Having been unable to travel to Japan during summer time for TIF because of work issues (colleagues with children…) I instead decided to put all my vacation days into the Year End. Not the worst decision, than although colder it is still much more comfortable than the Japanese summer heat. Bellring Girls Heart announced a hiatus at the start of 2017 and also the graduation-to-become-Solo of my favourite idol, Yanagisawa Ayano. So my trip from 26.10.2016 to 21.11.2016 – and the soon to be followed trip at the end of December – became in turn structured around this fore-boding event, more by chance though. As an idol fan from overseas it is always very difficult to adjust your limited (vacation) time and money to the schedule of shows. Furthermore, as I prefer small / lee popular / indie-Idols, getting announcements of shows “in time” is not often the case. So you either book flight and hotels by chance – to receive early booking discounts – or you decide on a last-minute trip option, with the disadvantage of having less choices for flights and hotels. In my case for this trip, as I already explained on my Schedule page, PASSPO had announced two important dates months before and also back then, Up Up Girls released information about performing at Budokan. Although the latter is not a group I really follow, my friend Tsutomo is, and we more or less decided on attending the show together. He in turn will handle the purchase of the PASSPO tickets for Tokorozawa (19.11.2016) and the Band live at Shinjuku Blaze (24.12.2016), and he will also accompany me when attending those.
This became the outline for my travel time decisions. By the time I finally booked my flights and hotels (end of July, months before the crucial Bellring Girls Heart announcement on 10.10.2016), nothing else was stated and I just hoped, that it would also be a good time for seeing Bellring Girls Heart often, even assuming them announcing a One Man during that time frame. A cancellation of my flight would be my last resort though, as I have never done that and I would have to pay extra in the three digits range. Other groups of interest hadn’t announced anything until then apart from Party Rockets GT, who scheduled a supposedly talking event with live section on 30.10.2016. But it didn’t appear to be of much value for me, so it had no influence on my decisions. It didn’t matter much to me anyway, as my focus was PASSPO and Bellring Girls Heart. I had no doubts though that I will see most of them anyway. Additionally I, beside better knowledge, decided on staying in Japan for nearly 4 weeks in November, which would allow me plenty of possibilities to attend shows.
To explain in more detail: When booking my November trip, I initially went for 03.11. to 22.11.2016. This would have included the Up Up Girls show and the PASSPO Live, with my usual Thursday as starting date and Tuesday as leaving date. The first to be able to arrive for the weekend for idol lives (on early Friday), the latter to have a Monday for leisure time after a weekend of idol lives. Then I contemplated about skipping the Up Up Girls show (got permission by Tsutomo), to rather travel from 10.11. to 29.11., even considering 06.12.2016, mostly for the reason of having the PASSPO show in the middle of my journey and not its end. This would have taken too much vacations days though and the time between trips would have also been much to short. So I got back to the initial plan, but chose Wednesday, the 02.11.2016 as starting date, as flights with my prefered airline FinnAir that day were much cheaper. It also had its advantage of me arriving BEFORE the friday, so I would be in good condition (=well-rested) for supposedly shows in the evening. I would re-use that reasoning for my further booking of the December trip, but we come to that later. So much can be said though, that this change of starting date becomes very important later on. Then I realised, that 31.10.2016 is a holiday in Germany! Now I contemplated again: If I put in three more vacation days, I would be able to include another weekend in my trip! Not that I needed it (as I told above, nothing special was announced yet), but a weekend always opens up lots of opportunities! I had to put in more effort at work for additional over time, but that isn’t a real issue. So I booked the trip, again deciding on the Wednesday as start to my flight for economic reasons (=money) and then just waited what was about to become of it. Returning on a Monday right after a weekend and having to start working already on Tuesday was unfortunate, but I didn’t want to extend the trip too much further.
More or less the same can be said about the booking process of my December trip, which I booked at the beginning of September. Here the reasoning though became the BAND PASSPO show on Christmas Eve and the fact, that Shaun was also going to Japan at the end of the year, therefore we decided to meet again and attend the festival – I call it WTIF for Winter Tokyo Idol Festival – at Odaiba on 02.01. to 03.01.2017. As Wednesday turned out again to be much cheaper than Thursday regarding flights by my airline of choice, I booked the time frame 21.12.2016 to 04.01.2017, again meaning that I return on the day right after a long and demanding idol show and returning to work right the next day. But it can’t be helped and at least the next weekend is much closer then during my November trip.
With the announcements by Bellring Girls Heart my trip at the end of December will of course now completely revolve around them. Now here comes the importance to play of me arriving on Thursday 22.12.2016 already, instead of the usual Friday, 23.12.2016. As fate wanted it (THANK YOU FATE!), while I was staying in Japan during my November trip, Bellring Girls Heart announced – in regard to the hiatus and graduations of Ayano and Mizuho – several tour dates, already starting in November. The most crucial one though was the announcement of their last One Man with the current line-up, to be hold in the evening of THURSDAY 22.12.2016!!! How fantastic is that? True, I will just arrive in the morning then, totally sleep deprived as usual after long flights, but who cares under this circumstances, right? To add to the coincidences: My hotel, which I already booked is right next to the venue, Akasaka Blitz. I even went to the hotel to check options of early check-in for showering / refreshing myself and it all works out perfectly. Now hopefully all goes according to plan! Pray, pray, pray! The rather small show on the last day of Bellring Girls Heart in that line-up though, a Two Man with PassCode, is unfortunately already sold out. In fact it was sold out after 5 minutes after the start of the sale, in part due to huge orders of ticket resellers. I doubt that I will support this actions by buying me a ticket through them. (I also don’t know any reseller site, lol.) Instead I have high hopes that something else will be scheduled the same day to give Ayano and Mizuho a proper Goodbye by their fans. The Two Man is in the early afternoon already, so it is far from impossible to announce something further for that evening. Even if it is just some big gathering in form of a BBQ or something, I wouldn’t mind. The focus is on releasing the members in grace and style, to express our gratitudes to them and also to encourage the remaining members of the group for the Re-Start later in 2017.
Sorry for the wall of text, but I wanted to write about this aspect of idol fandom. I hope I can continue my report of my November trip soon, as not much time is left until my next trip. Maybe I just make one big posts with a summary like description of the events. We’ll see. You can expect me to talk mostly about Bellring Girls Heart, PASSPO, Party Rockets GT, JyuJyu / Neu-chan, Tsuzuki Kana and PiiiiiiiN then. Right, I didn’t go for any other groups, despite for example Predia, Lovely Doll or Oyasumi Hologram having had several One Mans at this time. But I am finally able to focus on my favourites, overcoming the aimless accumulation of Idol groups that oversea fans are so prone to, as they have to abstain from Idol lives during most of the year(s).