My summer trip to Japan I expected to become much more quiet and relaxing than most of my last trips. On the one hand the infamous Japanese summer climate wouldn’t allow much motivation for activities. Also a lot of evenings were still free from any idol events in my schedule. Much more the fact that my second sister, the one studying in Korea, would join me this time – a complete opponent of Japanese idols, exception only being PASSPO – didn’t made me positive for this becoming an idol trip. I was anticipating of having to do a lot of tourist stuff to jolly my sister along. Never was I more wrong then this time, were I totally underestimated the power of Japanese idols!
What I got right was the heat: Only seconds outside you began sweating – a lot. After few minutes you were already dehydrating. And this when you were still roaming around the city, opposed to being to an outdoor festival like TIF later this trip. But we come to that. The tourist stuff was reduced to a minimum, we managed a short visit at Sky Tree (without going up there, just eating ice cream at Cold Stone), a visit of the Museum of Natural History (Dinosaurs finally) and – wait, that was it. To emphasise it again: My sister was totally fine with this arrangement! Our usual day was basically sleeping long until early afternoon and then head straight to the next idol event, finishing the day at a 24h-McDonalds, as it was the only eating place open that late around our hotel in Kamata. Like last year the heat in addition to the air-condition resulted in me being far from hungry – some days a lunch was the only thing I ate the whole day – and in catching a virus again with flu-like symptoms. Luckily it again only began to break out during my flight back hand and thus allowed me to go on sick leave, escaping work for a few more days!
As I said, the trip got more exhausting than expected, with it basically just being either sleep or idol events. I am therefore unable to give the usual detailed review of the happenings that occurred. Sleeping long and becoming mentally drained because of the heat took its tolls. Bare with me here. I should still be able to provide you a nice summary of my experiences (and those of my sister), and a lot of pictures will help making it more interesting! Let me add beforehand: The trip was absolutely worth it! I have the impression, that I had more interactions (and chekis) with idols this trip than on any prior ones. Alone the amount of occasion I encountered PASSPO, respectively Hachake Tai, was fantastic!
After arriving at Haneda Airport around 6:30 I had to wait for my sister, who would get their from Seoul approx. at 10. I used this free time to take a shower and collect my concert tickets at the Seven-Eleven there. Afterwards going to our hotel, leaving our luggage there, Check-In only at 16:00, killing time by going to Akihabara, which as usual bores me to dead. I don’t see what people like about it, that they can spend hours there. I only went for a quick visit to the TRIO store. They had lots of Predia stuff and some nice shirts, like from Tsuzuki Kana and even a signed one by Makochan, but as usual I didn’t buy anything. We returned to Kamata soon and killed time by walking around the area, which has nothing to offer (a good Kebab stand though and the infamous 24-hours McDonalds). The last half an hour we spend in the hotel lobby, which provided the much-longed coolness. I am wondering how the guys from Singapore can manage the heat in their country everyday. I would literally die…
Time skip to the evening: I had ordered me online an e-ticket for a festival at Shinjuku MARZ. Marty did the same, so we agreed to meet there. While waiting for him, three Bellring members went out for a quick purchase at a nearby Seven-Eleven, similar to last time, but I was out of their view, had no fan shirt on, and the group consisted of members who didn’t know me, like Anna. At this event, besides Bellring Girls Heart, the only other idol-group I knew performing there was BiSH. They are okay, but nothing I care much about. The rest of the line-up were a folk-singer, some mixed-groups, real bands, even a gay idol unit. My reason for attendance was seeing Bellring of course, as on this trip I would only be able to see them again at TIF. All the others of their (many) shows interfered with other events, mainly PASSPO-related ones. Too bad.
The venue was as expected: Very small, but with a balcony area including the bar, which provided a good place for resting during performances. I was glad not to be in the midst of the crowd (besides Bellring’s live), as they were really crazy: moshing, jumping, lifting, wall of dead – the whole repertoire, you name it! It was much more interesting (and safe) to watch it from above. In general it was fun. And I was constantly wondering how Marty was feeling at his first “idol”-show, courageously enduring standing with the audience the whole time. No wonder his feet hurt after it ended.
The event part later on was crazy, as expected. If you know the venue you will agree that its size is not suited for parallel events, thus leading to looping queues, which crossed with queues for other groups. But as I am already used to it, it didn’t bother me anymore. Just remember the guy lining up in front of you and you are fine. The good thing that day: The line for Bellring was just one, not separated by individual member queues. The bad: No merchandise was sold. The best although: I don’t know if Bellring Girls Heart has Summer Sales, but that day no one needed to pay for chekis, or signs for that matter! At least I didn’t see anyone handling money for it and you should already know that I wasn’t asked for it either.
My first interaction was with Ayano. But no, that is not true. During the concert I was recognised by fans from my last trip, namely Shizuka and Satoru. The latter (he was the guy who took the cheki together with me, him and Moechi) was right before me in line, armed with a big flower bouquet, as it was the new members (Anna, Kari, Kanra) four-month anniversary in Bellring Girls Heart. Anyway as he was talking with Kanra later out of the row – I was still waiting for Ayano to be free – Satoru introduced me to Kanra, telling her about me being a fan from Germany, which she happily acknowledged. I should find out later, why. But back to Ayano! Recognizing me on the spot, we began talking about their new songs. I told her, that I like those, but that the sound is different compared to their prior output. She laughingly agreed to it. We then came to talk about the heat and TIF, for which she recommended me wearing a hat. I then was inclined to leave the venue for my hotel, as me being awake for two days now made me tired. As usual I couldn’t sleep during the flight – at all. But in a last-minute decision I decided to stay for a talk with Anna for the first time. I had to start with meeting the new members anyway. Shortly after my decision, time-out was announced. Lucky. But my plan was intercepted: Again while waiting, Satoru was jokingly talking with Kanra on the side, who had no fan waiting for her at that time. Middle fingers were exchanged between him and her – I love good idol-fan relationships. I interfered a bit, re-adjusting Satoru’s hat as ‘punishment’, which again got me the attention of Kanra. We talked again for a bit. As I now had talks with Kanra two times already, I skipped my plan with Anna, who was occupied much more anyway, and decided on meeting with Kanra, this time officially.
What can I say, this girl is hyper, a perfect example of a little sister idol type. We talked a lot, more than she was allowed to, I actually started to feel bad, once for her getting reprimanded by the staff for it and for the other fans waiting for her to which she begged to let her talk longer with me (Thank you Yuki for giving in to her plea!). The conversation was a bumpy ride, as most times. But I guess we managed quite well. She told me about being 17, to which I replied ‘Eien no Seventeen’. Her birthday is at Christmas Eve. I told her that this is bad, as this means she only gets presents one time in the year. After a while she understood and agreed this to be a fact. During our talk she was constantly jumping around, in the search of another pen, as hers slowly refused to work. She then repeated from before that Germany is the country she wants to visit the most. I couldn’t get her reason though, although she tried her best, drawing the point in question in the cheki and even asking people around for an English translation – with no success. As I could only tell her that I will see Bellring at TIF the next time, her hopes for explanations were crushed. We talked a lot more, but I forgot already. I made my way back to the hotel soon after, finally sleeping. What I am sure of, I will talk to Kanra again. No doubt about it.
On a side note: Germany in Japan seems to be associated with cows. Kanra is the second idol who mentioned them, by drawing one in the cheki. The other was Ayano back in January, with whom I made the ‘cow pose’. I should bring those girls some MILKA chocolate next time. Wait: Maybe this is their plan!
Regarding the drawing in the upper left of the cheki I was asking around on Twitter for opinion, what this could relate to in reference to Germany. All of them were assuming it being a castle. (Thank you, guys!) As coincidences happen, while my sister was watching TV some days later at the hotel, there was a sequence about the famous German castle Neu Schwanstein on display. Here is a picture of it. See the similarity?
Imagine my surprise, as the text is, despite one misplaced comma, in perfect German. Obviously she used some sort of translation device, like me using Google translate for asking her. She confirmed this later with a follow-up tweet. Clever girl. For your information, she affirmed the drawing to be a castle. As Germany has a lot of it, she wants to go there some time. Well, Kanra, if you need a guide then, just message me!