Thursday, April 12, 2012

EXILE Spectacular - Sapporo Dome Tower of Wish Concert 24 December 2011 Part 1

The Evil One was supposed to help me post on this, but busy woman that she is... oh well. And I started writing this some two months ago, and was halfway through when my computer crashed and I lost my inspiration.
But in recent days, I have been watching a lot of EXILE MVs and concerts on Youtube, for the sole purpose of salivating over Takahiro (sooooo cute and delicious looking), and I am now moderately inspired to write about my once-in-a-lifetime experience attending EXILE's concert in Sapporo, Hokkaido, on Christmas Eve 2011. (I know right? What a greatttt Christmas present that was!)  
Although I would have travelled to Japan anytime without any reason, our recent trip to Hokkaido came with a BIG objective: to catch EXILE live in concert at the famed Sapporo Dome. Sometime in August last year, after the Evil One found out that EXILE was holding their concert in Sapporo around the same time that we were intending to visit there, she literally moved mountains and oceans in order to get her hands on tickets for us. J-pop concert tickets are notoriously difficult to get, although we wouldn't think so because according to our limited knowledge, no one really knows much about J-Pop, and who cares since we have Lady Gaga??! So. Wrong. The Japanese  are CRAZY about their pop groups, and there is a damn good reason why groups like EXILE and SMAP don't bother travelling overseas to cater to poor overseas fans like us, but I will touch on that in more detail later.
So apparently tickets are sold through a balloting system due to overwhelming demand, and only to LOCALS!!! so the Evil One had to pull all strings and plead her Japanese contacts to help her ballot for 3 miserable tickets. I was like, "What if more than one of them wins the ballot?" but apparently my fears were unfounded because it was literally like striking lottery. (Initially I did not think so but while we were in Hokkaido, all the Japanese who knew that we were going to the concert - from ANA air stewardesses to hotel managers - were telling us HOW LUCKY we were to get those tickets!) And the Evil One must have moved some Higher Powers with her great love and effort that she (and we by default) struck the EXILE lottery through her first contact and the rest came up blank. OMG!!!! We were going to be watching EXILE LIVE at Sapporo Dome!
I hardly even attend concerts in Singapore, and to think that I was going to Japan to attend ONE just blew my mind. God was definitely smiling down on us - surely.
The concert came towards the end of our Hokkaido trip. The Evil One was gradually working herself up into a full blown frenzy and swore that she would get the attention from Japanese reporters in her "Mrs Atsushi" T-shirt (which she specially made for herself JUST for this concert) and put her on front page news which Atsushi would then see and fall in love with her yadda yadda.... The Samurai and I got a little surprise when she presented us with matching Mrs Atsushi T-shirts. Words cannot describe what they were but the picture below should be more than sufficient to express what we felt then:

Our LOL Concert Gear for EXILE. Obviously The Evil One is in the centre.

In a nutshell, both the Samurai and I were just back-up singers used to highlight our leading lady - Mrs Atsushi - and to make sure that she would get the requisite attention from Mr Atsushi. Samurai was nothing short of flabbergasted, but the sport that he was, he eventually wore the outfit to the concert. I was more than up to the challenge, although I would have thought this sort of craziness was something I would do during my teenage years, and I am like almost 20 years late. Thank god no one knows me in Japan, and they cannot laugh?!

So concert gear check, winter clothes thrown over, and we set off about 3 hours earlier as we were keen to shop for EXILE memoribilia before the start of the concert. Thank goodness we left early, because getting there was sheer madness. The Sapporo Dome has about 50,000 capacity, and since the concert was sold out, there were A LOT of people going to the Dome. Already trains going to Sapporo Dome were crazy packed. And when we alighted, a walk that was supposed to take about 15 minutes turned to 45 minutes. (And don't even get me started on the journey back!)

Mostly women on the trains. Like Hallo?!! But of course.

People, people and more people moving towards Sapporo Dome.

The sun was already setting at 4.30pm, since it was winter. There were like 10 or 20 policemen managing the throngs of EXILE fans (poor things) and a couple of them were livening up things by making jokes and even singing through the speakers. It was a cold day, but everyone seemed to be in a partying mood, and although it was a drag to trot slowly behind the crowd, the Japanese were thankfully an orderly bunch.

And finally!!! we got our first sighting of the massive Sapporo Dome. Awesome! I was getting seriously excited. Samurai was gloomy because he HATES crowds, but I was feeling a rush of adrenaline.

We entered the Dome all prepared to do some shopping, but it turned out that the shopping area was outside a square nearby and we could not get out. Darn it! So I was snivelling in envy at the hordes of fans in their EXILE gear - from shirts to scarves to bags, flags, etc. Then we realised we had to get ourselves dinner and there were only fast food options inside the Dome unfotunately, and all had long queues. But in the end, this was our dinner....

I think it was KFC - fries look different from Singapore's right??

And we sat ourselves on the steps near our seating sections. Did I mention that the Dome is HUMONGOUS?? While it obviously wasn't the best dinner in the world, especially after all the delicious wonderful food we were having throughout the Hokkaido trip, the most amazing happened. The Evil One saw the Man of her Dreams - Atsushi-san, sitting next to us on the steps. With a young daughter?! So, it turned out to be his Doppleganger, but after explaining her great love for Atsushi (for the nth time) and her wish to take a picture with him (in garbled Japanese), he finally agreed. I was the photographer, and even I was taken aback by the resemblance - see for yourself.

The Real Thing - Wow?!

AMAZING resemblance right? Unfortunately for privacy sake I am unable to show you the Evil One's expression, but she literally looked ESCTATIC. She probably wished he was the REAL deal so that she could jump his bones there and then. There were quite a number of people staring at us for all the commotion we were creating. Remember this concert was supposed to be only for locals, then suddenly you have this 3 English speaking foreigners crashing the party. How fortunate were we again? To do this? Really really really? Even now, 4 months later, I am shaking my head in wonder.

Will describe the actual concert in detail in the next post. Till then!