[Blog] An (Scottish) Idiot Abroad: Tokyo 2017 Part. 3

by Garry

The third of a 3 part blog series covering my trip to Tokyo in November of 2017.

Okay, okay so it has been about 2 weeks since I got back from Japan and in an ideal world blah, blah, blah. In truth its been a bit of a rough adjustment back to “normal” life folks, so that’s why I’m only just getting around to posting the third and final part of my 2017 Japan trip blog. Who knew being sick and randomly falling asleep at all hours of the day and night could be so disruptive, am I right? Well better late than never, and compared to some other trip reports I’ve seen through the years I think I’m doing pretty good to have this thing all wrapped up so soon after the experience.

Let’s see here, by my count I think this blog should be covering my last 8 days in Japan. I’m pretty happy with how this split worked out in the end because it kept this recap from becoming a 5000 word monster or something silly like that. Also, lots of content for the site baby! I haven’t really had any comments on these things though so I’m not sure how interesting they ended up being for you guys. Any feedback is of course appreciated although I am kinda just writing these things so I can look back on them with hopefully fond memories. That’d be nice.

I’m getting much too far ahead of myself though. I still have the last 8 days of my trip to recap here. The last blog left off on a fairly positive note which was good after the whole getting sick fiasco at the end of the first one. It was still a bit of a slow period in the trip but not too bad in hindsight. The last 8 days were pretty packed though so you guys don’t have to worry about that anymore at least. Also, please be sure to read or skip to the end for my closing thoughts on the trip as a whole as I have a few things I want to bring up and maybe hear your thoughts on if you have a minute. Anyway, let’s bring this thing home.

The 17th of November once again yielded no interesting Idol shows for me to attend. It wasn’t such a big deal though because I’d had my heart set on attending a wrestling show that day for quite a while anyway. The wrestling company in question was Sendai Girls, who I didn’t get a chance to see on my previous trip so I felt like I had to rectify that this time. I was also unintentionally playing “Joshi Wrestler Bingo” at this point and had pretty much seen all of the top Japanese talent besides Satomura Meiko, Hashimoto Chihiro, DASH Chisako and other names that mean nothing to any of you. The show took place at Korakuen Hall and featured a mix of Sendai Girls talent and wrestlers from other promotions like Marvelous, so I got to see Momono Mio wrestle again which was cool. I think I was about 4 rows back from ringside so I had an awesome view for a fun show. Seriously, you guys should check out a wrestling show if you’re ever in Japan and have a free evening.

I feel like a lot of my trip ended up being last minute changes of plans, because I was originally supposed to be going to Matsumoto, Nagano on the 18th to see Zenbu Kimi no Sei da. That was until they announced that Codomomental were doing a 3-man live the following day in Shibuya. 5 hours on trains gets a lot less appealing when that kind of stuff happens. It also meant that I could go to Shibuya Milkyway for Shirahata Ichiho of Gokigen Teikoku’s birthday live. Something I had been a little disappointed about missing if I’m honest. I’ve said every show was fun but this was a whole other level. I would probably go see Gokigen (and NECRONOMIDOL) every chance I could if I was living in Japan, that’s how great they are live and to meet in person. Highlight of the show had to be Shirahata smashing open a keg of sake with a hammer and accidentally drenching herself in the process. Well, that and getting a cheki with her afterwards and her remembering me from the previous show I went to. Oh yeah, Younapi from You’ll Melt More! also performed a solo set which was pretty cool. She was a bit…dry when it comes to buppan though.

Considering how busy the 19th ended up being, I’m actually kinda glad the trek to Nagano got called off the previous day. Things started off bright and early with a noon Stardom show at Korakuen Hall. Remember when I said the last Stardom show was one of their weaker ones? Well, they went all out on this one and it was awesome…also in part because I was in the second row for it. Go check out their streaming service Stardom World if you’re in any way interested in checking them out. After that and a quick stop off at the apartment to ditch my backpack, it was off to Shibuya for the Codomomental 3-man. I was really interested to check out Kaqriyo Terror Architect and they definitely did not disappoint (they’re going to be real popular real soon) and Zenkimi and Tsurezure were of course as fantastic as ever. I spent quite a bit of money at this show, between merch for myself and Terry and getting a cheki with each of my favorites from the 3 groups (Mashiro, Shidare and Kotetsu). It might have been the most money I spent in one go the whole trip now that I think about it.

I didn’t really intend to see Gang Parade as often as I did on this trip, it just kind of ended up being this thing that happened. Now of course it was no accident that I ended up going to their big one-man show at Ebisu Liquidroom, that was very much something that was planned in advance. A good thing too, seeing as how it was an incredible show from beginning to end and even with a skit in the middle. The crowd was super into this one, which is always good and I don’t think there was a single person in the building who wasn’t singing and dancing along to all of the songs…well except maybe the BiS members who tried to sneak in at the back of the crowd, but they didn’t go unnoticed for too long. I’d just like to point out, and I know I’m beating this horse to death, but Gang Parade sold out this 1000 capacity venue so if anyone tells you they aren’t popular feel free to laugh in their face and disregard their awful opinions. They also announced a new single and tour at the end of the show, with a tour final at Akasaka Blitz (1,300 capacity) which they’ll probably have no issues selling out too.

Anyone who has ever been to Japan has probably had one of those moment where something totally unexpected but pretty cool happened. That’s what happened to me on November 21st. I was in Shibuya for a Gokigen in-store live at Village Vanguard (they’re awesome, Shirahata is the best, etc, etc) and that wrapped up pretty early and it was new music day so I figured I’d take a stroll over to Tower Records and pick up a few things. BILLIE IDLE’s new album had just come out so I snagged a copy and as I was paying for it the cashier handed me a redemption receipt for some bonus or other. I figured it would be a poster or something but as it happened BILLIE IDLE were doing 2 in-store lives that day, the second of which was starting in about 30 minutes and I’d just got myself 2 event tickets with my purchase. Yeah, talk about dumb luck. The live itself was pretty good, they mainly played stuff off of the new album which sounded cool but I didn’t really know any of the songs so it was a bit hard to get into. I ended up using my 2 event tickets to get a group shot with all 4 of the girls, which lasted about 15 seconds before I was hastily moved along by their staff. Would have been nice to have more time to talk, but it is what it is.

I feel like half of these blogs are me talking about wrestling, well here’s some more. The 22nd was once again super dead for any groups I cared about so I made the journey back out to Shin-Kiba to catch a SEAdLINNNG show (their tagline is “Let’s get D!”, which is pretty unfortunately hilarious). As best I can tell I was able to get a full house on my “Joshi Wrestler Bingo” card after this show and there were some pretty entertaining matches too, including a “High Speed” match where everything including the pinfalls were sped up to comical extremes. They also booked Momono Mio on this show so even more bonus points from me. I think I saw her like 3 times which isn’t super crazy but sorta unlikely given I wasn’t actively trying. The only bad part about this show was it was super cold that night and Shin-Kiba is pretty close to the water so I almost froze to death on the way home. I’m pretty sure that played a part in my cold coming back too, that or me getting home and falling asleep fully clothed under the air conditioner that was blasting hot air on me for about 5 hours. Yeah, probably a bit of both I guess.

The 23rd was actually a holiday in Japan so I had quite a few options when it came to shows to go to. I only ever really had one in mind though and that was “Fest of Extreme 2017” featuring some pretty good bands that I’d never heard of but most importantly NECRONOMIDOL and Broken By The Scream. I figured seeing Necro would be a nice way to cap off the trip and both they and BBTS put on awesome performances in a pretty packed Shimokitazawa Liveholic. If you love your vocals harsh, don’t sleep on Broken By The Scream (I’ll have a review of their mini-album up soon) because they’re the real deal. I managed to avoid getting too beat up in the somewhat unexpected pit during Necro’s set and before I knew it the show was over and it was buppan time. It was a bit of a mess and I had to get up super early the next morning so I only managed to go see Sari one last time. I’m not sure how to say this without sounding like a weirdo, but she’s just best. She also made me promise to go see her again next year but more on that later. Anyway, I called time on buppan and headed home to make sure I was all packed and as prepared as anyone possibly can be for the day of travel that was to follow.

Getting home went fairly smoothly I suppose, I don’t really travel very well anyway so I’m not going to complain too much and potentially scare some of you guys off. Not getting much sleep on planes sucks, being kinda sick sucks, 5 hour layovers aren’t the most fun thing in the world and getting diverted to an airport 20 minutes from the one I needed to get to because they had to de-ice the runway or whatever excuse they were giving to cover up the accident that actually happened was also a bit inconvenient. I made it home in the end though and I’m just about adjusted back to the monotony of daily life here in the frozen north of Scotland. Japan feels like a bit of a distant memory at this point even though I was only there a couple of weeks ago. It’s kinda crazy to think how quickly all of that time passed now that I’m looking back on it.

Hey, thanks for reading all the way to the end of this thing and for presumably checking out the other two trip blogs that I wrote. Hopefully you found them somewhat interesting, I know there was a bunch of non-Idol stuff thrown in there and that’s not really what this website is about. I wanted to write about all/most of the stuff I did and I’m not just all about the Idols so it is what it is. If there’s anything you think I left out that you’d like to know about then feel free to ask, I wouldn’t ever consider myself an expert on anything but I can try to help out based on my own personal experiences at least.

I don’t really want to focus on negative stuff because it’s pretty pointless in the grand scheme of things. That being said, the trip wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Getting sick definitely sucked, as did getting hassled by touts in Kabukichou but I’m a big boy so it’s whatever. I also probably wasted a stupid amount of money chopping and changing what shows I was going to at the last minute because I already had tickets for a few of them. However, I think the worst thing about the trip was the days where I didn’t have anything going on or not much at least.

I would definitely not recommend going to Japan for 3.5 weeks like I did if you’re not prepared to fill your days with shopping, sightseeing, etc and even then you still have to be okay with “wasting” a day if there’s nothing going on or the weather sucks. It also definitely helps if you’re going with someone or people you know are also going to be in town at the same time. Things definitely felt a little more boring without people to hang out or go to shows with. Not trying to scare anyone off as going to Japan by yourself is definitely a great experience and has several advantages like being able to do whatever you want whenever you want to. Just giving some advice based on what I experienced and how I felt at times during the trip.

All that being said, I guess it couldn’t have been that bad considering I’m half way booked again for next year already. I’m looking at being in Japan from October 30th to November 23rd, as long as nothing crazy happens like GBP losing all of its value due to Brexit or Japan getting wiped off the face of the earth by a North Korean nuclear strike. Both of those things look fairly unlikely at the moment so I’d say there’s a good chance you’ll see me over there if you happen to be around at the same time. Until then, it’s back to regular service on the site so stick around for more reviews, podcasts, end of year Top 10s and all that fun stuff.