Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Tokyo Giants

Hey there everyone! Yes, I'm back and late again, as usual. So, this happened last Friday, but I'm gonna go ahead and talk about it now. Hope you don't mind. Well, on Friday, my host father got him and myself some special tickets to a Tokyo Giants baseball game, complete with Lounge seats, all you can eat buffet and even a chance to see the teams practice before the game. Before I start detailing the entirety of the day, let me give you a little background on the team. Tokyo, much like New York, has not one baseball team, but two (perhaps because of the city's sheer size and population, I really don't know). The teams are: The Tokyo/Yomiuri Giants, and the Yakult Swallows. Yomiuri (the famous newspaper company, and Yakult are simply the names of the corporations that sponsor the teams. So, the home stadium of the Yakult Sparrows (who happen to be my host father's favorite team) is in an (evidentally) small outdoor stadium called Jingu stadium, whereas the beloved Giants are housed in the massive, towering Tokyo Dome complex. A word about Tokyo Dome itself. Tokyo Dome is more a sprawling complex (in the same way that Disneyland is a complex), containing several buildings, amusement parks, roller coasters that come out of buildings to loop over highways, multiple stadiums/concert halls, malls, arcades, restaurants, etc. It's sort of like a gargantuan amusement park, as it were. Whereas most teams in Japan (there are only a few) have real animals for mascots (Osaka Tigers, Hiroshima Carp [who we were playing on said day], etc), the Giants have an almost, sorta real animal for a mascot. The Giant's colors are black and orange, and their logo is a Y (for Yomiuri) interlaced with a G (for Giants), and thus, taking this logo, the team made their mascot a rabbit sort of creature whos face resembles the logo. They affectionately call this creature the Jabbit (Giants+Rabbit).

Despite it being a rather crappy, rainy, soggy sort of chilled day, the Tokyo Dome complex was filled with people, most of whom were either there for the game, or there to try to get tickets for the game. At around 3 o'clock, my host father and I took our special (and I'm sure, quite expensive, tickets) down to a garage-like area, illuminated by yellowed, flourescent lights, the sort of place you expect bit 18-wheelers to back into to deposit cases of softdrinks for vending machines, and boxes of junk food for vendors. We were given a laminated badge that read 'Guest' and told to wait in line, which in fact lasted a good 30 min. or so, before being led through another line where haphazard cops looked through your bags to assure you had nothing suspicious. In groups of 20, we were let into a small, windowed room, and shut in. It was the sort of eerie 1984 thing that was reminiscent of a scene that might be from Battle Royale, caged into a glass space with cops on either sides holding the doors shut, and holding you in. I have yet to figure out the necessity for this. We waited a minute or two, then the doors swung open and a preppy 20 year old girl, decked out in orange legwarmers, a short orange skirt and an orange and black visor, held aloft a flag that read 'Giants,' and proceeded in front of us, leading the way past stands getting ready to sell team goods, bento boxes, cones of popcorn, etc.

We were led into the stadium, into Tokyo Dome itself and one couldn't help but peer up at the lofty ceiling, who knows how high, and marvel at the sheer size of the place. I suppose it's about the size of any of our American baseball stadiums, but having now lived in Japan for 8 months, I can't remember ever having been in a place so large and open. We proceeded down to a space literally ON the astroturf, where about 40 special seats sat waiting behind tall nets. On the seats were towels sporting the McDonald's logo, a baseball glove, and a baseball helmet. I later learned that these are the McDonalds' priority seat, and because of their location (and because the nets protecting them are taken down for the game), it is mandatory for all spectators there to wear the helmets so as not to have their head bashed in by a stray ball. Anywho, we were led into the space and allowed to watch the Giants team in practice. As one might expect, there were people doing stretches, some batting, some catching, etc. Around the stadium, up in the stands, police officers, like packs of keen bloodhounds, meandered their way through the seats, checking, I would assume, for suspicious packages. Much later, when ticket-holders were let in, before the game, the cops remained, but instead of watching for suspicious activity, their jobs changed to that of whistle-blower. That is, whenever a ball was hit and wasn't going to land in the field, but rather in the stands, that section's policeman would blow his whistle, and everyone would move out of the way.

While watching the practice, the Jabbit mascot came out to take pictures with our group (there were only about 50 of us in all), and then we all got together and posed for a free picture (free only if you overlook the high price of the ticket). After that, we were shown back out, given a gift (a fold-out box sort of thing), and proceeded up to look at the various gift shops around the place until 4, when they started letting people in before the game. Our special tickets were on the same balcony as the box seats, and in contrast to the uncomfortable, cramped plastic benches en masse below, our seats were comfortable, cushioned, only 5 to a row, and had a fold out table. As time for the game to start loomed nearer, the girls hawking various goods, began to meander through the rows below. While the 'lobby' areas certainly sell food, most spectators never get out of their seats to purchase their food/beverages. Instead, girls in various neon colored skirts and caps walk to the very front of the row, bow to no one in particular and raise their hand, proceeding slowly up the steps and stopping if anyone in the crowd mirrors their raised hand. Of course the girls sell soda and tea, and bento boxes and popcorn, but there were also girls walking around with huge carafes of coffee, and those selling beer, were the most interesting of all. They had on huge, covered backpacks which were, in fact, kegs of beer, and from their belts dangled a thing holding tankards. Whenever someone flagged them down for a tank of beer, they would pull out a spicket/tube and fill a tankard full, just like beer on tap. These girls, however, were not prowling through our section. Instead, we had a catered buffet with corndogs, salad of all sorts, fried shrimp, pasta and flan and green tea cake for dessert.

As for the game itself... The experience was a little different from an American baseball game (at least I think). You see, I was still knee-high to a grasshopper when I last went to an American baseball game, so I can't very truthfully boast full knowledge of the US experience, but I'll tell you what I can of baseball games here. First of all, the fans are amazing. Of all things interesting in Japan, by far, fandom is the most unique and interesting, whether it be for singers, actors or sports. The opposing team was the Hiroshima Carp, and they had there own section of the stadium, a distinguishable red and white from the almost entirely orange and black sea of people. Now, I must mention that each player on a team has a song, or rather, a specific chant. My host father went on to tell me that in fact the songs are put on a CD (whether fan made/distributed or actually buyable in stores, I don't know), and all fans get the CD and memorize the words and music. Thus, whenever a player comes up to bat, everyone in the stands for that team beats their clackers (large inflatable sticks) to the tune and sings/chants that player's particular song. And, in fact, students (high school or otherwise) bring in their band instruments: trumpets, saxaphones, etc., and play the melodies. There was a fan-made band there for each team. Also, there were massive flgs, large enough to cover 3 or 4 rows of seats, which one man was self-appointed to wave all throughout the team's inning. For the Giants, naturally their flag said, "Giants," but for Hiroshima, there were two. One was "Hiroshima Carp," but the other was in red and white and said "Tokyo." When I asked about this peculiarity, my host father said that it was meant to represent the native Hiroshima people who now lived and worked in Tokyo, and thus were indebted to Tokyo, but still wanted to show homeland pride. So, a man would come up to bat and, strangely enough, almost always, the pitcher of the opposing team would wait for the player's song to finish in the stands before actually pitching the ball. If, by stroke of luck, a player hit a home run (which caused us to get a free Big Mac), or if he scored a point, everyone in the stadium would lift their orange towels and wave them around, singing yet another victory song. In contrast to American sportsmanship, even the supporters of the opposing team would give applause with gusto.

So, that's the basics of what I've learned about Japanese baseball games. And they go by faster, though I think that makes them more interesting, because they cut out all the boring waiting/faking out that runs rampant in some baseball games. We left in a downpour after the 7th inning, as Tokyo Dome is none too close to our apartment, my host dad didn't really care who won (the Giants did), and we didn't want to have to squeeze into a packed train (though it was still packed, regardless). On a side note, the Giants had a very famous, beloved player who, ironically shared the same name as the famous actor, Kimura Takuya. About two or three weeks ago, during practice, he collapsed with what I gather was a brain anurism (dunno how to spell it), and was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, a few days later, he died. He was, to all Japanese sports fan a legend and much loved, and so everyone was very sad at his premature passing (he was in his 50s I think). The day after the game we went to, there was another game and a fan memorial service, where thousands upon thousands of people poured into Tokyo Dome, coming to burn incense and pray, or bringing flowers and paying condolences. His son threw out the first pitch.

So that's all for now folks. Sorry it's taken so long. In other news, I made Takoyaki (octopus balls) or, in my case Ebi Ebi Yaki (shrimp balls) with my host brother and his girlfriend the other night and while, difficult, it was a blast and I think I'll have to buy a takoyaki pan before I come home. Well, now that my host dad sees he's found a baseball buddy, he's planning on taking me to see the Yakult Swallows at Jingu stadium... maybe Friday. Not really sure. I'll post again whenever I can. Now that school's started back up, I'm a bit busy, and true to form, almost every frickin day the monkeys that run the place come up with new problems for me to have to figure out myself (currently telling me to pay them $500 by tomorrow when I've only got $300 on me). Sigh. Oh, and I've added a tracker at the bottom here. I got a few comments from people who aren't my friends/family and realized maybe other people actually read this stuff, so, out of curiosity, I put that at the bottom of the page. Btw, if anyone has any questions for me or wants me to write about something in particular, comment and I'll see what I can do. Well, til next time!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ancient Japan, Ketchup Cup Urine Test and KimuTaku's Mom

So once again, I’ve been shirking my duty of reporting all the interesting things that befall me here in old Nippon, but I’ll do my best to catch up before anything else new and interesting happens. The first thing after the Alice Nine concert that’s worth writing about was going to the Chakai with my host mother and her friend on the 11th, which admittedly was some time ago. We got on a train line I’ve only been on once in my life and rode it for about 45 min. (it being the super express) and made our way out of Tokyo completely and into another prefecture, though where exactly we ended up, I’m not entirely certain only that the name had ‘Chikatetsu’ in the title. This chakai, or tea meeting, was particularly special as it’s only held a few times a year and the ink painting/calligraphy master and his wife make their way all the way from Nara, where they live in the mountains, to Tokyo just for this nice little event. The entirety of the festivities are held in a very, very high dollar kimono shop that’s stood in that same place for the past 200 years (no joke), and while parts have been renovated to accommodate the times, most of the structure is the same as it always has been. This kimono shop was the embodiment of what I, and most westerners, think of when they think “Japan.” The room where one of the tea ceremonies was held, and where the calligraphy tables were set up was, of course, a room of tatami mats, wooden beams and paper sliding doors. That is, except for the one ‘wall’ which wasn’t in fact a wall at all, but rather a large window the size of a wall which could be slid back to open out onto the traditional looking Japanese garden/stream. Yes, they have a stream in the courtyard. The building is built sort of like an O with the middle open, and through it runs a stream and a pond (complete with turtle), over which hang lazy sakura (cherry blossom) trees whose petals, when their hour has come, drift in droves like summer snow, down into the quiet pond below. There is vegetation everywhere, plants of all sorts growing out of the soil and stream alike, and you have to use stepping stones to get anywhere. And there were the large, standing stone lanterns one gets used to seeing in such places. In the large, aforementioned room, there was, of course, the god shelf, though the Japanese name for it I’ve since forgotten. As is always the way, within it was incense, a large ikebana display (this one happened to be of still-green, Japanese maple leaves), and then a large calligraphy scroll, naturally given as a gift from the visiting master. The master himself was quite a character, but I shall get to him presently. The last space I got to explore, and where we received our first tea ceremony, was in the tea room, or chashitsu, This room is actually it’s own separate structure, very small in size and square. All of the grand houses in the old days in Japan had these rooms. They usually fit either four or six tatami mats, have a god shelf and sometimes a removable piece from the floor for people wishing to practice macha (powdered green tea). I might mention that tea ceremony and all other manner of bowing from the seiza (sitting) position, both long ago and now, is built around lines on tatami mats. For example, depending on your rank, you sit on a certain mat at a certain place and bow this far or that far from the edge of the mat. Thus, these tatami mats are not placed in any room willy-nilly, but all according to some ancient plan. This tea room was got to by a narrow walkway skirting the garden, covered by a bamboo veranda.

The tea ceremony here, in contrast to the other ceremonies I’ve been to, had a third person (besides the person doing the ceremony and her helper), who attended. It was a man whose sole job was to sit and explain various things to the guests (us), to be conversational, and to overall create a nice atmosphere. He explained about the tea, the tools being used, the ikebana display and then read and explained the writings on the scroll (which are often written in such a messy and mysterious way as to be unreadable to most Japanese people).

Now, to the character I met. First of all there was the guy who worked there. And by that I mean as a part time job or what not, and he was the only person present (minus me), who was not dressed in a kimono. His job was mainly to greet guests and take pictures, but he was quite exceptionally friendly to me and I found him a pleasant sort of young man. Then there was the owner of the kimono shop and heir of the place, and I took to him quite expediently. He was dressed in lovely, grand evergreen robes and looked like he could have been the crowned prince or something. That’s not to say he was exceptionally good looking or young (late 30s perhaps), but he had that regal sort of air about him, and dressed as he was, it was as though he’d stepped right out of the past, or that I’d stepped into it. Even so, he was a pleasant fellow, kind and quick to smile, not at all stuck up, nor did he have that feeling that many really rich people do. There was a woman (who I assume to be his wife), who skirted by us a time or two, but didn’t say much. She gave the second tea ceremony and she was dressed in the most beautiful kimono I’ve ever seen. Of course, if she’s married to a Kimono maker, she should be. But it was so gorgeous. It was a light, powder-blue with pink Sakura petals here and there on it, and the Obi was so elegant, embroidered to look like a painting of pastels, almost like a spring mountain scene so that, to look at her from the back, her entire ensemble could have been a grand painting on a wall. It was magnificent. There was the calligraphy master’s wife, also in green who we didn’t talk to much, and in our group a lovely, thin older lady who was all smiles and humility. And then there was the master.

Oh if he wasn’t a character. He had long hair, pulled back in a ponytail and gave me a cheery speech on how samurai of old kept away from the sins of drink and women and achieved balance and strength by practicing tea ceremony, calligraphy and ink painting to quiet their soul. It was these practices that renewed them for the next days discipline. He was dressed in yellow robes, and a very interesting man indeed, and not near so old as I’d imagined him to be. To know his personality, is to understand what my host mother means when she says, “He lives in the mountains in Nara.” Indeed.

He seemed a quite spontaneous fellow and on a whim had us all sitting around him and he determined to make each of us an ink painting. And then he pulled out a piece of paper, a brush and began. And it was like magic. To do it, one would have to know exactly how much ink was on the brush and how it would come off the paper, and have a very clear idea in mind of what they wanted to paint. But without a pause for thought, he would start moving his hand over the paper, and as if by magic, by some enchantment, what seems like random scribbles and scrawls from a brush running out of ink, suddenly transforms into a mountain scene or a river with boats or whatever else he can think up. There were paintings of Sakura, and mountain streams and even tea ceremonies and it was lovely. And he was insistent that we all write whatever thoughts (or words) came to mind to express our feelings. He was insistent about this because he wanted the day, the experience, and the painting itself not to be just about him, but about us all together.

In other news, though not necessarily good news, our school (as I suppose all Japanese schools do) had a mandatory health check day on the 15th. Now, I had to have a freaking physical before I came, so I assumed myself exempted from this (you need one per year). No one said a word to me and I thought I was in the clear. And then, true to form, my school leaders e-mail me around 9 pm the night before saying I need to be there the next day at somewhere around 8:30 am. Now, it takes me an hour and 20 min. to get to school. You do the math. I was ready to murder someone. But, as they say here, shoganai (It can’t be helped), so I dragged my lady butt into the school bright and early and had to begin the regime. First there was the form to fill out (all in Kanji/Japanese of course) and you don’t know the humiliation of having a nurse explain tuberculosis, diarrhea, constipation, etc. to you via charades in front of the whole student body. That being done, I was then instructed to go find a bathroom and pee in a cup. We’ve all done this, right? Not in Japan you haven’t. The Japanese urine cup is a bit behind the times. Unlike it’s modern American counterpart (unpleasant but fairly easy to use), the Japanese urine ‘kit’ consists of a… to explain the ‘cup’ I must call to your mind the small paper cups at McDonald’s into which people squirt ketchup for their fries. Have that in your mind? That’s what they give you. And a small squirt bottle reminiscent of a tube of lotion, only empty. Thus, if you’re lucky, you get a western toilet, and if not you get one of the toilet’s in the floor (my school is old and backwards and retarded so we have mostly all toilets in the floor). So you’re squatting, or sitting, trying to somehow aim for a ketchup cup, and once you’ve succeeded in that, you must then squeeze all the air out of the bottle and suck the urine up into it to a line (mostly full).

This hurdle thus overcome, I proceeded to an Xray machine in the back of a van, then height/weight and gave blood. Next a vision and hearing test. Then I was told to sit on a conference table and hike my shirt up so they could stick little nodes on my for an EKG. Last was the old, ‘breathe in deep for me,’ and then I was out. Out but irate. Man I hate that school.

The last bit of news is quite the most interesting in my eyes. I’ve often blurbed about KimuTaku at this point. Mr. Takuya Kimura, the veritable Brad Pitt of Japan. One of the biggest money makers and a man with so much pull in the entertainment industry here that planets have started revolving around him. He even got to sing “It’s My Life” with Bon Jovi. Yes, well, he’s been my newest interest lately, and as I was walking with my host mother the other day to the Lawsons 100 (dollar store) just around the corner which I never knew existed, she told me that Mr. Kimura’s mother was coming to our shrine on Friday (the 17th). Of course, my jaw dropped to the floor. It seems she’s to make a speech about motherhood on June 26th and wanted to have it at our shrine, thus she was coming to check the place out. My host mom was fairly blasé about the news, but my host father and I both went ape. So, Friday afternoon at 1 we were down on the first floor, ready to receive her. She was a very beautiful lady. She looked somewhere around 40 though she’d have to be 60 or so in reality. She had that elegant, opulently rich and refined air about her, like a lady who might go to the races in a big hat. Her makeup was light and flattering and her clothes probably designer. Even so, she was polite and gentle and kind in her speech. I introduced myself and brought her some tea and she complimented my Japanese (as everyone in this country does, even if you can only say one word), and went so far as to say I had very pretty Japanese, prettier and more refined that most young people today. After that I went off and was set at the shrine’s main office window where I received a very handsome man, tan and tall and obviously (as was later confirmed) a surfer. He’d driven all the way from IbaragI (which is quite a long way), to pick up the Daruma dolls we hadn’t sold at New Years. It turns out he makes the dolls himself, which I find to be very interesting indeed. He was humble to everyone and only slightly embarrassed when my host mother harangued him about not being married yet and then he packed up his boxes and left. Around then, KimuTaku’s mom finished her discussion with my host dad, we all posed for a picture and then she was on her way out the door like a Hollywood actress walking the red carpet.

Well anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now, though I’m off to a baseball game on Friday, so that should be fun/interesting. Who knows when I’ll post again. I won’t make any promises, but I’ll get back to you when I can!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not a real post

Hey y'all. Yes, I am still alive, just lazy. I've got a few things to report in detail, which only makes me want to put it off more, which is exactly what I'm doing here. I promise to post within the next few days. Sorry for the laziness!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Today's word of the day is: Ureshii, which means happy. Why? Because I just got back from Alice Nine's last concert on this, their "Reason of Geometry" tour. And while I won't give you the blow-by-blow of this concert, because you're probably tired of hearing concert details, I will say that 1) Tora sang a song (something no one ever thought he would do), 2) I got to hear them play "Q" live (which I never thought would happen since it's older an not a hit, making that a highlight of... my life) and 3) they made their announcement.

Since the tail end of March, the Alice Nine official homepage has had a countdown leading to tonight, when there would be a big announcement. There for a while, a lot of us were thinking it might be a breakup (from how the guys were acting [reminiscent and what not]), but in fact, it was the best news you could imagine. Of course, as expected, there's a new album coming out in August, and a tour starting at in July that will run for four months, into October (which is impressive in and of itself. But then came the big news, the big suprise. The tour finale for the new tour, will be at... the Nippon Budokan! Everyone there tonight was so happy, applauding, crying, calling out congrats. It was all anounced one the curtain had fallen on the concert (literally), and was a video that told us all. Now, if you aren't into Jrock, you might not understand what a big deal this is. The Nippon Budokan is the Madison Square Garden of Japan/Tokyo. Like the Royal Albert Hall of London, the Sydney Opera House of Australia (I think). Only the best of the best can fill the Budokan. Because Visual Kei is still a young, growing genre, not many VK bands ever achieve enough success to merit having a concert at the Budokan, it would set them back financially. The Gazette (who has 2 days booked there in July), and a few others are exceptions. But Alice Nine has never been popular enough for their company, PS Company, to play there. By playing at the Budokan, it shows that Alice Nine has finally made it as a band, in a big way. After five long, hard years, they've finally achieved what so few in their business can. And I am so happy for them. A9, congrats!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Today's Word of the Day is: Hanami (花見), which is the term used for flower viewing here in Japan, specifically in relation to Sakura, aka Cherry Blossoms. Because Cherry Blossoms only last a few weeks before the blossoms fall and fade away, they hold a special place in the hearts of the Japanese people, and thus, whenever they are in bloom, everyone stops what they're doing to go out and admire them. Along with the Weather forecast on the nightly news, there is certain to be a report on where the Sakura are blooming and when they will fade. Typically they bloom from the West of Japan, moving to the East, and here in Tokyo, they are finally in full swing. Hanami is such a big thing here in Japan that even entire companies take hour off to go collectively and sit on blankets under the trees (which lowly minions have been staking out since the wee hours), eating BBQ, bentoes (lunch boxes), basking in the Sakura's beauty and drinking late into the night, when all the lanterns that have been strung up special for this time, come on and prolong the loveliness and viewing.

It just so happens that I live about two blocks away from one of the most famous spots in Tokyo for seeing Cherry Blossoms, a river called Megurokawa, which is lined the entire length by them. Traffic around the river is a big dodgy for drivers who are having to stop and avoid hundreds of dazed pedestrians, but the sight is quite gorgeous. And it also just so happens that the man who's company built this apartment complex (termed 'Mansion' over here), lives here and his company, as many do, was having a special outing/party for the occasion, and my family was invited. So just around noon today, my host mother and I, my host father tagging along somewhere behind, walked the two blocks to the river and then followed it aways, stopping to take pictures and admire the beauty, before happening upon the little gathering that was being held in an open garage of sorts. We signed in, were shown to our seats by handsomely sophisticated looking young men in black suits and ties, obviously the underlings in the company, and our order for drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) were taken. Not long after that, a very fance bento made up to look like a ornamental box, and a cup of soup was placed before us, and various uppety-ups came over to talk and schmooze. The man who had invited us, I had met once before, at my host father's ritzy Lion's Christmas party, and I found him to be a very agreeable sort of man. My host mother later told me he was in his early sixties (though he looked like early forties), with a 30-something year old wife. But he was affable and pleasant and spent most of his time talking with us, even after my host father slurped up his lunch and took early leave. We also talked to a man I'm assuming is the head of the company, and he was rather pleasant as well, as were they all really. There was talk of various things, happiness in marriage, vacations to the sea, the beauty of the cherry blossom trees, etc., and then my host mother reminded us that we still had tea lessons and had to get going. Thus we took a commemorative photo and then left, her showing me another way back I've never been to, though it couldn't be but a few streets over, and it was an interesting sort of street with all manner of shops strung along it. Anyways, so that's the blow-by-blow of my Hanami experience.

In other news (which seems to be a phrase I use a lot, but oh well), I also went to The KIDDIE's final concert on their first one-man tour. For the first time since ever, I wasn't one of the last 5 people to get in (despite my ticket being C 249), and was lucky enough to get a spot on the perimeter. Let me tell you something about Jrock concerts, and perhaps Japanese concerts in general. Because you are admitted one by one acording to the number on your ticket, people don't go and stand in line 4 hours early to get a good spot. At first I thought this was nonsense, because if I'm willing to wait in line for 4 hours, I should get a better seat. But after going to enough concerts now, I see the infallible logic of this system. Everyone is equal and there's no rivalry and it works. Also, and this is something I don't understand... first of all, at almost any venue, you have to purchase a mandatory $5 drink ticket, which you can use on whatever they offfer (water, cocktails, soda, etc.). So, when people get admitted, rather than rushing into the venue and getting a place close to the stage, most people just mill about. And once the concert starts, people don't attempt to get any closer than wherever they land, though there is ample room to do so. In Jrock concerts, the very front maybe 30 people (so a few rows equivalent), those spots go fast, and then around the perimeter (that is the walls and anything solid to lean against) go fast. The reason for this is, at these concerts, there is a lot of waving of hands, clapping, what have you, and then, because it is Rock, there is jumping. And most people have at least a purse. Now, there are lockers you can use, if you get there before they're all taken, but you're usually left carrying something into the venue, so if you find a place on the perimeter, you can deposit it there and ensure it won't be crushed. Many times, people will leave there stuff there and then go off into the crowd, coming back for it at the end (as there's hardly ever crime in this country, there's no concern over theft).

So, back to what I was saying, I got a spot on the perimeter, which I love since my back is screwed up, and after waiting an hour in line, then an hour for the show to start, then however long it takes for them to actually start (they never start on time), my back was hurting, but I had a rail to lean against, so it was all good. Oh, and another interesting, 'first time' at this concert was, there were special people being admitted with VIP passes while I was standing in line. Some, you could tell, were big wigs from other companies, who just had that air of 'coolness,' and then in the back, in a cordoned off area where there were seats and small tables, were guys that were quite obviously other Visual Kei bands. I didn't recognize any of them, but that is undoubtedly what they were. So anywho, the live (concert) was great, lots of fun as always, and at the end, they announced that they had finally got signed with a major label (King Records, I think), which I was quite happy to hear since I've been pulling for this particular band for a while. They have, I think, a lot more talent than most of the bands out there, and appeal and seem like nice guys, so I was glad to hear the news. Of course, this being the finale of their very first independent tour, they were all quite emotional and spent a long time saying things to everyone, saying how they've had the strength to stick with it because of the smiles of the audience, and their warmth has washed away all the fears. And then they revealed these five banners that the fans at all the concerts on this tour had made. It was rather cute. And then they finished with my very favorite song, Noah, which I will post below. The words to this song in particular, more so than probably any other Japanese song (at least that I can think of now), are rather beautiful to me. The beat is nice to, but I love the words. So anyways, good luck to The KIDDIE. Unfortunately, I think this was the last time I'll ever get to see them, as their next concerts are in Sept., and I will already be back in the old US of A. So anyways, that's my 25 cents for now. School kicks back up on Monday (sort of, I think). And we'll see how that goes. I've also continued by KimuTaku fest, but this is a long blog entry already, so I'll blurb about that some other time. Ciao!

PS: This translation might be a little hard to understand, but it's the only one I could find on Youtube. Maybe I'll translate it someday ; ) And what ho! Sakura make an appearance in the lyrics/video!