Archive for November, 2011

Hello! Project Festival

It’s not every day that you get to meet all the members of Hello! Project. Yesterday however, I was lucky enough to have done just that. (He says casually as if it’s no big deal). What, it is a big deal! I got to meet all the members of Hello! Project! Today on Thanksgiving, I can say that I am very thankful to have had the experience. Thankful for the experiences I’ve had and thankful that I’ve got friends to help me navigate how to get to these events and such. It was nice seeing a lot of familiar faces too. Thanks all!


Holy long lines Batman. The day started out after my arrival at Yomiuri Land, to which I was greeted with a long, long line. I wasn’t expecting to see so many people at the event. Apparently too, the staff wasn’t expecting that many people either. I should have arrived earlier but I was fresh off a bus from Osaka and didn’t have any extra time. Anyway, this line was about two and a half hours long by the time I got there, and grew quite a bit behind me. This was just to get into Yomiuri Land, once inside we were greeted with another line to exchange our preorder tickets for handshaking tickets. Four hours total standing in line, but I can say it was worth it.

So the handshake groups were broken into five: Mo, Be, Ki, Ma and Su. Each group had the leader of their respective groups in them (with the exception of Be, who had Momo in Captain’s place), along with a mix of members form the other groups. When I got to exchange my preorder tickets, they had already run out of Su group. Bummer, that was Chinami’s group. They had also ran out of Mo, meaning at the time I wouldn’t have been able to see all of the groups. It all worked out in the end however, I was able to get some tickets from a friend and trade a few with some others to get more of the Su group and one for Mo. Once again I am thankful. I ended up with 14 handshake tickets in total, though I only had time to use 10 of them.

Mobekimasu Handshake Tickets

Mobekimasu Handshake Tickets

Before the handshaking there would be a two hour live concert/event. They opened with “ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL.” A great throwback to older times and a great group song, I’m glad to see it performed with the current lineup. Some highlights of the event were S/mileage performing a new song. I liked the beat and instrumentals and am looking forward to its release. Morning Musume performed “Love Machine.” I had never seen that live, so that was nice. Berryz did their audiance participation/a cappella version of “Rival,” which is one of my favorites. Other than that there was a mix of old and new songs performed, culminating with the new Mobekimasu single.

Tsunku made a couple of video appearances during the MCs. One of which he was talking about Saki. He had this long drawn out, filled with pauses, mentioning that Saki wasn’t there. You really got the feeling that he was about to say something big. But no, Tsunku was just trolling; he mentioned that she wasn’t there due to a conflict and that her birthday was the day before. Ah, you really had to be there to get a sense of the atmosphere when that happened. Interestingly, Tsunku made a second appearance too. When Risa mentioned that he was going to say something again, the girls on stage, or rather, Sayumi got really nervous. It’s like anytime Tsunku speaks, you get this feeling for the worst in the back of your head. What he had to say though, wasn’t to do with any graduations or anything, no big deal yeah, haha.

After the concert they prepped the stage for the handshake. There were a lot of people there and even after what, 4 hours, they weren’t able to get through all of the tickets they had given out (with multiple handshake tickets per person).

I first went to handshake the Su group. Leading the line there was Wada Ayaka. This girl seems to have a lot of energy. When I approached she seemed happy, and said “Hello,” as I proceeded to introduce myself.

Next up was Chinami. Of course the highlight of my experience was all of the interaction I had with her. A friend had tipped her of that I was coming a week or so earlier, so I hope she was looking forward to seeing me too. It was so great to see her after six months. All of the lasting memories we’ve built, I am very thankful for the experiences we’ve had. I’ll keep what I told her to myself, but it was a mix of Japanese and English, haha. On the English part, you could tell she couldn’t understand a thing I was saying. Makes sense, lol. Anyway, she told a friend who came up behind me that she didn’t understand, lol, so I later apologized to her. The whole series of interactions, as I went through her handshake line multiple times, was great. She always seems so happy to see me, and I too am happy to see her. What a great experience, and I can’t wait to see her again.

I’ll briefly touch on everyone else. Of course Berryz all recognized me; it was good to see all of them again. Momo in particular seemed surprised to see me. Maimi and Risa were pleasantly surprised to see me too. I do stand out anyway, yeah. It was nice to meet them; Mano too. One handshake that stood out to me was Chisato. Not the handshake itself, but her smile. It was just too cute. Meeting Reina was nice too. Then there are a bunch of the new Musume and S/milage members whose names I don’t know, but they’re all simply adorable. Yeah, way too much for me to recall and say something about each of the [multiple] interactions I had with the girls. I’ll just conclude and say that it truly was a great experience to meet them all.

The past few years have truly been great; so many memories to be thankful for. I almost didn’t come to Japan this Thanksgiving, but I am oh so glad that I did.

So, until next time, whenever that is. I do know though, that I’ll be in New Jersey to see Berryz at AnimeNEXT. Perhaps I’ll see you there.


It’s been just over four years since I’ve discovered Japanese music. A life changing event no doubt about it, but I’ve already told that story. The following is instead, a short about my latest trip to Japan. It’s just about Thanksgiving and so it’s time for my annual pilgrimage. I almost didn’t make it out here this year, but the calling from my second home was too strong.

First on tap for this trip was a train ride to Osaka, to see one of my favorite groups, Tokyo Jihen. “Discovery,” well that’s the name of their 2011 tour. As some may recall, this isn’t my first time seeing Shiina and crew, as I saw them on tour last year. This go ’round however, I felt more prepared than I was last time and what can I say, the Incidents didn’t dissapoint.

Got to the concert hall a few hours early after a bit of sightseeing; not too early though I guess, as they already had things setup to where you could buy goods. I had taken a little bit of a peak online to see what types of things they’d be selling, but actually seeing all of it, I was a bit overwhelmed. It’s not that there was a lot more than there was last time, but there was a lot of variety. In any case, I just grabbed a couple of flags, a t-shirt and a keychain.

Tokyo Jihen Discover Tour Flag

Tokyo Jihen Discover Tour Flag

The flags are bright green, with Tokyo Jihen’s logo on them they really stand out. As with last time there would be much flag waving; it’s simple, yet a fun way to be involved with the others attending the concert, at the same time involved with what is happening on stage.

After buying my goods I was approached by a girl who was handing out cards, with an apple and a date on them. 2011/11/25. A note on the card indicated that that was Shiina Ringo’s birthday. Didn’t know that was coming up, so, Happy Birthday! Anyway, I was asked to write a message on the card, which I did; a mix of English and Japanese as I usually do when I fill out things like that. I like being involved with little things like that.

A couple hours of waiting and the doors opened up. My seats were decent enough and I had a pretty good, clear view of the stage. The stage was setup a bit larger than I remember they used for their last tour, and for good reason. I’d say that they were a lot more dynamic and there was a lot more movement on stage this time. This concert had a lot more energy I think.

Things opened up with a big screen where there was some animated, almost meteor like things crashing down. The screen was setup so that you could see behind it, quite clearly, but at the same time the things projected onto it were pretty clear too. So as these things are crashing down, Tokyo Jihem come out and start playing their first tune.

The music selection was awesome. You can’t go wrong with much of their songs anyway, but I feel that the setlist here was pretty great. There were a couple of songs I hadn’t heard before. I think one or two of them, from what I read, were new songs from Shiina. Anyway, just a few songs I wanted to being attention to. Himitsu for DJ – Awesome! The part in particular that I’m talking about is from Ukigumo, the guitarist’s rap. There was a screen brought up behind him, and stairs illuminated showing his name as he and their pianist came down front and rapped a bit about his guitar. After which Ukigumo climbed up the stairs and gave his little guitar solo. The energy and how it was all set up was just great. The audience was really into it too.

The last two songs I wanted to make mention of were during the encore. Gunjou Biyori, one of my favorite songs. It was a little, remixed I guess. This version was interesting, but not so different that it still was unejoyable. After that they played Atarashii Bunmeikaika, another one of my favorites. It was a great song to end the concert on with a lot of energy and cheers. It’s like things ended with the old (Gunjou) and the new (Atarashii), a great selection.

One final note is on the costume changes. There were what, three or four changes from what I can recall. Seemed like many more than the one that they had during their last tour. The costumes were great, and one that stood out was Shiina’s Native American looking headdress she was wearing towards the end.

Overall, great show; awesome show. While their last tour was great, this one seemed to have taken that greatness and made many more improvements to produce a much better show. I had fun and look forward to whatever Shiina Ringo and Tokyo Jihen have in store for us in the future.