In just about a month I along my fellow traveling partners Hiro, Dave and Vu will be returning to Japan.  If you haven’t figured it out by the posts Hiro and I have been making we are all going mainly for an AKB48 kobetsu handshake event.  We also have a couple of zenkoku events for NMB48 and AKB48 squeezed in as well.

This means that we will be touring Japan instead of goofing around Tokyo for the entire time we are there.  Don’t get me wrong, Tokyo is cool and all but there’s a lot more to see in Japan besides that city alone.

Normally I am not nervous when it comes to these trips as I always manage to get by with careful planning.  At the very least I have an idea of where I’m supposed to go in the various airports I hit during my travels and how to get to my hotel once I land at Narita.

This time? Well I was lucky enough to get a direct flight to Narita so no need for me to walk all the way to the other side of Vancouver International and barely make my flight.  Once I land in Narita it’s a different story altogether.  There really isn’t a relatively close bus stop to the hotel we chose this year.  There is a train station but I have never taken the train to any hotel the 2 times I have been to Japan.

So it should be a relatively fun adventure since my sense of direction and map reading skills are pretty craptacular in general.  Last year I got lost looking for my hotel from Suidobashi station and it was only because I walked in the opposite direction of the hotel.

Yup, fun times are going to be had once I get outside of Narita airport and try to find my hotel.

The other thing I am nervous about is the whole kobetsu handshake deal, mainly because I don’t have anything significant to say to anyone but maybe Matsui Sakiko.  If you look at my finalized handshake list I should be able to come up with something right?

Unfortunately there is a huge stumbling block in my way.  That is practical use of Japanese.  I have been studying Japanese on my own since 2006 and for the most part I have a firm grasp on most conversational grammatical concepts and my vocab is probably okay at best.  I managed to get around just fine last year for the most part without too many hiccups.

Of course I was in situations I could control such as asking for stuff in a store or how to get to a certain train station.  That’s rather simple in comparison to having an actual lengthy conversation about nothing in particular.  That is where I fail since there are few around my area to practice that aspect of the language with.

That means I’m really rusty when it comes to just shooting the shit so to speak.  You combine that with being timed once you step into the greeting area?  Yeah, that doesn’t necessarily give one a lot of time to come up with something snappy out of thin air.  What exactly can you rattle off in 10 seconds without being an incomprehensible mess?

I was given links to some 2ch threads that discuss what to talk about with certain members and general topics and strategies to have them control the conversation so you don’t spend precious seconds fumbling your words and soiling your pants in the process.

Putting those into practice again, is more different once you’re actually there in front of the idol of your choosing.  I guess at the very least I can use the following for certain members if all else fails:

Yamauchi Surzuan  – “ゴルフが大好き。” Sure, I don’t enjoy golf at all and maybe the closest I have gotten to playing the sport is any part of the Tiger Woods video games; but she doesn’t have to know that right?  Then again, if she starts rattling off stuff about golf I’m done for.

Fujie Reina –“藤江さんのいとこが大好き。”- For those who don’t know, Berryz Koubou’s Natsuyaki Miyabi is Fujie Reina’s cousin.  This of course may be considered an insult.  Then again it’s probably better than asking for a 3-way right? xD

Kawaei Rina – “川栄!!!”- If I scream this loud enough for 10 seconds on repeat that should make an impression.

Ichikawa  Miori – I have been asked to do the Fresh Lemon gimmick with her and/or get head butted.  Both would nullify touching and one would probably not be allowed.

If 10 seconds wasn’t bad enough I have 2 members that I have 30 seconds with.  Those are Tahakashi Minami and Miyazaki Miho.  I’m pretty stumped on Takahashi at the moment other asking her maybe what an Alpaca smelled like?  For Myao I just have to dress up as PSY I guess if there’s nothing else I can think of to say to her.

I have heard of people writing down that they’re going to say and practicing their speech while they’re in line.  That sounds like the most practical way to go I think. Then again maybe I should just wing it instead and see what happens?

The zenkoku events don’t seem to be a big deal since I understand it’s like an assembly line of hi-fives and then you get to watch a mini-live.  Those who have been to one or several can correct me if I am wrong on this assumption.

Otherwise, I’m looking forward to this trip.  It shouldn’t be as stressful (or extremely hot) as last year with no major concert or huge amount of goods to line up for. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this piece we’ll be seeing more than just once city.

I will have my video cameras ready and as requested, I will be filming as much stuff as possible for a longer documentary of this year’s debauchery.  I will also be live blogging and tweeting like madman when I can while we’re there so you can live vicariously through me.

Isn’t that nice?

Anyay, there is just about a month to go. Crunch time has started.

Comments

  • Steve Summers September 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I’m still so….not impressed with the idea of handshake events, I’ve posted about it before, but mostly on Facebook or forums. The idea of being able to see a person for 30 seconds and you don’t even get anything else from the ordeal like an autograph or a picture or even a conversation where you actually get to say something to them in a time interval longer than your average piss, then maybe I could understand…but in its current state, I just can’t see the appeal. If you got to see a little concert or something else that went along with it, then I could understand, but I’m just not about this whole handshake mess.

    I know you’re usually one to have pretty level-headed views on idols, so I’d be kinda interested to hear your particular reasoning of why the handshake events are important to you. Does the celebrity and “elevated” status of how idols are presented get to you when it comes to these to where you view it as worth all your time, effort, and money to see these girls for 30 seconds? I know the camaraderie of being with friends on a trip is great and all, but you’re still going out of your way for the events themselves, so I’m interested in the deeper motivation.

    • Greg September 16, 2013 at 10:40 am

      The way I see events such as the handshakes and the like is in the same area as video game achievements. I would like to think that every fan has a certain number of goals he or she would like to attain before they retire from their fandom or rage quit.

      The goals I have for my time in the AKB fandom are:

      1. See an AKB concert in a major venue (check)
      2. Attend an AKB theatre show
      3. Participate in either a kobetsu or zenkoku handshake event (checking this off this year)
      4. Get 2 shot

      In a way you can also consider attending a handshake event a rite of passage as well. I look back to the initial concept of AKB as the “idols you can meet.” and the handshake is a form of that concept in execution. (other than a 2 shot)

      Sure one has to pay a premium now that the group is uber-mainstream in order to accomplish the “meeting” of AKB idols but that is the price to pay in order to accomplish this task. Obviously with AKB being national idols you’re not going to get a lot of time given the number of fans they see at these things. I am of the mind set of taking what I can get.

      The value of said time and money is subjective of course. Sure I don’t get a lot of time and have some small Japanese dude usher me away before I can say anything and there are no autographs to speak of. But I’m going for the experience of the two different events. If either of them are unpleasant overall? Well I can at least say I went to one, unlike a lot of fans who blow hot air about wanting to go and never do.

      I can’t speak for the others but I don’t necessarily see us going out of our way to attend these events since it is one of the major reasons we are going to Japan in the first place. They are planed early enough in our trip that they won’t interfere with other non-idol or touristy stuff we want to do.

      Hopefully that answers your questions.

      • Steve Summers September 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        Definitely, that’s an interesting way of thinking about it, and it does make a lot of sense from your viewpoint. That’s not to say I think the same way, but I can appreciate how someone would have a different set of goals or achievements within their idol appreciation they’d like to achieve and different levels of sacrifice they’re willing to put forth to accomplish those goals.