[Blog] Japan Trip 2018: Second Stage

by Garry

The second in a series of blogs covering my 2018 trip to Tokyo, Japan.

Not going to lie, I’m kinda surprised in myself that I managed to get this second blog out on schedule. I know I said I hoped to have it up by the following weekend but given how things usually end up going while I’m out here in Japan I figured I might have been being a little optimistic. I’m happy to be wrong though and hopefully at least some of you have been looking forward to another one of these things.

Speaking of the last blog I put up, thanks to everyone who checked it out. I know it’s probably not what most people come to the site to read and it’s more or less an exercise in bragging and self-indulgence but I’ve been getting quite a bit of positive feedback and I really appreciate that. If you haven’t read the first one and would like to then you can do so here. Otherwise, I’m just going to get right into recapping the next 6 days of my trip.

The 7th day of my trip did not get off to the best of starts. I woke up with a stuffy nose and just feeling generally under the weather. Yes, apparently it was that time of the trip already. So it was straight out to the drug store to get some cold medicine (Pabron Gold A to be exact) and try to get out ahead of whatever plague was about to visit me. The medication in question tastes absolutely vile, but for me personally it usually kicks everything out of my system within a few days so I can but up with a bad taste in my mouth for those kind of results.

Can’t say there was too much interesting going on that day besides my affliction, but I did end up going to a taiban in Omoetesando with Terry and Kris. I wasn’t really going for anyone specifically but there were a few groups like 969, AIBECK and the mistress performing who I was interested to check out. I didn’t feel to great at this point so didn’t get super into the show. 969 and KING∞RAGE actually ended up being my personal highlights. Debated if I wanted to get some cheki but a combination of not feeling so hot and no one specific idol really catching my eye made me think better of it. A fairly fun show despite everything I was dealing with, and much better than sitting in my apartment feeling sorry for myself.

I woke up the following day feeling a lot better, so either that medication I was taking really does work or it has one hell of a placebo effect. It’s a shame that it decided to rain pretty much all day, which quite literally put a damper on any sort of enthusiasm I had for going out and doing something during the day. It was probably for the best in the end, as it allowed me to rest up more than I probably would have otherwise. I really struggle with the thought of “wasting” time when I’m on a trip but I do think it’s important to rest when you need to and especially if you’re sick. Do as I say but not as I (at least try in most cases) do.

It wasn’t a totally dead day though. In the evening I went to a Corazon Way taiban at Shibuya Milkyway with Terry that evening and it was…quite something. I did debate going to see de’Barrier instead but Chihiro was sick and wouldn’t be there so it ended up being an easy decision. Anyway, this was quite the show for a number of reasons. Be it Up Up Girls’ pro wrestling subunit literally forcing everyone to dance along to their songs or me and Terry getting adopted (dragged into the pit) by XTEEN’s group of fans, it was pretty crazy. Oh yeah, Hinako from XTEEN kinda grabbed me by the face at one point which was…confusing (I’m sorry Sari!). I also got to see ASTROMATE, ZOMBIE POWDER and AdFicTioN who were all interesting but unsurprisingly XTEEN stole the show. I got cheki with all 3 of them again afterwards but I think it’s pretty obvious who my favorite is at this point.

Wednesday (well, technically Tuesday evening) is new CD release day in Japan, so that’s what I decided to follow the previous night’s events with that morning. I hit up the usual places like Tower Records, HMV, Village Vanguard and what have you in Shibuya but don’t worry I didn’t exactly break the bank. Just picked up a couple of things like the recent Kaqriyo Terror Architect EP, Yoneko’s debut single and the new BILLIE IDLE album. Expect reviews for all of those things and a whole bunch of other stuff…at some point after I get back from my trip. I’m going to have quite the backlog so it might take me a while to get around to everything. You can however join my new Patreon and have a say in which release I review first. Just saying.

After I was done shopping I headed out to Shinjuku that evening to meet up with Terry and Kris to go to Melon and Gura from Operetta’s Counterattack’s joint birthday show. It was held in the tiny and incredibly hot Shinjuku Samurai but that didn’t stop the show from being high energy, hilarious and a ton of fun. Melon and Gura did a couple of cover songs, some skits then performed as Operetta with Ichiho, Pero and Alice from Gokigen Teikoku lending their support. Shuuengo Buppan also performed on this show which I felt was a bit random but they were pretty good I thought. I didn’t manage to cheki with either birthday girl as their lines were obviously insane, but I did manage to cheki with all of the Gokitei girls which was nice. Shirahata remembered me (or pretended to), Pero was about as genki as you’d expect and Alice was surprisingly nice to talk to despite the image she tends to put across on social media. This was a great show but it did feel like it ended super early. That was probably for the best though as I wasn’t over my cold at this point and probably did need an early night.

To my shock I woke up the following day feeling a lot better, that medication really is something else. Terry and Kris were going to Nakano Broadway so I figured I might as well tag along with them. I didn’t really have a reason to go but it was something to do ya know? It’s also nice to browse through shelves of vintage Transformers toys that you’d love to buy if you had unlimited money and suitcase space. As we were leaving we somehow managed to bump into Yuffie from Melon Batake/GARUDA which was pretty hilarious for me but embarrassing for her to be seen by fans outside of work. Don’t worry, we didn’t bother her or anything but you kinda have to acknowledge it if you both recognize each other. You’d be surprised at how many idols you walk past in the street over here, most of the time without evening knowing.

There wasn’t that many interesting shows on that evening but I ended up going to see Sennou Meme, HAMIDASYSTEM and ・・・・・・・・・ at Tsutaya O-Nest. I was curious to see what Sennou were like as they have a lot of Zenbu Kimi no Sei da qualities to their image. They played with a backing band which was cool but they’re not really anything like Zenkimi, more traditional sounding I’d say. The bass was also ridiculous in the venue for some reason. That suited HAMIDASYSTEM a bit better due to the nature of their music though. It was my first time seeing them and I’d recommend them to anyone who enjoys synthesizers that aren’t too heavy but create a nice chill vibe. From what I hear ・・・・・・・・・ can be a mixed bag when it comes to their performances but I guess I got lucky because they played a lot of their more uptempo stuff that night. Only 3 of them there though but I guess the gimmick lets them do stuff like that without issue. I’d say I probably enjoyed HAMIDA the most, which considering I didn’t really follow them that much is pretty cool. Cheki for this show was with Amu (the blue one) from Sennou Meme who was pleasant to talk to and inquisitive which definitely helps and Flame from HAMIDASYSTEM. What can I say, Idols with flashy hair are like a flame to my moth I guess. I’ve met a lot of new idols this trip which is nice.

Well it had to happen eventually I guess but day 11 felt like the first day that I kinda wasted. It started off pretty badly because it pretty much rained for the entire day in some form or another. Not the best weather to be going out in I have to say, but I forged on anyway. I decided to head to Shimokitazawa in the morning to do a bit of record digging. It didn’t really go to plan though, I saw one or two things that were interesting but nothing that said “It’ll be totally worth trying to fit this in my suitcase”. I guess it would be fair to say it was a bit of a bust but I saved some money so that’s a silver lining I guess. Anyway, I called time on that little excursion and headed back to my apartment to dry off and figure out what I was doing that evening.

Turns out there was even less happening than the night before. That was pretty much due to most of the groups who usually perform in Tokyo all going to Osaka for the weekend to play some huge taibans out there. There were a few shows that some groups I liked were playing but it was literally 4 groups I like spread out across 4 different shows with no one else I was really interested in. I probably should have just picked one to go to but for me personally I kinda need to be interested in more than one group if I’m going to spend effectively $30 to see them do a 25 minute set. In the end I just wandered around Shinjuku for a few hours and checked out some shops I hadn’t been to yet. Sounds pretty lame I know but these trips can’t be action packed all day every day. I eventually came home and wrote the first of these blogs that you’ve hopefully read by now and found interesting, perhaps even enjoyed. Don’t worry, most of the remaining days are a lot more interesting than this one was.

Maybe having a quite Friday wasn’t such a bad idea as the weekend was going to be quite eventful. Saturday morning saw Terry, Kris and myself up bright and early once again to head to Shin-Kiba for more wrestling. Another Stardom show and pretty similar seats to last time, except the action spilled our way this time so it ended up being a little bit more dangerous. I don’t really want to bore you guys with match details or anything like that since this is an Idol website but I’d say this was the more entertaining of the two shows that we went to. Partly due to the in-ring work and also the fleeing in terror from 100lbs Japanese women throwing each other into tables, chairs, backpacks and anything that wasn’t chained down. I’d personally recommend going to at least one wrestling show if you plan a Japan trip but that’s just me. They’re a whole lot of fun.

The day’s main event (heh) saw us head to Shibuya Eggman to catch Kaqriyo Terror Architects tour final. They were doing pre-show sales when we got there so I went and bought some cheki tickets for Kotetsu and Nonamera…from Kotetsu and Nonamera. Weird stuff like that just happens in Japan and it’s pretty damn cool. The show itself was absolutely packed and the crowd was super amped up. There was circle pits, crowd surfing and just general rowdiness so the atmosphere was great. That is until they announced that Kotetsu would be transferring to Yukueshirezutsurezure next month. People were openly weeping all around me, it was pretty crazy to witness. Kotetsu is my favorite member of KTA so it kinda sucks but I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do in Tsurezure. I told her all of this while getting cheki with her and wished her all the best in her new group. Then I went and stood in line for Nonamera for literally 2 hours…yeah, the less said about that the better I think. Besides that the show was awesome though, KTA should be top of your priorities if you’re heading to Japan and like idols. Anyway, I was absolutely wrecked by the time I got home at midnight, which was several hours later than planned. Still worth it though.

It’s a bit awkward to leave things off in the middle of a weekend but it works out for how I’m trying to pace these things so sorry I guess? Quite the relentless schedule I’ve given myself huh? You’d think being in Japan for the better part of a month would encourage me to take things a little easier. That’s not in my nature though and there’s just so many shows to go to if you like a lot of groups. I actually got a bit annoyed by that one day where I didn’t go to anything, that how insane I am. Definitely don’t follow my example kids.

So yeah, that’s another one of these things in the books. This is pretty much the first half of the trip covered so there’s going to be at least 2 more of these coming in the next few weeks. I might also do one with some post-trip thoughts too so let me know if you think that’s interesting or not. Also let me know if you want me to talk about anything in more detail. I’m trying to keep these things concise and punchy but I appreciate that some people might like some more detail. Just drop me a comment either here or on social media and I’ll try my best to get back to you when I have a free moment. Thanks for keeping the site alive while I’ve been gone and I’ll see you for the next one of these things.