I had waited until the 17th round of applications before even deciding to attend this event. But unsurprisingly all the members I like were fully available, so I didn’t have any trouble obtaining the tickets I wanted. However, I was a bit disappointed that once again, Yukachan was not participating in any of the ‘Special Lanes’ with multiple members. I don’t know what it is, since she does the special lanes at the events in Kyushu, Aichi, and Kansai. But if I am not mistaken I am pretty sure this is the third single in a row where she didn’t do it at any Tokyo event. But that ended up working itself out…
I had a total of nine tickets, from Slot #5 through Slot #9. HKT was doing something slightly different with this release, where every slot was one hour, as opposed to the customary 90 minutes. As a result there were 10 slots in total. I decided to head out a bit early to give myself time to have lunch in Makuhari. However, that plan almost got spoiled when a woman on the train collapsed just as we pulled out of Shin-Kiba Station. Eventually she came to as we pulled into Maihama (Disneyland Resort), and the station staff eventually convinced her to leave the train to receive medical attention. However, just before the doors closed the woman bolted back into the train and refused to get off until she got home. In any case, she made it to her destination without incident, and I got to Makuhari just a few minutes behind schedule. Anyway, I had three tickets for Slot #5, and was confident I could get them all done despite the shortened slot times…
Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane #3) <two tickets> It was almost 10 minutes into the slot when I queued up, but Yukachan hadn’t yet arrived. I debated going to my other lane, but that queue was a bit longer. Eventually Yukachan arrived, and it wouldn’t be long before my turn. I spent my time in the queue eyeing Takeda Tomoka and Sakamoto Erena, who were in the neighboring lanes. Yukachan greeted me with her usual “Yaho Kurisu!” I decided to compliment her on the white one-piece dress she was wearing, going on to say at she always looks good in white. (She looks good in black too, but I will talk about in a moment) I asked her if I had missed her in a special stage earlier, and she told me she had done one a little while earlier. Drats, I missed it!
The other lane I had a ticket for still had a long queue, so I decided to use my other Yukachan ticket. This time I gave her a little update on what’s going on with me personally, and I asked her what she thought of the idea of me moving to Fukuoka. All of a sudden she got really excited. “Hontoni??? Ganbatte!!!” Yeah, I don’t think Yukachan would mind if I was living closer to HKT’s home base. In any case, I told her I would see her later.
Sakaguchi Riko (Lane 9) Rikopi is always a fun handshake, but I usually only see her at HKT48 single events, opting to skip her at the 48-group events. Thus, it had been quite a while since I had seen her. After the usual hisashiburi pleasantries, she asked me if I was genki. I told her I was looking for a job. “In Japan?” she replied. When I responded affirmatively she exclaimed “Good!” and pumped her fist. I told her I would see her later, and took my leave.
I had some time, and decided to check out what new ‘Ishi’ goods they had on sale. I had seen the acrylic keychain, and the new ticket holder necklace, so I knew I wanted those, plus they had a bunch of different T-shirts. However, most of them were ‘free size’, meaning I can’t wear them. The only XL shirt they had was a 5th Gen shirt, which looked nice, but I wasn’t interested. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much cash in my wallet, and the HKT goods booth doesn’t take credit cards, so I had to leave the hall and head to the ATM. I then came back and made my purchases a little while later.
I had been using my Yukachan ‘Saitama Super Arena Concert’ ticket holder for a year, which is heavy, and strangely designed. With this holder, they finally switched to the same design SKE48 uses, which is a lot lighter and user-friendly. BTW, I have quite a few pieces of Yukachan memorabilia where she is wearing black. I thing it brings out her sexiness quite well.
Seki Ai (Lane 14) This was a new entry for me. Last year, at one of the HKT events for the last single, I saw Ai walking behind Yukachan’s lane, and I thought she was really pretty, and had a captivating smile. Unfortunately, it would be almost a year before I would be able to get a ticket for her at an HKT event. Her queue wasn’t very long, and I basically related the story of why I chose to get a ticket for her. She just smiled and thanked me, which was fine, although admittedly she looked a bit different from what I had remembered. At one point I wondered “Is this the same girl?” LOL
Fuchigami Mai (Lane 8) It was time for my obligatory visit to Maichan, despite our handshake interactions not being quite as impactful as the days when I first started meeting her. That said, I still think she is drop-dead adorable. So I decided when it was my turn to compliment her outfit. Like Yukachan, she pointed out it was a one-piece, and asked what I thought of the floral print on the collar. In any case, it was a nice visit, and I will never get tired of her pretty smile.
One cool feature of the HKT events are the Special Stages they do throughout the day. I was kinda busy during the last two slots, but in this slot I could hear Bibian’s voice emanating from the stage area, so I was hoping to go and catch a few moments of the stage before it ended. I wasn’t sure what they were up to, but there were periodic HUGE booms coming from the stage. I swear it sounded like cannon fire, LOL. I made it over toward the end, and learned they were playing some sort of game which involved popping huge balloons. Really? I never knew balloons could make that loud of a pop. I mean it was startling people on the other end of the hall. I would periodically head over to the stage in each slot, hoping to see members I like. It was mostly the 5th gen, but I saw both Bibian and Rikopi emceeing events.
Mio, with 5th gen member Kamijima Kaede
Tomonaga Mio (Lane 7) Just when I thought I would give up visiting Mio-chan, she tried to fish me last year at Ryutsu Center. So I decided to give her another go. It was a typical low-key visit, with me asking her if I would enjoy living in Fukuoka, and that maybe I would move there. She basically smiled and said it was nice, which is pretty much what I figured she’d respond with, LOL.
While I was in queue for Mio, I noticed a bunch of the members hanging out just behind the lanes. I also noticed a huge gathering outside Lanes 9-10. I asked my friend Panda who was graduating, and he believed the gathering was for Iwahana Shiho. Shiho came out just as I was leaving Mio’s lane, and I noticed that Yukachan was among the members with her, so I scouted for a good spot toward the back. Eventually Rikopi and Maichan came running out to join them. Since I was in the back, I got to remain standing, so you can see me pretty clearly in the enlarged photo directly above Ueki Nao.
Murakawa Bibian (Lane 16) They were shuffling the lane assignments around, and when I got to Bibian’s originally assigned lane I was confused as to why it had Rikopi’s name on it. However, there was a sign underneath saying the lane had been moved, and eventually a staff member in front of the lane announced that Bibian had moved to over to #16, so all good. Her queue wasn’t too long, but she hadn’t come out yet. I only had one other ticket for the slot, so I wasn’t worried. As I moved closer to the front, the fan in front of me had three tickets, and while they were talking Bibian glanced over to me and winked. When it was my turn the staff stopped me, and said she had to leave for a few minutes. However, Bibian protested, and said she wanted to see me first before she left. OMG, how cool was that? I told her that I caught some of her MC at the special stage. She asked me how it was, and I told her “Loud.” She laughed and said, “Yes, it was loud, wasn’t it.” I told her that the booms kept surprising me. I then said I would see her in the next slot before I got pushed out.
The Yukachan acrylic keychain.
Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 4) I had one last ticket for Yukachan (or so I thought) It was weird how they spread the members slots throughout the day. For example, Yukachan did handshakes in three slots; Slots 1, 5, and 8. On one hand, I think it’s good since it gives the members more rest time without going for 6-8 hours with only small breaks. On the other hand, it makes their day longer. But in the case of Yukachan she managed to stay busy throughout the day. I was trying to decide what to say to Yukachan, and at the end just blurted out “How was Sasshi’s concert?” She said it was good, and that she did a lot of different things during the show. I told her I missed it because of a Wasamin event, and then got pushed out. I was a little disappointed in myself, since I am not sure when I will get my next chance to see Yukachan, and this was such a pedestrian interaction. Fortunately for me, the idol gods had my back, and gave me another opportunity to see her a little while later…
This was an extremely eventful slot, beginning with the end of Slot 8 where I decided to hang out by Yukachan’s lane to wave goodbye to her. I only had one Slot 9 ticket, so I wasn’t worried about time. Of course when they did the final call for her lane it seemed like half of her fans rushed into the lane. WTF? I knew at least a couple of those fans had quite a few tickets too. They got through most of the fans quickly, leaving the final three. The first guy was there for around two minutes, then the next guy was around 3-4 minutes. There were eight minutes left in the slot, so it looked like it would be okay. They began queuing up people for Matsuoka Hana in Slot 9. However, it turned out the final guy had over 100 tickets, and his handshake session lasted 23 minutes (Yes, I was counting) Eventually they moved her into the handicapped lane to finish the handshake. We eventually waved goodbye to Yuka, but I noticed the staff seemed to be rushing her away hastily. It made me wonder…
I went to the Special Lane to use my one handshake ticket, which surprisingly wasn’t even open yet. The staff told me that the lane wouldn’t open for another 15 minutes, and something about an issue with Bibian, so I told him I would come back. It was just then I noticed Yukachan heading toward the Special Stage. I made a beeline over there as fast as I could, and since I was coming out of Lane #21, Yukachan immediately saw me and waved. I made it in and grabbed a decent spot just before the viewing area began to fill up…
Akiyoshi Yuka, Baba Sayaka, Kurihara Sae, Shimizu Rio (Special Stage, Lane #22) Originally I didn’t know who MC was, finding out later that it was Shimizu. Apparently it was each members plan for a stage show. Everyone seemed to be laughing pretty hard at Yukachan’s plan, which was the first one presented. I was perfectly positioned just opposite her, and I was fairly close to the stage, so she looked my way quite a few times. After the event fans have the opportunity to do a handshake with the participants, and I queued up quickly in order to give myself enough time to use my final ticket. It was then that staff announced that they have to see everyone’s “My Page” on the 48-Shop website if we wanted to participate. Shit! I don’t really use that site on my phone, so I stepped out of the queue to figure out what to do. Eventually I figured out my ID and password, and stepped back into the queue, last in line. Well at least I got to be the final fan for a change.
BTW, you also have to purchase a CD, and I was hoping to pick up either Type-A or Type-B, except they only offered the theater version. They handed me a ticket, and a marble which they call a “Tokyo Tower.” At first I didn’t know what the marble was for, but quickly figured out that it was to pick an MVP for the stage. After telling Shimizu that I had fun, I dropped my marble into Yukachan’s box. She exclaimed “Arigatou!” to which I responded that of course I would pick her. I then quickly said hello to Baba and Sae before leaving the lane. Like I said, I was really happy to have that last interaction with Yukachan, and to give her a prize made it even better.
Murakawa Bibian, Sakaguchi Riko, Kojina Yui, Imamura Maria, Ueno Haruka (Special Lane #21) I made it back to this lane about five minutes before it was scheduled to close. This was like a super-special lane, with five members. Normally they have three, or maybe four. When I originally tried to queue up the line was fairly short. However by this time the queue had become huge. They had changed the dynamic of this lane. Before it was just like a Zenkoku lane, with the members lined up. For this event they had created a short of alcove the fan got into, and the members surround you. It looked like a lot of fun, and the dynamic of five members, including the super-genki Bibian made the lane completely high-energy. They were doing different things with each fan, playing games, having them model their outfits, etc. I wasn’t sure what the hell I was going to do, so when it eventually became my turn I exclaimed that I was scared because my Japanese was bad. I got a mixture of “Daijoubu,” comments about my Yukachan ticket holder (Ueno), then then Rikopi who grabbed my hands tightly, and Bibian who made a heart gesture. BTW, it was my first time meeting Ueno, and to be honest I barely noticed Imamura during the entire experience since the other members were a lot more dominant, but it was still a fun, yet overwhelming experience overall.
It was just after 7 p.m., so I had stayed at the venue a bit longer than I had originally planned. But that’s okay, since my interactions in Slot 9 made it all worth it. At this point I have no 48-group handshake tickets for the foreseeable future. The only events on the radar right now are in August (AKB and HKT) and I am not completely sure I will be able to make those events, so I have held out purchasing tickets for the time being. Probably for the best, since it saves me some cash. That said, I hope to have everything ironed out within the next month or so, and then I can plan which events I want to go to next. But for now, it is going to be a bit of a 48-group handshake vacation for me.
CK in Tokyo