Tokyo Idol Festival Rule #1: Avoid anything with the word “Jamboree”

4 Aug

Tokyo Idol Festival All-Stars

Has it already been a year since Tokyo Idol Festival 2012? I feel I’ve gotten much, much dumber since then.

I was in Tokyo from July 26-29 in order to attend TIF 2013 (in case you want to go back in time and stalk me). Where I’m from (earth) the number 13 is considered an unlucky number. <- That’s a literary technique called foreshadow.

Los Angeles to Tokyo is a twelve-hour flight, which is enough time to watch this movie six times:

IMG_1409I didn’t technically “watch” this, but I did glance at a lot of the scenes from the beginning to the end.

Okay I did watch it, but at least I skipped over the documentary and behind-the-scenes footage. And since I’m admitting I watched this, I also watched it on my last flight to Japan in March. I can’t help it. It’s not my fault that Delta has kept this movie in their in-flight catalog. I feel admitting I am a Katy Perry fan will somehow come back to haunt me.

I arrived at Narita airport at 5 pm, got through customs, exchanged my currency, and arrived at my hotel in Akasaka at 7:30 pm.
IMG_1080Roppongi is a five-minute walk and I did last-minute TIF shopping.
IMG_1429I purchased an X10 glowstick at Don Quijote. The coolest feature is the ability to toggle through ten colors by pressing the button on the handle. It also includes a solid and glitter tube, which you can change depending upon your preferred style. Using the solid tube makes the glowstick look like your standard Star Wars light saber, while the glitter tube gives it the sparkly, glitter effect that idols prefer.
IMG_1427IMG_1517Afterwards had a quick dinner.
IMG_1177IMG_0648Got back to the hotel, showered, checked the TIF website for updates, and took a handful of these things:


During my Spring Break trip I only slept 6 hours total the first three days, so I decided to take these to prevent that nightmare from happening again. Speaking of nightmares , I’ve read that taking these can cause you to have really intense and lucid dreams. Most of my dreams already involve alien abductions and dinosaurs, so I wasn’t that concerned.

TIF 2013 Day One
I woke up at 7AM and I didn’t recall any of my dreams. I don’t think the pills did anything. I want my money back. I was supposed to have a dream where I crash landed on a deserted island that Reira also happened to crash land on. 

I had breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant while going over the TIF schedule *adjusts imaginary glasses*
IMG_1475I checked the TIF twitter for last-minute changes, showered, and then spent half an hour deciding whether to bring my messenger bag or not. The forecast warned there was a 50% chance for scattered thunderstorms so I knew I should bring my umbrella, but I also wanted to pack as light as possible considering I would be out all day. Ultimately I decided to bring my messenger bag, but to only bring essential stuff: 2 glowsticks (x10 and SUPER☆GiRLS), 1 SUPER☆GiRLS towel, Reira uchiwa, 2 bottles of water, and 1 million yen.

I finally left the hotel at 9:25 AM which was about thirty minutes later than I planned. At least my hair looked awesome.

It took 30 minutes to arrive at Odaiba. My original plan was to go to Azure Stage (the stage on the roof of Fuji Gulf Studios formerly known as “Sky Stage”) to see Idoling!!! “unit” and Kaiketsu Tropical Maru and then skedaddle back down in order to see GEM at Smile Garden. I changed my plans when I noticed the massive line for the elevator.

IMG_1452That’s not the best photo of the line, since it actually turned the corner and stretched another 100+ people. Considering there are two elevators and each carries a maximum of 14 people, a line of 250+ people would take about an hour to clear. There’s also a line inside the building itself that you can’t see from outside. It’s like at Disneyland when you’re in line for a popular ride and it doesn’t seem so bad at first. But after a while you realize how deceptive the line really was, because once you clear one room, you enter an even larger room with another labyrinth of lines. And then even in the final room, there is one mini-line before you get to get on the ride.

As early as 10AM it already seemed like there were a lot more people in attendance compared to last year. At least the weather seemed perfect. Heading up to TIF I was tracking the weather, and the forecasts looked pretty bad even that morning:
IMG_1445While waiting for GEM’s Smile Garden performance I decided to go to the market place. I never went to the market place last year so I felt a little guilty for not supporting my favorite idols better. I planned on buying a GEM towel, GEM cd, and GEM uchiwa (Sara), SUPER☆GiRLS uchiwa (Reira), wristbands, and Tokonatsu High Touch (which came with a free poster), predia towel, Dorothy Little Happy towel, and Dorothy Little Happy pin+wrsitband set (Kana version). Unfortunately there was a massive line for the Tower Records shop which is where most cds were being sold, so I decided to skip buying Tokonatsu High Touch (I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the poster anyway).  Next I went to the iDOL Street booth (there was actually four mini-booths, one for SUPER☆GiRLS, Cheeky Parade, GEM, and street-sei). It was only a half hour into TIF and the SUPER☆GiRLS wristbands had also already sold out! Why do they keep selling out of these? They’re silicon wristbands. They cost less than a penny to manufacture but they can sell them for a billion % profit. They were really popular at TIF though, saw them everywhere.

The lines for GEM and SUPER☆GiRLS were pretty long, and since the wristbands had already sold out, I felt if I stuck around I would miss GEM’s performance. So I decided to come back in an hour, after I saw GEM at Smile Garden and Cheeky Parade at the main stage, and do my shopping then.
tifd1sgWhile waiting for GEM I saw a group called HimeCarat, an idol rock group with a pretty cute lead singer. They performed a couple high-energy songs and then GEM came on stage. Since I arrived late I had a pretty horrible position off to the side. I’ve watched the youtube footage of this stage and couldn’t even find myself, so it must have been pretty bad. I was smart enough to get on Sara’s side of the stage at least. GEM performed Speed Up, Do It Do It, Kitto For You, and Kimi Koi Telepathy.  I feel I’ve seen these songs performed a million times now. And I’ve realized that there’s nothing to do during GEM songs. They need to devise a chant for their songs, or preferably debut new music.

I saw GEMStar when they opened for SUPER☆GiRLS during the Celebration Tour, but this was my first time seeing Yuu, Chisami, Kakochin, Yuuki, and my oshiGEM™ Sara. Technically I saw all of them last year at the SUPER☆GiRLS Summer Battle concerts and then TIF 2012, but I didn’t know who any of them were back then. Sara is so cute. I can’t believe she is the least popular member. It is seriously weird she is so unpopular considering her cuteness level. And she is a great dancer, so it’s not just superficial cuteness that I’m obsessed with.

Anyway something really cool about this years TIF that I want to mention is the precision of the timetable. Last year the schedules could be more than an hour behind, but this year each stage began and ended on time. This meant you didn’t have to worry about arriving at a stage on time and seeing a different group perform and potentially waiting an hour before everything finally caught up. If that doesn’t make sense, just pretend it did.

After GEM’s performance I went to Hot Stage to see Cheeky Parade. This year the main stage was located at Zepp Tokyo instead of the newer Zepp DiverCity. Despite it’s age, I think Zepp Tokyo is cooler. It’s a little bigger, the stage is nicer, and there’s better lighting effects. The walk is slightly longer though (by 2-3 minutes), which seems like nothing, but when you plan on making the walk over and over, and it’s hot, and and your schedule is already pretty tight, the walk can get annoying.

Once Cheeky Parade’s live was over I went back to the marketplace. I checked out the entire place twice but I couldn’t find the predia, PASSPO, or DLH booths, so I just bought GEM goods (more like “greats”) and Reira uchiwa. I also stopped by the Takokusekigun booth to see if they had their debut single for sale and met the members there.  Which reminds me I saw a member of negaigoto (Miyagi Satoshi) at Shimbashi station on the way to TIF. Not that interesting, but I put a note on my phone to mention it.
IMG_1537At this point it was 12:30 and I had to choose between 1) GEM’s handshake event, which had already started and I had a ticket for since I purchased their cd or 2) begin queuing for SUPER☆GiRLS performance at Enjoy Stadium which was at 1:30. Just based on experience I knew if I wanted a good spot for SUPER☆GiRLS I needed to at least catch the previous performance (in this case Tochiotome 25) and then move up once they finished.

It wasn’t a difficult decision to choose SUPER☆GiRLS, although it would have been cool to chat with GEM. Unlike practically every other group, I know all the members of GEM enough that I could say something somewhat interesting to each one. And I read all of their blogs and they constantly ask their fans to attend the events. I know they are just writing what they are supposed to, but it’s still really effective at making me feel guilty for not going. And on a lot of episodes of GEM Nau (their youtube series) it seems very few of their fans go to their events. There’s like five people in the handshake line… yet I find it hilarious their staff still rushes the fans through.

I arrived at Enjoy Stadium at 12:50, which was 45 minutes before SUPER☆GiRLS performance. Enjoy Stadium was a new stage at this years TIF and basically took the place of Fantastic Theater, Green Oasis, Wonder Future Planet, and Secret Court. The stage is located directly next to Doll Factory and when queuing, the left side of the entrance was used for Doll Factory and the right for Enjoy Stadium. Once you enter the building you walk down a corridor which splits off in two directions depending on which stage you are going to.

I figured the stage had to be somewhat large considering the word “Stadium,” the number of stages it was replacing, and because SUPER☆GiRLS were performing there (logically they wouldn’t perform at a smaller stage). It turned out this stage would be my favorite at this years TIF. It was a medium sized stage with a capacity of 500-600. There was also a convenient area near the near the entrance where most fans just dropped off all their bags. It was cool that there was a mountain of crap right next to the only entrance. 

You can tell which fan-bases are at each venue based on shirts, towels, and wristbands. During the Tochiotome 25 performance it was obvious that 90% of the people there were for SUPER☆GiRLS. That’s why you have to plan ahead and potentially sacrifice events or other performances. Had I done the GEM handshake I probably wouldn’t have been able to enter the venue in time for SUPER☆GiRLS. I was relatively lucky that I was in row 5 when SUPER☆GiRLS came on.

They wore their yellow and pink Tokonatsu High Touch outfits and sang 4 or 5 songs. Which ones? Totally forget! None of the songs I like, that’s for sure. It was still cool seeing them close up in a relatively small venue. Reira definitely noticed me, but I have no idea if she remembered me or was impressed or cared either way. It was pretty obvious though that I had to rethink my “strategy” to get to the front row of their performance at the Hot Stage. There were way too many SUPER☆GiRLS and iDOL Street fans at TIF. It’s pretty much the same story with Idoling fans, there everywhere and just the sheer number of them complicates your personal schedule.

After SUPER☆GiRLS finished I quickly went to Hot Stage to watch the last half of Dorothy Little Happy’s set.  They were alright. It seemed their performance was a lot less high energy than normal. Once they finished I was able to move up to row 3 on the left hand side for Afiilia Saga. I try to go on the side of the stage my favorites tend to perform, but it couldn’t be helped this time and I ended up on the opposite side of Emiu and Aria. I haven’t really been keeping up to date with them since Meiry quit. I’m starting to realize how much GEM has monopolized the time I spend on idol-related stuff. I’d love to go to an Afiilia Saga  solo concert, but they are extremely rare which makes it’s unlikely I would be able to time it with my next trip.

I’m just going to pretend that Vanilla Beans performance didn’t exist and fast forward to SUPER☆GiRLS. At this point I was in row two, directly behind a group of girls. There was no way I was getting to row one, but I was in the direct center with a perfect view of the stage. I’ve already ranted about this performance a bit already, but unfortunately it didn’t go that well. The setlist was really disappointing. They sang all three of their summer songs (aka their worst songs), Dream Seeker, Be With You, and Everybody Jump. Everybody Jump is cool, but there were way too many people in the front section so it was impossible to move around, let alone jump.

It was during this stage that someone actually stole my SUPER☆GiRLS towel. (Stephanie Tanner: “How rude!”) Unknown to them I immediately put a curse on it. Every time I saw someone with the green SUPER☆GiRLS towel I wondered if they were the thief. But I didn’t see them randomly struck down by lightning so I figured they were innocent. Anyway I’ve watched the Hot Stage performances on youtube and you can’t really tell that it was too crowded. It looked pretty tame actually. I know I wasn’t hallucinating all the people that were pushing into me though. The whole experience was just really uncomfortable and by the time it was over I felt disgusting because I was covered in other people’s sweat. I’m a clean freak so I hate the feeling of being unclean.

Let us never mention that stage again. Honestly this was supposed to be the highlight of TIF for me, so it’s weird to reflect on.

I stuck around Hot Stage for another hour and a half for Tokyo Girls Style and AeLL. I wanted to leave AeLL’s performance early in order to line up for a block of performances called “Smash Play Live” at Doll Factory to see Power Spot, Shizukaze & Kizuna, GEM, Idol College, and Takokusekigun, but my position during AeLL.’s performance was ironically too good, which kind of trapped me at that stage. Fans are allowed to leave a stage whenever they like, but if you are in the front center, it would look really rude to the performers to leave right in front of them, so I didn’t feel I had any choice but to stay until the end.

Once I made it to Doll Factory there was a pretty long line, maybe a hundred people. I ran to the other side of the building to check on the line up the elevator and it was even longer. Ugh, that was not good. I had to take a minute to check the schedule and do some quick math in my head to make sure I would be able to get up the elevator in time. My priority at this point was predia’s performance at Azure Stage. It was basically the only thing that could reverse the SUPER☆GiRLS experience.

The line for the elevator was probably 40 minutes at that point, so I felt I had no choice but abandon my plan to go to Doll Factory. So I got in this giant, slow moving line while GEM and Takokusekigun were performing. Well at least I’ll get to see predia, right!?

The line wasn’t that bad because Up Up Girls were performing and you could watch the Smile Garden stage from the line. There were also random idol groups walking around handing out fliers to people in line.
^ Up Up Girls still performing at Smile Garden

I got to the roof and arrived as bump.y was performing their last song. I should mention at this point the weather had been perfect all day. 

Ten minutes pass and the group Weather Girls comes on. As if on cue clouds appear. One of the members makes a silly comment about rain not being in the forecast. They begin to perform. It starts to rain lightly. No big deal. It starts getting windy. Nothing to worry about. It starts to rain harder and gets even more windy. Aww crap.

I was in the front row (pretty much no one was there to see Weather Girls) and I see their manager screaming hysterically for them to get off stage. She’s probably insane in real life, poor girls. They finish their song and leave the stage. TIF staff covers all the speakers with plastic bags and announce the stage is closed temporarily and everyone has to go back down.

I had waited in line for 40 minutes in order to see predia, sacrificed GEM, Takokusekigun, Idol College, and Shizukaze & Kizuna, and only got to see literally my two least favorite groups at TIF perform one song each.

And then I had to get in another massive line to get down.

The whole time I’m thinking this same exact thing could happen tomorrow night when I see iDOL Street street-sei (all five teams were scheduled at 6:30 PM at Azure Stage on Day 2).

Once I got to the ground floor there were people hanging out anywhere they could to avoid the rain. Meanwhile predia was tweeting about being on standby.

It didn’t really bother me too much because the situation was unavoidable. The weather was great all day and it would have been impossible for me to predict that it would start raining. So I still feel I made the logical choice to go to the roof instead of Doll Factory. It was just really bad luck. 

I ended up going to Hot Stage  to try to salvage what was left of Day 1. I had no idea if the Azure Stage would be re-opened, but I figured I could at least see BiS. After IzukoNeko’s performance they announced the Azure Stage and Smile Garden would be closed for the night.

I didn’t really care about seeing any other performances at that point and left. I just wanted to get back to my hotel and shower, sleep a couple hours, and hope for the best for Day 2.

Day One
Hime carat
Cheeky Parade
[Grand Market]
Tochiotome 25
Afilia Saga
Vanilla Beans
Tokyo Girls Style
Weather Girls *After one song the stage was closed due to rain.
Seiko Omori
* Announcement that Azure Stage and Smile Garden were closed for the night.


4 Responses to “Tokyo Idol Festival Rule #1: Avoid anything with the word “Jamboree””

  1. infzer0 2013/08/09 at 7:21 am #

    Hey there long time no see. Wow, didnt know you went for TIF also haha. But i totally skipped Super Girls this TIF which maybe explain why we didnt manage to find each other lol. I found Chikipa and GEM more fun to watch than supergirls (pls dont kill me hahaha).

    I also updated my blog a while back for my TIF experience, and thank god this year i didnt have to get stuck / waiting for the lift. This year has been pretty smooth for me i must say lol.

    As for people Pushing, i experienced the same thing mainly during Passpo and chikipa performance at the hot stage. I even saw some fans fight with each other cuz they bumped the other heads with his lightstick…then both of them fight like little children…kinda amusing to see.

    Oh, i remember on saturday it rained, so i went to take cover at the Hot Stage for the idol club night performance all the way until 11pm lol…i watched from the 2nd floor , all the way at the backside hahaha.

    Looking forward to see your Day 2 post/ review. :P

    BTW i keep looping Gem’s Do it! in my playlist recently hahaha.

    • qwiksXnd 2013/08/09 at 3:53 pm #

      Yeah, too bad we didn’t run into each other. I read your blog last week, you had a great trip :). I wanted to go to Cheeky Parade’s Grand Prix at Shinjuku Blaze too, but my plane arrived an hour too late on Friday. I wanted to go to that event in Yokohama also. I had a wedding to attend on 8.2 and 8.3 so I had a really small window for this trip. So I basically did what you did last year, and just went for TIF.

      It sucked that the line for the lift was worse this year than it was last year. Fans were also a little worse this year at Hot Stage when the groups changed, like when GEM finished and the BiS fans came in. I slipped out fine, but getting to the front is serious business for fans. I’m the same way, but I never push anyone, I just follow the path that opens up.

      Glad you like GEM, totally wish I could have seen the Doll Factory performance with Idol College and Takokusekigun.

      • infzer0 2013/08/09 at 11:35 pm #

        The chikipa grand prix live on friday was great haha. there is 2 session if i can recall, day and afternooon show… i went the afternoon one with BiS and steam girls (the day show got AeLL i think).

        The Yokohama Blitz event i think is even better, maybe because it’s on weekdays…there wasnt that many people (think around 100 or less). During GEM and Idol College you can totally go to the 1st row and nobody can stop you wahahahaha.

        Was wearing the idol college shirt for their performance and most of the girls saw me (maybe cuz im gaijin) and i keep getting eye contact with them haha, good experience :D

        About the lift…haha, because of last year experience i totally avoided queing for the lift…once i saw the long queue i always avoided them…

        its really bad luck that you have to queue up so long – that – plus combined with the rain (i remember i had to run all the way from smile garden to the hot stage to avoid the rain lol) then the rain starts gets heavier once i reach Venus Fort…from there i need to run like hell if i dont want to end up all wet lol. Was tired so i climbed up to the 2nd floor (lesser people there).

        And oh, the super girls towel…are you sure someone steal them from you or maybe you dropped it somewhere? I know it can get pretty crazy inside the hot stage lol.

  2. qwiksXnd 2013/08/10 at 1:34 am #

    Both Cheeky Parade shows sounded cool: AeLL. x Mai Kotone and BiS x SteamGirls. Last year was Cheeky Parade x Afilia Saga x Up Up Girls.

    The towel thing was weird. Taking someones used towel is pretty gross if you think about it. Usually your belongings are safe at idol events, like at TIF I would just drop my bag on the side of a stage and pick it up an hour later without any problem. During the SG performance the towel kept sliding off my neck because people kept crashing into me, and finally it fell to the ground. I stepped on it, but it was too chaotic so I decided to just stand on it and pick it up when they finished. But someone actually reached down and yanked it out from under me. I was surprised and thought they were going to hand it to me because I’ve seen fans toss their towels in the air and they would land halfway across a room and wherever it landed someone would always hand it back. The guy who picked it up kept it though. I couldn’t see who took it because it was so crowded. After that performance there were glowsticks (the king blade type) and torn bags all over the floor so I wasn’t the only one who lost something.

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