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I have also returned to my native land. XD I had forgotten how very beige, smelly, and generally ugly Phoenix is. I have never been more unhappy to return home. It didn't help that the flight attendants on the flight from SFO were jerks. UGH RUDENESS. :<
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I'm back in Washington, safe and in one piece. My luggage also made it, hooray.

Except... I think I hate America now. (Watching 'V for Vendetta' on the plane didn't really help.)

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Okay, so I got lazy. WHOOPS!

ARASHIC was, as predicted, amazing. I've been to a grand total of one concert in my life, and I didn't know the band at all. Needless to say, I had fun, but it wasn't particularly memorable.

ARASHIC couldn't have been more different.

Arashi is so popular, people start lining up at the merchandise tables four hours before the concert hall opens. As a result, Chiyo and I planned to spend the whole day in Yokohama. I decided I wanted to investigate the mysterious 'depaato' (department stores), and we began our quest to find one. It really isn't much of a challenge; depaato lurk over nearly every major train station, or at major street corners. They rival cobini and 100 yen shops for the most Popular Buildings in Japan.

But for some reason, we couldn't find one. Finally backtracking a few stations, we found a few enourmous ones. Now, depaato are similar to our department stores in the US, in that they have multiple stories, and tend to divide clothing by brand. In every other respect, they are (to me, at least) TOTALLY DIFFERENT. The most obvious difference is sheer size. JC Penney's is usually four floors, tops. The ones we were exploring? Seven floors, not counting two basement levels. The basements or top levels are usually resturants; not food courts. Gourmet resturants. Then housewares get one floor, CDs/DVDs/Books get another, shoes, mens, womens, yukata, accessories, etc.

I discovered I am completely terrified of depaato, and I become an indecisive nervous wreck when placed in one. Note to self: 'Irrashaimasse' is not meant to make you anxious as hell.

After this phobia surfaced, it became clear I needed some ice cream to soothe my nerves. So we popped in a Lawson's and got yummys, then walked to the Yokohama Arena.

Lining up for the wallet-raping devices loot was an experience, because I wanted one of pretty much everything, but was clueless as how to explain that's what I wanted. There was a lot of gesturing and pigeon Japanese involved, but after paying close attention, I picked up enough to say what I wanted. And yes, for those who've seen Johnny's shows: I did buy a flashy-light-pen. ♥

We then grouped up to get inside the arena. We chatted with some Australian girls while waiting; English fangirling with strangers is bizarrely comforting. They had fanclub tickets though, so their seats were much better, and we seperated pretty early. Finding OUR seats was exciting, if only because it turned out that 'seat' was a misleading term. We stood in a back aisle, but we were RIGHT behind the second stage, and close enough to see their faces~!

There's really no way to do the concert justice. I love those boys, I love their stage designers, costume designers, concept designers, and pretty much EVERYTHING. My favorite parts were the MC sections, because they are all dorks and I adore them. Sho started talking about manga, and Nino mentioned 'One Piece', which MatsuJun agreed was cool. Aiba promptly commented that he knew MatsuJun liked 'Nyanchuu' (which is a BELIEVE a kids series about a talking cat-thing?) to which MatsuJun snapped back with, "That's YOU. I've seen you giggling over it!" and he imitated, to Aiba's suspiciously fierce denial. Nino was pretty much dying at this point, and Ohno was snickering away, so Sho (ever the peace maker) changed the subject to 'DeathNote', saying how cool it was, and how he thought it's be cool to be a shinigami. The others agreed, and the topic switched to everyone's solo projects, and then lead into Ohmiya SK.

Three words: Backwards-firing bazooka. Also, "LILLIAN~! *snickergiggle*"

Then was Aiba-chan's Q&A session, where they answered questions from emails. Some were pretty standard dull questions, like "Would you rather be with a girl in a yukata watching fireworks, or a girl in a swimsuit at the beach?" (The guys were torn at this question, because they like fireworks, but they also like swimsuits. CONFLICTED!) Then came the strange and AWESOME question, "How do you tell your girlfriend she has a nose hair sticking out?"

Because Arashi is comprised of five utter dorks, they decided to answer the question via impov skits.

SKIT #1: Sho and MatsuJun.
MatsuJun, being the gheiest ghei that ever ghei'd, was the girl. It's not the first time Arashi has recruited him as a female, and it certainly won't be the last. The skit pretty much went along as Sho trying to quietly inform MatsuJun (or "Jun-chan", as he called him, causing Jun to giggle) about his little "problem", and MatsuJun completely missing it, until finally, Sho outright says, "You have a nose hair!" to which MatsuJun cries out in horror, "WHAT?! YOU KNOW I DON'T HAVE A MIRROR!" then running home wailing.

Nino, Ohno, and Aiba are pretty much dying with laughter. But Aiba-chan isn't satisfied with this answer, so he elects Nino and Ohno as the second pair.

SKIT #2: Nino and Ohno.
This skit was killer. Ohno makes the most absurdly wonderful girl ever, and he coo'd and preened with the best of them. Nino fawned over him, attempt to subtely explain about the nose hair, saying things like, "Hey baby, are you growing a mustache?" Ohno assumes 'she' is being teased, and says coyly, "Silly, I'm a WOMAN~!"

Finally, Nino taps Ohno on the nose, and says in the cutest sappiest voice ever, "Oh, ONE nose hair~ TWO nose hair~ THREE nose hairs~!" Then they giggle, and wander off being ridiculously sappy and adorable. Sho is choking into his microphone, and MatsuJun has given up any and all pretense of having his laughter under control.

But Aiba-chan himself has not yet been in a skit! He decides this must be remidied, and runs to MatsuJun. But MatsuJun waves him off, demanding that OHNO be Aiba-chan's girlfriend.

SKIT #3: Aiba and Ohno.
Ohno starts off by being huffy and uptight, muttering about 'her' boyfriend being late. Aiba saunters in, and Ohno proceeds to be very snappy and waspish to him as Aiba tries to get a handle on the situation. But Ohno will have none of it, and when Aiba-chan blurts out, "You have a nose hair, here!" and reaches out to pluck it, Ohno screeches about "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME BEFORE?!"

Sho and Nino, I should mention, are flat on their backs on the stage, rolling around and trying to breathe.

Aiba then tells the audience that once, this sort of thing happened during a photoshoot. So everyone gathers around and poses like they do for shoots, and MatsuJun says, "Riidaa [Leader, Ohno's nickname], you've got a nose hair." Ohno reaches up to brush his nose, saying, "Oh, thanks." And that was it!

My other favorite parts of the concert were when the audience was made to sing along. Most of the crowd knew the songs by heart (I almost did), so we tended to dance and sing right along with them. Sho in particular found this VERY funny, and liked making the crowd rap his parts for him. Aiba on the other hand, loved making us do random motions. But he's a special cookie like that. There was one point duing 'Wish', when the entire arena darkened, and all the music stopped for one round of the chorus, and the entire audience sang it TO the guys. It was a really initimate moment for a stadium full of thousands of people.

Yesterday, we hit Akihabara, and visited our first cosplay/fetish shop! It was super fun, actually. They had a lot of really cute schoolgirl unforms and lolita outfits, and Chiyo and I bought some really cute sweater-vest uniforms (which we then wore for the rest of the day, and got hooted at by an old drunk man.) and we agreed when looking at the bathing suits that we'd totally go there for suits, as they were cute one-pieces, rather than ridiculously revealing bikinis.

Then we wandered to the VOLKS store.

Nee-chan, I bought a Mini SD. His name is Shojiki, and he's a 'Kohaku' model. I bought him a black wig though, and he doesn't have his face-make yet. I'll be restringing him when I get home, because he's still pretty loose, but wow, is he cute. Snarky little thing, but cute. ♥ I've wanted a dollfie for years, because I'm a crazy doll-lover, but due to the fact that VOLKS won't ship overseas, I couldn't get one. Dream come true? YES PLEASE~!

Today we went back to Akihabara to run a few quick errands. I picked up two copies of KAT-TUN's new single 'SIGNAL'. They were sadly out of the DVD version, but the regular one is still fun! Becca, look forward to it! I also had to buy a small rolling luggage bag, because my loot outgrew my suitcase. Whoops. We ate at a funny little gourmet resturant, and went to find some purikura (picture club; basically, picture stickers but SUPER COOL). We did a bunch of dorky ones, and some amazingly wonderful sparkly ones, and overall had a super time. We played on the taiko arcade game and did surprisingly well on 'BUTTERFLY'. I played my first UFO catcher game, and won a present for Campy. We messed around, exploring Electric City (and eating at Mos Burger for the first and last time), looking for karaoke but for once not finding it.

Then we came back here to the ryokan, did some super-fast ninja laundry and packed. We check out at 10am tomorrow, and leave for Narita at 1:30pm ish.

I don't... really want to go home yet, because we've just now settled in. Chiyo and I both agree that we don't want to stay at the ryokan anymore, but we're not done with JAPAN yet. We don't want to go back to America, where nobody says please or thank you; where everything is dirty; where Denny's serves questionable bacon rather than fresh eel; where the celebrities aren't on kids shows; where there are more cars than bicycles; where you can't really go four blocks without finding either a drink vending machine or a combini.

Japan is distanced, yes. They don't believe in familiarity on the same level as I'm used to. You don't approach people the same way you would in the US. But in the US, would a complete stranger come up and admit that they speak a bit of English, and do you need some help finding your train line? Would an older man give you a pack of tissues as thanks for giving him the fare to go home; the same tissues that were refused to you because you were foriegn? Would a sales lady make the effort to dig up an instruction booklet on folding yukata in your native language, even though you'd already bought?

I remember getting lost in Ikebukuro, looking and looking for that stupid Animate store, and finally giving it up for a lost cause, I asked two schoolgirls in halting Japanese where it was. They happily provided directions, and even though I had to ask two more people, all were more than happy to help us.

America has this... underlying layer of hostility and suspicion. Talking to strangers is bad, because you don't know what kind of person they are. Be wary, be careful, defend yourself. There is always, always that sense of fear of the people around you. But here in Japan, there is no such fear. There is a discomfort, yes. The carefully ordered Japanese world doesn't like to be upset or changed in any way. But once you show that you are more than happy to fit into this world, you are a piece of it. I don't feel fear ever, because no one here has any hostility.

I will probably be writing essays about this and other things in the future, because... it's really made me think, and reevaluate my nationality and country to a strange extent.


Do I really have to wait two years before I can come back?
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Jesus Patrick Christ Arashic was super porta awesome. I personally havn't ever been to a concert...well I sorta have but that was a looong time ago and not quite a real concert. But, this, THIS was amazing. It was fun and tiresome and pretty and all those things I expected plus more.
First thing we found out was that our seats weren't quite seats at all. We actually just had to go and stand anywhere on the walkway part that lead to the seats. So we did end up standing the entire time. At first I was a bit miffed about it, but as soon as the concert started I couldn't give a damn about it, I was just super happy to be there.
Arashi started the concert in pink suits singing "Kitto Daijoubu." I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had these big beautiful screens covering the back of the stage, which featured moving rainbows and graphics that perfectly brought out the happy feeling I got from watching the PV. After that was a song neither Kaille or I had heard before so I can't identify it, but I really like it. There was a moving stage they used many a time, which was great for us because our section was exactly opposite the stage; making us the farthest away. Seeing Arashi up close was... great. It was almost as if I could finally confirm that yes, these are real guys and yes, I am really here. I can't remember the set list and I don't feel like looking it up right now but I was very pleased with the transitions from song to song.
"Itsuka no Summer" was sung by just Aiba and Sho. MatsuJun's solo with Nino on electric guitar was fwacking awesome. MatsuJun was having a ball being flamboyant and semi-sexy and Nino really rocked the guitar. The MCs were super cute despite me understanding much less than I would have liked to. At one point Ohno had something like a hair that was on his jacket, so as he was talking Nino came up and started messing with it trying to get it off. Ohno batted him off and told him to stop, but Nino when back to removing it anyway. There was talk of manga with the mentioning of Death Note (by Sho), One Piece (by Aiba and MatsuJun), and something else I can't remember the name of. Ohmiya segement was just the way I like it, fluffy, funny, and squee inducing. That was followed by the MC where they answered fan questions which was absolutely hillarious. Aiba wanted to do everything as a skit. The second skit was the best, answering the question of how they'd tell their date about a booger in her nose. First was Sho and MatsuJun, MatsuJun being the girl. I'm kind of blanking on the skit itself between them but I assure you it was great. Then it was Nino and Ohno, Ohno being the girl. They were all adorable and lovey dovey with Ohno being a hysterical girl. Aiba's turn was next who was going to pair off with MatsuJun but MatsuJun told him to do it with Ohno so he did. Ohno proceeded to be a snotty girl who was not pleased with anything and sorta killed me ded with his bitchy expressions.
In the second half of the concert there were two medley's of songs including "Na!Na!Na!","Eyes With Delight" and others I can't place right now. The audience dancing along and randomly getting to sing parts where the guys dropped out was really cute. I'm a whore for audience participation. XD My favorite song of the Arashic CD was "Cool&Soul" and was also my favorite song of the concert. HOLY HELL WAS IT FANTASTIC. They were sitting at a table with microphones like in the CD book and the spotlight would shine on whoever was rapping at the time. The front of the desk also lit up and the more into the song they got the more they would do when their rapping part came along. The all ended up on the table and at the last part they came out front and danced. BUT GUH, I LOVED IT SO. Right after that song I was super hoping they release this concert on DVD. Another fun song was "Love Parade" because the dancing was tap dance-like and suited the big band sound of the song well.  They also all came down the stairs singing. which I felt could have  only been cooler  if they had had canes.
Ohh I forgot! At the beginning during one of the songs they had these lights strung down over the top of the stage and it looked really pretty, like stars. They used them again in "Hitomi no Naka no Galaxy" and again another time. I really liked those. :3 OOH AND "AOZORA PEDAL"! It was preeetttyyyy. I fully plan on ordering the single now. Sho even had his own singing part. I hoorah-ed at that.
I really enjoyed the encores, especially "The Fight Song". I have a real soft spot for that song and then of course being followed by "A.Ra.Shi" proved for much happiness.
I skipped a bunch and just mentioned the things that stuck out to me so you'll have to forgive the randomness of it. La,la,la. So yes, it was amazing +4. I really, really hope they release it on DVD so I can relive it again. ^____^
satisfied satisfied
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We were going to go the same day as Animate, but I was struck down by a migraine. Fortunately, I bring meds with me every where. Damn you, genetic predisposition! Anyway, we hopped the train down to Nanako (and arrived all starry-eyed from the MANY GORGEOUS PEOPLE) and found Nakano Broadway Shopping Center!

According to the guidebooks, Mandarake is scattered into part across the four floors of mall. And we did find some of them. Specifically, the manga and figurine parts. But the part we'd come for, doujinshi? No where to be found. Nor was cosplay, which I was really looking forward to. The trouble is that a lot of these buildings are built up over time, so there isn't really any rhyme or reason to them at all. Add in the fact that no one gives maps, and you can end up wandering a building for hours without any clue where the hell you are. Which is kind of what we did.

Fortunately, Nakano Broadway is a really fun little center, and we did manage (♥) to spend some money. I bought 'Kitto Daijoubu' and the 'Iza NOW!' tour DVD, Chiyo snatched up 'Vex' and... whatever Yanagi's second DVD is called, and we bought many shiny magazines of a secrect nature to send to Becca. I tried to find 'Signal', but either I'm blind or stupid, because it has thus far elluded me. BLAST!

Tomorrow is ARASHIC. We'll be spending the whole day in Yokohama~! YAY ARASHI! I'M SO EXCITED!

Oh, and speaking of Arashi, we totally have seen 'Tensai Shimura Ken no Doubutsuen' twice, AND 'G no Arashi'. And my magic remote skills brought KAT-TUN to us via 'Utawara'. According to KAT-TUN, Junno is the one who least matches his image, and Koki is the one everyone would date if they were girls. Also, Kame fails at Sumo.



P.S. Mum, I hope my registration went okay? And would Chiyo's mum kindly email her about whether or not you'll be moving? We're getting curious!
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Last couple of days we sorta just lazed around. We decided to go Animate the other day and fumbled around muchly trying to find it. We asked for directions a couple of times because everyone had different ways of telling us how to get there... and we couldn't find some of the landmarks they were talking about. XD We finally got the best directions from a Conbini clerk and we were off. I was semi disappointed with the selection there, though they had some of the Myu Boys Photobooks and DVDs. There were some cute cinepuri stickers and I they had about 6 of the Myu dvds. I died a little when I saw them because I wanted them all so bad.

The weather lately has been very nice, switching between rain and just overcast. It's a great difference from Phoenix weather and I'm releshing having moisture in the air. Sadly, my hair seems to like to look like crap all the time. I do have semi-curly hair and it curls on it's own in dry Phoenix but the ringlets it is doing here are fugly. It's flat on top and then tight ringlets with lots of little flyaways. I don't use any hair products so managing it is pretty much impossible unless I get some. Bleh. It's not a good look. I'm thinking that if I straighten it and then let it get curly from the humidity it will be better curls, so I might try that when I'm not so lazy. XD
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So after chilling in the room all day because we needed to shower and couldn't leave until we were so fresh and so clean, we fell into the claw-like grip of hunger. We had been going to the Conbini for most of our meals so we thought we should try something different today. We grabbed umbrellas went off into the lovely rain in search of that noble goal, food. Sadly place after place we passed was closed and I was seriously thinking we were going to have to go to the conbini again. Not that the conbini is bad, just I knew that if we went to there I would get onigiri and a ham&egg salad sandwich. Delicious but I had it the past two days. BUT THERE IN THE DISTANCE, A SHINING STAR OF A SIGN. DENNY'S. Now you may be be thinking that was totally wimping out and not trying Japanese foods, BUT OH YOU WOULD BE WRONG. They had the best selection of different Japanese foods I have seen yet. Plus, much to my delight they had a special with Unagi. I flailed and got it with some Creamy Pearl Milk Tea. Honooko got Bite-sized loin steak which was "fantabulous". This was my first time having Bubble Tea and OMG it was delicious. I understand the addiction and I am going to get more when we go back next time. Because we have already decided we are going back.


Anyways, so yeah, Denny's in Japan has reallly good food and has the best combinations ever.
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Well Honooko pretty much covered everything for the last few days. I just have a few things to add before I move on to today and magical *pnish*. First while we were in Shibuya, just outside of the station there was a rapping salesman. On a speaker. For all to hear. He was immediately added to "My Heroes" list. Also Honooko mentioned Arashi was still at the top of the Oricon charts and said to remember this but never told you why. It was just because later on in Shinjuku we saw "Kitto Daijoubu" on one of the big screens. It was hot. Then in Yokohama I said that millions of people were at the fireworks, which really I seemed to have totally made up. In reality it is somewhere between 500,000 to 1 million people. Still a ton of freaking people, but  not quite as insane and you may have previously imagined.  The fireworks were insanely pretty, with times where there were so many that everything was almost completely lit up. Sadly I forgot my camera before we left so I didn't get to take any pictures. *sadface* My feet were feeling murdurous when I made it home, and now I have some lovely battle wounds to show for it.  Now, on to *pnish*!!

Being in the theatre was one of the weirdest feelings I have ever felt. Especially after Daiki and Kujirai came on stage I just... couldn't seem to wrap my head around this being a real live event involving me being in the same room as them. XD Being able to see Treasure Box live was really just magical in itself, not even including that super awesome story and characters and costumes and... you get the idea :P Tuti's role was really great and insanely hilarious. Him and his kirakira posse always made me laugh despite that fact that quite a few of the times I am pretty sure I didn't get the jokes. XD I was quite impressed with Kujirai's acting and I was very happy to be able to see him on stage outside of Tenimyu. Despite the large cast, I never felt that there were just too many characters. Each one had their place and equal amounts of time on stage. I super adored upon Daiki with the googles on his head and Wasshi with the lack of more than a vest as a shirt. Mmmmm... smexy. ^^ I was a bit sad about Eiji's character Rie being so serious all the time...but that was mostly because the things he said tended to go over my head. All in all the play was really great and something I plan on owning on DVD soon.

By the end of Treasure Box I still hadn't quite gotten over the "OMG REAL" feeling, but *pnish* seemed oh so happy to snap me out of it reeeeal quick. XD As soon as the Talk event started it had settled in. The Talk event was really cute and I loved hearing about their trip to Taiwan. Seeing them interact like they do in the backstages  in front of me was a real treat. Watching them and hearing them slightly shifted my previous created images in, but it was all for the better. After the talk and what seemed like forever it was finally time for handshaking! I was nervous out of my mind and totally forgot most everything I had planned to say. First was Wasshi who was... insanely nice. INSANELY NICE. He clasped my hand and shook, telling me about he was happy I came and if I had fun. Obviously I answered in the affirmative. He really is even better looking and more sincere in person. Then it was on to Daiki. By this time I had semi gathered my bearings and managed to talk about seeing Treasure Box and coming from America. He was enthusiastic about me coming to see Treasure Box and before I went on held out his fist and I got to do the fist-hit-thing I can't seem to be able to remember how to describe. You know the manly high five thing with your fists? That... I obviously fail at descriptions, but seriously it was the BEST THING EVER. If I had to choose, Daiki would be my favorite of *pnish* so that sorta made me die a little fangirly death right there. Next was Eiji who immediately asked about my Japanese and I was able to respond I knew a bit and had seen Treasure Box earlier. He took it upon himself to tell me that Panic Days 2 was a "photo book. Beautiful picture" in English. I told him that I actually have Panic Days 1 at home and was excited to see the new one. Eiji was super nice and heartwarming which I didn't expect. I assumed he was nice, but he was over-the-top wonderful. Then it was on to Tuti who said my name, handed me the book where I almost walked away without getting a handshake. XD Luckily he held out his hand right before I turned to walk off. I would have beaten myself up later if I had managed to do such a thing. I blame the giddy daze I was in. I walked out to Honooko whereupon we hugged and squealed like little girls.

On the way home my giddy daze sorta almost took us ..... rather far away XD We got on the train home and I failed to pay attention to the stops, so we managed to make it almost halfway to Chiba before Honooko said something and we got off and headed back.

PS I didn't make the connection that the signed copy of TobePani would be a new copy alltogether so I now have two copies. If anyone wants the photobook when I get home I'll ship it off to you for cheap cheap. Let it be known that on the "secret pictures" pages I accidentaly tore the edges a bit trying to get the perforated part  open.
giggly giggly
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I'm still kind of in a happy sort of daze about these past two days.

Yokohama Port Festival is, in a word, the most amazing thing ever. Chiyo and I got dolled up and teetered down to the station in our geta and yukata. An old man outside the ryokan told us we looked beautiful, which was a great way to start the evening. After an excruciatingly long train ride (spent people watching, because the couples in yukata were ADORABLE), it was a simple enough matter to follow the crowd to find the festival. The sheer mass of people was insane; Chiyo said that roughly 3 million people turn out for this one show. And oh my god, what a show it was. Seriously, people. Fourth of July has NOTHING on the Japanese fireworks. It lasted an hour, had complex patterns, combinations, and shapes like you wouldn't believe. Planets, spirals, hearts, clovers, CATS AND RABBITS. It was just an AMAZING show.

The part afterwords was insane as well.

The mob pretty much all left the park en masse. As a result, 3 million people were all trying to get into two stations. The crowd control is amazing here, though, because everyone listens. Neat, orderly lines wound around four city blocks. Road blocks were respected. No one pushed, cut in line, or whined. Chiyo and I spent almost two hours just waiting, but it wasn't really unpleasant; just boring. Our train ride home was long, but uneventful, and we stumbled back to the ryokan to collapse in bed. Plus our feet really really hurt from hours in new geta.

It's worth noting that even though we'd never really done it before, we managed to put on our yukata properly.

Today, we woke up late, and promptly freaked out, because we had one hour to get to Shinjuku before they started selling tickets to the handshake event for *pnish*! We tided up and dressed, then made it to the theatre (thanks to Tuti's unintentionally helpful directions. We spotted the curry shop and Starbucks, and knew we were in the right place) with time to spare. We bought our tickets, and bought goodies, before going into the theatre proper for the show.

'Treasure Box' is defiantely one to buy when it comes out. It's... hard to explain, but Chiyo and I agreed that when Daiki-chan stepped onto the stage in the very first scene, suddenly, he was real. He was real, he was in front of us, and we were seeing *pnish* on stage.

I don't really want to spoil the show, so I'll just say that it was fabulous, even when Daiki-chan forgot one line. There's a great part were a giant balloon 'boulder' goes rolling after our heroes, and they involve the audience by informing them that they're villians. Then the balloon was rolled out, and we bounced it around after the actors as they ran through the crowd! The set was also stunning, and the costumes were without a doubt the most complex for any *pnish* show yet.

The end was amusing, because Daiki-chan randomly nominated three people from the cast to talk. There was much giggling over Tuti's flamboyantly sparkly costume, and teasing of Daiki-chan. Then we left the theatre, only to realize we'd gone out the wrong way, and weren't going to shake their hands. I lurked as close as possible, simply being creepy basking in the presence of *pnish*, marvelling over how photos really do them NO justice.

Chiyo and I skipped down to the curry shop for lunch, and found that Tuti's reccomendation was well-deserved. After food, it was back to the theatre for the Talk Live!

The talk was really, really funny. They pretty much just shared stories and experiences they had while shooting in Taiwan, like how everyone except Wasshi forgot to set their watches to Taiwan time, and thusly, everyone was running around in a panic except him. Daiki-chan said that when he and Tuti shared a room, Tuti flopped down on his legs and grunted, instantly asleep (Daiki-chan's Tuti impressions are highly amusing and never flattering). Meanwhile, Eiji was dead-bolting Wasshi out of THEIR room, for no apparent reason.

After the talk, they slowly filtered everyone through a room where the photobooks were being autographed for you. My seat was directly across from the room where this was happening, so even though I was in one of the last groups to go in, I could hear almost everything, and see Daiki-chan's feet. When it was finally my turn, I stepped into the room and walked up to Wasshi, the first. He greeted me, and I blurted out that I was American, because I was really nervous I'd screw up my Japanese, and was hoping for some leeway. He must have noticed I was as nervous as all get-out, because he shook my hand with both of his, and spoke soft and slow so I could understand. He asked if I'd enjoyed the show, and I told him I had, that it was very fun. He thanked me, I gave him the picture I drew for them, and it was on to Daiki-chan.

Again, I started by saying I was American. Daiki-chan had a polar-opposite reaction; he flailed a bit and spoke super-fast and loud. It was really adorable, and I was grinning like an idiot, but he asked if I'd seen the show, and if I'd had fun, and was shaking my hand the entire time. It sounds like you-know-who to say this, but... it was the longest I've ever shaken one person's hand. ♥

Next was Eiji, and when I again said I was American, he thanked me in English, and asked if I'd come all the way from America. I said yes, and he said, "To see the show?" When I said yes to that, he double-checked I'd seen 'Treasure Box' too, and then told me to please enjoy the photobook. I'm not sure that paragraph did any justice to how amazingly sweet he was, because he seemed sincerely impressed I'd come so far. Which was one of my intentions; I didn't know how to show them how special this all was for me, other than to tell them how far I came for it.

Last was Tuti. Now, the way the signing was set up, all the books were pre-signed by the guys, and then an orange slip with your name on it was handed to Tuti, who wrote "To (whatever)" inside. He opened mine, and promptly shouted, "KEIRI!" really loud. I said yes, that's my name, and he laughed again and thanked me very much for coming, and told me to enjoy the book. I shook his hand, thanked him profusely, and wobbled out to the lobby to wait for Chiyo.

I still can't quite believe it happened. But it was wonderful, and completely worth the entire trip. These men are doing what I want to do. I admire them so much, and I dream of working alongside them someday. It's like meeting a huge celebrity, except that these guys are real, and they cared about what I had to say. They didn't have to sit there and shake the hands of every woman in that building, they didn't have to personally autograph all those books, and they didn't have to listen to a bunch of fans flail at them. But they did, and they were wonderful, and I'm not going ever going to forget the way the world felt just that much smaller and friendlier when Wasshi held my hand in his and thanked me for coming.
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I LEARNED A NEW WORD TODAY! We got this snack called Chotos and on the bottom it said Milk Chocolate Rusk. Now neither Honooko or I knew what the hell a rusk was. Apparently a rusk is a light, soft-textured sweetened biscuit. NOW YOU MUST USE IT ALL THE TIME~! ♥

ps Don't say rusk like the beginning of rooster or Honooko will get mad. Even though it sounds cooler that way.

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Right so back from the conibini and... we sorta accidently got some alcohol. We got all our lovely stuff checked out and the clerk pulled out this box with two holes in it. You had to stick your hand in a pull something out. So I put my hand in one side and pulled out a card for a free drink so the clerk runs around grabs the drink, -196 Celcius Freeze Lemon. I'm happy I got a drink for free because I forgot to buy one. We get back in the room I open it up and take a sip. Refeshing lemon....THEN EW ALCOHOL. I was thoroughly confused and started looking around the can and there on the side, osake! I'm still no sure if the boxes were divided by age or they just gave me free booze... cause I look... uh... 20 apparently? It's really a shame because I'm reallllly thirsty (T_T)

That's my exciting tale for the day! XD

And Mum just for your info, no, I am not going to down it. And to Eileen, Kaille isn't either.

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We slept in later that yesterday, so we missed breakfast. But it didn't really matter, because we just grabbed drinks in Shibuya Station. We went to GAIN first, but it didn't open for another half hour, so we hit Tower Records.

One thing that keeps striking me is that where at home, one floor is plenty for one store, here? SEVEN. They turn everything in a department store! I bought ARASHIC and Wat: Sousogu Time, amd Chiyo bought a shiny magazine with Arashi in it. And we were pleased to see that ARASHIC has kept it's #1 spot on the Oricon Charts! Remember this, as it will come into play again later.

After killing enough time, we darted off to GAIN. Tencho-san was amused to see us again, but... oh no! The shirts were gone! I asked if he had any more (and was proud for being able to somewhat get my point across) and he checked in various cubbies around the store, but to no avail. I explained that it was for a friend, and after some debate, decided to get her a tank top instead. Chiyo chickened out on asking for a picture though. On the walk back to the JR station, I experienced my first anti-gaijin prejudice, sadly. They hand out tissues because everybody is sweating like mad, but they refused to give me a package, explaining with "Japanese only".

After that, our mission in Shibuya had ended, so we hopped on the JR to Harajuku! Harajuku is my favorite place so far; it's a lot like Seattle's Capital Hill. It's a really diverse area full of tiny shops, including... the Johnny's Store! Johnny's Entertainment is a tremendously huge, tremendously powerful agency that has such well-known bands as SMAP, Tokio, V6, Kinki Kids, Arashi, KAT-TUN, and Kanjani8 under their label. Johnny's is notable for being all boys, which means that they cater to female fans like nobody's business. The store is hot pink, full of totally random stuff with the guys' pictures plastered all over the place, and PHOTOS! It's really an ingenius system; You select the band you want, then walk around the room, and pick the pictures you want. Each photo has a number, and when you've written down the ones you want, you take it to the counter where they ring you up and give you your pictures. The random crap was pretty awesome, though. I mean, I could think of nothing I wanted more than Arashi stick-on nails!

Actually, I can. I got a clear fan, and a pillowcase. And photos. Because, really. ARASHI.

It was when we came out of the Johnny's store that it started to rain. Japan has really funny storms; it will literally thunder and lightening and pour rain for about ten minutes, then stop. But the thunder was insanely loud, so we bought an umbrella and went to a toy store.

...Well, it made sense to us.

Kiddy Land is a really awesome toystore. Seven floors, and despite being a toystore, was packed with teenagers. And I can't blame them; everything was adorable. I bought a washcloth with a frog on it, that says he likes to sing. ♥

After Kiddy Land, we hit a Wendys for frostys, and then I reminded Chiyo that the Yokohama Port Festival is TOMORROW, and she still didn't have a yukata. So we went down to Shinjuku.

Shinjuku was... kind of scary. Shinjuku station is the busiest train station in the world, and I believe it. It was really, really intimidating just finding the exit. But we did, and we found a depato, and Chiyo bought SUCH a pretty yukata, I can barely believe it. It's lovely. We conversed with the sales lady helping her in Japanese, and only got confused once.

After that, we were exhausted, so we came back to the ryokan, where our ARASHIC tickets were waiting for us! And now we're off to a combini for dinner. YAY!
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WOW. Good day today, my friends.

As Chiyo mentioned, we made it safely to the ryokan (I did not, in fact, sleep the night before I left, so I was running 27 hours without sleep, which makes it even more amazing that I was able to use those asian-style toilets successfully on my first try!). But we were DEAD upon arrival, because we'd dragged our bags through the JR stations, and those things have many, many stairs. We also were able to buy our tickets with no difficultly at all; something which took an (admittedly slow) aquantience three days to do. Proud? Why, yes. Yes we are.

We found the ryokan (which, Sam, is really really cool, despite being tiny. You'd like it, if you... could fit comfortably. Which you couldn't) is managed in the afternoons and evenings by a very attractive young man named Jen, who speaks perfect English. He is really, really attractive. Really. And we looked gross and sweaty from the walk, but... wow. We WILL be getting a picture with him, because it's difficult to explain exactly how good-looking his is.

...That was a whole paragraph on Jen. HAHAHA.

However, it's worth noting that everyone in this country is unfairly attractive. I've realized that I am forever ruined for American men, and most women, because they have nothing on the young Japanese. Chiyo and I will do one of two things upon spotting these people; we will either nudge the other, or (if we've been talking) will suddenly make a whimpering sound. It's really amazing how we haven't gotten used to it.

We had QUITE the adventure today, let me tell you. We first went down to breakfast, which is basically all the guest getting together in the small lobby/kitchen area, and the staff tells you to pick one of the meal options, and then you eat! It's cheap AND tasty! Then we hopped on the train to Omotesando! We looked through a store called "Oriental Bazaar", looking for yukatas. Chiyo found an ADORABLE little set for Abbey, and I got some white tabi socks (and a "FIGHTING SPIRIT" head band, for finals), but we weren't enamoured with any of the yukata, so we went on to Omotesando Hills Shopping Mall. Another place Sam would love. The building is triangular, and you wind your way up through it, it's really amazing. Unfortunately, everything there was SUPER expensive, so we left and went one station down the Ginza Line to...

SHIBUYA! We wandered around a bit once there (I saw the Shibuya 109 building!), because Shibuya is like NYC; lots and lots and lots of buildings, totally random street placement, and so much advertising, it's like having a seizure. Plus the sheer amount of people in the middle of the day? Amazing. We did see Hachiko, but in our distraction, didn't pat him. But we'll be going back tomorrow, so I WILL pat him. Once we found the department store we were looking for, we headed straight for the yukata department, and I bought the prettiest yukata ever. It's purple, and I got some really awesome geta, and a sunshine yellow obi! The woman helping us was so sweet; she let me try it on, and she brought me all the things I'd need. Then, she asked in English where we were from, and we said America, and she darted off somewhere and came back with a little booklet that tells you (in English, with CARTOONS!) how to put the yukata on AND tie the obi!♥ She was really sweet.

Then we went to GAIN, which is a small boutique that one of our actor-boys designs for. Now, when I say 'small boutique', I don't mean small in selection. I mean small in SIZE. The entire store is about 4'x3'. TINY. The brand we were looking for, Nagayan's, is called 'blossam', and when we walked in, we didn't see any blossam stuff at all. Then Chiyo pointed at something, and INSANTLY, we recognized a shirt that has gone down in infamy as the Best Shirt Ever, because it was a collboration between TWO of the guys. We'd been told they were sold out, and thusly gone forever, but no! There they were! I grabbed one for my friend Court, and went to pay. The store manager was checking me out, since... he's the only one there, and Chiyo slid open the drawers in the table the shirt was on. Inside? blossam tank tops and socks! So I grabbed one of the tank tops too, because I adore them, and Tencho-san (Manager) realizes we're Nagayan fans, and asks if we're going to his current play 'Switch' (which he was wearing a t-shirt for). We said no, the tickets were too expensive, and he mentioned TeniMyu and Bleach, the plays we HAVE seen. Then, in the sweetest move since... ever, he pulls out the drawer of socks (3 colors, 3 pairs per bundle) and says, "Presento! Presento!"

That's right. We got free blossam socks. Even Chiyo, who didn't buy anything! We thanked him profusely, and once outside, decided that he really was the best person ever, and that we should have offered him blowjobs or something. We will be going back tomorrow, because Nacchi wants a shirt too.

We then hit two more department stores looking for a yukata for Chiyo, but she's super picky, and thusly we didn't find one yet.

We need dinner at some point here, but we're all comfortable in our air-conditioned room. Because, you see, Tokyo is a city that has so much smog, I thought it was overcast for all of yesterday. As it turns out, that grey-yellow sky is SMOG. So the entire city is experiencing the greenhouse effect; at 9am this morning, it was at 81% humidity. My hair is... not cooperating. It's not even that HOT, really; only the low 80's. But the humidity makes it so that everything, everything sticks. Fortunately, the Japanese advertising folks have devised an ingenius way of taking advantage; they hand out fans with ads on them. So by 1pm, Chiyo and I both had fans from... some cellphone company. Fans = my new best friend. But this also means that when we get back to the ryokan, when Jen is here? We're pretty gross. SADFACE.

Tomorrow after GAIN, we're hitting Harajuku, which is gonna be amazing in itself, because Harajuku is a huuuge place for fashion, and it's the weekend. YAY!

...I wonder if there's a non-weird way to ask Tencho-san to take a picture with us.

P.S. Futon are the most amazing things ever.
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We are here and alive!!! We made it to the Ryokan all safe and sound and are happily resting trying to stay up as late as possible so we can wake up at a reasonable hour. I managed 3.5 hours of sleep last light and about 1 horu on the plane. I can't sleep on planes so I was pretty lucky to get that hour.

It was raining when we got out of the subway and that was kinda fun, though it is bloody humid ^^ The ryokan itself is beautiful and pretty and so is the lovely man at the front desk ~.^

I'm was attempting some sort of full coherent log, but it just isn't working right now. I'm way tooo tired. Futons are comfy and Honooko is amazing with the televsions so I'm set for tonight. <3

sleepy sleepy
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Today Dad took the day off so he could come with me to withdraw my money. There is something really amazing about holding that much cash in your hands, even if I did promptly tuck it in a safe envelope, and then distributed it about my luggage and wallets.

I also packed up my suitcase. I had to sit on it to get it to close, but MAN am I glad Cailin taught me that trick about rolling your clothes up to save space, because otherwise there is no way I would have been able to fit two weeks worth of stuff in one bag. (And technically, I still have a few bits of things to stuff in there tomorrow, but shhh! Don't rain on my parade.)

Adrian the iPod is all charged and pretty, and I've tucked his cord into my computer bad. Tomoko the laptop will charge tonight, as will my cell phone Jean Claude, and their respective cords will be packed tomorrow. I'm getting up at 3am, or staying up until 3am. I haven't decided yet, since either way I'll be sleeping on the plane(s). I also packed 'Hana Yori Dango' for us to watch, Chiyo! ♥ I informed the role-play we're in about out leave of absence (realizing in the process how many characters we play). And I bought pocky, too get us in the mood. Not that we need any help with that.

I thought about bringing an umbrella, since it's supposed to rain this weekend, then I remembered that if we need one, we can buy one. It's Tokyo, not the Amazon Jungle.

All in all, I've completed my daily tasks with time to spare, and must now sit twiddling my thumbs until tomorrow. Thus far, I'm not doing very well at being patient, and am practically vibrating in my computer chair.

Oh! And the salon that Chiyo wants to visit specializes in dyes and things, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do this! Yes, that's a boy. No, I don't care. Yes, hot pink is a good look for him, and yes, I realize his are extensions. But I really really want them.

I'm hungry. Time for my last home-cooked American meal for two weeks!
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 Right, so Honooko posted and I wanted to be awesome like her and post too. So here I am!

I've been in Japan mode today on the internet looking for interesting places, food establishment reviews, and the location of LUSH in Shinjuku XD I managed to find some neat stuff like a place I want to get my hair cut and a place that has Bubble Tea in Akihabara. I keep thinking of more weird things I want to do and see, which kills me with excitement when I actually realize I can do them. I feel sorta bad doing all this internal planning on my own because I really don't know what Honooko wants to do other than Ueno Park. Though I assume on the plane we will be merry with excitement and I can tell her all the ideas I had and she can share her ideas as well.

For being a rather unorganized person, when it comes to traveling something changes. I make more lists than you can possibly imagine. I bought a Tokyo Metropolitan atlas and went through it and marked a bunch of places I thought would be good to know. I had another map I marked with stars of the same places because it was a different layout just in case we needed to see it as one giant map instead of the different pages. I have a site bookmarked that you can find the way from our local subway station, Minowa Station, to anywhere else we want to go. There are choices for sorting results by lowest fare, least number of transfers, and total trip time. Everytime I find a new place I go there and see the price and time to get there. If you wanted to know it takes about and hour and 43 minutes to get from Minowa Station to Yokohama Station... :P

Tomorrow is a big day for me to finally get everything together. I'll pack up my freshly laundered clothes, go take out my money from the bank, and generally make sure I got what I need. I was contemplating making a checklist so in my spazziness tomorrow I won't forget important things. I'll probably start working on that now.

Ja ne~
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T-minus one and one half days...
I hope I'll be able to sleep in my bed tonight, because right now, my stuff is laid out all across it. BLAST! The good news is I'm the new Queen of Laundry, and almost all of my favorite summer clothes are clean. The weather in Tokyo is pretty much the same as it is where I live, strangely, so I have no doubts I'll be alright. High 70's/Low 80's? Not a problem! Although I hope Chiyo doesn't catch a chill...

Tomorrow is the day of money-withdrawl. I have my health information tucked in a pretty red wallet/passport case that cost me entirely too much, but it was the only one I could find. I also invested in a good, non-greasy sunscreen, seeing as I would rather not come home as cripsy as ebi tenpura. (I also raided the JC Penney's sale, but that is neither here nor there.)

Chiyo managed to obtain two tickets to our current favorite Japanese boyband 嵐(Arashi, or 'storm'), and it's really hard to explain how amazingly lucky that is. Arashi's concerts are, quite simply, amazing. Not to mention there are really only two ways to get tickets; either you get them as a fanclub member (no overseas members allowed), or through a ticket agency. If you buy them from someone, you run the risk of getting scalped tickets, in which case you will be turned away at the door. But Chiyo found two genuine ticket agency tickets! I'm still kind of numb with excitement.

The plane is going to be an experience in and of itself, as the flight is a whopping ten hours, and I have a bum hip. Go me! Ah, well, not much I can do. Both of us are bringing our laptops and plenty of random stuff on said computers to amuse us.

CHIYO~! I can't wait to see you~! ♥
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