Today would become a day with several different experiences. As life plays out, a friend of a friend was in Japan, studying the language there: Jorge from Mexico. I have met him around two years ago in Germany, when I went to the party for the apartment inauguration(?) of the mentioned friend. By chance I was asked if we wanted to meet in Tokyo, he got my LINE contacts and finding a date was a piece of cake then. It also played perfectly into my cards, as with someone accompanying me who speaks Japanese I was finally able to visit “Amistad”, the family restaurant of former Bellring Girls Heart member Yuka. Putting that suggestion in his mind was easily done. “I know some nice Italian, which is highly recommended.” Aren’t I savvy? *hehe*It has to be added that he doesn’t care for Idols at all. My initial intention to go with Caio to the restaurant was impossible due to time conflicts on his side. But I suspect he just found an excuse, as he hates Bellring Girls Heart to the core and everything that comes with it. Including even me, lol.
Early in the day – 11:30 at Yutenji station – me and Jorge therefore met, to find our way for the restaurant – Which was no problem, as I checked the area out a few days before already. When I inquired by Yuka via Twitter for the opening hours, she told me that the restaurant was closed for an unknown amount of time. The air-condition was defect. Hence why I couldn’t go with Caio as well. Few days later though Yuka informed me about the restaurant re-opening again after Christmas. In my leisure time on the 23rd though I took the opportunity to get a first look of the place and the way towards it. I am glad I did that, as moving around in such rural area of a foreign country is an experience in itself.
This part of Tokyo, although only two station away from Shibuya, is completely different to the Inner City: Small roads, on the street painted pavements, one-family-houses, hardly any traffic. It felt more like a village then anything. Immediately I felt out of place as a foreigner here. When we safely arrived, the restaurant was still closed. We therefore had to wait for some minutes until the door was unlocked and we went in, happening to be the only guest for the amount of time we were staying there. The only downside: Yuka wasn’t present, though I expected that. Would have been nice to meet her again. But some magazines were lined up at the counter, featuring articles of Bellring Girls Heart from back in the days (one year ago). As Jorge‘s Japanese wasn’t as good as I expected it to be, him having some troubles reading for example, we needed some help by the staff, but soon decided on the Menu of the Day. This would include a soup as appetizer, two Pizza’s, a drink of your choice, some salad, cake as dessert and a cup of coffee or tea after the meal. Nice deal. Although it couldn’t compare in taste to an original Italian, the food was exquisite. So please check it out, if you have some time on your hands. I posted the address information here (further below).
Afterwards Jorge suggested to travel some stops further for Jijugaoka, a station he knows about. Here we found a nice thrift shop which I think was Tomorrowland. Unfortunately I threw away the flyer, but the staff there was friendly and spoke quite good English. The collection was extensive but too much was pressed into the small store space, so shopping was no fun. I found some nice pieces anyway, but thought of my suitcase, which was already filled with CDs and other stuff, with important idols lives still to come, thus resulting in further merchandise to pack. Yea, even me can sometimes be reasonable. Jorge on the other hand found himself quite a lot, although not getting tired in trying to convince that he usually isn’t the shopping type. As if I would believe that now, lol. We discussed these and other topics further in a nearby café to separate around three o’clock, with me having to go on for one of the before mentioned idol lives: The Fifth Anniversary Live by Predia, to take place at Zepp Tokyo!
First mission: Finding the entrance for it. From one year back, where I went with Shaun for a festival that was executed partly at this venue, I still new the rough direction, passing through MegaWeb to get to the ferris wheel. But the entrance for the Zepp was downstairs and I took the wrong turn and ended on some recreation area. It took some searching until I found the correct path, taking the walkway to Tokyo Culture Culture and then the stairs down left. Mission completed. Now still some time was left which I used for finding something quick to eat and strolling a bit through DiverCity, in the unlikely hope for running into Akari, my former favourite Party Rockets, who left in disgrace for another idol group called GALLETe, that performed their own One Man today at Zepp DiverCity. Of course I didn’t met her 😉
Instead back for the venue, where I saw some undefinable hand painted signs put on display, showing a sketch of the stage and the names of the Predia members from left to right, below it long vertical lines drawn. I could only assume this to be already preparations information for an after show event. In my naivety I had forgot to inform myself about the probability of a tokutenkai, expecting it instead to be similar to PASSPO‘s fifth anniversary show, both groups sharing the same agency and back then no events were realised. I was therefore skeptical of any chance here, taking the big venue and with it the higher amount of fans into account. But soon I acquired certainty when I lined up for the merchandise sales, then my purchase of the tour shirt, a calendar and two photosets, one of my favourite Matsumoto Runa and one from Maeda Yuu for Caio as a present (his favourite member).
As it turned out, I was given event tickets. I am not sure of the correct amount anymore, but I guess it were five. That was unexpected, though obviously a reason for happiness. No idea at that time what I can exchange the tickets with. Some words on the merchandise: Apart from the already mentioned products a wide range was offered, spanning from the usual towels and light sticks to even folders. The shirt for the show basically has a nice design, though I still don’t get why the letters on the only black shirt are also written in black as well. It makes sense when light makes it stand out like on my photo. But otherwise you can hardly tell that there is anything written on it. On the other hand this style has some kind of uniqueness and therefore does belong to my approved designs, if only for that reason though.
When it was time for entering the venue I was surprised to find chairs having been placed in the first third of it, though I shouldn’t, as this is general the case for Predia One Man’s. The stage itself was extended by a T-structure leading into the centre of the arena, thus allowing the group to perform closer to fans in the back of the venue. Attendance on the other hand was alarmingly low. If it hadn’t been for the chairs and the stage extension I doubt the arena would have been filled more than halfway. What a difference to the fifth anniversary of PASSPO, who sold out Tokyo Dome City Hall easily, a venue with approximately double the size. Comparisons shouldn’t be made though, as both groups are different in style, target audience and image – keyword: Adult Idols. In that regard it has to be taken in consideration, that a Zepp Tokyo live for Predia is a success and most importantly: In contrast to PASSPO, who had their live on a holiday (January 1st), Predia’s was scheduled mid-week, starting relatively early.
Nevertheless differences in the overall handling of the live soon became obvious, displaying who really is the favourite child of the agency, lol. Stage decoration, although already poor with PASSPO, was limited to the most basic essentials. A simple wall with drapes running from left to right was placed on the stage, and a relatively small screen was above it. That was all. The screen to my knowledge was only used for a slide-show of promotional pictures over the years, including some short live snippets as well. During You’re my Hero the lyrics were displayed, but apart from that nothing else was done, not even live images were shown. When I think back to PASSPO, there were special video interludes, member introductions, the current song title were announced, often with footage of the according Music Video, live images and what not. But with Predia – very poor. Instead the focus was directed only on the girls on stage and the music they performed – and here Predia delivered, offering a show that had great emotional value, with the high point being the duet of Rumina and Akane to One more yesterday. But also Your’re my Hero or the minute-long(!) applause after a speech of my charming Runa (didn’t understood what she said, but even I was close to tears then) where definitely unforgettable. Imagine this being put into the frame of Predia‘s great range of more spirited songs and the surprise appearance of Akane, Misa and Kanami of Band-Maid for three songs, and you can understand my enjoyment of the live I witnessed. With no distractions provided and only the group members taking your attention the live felt much more intimate than an overproduced stage show. Watch the Digest Video to get a glimpse of the impression of what I experienced.
Everything would appear short to PASSPO‘s 6 hour 20 minutes performance, but the short duration of the show of just a bit over two hours was nevertheless a pity. For a fifth anniversary live I expect so much more. Predia‘s Oeuvre has also become quite extensive over the years. Maybe some girls are getting old, lol. (I whole-heartly apologise to any members reading this.) But the most probable reason was in my opinion the fact, that a shorter duration of the show would allow for a more suitable event afterwards. And here Predia without a doubt delivered, exceeding their big sister group by far.
The event had one personal advantage: I could only concentrate on Runa, as dealing with the other members would be too difficult. Not again! lol. It would be great if they offered group chekis. Having no idea how it will be carried out, I followed the other fans, which meant leaving the venue. None of the fans were leaving the vicinity of Zepp, so this was good news. A while later a lane was formed, so I joined it as fast as I could make sure it wasn’t just the one for the merchandise sales. The queue went until one of the side entrances, where it was stopped by a staff member, who only let in new people when some of those inside left. When you were able to get in, all the members were positioned like it was drawn on the sign board before. It was basically a map, telling you were the lane for your member of choice would be located. Runa‘s lane was easy to find, as it was the third(?) from the door. Queuing up became interesting, as some lanes overlapped, without some fans knowing who they were currently lining up for, lol. Some fans soon took the initiative and began re-organising the lanes, for example looping it for Runa.
This re-structuring had the consequence that one Japanese fan began talking to me. As it turned out, he was one of the guys I met one-and-a-half year ago during my first ever idol trip, at the PASSPO One Man Live in Nagoya. He was the DD from back then, still very proud of being called that. As his job demanded to learn English, conversation became relatively easy this time. I was impressed by his already achieved skills. I wish my Japanese would develop as good. We talked some stuff about PASSPO and I also asked him if he still likes them. This led to an confirming murmur by the people around us. Obviously he was well known. It became a nice meeting by chance.
With Runa I would talk three times that day. As I can’t recover the exact chronology (or even content) of my interactions with her, you have to bear with a summary. My tickets I used for a 2shot with my mobile phone camera, a Sign and a simple handshake. This meant lining up three times, but it became much more pleasant then I thought it would be. First thing, Runa recognised me, so no introduction was needed. As her usual behaviour is also very energetic, the conversation felt comfortable. After coming forward from behind the table, Runa decided on the pose, by holding up her open hand – as symbol for the fifth anniversary. Clever. I told her about me partly being in Japan for today’s live. She was very happy to hear it. We then talked about the show, mostly me telling her I liked it, and the recently released album and singles. Runa on the other hand asked me about myself, how long I will stay and of course we wished us a Happy New Year! It was only by chance that Runa became my favourite member of Predia, but with her I had won the lottery.
With that the day ended for me, heading back for my hostel. I would love to support Predia and especially Runa even more in the future, but Predia lives are not that often, at least on my trips. Release events are also never at this time.
By chance I found the recordings of the Bellring Girls Heart live I went to on July 24th. So in conclusion to this post starting indirectly with the group, I will end it here by posting the Youtube links. May some of you enjoy it 😉 I have no idea about the sequence, but whatever.