Posts filed under ‘Japan 2016’
For the second concert I was much calmer knowing what to expect. With the random photos and a keychain I bought the day before, I was ready for some friendly wota swapping. I was alone but confident that I can handle it. I entered the tents in front of Nakano Sun Plaza totally blasé. There were many pictures to choose from and I was not surprised to see that most of them were of less popular members. This was totally fine with me since I had plenty of oshis in different groups to choose from. I approached some ppl simply naming the members I was looking for without even attempting at any grammatically nonsensical japanese phrases like “Yamagishi Riko no shashinshuu doko doko onegaishimasu hontou ni desu ne”. It was funny to see how some ppl not having the members I needed, were making extra effort communicating “I’m really sorry but ….” while not speaking English. It was very kind of them and I warmed up to japanese fans after some colder experiences. Some of them wanted to help me and introduced me to other wotas that might have what I was looking for. Soon enough I swapped the pics and the keychain (for Nomura Minami’s <3). It was time for mooreee pictures so I entered the queue again confident in my skills of pointing to stuff and saying names.
Me in the line inside Nakano Sun Plaza
I was extremely proud of myself when Aki came and was super surprised that I managed to swap and buy merch on my own.
We changed clothes and I could finally wear my new fancy T-shirt and fit the crowd. Oh, it felt really good.
Seating was far better this time. The very centre at last! Not as close as I’d prefer to be but you can’t have everything obviously. It was decent enough IMO.
Again, fans around me were chilling and I was having none of it. Screw you all, I’m gonna socialise. I started random conversations and creeped some random japanese fans of both genders. Than I spotted some foreign fans and went up to them to again impose my need of talking onto them. This was my last Harocon, probably the last one ever, and I refused to feel left out. I pranced around the venue spreading love.
I won’t get into details of every song or MCs because I honestly can’t remember everything too vividly. The pressure to make the best of every moment was there.
I. MUST. HAVE.FUN.
So I did. I jumped, screamed, cried and danced around to all my heart’s content. The only thing missing was interaction with the girls on stage. I would trade every Harocon for one Otodama Sea Studio experience. The concert didn’t really deviate from a DVD performance. Don’t get me wrong. It was AMAZING and I don’t regret anything. But just a taste of interacting with the girls got me spoiled. Smaller venues with more pure fun and less highly choreographed performances suits me better. I’m hooked on handshakes and eye contact. I can’t be the only one.
I wrote a post on December 31st 2015 : https://nyuchandesu.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/2016-here-i-come/
The post was about seeing a Hello!Project concert live. I can’t stress enough how important the experience was for me. It was a goal I set for myself but never truly believed in. One of those bucket list events like: traveling to New Zealand, kissing Benedict Cumberbatch and winning a million dollars. You like to day dream about it but you don’t practice kissing techniques on your elbow (or DO you?).
Before going to Japan, I googled the venue, recognising it from pictures immediately. When you just watch the concerts on the computer screeen, you don’t really focus on the actual place. But there it was, real as ever and looking so surprisingly normal. I still have this a bit underwhelming feeling when the ground itself doesn’t sparkle or the unicorns don’t fly in the sky around a H!P related event. They are merely idols, working for the paycheck among other idols and ordinary people. No big deal. WHERE’S THE MAGIC?!!
Oh, yes. The magic was right there in front of my eyes. Me and my sister, moved from our friend’s house at Hachioji, to a hostel at Nakano so we walked by Nakano Sun Plaza everyday. It was magic everytime and I took photos at any occasion. Look at this legendary beauty. I saw the sparkles and the rainbow with my heart.
The Hello Project concert was divided into Sunshine Parade and Rainbow Carnival. I had tickets for both. The first to go was Sunshine Parade. I met with Akiko so she could help me buy merchandise. The first time to buy official merchandise. Fans in front of the venue had a tent to exchange the goods but I had none to exchange yet and boy was I ready to spend my hard earned cash on impractical idol stuff.
Usually, I saw merch as scanned pictures on Hello!Online or a small pixalated flyer on a shop Twitter. I had no idea how the process would go. In Otodama, there were desks near the entrance, but at Nakano the selling happened inside. Thank God, because it was freaking scalding hot outside. The queue was long but not impossibly long and as usual in Japan, very efficient with three rows of people moving at the same time. Once inside, I saw a huuuge poster thing with the merch and prices.
The most difficult thing was not buying EVERYTHING immediately. Visiting the official Hello!Project shop was still ahead of me. Not to mention the pesky stuff like eating and surviving in Tokyo until the end of my visit *shrugs*.
There was so much I wanted to buy. For me, the bigger the photo the better. Aki was very helpful with translations and answering million times the same question patiently. The queue was almost up the stairs and it was nearly impossible for me to decide. The photos that were the most appealing were the big ones with dates that you could only buy at the venue, that very day. I needed the photos of all my oshis in every group plus some Airi for me, some Nacky and Hamachan for Morningtime. What about the Hello Project bag? Or the random photos? Or the capsules? How could I say no?!
When I told Aki my order she was in shock. I bought a lot that day even though it’s probably nothing when compared to some more affluent fans out there. It was a lot for a casual Japanese fan. The woman at the counter did not care one bit about my face of utter excitement and childlike bliss. She was just happy that Aki translated whatever needed translation and my transaction was done.
Me with not even half of stuff I bought 😄 Can you see the bliss though? It’s there.
Double bliss right there 🙂 Can you see how ppl in the background just don’t give a damn?
The bliss up close. Still no excitement in the background.
When the time came to line up I was pumped on adrenaline. Again, nobody else was. How I envy them. I’d love to have Hello!Project around me almost everyday to the point of mild boredom. Okay, it has the downsides. I want to be spoiled with H!P >o< We went up the stairs inside Nakano Sun Plaza. The security asked me some questions that Aki couldn’t answer because she was in a parallel line but they just let me in ignoring my confused look. It was probably something about having a camera, a kitchen knife or anything like that. They looked inside my bag and gave me
a bunch of flyers treasure.
Inside the hall, we found our places which were more to the left (for a change) and quite far away to my dissapointment. What was an even bigger dissapointment was a total disinterest of people around me. I really wanted the friendliness. I didn’t travel around the globe to meet a bunch of people not excited over stuff that I was excited over. The guy sitting next to us was looking bored. There were many people like him, looking antisocial and used to going to concerts like this. The situation was slightly better in the front rows where groups of people prepared for wotageing or at least exchanged jokes and gossip. Those groups looked more like cliques to me and some of them had this vibe from the Tokyo Idol Festival MAGICAL RAILING area, mainly”cross me and I’ll cut you” vibe.
I chose to stick to Akiko and having the time of my life.
The concert started with a cartoonish safety video making me believe that Japanese people may not remember how to use chairs. I looked at Aki not knowing whether to laugh or stay shocked. But soon the concert started.
- GOOD BYE Natsuo Hell, yeah! I love this song so much! It’s so dramatic, energetic and simply good old fun. It requires great vocals and the girls did their best.Some of the girls entered from the side doors but were too far away from me to see properly. Such a pity. But I could see all of them on stage and it felt unreal. I already saw the outfits online and they were okay. They could be worse and they could be better. I hated the hats. They looked tacky.
- Hello! Massara no Jibun – Hello Pro Kenshuusei I listened to the song from the opening concert recordings. It was very Hello!Project without anything to make it into my fav list. The title sounds like Hontou no Jibun meets Massara Blue Jeans and Say!Hello!.
- Watashi ga Obasan ni Natte mo – Tsubaki Factory After TIF, I felt a deeper connection with the girls and had pure fun listening and clapping along to their songs. They are an unexperienced but lovely bunch.
- Ora wa Ninkimono – Kobushi Factory Yesssss. That’s more like it! I got super excited and jumpy during this one. I went all in with the singing and crazyiness. Kobushi Factory are the best live! You can’t sit still when they perform. The goofiness is contagious.
- Boogie Woogie LOVE – Country Girls It was my first time seeing Country Girls live and I cheered for Momoko because of my Berryz Koubou sentiment. Aki cheered for Yamaki Risa. It’s a fun song but the performance was very well rehearsed and lacked the liveliness for me. It was like every wave and wink was exactly like on the music video.
- Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ – Juice=Juice I’m no Juice=Juice fan since they changed style. I preferred the saxophone days. I cheer for Karin (another alien face). The song is like a strange improvised modern dance number. I don’t buy it. A nice song but doesn’t do it for me.
- Itoshima Distance – ANGERME Out of all Angerme songs and even S/mileage reportaire, this was one of the least favourites of mine. I was happy to see Angerme live for the first time and I had the time to observe the new member.
- The Vision – Morning Musume ’16 It was my first time seeing Morning Musume live. My heart was pounding so much. I regret, not having better seats and not getting any special waves or eye contact. I got to see the legend performing and it was amazing. They are such strong performancers. They dance fiercely. It was like watching a well oiled machine. Perhaps, seeing them closer I’d see the flaws, but from far away, it was just perfection. And I don’t even like the song 😄
- Summer Wind – ℃-ute With C-ute as with Tsubaki Factory, there’s the sentiment involved. I had an opportunity to interact with them earlier, to see them up close, to shake their hands. With them on stage, I enjoyed every song far more then Country Girls. Plus, my H!P oshi Airi was performing so it was super special on many levels. It also helps that I luuuv the song 🙂
- Hello Pro Time Machine Corner 1 I WISH – Hamaura Ayano, Ogawa Rena, Kishimoto Yumeno Obviously, I was cheering for Hamachan, for Morningtime’s sake 🙂 All of the girls, did very well although they have nothing on my ultimate oshi-Aibon.
- Hello Pro Time Machine Corner 2 Kokuhaku Kinenbi – Nomura Minami, Taguchi Natsumi, Asakura Kiki, Morito Chisaki MINAMI!!!!!! My oshi in a song? I won’t stay mad with the song for too long although I’m not a big fan either. MINAMIIIII!!!!
- Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru – Kobushi Factory, Tsubaki Factory YES! The period when Juice=Juice had fierce and epic songs with an epic groups like Kobushi Factory? Count me in! Tsubaki Factory was there as well, but were obviously outshone by the epicness of Kobushi girls. MINAMIIII again 😀
- Crazy Kanzen na Otona – Country Girls The sexy vibe doesn’t suit them too well but it’s C-ute’s song after all so who am I to complain?
- Gashin Shoutan – Juice=Juice It took me some time to recognise the song. It’s damn catchy but fairly fresh. A good one but not great. With Ups and Downs to choose from, I skipped Gashin Shoutan.
- Chotto Guchoku ni! Chototsumoushin – ANGERME A good choice for a strong group like Angerme to get a song by another strong group like Kobushi. The growling was done perfectly by Takeuchi Akari.
- Itooshikutte Gomen ne – Morning Musume ’16 What a surprise! A cute song form MM? Such an odd but wonderful choice. DUUUUU!!!!
- Summer Night Town – ℃-ute A cool song that C-ute can pull off really well. It’s an oldie and I love it.
- Hello! Project Station Dance Club Performance I really want to say awesome things about it but I expected so much more intensity. It was a good performance but I think that the Dance Club had better choreographies and better music in the past.
- Jouro – Juice=Juice Decent. Easy to forget. Don’t make me say more.
- Taiki Bansei – ANGERME (with 5th generation) OMG! It’s the world’s catchiest song that I thought would be awesome live but I had no idea. It was SUPERB! I jumped, screamed and sung the song with everybody. It was the moment when nobody looked bored and everybody knew the lyrics. Pure happiness. Energy was over the roof.
- Tokyo to Iu Katasumi – Morning Musume. ’16 DUUUU!!!! I used to be picky when watching them up close, but from my row they looked perfect 🙂 LEGEN wait for it DARY
- Naze Hito wa Arasoun Darou? – ℃-ute Breathe, don’t cry. Just breathe and stop crying.
- Hitorijime – Tsubaki Factory It’s was a new song at the time so I enjoyed it. I still prefer V-u-den’s song with the same title which means that Tsubaki’s song is not THAT great 😄
- Samba! Kobushi Janeiro – Kobushi Factory (with Hello Pro Kenshuusei as backdancers) I had a blast with this song at TIF when I was alone and I had double blast here with Aki.
- Rhythm ga Yonderu zo – Country Girls (with Hello Pro Kenshuusei as backdancers) Okey, with this song my love for Country Girls grew. It’s such a lovely, fun and interactive song! Super cute.
- KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! – Juice=Juice Michael Jackson in da house, ladies and gentlemen. I had mixed feelings about it. Catchy but wacky, and I’m not sure if that’s what they aimed for.
- Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku – ANGERME (with 5th generation) This couldn’t get any better, right? Bring it on, Angry Germs!
- Shabondama – Morning Musume ’16 Well, it certainly can get better and it just did! How many dreams come true can one hope for?! I’m totally in love with this song and just a couple of days before I said that to Tanaka Reina herself 😄
- Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight! – ℃-ute There’s never enough of crying. Happy crying is okay.
- Utakata Saturday Night! …..and we’re back on the happy train!!! What a way to finish a concert. This song played around Tokyo all the time. It was so much fun.
After the concert ended, I looked at Aki with a face split in half with the stupidiest smile ever. The crowd slowly started flooding out of the doors and I took an opportunity to buy more stuff because very important reasons I can’t disclose but it has something to do with me really, really wanting more stuff so don’t judge me.
- There was something about Juice=Juice new single and a lady with a list was trying to make people sign something I couldn’t quite understand. When Aki explained to me what it was… oh, dude…. I mean…. holey moley….I was speechless. There was a quick handshake event right after the concert with some of the girls from Juice=Juice to promote the single. Aki asked me if I wanted to attend and I think I might have strained my neck by nodding too vigorously. There wasn’t much time, since the handshake already started (remember that I was very busy shopping) and Aki tried her best to fill the pre-order form and spend my money on a single I didn’t really like by a group I wasn’t even that much into. Screw logic. I loooveeee handshakes for a chance to actually meet a H!P member face to face. There were only three members and no Karin for me. There was Sayuki (the Voice), Kanatomo (the I don’t know you) and Yukanya (the Cute One).
- Some staff member grabbed my bag and lead me away from Aki who tried to help me translate something I would like to say but the handshake was just too damn fast. The girls were jammed in a tiny room with ppl going down the corridor, going into the room behind a plastic wall for like 2 seconds and pushed out of the room. It must have been the world’s quickest …ekhm…job ever 😄
- In the meantime, I was the last one to go which made me super, super happy but very nervous. Again, I was to say my standard things learnt at Japan Expo’s handshakes. Some small crowd of girls in front of me, got giddy and decided to go last. I really didn’t want to play any games with them like “No, you go first. No, you do” with my limited japanese so I stayed in front of them, getting closer to the magic door when another staff member was spraying ppl’s hands. It was so damn fast!
- I went inside and got starstruck by the girls (scrap anything bad I said about them, they’re so beautiful, warm, idol-like and just amazing at what they do). I was ready to throw my “I’m from Poland,” and “I’m an English teacher” at them but I got totally blocked by Sayuki who looked at my obviously not Asian face and just screamed (literally, screamed) “THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU!” which you can note lasts more than a second so when I reached Kanatomo’s hand, my face was still turned to Sayuki’s screaming. I think I managed to say something along “Great concert” to Yukanya but I clearly remember her smiling face. She was polite and gentle. Sayuki was just ballistic 😀 She reminded me of Maimi at Japan Expo with her over the top facial expressions. Great experience, so worth the price of the CD (I still haven’t retrieved it from Aki as it was sent to her address :D).
– great songs
-sharing the experience with Aki
– handshake and Sayuki’s screaming
-not so great seats which meant no interactions with the girl’s on stage
-fans around that didn’t socialise
-not enough time to interact at the handshake
Overall, It was an amazing concert but so different from Otodama and Japan Expo. If I wanted to rank them Otodama would be first (the intensity, the interactions), Harocon second (the real deal) and Japan Expo third but still better than TIF 🙂
Rainbow Carnival, here I come!!!
This was the concert I came to the Festival for and yet with Tsubaki Factory and Tanaka Reina experience already behind me, I felt fulfilled. I expected the fans to be even crayzier and I didn’t want to fight for the first row. I made my decision to enter the women section.
It wasn’t so close to stage but guess what boys, it was FRIENDLY. And I’ll take “friendly” over “sniffing idols’ sneakers while being shoved” in no time.
NO! I’m going to cheer for my favourite underage girl in a frilly dress singing about forgetting an umbrella during the rain!!!!!
I waited for the small female crowd to change with a change of idols and reached the MAGICAL RAILING without losing my teeth and self-esteem. Such a feat in an idol event apparently.
After seeing Tsubaki Factory, Kobushi Factory was just superb. Even the songs were just plain better. I had so much fun chanting, jumping and singing along. The crowd was pumped. I waved my glowstick for Nomura Minami and managed to get some smiles from here. There was an older fan on a wheelchair in the section in front of me and the girls took extra effort to wave at him from time to time and I think it’s really nice. Idols give out positive vibes. My favourite song turned out to be Samba! Kobushi Janeiro. I love the Dash and Jump parts as well as Rio Rio.
While watching idols perform live you don’t really like how they make a line along the stage because the camera can’t cover them all in a nice shot, but for the ppl crammed to the very left or right of the stage it’s a blessing. There were many songs I could observe the members and my I stand by my oshi. Nomura Minami has a great voice and great facial expressions. She reminds me of Airi performing live. They both know how to reach the crowd and entertain everybody.
I must admit that I jumped and chanted for Hamachan although she’s not my favourite at all but I tried to channel Morningtime love to her as well 🙂
Me: MY MARRIED FRIEND LOVES YOU!!!!!!!!!!
Hamachan: Well….. thanks…. I guess ==’
No member struck to me as weak or exceptionally amazing. Kobushi Factory is a solid group overall. I hope to hear more great songs from them in 2017.
There was still time before my next big event, Kobushi Factory concert, so I needed some rest. Stuffin my face with rice balls and some Pocari Sweat (my staple dinner during the stay)
I chilled on the floor in the air coinditioned hall of the venue. Once ready to explore other places of the festival, I ventured into the land of the HEAT DEMON that together with the HUMIDITY WITCH actively tried to kill me during my stroll. I decided to look through some idol merch since going to the Hello Project official shop was still ahead of me.
The area I found consisted of various tents with idols or just staff members asking people around to look through the CDs, flyers or inviting for meet-and-greets. It was awkward watching those young girls asking for people to come while most wotas just passed them by. I know it’s their job, but I think I would be too shy to do it. I wanted to go to every booth, buy the merch and talk to all of them. It’s hard to explain, but I felt rude for just walking along seemingly uninterested. I have the same feeling towards any other people in my country giving out flyers. Idols doing that? That’s a whole anther level of shyness.
I tried walking in the middle of the lane and avoiding any eye contact.
There were so many events happening at the same time. Suddenly I walked by a H!P wota. I looked in his direction and was baffled to see UpUpGirls standing in one of those empty booths. They were either after or before a handshake event but nobody was lining up. My jaw reached the floor. The wota I noticed, told me that the event just ended but if I’m a H!P wota, then there’s gonna another event with LoVendoЯ in 15 minutes or so. My jaw was still on the floor. Do you mean…. Tanaka Reina? Here? For a handshake event?! Breathe, just breathe and try not to die (thank you HEAT DEMON for not helping at all.).
I walked to the booth the event was going to take place and saw some other idol group having a handshake event as well. There were some people lining up, but not many. A staff member approached me and asked me to join because the handshake is free and the girls would be very happy. They looked cute and pure so I decided to give it a go and prepare myself mentally for another idol breakdown later on. The members were fun. I used some basic English and they thank you’d me a lot. I chose the cutest one as my oshi which made her happy. Making idols happy is fun.
I asked the same guy about the LoVendoЯ event and it turned out I was the first one in the line for them. I mean, OMG OMG OMfuckingG. Again, give me a moment to explain my excitement. First of all, it wasn’t part of my plan. I had no idea that I would get a handshake event with any H!P member. I planned Harocon, Otodama and TIF as my only idol related events. Secondly, Tanaka Reina was a part of Morning Musume for so long. She was a member when I got into H!P and a huge contributor to the MM history. It didn’t matter that I was never her fan and ignored her new band altogether. Meeting somebody like her was like having a handshake with a freaking legend!
a tacky, wonkey eyed, yankee looking legend. It still counts!
While watching some more people lining up, I noticed a small group of foreigners looking around. Immediately, I recognized Maria, a fan from Chile. We talked about going to Japan and Harocon via Twitter. We didn’t plan on meeting up yet we did! How lucky is that?! She was with her friends and together we freaked out about LoVendoЯ handshake they would definitely attend with me.
When the event was about to start, it turned out that it’s not free and you need to buy a CD. I mean DUH, I felt so stupid, but nobody told us! I ran to another booth with merch and quickly bought a CD and got a handshake ticket. It was numbered but luckily nobody cared. We had to go to the back of the line but it was ok. Seeing Reina, paralyzed me. I was totally unprepared. I took my notebook to practice some Japanese phrases.
In my mind:
ME (in Japanese): Is this your cow? How much is that suitcase? I ate delicious ramen yesterday.
TANAKA REINA( in Japanese): SECURITY!!!!
Okay, it wasn’t a good idea. I just had to fall back on my Paris experience plus some new self-introductions.
ME (in Japanese): I’m Polish. I’m an English teacher. I’m a Morning Musume wota since Sakura Mankai.
TANAKA REINA: *smiling politely* Thank you.
She showed me OK sign during my speech letting me know that she understood my mumblings. My voice was shaking so much 😀
I must have looked totally in bliss because a wota from the line approached me and gave me another handshake ticket. Wow, my love for the wota family grew again. There’s still hope in this world. I had no idea what to say to the girls again. I think I added a bit about loving “Shabondama”. Reaction was pretty plain and distant again. Reina reminded me of Sugaya Risako at Japan Expo. She was professional but not so much invested. She must have done that kind of event billions of times and it’s not like I told her anything super surprising or funny. Still, I had lots of fun and it was amazing seeing her so up close. She’s a pretty girl with lots of kakkoiness. Other members as well, but I’m sorry that I can’t tell you more. My focus was solely on Reina. I knew that one of the members announced her graduation at that time, but I didn’t want to start this topic with her so I just stuck to the same mumblings minus the H!P stuff.
This TIF was getting more and more surprising.
My next idol related event was Tokyo Idol Festival. I chose day 5 as I had all the H!P action with Tsubaki and Kobushi Factory, UpUpGirls and even Lovendor and Bitter Sweet if I felt like it (and I didn’t). The event is quite open and welcoming to foreigners. Tokyo Girls Update organised a ticket giveaway for foreigners, I bought my ticket on Rakuten Global Market and I had an English website to help me out. I was ready to go on my own. None of my friends could come and online friends had TIF plans but there was no meet-up planned. I really imagined a much smaller event where all foreign fans are easy to spot. Boy was I wrong. The Festival is huuuge.
This freaking map makes everything seems so close
I geared up wota style ready to meet my long lost wota family. I was pumped and anxious to get everything right. I wanted to have a good spot but I had to find the place to pick up my paper ticket. The map wasn’t that helpful in that department and the website wasn’t to much use either. I knew that most of my mustsee groups are at the Hot Stage (1), while (10) looked like a good place to pick up a ticket and maybe get a wristband or something. I gathered info from fellow idol fans (thank you Crazy for Underrated Idols Facebook group) that it’s good to appear at least an hour before your fav group’s performance so I decided to play it safe and be at least 1,5h before. That meant at least 2 hours in total to get my ticket.
I arrived on time without any transport problems (I was a railway/subway pro by then). The sun was actively trying to kill me but I was ready this time (towel, water supplies, umbrella, sunglasses, attitude).
The first problem was with finding the place after exiting the station. Seriously, I’m bad with maps. I looked around and saw the Venus Fort and the huge wheel but still I didn’t know which direction to pick. I found a guy with some idol merch on him and he showed me the way. He even spoke some basic English so lucky me. I was good to go. When I got close to the Hot Stage I saw the crowds, and I mean THE CROWDS. I’ve never been to such a big event. Most of the outside events were free so there were huge masses of people wandering around Odaiba and just chilling (that is dieing of heatstroke). I had no idea where to go to get a ticket. I approached many staff members and they all showed me a different place to go probably thinking “MAKE THE FOREIGNER GO AWAY ASAP!!!”. I went to some staff tent with friendly japanese girls who looked like they could know a bit more. They didn’t. I showed them my Rakuten Market receipt which had some japanese written on it so they tried to read it but they had absoluely no idea what to do with me. I gathered that there is a place to change my ticket for a wristband (which was quite far away) so I went there and stood politely in a line. Soon enough the staff once again looked at my receipt in confusion and showed me on a map another place to go which was literally on the other side of
the Earth everything. I was royally pissed by then. I was ready to kill for some air conditioning. It was difficult to appreciate the atmosphere and fun around me. The long walk to the designated place sucked all my energy. I stood in another line which turned out to be not the line I was supposed to stand in but luckily I found a tiny little tent with “Rakuten Global Market Tickets” sign on it. Sheesh, I was so glad to finally meet some staff members who knew exactly what I needed. They gave me my wristband (which looked exactly like other wristbands. Why couldn’t I change my ticket in ANY staff tent that gave away wristbands?! Why were those two tents so freaking far away?! The myth of perfect japanese organisational skills got debunked that day).
I was set to go back to the Hot Stage which luckily for me was air conditioned (Otodama did NOT spoil us). Many people were coming in and out probably just looking around and choosing a different stage. I walked in and saw a fairly big venue that wasn’t as crowded and structured as I anticipated. There was a lot of leeway to mingle and change your spot. As long as you didn’t push or shove people around you but rather move between them, you were safe. Within 3 minutes of wota capoeira I got pretty close to stage. I was on the edge of the FAN ZONE ( those first 6 rows of people that came specifically for the idol performing at the moment or the idol after that idol) and the GENERAL PUBLIC ZONE OF RANDOM IDOL FANS (pretty self-explanatory).
The idols performing were surprisingly very good and entertaining. I went in for Tokyo Performance Doll which was a solid group with lots of personality. I enjoyed the songs, but not in a Orange Port kind of way. That is to say I was impressed but not hooked on them. Their songs weren’t that catchy. But lots of respect to the girls.
The next group was Up Up Girls so with the change of fans I officially entered the FAN ZONE, more wota capoeira and I got closer to stage. I began to notice that this zone was full of H!P fans, even those wearing Kobushi Factory gear! And Kobushi would appear at 18:35 (it was 12:20). I think everybody was waiting for Tsubaki like me and UpUpGirls were a nice interlude before that. I was happy to see them since I had great hopes for them when they debuted. I was a MoriSaki fan but I don’t really follow the group anyway. They are not strictly H!P and the songs are too generic for me although I LOVE the alien song 😀
Yep, I really like this song 🙂 I was mentally prepared to cheer for Morisaki and did my best to gain her attention during the live. She must have noticed me but she did her best to avoid any eye contact. Am I the scary foreigner?
Konatsu tried really hard to reach everybody and she was the most entertaining of the whole bunch, She really outshone other members in terms of crazy energy. There was a Konatsu fan next to me and I understood his devotion completely. I on the other hand was starting to like MoriSaki less and less. Her performance was very good but properly good. She was smiling but not that brightly or sincerely. It’s weird how your oshis can change over a live performance. Sometime I hear people saying that they like this or that member more and I read how japanese fans are sometimes surprised by our choices. I understand that now. The “vibes”, the “chemistry” the girls give during the live performance is very important. It doesn’t mean that without seeing your idol live you can’t call yourself a true fan or anything because that is just stupid. What I’m trying to say that there’s an extra layer to idol-fan relationship I wish that everybody could experience at least once.
It’s funny how I made fun of Konatsu during her Egg days. I think it was similar with Momochi. They both gave me the creeps initially with their over the top behaviour but after meeting them I changed my mind. I’m not a sudden Konatsu convert but I really warmed up to her. That is to say that I might have found a new oshi after all. Sato Ayano was standing in the centre a lot. She was often right in front of me and did her best to look me in the eye, wave and smile. The first time she did it, I was shy but very happy. She’s got a different aura about her that I was drawn to. I never noticed her before.
When the end of the performance was getting close, I could see how people already started to slowly push their way to the holy grail of the FAN ZONE that is the first row and the MAGICAL RAILING. This is when it also started to get messy. People warned me about crazed fanboys before (again thank you Crazy of Underrated Idols Facebook groups but forgive me that I didn’t believe you). I had this naive and idyllic view in my head of japanese fans being so enthusiastic, loving ang genuinely open to foreigners. They were a big wota family. I considered myself to be one crazy fangirl but I had nothing on them. Reaching the MAGICAL RAILING that separated them from the stage, was the ultimate goal. You would be wrong thinking that all japanese fans are respectful and self organise like those at Otodama. This time “first come first serve” rule would be the fairest option, right? Not? Okay. How about “strong elbows first serve” or at least “loudest first serve”? Nope. It was “my comrades kept the place for me and a bunch of my friends so I’m served first” rule. I really didn’t expect that familiar European stunt that even where I come from is so frowned upon. I had no chance whatsover to reach the railing not because I wasn’t fast enough or waited long enough, but because people already there shielded it with their bodies in a ferocious battle to keep if until their friends from behind me would reach it. By accident, somebody pushed me to the front so it looked that I’m trying to go for the first row (I wasn’t) and the japanese guy next to me bodily moved me to the side.
I mean, dude. Chill the hell up. You’re about my age (but I look much younger, sucker) and there’s gonna be a 30 minute show of underage girls in 3 minutes. You have all the merch on you and clearly you’ve attended plenty of events by now and you push aside a foreigner that as you probably noticed does not have that many opportunities. I didn’t expect any special treatment. There was a women only section to the very right. I did expect some humane treatment after all. Japan did sign Geneva Convention. Okay, maybe without ratifying it but give me a break.
This whole negative energy around me, shoving and pushing, really saddened me. I reached the second row, which is awesome and I was to the very centre, something I’ve never been able to achieve before. Yet I felt miserable and lonely. Adding to the injury, a guy came to the crazed fan in front me and started arguing with him in japanese. Both were pass their younger days, yet they started a shoving contest more fitting to kindergarden. Me being directly behind the fan with rabies and next to the guy claiming the right to be at the front (my basic japanese helped me to understand some of their words), I got hit with an elbow and pushed quite aggressively. I yelled “Itai!” like a proper hentai heroine but they weren’t impressed nor interested. The show started by then and they both chose to hit each other while at the same time cheering for the girls. They even asked for security to resolve the problem while I was trying to show with my face how miserble I was and in pain so security might remove both of them making more room for me 😄 Staff told them something about the rules and just left them be. How unhelpful.
I tried to focus on the show and ignore the drama. I was there for the girls, to show them support and cheer for Yamagishi Riko as my alien faced oshi.
If you haven’t seen it already, the full stage is on dailymotion added by Japan Under Music.
Can you spot me? I was very sneaky. I could see myself in the monitors on stage during the live so I tried to wave my glowstick as often as possible during the time the cameraman-san showed the crowd. Yep, the green glowstick in the very centre is me. Again I was starstruck by seeing the girls performing. The surreal feeling of seeing idols so close to you will never get old. I didn’t think of them as “new idols” or “less known idols” like some other groups at TIF. For me they were H!P like any other groups. They stood on the same stage as C-ute or Morning Musume. They didn’t have to earn it. They are popular just by being under the agency I love. However, at that moment I saw young girls who still had no idea how to behave or how to perform like a pro. It was eye-opening how poor the performance was compared to Tokyo Performance Doll. The girls had loads of charm but they seemed so stiff. It didn’t make the experience worse for me at all. I was just surprised and yet again I noticed something about myself. I value the most floppy dancing, horrible singing Kenshyuusei over any idol from a non-H!P group just because she IS a part of H!P.
But what DID sour the experience for me was the over enthusiastic rude guy in front of me. He started oshi jumping and everytime he landed, he landed on me or a person to his right or left. Never on the place he jumped from.
I totally understand how the bad rep for wotas came to be. Nobody was happy with this guy’s behaviour, and nobody acted so rudely around him. I couldn’t just allow him ruin the fun. I looked to me left and noticed a very short guy standing just behind me. He was twenty-something and standing very politely with his arms to himself and glowstick close to his head as not to disturb anybody. What endeared me the most were his eyes. He had this spark while watching the girls. The plan formed in my mind and I smiled at my own wickedness. The guy was a perfect human shield MUAHAHAHAHAHA *coughcough* HAHAHAHAHA.
Smiling my most honest looking smile, I indicated for him to move in front of me. He was dumbstuck. Apparently, that’s not that common. Go figure. A couple of times, he tried to make sure that I knew what I was asking of him. I smiled and threw some basic japanese pleasantries like “どうぞ” or “どけのろま” and he moved in front of me bowing like million times at the same time. His friend standing also next to me (the much taller friend) smiled at me. The energy around me changed to more positive and I felt great again. I was safe from the rude guy at the MAGICAL RAILING, I had a better view of the girls and the newly made wota friends around me were having polite fun. Now, that’s what I call good thinking. I had more space as well. The tall friend next to me oshi jumped once without touching me but still felt the need to check with me if he didn’t disturb me or anything. I smiled at him and when Yamagishi Riko sang I tapped his shoulder and oshi jumped myself to show him that I’m okay with it. We had more space to ourselves so jumping from time to time didn’t bother anybody.
More than once both mine and his fav member sung together so we jumped together and I didn’t feel alone anymore. When the second MC came, my heart was full of warm feels. I stood there with my hand on my chest, breathing hard and I started to cry looking at Yamagishi Riko. Iwas making my dream come true. I was at another H!P related event, I was watching one of my oshis so close to stage. Again magic happened and Riko looked my straight in the eye and it was Airi in Paris experience all over for me. She made this sympathizing face, smiled and nodded at me. I think I peed myself just a tiny bit. Don’t judge me. I get emotional with idols.
If Morisaki changed my view of her, Yamagishi Rika just set her Tsubaki Factory oshi status in STONE. I mean, BRO, that girl slayed my heart so bad.
more to come…
Just as planned, I met with my friend who gave me tickets and a surprise birthday present. I got Airi’s T-shirt, a wristband and Airi’s clearfile from her birthday event! She saved my life with this gift as my Japan Expo T-shirt was already drenched with sweat. I knew that Otodama lives are always very hot so a T-shirt I could change into was heaven sent. We had some time before the show so we frolicked around on the beach. It was our first time meeting in person so we had a lot to catch up.
I bought myself more water, changed my clothes and lined up according to the number on my ticket. This time the line was organised by the Otodama staff so everybody knew what to do and where to stand. Nobody rushed and nobody was as excited as I was. I considered bolting for the women section to get a good view again but when we entered it was already very crowded. We decided to stay on the right side of the stage where we found a nice spot to see the members. A man next to us pointed to the women only section but I told him that I like this place and asked if it was okay with him. Who knows, he might have been a womanphobe or something. But he was cool. Probably thought I got lost. There were some girls opting for a different place than the women section so it wasn’t that weird. I had my Kingblade on bright pink so I was ready to take part in this legendary C-ute live. It was getting hotter and more humid with every second and my friend felt weak. We crouched down and I held cold water bottle to her skin to help her. It was really scary because I had no idea what to do if she passed out. Luckily, C-ute family is really nice. The men standing next to me started to fan her and ask for her well-being. I was truly touched and so was she. She later told me that Morning Musume fan (she’s not into C-ute) aren’t that nice. She felt a bit better and was ready to stand up before the concert started.
The experience was so much different than the concert in Paris. The girls were truly in their element. It was like seeing your idol with a group of friends. They OWNED the stage and there was no nervousness in the air like in Paris. I had eye-contact and many small waves that made me such a happy fan. The girls’ singing and dancing ability is superb. Okay, not MaiMai’s. I’m not a hater but her voice is getting worse and worse. She was standing out so painfully but received lots of love. She was clearly a bit sick that day and coughing a lot. Still her outfit was the cutest and the red lipstick suits her very well. The concert was streamed so you can see the first part of it uploaded here:
Bokura na Kagayaki is a great song to start off a concert. Chisato’s voice sounds a bit strange but it’s still strong and captivating. The girls try their best to reach every fan so very often they walked to the sides to entertain fans like me not being able to reach the very centre. I thought it was very nice and very proffessional of them. For Momoiro Sparkling I had a lot of MaiMai and this was a different girl than the one in Paris. She was far more confident and encouraged us to have fun. Notice how at 4:51 she’s turned completely to the women section. I was more to the center but got a good view of her thanks to that.
At the first MC the girls asked the crowd to move back a little because of the lack of air and the temperature. I don’t think that anybody moved a muscle LOL. Chisato left the stage because her voice needed some rest. They performed some songs without her.
The next song, Meguru Koi no Kisetsu brought Airi closer to me and she really looked at us a lot making the experience so much better. They didn’t just perform in front of us, they performed FOR us.
Saikou Music is a very good song for chanting. I had lot of fun screaming the names. The song is very catchy but simple. Perfect idol fun.
Dare ni mo Naisho no Koishiteiru no is one of those songs you can recognise but not really pin it to a specific album. It’s not their best song but I guess they needed some less energetic but cutesy song. You can’t have Dance de Bakoon all the time, right?
Kokoro no Sakebi o Uta ni Shitemita is again a very cute song with mild tempo but Chisato came back after a short MC plus the choreography is more structured so I didn’t complain. Okey, I wouldn’t complain even if they just stood there and sang Happy Birthday in a loop for 3 hours. Just watching them was pure pleasure. I was high on C-ute. ALL OF ME!
Go Go Go is what I missed in Paris. A song with waving and smiling and just interacting with fans and the members. I wouldn’t put it on my “C-ute’s best songs evar” CD but it was again very enjoyable thanks to C-ute being super friendly.
By the time of another MC break I was a sweat machine. I could literally feel myself melting. Since the Airi T-shirt is too big for me, it wasn’t as drenched as everybody else’s. I had it rolled in my stomach so that the rest barely touched my skin. I was a human sauna. But a very VERY happy one. C-ute members were drenched in sweat as well so they used some towels. The video stops then and I don’t really remember the exact timing but I think that around this time the girls organised a lottery with ticket numbers. They winners could get some signed items and later a polaroid picture with a chosen pose. The poses were usual “cute”, “wink” and “hug” poses. I’d totally go for kabedon. I might have developed a kabedon kink thanks to Duu.
The next song wasn’t a big surprise. Summer Wind is THE song when it comes to summer songs. I mean, DUH. SUMMER wind. This one is not about sweet smiles and running around stage but it’s so pretty to look at. The dance is very elegant. Airi’s voice soothes me so much. This change of pace was very much needed because of the temperature.
Okay, this one simply crushed me and crushed me to pieces. I heard the song secret base ～Kimi ga Kureta Mono～ before by accident and it’s such a nostalgic beautifully simple song. You really need just a couple of words in japanese to understand the lyrics. It’s very straighforward. Let me provide you with some translation though.
The end of the summer with you
Our dreams for the future
The big hopes, I won’t forget them
I’ll meet you again
The best memories…
Go on. Cry. I know you want to. I didn’t expect C-ute to sing a cover of this song. The sweetness of this song, the context of this summer and me making my ultimate dreams come true was just to much. I cried my eyes out and Maimi saw me crying and she cried even more herself. I literally saw her looking at me and then rubbing her eyes. I don’t say that I made her cry but I definitely made her cry more. Now, knowing that they graduate she knew that this was their last Otodama Live and their last summer as C-ute. They must have felt this sadness. They all cried during this song. It was one of the greatest moments of this live.
Another MC and I think that Chisato had to rest some more. I really can’t remember. I know that she skipped some songs from time to time. Jinsei wa Step is generally considered to be an awesome song and I agree. Even non-fans consider it to be very good. I love how H!P likes to experiment like that from time to time. I’d prefer some more actual stepping going on but well, you can’t have everything. I had a blast during this one. This song and the following ones was a medley of energy and jumping. The girls gave it all and we were all surprised how the fun didn’t seem to stop. I mean, Sekaiichi HAPPY na Onna no Ko is high energy, Tokaikko Junjou is fierce, Adam to Eve no Dilemma very sexy and Kiss Me Aishiteru is again very fun with the repetitions. Chou WONDERFUL! is a great cherry on top. Everybody was beyond sweaty and exhausted by the end of this song. I couldn’t believe they could go on so long with this amount of energy. Just song after songs of pure win.
Chou WONDERFUL! seemed to be a good song for the end and the girls actually waved goodbye but nobody got fooled. Encore, right? RIGHT?! Everybody treated the encore chanting as a chance to drink something and rest a bit.
The members appeared of course and explained why they gonna sing a cover song but I had no idea what they were saying and frankly speaking I couln’t care less since they brought freaking water guns.
I knew this was gonna happen and I was waiting for it. Not just because I was swimming in my own sweat and ready to pass out but because you could FEEL the girls attention on you. If you touched the water or got splashed it’s not by accident, but because the girls looked at you and sprayed YOU and not the person next to you. Am I making any sense? It’s almost like a handshake event but with water 🙂
Firstly, I could barely get any water on me but then I got sprayed right between my eyes and I went to heaven. Yep, I think a long paragraph full of dirty analogies is due but let’s skip that.
[a long paragraph full of dirty analogies]
Okay, now that we can forget about this embarrassing moment of fangirling and move to ANOTHER FREAKING SPLASH OF WATER STRAIGHT TO MY FACE that left me in utter bliss. The first time it was Maimi’s and this time it was Nacky’s gun. I looked at my friend with water pouring down my face and I think I was smiling like a maniac because she laughed at me so much. C’mon, wouldn’t you be utterly happy in my place?!
The next song Iron Heart again was a good opportnity to get a couple of waves from the girls and I honestly thought that it was the last one. But alas was I wrong.
The last song was Wasuretakunai Natsu and it is a very fitting song to end the live. I really don’t want to forget this summer forever. I think the girls felt the same. It was less crying (oh, I cried a BIT) but more waving and appreciation of the whole live. You could see this song on Hello!Station but here is a nice cut version.
After the live I was deaded. The staff gave away some free samples of energy drinks and we were more than happy to give it a try. I looked like roadkill that somebody tried to wash in a washing machine. I changed clothes, ate some dinner with my friend and headed home while riding my C-ute high. It was the best live ever and it was just the first one during this trip. There was still so much to come. Next? Tokyo Idol Festival with UpUpGirls, Tsubaki Factory, Kobushi Factory and LoVendoЯ.
The third of August started rather unluckily with my sister getting sick so I had to go alone and my friend getting sick as well so she would meet me up just an hour before opening time. This sucked and made me super anxious as Kamakura and Hachioji (the place I stayed at that time) are quite away. Soon I learnt that Kamakura and any place within Tokyo is still QUITE AWAY ==’. But I was determined to have some fun so bravely I stepped out of the apartment, switched on google maps and got lost immediately. I’m not even kidding you. I lost my way before I even got on a train. So yeah, it was a rather unlucky start. Then it got better so bear with me. The train ride was complicated due to transfers but again my basic Japanese skills plus some really helpful old Japanese ladies and I was at Kamakura in no time (1h9m to be precise). Should I mention that the day before I got some allergic reaction on my legs which made me wear a looong black skirt? Should I also mention that it was probably the hottest day during my stay in Japan? I probably shouldn’t, nevermind. Just imagine a pale blond girl in a loooong black skirt, black Japan Expo Paris T-shirt, holding a (you guessed it) black umbrella walking to the beach with a crowd of suddenly not so modestly dressed Japanese youth with bikini straps poking under tops. I was basically looking like more of a weirdo than normally. On the good side, I couldn’t get lost as the whole train crowd headed in the same direction as me, the beach. I knew that I was only an hour or so before the Satoyama x C-ute talk event at the Otodama Sea Studio so I was ready to stand in a long line just to enter the building. But I could meet and socialise with fans? Right? Team C-ute forever baby!
Not so far away from the beach, I noticed a small group of people wearing H!P goods, mostly Airi’s so I got super excited. Of course, I waved at them and said something like Suzuki Airi is the best to which they smiled politely. I wanted them to help me out with finding the Otodama building but they weren’t THAT friendly, besides I was confident to find it on my own and beat them to the line. MUAHAHAHAHA yeah, pathetic I know.
I was right, finding the place wasn’t that difficult since it was literally by the entrance to the beach. One would have to try really hard to miss it.
Just follow Smirnoff. It works in Poland.
I asked the first staff member where to stand in the line and through gestures and some rambling we established that I can start lining up just an hour before the event itself. Let me just tell you, Japanese people don’t fuck around with lines. If it’s one hour before, it’s gonna be one hour before. In Europe (and other countries I have no idea about), people would line up whenever they feel like it. “It’s a free country goddammit” would be yelled at any staff member. Not here in Japan. I noticed some fans just standing around like vultures and decided to talk to anybody that dared to look the foreigner in the eye. BINGO. One girl did and she seemed alone so I walked to her and asked her the same question about the line. It was a good choice since she introduced me to some line guru who got his magic notebook with names and numbers of people in the queue. God, was I not lucky. My number was around 130ish so it wasn’t that bad. The guru had some problems with pronouncing my name as I wrote it in romaji but to hell with that I was the only foreigner there anyway… or was I?
Exactly an hour before the event, Line Guru san started reading the names and organising everybody. Everybody was very calm and nobody argued. I just remember the Japan Expo line in Paris and well all the scenarios played in my head like “I was here from 8 am and I don’t care about any lists.” or something similar. Huge respect Japan, huge respect. My foreigner radar started buzzing and I saw a blond girl standing not so far away from me. That’s how I met Chiara from Italy. She spoke awesome Japanese and was very friendly so I was very happy I could finally talk with another fan freely. Our line numbers were close so soon enough I skipped a couple of Japanese guys who didn’t mind and stood next to her.
It was extremely, and I mean EXTREMELY hot. I was on the verge of a heatstroke. I changed to shorts and put the black skirt in my bag because YOLO and screw my allergy it’s C-ute baby. My umbrella was a blessing so Chiara and me stood together with my umbrella the only shield against the sun demon. I tred my Airi towel but it wasn’t that effective.
Standing in the line for an hour was pure torture. My brain was on fire and minutes were crawling by. I desperately needed more water but any vending machine/combini was surprisingly out of reach. It was all worth it though. I reached the doors inside with a sense of anticipation and determination to find a good spot. We entered the venue and the women section was just in front of us so it was easy to stay there instead of trying to flood the center with all the tall man already there. My foreigner powers came to my rescue as with my 164cm I was the tallest girl easily. What is more, I stood right by the fence guarding our innocence from the raging fanboy testosterone so I could propel myself on it bit more, making my view even better. Jackpot.
not so bad, amrite?
The venue wasn’t nearly as hot as the outside so I risked my wig. I just needed the members to see that somebody from Japan Expo came all the way to Japan for them. I don’t know why, but as a foreigner I feel this responsibolity to make myself even more visible to the staff and members to make them know that all the international marketing and concerts are paying off.
all the memories *sniff*
I was ready, everything was set and I waited with more and more pressure building in my chest. This was it. This was finally happening. The moment that the girls entered the stage was so magical. It lacked the desperation, the rush, the devotion the crowd felt in Paris after first seeing them at the autograph session. But it was different. The girls looked far more at ease and comfortable and the crowd was more “welcome back” and less “I’m gonna rip my face because I love you so much”. Do you get what I mean? It wasn’t bad but it was warmer. I liked this atmosphere because I could savour the girls more rather than scream like a banshee and cry (this would come later). At the same time this surreal situation in which the idols you love and adore are suddenly so close to you, they wave at you and smile so gracefully is just the same as it was in Paris. I still can’t believe that they were so close to me and all it took was an hour of standing in a line and paying absolutely nothing. Japanese fans are so spoiled and foreign fans are just so sadly at a disadvantage. If you are a fan that never saw them in person then I am so sorry for you and wish that one day you will because it’s just amazing beyond any words.
During the event, the girls talked about beach safety and Nacky was the MC. She stood the farthest to me while Chisato and Mai were closest to me. Again. It was Japan Expo concert all over for me LOL. They behaved so differently from Paris tho. MaiMai and Chisa were talking to each other and ignoring the hosts (and Nacky) it was hilarious. Chisa was always so entertaining to watch but I never knew that she’s so close to Mai. Chisa wore some really high shoes to fit with the rest of girls while Nacky just didn’t give a damn and stayed a midget 🙂 At one time, Chisa took off her shoes and stood barefoot. The girl is so entertaining. The talk included some silly games that made the audience guess some beach related terms. Even without knowing Japanese, it was fun to watch them having fun and making a fool out of themselves. My favourite moment was when Airi tried to show a hiragana sign for “ma”.
She held her arms horizontally and then kicked her leg in the air in a tango like move I really can’t explain well. She whipped her head at the same time with a facial expression matching the tango theme. Airi rocks! At the same time, Maimi showed the simplest hiragana you can show with your arms- “ku”.
Why did they do that you might ask? Well, because “kuma” is a bear in Japanese. Yes, they were supposed to make the audience guess the word “bear” and they chose to show hiragana. Genius 😄 How is that beach related? I really didn’t want to find out on my own.
The event was quite long and very satisfying. I left the venue happy and even more pumped up for the live. Bring it on.
to be continued