[Blog] Japan Trip 2018: Third Strike

by Garry

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

Greetings from Amsterdam! Well, I guess technically Schiphol airport to be exact. That’s where I’m currently sitting as I’m writing up this third trip blog here. Yeah, I only got half of them out before my trip actually ended, it is what it is. Don’t worry though, I got miles of notes on everything I did so you guys will still be getting the full(ish) experience. Minus the boring things and stuff that would make your mother blush anyway.

If you’ve checked out any of the blogs I’ve been posting from this trip so far then that’s awesome and I really appreciate it. You’ll know then that I’ve been going at a pretty breakneck pace and trying to go to as many things in as little time as possible. Definitely not something I would recommend that any of you guys do should you find yourselves in Japan. I certainly ended up paying for it but we’ll get into that at some point in these blogs here.

I believe that we are starting off this blog on November 11th, a day of many celebrations. Now while sleeping in would have been nice after the previous day, there was no way I was going to miss wishing Rin from BURST GIRL a happy birthday at her show at Shinjuku MARZ. It was pretty nuts considering it started at 10am but all of the acts on the bill really brought the hype for Rin. I’d heard of the band Cantoy before but man were they super fun, Toranoko Rammy were also pretty hype and their guitarist crowdsurfed while shredding so bonus cool points there. Broken By The Scream also played but I dunno, they didn’t sound too great from where I was standing. Too muddy, but maybe it was just the PA system. BURST GIRL obviously headlined and did what they do best. Rin got a funny troll present from the fans at the end of the show too. I got cheki with her because I don’t really have a BURST GIRL oshi and she was the birthday girl after all.

After a quick lunch break it was off to Nishi-Eifuku JAM for another birthday show. This time Komachi from Yukueshirezutsurezure. Definitely not as many people there as there was for KTA’s tour final, which was a shame but the people who were there were going all out for Komachi. She actually ended up doing an acoustic version of “Minimal Rondo” at one point, with Mei Yui Mei accompanying her on acoustic guitar. Definitely not something I expected so it was really cool to see something rare like that. Speaking of which, they brought Kotetsu up on stage towards the end and she actually performed “Phantom Kiss” as part of Tsurezure. I guess I got to see her pre-debut debut…or something like that. That was an awesome surprise and considering how much of a Komachi fan Kotetsu is I’m sure it meant a lot to perform with her on her birthday. I got cheki and had a nice chat with Shidare afterwards. I guess I’ve known her for a long time now so she’s one of the few I don’t feel like a complete idiot around when I’m talking to her. This was a pretty brutal weekend so I pretty much went home and died afterwards.

The following day I woke up feeling super beat up. I guess that’s what happens when you do 4 shows in 2 days or something. I eventually managed to get up and went to forage for food while trying to decide what to do that evening. Turns out there wasn’t really much of anything going on. I could have gone to a wrestling show but for the 5k yen they were asking the line-up wasn’t that great. I could have also gone to a BiS release event but the way they run their buppan and reward stuff just doesn’t excite me. I guess I’m just spoiled by all of these group where you can go to their buppan and actually have a decent conversation. In the end I just went and hung out in Shibuya for a couple of hours. I probably should have at least gone and watched the BiS in-store performance but I guess I just didn’t care. This felt like I really wasted a day at the time but it was probably for the best in hindsight. Don’t be afraid to take a day or two off guys, your body will thank you for it.

Refreshed and with a sudden urge to play some arcade games, I headed out to Shibuya the following day to see what was on offer. Turns out the other 3 BiSH plushies had just be released the previous week so I figured why not try to win them and complete my set. I ended up winning a Lingling in Adores using only 500 yen so was pretty happy with that. Not wanting to push my luck too far I decided to quit while I thought I was ahead. I also checked out a couple of SEGAs in Shinjuku too but nothing really caught my eye too much. Still, a fun afternoon to precede what was going to be an equally fun evening.

I was going to see Melon Batake a go go for the first time tonight so I was pretty excited about that. It was in Shibuya so of course I hit up Adores again to kill some time. I walked away with a Chitti for my trouble so only needed Ayuni for the set. I met up with Kris and Terry and headed to Lounge NEO for the show. A super interesting venue, definitely not made with Idol in mind given the lack of a proper stage and clear nightclub setup. I was only really there for Melon Batake, but Lion Net Girl kinda caught my eye a little bit too. So Melon Batake played a few song from their new album and for my first time hearing them I thought they were great. Nakamura was also set on giving everyone heart attacks by climbing on things and jumping off of them. A super fun performance from a super fun group you guys should be supporting. I ended up getting cheki with all of Melon Batake afterwards. They’re all really nice to talk to, even if Nakamura and Run don’t have practically any English. Run is also super hilarious which helps ease any awkwardness. Tama and Yuffie are definitely the easiest to talk to if your Japanese sucks though (sorry for sending all the gaijin your way girls). Just go see and meet them and you’ll thank me for it. I was pretty wiped out after the show, which kinda surprised me because I was taking it easy right?

16 days in and I’m officially starting to feel the strain of this trip. Hardly surprising when I’ve been going to lives practically every night since I got here. I pretty much stayed in until the afternoon because I was just feeling drained and didn’t want to do anything. I did eventually get the urge to play some more crane games though so I figured I’d head to Akihabara and see what sort of selection they had. I also still needed that Ayuni for my BiSH set. I only ended up finding one machine that looked winnable but there was an Ayuni in it and within the 5 plays my 500 yen got me she was mine. I think I was probably about 2500 yen for the 3 I needed which isn’t the worst return considering what these things go for on auction. If you need any claw game tips then I guess I’m your guy…for a price.

Back to the actually interesting Idol stuff. That night was Juri from 969’s birthday show at Meguro Rockmaykan. I met up with Terry and Kris to have dinner beforehand which was a nice change of pace honestly. There was a bunch of groups on this show; Kaishin no Ichigeki, HAMIDASYSTEM, Desu Rabbits, A.N.otherR, 969 of course and probably a couple of others I’m forgetting. I mainly went for 969 and HAMIDA but I’d seen A.N.otherR a few times now and they were growing on me. HAMIDA absolutely killed their performance and that’s not just my opinion, a bunch of the people who see them regularly said it was their best performance in a while. 969 were of course the stars of the show, with a hot crowd who were more than happy to try to destroy each other as tribute to the birthday girl. They also got Juri a bunch of balloons, confetti and light sticks to celebrate her birthday which made for a really cool visual. Buppan after the show was insane with half a dozen or more group all trying to sell their wares in the same place. I ended up getting a cheki with Nana from 969 because I guess she’s my favorite and also went to see Flame from HAMIDASYSTEM again. Then I got the hell out of that chaos and let everyone else battle it out to see their oshimen. Oh yeah, shout out to Billie from the Facebook group. It was good to meet you and chat a bit at the show. Don’t be a stranger yeah?

The next day was a pretty sad one because it was Kris’s last proper day in Japan. Having friends out there with you definitely enhances the experience so it sucks when you lose one of the crew. I was still feeling pretty tired due to too many late nights and early mornings but since I’m the crane game master I headed to Shibuya with Kris and Terry to try and help them win some BiSH plushies. I kinda showed them what to do then left them to it, eventually they got the Momoko and Ayuni that they wanted so a happy ending to the story there. We got some lunch and just chatted after that, taking stock of the trip a bit I suppose. I feel like that’s always a good thing to do every so often just to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time. It was also just nice chatting to some friends in person instead of over the internet like we usually have to.

Aphrodite were hosting their regular live at Tsutaya O-Nest that night. It was basically one big taiban with a mix of different groups and genres. XTEEN and Aphrodite were playing so I was already sold but de’Barrier were also on the bill and I had been wanting to check them out too. Other names that might be familiar to you would be Lyric Holic Noir, Bakuon Dolls Syndrome and somewhat surprisingly Diable Voix. Haruka from Diable Voix was surprised we all knew her (thanks Jul) and was super nice and appreciative of our support. So de’Barrier are great and I wish I could have seen more of them on the trip, I recommend getting cheki with Ando as a must have experience and even moreso if you go into it with no idea what’s going to happen. They also do 500 yen for signed cheki if it’s your first time seeing them. XTEEN had a ton of fans at this show which made me happy, even if there was a lot of cross pollination from Aphrodite and Hinako was nice enough to ask how my cold was at buppan (going hard for that soon to be vacated #1 spot). I think I ended up with 6 or 7 cheki from this show when I only planned to get 3 or 4. I had to cut myself and my wallet off at that point so we bounced from buppan. We walked Kris to the station and wished him a safe trip home. No goodbyes because we talk all the time on Discord anyway right?

I think I’ve mentioned this already but there does kinda come a point in an almost month long trip on your third visit to Tokyo where you do just run out of interesting things to do. If you’re into temples, landmarks and all that kind of stuff then maybe not but for me it was becoming more and more difficult to figure out what to do with my daytime. Probably sounds crazy to a lot of you reading this but it’s what ended up happening, like it usually does. Maybe you guys can recommend me stuff to do next time and I can write about it or something. It does probably help for me to have some less hectic days though, especially since I’ve been feeling really worn out the past couple of days.

Anyway, after a relaxing morning and afternoon it was off to Shibuya Cyclone with Terry for Shirahata Ichiho from Gokigen Teikoku’s 2Xth birthday show. This is the second year in a row I’ve been able to go to this show and I did kinda plan this year’s trip around being able to go to this show so it was a big event for me. Ichiho opened the show with a solo set, showing that you can in fact have vocal chord surgery and not trash your voice if it’s done properly. Ahem, up next were RHYMEBERRY although no MC MIRI as she apparently had a fever. This kinda threw a wrench in the planned Ichiho/MIRI collaboration that was to follow but both groups came together to perform what was a really fun song that hopefully there’s footage of out there somewhere. Gokitei headlined of course (accompanied by Melon from Operetta’s Counterattack) and they were on fire, playing a bunch of fan favorites along with a few new ones from their album. I always find it funny how their crowds can be really fired up but also super respectful of each other at the same time. The show was great in any case, although the stage feels a little empty now with only 3 members. I went to Shirahata, Pero and Alice for cheki afterwards and made sure to grab the line card for Ichiho from the biggest looking dude there and follow him through the insanity that was this buppan. Pretty sure I said this before but Gokitei are all super nice to meet so go do that yeah? I managed to get done pretty early thankfully, pretty much entirely due to me getting into Ichiho’s line as quickly as possible. Definitely worth planning the trip around.

You guys know I’m not one for ranking stuff, but this might have been my favorite week or so stretch of the entire trip. I dunno though, I did a lot of pretty cool stuff over the course of the whole thing. I guess I’ll put it to you guys, which of these blogs has been your favorite so far? Leave a comment either below or on social media and let me know. I’m definitely lucky to be able to experience all of this cool stuff and also meet a bunch of cool people along the way too. I feel like I should mention that more in these things but maybe I’ll leave it until the end.

Not to get to spoiler heavy or anything but don’t expect the next and final* blog to be as good as the first three. A few things conspired against me during the final week of my trip but we’ll get into all of that next time. As always if you have any questions or want me to go into something in more detail don’t be afraid to ask. You can leave a comment below or hit me up either publicly or privately on social media. I’m happy to answer just about anything you might want to ask so have at it if you have a burning question. Apart from that, cheers for checking this blog out and I’ll hopefully see you again for the next one.