I didn’t spend much time in Osaka as I knew the town already from my prior trips. I only visited Osaka castle again, but just to get postcards there, and took a look and Shinsaibashi, the shopping district, and Nipponbashi, the equivalent to Akihabara. This meant that I already left for Nagoya the morning of the 23.07.2014, traveling with the Shinkansen. There I encountered a curious problem with my train ticket: I purchased a paper ticket as a the charge for the Shinkansen would have otherwise exceeded my limit on the ICOCA card. No problem there. I was entering the gates of Shin-Osaka station, Osaka, and arrived an hour later at Nagoya station, Nagoya, where I passed the gate again. BUT: On my way to exit I encountered another gate – What the hell?!? Why do I have to pass two gates now? And my ticket was already ‘eaten’ by the last gate. Well, I had no other choice than to play the dumb foreigner. I approached the gate and they advised my to go back to the gate I exited before. That was all they could tell me as the only English word they knew was “back”. Quite easy to understand though. Therefore I went back and approached the gatekeeper there. I was showing him my voucher so he could see I was coming form Osaka. He quickly looked in his computer which seemed to list the tickets that were not taken out of the machines while passing through. Don’t know if he really found me in there but I he printed me a new ticket and with this I was able to finally exit the station.
Nagoya! Never been there before! And it was HOT. The weather I mean. If you look at the map, you wouldn’t expect it as it lies in the center of the route from Osaka to Tokyo. However it can easily exceed the temperature of this two cities up to 10 degrees! For example when I arrived it reached 36 degrees, the following days even going up to 40 degrees. This combined with the high humidity made it quite exhausting, when going through the city by foot. And I have done that a lot, as Nagoya is in comparison a rather small city, with its most attractions only one or two subway stations apart. And as I am an opponent to spending money when its not necessary, I hardly used the subway there.
While in Nagoya I visited its castle, the aquarium, the area around the stations Nagoya and Sakae as well as the famous shopping street Osu. Near of it the PASSPO Flight would take place, so I had to go there anyway. On Thursday I went to internet café the enjoy the newest episode of the PASSPO Showroom and update myself on TIF, I ate Kebab, which finally reached Japan and made myself available for an English class, that strangely consisted only of girls. The last one was quite funny as all they did was reading English questions out loud from paper and I had to answer. Though I doubt that they understood most of what I have said and only concentrated on catchwords to fill out their questionnaire. The first question by them was the best: Do you speak English? I was inclined to answer with “No, I am from Germany.” But I didn’t want to tease those Japanese that actually wanted to learn English. I was doing every future foreign tourist a favour here!
During one of my walks from station to station I saw an advertisement at the wall of PARCO, a big Japanese department store. It was for a live event by the idol group Ayumikurikamaki. I actually heard of them before during my preperations for TIF and they were on my list. So a great chance for seeing them now and get a first impression. The stage area was pretty small. It was outside the mall, right next to the entrance and if 50 people could watch it that would be an exaggeration. As it was less than 1 hour until their show I kept standing there and bought 1 of their CDs that were already sold outside. Luckily there came a ticket with it, so there will be akushukais at least. I am actually not really a fan of those as I fail to form some meaningful Japanese sentences but Hey – you can talk to cute girls. Better than nothing. And *maybe* they remember you when you happen to encounter them again. I guess I just discovered the basic of the idol system. the place slowly got filled and interesting enough, next to me was a pair of elderly, at least over 70 years old, that also wanted to see the show. Also one middle-aged man, obviously right from work, as he still had his salaryman outfit on. With a small delay the group finally appeared, dressed in their everyday stage outfit – bear costumes. And they really looked kawaii in it, like moving teddybears! Their music was also great and everyone was in to it: The salaryman even knew the right shouts, so he must have been a fan already whereas the elderly pair was clapping cheerfully. I never fail to be impressed by the positive effect that those idols have on people of every age or social status. Alone for this fact they are worth every penny you spend of them. (If it would be just pennies *sniff*)
After their short set (about 20 minutes) the group disappeared – to the entrance hall of the mall, which consisted completely of glass. So they where easily visible. The stage was slightly changed, as they put on long table on it. Obviously an akushukai event. Yeah! The group came back, under the cheering of the crowd, and lined up newcomer-friendly: First Ayumi, followed by Kurika, then Maki. As you may realize now: This is how their group name was invented. Someone wasn’t in a creative mood, like the creator of the Japanese flag. I also lined up for the akushukai and even saw the pair of elderlys in the line. Impressive! My meet up with them was fantastic. Ayumi smiled all over her face and proudly said in English: I am a bear. Kurika and Maki were evenly cute and happy and I was sure: If I was a kid again I would want these teddybears to cuddle all night long! We talked, in broken English and even more broken Japanese, about the usual: Where I am from, that I want to see them at TIF, that their show was great. More I honestly can’t remember anymore, just that it was awesome!
And it got even better: After the akushukai was finished, I saw the fans lining up again – this time for chekis! Yatta!!! As I knew the system already I went straight to the CD stand and asked, what I must do for a cheki. They ‘explained’ to me in a rather shy voice that I would need to buy 2 CDs again. Obviously they had the impression of not knowing the Japanese idol event system. I decided to play along and just said: Doesn’t matter. I can use them as presents. (Which I really did by the way.) Now smiling brightly, seemingly impressed by my devotion, they then told me I could have a unit-cheki with all the members which I happily accepted as I wasn’t sure which member I would have chosen for a regular cheki. I am bad at decision, particularly regarding cute girls. Though I probably would have chosen Maki, as she is the tallest of the bunch, which would have been easier on my back, as I hate looking 2 heads taller on the photo. Anyway I took my group shot, after Ayumi decided the pose for it:
After that I wanted to leave but they wouldn’t let me. Ayumi grabbing my hands immediately, this time wrapped in her bear gloves, and thanked me and what not. First tap on my shoulder (the sign of the manager, that I have to move on). Finally released by Ayumi – I got caught by Kurika. Again small talk and the second tap. As I couldn’t go on (I actually didn’t wanted to) the third tap. Okay, concentrate. Maki this time. Damn she is cute and would have been a great choice. Fourth tap. I finally bowed slightly, thanked them and happily went back to my hotel, now in possession of a new cheki and 4 CDs of the same song.
The Music Video:
If they keep this style I will continue to support them – means throwing my money out. But you don’t work for yourself, but your favourite idols: This is the true meaning of life!