Tokyo Idol Festival 2015

TIF – it has been a long time since my first attendance of this special idol festival. One year ago it was the final of my first ever idol trip to Japan and this time it would be the presumably grand final again. Although it had many issues back then – despite the heat the room for improvement in organisation – it still oozes a unique flair and attraction: I don’t even mean necessarily the amount of idol groups attending it, but its being two days, the location in the centre of Odaiba, its huge areal with Indoor and Outdoor stages, the marketing area – in its entirety an idol festival that has no comparable competitor.

As you can imagine I was excited about it and I was able to perceive several improvements over the last installment. There was now a wristband exchange for foreigners, complete with English-speaking personnel and a translated performance schedule. More food stalls were around, especially now even some in the Market Square – very useful if you know my priorities. An additional big indoor stage with the Heat Garage was set up in the Zepp DiverCity venue and the outdoor venues, here especially Smile Garden, were much more comfortable this time. I can not tell a specific reason for it, but the better structure of fences should have played a good part in my impression of it. I was also told that the Hot Stage had a much better organisation now, without the labyrinthian walkway from the previous year. I was able to go up for the Sky Stage for the first time and saw them using two elevators for bringing people up and down, something that wasn’t the case before, when I am reading old reviews about it.

Still some issues were unresolved. The aforementioned Hot Stage was again in the middle of a family festival. As it is too far for my tastes and provides a much too small area for wristband holders, I decided beforehand to skip this stage all together. Even though I would miss out on groups like PASSPO, Denpagumi Inc. or Lovely Doll. What also added to this decision was the terrible heat, which I completely forgot over the course of time. Instead I even experienced it as a lot hotter than I remembered. It wasn’t that bad last time, was it? Which brings me to the next issue: Still the area provided no resting places in the shadow. At every outdoor stage you would have to endure the direct sun, the same with Market Square / Greeting Area. They should at least install some roofed food courts. Room for it is plenty. Even handling it like a Maid Café would be possible, and as with the ice cream stand in the Marketing Square, idols could act as waitresses. For some of us even in bikini’s.

As I mentioned, Hot Stage was out of the question this time and Sky Stage I would only attend once, right at the start of the first day. So this left me with six stages in the equation (in the end it became only 5, as I never entered Doll Factory that weekend). My experience from last year also taught me to concentrate on fewer groups, respectively avoid to try visiting ALL performances of my favourites and instead diversify – the intention of a festival in its core. Too not overexert myself I also took care of the times I would need to head for the next venue, rather skipping a performance to get a better place at another show. The timings for Greeting Area had to be added as well, but luckily there wasn’t any real clashes.

Meeting with friends became rather difficult: I began great on the first day, that when I arrived at 8:00 I ran right into Shaun. We both exchanged our wristband and soon needed to part, me for queuing up for Sky Stage, Shaun for the Heat Stage. This would be the last time we met each other. I still believe it was intentional by Shaun and he only got a working Japanese SIM Card only AFTER TIF – just to avoid me and Caio. The first-row jokes were too much for him last TIF. Just Kidding! Which brings me to Caio. I haven’t met him at all. Only some messages were exchanged between us, but my mobile was close to dying as I had no opportunity to charge it because of the AKINAI event the night before. Us not even running into each other though was obvious from the beginning: His schedule was completely unreasonable, not as sophisticated as mine, that only featured fantastic idol groups. Peter I was able to meet on the first day at Market Square, but damn, he looked beaten. I also ran into Marty some times. Hyeon Su, Adrian, Henry, Jun and Allan I came to meet mostly in Greeting Area / Market Square. Later on that.

In summary I can say, that TIF has been a success for me. My scheduling was much better, I had great meetings with idols, the shows and my location in the audience were mostly fantastic, and I could meet up with many friends. Will I go again for next year? I don’t know. The heat is a huge issue. If you haven’t been there you can not imagine what it is like. As you don’t just sit around the two days but cheer a lot for your idols – in the sun – and interact with people – in the sun – exhaustion is the least of the side effect. But still, it is TIF.

But let me get started to give you an overview about the shows and events I attended, before I get deeper into detail. I try doing that in chronological order but it is difficult to get it right. Not only because of the time passed but also for the sheer amount of it.

DAY 1

PiiiiiiiN – Sky Stage

block at Enjoy Stadium:
Predianna
Dianna Sweet
Doll Elements

Luce Twinkle Wink – Heat Garage

PiiiiiiiN – Smile Garden

block at Festival Stage:
Super Girls
Party Rockets

block at Heat Garage:
Hachake Tai
Ayumikurikamaki

block at Enjoy Stadium:
San Mini
Tsubasa Fly

DAY 2

Lovely Doll – Smile Garden

block at My Navi Stage
San Mini
Ange Reve
PiiiiiiiN

Bellring Girls Heart – Heat Garage

Hachake Tai – Smile Garden

PASSPO – Heat Garage

Bellring Girls Heart – Enjoy Stadium

PASSPO – Smile Garden

While waiting for the above listed lives I also came to see Up Up Girls, BiSH, hy4_4yh, 9nine and Afilia Saga amongst others. As with every festival, some groups that I wanted to see had to be skipped, here especially Predia and Denpagumi Inc.

My first day started with lining up for PiiiiiiiN at the Sky Stage right after the wristband exchange. This meant me waiting in the direct sun light from 8:30 to 9:30 – here the elevators were opened – and then again on the top of the building until 10:30, when the show would begin. To secure a good place I needed to endure the sun here as well. But it was terrible: I was close to collapsing – seriously. What saved me was me sitting down, to receive some shadow by the fans around me. Never again! The view though was incredible and starting the TIF with PiiiiiiiN was certainly a good choice to get in the right mood for it. It became my only group on Sky Stage though, as my intention of staying also for Luce Twinkle Wink was jeopardized by Hachake Tai having their first event at 11:00 already. Of course I had to go there. As no interesting groups were scheduled between the time of 11:00 and 13:00, I spent two hours at the Greeting Area and Market Square, supplying myself with several goods and event tickets at the merchandise booths and took part in some events already. More on that later.

What is there to say about the lives on Day 1? I managed to get good (=close to the stage) places for PiiiiiiiN and Hachake Tai. The live of Ayumikurikamaki was phenomenal, easily one of the best out there. Super Girls were boring, whereas Party Rockets performed with Kana from Dorothy Little Happy as substitute member. I went home way ahead of time, after the performance of Tsubasa Fly at Enjoy Stadium. At first I wanted to stay until Party Rockets set, but the venue was way too crowded to be enjoyable. Me and my sister were standing near to the back and the prospect of having to last through a live of PassCode before Party Rockets appeared didn’t please either of us. As we also were very tired, from the heat and me additionally from the night before, going home was the best option. There was still another day of TIF before us to enjoy!

On Day 2 I also had to go alone in the morning as my sister – again – prefered to have more sleep. For me it was good enough to have slept at all and as there was no need for wristband exchange today, I could start my journey to Odaiba at a much better time, around 9:30. As Lovely Doll was performing at the beginning at Smile Garden I used the chance to go for their performance first, skipping my initial plan to secure myself a front place at My Navi Stage for PiiiiiiiN later. For Lovely Doll I easily found space again on the left side, quite near to the stage also. When leaving Smile Garden, I met Jun, who was also on its way to My Navi Stage for Ange Reve. Half the way though he left for Greeting Square, Lovely Doll would have their event soon and he reasoned that he would miss the start of Ange Reve’s set anyway, as the distance between Smile Garden and My Navi Stage is the farthest at TIF. I continued my way and arrived there even for the last two songs of San Mini. After them Ange Reve appeared.

The live of Lovely Doll, accompanied by the sun, had me already so exhausted that I refrained from getting into the wristband area early and instead sat down nearby in a shadowy place, watching from afar. When the farewell speech of Ange Reve was starting I struggled through the wristband area and got close enough to see PiiiiiiiN, and them seeing me. The show was great, them performing Bring it on this time. And the fact, that the stage was still in the shadow of the nearby building even added to it being relatively comfortable for an outdoor stage. Still it was hot.

After PiiiiiiiN I went for the Greeting Area to participate at the events of Lovely Doll and PASSPO. This became the start of my odyssey of watching the performances of my two favourite groups, Bellring Girls Heart and PASSPO, frequently running from one end of the festival to the other, depending on the stage they appeared; also including several short visits at Greeting Area in-between. The performance of Bellring Girls Heart at Heat Stage I could only attend shortly before the live began as it took me too much time at the events. Hence I was forced to watch it from the far back. Nevertheless I enjoyed the performance, them playing their most recent songs, which were still new to me live. Another ‘advantage’ of staying in the back row was me being able to catch on he atmosphere. With the exception of the fans near the stage, the rest of the audience kept quite, obviously not enjoying them. Curiously that made me proud.

Hachake Tai at Smile Garden was very enjoyable but much too short. I liked the moment were Naomi was trying to call people back to stage, who were on their way to leave the venue, shouting at them that they were members of PASSPO. Funny girl. I also met Marty here. We both managed to get ourselves nice places near the stage, not as near as I hoped though. My participation in the fan choreography and chants had improved over seeing them several times now in the last few days, so I gave my all, despite the sun burning all along.

After a quick stop at Greeting Area I picked up my sister, who had found her way to Odaiba as well some time ago, following shows of Mayu. We agreed to meet for Heat Garage, as this would give us the opportunity to watch PASSPO (Me) and Idoling!! (sister) perform. We managed to get in early, with no metal detectors by the way. Some mentioned them being set up, but I never saw any. Probably they were only a demand by SKE48. So silly. Anyway, we were able to acquire ourselves a place in third row and could enjoy the live to the fullest. Naomi interacting with my sister was lovely to observe. For Idoling!! my sister didn’t have much luck. As she said in her own words, the group was to occupied in dancing perfectly than to interact with its audience. Completely false priorities. I couldn’t help but to agree.

From Heat Garage then to Enjoy Stadium. Arriving much earlier than necessary, as the venue this time was only a bit more than half full, we also saw two groups performing before Bellring Girls Heart. The exchange of fan groups was very high, thus allowing us to secure places at – FRONT ROW! Already for the show of hy4_4yh, which didn’t interest us. Here I met Satoru, one of the fans of Bellring Girls Heart. He wanted to take me with him to the centre, but I declined, naming my glasses as the reason, in memory of the incident at last year’s TIF. Seeing the group from the place I secured was more than enough. The live turned out completely different to the one at Heat Garage, this time performing no songs of their last release, but instead a new number, Asthma. It was a great show, having Kanra basically every time in front of me, not being able to move much because of a leg injury. Nice! My sister on the other hand couldn’t get over the fact that the girls are not the best singers and hated the show therefore. By her standards, ninety percent of idol groups would need to disband. Anyway in the video I am visible! First row became worth it even more!

The way from Enjoy Stadium to Smile Garden to watch PASSPO was the shortest of all and getting a good view was also possible. Fan exchange wasn’t that big now, as Babyraids performed just before and many fans stayed for PASSPO as well. It was also nearing the end of the festival and it becoming dark and therefore much more pleasant outside, lead to an increase of fans gathering. On the side even a lot of idol groups were watching the show. Besides Babyraids, I could recognise Petit PASSPO and Stella Beats. During PASSPO some bad fan behaviour could be made out, mostly guys throwing pen lights into the air. The show was even shortly interrupted to announce the issue. Strange that much worse fan behaviour during Bellring Girls Heart, or Tsubasa Fly for example, seemed to not have being noticed by anyone of the officials. I assume the focus was much more on the stages that were recorded for television, so only Smile Garden and Heat Garage were considered for such special attention.

After the live my sister and me took a little rest at the sidelines, witnessing a bit of Up Up Girls’ performance because of that. Here the pen light throwing continued, without further action by the staff though. Shaun had written me a message, suggesting of us meeting after the PASSPO show next to the Sky Stage entry for the final at Smile Garden but had changed his mind apparently, as he failed to how up. Me and my sister decided to leave TIF then, as there wasn’t anything of interest on the schedule.

So much on the lives. A chronological list of the events visited is much harder to put together. Too much and too long ago to remember them exactly. I will therefore just name the groups, whose event I attended and remark as much as possible.

PASSPO (all events)

Hachake Tai (all events)

PiiiiiiiN (all events)

Doll Elements

Party Rockets

Luce Twinkle Wink

Lovely Doll

Bellring Girls Heart

I also wanted to purchase my sister a ticket for the event of NEO Idoling, but when I first went there on the morning of Day 1, the queue was unbelievable long. On the second occasion room was plenty but I wanted to purchase a Mayu fan shirt as well. If I understood correctly though, the shirt would have cost 10,000 Yen and had to be collected one month later at Fuji TV Station! Stupid marketing. The staff wasn’t helpful at all, considering the fact that I am a foreigner. She just excessively explained the procedure in Japanese like she would do to a local. How should I comprehend that? Anyway, after I saw by chance the queues that appeared for NEO Idoling for the handshake, I was glad not to have gotten a ticket. I bet my sister wouldn’t have had the patience to line up for it. Chances were also high of the event being discontinued to make place for the next idol group at the handshake booth.

If there are still any questions, why I enter Greeting Area at TIF so often, listen to this: One of the best situations here is when you happen to come across an idol that advertises (her group), be it by distributing flyers or selling merchandise herself at the booth. This happened to me twice! When I first entered the area I saw Tsuzuki Kana near the Arc Jewel booths. As she has told me back in Paris she would be at TIF for distributing flyers there. That is what she did, while talking to a fan I knew from Paris as well. Approaching both and greeting them was a very happy occasion for me. It is great to come across people you know from different parts of the world and then meet them again, more or less by chance. Kana recognised me as well but obviously was occupied by the crowd around her. I therefore, after only a quick chat and taking one of her flyers, went my way. Still nice. The flyer itself listed all of her lives in August, so of no worth for me. But I kept it anyway.

Near to Kana, Yuriko of Lovely Doll was also handing out flyers. But the crowd around her was even bigger than Kana’s. So I skipped talking to her, certain that she wouldn’t remember me anyway. I couldn’t be more wrong. When I finished the event I passed by the location again (intentionally) but the flyer distribution had already stopped. Kana was nowhere to be seen. Yuriko on the other hand was now standing near to the Lovely Doll booth, on the look-out for further people she could lure in. My way lead me to the booth, but I kept a distance to Yuriko, wanting to take a glimpse of the new Lovely Doll merchandise available and to purchase an akushukai ticket for Luce Twinkle Wink. While browsing through the displayed goods, it happened that mine and Yuriko’s eyes met. I just nodded politely, my mind being occupied, contemplating if to buy the DVD of the Lovely Doll One Man also. Yuriko on the other hand made a surprised gesture and approached me now, greeting me with a “hisashiburi”. I was stunned, but was luckily still able to react accordingly, asking in a surprised tone if she remembered me. She not only affirmed this but continued with thanking me for wearing her shirt back then in Paris. My confusion grew even more. How did she know that? Apparently there was a Twitter picture that time on which I was visible with the shirt. Kana back then told me the same. Whoever posted it: Thank You! Of course I also thanked her for remembering, which lead to her replying with an ‘I love you’. My knees became weak, so I said something nice as well, that I also still like her. Our conversation became noticed by the staff around, to whom Yuriko now started to tell them what happened. Now them showing surprise, frequently reassuring the Paris part. The purchase of merchandise now became something else, with Yuriko by my side helping me out. At least she tried but ‘complained’ to the staff that her English is close to none-existent. Anyway I was able to purchase the longed for Lovely Doll merchandise. Especially me buying the new Yuririn fan shirt, which caught my eye with its very nice design immediately, resulted in display of happiness from Yuriko. I was even able to purchase my akushukai ticket for Luce Twinkle Wink, the staff now showing a lot more openness towards me, especially when I tried to get across me having met the group in Paris too, now especially wanting to greet Yukino (‘Ahh, Asami?’). After everything was secured I talked with Yuriko some more, about the new single they released and that I sadly won’t be around for their scheduled One Man two weeks later. We agreed to meet later “officially”, as I acquired event tickets for Lovely Doll. Happy Days!

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Lovely Doll did a cheki session later that day, here I also met Jun for the first time. I got in line for Yuriko and was received pleasantly by her. She is such a professional. It is just too bad that I can’t get more into the group and even neglected them in the past, especially after all the rearrangements in members. Though Haruna appeared now much better to me – being skinnier and better looking – it was only Yuriko, and to a certain extent Yuki, who caught my attention. I became aware now, that Lovely Doll is a group that I still just follow for the charm of Yuriko. But she really deserves my support. Strangely the opposite is true with Stella Beats, the sister group of Lovely Doll. Here as well many changes in line-up occurred and still will be happening (Arisa, Aya and my favourite Kotoka graduating). Still they are my favourite Arc Jewel group, without me supporting a certain member (yet). But I always had a lot of appreciation for Mana (her voice!) and the new girl Ami seems very likable and even speaks english. It was one of my biggest issues I had with TIF this time, not having invited Stella Beats again. Them appearing on a talk stage there at short notice didn’t help, as I wouldn’t be able to follow it (same reason I didn’t attend PASSPO’s talk stage by the way) and them not making events (to my knowledge). It is strange how affinity for an idol group work. I agree that it is not explainable by any logic reasoning.

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Yuriko demanded the heart pose for the photo but I wasn’t able to get the sign on that same day. Instead she told me that I can get it on Day 2. I therefore went for the event again. The staff seemed confused when I showed to him my event ticket with the photo but Yuriko intervened and shortly explained the situation. No idea what the problem was. She was happy that I really came by again and that she saw me in the audience of Smile Garden. TIF was worth it alone just for meeting with Yuriko!

Right after, if I am correct, I was able to head for the group akushukai of Luce Twinkle Wink. I didn’t manage to go on the fist Day. Prospects were good, as similar to yesterday I saw I-chan and Kahohamu distributing flyers at the booth a few hours before. Kahohamu of course having no clue about me as she wasn’t around for the signing session in Paris. But I-chan as well didn’t recognise me. But both became suddenly interested when I approached them with a ‘Bonjour’ and became pleasantly surprised when I told them we met in Paris. They thanked me for coming to see them, I received their flyer and when I left they kept looking after me, bidding me farewell several times from a far, even Kahohamu. Now I was curious, how Saki-chan and Asami would react to my appearance or if they also forgot about me. The latter was the case, then as I approached Asami, who was the first in line, she showed no signs of recognition, more acting surprised (“scared” maybe) of a foreigner. But after starting my conversation again with a ‘Bonjour’ Saki-chan next to her began to squeal, hoping up and down on her chair and grabbing Asami’s hand, saying something to her. A quick glance of Asami at me and immediately she joined the squealing and hopping, turning completely speechless. Too bad that I had to go on in the line. Saki-chan’s face beamed of joy as I continued to praise Luce Twinkle Wink’s appearance in Paris. Again time was up soon and Kahohamu was next. It was the first time we really met so we just exchanged formalities, but it was apparent she had noticed the reactions of her group mates. Memetan I really met for the first time and I told her about my sister being her fan. I-chan I questioned if she remembers me now, she laughed and as we had to finish already, I wished her luck. Hopefully I will be able to visit one of their shows and events some time soon.

The Lovely Doll shirt wasn’t the only merchandise I bought. TIF not only had their own shirt again, they cooperated with several idol groups and put out fan shirts, amongst them PASSPO. The shirt featured anime-style versions of the current line-up and I was sold immediately by it. The group name on the front would have made it perfect, but I wonder if I will ever get my hands on a shirt that satisfies me in all details. Same with the TIF shirt for this year. Admittedly it improved A LOT in comparison to the last edition. Especially it featuring now the line-up on its back made it a must-buy. Why they haven’t chosen the original logo for the front though, but instead opted for those ballooney letters in its place, escaped any reasonable mind. Still a great one!

As I told you about Arc Jewel and Lovely Doll let me continue with the event of another Doll group, namely Doll Elements. I had nothing really to say to any them, but my reasoning for participating in their group akushukai was the slight hope of meeting Shaun there. Also as it is a rare occasion for me to get to see them – like tickets for their One Man’s are only through lottery – I wanted to grasp this chance. Acquiring a ticket was very easy, though I was told by someone, that he had difficulties and gave up on it. I just asked the unfriendly female staff for an akushukai ticket and she handed me the ticket, together with a photo of Yukino – my favourite member in the group. What a lucky coincidence, even if I have no need for photos. The group handshake went very fast. Yukino was already the first member and as expected very lively, shaking my hand with both of hers. I tried to explain to her that she is my favourite member (I avoid the word oshimen for the lack in knowing what it really means) but failed at the first try. I repeated and she asked, with eyes wide open, if that was true. I affirmed and my hand got squeezed hard. Her bright smile chased away the pain though. I now had to continue, with Runa. She is certainly the least member of interest to me as I don’t want any rivalry between me and Shaun. So I just kissed her and went on. Just kidding. After the greeting she inquired if it was the first time for me attending one of their events. I could deny this which obviously made her curious, but before I was able to phrase a complete Japanese sentence in my mind, I had to go on – to Haruka. She was lovely and as she able to listen to my talk with Runa I continued on this topic. Not sure if she got it though, finding the right words in a hurry is close to impossible, but she was very nice – and even nicer to look at. Next came Rika, who as well as Yukino showed no reservation, grabbed my hand with both of hers and even bended forward to get closer to me. Because of that I forgot everything what happened then. The last in line was as ever the leader Natsumi, a pleasant sight as always. Like the last time we spoke with each other she was inquiring about my nationality, but our conversation was interrupted by the staff, so we had to part already. Despite the shortness of time the conversation made me want to meet them again. But I know this will become difficult.

The event of Fruity became enjoyable in several ways: The way my conversation with Rina came along and finding some friends there as well. Allan, as the number one Fruity wota was of course around and had Henry with his friends in company, though them seemed not really interested in the group. With a little help by Allan I purchased my cheki-ticket and it didn’t need to wait long for my turn, as demand was low in general, though its advantage became the whole conversation lasting up to three minutes or more . Rina was surprised to see a foreigner and a bit on the reserved side. The heat that day added a lot to the situation, as many members were just sitting in the shadow under the merchandise tent, wearing ice patches. Our conversation started slow but increased in quality when she asked me how I knew the group. Now telling her about our meeting in March she suddenly seemed to recall memories about that day and started asking further question which I had a hard time to understand. But as a modern idol she is she told me to wait and looked in the tent for her belongings. She came back, now equipped with her mobile phone and started to write something. Her intention became obvious: She used a translation tool and put in the following question: “Are you here today because you saw Fruity back then?” The sentence was luckily recognisable in meaning. I didn’t need to lie for my answer so I affirmed right away, as this was the truth. We then continued with her telling me she was a new member. This statement I couldn’t get into context (the heat), but I realised she meant back then in March when she was new in the group. Well, I basically know nothing about the group. I really have to go with Allan sometime to Hokkaido to see them more often. If it weren’t for the Tokyo lives I would miss out then…

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Something different was the Party Rockets event, which consisted only of the usual group handshake. (Are two persons considered a group already?) On Day 1 I went for it but tickets were sold out. The issue though was were to get tickets? They hadn’t open an official merchandise booth. It seemed people had to buy a CD for it, though there haven’t been a recent release and to my knowledge none was planned soon, with the member audition still in process. This made me doubtful of my chances for the Day 2 event. Luckily they announced on Twitter that evening, it would be free for all. Demand was high because of it, but as the time for each member was not even five seconds, the queue moved fast. Haruka, my new favourite member now after Akari’s departure, was the first and the moment see saw me she threw back her head, supported by an “Ahh!” I could assume know that she remembered me. Anyway, as time was short I just told her to give her best – it seemed fitting for the state in which the group is in. Bad though that I used the wrong declination. Instead of saying “Ganbarre” (Give your best!), I said “Ganbarimasu” (I give my best.) But Haruka laughed and replied with a Ganbarimasu as well. I didn’t think of anything to say to Fumika and didn’t want to repeat what I said to Haruka, so I just went along with thanking her for the performance at TIF. If time was longer, I could have mentioned PASSPO again, of which she is a big fan (Aipon passenger). Maybe another time.

The event of Bellring Girls Heart was similar to Party Rockets, a group handshake. But the execution and demand couldn’t be more different: The queue was unbelievable long! The booth they were assigned to was F. From here the queue went as far as it could, to bend later and extended itself up to the A booth. No wonder I at first had problems finding its end. Only the amount of Bellring fan shirts made enabled me. But the line moved very slow. Here the reason was the usual free and fan friendly approach of the group in general. The times for conversations with each member wasn’t strictly limited. Instead people could take their time for even taking photos of the girls or 2shots with their mobile. It became as expected: The event took too long, as the next group was already waiting to occupy the booth. So the members of Bellring Girls Heart now walked up the queue one by one to high touch everybody. That was nice and unexpected! Ayano with her hyper character basically dashed through the crowd, the others slowly passing by. Mizuho behaved like Haruka before (head throw-back, “Ahh!”) and Anna exclaimed her surprise when seeing me. Was it for not expecting a foreigner? Kanra was having a leg injury since the day already, therefore hobbling along as the last of the members. When arriving at me she had the best reaction of all, exclaiming loudly “Ahh, Tobi!” My name is memorised. Yes!!!

I made sure to attend both events of PiiiiiiiN, of course. Those were similar to the usual process, with the exception that the signing was omitted. But chekis could be done, as well as one minute talks. On Day 1, after buying some merchandise for the tickets (Ayano fan towel, a CD and some photo sets) I went for the chekis. My original intention was to get one with Riko, Arisa, Ami and Runa, as I haven’t talked with them since a long time. A cheki with Ayano was also mandatory. But I made a crucial mistake right at the start: Not taking attention of the surroundings I just got in line, only too realise much too late, that I was stuck in the queue for Rizu. I could have gone out to line-up elsewhere, but this would have appeared weird. And let’s be honest: There are certainly worse occasions than to take a cheki with Rizu, aren’t there? Time was short, so we had to skip any conversation (Phew!) and Rizu immediately suggested making the “T”-pose, obviously in association to my name. Well, it was something new.

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I realised now that the time would be too short to follow my initial plan, so I searched for the shortest line available, which happened to be Arisa. With PiiiiiiiN the less popular members are Emiri, Ami and Arisa. Runa and Riko have much more fans, but Ayano and Rizu are by far the most popular. Arisa inquired on a pose. I had no idea and gestured it that way – which resulted in me suggesting an “I don’t know”-pose. Arisa agreed under much laughter.

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Afterwards I hurried to the queue for Ayano as the event was close to finish and I wanted her to be the last member I would do a cheki with. The whole thing was rushed so I didn’t get her pose. I just saw her raising her hands, which made me do the same, adopting a rock gesture. Whatever she wanted to state with her hands was unbeknownst to me. IMG_2352

On Day 2 I arrived half an hour too late, as I went for the PASSPO performance at Heat Stage before. At that time the cheki session was already finished and only conversations were possible now. This however became only obvious to me after I spent some ten minutes or so in Riko’s queue. A chat with her was not my intention though so this time I neglected any concerns about the effect of me leaving the queue and went instead for Ayano’s. Just in time, then soon after the staff was counting the last ten fans in line who would be able to talk to her – and I was number 10. Lucky. My conversation this time was one of the best I had so far with Ayano. We talked about her learning the guitar, she asked me if I have attended some lives of PiiiiiiiN at TIF and told me – with squinted eyes – that she was looking out for me in the crowd. Everything else I forgot though, but the one minute was pleasantly spent! As I couldn’t use up all my event tickets I gave them to my sisters. They would both return for Japan in Septembre and the tickets would still be valid then. I can tell you happily, that they have spent them nicely at one of PiiiiiiiN’s regular lives.

Now for the final report on the events on PASSPO and Hachake Tai. Each of them made one event a day and I happened to attend all four of them. Hachake Tai had its first event early at Day 1 and in contrast to PASSPO, who would just do group handshakes, offered group photos and group handshakes. I even saw some fans doing individual handshakes and photos, though those weren’t officially available. Anyway my intention was only for the group handshakes, so I didn’t mind. I still had my three tickets from Thursdays Idol Koushien, but needed just one for the handshake. This was solved rather quickly then I was soon joined by Adrian and Hyeon Su, both of them showing no intentions for participating – until I forced on each of them one of my spare tickets. Okay, Adrian was in for the group photo but seriously, he is a big fan of Yukki and Hyeon Su has to be kept entertained as long as his oshimen Sako is on hiatus. It is my duty as a passenger to keep the fandom united! Or something like that.

On another occasion I convinced my sister to attend the PASSPO handshake by giving her my only ticket, making me return to the merchandise booth for a second purchase. Meanwhile she took part in the handshake and was . curiously – asked by Nachu(!) about my whereabouts. Nachu, really? The two female passengers I met at the Idol Koushien were also around and with some difficulty we managed to talk – a lot. The Yukki fan was only able to be at the Idol Koushien as it was free entrance for females. Same with TIF, for which she had no ticket but some stages and the Greeting Area had free access. Coming everytime from Chiba takes some money. But she will be at Hachake Tai’s first One Man, she told me. The other girl was a fan of Sako, and besides her loves every member the same, so she had no specific favourite in Hachake Tai. I introduced both of them to Adrian, who arrived some time later and they exchanged Twitter contacts. I am also suited to establish European – Japanese relationships.

The events itself were a lot of fun, though it was pretty hard finding topics to talk with all the members, not once or twice, but thrice. The fourth opportunity, a handshake with PASSPO, I passed voluntarily. I really had nothing to talk there anymore. But I stood in the crowd, watching and cheering them. Yes, cheering! The loudest chants arose when Morishi was opening a beer can after the event finished and she told to the fans that now everyone in the group will head for an (alcoholic) drink. “HACCHAKE-TAI DE HACCHAKETAI!” Besides the handshake I took a group photo, telling them to do a pose that emphasises the heat.

IMG_2340What were I talking with them about? Especially when I had to invent fifteen topics in total – two times four members of Hachake Tai, one time seven members of PASSPO. Let me tell by members.

At the second day I made use of my sun burned skin and joked to Naomi that I am now a red passenger. But she killed the fun by instead showing concern about it and asked if I am okay. Damn, finally I had something clever to say and she was nice to me.

Anna was similar. First smiling mischievously at me, she immediately saw my burned arms and asked if I am okay. Here I was glad though of her reaction, as I had no idea of what to talk with her about. That way it turned out unexpectedly nice.

Continuing our french “conversations” with Natsumi was fun. Every three times her face looked more grumbly than happy, but the good thing when you don’t have much interest in a certain member: You don’t care and just enjoy the ride. I also kind of convinced myself that her mimic was part of her being “charisma” (her Hachake Tai alias). I told her I will return in the winter but I doubt she understood. Nevertheless she fanned me during one of our talks. That is something, right? Tells me we got closer. Next time I should teach her french kissing!

Yukimi on the other hand was always cheerful and smiling. Seriously, she is the nicest idol I ever met! She asked me the first time were my sister was. I told her that she was still sleeping but she will come to TIF later to.

With Mio I finally met for the first time. So this is what I told her. She thanked me. What else was there to reply?

Shiori was again the member I got along with the best. I already started before the first event, where I was trying to get some shadow under one of the several tables that were put near the event booths. She saw me and called out, if I was alright. So much concern – I must have looked even more terrible than usual. When I asked her later again if she herself was okay she promptly denied and made a sad face. I was shocked. She saw and then told me laughingly that it was a joke. Another time I praised the new uniforms the girls in Hachake Tai are wearing now. I really like it, with one of its half all glittery and the belt, that emphasises the figure of the members, in stark contrast to their first costumes, just plain coloured happi’s. She reacted with a bright smile to it and seemed really happy about my comment, even asked if I really meant it. Of course. I try to avoid lying to idols.

Last but not least my chat with the captain. It was my first time meeting Ai personally and it was totally worth it. She is great, in all aspects. For her I even carefully prepared a sentence to say to her: “Captain! You’re crew is fantastic!” She was stunned but happy, asking if it was the truth. I affirmed and added that all their shows have been fun. I was satisfied with myself.

This finishes my summer trip report. Sorry for taking me that long. But that way you were, hopefully, entertained for a much longer period of time. Some news also happened during my delay: Moechi of Bellring Girls Heart announced her graduation, in effect from February 2016. At least on the same day a new album was announced for the end of the year, and also new One Man’s, consisting of three days. The first will be January 2nd at Zepp Tokyo, the second on April 30th at Tokyo Dome City Hall(!). I wonder about the intent for this venue, as I am doubtful of the group really having that many fans. Details for the third show are still undecided. Who is betting Budokan here? Just kidding. Obviously I will make certain to attend their show in January, as it fits perfectly in the time frame of my next scheduled trip. Yes, you read right. I will go again to Japan this winter. You can follow my planned schedule on the SCHEDULE page for further details.

Bellring Girls Heart also released one of their recent live performances in HD on Youtube, split in two parts. Great stuff, performing many of their newest songs. Just listen to the opener of Part 1. It is the best non-idol song sung by an idol group EVER! By the way, you can see Kanra here with her injured leg, which I mentioned above.

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