surrounded by frengers

watching, hearing, seeing, thinking

Archive for July, 2008

quick update before i forget everything/sum up trip

Posted by veritas on July 29, 2008

yesterday was the last day of school, and as i’m sitting here (doing laundry of course, as with any time i have any free time at home) it’s good to look back a bit first, and try to remember everything (bad memory, that’s all. no influences could possibly alter the effectiveness of my memory at all, of course.)

6/25 to 7/2

the most i remember about this period is that it was the last few days before the 6-week program kids went home. i was also completely sick during the entire period from previously mentioned up to now, and the following weekend would have me bed-ridden with sinus problems + bronchitis + stomach virus all-in-one. fever too maybe but i’m not sure. in any case it was terrible. i lost my voice 3 nights in a row (with yui’s concert being the middle) due to too much talking+karaoke+sick, but i endured. it was also around this time that i seriously started to enjoy shopping in japan for clothes, because i discovered that although there was a bunch of wierd designs and poor fashion, there’s also things that fit really really well with me and look pretty good. as lilly said “the last thing i expected you to pick up out of tokyo is fashion” haha

there was also a school-hosted bbq event on the 28th, which was pretty good. it was in odaiba, which i previously mentioned. the park that we held it in was right next to the water, which made for some good scenery to drink bottles of wine to. yep that’s right, the french part of zac came out sometime early this trip and he’s influenced everyone into bottles of wine instead of beers. i like his plan, however, because even though i don’t understand his reasoning, i definitely approve of the higher alcohol per yen rate that bottles of wine gives. i ran into the usual kids (and some that i didn’t really know too well) and ate a bunch of meat. amongst the “groups of friends” there’s this group of 6 or 8 and i’m not sure if they’re AEP or what, but they don’t seem like undergrads and sometimes play poker or just hang out. i played with them once or twice but that’s about it. paying for dinner with poker = woo

in any case i saw sean and yumi on that saturday evening with sean’s relatives and yumi’s friends from euphro. the funny thing is that i introduced her to that, and then i quit, and i guess she just kept on doing it casually. since i can’t play anything casually i guess i burned out faster, haha. we went to eat some sukiyaki, but time was getting cut short and thus we had to cut the karaoke. i got word sean went back to the states already, which is sad because due to scheduling conflicts we’ve been out of touch for a few weeks

damn these bugs. if you wear clothes, you sweat to death. if you don’t, you scratch yourself to death. where’s the compromise??

7/4-7/10

as much as i would love to give the month-after recollection of how ridiculously good yui’s concert was, i think it would be a time waster here. after all i can just click “home page” and read it again lol. ahhh there’s just those freeze-frame memories that (i hope) will never go away.

in any case, i think that after doing massive recovery of body health, i plunged directly back into the everyday routine. sean and i attempted to coordinate something for a while but that’s failed miserably. mai also finally arrived here after working on a farm for two weeks (o.o) and thus got busy with her job. for the first week she apparently lived out in like chiba which meant she had to get on a train by like 8 to go home lol. poor thing. plus the schoolkids, she had to take care of those too. but anyway we finally got in touch the day i was leaving for kyoto, which was just planned the same week. decently hectic, that was. at this same time katie was in tokyo from osaka so i showed her around a bit and we hung out with some of her other acquaintances from school. of course, we went eating again. mm oo-toro *drool*

kyoto trip – 7/10 to 7/14

when naho (japanese TA back at wake) got back from man-hunting in indonesia or australia or…yea whatever she was doing somewhere, we organized the trip and got the plans settled. it went surprisingly well – boarding+travel fees were all booked in 1 day. we took the bus over, which was actually not bad, but only for me. i slept some of the trip and was in this dream-like trance state for the rest of it. cynthia seemed to be able to sleep a bit, but kevin and zac had some serious problems it seemed. cynthia and i brought our stolen eye-guard things from the airplane, which i have to say is amazing, since obviously this proves great minds think alike. it was probably the key difference, indeed.

when we got there it was about 7:30am, so with my plan that i drew up the previous day (with the help of google – who needs ridiculously expensive tour guides when you have google?), we launched 京都観光大作戦. we found this little breakfast joint close to our hostel place and it was pretty homely. though, the pet got my allergies going, so i had to hit up some expired claritin. as soon as we got out of there we went to 東寺(tou-ji), the pagoda place close to kyoto station. as our first real temple experience it was pretty good, though there were places that you couldn’t go without invitation. this is something that’s common in kyoto and places in japan that have history – you need an introduction to get in. tokyo’s ginza district, as well, has places like this. this happened when we went down the geisha bar street near gion at night as well

in any case, we left 東寺 and got lunch at kyoto station. there were some expensive places but i didnt feel like ramen so cynthia accompanied me to this pasta-ish restaurant whereas z+k went to a ramen shop. this restaurant was amazing. we got like crazy fancy glasses and this ridiculous high class environment with 3 waitress girls waiting on us to finish our water and bread so they could refill/bring more. the plates and dishes were all very fancy and it was overall ridiculous. the price – 1000yen each. what? i cant believe. so simple, no skill required at all anyway, afterwards, cynthia had this idea to stop by the 京水寺 (kyoumizu tera), which turned out to be the best idea ever. if any of you go to kyoto, do NOT miss this fantastic mountain of awesomeness. there was beautiful scenery, many historic buildings (pagodas, shrines, etc), places where you can go pray, a dragon hand washer (!!!), the COOLEST rite of passage ever (leading to a wishing stone), a waterfall of holy water that you can drink, and passage to a hiking trail that extends through about half of kyoto. for kevin, there was a pack of about 30 girls (prolly some women’s university field trip) that nonstop stared at him. aww yeaaaa…and also kinda awkward lol. i normally hate sightseeing and historical museums and whatnot, but this place blew my mind.

the 銀閣寺(ginkaku-ji) was next, which is better known as the silver pavilion. unfortunately it was under construction and we pretty much paid the entrance fee for access to the souvenir shop. hopefully it will be fixed soon. after that disappointment, we headed over to gion (the entertainment district, and i’m not talking strip clubs) where zac cynthia and kevin went to watch this variation japanese art show (with bunraku, tea ceremony, etc). i didn’t really feel like it, however, so i went back early, got checked in, misc. i think i was getting grumpy from the 14 hour sightseeing, since i’m usually an indoors type and nothing kills my mood like the heat.

saturday was crazy. we went to the 金閣寺(kinkaku-ji), or better known as the golden pavilion (which was quite a magnificent view), followed by the rock garden place nearby. i feel bad because i was being a bit of an asshole cause i was worried about the day’s schedule – we had to get back to kyoto station soon in order to maximize our time in……….osaka! yessss we went to osaka, if only for a dismal 4 hours. a funny thing happened at kyoto station – we bought our tickets and i saw the express was leaving in 2 minutes so i told them to rush. i saw them on the escalator on the way down to the platform so i went ahead a bit and got on the train. then i turned around, the doors closed, and zac is outside with this incredible “wtf” look on his face. this was a nice summary of our trip though, because it seemed the 3 of them sticked together often whereas i would be the guy that goes off somewhere sometimes. maybe that’s just how i work though, i dunno. we went to umeda sky building, which is gorgeous. then we went to the shopping district cause the osaka castle closed for tourism by the time we finished sightseeing the sky building. we only had time for this one department store were we found a floor of yukata/kimono, and a jewelry section. they had this custom engagement right thing where you could choose everything – shape of ring, width, customization to fit the person’s finger, material, design, text, and all of this on top of choosing the gem, which was broken down into different shapes, designs, cuts, etc. pretty cool – i’d totally come here (provided i had the bling) for engagement ring selection. after that, we went back to kyoto station, washed up, and went to go meet naho and her best friend rie for some drinking => short time of karaoke. now, all i’m allowed to say, is that SOMEONE was very drunk and frisky. SOMEONE. I DONT KNOW WHO. ahem. edited pictures available on facebook >.>

sunday was a nice final day of the trip. me being me, i can’t stand looking the same 2 days in a row, so i tried to vary my clothing a bit to include my yui shirt under a button down, which was a terrible idea because i forgot how kyoto is like a george foreman grill (actually the scientist inside objects, it’s more like a one of those solar power receptors that is made in the shape of a satellite dish in order to concentrate the energy reception in the center. or if you’ve watched gundam seed, it’s like zaft’s genesis wmd), so i sweated through my yui shirt a bit and stained the button down with some red splotches. good thing the cleaners work miracles, or i’d be out a really nice shirt. however, i might have rethought this if i knew that the monkey park we were going to was on top of a mountain. yep that’s right. hiking uphill in july in kyoto at noon in 2 layers and jeans. real smart lol. but the monkeys were cute! that’s all that matters ;o

shinkansen on the way back. wayyyyy expensive but so cool! z cynthia and kev were like freaking out when we got there lol. i was excited but i guess nowhere as excited as them. we rode the のぞみN700, which at this time is the fastest in japan. just waiting for when they complete the 中央新幹線 (in 2050? lol) which will be on maglev technology…yeeeep…

overall the trip was pretty awesome. and probably far cheaper than if we went with the school. souvenirs and pictures came with the trip, so at least i have those still. i wanted to keep my shinkansen ticket but unfortunately that’s the only way i coulda gotten out of shinjuku station without making up a story about mis-swiping my suica somewhere else, and honestly by then i was too tired to try. because that night i had a nice literature paper waiting for me when i got back. woo!

i think i understand a little better now why people are so busy here. i don’t feel like i’ve done anything productive or made massive contributions to any crazy project but i’ve still been busy just staying alive lol. i think the kind of busy i’m used to and the kind of busy that is the city are totally different – concentrating all your efforts into one thing makes you miss out on so much of everything else the world has to offer. on the other side of the spectrum, spreading yourself out too thin doesn’t really let you seriously focus on anything, which is kind of like living on the meat samples at whole foods and never getting to have a steak. balance, all about balance…

Posted in tokyo 08 | Leave a Comment »

YUI’s 3rd Tour “oui” @ NHK ホール and the rest of 7/3/08

Posted by veritas on July 3, 2008

ok whatever gap there is between the last entry and this one is gonna hafta wait while this is still fresh on my mind. i will never forget this day and hopefully this will help me forget it less. i had never gone to a concert in japan, obviously, so there’s a lot of things that i learned that once again, there are no explanations for anywhere lol.

i mentioned this in an earlier post but, after fighting other concert-goers on yahoo auction jp for like 2 weeks, takuma and i secured a section 2 ticket for 10000yen, which is really good because section 3’s went for like 12000+ by the time the bidding ended. 2 days ago i went to go see where nhk hall actually is (because i figure being lost on day-of would be a stupid idea) and while i was at the park area i saw a massive ridiculous line of about 1000 old people waiting for the event of that particular day in the nhk hall. so noted to self: come here early on thursday

i’d been struggling with hoarse/dying voice for 2 days, and yesterday really scared me because it was completely gone for about 2 hours while i was stuffing myself nonstop with hot sake and halls. it worked and i was able to karaoke orange range’s 花 entirely before i shut up again. today i didn’t speak one word until i got home, got surprised by someone who was visiting the house, and chatted weakly until she left and i had to get ready. once i was in shibuya i rushed over to nhk area where they had already sold out of the “i loved yesterday” rings. this bums me out because i wanted one to stick on a chain, and i know that they’re already on internet auctions for way more than the 4000yen they had it for. so instead, i got a M t-shirt and a L hoodie. fashion advice for asians getting clothes in tokyo: you no longer wear S, M, or L. you wear all 3 for different situations (unless you’re super small or super big, but i’m speaking to most 175cm+ slim males).

i got there around 4:30, which was an hour or so before the gates opened. very few had shown up, but the # was around 300. i went to go get some stuff at a combini before coming back to wait, and right when i was about to chat with some random strangers due to boredom, one of the event managers called people over to start the line (~5:10). there was a mad rush and i got in about the #150~ position. the next 20mins or so were pretty chill, with the line going to the back and circling around, but the crowd only reached about 500~ and i was wondering what was going on. by 5:40~, however, there were definitely like 4000 people swarmed around the nhk hall, with the line completely full and swarms of people waiting around. i was wondering why they weren’t lining up, and thought that perhaps the line i was in was only for section 1 ticket holders, but it turned out that it was just due to the sheer ridiculous number of people in line that i didn’t even see because it went back so far.

once i got in there was a mad rush for a. the tour goods that had been moved inside the building and b. the cd area. i was hesitant about buying anything but a. her newest single “summer song” just came out yesterday and b. you get a free massive “i loved yesterday” promo poster with a purchase, so i figured why not and got the last cd+dvd copy they had. i went to the bathroom and got a sandwich, and when i got back to the main area, holy shit, lol. the hall was flooded with people and the 20 person line that was at the tour goods/cd lines when i came in were now backed up all the way to the farthest parts of the hall. but that’s just how it goes i guess. get in 5 minutes early, save an hour in line. and i say this because people who stayed to get the promotional stuff had to miss out on a bit of the first song and yui’s entrance.

i was in section 2, L13, seat 24, which was about the same distance as the first row of section 3, just lower. i could see pretty well except that for the first section (this concert went rock -> ballad -> rock) there was a blinding light from right behind yui and thus i couldn’t see her too well. it was fine afterwards tho. the 10minutes or so i waited before the show started was kind of interesting, since i could see what kind of audience showed up to see her concert. and there were all kinds. males and females almost at an equal ratio, but girls probably outnumbered guys by a bit (no surprise). age was also all over the place. i saw 12 year old girls in their school uniforms, and i saw 50 year old businessmen fresh out of work. and you could not tell who was what kind of person. a girl near me came by herself, i’d guess about 17, and she was one of those “wavering left and right” types that sang quietly while smiling the entire time. then there was this 40~ish year old chubby businessman right next to her who was singing happily and lively the entire time. the 2 guys next to me, prolly around my age, didn’t sing the entire time and just clapped along with everyone while nodding. so there were all kinds, which really says something about yui’s music.

speaking of which, i cannot remember the set list precisely, but i looked a few blogs just now of other people who went on this tour and it seems on target. “i loved yesterday” was indeed the most represented album, but i was surprised by the lack of “love&truth”. she started like the album with “laugh away” and “my generation”, and then i can’t remember hearing “find me” or not (this was #3 elsewhere), but i do know that cherry came after the MC and that was brilliant. i had some technical difficulties with the security (gaijin card works again >_> ) after cherry so i missed the next song, and came back to yui asking the audience to sit in their seats and listen to “understand”. thus the ballad part started, which also included “i will love you”, “namidairo”, “my friend”, and “tokyo” before the MC. we were hinted that it was ok to stand up and go nuts again, which is immediately what happened when “how crazy” started and transitioned into “rolling star”. by the time “daydreamer” came around i had long forgotten that my voice was weak and made it come out the entire time on every song i knew by heart…which was nearly all of them, something i didn’t expect. she rocked hard into “highway chance” and then finished the show off, then quickly ran off the stage lol. so cute. there was then 5 minutes of nonstop clapping from everyone in the hall, which i didn’t realize was harsh on the hands until they stopped having feeling and i had to rest them for a sec. they then came back on for encore: “tomorrow’s way” -> “help” -> “oh yeah” -> “life” -> yui’s solo of “goodbye days”

now, the thing is, yui is kind of different. especially from all the other jpop singers. and this is probably why i saw a surprising amount of the older generations there – her songs are just no bullshit essence of humanity. you don’t ever feel cheesy marketing coming on in her songs, even the ones used as op/ed of anime/dramas/movies. she commands an incredible aura, and there’s a ridiculous amount of respect from all of her fans. it’s probably the innocence, and more than that, the purity. and i’m sure that’s marketed to hell, but even a person like me can understand that there’s something special in her style that mostly anyone else doesn’t have. the point is that, her singing is very good, but it’s not super powerful in pure vocal like utada hikaru or amy lee. and she’s definitely very pretty+cute, but you walk past girls prettier than her every day in shibuya. but she is still marketable, and that’s just out of the pure element of her song that fans completely enjoy. and that’s the 最高.

and here it gets personal. i think i heard of yui sometime around tomorrow’s way, and then later especially with “life” (since to be honest, that’s how any american would get to know her). tomorrow’s way is more than 3 years ago, which is a scary though, but it’s true that between then and now the only j-pop artist that’s stayed in my music is her. rock/jrock/indie/trance list grows and grows and grows, but i might find a jpop song catchy, but then drop it a week later. unlike yui’s songs, a lot of the love love themed shit of jpop feels so empty and marketed that it’s not even worth 3 minutes. but i’d say that between when i was 17 and now, i’ve changed a hell of a lot. and so has yui and her singing. back when i was 17, tomorrow’s way and life were inspirational, in a decently rough time for me (even though i didn’t think it was back then). i can’t imagine how many times i watched the pv’s of just those 2 songs alone. songs like blue wind and simply white sounded good when her first album came out, but i never liked tokyo back then. now considering that i didn’t know any japanese back then, absolutely none, this is phenomenal when you consider the lyrics of life and especially tomorrow’s way. i knew what they were about, but i didn’t know what the words meant. it’s scary to me that she can bring that kind of magic to life through her special voice. i went into one of my moods where i would only listen to trance for a while, so yui’s music dropped out of play for a while. however, i started picking up japanese in college and around the same time i got back into her music with my generation, backtracking and realizing that i could listen through “from me to you” and “can’t buy my love” without skipping a single track (except maybe tokyo sometimes lol), something that previously i could only do with music by mew. when i saw rolling star’s pv for the first time, i noticed something was different, but couldn’t pinpoint it until i went back and watched life’s pv. my goodness the contrast. now, first i thought it was just a different costume, but the difference is that the yui in life’s pv would not have fit the heavy makeup and style of the yui in rolling star’s pv at all. it seems that being a professional has shaped her into being more expressive, which worried me because i was afraid she might sell out. however, that theory got crushed quickly, and i’m glad. she is still an adept magician. however, she definitely grew, and at the exact same time as me. so for her, songs like “it’s happy line” and “feel my soul” probably feel like a trip back in time…which is the same for me and junior/senior year in high school. it feels nostalgic, but way more than it should be. the developments between late teens and early 20s are on a different scale for most people, but as she is in the entertainment business and i’ve pretty much flopped a complete 180 on the social scene, i feel as if we have had some significant changes. today i can appreciate tokyo. and today i still love tomorrow’s way more than any other song. that song’s magic has yet to wear off.

which is why when she announced 「っで、昔からの局、Tomorrow’s Way」i felt an intense rush of emotion explode through me that i’ve never felt before. i didn’t know what they were gonna do for encore, but i was hoping for my favorite the entire concert, so when it was granted, i couldn’t help but tear up with an unmoving smile on my face. the ultimate reward. i remember muttering “yes!!” to myself before closing my lips and just being in this indescribable state of 幸せ. before i knew it i started singing along, steady as a statue, as if afraid to break the moment by moving anything more than just my lips and (dying) vocal chords. i didn’t cry this concert, but the tears definitely were rising a few times – when she appeared and yelled “渋谷!”, when she announced tomorrow’s way, and the beautiful, nostalgic, and ultimate present to fans that was the final song’s transition: after “life”, she thanked all of the members of the band. they all left the stage, the stage lights all dimmed to a single light on her, and all that was left was yui in her most basic form, the one she started out with singing in the streets so long ago – no electronics, no supporting band, no flashy effects. just yui and an acoustic guitar. and she said in her quiet yet power-commanding voice: “最後の局は。。。good-bye days”. and i think this isn’t cheesy (perhaps so cheesy it goes beyond cheesy? lol), because it’s really a good fit for the scene. it’s yui’s character. she’s not the type to talk about life stories for 20 minutes with the fans in the middle of the concert, and even if we wouldn’t mind, we don’t expect it from her. the mystery i guess is also enticing. we also just got off a trip down nostalgia lane, and she stuck all of her energy into this final solo. i actually hadn’t heard this in a while, but i remembered all the words immediately. and i swelled heavily when it got to “できれば、悲しい思いなんてしたくない、でもやってくるでしょう?その時笑顔で「yea hello my friend, なんかさぁー」言えたならいいのに。。。”. no one wanted to leave the magic that was in the nhk hall tonight. but that’s what’s so nice about the atmosphere there…everyone understood. everyone really was one tonight, united, and only differed through ways of expressing their joy. this is why i’m 不安 about if yui ever goes to the states…because the 雰囲気 really will not be the same between japanese and americans.

saying that i’m glad, thrilled, or any other adjective to describe my experience tonight probably does not fit correct. it happened but i feel like it was inevitable to happen. the timing was impeccable – her tour had already started by the time i got to japan, so it was perfect that tokyo’s show was in july. usually to big expensive events like this i weigh it back and forth before being distracted and forgetting about it, but i was determined to go to this concert. the tickets were sold out back in april, but with takuma’s help i got it through yahoo auction. and this concert fit perfectly on my day off from school. and i will slap myself later for sounding like having my head in the clouds, but it’s through yui that i can afford to dream a little every once in a while. because although i would not change my levelheaded-ness for anything, it does make life boring to see things from a chess player’s perspective. in any case, i think that going to a concert by any of my other favorite japanese bands (l’arc, OR, スネオヘア, uverworld, buriguri) might have been a bit of a waste, since i would not have had nearly the unforgettable and stunning experience that tonight was. it’s just that, with other bands, i feel like it would be the kind of experience where i gather some friends, we go as a group, get god damn smashed before, and rave about what a great time we had…つまりusing the concert as an excuse to hang out. but this was not that kind of concert. i don’t think anyone (well probably some, but definitely very few) would associate yui’s music with getting crunked. it’s something you go to listen to and experience for what it is. but you know…i would laugh and bite my words so hard though if yui did turn out to be a druggie or something and toshiba emi is just milking her cuteness and everything she does for dough. *gets flamed by diehard fanboys* don’t worry, more than laugh and bite my words, i’d probably be shocked and scarred for life and lose hope in humanity+modern society completely. so i have my eggs in her basket too.

the thing i realized tonight was that, i usually try to share my music with everyone and i love talking about music with friends who enjoy it. but it’s different with yui. because yui to me, unlike any other singer/band (except maybe mew) feels personal, and although it’s something i do talk about to try and see what kind of music x person might like, i don’t really go in depth. this may be too complicated to try and decipher in my mind and reproduce as text at this hour, but it’s something along the lines of not wanting to share too much of yourself. i dunno. the best example i can give is that, throughout the years one of the biggest changes to me is the preference of company when doing stuff, rather than preferring to do things alone in the past. but i was ok going alone today…and i’m pretty sure i got more out of it by myself this time than with a friend. it just felt right.

it’s nights like tonight that will encourage me to keep my memory healthy. because they’re all i have to remember the feeling of being there. so, yui様へ:今晩のはありがとうございます。心から本当に楽しんでいた。笑い、泣き、喜び、悲しいみ、この気持ちは全部感じた、ferris wheel のように、ずっと回ってた。あなたの歌は魔法と似たら、オレはいつまでも応援するって約束する。

p.s. : i will probably not be back here until sunday-ish…so as it’s july 4th now in japan, happy america day lol

Posted in tokyo 08 | Leave a Comment »