show on Friday. Yasuda was last, and immediately recognized me. She was like “It’s you!” and I was pointing back to her. “Kana-chan is awesome!” I said. Yes, she is.

Lane 14: Inagaki Kaori, Umemoto Izumi, Kurosu Haruka, Sato Minami, Shoji Nagisa, Taya Misaki Of the three 16th gen lanes, I considered skipping this one. There really wasn’t anyone I was too excited to see. Well, I do like Sato Minami, but she always ignores in in “high wave.” Then there’s Kurosu, who I kinda like. But I wanted to be complete, so I queued up, hoping to get the ticket in before the break….

Amazingly, of all the lanes these girls all immediately recognized me from the shows. Even Minami, who turned to give me a huge smile as a came toward her. I quickly told her that I always cheer for her at the theater. Actually, I shouldn’t have been that surprised, since both Misaki and Kaori have tried to fish me in the past, but it was a pleasant surprise to get the warmest welcome from the one set of 16th Gen members I was least enthusiastic about visiting.

Lane 9: Asai Nanami, Suzuki Kurumi, Taguchi Manaka, Yamauchi Mizuki <round two> After the break, I went straight to this lane since I wanted to talk to Zukki a little bit more, and I wanted to get into the queue before it grew too long again. For some unconscious reason I didn’t remove my Akiyoshi ticket holder at the other events, and it did not go unnoticed. As I got close to the front of the queue, Shiichan and Myao, who were in the neighboring lane, we like “Wow, HKT! Who is your HKT oshimen?” Chori, who was in the lane with them, also got into the act. So I yelled over that I am a Wasamin fan. They all looked confused. I was like “Yes, Wasamin!” Chori was beckoning me to come over, so I said okay. Chori was mimicking my hand gestures, LOL. In any case, I told the 16th Gen that I had fun at the theater show on Friday, and to Zukki I told her that her unit is my favorite part of the show. And without fail, I got the same “In awe” reaction. It is similar to the reaction Akiko and Serina used to give me at SDN shows back in the day.

Lane 8: Oya Shizuka, Miyazaki Miho, Nakanishi Chiyori, Shimoguchi Hinana It was around two minutes later that I was in front of the AKB “seniors,” and Shiichan was like “Ahh, you are here!” I was addressing both she and Myao, and reminded them that we had the EXACT SAME conversation at the last National Event, that I am a Wasamin fan. And since we are all friends with Wasamin, that means that we are friends too, LOL. Shiichan seemed to remember, while Myao seemed like she was trying to recall the conversation. At that point Chori grabbed on to me and gave me a big “I Love You.” I have done individual tickets with Chori many times, but never talked about anything substantial. She is still fun to meet with. Finally, after a quick thank you to Hinana, I was out of the lane. I would save the last of my tickets for matome.

Lane G: Yamane Suzuha <matome, 3 tickets> I decided to save the rest of my tickets for Zunchan. Actually, I considered using one ticket on Lane 1, which had Yuihan, Juri, and Tomu, but the queue was very long. Plus, I anticipated Zunchan’s matome queue to be long, which it was. So I hung around where I thought Zunchan’s lane would be, and I guessed right. I ended up being 5th in the queue. Actually, I should have been second or third, but the guy waiting right at the gate was in a wheelchair, and I didn’t want to be rude and pass him. Unfortunately, a few people didn’t care and literally jumped over him to get in line first. Jerks. Suzuha came out early, which was good since none of my friends were doing matome, and were waiting to go to dinner. When it was my turn, I asked her if she had fun playing with Ijiri-san. She said she had a great time, and asked if I enjoyed it. Now to be honest, I didn’t really pay that much attention to the stage, but from what I saw it looked like fun. They were doing some kind of archery competition. So I told her that it looked like it was a lot of fun. I said I would see her tomorrow, and was on my way.

At the end of the day I got to meet up with every 16th gen. member, with the exception of Orin, which is a bummer since she is another member who really pays a lot of attention to me at shows. I need to make a point of visiting with her one day soon. Ultimately, it was a very long day, and my feet were killing me. I dreaded doing it all over again on Sunday, but I would tough it out and do my best to have fun. And as you can see on my previous post, it was a lot of fun

 

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts 16th Gen ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ 16th Gen Stage Live, 4pm Late Show (2017/11/19)

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This was supposed to be an “all-Wasamin” weekend…

Actually this was supposed to be a light weekend. The type of weekend where I could catch up on personal stuff. But then at the last minute Wasamin announced that she would be doing a slew of mini-lives, most of which were taking place around the Northern part of Tokyo, very close to my apartment. So my plan was to go to most of those events, and spend the rest of my time on personal stuff. I was just getting on the train to go to Wasamin’s first event when I got the email…

Sunday Afternoon Show, 16th Gen Kenkyuusei. Cancel Machi #103.

I am always happy to win a show, but this put me in a real quandary. When I was deciding which Wasamin events to attend, the one I was most excited about was the Sunday afternoon one since it was within walking distance to my house. I had also resolved to skip Wasamin’s early Sunday event, since of the four, it was the furthest away from me. But I have a personal rule, which I have mentioned before in this thread. If I win a show, or get cancel machi, regardless of how high the number, I will go.

But Cancel Machi #103, sheesh. There were no guarantees with this one. In fact, the odds were on me not getting in at all, which means I could be blowing off Wasamin, and not seeing AKB either. But, I decided to take the chance. And since Wasamin specifically asked me if she was seeing me on Sunday, I bit the bullet, and went to the early event in Koiwa…

So after seeing Wasamin in the late morning, running errands across town, eating lunch in Shinjuku, I headed over to Akiba. Quite the zig-zag, as I was basically going back and forth on the Sobu Line, LOL. After vegging out in Excelssior Cafe for a while, I headed over to the Donki. The online pre-cancels for the show were already close to #40. Additionally, there wasn’t a long line for tickets, and there weren’t too many people waiting for cancel machi. I started feeling more confident about my chances. There was no real last-minute rush, so they started calling cancel machi numbers right at 3:30pm. From the 40’s, into the 60’s, he started slowing down. The call then resumed and went all the way up to #80 before it was cut off. Okay, I wasn’t counting on making it into the seat lottery. I surveyed the room. There were exactly 16 cancel machi people left, and since they usually allow 10 more in via the second chance lottery, I felt I had a decent chance now. I got slightly worried when the first couple numbers were present, but eventually he crossed the 100 threshold, and called my number. I was ultimately the 2nd to last person called, as they cut it off after the guy behind me (#108)

So great, I won the show! Who cares if I was going to ultimately be the 2nd to last person to enter the theater, right? This would be my 39th Theater Show, my fifth time seeing the 16th Gen Kenkyuusei, and my 4th time seeing the “Let’s Go Kenkyuusei” Stage. Right now the 16th gen is by far my favorite AKB team, so I am more than fine winning all of these kenkyuusei shows. As expected, when I entered there was only standing room in the very back, but oddly most people were jammed into the left and right side, the center back was not nearly as packed as usual. So I ended up standing dead center. I had to look over people’s shoulders, but I had a fairly good view of the center stage, although I couldn’t see the sides at all.

I’m ultimately going to do this review slightly different. I mean, you guys know how stage shows work, and I have already talked about this stage three times on this blog. I feel like I am getting to know these members. As such, while I was watching I started compiling a list of the members I like, and why. I will also tie this in with the “high-wave” at the end, since I put a lot of stock into how members react to me, and it affects who I ultimately like.

Zunchan: is currently my favorite member in AKB. I love watching her perform. The way she moves, her expressions, they way she plays with the other members, and the fans. She has an adorable face. And I am not even getting into the experience of seeing her at handshakes. This girl is top notch, needs to be promoted, and when she is promoted, she needs to be prominent in the group. Period! She is always at the very end of the “High Wave” line, and since I see her at handshake events, I always get a good reaction.

Zukkii: Is the other “All-Star” in the 16th gen. And since they put her in the U-17 Senbatsu, and she has a solo unit in this stage, I would say they have plans for her. It is also amazing the way she transforms when putting on the leather and garter for that unit too. Normally she looks very young, and she has has a body like a bean pole. Oh, and I love the “shocked” expression she gave me tonight in High Wave.

Satomina: Right now I call her my #3. She is one of those that I like, but then I am afraid to like her too much since she is kinda ‘babyish’. But it really seemed like she took it to the next level tonight. She was out front for many of the songs, and she was much more outgoing in the MCs. I love that expression on her face, where she always has her mouth open. It’s cute. On the other hand, I got virtually no reaction from her at the High Wave, so I fear if I meet her, she might be a disappointment, personality-wise.

Anyway, those are my top three. As for others who make an impression…


Ayamin

Ayamin, Naamin: The two ‘tall girls’ aside from Zukkii. I must admit that I always notice them every time I see the 16th gen, but I kind of bypass them since I don’t consider them my favorite. All that said, it is time to admit that they always catch my attention since they are always performing to a level to make me notice them. Ayamin also seems exceptionally confident on stage. She is also one of the members who tries to speak English with me during High Wave. I would put both of these members in the upper tier of 16th gen.

Kana: I have gone back and forth in my mind over Kana. Sometimes I like her, and sometimes I think she looks ‘goony’. However, she is the main reason I think the ‘Cross’ unit is so awesome. Her performance is especially fierce, and in my opinion, has the intensity that Team 4’s ‘Confession’ unit is missing. Oh, and she is one of the others who tries to speak English with me, so fishing points for her.

Orin: I originally didn’t care for Orin, or perhaps I should say that I didn’t want to like Orin. I didn’t care for the way that everyone seemed to ‘pile on’ to being her fan since she is Tomu’s sister. She was the one 16th gen (iirc) that made senbatsu, and to me she didn’t necessarily deserve it. Her bloodline got those votes. I also think, like Kana, that she is kinda of goofy looking, LOL. On the other hand, for the last three shows she has tried very hard to make an impression on me, either during the show or in High-Wave. Now, I am usually a sucker for a good fisher, but it doesn’t always work. I have had idols who I had no interest in whatsoever try to fish me, and I thought “yeah, who are you kidding?” Inagaki has done this with me on occasion, but not as consistently as Orin. Anyhow, Orin gets points for effort.

As for the rest. Well, they just don’t make an impression on me, for whatever reason. I will say that I noticed some of them really trying to appeal to the fans tonight. Tacchan in particular comes to mind. But my head is not on a swivel, and I try to pay as much attention to my ‘Top 3″ as possible.

So anyway, I finished high touch, retrieved my bag, and decided to finally purchase one of those photosets they offer after the show. I had always blown them off, until I actually looked at the most expensive set.

It is really nice! With the cute folder you can also put your ticket into. I may get these from now on, they are a nice keepsake. 1200 yen, it is probably a bit more expensive than it should be, but what the heck. What they should probably do is throw in a pic of one member too.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts Team 4 “Yume wo Shinaseru Wake ni Ikanai” Live at the Donki, Chiba Erii’s Birthday Stage! (2017/11/06)

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I originally planned on doing a writeup on this past weekend’s 48-Group handshake event. However, I kinda want to report on this one while it is fresh in my mind. Actually, it was while I was hanging out at Pacifico during the Sunday event that I got my cancel machi email. I was initially surprised because i thought I had already lost this particular stage application. But I checked the ticket center, and there it was. Cancel Machi for Monday’s Team 4 Stage. The good news was that I had a fairly decent cancel machi number (#55) so I figured my chances were good…

I checked my account throughout the day to find out how many cancellations the theater had, and it was stuck on 5 all morning. Around lunch it had risen to 15. Now all of a sudden I wondered how good my chances were. After all, it was a birthday stage, and most of Team4’s big players were going to be there. Oh well, as I make it a rule to show up no matter how good or bad I think I chances might be, I headed out to Akihabara.

Pre-show

I got to the Donki around 10 minutes prior to cutoff. Surprisingly, the queue to purchase tickets wasn’t very long. On the other hand, the cancel machi group was very big. However, that all changed, as five minutes before cutoff an onslaught of people came up the escalator. WTF??? Ya know, that never ceases to annoy me. Why do so many people show up at the last possible second to purchase their ticket?  The staff was temporarily overwhelmed, which actually caused them to extend the cutoff time for people to queue by five minutes. That actually became kinda significant to me…

Cancel Machi

They finally cut off the line, and got it relatively shorter, and started calling cancel machi numbers. At this point, I didn’t have a great feeling about my chances, but they kept calling numbers. Into the 20’s, the 30’s, the 40’s, the 50’s. Could it be???

Nope, they cut it off at #52. Now remember I mentioned they kept the line open around five minutes past cutoff, and they let around 8-9 people into the queue during that time. This meant that I would have won in the initial cancel machi had they not done that. But the good news was that I was pretty much assured a chance of getting in via the second lottery. Sure enough, I was second in line. Score-a-rooni! Ultimately it didn’t really matter, as the last group of people who won the initial cancel machi got a bad draw-in during the seat lottery, being called 3rd to last.

Team 4, and Birthday Festivities

So this would be my 38th theater show. It would be my first time ever seeing Team 4. It would also by my first time seeing the Himawari-gumi 2nd stage, which happens to be in my Top 3 all-time favorite stages, live in person. I was excited! This show was also celebrating Chiba Erii’s 14th birthday, so when I queued up for my ticket, I was handed a birthday “goodie bag” by one of her committee members. It was kind of anemic. There was a call chart, and a lightstick color chart. However, they did not provide lightsticks, it was B.Y.O.”gs”. Oh well. Oh, and it had a little rubber birthday bracelet! Anyway, I made it into the theater, and found a spot on the right side. It was a crappy view, with the pillar blocking the center stage, but I could see the far right side clearly, and the far left side, and could sorta see the center via the mirror on the pillar, LOL. The show started with a special “Erii” version of “Tiger, fiber…”

I must admit that I forgot to check who was performing in this stage. So I didn’t know that there were A LOT of replacements from other teams on the roster. Among the members not performing were Saho, Juri, and Sato Kiara. In their place were Shimada Haruka (didn’t she graduate already?), Shimoguchi Hinana, Yamabe Ayu, and Nishikawa Rei. But the biggest, and best surprise was that Mio was actually performing. That made it clear who I would be rooting for.

The Show

The crowd seemed to be in a very rambunctious mood. The calls, especially for Erii, were loud and long. Since my best view was on the right side of the stage, I missed what was going on in the center most of the time. However, Komiharu, Kojimako, and Okada Nana spend A LOT of time on this side of the stage, so I saw a lot of them. Additionally, I saw a lot of Nozawa Rena, Hinana, and Yuiri. I was really impressed with how much Komiharu interacts with the audience. I remember seeing her debut in the theater over four years ago, and she has really matured as an AKB idol. In fact, at the end of the show she spotted me and started waving. Also, the more I watch Mio, the more I think she is absolutely adorable. And since she has been growing her hair out, whoah! I spent most of the show wishing Mio would come to the far right side of the stage. She did, occasionally. But she spent more of her time in the center or on the left.

 

Confession, and Notable Performances

When I saw this performance a month ago I noted how I thought it was the worst performance of ‘Confession’ I had ever seen in my life. I felt it lacked energy, and was poorly sung. I wanted to draw a comparison to this performance. However, my view wasn’t very good, so I don’t think I can make a fair comparison. As for who stood out to me (aside from Mio) I mentioned before that I was extremely impressed with Komi’s stage presence. I also thought that Shimoguchi carried herself well on stage, although she isn’t really my type of idol. Murayama seems to be quite energetic too. That said, my MVP goes to Komiharu.

 

High-Wave

After the show, the birthday celebration for Erii, and watching the new single MV, we got to do the farewell “High Wave.” I got the best reactions from Komiharu, Mio (of course), and Nozawa. In fact, when Rena saw me her eyes widened, and as I turned back toward her a second later she was still staring at me, LOL. A couple of the members also started speaking English to me. Okada Nana was one of them, and I think the other one might have been Sayaya.

Anyhow, a fun time. I hope I win at least one more show before I head out of town for the holidays.

 

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts ‘Let’s Go Kenkyuusei’ AKB48 16th Gen Stage Live (2017/09/15)

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It had be almost a month since my last theater win. I was beginning to think my luck had run out on me, since lately mywin frequency had been like once every 2-3 weeks. Then again, I haven’t been applying quite as much because my schedule limits me to certain days of the week. They also recently made a change to how the ticket center functions. Now, you get winning AND losing emails. To be honest, I am kinda bummed about this since to me it takes away from the excitement of seeing a ticket center email in my inbox. Now I just assume it is just another losing email. I have to open it to be proven otherwise. Anyway…

Thursday afternoon I checked my email, and saw that I had actually gotten cancel machi for Friday night’s 16th Gen show. 16th Gen seems to be my lucky group, since 6 of my 8 wins or cancel machis this year have been for them. It probably helps that Zunchan is listed on the ticket center as my oshimen. I had a relatively low cancel machi number, #69. Given my recent experiences at the theater, I figured there was a good chance that would get into the show with that number, although it wasn’t a sure thing. I was regularly checking the cancellation tally, hoping the number would climb fairly high. (If you weren’t aware, if you get cancel machi for a show, you are given a link to see how many show winners have cancelled their reservation online. It can be a decent indicator of how high cancel machi may go) The pre-show cancellation was at 35, which is about average for 16th gen. When I got to the theater three minutes before cutoff, it had climbed to 37. A couple of minutes later staff began rattling off cancel machi numbers. Up to 40, then through to 50, he wasn’t even really looking at his clicker. At this point I was reasonably certain I was getting in. Through the 50s, into the 60’s. #69, I won!!! And, it wasn’t one of those cancel machi wins where I have to wait for everyone else to go in before I get to grab a spot in the back. I was actually going to be in the seat lottery! Ultimately, the cancel machi went up into the 90’s before it cut off.

So the next question was, how good a spot would I get? I had ticket #226, which is actually the first person in line for #220-229 (220-225 are enpou tickets) I didn’t even hear the first group called, which was #140-149, next was #100-109, then #220-229. Whaddya know!!! We got in third! and that made me the 21st person into the theater. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason I set off the metal detector. So I got sidetracked for a minute while security gave me a good pat-down. In the interim, two people behind me passed me up. But when I got in there were still seats in the front row, albeit on the left and right ends of the stage. I grabbed a seat three spots down from the left pillar.

First row, Score-a-rooni!!!

This was my 37th Theater win, 3rd time seeing the Let’s Go Kenkyuusei stage, and the 4th time I have gotten a first row seat. (The other three were SDN48 Chen Qu Seitensei in 2010, Team K Waiting Stage in 2012, and 15th Gen KKS debut in 2013) It also dawned on me that this would be my first time watching 16th gen from the left side of the audience. So a different perspective, and also a chance to play “Who’s gonna fish the foreigner???” 


Zunchan (Yamane Suzuha) My #1 AKB-girl

After being given “first row rules and instructions” by security (Don’t raise your hands or lightsticks above your head, don’t put your hands or feet past the guardrail) the show was about to start. Immediately I had Sato Minami and Zunchan right in front of me, and Zunchan gave me an immediate smile and wink. I knew Zunchan spends considerable time on the other side of the stage too, but she seems to gravitate from one end to the other, so no worries. Minami, on the other hand, is barely on this side of the stage, aside from the very beginning and very end. My other favorite 16th gen, Zukkii, didn’t come near me at all, until the encore portion of the show. I did get a few new member impressions, but before that…


Sato Minami

The Show Overall: This is my third time seeing this stage. And there was some discussion a couple months ago about whether or not it was good, or perhaps boring. Obviously seeing the show in person offers a different perception than watching DMM, and of course being in the front row does add another element of excitement. But after seeing “Let’s Go Kenkyuusei” for a third time I still say it is a very enjoyable stage. That said, I think the Units might be the weakest part of the stage. The reason I say that has a lot to do with personal taste, but I believe Ai no Iro is kind of a throwaway song, and Wagamama, while cute, isn’t really captivating. But that doesn’t take away from the All-Star performance given by Zukki on Migiashi Evidence. It actually inspired me to seek out Fujita Nana’s single, which I didn’t purchase when it came out.


Yamauchi Mizuki (Zukkii)

On the other hand, the highly energetic opening set really keeps the audience engaged, regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the sings individually. (Personally, I love Minnasan) The post unit set has two great audience participation songs in Runner and Zutto Zutto, and the set finishes with an audience favorite (Wasshoi) and a song that I have recently grown really fond of (Team Zaka) I still notice the lip synch issues here and there, particularly from Sato Minami. At the end of the day, I am still not bored with the stage overall, although honestly during the units I am pretty much just waiting to see Zukkii.

Member Impressions: At this point, the only member of 16th gen I have established any kind of personal connection with is Zunchan, and that is because I have met her at handshake events, and I am always paying attention to her during the show, chanting her name, etc. So I know she recognizes me, and gets that I am fond of her. However, there are other members I like too, particularly Zukkii. Unfortunately she spends very little time on this end of the stage, until the end of the show. So when she did finally make it over to my side I tried very hard to cheer for her directly.


Kurosu Haruka

I got to see a lot of Kurosu Haruka, and the more I watch her the more I like her. In a way she kinda reminds me of Fuchigami Mai. On the other hand, I am completely conflicted about Yasuda Kana. I think she has great energy and stage presence, but she often makes these weird facial expressions that drive me crazy.


Yasuda Kana

The three members who at times focused on me in particular were Suzuki Kurumi, Taya Misaki, and Mutou Orin. Unfortunately none of them are really my type of idol. One of the reasons I was getting attention (aside from being an obvious foreigner) is that on certain songs I know the hand motions/gestures, and I try to follow along with them. This happens in particular on Zutto Zutto, Minnasan mo go Isshoni and Kudoku na Runner. These days fewer fans actually do that, as most of them simply wave their glowsticks.

Also, at the end of the show right before the “High Wave” I was sitting right in front of Zunchan, and Inagaki Kaori. Both of them spent that minute or so trying to engage me in English. LOL.

And that was the show. Since I was one of the first people out of the theater, and I had no backpack, I bailed down the escalator before the big rush. Once again, I am very happy to be winning any kind of theater show, and I love that I am regularly getting to see the Kenkyuusei. It will make me very sorry when these girls all get promoted. Maybe they will make them all one team, like Team 4. I would enjoy that. We’ll see.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Concerts AKB48 Team 8 Live at the AKB48 Theater (2017/07/01, 11:30am Matinee)

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I still get surprised whenever I get some sort of “winning” email from the ticket center. In fact, yesterday I originally thought it was another website maintenance email, and only later opened it to find out I had cancel machi for the early matinee show on Saturday. So great, cancel machi. I had a shot.

The last time I had cancel machi was back in April, and I didn’t get in. But this time I had a lower lottery number, so my chances were better, although it definitely wasn’t a “sure thing.” However, by the time I left my apartment to head to Akihabara, the cancel machi number on the website had already reached 30. (In case you aren’t aware, if you win cancel machi, there is a counter on your lottery page that tells you how many people have cancelled via the website, so the higher that number goes, the better your chances) I got to Akiba a bit early, grabbed a coffee at Tully’s across the street. I stored my bag in the lockers behind the Donki (in that little parking lot) and headed up.

Per usual, a huge percentage of people who win show up at the last second, which makes the ticket queue very big leading up to the cutoff. With every person coming up the escalator, I felt my chances getting smaller. At exactly 11am they started calling cancel machi numbers, starting with #32 since they had 32 cancellations already, anyone with cancel machi #31 or less had already won and purchased a ticket. As he got into the 40’s, the staff member kept checking his counter. Uh oh, if he is looking at it that intently, we must be getting toward the end. Miraculously, he made it all the way to #59 before he called it closed. Bummer. However, since it got that high I actually had a pretty good chance of getting into the secondary lottery.

After cancel machi fills, they begin the theater entry lottery. At that point they estimate how many more people they can accommodate. However, these people will be the last to enter the theater. It’s usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 people. Since there weren’t that many people left waiting, I knew my chances were good. He had called all the way up to #70, and only two people were there. Finally, my number was called. They called three more people after me, and then cut it off. So cool, I was going to my 34th theater show. I’d be in the very back, but it was definitely better than losing, and watching on the monitors…

The Show

The last time I saw Team 8 was at their Saitama Super Arena concert earlier this year. It was a decent enough show, but I didn’t come away as a huge Team 8 fan. Moreover, there were no members that really grabbed my attention in a major way. When I looked at today’s lineup, I noticed a few familiar names, but nobody I was dying to see. That was fine, I would just enjoy the show, after all it was Aitakatta, which is a great stage. I grabbed a standing spot just right of center, where I had a decent, but not great look at the stage. I had barely been standing for a minute when the Kage-ana began, and then the show. Like I said before, I love the Aitakatta stage, and it had been quite a while since I had seen it performed live. But it has so many great old songs like Namida no Shounan, Rio no Kakumei, and Nagisa no Cherry. In any case, I wanted to see which members grabbed my attention, and a few did. Here ya go…

 

Takahashi Ayane (Saitama) – This girl is really cute, kind of a Komiharu/Paru type. She also reminds me a little of Kitazawa Saki (which may not be a good thing) Then it dawned on me,she was one of the girls I kinda liked when I saw them at Saitama! Just something about her smile, and I loved the way she danced on Nagisa no Cherry Unfortunately, she tended to “disappear” into the shadows quite often. She isn’t a front line member but I enjoyed her occasional moments up front.

 

Oda Erina (Kanagawa) – I think this girl is a champ. She just carries herself like a “pro-idol,” especially the way she toys with the audience members. I know she is somewhat popular, but I am surprised she doesn’t get more “love,” especially when I compare her to some of the Team 8 members who seem to be the most popular. She is also kind of tall. In fact, there was another “tall” members who I kinda liked. At first I decided Erina was better, so I started ignoring the other girl…..

Miyazato Rira (Okinawa) – As much as I tried not to pay attention to Rira, my eyes kept getting drawn to her until she finally won me over. She spends a lot of time in front, and has quite a fun aura. The funny thing is, according to our wiki she is only 155cm? That is even shorter than Wasamin! I dunno, she just came across as taller to me. Perhaps that is a testament to her energy on stage. She plays “bigger” than she is…

 

Yaguchi Moka (Miyazaki) – Her stocky build just draws your eyes every time. Idols come in all shapes and sizes, and this girl is really unique…

There were a few others I noticed, but I couldn’t remember every name. Terada Misaki (Nagasaki) was one, but that was in part because of her first name. Sato Nanami (Iwate) was another “tall” one that kinda stood out for me too. Then of course there’s Kuranoo Narumi. Now I do get that she has good stage presence, but I’m just not on board with her like the rest of the fans seem to be. Sometimes I am just puzzled by the fan’s general consensus. It’s the same with Orin Mutou in the 16th gen. I just think she has so many more talented and cuter peers, yet she gets all the attention. Oh well…

As expected, they had a second encore, which was mainly Team 8 songs, plus the new single. There was also a VTR advert for a a Team 8 documentary on YouTube. BTW, I love Seifuku no Hane, probably my favorite Team 8 song. I also remember really liking it when I heard HKT48 perform it earlier this year. Surprisingly, the new single, and its “waltz” time signature, is quite nice to see live.

Anyway, show ended. Time for “High Wave.” Unlike the last AKB show I won, I was one of the first to go through. I decided to give little “signals” to Ayane, Erina, and Rira to see how they would react. Erina reacted, but the other two didnt. Ayane was at the very end though. I did get a couple of “Hello!”‘s, but I can’t remember from who. I made it out, and was led to the back stairwell to exit. Is that a regular thing now? Maybe because it was a Saturday afternoon, but that was the first time for me that we weren’t allowed to use the escalators to leave.

So I seem to be winning at a rate of “once a month,” which is nice. It is a welcome change compared to what it was like before. And as I have ALWAYS maintained, there is nothing compared to seeing the 48-groups performing at their theater. NOTHING! This is a prime example. I went to see them at a major venue like SSA, and I came away “meh.” Go see them at the Donki, and I am a much more enthusiastic. To me idols are not meant to be seen at Stadiums, or major concert halls. They are meant to be seen in clubs, small places. It is in these intimate environments that you can really get what makes idols so special…

Anyway, that’s what I think.

CK in Tokyo

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AKB48, Japan CK in Japan Spring 2015 FINAL…The Otaku Shrine, & Other Nerdy Hangouts

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A quick elaboration on something I mentioned in the previous post.  I injured my right foot, specifically the two smallest toes tripping over a barrier outside my hotel in Kameido.  It was bad enough that I was limping significantly over the next two days, and for the last week I have not worn shoes. (Sandals are more comfortable)  Luckily nothing seemed to be broken, and my toes are slowly recovering.  By the way it isn’t the first time this has happened as a tore up my knee a couple of years ago tripping over a curb in Yokohama.

It was my first time staying at that particular hotel.  In fact, for the three hotels I stayed in on this trip it was my first time for all of them.  I have a knack for finding hotels with crazy good deals, and then using them until the deal runs out.  After that I search for more good bargain hotels.  Over the years I have stayed at eight different hotels in Tokyo, two different hotels in Osaka and Fukuoka, and I have stayed once each in Nagoya and Hiroshima.  The Smile Inn in Hakata (It isn’t called that anymore, they changed their name for the 2nd time in three years) was definitely the strangest hotel I ever stayed in.  The most luxurious being the Shinagawa Prince.  Anyway…

Let’s Henshin! for dinner!

I had two nights left before I returned to the States, so I met with a friend to have dinner at one of the two restaurants left on my “to visit” list.  We had decided to head over to IWA, Uchida Mayumi’s AKB-themed Yakiniku restaurant in Shin-Okubo.  Along the way we met up with three other AKB fans, all of whom I knew online but only one I had ever met before in person.  Arriving at IWA, we were met at the door by Uchida’s mom (as well as Nonaka Misato, who works there) who profusely apologized and informed us that the restaurant was booked solid for the evening.  She even offered to book us for the following evening, but my friend wasn’t sure he could make it.  So we went to our second choice, and perhaps a better choice since I had never been there before…

I haven’t mentioned this on my blog, but over the last year I have become quite the fan of the Kamen Rider television series.  I have managed to watch every single Heisei Era season, my favorite by far being Kamen Rider Kabuto.  I also loved Kuuga, Agito, Hibiki, and Kiva.  When I found out there was a Kamen Rider themed restaurant in Ikebukuro I just had to check it out.  Luckily Kamen Rider The Diner wasn’t booked.  In fact, we were seated immediately.

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It was quite a spacious restaurant for Tokyo, featuring tons of Kamen Rider momentos, scenes from the series playing on the television screens as well as the various theme songs playing on an endless loop.  All of the menu items were based, at least loosely on the various characters from the series.  The fun part happens when they deliver your food, the waiter will quote a line from whichever character your dish is based.  And sometimes it will trigger a scene to be played on the monitors.  I absolutely had to order the Kamen Rider Fourze parfait as it was known to trigger one of the most fun waiter/guest interactions on the menu…

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PARFAIT, KITAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!

The food was decent, I would say it is slightly better than the AKB48 Cafe.  It’s a bit pricey for what it is, but I think you are paying for the experience more than anything else.  I would probably go back, although I can’t say it made it to the top of my personal Tokyo restaurants list,  That said, Im glad I got to experience the place.

On my last evening in Tokyo I looked forward to hitting IWA, but those plans were dashed in the mid-afternoon.  What to do?  I first decided to head over to Gyukatsu Ichi Ni San since I did enjoy it last year.  However, the line was down the block.  After standing in the queue for over a half hour I realized it would probably be close to another hour before I was seated.  My second choice was an Izakaya across from the AKB48 Cafe that I had always wanted to try for dinner.  In fact I had gone to Rose and Crown for drinks a few days earlier.  But their signature dinner dish had always intrigued me, especially for Tokyo…

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I must say their prime rib wasn’t bad at all.  Not the best cut of meat I have ever had, but it was prepared very well.  Tobe honest I was kinda sad that I was spending such a lonely final evening of my trip.  But just then I received a text message from my new Wasa-buddy Kenji, wondering what I was doing for the rest of the evening.  I was so happy he had contacted me, and he had an excellent suggestion for something interesting to do…

Kanda Myojin (The Otaku Shrine)

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After all these years of going to Tokyo and spending so much time in Akihabara, I am somewhat embarassed that I have never visited this place.  Just a short walk from central Akihabara, and a block away from Ochanomizu Station, Kanda Myojin is a beautiful shrine sandwiched between various apartment and office buildings.  It is also the location where many AKB48 members, including Wasamin, have had their coming of age ceremonies.

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Visiting the shrine late at night was a special treat, even though it was tough to photograph many of the shrine’s features becase of the darkness.  There was a certain serenity that isn’t present with a daytime crowd, and it was really neat to see all of the lanterns lit up.

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I enjoyed visiting so much I had resolved to return the next day to take more photos.  I wanted a better shot at some of the architecture as well as some of ema, many of which held prayers for various Anime characters, as well as prayers for AKB members.  I am guessing there will be quite a few AKB fans visiting between now and the upcoming Senbatsu Sousenkyo.

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They were also preparing for the upcoming Kanda Matsuri, which is a major festival in Tokyo occurring every other year in May.  I was lucky enough to be in Tokyo for Kanda Matsuri 6 years ago.  This was another chance to see some of the Mikoshi they use in the parades.  Quite impressive.

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After one last Tokyo sushi lunch, I grabbed my bags an headed to the airport.  I was able to switch to a direct flight home, which cut my travel time by about five hours.  What a relief!  Anyway, another successful Japan trip in the books.  So happy I got to spend some real quality time with Wasamin.  I am glad our “relationship” seemed to level up this trip, due in part to my commitment to communicate with her more in Japanese.  I’m not sure when I will see Wasamin again in person.  Hopefully it won’t be too long.  I have been home for a few days now and I miss her already.  I will root for her in the Sousenkyo from afar.

wasaposter

CK in California 

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