It began very early that day, as me and Shaun agreed on meeting for visiting the Natural History Museum, as this would probably be the only time we could meet this trip. So me and my sister arrived on time at Ueno Park and were already expected. We easily decided on the dinosaurs exhibition which just had re-opened after restoration works. It was totally worth the money. Enough time could be used to chat about idols, then as you certainly realise, skeletons of extinct creatures apparently bring idols to mind. Seriously, talking about dinosaurs with Shaun would have been complete useless as he couldn’t distinguish between extinct mammals and dinosaurs. Next he would have told me that Dimetrodon is a dinosaur as well as the Plesiosaur. No education that guy… The conversation about idols were grand though. It was a pity that we couldn’t talk once more about it and wouldn’t be able to attend the same shows. Our schedules were too different.
Time was crucial that day and we had to break free from the museum as me and my sister needed to go for Shinjuku for our idol event that day. We departed from Shaun at Ueno station and – got into the wrong train. Out of a habit I got in the Keihin-Tohoku-Line instead of Yamanote. I only realised this after maybe ten station, when some of the names were reminding me of my last trip to Saitama. So exiting at the next station, traveling back to Akabane, and changing to the right line. Such things of course only happen when you are in a hurry. Still we were able to arrive before 12.30 at Shinjuku, which allowed us comfortably to reach Shinjuku ReNY in time for an Idol Koushien, which would start at 13, the Opening Act being PiiiiiiiN. That’s why the hurry.
We entered a quarter before 13, me dressed in my Ayano fan shirt, my sister in plain outfit. She still has to learn. The good thing was that she was able to enter for free. I wasn’t asked by the staff at the entry for my favourite group that day as he saw my shirt. Interestingly he was a foreigner. As my sister couldn’t know the procedures I told her about it and she then named PASSPO. Which was totally wrong as today only Hachake Tai was present. Have I mentioned that she still had to learn? Anyway, I already forgot the details but Marty told me about the show the day before. Obviously he hadn’t bothered with the information I have sent him before his trip. The participation of PiiiiiiiN and Hachake Tai was long time decided and I even included it in my schedules post on my blog. So obviously I knew about the show and wouldn’t have missed it by any way. My hope though, that Hachake Tai would be scheduled early in the day to enable me to go for PiiiiiiiiN’s regular live was in vain though: The complete opposite happened – Hachake Tai being the closing act. This of course meant for me, I had to stay for the whole Koushien, from start to end. Luckily in-between were some other nice or interesting groups, like JyuJyu, San Mini, Lyrical School and Up Up Girls amongst others. Additionally there was a huge time frame with no groups on schedule that I wanted to see. This allowed us to go out for something to eat in the nearby food court and re-enter later on for Petit PASSPO. Marty was at the venue already when we arrived but opted to stay at the back of the center of the venue for the better view.
Another acquaintance of mine was also waiting already here: Hyoen Su, for whom I bought the badges at the Ebisu PASSPO flight last weekend. We were able to chat as it was still time until the show. Much later that day I even noticed Henry in the audience and made myself known to him near the end, when he was watching the Hachake Tai event. Back to Hyeon Su. He wouldn’t stay for long as he had a show scheduled in Akihabara that started at 15. Not even sure why he spent money for the Koushien when he obviously couldn’t stay long. PASSPO badges must be worth a lot in his country. Did I make a mistake in giving it to him? No matter. We came to speak about PiiiiiiiN and he was not so much a fan of them, but he has a slight affection for Emirin. So I persuaded him with light force to use his pen light – as a Sacotee passenger it was already set to green – and use it for the upcoming live. Our places were near perfect: On the left side, first row – for all of us! I love Idol Koushien!
I can not tell you how good it felt to see PiiiiiiiN again after such a long time. They also had a longer set of 25 minutes, allowing them to perform Kaien DASH and especially their more recent songs Suzume Glory Days, Ready go for it and Bring it on. It also was the first time I saw the group in their new outfits, first seen in the music video for the latter song and officially displayed at their second One Man. The new costume in my opinion is a huge improvement to their former ones, with its strange hat wear. Riko as the centre again got the best version. I still favour the early uniform dresses though, before the colour coding appeared. The live version of their song Zettai Never Die was shot at the One Man. What we learn from this video: Rizu is as cute as ever whereas Ami looks stunning. She and Arisa benefitted the most of the new looks.
Ayano began at first at the opposite side of the stage so I could not really see her. Instead Rizu, my number 2 in the group, was in front of me. Not bad in the least as it happened that she recognised me, making eye contact several times. Ami and Arisa were there a lot as well and started to notice my sister, who was completely dazzled by their attention. In later songs the member’s position on the stage changed and Ayano appeared in front of me, as well as for the self-introduction speech. Immediately when she saw me I was recognised as well, she waving shortly at me. The same happened when the group left the stage after the performance. I was in a state of bliss! Same with my sister, falling in love with the group (or rather its members?).
We stayed for the first minutes of the next groups performance but got bored very quickly. I persuaded Hyeon Su to accompany us for the PiiiiiiiN event which would start soon. Marty joined soon too. To my disappointment their DVD of the Two Man I went to in March was already sold out, but they had new shirts and new, member towels and pen lights. But the product that interested me the most was their first album, released just at the start of the month. I purchased this, together with the last single. This gave me four event tickets. Apparently the system for it had changed since the last time – about time as it was too time-consuming with the rising number of fans. Instead of the Type A, B and C tickets all were now the same. And I had no clue how it would work. I just assumed that it now meant you were enabled to take a cheki, together with a sign, reducing the time for talk at the same time. Anyway Marty also went for merchandise, buying a lot of stuff and handed me at least eight further tickets, as he is too afraid to take part in any idol events. Remembering the awkwardness from the time were I took chekis with every member because I had to use up a bunch of tickets then as well, I distributed some to my sister and, with a lot of effort, to Hyeon Su, for him to talk with Emiri. Only later I realised how the events are working now: First are cheki shots which require one ticket. If you want a sign on it, you have to wait until the cheki shot ends. For another ticket you then can get the sign and meanwhile talk for one minute. If you have no need for a sign, you can just use the tickets for the chat. This made my amount of tickets, five in number, appear much less now. I decided to use two of it each for Ayano obviously and my second favourite, Rizu. The last ticket I kept for TIF, where I would see the group again. Of course I reassured me of this option by asking the staff. My sister used up all her tickets, for Ami (her favourite), also Arisa and Riko.
When I went for the cheki with Ayano, I didn’t know all of this. So after we took the photo and we greeted each other, she soon excused herself as time was up. Confused I located my self a bit in the background to get an overview of the situation and to search for any clues on how the system works now. During the time of the cheki shots members used the time for the signs and akushukais. That is how I figured it out and went for my cheki with Rizu, to wait for the cheki session to end and all members were lining up for the sign session. It was great being eye-to-eye with Ayano again but damn, my Japanese sucked that day. But Ayano was very pleased in seeing me wearing her fan shirt. I am not entirely sure but I assume we talked about TIF. I know for sure that she wasn’t asking me, if I would come to their regular live later. I wouldn’t have known what to say. Telling her frankly that I wanted to stay for Hachake Tai instead seemed wrong. But inventing a lie even more. So yea, lucky nothing of it was necessary. I don’t need to mention that she greeted me by my name again and wrote it on the cheki without contemplation.
My chat with Rizu was at the same time much worse and much better. It started surprisingly by her shouting my name at me before I even said anything. So my first question became as a matter of fact how the hell she remembered my name? I mean the last time I interacted with her was back in January. Her answer: “Of course I remember.” (in Japanese) Then trying to say something else which I didn’t understand, which she realised to switch to “You… woohoo woohoo!” moving her arms in a cheering pose. So Rizu remembered me as a fan, if I interpret her gesture right. Riko next to her was laughing at our chat. I am not sure of what we talked about afterwards but whatever it was, Rizu was attempting in telling me in English and failed, whereas I tried myself in Japanese and failed as well, ending in me declaring the topic as finished. Meanwhile Riko next to her was laughing at our chat. Rizu told me about learning English or something in the line. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part. Anyway the time for the akushukai was up. We said goodbye to each other. Still Riko next to her was laughing at our chat. During all this commotion Rizu even forgot to sign the cheki, “just” writing ‘Thank You’ (barely visible on the dark parts of the photo) and ‘Arigatou’. Also my name was only closely remembered to perfection as above the ‘Thank You’ she wrote, in hiragana, TO-MI. And here I was wondering why Riko next to her was laughing at our chat.
After the event was finished it didn’t take long for me and my sister to leave the venue for our first meal that day. At the exit we got stamped for the later re-entry but with the heat – NEVER forget the heat! – the stamp became soon nothing more than a black stain. Nevermind, foreigners have the advantage of getting remembered by staff. It took us quite a lot of time for eating as the restaurant was surprisingly well attended and we had to wait for the food. Still we managed to be back for ReNY in time to be able to see Petit PASSPO. Meanwhile I changed my shirt from PiiiiiiiN to Hachake Tai. My Yukki towel and pen light stayed in my luggage.
Petit PASSPO is neither a favourite of mine nor my sisters, as their style is very idol-y, uncommon in that extent for Platinum groups and its members consists of only very young members, aka lolis. But as they are idols, their music is quite addicting. I can’t count the amount of times my sister ‘complained’ about their song Samurai Girl being stuck in her head. *summing pon pon pon, pan pan pan* To give you an impression of its catchiness just watch the music video of the clip. It is nicely creative in how the dance moves from stage were adapted for the story line. And take extra care of the guest stars! I mean really!
Another song by the group I knew from their appearance at the Platinum Sonic, Zenryoku Swimmer, was also released as music video recently. It is less creative, basically just showing the girls having fun in a bath house. But it is colourful, playful and surprisingly innocent, when you consider the location. So it is the perfect clip for the general idol audience. I like the Beatles-esque harmony that starts the refrain. But in general this group is not to my liking. I keep update with them as they are closely associated with PASSPO right now. The only commonality they share with its sister group though is the ‘PASSPO’ part in the name and that one member of each group are related to each other (sisters). Musically they are completely different. Oh, I forgot: The uniforms are not the best either. No wonder, the same designer. (Mio, I apologise from the depths of my heart!) By the way, Adrien really like the group, even bought their shirt.
The groups that appeared afterwards were (not in chronological order):
You Kikkawa (boring – went out for watching a random event instead after her second song)
San Mini (enjoyable as always, great dance music)
Idol College (generic idol group, which surprised my sister with its horde of members)
Up Up Girls (I enjoyed them as far as their fourth song, then it began too bore me)
Lyrical School (They are not bad, but I consider Rhymeberry far superior. My sister seemed to agree as we decided together to go for the bar instead.)
A special mention is reserved for JyuJyu (formerly mentioned here as じゅじゅ). Finally after their live on Monday they had a MC again. I anticipate those every time as they are always funny to watch, with the girls emotionless exclamations, but at the same time sounding – I have to admit it – cute, while moving around on stage, often clueless of what to talk about. This time Shirai’s microphone went out during the MC. She was anxiously turning around, trying several times to speak in it – no result. Neu joined her and knocked on the mic – no result. Neu tilted her head and exclaimed dryly “Doesn’t work.” Neu again knocked on the mic – again no result. Neu again tilted her head and exclaimed dryly again “Doesn’t work.” Rescue appeared by a member of staff who exchanged the microphones. Shirai and Neu both exhaled relieve in unison. Even my sister enjoyed watching this. And I was successful in getting her to join me in the ‘dance’ for the song 食, which you should remember from my previous post about Monday, the 27th. Another song performed that day was the beneath one. Not even that, the live itself was longer than the one on Monday. Did I put that video up before? If I had, deal with it! It is a great song.
But now for Hachake Tai. As I already mentioned they were the Closing Act that day. But right before their set, PassCode was scheduled. Again I found no enjoyment for their performance. During lives their music just becomes noise to me, as all their songs are intertwined together, making it impossible to perceive when a song ends and another one is starting. No break between them or even an MC. The constant changes in style adding to it being annoying rather than creative. The PassCode fans this time were rather tame though, no excessive behaviour that is worth mentioned for. My sister hates the group to her core and we both just sat in the back, resting our legs for the final show.
Many people were leaving after PassCode so it was easy getting front row again – I love Idol Koushien! The show was much better compared to the last I experienced back in March. I was clad in my full wota gear: group fan shirt, blue towel, blue pen light, blue sunglasses. The set was longer than usual, which allowed them to perform all of their original songs: Kibun wa Saiko Saiko Saiko, Hachake Sensation and High Tension Emotion, the latter being the first time for me to see it live. From PASSPO they performed their versions of Shojo Hikou as well as Material Girl , with throw-ins of the usual Hachake Tai gimmicks: self-made cutboards and energetic MCs. I love Naomi here: She really is the soul of the group. But the best part was us being front row – I love Idol Koushien! – and getting frequently acknowledgement by the members. Only Nachu was disregarding us mostly, despite often dancing right before us. I couldn’t even tell if she looked at us because of the sunglasses they wear. But I forgive her. I haven’t interacted with her that much and our last attempt turned out disastrous. The other three members on the other hand took notice and my sister became so charmed by Naomin that she began reconsidering her favourite. Lucky her that she can make Annya her PASSPO oshi and Naomin her Hachake Tai oshi, as Annya isn’t part of the latter.
The live was great, the shows were over and now the events were prepared. This became quite the problem then my initial plan was attending not even the Hachake Tai event but also the one by JyuJyu – to collect my signed cheki from Monday – and to talk to Chisato Minami from Idol College, as I still remember our conversation from the Idol Koushien on January 4th, which was also held at Shinjuku ReNY. The problem was that all of them happened at the same time – after the shows. And with it three other groups: PassCode, San Mini and Lyrical School. Obviously this would lead to time constraints for me but also to space problems for the partaking groups. Not only is the ReNY rather small with its aisle and bar area (which live house is not?) but most of the groups have a big following and in the case of Idol College the amount of members alone would need their own live house – seriously. But the Koushien organisation did something great: They used the stage area for the events as well and put San Mini and Hachake Tai there. Perfect for the fans as well, as this would leave a lot of free space, without the hassle of looping and intertwining queues of different fan bases. We also enjoyed this state of freedom and after the merchandise table was put up I began buying purchasing myself enough event tickets for the both of us. As a black version of the fan shirt was for sale I bought one for me and another one for my other sister at home. She should be able to wear it for the PASSPO One Man on Septembre 13.
Other merchandise were just the photo sets from last time (a short time ago new sets were released). I bought a bunch of those, but not just for the tickets that come with it, as I had a mission today. My sister I gave four of the tickets and I kept the rest of ten. When Hachake Tai finally appeared it soon became obvious that the individual events would be done one after another, not all at the same time. This had the advantage of avoiding any confusion (like the one I mentioned with Nachu) but at the same time had the disadvantage for me, that attending several events at the same time wasn’t possible anymore, as I wouldn’t want to miss anything done by my favourite (sub)group. Therefore I had to alternate my plan with JyuJyu and skipped my conversation with Minami completely. Hachake Tai would offer events that day in the following sequence: group cheki, group handshake, individual handshake, sign session.
The event started with Hachake Tai announcing that their first One Man Live on Septembre 6th was SOLD OUT already! *Oooooh!!!* To celebrate the news they had a banner prepared and would use this for the group cheki. Very nice! As I wanted to do a group cheki from the beginning anyway, I participated in it. When it was my turn, I approached the girls with a simple ‘hello’, were I tried to look every one of them in the eye. Strangely it totally escaped my mind to congratulate them for the sold out show. This happens to me every time when an easy conversation topic arises: I forget to mention it and instead rather embarrass myself with poor improvisations. Whatever, there wasn’t much chance to talk here and I got down for the pose. It was very pleasant having both Naomi and Shiori by my side. Natsumi this time makes a much better face than on my last group shot with PASSPO, though it still leaves room for improvement.
My sister also did the group shot with them by the way. The first event was now done and I used the remaining time it would be going on to take a quick glance on the procedures of the other idol events in the bar area. Masses of people, especially for JyuJyu. So I retreated and went back. The group handshake would start now and I briefly contemplated of taking part in it, but I feared my lack in conversation topics. Instead my sister went for it, to my surprise. Okay, I *slightly* influenced her here. As my sister is on similar level to me when it comes to Japanese skills she basically started the chat with every member in the same way: Introducing herself as my sister. I am still unsure if I should like that or rather find it embarrassing. Anyway, Nachu reply to her: “Dare?” Silly thing (in this case my sister) didn’t know that Nachu doesn’t know me. Morishi reacted to my sister immediately by shouting “I remember: beer. Did you cut your hair?” Apparently she remembered my other sister, a Morishi passenger, and confused her now for being the same person. Trying her best to explain to Morishi the fact that I have two sisters and she is the other one turned out difficult but in the end was successful. Nothing special in regards to Yukki, but Naomin achieved her idol goal and coerced my sister finally into becoming a red passenger. Unless Annya was around, and viceversa. Troubles of a two-timing idol fan. I feel for her…
While waiting for the next event to happen, the individual handshake, my sister pointed my attention to two young girls in the back, who apparently were talking about me. When I turned to look for them I remembered both from the Good Luck Stream and the Yokohama flight of PASSPO last March. One was a blue passenger like me. I made it obvious to them that I recognised both as well and we greeted each other by nodding our head. If you are in Japan, behave like the Japanese, or something.
Now the individual handshakes started and I queued up, as it was my plan, for Nachu, to congratulate her for her birthday in person. When I approached, Nachu reacted as expected: No smile on her face, just a gaze of curiousity, with a touch of annoyance in it. Maybe it was just a shy form of anticipation. But how should I know. Not even Nachu knows herself! Anyway, it became a tiny little bit better between us when I started to congratulate her. Her reaction: “Oh,… arigatou.” (Still no smile.) Then she adopted the assumption that every PASSPO girl seems to make in front of caucasian foreigners and added “Merci.” That again… The conversation came to a halt though as time was already over. We parted with a “Bonjour”. This must be what Caio experiences when he meets Nachu. At least someone had its fun as Naomin next to her was laughing at our chat.
Now I tried my luck with the other idol events again. JyuJyu was still in high demand but this time the staff was unoccupied so I used the chance and asked him about the chekis from last time. He told me they were finished and asked my name again to find them in the folder. As I wanted him to give me the photos now he was inquiring if I was fine with it, as usually the girls would personally hand them out. I replied that I am good. Meeting Shirai and Neu again would have been nice, but I didn’t had anything to say to them and of course I had no time for queuing up for it now, as my part in the Hachake Tai event still wasn’t finished. So I kindly asked for the chekis now and promised to see JyuJyu again tomorrow, this time in person. The staff was obviously happy about it. Still I wonder if my ‘unusual’ behaviour here was really positively recepted. I posted the chekis already here, but will display them again fo chronological sake (and because the girls are so cute).
I bet Nachu felt save now, but if she did, the girl couldn’t be more wrong about it! Last trip I got me signs by Yukimi, Naomi and Shiori, so the only member missing still was – Natsumi! I queued up again. And was greeted by the same non-existing smile on her face. This time I just asked blatantly in Japanese: “I am annoying, aren’t I?” Nachu immediately shook her hand and replied with “No, you are not annoying.” and also added in English “You…Welcome.” Me: “Really?” Her: “Yes.” Her face told nothing about a change in demeanour. But this lead now to the start of a real conversation. Nachu asked me if I was french but before I was able to reply Morishi intervened and told her I am German. “Aah, German. Eh… Eh… Bonjour.” *facepalm* But I kept my cool, so same reply by me: “Bonjour.” Continuing she asked my name as her signing of the photo I handed her was close to be finished now. I told her and Nachu reassured herself by writing my name in hiragana on the photo. And then the unexpected happened: She didn’t stop there but now added my name in romaji as well, without fail! Is that really Iwamura Natsumi? Not even Yukki did this! Now she started writing additional i’s after my name and I couldn’t help but feeling a titsy-bitsy undertone of sarcasm there. Her face, as you may already expect, kept unchanged. But whatever you may make of this account I gave here, it was total fun! I really enjoyed this. And I wasn’t alone: Morishi and Naomin next to her were laughing at our chat.
Okay, that was it for the day. No stop! As the attentive reader you are, you already noticed that I still had tickets left with me. I purchased 14, handed 4 to my sister, used 3 for the group cheki, 1 for the individual handshake and 3 for the sign. Still leaves 3. (I checked with a calculator.) What happened? My plan was to get another sign, this time from Yukki. I have her sign already, but on a shirt and wanted to make my collection of signed photos complete. At this time though I noticed Henry and as he was already on his way out, I stopped him to say hello. A further chat started and by the time it ended – the event was over! Children, let this be a lesson to you: Never neglect your idol for the sake of friends! My spontaneous anger was unharmful for Henry though, as opposed to event tickets by PiiiiiiiN for example, tickets for PASSPO and Hachake Tai are without time limit. So I would be able to use them at TIF instead. Phew, crisis averted!
Me and my sister continued to watch the event until the end, were all the passengers still gathered sang “Happy Birthday” for Nachu. She even got a flower present. On our way out, the two girls from before were sitting outside the venue and we said good-bye to each other. Little did we know that we would meet again soon.