[Blog] An (Scottish) Idiot Abroad: Tokyo 2016 Pt. 3
The second of 3 blogs covering my trip to Tokyo.
So here’s the second of what I’m expecting to be 3 blogs covering my recent trip to Tokyo. Much thanks to everyone who checked out the first one, which you can find by clicking this link right here. Would have been cool if some of you had maybe left a comment or something but I can see that you guys are there so it’s all good. Seriously though, like the TSA guy at Amsterdam airport on my way home said to me “Don’t worry, I don’t bite” (this seriously happened) so please don’t be shy and feel free to leave some comments on this and any other article on the site that catches your attention.
Okay, so I’m pretty sure I’m like 5 days into my trip with the 6th just about to start in this blog. I was pretty surprised that I managed to adjust as quickly as I did to things like time differences, massive crowds of people, etc. Shame I never quite adjusted to all of that humidity that made some days feel like you were literally walking through soup though, but my fragile Northern European (we’re still in Europe for now) body held up as best it could. I bet all of those Japanese people in their heavy coats and scarves thought I was absolutely mental for walking around in basketball shorts and a hoodie most days. Then again, they’ve probably seen weirder things. I know I did.
This part of the trip had its ups and downs, and I’ll elaborate on that more as we go along here. I had a bunch of cool experiences of course, but I also had reality sneak up on me and smack in the face (almost literally) which kinda sucked but I got through it. I’m trying my best to remember everything that happened, but I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of stuff that was really interesting and that you guys would have probably liked to have read about. Oh well, you’re getting all of the big stuff at least. In case you haven’t noticed though, I kinda went to Tokyo to see musical performances so if you’re looking for poorly shot photos of landmarks and stories of how awesome it was to be packed into the Sky Tree with thousands of other tourists, these probably aren’t the blogs you’re looking for.
Okay, so I’m pretty sure we left off the last blog with me seeing Guso Drop in Meguro. If that’s right then the day after that should have been the 15th. I didn’t really have a ton planned for during the day that day, partly because I did sort of want to take it easy after the whirlwind that had been the previous 5 days. I really don’t care what anyone says about “But Garry, you’re in Tokyo! Sleep when you’re dead!”, this old man right here needs a minute to catch his breath every now and then. I’d also pretty much been going at this whole thing with no plan up to this point so I wasn’t even really sure what there was to do. There, I said it. I probably should have planned this whole thing out a little bit more than I did.
In the end, I actually went out to Odaiba to hang out with Tobi (@wattstax17) which was pretty cool, even if there’s not a ton of stuff to do there besides seeing the giant Gundam and the great view out over Tokyo Bay (imo). Actually to be fair, there’s also some pretty cool looking buildings out there and the train ride in over the water was a pretty awesome thing to experience. It kinda sucked that it was really hazy that day but oh well. Oh yeah, I actually saw another pretty incredible sight on the train on my way out there. People tell you that gyaru actually exist, but you kinda don’t believe it until you see three of them decked out in the full garb (tan, nails, hair, 5000 inch platform boots, etc). That was one of the more memorable things from the trip for sure.
Tobi and I were both heading to see BELLRING Girls Heart in the evening so we made our way over to Shibuya to catch them and Lyrical School doing a 2-man live. I kinda ducked out before the show to do a “quick” run to Tower Records Shinjuku because I just had to get myself an event ticket for the BiS in-store live on the 17th. I made it back part way through Lyrical School’s set, they’re not really a group I enjoy on CD but in a live setting they’re pretty great. Bellheart did a fairly subdued and melancholic (this was later confirmed to me) set but they were still very enjoyable. Afterwards I got a 2-shot with Ayano from Bellheart and wished her luck on her impending graduation/solo career. She was really nice to talk to, a theme that I’m noticing is beginning to develop here.
I did a pretty terrible job of taking it easy and getting a bunch of adult type things (not those things you pervs) done the day before, so I went to bed that night resolving to take care of things the following morning. Unfortunately, I guess I’m a bit more impulsive than I thought I was because I woke up and was like “I should go to Akihabara today”. Of course I had to figure out how to get there first because like I said before, zero planning went into this trip. Turns out Akihabara is kinda far away from Yoyogi, well I say far away but it was like 30 minutes by train. Still that was probably one of the longer train journeys I’d taken since I arrived in the country. Oh well, I had plenty of time to check Twitter at least.
So I arrived in Akihabara on what was probably the coolest morning there had been since I got to Japan. I was all wide eyed and full of wonder, as people had really talked it up as being this super magical place where you can find all manner of cool otaku type stuff. I managed to find all of the well known places easily enough. I’m talking about Donki, Trio, Softmap and places like that in case you have a different definition of well known. I also visited some smaller shops that were on the way. Honestly, I was a little underwhelmed by the whole experience. I guess it would have been a lot cooler if it was about 5 years earlier and I was still super into anime and stuff. To top it off I also fell and banged my elbow up pretty good on the finest asphalt that Japan has to offer, so yeah not the best trip ever.
My evening plans were shaping up to be a lot more fun though. Oyasumi Hologram were having a one-man live at Liquidroom in Ebisu that I was really looking forward to going to. They’re one of my favorite acts right now so this was a big show on the trip. Unfortunately I was the only obvious foreigner there and the locals weren’t too chatty, apart from one 50 year old guy who was there with his wife. We had a pretty broken conversation but we were both Hachigatsu fans so language didn’t get in the way of that part too much at least.
The show itself was really enjoyable, with a good mix of songs from across the Oyasumi Hologram discography. Afterwards I was able to get a 3-shot with both Hachigatsu and Kanami which was awesome. They were also selling their new album a week early so of course I picked that up. Expect a review on the site real soon. Oh yeah, I experienced my first earthquake when I got home that night. It was just a baby one though but it was…an interesting experience.
Turns out I get really impulsive when I’m in a foreign land. Once again I failed to take care of many important things like laundry and instead ventured out to explore somewhere new. On this particular day I figured I’d go check out Nakano Broadway, because once again some people had talked it up as being a pretty cool place for shopping and what have you. They neglected to mention that it doesn’t open until like 12pm or whatever though, so I ended up just wandering aimlessly around Shinjuku for an hour or two because obviously I didn’t check the opening times myself until I had already left my apartment and headed to the train station. Does that count as something technically going wrong or am I still good?
So anyway, I rock up at Nakano Broadway and I have to admit that it is a pretty cool place to go shopping. I was mainly interested in the Trio that was there, but for some reason it wasn’t open and it never opened even after I had been there for a couple of hours. Not really sure what was going on there. That was a little disappointing, but I still had a good time wandering around and checking out all of the shops there. The seemingly endless number of Mandarake outlets had a ton of stuff I would have loved to buy, but I don’t think I was getting any G1 Transformers to fit in my suitcase. That’s probably for the best really, because I doubt my wallet would have been very happy with me either. An enjoyable day out, even if one of the main reasons for me going didn’t end up working out.
That evening was BiS at Tower Records Shinjuku, which included a mini-live and various buppan things depending on how many event tickets you had in your possession. Before that though, Tobi invited me to what had to have been the smallest bar I’ve ever been in. The reason for the visit being that Tsuduki Kana, an idol, was working there and Tobi really likes her. I tagged along because I had time to kill and we had a good time. Then it was back to Tower Records for BiS, which was…to say it was packed would be an understatement. I’m pretty sure they over-filled their concert space but whatever. The live was cool, and for the buppan afterwards I was able to shake everyones’ hands and get a 2-shot with Pour Lui. The staff-san were a little rough with me during the handshake I have to say, it’s not my fault if your idols want to talk more to the gaijin than time will allow.
I feel like if you’re into enough idol groups then there’s probably not going to be too many days out of the year where there won’t be a show for you to go to. Well, November 18th was apparently one of those days for me and bizarrely enough it was a Friday of all days. I figured there’d be plenty of shows on a Friday night but I guess not. I mean, I think there was actually stuff going on at TwinBox and Akiba Cultures, but it was nothing I had any interest in unfortunately so I basically had nothing planned for this particular day. On the plus side, I did finally manage to get all of that boring stuff like laundry taken care of so that was good I guess. Man, this is the most boring part of the trip so far huh?
Well, I did end up going back to Akihabara later in the day so it’s not like I actually ended up doing absolutely nothing. This visit came about after Tobi tipped me off to the fact that you could get event tickets for PASSPO’s show the following day by buying photosets from a cafe. This would mean I’d get to sleep in the following morning, something I was more than okay with, so we arranged to go and do that and just wander around Akihabara for a bit and see if it was any more magical after dark than it was when I went during the day. Well, Akihabara certainly has some…interesting sights once the sun goes down, that’s for sure. Girls in just about every costume you can imagine handing out flyers for whatever business they happen to be promoting…some more enthusiastically than others.
I gave myself some pretty heavy retail therapy on this particular evening, because I am a very weak man. I bought a bunch of photosets for the PASSPO show, which weren’t cheap I have to say. Then I was walking down the street and saw the Hello! Project Shop was on the 5th floor of this random building that I just happened to be passing. It’s a pretty basic setup, but they had Ikuta Erina’s photobook so I obviously had to grab that. I’d already spent a pretty decent chunk of change when I decided to stop by Trio to pick up the signed BiSKaidan vinyl record that I’d see there a few days prior. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I even found a PASSPO poster signed by Masui Mio that I of course just had to have. Like I said, I’m a weak man.
PASSPO’s outdoor one-man live at Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park was another one of the big shows that I had loosely planned my trip around. I’ve liked PASSPO for years so if they were playing a show while I was in Tokyo then I was definitely going to try to go to it if scheduling allowed. Turns out I have some pretty great timing because I guess this was PASSPO’s biggest ever show or something like that. I think that’s right anyway, or maybe it was their biggest one-man, or biggest outdoor show, or some combination of those different things that I mentioned. I can’t remember and honestly, it’s a miracle that I can even remember some of the stuff going into these blogs seeing as its been like a month since this stuff happened.
Anyway, so of course I wake up that morning feeling a bit worse for wear. It was just a light head cold so it’s not like it was going to bother me that much, but still it was less than ideal. Even less than ideal was the weather that day, it was pretty damn cold and that’s coming from someone who lives in a place where we know a lot about it being cold. I’m pretty sure everyone who went to this concert on that day was insane, because there’s no way going to an outdoor show in those conditions was a good idea. I felt even more sorry for the members of PASSPO who had to perform for like 2 hours wearing nowhere near enough clothing for the conditions. They’re professionals though and did it all with smiles on their faces. The coats and blankets did come out after the show though, not that you could blame them.
The show itself was fantastic, easily the best production of any of the shows I’d been to so far. We got a short opening set from Puchi PASSPO☆, which was unexpected but pretty cool even if I’m not super into them. After that it was just 2 solid hours of awesome PASSPO music, with an extensive band set where any doubts that PASSPO can’t play live should have been laid firmly to rest. After the show was over the hell that was PASSPO buppan began. I was pretty much frozen to death at that point and it dragged on forever, but I gutted it out because I wanted a 2-shot and autograph from Mio dammit. It wasn’t my most enjoyable buppan experience, but that was entirely down to the weather and not an issue with PASSPO or their staff. The whole experience probably didn’t help my cold either come to think of it.
So yeah, apart from the almost freezing to death bit at the end there that was a pretty solid 5 day period right there. I mean, the stuff I was getting up to during the day was pretty hit or miss but I don’t think I can have too many complaints with my nighttime activities (that sounds way lewder than it actually was). I know these recaps are a pretty long read, so hopefully I’m keeping the killer to filler ratio as far to the killer side as possible. Leave a comment and let me know how I’m doing on that, or anything else that’s on your mind.
Looks like I’m on track for this little write-up to conclude after its third part. That’s hopefully going to be next week, assuming any more of that annoying life stuff doesn’t end up getting in the way. I’m also still trying to blitz through this backlog that’s built up over the last month. Then there’s a bunch of end of year content that I have to work on too, so it’s a pretty busy time behind the scenes here at SHiT HQ. Still, much appreciation if you’ve made it this far into this blog and hopefully you’ll check out the third and final one when it goes up sometime next week (hopefully).