29th July 2016: Trying not to think {Japan, summer 2016}

So I got home late the previous day and I did not really feel like studying, so this morning I had to do my homework and study for the exam ( ̄◇ ̄;). However, at around midmorning, I decided that I really did not care for a perfect grade anymore, that I was not going to get anyway because the teacher was not happy with my なければなりません and wanted なけれべいけません because that was what the book had. The other day when I was in Harajuku I’d seen something I really wanted, so I decided that screw everything, I would go buy it.

First, I stopped by Shibuya [渋谷], just because. I did a quick tour over Tsutaya, Book Off and Mandarake. In Tsutaya, I bugged a lady as I was looking for a specific manga and she did not look too happy to help (~_~;). Then I went to Harajuku [原宿] to buy the item I had fallen in love with, a 40cm high photobook (limited edition).

After class (and last exam, and saying bye bye and getting our pic taken with the certificate…) I met M. in Ikebukuro [池袋] as we were going to do fanstuff together. Well, let me rephrase that. First I went home because the photobook(s) was (were) heavy as hell and it would have been more expensive to find a coin locker for them than getting home and dropping them off. After that, I waited for her in the Book Off (and was self-restrained and did not buy anything else). We checked out the Ikebukuro Closet Child and then we had dinner together.

The plan was try and hunt the Gakkuchi. That is, some of the adorable plushes that GACKT makes. He had decided to put some as prices for the UFO catchers. I do know that getting them is next to impossible, but for 500Y try, you got a clearfile, and that was awesome…

So awesome that the clearfiles were “sold out” in all Ikebukuro. We tried one station over, a smaller one. No luck. We tried my station. Still no luck. Damn, what a way to finish the day (♯`∧´).

4th July 2016: Scary, scary… aaaaaah {Japan, summer 2016}

After hitting for Gackt’s concert, I figured out that I would ballot for the insanely impossible birthday party – GACKT’s 43rd Birthday Party in ANA InterContinental Tokyo, located in Akasaka [赤坂]. And somehow – somehow – I hit. I might have been a little in histerics about the whole thing for a while, especially with how strict the dress code seemed to be.

Before that I organised a swift visit to Harajuku [原宿] and Meiji Jingu [明治神宮]. For starters, I wanted to catch Godzilla in Shinjuku [新宿], which I did not do last year – I had stolen a glimpse of him when I had picked my keys up.

Then I headed over to Harajuku [原宿] and I had a stroll down Takeshita-dōri [竹下通り] (天気がいいから、さんぽしましょう、and so XD) and into Yoyogi Kōen [代々木公園] to show Meiji Jingu [明治神宮] to T**y. Then I headed back home to get ready because PANIC!(◎_◎;) I was ridiculously nervous about the event. Fortunately, it worked out almost perfectly.

The event itself consisted on a formal dinner, and a later appearance of the birthday boy himself and the band to… basically have a drinking game, a card game, and a talk show on stage. It was a lot of money to be honest, and I don’t think I’ll ever feel the need to do something like it again, but I am glad that I was crazy to do it at least once. I unfortunately had to leave before it finished in order to make it to the last train, so I missed the songs *sigh*. Nothing is perfect I guess.

Note: You can read longer commetary of the event at SemiRandom.

3rd July 2016: GACKT’s last Last Visual Live {Japan, summer 2016}

My coming to Japan this year was originally trigger for me hitting fanclub tickets for Gackt’s Last Visual Live in Saitama Super Arena [さいたまスーパーアリーナ], obviously in Saitama [さいたま]. I had never thought that I would be able to see one, much less this close, so for me it was quite intense. There was queuing, and goods, and ramen and fanclub tickets.

As far as concerts and GACKT’s lives go, this was a dream come true – to be able to attend one of his great productions live was one of my fan-dreams and it did not disappoint. It was not easy to receive the fanclub tickets because why would anything be well-organised? The overseas fanclub members did not have their tickets sent to them, we had to pick them up on site, and the staff had no idea of that. After a while though, someone from the fanclub staff figured things out and put up a sign, so I was able to get my admittance tickets.

The concert itself was… well, I’ve mentioned GACKT’s delirium of grandeur before, and this event qualified, with the additional emotional charge that it is supposed to be the last time he does anything like it. There was a nostalgic mix of older and newer songs, and all in all it was super-emotional.

Note: You can read a longer commentary of the concert over at SemiRandom.

16th August 2014: Pretty people everywhere {Japan, summer 2014}

When a single is released in Japan, shops make a bit of a stand where it is prominently displayed. In the case of Tower Records in Ikebukuro [池袋], a staff-san had gone a small step further, and built a small shrine to L’Arc~en~Ciel. She was very confused as whether we knew who they were, and surprised we knew. We also saw Acid Black Cherry single stand, and as we were leaving we kinda walked into the Eito Rangers.

After browsing Book Off and K-Books, we had an appointment at Swallowtail, which was great, as always. They have opened a souvenir shop, which was great because I finally managed to own one of their napkins, legally. Now I won’t feel like stealing one whenever I’m there.

After a short Mandarake visit, we headed off towards the Meijiza [明治座], the Meiji Theatre, in the Chūō [中央] area to watch GACKT’s Second Moon Saga instalment.

This time round, GACKT had tried to be more discrete, in a way it gave me the impression that he wanted to leave the “idol” idea behind, and he wanted to be taken more as a serious actor. The play takes off a few years after the previous one, and tells the story of how (spoilers) Yoshitsune tried to gain, or re-gain, his brother’s favour and downfall again. Yoshitsune struggles with his inner “evil” self, some kind of mononoke. While he struggles with the idea of whether he should kill himself or not. In the end, Yoshitsune loses control and the play closes with a threat of “hell beginning at that point”. Very… dramatic. It’s a pity that we will never see how it ends though (you might remember there was supposed to be a manga…). I bought myself the novel and I hope that one day I know enough Japanese to read it

Note: there is a longer commentary and a review over at SemiRandom.

4th July 2013: Yokohama Sea Paradise and GACKT 40th Birthday Concert {Japan, summer 2013}

The day started Yokohama [横浜]-bound towards Hakkeijima Sea Paradise [八景島シーパラダイス].

I have tried to spare you fishy pictures, especially those I have shared already (read: I overcame the urge to post hammerhead shark pictures!! And deep-sea crabs too!!), but when I went to the Yokohama Sea Paradise, there was one main thing in mind that I had to see: the whalesharks.

The polar bears seemed to be having a bit of a lover’s quarrel, but the camera did not do a good job focussing on them at the right times.

They also had an impressive amount of beluga whales.

And a very attention-demanding pufferfish or two.

Finally I headed off to the other side of Yokohama, to the Yokohama Arena [横浜アリーナ], for the GACKT Best of the Best concert for his 40th birthday, which was beyond amazing.

GACKT is a Japanese soloist music known for his ego and his… you may call it delirium of grandeur if you wish. He loves doing things big, so when I saw him in Barcelona in 2010 and 2011 I could only imagine how a big stage would feel. To be honest, it did not disappoint, and it was indeed grandiose. Furthermore, the 4th of July happens to be GACTK’s birthday so there were a lot of fun shenanigans going on, and a very nostalgic tone for old fans. There is a whole-length report at SemiRandom.

16th July 2012: Umi no Hi! {Japan, summer 2012}

Monday 16th was the third Monday of June, and thus Umi no Hi [海の日], The Day of the Ocean, and it started great – the sky was super clear. That means we were able to see Mount Fuji, Fuji-san [富士山]! I had not seen him since I was here, not even on my way to Osaka because it was cloudy. It is difficult to see Fuji in Summer, so I was really happy to catch him.

The morning, however, was to be spent in Yokohama [横浜]. The first stop was Chinatown, where I got to meet an old ‘friend’ of mine, whom I had been craving to see for a long time, in one of the temples. But that is its own story. (Basically: I got to see a dragon sculpture I loved).

In Chinatown we visited Kwan Tai Temple [関帝廟]

And Kanteibyō / Kuan Ti Miao Temple [関帝廟 / 中華会館].

We had lunch in one of the many Chinese restaurants in the area.

Afterwards we moved to the Port of Yokohama to see waves!! the famous skyline and the Yokohama Bay Bridge, along with lots of pretty ships which were open to visit in celebration of Umi no Hi.

By 5pm, however, we were back in Tokyo because we had tickets to the theatre, more particularly GACKT’s Butai “MOON SAGA ~Yoshitsune Hiden~” at the Akasaka ACT Theater.

Being guionised by CLAMP, I expected a high body count [Spoilers from here] but I was surprised. The play is prepared as part of the whole Moon Saga project, so it does not focus in GACKT, who has surprisingly little stage time playing Yoshitsune. The play has all the elements of a CLAMP story – tragic love, honour debt, child with preternatural power, a few deaths, a character who randomly changes sides but in his heart he still belongs to the original side, main character forced to kill a friend, lots of angst… The butai tells the story of a group of fighters as they embark themselves in a war against the evil mononoke who are destroying Japan. Yoshitsune’s character himself is a half-oni or has an oni inside him, something along.

As I said, GACKT did not have much screen time, and to be completely honest, his spotlight was completely stolen by Saotome Taichi, a barely legal actor who plays Kage (Shadow), one of the good mononoke and who has a beautiful CLAMPian on-stage death.

Yoshinaga, one of the original companions, loses the love of his life, changes sides and tries to kill Yoshitsune, awakening the demon in him. GACKT flies through the stage during the fight and in the end Demon-Yoshitsune kills his old friend. The curtains fall soon after GACKT desperately cries over Yoshinaga’s body. Very sad. Very CLAMP.

The actors come back onstage, they are ovationed. The curtains fall again, the lights remain off. The curtains are drawn, and we are back to the beginning, the companions are alive and well, has it all been a dream? A foreshadow? Is this the companions’ destiny? But no, they are not companions… they are family…

[End Spoilers] It seems that when GACKT talks of the Moon Saga project, it means that you need to know all the pieces of the puzzle to understand the story. Each of the pieces seems to be part of a great jigsaw that will come together to form something absolutely amazing – there is a bit more about the play and everything around it on SemiRandom, but I think that is enough for now.

Well played, GACKT, well played. Now shut up and take my money, because this is going to be EPIC.

After the play, we had some curry at CocoCurry House.

Flashback to 27th – 31st July 2011: Barcelona (Spain) for Gackt / Yellow Fried Chickenz

  • Basílica de la Sagrada Família (Church of the Holy Family)
  • Torre Glòries (Glory Tower)
  • Gackt / YFC concert (more of this on SemiRandom.

Note: This is a flashback post, which means it is just a collage regarding a trip I took before I started the blog in 2012. Tags may be incomplete or slightly off.

Flashback to 17th – 21st June 2010: First time in Barcelona (Spain), with the excuse of Gackt

  • Basílica de la Sagrada Família (Church of the Holy Family)
  • Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia (Cathedral of The Holy Cross and St Eulalia)
  • Mercat St Josep (St. Joseph Market)
  • La casa de los paraguas or Casa Bruno Cuadros (House of Bruno Cuadros)
  • Museu de Cera Barcelona (Wax Museum)
  • Edificio de Aduanas (Customs Building)
  • Puerto de Barcelona (Barcelona Harbour)
  • Estatua de Colón (Colombus Statue)
  • Iglesia de Santa María del Mar (Church of St. Mary of the Seas)
  • Museo del Mamut (Mammoth Museum)
  • Arc de Triomf de Barcelona (Bartelona Triumphal Arc)
  • Parc Güel (Güel Park)
  • Montjuic
  • MNAC or Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (Museum of Catalonian Art)
  • Poble Espanyol (Spanish Village)
  • Plaça d’Espanya & Torres Venecianes (Square of Spain & Venecian Towers)
  • Barrio Gótico (Gothic Quarters)
  • Gackt’s Are you Fried Chickenz concert. You can read about it
    on SemiRandom.

Note: This is a flashback post, which means it is just a collage regarding a trip I took before I started the blog in 2012. Tags may be incomplete or slightly off.