naukhel: (嵐: nice)

...Mainly because I never wrote about when Aes and I went to Sapporo, and last night we went to Tokyo Dome. I'm not going to wax lyrical about the concert, more like jot down the experiences. :)

So, a couple of weeks ago, Aes and I flew to Hokkaido! It was the first time for both of us, though honestly we didn't get much time to do anything tourist-y. We arrived to this beautiful vista:

Beautiful it would have been, I suppose, had it not been raining cats and dogs.

The rain was a major problem for us, because it not only stopped us from going out and exploring too much, but it ruined our shoes and turned Saturday into a hunt for new ones. All's well that ends well, however!

Sapporo food, drink, and concert stuff :D )

And now Tokyo Dome!

Our seats were fantastic. That's the main point to make, here. We were around 20 feet from the main stage, and four seats across from the center walkway. I've been this close to center stage before, but never up in the first block in front of the main stage. It was the kind of close where you can not only make out every detail, but you literally can't avoid making eye contact. Being in the corner between center stage and the center walkway like that, you get a chance to see everyone up close at least once. Where we sat we had a lot of Aiba time, though everyone came past in due course. Not to mention that they flew right over our heads in the opening, and the moving stage felt as though it was within arm's reach.

Center walkway hi!

Main stage hi!

It was amazing to see the concert from here, too, of course. When I'm sitting further back, I rarely have the same kind of stunned shock as I did at the beginning of this show. It was just all SO CLOSE that I forgot what I was supposed to do and simply stood there in a kind of daze. Every time someone came past with their eyes on the crowd, part of me hoped that we wouldn't make eye contact because I'd completely forget how to respond. Unfortunately, foreigners are a little easier to spot in a sea of Asian faces, and when Ohno and I had a staring match I only spasmodically remembered to wave. 8D (Let's not mention Jun. The man frightens me when he's close enough to get down and punch me in the face. Robin will totally understand what I mean.)

Being at the front as we were, we often found ourselves watching performances from behind. 8D This also meant that the MC and final comments were viewed from behind, granting a unique perspective on what was going through the other member's heads when each one was talking - we were close enough to lip-read when they were mouthing words to one another. We were facing Matsujun head-on when he got undressed during the MC - something I am convinced he only does to provoke everyone. Luckily Leader stepped up and interposed himself between Jun and the camera XD;

I think that's really it. I can't say anything else about it other than that it was amazing and I enjoyed it immensely. It was my first time at Tokyo Dome, as well! The trees outside are amazingly beautiful at this time of year.

It was a great way to end the year, as I will be going back to the UK on Monday to spend Christmas with my family. :)
naukhel: (gackt: suddenly)
Friday night I:

  • Came the closest I will ever come to traveling back in time and going to a Malice Mizer concert
  • Went back to school again 8D
  • Met my new student body president (who is in his thirties) (not to mention sexy as hell)
  • Saw a Gackt concert where only one Gackt song was performed. Sort of.
  • Was harassed for sex on the way home. Not cool, Japan.

Friday night was possibly the weirdest thing I have ever attended in my life. "Kamui Gakuen de Ikinasai" was this bizarre fanclub-only event Gackt's been doing recently where the entire thing is set up like a school assembly. Ahhh, suddenly my school uniform all makes horrible sense! There's a strict dress code for attendance, for boys as well as girls. Hence my post on Thursday night. :)

I got there on time, when I was told to get there. Of course, when I arrived I was told that they're running late and other things will have to be canceled since it's unlikely that the show will even be done before the venue closes. This is, of course, in total keeping with what I understand Gackt's fanclub-only events to be like. The same thing happened at his birthday concert this year, too. So I waited around outside, laughing at the food stalls. "Gacktの初恋鍋", "YOUカレー", as well as "Stargacks" serving coffee. I didn't sample any of it, but it actually smelled pretty good. I wish I'd brought my camera - it really was like a school festival, and everyone from the too-young-to-wear-high-school-costume kids to the definitely-too-old-to-be-wearing-it were dressed up in all varieties of school uniform. I even saw someone dressed as Rei Ayanami from Evangelion! It was an interesting twist on high school cosplay, that's for sure. XD

The event itself was really, genuinely bizarre. It was made up like a school hall, and frighteningly accurate. Hell, I worked in four Japanese schools for a year, and had to attend enough of these assemblies to feel very much transported straight back there. At least I knew all the conventions and so didn't fuck up when we all had to stand to attention and bow. There was a speech from the principal and the vice principal. Then we were introduced to our student body president; Gackt came out and walked through the crowd to get to the stage, the same way they do it in school, (except flanked by bodyguards). He was wearing school uniform too, of course. 8D;

Then we got a lecture from Gackt. Sorry, the Seito Kaicho. Congratulations on your enrollment in Kamui Gakuen! You're all very fortunate to be chosen. Our school, as you can see, is not about "learning", but about "fun".* Our motto is "study hard, play hard". When you refer to me, you will refer to me as Seito Kaicho. Or just Kaicho. When you refer to any of your elders, you will address them as "senpai". And when you respond to me, you will not say "yes" or "yay", but "I understand".

*The kanji for "gaku" in "gakuen" is usually the same as the kanji for "learn", obviously. But they've changed it to "fun". 8D

So there it was.  What followed was extremely bizarre; a mixture of some bizarre lottery for fans to go up on stage and be part of the .. uh... "public morals committee". A dance-off between two groups comprised of Gackt's backing dancers and his band, to remixed versions of his music; collectively they were called "F9" (those who have seen Hana Yori Dango will immediately get the reference). JUN-JI (Gackt's drummer) performing GHOST with the full dance -- and doing all the vocals himself. Then,  bizarrely enough, the "school bell" rung and we had a recess during which I simply sat there completely stunned and made bemused Twitter updates trying to convey how weird the entire event was.

After the break, Seito Kaicho came back out. Apparently him and some of the other F9 members had started up a school band called "Super Excellent High School Students In Japan", which he seemed to think was aptly abbreviated to "SEX JAPON". ...Don't ask, his grasp of English seems to be tenuous at times. So, SEX JAPON were going to perform some cover songs.

Yes, you heard that right. COVER songs.

At this point I was admittedly a little disappointed; I wanted to hear Gackt songs, damnit, not Gackt covering other bands. But even though it wasn't quite what I'd been hoping for, some of the results were absolutely excellent beyond comprehension. The first two songs were LUNA SEA. "The next two songs were written by Sugizo. I asked him if I could use them, and he said: 'yes, yes! go ahead! use them!'. So I responded, 'would you like to come and see the performance?'. He said, 'Actually, no thanks'."

After that, I noticed them putting a giant, vertical wig on JUN-JI's head, and my heart leaped! BUCK-TICK! It's BUCK-TICK! I was very excited. They performed "Just one more kiss". But then it just got better! Next, we're going to do one of l'arc~en~ciel's songs - PV style. Have you seen it? STAY AWAY.

I think I nearly died of joy right there. My absolute favourite l'arc song, and true to his word, he performed it like the PV to the absolute letter - including the hilarious choreographed dance at the end and the cute/awesome-lame hip-bobbing that Hyde does the whole way through. All in all, it was a very good impression of Hyde. (Why is Hyde so much shorter than me? Well, he has a hormonal imbalance or something. It's very serious, things like that exist, you know.)

Other covers of note... Well. Gackt performing a Malice Mizer song live was not something I thought I'd ever live to see. 8D He performed Au Revoir, and it was biblical. XD Absolutely amazing. He did perform one Gackt song (his "older brother's" song, sorry), and since it was Ai Senshi, we all had to learn "Akiba-kei" parapara for it. Gundam-style parapara. It was.... A sight to behold. I have to mention that all the way through this, Gackt had the driest, most amusing sense of humour in everything he was saying. He went through the steps to the dance for about twenty minutes, all along remarking that if we couldn't manage them we may as well all go home. Whenever he'd announce whose song they were going to perform next, he'd remark: Don't bother yourself if you have no idea who they are. It's fine. I don't care. You can go home and look them up on You Tube. Whatever. Of course we all knew who they were, he was just working everyone up. 8D

JUN-JI made another appearance and performed TRAIN TRAIN and one other song, which was pretty amazing. He has a good voice! Gack-- uh, Seito Kaicho also did a remioromen song, among others. And then for the encore... I KNEW they would do it. I just knew it. There's no way Gackt would do a covers concert without touching X JAPAN.

Except Chachamaru, Gackt's guitarist, was playing Toshi's part and doing the singing. They were all dressed up as their respective counterparts - huge eighties-style hair and all. Chacha was Toshi, You was Hide, and Gackt..... Well. Gackt was Yoshiki, which nearly made me have some kind of terminal brain event. Never mind that he was TOTALLY Yoshiki; he came out topless and played the drums in just the same fashion as Yoshiki does. Chacha was actually really impressive at the vocals, especially considering that Toshi is hardly easy for anyone to pull off.

So there you have it 8D Possibly the most supremely odd event I have attended - definitely the strangest event I think Gackt's done for a long time, if not the weirdest of all. It was fanclub-only, but I have a feeling that he's going to be opening it up to everyone next month; he mentioned that he was going to take it to Saitama Super Arena, which is a HUGE venue. He's also having events on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - none of these I can attend, of course, but I'm not sure if I could really take going to Kamui Gakuen again so soon anyway. XD

Oh, and I guess I should mention for those who aren't savvy in Japanese how dodgy the entire title is. Basically, through much word trickery and many puns, all night people were effectively saying "I want to make you come!". Everything that alluded to the "lessons" that apparently go on at the "school" was about sex. When they performed X Japan, in the spaces where you would normally shout "X! X! X!" we had to shout "SEX! SEX! SEX!".

... I really don't know what else to say. I think perhaps what I've written really speaks for itself 8D; Shame that we were strictly not allowed to take photos, because they would have been amazing. However, I can at least give you a little glimpse of our Seito Kaicho:

Kaicho, Kaicho! Ahh, I feel kinda like my sanity might never return. :( Never mind about my dignity, I think it wandered off somewhere while I was looking at which school uniform to buy.

Oh, and just to clarify my final bullet point - if any of you remember it by now - on the way home some drunken businessmen started harassing me to have sex with them. This is the trouble with wearing a school uniform, I suppose, even if I did have a hoodie covering up almost all of it and brought jeans along just in case. I was in such a hurry to get home that I didn't bother to get changed, and ended up having to quite firmly tell these guys to fuck each other if they were so desperate, before moving to the opposite end of the platform. 8D

naukhel: (crisis core: cloud)


...It's building a life-size one.

  I have to admit, I'm not exactly the world's greatest Gundam fan; when it comes to giant robots, I'm an Evangelion fangirl. But I have had my flings with Gundam in the past, and I couldn't possibly pass up the chance to go and stand in the shadow of a real life giant robot. After an aborted attempt to get out to Odaiba and see it last weekend, I finally made the plunge on Thursday evening with a new friend of mine. What can I say? It was awesome!

  The only trouble, of course, is that once you've got there and gone, "Oh wow that's so cool it's a giant fucking gundam!!!" there's not much else to do. You can take photos, of course - I did. But then there's this awkward silence while you stare at it and wonder who's going to be the first to say, "shall we go, then?".

  We got there just in time to see it moving. There's some narrative in the background ("Is that Gackt?" I asked, feeling like an idiot. Of course it was.) and the head swivels - it's all very fluid and believable. We speculated about whether or not there was actually a cockpit you could climb into, but since they auctioned off the chance to have your photo taken standing on its shoulder, I'm guessing that there isn't. And for those of you with currency issues, yes - the final auction price was around £16,000.

  The two photos above are the ones taken on my DSLR that I uploaded to my flickr stream (click thumbnails to view), but for anyone interested in the whole set - most of which were taken on my cellphone - the link to my post on MoBlog is here. It made it to featured highlights! :D Though how could it not - it's a giant fucking robot. I'd highlight it. Twice.

  Now to decide whether it's actually enough to make me download the series or not....
naukhel: (gackt: blue)
First off, apologies to those of you who are seeing two posts on the same subject - you can see that I tried to keep all the information separate so that you weren't reading the same thing twice, so hopefully that'll allow you to pick and choose what you read.

So, through various fairly stressful last-minute arrangements, I ended up going to another of Gackt's concerts yesterday: namely the "GACKT VISUALIVE ARENA TOUR 2009 Requiem et Réminiscence II Final 〜鎮魂と再生〜 Birthday with Dears" one (I know, long enough name? XD). I went to one of the earlier shows at the beginning of the tour, so it was material I'd already seen, but I'm not going to pass up the chance to go and see it again - and certainly not on Gackt's birthday!

The concert was fantastic. It was just as good as the last time I saw it, but with extra filling. ;D Gackt was on absolutely top form, he was silly and talkative and amusing. Similarly to the last time I went to this concert, the beginning run of songs is my favourite. It's just stronger than the rest of the set, the songs hit really hard one after the other and they follow the story set up by the intro movie. I have to say I LOVE seeing 'Uncontrol' live. Now I think about it, I think Gackt said it was his favourite of his own songs, but it's too hard to sing at karaoke. XD (understandably)

As for the extra filling, there were messages from a fair few familiar faces. Miyavi, Yoshiki, and Sugizo all gave video messages (with the exception of Yoshiki who left a rather amusing voice message but no video). Miyavi berated Gackt over turning up two hours late for a dinner date. Sugizo called Gackt his brother (and of course signed out with "live long and prosper" XD) and Yoshiki just said "sou desu ne" an awful lot for no apparent reason. There were also messages from several Gundam voice actors, which apparently pleased Gackt the most out of any of them XD He's such a fanboy!

There were two birthday cakes, one smaller one and a large one that was given to the guests after the show. At one point the screens all displayed a message to the fans that the lights were going to go out in a moment - and when they did we all had to wave blue glowsticks and sing Happy Birthday. That was awesome :)

Some of his MCs were really amusing, too. I'll try and transcribe what I can remember of the one where he was talking about Fukuyama Masaharu.

I finally made tentative friends with Fukuyama after Music Station yesterday. I don't really have many close friends, so I felt a bit like I'd matured, a little. *laughs* He asked me to come to one of his concerts, and I was like "YES! I want to go! When is it?".
"The Fourth."
"...Ahh... I have a concert that day. And it's my birthday."
"Well, then how about the 11th or the 12th?"
"....I have concerts those days, too."
"Okay, then some time in September, how's that?"
"...Well, I might have an event in September...."
"You don't HAVE to come, you know."
So we decided we'd just meet up privately instead, and we exchanged contact details. I asked Fukuyama, will you call me if you're free?
"...Well, I don't really call people."
*pained grin* "I don't, either."

Other moments of note... The audience at one point were shouting for him to strip, and he tugged his shirt up juuuust teasingly and then said: "If I get naked, the people sitting in the arena seats are the pool, you know, and if I jump in it's gonna be BAD."

There was also a trend for the people in the arena seats (where I was) to stamp their feet and jump up and down and make a great noise, in this concert. It happened every time the audience were haranguing Gackt, with hilarious effect. XD He said, "You know, in all my ten years of solo performances, I have NEVER had an arena who behaved in such a way". (cue more stamping). "Shut up!!"

Every time it happened he reprimanded us, which of course only made everyone do it all the more. It was a combination of shouting "YEAH!", stamping, or doing a cowboy-like gesture and going "Woooooooo" in a high pitched voice, depending on circumstance.

The concert was really long. It started at around 6:30, and I still hadn't found my seat when it started. The venue actually closes at 10pm, but because of the birthday messages and such, the concert stretched on far longer than it should have and didn't finish until 10:30. So all in all, four hours standing up in the hall. I was exhausted by the end of it.

One nice thing I did get to take away from the concert with me was one of the long, silver tapes that were blasted out at the very end. I'm never normally in a position to catch these things at the end of concerts, but since I was at the front in arena this time I got one :) It's very cool, it's printed with the name of the tour and the logo.

It says "GACKT VISUALIVE ARENA TOUR 2009 Requiem et Réminiscence II Final 〜鎮魂と再生〜 Birthday with Dears". XD

I'm glad I went. Even though it was a last-minute thing, it was fantastic fun, and these things don't roll around every other week. I'm definitely going to decline to go on the 11th or 12th, since I'm moving out on the 19th, but I'll be living in Tokyo after that and it will be a lot easier for me to arrange these things, even if they DO happen right at the last moment. :)
naukhel: (kuon: dark)
 Today is one of those days that reminds me how careful you have to be when you work in a Japanese office environment. I really would like to write about this publicly, so I'm going to do my best to obscure the names of workplaces, companies and colleagues here, because it's an issue worth talking about.

The subject was touched on briefly last night when I was chatting with [personal profile] aeslis about my upcoming job interview next Monday, and it's worth reiterating here. I have never had to be half as careful what I agree to do in any job in the West as I have to be here in Japan. Even when I was studying at unviersity here, there was so much unspoken obligation that was simply expected of you that I gained quite the reputation for being "difficult" and "unreasonable" among the office staff by asserting my right to say no to things that I didn't want to do.

There is a very delicate balance between wanting to be accepted as "just like anyone else" in this country (which - though I don't like to put it this way - in essence means being accepted "as Japanese") and asserting rights that are still very much overlooked. You don't want to be treated like the ignorant foreigner all the time among your colleagues, so it's not good to go playing the "foreigner card" every other day, but there are also times when I really feel that the Japanese need to be reminded of how the rest of the world works. I may be an "ambassador for my country" over here, and thereby partially responsible for the positive or negative views of foreigners that I'm creating by my actions, but I also think that responsibility can extend to helping Japan become a more truly international country.

For example: my Japanese colleagues rarely take time off work. Even if they're entitled to it, even if they're sick or desperately need the time off, it's "not the done thing". However, just because the expectation is that they will struggle into work and never use their paid holiday does NOT mean that I will not or should not. It's in my contract, I am entitled to it by law. Similarly, they can't force me to do things that are not stipulated in my contract, or things that are definitively stipulated against - such as if they ask me to teach classes on my own. It's happened once or twice, and luckily I was on the ball about telling them that I'm not allowed to by law.

It's always better to make sure that you are firm from day one about things you will or will not do. I like to think that I am fair about the things I agree to do at work, or the things I voluntarily undertake; but undertaking one thing voluntarily does not mean that I will always agree to it. I've been asked to work at weekends for no extra pay and with no compensatory time off, and that is not something I am going to blindly agree to. I understand that while often in Japan "would you do this?" means "we expect you to do this", but I am a person and not a machine. I've often felt as though my co-workers feel like I am a tool that simply gets switched off when I'm not at work, and not a human being who might not always be ready and willing to give up my free time and work work work.

This has all come up today because of some typical stipulations that my current workplace are trying to make now that I'm leaving. More things which I am NOT required to do. I still have not come to a conclusion about whether Japanese companies deliberately attempt to pull the wool over your eyes (especially if you're a foreigner in Japan) or if it's simply something they do to everyone. Today I got to work and was told "you HAVE to go home to your country when you quit, and then come back again." I know exactly why this is; the minute I go through immigration at the airport, they'll invalidate my visa. Unfortunately for them, I have plans to change sponsorship of my visa, and there's no reason that I should be "required" to leave the country and come back again when it can all be done on Japanese soil without my having to pay for a return flight.

Let's not get into the "surprise bills" you seem to get whenever you finish your term somewhere in Japan. When I was about to graduate from my Japanese university, I was suddenly presented with a bill for 71,000yen. Apparently it was a "backlog" of money I owed for various things - all things I had no idea I owed money for, of course. I cried when they gave it to me, because I literally didn't even have that much money in my bank account, and I still had to survive for two months and pay my way back to the UK. In the end I had to borrow £1,000 from my parents just to make it home. I could mention the trouble [personal profile] aeslis had with her former company this year when she left, but suffice to say that no-one owes 7.5 million yen to their former employer for "damages" and "defamation" simply by quitting when their contract is up. Did I mention that none of this is legally binding? But if you're not used to the way things work in Japan, especially if you don't speak the language, it would be all too easy to be caught out into thinking that you absolutely have to do these things or pay these bills.

I guess in a way this is just a reminder to anyone who doesn't already understand these things that they DO happen. You have to be careful. 


naukhel: (Default)

February 2013

345 6789


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 04:41 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios