Japan Summer Trip 2018

8 Jul

Summer Trip: July 6-16

It’s summer. Which can only mean one thing. [Marshmallow pizza?] Yes.

Aaaand summer vacation in Japan. Which can only mean one thing. [Women-only onsens?] Yes and yes. 

Schedule

July 6 Arrived at Haneda, checked into my hotel in Yokohama
July 7 Idol Yokocho Summer Festival Day 1
July 8 Idol Yokocho Summer Festival Day 2
July 9 Women-only onsen (all day pass)
July 10 Women-only onsen (all day pass)
July 11 Tokyo Hobo Orchestra @Ueno Zoo (morning), Women-only onsen (night) 
July 12 Women-only onsen (VIP pass with limited edition tote bag)
July 13 Silent Siren “Girls Will Be Bears” Tour
July 14 Silent Siren “Girls Will Be Bears” Tour
July 15 Women-only onsen (half-day pass… jk, all day)
July 16 1. SUPER GiRLS release event
2. NEO Fes!!! (Monogatari and other groups)
3. Flight back to America

I chose these dates because Silent Siren announced their tour in January and the Tokyo shows were on July 13 and 14.  Although I bought tickets during their first lottery, at that point I wasn’t sure if I would go. Shows in mid-July meant I wouldn’t be able to go to TIF 2018, since TIF would be three weeks away and two week vacations are my limit. Planning a trip six months in advance also isn’t usually how I go about things, since a lot can change during that time. I prefer planning a trip three months out or even a few weeks. Sometimes, just a few days

For the past three years, my main J-Pop interest has been Silent Siren. My interests in idol groups fluctuate more since there are so many of them and they often go through changes, usually negative ones like member graduations, reboots, and completely obvious budget cuts. For the past year, my interests have been Harajuku Monogatari, Magical Punchline, and Moriwaki Yui, center of Yamaguchi Kassei Gakuen, now known as Yamakatsu. Since last year, there were unfortunate changes to all three. Harajuku Monogatari became Monogatari and some of the accompanying changes really killed the group’s appeal to me. I’ll explain this in detail later. For Magical Punchline, Rena Sato graduated. She was by far my favorite member, but I like the entire lineup so my fandom has somewhat survived. Lastly, Moriwaki Yui’s solo project has been on hiatus for a while, although she did perform at Idol Yokocho (and it was the best thing since women-only onsens).

Idol Yokocho Natsu Matsuri

Idol Yokocho’s summer festival has been going on since 2012, but this is the first year I’ve considered going since I’ve previously gone to TIF. The festival is relatively small scale compared to TIF and @JAM EXPO, but overall I thought it was fun and there were a few advantages compared to TIF, which I’ll explain later.

When I arrived in Yokohama on Friday, it was raining, so I was a little concerned, but Idol Yokocho’s twitter downplayed the weather, so I figured everything was okay. Just in case I made one of those tissue things that you see in anime to wish for good weather. (I didn’t actually do that). Fortunately, the weather turned out to be fine. It never rained and it was cloudy for most of both days, so it was relatively cool and I didn’t get sun burned like I would have considering it was an all-outdoors event with literally three trees in the entire area that provided shade.

Day 1 Day 2
Monogatari MEY (idol collaboration)
Okuzawamura Yamakatsu
Magical Punchline SUPER GiRLS
Akishibu Project Niji no Conquistador
Task have Fun Monogatari
Tokyo Performance Doll Qumali Depart
Party Rockets GT Rock A Japonica 
Aka no Ryusei (TPD spinoff) Maybe Me
Wenra Akishibu Project
Magical Punchline Monogatari
AIS Tenko Shoujo
Monogatari Ange Reve
Tokyo Performance Doll CY8ER
Moriwaki Yui SUPER GiRLS
Yumemiru Adolescence 
SUPER GiRLS
2o Love to Sweet Bullet

The festival took place at Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, which is a mall inside old-fashioned red brick warehouse buildings and directly adjacent to Yokohama Bay. My hotel was down the street and took about five minutes to walk to the venue. There were five stages, all outdoors, and the three main stages were practically identical, the sizes of the audience areas were just slightly different for each. Stage 4 was a free stage outside the gated area (a lot of tourists congregated here with confused expressions as groups performed) and stage 5 was extremely tiny (and janky) and located almost directly under a giant tree (so whenever I had nothing to do, I went to this stage to pass the time). Stage 2 and 3 were close enough that you could stand between them and just turn around to watch either, which I did a few times because I wanted to see groups that were performing at the same time. The sound bleeding between stages never bothered me.mapMini recaps of the groups I saw
Monogatari
were the first performers at Stage 1 and even though I arrived an hour before the start time, it was already three rows deep. They performed wearing their new outfits, which I’m sorry to say I really hate. The outfits scream “generic pop group.” They sang “We Are One,” “Party Animals,” “Monogatari,” and their new single “Moikkai Kimi ni Suki to Ienai” (something like “I can’t tell you I like you again”). I like the song, it’s well produced and catchy *however* it is a typical pop song and not like their early unique style, which although was often love it or hate it, their early music really set them apart. The new single simply won’t elevate them to where they want to go. The performances were good, the outfits really kill a lot of their appeal though. I wonder how the members feel about them.

Okuzawamura followed and while I never heard of them before, I thought they were good. Their music was interesting and two of the members caught my eye (aka they were super long kawaaiiiiii). It turned out they are a subunit of 3BJr, which are the trainee members of Stardust. I never write about Stardust because I don’t like their groups, but they will be the exception.

Magical Punchline was next and this was the first time seeing them without Rena. I liked all of the songs they performed, but there wasn’t a lot of crowd reaction for them.

Akishibu Project has a new member who is pretty hot and one of the previous new members from their audition last year really leveled up. I remember not liking any of the four new members last year, but Mizuki definitely got a lot hotter since then. Checking their profile page though, I clearly lost track of this group because I thought they had seven members plus the new girl, but they performed with ten. My main complaint is this group always performs the same songs at each festival they attend. It’s annoying because they have such a good catalog of music. I think their new single is their major debut, but  I’m too lazy to confirm that.

Task have Fun was very Task have Funny. If you like them, then you would have enjoyed it. If you don’t, then you wouldn’t. I kind of feel like if you’ve seen them once, you’ve seen them a hundred times, because every performance seems identical.

Tokyo Performance Doll performed in their tacky “Trick U” outfits and this was the first time I saw them as a six-member group. I think they are a stronger group now because they are the best members, so it was addition by subtraction. Similarly to Magical Punchline, there was really minimal crowd reaction to them. Their new single “Shapeless” is really nice though, including the b-sides (which of course they didn’t perform). I would link to their music video, but their label Sony Music region blocks them. I really don’t get TPD. They have great music, but they perform only their most generic songs ad nauseum.

To this point, I had just stayed at Stage 1. After TPD I went to Stage 3 (took 30 seconds) and Party Rockets GT were performing. YKG was performing afterwards, but if I had checked their twitter I would have learned that they were stuck in traffic and had to cancel. When they announced this at the stage, my fear was Moriwaki Yui’s performance would also be cancelled. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, since she was scheduled in the evening and by then, the group had arrived. And YKG ended up being added to another stage later that night.

After a break I went to Stage 2. From this point, it was getting later in the day so it was a lot cooler and the performances were more enjoyable. 

Aka no Ryusei is a TPD spinoff with Seira and Akari, and although I like both members, they are a pretty bland unit. It didn’t help that they had technical difficulties and had to cancel their third song.

Wenra is a relatively new group featuring former drop members Misato and Hikari (and Hikari’s sister). I’m a fan of Misa, so even though I don’t like the concept of the group, I was interested in seeing them. Having seen them, I’m definitely not a fan of their music, choreography, or outfits.

Magical Punchline changed into super short outfits and I liked the setlist better because they performed a song from their most recent single Dues Ex Machina (which is actually pretty old now). That single has four awesome songs and is really underappreciated. All four members are gorgeous, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere. Their performance was great though.

A festival doesn’t go by without me having to watch AIS (the group that does cover songs). I’m not exaggerating. I see this group every year and I basically just endure it.

Monogatari was the prize for watching AIS. I was hoping they would change outfits, since they commonly do that and any change would have been an improvement, but they still wore their shiny blue outfits. They performed “KISS MY GIRLS,” “#Noisy Girl,” “Maho o Takanaide,” and “Party Animals.” I really appreciate how they performed different songs at all four of their stages. One of the great things about them is they don’t just perform the same songs over and over, which is so typical of most groups.  

TPD followed and they had changed to the much cuter outfits from their new single. This stage was was much funner than when I saw them in the morning, although I still didn’t like the setlist.

Yui Moriwaki was scheduled for Stage 4 (the free stage) so I endured a few indie groups until she came on stage. I deserve a LOT of credit for not murdering anyone to get to the front row. There were quite a few YKG/Yui fans in the area because she rarely performs her solo persona. I first became a fan of Yui and YKG last year after watching Idol Yokocho 2017 and I noticed one of the YKG members literally never stopped smiling during the entire set. When Yui announced her solo venture, I was already hooked. This was one of the highlights of my trip, definitely the high point of Idol Yokocho for me. She performed “Time Machine Music,” “Jet Go Land,” and “5%” and it was just pure perfection–even though she didn’t perform my two favorite songs of hers.

Yumemiru Adolescence was partway through their performance when I arrived. After their shaky period last year I am back on board as a fan. The new members have grown on me and their singles the past two years have been really good. Hopefully I can go to a proper concert of theirs on my next trip.

SUPER GiRLS followed and it was basically 30 minutes of me jumping around like an idiot for Kome. They are back as my number one group since I am a little down on Monotagari, buuuut there is an ongoing SG audition, so things are going to change in the winter. Hopefully the changes are positive, but the history of the group has been so up and down. I love their summer single this year.

The only merchandise I bought were both of Monogatari’s towels. I wanted to buy Moriwaki Yui’s towel, but they aren’t selling them anymore. I should have made a better attempt last year at TIF. I tried to buy one last year, but they were still setting up their booth and I never returned because it was a hassle to enter the marketplace. I also meant to buy Kome’s uchiwa, but the queue was too long.

Expired tickets for sale. Two for 1 million yen or best offer.

Day 2 was more of the same. Fortunately, Monogatari changed into their cuter outfits… but then changed back for their second performance. I finally saw the group Qumali Depart after two years of them being an inside joke of mine. Saw a new group called Maybe Me that has former-palet member Rito in it.

Overall, Idol Yokocho was fun and I think I’ll come back next year since TIF is no longer possible for me. I’ll compare the two festivals in a separate entry.

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2 Responses to “Japan Summer Trip 2018”

  1. infzer0 2018/07/11 at 9:50 am #

    i agree with you with idol groups going through many changes lately, and also many of them disbanding this year, like from idolstreet (GEM last year, and now Cheeky Parade also disbanding)….and even Passpo disbanding also ! Many groups i like from few years ago will be totally gone now, which is kinda weird and sad at the same time. Although I have found some new fave idols now to replace them.

    I always wanted to go for Yokocho since last year, i even “almost” going this year, but i decided to go to Japan last May 2018 during the golden week instead haha…maybe next year i’ll try for Yokocho then. Saw many videos of it, looks damn fun too for a “mini TIF”

    And also….I guess both of us decided not to go TIF this year eh? what a coincidince !

    • Shaun 2018/07/12 at 6:40 pm #

      I read your blog on your May trip a few weeks ago. A lot of good photos. I also noticed that both of us are breaking our TIF streak :P I actually will never be able to attend TIF anymore, because the middle school I teach at now begins the first week of August. Idol Yokocho doesn’t have the excitement of TIF, but being able to walk from Stage 1 to Stage 5 in 30 seconds is priceless. I also like the Yokohama area better than Odaiba. There are also more hotels in the area, so walking to Idol Yokocho only took five minutes. When I stay in hotels in Odaiba, it’s still a 15 minute walk to the venue. I’m hoping next year they can add a 3rd day like TIF.

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