Shopping with idols19 January, 2013 by Chad
At the very least today would be an interesting day. We’ve made plans to meet our Japanese friend over at Shinjuku in the afternoon. From there she lead the way through some winding side streets bringing us to a cheap Shabu Shabu restaurant that she frequented.
Randy had been craving for more beef ever since the yakiniku and sukiyaki buffets during the last days at Osaka and Nagoya respectively. Hence lunch here. It was also the only time where our friend would be free, as her job requires her to perform nearly every evening.
Lunch would be buffet style too. Cuts were ala carte but you could help yourself quite the wide variety of vegetables and sides. The food here turned out to be pretty awesome, and surprisingly affordable for Tokyo too, about 2,000 yen if I remember correctly. Didn’t jot down the name of the place though but it’d be worth a second visit. Of course, the lunch was made all the more enjoyable thanks to the company.
Once again, hardly any pictures this day since didn’t want to lug around the camera. Even then, was too occupied to remember taking anything more than these sparse few shots with the crummy iPhone camera. Randy and our friend both had some shopping to attend to, so we had a pretty busy afternoon, frantically running from shop to shop.
First up Randy needed to get a dress for a friend back in Singapore and he decided to request assistance from our friendly idol. After enquiring if it was for a woman or girl (it was the later), she brought us over to a nearby department store in Shinjuku. When asked if she shopped at such places, to which she laughed and said that the fashion was too young for her. She was wearing a classic lolita dress today.
It took a while, since she was pretty meticulous about it but after considering the tropical weather, she eventually narrowed it down to just a couple of pieces. Randy eventually picked up a frilly chiffon blouse from Liz Lisa. He’d get quite a few stares while lugging the floral paper bag around the rest of the day. The friend joked that he looked cute.
There was yet another birthday concert this evening, so our friend had to grab a present before that. This proved to be quite a difficult task, since she wasn’t really familiar with this other person. This would be further worsened by the fact that we’d be heading over to Harajuku next. Randy had made plans to meet an acquaintance there who had just flew in to Japan this morning. It’d be difficult to do any real shopping over at Harajuku.
We’d meet up with Chisaki, whom I had previously been acquainted through AKB48’s presence in Singapore. Turns out she was a friend of Geri’s though. She had been in Harajuku since earlier, visiting the Meiji Shrine and picking up souvenirs for le parfait prince among others. Ironically, we caught Chisaki on her way out from the AKB48 Official Shop Harajuku.
Perhaps it was the long flight, but she didn’t seem to be in the most chatty of moods this afternoon. Our friend asked if Randy’s Liz Lisa dress was for her, it wasn’t. Still, being the most familiar, left Randy to entertain Chisaki while rushing from shop to shop with our friend to search for the present. She wasn’t quite sure what to get, so was looking for something on the safe side. We’d hit up all of the novelty and gift stores around Takeshidori and Jingumae as well as a department store or two.
Eventually, the 4 of us were pulled into a shop selling natural body products. We had an amusing experience there where the shop assistance invited us to try out their new product, some mineral bath salts. After introducing all the different scents, she got us to each choose a flavor and proceeded to scrub our hands. It did seem to make quite a noticeable difference. Our friend ended up getting a pack, and with that the present was fulfilled. Our hands would remain scented for the rest of the day.
There wasn’t much time left before the concert. But she brought us to a nearby toy shop selling mostly plushes and character goods for one final look. Never knew that there was such a multi-storey shop in Harajuku. She was quite apologetic that we had to follow her around for shopping this afternoon. But there wasn’t any reason to be. You could say that it was like fulfilling a dream, shopping with a Japanese idol, while she went kawaii, kawaii at all sorts of things.
The friend headed off for her performance, while the rest of us went off for dinner. Since it was Chisaki’s first day in Japan thought we’d have something good. Remembered a nearby Tengu outlet, so thought I’d introduce them to the chain izakaya.
The diced beef steak and pizza at Tengu are sinful necessary orders for each visit. Chisaki was craving for some curry rice too but unfortunately they were all sold out on rice dishes. Still, they enjoyed food so much that everyone ended up forgetting to take any pictures after the first couple of dishes were served.
Rejuvenated, Chisaki livened up during dinner. Seems she was here in Japan mostly to apply for a language school and hit up some indie band concerts. She was quite the otaku when it came to those. Her involvement with BABYMETAL over at the Anime Festival Asia had prevented her from flying any earlier.
Our tenor in Japan had prevented us from attending this year’s convention. Interestingly, I’d learn much later that in my absence my young brother had worked there as a butler.
We spent some time walking around Loft and the surrounding Shibuya area after dinner. While walking through a narrow dark alley we actually passed by 4 somewhat familiar looking faces. Up to now, we’ve run into a good many Singaporeans whilst in Japan. Sensing something amiss, we turned around to see them staring back at us. That lasted quite a while until someone realized who they were.
What are the chances of bumping into these 4 people in the entire Japan.
— Supermerlion (@supermerlion) November 13, 2012
The odds were pretty astronomical but we had just bumped into the 4 girls from Sea A in this side street in Shibuya. The bunch of them had just flew over to Tokyo today too after wrapping up work at the Anime Festival Asia 2012 .
I guess they were as surprised, since they were at a lost of words too. We exchanged formalities and a couple of them did make some conversation but for the most part we were more taken aback by the surreal encounter than anything. This unexpected event ended up being the highlight of the day for Randy though.
I think the most amusing part about meeting SeaA though…is that even irl…they stand in the same formation as profile…
— Supermerlion (@supermerlion) November 13, 2012
Without much of a plan for the rest of the evening, we checked to see if the rest had any other commitments that could be fulfilled nearby. It turned out that while Chisaki didn’t quite know her way around the city, she had printed a whole stack of notes containing maps of all the places she had to visit.
Looking through, we actually found one such place within walking distance at Meiji Dori. Apparently it was some sort of local clothing label which one of her favorite band members frequented. Didn’t ring a bell, but since there was a map, I didn’t have too much trouble finding it. She wanted to get something there as a souvenir for her manager.
Along the way, we passed by a Takeo Kikuchi outlet, which would had been amazing were it not still under construction. It’d only open the day I’d be arriving in Singapore. The streets that we passed by housed all sorts of local labels, some familiar but many more not. Would had been most interesting to shop here, but most of the shops were already closing or closed by this hour.
Thankfully, though it took slightly longer than expected due to a confusion with the shop name, we managed to reach the store, “subsciety” while it was still open. It was past closing time, but another customer had held up the shop. Peering in, we checked if it was fine that we shopped here, but the staff was friendly about it.
Randy and myself were employed into helping search for a suitable gift. We were both acquainted to Chisaki’s manager so did have a vague idea as to the type of clothing he’d wear. I picked out one shirt, but she was more inclined towards getting a tee since the shirts were a good couple hundred dollars each. The shop carries a lot of suitable shirts but we had a hard time finding any nice tees.
After a long while with no results, one of the female shop assistants came over to help. She revealed that she spoke perfect English and asked if Chisaki was a ONE OK ROCK fan. To our revelation, that turned out to be the case.
I had tried listening to some of ONE OK ROCK’s music in the past, to little effect. I understand that they’re pretty hyped up over in Japan these days. But having never been limited to just Japanese music, I’m in agreement with writer Mus that they hardly bring anything new to the table than what English bands have already been providing. Hopefully, their popularity might help introduce fans to a wider range of bands in the future though.
In any case, I guess the shop sees this situation a lot, since the shop assistant then promptly pointed out a bunch of designs that the band’s main singer, the former Johnny’s “Taka” also owned. Both Chisaki and her manager were fans of his. Amusingly, the staff picked out the same shirt that I had chosen earlier as one of his favorite designs, so we went with that.
Didn’t stay around the city much longer after that. Randy would be leaving Singapore tomorrow, so we had a long day ahead. We did look around in search of a possible bakery or cafe for some cake though. He was craving for some pastry and while it remained unmentioned, up to now, we hadn’t had the opportunity to properly celebrate his birthday. But unfortunately, there weren’t any still open at this time.
Instead, we headed back to the station, entering by an amusement center along the way back at Randy’s whim. He was holding onto the hope that perhaps some his sudden bout of post-birthday luck would carry onto the catcher machines here. That wasn’t the case. Still, all things considered, there had been no shortage of positive experiences this day.