The hotel I settled for was near the Hatagaya metro station, and was away from what I expect a feverish Tokyo city vibe would have. The room was more than satisfactory, and I had my mini-tub. There was a reason to hurry just after checking in though, as I needed to figure out how to go to an idol show that weekday December evening.
The map lead me to a building around Taitō-ku. I found the concert from a Twitter post, and there were a handful of idol groups slated to perform. The venue was at an upper floor, and when elevator doors opened, I had seen something that had me re-assess if I was at the right place: a 50-something salaryman, a divine smile stamped on his face, was speaking to a young teenager wearing a very short, sparkling gold costume. Went back down, checked my reference tweet, checked my location, and yes, I was where I was supposed to be. This was the Tokyo Kinema Club. I went back, purchased my ticket, and marveled at the venue’s grandness. This was an old, dimly-lit space, that had stage curtains I would like to think had seen cabaret shows in its earlier days. There were about a hundred men, eager to partake the same air as their favorite idols. I’ve been to events like this before in Shanghai, but this feels so different there was unease, but so familiar.
The group I wanted to see was NECRONOMIDOL. They were popular with my online social circle who share this niche interest, even in idol. They sang heavy metal songs, they sang songs you can dance to. I knew they were all set for a US tour that time.
There was one other group to close the night, and then it was time for the fans to get a chance to meet, and take pictures with them. As I had no lick of Nihongo proficiency to show off, I looked for a foreigner to ask how to do this. I bought three handshake tickets. On was for Rei, one was for Sari, one was for Hina.
Despite the group’s dark, macabre theme, the most obvious, stark contrast to that intended aura came in the form of Rei. Her smile was magnetic, she stuck out from the group’s dark, gothic theme. She sure stuck out, but you’d be quite evil to even conceive that she didn’t belong.
I didn’t intend to meet Rei, but it was inconceivable that I don’t after seeing them perform. I was part of a long line, but Rei suddenly had an empty slot available, so I took it. I told my usual script, which in essence really translated to I’m Filipino. Maybe she thought I was some foreigner who had his first underground idol experience, because she re-introduced herself before our time expired.
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Sari was the member with a painted white face, with a big spider drawn on it. I told her I knew about their upcoming tour, and she said she was practicing English, and maybe we could practice a bit. She needed some time catching up, but I must say, she was most charming, like her nature was of divine goodness. I showed her a photo I took of her, and I took her non-verbal response to mean I should tag her when I post it.
My talk with Hina was short. I just told her I knew about the tour, and I also knew that she couldn’t go because the schedule conflicted with her studies. She was the smallest in the group, and wore twintails with long red ribbons. The encounters were minor miracles when there was no common language shared.
I may have spent the entire morning the day after at the laundry room of the hotel, which may have been not the smartest of decisions. Tokyo was cold, there was no dire need to wash garments worn once. My uncertainty is rooted at the fact I did not have much photos taken that day, and that I’m writing down these memories a year later. I remember visiting record stores, and not buying anything. I remember walking towards Tokyo tower, but not bothering to be at the tower itself. I had coffee and donuts mid-evening, and recalled the times I spent with my father when he relished the same food combo when I was much younger. He’s gone now.
There was a brief visit at Asukasa before I called it a day. This was probably the same night I knocked at an unagi restaurant that still had a busy table near my hotel, and the owner telling me they were already closed.
A big raw oyster. A stick of cheap, sweet tamago. A remarkable bowl of tuna sashimi. A mishmash of breakfast fare that would be difficult to forget, for obvious reasons. The main area of Tsukiji market the next morning, I think, wasn’t open yet.
I met Akiko, a Japanese friend I met in Shanghai, at Akihabara. I wanted the maid cafe experience, which doesn’t seem like something she was too keen on. I persisted, but I would like to think it was just up to me to set how I would like to spend my time, and not settle.
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@Home Cafe was towering over us when I decided on lunch. The place was busy, and had its share of pretty maids. I took photos with two maids, and vocally refused to wear a reindeer headband. I asked, and got, their Twitter names. I had a strong feeling that that was proper, and does not even reach the point of a patron over-stepping boundaries. Belated birthday greetings were written with ketchup on curry rice.
We went to a Makoto Shinkai exhibit after, though it was a hurried walk in the museum, as they were close to closing. Akiko suggested we go to the Roponggi area for a rooftop view of Tokyo city. Dinner was a huge serving of katsudon around the nearest metro station.
Two days after, Tokyo has met expectations. I had a clear, set aim on what to do with my time, which was part typical tourist, part idol fan.