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ARASHIC and Akihabara~!

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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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[User Picture]
On July 25th, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC), umbrellaofdoom commented:
You know, the more I watch that video, and then watch the others, the more I realize JUST HOW GAY JUN IS.

Yeah, I've had not much sleep, so here be my thoughts:
Arashi: ubgljihvfjhvjhv
Dollfie: I want one to dress like Aiba.
Kattun: ♥ You have no idea how grateful I am that you've been picking up stuff for me. ^__^ I just hope I can pay you back in, like, smaller bits instead of one big sum till I get a job (which might be soon)

Ah yes, that reminds me... Me and Rui have a present for you. It'll be waiting when you get back online ♥ And believe me, you'll like it. And you'll be EVER so proud of me. Cause I'm ever so proud of me.

Are you going to turn all Saito on me? Cause if you do, I can't be held responsible for my actions. Hahaha
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[User Picture]
On July 25th, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC), neguana commented:
did paris ever tell you the story (even though i wasnt there and i'm pretty sure she wasn't either, we all heard about it over and over from others in our group)
of when we were at the Yukata festival in Himeji, some teenage rebels were messing with the police, but they were directing traffic also? that's having class, to be a menace to society but help it at the same time.
it was the just most amazing thing. only in japan.
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[User Picture]
On July 26th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC), yaoikitten commented:
Kohaku is ADORABLE and you can do some really nice customizations with him! Welcome to the dollfie world!

(When I was in Japan we found a Volks at Nipponbashi, and I freaked! I bought lots of goodies for my Asuka. <3)
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