First day in Tokyo – and I had to stay in the hotel. My cold became just to strong during the flight and my nose was running out of control. Too bad as it made me miss the christmas shows at PARMS. But finding the hotel was exhausting enough. It was in Kamata and actually really nice, but I had some trouble finding the right train to it. It was actually pretty easy, in retrospect, but I blame my illness for that.
The next day would be about attending some mini lives with subsequent events by Hime Kyun Fruit Can, together with Caio, and for me the One Man Live of Party Rockets in the evening. We also wanted to buy our tickets for a trip to Sendai two weeks later, as I decided to attend the Bellring Shoujo Heart One Man there and Caio wanted to go there some time anyway. The meeting point was in Shinjuku Station at 9 am. I, despite my cold and even wearing a face mask that always fogged my glasses, fulfilled my part and arrived early. Caio however, Brazilian as he is, was delayed for over 45 minutes. Don’t remember his reason for this time anymore, but a good guess would be oversleeping – again! Well, not that it surprised me. So I had to waste my time in a café and eat some breakfast. So in consequence Caio is to blame for what happened next: After we finally wanted to head out of the station (we needed to buy Hime Kyun‘s new CD to get event tickets), a Japanese guy deliberately run straight into us and went ahead. Caio (remember: Brazilian) shouted a “stupid idiot” in Japanese back at him and chatting we continued walking. Suddenly the Japanese guy, apparently drunk, turn back at us, got into the face of Caio and both were on the brink of fighting! The station police came and separated the two. Also a friend of the drunken guy came and got him under control, where as I dragged Caio away in the direction of the next exit. To our misfortune the station police didn’t consider the situation cleared and asked us to come back to the station, to give a statement for a report. We then were led into an interrogation room, provided our passports, explained what had happened (Caio did, as everything was handled in Japanese) and thought it to be over then. We couldn’t be more wrong. One of the officers came into the room and told us that the drunken guy demanded a ‘sincere’ apology from Caio! The station police, although admitting to the drunken guy’s fault, requested Caio to accept this as they had no grounds for holding him, fearing the guy will follow us right away after we would leave the station! Here the Japanese custom of handling everything with the less intrusion possible obviously came to play. Well, I summarize to make it short: The drunken guy was some kind of racist, declaring foreigners had to leave the country. That’s why he insisted so much on the apology. It was a constant back and forth between us, the drunken guy and the station police – without finding a consent. It all dragged out, already being past 12 – which meant we had missed the first mini live already. As the station police wasn’t of any help, Caio had the great idea to ask for the real police to file a real report this time. This was agreed to by the station police and around 15 minutes later, the a real police officer came, took note of the situation and handled the situation in a quick manner. As Caio explained later to me, it seemed the drunken guy hadn’t anticipated us calling for the police and became intimidated. The fact that me was a tourist also added a lot to the resolution, the next Japanese custom at work here – not to loose your face in front of others. Finally we could leave the station, with the personnel hurrying us, while the police officer distracted the drunken guy in another room. That was something not every tourist experiences and I gladly would have passed on it. But it all ended well, although I could feel the anxiety for the whole day. At least it was some lesson in cultural differences – Never become a victim in Japan!
As we now could take our time – the next Hime Kyun Fruit Can mini live was scheduled for 15:00 – we bought the Sendai tickets, went to LAWSON’S for the Bellring ticket, ate a quick lunch at McDonald’s and then headed to Tower Records in Shibuya, where the event would take place and where we also bought the required amount of CDs for the event and got in line in the staircase. The entry began soon, me having number 75 and Caio 397. *hehehe* Not that it was necessary to go in quick as attendance wasn’t that high and the venue for the live not really big. The show was nice, with Hime Kyun Fruit Can performing five of their new songs. What was astounding was the calm audience – some shouts and occasional raising of hands, but otherwise no jumping, light sticks or choreography – I felt home! An audience that made it possible to just enjoy the show. I was not a big fan of the group before and this fact didn’t change after I saw them the first time perform. The basis of their music is great but I have troubles getting into it. Too much distracts me: I dislike the occasional keyboards, the sound has too much overdubs and those voices – too high-pitched for this style of music.
After the quick mini live the event took place. The outlay was the following: For one CD you got the entrance ticket and 3 event tickets. As I bought 2 CDs I acquired 6. This made it possible to have two single chekis and one group cheki, all taken with your own mobile phone or camera. Yuria has been the member I liked the most from pictures, seemingly tall and having a distinguished face. But as in most cases she wasn’t that tall at all, instead 3 of her group mates turned out really small, which just made her and Mayuri stand out – height-wise. When it became my turn in Yuria‘s queue I needed to exchange 5 of my tickets for the group shot ticket. Complex organisation. As I said, I considered Yuria my oshi but when actually meeting her I felt no connection – at all. She was nice and smiling but neither of us was saying much. Good thing they sold no merchandise at the venue. Otherwise there would have been the danger of me buying her fan shirt and I had to stuck with Yuria then. I know myself good enough.
What I didn’t know was with whom to use my second single cheki before the mini live. But during the show Mayuri impressed me – the other ‘tall’ girl. Lucky for me than as Mai was occupied with Caio, who burned all his tickets for her, and I didn’t find Honoka and Sakurako attractive, my choices would have been restricted to her anyway. So up to the queue for Mayuri, which was looping like Yuria‘s, obviously both of them the most popular members in the group (Or are the others just overlooked?). Mayuri herself was – incredible! She was literally greeting me with open arms and a bright smile, uttering an English ‘Thank You’. As she wears this pilot glasses on her head I put my own glasses on the top of my head as well. This seemed to make the situation even more relaxing as she immediately started cheerfully talking with me so different to Yuria. At the end she even wanted to shake hands with me which I declined because of my cold. I hope this is considered the right behaviour with idols during illness. Anyway, as you might expect already, Mayuri has now become my oshi in Hime Kyun Fruit Can.
Afterwards the group shots started, with a long delay, as Yuria‘s queue was still not finished, to the surprise of Caio. All members still seemed impressed of foreigners being there, but all greeting me enthusiastically. When I left, the photographer said, in English: ‘Amazing’ and made a Thumbs-Up sign, with the girls immediately joining in chorus, shouting ‘Amazing’ as well. I still have no idea why, but it felt good. Especially after the rough morning disaster.
As it was close to 17:00 now, I had to hurry to Astro Hall for the Party Rockets show. Luckily it was just 15 minutes by foot and Caio offered to escort me there. He still had time before taking part in the next Hime Kyun event starting at 18:00. We parted before the venue and I went inside, the entry was nearly finished. Inside Astro Hall I noticed that the venue really was small. Incredible that PASSPO performed here often in their early days, as Shaun had told me some time ago. Attendance was good, but not sold out. My first way was to the merchandise table, which had nothing but CDs and cheki tickets to offer. But that was okay. I was already clad in my Party Rockets fan shirt as well as towel and wanted to buy CDs anyway – their first album, just being released some days ago and two versions of the single Let it go! that included none-album tracks I was still missing. As the concert was held under the motto of a thank you to the fans for their support in 2014, CD sales gave you event tickets – 1 ticket for every 1,000 Yen. The events were the regular ones: For 1 ticket akushukai, 2 tickets group cheki, 3 tickets single cheki. My purchases resulted in 5 tickets. As I wanted a group shot and single chekis with every member I bought me two additionally cheki tickets.
During the show I stood basically in the last row, which corresponds to the distance of stage and standing area in Akiba Cultures. So the view was still exceptional. I didn’t know what to expect from a Thank You Live, but it became a mixture of their Showroom programme, fan interaction and extended Mini Live. Akari, Haruka and Fumika came on stage in their everyday clothes. This was a nice surprise. Then a longer interview started, the moderator being their producer Hashimoto-san, talking about 2014 and what to expect in the next year. Afterwards came a janken-competition with the audience: Alternating between the members they made three games. The three persons who didn’t loose and would stand at the end of each game won some kind of extra photo shoot which took place immediately after the janken ended. Therefore the winners had to go to the side where they took a cheki together with the group member they won against. They even had to do some sort of love declaration, which was funny to see. When finished the girls went backstage, changing clothes for the live. This lasted around 45 minutes, performing also the new songs Imagine na Ai no Uta and Secret Moon, both I heard for the first time. During the performance and at the end the girls held longer speeches, thanking the fans, recapitulating the tough beginnings with the loss of one group member after another and finally being able to release their first album despite all odds. As one would guess, it got very tearful. But the cheerfulness soon came back when they announced new tour dates and plans for the future of Party Rockets. Awwww….!
The events started, right in the middle of the venue, after the girls changed back in their everyday clothes and began with the akushukai. This took quite a while. I stood back and was observing how the fans would line up for the chekis later. It began with the group shots. I wanted to pose different this time as all Party Rockets chekis I took in the past where just the generic Peace Sign ones. But I had no real idea and the need for thinking and talking in Japanese took all my concentration. I don’t know why but pictures of egyptian pharaoh’s came to mind which had the result that everyone had to put their hands on their shoulders. Strange choice I admit but as soon as the shot was taken Akari started to sing to me in English, something about ‘Head and shoulders, mouth and nose…’. An American children song maybe? Whatever it was, it became a great experience! So Shaun, if you read this, name me some other children’s song that I can use for my next meeting with Akari!
The single chekis I started with Akari – my oshi first. I wanted to do something with my towel so I suggested that Akari holds my towel while I still wear it. I then took a choking pose. I would have prefered to look each other in the eyes so it had given the impression that she is pulling me towards her with my towel, but how to get this across when neither of us speaks a common language? Still I am satisfied with the result.
Next came Haruka, my secret oshi, and with her I had the best idea. It took me a bit to show her what I want but this interaction between us was much enjoyed by me. She seemed to have fun with it. After it she told me ‘mata kondo’ which I couldn’t put in context to the situation as I haven’t requested anything else. When Haruka realized my confused look she instead changed her words to ‘mata ne’. Much better. I replied the same way. This also made me question myself if she remembered me from last time.
At last it was Fumika‘s turn, a girl I respect a lot. Where Akari is cute and childish and Haruka shy and sweet, Fumika gives me the impression of a very confident and refined girl. I secretly oshi her as well. For christ’s sake, in the case of Party Rockets I seem to be DD. But three members make this state of mind more probable as you don’t get distracted by a bunch of different members and interactions between them are easy to follow. Anyway with Fumika I let myself influenced by the fans before me who sat down on the barrier, with the group member next to them. A nice image in my opinion, especially considering the everyday clothes. After the shot Fumika wanted to know where I am from. The photographer had to translate as I couldn’t understand her question because of to many unknown words. She could just have asked where I am from. Instead she possibly phrased her question like: “You look like you come from some place elsewhere that is very far away from here. Might you please consider telling me your location of residency?” After I told her Germany, she exclaimed her obvious surprise, telling me she loves Europe and wants to go there in the future. Her enthusiastic reaction makes be believe her.
I then left the venue happily: With the knowledge that I will see Party Rockets again in some days and that at the end of the first complete day in Japan on this trip things changed for the better. Tomorrow would be meeting with Shaun. This promised to be less exciting, in a positive manner.