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Nagoya Autumn 2012 Day 11

Attention Please

21 December, 2012 by

Despite the rest being unfamiliar with the group, everyone was looking forward to this evening’s Passpo concert, since it would be our first real concert this trip. We’re not too sure why they decided to have a live on a Monday but because of that we had the whole afternoon free, on account of all the tourist attractions being closed. We decided to take things easy, traveling the entire day by foot. We’d take a slow stroll from Sakae to the live house in Osu and see what the day throws at us.

Left our cameras behind this morning, since we didn’t want any trouble at the concert later. Today’s photos would have to come from the crummy iPhone camera instead. You’d have to pardon the poorer quality photos, though I was happy to be free from the burden of carrying around the large DSLR. Well as they say, the best camera is the one that’s with you. Unless it’s a tablet, in which case you’d look ridiculous.

Nagoya Tower.

Our first stop was at Nagoya Tower. If you’ve been following some my recounts you’d understand why it was a must visit spot. The sky was rather cloudy today though, so I didn’t expect to see far. Bouts of light rain were expected for the afternoon.

But first a quick stop to get some breakfast. We tried looking around at some cafes and such but there wasn’t anything affordable. As we were completing our second week in Japan, everyone was starting to stringe a little. We ended up with takeaway from the Daily Yamazaki convenience store beside the tower instead.

Breakfast.

It didn’t turn out to be such a good idea. While slightly cheaper than other combinis, the food at Daily Yamazaki ended up being completely tasteless.

The Daily Yamazaki carried a different, smaller range of drinks from other convenience chains too. Was fooled into buying this Kirin tea because of the Mickey Mouse pattern on it, that and the fact that it was the cheapest drink here. Tasted terrible too. For some reason, it had that shiso taste to it. From the sum of experiences so far, I’d recommend staying away from any Kirin drinks.

Micky Tea.

It started to drizzle as we were having our breakfast in the park. Packing up, we headed to the base of Nagoya Tower. Turned out there were lots of chairs outside the tower that fell within shelter and made for a great place to simply chill.

Entry up the tower cost 600 yen. Eri and Randy opted to stay downstairs so I’d be checking out the tower alone..

Gave me this on the way up.

Glico promotion.

I purchased a ticket from a vending machine on the third floor and waited for the elevator up. There I was given a box of Glico pretzel sticks. There was some sort of campaign going on for “Pocky Day” and Arashi’s Ninomiya Kazunari was in the promotional material for it. Found a cardboard cutoff of him upstairs but it would had been infinitely creepy for me to get a stranger to help take a picture together with it, so here is it alone.

Statistically, Nagoya Tower isn’t quite as impressive as the other towers, so could understand why the rest chose to give it a miss. From the outside, it kind of looks like a miniature Tokyo Tower, with its similar lattice pattern. It’s also the oldest tower in Japan and thus not particularly tall. Thankfully, the rest of the buildings in Nagoya aren’t either, so it provides ample coverage of the area.

Nagoya City.

Buildings aren’t as tall as some other cities.

I guess, the buildings in Nagoya do look kind of drab when compared to Tokyo. The view at night might had been better but I didn’t foresee finding time to visit the tower another time. Still, I did enjoy the view. Always made it a point to visit some sort of vantage point for every city I would visit overseas. Depending on how much you like towers or cityscapes your mileage with the tower will vary.

Managed to get a better look at the park surrounding the tower from above. We had just seen a small part on foot but the actual park spanned a long stretch north and south of the tower. You can see Nagoya castle peeking out on the left of this picture too. Some of the leaves in the park were finally starting to brown, the first signs of autumn’s approach.

View of the park below.

Spotted this interesting building which we would visit later.

On top of the observatory, I was pleasantly surprised to find an open air deck. It was gated off and kind of looked like those scenes you’d see in high school dramas.

There were some benches here for you to sit around and absorb the atmosphere. No one here this morning except some salarymen who had taken a tea break to come up here for a smoke with a view. I can imagine this place being quite a popular spot between couples in the evenings too.

Open air benches at the top.

Back downstairs, the two were chilling out at the tables and chairs mentioned earlier. They were raving about the tower’s toilets and how luxurious they were. Continuing on, we headed first to the north parts of the park. A strange overhead bridge joined the two parts of the park where a main road had run through. It was made to look like a suspension bridge, towers and all.

Nothing particularly interesting at this side of the park, except that we managed to get a closer look of the reddening trees. From the monuments here, we would learn that the Hisaya Odori Park was actually built as part of the reconstruction efforts for Nagoya after it was razed to the ground during World War 2. Nagoya’s sister cities were listed here. The park was meant to be a symbol of peace and hope for the people, with Nagoya Tower being the centerpiece.

Park.

Giant clock.

Heading south, we found more people at this side of the park. There were a bunch of middle-aged and retired folks, mostly women sketching and painting scenes from the park. It’s a common sight in parks around Japan. The elderly live a pretty ideal life. I’d love to return to Japan to retire someday too.

Old people painting in the park.

A whole bunch of them.

Beside the park we found the interesting building I spotted from above the tower. Wasn’t quite sure what the Oasis 21 building drew its inspiration from but it was indeed quite unique. I had seen people walking on the roof so was eager to head up to take a look too. Randy and Eri were concerned that they’d might have to pay to enter, but I reassured them that that would had been pretty silly, though had this been Singapore, you would indeed need to pay a fee.

The Meitetsu Station was below.

Basement was supposed to mimic the sea.

Oasis 21’s concept would be more apparent after we checked out the naming of the floors inside the lift. There’s a sort of airship thing going on with the place, with the roof being called the “Water Spaceship”.

The entire roof is cover with transparent glass tiles so you could see straight through the ground below. Most of it was actually a pool of water, with some benches here to rest. Covering the roof with water actually serves a practical purpose of moderating the temperature of the complex below, especially in summer.

Large fountain on the roof.

Fair enough.

Sky was reflected off the floor.

There wasn’t anyone up here this afternoon apart from one couple. There were more people, office workers having a midday break at the park which made up the ground floor. The actual commercial parts of Oasis 21 were build underground, though still having a very open concept. The ocean themed basement linked to the adjacent Sakaemichi Station that was owned by the private Meitetsu line.

Thus far I was quite liking the fact how despite being a capital city, there were plenty of open empty places all around central Nagoya like that. The rest lamented how there was nothing in Nagoya but cafes, parks and pubs. And while that meant that it wasn’t that interesting a place for the typical holiday, Nagoya would certainly be a great place to live in. Perhaps this explained the mystery as to why we’d seen nearly as many foreigners in Nagoya.

Definitely putting a bookmark on Nagoya as one of the most livable places in Japan. There are plenty of other reasons why life in Nagoya would be more preferential to other cities, but to go in detail would require a whole other post.

A park on the floor below.

Our next stop was to check out a new shopping complex a few blocks down called Nadya Park. Eri and I headed there first, while Randy returned to the hotel to take something that he had forgotten. Along the way we scouted for the location where our coach to Tokyo would be picking us up at, just in case.

We spent some time looking around the Loft that took up most of Nadya Park. Loft is another Japanese lifestyle department store much like Tokyu Hands, except more upscale. I really enjoy looking around such stores, even if not buying anything usually. The reason being the all sorts of interesting products that you’ll never see elsewhere.

They’ve invented solutions for everything in Japan, even stuff you’d never thought were a problem. And then within each range of products the variety can be quite overwhelming. For example, there was a whole isle here dedicated to just shoe inserts of every possible shape and size.

New department store.

Apart from Loft, the rest of Nadya Park was just more cafes, art, and furniture galleries. So we traveled in the direction of Osu, hoping to find something for lunch along the way. The rest were keen on eating more “Japanese” food, we hadn’t had nearly enough so far and the terrible experience with the omurice at Otsu was still fresh in our minds.

Randy wanted some tempura rice in particular so we searched around for that. Helpful pamphlets placed along the streets at Osu pointed out two such places within the district. Unfortunately, by that time the window for lunch was already over.

It was actually getting cold at this point and Randy and I weren’t sporting any outer wear. So our only choice at this point was to seek refuge at a McDonalds near to where the Passpo live would be held later. Conveniently, the rest had wanted to try out whatever special orders McDonalds in Japan had to offer anyways.

A late lunch.

Our choices were between the Teriyaki Burger or this Big Chicken Rich Cheese Burger and though we ordered separately, we all ended up going with the same thing. I’ve never had any luck with the golden arches in Japan and their previous McRibs and Texas Burgers.

Which is why we were surprised when the Big Chicken burger ended up being pretty darn good. It was like sticking one of those Family Mart fried chickens between some toasted buns, with vegetables, cheddar and a generous slice of gouda to go along. The burger is a little on the pricy at 340 yen or 660 yen as a medium sized meal, but I’d recommend trying it at least once.

Pretty awesome.

There were still hours to spare before the actual concert and not being keen on braving the cold outside, we opted to stay indoors. There were brochures for the current month’s Happy Meal offerings at each table, which Randy entertained himself with. The kids here get Licca/Jenny, Pokemon and Super Sentai toys with their meals. Randy was talking about how envious he was, so we half expected him to get a Happy Meal when he left to get more beverages, but he returned with a coffee instead.

Between the junk food and weather, all of us were quite sleepy. We spent at least a couple of hours there just slipping between consciousness. Throughout there were quite a few other people just chilling out at the McDonalds too. We joked that perhaps they were all waiting for the concert too. But that turned out to be true, when the two young girls in the next table started taking out their idol photo albums and talking about “Tomochin”.

Slightly different from the ones we have back home.

Eventually, we thought that we ought to head over to the venue since the two girls had already started to make their way there. But it was really only just across the road. As most such concerts, the Passpo one was to be held at a run down pub called Electric Lady Land.

For those interested on the ticketing side of things, we had gotten ours by pre-ordering special editions of their new single, Wing. It was really worthwhile since it only cost 2,500 yen for the CD and tickets to the concert, or “flight” as the group calls is. The details also stated that there would be a meet and greet session after the show, where you’d be able to handshake your member of choice.

One concern was the fine print, that stated that we’d need to bring along the invoice so as to confirm our identities and prevent resellers. It was the reason why I ended up shipping all three of our CDs separately. But we’d later learn that they wouldn’t bother.


View Japan 2012 and Beyond in a larger map

We arrived to find nigh anyone around yet. The tickets were numbered so there really wasn’t any good reason to come early as long as the event was executed smoothly. A stark contrast to the way things such things are held in Singapore. Unfortunately our randomly assigned numbers were a bad, 367 and 368. Eri got a smaller 329. They had initially sent her the wrong ticket (Passpo would be performing in Osaka tomorrow) but sent this other ticket after returning the previous one.

No one there yet.

There were marked sections for people to queue, but anything beyond 300 was lumped as “everyone else”. As such, we decided that there wasn’t a point in queueing so early with no one around, especially not in the rain that had started to make its return.

The staff had set up a small booth in the pub’s garage to sell some merchandise, but there wasn’t anything of particular interest. Just individual colored light sticks, handkerchiefs and some photos on poor quality paper that looked like they were printed on an inkjet.

The staff at the booth were quite surprised to hear us speaking English, so one of them panicked and went round back to look for their manager. But we reassured them that we were good, wasn’t going to buy any of that crap anyways.

Our numbers were outside the queue’s.

Backtracking back to the shopping streets around Osu we passed by this interesting clock outside the Osu Temple that we had previously missed. At particular times each day, the clock screen slides down to reveal this amazing mechanical puppet show.

We returned to an old school snack shop that Eri saw earlier along one of lesser traveled side streets. She wanted to get some dango from the shop there.

The rest of the street housed some really old toy shops. The classic toys that they carried were juxtaposed by some newer Kamen Rider and Super Sentai sets. One of them sold lenticular 3D AKB48 posters. You’d think that they’d be flying off the shelves.

Old snack shop.

Savory dango.

Prompted by a sudden crowd of young people heading in the direction of the pub, it was time to get back to the queue. There were a lot of female fans present today, about 1 for ever 3 guys present. Many of them were wearing the colored ribbons to denote their favorite member. There one was loud teenager wearing a Kamen Rider Wizard toy belt, no surprise who he was here for.

There wasn’t nearly as much space for all of the people gathered here today, so those like us with higher numbers had to queue on top of an overhead bridge nearby. Everyone was nice enough to order themselves orderly, asking around to check others’ numbers and then aligning themselves according. I was pretty sure we’d be among the last people here but the queue actually stretched to 500.

Queue stretched across the overhead bridge.

One guy went around passing out tiny greeting cards. He was quite surprised to learn that we were from Singapore but requested that we write some messages to congratulate one of the members, Tamai Anna on her upcoming birthday. We obliged.

A group of wota girls queuing up on the bridge ended up being spotted by their normal friends crossing the bridge. Hilarity ensued. They came around the block again 10 minutes later to tease one of them one more time.

We ended up queueing in the cold for quite some time, as entry was delayed while things were being prepared inside. Thankfully the queue moved quickly as soon as the doors swung opened.

We weren’t the latest to enter, but all of the front parts had already been filled up. The place wasn’t as big as Shinjuku BLAZE but still better than most and importantly, the hall was actually terraced. We placed ourselves right at the back of the hall at the final increment, which turned out to be a brilliant choice since it gave us a clear, unobstructed view of the show.

We had an amusing encounter with one of the middle aged fans before the show, who attempted to start a conversation with Randy. He came over and asked us how long we had been supporting Passpo for, to which Randy gave the default reply of saying that we were from Singapore.

The fan was quite surprised and asked us whether we were in Japan for study or work. Told him we were here for vacation and he was quite shocked. He then proceeded to mumble to himself thrice that we were very rich, so there was an awkward silence after that. Perhaps he assumed we were here just for the sake of Passpo?

Attempting to clear up the awkward silence, I decided to try asking how long had he been a fan then. He replied that this was his first time seeing them. The conversation was effectively dead at this point. Guess wota conversations were as awkward here as they are back home.

The concert was great and both Randy and Eri thoroughly enjoyed themselves too. Unlike other pop groups, Passpo’s generally high energy rock-ish sound make them a lot easier to appreciate, even when not familiar with the tunes.

Those new to Passpo might want to check out some samples of their music here. Their signature sound is kind of similar to Scandal’s, except that they don’t play their own instruments. Instead, they get other established metal musicians (like members from Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction for example) to provide the backing tracks.

While I first found interest in Passpo thanks to 2009’s Comiket after mistakenly thinking that the group’s Okunaka Makoto was some sort of cabin attendant cosplayer, I haven’t been following them closely since after their first album. So apart from the occasional single many of the songs performed were new to me today too.

You’d think I’d be more crazy over a group whose entire theme revolved around travel, but at least this summer’s single Natsuzora HANABI did help to renew some of my interest in Passpo. Sure enough, they performed it near the end of the concert. The rest of the track list consisted entirely of songs from their second and third upcoming album.

Randy realized only midway that Passpo’s Makochan was the same Makochan from this year’s Kamen Rider Wizard. She’s not particularly any good at dancing, and has next to no singing lines, so was mostly hidden at the leftmost corner during the concert. We were fortunate enough to be at that corner too.

By the end of show Randy was quite enamored by Tamai Anna, while Eri was giddy and raving about Negishi Ai, who provided most of the vocals together with Mori Shiori. Randy commended the group’s costumes. Definitely prefer their airline theme to the usual school girl clad idols.

One performance that did manage to attract our attention was definitely Love Diary from their new album. The girls definitely got my respect for singing live and performing nonstop throughout all 14 songs. There aren’t any “units” or such where some members could take a break, yet they danced much more energetically than most other groups.

After the concert, some tables were set up along the side of the pub. There was a little bit of trouble, since the place was far too small for the handshake event that was planned and the steps didn’t help either. Things pulled through with the help of the audience who graciously moved aside or left the building to make room without the need to prompt.

You could only shake hands with one member of your choice. They confiscate your ticket from you during the process, so the rest were little bummed not to be able to keep that as a memento. There were probably people who had bought multiple tickets, though at 2,500 yen each, that would had been pretty silly for a handshake but we’ve seen full well the lengths that people go to for such things.

The members were laid out in their typical order with Okunaka and Negishi beside the stage. Being the most popular members, the two had the longest queues. The rest had increasingly shorter queues as they reached the back of the hall. It was awkward since you felt kind of bad for them, as most stood around with empty queues after just a few minutes.

Given the format of the event, it was really difficult for the rest to attract more fans. You’d think perhaps they’d be more lenient on those that went for the empty queues too, but a time keeper on stage ensured that every fan got an equal amount of time.

Randy ended up joining Tamai Anna’s queue, though he regretted it later, while Eri and I went for Negishi Ai and Okunaka Makoto’s respectively. I’m a fan of Mori Shiori’s too, but with only one ticket, it was kind of obvious who I was going for.

Since everyone only shook hands with one member, the given amount of time per guest was actually a rather generous 30 seconds. Which might not seem like much to anyone unfamiliar with mainstream Japanese idols, but know that the same amount of time with a 48 member could set you back a good 10,000 yen (SGD$150) or more.

Granted not a big fan of handshake events, having been jaded by the ones back in Singapore. Some would question, why are you hating on the very same artists that you had spent years promoting? But you have to admit that the whole idols you can meet concept has spiraled to proportions beyond control and feasibility. And though handshake only events tend to be quite pointless, it’s always a nice experience to finish off a concert with.

And a nice experience it was. As always I hadn’t prepared anything to say before hand, as I usually tend to keep such things spontaneous. But began to worry a little after seeing how long the handshake lasted for the people up front.

Amusingly, the guy before front of me spent most of the 30 seconds talking nonstop, not even giving the girl an opportunity to reply. Then suddenly he walked away even before being prompted. The result was that there were a good few moments between the rotation of fans where Makoto and I stared at each other, confused as to what had just happened.

Don’t care too much for fan service and actually dislike overly forceful handshakes. I’m pretty content with artists just being pleasant about such things, which you’d think would be the minimum, being their job and all. Fortunately, meeting Makochan exceeded expectations and ended up being one of the better handshake experiences to date.

You can pick up when someone genuinely enjoys what he or she is doing and Makoto does seem to enjoy being an idol. When it came to such things, Okunaka’s natural, dorky charm shone through. The experience made it apparent why she was the group’s most popular member, despite not being good on stage.

Makoto greeted me excitedly and we traded the usual “hajimemashites”. Not knowing quite what to say, I went with the default of telling her I was from Singapore, to which she replied “sugoi”. Continuing on, she asked if I was with friends and what I thought of the concert. Let her know I enjoyed it.

Makoto was very amused by the fact that I could speak Japanese, asking how is it I could and then later exclaiming multiple times “you can speak Japanese”. Politely denied it as expected of such situations, and she in turn insisted multiple times that my Japanese was fine.

Time was ticking but somehow she had a lot of things left to say. Makoto started sprouting all sorts of stuff really quickly and such that I didn’t catch most of it, but just nodded in agreement anyways. Just like that my time was over. Enjoyed the simple exchange thanks to Okunaka’s casual demeanor and smile. A great treat, though the actual concert still remained the main.

Yamachan.

We walked back in the direction of Sakae, excitedly reflecting about the evening’s happenings, the whole experience had been quite a surreal whirl for all of us.

Sakae really only came alive at night, with lots of clubs and pubs of all sorts. Passed by some hostesses hanging outside one, which was rather rare.

Our goal was to find one of the many Yamachan outlets around the area. The ikazaya is noted for carrying the most recommended tebasaki fried chicken wings, the dish Nagoya is most famous for. There are actually Yamachan outlets littered around the rest of Japan too but nothing like experiencing it at its home turf.

Tebasaki.

Special black version.

We found one on the way back and was offered seats on the third floor. Ended up getting a couple portions of their default tebasaki and one portion of their special black version, as well as some sides and drinks. Didn’t really order much since we were really just here to try out the wings.

The tebasaki ended up being quite unimpressive since it wasn’t a new experience after all. The wings were actually identical to the way Koreans cook their fried chicken. They were fried without breading and seasoned after with the same spicy soy garlic sauce you’ll find at Korean fast food outlets. The black version didn’t fare any better, since it was literally burnt to a crisp.

Some sides.

Had their own mints.

Still, we spent quite a while here at the izakaya before walking back to the hotel. Nagoya was turning out to be a really chill place. It’s surprising how we’ve managed to tour a few places, relax at more, and even enjoyed a concert, without having to hop on a train the entire day. Nagoya is a pretty perfect size.

More oden.

Grabbed more oden on the way back of course.

Tomorrow will be our last day in Nagoya, as we’d leave for Tokyo at midnight. But we’ll make full use of the afternoon first by finally hitting up the famous Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium in the afternoon.

Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.


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Chad

Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.