Japan 2015 Trip #3: Reaccounting, Counting the Costs

From Osaka

At some point during my trip a few of us who shared a room in Japan (in 3 different cities!) started calling ourselves “Meiwakrew” for fun, because we were a bunch of crazy eventers up for crazy things. Like typical kids from the USA, we were in Japan to party. Well, to a degree. At the same time this trip was definitely an odd one with various mishaps but nonetheless fun and rewarding.

My overall trip lasted about 11 days. The flight there was uneventful besides being my first flight on ANA where I was awake for more hours than I was asleep. The connection at ORD was smooth and the only thing I could complain about was having to connect in the first place. I guess that’s reward travel in general.

Having landed nice and early, I got to Tokyo proper on that Sunday with enough time to even hit an event. I opted instead to do nothing, and just dropped by a friend’s place while eating takeout curry. It was probably also my second-most fulfilling meal of the trip.

As some of you reading this may know, the past couple years I’ve been rolling up with a gang of Producers called Houkago P Time. In some ways, all of that was for the anticipation of IM@S 10th. I remember when I was preparing to hit up SSA back in late 2013 that I even talked about how we would be doing it for 10th. I’m not sure how much of it panned out, but at the very least it served as practice. We were able to set up flower stands and all kinds of other “fan” things for our group, and I had a hand in a lot of it. Perhaps too much. What it practically meant was that we all dropped a lot of $$$ on “extracurricular” things for IM@S 10th to fan that flame of fandom, so to speak. In the order of thousands of USDs.

This group of producers has grown and ballooned in size in the past year. We helped coordinate Ps from all over the world (literally?) to go to 10th, mostly by feeding them info and providing a community. We also help to plug people in for these fan projects, which is partly why we have such a large sum of things to do.

Which reminds me, not only I have to process the videos I took of the flowers, I should write up that ANorth offkai post at some point beyond what I wrote already. Speaking of ANorth, prep for that squarely interrupted prep for 10th, so we were under some time pressure during the process. It also made commissioning art a little tough. If it wasn’t for certain well-connected dealers I don’t know what we would have done.

I guess I was pretty stressed as a result of that leading up to the trip. I regret not visiting Anime Expo, but in retrospect that was the right call. I just couldn’t handle the interruption and didn’t really have the time to spare. Nor was I organized enough to squeeze it all through anyway. In the back of my mind while thinking up my 2015 activities I had already sacked things like AX (and other west coast trips) in exchange of doing 10th. So it was no big deal. (Still need to catch up on all the Moyochi/Hanabe media…)

At the same time, not everything I wanted to do was done. Part of it was poor organization on my part, part of it was poor timing, part of it was poor planning, but most of it was just that we didn’t have the time to do it right. It came down to that we got to the basic things we wanted to do, so there it goes.

[Anyone watched Sore ga Seiyuu 5? That’s kind of it in a nutshell.]

A fundamental fact about IM@S 10th is just that–it’s goo goo guano insane to imagine an otaku idol video game based on bishoujo charas (if they’re even that) filling a legit dome for 2 days, for live concerts. Including the lawn seats there were something like 38-39 thousand people in there. There was no “dead space” in the stands. The “stage” was 360 degrees in the form of a circuit that basically ran the bases. Anyways, the insanity of it didn’t really hit me until after it’s all over, despite well-knowing what an IM@S dome live meant cerebrally. If we did all we wanted to do we would’ve gone insane. This required serious planning that I just wasn’t prepared for, and I didn’t even have the experience. Where would I even acquire such experience in the first place?

The insanity didn’t quite hit me until afterwards, which means the days leading up to 10th I went out and partied. I hit up Sendai for a day–highly recommended even during the summer–and did some sightseeing in Tokyo too. I said hi to some friends, visited the shopping area near the Maihama Ampitheater, and generally did touristy things. Well, maybe that’s all okay. What was less so was having a balls of a time trying to check into my Airbnb, and losing my JR Pass… at the same time.

I’m not going to go too deep into the mishaps, because it was kind of a chain of hilarious circumstances. I even lost my shoes sort of in the process. Let’s just say that it was a learning experience and it even improved my opinion of Sendai in the process. Also, Japanese trains are great. Only if they were slightly more affordable…

Maybe I picked up this habit from the other western eventers I know, but my itinerary there was pretty stacked and tight. I know consciously that it’s not good to have super tight schedule on the basis that if something goes wrong, you are kind of screwed. So it’s not as min-maxed as it could be. Thankfully nothing like that has quite gone wrong…

Falling ill, however, can happen to anyone. At the very least I was thankful that the kind of sickness I got did not really prevent me from being physically active. It just prevented me from eating. I also felt terrible for about 1-2 days, but that might be because I didn’t get any sleep between Thursday and Friday. We took buppan pretty seriously, and the cumulative toll on my body added up from partying all week long, kind of. Eating chicken sashimi didn’t even do this (it was delicious by the way).

woo yeah

Anyways, just a brief note on Sendai this time. We stayed over at a ryokan inside the city, and it was about a 20, 25-minute walk to Luvya, the idol cafe that anime Myu worked in. It’s really kind of just a chika idol setup down there, but the girls of Luvya would rotate in 5 out of their group of 7 every night. We went on a Wednesday late at night, so the place was expectantly empty with just 2 other groups of customers. The five girls took their turn talking to us pilgrims, and I guess they are familiar with how this goes. More so than we are at any rate. They handed out cylumes before their 3-song set. It was all a little quaint but very charming. The next day we trooped around the area and hit a bunch of the POIs, except that it was raining the whole time, and bijou was somehow closed that day (which is somehow the only Thursday they’re closed that month). In retrospect, it might be Gyoza no Tenpuri’s lunch special that triggered my digestive issues?

I was only able to visit the IM@S cafe once this trip, but it was great. I got to say hello to a bunch of ANorth Japanese guys as it was one of them’s birthday. I ended up getting there too late and missed out some of the birthday activities, but such is life.

Speaking of this, I was also able to see some of the WugCen JP Wugners at their Osaka live during buppan hours. We got down there pretty late and by the time we found the line they just sold out all the parkas. Too bad for us. Good for the guys who camped out, I suppose.

Oh, one thing I did was visit Machida in order to hit up this nice 3000y/2hr tabe-nomihoudai place. And to haul couriered goods. Unlimited meat that you cook on your own? Sign me up. You even get to mix your own drinks. It’s great. This Kanagawa burb plays out like many others in the Tokyo metro region, so it’s nice to see it in person. Life is tough if you are an eventer from the burbs though.

As for 10th itself, it can warrant several posts, so I’ll only cover some of the not-as-IM@S-y items here. One thing they did for 10th that is actually baseball-themed (contrary to my expectations, they didn’t do many of these at all) was getting the starting lineup announced. Since I can’t JP I don’t quite know/find out who the announcer is, but you can hear the same dude announcing the starting lineup from an earlier game this year in the video below. Actually, that video kind of gets the same feel across. A bit of a rally call, I guess, minus the traditional cheerleading.

We took a chartered bus to Seibu Dome on Saturday. We rented a car and drove (from Akiba) Friday. For buppan, a 24-hour rent-a-car place was essential because it saves us on the parking within Tokyo proper. I guess if we stayed out in the more rural parts of Saitama, parking wouldn’t be an issue problem money-wise. Sunday we took the train. It bears repeating, but on Sunday, one of the express back out to the Seibu Ikebukuro line had a conductor that made humorous comments about returning to reality. I think one of the IM@S radios last week even mentioned this.

Very average

The Saturday Offkai, in more details, can be found here. Someone was spinning the tracks in TV sized versions, we ate, mingled, do calls, all kind of stuff. But the party didn’t start until close to midnight and we only went till 3. Those of us who were stationed in Ikebukuro trekked back. Others partied more next door (it’s like, part of a Pasela building).

Japanese venues are so funky

We woke up nice and early to head out to Osaka on Monday after 10th, targeting the first stop of the WUG 2nd tour. Given the toll that was 10th, it wasn’t as nice and as early as we would have liked. As I inferred above it was too late for the most coveted items of that buppan, but everything else we wanted was still available. The crowding was meager, if on the slow side, and I was counting on it. I ended up spending some time doing these gatcha can badges because it was fun and at least 2 people in our group got signed ones. Hype hype hype.

Flowers! Huge ones!

More flowers

It turned out that the whole not eating and kinda sick thing is not great for going to 2 standing lives back to back on the same day. Picking the hotel next to the venue was not a bad call, and it’s centrally located, right in Namba. In fact it’s technically connected to the JR station underground. It all is kind of labyrinthine down there.

The live at Namba Hatch is important, because apparently WUG 2nd is all about promoting the movie. It wasn’t obvious but even the movie committee name is called “Wake Up Girls 2.” As a result we got to hear like 5 new songs for the very first time, which means getting to making up calls and what not. There was a healthy orya-oi going on during some of the titular songs like 7GW and Tachiagare. I had a good time both lives, even if I had to take it easy on the second one. Also I moved towards the back during the late show just so I can have a railing section all to myself, in case I needed to keel over (which I didn’t).

The rest of the time it was trying to eat something in Osaka. “If I couldn’t eat anything what was the point of me being there?” I thought. It’s not a big deal in retrospect, but a stroll through Denden town proved to be fun and not too terrible for the wallet. Prices are definitely lower than Akiba, but that’s not saying much. The stock is notably better, which is probably why you would check it out anyway.

The Teito arcade at Denden Town holds monthly IM@S parties, which is cool. The first image in this post is from there. Too bad that was my last day in Japan. I made the trip back to Tokyo and since my flight wasn’t till late, I was able to squeeze in a showing of Love Live movie. It’s probably not the one movie I should have seen (rather go see Hosoda’s new one), but given that it would be easy to understand and more useful as troll fodder, I went with it. And that movie was good.

Ikebukuro Sunshine City

PS. I think this caps most of what I want to write about it here. There’s so much more that happened, because I was traveling with people most of the time, like going on location hunt because of seiyuu? Like these two videos? I don’t know, not my thing, but fun to do as a tourist thing at any rate. But if you see me, feel free to ask. Lots of stories to tell.

PPS. So I get back from JP and I see twitter and this.

Shopped

Then I went through some of my pics to make this post and see this.

Chigaou!

This was the car that parked next to ours during buppan. It gave me a brief shock but it’s not quite the same one. This one belongs to kyouP. Cars make impressive meshi don’t they…

PPPS. More an IM@S thing, but on the day of the buppan one of the Lions player took a pic of the inside of the dome and tweeted it, posted it on instagram, etc. Naturally, it’s a gaijin player. But thanks, Anthony, now we know what the stage is like, both before and after the event.


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