Japan 2014 Part the First: 9nine, Umika and the Takoyaki Apocalypse

This story, like most stories, come to think of it, starts with a beginning. After the beginning comes a long and twisted middle before the explosive climax kills everyone. This story has lots of beginnings and endings but very little middle, so I think it's a pretty good one.

It all began when I realised I had two weeks of holiday left to take before the end of March. "Well, fuck it," I thought, and took them both together, booked a flight and packed my bags.

I'd done basically no advanced planning for the trip, so when Momoclo announced their Kokuritsu concerts my first thought was "ooh, lucky," and my second "fuck that" upon seeing the ticket prices.

So, only advanced plan scotched before I had even set off. There were a few other events I had my eye on, but of all those I bought a ticket for one of them and then didn't even go to it.

Now the preamble is out of the way, the actual trip.

Saturday 8th March

Saturday morning, I left my abode and headed for the airport. In the airport lounge I heard for the first time about the Malaysian plane that disappeared. My track record with flying in tandem with major aviation incidents seemingly knows no bounds. In 2006 I flew to Croatia with a bunch of drinks, on the way back they all got confiscated because of the transatlantic liquid bomb thing. But anyway... On the plane I was sat next to a Japanese businessman who had been cutting a deal between Sky and Talktalk about a merger or something. Probably confidential but oh well. The entertainment system on the plane was horrible, films starting at set times and just running until they finish, rather than you being able to select yourself when you want to watch something. I flew with Virgin, who I'd heard only good things about, but the food was terrible (I swear you get better inflight food on cheaper flights) and in general the flight sucked.

Sunday 9th March

Upon arrival at Narita I found a payphone and rang Dean, who had promised to meet me to sell me an internet capable phone which I could connect to wifi with. After agreeing to meet up about 8:30pm in Akiba, I set out to find my accomodation, located in Nippori. Despite walking back and forth to the station multiple times, I couldn't find the place. I attempted using some more payphones to get in touch with the manager of the place, whose number I luckily had, but it never connected. Eventually, someone cornered me and dragged me to the back of a dimly lit alleyway and to the door of the place. I unpacked and then, upon noting the lack of a kettle, decided that it completely wasn't on, and went to buy one. I ended up in Kameari, where I had stayed for a month last time I went to Japan in 2008, simply because I knew where everything was there. I ended up doing a trip down nostalgia lane, spending half an hour in the net café I used to visit nearly every night, noting with regret the absense of the Indian restaurant I used to frequent, and hitting up the two Ito Yokado stores to find a kettle and some batteries (the clock had also stopped and I needed some for my flash gun, which then remained forgotten and untouched for the rest of the two weeks), which I eventually found and went back to my temporary home.

Completely forgetting about Dean, I turned on the TV and, as usual with jetlag, promptly fell asleep.  I awoke at 20:15, remembering I'd forgotten something, and then 20 minutes later finding myself at Akihabara station trying to find him. Half an hour later I had a phone, and also a rather full stomach courtesy of Saizeriya, certainly the restaurant of kingswota.

Now equipped with internets, I set about finding events. I found one scheduled for Tuesday in Chiba, a 9nine mini-live and high-five event (high touch sounds so weird in English), so I decided on Monday that I'd scout the place out.

Monday 10th March

After being awoken by the sound of drills, hoovers and hammering, because the place I was staying decided to do renovations for the two weeks I was there, I got up and decided to head to find it. So I did, catching the Keiyo line out to the backwaters of deepest Chiba (lol) and getting off at Shinnarashino to try to find the Aeon Mall. After a good half hour of walking, I did. Upon figuring out where the damn thing would be held, I grabbed some world beers from the supermarket at the back of the mall and headed back to Shinnarashino. However, at the station I spotted a poster for the Aeon Mall saying "get off at Kaihinmakuhari and you can get a 100円 bus straight there." So, an hour of walking for nothing. As it was still about 7pm, I decided to scout out the location of my favourite brewery's latest pub, which unfortunately happened to be in Roppongi. Brewdog, the craziest Scottish brewery in existence (to my knowledge, up until I learned that Brewmeister had brewed a beer called Snake Venom at 67.5%) create very nice craft beers, as well as some insanely strong ones. I did a large circle of Roppongi Hills, couldn't find it, gave up, and found it around the next corner (a common occurence when searching for Brewdog Bars, I did the same last July when looking for the one in Shoreditch). I headed in, forgetting I was jetlagged, hadn't eaten, and was sorely in need of sleep.

5 hours later I crawled out, after 5 beers over 9% and a bottle of Norwegian brewery Nogne's attempt at crafting a Japanese sake, Junmai. How I made it back I can't actually remember, except that I missed the last train on the Hibiya Line and had to catch the Oedo to Daimon and from there on my memory is much a blank, apart from throwing up on the Yamanote Line. Oh Roppongi. This is why you don't go there. Still, the crew at the bar are full of win, the manager gave me his business card after I got chatting to him, and I'll probably go there again some day. Once I've had a proper meal.

Tuesday 11th March

I awoke the next day with an incredible headache and a need to do some laundry from the previous night's exploits. And a need to attend a 9nine event in Chiba. I somehow did them in the right order and generally did okay in somehow getting back to Chiba. Unsure of the way these things worked, I went and bought a CD first (it was a flying get too), but then walked away without collecting my high-five ticket, because I didn't know they even existed. So they forced them onto me, and I walked away. However, I had two tickets from one CD, which must have been a mistake on their part because the days thereafter was always one per CD. Well, who was I to complain? I got to meet 9nine twice.

They came out and performed the first half of With Me/With You as a rehearsal, then disappeared again. Then they came back out and tore through Re:, Colorful, (Luv=)0 or H8? (which they made the audience dance to) and then With Me/With You. All in all a perfectly pleasant live. Then came the time to go and meet them. First in line was Charpon, who was utterly delightful. She tried starting with English, but gave up and then just sort of glowed at me. And I do mean glowing, not glowering. She just stood there with a stupidly cute grin on her face. Kanchan asked where I was from and was suitably impressed when I told her the UK. Umika completely blanked me, probably thought I was just some random person who'd been walking by or something. That or she was just really fucking tired. Probably both. Hiroro, much the same as Charpon, just sort of grinned at me. This just made me tell her she was cute, as to which her smile sort of extended past the barriers of her face and filled the entire mall. Ukky was cute too, but she actually tried her hardest to hold an English conversation with me. I went back up and had another go, Charpon asked me my name and then said she'd remember it. Umika seemed to realise that maybe I wasn't just another random person off the plane, and Hiroro was still grinning like an idiot. That was all I can remember, was still hungover. Still, first idol event over.

Heading back to Tokyo, I figured I'd find more of these 9nine events. On the way home I stopped into the Indian Restaurant around the corner from where I was staying and discovered that it was the greatest Indian restaurant I've ever been in, which is saying a lot when you live in the UK, and have spent a lot of time in Scotland and West Yorkshire where many of the best curry houses in the UK are generally said to be. It's called Darjeeling, and if anyone's in Nippori I'd recommend it. Just head out the north gate's west exit and turn left out the door and keep walking.

I found some more 9nine events and went to sleep.

Wednesday 12th March

Wednesday dawned bright and early to find me heading to Shinjuku station to meet with Dean again, who I planned on dragging along to 9nine in the evening at Laqua near the Tokyo Dome. He already knew the way so I didn't have to worry. However, finding him was a nightmare. How anyone can expect to meet other people in Shinjuku station I don't know. The place has about 260 exits. Anyway, somehow we managed it, and I sat in a bank for an hour whilst Dean tried to sort out some international transfer shit that in the end they wouldn't let him do anyway. Hooray bureaucracy. After this we walked way out into the weird bits and found a Wendy's, ate the greasiest fucking burger in the history of ever, and then tubed over to Akiba to do some otaku things.

After mildly jizzing over a huge amount of photobooks on the 9th floor of Shosen and a Mamiya RB67 (my favourite ever camera) for 31000円 in a camera shop, and bumping into a member of Alice Project's Slime Girls on the street and asking her where the theatre was, we did the stupidest thing possible and went to a maid café. We ended up at Maidreamin', which is one I went to 6 years ago, but the maids were useless (one looked a bit like ex-AKB member Yonezawa Rumi but oh well) and the service was so bad we had to nearly walk out without paying to get them to pay us any attention. Helpfully annoyed, we made our way to the 9nine event where we knew Watanabe (if you read my blog on Momoclo in France you'll know all about Watanabe...) was waiting, along with a Dorothy Little Happy wota called Ricardo (despite the name, he's Japanese) Dean was acquainted with. There was a Dorothy event after the 9nine event too, so Dean decided to hedge his bets and try to do both, whilst Watanabe and Ricardo were going to check out a group called Ultra Girl. The minilive proceeded in much the same manner as the day before, only this time it was outside and we'd managed to park ourselves on the side of a tree, just where the staff were placing the border of where you were allowed to stand, thus leaving us in full view of all of 9nine. The setlist too was the same, so when it came for the (Luv=)0 or H8? dancealong I was suitably prepared and danced along. Charpon spotted my attempts and gave me a thumbs up, so I can't have been doing too badly.

Come the highfive time, Dean asked to go first so he could make a mad dash back to Akiba for Dorothy, I once again had two tickets, though this time from two CDs, so I was happy to go whenever. Charpon immediately greeted me with a heartfelt "グレンく~ん!" which she did every fucking time she saw me thereafter. Not that I minded. Kanchan asked if I'd brought my friend along (Dean was before me, and I've no idea what he was saying), so I replied in the positive. Umika was less cold, probably because she'd seen me before and now had proof, of sorts, that I wasn't just some random foreigner who was coming to look at them like zoo animals. Hiroro was still buzzing from whatever Dean told her, so I just let her talk, and Ukky was as hyper as ever, thanking me in about 5 different ways for bringing someone along and also calling me Glen-kun. I hadn't told her in the first place so they must have been swapping stories between each other.

Dean scarpered, I hung around for a while before going again as I'd observed in Chiba the night before that when the queue winds down you get a little more time before being moved on whilst they attempt to find more people to go up, before they give up and let the hardcore wota go around 20 times in succession with about 3 seconds each. So the second time I got a bit more time and told them I'd be seeing them in Ikebukuro the next day for their "handover" event, and maybe even in Osaka. They seemed suitably impressed, and Umika warmed considerably after that. I always imagined her as a sadist, but maybe she's just a tsundere.

I hung around for a bit, filling out another little message on the confetti paper they're going to display at their Budoukan live, and got chatting to a guy about 9nine, idols in general, what constitutes good idol music, and a rundown of our favourite 5 idol albums. As it turns out, he was actually a member of Babyraids staff who was helping out the 9nine staff just for this event. He asked if I'd heard of Babyraids and I said I had, but I'd not yet found an incentive to get into them. I asked if there were any Babyraids events going on in the two weeks I was in Japan, and he replied in the negative. I said I'd check them out anyway and bid him farewell. Heading back to Akiba to find and reunite the musketeers, I went on a quest of epic proportions to find Wifi as Akiba Station's connection is the most unstable in Tokyo. Eventually I found some, in one tiny corner of the wrong side of the station, but it was enough to get Dean to tell me to meet him at Saizeriya. He also came out to meet me, for some reason. He must think my geography skills suck because I'm incapable of meeting him at station exits. It's not my geography skills, it's my social ones. I've never had to meet people at predetermined locations before.

At the Saizeriya, wota central, we got digging into some things. Watanabe offered to get me a ticket to the Diver City Idol Festival, which featured S/mileage and The Possible, along with Idoling Neo and some other groups, so I said okay as I wanted to see the Possible and Robin's birthday live was sold out. Best laid plans and all that. Ricardo and the other Dorothy wota were fun to talk to, even though I've still not actually listened to Dorothy, and we all had some fun times. Watanabe also offered to try to get me a ticket for Momoka's birthday concert at the Olympic Stadium, but having told 9nine I'd see them in Osaka I found it a hard promise to break, so regretfully declined.

Thursday 13th March

Thursday dawned wet, horrible, and utterly shit in general. More banging, crashing and general explosions filled the corridors of the "hotel", and the rain made it impossible to see out of the windows. Still, I had an event to go to. What's a bit of rain? I asked the manager of the place if she knew anywhere that sold umbrellas, she told me to use hers. She probably regretted it. Nippori was blowing a gale, Ikebukuro was a nightmare. The damn thing snapped a few times whilst I was walking around trying to find Lumine. Dean, the genius, had told me it was at the east exit. As it turns out it was physically attached to the Tobu department store at the South Exit. Could have saved me an umbrella. Anyway, having found the location, I headed for Shibuya to hit the Tower Records. Unfortunately the rain was so horrendous, I left and went back to Ikebukuro.

The event started and I had roughly no idea what to do, this being a "handover" event rather than a high five event. Seeing that other people in the queue had tickets I asked what I was supposed to do, luckily someone answered and I managed to save myself some embarassment by going up and buying some tickets. I started buying some for just Hiroro, Umika, Kanchan and Charpon. After going through and doing Hiroro though, in which she smiled incredibly cutely at me and gave me a CD, I decided it was harsh on Ukky so I bought one for her as well, plus another one each for Umika, Kanchan and Charpon.

I went through Ukky's line and got a nice smile and another CD, and this time a conversation in English. Or rather, her in English, me in Japanese. Seems weird to try to continue a conversation in each other's languages, but who cares.

After this I hung around a while, got bored, found some food, and waited for the second part to start with Umika, Charpon and Kanchan. Once it began, I quickly got into the line for Charpon and Kanchan (Umika's line was separate and about three times longer), and did Charpon first. Charpon was again all deredere and just really smiley and happy and cute. Kanchan still had people going to her at this juncture, so I went to Umika next. I asked her about any photobook release events, because I wanted it, and she told me them. Unfortunately they were after I came back to the UK.

So I went again, much of the same from Charpon, though Kanchan's queue was dwindling. They had to keep letting people jump the queue to let them see Kanchan. Kanchan asked what I did, so I told her I was the vocalist in a metal band. She was like, "Eh, you must be a good singer then!" I unfortunately had to reply in the negative, adding that I was one of those weird Death Vocalists. Umika seemed to get more and more into it the more you spoke to her, so it was nice getting her to open up. I said I'd be going to Osaka, so she asked if I'd be eating takoyaki. I said I didn't know. Thus began the takoyaki saga.

An innumerate amount of people were cluttering the corridor outside the HMV in Lumine, and staff kept circulating demanding that people stay away from the shop doors and the lifts and the middle of the corridors, lest the event be cancelled. They quite like throwing that around as a threat, I found.

Around this juncture a girl came up to me and gave me some little postcards she'd designed with 9nine's costumes on it. She's a cool person, her name is Ayase Ami, her twitter is here and you should follow her.

After 9nine had left, I met up with Dean for some more funtimes in Ikebukuro, and we went to a bar called Camden, which also had a ready supply of Brewdog beers. I had another Tokyo and an Alesmith Grand Cru, the last bottle they had. And a pizza, so my body wouldn't do what it had done to me on monday.

That night, as I got home, I checked twitter. Much to my chagrin, 9nine had announced another handover event for the next day, also in Ikebukuro. Diver City Idol Fest? Fuck that. So I went to bed secure in my (for a change) non-DDness.

Friday 14th March

The next morning I met Dean so he could show me the way to the Tower Records in Ikebukuro, so I wouldn't spend ages trying to find it, where I shelled out 10000 yen on tickets (Hiroro 1, Ukky 1, Umika 3, Charpon 2, Kanchan 2 and an extra Hiroro for Dean) and then went to Akabane to get some lunch. As you do. Going back I stopped in Shinjuku and Shibuya again to look around without getting rained on. Found nothing amazing, so headed back to Ikebukuro for the events, which were now switched around, probably to prevent Kanchan being ignored like she was the night before. 6pm was Hiroro, Kanchan and Charpon, 7:30 would be Umika and Ukky. It was also March 14th, known in Japan as White Day, so everyone was taking presents.

Dean came along, and brought his colleague with him, a Welsh boyo who lived in Chester for most of his life, who was also disturbingly good looking. His name was Miles. If he'd stepped out of a boyband picture, I wouldn't have noticed the difference. Between him and Dean, I felt positively Neanderthal. Anyway, at the event, I went ahead of Dean to Hiroro, just to tell her I brought my friend along because he was a big fan of hers. She grinned that grin she does, then turned it on Dean and never looked back. I tried to persuade Miles to buy a ticket for Hiroro, who he also found incredibly cute, but apparently attending an event like that wasn't cool enough for him so he decided against it. Probably just as well for Dean really. Extra competition and all that.

Kanchan finally asked my name, so I told her, and then also told her that I had a nickname but it was impossible to pronounce. I told her how to say it and she basically purred it. Never thought "Krv" could sound so erotic. I didn't tell her what it meant, luckily.

Charpon was basically the same as ever. Asked me if we did White Day in the UK. I said no, but then had a miraculous idea. I did Kanchan again and can't remember much about it. Then I went back to Charpon and told her that in the UK as Valentine's was men giving their girlfriends flowers and chocolate, March 14th was called Steak and Blowjob Day. Minus the blowjobs. Because steak is nicer than chocolate. She didn't believe me. Dean and Miles had ran away, more lessons to teach, so I hung around again, getting bored until the Umika/Ukky event started.

When I arrived back at Tower Records, I jumped straight into Ukky's queue, amazed to see it quite small. Then the staff approached me and let me know that that wasn't the end of the line, and directed me towards the staircase. The lines went down the stairs. I followed it down 3 floors before the end of the line. I was disturbed. Umika I can understand, but Ukky's was just as long. Then it was time for me to play the tutor, as a Japanese fan didn't know where to buy the little handover tickets from. I told him, feeling the amazingness of my wota growth, as it'd been me in that position merely the day before.

As the queue climbed the stairs and I reached the zenith, I told Ukky I was going to Osaka and got a fistbump for it, then got back in the line for Umika. After queuing for quarter of an hour, she mumbled something and I heard fucking none of it. I got back in the queue, and told her I'd heard none of what she said the last time. By the time she heard me, I was moved along again. I got back in the queue, and she asked if I was still coming to Osaka. I said yes, then got thrown back away again. That was it, my tickets gone. I went and bought some more, determined that I would say what I wanted to say. Umika's talking time was so much shorter. Fourth time, she asked again if I was having takoyaki. I still didn't know, and replied to that effect. Moved along. Fifth time I can't even remember. And that was that. At least from seeing her 5 times she probably figured she was my oshi, but still.

I headed home and got to sleep, as Osaka in the morning.

Saturday 15th March

I had to get up insanely early to catch a stupidly early train to get to Osaka before 1pm, when the first event was, so I decided to sleep mostly on the train, which was in hindsight probably a good idea. Shin-Osaka station is a nightmare to navigate as it is, so doing so sleep-deprived would have probably made it worse. Having transferred over to Osaka station and jumping on the Loop Line, I was aghast at how backwards it was compared to the Yamanote. On the Yamanote, you have real-time screens telling you which is the next station, what lines change, as well as clear bilingual announcements on the tannoy. On the Loop line you get a guy mumbling incomprehensibly over the tannoy, and maybe a map if you're lucky. I knew I had to get off at Tennouji, but I had absolutely no clue how many stops it was, which direction it was in, or anything. So I had to resort to looking at the boards on every platform we came to. Eventually I did get off at the right station, exactly 180 degrees down from Osaka. Bloody thing. Upon leaving the station several things became immediately apparent: the heat was disturbing; the number of people was going to be difficult; and Abeno Harukas, the new tallest building in Japan (not counting the Skytree because it's just a glorified antenna) was right opposite the plaza where 9nine's event was to be held, reflecting the sun right onto it.

Just fucking brilliant.

After finding myself a good place (on the right hand side of the stage, as I ended up doing at all but one of the events for some strange reason), I settled in to enjoy the mini-live. The pre-show soundcheck went wrong, for a change. Charpon was not happy with her levels and basically told the sound engineer over the microphone how to fix it. I suppose even idols can have hidden talents, maybe she should be their soundtech as well. They came out with a slightly different setlist in Osaka, with the replacement of Colourful with Shoujo Traveller and the addition of the frankly win B-side to With You/With Me, called Positive (in Japanese it's a pun but I can't be bothered to explain it. Here's the Japanese title: ポジティ部, google the kanji and you'll probably get it). I actually prefer the live version to the studio one, just because Kanchan's voice is so much less professional when she's getting into it live so it sounds more amusing. Either way, it was a good live with no repeats of the sound engineering failure.

Come the high fives, Charpon once again radiated peace, happiness and general bonhomie at me. These things really elevated her up my rankings. Kanchan was happy I'd even come to her hometown, and told me to explore. I sort of did so I don't feel too guilty. Umika once again asked me if I'd eaten takoyaki yet. Fucking single track minded or what? I told her I'd yet to do so.

Now, interestingly, Hiroro immediately asked, "Did you bring your friend today?" with an eager look on her face. I regretfully informed her that Dean had to work so he couldn't come all the way to Osaka for it. She looked minorly gutted. Ukky once again continued her crusade of trying to speak English. I once again completely ignored her futile attempts and continued in Japanese. Second time around was much the same, just without the takoyaki.

Thinking about takoyaki, I decided to find some. Then, looking at the giant building of death, I decided actually, that looked cooler. So I climbed it. At first, the woman guarding the lift told me in a bastardised mixture of Japanese and English that was harder to understand than pure Japanese would have been that the elevator to the viewing deck was out of commission that day, and that I'd have to go inside and take a lift to the second floor viewing deck. Confused, I headed inside and started climbing the department store escalators, and stairs when I couldn't find those. I found a nice little courtyard at the 10th floor, at the 16th floor I found an open and working observation deck (the woman lied to me), and above that was the Marriott Hotel. There was apparently another observation deck being built on the top, so I decided to try to find that as well. There were two staircases going perpedicular to each other, simple bit of leg swinging sorted that. I climbed to about the 35th floor before realising belatedly that there was another 9nine event in about half an hour, and if I didn't start going back down soon I wouldn't make it. So I grabbed a few photos and went back down the other way.

Back in the plaza, they neglected to soundcheck yet again, so they went straight into the usual Colourful setlist, with the addition of Positive again. The high-fives were also much the same, with Umika's takoyaki enthusiasm continuing apace, and the rest still giving me much the same level of service as usual. At least, they hadn't yet attained a level of "this gaijin has no life..." I think, anyway.

Charpon finally asked if I actually lived in Japan, so I told her no. I told her I was on holiday and that I was basically so far only attending 9nine events. Then she asked something I'd never heard before, whether I was doing 宣伝. I looked appropriately lost and got moved along. The next time, she asked when I was going home, so I told her "next Sunday" and she was minorly disappointed. Wanted to know if I was going to Budoukan to see them. I said I'd try.

Other than Charpon not much else happened in Osaka, so I hung around for a while before realising light was escaping and I was wanting more pictures, so I left the Osaka fans to content with the hardcore circlers and got back on the Loop Line back to Osaka. At Osaka station I realised there were actually two pretty tall buildings on top of the station, so I decided to climb those too. I seemed to like climbing too much that day. I did at least get a good picture out of it.

Sated, I shinkansened the fuck back to Tokyo and slept.

Sunday 16th March

Sunday's 9nine event was in Kawasaki, which I had basically no idea where it was or how to get there. Luckily hyperdia helped out and I ended up in Kanagawa instead of Saitama. The mall the event was held in was attached to the train station, which helped a lot. The crowd around the stage was already pretty huge, the biggest yet, as Sunday noon shoppers stopped to gawk (and exclaim loudly over Umika's cuteness). Getting a place was hard and I pretty much ended up about as far to the edge on the right hand side as was physically possible. Again. The first performance followed the same idea as the Osaka one from the day before, with Shoujo Traveller replacing Colourful. The crowd once the minilive was over and the high-fives started remained huge, so I held back for a while before heading up to do the handshakes. The first thing that crossed my mind was "Oh fuck it's all backwards." This time I had to deal with Ukky first, then Hiroro, Umika, Kanchan and Charpon. Ukky did her usual "SANKYU!!!!!" and quirky smile. Hiroro once again inquired after Dean, who was absent due to his wife's birthday. I promptly told this to Hiroro and her smile seemed to fade a little. Whether because she'd become a bit of a Dean-oshi and was disappointed he was married I don't know, but I felt sorry for making her lose some of her epic grin.

Umika, as ever, kept on about the fucking takoyaki. Eventually I sort of lied to make her talk about something else. Kanchan was cute as ever and Charpon again sort of melted my heart. Second time around was much the same, after seeing them so many times in so few days things to talk about were limited.

Before the second live, I decided to sneak forward in the crowd whilst people were doing other things, either high-fiving or whatever. I got out my book to tide me over until the second live, an hour away, and must have looked like a complete nutter. Relatively overweight gaijin stood in the middle of a shopping mall plaza reading Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy whilst waiting for an idol event. In the middle of my reading, Ayase Ami once again came up to me and gave me some more of her cool illustration postcards. Girl is a legend.

The second live proceeded in much the same manner as the first, with the Colourful setlist instead. Second high-five event came around, I debated asking them some weird questions as it'd be my last time, but instead it just turned into a prolonged farewell, with Charpon demanding I come see them at Budoukan and Umika finally calling me by name (even though I'd never told her it. Damn backstage hijinks). I also belatedly told Umika she was my oshi, even though takoyaki apocalypse happened.

I hit the train, headed back to Tokyo, and slept, my 9nine adventure over. Through it I found my 9nine favourite order change quite a bit. Before this week, I was firmly Umika oshi, then several leagues below came Hiroro, then Kanchan, Ukky and Charpon. After this week, I was still Umika oshi, but Charpon and Kanchan had basically turned me DD, and my ranking would look more like Umika > Charpon > Kanchan > Hiroro > Ukky. So yes, quite the turnaround.

Final damage:

Thus, the first week of my Japan trip over, and soon the voice will return again, to divulge the altogether stranger second part of the story, week 2...


  1. Great post - sounds like a fantastic experience. I'll be looking forward to part 2.