A bowl of breakfast cereal was still had at the hostel after a noodle breakfast at the market. I convinced myself it will hit a spot in the gut of satisfaction, and it did. That day, a Sunday, fans will have lunch with the ladies of Yanamyu. There’s not much else on the itinerary. Maybe parlor games? Maybe a Q&A?
It was another long walk to reach the metro. The metro itself was not a far cry from the super-tech ones in China, but a mere fever dream for a place like Manila. I got to the restaurant with no incident, oh but just that one wrong turn that was easily remedied.
Six small tables, and just the right amount of air conditioning. It didn’t take too long for most of the participants to fill the place. Thai, Japanese, one white face, and two other Asians who bothered to book a plane trip to see idols -the best idols!- me and Den, from Malaysia, with whom I needed to bunch with since we don’t do Thai nor Nihonggo.
Bangkok looked like a better Manila, a Manila that could be. It didn’t take too long for this to sink in last Saturday morning, navigating the streets, in the muggy heat, sharply contrasting with the sub 10 degree weather in Shanghai, where I was at just the night before.
I was here for a concert for Japanese idol rock group Yanakoto Sotto Mute. I’ve started following them a few years ago, when I was more than eager to discover more acts in the ‘alternative idol’ space. They’ve eventually taken the position of being the best out there for me. When an overseas concert in Thailand was announced, I was in. When Japanese idol groups do this, there’s bound to be a smaller, a more intimate crowd setting. Plus, there was no visa caveat in it for me.
PassCode played in Taipei again last October, and I did not hesitate to make the trip again that time. I didn’t have to apply for a visa now, due to some new tourist policy in Taiwan for Filipinos. All I had to do next was ask Yennung, the local fan contact I’ve made from the last time I went, to help me get a ticket. In a few short days after the tour announcement, I had photo proof sent to me of my concert entry stub.
For 2018, PassCode has released new music, and it was even better, harder, than their last release. Their recent music videos were great, and the management has kept a good balance in getting Yuna -my favorite, she who screams for the group- highlighted in some songs. It also looked like they were appearing in more TV shows in Japan. All this has me thinking this loudol (loud idol) outfit will be set for more good things soon.
With a headache that was spoiling my third day in Tokyo, I went with Akiko to the Ghibli Museum on a Friday morning. It was her first time going there, too. Before I even set foot in Japan, I had to ask her to book tickets for us, since there was an admission schedule we had to follow. The scene replicas from the anime was a treat, among all else. I wonder why this wasn’t the sort of place I see people on my social media rave about.
Later that day, I was in line for another show at Zepp Diver City. Akiko went with me, and thankfully so, since it looked like navigation from where we were to the venue wasn’t easy to manage. Once I settled, I was by myself, along with a hundreds of idol fans, and not the sort with capes and light sticks, but in the trendy, streetwear inspired garb peddled by management, often with puzzling, sometimes crude text on it.
My entry number was 232, which did cost me more when I was liaising with a specialized for-foreigners service, that will join ticket lotteries for you. This time, I had them get me a ticket for a sold-out concert from auction sites. The lower the ticket number, the sooner you enter, the nearer you are the stage.
As before, I looked for an obvious foreigner, to find out if they knew more about the event than me. Found one, and despite being a white, blonde dude, when I told him where I was from, he started conversing with me in Tagalog.
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.