[Blog] An (Scottish) Idiot Abroad: Tokyo 2016 Pt. 4

by Garry

The third and final blog in a series recapping my recent trip to Tokyo.

Oh man, we’ve finally made it to the end. “Started from the bottom, now we’re here” as I believe someone once famously put it. Well, I haven’t quite made it yet because I have about 3,000 or so more words to write but this is indeed the last blog covering my recent trip to Tokyo. Its been pretty cool writing about the whole experience, even if I’ve probably forgotten a bunch of stuff that happened in the time between then and now. It still kind of amazes me that anyone actually cares to read this kind of stuff, but hey if it’s what the readers want then who am I to argue with them.

One thing I guess I forgot to write about was what I was eating while over there. Truth be told I’m not really that into food, especially not like some people I know. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I hate eating or anything like that but it’s not really something that ranks too highly in my mind. So yeah, I guess I ate most of the typical stuff right? Ramen, tonkatsu, takoyaki, yakisoba, melonpan, all of the basic bitch tourist stuff. I stayed away from any of the crazy stuff (raw horse meat, etc) and I’ll admit that I hit up Subway a couple of times too. Didn’t drink anything too crazy I don’t think, beer and whiskey at shows, some sake…nothing out of the ordinary.

Sorry if that last part wasn’t more interesting, food is food to me at the end of the day. Anyway, I guess I’m going to write about my last 5 days in Tokyo in this blog. This part is going to feature a decent amount of professional wrestling talk so I’m sorry if that’s not something that you’re super into. I know it’s fake, the outcomes are predetermined and all of that other stuff, but I just really love pro wrestling and especially Japanese pro wrestling (WEEB!). Don’t worry though, there’s still going to be a bunch of idol stuff so don’t click away just yet. Okay, let’s bring it home.

Okay so it was Sunday and the day after we all almost froze to death at the PASSPO show. So of course I wake up bright and early to the sun blazing high in the sky. That totally couldn’t have happened the previous day, nope. Man, I had to wake so early that day because I had to get my ass from Yoyogi to Shin-Kiba for like 11am or something crazy to see a wrestling show. The promotion in question was Stardom (@we_are_stardom), an all female organization with for my money some of the best women wrestlers in the world today. I had got a ticket through one of the very nice ladies who works there, she’s called Kris Wolf and you should totally follow her on Twitter @wolfinjapan.

The show was being ran out of the Shin-Kiba 1st Ring venue, which is a fairly well known place if you’re a fan of Japanese wrestling. I somehow ended up with a seat in the second row at ringside which was totally unexpected but totally awesome. The show itself was really entertaining, with quite a lot of idol-ish elements to it too it has to be said. There’s definitely some crossover appeal there I think. Highlight of the show for me was probably the two flip dives to the outside in the main event where you basically had wrestlers almost landing on top of you while trying to beat the shit out of each other. The whole experience more than lived up to my expectations.

So the show finished around 2pm and I had seen that NECRONOMIDOL were playing in Ikebukuro on this show with like a dozen other Metal bands. It started at 12pm I think and I didn’t know when Necroma were going to be on so I hadn’t done any pre-planning as such. Turns out they were playing at like 6pm so I had plenty of time to make my way there. So I get there and was just kind of hanging out when of course an English guy just comes up and starts talking to me. Go half way around the world and you bump into people from back home, crazy. Well, my new English friend didn’t care too much for Necroma so he kind of disappeared when they came on (“It’s a girl group man!” or words to that effect). Anyway, they played a good set that was too short for my liking but that’s the nature of the beast. Their microphones were also having a bunch of issues which was really unfortunate too.

Buppan for this show was a bit weird in that it took place in the stairwell leading down to the concert space. I guess that’s pretty Metal or something huh? Anyway, I paid a measly 500 yen to get a 2-shot with Sari from NECRONOMIDOL (she’s the one with the green hair) and it was a really lovely experience. Don’t let the hair and dramatic looking Twitter photos fool you, Sari was so nice to talk to and I’m pretty sure I got way more time with her than anyone else did so that was a plus. After that all went down I figured I’d head home because I didn’t really care about anyone else on the bill. Pretty sure I saw some “delivery health” type deal going down on the way back to the station too so that was another…interesting thing to witness.

I believe I spent much of the daytime on the 21st just going around to a bunch of different places and doing shopping for other people. You know how family is right? “You went all the way to Japan and didn’t get me a souvenir!?!” and stuff like that. I actually ended up going back out to Ikebukuro, and no it wasn’t because I needed some health delivered. I actually went to the Pokemon store in the Sunshine City mall or whatever it’s called. It’s a pretty cool mall, it was full of tourists though so I wasn’t super keen to hang around too long. I got a couple of knick-knacks and was on my way.

I went shopping at a few other places but who really cares to read about that stuff right? No one cares that I bought that red Zenkimi shirt that the mysterious operator of Homicidols tweeted a picture of himself wearing the other day right? It doesn’t matter that I’m probably one of the few people who know his (supposedly) real identity, and there’s no way that I’d ever auction such information off to the highest bidder in order to raise funds for a potential second trip to Tokyo. On a totally unrelated note, if you ever need to contact me about anything there’s a link right there at the top of the page.

All joking aside, that evening I was heading out to Shinjuku to see a show that would feature both BILLIE IDLE and Maison book girl. I think I’m only missing Tentenko and Yufu on my former/current BiS bingo card now. Oh yeah, anyone want to tell me why Shinjuku Loft is in a basement? Is that some kind of epic banter or something? The show was pretty entertaining, not sure about the group of crossdressing guys that opened it up but hey whatever, they seemed to have a decent following.

One act in particular really impressed me, so you guys need to check out Hitsuji Bungaku (@hitsujibungaku) because they’re great. BILLIE IDLE were a ton of fun of course and Maison book girl were pretty good but it’s kind of hard to follow their music in a live setting, at least for me anyway. Plus, I was kind of distracted when Uika and Akira came and stood next to me to watch Book girl’s set. I’ll blame it partially on that too.

My Tuesday morning got off to a very peculiar start. Mostly it was down to me waking up at 6am, which is way too early for someone like me. I say waking up, it was more like I was awoken by the entire apartment shaking back and forth rather violently. I guess this would be considered a “real” earthquake by most peoples’ standards. So yeah, waking up slightly hungover at 6am and scrambling to turn the TV on to make sure you’re not going to die probably wasn’t the best way to start the day. Thankfully nothing really came of the resulting tsunami warning that was issued for much of the east coast, so that was good.

After I made sure I wasn’t going to be washed away or buried in the rubble of the apartment building, I kinda fell asleep and didn’t wake up until like noon or something. I know, how could I waste an entire morning while in glorious Japan, etc, etc. Well, if it makes you feel any better a lot of the trains were delayed a bunch so getting around wouldn’t have been that pleasant anyway. I was also still feeling kinda under the weather so it probably wasn’t the worst idea to let my body recover a bit. Plus, it’s not like I didn’t have any plans for the evening or anything.

So that evening I headed to Shibuya, which has one of the worst train stations to navigate that I have ever experienced. There’s a bunch of construction going on, but still. Anyway, I was going to go see a Tau show which is kind of a super group made up of members of Screaming Sixties, Caramel and Manaminorisa. Said groups would also be performing on the show. I think this show was probably the hardest to actually get into because I made it pretty clear I couldn’t really speak Japanese but the girl doing tickets just pushed on regardless. It was pretty awkward but I can look back and laugh at it now.

The show itself was pretty good. I’m not going to lie and say I’m a massive fan of any of the groups that were involved but I knew a decent amount about them and I also kinda didn’t have many options that night either. All 3 supporting sets were pretty great; Caramel really surprised me with how good they were, Kai from Screaming 60s…yeah and the faux circle pit during Manaminorisa was one of the more amazing things I saw on the whole trip. Tau headlined but since it’s a super new project they only had like 2 songs I think so it wasn’t much of a set, but the songs are pretty and you guys should go check them out.

So we all know that I’m a big music guy right? Well it should come as no surprise to any of you then that I spent my last Wednesday (i.e. new music day) in Tokyo going around and picking up a bunch of random stuff. I won’t really bore you with the details, but let’s just say I spent rather a lot because at this point I was in “Go big because you’re going home” mode. I probably should have considered how I was going to fit all of that stuff into my case, but we’ll have more on that later. I basically bought a bunch of vinyl (Dempagumi, Negicco and a few others) and a handful of CDs from non-idol artists like Regal Lily and Joy Opposites (ex-FACT).

During the Tau show the previous night I had managed to somehow get myself on the guest list for Zenbu Kimi no Sei da’s “emergency one-man live” at Shinjuku MARZ. The only way to do it was to email them so I did my best with my limited Japanese and their management actually responded in (probably Google Translated) English which was kinda cool. If you’re a dirty gaijin like me then I would definitely recommend going to see Zenkimi or Yukueshirezutsurezure if you’re ever in Japan. They seem pretty happy that foreigners know about them and their manager is a cool dude so you’ll be looked after.

This was simultaneously the best and also the saddest show of the whole trip. It was the best because the crowd were super into it, I’m talking pits, crowd surfing, wotagei, pretty much anything you can think of happened at this show. It was just incredible to be there and experience it. On the other side of the coin, this whole show came about due to two members of Zenkimi getting into trouble because they were photographed hanging out with fans. I personally didn’t see the big deal and I don’t think many/any of the people at the show did either but this whole thing ended with both of them announcing their graduations. Yeah, talk about a pretty major comedown after what was an awesome show.

Of course because I have such amazing luck, on my last proper day in Tokyo it ended up snowing for the first time in November in like 50-odd years or something like that. It basically snowed from about midnight all the way through until 4pm that day. It was also absolutely freezing, which didn’t exactly fill me with enthusiasm for going out and doing anything. I knew all of you wouldn’t let me hear the end of it if I “wasted” my last day in Tokyo, so I figured I’d do something dumb like go give Akihabara one last visit before I had to head home.

Going out that day was probably one of the dumber things I’ve done recently now that I look back on it. I had no business being outside in that weather, and neither had any of the women I saw in skirts and high heels either. But off I went, because I just had to go to Trio one last time and not end up really buying anything after all. I also just had to use up some of my spare change in that UFO catcher where I won an awkwardly shaped Love Live! Sunshine plush that would make packing my suitcase that night even more difficult than it already would have been with all of the t-shirts, CDs and vinyl records that were already taking up a ton of space.

I didn’t really have anything planned for that evening, and I was kinda bummed out about it. I got back from my expedition to the Arctic/Akiba and was just kind of browsing the internet when I saw there was a wrestling show at Korakuen Hall that night being put on by a company called FMW. They’re not that big of a promotion these days but I recognized a decent number of the wrestlers who would be working the show so I figured why not. Korakuen Hall is pretty much pro wrestling Mecca in Japan too so I kinda had to visit at least once while I was there. The show was entertaining enough, I wouldn’t say it was full of top class performances or whatever but I had fun and it sure beat sitting in my apartment doing nothing that evening.

That’s pretty much where the interesting part of the story comes to an end. The following morning I woke up at some ungodly hour and managed to get myself to the airport without forgetting anything or getting lost so that was cool. The 30 or so hours that followed that weren’t so cool but 5 hour layovers and then sleeping in airports is one of the necessary evils of travel, right? I made it home okay in the end though so details, details. Trying to get back into my regular routine has taken some getting used to but I’m back in the swing of things now I think.

So yeah, that was my Tokyo trip. Hopefully you guys found this interesting to read, it wasn’t the easiest thing to write I have to admit. I probably skipped over a bunch stuff or just straight up forgot it but oh well. There’s always next time right? Speaking of which, I might have some news on that in the not too distant future but we’ll see. Feel free to leave some comments on any of the articles covering the trip, ask questions, tell me how I fucked up without realizing it, tell me other cool stuff I could have done, whatever you feel like getting off of your chest. I’m going to go lay down now and let my brain and hands rest after typing all of this stuff out.