[Blog] Japan Trip 2018: Fourth Quarter

by Garry

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

Well, I’ve been home for about a week now but I figured I’d better wrap this blog series up in a somewhat timely manner. Japan feels like a very distant memory for me at this stage and I’m sure most of you are tired of reading these things anyway. I’m slowly getting back into my usual routine and the jetlag has pretty much worn off for the most part. I could do without having to go to work right now and I could also do without Christmas overtime starting next week. Oh well, next year’s trip isn’t going to pay for itself right?

So this should be pretty straightforward. This blog is going to cover the last…I think it’s 6 days of my trip but I’m not totally sure, it could be 5 so don’t quote me on that. It’s also not going to be the blaze of glory that I would have liked it to be but we’ll get into the reasons behind that as we go along here. Still, I think I made a pretty decent go of things despite a rather inconvenient setback. Anyway, enough alluding and waffling. Let’s close this thing out and restore regular service to the site.

So we start this blog on my final weekend of the trip. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling a bit nauseous but I kinda wrote it off as just me being tired and probably drinking too much, it wasn’t the first time this trip either. I headed out to Shin-Kiba with Terry bright and early for another Tokyo Joshi Pro show. I still wasn’t feeling too great but the show was really enjoyable. We got to see the debut of new wrestler Neko Haruna, who I’m sure a lot of you would also enjoy, as well as a really good main event where Hikari and Miu from Up Up Girls Pro Wrestling challenged Mizuki and Sakazaki Yuka for the tag team titles in a losing effort. I really do recommend checking out a wrestling show if you have a free morning/evening while in Japan. They’re a bunch of fun and it’s something a bit different to do if you feel like you’ve been going to too many concerts.

We had some lunch and I thought my stomach had settled down a bit. I wasn’t really sure what to do with my evening but I eventually settled on a taiban with NECRONOMIDOL, Aphrodite, Shingeki and a few others. We got there just after Aphrodite started their set which was fine by me but Terry isn’t much of a fan unfortunately. NECRONOMIDOL were in fine form as always and I believe they played the second half of their North American tour’s setlist after having played the first half at the morning edition of this show. It was interesting to see how frantic the fans got whenever Sari or Hina came forward for a solo part, I guess their graduations are very much at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. I headed to the back for the rest of the show to chill out and made it all the way to headliners Shingeki before I fell apart. Can’t say VUENOS in Shibuya was the nicest bathroom that I’ve almost thrown up in but beggars can’t be choosers. Being hunched over a toilet dry heaving and pouring with sweat was not how I imagined my evening would go but oh well. Once I got my shit together I decided to call time of the show and skip buppan in favor of some fresh air. I did feel a lot better (or so I thought) after getting outside but that little episode had killed my enthusiasm for doing anything else that evening so I just headed home to lick my wounds.

Waking up at 4am for some more dry heaving and profuse sweating was not part of the plan but that’s the situation I found myself in at the start of the 20th day of my trip. Still no payoff though so I crawled back to bed to try to sleep off whatever was wrong with me. I woke up a few more times aching with a headache and fever which sucked. What sucked even more was I just couldn’t get out of bed until mid afternoon. I missed a BiS2nd show and I also missed Melon Batake and BURST GIRL because I just couldn’t will myself out of bed. I realize I was being a total idiot even trying to go anywhere but that’s just how I am, I try to power through things. Feel free to mock me in the comments and tell me I should take better care of myself.

Speaking of powering through, I did actually go out that evening. Hanako-san’s pre-birthday show was not something I had planned on going to but I didn’t plan to get sick either so there ya go. It was Hanako, NECRONOMIDOL and a few bands so pretty decent line-up all in all. I managed to get to Sugamo just before NECRONOMIDOL got on stage so my timing was pretty good. They played a really hype set which was awesome, probably would have been even more awesome if I was feeling a bit better too. Hanako of course did her usual stuff which is fun although I usually bail before the food starts flying. Terry on the other hand loves getting milk tea, tomato juice and all manner of other food items poured on him by a small Japanese girl. Whatever floats your boat I guess. I felt pretty okay at the end of the show, although the air conditioning in the venue did kinda do a number on me what with the still present but now mild fever I was working with. I decided to give buppan a miss once again as I didn’t think it would be polite to pass on my plague to an idol, I am a gentleman after all. I do kinda regret missing Terry and Hina having their big emotional farewell though. On the plus side, my nausea was pretty much gone at this point so I was definitely looking to make the most of my last few days in Tokyo.

It should come as no surprise that the following day I decided to take a much needed morning off. I was pretty much over the worst of whatever it was I picked up but was still feeling a bit weak and just generally worn out. Hardly surprising given everything that had happened over the past couple of days. I guess I got pretty lucky that it didn’t end up being something a lot worse that could have potentially written off the last 4 days of my trip. So yeah, I took some medication and spent the morning relaxing and catching up on some of the things I’d been neglecting over the past couple of weeks. It was kinda nice to be able to do this, even if it was sorta imposed on me against my will. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn to actually take breaks during these trips. Not likely any time soon but hopefully one day.

I headed out to Shinjuku with Terry early in the afternoon, feeling pretty good at this point and looking forward to Melon Batake a go go’s “one-man” live at Shinjuku LOFT. The live didn’t start until 7pm but they were having a “Secret Party” from 3pm in the LOFT bar where we met up with Jack because you can’t go to the other side of the world without meeting another Scottish person. It was basically a talk event with some skits that I understood the majority of but still wish my Japanese was better so I could get the full experience. I think they played some new songs from their upcoming album (the major release, not the indie one) and their producer and staff all talked a bit about it and the group in general. It was a pretty cool event and super chill, although the massive omelette rice I ate probably wasn’t the best idea in hindsight. The live itself wasn’t really a one-man, not that the promotion made it out to be one in anything but name anyway. They had 3 guests including AVANDONED who some of you might know, and they all played a few songs between Melon Batake doing blocks of 3 or 4 of their own. It was a pretty cool idea honestly and definitely a unique way of structuring a show. It definitely had that big show feel and drew an impressive crowd who were treated to some great performances, not bad for a group most of you don’t even follow huh? I managed to barely get cheki with all of Melon Batake after the show, being the literal last person in Yuffie’s line before they shut everything down. I think I’ve said this already but they’re definitely one of if not my favorite groups to cheki with and talk to.

And so began the Monday of my final almost week in Tokyo. The end of the trip was in sight so I was kinda in wind-down mode at this point. Maybe a bit early for that but the combination of the insane pace of the trip and getting sick had really done a number on me. I was still having fun of course but the idea of going home didn’t totally suck anymore (for now). I hit up a few familiar spots during the day to do a bit of shopping and pick up some things I’d had my eye on for most of the trip but had been putting off buying until it was nearer time for me to go home. That’s a pretty good tip honestly, especially if you’re staying in a hotel or somewhere that doesn’t have a ton of space to store all of the junk you end up accumulating. If it’s not a super limited item or venue exclusive you probably can put of buying it for a bit. Who knows, you might decide that you don’t really need it anyway and you’ve saved yourself some money. Money that can be used for other things, like cheki for example.

I was going to see Melon Batake again that evening, you could say that I kinda like them I guess. This show was actually super convenient as they were playing at Hatagaya CLUB HEAVY SICK which was like a 5 minute walk from where I was staying. I’m pretty sure their producer runs the venue so that’s why they ended up playing there. It’s a small venue but has a good atmosphere to it, which is probably my preferred setting for live music. This show was jokingly referred to as the “true one-man” because only Melon Batake were playing which was pretty funny and also kinda true. Personally I preferred this show to the one at LOFT the previous day, for the aforementioned reasons and I also got a full uninterrupted set too. I think they even played a couple newer songs but don’t quote me on that because my memory is pretty fuzzy. I had a great time anyway and that’s all that really matters right? Buppan was way less crazy too which was good, I managed to get cheki with everyone without any issues although I imagine that’s going to be much more difficult next year. It’s a shame because I do enjoy talking to everyone, even if Run cracked her head off of a hanging speaker just before it was my turn and Yuffie started talking about how she reads my website (Hi if you’re reading this!) which was kinda embarrassing. This was my last Melon Batake show of the trip so I said my goodbyes and promised I’d be back for more shows next year. So they better all stick around until then, okay?

I feel like it’s probably getting kinda boring to read about me doing the same things with my mornings/afternoons in these blogs but I’m just writing about what actually happened so oh well. I’d pretty much run out of steam for anything other than lives but I still had to feel like I was making the most of my time so off to the arcades I went. I plundered a ton of BiSH plushies from the Adores in Shibuya, so many that I now have a whole extra set of them so if anyone wants to make me an offer…I’m just saying. The machine I kept going back to is really easy to play once you figure it out to be fair but I’d like to think that it still takes a little bit of skill. Arcades are actually a pretty fun way to kill time if you don’t really have any other plans although the constant noise does get a bit tiring after a while. Apart from that I just hit up a couple stores to do some window shopping and keep me out of the apartment for a while.

I had a couple of options for shows that evening, those being Bury’s one year anniversary live or Kaqriyo Terror Architect’s regular performance at Shibuya Eggman. I eventually settled on KTA purely because I’m more invested in them honestly. I bumped into a couple of familiar faces at the venue which was cool, Idol lives are definitely more fun if you’re there with some friends. The show itself was kinda weird though, not because of anything that the girls did mind you. The crowd was just kinda low tension I guess and it almost seemed like some of the fans were having a competition to see who could half-ass the kecha the most. It did take a little bit out of the show, mainly because I had the utter insanity of the tour final from a couple of weeks ago to compare it to. Like I said though, no slight on any of the girls who put on a great performance…Nonamera was certainly having fun at least. Not exactly what I was hoping for from the show but still a fun evening out. For buppan the cheki concept was “costume swap” I guess? Everyone swapped costumes, with some older ones making an appearance which was pretty interesting. I didn’t stick around to get cheki though, I felt like I’d said everything I needed to say to Kotetsu for now and I didn’t really feel up for the long wait in the purgatory that is Nonamera’s line. Apparently the Bury live was way more hype so I probably should have gone to that instead maybe? I guess it’s easier to make those kinds of decisions with the benefit of hindsight though.

Well here it is, my last usable day of the trip. I don’t count the true last day as that’s pretty much just trying to get to the airport on time and not missing my flight. Man the weather sucked today, it was dull, cold and rainy so pretty much exactly like how it is back home for most of the year. I have a bit of a tradition I guess of going out to Akihabara on my last day in the country, not really sure how this became a thing but it did so that’s what I did. It’s always good to give TRIO and some of the more hole in the wall shops a final browse before I head home for another year. I usually end up buying something dumb like a big plushie or a poster that’s almost impossible to fit into my already packed suitcase but this year I was sensible and didn’t make any dumb purchases like that. I still had a little bit of packing and tidying up to do so I headed back towards Hatagaya but made a quick stop off in Shinjuku to buy some CDs and get some event tickets for the evening’s festivities. Not the most glamorous way to spend much of my final day so I apologize if any of you are screaming at me through your computer/smartphone screens right now.

I headed back out to Shinjuku that evening with a rather under the weather Terry in tow. There weren’t really any big shows on that evening but Gokigen Teikoku were doing an in-store live at Tower Records and that sounded like a pretty good time to me. I also think this might have been how I spent my last day in Tokyo last year too which is kinda funny. We met up with Ethan and got to the event space as Gokitei were going through their soundcheck, so it was kinda like getting two lives in one. A lot of in-store performances can be kinda subdued for obvious reasons, but Gokitei really went for it and encouraged the fans to do the same. Everyone was joking around and having fun which made for a really good atmosphere, something you can usually count on if Gokitei are involved. They also did like 5 or 6 songs which is quite a lot given the typical time constraints of these events. I ended up with two event tickets which entitled me to a signed 2-shot cheki with a member of my choice and also the opportunity to get my copy of the album signed by a member of my choosing. Pretty good deal (if you don’t think about how much it cost). I ended up going to Ichiho because we all know she’s my favorite at this point. It was a pretty quick cheki session but I told her it was my last day in Japan though I would definitely come see Gokitei again next year. The event ended pretty early so we all headed to Shibuya so I could give Ethan some last minute crane game pointers and we did fairly well is all I’ll say. Then it was back to Hatagaya for a celebratory dinner with Terry and that was pretty much all she wrote folks.

I’ll save you all from the banality of me making it to the airport on time and the 20 hour travel day that ensued just to get me back to Glasgow. That stuff is just depressing and if you’ve ever done a long-haul flight you already know what it’s all about anyway. Yeah, I definitely did not feel like going home at that point even though I probably needed it. I’ve been back for about a week at this point and have unfortunately more or less settled back into the monotony that is my everyday life. With that said, it should come as no surprise that I’m already planning the next trip because I sure as hell need something to look forward to. The plus side of Christmas overtime starting at work next week is that it should earn me a decent chunk of cash to put towards getting me back to Tokyo, probably around the same time next year.

That’s pretty much it for these blogs. I might do like a post-trip thoughts type deal next weekend but we’ll see. There’s a few things I wanted to mention that didn’t really fit with the flow of these blogs but maybe you guys aren’t that interested. I have kinda milked this thing out a bit haven’t I? Well, let me know if it’s something you’d be interested in and I’ll probably end up doing it anyway. Otherwise, it’s business as usual on the site as we rapidly approach the end of the year. I should really start thinking about those Top 10 lists shouldn’t I?