I’ve been listening to this band for a while, and when their songs were featured in the Rurouni Kenshin live-action trilogy, I knew they were gonna be big. Aaaaaaaannddd I was right, fast forward a few years, now they’re touring around the world.
Last year, they announced they were having an Asian tour on early 2016 and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! It’s about time a Japanese band comes to perform in the Philippines! I was pleasantly shocked when I found out Philippines was included. ‘Cause at first, I believed only a few people would be listening to jrock/jpop (Japanese rock/Japanese pop) music (and they are most probably animé fans too). Yes, the Rurouni Kenshin movies were a hit in my country, but chances are no one would be curious enough to check out the band, or so I thought.
So last Jan. 19, ONE OK ROCK made history and had their first-ever concert in the Pearl of The Orient. Taka, Toru, Ryota and Tomoya performed their hits and the Filipinos, to my surprise, sang along to all of their songs, and those include the lyrics in Japanese! I noticed that they altered some of the Japanese lyrics to English but it turned out that the fans knew the Japanese version better. Most Filipinos don’t even speak Japanese, unless you count “arigatou” or “konnichiwa” as “speaking Japanese”. LOL. But apparently, the Filipinos were well-versed in their songs.
My friends and I were situated at the back of the VIP standing section so for the most part we could barely see them, but who cares. HAHAHA. We were having tons of fun headbanging and jumping to the energetic music. The euphoria is definitely on a whole other level when you’re listening to it live as compared to just when you’re playing music from your ipod. And can I just say, Taka’s voice, as well as the energy of the whole band, didn’t waver one bit throughout the whole concert!! They most certainly didn’t disappoint the crowd and gave an awesome show! Fortunately, I somehow managed to get some “decent” shots!
It is ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Just when I thought ONE OK ROCK has performed in every country except mine, they released this! Moreover, I’m pleasantly surprised to know that they have a lot of fans in the Philippines! I’m guessing they knew about the band from the Rurouni Kenshin live-action movie series (which I think appealed many, whether they read the manga/watched the anime or not). It’s great that the Filipinos are now more open to Japanese acts, compared to before when only anime fans liked jpop/jrock. Although ONE OK ROCK’s songs are mostly in English now (with a mix of Japanese), to me, they still have that jrock vibe to them. And that’s what makes them awesome! Not to mention their high energy performances!
This theme park is the first of its kind in Japan, and just last March it became open to the public. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to experience it in its first week of operation.
Once you arrive at Tokyo Tower, you can purchase the tickets at the counter which also includes an access to the tower’s observatory area.
It is an elevator ride to the One Piece Theme Park, after which you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff and this impossible-to-miss signage/photo spot:
Upon entry to the theme park, it’s gonna be one fangirling/fanboying moment after the other! With walls decorated with some excerpts from the manga (with special effects!) to life-sized character figures, as well as theme park games and frolicking pirate cosplayers, One Piece aficionados will surely think of this place as heaven on earth.
Look at that ship 🙂
My favorite One Piece attraction!
Some portions of the manga as wall decoration
My favorite part of the theme park was the Zoro’s Soul of Edge. It was a short but fun game! The other attractions had a lot to offer as well. It was just One Piece geeking overload! Moreover, we were right on time to witness the ONE PIECE LIVE ATTRACTION “Welcome to TONGARI Mystery Tour”. The actors nailed it! My favorites were Zoro, Sanji and Luffy 🙂 I was really impressed with the actor who played Zoro, I mean working with the sword props, that wasn’t easy!! :O And we were given glow sticks that we used, which made it an interactive live show.
I had a really great time trying out all the attractions, and it really helped that I knew some Japanese, especially in the Nami’s Casino and Chopper’s Thousand Sunny Tours. A must-visit place, especially for the One Piece fans! Allow me to show you also my picture of life-size (that’s right LIFE-SIZE) Portgas D. Ace figure:
Shibuya is known all over the world as an iconic metropolitan venue with tall buildings on every side, as well as a sub-culture haven.
Getting off at Shibuya station via JR Yamanote Line, once you get out of Exit No. 8, you’ll be greeted by a ton of people hanging out near the Hachiko Statue. The statue is known as an art built in memory of a dog, Hachiko, who waited at Shibuya Station everyday for almost 10 years for his master to return. Then from that point you could walk over the busiest intersection in the world, known as the Shibuya Crossing.
This is a well-known spot for meet-ups. There are always, ALWAYS , people around the statue.
View of Shibuya Crossing that I took from Shibuya JR Yamanote line station.
I went to Shibuya to meet my Japanese friend and of course see the things the place has to offer. We went to an obscure ramen place, and what I noticed is that most restaurants have these vending machines where you would place your order and give your payment (this goes to restaurants in other places in Japan too), which I find very convenient. And of course, the food was superb!! 🙂
We then checked out Tower Records, and Tokyu Hands (a large-scale shop for almost anything, really, but for the most part, those who like to do DIY projects). There are also many arcade places all over the area where many students hang out with their friends.
Every music lover’s paradise.
Official sheet music from different artists can be found in Tower Records. Sweet!
Afterwards, we visited the Meiji Jingu. It was a very calm and quiet place, as expected from a shrine, a perfect place for meditation located in an evergreen forest in the heart of Tokyo (totally amazing!). It was a good way to end my day in Shibuya. 🙂
Such a wide space!
Before entering the shrine, you first have to clean you hands (there’s a specific ritual to do this).
Prayers left by the previous visitors
I’m impressed at Japan’s way of fusing urban/modern structures with nature. Shibuya is a perfect example of a place that shows Japan’s passion for technology and respect for nature. I mean how can a forest even exist in the middle of a city?! Ask the Japanese. 🙂
I know I have not done a decent job updating this blog in the last weeks.. but now thankfully I get to share another good experience! 🙂
In my trip to Japan last March, I made it a point to witness a local concert and see how the Japanese appreciate music.
Luckily, with some help from my super kind Japanese friend, we were able to acquire tickets to LM.C’s Perfect Rainbow Tour.
LM.C, composed of Maya and Aiji, is Japanese Visual Kei band whose songs were featured in animes such as Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Red Garden, and Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan.
The Heaven’s Rock Café where the concert took place was a quick walk from the Saitama Super Arena. It’s a small live house for mini concerts/gigs. LM.C items were being sold outside the venue.
When we got inside, we proceeded to the locker room where we deposited our stuff. I was told that when you’re in the live house, it is just an empty space and a stage, so carrying your stuff in there won’t be wise, especially when the room’s gonna be jam packed with people. Basically, it’s a whole hour (or even more) of standing and cramped space! But I guess that’s just how live houses are, which kind of makes sense because if you’re gonna be in a concert (especially at a rock concert), it’ll be such a killjoy if you just sit through it.
By the time we were inside, the place is already full of people. But even so, I could clearly see the stage from my position even though I was standing at the back of the room. That’s how “small” the live house was. Unfortunately, taking pictures is not allowed so I just settled with this picture of the event board outside Heaven’s Rock (and some concert merchandise :p) as a memento for this event. 🙂
The concert definitely did not disappoint. For the price I paid to be there (which was around 5500yen), it was all worth it. LM.C performed for almost 3 hours and thankfully because of my Japanese knowledge, I didn’t quite feel left out especially when they were taking a break and interacting with the fans. Another thing that struck me aside from the interesting music that LM.C does was the energy of the crowd during the whole concert.
Many of us know that the Japanese are generally quiet, shy and introverted kind of people, so I thought maybe they’ll just bob their heads during the performances. I realised how wrong I was as soon as the first song played. Maya and Aiji started with a very jumpy song, and the crowd went nuts! I mean I’m used to wild crowds as I have been to many rock events before but this was nuts, as in WEIRD. Why, you may ask. Well it’s because their movements were SOOO CHOREOGRAPHED and I’m like “did I miss the fan rehearsal, or something?”. LOL! They would all wave their arms in the same direction, at the same time, and even bang their heads together!! Just imagine me and my friend, in a pool of people with everyone around us crazily head banging and they would start (and stop) all at the same time. Moreover, when LM.C played their famous song, “88” (opening song of Katekyo Hitman Reborn), they immediately took out their glow sticks and waved it all together!!! It’s as if they all have mental telepathy, like, “Guys, it’s time to bring out the glow sticks, it’s for this song!!”
And then it hit me. These fans must have been to almost every concert of this band. What dedication and such a strong fandom. For them to come out every time just to see these guys play is really something. Here in the Philippines, when there’s a concert, almost everyone just screams and sings while the artist performs (trust me, go watch live footages of Manila concerts, you’ll see what I mean 😉 ), with the occasional waving of smartphones as an alternative to glow sticks ( but most just whip them out to record videos, which is quite sad I think). Japanese fans may not be as loud as the Filipinos, but they certainly don’t come last when it comes to fandom commitment!