It is once again that time for the yearly trip to the land of the rising sun. This time more for professional wrestling rather than idols. My rough schedule so far is:
- December 30 – AYAKARNIVAL 2019
- January 2 – New Year Premium Party 2020
- STARDOM New Years Stars 2020
- January 3 – New Year Premium Party 2020
- STARDOM New Years Stars 2020
- January 4 – STARDOM Wrestle Cinderella
- New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 14
- January 5 – New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 14
- January 6 – New Japan Pro Wrestling New Year Dash
I have a couple of other things penciled in for the off days and New Year’s Eve but I’m basically gonna call an audible based on what is going on at the time. Hopefully I can cross off a few things I have had listed from past trips off.
As always, keep it locked here for whatever nightly updates I manage to squeeze in.
January 11, 2020
Well my bag showed up at 7:00 AM. So much for catching up on sleep from the long day of travel but at least the rest of my stuff is home. I also seemed to have come home with a bit of a nasty cough. But I guess that was a side effect of the aftermath of the trip. I can now consider this trip over now. I’ll write up recap of my thoughts later.
January 10, 2020
The flight out from Narita went by pretty quickly. I ended up watching movies the entire way while editing the first batch of photos from the trip. It was when I landed in Vancouver that things went sideways a bit. Going through security was a sloooooooow process since there were only 2 lanes open. There were a few passengers ahead of me who were getting some intense inspections which held up the line. Because of that I ended up having to rush to my gate to make my boarding time.
I arrived home in Canada safe and sound a couple of hours later. Unfortunately my large bag did not arrive with me. According to Air Canada it was placed on the flight from Vancouver that left after mine. Supposedly it is on its way to my home but we’ll see.
January 10, 2020
After having my traditional last meal at Gogo Curry I made my way to Narita International airport via limo bus. It was a boring 2 hour drive where I slept for most of the journey. Getting through security/immigration was a breeze and soon enough I was lounging with a bunch of old dudes at the Narita Travel Lounge. I took a quick rest before the long walk to my gate on the far side of the airport. I noticed my flight was fairly full. I am hoping that I don’t get stuck behind an asshole who likes to recline all the way back & passes out for the entire 8 hours.
January 10, 2020
Well this round in Tokyo is over and it’s time to go home. I’ll probably write a summary about this trip when I get back to Canada. All I can really say for now is that my time here was certainly not lacking for things to do and eat.
For now I have to go to Akihabara for the traditional last rites before I leave Japan. Then it’s off to the airport for the long flight home.
January 9, 2020
My final full day in Tokyo was spent in my home base of Shinjuku. I got more last minute shopping in along with a couple of good meals.
I ended today by hanging out at a game center until last train time. Yup. That was about it.
January 9, 2020
Last night I ventured out to Shin Okubo to explore the area without the massive crowds. The place is a lot easier to navigate at night with all the tourists out of the area. I discovered a few new K-Pop shops outside of the 3 I visited previously. All of them basically sold the same merchandise including obvious bootleg DVDs. The funniest thing I saw being sold were coffee mugs with low quality scans of K-Pop idol pictures plastered on them.
IZ*ONE were not the hot shit during my visit to Okubo this time around. A lot of the merchandise was focused on BTS and Twice. In fact, there was barely any IZ*ONE stuff to be found outside of the random photos, pins or keychain.
After I finished exploring the shops I stayed in the area for dinner. I found a Korean restaurant near the train station and ordered some spicy chicken with rice and a fresh grape sour. By the end of the meal I was very full and getting a buzz on. Yup, it was a good meal.
Today is my last full day in Tokyo. Most of this morning I will spend packing up all my stuff. After that? I dunno. I’ll figure something out.
January 8, 2020
Yesterday was the first chill day I have had in Tokyo since I arrived. I slept in, left my hotel around 11-ish and wandered around Shinjuku station. I found a place that specialized in grilled meat in an office building attached to the west side of the station. It wasn’t too full so I dropped in for lunch.
After that I headed to Tennozu Island to check out the STAR WARS: Identities Exhibit. This was something I was looking forward to before the trip and I was glad that I found the free time to fit it in. The whole concept of the exhibit was to provide an interactive experience where the customer builds their own STAR WARS character while learning about what went behind building the STAR WARS universe.
It took me about 90 minutes to complete the entire course in the exhibit. I took pictures of the various props, costumes and such along the way as well. At the end I was able to upload my completed character (a sith musician) to the database of the exhibit. I think it was worth going all the way out to that part of Tokyo for the exhibit.
As for today? It was all about shopping. After doing breakfast at the Hilton Tokyo I headed to Shibuya to take a shot at getting in to the Nintendo Store. I guess this was the day they allowed general admission so I was able to just walk in and start picking up the stuff that was requested from back home. I walked over to the Pokemon Center shortly after and managed to get 1 item there. However, the selection for plush dolls was not abundant. I had to go to the Oshiage Pokemon center to complete my shopping list.
I think I pretty much got all the shopping out of the way except for may be finding some candy. But I can hit up a Donki for that fairly easily later.
January 6, 2020
My whirlwind tour of professional wrestling shows ended today with New Japan Pro Wrestling’s New Year Dash, which was held way the hell out in the boonies of Tokyo. Before I get to that I will quickly recap day 2 of Wrestle Kingdom 14.
The pace of the show was not as frantic and many of the matches were slower paced. It didn’t necessarily have that big show type of feel except for the main event. When Naito finally won the big one the Tokyo Dome popped off like mad only for fucking KENTA to ruin it all after. It was great.
New Year Dash continued where Wrestle Kingdom 14 left off. The first thing was Jushin Thunder Liger’s retirement ceremony. After that it was the standard series of multi-man tag matches with a few advancements of angles started during Wrestle Kingdom. KENTA was at his evil best during the main event. It was fantastic to see how much heat he has generated in such a short amount of time. The Japanese crowd really hated him for ruining Naito’s big moment.
I only have 3 days left in Tokyo so I will be tying up some loose ends and getting some shopping done before I leave. My time here is winding down and I have no more events to go to. The timing could not be better as I could use a few days to unwind before going back home.
January 5, 2020
Today is the second day of Wrestle Kingdom 14 where hopefully Tetsuya Naito gets his crowning moment 2 years in the making. Last night’s show was very good for the most part. The undercard with the exception of the Liger retirement tour at the start was treated as filler by the crowd. I was not surprised that many chose the heavyweight tag title match as their bathroom/stretch break.
The match of the night for me went to the junior heavyweight title bout between Will Osperay and Hiromu Takahashi. When they are paired up they always deliver a quality match and this was no different. Hiromu finally getting Mr. Belt back was fantastic as he was set up to win as the story of the match played out. I suspect Osperay is moving on to the heavyweight division after this.
The main event saw Kota Ibushi put in a strong effort but eventually fall to several rainmakers before eating the pin. I really wanted him to win since another match between him and Naito would basically be a train wreck of destruction that would possibly send one or both of them to the hospital after. But it was not destined to happen.
The only other observation I have to make about this Wrestle Kingdom day was about where we were seated. There really is a “baka gaijin” section where we foreigners are mostly segregated from the general Japanese population to mark out without being a nuisance to others. Well that’s how it is in theory.
Truthfully you are going to get all sorts of asshole fans around you no matter where you are in a wrestling event. Where we were sitting there was no one being openly annoying or a jerk as far as I can tell. On the train ride out of the event I heard some other foreign fans complaining about other foreigners being complete asshats on the floor area so there you go.
I have to go to the Tokyo Dome early to day to pick up my tickets again. We’ll see what the lottery gods have in store for me in regards to seating. Hopefully we get the same spot but lower down.
January 4, 2020
So 2 days of idols and joshi pro wrestling has passed. There has been a lot of activity mostly on the wrestling side.
New Year Premium Party 2020 was pretty lax for me. I think I saw a total of 8 acts between the 2 days of the festival. That is a much lower number than what I usually see at these types of festivals. Given that I had tickets to STARDOM on both days of the festival I strategically chose the groups I wanted to see rather than exhaust myself and go all out seeing every possible act I had on my list. It was the first time that I have not felt like my legs and my feet were on fire afterwards. So I guess praise Jesus for that.
As for STARDOM? The shows on the 2nd and 3rd were my first events ever for this promotion. I did not do any research and went in blind. (Much like Ice Ribbon) The two shows were held at Shin Kiba 1st ring which can be best described as an “intimate” level of building. Your view is pretty much good no matter where you sit. However, if you want to take pictures it’s a different story.
Anyway, I left impressed by the level of action in ring. The pacing of the matches and the overall show did not lag and the 2 hour running time went by fairly quickly. By the end of the second night I at least had a basic idea of what was going on but I will have to do my homework to catch up on the storylines completely.
After the wrestling event the STARDOM roster do things similar to idols where you get to things like handshakes, take chekis and get autographs. It reminded me a lot of how Alice Project did their thing after their concerts. Meaning it’s a giant clusterfuck until you figure out what you need to do. You really have to mull around the entrance and pay attention or you will miss your opportunity to get what you want.
Today, there is one more STARDOM event to go and then it’s off to the Tokyo Dome for Wrestle Kingdom 14 night 1.
January 2, 2020
Well it’s been kind of busy out here so I’ll just quickly go over the past couple of days. On New Year’s Eve I went to the AKB48 Cafe to have one final over priced meal and receive a final shitty coaster set before the place shut down for good. As usual, it was an underwhelming experience from the heyday of the Cafe when AKB were in their golden age. It has been tradition to go to the cafe in some manner every time I visit Tokyo so it was nice to keep that going until the bitter end.
After that it was all professional wrestling to pass the time. I first attended Ice Ribbon’s Ribbonmania 2019 show in the morning. Being unfamiliar with the world of joshi I found it to be an interesting show. In the evening I went to DDT’s New Year’s shuffle tag tournament. I heard both good and bad things about DDT and after experiencing one of their shows myself I kind of believe in their reputation.
Yes they have some goofy comedy spots in their performances but if you take that away the actual wrestling and storytelling in the ring is pretty solid. It was an overall entertaining show. Getting out of Suidobashi was a monumental task as a Johnny’s countdown concert let out at the same time as DDT.
It was a mix of 90% Johnny’s fan girls and 10% puro wrestling weals all crowding into the small platforms that make up Suidobashi station. I waiting it out for about an hour and eventually got on the Choo line without being cramped in like a sardine in to the train car.
New Year’s day consisted of waking up late and getting out late. I went to Akihabara for the first half of the day and then came back to Shinjuku to hit up Toho Cinema to watch Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker. And that was it.
Today is the beginning of the busiest time of this trip. New Year Premium Party 2020 and a STARDOM show immediately after.
December 31, 2019
It’s early in the morning on New Year’s Eve. As usual I have nothing planned and will be waiting for opportunity to fall into my lap. I’m thinking of going to the AKB48 Cafe before it closes for good to get my traditional overpriced dessert and shitty coaster a final time.
And that’s about it. Guess I’ll see what happens for festivities later.
December 30, 2019
Got out from the AYAKARNIVAL concert 90 minutes ago. My expectations were that =LOVE were going to be awesome and everyone else passable. I was mostly wrong. Every act on the bill brought their best to the stage. The only things I can nitpick on are minor. First Sasaki still can’t sing. Although her crays who were around me would most likely disagree. She has charisma and looks. But her vocals are lacking.
Second, Empire’s music really drowned out their vocals. I don’t know how it sounded on the broadcast but live I could barely hear them. I felt a fuck ton of bass destroying my body instead. Overall it was a great show. Afterwards fans were herded in to a gauntlet where they got to wave and bow to the artists. I used my AKB handshake knowledge and baka gaijin-ness to slow the line in my favor to where the pushers had to get me to hurry the fuck up.
Two things I took notice of from this time. 1 – Sasaki is fine up close. 2 – SKE have cloned Ishida Anna somehow and put her in the youngins subunit. That is all. After the gauntlet of waving at idols I got a T-shirt for my concert memorabilia collection and went to find food.
Now I’m heading back to Tokyo.
December 30, 2019
Yesterday I spent my entire day in Shibuya. I was only there to meet a friend for lunch but one thing changed my plans. That one thing was the opportunity to get TWICE goods at Tower Records. I got my ticket at just after 3 PM and was told to return in 2 hours to line up. Hence why I stuck around the area so long. 2 hours later I was in a line to get into the real line. Around 5:50 PM I was put into the feeding frenzy for TWICE goods.
I was on the hunt for all things Dahyun. Most of the really good stuff was sold out so I settled for what I could get. I ended up with a Happy Happy pin and Uchiwa and a set of Breakthrough trading cards. I also got a big character backpack charm and some other character thing I did not know the purpose for. After that tremendous task I went to the Giant Baba memorial exhibit down the street at the Tokyu department store. It was small but still pretty cool.
And that ended my day since I had to wake up early today to get to Yokohama for AYAKARNIVAL 2019. That is where I am writing this update as I wait for the concert to start. I managed to get into the goods line early and dropped some cash on =LOVE merch. My plans to not buy idol goods has gone up in flames.
Anyway, concert will be starting soon. Looks like it’s being filmed for home video release. I’ll have to pick it up if this show’s lineup is any indication of what it will be like.
December 29, 2019
Yesterday was my first full day in Tokyo and I had nothing listed on my schedule to do. I started my day by having breakfast at one of the hotel restaurants. It was buffet style and had an okay selection. It was no Hilton Tokyo buffet but it was close and affordable.
After breakfast I wandered around the Shinjuku area taking pictures and figuring out how to use my gimbal. I endec up walking from my hotel all the way to the west Shinjuku branch of Yodobashi Camera. That killed a couple of hours until lunch.
Lunch ended up being in the Chiyoda area since I ended up tagging along for an idol concert titled Idol Pop’n Party.
The list of performers was:
I only knew of 1 artist on the roster (南端まいな)and the rest were unknowns to me.
The event was held in TOKYO FM Hall. It was a seated concert which was strange for an event such as this. Usually these types of idol festivals are standing room only. The crays for each act still bugged out regardless.
I did notice some peeps falling asleep during others sets. And it wasn’t the polite head down napping but the sprawled out in the chair, knocked the fuck out type of sleeping. It seemed disrespectful since the lighting allowed the performers to see the entire crowd easily. Anyway, it was a fun show and I left learning about some new idols in the process. When the concert ended it was off to an izakaya for to have dinner then the short ride home on a packed saturday night train. I immediately passed out after plopping down on my bed.
As for today? I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe some shopping? I’ll see what comes up.
December 28, 2019
It’s near 6 AM on my first full day in Japan. According to the weather app on my iPad it should be about 10 degrees celsius today. So not very different from back home in Canada. I’m sitting in my hotel room in Shinjuku trying to figure out what to do today.
I’m pretty sure this evening is probably booked with an idol show of some sort so I think I’m covered there. I’ll figure something out.
In regards to yesterday, this is what I had written down in point form for the whole trip experience getting to Tokyo:
- Woke up very early in the morning to make a 7:30 flight
- Played the Apple Arcade game Mini Motorways. Discovered I am a terrible city planner
- Arrived at YVR in one piece.
- Had an ok-ish breakfast. It wasn’t anything spectacular but it was better then standing in line at Timmy Ho’s. Caught up on a couple of press releases. Posted them while killing my 5 hour wait at YVR
- After spending a few hours in the lounge I made my way to my gate. A large group of weabs were gathered near the check-in desk. The seat map on the flight shows it is fully booked so I suspect I will see more weabs as boarding time nears.
- As I suspected, weabs galore along with some business people and probably nationals/those of japanese decent heading home
- Boarding on these flights always takes forever. Luckily I had priority boarding so I got first dibs at overhead cabin space
- Watching people struggle to find their seats and fit their way too big bags into the overhead was entertaining at least
- Watched Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw. Not a bad spin-off. It got a little heavy handed and cheesy with the family message but it was still an ok watch
- During breakfast I tuned into Detective Pikachu. The actual Pokemon looked pretty cool. As for the story? It was messed up but it made sense.
- Customs was a breeze. The immigration area had a lot more check-ins and was similar to the setup in Kansai International.
- Bus ride to hotel was ahead of schedule despite there being some shitty traffic heading out of Narita. Made it to my hotel about 15 minutes earlier than expected
Basically a rather typical, uneventful flight and bus ride in to Tokyo. Just the way it should be.
For my first meal in Tokyo I went to a gyoza place a couple of floors down in the building where my hotel is. There are actually quite a few places to eat in this building alone, plus a 24-hour konbini. So if I get hella lazy I don’t really have to go outside to get food.
After having my first decent meal I headed back to my room and passed out.