In late November last year, a flight to Japan from Chicago for under $600 popped up for the weekend of January 18. In a matter of hours, the trip was settled, and I would be going to Japan for the 4th time since 2018. This time it will be an entire week with my Chicago wota buddies Nobue (@VVVSnow), Misha (@DJMikeHuynh), and Lauren (@Kan_Kan_Mikan_) and going to see as many idol groups as we could find. We would fly out Wednesday, January 15 and return the following Thursday, on January 23.
Coincidentally, this was the weekend of Love Live Fest so we were able to meet up with some people who were in Japan for that. If you had told me years ago that I would be in Japan during Love Live event and I wasn’t even considering going, I’d call you crazy. Since WUG disbanded, I had been looking for something to fill the WUG-shaped hole in my heart, and I found idols. The passion, electricity, fun musical variety, and closer distance to the fans really drew me in. So unlike my previous trips to see WUG and Walkure, this trip would be idol-focused, and I was as excited as ever.
January 15 seemed to come so quickly after the busy holiday season, and before I knew it I was on a plane to Japan. The trip was uneventful and we arrive in Tokyo on Thursday night. We checked into our hostel in Akihabara and promptly… went to DearStage.
Thursday, January 16 (DearStage)
This is Lauren’s first time in Japan, so before setting off we stopped by FamilyMart for some Famichiki and Strong Zero. With this ceremony, Lauren’s investiture as a true eventer is complete. A short walk later, we arrived at DearStage Cafe & Bar in Akihabara.
I’m a big fan of DearStage’s idol groups, so I was excited to finally have a chance to visit. We sat down at the cafe and Mikari was our waitress. meme tokyo’s Ogura Asuka was also working there, taking orders and chatting with customers. Our group’s limited Japanese was a challenge (this will be a prevalent theme in the upcoming week), but Mikari was very friendly and nice. It was fun to people watch and just sit down, chat, and enjoy mediocre themed cafe food for a while after a long journey.
Friday, January 17 (FES☆TIVE Solo Event)
On Friday morning, we made our way to Tower Records in Shibuya, where Lauren promptly blew over $300. We returned to Akihabara in the afternoon and browsed around there for a while before heading over to TwinBox Akihabara at night to see FES☆TIVE.
TwinBox is a very cozy venue and it was amazing seeing FES☆TIVE up so close. I also got to meet up with Lolly (@shouma_kun) and Alen (@fairfrozenn). I love this group and if you are not familiar with them I recommend checking them out because their music bops and they have very fun and energetic lives. The last time I saw them was a year ago in a frenzied mosh pit at Tsutaya O-Nest, and while it was fun I could barely see the girls because I was trying to preserve my life.
They were not in costume — just t-shirts — which added to a fun, informal feel. My favorite songs that they performed were “Shindareyanagi” and “Otome Que Sera Sera”. I could see sweat literally dripping down the girls’ chins near the end of the performance; being an idol is hard work! I was so impressed by FES☆TIVE and had a great time. To think the week is just beginning!
I got a 2-shot with my oshi, Saria. I was pleased to see the line was not long, and after we all finished Nobue, Misha, Lauren, and I went to the UDX building to sit on the steps where we promptly and unexpectedly bumped into czub (@mczub), Minh (@MinhP765), and Ryan (@Disgaeamad). I haven’t met czub since CharaExpo 2018, Minh since Walkure 3rd Live, and Ryan since Anisong World Matsuri 2017. They were here for Love Live Fest and also the Nanoha event and pulling hardcore weekenders.
It was fun chatting and catching up with Twitter people after a long day of hijinx. Sitting on the steps of the UDX building staring out into the Akihabara night and sipping a Strong Zero is my equivalent of fishing in the morning by yourself or whatever old people do. It’s therapeutic and emphatically reminds me that I am in Japan, and I am sure to do it every trip. I know lots of people know about it by now, but I still like to treat it as my little secret.
After we said our goodbyes, we headed over to Uguisudani to an anikura event that Nobue found, where we would spend all night. We took the first train back and tried getting as much sleep as we could Saturday morning before heading to Odaiba in the early afternoon for MX Idol Festival! I’ll cover that in my next post.
You can read part 2 here