Dan in Japan: Day 9

I woke up this morning to the pitter patter of rain drops on my window. Up to now I’d had pretty nice weather meaning I could do whatever I wanted regardless of whether it was indoors or out. Much like yesterday, I had my evening planned with another gig, so I once again had a morning and afternoon to fill. With lots of options for places I still hadn’t been, the rain made the decision very easy!

Today I decided to visit a train station! No I’ve not suddenly became a train spotter (I may be nerdy but I have my limits). Tokyo Station is a must see for a few reasons. 1- it’s a beautiful piece of architecture and 2… Character Street!

Under Tokyo Station (much like most of the stations in Tokyo) there are endless aisles of shops and restaurants. Tokyo Station being the main city station means it has to have something a little more special- Character Street. An underground street lined with shops selling nothing but character goods.

By the sheer amount of tourists it’s clear it’s not just the Japanese who are in to furry little mascots. The place was packed with people looking for Hello Kitty, Rillakuma, Studio Ghibli, Moomins, Gudetama, Disney, Domo, Pokémon, Tamagotchi, Youkai Watch… the list could on. A pretty perfect place to get souvenirs by all accounts.

There’s also a fair bit more under Tokyo Station, including a massive food hall selling gourmet (and some not so gourmet) snacks and souvenirs. On the gourmet side, there was… a specialty KitKat store! Now I’m sure everyone knows how in Japan there are constantly limited edition flavour KitKat available. Cheesecake, matcha, wasabi… these are just some of the flavours I’ve seen about. But it turns out in the ‘KitKat Chocolatory’ they have even more extravagant flavours like passion fruit & chilli, strawberry maple and raspberry & pistachio all for about £10-15 per box! Fortunately on the less extravagant end of the spectrum there’s a Calbee store (a crisp band) that was selling tubs of crisps with chocolate drizzled over them served with ice cream! I’ll be trying that before I fly home, for sure.

By this point it was nearly time for my gig so I jumped on a train for Shibuya. However, I did have just enough time for some dinner before the show so I thought it was perfect timing to try out a recommendation I’d received. Remember the guys from the YouTube thing a few nights ago? Well whenever they used to visit Tokyo they’d rave about a place called ‘Coco Ichiban’, a curry chain.

Because they’d been constantly going on about how amazing this place was for a while this was already on my to do list. But it was cemented by the fact that at the YouTube recording they’d told me that I absolutely had to go! So here I was, eating a Coco Curry with pork cutlet and cheese… and it was delicious. You win this round Simon and Martina. With a full and happy belly, I headed to my gig.

Ayumikurikamaki. I think the best way to explain this one is to tell you their story. The group consists of singer Ayumi, DJ Kurika and hype-woman (!) Maki… and they’re bears. Yep, bears. Not girls dressed as bears… they are 4 year old bears. Can’t you tell from the photo?

They formed 4 years ago with just Kurika and Maki, so back then they were obviously just called Kurikamaki which was often shortened to Kuma, which means bear. A couple of years later, Ayumi joined and they became Ayumikurikamaki. Their fans are called ‘Matagi’ (often abbreviated to MTG) which means animal hunter in Japanese. I tell you that last bit because all their merchandise has the phrase “MTG in da house” plastered all over it, with the t-shirts having it in huge letters on the back. When I entered to gig, all I could see right the way to the stage was a sea of ‘MTG in da house’ in front of me. And there was me in my Scott Pilgrim t-shirt.

The fact I was the odd one out didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the gig at all though. They have an interesting way of actually putting on their gigs. They first come out and do a half hour DJ set of J-Rock/Punk songs while Kurika DJs and Ayumi and Maki sing and dance around. This is a great way of doing things because it got everyone hyped up for the support act (including me as they played both BABYMETAL and Maximum The Hormone, 2 of my favourites). Speaking of the support act, they were a punk band called Pan and they were great so we were definitely off to an awesome start.

Then came the main act and quite frankly they blew me away. It wasn’t even entirely the group, half of it was the fans (I mean the Matagi of course). I mentioned WOTAs a few blogs ago, well these were fully fledged Ayumikurikamaki WOTAs. They knew all the chants and hand movements, plus there was a lot of towel spinning. I have no doubt I’d have loved the show regardless, but seeing this sort of thing in person was incredible. I’m now even more hyped for my Momoiro Clover Z gig on Saturday where I WILL HAVE MY OWN TOWEL TO SPIN!

As I left I decided to grab a t-shirt so I don’t feel quite so left out next time and I was handed a laminated ticket. It said something along the lines of because I’d spent more than 2000¥, I got to got to the post gig high touch! Now I know what you’re thinking, that sounds weird (but fun), but a high touch is simply a high five with the artist. Awesome. So I joined the queue which was already massive (looks like a LOT of Matagi had spent 2000¥!). After a few minutes of waiting the girls… I mean bears came out and the queue began to move. And I MEAN move. The 200 or so people were cleared in about 3-4 minutes! It was a simple walk past the group and high five both paws!

So I got my high touch and left the show ready to head home to bed, but not before just calling in to McDonalds to try out their new Plum fries seasoning (it was horrible) and Sakura fizz (very nice). The only sad thing about the day is that I now have 5 days with no gigs :’( Oh well, until tomorrow, see you!

Dan

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