It is once again time for the yearly journey to Japan. After what happened last year some must be thinking that I must be crazy to return so soon to a place that has so much of my eternal nemesis, the object we call stairs.
While it may be a little intimidating to go back it won’t necessarily stop me from enjoying my trip as much as I can. Obviously I’m going to be more careful and will take advantage of whatever handicapped access I can find.
With that in mind there is not much planned for this go in the land of the rising sun. It will be relatively tranquilo compared to past excursions. Much like last time, I will be in Tokyo for the majority of the time since the events I am confirmed to attend are all there. This is the short list of what I have locked down:
- Babyraids JAPAN One Man Live [Emotional Idolrock Fes. 2017] ~Bokura wa Koko ni iru~ at Shin Kiba STUDIO COAST
- Harajuku Ekimae Stage – Harajuku Ekimae Party
- Idol Renaissance at Shibuya WWW X
- PASSPO 2017 Countdown Party at Harajuku Astro Hall
- New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 12 at the Tokyo Dome
- New Japan Pro Wrestling New Year Dash at Korakuen Hall
And that is it. As I said, tranquilo. Whatever else happens will happen.
In a similar fashion to previous trips I’ll be posting updates from Japan here when I can. The most likely scenario is I’ll just end up doing a short daily recap before bed. If not, well I’ll just post whenever.
January 9, 2018 14:56 Mountain Time
The flight home in Premium Economy was good. The seats reminded me a bit of the business class ones I took to San Francisco last year. So plenty of leg room and an entertainment system that actually works. It was also my first time flying on one of the Dreamliner planes and it was a different experience from the older planes on Air Canada’s fleet I’m used to taking overseas. It was relaxing and I slept for around 5 hours of the 8 hour 30 minute trip.
I ended up arriving in Vancouver fairly relaxed rather than dead tired. So that was a bit of a change from previous trips. The flight home to Calgary was also rather uneventful and again I slept most of the trip. This is probably the most amount of sleep I have ever got on airplanes in a long time.
As soon as I got home I had a quick dinner and proceeded to unpack all my stuff. After starting my laundry and putting most of my electronics away I sat on the couch and passed out. Once I woke up I went straight to bed for a nice long sleep in my own room.
This morning I finished unpacking everything and sorted all my goods, photo cards and chekis. I have a lot of ticket stubs from the events I attended on this trip. I sure was busy. Now it is back to save/pay down mode until next trip. Which might be in June, I’m not sure if I will meet that goal or not. Otherwise, next winter again? I dunno.
That is it for now. Until next time.
January 8 2018 18:34 Japan Time
I’m sitting in the Narita Airport Travel Lounge chilling away from the hordes of people who are probably at my gate freaking out because the flight is delayed by an hour. I’m glad I looked this place up as part of my plans. Even though I had to pay a small 1200 yen entry fee, the fact that I am not sitting with sweaty, angry masses and instead am sitting in a cushy lounge chair typing this out makes it all worth it. Sometimes you gotta just spend a little to have a more tolerable airport waiting experience.
Based on the lineup at check-in it looks like my flight to Vancouver is full. I’ll be trying out Air Canada’s Premium Economy class to see if it something I should consider using more often in the future. Hopefully the experience matches the hype.
January 8, 2018 14:39 Japan Time
I spent my last half day in Tokyo at Akihabara. I got my traditional last meal of Gogo Curry and proceeded to a couple of game centers to get my ass whooped in Tekken 7 by random players. I managed to get 4 wins total. The rest of the time I spent watching my character get juggled into infinity.
After that a stop at the AKB48 Cafe to get them shitty coasters. The “food” certainly has not improved and I question the decision to try Hiwatashi Yui’s Matcha Parfait. It was what it was.
Now I pick up my bags and head to Narita International Airport.
January 8, 2018 09:23 Japan Time
Well that is it. I managed to survive here without going to the hospital and am leaving Japan on my own 2 feet.
I feel I did get a bit of redemption for missing out on so many things last year after the injury. I probably made up for it many times over based on my schedule. I also leave Japan feeling accomplished and quite tired. Sometimes I got that “I’m too old for this shit.” feeling a few times but that passed quickly once events started.
The stroll in Yoyogi park yesterday is definitely what I needed to relax and take it all in.
January 7, 2018 22:34 Japan Time
I did not think it was possible but I managed to get a Houkago Princess event in on my last day in Japan. It was not easy finding the venue but eventually I got there.
The place is hella small. I think it is the smallest live house I have been inside of during this trip. So yeah it was a bit of a clusterfuck but nothing out of the ordinary compared to similar events I have attended during my time here. I fulfilled my goal of getting a 2-shot with Sekine Sasara so everything on my checklist is done.
After that I bummed around Shibuya until dinner with a friend. Now it is the train ride back to the hotel to make the final preparations for the journey back to Canada tomorrow.
January 7, 2018 12:07 Japan Time
My first and only full day as a solo traveler. The plan for today is to head to Yoyogi Park and hit up a Houkago Princess 2-shot event in the evening. So much for not doing more idol events. The lure of a 2 shot with Sekine Sasara is too good to pass up.
After that I don’t know what else to do. I have pretty much crossed off every event I had planned up to this point. I am also pretty much packed for departure tomorrow. I just have to put my electronics in my carry on in the morning before I check out.
I’ll find something to kill the last few remaining hours I have in this country.
January 6, 2018 21:03 Japan Time
As expected today was a day of not much. The most exciting thing that happened was watching my senpai attempt to take down a large plate of omurice with much failure. After that a quick trip to Akihabara to buy myself a Nintendo Switch and a couple of games.
I haven’t really bought anything for myself for this entire trip so I consider the Switch as my big expenditure for this time around. After that dinner and back to the room early to figure out what to do for my last full day in Japan.
January 6, 2018 08:13 Japan Time
New Year Dash at Korakuen Hall was great. The matches were well put together and they had lots of fun spots to keep the crowd entertained. Some new feuds are beginning to take shape and it looks like Chris Jericho might be sticking around New Japan for longer than a one-off based on what happened last night.
The only real downer was the influx of annoying foreign fans who tried to make the show about themselves whenever the camera zoomed into their area. There was also one dude in the S class seats who was trying to his best to be asshole of the night. But given New Japan’s wider international appeal I guess this is to be expected now.
The rest of my time here is basically free days until I leave on Monday. I’m not sure there will much exciting to report until I get back and gather all the materials from my press duties while I was here.
January 5 2018 09:06 Japan Time
Wrestle Kingdom 12 was a lot of fun. We were seated closer to the entrance ramp this year so we were away from the hard cam. No reaction shots from us this year sadly. Our seats felt a little “snug” compared to the other side of the arena. 5 hours of being cramped in tightly with other fans was a test of endurance.
The event itself wrestling wise was not as solid as Wrestle Kingdom 11. But that one is a hard event to live up to. The matches I found to be the best were the Jr. Heavyweight title match, The Never open weight/hair cut match and the double main event matches.
The results of the double main were somewhat as expected. Jericho vs. Omega was a great brawl/spectacle type of match whereas Naito vs. Okada was more of a slow build until the climax. The result of the IWGP title match had many LIJ fans disappointed. The guy next to me was crying on his girlfriend’s shoulder after the pin fall.
Today is New Year Dash where we find out where New Japan’s storylines go next.
January 4, 2018 08:46 Japan Time
Yesterday was a lot of sight seeing. I went to see the Ultraman statue, the Godzilla statue/mural at Toho Studios and then one last stop in Shibamata just for shits and giggles. It was a relaxing day compared to the madness that is today. That’s right. Wrestle Kingdom 12 is only a few hours away.
The hype is apparently real as people are already congregating around the Tokyo Dome area. I have a feeling it will be only more insane once everyone who isn’t buying merch show up to get into the building.
January 3, 2018 12:03 Japan Time
Finished yesterday’s New Years Premium Party 2018 by getting 2 Shots with predia and watching Super Girls close out the first day. Super Girls fans are passionate ones. I had to back up a bit to allow this one dude in front of me to jump around freely.
The biggest accomplishment of the day was walking out of Zepp Diver City under my own power on my own 2 feet. Last year I left the venue in an ambulance so this was much improvement. A full report of the event will be coming when I get back to Canada.
Today is another free day. Spent the morning at the Hilton Tokyo enjoying their breakfast buffet. Now it is on to sight seeing.
January 2, 2018 15:26 Japan Time
I made it to Odaiba just before 10 AM. I had to go pick up my press pass for the day. It took a while but after asking many people where to go I was eventually guided to the press check-in desk. I showed them the e-mail I received and proceeded to give my badge and a small booklet with the event schedule and rules for use of pass. In essence this is very similar to what I got for J-Pop Summit last year in regards to access.
Sadly, there will be no interviews and stuff. My pitiful Japanese is not good enough to run that type of thing smoothly and I don’t believe there is a translator on site. Perhaps if I return to this event again I will be better equipped to take on that particular task. Or at least make better preparations ahead of time.
Nope, what I am doing is just a straight up event report for the most part. I am keeping notes on my phone which will hopefully become a decent article once I get back to Canada to flesh it out.
Anyway, waiting to see Idol Renaissance. They are the next scheduled act in my calendar.
January 2, 2018 07:23 Japan Time
Yesterday was another free day. I did nothing exciting other than walk around Akihabara taking some pictures and checking out stuff that I may pick up later before I leave the country. The entire area was full of people looking for New Year’s Day lucky bags and sales.
I stopped by the AKB48 Cafe hoping they would have a lucky bag but nothing this year. Instead they sold some first of the year goods inside the restaurant area. I got a few things that would probably equal to what one would get in a lucky bag and left. I wanted to get a shitty coaster but the place was so crowded with wota it wasn’t worth waiting to get an overpriced, undersized drink in line.
In the evening I bought tickets for my final (supposedly) idol event of this trip, New Years Premium Party 2018. After that it was early to bed.
Now I’m up and getting ready for what looks to be a long day.
January 1, 2018 09:38 Japan Time
On to PASSPO’s last flight of 2017. Earlier in the evening they held their buppan. These things tend to confuse me since they can be a clusterfuck. However, this one was fairly straightfoward given the smaller size of the crowd.
I used 6 of my 7 flight tickets to get one picture with the group and one picture with Tamai Anna.
As for the concert itself? The stage in the venue was a little small so no BAND PASSPO performance. Not a deal breaker by any means. They started the show by reviewing their 2017 and after that they went into their set ending with Material Girl exactly as midnight hit.
Other highlights of the concert included an MC section where they called other idols on LINE to wish them a happy new year. They called Watanabe Rio from babyraids JAPAN and another idol I could not catch the name of. They also took requests from the audience to build a 3 song set. Seeing them plan the stage transitions live was an interesting thing to witness.
As always PASSPO delivered a fun and exciting time. It was a great way to start 2018.
December 31, 2017 18:03 Japan Time
Harajuku Ekimae Stage is a very fun show. There are a good variety of idol groups to choose from in their roster so it’s not difficult to find something to like. Their theater is small and depending on where you are sitting you get an extremely close up view.
To be honest you get a great view no matter where you sit. What looked like their core group of fans were present in the audience. Some had stacks of towels to display for their oshis. One guy even had a special set of gloves with light sticks embedded in the finger tips.
The two hours of their show flew by very quickly. I wanted an encore but I don’t think all of the groups that make up Harajuku Ekimae have a big enough discography to do that yet. I would recommend attending their show if you happen to be in Tokyo.
After the show ended I went back to Oshiage to drop off shopping items, get my evening tix and eat.
Now I’m on the train headed back to Harajuku for PASSPO. Apparently they are doing their handshakes and 2-shots before their concert. So much for taking a nap before the show.
December 31, 2017 08:17 Japan Time
Yesterday was a free day with no events to attend. I decided to go to Yokohama after having a proper breakfast at Tokyo Solamachi. I spent part of my time in the zoo that was Chinatown and the latter half of my day in the more tranquil Yamashita Park.
I preferred the latter simply because I had never been to it before. Yamashita Park felt a lot like Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco but with less pushy tourist spots crowding the area.
After that a return to Tokyo to watch the latest Star Wars movie. The movie experience in Japan is quite different from what I know in Canada. Getting trays to carry your food to your seat was so weird. I’m used to fumbling around holding everything under one arm while handing my ticket over with my free hand.
The trays also insert into a notch in the seats in the theater which was nice. For those who are curious the movie was in English with Japanese hard subs. At the end of the movie no one moved. Everyone stayed until the final credits rolled and then left. So different from the mad dash to the washroom or parking lot that I am accustomed to back home.
I thought The Last Jedi was ok. It’s not Empire level but it does leave a lot to be answered in the next movie. There is a lot to build on based on this current movie in the series.
Today is back to idol events and New Year’s Eve. We’ll see if this matches last year or not.
December 29, 2017 20:52 Japan Time
The second Idol Renaissance concert ended around 20:00. I did not recognize many of the songs they covered from the 90’s in their set so it was a learning experience in J-Pop history for me. The crowd for their night show was much more lively. In front of me were a rowdy bunch of wota going HAM. They tired out pretty quickly though and were pretty sedated mid set.
After seeing 2 of IR’s concerts back to back I left with a good impression of their performances and would be open to seeing them again in the future.
December 29, 2017 18:03 Japan Time
In Shibuya WWW X waiting for second Idol Renaissance concert to start. Show is late starting much like the afternoon one. There are more people attending this show from the looks of the crowd. 90’s era J-Pop is playing while we wait.
December 29, 2017 15:47 Japan Time
Finished first of 2 Idol Renaissance concerts. Their first show consisted of covers of songs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Despite knowing jack shit about the group I left Shibuya WWW X entertained.
December 29, 2017 09:13 Japan Time
Last night was the official start to my idol concert experiences with babyraids JAPAN at Shin Kiba STUDIO COAST. I had seen them perform at New Years Premium Party last year and it was a great taste of what their own full stage show would be like.
And they did not disappoint. The opening/backing band was Penguin Research. The same band who had backed them during their Budokan concert. I’ll have a separate article covering the concert in full but what I can say is that BRJ wota are cray. They really get into everything.
It was a fun time.
December 28, 2017 05:36 Japan Time
Passed out after a long day of traveling. For some reason I am awake at this ungodly hour but ok, whatever works. Had dinner at a Kanda izakaya last night. There were some pretty rowdy business folk next to my booth who kept playing with their service buzzer, randomly screamed “Sumimasen!!” and dropped their phones at random times with loud thuds.
December 27 2017 17:25 Japan Time
Well that flight was hella boring. The in flight entertainment in the plane ended up malfunctioning for some passengers so some peeps including myself kept getting our movies interrupted by random app closures. No big deal to me since I had my iPad. I ended up watching Hidden Figures, Namie Amuro Live Style 88 2016-2017 and part of a Chinese movie called God of War.
When I arrived at Narita there was an old dude waiting for me. He had a wheelchair. I said that might be a bit of overkill but he insisted I sit in the chair. I got fast tracked through immigration and customs and was on the Keisei Sky Access train in under 30 minutes. That is a record for all my trips to Japan.
Now off to the hotel.
December 26, 2017 12:42 Mountain Time
Finally boarding. Plane looks full. 10 hours to go until Japan.
December 26, 2017 10:33 Mountain Time
Arrived at the aiport 2 hours early as scheduled only to find out my flight has been delayed by an hour. Perhaps that was a good thing since the baggage screening machine at the security checkpoint broke causing a delay in processing passengers.
As usual I had to open my bag for security. Apparently they have never seen a wireless charging pad before in an x-ray. After explaining what the device was it was off to find breakfast.
Fast Indian food in the form of a chicken wrap was the first meal of the day. I’ll see how well that stays down. It would suck to have this meal bite back mid air in turbulence.
Now that I managed to get a meal in it is time for the long wait for the incoming plane bound for Narita.