On October 19 Selective Hearing and New School Kaidan attended the AKB48 Koi Suru Fortune Cookie Dai Akushukai handshake event at Pacifico Yokohama.
We left for Yokohama early Saturday morning. The trains were surprisingly busy at 6:30. There were people going to work & kids going to school and such.
After about an hour we arrived at Pacifico Yokohama and followed the signs to the area where the handshake event was being held. The handshake spanned Halls A – D of the complex. It was large enough to hold the large number of people who bought tickets plus all the members.
The setup was where the senbatsu/popular members were in the center of the hall with a sister group & the kenkyuusei/lower tier members and another sister group off to either side.
There was also a trading area, information booth, women’s only rest area & 2 general rest areas zoned off.
Behind one of the rest areas was a board showing the lanes the members are assigned to. One board is organized by group or by time. Of course the names are all in Japanese so if you go to one of these have the actual names in Japanese handy.
On to my own experience at this event. First off I have never been to one of these things and have only seen glimpses of it on TV. I had no preconceived notions before going in so this account of the event is pretty much going to be bluntly honest.
The AKS approved touching experience
She appeared to be taller than her listed height, but she was wearing heels or lifts apparently and she had a pretty spiffy outfit on. I cycled her line 3 times. The first time I walked in and told her she was the best. (Yeah lame, but I was going with what I know).
She looked at my shirt during our handshake (the Evolution shirt) & asked what it was. I replied saying it was inspired by Shimazaki’s answer on the the AKB Mechaike Bakajo special.
She commented something I couldn’t catch & I was ushered away.
The second time I showed up & the OJS48 guard looked at my shirt & started laughing. I had nothing to say to her and just shook hands. She commented on my shirt again and I was ushered away.
The third time I went to see Takamina the OJS48 guard laughed at my shirt again & let me through. I told her that I thought her singing voice was great (Paraphrased) and I was ushered away.
I wasn’t sure if Takamina was messing with me or not. Her reactions seemed to be kind of odd. After my last pass through it seems she was.
The OJS48 laughing took me by surprise that’s for sure.
Kind of disappointing for a fisher. I’ve heard mixed reviews about her handshakes. I’ve always found her to be fairly attractive so that made up for the lack of being fished. She wasn’t as dolled up as Takamina opting for a more casual hoodie with the hood up.
I missed the cutoff for her line due to my Takamina line cycling. In hindsight that was a bad idea but it also ended up being a benefit as her line was huge and would have made me miss my round 2 handshakes. I don’t know if there will be an opportunity next year, but if there is I’ll try hard to get her in the first round.
One of the handshakes I was looking forward to the most. I was told that Jurina despite her looking 27 actually acts pretty close to her actual age when you meet her.
I walked in and she was wearing a black devil outfit which was, wow. She grabbed my hands and I congratulated her on her Janken tournament win. After that all she did was scream in my face and happily ask a bunch of questions.
Of course being bombarded by J was alright with me but I had no time to properly answer as I was being pulled away by the usher.
When you see her up close she is so fine. Once she gets past the jailbait years she’s going to age very nicely. Gentleman be prepared.
I don’t remember much from Yui. Her handshake was almost a blur of 10 seconds. Sorry, it was basically in and out there. Perhaps the genki assault from J still had me stunned a bit.
Team 4 captain was next. As I was checking in to her line there were 2 dudes standing off to the side. I guess they were part of the Minegishi Minami birthday committee or something because they asked me to go to Hall B and sign her birthday card.
After that, off to get to the formerly bald one. She was not wearing a wig first off, so no asking to throw it down in disgust. Her short hair I think looks better than her former long locks. Anyway, I congratulated her on her Team 4 captaincy and then she started asking me shit in a similar manner that Jurina did, except without the loudness.
I still had time left so I was all frozen trying to come up with a response and thanked Jebus when the usher scooted me away. Yeah, stupid gaijin comes out to play. That happens a lot as this handshake event continues for me by the way.
If you’re a Hello! Project fan you know that Fujie Reina is Natsuyaki Miyabi’s cousin. I think that info is almost common knowledge if you’re an idol fan who follows both AKS and H!P. So I scored an achievement here by meeting Natsuyaki back at Sakura-con and then Fujie at this event.
I follow her Google+ rather religiously and I enjoy all the pic whoring she does with her outfits. She’s got some good fashion sense unlike maybe a few other members who appear to phone it when it comes to clothing.
She is just as beautiful as her pictures and when I walked in she looked at my shirt and asked what it was. I told her it was Paru’s answer from the Mechaike Bakajo special. It was at this point we were just talking and I kind of forgot to shake her hand.
So I quickly grabbed her hands and congratulated her on getting into the janken senbatsu. I was then shoved aside and before I was forcefully moved away she pimped the upcoming janken single.
This was the experience I came for. Fuije is really chill and I didn’t feel any anxiousness or nervousness and it was one of the few conversations in Japanese where things didn’t go off the rails. It was as if we were just hanging out… For 10 seconds.
I will point out that this round is the only one I completed successfully without having to drop anyone. Unfortunately it was not the case for the subsequent rounds.
No break for the weary as I had to immediately get back in line for round 3.
I was warned about her handshake experiences. They could either be really tsundere or you may get off lucky and have a good time. I guess it depends on whether you like that type of personality and whether you accidentally pull her triggers.
When I went up to her she had her hair down, no crazy buns or anything. She’s a pretty girl, which kind of was surprising considering she’s usually surrounded by better looking members or cuter lolis.
Does that sound harsh? Yes. But most likely partly true.
So on to the handshake I whipped out my generic line in Japanese “I came from Canada to see you.” which she replied with, “Is that a seat belt?”
You see my bag is a Chrome one and their trademark is to have a seatbelt attached to the shoulder strap. I replied “Yes” and that was the end of the conversation & hand shake. Definitely an unexpected reaction but at least I didn’t get the gas face from her.
By the time I got out of the Ota Aika line the busy time was in full swing. I headed over to the area for NMB48 and noticed it was packed. I only had time for 1 more member before the start of the next round.
Furukawa’s line was way shorter so unfortunately I had to drop Kotani Riho from my list. She is drop dead gorgeous in person. I told her “I like Chibi Airi” which got a happy “Arigatou” in response. After that I was ushered away.
And that ended my 3rd round.
I decided to go with the most popular member in this block. The bakajo herself. She was rather dressed down compared to the other members I saw before her.
I grabbed her hands and dropped the line. Kawaei replied with a puzzled, “Canada?” She then started waving at me repeatedly saying “Hello”” in a confused state until the handshake ended.
Iriyama’s line was right next to Kawaei’s so that was the most logical person to go to next. She definitely looks like a halfie even though she’s full Japanese. I dropped the default line & her reaction was the opposite of Kawaei’s. She was happy instead of confused. That was enough for me.
So I got stupid & brilliant one after the other. Great stuff.
Due to a delay at Iriyama’s line I barely had time to make Kato Rena’s line all the way on the other side of the building, so I went to Ichikawa’s line which was much closer.
Lemon is tiny. Like a living doll. Or maybe a bobble head depending on how you feel about her. Either way, she’s really small. I dropped the line and she joyfully did the lemon lisp thanking me for coming over. Yes, her lisp is that pronounced but it’s also part of her charm.
The usher started to pull me away and she waved goodbye with that funny shit eating grin. I know a lot of people find lemon annoying, I thought she was fun.
I had the queen set up for my first hand shake going into the evening. I made sure to get into her line right away as I figured it might be long. It really wasn’t. As I navigated through her line I got a peek at the person in the next booth, it was Haruppi. Damn that girl is cute and similar to lemon, really tiny.
Once I got into Sasshi’s booth I noticed she was sitting down. She also looked kind of out of it so I kept things simple & congratulated her on being the election center. I got a timid thank you & that was it. I found out after the event ended that she wasn’t feeling well and hence the less than genki response.
I guess you have to admire her for still showing up and infecting the masses. If I get sick I will take it as a transfer of idol germs and bear it happily.
I think that Sashihara is pretty hot and seeing her up close only confirmed that she is indeed one hell of a looker. Too bad she wasn’t standing. I wanted to see how tall she was.
I like bitches who can sing & that is why I chose to add Wasamin to my handshake list. When my friend CK saw I had her on my list he gave me a rundown of what she is like and what to expect.
Everything he said was true. As soon as I walked in she took the lead. She saw my shirt and asked where I got it. I replied with Canada and she continued to reel me in. As I was being ushered out her parting words were, “I love you.” just as CK had stated.
Honestly I wanted to congratulate her on the release of her upcoming cover album & wish her luck. But she was really assertive and basically had me wrapped around her finger. What could I do but roll with it right?
Besides being one who can sing Wasamin is very easy on the eyes. Would she fall into the real woman category? (™ Basugasubakuhatsu) Maybe, she certainly has a much more womanly look than some of the other members I’m interested in.
I would say this was very similar to my Fujie Reina experience where things just felt in sync which made my 10 seconds feel more like a fun conversation instead of a rush to push something out of my head.
Kitahara got moved to my 6th block, which was already jam packed. It made for some tough decisions in the end.
I lined up for Milky 30 minutes early so I could try to clear my 4 members scheduled. She arrived 15 minutes late and that reduced her line handshake time by at least half. That is what I got from seeing how her line was moving so quickly.
When I got to her I saw she was dressed in a maid outfit. She immediately went into fishing mode leaning in closely while embracing my hands and said, “I want you. I need you.”
I’m sure I said something but she didn’t even listen and had me entranced until I was shoved hard sideways by an usher. Dave, who was in the line behind me saw me almost get sacked and thrown sideways.
All I can say is good job Milky, you treated me like a giant tuna and fished me perfectly. I’ll admit that I find Miyuki to be more on the cute side when compared to my NMB #1 Yamamoto Sayaka. But she definitely has a succubus type of deal going on and she’s damn good at it.
The funny thing is that my feet were killing me while I was waiting for her, but after she fished me I had renewed energy and the pain suddenly went away. The miracle of the Milk brings blood flow back to vital body parts.
Due to the members of NMB48 being late I had to decide whether to risk going for another popular member (Jonishi Kei) or trying for one of the remaining AKB members in my list.
As cool as it would be to meet Jonishi I had to drop her due to the sheer magnitude of her line. I also had to drop Kitahara based on her massive line and reports of her less than stellar experience from other members of our handshake group on site.
So that left Umeda Ayaka (a.ka. The Real Woman ™ Basugasubakuhatsu) whose line was sensible enough to actually slide in without too many concerns.
The Team B captain was just as lovely as I expected her to be. I dropped my generic line and she asked me where in Canada I was from. I said Calgary and then she followed up with, “Where is that?” Before I could answer I was pulled away by the usher and had to settle for waving goodbye to her.
Umeda was pretty easy to talk to in my opinion and if I had more time maybe I could have gotten away with at least something more to complete our convo.
I was dead tired heading into this round and I was hoping this last group would be easy. Nope, I failed completely with Sakiko.
I tried to tell her I liked her album Kokyu Suru Piano but somehow it ended up sounding like “!@#$%%” which basically ended up with our handshake equating to her saying “Wakaranai” and me being dragged away.
I had some difficulties with Myao as well. I dropped my line and she suddenly got all weird and said, “My name is Miho.” with blank expression. And that was that.
With that said the one thing I can take away from this whole strangeness is that Myao is definitely one who does not partake in clearing out buffets. She’s actually quite slender and attractive.
It’s just that she’s placed next to bitches who are like idol skinny so she looks like Charles Barkley size standing next to them but really she’s not.
I took Ishida Anna simply because I think she’s pretty. And CK and NSK’s Atron swore that she’s cool. I had to see for myself of course.
So let’s get this one out of the way first. Ishida is definitely a beautiful girl and was very engaging when I was talking with her. I didn’t really take notice of her wardrobe but apparently it was something I should have been paying attention to.
Sorry, I was too busy looking at her pretty face.
The girl is charming and I can understand some of the frustration of her fans when they wonder why she isn’t more popular. When I do this again I’m definitely going to add her to my shortlist.
The end of the line
And that’s it for the handshakes I could manage to keep on time. It sucks I had to burn a few tickets but those are the breaks. But I’m glad I survived the entire ordeal intact if not in a little bit of pain.
Why? Perhaps it would have been wise to hydrate regularly. I had 3 bottles of water with me but I was so busy that I barely had time to open my bag and grab a quick drink. The rising number of people in Pacifico Yokohama raised the temperature in the building significantly as the day went by.
There was no central air in the place so it got REAL HOT, REAL FAST. That did not help when standing around waiting was all I really did until I got to meet my chosen members. Even getting outside to cool off was a chore as I had to fight my way through massive crowds to find the exits.
And with the few opportunities I did have I did my best to eat some of the energy bars I had packed in my bag along with drinking the water. But obviously it wasn’t enough because by the time the entire event was over I was about to fall over and pass out.
I barely made it through the rest of the night passing out on the train out of Yokohama, waking up in time to stumble my way through Akihabara for dinner at Coco’s and then make it back to Asakusabashi and the comforts of my hotel room.
I was warned by those who have come before me that to do the entire 7 blocks was a suicide mission so I have no one to blame but myself for being so overzealous. Sometimes you have to go through a lot of pain for a little bit of pleasure.
To round things out I want to point out a few things that I noticed while I was roaming Pacifico Yokohama.
First off there were some dudes who tried way too hard at these handshake events. They were dressed like they’re going to the prom, doing their metrosexual/ikemen thing in the bathroom or in line and had a general air of douchebag surrounding them. I thought it was funny.
The other group of try-hards were the guys with name tags pinned to their clothes. I guess this is an attempt to get the members to remember them but I don’t know. If I were shaking thousands of people’s hands a day your name tag would be pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
So unless a member has a photographic memory it seems kind of pointless.
Other than that there were a variety of fans of both genders surrounding me. There were also lots of parents with their kids. I never saw a complete family but from what I could tell there were a lot of father/daughter combinations. All the little kids were so cute with their AKB cosplay.
If I ever have a kid I would certainly raise them to be an idol fan and most likely would take them to one of these things.
There were also lots of fans in costume for some reason. Apparently a handshake event is also part cosplay. Some of the ladies in the crowd had some nice AKB inspired costumes on and I guess a few of the dudes as well. I’m not kidding, there was a dude dressed in an actual AKB inspired uniform dancing up a storm.
It’s all in good fun right?
Of course it’s not all good. Having that many fans in one place certainly made things difficult as I mentioned above. It felt like Anime Expo all over again but with shit tons more people in a confined space.
As the day went into evening I was starting to get into a sour mood trying to make my way to my lane assignments without clobbering slow moving wota with my heavy bag.
Speaking of that, here’s the one thing I did not like (besides the intense heat) about the process of the handshake event. The check-in. The process is cumbersome because you have to take out your ticket, your ID and your invoice.
The invoice part was a pain in the ass because I would have to put it back into my clear file, open my bag and place it in before I got into the member’s booth. You were not allowed to hold anything in your hands when when you reached the point of no return.
I had to do this many times. I saw some people who invested in one of those travel wallets that you put around your neck specifically for this process. I may have to do that next time. But if the tickets have barcodes couldn’t that be tied to a database with a digital invoice? It would make processing the lines a lot faster.
What would be even better is if you could download your invoice to your phone and the staff could just scan a QR code after confirming your ID. I dunno, just brainstorming here as that part of the whole handshake thing got real old, real fast.
So tell me how you feel about this handshake stuff
Overall I had a hell of a good time. I know a lot of you think that it’s too much effort and cost to come all the way to Japan for a 10 second handshake but that’s not really the point here. Yes, it’s stupidly expensive and perhaps it’s a way to inflate CD sales but for me it was about the experience as a whole.
I can’t depend on anime conventions to bring idols to me anymore so I go to their home turf to see them. If involves playing the game to get what I want so be it. The point here is that I got to experience something few foreigners actually get to do during their time in the AKB fandom.
I didn’t sit at home and whine and bitch about wanting to go to a handshake event. I just did it regardless of the expense and it was totally worth not being able to stand or think coherently or eat solid food afterwards. I finally got to see AKB members up close and personal for a limited amount of time. Does it change my perception of some members? Yes. Has it introduced me to members I should be paying attention to more often? Yes.
So yes 10 measly seconds may not seem like a lot to the more cynical of you but for me every moment (even the bad ones) were worth every cent. If you have the opportunity to attend one of these I say go for it.
With that said I’m going to be kind of harsh when it comes to comments on this particular post. I will delete anything that gets all high and fucking mighty debating the merits of the handshake event because unless you’ve experienced it yourself you have no right to open your mouth.
I know there are certain individuals out there who are going to read this and think I did everything completely wrong. If you get on your high horse here and start writing lectures on how I sucked it ain’t gonna happen.
But if you have something constructive or meaningful to say then by all means I’ll let your comment slide, otherwise you’ve been warned.