Japan Autumn 2012 – Day 3: NMB48 2shots & Acchan Live
My final day in the Kansai region would be by far the geekiest, most idol-oriented day so far. The plan was to go over to Intex Osaka for an NMB48 event in the morning, travel all the way to Kobe for Maeda Atsuko’s free mini-live, then hurry back to Osaka’s Umeda Sky Building for the night bus back to Tokyo. Several things didn’t go as well as I thought they could have, but read on!
As you can see from the photo above, I redeemed my ticket to the mini-live…for a ticket to the mini-live. I paid nothing since I used codes from friends’ CDs to enter the lottery to get the ticket. Double-checking that I had all my tickets, receipts, and ID with me, I left the hotel and set out for Intex Osaka.
Intex Osaka is a run-of-the-mill exhibition center. Spacious walkways, multiple halls, and generally nothing particularly special about it. I followed the long trail of wota to where the event was taking place so getting lost wasn’t an issue. This particular event is termed a ‘shameru’, roughly translated to photo mail, which pretty much just means going to see the girls you have tickets for and walking away with a photo together taken with your phone. No actual cameras allowed, only whatever your phone is equipped with.
My first ticket was for Jo Eriko in block 1, early in the morning. This was her final event before graduating, which was kind of fortunate for me, though I wasn’t sure what I should say to her. I asked the wota in front of me if I was in the right place and he turned around to start chatting to me in semi-decent English. He was a very nice guy whose entire family had a passion for hospitalism and tourism so he was quite eager to explain the workings of the event and chat with me about NMB48. Before long, it was time to duck into the booth and meet a 48-family member I had seen on in shows for the very first time!
I was extremely nervous and my Japanese was terrible so I didn’t get much of a chance to say anything meaningful to her. What happens once you enter the booth is: your bag gets taken aside by a staff member, the girl greets you from her seat, you shake hands and exchange a few words, then either she decides on a pose or she asks you what you’d like, the photo is taken, and you are ushered out. Jo was extremely cute but unexpectedly tanned! It looked like she had gone for a week at the beach. We did the ‘tatakau pose’ as suggested by her and that was it.
Next was Kondo Rina in block 3 so I had about a 2 hour wait to look forward to. Luckily for me, the wota I talked to earlier had a ticket for Riichan in the same block so we bought some onigiri for lunch, then hung out in front of her queueing area till it was time.
This time, I made sure to mention that I was from Australia, to which Riichan tried to speak some English. She seemed like a person who was really off in the clouds but maintained eye contact the entire time, which was kind of nice. I wasn’t sure about the pose she asked me to do with her though. It was now time to leave and I kinda wished I had tickets for Togo Sora who I had seen at the 3rd generation kenkyuusei performance the day before.
The train to Kobe was quick, only about 40 minutes, and I found myself at my destination far earlier than I had predicted. I went in search of Kobe International house where the Maeda Atsuko mini-live was to take place and found it after an hour of attempting to navigate the confusing walkways and shopping centers that populated the area. After confirming it’s location, I then went looking for something to eat and a place to sit.
The guy in the photo above had attracted a number of fans and was singing R&B songs nearby. He was actually very good so I stopped to listen to him for a bit.
Unfortunately for me, the general vicinity was extremely crowded since it was the weekend. There wasn’t anywhere to sit and it took about an hour or so before I was able to secure myself a tiny table and chair in a croissant cafe.
There were a few people waiting on seats at the cafe so I packed up and left after finishing my croissant, which was delectable. Having nothing to do and nowhere to sit, I thought that maybe I should go over to Kobe International House and pre-queue for the Maeda Atsuko mini-live.
I wasn’t the only crazy person who wanted to pre-queue for the mini-live 4 hours before it’s estimated start. There were at least a hundred people in front of me and the queue snaked around the concert hall and over the overhead bridge next to it. 3 hours later, ticketing opened and the queue slowly moved forward.
After receiving my ticket, I was simply ushered out of the area to loiter around the premises while waiting for admissions to begin. By now, the ticketing queue had gone over the bridge and snaked it’s way back to the ground floor of the building.
The wait was quite boring. I took this time to find out where my designated seat would be, which turned out to be right in the middle on the 16th row. It was reasonable, not obscenely far away, but yet not close enough to really enjoy the mini-live. About an hour later, admission finally began and everyone who was loitering around on the ground floor was ushered back up to the 2nd floor and through the doors to Kokusai Hall.
Maeda Atsuko sang almost all the songs from her 1st and 2nd single, as well as a cover of YUI’s Goodbye Days. She had a live band and an interesting layered stage setup. I probably shouldn’t criticise a free live performance by Japan’s most well-known popstar (at the time), but although she had good stage presence and confidence, her singing voice left much to be desired. A double encore was to be had since she didn’t sing the song on the envelope till the very end. All in all, it was quite entertaining and well worth the time. I really should have pre-queued an hour earlier to get a better seat, though.
What remained of the day was spent rushing back to Osaka, getting rained on at Umeda Sky Building, and thus unable to go up to the viewing deck, and getting on the night bus back to Tokyo.