Archive for 'Concert Review'

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!

Thanks!

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.

Discovery

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.

Birthday Hour GO!GO

Happy Birthday Chinami! For the second year now, I’ve been able to spend part of the special day with you. Seeing your smiling face makes me happy, and on this day, and every day, I hope that you can be happy too.

A big thanks again for all who helped me out here. I had an awesome time as expected. Just a few highlights and quick comments.

Berryz Hour GO!GO =3

Berryz Hour GO!GO =3

Takoyaki Saki, with her hair in a pair of buns and a big pair of glasses on looked cute. Her style, energy and cool all wrapped up in a neat little package is just great to watch.

More Momoko and Chinami back and forth. It’s so fun watching these two go at each other. Momo’s personality is so unique, it’s cool to just sit back and watch her interact with the others and the audience. As I was in the front row for the second performance, she really was enthusiastic in getting me to dance along with the songs. Fun, fun.

After interacting with the audience for a little bit and making their way through the event hall, Berryz would hit the stage. For the second run of the event, you could tell that the girls were surprised to see me sitting out there in front. On stage, things opened up with a performance of Rival. During the last part of the chorus, with Chinami up front and on the side of the stage that I was, we danced the last part of the chorus together as she looked my way, full of smiles. 1つ・・・さあ行こう〜 Rival being one of my favorite Berryz songs made it extra special.

During the first handshake, “Geoffrey~” Chinami said as I approached, which took me by surprise, as she had struggled with it a bit the day before. Happy! Even tho it’s not that big of a deal, I’m happy that she put in the effort to remember it~. After that, I forgot what it is that I wanted to say, but I eventually got it out, ha. The second handshake was just as fun, and I stalled a little bit to say a few extra things to her as the staff were pushing us through.

King Maasa retains her powerful stage presence which I’ve always enjoyed. During Tomodachi wa Tomodachi Nanda! in particular she stood out to me for some reason. She had some sort of a cool attitude for a little bit which was fun too. She didn’t do the full time MC bit this time around, but in the parts that she did take the reins she was great.

Mayabi had used some English during her turn in one of the mini games they were playing, so during the handshake I said to her a couple of things in English, to which she returned in kind. She also greeted me as Kentucky, as she’s done in the past, with a smile whilst putting a finger in the air, indicating that she remembers me. One other note, as Miya lost one of the games they were playing, she had to make a sales pitch about one of the Berryz goods (whilst wearing a goofy nose/glasses/bow). Let’s just say, SOLD! Good job Miya; she was great on stage.

Yurina took the MC spot from Maasa this time. Her little bouts of being a bit air-headed are still there, wich makes watching her and the casualness of her performances cute. She was sweating a bit during one part of the event and Momo brought her a towel. They didn’t make a big deal out of it or anything, but I thought that the interaction was nice.

Risako continued her coy, umm, you know, “that thing she does.” I’ve pointed it out before, but the way she dances on stage really has improved over the years. Just watch, and while she might not be as sharp &c as some of the others, it’s got it’s own unique flow that meshes well with the rest of the group. Some of Berryz latest songs too, really seem to fit Risako’s style.

So Berryz, until we meet again; and Chinami, Happy Birthday! I hope you had a good one. To all my friends back in Japan and elsewhere, see you when I see you~

Addicted: Three Times The Heroine

I was talking with my Japanese teacher a few weeks back, we were discussing how I work on programs for people who might have drug or alcohol related issues. As the conversation progressed, she suggested that perhaps similar to how some of the people in the program may have issues with addiction, I was addicted to Berryz Koubou. She was joking of course, but it’s an interesting thought to consider, is it not? My teacher and I had talked at length on previous occasions about my interest in the group, so she was familiar with my travels and what not to see them, and it’s fun to chat about my passion for J-Pop with people outside of the wotasphere. On one level herself, being Japanese, it was both familiar and foreign to her. In the past I’ve had similar conversations with people from Japan. The seem to find my passion for the group to be interesting to say the least.

With regards to addiction, there is this sort of high that going to these concerts and events bring about in me, something unique I’ve not been able to find anywhere else. And then, it’s somewhat funny that I have enablers, friends who support and encourage my behavior; in the midst of papers and projects due, I’ve taken time off school and work to go see them; all the money I’ve spent, the time invested, &c, and while it hasn’t come close to a point where I would consider it an addiction, it’s become so much a part of my life. In some aspects, I would say it’s not too out of the ordinary at all; I’ve heard of plenty of people who follow their favorite bands all over the world, yeah. To be so enthralled by this relatively unknown idol group from Japan however, to travel out there to see her, is at least at the foundation, a different story.

Anyway, all that exposition builds to the fact that here I am, back in Japan; to see my Berryz. To feed my addiction if you will. Honestly, at times it feels like maybe it’s a bit much. Ah, but I’m not going to venture down that train of thought. I’m having the time of my life! I know it won’t last forever and therefore I’m going to continue to enjoy it while I can; and hey, it’s okay, I’m a wota.

Berryz Koubou - Heroine ni Narou ka!

Berryz Koubou - Heroine ni Narou ka!

Mini Concert

As I tend to do, I have to first of all say thanks to those who made this possible. The people I’ve met and befriended in Japan really seem to go out of their way to help get me to these events. I am very thankful, and as with most of my words, I really feel that that is an understatement; but it’s really great to have people who support me in this.

So then, the precursor to the main event was today in Nagoya, where I’d get to watch Berryz at their “Heroine ni Narou ka!” release event. Not once, not twice, but three times. The release events are relatively short, but actually ended up a bit longer than I expected. The mini concert opened with Heroine ni Narou ka!, and had a nice selection overall with Maji Bomber!!, Icchoume Rock!, Otakebi Boy WAO! and Rival. All great songs to see and dance along with live.

Since the seats were random, I wasn’t able to get too close to the stage, but still, about 8 rows back and center isle seats for the second and third go rounds gave me a great view of things.

Not much has changed with the girls since I’ve seen them last. Well, it has been less than a month, so what’s to expect, right. Chinami and I had or nice little moments here and there. I really feel a connection with her whenever I see her, and just watching her dance around, goofing off a bit, playing off of the other girls on stage, and all the in between, just makes me smile from ear to ear. Maasa continues to excel with her presence on stage and her MC ability; Captain continues to dance up a storm and have a fun time doing it; everyone was putting in a great effort and I enjoyed watching all of them do their own thing.

I’m happy to report too, that that spark with Risako that was missing in Seattle is back, haha. I don’t think I need to elaborate much, but one point that really stood out for me was when they do that little monocle thing in Heroine (Otakbe too); Risako zoomed right in on me with a big ol’ smile. It’s funny how I missed it in Seattle, and now it’s back, the point of conflict in which I’m in my head telling her to stop, yet at the same time, it’s just plain fun so I just go with it.

Handshake

At the end of each of the events was the handshake. I have to say, I’m somewhat running out of things to say to some of the girls. I mean, there are only so many ways I can tell Miyabi that I love her voice and or like her in Buono! and what not. But even without much to say, just being there, holding their hands and looking into their eyes is enough. Anyway, during the first handshake they really rushed us through so I didn’t get a change to say but a quick thank you and not much else. That said, my interaction with Chinami was a lot of fun as usual. This time as I attempted to convey to her my real name, she leaned in to get a better listen and we repeated it back and forth a couple of times. By the next time I had talked with her, she had lost about half of it, haha. No worries, I’m good with “Kentucky.” It’s got a special meaning and history behind it.

Celebration

After the events, some friends and I headed to Osaka for a little party. Well, just a get together, dinner and what not, tho in celebration of Chinami’s birthday one might say. I made a toast to Chinami, her happiness and her smiles and or some such. We had wine ’round midnight and overall just had a good time relaxing. To avoid sounding like too much of a broken record, thanks all for the comradery, these are a great group of people.

So, one down. One to go. See you tomorrow, or, today. I’m looking forward to it.

Berryz in Seattle

What a great weekend. Berryz and friends, I had a great time.

Berryz Koubou at Sakura-con

Berryz Koubou at Sakura-con


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Berryz Seven, Solo San

Happy 7th Anniversary Berryz Koubou, I am glad to have spent the days to celebrate with you. For me, it’s been a bit over three years since I’ve fallen in love with Berryz and Japanese music in general, and to put forth that this discovery changed my life is something I can say without hesitation. I’ve also been blogging over the past three years, although sparingly, it’s been fun sharing my stories and opinions on something I am so passionate about.

A big thanks to all of those who made this trip possible. To say that I had a great time would be an understatement. Once again, the wota, friends, the staff, everyone involved, thank you.

Berryz Koubou's Seventh Year Anniversary; 8Shot

Berryz Koubou's Seventh Year Anniversary; 8Shot

The photo makes sense with that little bit of a background tied to it, tho I was told that Berryz themselves were a little bit puzzled by the 3 finger pose. This is where things kicked off, after early morning meet up and a five or so hour bus ride to Izu, we were taken to an orchard estate on top of a very large, steep hill. Berryz greeted us and we had a toast to start before going in to get our pictures taken. Berryz looked stunning in their dresses, I felt a bit underdressed actually, as did others, but no matter. As with Hawaii, Chinami takes a spot right behind me, I think the photo turned out well.

Later that evening we’d check into our hotels and have dinner before heading out to the live concert. In the morning we did some strawberry picking, a special gift to Berryz. Followed up was a group shot along with some fun interaction with the girls and then moving on to the fan meeting where things would wrap up with a handshake. I had an excellent time meeting my girls again.

Captain

For the tour photosets, Captain had on some huge glasses. Cute, but kinda dorky, haha. Her longer hair also contributes to a new look of sorts.

Captain put together the live concert, which had a looser feel than usual, which is part of what made it great. One thing I like about Berryz is their lack of perfection. These types of events, really give a feeling, however slight, that you really are getting to know the girls and not just some actor of sorts. It was nice to see Captain, kinda more leadery, but still having a lot of fun.

Momoko

Momo was the same as always. She’s really a unique kind of idol, and as I’ve said before it seems people either love her or tire of it. I just say keep on keepin’ on Momo. After the group shot, because Risako was feeling sick that morning, Momo had her own little interaction session alone. She really has a personality and presence that can stand on it’s own, yet works well in the groups she’s in. She gave me a cute and animated handshake, as if she was genuinely happy to see me.

Chinami

Lucky number 7. Wow. There’s so much I could say, but as I’ve done in the past, I’ll try and exercise some constraint, heh. After the group shot, we were led into some rooms where groups of Berryz would come and give us a little presentation / interaction along with prizes to a select few. Maasa and Chinami came together, my two favorite Berryz mind you. At the end of their presentation, Chinami revealed what their prize would be. Chii had specially decorated an item, a bag of, ah, I already forgot what it’s called. Some tomato looking stuff you can put on curry &c.

Gift from Chii to Me

Gift from Chii to Me

To reward the prize, Chinami picked a random seat. She turned around and said she’ll first start on the right side of the room, in the back (I was in the front on the left, so you could probably imagine my feeling of pending disappointment at this point). Because however, it was their seventh anniversary, she said she will pick the person seventh from the right and seventh from the back. As they were counting the seats from the back, I realized that they were in my row and when they finally stopped on me, I was totally surprised and excited! I was chosen by Chinami! Lucky!

I stood up and moved to the front of the room and of course Chinami, genius as she is, had to throw out some English during the exchange. “I’m Chinami,” “Thank you,” “Delicious.” As she was saying thank you for the second or third time, lol, she moved in close, hand raised in an attempt to give me a high five. I had then raised my hand too, before the staff had stopped her, lol. Ah, she was so excited, and so was I! We ended up giving each a remote high five a couple of times, haha. It was just great!

At the handshake later that evening, Chii continued where she left off, with some more thank you’s. OMG Chinami’s voice is so sugary syrupy sweet, haha. What an awesome experience. I’ll not downplay how happy it made me feel.

Maasa

Aww, Maasa was hurt before the concert and couldn’t dance on stage, tho she was still Ms. King MC as per usual. As the concert started up with Heroine ni Narou ka, she kinda looked sad on stage, sitting in a chair, doing the upper body motions to the song, singing her parts butting nothing else. As things moved on however, the girls would go over to her and dance and such, especially Chinami who gave her a few bumps and bops on the head. They were all having a good time in the end.

Miyabi

Miya seemed a bit more active than what I usually remember of her. Her voice is still in top shape and she’s a really well rounded idol. During the fan meeting she won the little DO-RE-ME tournament thing they were doing. She was given a trophy and then Yurina took pictures of her holding it to give to some of the audience. She was having a lot of fun with it.

Yurina

Kumai had a couple of mess-ups during the concert, which continues to contribute to the view of a bit of an absent minded personality that I’ve seen in her as of late. Now, that is not a dig, it’s great actually, her personality and stage presence are ever growing and not going unnoticed.

Risako

I say that I’m pretty good at reading people, but it’s more than a possibility that my reading is off a little in this case. That said, Risako continues to send me all sorts of subtle messages when she looks my way, followed by a smile and or what not. During the concerts or whenever, it’s quite amusing as she’s half way coy with it. During the handshake, the way she looked at me was, ah, I don’t know. She was looking so deep and intently, lol. As I’ve said before, we just kind of click on some level, then again, maybe it’s all in my head. Anyway, good show.

As I told all of Berryz when I had the chance: See you in Seattle!

Beri Kou Festival!

Well, ’twas Thanksgiving break, the time for my annual fall pilgrimage to Japan to see mah Berryz, yeah. Just a few thoughts and highlights…

Welcome to Beri Kou Fes!

Welcome to Beri Kou Fes!

First off, shout out to my fellow wota and friends in Japan and from other places around the globe. Some I’ve met for the first time, some I haven’t seen in a while. I’ve said it before, but these guys and gals really are a great group of people; I really do feel a sense of pride associating myself with ’em. I’m very lucky to be able to follow my interests and travel, pursuing my passion for Japanese music, and in turn, to meet other people who have a similar passion.

On to the concert… finally got to see Dakishimete Dakishimete. I had been wanting to see that one for some time. Kimi no Tomodachi was pretty cool too, another one I was looking forward to. The rotating setlist gave me the opportunity to see a few different combinations of the girls and songs too, which was an nice little bonus of sorts. Cutting the music and having the audience sing along with Rival, one of my favorite songs, was an awesome little experience too. Great concert overall, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Two Chinami solos! Yea! Maasa and Captain too. The random selection worked in my favor I would say, haha. The solo performances were cute, with the rest of the Berryz as backup dancers/cheerleaders.

Chinami and her genki self was great, her smile lighting up the stage. What more can I say man. The girl has got me hooked. MC Maasa, always running the show. She really is the King of Berryz, great at leading the troops. While Captain is Captain, coming with her sharp dance moves and high energy as always.

Kumai really is a beauty. That’s nothing new, but her presence on stage has been grabbing a little bit more of my attention lately. Miyabi’s voice is as solid as ever, tho she did miss a bit of a line at one point. She continues to keep her skill in top form.

Ahh, Risako… I felt like Risako was dancing -for me- for a lot of the night on Saturday, heh. Like we kept locking eyes as she danced right there, me in the front row, we kept smiling back and forth at each other. I’m not gonna say it was awkward, but at some points I was kinda like thinking to myself, just stop, lol, this is too much. Yeah, maybe that doesn’t make much sense, but anyway, we always seem to connect at these concerts. Risako’s Ibu-sama character was cool too. She really seems to naturally fit that role and her performance was decent. Also, and maybe this will kinda come off as somewhat of a backhanded complement, but I didn’t really feel that she was dancing all that lazily this time, ha. Baby steps, yeah.

Poor Momo, always getting picked on during their little skits and such. A good chunk of it coming from Chinami as I’ve mentioned here before. It’s not only Chii that picks on her tho, each of them are in on it in their own way. Momoko is just too cute sometimes, haha.

No idea when I’ll get to see them again, but this past experience was a blast. Till next time.

Happy Summer Vacation

Happy Summer Vacation? More like Epic Summer Vacation, yeah. Though before I go on any further, let me just say right off the bat…

THANK YOU!!!

For convincing me to go. Believe it or not, it did take a little bit of encouragement, I was initially hesitant. School started last week and so I’m missing the first couple of days. On top of that I had just come back from Japan not too long ago, and my money supply was more than a bit limited, heh. It didn’t take too much prodding however; I mean, how could I pass up the opportunity?

ありがとう!!!

For setting this all up for me. Filling out and sending in the applications, waiting on the mail to deliver the various documents you needed from me, answering my questions. I could go on an on, but I’ll just say that I am very grateful for everything that has been done for me to get me here.

Then there’s the friendly and helpful staff, to everyone involved. Thanks all.

Now, if by the title of this post it’s not obvious as to what it is that I’m talking about: I got to go to the Berryz Kobo Fanclub Tour in HAWAII! Or I guess, technically I’m still here, but the main events have since concluded. I had intended to keep this really short but, no matter, I just wanted to share some of my experience.

Happy Summer Vacation - Goods

Happy Summer Vacation – Goods

8月27日(金)ファンの集い

Beri Hello Name; Roll Call

First, before I get to the event itself, we were to choose a Beri Hello Name for ourselves. The Beri Hello Name is basically a nickname for use during the event. I was thinking I’d choose “solo” but that just wouldn’t do, yeah. I decided on “Kentucky.” This is an interesting one, because Kentucky is short for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in Japan. An intentional setup for Kenchiki jokes. It also setup an interesting scenario where when people would ask where I was from, my answer of course would be, Kentucky. Clever little thing I did there methinks, most seemed amused by it anyway.

So that’s where the event starts. We’re outside divided into 23 teams of 10, under four separate pavilions, situated around an open area. Berryz come out, say hello and do their introductions. They each have their own Names too. Captain’s Name for example, is “Saki.” At first I was like, what? LOL. She wasn’t the only one to do this tho. In the end it makes sense, and they did explain their choice. Captain is Captain, so Saki fits. Let’s see, Yu-chan, Momo-chi, Na-chan, China~mi, Risako, Maasa. Yeah, I know I have a few of those wrong (also, excuse me switching between the different names throughout the writeup).

With Berryz names out of the way, it was time to take role. Each one of the girls would grab a random group of 30 names and head over to the tables. They’d read off the names one at a time, and each person would respond “Hai.” At the end of reading off 10 names for the people at the particular table, they were presented a gift of some photos and some red thing that folded out that nobody could figure out what it was (tho, it’s use makes sense later into things).

Risako came to my table. I believe she recognized me from the last two Berryz concert tours. Where in the one she smiled and waved back at me, and in another I had done something creative with one of my glowsticks that got a chuckle out of her. In any case, this would be I guess, my first time “meeting” someone from Berryz Koubou.

Game Time

With the roll complete, it was time to play some games. Each fanclub member would have a chance to grab an envelope, and interact with one of the girls in the form of a game of jankenpon or to answer a trivia question. Win or answer the question correct and you’d get a point for your team. When I went up I was directed to Risako where she asked me a trivia question. Uh oh, heh. She started reading the piece of paper I had handed her and all I could make out of it was something about August twenty something and otanjoubi. My answer was Miyabi, but that was wrong, LOL. Anyway, I wasn’t the only person in my team to get a wrong answer so it’s not like I let us down or anything, hehe. The next game was a water balloon toss. Pretty simple really. Berryz would toss you a water balloon, catch it and you get a point for your team. At the end of the bought of games, a winning team was announced and they got some candy leis. They were called to the stage and Berryz presented it to them.

Team Canvas

Berryz had decorated a largish canvas, not as big as the one last year, but a similar type thing to give an idea; they brought it out to show everyone. And now, each of the 23 teams also had a canvas of their own to decorate. During the decoration process each Berryz member would come around and give the team one of a myriad of stickers they had designed. Giving me a chance to meet the rest of Berryz. Of note is when Momoko came to our table and she was asked by someone in my team to put her sticker on the back of the canvas. She was not happy, tho in a playful type of way.

Also of note, was Chinami of course! I happened to be teamed up with one of the guys who helped organize Chinami’s birthday concert last May. So while we didn’t really know each other, we did know each other, heh, and he knows of me and my interest in Berryz in general without me having had to say much of anything. Anyway, the guys in my team all know Chinami is my girl, so they kinda set me up when she came around to our table. Making sure that I was next to her so that we could talk and what not. Now, even tho It might seem I’m being a bit verbose in describing things, I’m leaving a bit out, just so that’s clear. In any case, I got to talk to her, and tell her where it was okay to put the sticker. She said “Okay” and made a little okay sign, to which I replied in kind. Good ol’ wotas setting me up like that. Another thing that just jumped out is when someone asked her to say something in English. Her choice of words was only one. “Cucumber.”

With Berryz finished distributing their stickers, they would then exit in the direction they came in, leaving us some time to finish decorating our canvas. As they’re walking out, waving to everyone, Chinami is taking her time strolling along. She then stops to say something to the camera and so is the last to leave. I maneuver myself so that I’m in open view of the exit. “Chi-na-mi,” I shout out, which grabs her attention. “Bye, bye,” I say. She waves, smiles and returns the byes. “Nice shout,” &c is told to me by the wota in the pavilion, an encouraging bunch they are.

As the teams were finishing up their canvases, a group of wota came over to my teams table to say hi. A couple I had seen before, but otherwise they were all new faces to me. Anyway, we chatted a bit. Thy asked about my interest in the group, about my tattoo (which they brought up, knowing of it from others) and such and such. Just to restate, what a cool bunch of people these guys and gals are, yeah.

Canvas is finished, so it’s time for a group shot. We take or canvas up a hill where Berryz are now prepped and waiting. My team reorders themselves so that we’ll all be standing in front of or favorite members. Picture shot and it’s on to the next planned happening.

Evening Meal

Berryz serve us dinner!

First in the service line was Risako, who handed out the plates and a fork. Second was Na-chan with a hot dog bun. Saki, with the hot dog. When I got to Saki, she pointed out my name, Kentucky; at which point Miyabi leaned over to read my name tag as well. Next up was Momo-chi with a handful of curly fries, “Kentucky-kun” she said in a really cute voice. Yu-chan dropped some salad on and off my plate, hehe, before I moved on and Maasa topped off the salad with some dressing. At the end, Chinami handed me a drink.

When I got to Chinami she repeated “Kentucky” as the others had before her. She said it a few times actually. I replied “Hai, Kentucky” and pointed to my name tag, “Kentucky ni sunde imasu.” Now, an interesting thing happened when the other wota, both in line behind me and those back in their seats saw me talking with Chinami. They started to clap and cheer, haha. Amusing.

We were given a little bit of free time, before moving on to the next spot.

Bonfire

In reference to that red thing I mentioned earlier. It was like a little seat cushion thing. The people in the front rows would be sitting on the ground so we eventually put two and two together.

Question and answer time. We all got the chance to fill out a form with a question on it, where the girls would pick one out and answer them. They only did 7 tho, so you were lucky if your question was picked. When your question was read, they’d shuffle over to that side of the group and read it to you up close. Was cool. One thing I thought I’d mention was that as Momo-chi did that cutesy thing she does (Momo, just being Momo, heh) Chinami does that thing she does, where she’s kinda like not really annoyed, but rolls her eyes at it. I find the Momo/Chi interaction lately with regards to that interesting to watch (and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s not just Chi who kinda picks on Momo either; it’s all in good fun anyway).

After the question and answer, we were treated with a few songs before moving on to the next bit of this event. Curiously, Chinami went missing from the group. Kumai then went on to lead the wota in prayer… or some sort of ceremonial, something… hmm. Obviously I’m not completely sure what she was saying (and I say prayer, cause that’s just what the atmosphere felt like), but the other wota seemed a little bit surprised before she started, but then all calmed and became still as she began speaking. As she finishes up, Chinami is back. Chinami the fire god! She’s in a sparkly pink costume, with a little wand with pink streamers hanging off of it. They do a little bit of talking and then Chinami replaces the pink wand with a long dowel, with a lit lantern at the end. She proceeds to the bonfire (assisted by a bunch of staff) and lights the fire.

With the fire lit, it’s time for some more songs (I should mention, we also sang Happy Birthday to Miyabi, who was surprised by as we started off). This time as they’re singing, they’d circle around the fire a few times, facing the crowd. Periodically some of the water park staff had been adding more fuel to the fire, as it wasn’t all that impressive. It would peak up for a short while but then die down a while later. That is until, WOOOSH!!! The thing takes off like mad, sending the girls running and screaming. The music keeps on anyway, and eventually the girls start another round of circling the fire, coached on by the staff. Chinami was having none of that tho, the fire god was too afraid of the fire to approach it again. The other girls were all pretty hesitant as well. It was nice and exciting experience anyway.

As thing were winding down, Berryz were walking off the “stage” and to the side where some lights and a table were setup. High-Five time! On our way back to the bus, we lined up to give each of the Berryz a high-five. They really hurried people through the line this time. I was determined to go a little bit slower tho, heh. I allowed a little gap in front of me and made my way through. When I got to Chinami her and I exchanged three high-fives, haha. She had something written on her hand, tho I couldn’t make it out.

8月28日(土)8ショット

おはようございます〜

“Ohayou Gozaimasu~” We were greeted as we entered the conference room, by Berryz who were on stage. “Ohayou Kentucky-san,” Chinami had a personalized greeting for me as I walked by. I feel special. They were also handing out maps, places we should visit, places they recommend or something to that effect. For my 8 shot I did nothing special, the Shaka sign. Chinami was in the center of the photo tho too, right behind me. The shot turned out well I think. I was the last in my group to go up so I did have a little bit of extra time to turn and say bye and thank you. After this we were sent off before we were to regather for the concert later that afternoon.

Happy Summer Vacation - 8Shot

Happy Summer Vacation – 8Shot

8月28日(土)ライブ&握手合

Live Concert

No play by play of the concert, but there were a couple of things I wanted to point out. One was the rain. Even with sunny skies we’d periodically get bouts of light rain coming down. Berryz were prepared however, as they went around to the back of the stage and grabbed some water guns! They were shooting each other as well as the audience. Good fun. Saw a couple of rainbows, one that came out right at the end of Seishun Oodori, which seemed wholly appropriate.

Mixed in with the Berryz songs were a couple of the covers from their Summer mini album. Chinami, Yurina and Miyabi with Chu Natsu Party. Risako solo (Risako’s outfit …), Yeah! Meccha Holiday. While Captain, Maasa and Momoko wrapped up the mini groups with Halation Summer. An enjoyable concert despite the heat that started things off and the rain that ended it.

Handshake

Epic (^_^)

Not gonna say much more than that, to keep it as kinda a special thing between me and each one of the girls, you know? Tho I will mention, as I have seen some discussion on 2ch about it, that Chinami’s loud and animated interaction with me at the time really put the icing on the cake to the whole event. While things end here, it has created so much lasting memory.

Otanjoubi House

I was in Japan May 9-25 and so had the opportunity to see Berryz Koubou in concert. Six times, no less. What can I say, the concerts were awesome. I really enjoyed seeing the girls again and to see the performances of the songs from their 6th album, I had a great time.

Otakebi Gear

Otakebi Gear

As with my first trip to see them at their concert last fall, this one had a special significance as well. I got to see Chinami on her Birthday! What a very special experience to be in the front row for that one.

The concert on Chinami’s birthday, 5/22, before the encore, everyone was shouting Chinami’s name instead of the chant they normally do. For the afternoon concert, during the encore there were sunflowers again, like last year.

For the evening concert, since Chinami said she wanted to have a “COLORFUL” year, we made a rainbow out of our glow sticks for her. It was coordinated so that each column of about six seats would have a certain color, and the second and third floors would have white ones, representing the clouds. It turned out really well and you could tell that Chinami was really happy.

I’ve not much more to report, thought there were many more happenings, but I just wanted to say that I had the time of my life. I really can’t wait to see them again!

Tokyo Incidents ウルトラC

Tokyo Jihen Ultra C Live Tour 2010 (5/12 Tokyo)

I lucked out and was able to snag a decent ticket for their show on Thursday in Tokyo. It was an isle seat, close to the front and there was no one sitting directly in front of me so I had a great view. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, Tokyo Jihen was one of the first Japanese groups I discovered back when; they remain one of my favorites to this day, I’m glad I had a chance to see them live.

Showing up to the concert venue, I didn’t know what to expect. I had only been to H!P concerts in the past, so obviously this one was going to be a different experience. First thing that stood out to me was the number of females attending the concert, outnumbered the males by at least two to one. The genre, and Shiina Ringo I guess, pulls a totally different audience for the most part.

Tokyo Jihen: Sports

Tokyo Jihen: Sports

One thing that really hadn’t crossed my mind was buying concert goods; they had a bunch to choose from. Some of the people there already had on their tracksuits and, t-shirts and flags. There were also things like socks, shoes, perfume, medals, stickers, &c. I decided to get a shirt and a couple flags, figured that I could wave it around as the concert went on (and kinda assumed that others would be doing the same).

So, on to the concert itself… the stage wasn’t too big, and really it didn’t have to be, it’s not like they would be running around and dancing and such, they’d be playing instruments which would kind of confine them to certain areas. The band comes out on stage and, what are they wearing, like some sort of caveman outfits or something with their hair all braided and one or two spiky braids just sticking out for good measure. Oh, and Shiina Ringo is blond. I was maybe expecting something sporty, to go along with the sports album and victory theme. They would wear the same stuff until the encore, where they would change into some more casual clothes.

The performances of the songs themselves were awesome. Much flag waving was had and a little bit of dancin’ thrown in too. A comment on the audience, I found it interesting how during some of the slower songs things would just stop. I mean, it’d become like silent and nobody would move a muscle, not even bob their heads. Even when the song happened to pick up the pace and instrumentals somewhere in the middle there, they’d still be stiff, until the next song came on. Now, I’m not one to get all enthused and excited really, but even I was like, come on guys, let’s wave our flags or something, heh.

I haven’t been keeping hard tabs on their releases this year, so there was a little from their latest album that I hadn’t heard before, but it was all good. The stand out performance for me had to be Killer Tune, one of my favorites, if not the favorite song of theirs. The audience really seemed happy when it came on as well. OSCA and Senko Shojo were also a couple of favorites that I really enjoyed seeing live. The band mostly stayed in their respective positions on stage, moving around a little, sometimes coming together to do a little group play thing. Of course Shiina was the most animated, from picking up the guitar, singing through a megaphone, tweeting a whistle, waving a flag, just doing her thing. She was great, but then, so was the rest of the group. I like the dynamics that the addition of the piano and guitarists voices adds to the sound of the group as well.

The lighting effects throughout the concert were pretty cool. There was a countdown timer, 3 minutes, for Noudouteki Sanpunkan, which was nifty too. They used the same screen to run some 8 bit like video game graphics during a couple songs which I thought added a interesting dimension to things, but not so much to be a distraction.

Overall, great show, great group. Admittedly, it’s probably not a concert that I would go to see over and over again, but I really did enjoy it.