The PASSPO weekend behind and the Monday before me, certain events were planned for today:
1. Sakura sight-seeing in Ueno Park
2. Frequenting some Maid Café’s with Caio,
3. Meeting up with Allan.
After agreeing before the trip on the Afilia Café located in Roppongi, Caio changed plans and we tried out the Afilia Sherry’s, a bar-type version of the franchise, situated near Ueno station. As we met early noon in Akihabara this promised to be the best option as this would allow us to reach everything by foot. I didn’t take the JR line that day as the subway near my hotel was better suited for traveling, but confronted me with the same old problem: Having to use another non-familiar exit and therefore getting lost in track. Well, to my luck I soon spotted some buildings that belonged to the main street and I arrived on time anyway. Contrary to past experiences Caio got to the meeting point ahead of time, while I was still browsing shops for souvenirs near Ueno. This let to quite a confusion until we finally met up before AKIBA Cultures Zone. This gave me the opportunity to take a look at the Nakano Trio store there and buy myself some PASSPO merchandise: A shirt I like for its design and a Fujimoto Yukimi badge.
For the shirt:
It happened to be the @JAM 2014 version and seems perfect at first glance – featuring all the members as silhouettes (I find that cool!) and displaying them even with their instruments, as these were taken from the Perfect Sky promotional pictures. The group name is clearly visible and also at the back. All in all a shirt that won’t embarrass you while wearing it in public (for not being anime-style) but on the other hand making it a more or less obvious fan shirt for a music group. Of course I still found an issue with it, a quite big one! Did you recognize it yourself? Just look at the front.
Found it? Well, I disclose it for the more casual reader: With the exception of Sacotee every other members colour is associated complete wrong. Here is the promotional picture the shirt is based on in the original:
A very crucial mistake. Either the designer was totally oblivious to the colour associations, the creator feared copyright infringement or it was made by a foreigner, who was not able to distinguish the girls from another. Whatever the reason: It still is a nice shirt, but I won’t wear it Japan for shows. I believe this to be a good compromise.
The badge happens to be this, the middle one for the ignorant:
In case you are wondering about the two Aipon badges: The left one I got from The Gacha at PASSPO‘s New Year’s show, the right was a given away as free present to fans during Aipon‘s seitansai. I admit that I don’t really have a use for either of them. The needle would just damage my jacket, shirt, bag or whereever I pin it on. To wear it during festivals like TIF can also turn out to be quite contra productive when meeting with other idols besides PASSPO. So yea, basically like with my signed shirt I will just have it on display at home.
Our trip to Ueno began and as I assumed, the weather wasn’t warm enough the last days for the majority of Sakura’s to bloom. At least some already did and near the lake in Ueno Park was a huge amount of street vendors selling all types of Japanese snacks and sweets: From Yakisoba to Apples covered in chocolate all was there. We bought some to let this be our lunch, at least mine, and then headed further for Afilia Sherry’s. The place was hard to find, being in a side street and in the basement, but finally we did. We were still contemplating of going there than as you see: The entry was only possible through an elevator which made us afraid, as we were both kinda afraid of going there unprepared, meaning to avoid being the only customers and the elevator being a security risk in case of fire. All lies: We wanted to avoid entering the café for the chance the waitresses were bad-looking! While considering our options a cute girl passed by and entered the building. I immediately recognized her as one of the staff members, as parts of her uniform was visible. Caio on the other hand hasn’t even seen the girl. Sometimes I worry for him. But only in an amount I would worry about the colour of my shirt matching my jacket.
A conclusion wasn’t reached so we decided on checking out the AKIBA Backstage Café, a place Caio at least frequented once and had so many members that it wouldn’t be a complete waste. After I saw the group perform in January on stage I was also intrigued to see their café in person. Another important fact was about the café was it also not being one of those overly cute ‘moe’ versions like @home or Maidreamin’. Those I dislike. To reach it we went by foot from Ueno to Akihabara, a walk of 20 minutes, if you are fast. I just wished the weather had been warmer that day. Our goal was to get there when live shows were starting, as it would give us some enjoyable distraction and we wouldn’t have to rely too much on conversation with the girls as this was something I fail because of my lack of Japanese. Caio asked the waitress at the entrance about today’s schedule and to our disappointment the first show was still two hours away. What to do now? As we had nothing else to do we just decided: Heading back to Ueno for the Afilia Sherry’s and then see how it goes there.
After repeating the same walk, just in the opposite direction, we gathered our courage, entered the elevator and – exited in some sort of front hall. A huge glass door, entrance for the café, was right around the corner. We went straight for it but were told the café hadn’t opened yet. It would at 17. A bit ashamed we turned around to wait in the front hall again, calming ourselves with the thought of having put fear in the waitresses mind, having to expect foreigners as customers now! This became very clear when two of them came out to carry a display board in the elevator to put it outside on the street for advertisement, avoiding us after a shy ‘Hello’. It was then when we also saw the opening hours of the café displayed quite obviously on the board. To my excuse, a picture of Maho was displayed right next to it, so my perception was warped. But 17 o’clock was just minutes away and after the first Japanese customer entered just on time, we followed suit.
Caio was dressed for the occasion: Wearing a shirt with the character of the anime Black Lagoon. Nothing against it, as it fit the community these establishments are most frequented with. Of course me I prefer to pretend a more distinguished look, not convinced by the make-believe of the majority of maid café girls, idols and the like being otakus as well. And as I don’t care for Japanese pop culture that much, apart from idols, I can only regard myself as idol otaku, if any. My assumption was confirmed with our conversation that took place the two hours we spent there: None of the girls liked anime, to Caio‘s disappointment. One pretended to follow idols, even being member of a group, but the first turned out as lie, not knowing of groups like Up Up Girls or PASSPO; the latter, despite being true, was more a side project going on, with not much experience for her yet. Too bad, the one member there who was a PASSPO passenger and fan of Sacotee, wasn’t around that day. This would probably have made some good time. Instead the remainder of the conversations was equally disappointing, especially for me who didn’t understood most of what was going on. It is not the best approach to go to Maid Café’s with a person that can talk with the waitresses in Japanese, as this automatically turns their attention away from you. But even Caio had not much fun, considering the lack in common topics and the obvious lies. As more customers were coming in, our presence was even more disregarded and I was glad in the end that we left, after paying the huge amount of over 10,000 Yen. But for the café’s sake I have to state, that I was very pleased with the place. It was designed as a bar, featuring a wide range of drinks, but therefore lacked in food. Still I would find that place very enjoyable and the option of re-visiting it again is not excluded, IF there happens to be an English-speaking staff member. Or at least some waitresses who tries her best in communicating anyway.
Now out of plans we agreed on attending the AKIBA Backstage Café again. Maybe this would save he day after this unenjoyable experience and again we began our walk to Akihabara. The redemption we sought out turned out not being the case. Although we got a place, despite the amount of people there, as one of the members celebrated her birthday, it was located behind a wall – so no view of the stage, were the performances were taking place. We were able to watch it on a LCD screen, but it wasn’t the same. Additionally NO waitress was talking to us, only for taking our orders. Frustrating. But at least the meal I ordered was tasty. And I only needed to pay 1,500 Yen this time, for being a first-time-customer. We didn’t stay long there, basically left after the performance ended, which was not that enjoyable anyway, as the songs were boring. Caio told me it being mostly AKB songs. Figured!
After parting from Caio I headed back for the hotel. Not long afterwards I got in contact with Allan, who had returned from his trip to Hokkaido, following the idol group Fruity there. He bought me a ticket for the Kami Live Festival, happening on the next Saturday and we ate and chatted at a nearby Denny’s. Again I went to bed way after midnight.