Monday, 3 February 2014

Nippon trip 2014 - Day 2

Ahoy all, well having only just crawled out of bed and it being too early for my body to digest food I have decided to have a crack at entry number 2!  Woke up at around 7am and venture to a Lawson's for something to snack on, grabbed some microwaveable sausages which were surprisingly good!  Then spent a lot of time talking to my girlfriend (miss you loads too hun!)  before deciding I wanted to head out...

At 09:00 I venture out and realise a lot of places are not yet open, despite it being monday!  So never the less took advantage, home, shower and another cup of tea.  After this I headeed out to Akihabara for the first of two trips.  First involved me going back to the arcades and dropping some coins in the classic outruun 2SP.

I know it is cliche but this is just one of my favourite games, though I don't think much of the cabinet I found.  Steering wheel has very poor input, having go used to thrashing the car in any direction I want on x-box 360, this will take some getting used to!

Afterwards I went to Trio and spied a Fukumura Mizuki towel, having not got any of hers I instantly bought it.  Cost 2100 yen which felt a little above what I anticipated, but according to Ginarawr that is apparently a good price and the towel in question is quite sought after, cha-ching!

After this I went to Sho-sen bookstore as Oroboras requested I grab him a copy of thee C-ute Alo Helo photobook.  I have seen a lot of people online sometimes find themselves out of pocket due to fans who won't/don't pay easily so I have a policy of only buying for those I know will be pay.  Oroboras it is safe, I'll put a picture on FB for you later once I have the second item you wanted (Cheers again for instant overnight payment on that!)

Having come home and decoratedmy apartment I decided to veture into Nippori as I had stupidly forgotten to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste!  So I went into a drugs store I hadn't been before just to see what they had.  Grabbed supplies but then noticed at the bak they sold Alcohol!

Yes!  In Japan, a place where you can buy all sorts of medicinal drugs and cleaning stuff you can also buy alcohol!  Now you might think 'well you can do that in Tesco' and you'd be right, but it is the fact that this is pretty much a pharmacy, I doubt any sell drugs and alcohol in my home country!

Despite this, the biggest shock was the alcohol itself.  I noticed on sale Jim Beam white label for 1070 yenn, in sterling thaat is about £6.60!  This bottle was a 700ml bottle, in the UK you'd be lucky to get change fro £18 for that!  According to my mate Dean they were recently bought by Japanese company Suntory and thus massive discounts.  Possible but it is still distilled in the USA, so after import costs and so forth...  Not sure it is that cheap!

Anyway I didnt buy any as I am drinking beer whilst out here, after this I just chilled out for a while when Nino advised he was free and wanted to meet up  in Akiba and go Akihabara backstage pass.  Could not refuse!

So went down there, during my chill I had aquired an awesomely cheap photo album that is pocket sized and fits standard L photos, now I have something to store and display them in I will happily collect them.  Thus off to H!P store where  I acquired many Mizuki photocards.   Brief stop in Trio and I looked for Kikka photocards, only to see a huge sold out sign over it. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Some little bugger saw me coming, if I find you!!!  Anyway didn't stop me buying some more Mizuki 2l's, hell why not?  I like her!

After this we ventured up to BSP and found the place quite quiet, turns out befor 5pm it is all dining and chat with the idols, then after 5 it is that and stage time.  Still it was nice  but my fave member Kaotan was not on shift!  I did get some photocards from Trio of her which was nice, but wanted to talk to her as she hilariously funny and not exactly one for adopting the cutesy image alll the time!  Shhe speaks fluent english and almost no one else in BSP does, one time whilst four members were on stage talking to each other and the crowd about stuff, she came to the table where Nino and I were sat and basically said "I wish they'd stop talking about such boring stuff!" XD

Still Nino's fave Marina was on shift much to his surprise and the pair of them had a fun attention duel, Marina also waved as soon as she saw me, obviously remembering me from last year and wished me happy new year as soon as she got the chance.  Another member called Ayano came over as Nino also likes her and they got talking, which drew the attention of A.D.Nagisa.

Nagisa is, to me, the idol that Kanon Suzuki in Morning Musume could be if she really applied herself.  Like Zukki, Nagisa is a lot bigger than the standards you would expect of an idol. Unlike Zukki, Nagisa not only carries it well in her look, but she also has the skill as a dancer and performer to make it not that noticeable.

Nagisa is also a damn good laugh, she asked where Nino and I had met which led to uss awkwardly mentioning we chatted online before we got talking about how we were aat Buono! in Paris.  Nagisa is an idol otaku so mentioning Buono! Got her doing an acapella version of 'Hatsukoi cider' on the spot for us, no complaints here!

She asked me who my fave member in Buono! Was, I answered with Momoko and she stared doing the whole 'pinky finger' thing, I replied by going 'yurushite nyan!' And Nagisa was demanding I do the hair thing for it!  XD  Not sure that would go down well with the audience but the idols found it funny, as did Nino!

We decided to leave literally two minutes before a stageshow started, but got to see a few glimpses and then out, we then rounded the night off with a couple of Moscow Mules in hub bar and began debating idols, school, work, unfairness of economic life, nuclear energy and cars...  curiously neither of us were drunk, fuck knows  what would happen then!

So on to today, all week I have been getting friends and family from the UK demanding strange flavoured Kit-kats, convenience stores haven't had them but Nino has shown me an article on Kotaku advising a Kit-kat store has opened in Ikebukuro, so I amgoing there to check this out. Until next time *sets sail*

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Nippon 2014 trip day one!!

Ahoy to all of you, well I have a couple of brief video logs, but, and this is somewhat personl preference, I don't feel that I carry a video on my own of this sort. Thus, huzzah! The blog has been raised from the dead!

So 2nd February and I am in Japan, by god does it feel a million times different to summer! Last year when I disembarked from the train I felt as if I had stepped out off the frying pan and into the fire. Right now? LIke I have gone as far south as Crewe! Lol

Still that'd putting the cart before the horse, so to rewind, my trip began on 31 January at 20:30 UK time, though my bodyclock had been on japanese time so for me it was 05:30! After blazing through some hours on my Twitch broadcast for Forza Motorsport 4 I spent the night triple checking I had everything, then at 05:30 UK time I leapt in a cab to the airport.

On arrival I went to check in and it was not even 6am, this is usually waaaaaay too early if the flight is at 09:00, but no, the desk was accomodated, lady did check in and then on to security, by 06:20 I was through in the departure lounge! I have NEVER had it that easy!

So I had hours to kill which involved drinking Bombadier and calling my mother for a general life update. Once the plane wheeled up all seemd smooth but as the in flight service came by they had NO BEER! *Blows whistle* Instant penalty! I am aware that saturday is when England rugby team had a match in france, but you don't cease alcohol service for that! Unlike UK football fans, the rugby crew don't cause trouble.  Remember when I went to an away Sale Sharks game, we got absolutely thrashed by Bath rugby, but afterwards all we did was have some quiet beers. Still had to go dry!

Still landed in Charles Du Gaulle, security for hand luggage was battered but made it through without incident, when I realised that I had only brought my outwards flight information, most would think, and?  However, when filling out the landing card for Japan, it is in two parts.  One for your trip into Japan, and the other for the section they leave in your passport alongside the visa, and on this second part you need the flight number you are departing Japan on!

However, air France were very helpful and just printed a basic crib sheet with it all on, so onwards to Japan. Found myself on an aisle seat which I as thankful for.  Two reasons.  1) I am tall, so being able to plant a leg out into the aisle for extra space was very welcome, 2) I like to get up during the flight and walk along the aisle to stave off DVT!  There was a free seat on my row so able to get more comfortable, but, still could't sleep.

Flight was like any other long haul, very long!  Staved of boredom by watching The Wolverine which I still laugh at due to the silly location errors during the footchase from the funeral, along with the howler about Ueno having Southern going Shinkansens lol  Also watched Aki colourful character on my tablet, other than that little of interest to go over.

After landing cleared border inspection and was kept waiting a good 20 minutes for my baggage to be put through the belt.  When I got to customs though he asked why I was in japan, told him about the Kikka/Possi Possi girls gigss I am attending plus my mates that I am meeting, all this was fine but I made a severe blooper by putting my journey start as Paris, having seen my UK passport he was asking if I lived in France.  I explained that was when  started my trip to japan and the dude waved me through, could have been much more problematic!

Leapt onto the amazing Skyliner and was bound for Nippori as usual, strangely a foreign dude and his daughter were looking at me a lot during the journey.  What made this odd is that this girl had a MULLET I am talking worst of the 1980's, so how I commanded attention I don't know!

Got to my apartment and initially landlord was nowhere to be  seen but a couple of phonecalls later, followed by the passing of 25000 yen I was busy unpacking!  Once done I felt peckish and in need of getting out there, so ventured into Akihabara...  Where I was accosted by a cameraman to give an interview for TV about Japanese music...

Now I had been awake for a good 36 hours at this point so I did't half talk some shite, both in Japanese and English.  Dude asked me to sign a release form and it had 'music station' on it...  Trust me, if that airs, it will be trainwreck tv!  Someone send me a clip if it does lol

So now I am chilling with an Asahi and enjoying a quiet evening.  Well sunday night, take it easy now, and the rest of my vacaton will follow!  Until next time!!  *sets sail*

Friday, 30 August 2013

A voyage to... Woodstock?!

No, I am not kidding!  Evening all, sswishbone checking back in, now before I go on and explain the title, I do have another entry tomorrow which will cover the three days prior to this, but today is most important so getting that out of the way first.

To give some background.  I have been to many events here in Japan, three Kikka handshakes, two of which had signings and one a mini-live event, five of the 'Cool hello'' summer concerts, Idol nation and Akihabara Backstage Pass (which I will explain in tomorrow's entry).  So after the last thing I did, I was thinking, well that's it, no more events and a week to go.  Most would get disheartened but I have my mates about and places I have not gone so lots to do.

That's until the 28th August, a day after my Birthday (31 now, gulp!) when I got an e-mail from Kikka's e-mail fansite support with lists of events.  Dates appeared to be when I was not in japan, until I saw one listed as 30th August!  I was like 'oh awesome!' read further and it was a live event, so I was properly going mad but wondering where it was, preparing myself for somewhere like Sapporo which I have no chance of reaching due to no money... 

I put the venue name 東京キネマ倶楽部 into google maps...  It was in UGUISUDANI!  This is literally one stop on the yamanote train line from where I am staying, total out of fucking nowhere choice!  Only issue now was getting a ticket, my Japanese is poor with kanji and I noticed some of it talking about going convenience stores and that had me wondering if I had to use those annoying lawson station machines to get a ticket.

Well to find out I drafted in some help, firstly I approached Turbos86 but forgot he was in Canada and that meant I was 13 hours ahead of him!  Not reasonable to expect an immediate response!  So thus I approached Dean and he got some assistance from his fiancee.  Turns out you have to register for some site, then order it, take a slip to a convenience store and job done...  Oh boy was this a fucking pain in the shitter!

First it would take my name, then asked for a nickname but wouldn't accept that!  Then address and phone number problem, then time out, close all browsers and start again.  same problem.  Close all browsers, everything is fine apart from my e-mail and my phone numbers!  By now I am tearing my hair out getting proper angry, posting stuff on twitter about it, angrily putting down Nino and Dean's joke comments as I wasn't having any fun (sorry guys really ticked me off this did!)

Eventually Dean's fiancee rode to the rescue filling out everything but having it in my name and e-mail, Dean then went one further by getting a lovely screenshot of the e-ticket.  29th August I walk to the 7/11 about 300 yards from my flat, guy puts in the code, prints out a ticket and asks me for cash, job fucking done!

So I kill time by looking more at the event and it turns out to be 'Woodstock Party ライブ had me wondering all sorts of stuff.  My excitement hit fever pitch however when I saw that not only was Kikka on the bill...  So were The  ポッシボ (or The Possibooooo as their towels and shirts say!)  This had me marking massively, one of my biggest regrets was missing them in Yokohama, to suddenly have this happen is like the planets aligning and the gods saying 'go on we'll make this guy's holiday!'  Absolutely awesome, also on the bill were 青SHUN学園 and テレパシー

I took a look and both seemed quite average but no matter, I was there for the two on the bill.  So on to today and after spending the morning in Ueno playing on silent hill arcade and chilling out, I ventured to Shibuya to visit some places.  Went to Uniqlo and saw a cool white shirt in my size which was basically drawings of people leaning against each other in different ways to form the kanji for Person.  Being a bit of a nerd I just had to buy this!  Also went shakey's for all you can eat pizza, 850 yen and it was decent, had about 8 slices, six huge potato scallops, pesto pasta...  Yeah , I pigged out a bit lol!

Got back to my apartment and was almost time to go to the gig, so just got my shirt ready and ventured out for water and pocari sweat as per usual for a live gig.  Got there about 45 minutes before doors opened so stood outside, briefly talked with Emu before we started being ushered into a line, now the tickets were just numbered rather than a row and seat, yup, standing gig!  My ticket was 132 but I still got in and found myself on third row.

However, getting in was the most fucking daft thing ever...  We had to use LIFTS!  There was just two and they only had a 600kg limit, I weigh about 118, a few more with me and that thing is going nowhere!  So after waiting for about ten minutes we finally got in and the venue was actually very nice.  It had a sort of theatre feel to it, especially with the look of the stage.  Venue was however on the 5th through 7th floors!  strange being so high up and at a gig, gave me flashbacks to tower records shinjuku!

So just stood about waiting and one wota was showing off a two-shot polaroid he had of himself and Akkyan from The Possible.  cue me getting my mobile out and showing off my two shot from Atlanta with Kikka, gained me a few points for sure.

Eventually lights go off and two MC's come out...  One was dressed in proper street clothes (including a shirt saying 'hardcore superstar') while the second wore a fucking dress and hat like a character from Alice in Wonderland...  I was now thinking I understood the 'Woodstock' name!  Anyway first up were 青SHUN学園 and this group really confused me!   There must have been around 12 girls...   Half of which had mics, the other half had nothing but their clothes, which were their own shirts signed by themselves, whilst a random guy in his 20's was there dancing with them...

First song was pretty average but my god are their wota loud!  They were proper chanting, oshi jumping and fuck knows what else, I know most wota are loud, but there was only about 10 of them I could see in their merchandise and they still managed to be deafening, probably saw videos of me and were like 'that's it!'  lol  But speaking of being crazy, at one point one wota climbed on another guy's shoulders, cue more outdoor high festival related jokes, and then, staggeringly, actually stood up doing full on wota swinging of his arms.  Damned impressive!

At this point two venue staff came in but he had already climbed down, they began the usual 'oh against health & safety, you're not allowed'  I just went "get outta here!" and another wota shouted it after them which I found funny (Especially as I said it in english and so did this wota!)

Second song is where things got even more bizarre...  The guy goes offstage then comes back dressed as a high school girl student (cue me preparing to vomit, if it wasn't for me sweating nearly everything out due to 35 degree outside heat I would have!)  Music again is quite average but the wota and the girls interaction just made it a good laugh, before, bizarrely, half the group left the stage and actually came into the crowd!

Not just to wave, oh no, they actually had everyone form a ring around them and do dancing.  I ended up right at the front of one outer ring so thus I had these idols literally two feet away shouting for us all to go for it.  This involved at one point some dance move that is hard to explain...  err...  Imagine a pub night where at the end there is sing-song.  Everyone stands in a line and a person places their left arm behind person to their left and right arm behind the person to their right, thus forming a sort of wall of people.  usually everyone then sways to some mid-paced music and roar drunkenly before staggering home...  Well this was similar, except everyone was in a circle rather than a line, and instead of swaying side to side, we were leaning backwards and then forwards in tandem...  I truly had imbibed something by this point, I had to have, it was just too fucking random!

Still the idols hung around and did high fives to everyone (including me, three or four them were up for double high-fiving me for some reason!), then for the third song a second dude comes out singing, then jumps into the crowd, who suddenly start something akin to a circle pit whilst he is being crowdsurfed in the middle.  Security again tried to get in and I am just like 'no chance, give up!'

After they left the stage/crowd brief MC on stage with them, so I took the first drinks break before テレパシー came on.  I had heard a couple of songs and they had this odd gimmick of air guitaring on cardboard cut outs of guitars.  I haven't heard of that since the new wave of british heavy metal scene circa 1979!!

But at first they actually came out in pink cheerleader outfits carrying pompoms and did the song cheerleading style.  Hmm...  Air guitaring cheerleaders, I'd even watch soccer if that became a staple thing!  Their gig was ok, songs were pretty decent semi-j-pop/punk, though lacking the utter awesomeness of Buono! or even the power of Passpo it was still highly enjoyable. 

One thing I will say is once their cut-out guitars were picked up it did become quite cool, I am sure Pukovnik_krv wouldn't like their inability to even try and air the technical playing, but they did show the attitude.  One member priouetted whilst playing along, another did some nice guitar screeching faces.  Plus a really awesome moment was when three of them threw their guitars and the other members caught them and carried on, shades of many an 80's stadium rock band right there!

Usual MC which wasn't that interesting followed before it was time for The ポッシボー  When they came on stage I nearly passed out, they went for this semi-chic/office look.  With Hashimon and Mororin sporting leather shorts and suit jackets, Robin this rather sparkly evening top and skirt, whilst Akkyan had a suit jacket and smart skirt combo.  Goto didn't stand out so I don't remember what she wore (sorry to any of her fans for that!)

They kicked off with their newest single 'be ambitious!' which is a corking track with an awesome PV.  Crowd were realy into this with the chanting along.  After this they did a song I had never heard which was similar in pace to Ijiawru Crazy love  but lacking the same impact, still they made up for this with their next track 'Nasty!' which has a rather smooth lick in the leads and some nice shifting in the dance beats.  One thing I will say is that Mororin is not very good live. I really struggled at times to hear her.  However, Hashimon, Akkyan and Robin really do a great job, and Goto has also improved a lot since I last saw any real footage of them, so great encouragement there.

Next song was 'Banzai my glory'  (can never remember the full title!) And this song is where I got pleas from the crowd to fully join in with what they do.  This is not to say I wasn't chanting or anything, I was, it is just that I very rarely oshi jump.  For those who know me there is a good reason for this...  I am rather tall, clocking in at 6'2 or around 187/188 centimetres.  When I oshi jump about nine rows temporarily lose all vision.

Add to this that the gig is standing only and there is possibility (no pun intended!) for something disastrous.  But the crowd insist I go for it, so I did.  Thing about this song, if you have ever seen the PV, is that at the main chorus the PV is of all members getting some serious air on a trampoline and doing all sorts of poses and moves...  Well the crowd took this as an instant invitation to be oshi jumping, I did a few must have easily cleared the highest achieved by wota by at least a foot, so yes, the U-stream might have been nothing but a guy in a yellow shirt with a backpack strapped to him in this song for a bit!

Following this they did 希望と青春の光 now this I saw live on an episode of Tsuntube where the girls had these glowing balls they held in their hands and due to their formation they could do these awesome arm movements that caused brilliant trailing light effect and fans had them to recreate it.  I was content to just raise my arm and chant but one wota actually borrowed me a jury-rigged star shaped thing that did lights exactly the same!  That was awesome and really helped me get into this really rather awesome energetic song.  The girls did the same dance I had seen on Tsuntube and being there you really got to appreciate the effect, I think once it goes through a camera filter it tones to down, here you get the raw unchecked fusion of the light which just makes it more cool, added to which they sounded amazing.

Their final track followed this but I am unsure what it was, it's one of those annoying tracks I have heard but not got the title of it anywhere in my head.  Really nice rock track which the fans got the towels out for.  All this time I was second row so really close and able to soak it all in.  Did all I could to not rip a person's towel from their hands.

After this they did their post-gig MC and talked about how they enjoyed seeing all the fans earlier dancing with 青SHUN学園, Hashimon was especially complimentary and even had a brief go.  Once they left the stage four fans walked off the barrier...  Yup!  Instantly I was there and not only on the barrier, I was DEAD CENTRE of the stage!

Cue the Kikka chants and on she came, adorned with the same outfit she wore at idol nation and when in the states, she looked as gorgeous as ever.  What she opened with surprised me, it was a medley of Kikkake wa you, hapi rapi sunrise, konna watashi de yokattara and darling to madonna.  All sorts were sort of 60% length so a long and interesting opening.  Great to also see the on the fly change of the chants from the crowd and Kikka did her trademark of getting us to sing the likes of 'aru kamo ne?' during this, which threw me back to Atlanta again ^__^

After this she did a mid-gig MC and she spoke about it was great to see The ポッシボー at the event as she considered them sort of family since they were all eggs together.  I liked that a lot as I think they graduated into NGP only a few months after Kikka joined but there obviously is some friendship there for her to say that! 

Why is Hashimon pointing a gun at Kikka's head?

Following this she did her best of album exclusive track 八月の花火 and it is still a wonderfully different song.  Very nice mid-tempo pace and some nice long pauses where I once again chanted Kikka and had wota join me which was awesome.  After this she shocked me by doing To Be.  I was not expecting this at such an event but it was so cool to see her do the song with the tough vocal delivery and lack of pace, meaning it was all about her.  On stage she had the occasional hand move, but mostly this felt like the sort of song where standing at the mic stand would have been enough.  Still, she carried herself well through it.

Afterwards pace picked up with her once again doing Time to Zone which was a nice reignition of the gig and some very simple chanting, before she ended with a song I have enjoyed for a long time...  Mizuiro.  This was really great live as she had the crowd towel spinning like crazy and of course we all shouted our fucking lungs out too!

Once this ended the post-gig MC occurred and at first the guys were complimenting her on her delivery in such a song.  The MC dressed like Alice in wonderland character spotted me at this point and was a tad surprised I was there!  Afterwards they asked Kikka to speak English since she had been to America.  she began to cheat and literally use the same phrases she did whilst there.  "My name is Yuu Kikkawa, I am a Japanese singer"  They stopped her laughing saying that as obvious due to where we were and she should say something else!  Cruel bastards!  Plus 1000 points :P

She responded after a moment to think by saying, with a drawl as bad when I speak Japanese, "did you have fun with me?"  I'll ignore the million and 1 innuendos you can draw from that and simply state we cheered, at which point the three of them looked at me so I just went '英語すごい! (Amazing english) which made Kikka happy, guys didn't seem sure so I just shouted "Trust me I should know!" which got half-laughs, mainly as they probably only understood one word lol

After this all groups came on stage and were joined by some dude in a huge outfit dressed as an egg!  I was like WTF?  And it turned out to be some morning exercise thing and does dances with idols/performers.  So cue the whole group being asked to take part!  Kikka also got referred as sensei at one point and forced to perform in the centre.  Cue me cheering as I was right in front of her!  Afterwards her and Goto had a conversation and giggled, no idea what was said though.

Finally after this lights went up before the stage area was cleared, then bizarrely three sets of tables were pulled out and partitioned by flimsy barriers.  Cue Theポッシボー and Kikka being directed to their tables.  Due to not carrying more than 2000 yen on me; earlier I had been forced to choose between them... No contest, I adore The ポッシボー and would have loved to meet them...  But Kikka is my first place and was not going to miss a handshake with her on my final few days in Japan!

Thus I found myself somehow third in line which was good as only had one ticket so less people to clutter the place afterwards!  Before this Robin and Hashimon looked and spotted me, it probably took them by surprise as they were waving so I waved back and gave a thumbs up which Hashimon reciprocated, nice bonus end to the evening since I was theoretically blowing them off...  Oops!! 

Anyway I went up to Kikka and said in english that her english was fabulous, she replied with thank you and constantly signalled with 'ok' to which I was like yeah you're good, she smiled alot and then I was kicked out of the table area!  Cue the end of an awesome evening, I'd have liked them to have ended it later since both Kikka and The ポッシボー are over 20 so can legally work past 9pm but wasn't to be.  With a little editing of the MC's they could have given the groups more time but I can't argue.  I have been extremely lucky whilst out here.  Kikka, The ポッシボー, up up girls, morning musume, c-ute, berryz kobou, s/mileage, juice=juice...  All have been witnessed live, some handshaked, others signed merchandise...  No I cannot complain at that!

So now I am getting ready for bed, my missing days blog will be released probably tomorrow, nice relaxing day with friends ahead of my last day in japan :-(  Been so awesome, wish it wouldn't end.  Until next time *sets sail*

Monday, 26 August 2013

Another three into one update

Hey all, sswishbone checking back in with yet another log, before I go any further just want to say...  Happy birthday to me!  And also to F1 driver Mark Webber who shares the same date!  Yup, I have officially turned one year closer to putrefying carcass stage but I am intending to continue getting old disgracefully!

So on that note, all this time I have been in Japan, I have not had chance to catch up with .Brian.  Those of you who know me will remember him as the giant Dutch geezer (who clocks in at a colossal 6'11!) that I met first in Stockholm at the Eurowota event in 2008 and then again last time I was in Japan in 2010.  Since then he has a lovely Japanese wife called Mika and lives over here permanently...  That means having a job and since he lives some distance out of Tokyo, simply put we hadn't been able to sort something out!  With it being my birthday today and he once again unavailable, we decided that it was gonna be a celebration night on saturday before it.

Thus Brian, Mika, Nino, Dean and myself had a slot booked at a place in shinjuku for food, beers...  And karaoke!  Well this was a recipe for...   err...  Superstardom.  No, what's the opposite of that?  lol  Needless to say we had a lot of fun though it started badly as the PA wasn't quite setup and when Dean just started turning anything...  He caused a great wave of feedback which literaly hurt my head!  I was on the deck holding my right ear, I am one of those people who really gets badly affected by this, I think it is the aftershock of when I did live music promotion.  Something in my body has an internal defence that just shuts down!

Fortunately Brian took over and got it sorted, now being the central focus I went first and did Kikka's  "hapi rapi sunrise'...  Badly!  I honestly thought I knew this song but I just did absolutely shit on it, proper struggled, missed words and all that.  There are two reasons for this, first one being most important...  I am shit at karaoke!  Second though, and this is a bit of a racing driver excuse...  I actually find it very difficult to read Japanese in the same format that English is written!  It is bizarre but I am possibly the only person in the western hemisphere who can read it the tradition way (top to bottom/right to left) and not the English way!  all karaoke is done western style, so that didn't help...  But reason one was the main reason!

Anyway Brian had a go and did a hilariously silly Beastie Boys track called 'ch-ch-check it out' ...  I think!  Nino and I pissed our pants because we weren't sure if this was meant to be a joke song or just a really shit hip-hop song!  Look up the lyrics and you'll understand what I mean, kudos to Brian though, he actually did pretty damn good!  Also Mika and Brian duetted some anime track which was very cool.

Dean and brian also did a duet of a backstreet boys song...  Oh dear!  Nino and I were in pain laughing at this, not only because vocally they were pretty toneless, but they decided to really go native and sing with the Japanese literal translation words XD  I listened and laughed before I thought balls to it, hello youtube!

Brian and Dean murdering the art of karaoke

Still...  They managed to have more character than the original group *ducks from garbage thrown by fangirls*.  After this I decided to go old-school, brought the 1990's back with Aerosmith's "love in an elevator"  I should say by this point I'd drank at least three beers and was onto the Whiskey highballs so feeling a little more loosened up!  Did I do a Steve Tyler special?  No, we don't do drugs!  But I can't say I was really that good, though I did manage to actually sing the whole song this time so definite improvement.

Brian then decided to do a song just for shits due to the title, track called 'Risky' by a group called Suicide sports car...  It was pretty bad, featured some sort of bizarre romance and funk crossover with blues music...  Very much a headfuck, not what I was expecting!

After I crooned through whitesnake's 'here I go again' and kenny rogers 'The gambler' we had all imbibed quite a bit so decided to cut loose with some old fashioned sing along classics.  Thus Toto's "Africa", Queen's "Bohemian rhapsody" and Elvis's "Hound dog" got an airing, and more accurately a butchering, before we got turfed out.

At this point I noticed how absolutely wrecked Brian was, guy was really swaying hard and his head was pretty much pounding.  Nino, Dean and I were less affected, though I still managed to be a nuisance and nearly smack people with my umbrella whilst walking through Shinjuku.  Yeah, penalty on me there!   After stopping at a burger joint for the others to get some energy back (having probably devoured half of the food on my own I was curiously ok!) We all decided to call it an end there so went back to Nippori, stopped for beers in the 7/11, then sat down, satisfied and drinking until sleep claimed me!

So on to the 24th August!  As this was a day off I said to myself that I wanted to do something, so thus I decided that today would be the day I go up Tokyo Tower.  With its special observation deck being 250 metres, it is decidely lower than the tokyo skytree, but then it is cheaper, total cost for both decks is 1450 yen as opposed to 2000!  Thus I decided I would do the top deck as well as I hadn't been up there before.

Before I got there I actually went through a Temple and this was where The Wolverine movie was shot!  So yes, even though I came here in 2010, I can now say I have visited a movie set lol

Yeah was really nice to see this awesome place again, and it is equally impressive how they got permission to shoot here.  Even with huge potential for tourist interest, it is still a holy place but very beautiful to take in none the less.  After this headed over to Tokyo Tower.  Unusually on the way in as I passed a group of Japanese looking people, I heard someone shout "excuse me!"  Turning around, confused, as barely anyone has spoken english to me whilst over here, I see the group and they asked, in perfect english, if I would take their picture.  I obliged out of courtesy but also for the excellent job on the English, don't know who you lot are, but you're much better at English than I am Japanese!  So anyway, onwards to the tower I went.

Now what was cool is I literally went to the desk, waited a minute, paid my money, got the joint ticket and then headed straight for the lift up to the main deck...  At Skytree I had to wait Three hours before I could even queue for a ticket, let alone the lift up there!  So already a good reason to choose Tokyo Tower over Skytree if you only have the time for one!

Anyway, before going straight up to the top dek I decided to stick about and get some shots from the main deck first, thus here are a couple I have selected from the huge assignment that are on my photobucket account.

As said earlier, there is more on my photobucket, I just wanted to showcase the main shots here.  After this I joined a queue to go up to the top, you see, after this there is just one lift, both up and down to the special deck which is 100 metres above the main deck.  So had to queue here for around 20 minutes before being able to ascend an escalator and two flights of stairs, before another wait of about 15 minutes and I was up to the top deck.  So in all my queuing time at Tokyo tower was approximate 20% of tokyo skytree!  Not that I am saying you shouldn't go Tokyo Skytree but just be aware of the big difference in visitor numbers!

So eventually my lift ride begins and we ride up through the main girders at the heart of the tower and are then on the deck which is much narrower and lower than the main observation deck, but has a wonderful view of the other side of Tokyo, again, a few shots below.

Yeah pretty spectacular, as you can see the horizon fog was even thicker than when I went up the skytree, I half-expected to hear a siren and then see all the panels fall from the walls before babies with sewn-up mouths start to attack me with knives...  (note: - This is not some sick story, it is a rather obvious reference before anyone starts reporting this blog!)

If you want to see the plethora of shots taken from up tokyo tower then simply go through this LINK

After hanging on the top deck for an hour or so, soaking in the view and generally enjoying the nice peaceful image, I joined the queue for the lift back down, spent some time on the first deck stopping for a beer in the tower cafe and watching the city again before I headed back to my room.  All week I had noticed stalls up so it was obvious that this was the time of year for religious cultural celebration but it had been relatively quiet in general.  So at around 8pm when I went out to get some food I got a really rather large shock.

That was the sight that greeted me in central Nippori!  Oroboras, Dean, X5-2000, yewolewota and Brian will be able to tell you that Nippori is NEVER as busy as this!  Totally threw me for a loop but the atmosphere was awesome, just the vast array of styles people wore, the obvious festival mood and the uplifting sight of everyone having fun was too much to ignore.  Thus I decided to properly scout it out.

Went off onto the street with the stalls and was feeling hungry, this was my main reason for being out of the room in the first place!  Took in some stalls of noodles and takoyaki but just didn't take my fancy, but in the end I saw some delicious looking chicken being made and decided I had to indulge.

Was bloody lovely!  Really fresh tasting and the sort of soy based marinade just made it even nicer.  I am not one for sauces on my food as anyone who knows personally will atest to, but this was just great spicy, tender and tasty!  Far more than enough for me.  Venturing further in I came across the grounds of the temple where an ancient stage was being used for some form of play.

I imagine this quite a traditional story but not being an expert on this aspect of Japan I won't try and detail everything, though it seemed to be a tale of some master who was having hair cut by a servant with a sword and the servant kept on making mistakes, cue the master repeatedly rebuking him.  It was good entertainment and I wished I knew about the nature of it but ah well.  After this walked back on to the main street when suddenly a huge herd of people was moving towards me carrying some form of religious sarcohpagus through the streets, I got a video to show what I mean!

Cultural festival errr... Sarcophagus?

Again sorry for the link but for some reason this account won't find my youtube videos despite being a linked account grr!  But yes massively unusual sight to behold but awesome at the same time, truly an unexpected delight to be here when these events took place.  Mainly because on this trip I have seen and done so much of Japan both new and old, and for me, that is what travelling is all about.  Seeing and doing as much as feasibly possible!  After this I chilled out for the night.

So on to 26th August, I decided to just enjoy the day really so started by returning to my stomping ground of Akihabara.  Went and played some super hang on and outrun before I was contemplating coming back, on the way out of intrigue I went into another arcade right nearby, mainly to see what they had...  Their second floor was an absolute treasure trove!!

I saw classic arcade cabinets and the titles just sent me rushing back to my youth once more.  Final Fight, Puzzle Bobble, Ghosts & Goblins, R-Type II, Parodius, Super street fighter II...  It was absolute heaven for anyone who has even a remote interest in retro gaming, I had to resist the urge to spend thousands of yen here playing the classics, but I think I am gonna come back and give it a go again, possibly even later today!

Having enjoyed that immensely I spent the day relaxing, caught up on the F1 as I wasn't able to watch it live.  Then in the evening I was thinking on a whim of going to Yokohama, but when I got on board the train, it was gonna take 50 minutes just to get there, concerned I would have little time I just looked at the tracks and at random decided I would go to Shinagawa.

Once I got to this place it blew me away with how big it was, Shinjuku might be the busiest station in the world, but this was certainly one of the most grandiose!  Huge arches, gigantic walkways, platforms galore.  It was like a fusion of Kings cross and Shinjuku, I had been here in 2010 but was in a group and to deep in conversation to take it in, now though, travelling alone...  I just thought it was awesome.

Afterwards I went through the east exist and found myself on the most peculiar thing, a walkway which meant you could theoretically come to work in Shinagawa and never strictly touch the street level.  It was absolutely massive and I just thought I would stalk the walkways and see what I found, what I came across was this!

This was just awesome, sort of like a mini-central park in many ways.  Literally right in the middle of the city, surrounded by giants of commerce, was this stunning park!  It is the sort of thing I really like to find, much like when I came cross that lake by the highway in Atlanta, this has the same sort of appeal.  It is that sense of how you could be doing all possible to impress your boss and colleagues, leave stressed to all hell and then sit in this sort of place and feel at peace again.  I definitely was going to go down there, so I went immediately!

As it was a warm night I spent many a time just sat here enjoying the peace because even though it was right in the centre of a bustling city, even though a train station was barely a stones throw away...  It was actually quiet!  I imagine during the day it is full of workers lunching and smoking so be more bustle, but on this night, the odd walker but otherwise very quiet and very peaceful.

After this I wanted to eat but most places looked unappetising so I decided to head along the line to Shibuya.  At first was looking for somewhere different but most were just burger joints, I was about the scarper for something when I saw a rather swanky looking place...  I don't normally go for these places but since it was my last day being 30 and I had budgeted very well, I decided why not as I am on holiday?  Thus I had a beer and a lovely steak dinner.

This was gorgeous, really juicy meat and the rareness of the meat just meant it was gloriously chewy and tasty.  I sat in a room on my own, drinking beer and guzzling steak, not so bad.  Ended up costing 2550 yen which is about £17:50 but to be honest that's really not bad, most places in Manchester that match this quality would be £20+ so very happy with that!  Afterwards it had hit 10pm so I literally jumped on the trains, stopped for a couple of cans in 7/11 then chilled with friends online, saw in the midnight moment so said Happy birthday to myself, before I opened the cards from My mother and sister which were really nice and made me smile. 

I also got an awesome surprise courtesy of the user Boinsie on  She, it turns out, went to Santa Clara for Kikka-sama.  And from the pictures that she has posted in the Kikka thread there had an awesome time, as did everyone!  I got a PM out of the blue asking for my physical address.  Once it became clear why I was happy to give this information privately...  Because it turns out there was an exclusive photocard of Kikka for this event and he not only got one, but does not collect them so is sending it to me!  Now I have kept my birthdate out of my profile so she does not know it is my birthday, but I shall accept it!  Be a nice thing to go back home to :-)

So on to today!  Well later Nino, Dean, myself and a mystery friend of Nino's are going to venture back to Akihabara backstage pass to celebrate my day, before then?  Final fight anybody?  Haha!  Until next time *sets sail*

Friday, 23 August 2013

A three day update of all the craziness, and my thoughts on Kikka's concert in Santa Clara!

Hey all, sswishbone checking back in with yet another log of what has been going on.  Well got three days to cover as the days have been balanced and checked, I prefer to do a long post giving lots of details and pictures.  If too long...  Err...  Tell me!

So anyway I will start with the 21st, this day was pretty much a chillout day as I was recovering from my trip to Odaiba.  Not that I just sat in the hotel room watching Top gear or anything!  I decided to stay local in Tokyo and first port of call was Akihabara.  As I said in my last log I had found a massive memory my childhood in a functioning cabinet for super hang on, well for those who don't believe what they are told, time for show to trump tell.

 Seriously, that is one of the coolest things ever!  Ok it's dated and ancient, but it brought back memories of being six years old, pretending I was a champion racer in a holiday camp in Bournemouth!  For me reliving classic memories is part of why I came to Japan, there is so much here for the nerd, geek and nostalgic person!

After dropping some coins in there it was still before noon and I was therefore unable to go immediately where I wanted, so instead began to walk around when I suddenly spied this.

No it isn't a photoshop, that is a genuine Ferrari 458 that has been decorated by an otaku in anime characters!  I feel like someone has played Forza 4 just a little too much and gone 'I have the cash, let's do it!'  I pictured it lining up at Suzuka alongside the proper race-prepared ferraris and wet myself, can imagine Murray Walker going "and look at that!" When it comes on the main straight XD

After stopping myself from laughing further I grabbed a swift coffee and then went to the Hello Project shop here in Akihabara as it has been two weeks since I put in my special order.  Before I set off I had found my receipt and brushed up on an adequate phrase that summarised my request of 'it's been two weeks, where is my order?'

At first there was a bit of an issue as the attendant thought I was saying I'd like to collect it in two weeks, with patience and resolve I explained I had waited two weeks and was wondering if it had arrived.  After this there was a further litany of errors in that they searched the back rooms for some time before they finally found what they were looking for and what I desperately wanted.

Yup that is an A4 sized photo of Fukumura Mizuki from Morning Musume.  Aside from Kikka she is one of the few other idols I really care for.  Online even those who aren't keen say she has two things going for her...  Left tit and right tit XD  I am a little more supportive than that in that I think she has an excellent voice, superb character and gorgeous looks all over her body (though yes her rack is a superb asset I acknowledge that!)

So yes this nice piece shall have a frame found for it upon my return to the UK and placed on one of the walls in my home.  Alongside the other insane amounts of stuff I own!  I do find it annoying that I have so little merchandise for Kikka-sama, main problem being that it is so bloody hard to find!  Outside of concerts and events it just does not exist that easily, oh well, one of the challenges of being an international fan of a totally independent artist!

By now it was around 2pm so I ventured home, showered and then chilled for a while before I decided to head to Shibuya just for an evening meal and to check out the evening.  In between a hellacious thunderstorm hit Nippori so I rightly stayed inside and kept my head dry!  In Shibuya I tried out a food place I had not visited before called 'Freshness burger'

What you are looking at there is a curry burger, wedges and a non-alcoholic mojito...  Bit of a strange combo but hey, I'm on vacation, fuck the rules!  The burger was nice but had a huge egg in it so got that annoying British breakfast muffin problem of it all exploding when you bite into it, nice though!  The mojito meanwhile was actually really nice and refreshing, though would have preferred some rum in it!

Afterwards I took in the streets and noticed that high above the 109 pedestrian crossing, Morning Musume have a gigantic advertising billboard for their newest single わがまま気のまま愛のジョーク and I had never seen one for Hello project there before so that was a nice feeling.  Of course I couldn't resist getting a shot of one of the busiest pedestrian crossings you will ever see.

Yes many people crossing and to cap it off top-left you can see the aforementioned billboard.  After this it started raining again and fearing exposure in a huge storm I leapt on the yamanote line and bolted back to Nippori.  Got in and literally twenty minutes later it hit...  Oh my fucking god did it hit!  Proper nasty rain that was easily as heavy as the rain storms we suffered in 2007, accompanied by proper thunder and lightning, so loud it drowned out my headphones!  I stuck inside and then after it eased off at 11pm I went to sleep.

So on to August 22nd.  Had a nice relaxing morning before I went to Nakano broadway, this was a place I had never visited before but heard loads about.  I got there but was a little earlier and many stores were not open.  Still I managed to find an arcade cabinet which had about 200 roms of classic games on, feeling nostalgic I put on R-type II and went space shooting for around half an hour.

Once this time passed most of the stores began to open and this place is just awesome if you are in any way an idol, otaku or general nerd.  One store had tonnes of Formula 1 stuff for sale, including a Renault racing suit as worn by Jarno Trulli in 2004, a cap worn by Sebastian Vettel and loads of signed photos of drivers from the 1980's until present day.  Unfortunately all were expensive and I am cautious of my monetary limit, but should I have any spare cash I will be back there!

I also found a bookstore which had some interesting PB's in, one of which was from the high-school maths drama that Reina, Kikka, Sayu, Mano and fucking everyone else from H!P/NGP was in, I was tempted by it but resisted since it was more than likely making of photos which is not what I buy a PB for...  Slap me if I missed a sitter with that one!

Nakano broadway looks normal here...

But then you find this!

I continued walking around the place taking in loads of things I wanted but were just too expensive, one of which was an 8 dvd boxset of solo angles for the Morning Musume concert 'Pika Pika 2010'.  This item is rare and would have made an awesome addition to my collection, but at 27000 yen, not something I can defend purchasing!  I also saw another item I really wanted to buy.

That is seriously one of the most awesome items ever but again, it was 37000 yen!  I might be a huge nerd and think back to the future is the greatest movie trilogy ever...  But I cannot excuse that, not yet anyway!  I continued taking in the stuff here and generally having fun nerding out before I found an awesome local ramen bar, had lunch and then headed off back home.

After this I didn't do much aside from head to Ueno to order some shinkansen tickets so with that I'll segway into the  23rd when I returned to Osaka.  I feel that there was unfinished business here, last time I came was for the amazing kankyukan aquarium, but I never actually ventured into Osaka itself, so that is what I intended to do.

Jumped on the shinkansen at 8am and had a completely smooth journey all the way down to the Kansai region before I set foot out of the station and realised I had done zero recon!  Yup!   This was a totally cold entry and could result in epic awesome or total and utter disaster.  Gulping down any fear I ventured into the unknown after getting a train to Osaka itself and ventured out the south exit.  Without any real plan I walked the streets and ended up, purely by accident, stumbling on something amazing...  A ferris wheel that was on the 7th storey of a building!  Naturally I went up!

Yup that's a shot from out of the ferris wheel, I have more but not got them off my camera yet, so keep an eye on my photobucket account and more will come.  But this was amazing, really got very high, probably around 12th floor in height and only cost 500 yen!  Normally in england these sorts of wheel cost anywhere from £6 up to £30, in GBP 500 yen is about £3.33!  Absolute bargain!

After this I once again started stalking the streets and found myself in a rather dodgy looking side market.  It had loads of pachinko parlours, a porn dvd store, an eatery for those who like very fresh fish and bars designed for slugging shots and getting massages.  No, there was no red lights on, but then it was only around 1pm so might have been a bit early for the fun to start!  
Rare or raw?
Bewilderingly, after this alley came to an end all of a sudden I was in this public space where tonnes of tradition shrines and buildings stood, with locals donating coins and performing Shinto praying rituals, talk about a shift in balance, going from pretty much porn/crime alley to this was the most perplexing experience I have had in a while.

I returned to the station after this as started getting hungry and found this cool underground shopping plaza that is very similar to one that is in Shinjuku.  I walked around for ages and passed loads, but all looked pretty damn expensive, talking over 1000 yen for the main alone.  I started getting a bit frustrated when I noticed a tempura place that looked at a decent price.  Ensuring I was not jumping the gun I went up close and sure enough prices were fine so I dived in and had a fine meal of five tempura, rice and a green tea for just 650 yen.

Yellow signed building is where I ate, damn nice!

When it came to settling the bill I asked for them to please wait before counting out the change and handing it over and thanking them.  At this point the attendant advised my Japanese was good, I said thanks and then began pondering something.  You see, when I met Madoka she also said my Japanese was good, however, on 15th August I got my Japanese AS level result, and I got a disappointing grade.  D for disappointing!

So this caused me to ponder what level I was really at and I think the reason I didn't do well is that the exam and the course material is stuck in the 1960's.  Before anyone says it, I adore my tutor, she is absolutely awesome and so understanding and supportive.  But the exam was obsessed with asking about things that no one really gives a shit about!   One question was about a school fete or something where the tutor dressed as a clown and questions were about prepartion, while another was about an island where climbing became popular and the questions related to toilets, honestly who gives a shit?

Out here I have found myself needing some of the stuff I learned, but a lot of it, has not been helpful.  So that is why I am going to take a year out, study alone for some context and then have another crack at getting the result I want.

Anyway, after making this bold decision I ventured back on to the streets and eventually found my way down to a huge wide river that led to city hall.  As time was getting closer to my shinkansen back to Tokyo I walked, took shots and enjoyed the sights at my fingertips.

I thought it was awesome to be at this fusion of the wide waterways, traditional crafts and the modern skyline.  The synthesis of old and new is one of the greatest things about Japan, I know that in London, Manchester and York this exists too.  But I think it is the sheer magnitude of it which takes my breath away out here.  Like when I was up the skytree and saw so many eras of Tokyo in one microcosm, just wonderful.

After this I ventured back to Shin-osaka, grabbed a beer while waiting for my shinkansen then ventured back to Tokyo.  Bitten by the sales bug I went to Yodobashi akiba and bought myself a set of JVC HA-XM02X headphones.  They are awesome, really powerful and extremely comfy, cost 5400 yen which is only around £37.  Plus I got an unexpected surprise, not wanting to touch my cash if I could, I decided to use my bank card and unexpectedly, this place had 'chip & pin'!  So easy security, score!  

Now on to the final part of my blog where I mention Kikka's concert in santa clara.  First of all, santa clara is in San Francisco, USA...  I am in Japan!  So I am not there, however thanks to a...  Err... Source!   *Whistles*  I have heard an audio recording of the concert and it was a very unusual gig!  Started with a singles medley of Kikkake ha you, Hapi rapi sunrise, konna watatshi de yokattara and darling to madonna.  She then did something which has made me very jealous of those who are there...  San san go go and I wish!  For those who don't know, they are classic tracks by Milkyway!  and Morning Musume respectively!

The first of that pairing is one of my favourite songs she has ever done whilst the second is just so unbelievably random as to be awesome.  She also bizarrely did Airi Suzuki's solo song Tsuugaku Vector truly random shit!  It was also cool that she the b-sides candy pop and Sweetie before ending with ずっとずっとずっと君がスキだ  Though bless her she did mess up on candy pop, がんばってきっか様!

Yes I am jealous, yes I would love to be there, but having had signings, mini-lives, festival dates, MM live, MM soundcheck, MM handshake, Kikka handshake, Cool hello concerts...  Yeah I reaaally can't complain so to all who are going, I am jealous, I am sorry I am not there, but all have an awesome time in Santa clara!  As for me, it is my birthday in a few days, but as my peeps are all busy on the day, tonight from 5pm we are going to be decimating Shinkjuku.  Brian, Dean, Mika and Nino...  There's gonna be nothing left of the place when we are finished!  Until next time *sets sail*

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A trip to Odaiba for Morning Musume event

Hey all, sswishbone's blog update for the past couple of days.  I have been slipping in my entries but then had a lot going on privately and also with my trip here in Japan!  Starting with the 19th, after three concerts in one day and two in one day before that, I needed to just have a nice relaxing day of it.  Started with a lie in until around 9am, normally due to the heat I am up at 6am!  So hey must have needed it.

Hung about doing my blog first thing and then went to Akihabara just to get some air and some lunch.  Naturally this involved me visiting the club sega arcade again!  Seriously I haven't arcade gamed this much since I was 13 and on holiday at Bashley park with my family!  (A dorset/New Forest caravan site when Point Blank was a new title!)

And speaking of ancient games, what did I happen to notice next to a pair of sega rally and daytona USA 2 arcade cabinets...   A  SUPER HANG ON arcade machine!  Proper ride on bike with the screen level with the handlebars!  I have not seen this since 1988 when I was at Naish holiday village, proper blast from the past!  Naturally I had a go but was shite at it, this game I played to death on Sega Mega Drive, but for that you use a controller not a bike you have to lean on!  I will play this more though as it is just too awesome not to.

Once I had emptied a few 100 yen coins into Outrun 2 Sp I hit a mos Burger to get a tonkatsu shrimp burger meal for my lunch, which was damn tasty.  Healthy?  Fuck no!  But I am on holiday and therefore entitled to treat my body to the bad stuff as much as I want!

Went back to my apartment after this to do some laundry and shower, when I got a message from Dean saying he was meeting a Canadian wota friend in Akihabara later that afternoon and I was more than welcome to join them.  Yup!  Never turn down the opportunity to hang out with new people, especially fellow idol lovers!

So back to akiba and first port of call was to check out the H!P store again, I am still waiting on my Mizuki A4 special photo, it should actually be in now with any luck...  Anyway, we scouted out the merch and laughed at the various silly stuff that is on sale along with the awesome.  Before we settled down in the seated area to joke about a S/mileage concert that was playing.

For all their expense on the store, they really need to sort their playing equipment out!  The resolution of the show was absolutely terrible and had this horrible golden exposure hue over the top of it, it reminded me of a show from the 1970's!  Really really sloppy, but then, I imagine they don't want you watching concerts for free but blowing money on goods!

Once this was done Dean and his mate wanted to go and talk to someone at a place they worked together in Akiba, not being authorised to go up there I went to a local bar and got a pint of Kirin.  What was cool is this place was on two sides of an open plaza, the left-hand bar that I grabbed a beer in was no smoking, whilst across the plaza was a smoking one, absolutely brilliant!  For those who say the smoking ban should be lifted, perhaps this sort of structure would be a good compromise?

Anyway we spent the next 20 or so minutes supping beer and talking about all sorts of things, mostly about how Manchester music was influential.  Not the sort of conversation I expected to have in a bar in akihabara with two fellow wota haha.  Dean was saying how this is the thing about idol fandom he can't explain to anyone else, just that it somehow pulls so many threads together and there is so much crossover interest, knowledge and debate outside of the idol world which is bound together by a love for the girls.  I agree, I remember when I first met Oroboras and we spent a 90 minute car journey debating american muscle cars haha!

Dean's mate then leapt on a train and we briefly visited Yodobashi in Akiba as Dean had been given some stunning Sony studio headphones but they had a cable that was about 4 metres long and he wanted a cable that was shorter.  Being a former music promoter and radio DJ I am familiar with a few things about cabling and setting up so was a useful wingman for the venture.  Inside we found tonnes of things like kettle to kettle leads, jack leads and colossal studio cables with a adaptors that are as thick as a thumb, not useful for plugging into a smartphone!

Eventually an assistant pointed us in the right direction and after running my keen eye over the connectors, found a 1 metre cable that was perfect fit and works fine.  So Dean can now be a smug git with audiophiles who go on about Beats audio and other stuff by just going, 'well mine are used in studios, be jealous!'  lol

We called it a night after this and I just chilled with a few beers.  So on to the 20th, this was the day where I would get to see morning musume live and also attend a handshake event for them.  For those who aren't familiar, this is literally where the group line up at a table as if doing a signing, but instead you shake hands and say stuff to them (if you're confident enough!)  And as I had not met any of the line-up I was excited to see how they'd react to someone being British lol

So first things first, leapt on the yamanote to Shimbashi where I then changed to the Yurikamomoe line (lol Yurikamoe makes me think of Akkyan from The Possible around the time they did 'young days' !)  This was a cool monorail that was quite high above the city and crossed the huge river channels of Tokyo to reach Odaiba.  It naturally had some awesome views out of the window, check these out!

Yeah pretty impressive, the monorail isn't technically cheap but I'd say it's similiar to UK for local journeys and with views like that, plus the fact it is reliable and comfortable, it easily trumps my home country!  Also was a bit strange as halfway through the journey the road and the rail track spiral through a 270 degree turn to cross the water, felt like I was being driven around the famous turn 8 at Istanbul speedway!

Eventually I disembark at the station near Fuji TV and struggled at first to find where I should be, it did not help that there was an event at Fuji TV and the event I was going for, luckily an attendant gave me an event map which I figured out and ventured on over.

Event itself was in what was literally a converted car park, with the stage being high and large, and all seats formed from rows of benches, very much a temporary facility!  Still once inside I was strolling around for a bit indulging in shaved ice and beer and looking at the one piece display, when I notice Carlos sat in a shaded bench area near some straddled gates.  After talking with him it became clear at 2:30pm they would start allowing people to pre-order the 54th Morning Musume single (it's not out until 28th) and get given a handshake ticket for post concert, thus I now have one on order that may make it to my address before I return to england or may not!

Awesome inflatable One Piece ship at Odaiba

Anyway around 1pm everyone darted from their seats and this impromptu horseshoe line was formed, at first Carlos stood with me but then saw wota he knew further forward so went to them.  For ten minutes everything was fine, when suddenly they called that this was not the real queue and it would start along the fencing that formed the exit to the venue.  Which was a good call as we would have clogged a lot of public space otherwise.

So the scramble to reform the line happens and I end up around 16th in the queue, Carlos was around 116th!  Shows that sometimes it pays to be patient and await confirmation!  Waited in line for around 90 mins and then we began to be herded forward, then had to fill in a form with my address...  I didn't want to put my UK one as doubt it would be accepted, luckily, my phone has an offline storage for my e-mail, so while internet does not work out here (deliberately so as not to incurr roaming charges!) I could access my current address, lucky!

Afterwards I grabbed some fries and then went wandering when I noticed people crowding around the arena.  Curious, I joined the throng, when suddenly Momusu walked on stage, about 90 mins ahead of schedule in street clothes.  Bemused I stood and watched as they soundchecked!  Now this is something I never expected I would get to see in the idol world.  Having done gig promotion I have seen soundchecks before, but this was odd in that the area only had gates so you could still see.

The girls even got in on the act and were waving and shouting at us lot saying how they could see us watching haha.  It was a surreal experience to see them in street gear, Mizuki wore a shirt that said 'left my heart in Hawaii' which made me chuckle.  They did four songs to check which were Help me, Brainstorming, Ai no gundan and wagamama ai no joke.  What was curious is that during the check they sometimes did not sing all the lines, mainly the high noted ones, which suggests to me they were more focussed on low end vocals and must have had some form of issue getting it right.

After this hung around for ten minutes or so when a guy with a megaphone started talking about access to the venue from the left, initially people just stood to the left but then I remembered seeing a sign earlier with the kanji for entrance pointing right not too far from where we queued.  Walked around and as a result got straight through with no queuing.

Inside I took my position on the fifth row right by the aisle, which was a fantatsic spot as it was not only close, but angled across the whole stage, plus it would transpire that Mizuki spent 80% of the gig on this side so was close to my oshi for Morning Musume, woo hoo!

Sly shot of the stage taken when staff weren't about

During the wait for the gig to start they actually played MM pv's so that alleviated some of the dullness, also at this point Maoh and Madoka came over announcing they had arrived and wanted to meet after the handshake as sadly they had not got a ticket for the handshake.  I was like sure, while I had an amazing spot, these two had some in block A tiered seats, which meant seated gig only, not cool!

Just before Momusu came on a 20 second countdown began which naturally got everyone chanting and massively excited.  When the girls came on, they looked gorgeous wearing an outfit I had not expected!  I anticipated either the Wagamama or Ai no gundan PV costumes, instead we got these.

*Pic sourced by Amped from*

Mizuki made me howl, lace and sailor hat, aye aye captain!  Haha.  Setlist for the show was all modern tracks, which disappointed me slightly, as I think it would have been a good opportuinty to showcase a little more of their history, still it was enjoyable.  Tracks were: - Help Me, Waruteka take a chance, Brainstorming, Kimi sae, Ai no gundan and Wagamama ai no joke.  

The gig was still massivley exciting and fun, with kimi sae and ai no gundan being the standout moments.  Also some good comedy happened during the MC's, in second MC Sayumi signalled for Oda Sakura to lead on something, but was looking at the wrong side of the stage, cue Oda going 'Kochi!' to Sayu to get her attention XD

Also in the encore MC where they announced themselves and thanked the crowd, Mizuki went first and called all of the crowd amazing for the volume at which 'encore' was chanted.  After this Macchan began speaking when all of a sudden a bee or some sort of insect started swarming around Mizuki, cue her stomping and swatting furiously which got everyone laughing and Macchan looking around wondering what was going on!

Finally, after the MC, Riho signals for the song to begin and the girls all form the pose for the song...  And are greeted by total silence!  For around ten seconds we are looking around and even the members start getting this sort of 'err... What's going on?'  Look.  I then shouted '音楽どこか'  (english 'Where's the music?) A few wota laughed and then chanted 音楽 before finally the track 'One Two Three' started to end the gig.

Afterwards joined the line for the handshake and up onto the stage we went, this was a rapid event!  Seriously, not even two seconds before you were moved on!  Anyway mostly I just said to members I was British and thanks for the gig, Suzuki kanon developed a smile wider than the Mersey tunnel when I said that!  For Mizuki I went a little further saying that I had come all the way from britain and I really liked her.  Think it shocked her a bit but she was very grateful, which is always cool.  For sayu I just spoke english and said 'cheers for leading the concert'  she understood none of it but who cares?  lol

Once outside Maoh and Madoka were waiting and we began to make our way out of the event, before leaving we took a walk around Odaiba as I hadn't had chance that morning and got to take a shot of the gigantic Gundam statue and also it turned out another idol group were having a small event at the side of the gundam.  No idea who they were but there was literally twelve people watching them, they were still energetic enough but the music really was not our thing so we scarped pretty sharp.

Once done with this, we decided to head for the station but on the way, in a really bewildering moment, I saw this.

Really don't know what to make of this, I have somehow transported to New York lol.  Not something I expected to see here in Japan that's for sure!  After seeing this Maoh was explaining that on the rivers here in Odaiba, they often have boats where people drink and party.  I explained to Madoka and Maoh that they sometimes happen in the UK but more common are the drinking buses.  Maoh then suggested Oroboras should drive one for all of us in the future XD

Once back at Shimbashi, Maoh and Madoka announced they were gonna hit a flash burger joint in Kawasaki and would I join them.  Big burgers?  Damn straight I'll join you!  So onwards we went into kawasaki train station/shopping mall, and after navigating a bizarre series of escalators where you have to walk a quarter of the upper level for the next set to emerge, we were there.

This was a proper old fashioned 1950's US diner and it was awesome!  Ordered a chicken burger and it came with one of the biggest chicken fillets I have seen!  I also had one of their oreo milkshakes for the full on diner experience, damn tasty too!  
We spent hours afterwards talking about H!P, previous trips to Japan, Madoka's residence in Oxford and how many idol events Oroboras will try and attend in october!  Maoh also had his laptop with him and tonnes of photos from his previous trips, incuding the Eurowota meet up in London during 2010.  This was wonderfully nostalgic seeing Maimai being shown off on british buses and outside royal albert hall made me chuckle as I hadn't seen them in so long.  Only downer was seeing her who shall not be named during the karaoke photos!

One thing that transpired during the evening, was that this place was where the video for 'lady mermaid' by the Satoyama unit Dialady was shot!  So that's another part of the idol history I can tick off, naturally at evening's end we had to get one of the staff to photograph us all together.

From left Myself, Madoka and Maoh

By now it had got past 10pm so jumped on the half train back to Nippori then literally came home, updated twitter with some inane babble (including how yes I had forgotten names of people, I am terrible at remembering them from meetings, I need to get over that somehow!) and hit the sack.  So today, well I think Mizuki A4 will have arrived in H!P store so gonna go there and maybe try and conquer super hang on again!  Until next time *sets sail*