Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mana's Birthday ~ Day Two

Now for Day Two of Mana-sama's Moi dix Mois birthday concerts. I actually did get out during the day but will post those photos later. For now, a month after the shows, here is a bit about the Moi dix Mois live at Tsutaya O-West. This time I met up with the really nice French lady I met at the first concert. We waited outside of Tsutaya O-West with a lot of other people and had fun chatting about music and a lot more. Waiting with us were people from Lithuania, Italy, Brussels, Spain and more. I would say that at least a third of the audience were not from Japan, some like me traveling to Japan for the shows. I should mention what everyone was wearing. Because Mana-sama is the creator of the fashion line Moi meme Moitie a lot of people were wearing outfits from that along with a lot of different creative and fashionable gothic clothing. The first night I wore a bit of Moi meme Moitie including my older long skirt and newer blue pearl necklace and bracelet along with a long black sweater with lace because it was cold and I didn't want to worry about a jacket. Second night it turned out I wasn't alone in wearing the new long blue t-shirt. I figured since we would be standing I wanted to be comfortable. It was a good call.

I've been to a lot of different venues in the US. Because Tsutaya O-West is standing room only, they can fit in more people so more attended this show than the night before. It's a popular place for bands to play but it was pretty run down, especially the rest room which isn't even on the same floor as the venue. No idea if they even have handicap access. From my walk through the area, I would guess many clubs in Tokyo are similar to this. As to how we got in, they called numbers out. Being in the middle of everyone I ended up in the middle of the audience. Turned out it wasn't the best place to be.

Back to Moi dix Mois because that is why we were all there. Pact of Silence played as each band member walked out wearing black Mana designed outfits. The look was darker and fit well with the looser harder edge this show had along with Mana wearing make-up reminiscent of his earlier Moi dix Mois look.

 Here is the song list for the first part:
The Seventh Veil
Gloire dans le silence
The Other Side of the Door
Eternally Beyond
 Material Death

This night the band was a little freer with their playing and it was more of a rock and roll let's party feeling to the show, perhaps since it was Mana's actual birthday. An interesting moment happened near the end of Eternally Beyond when the music cut out as if someone pulled a cable plug. Seth sang the end of the song a cappella and then Mana began playing an extended guitar solo to open Perish. He leaned back looking up while playing as if he was offering it to the gods or perhaps Moi dix Mois guitarist K. Sometimes the unexpected creates amazing moments. That was one. Perhaps this should be the way they start Perish from now on?

Musically the band was excellent and the crowd was really into it, maybe too much to the point it was surprising no one was seriously hurt. I don't know if Mana knew that every time he walked to another part of the stage or made a motion the crowd would move that way or push forward. It made being in the middle very difficult as I was being pummeled by backpacks, purses, getting hair in my face and elbows in my sides. I attempted to see if I could move out of the crowd but it wasn't possible as everyone pushed in to get as close to the stage as they could. I spent most of my time trying to keep from being pushed over into others, especially when some people dropped to look look for picks that Mana threw, pushing everyone around them which included me. Not good. I was grateful that when the MC happened Mana did not throw candy into the audience.

*photo from @M_d_M_official Twitter*

Since no photographs are allowed at the shows, I hope it's okay that I share a couple from Moi dix Mois' Twitter. The MC for the second show was quite fun. Everyone first sang Happy Birthday to Mana as he moved in unison to the song. Mana then left the stage returning with this beautiful cake. Mana lit the candles, jumping up and down several times once he successfully did that. I was reminded of Mana bringing out Yu~ki's cake at Deep Sanctuary V but this time Mana wasn't wearing an apron but a panda back pack (done for holding candy he throws).

Following this Mana whispered in Seth's ear for a bit who then announced there would be an event in September to celebrate the Anniversaries. My friend said there was also a June event mentioned. Like the night before we were treated to part of another Malice Mizer song. This time it was Tsuioku no Kakera featuring Mana on guitar and Seth singing while the rest of the band watched. Great to hear, left me wanting more. Those events this summer will be special.

The songs for the second part were:
The new song again!
Immortal Madness
Dead Scape
Twilight Flower
Beast Side
Ange ~D Side Holy Wings~

I didn't realize that I would get to hear that new song again so soon! It was great to hear it again so I could focus on the song as a whole. Audience loved it. A number of the songs were the same as the night before. Understandable since the band has not been playing together on a regular basis. Since it seems they may start performing more in the future, hopefully there will be more song variety once that happens.

A fun and silly moment happened during Immortal Madness. Harking back to Malice Mizer times, Seth asked everyone to say "Sexy pretty angel Mana-sama" during the song, along with doing hand motions which Mana demonstrated. Apparently this was done at some of the Malice Mizer shows. So as the song was played everyone followed Mana's hand gestures while saying the words. I was impressed that Mana performed that quite well through out the song but then he has had more practice than us. Along with everyone laughing as we did it.

 *photo from @M_d_M_official Twitter*

After Ange ~D Side Holy Wings~ the band left the stage where they changed into the concert shirts for the encore with Mana wearing Moi meme Moitie. Pageant was played again to which people moved in unison with the glow sticks provided to them. I wish I could ask Mana if Pageant is related to the Malice Mizer song Shi no Butou ~ a Romance of Cendrillon, and if so, how do they relate to each other. Both are about the Cinderella tale and it's like there is a story being told by both songs. I wonder if there is more to that story beyond retelling Cinderella. Je l'aime was next and they requested everyone sing along. En Lumiere played as the band left the stage.

It took some time for people to leave the venue. Many were exhausted. I finally met up with my friend since we were separated by the crowd during the show. She ended up in front and said she had the best time. I heard others up in the front really enjoyed the show while some not up there had a harder time. I've been in crowds at concerts before and this one was a bit rough sadly. I'm noting this for the future in case I go to anything similar.

That being said, the performance by Moi dix Mois was really great. I'm glad I had the opportunity to go both nights since there were differences. It's hard to find words to sum up my impressions and feelings. These two nights were different than the Deep Sanctuary V event and most of the Moi dix Mois live videos in that the band was more expressive which is good. Music videos tend to focus on images, quick cuts, to build excitement. To finally see Mana really play like the virtuoso he is, words escape me. I have seen amazing guitarists, such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King. Sugizo, Edge, Brian May. To think on this trip I would see one in that calliber, 凄い!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mana's Birthday ~ Day One

Time to explain why I was checking out where music venues are in Shibuya. In part because I hope to go to more lives in the future and in part because I was going to a couple lives during my trip. First one was here at Mt. Rainier Hall. Which turned out to be a pretty nice venue. I would definitely go there again.

 *photo from @_lady_vampire Twitter*

Turns out last year's Deep Sanctuary V concert wasn't enough for me. Malice Mizer is one of my favorite bands and I so enjoy what the creators of Malice Mizer, Közi and Mana, have done since then. While Moi dix Mois has been on a bit of hiatus in recent years they still do a couple shows in Japan each year. One is an end of the year show and the other constant is Mana's birthday shows in March. After finally seeing Moi dix Mois at Deep Sanctuary V I realized I wanted to experience a full concert. And since Mana schedules two concerts for his birthday, it was an optimum opportunity.

Now I had a chance to see Moi dix Mois in Seattle but passed it by since I recently moved to the area. I've regretted it. I've also regretted not going to Japan sooner and enjoying lives there in the 1990's. So perhaps I was making up for that or just finally doing what I've wanted to do for so long. It's still difficult to get tickets to concerts in Japan and then dealing with the venues if not fluent in Japanese. But in a way, it makes concerts there even more special. I do know a lot of people outside of Japan would really like a better way to attend shows. There is a big market and it's growing. Considering the cost and difficulty of traveling, the dedication of people who go is impressive. And I was not the only "foreigner" at these shows. For the Mt. Rainer show I met really nice ladies from France, Italy and South East Asia along with a lovely older Japanese lady who like me was first a Malice Mizer fan.

So a bit about the concert since I do want to share. Mt. Rainer Pleasure Pleasure is a theater with assigned seating for their floor and balcony. I ended up near the back of the floor but I could see well even with my recent eye sight problems. The stage was set with iron fencing with roses interlaced and the Moi dix Mois banner behind the drum set. The band members entered the stage as En Lumiere played. Hayato on drums, Sugiya on bass, Ryux as support guitarist, Seth on vocals and Mana on guitar. When Mana came out he held his arms open as if to hold everyone in the theater. 

*photo from @M_d_M_official Twitter*

 Since words can only express so much, I am borrowing a few photos from Moi dix Mois Official's Twitter. I hope they don't mind. It's because the lavish brocade outfits are best seen to appreciate. Lead singer Seth reminded me of David Bowie's Jareth the Goblin King with an eye patch, a very handsome look. Visually the outfits added an air of celebration to the night.

 While Seth was emotive Mana kept his visage expressionless as he usually does. Although at first he appeared intense, reminding me of a Kabuki actor. After a time he seemed to relax as the band flawlessly performed the first couple of songs. Speaking of songs, here is the set list for the first part:
Dialogue Symphonie
Beast Side
The Other Side of the Door
Eternally Beyond
Sanctum Regnum
I was rather pleased to hear Angelica live and a little surprised at The Other Side of the Door since the recorded version has less emphasis on vocals but Seth did a good job with it. Other songs like Sanctum Regnum got the audience participating following Seth's lead in doing hand signs for D-I-X. Participation like this is a big deal with live Japanese music and Seth is quite good at it.

*photo from @M_d_M_official Twitter* 

A closer look at Mana in his outfit for the evening playing his ESP jeune fille X Gips -Cross Ray guitar. While I can't fully remember this may have been later in the show. First though was the MC which is another common thing that is done at music events in Japan. Since Mana rarely speaks publically, Seth speaks for him, reading from a clip board. But first Seth had every one yell "Je t'aime Mana-sama" to get Mana to return to the stage where everyone sang Happy Birthday to him. He then threw candy from the stage and center aisle along with surprising people in the balcony by appearing there also and raining candy on them. 

Next were band member introductions along with each person playing a solo. I noticed Hayato received a lot of calls from the audience. The solos were enthusiastic and well received. When it came Mana's turn he surprised everyone by playing the intro to Malice Mizer's Kioku to Sora. I guess with the 25th anniversary of Malice Mizer's founding he was feeling retrospective. The audience loved it. Seth then announced Ryux also had his birthday recently. Mana kept whispering in Seth's ear which Seth then spoke about how Ryux was like a clay doll. This went on for a bit and even though Mana turned his back to the audience he was shaking with laughter. Ryux played along seeming astonished to the point where he fell down. While the clay doll part was a little confusing at the time, Mana later explained on Twitter that a photo Ryux posted reminded him of a role playing computer game where a clay doll came out of the woods and Mana wanted to attack it. Or something like that since he wrote it in Japanese which sadly I have to rely on translators for the most part.

Back to the music. Second part of the song list:
A new song!
Immortal Madness
L’intelier dix
Dead Scape
Twilight Flower
Material Death
Je l’aime
I just want to mention that new song. Really beautiful. Along with the green lighting which made the stage look like it was underwater. For most of the show the audience was pretty enthusiastic and noisy but during this song and after it everyone was silent. It was like we were all forgot to breath being so focused on the music and lyrics. Almost a zen moment. Hard to explain but it was mystical, like being taken to another place by the music, part of Mana's mythical world. As it's place in Moi dix Mois music, it had elements of prior songs but had a maturity beyond Mana's already creative and excellent work. As I wrote after the show, I really look forward to hearing it again.

Eventually the concert reached the end and the members left the stage as the audience yelled their names and wanted more. At this point or at the end En Lumiere played again.

*photo from @M_d_M_official Twitter* 

Not long after that the band returned wearing the new shirts being sold for the concerts along with Mana in his signature Moi meme Moitie EGA. While I was sad Deflower was not played I did get to enjoy Pageant! Because it's a more "up" song it isn't played as often so great to hear it live and experience the audience participation as they wave their blue glow sticks in time to Mana's swaying as he plays guitar.

Sadness since that was the end of the concert. Each member left the stage walking up the center aisle. Ryux did something special in memory of K, Moi dix Mois guitarist who passed away. Ryux has K's skull lighter with him through out the show, placing it on speakers or amplifiers by him. He almost for got it as he left so he ran back to get it, holding it up to the crowd who appreciated the moment. Mana was the last to leave, but before he did he stood at the edge of the stage making motions with his hands ending with putting his hand to his heart. While the concert may have been for his birthday, it was clear it was also his present to his fans, an expression of his love and appreciation of their support.

So it was out into very crowded Shibuya to make our way back to the station and my way back to my hotel on a rather shaky Yamanote train. But before I end this, a little about the concert goods.

Prior to the concert they had every line up who wanted to buy goods. Mana created two new designs for his two anniversaries. The 15 year Moi dix Mois anniversary design in silver is really nice so I picked up the tote bag along with the long blue t-shirt. Like everyone else I put all my stuff into it. Funny to see everyone walking around with the same bag. It was very popular.

Back from the concert it was time to see what all I put in there. I stopped at LUSH in Shibuya on the way to the station. LUSH has become very popular in Japan with stores everywhere. In 2008 I could only find it at Narita Airport and 2010 at Shinjuku Station (amazed to find anything at that crazy place).

Really this was everything in that bag. I also purchased the black t-shirt with the Mana 25th anniversary design. It is also lovely with blue roses which have been a favorite thing for me since I was a child. I also picked up the Moi dix Mois 10th Anniversary Philosophy II book. What else was there in the bag? The glow stick, fliers, my purse, gloves, ticket, Pasmo card and an onigiri for that evening and French cruller donut for breakfast. Oh that donut.

Wait, I don't think the bag was empty. Needed to check.

How did this get in here?

Pardon my little bit of humor. And that curry? Actually was pretty good for packaged food. Ate it when I got back to Oregon. I'll mention where I got it in a later post.

As for the goods, I am glad I bought what I wanted that night. Because the next night most was sold out. After missing out on getting the Deep Sanctuary V long shirt I made sure to not make the same mistake again. However since everything sold out so fast, Mana decided to have more made and is selling them now on his Midi:Nette site (link here for those in Japan). For the rest of us the goods are available on CDJapan including shirts that weren't available at the concerts. CDJapan items are at this link. Thought I would mention this since I know a few people were interested.

So if you read all of this long post, thank you. And Day Two will be my next one, soon to happen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Past and Present in Aoyama Cemetery

Last year when I was up high in Roppongi Hills I spotted this large cemetery in Tokyo. Of course it was Aoyama Cemetery and I decided when I came back I would see it from ground level.

Having nicer weather helped too in my getting there this time. I made it from Gaiemmae Station through Baiso-in to Aoyama Reien. 

I first wandered through more traditional Japanese plots. Some like where Hachiko and his owner Ueno-sensei were laid to rest had people working on cleaning up since it was right before Shunbun no Hi, Vernal Equinox. I do not know who this plot belongs to but the rusting gate was interesting

Aoyama Cemetery is a very interesting mix of different styles of grave markers, like this cairn style. It is also one of the places where non-Japanese people were laid to rest from the end of the 19th century.

A Western style marker in the gaikokujin bochi, foreign section. Aoyama Cemetery is one of the few places where non-Japanese people were laid to rest beginning at the end of the 19th century.

 Contrasted with a more traditional Japanese style including a stone lantern.

Another stone lantern. Not sure if this one could be lit like others there. Imagine what it would have looked like with the stone lanterns flickering in the night.

The Foreign Section finally gained special recognition in 2007 after years of neglect for some of the plots. Not only is it interesting for people to visit but there are a number of historically important people laid to rest here.

Still not all is kept up but it's the same in other parts of the cemetery beyond the Foreign Section.

It does make for interesting photography along with wondering who these people were. Efforts have been made to document who has been laid to rest in the Foreign Section.

Especially given how worn some are due to time. While these may look vandalized, more damage has been done by earthquakes than anything else.

I must say, Aoyama Cemetery has an interesting aura of history and more.
Which brings me to one of the reasons I was checking out the Foreign Section. Besides my curiosity about it, I found out a few days before going to Japan that it was the location for a set of photos that I had wondered about. Back in the early years of the band Malice Mizer they used Aoyama Cemetery for a photo shoot. So I'm borrowing these old photos, I hope no one minds. Knowing this I did a little internet searching and found a few of the spots.

 Wilhelm Heise's stone is one of the easier to find. I wasn't actually looking for it but there it was. German engineer and instructor, best known for designing the Double Bridge, Niju Bashi, over the moat at the Imperial Palace.

 I wish I knew something about these church styled sarcophagus.

A little bit away from those is the family plot for Robert Walker Irwin, American business man and first counsel general from Hawaii to Japan.

While it's changed since Malice Mizer took their photos here, it is still recognizable. The Celtic cross at Robert Walker Irwin's marker has fallen but is behind his marker so apparently it will be repaired.

While it was fun to experience something related to the past, and also related to one of the reasons I was in Tokyo, the present was also very much happening with blue sky and pink sakura starting to bloom overhead.

At ground level butterflies flickered and people wandered through. At one place an older Japanese woman sang a hymn along with a tape. Others cleaned graves while some just walked and looked.

 And on my way out I noticed this fertile orange tree. Very present and very alive.

Friday, April 14, 2017

One Never Knows What They May Find

Last time I was in Tokyo I took photos from Tokyo City View at Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. A couple places I had not visited before interested me. So after Shibuya I was on my way to one of those places.

 When I found myself walking on a path surrounded by bamboo encased in glass walls.

While I knew I was in Aoyama and I knew this was a shrine I didn't know much else about it. In an area of concrete buildings it did give a sheltered feeling of being somewhere less hectic and more calming.

Later I discovered it was the walk way for Baisoin Temple, designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates. I might have taken more photos if I had known then.

Beyond it was a well tended cemetery. Given that it was almost Shunbun no Hi 春分の日, Spring Equinox when people visit the graves of family and loved ones to clean and remember them, meant there were probably more people there than usual.

Being mindful of this I limited my photo taking. I paid my respects to those who passed on and continued my walk towards the place I wanted to visit.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Different Look at Shibuya

Actually this post starts out with very familiar views of Shibuya. That world famous sky line and scramble. Along with a Hachiko bus.

One more of the Shibuya Crossing after coming out of Shibuya Station. That sky was amazing. I was surprised more photographers weren't out taking photos.

I know I couldn't help but take a few.

One of the reasons I like taking photos here is because of the interplay of the video screens and people. Shibuya is definitely a place where people go to be seen at times.

 However this was morning so the Shibuya Crossing and streets around were unusually pedestrian light.

 Good thing because I couldn't stop looking up. That sky!

However I wasn't headed to the part of Shibuya that tourists go to. I was headed in a different direction. Where Shibuya's music venues are. Like Tsutaya O-West and O-East.

And duo Music Exchange.

Club Asia needed staff and a bit of pain.

With their Club Vuenos across the street.

At this point I was trying to find a different place and ended up at Hyakkendana. Which is known for a few things. While the restaurants there were closed, there was some activity at places by the many love hotels. Which I was not there to see, so back to music related places.

Which there were many crammed into this small area.

It is amazing how many shops and bars can fit into one small building.

After a bit I found what I was looking for. The venerable Lion Cafe, home of coffee sipping to classical music. Even though it was after 11 am it wasn't open. Had this happen at a couple other places during my trip.  Still I made it there even if I didn't get to go inside.

So headed back to Shibuya Station. On my way there I found one of the other places I was looking for. Mt. Rainier Hall, named after that big Pacific Northwest mountain. Don't ask me why. Despite the big name I missed this the first time I walked by the Uniqlo store. In part because there was a television crew filming a couple fashionable people right outside the store.

 Lunch was in order at this point so I enjoyed my first MOS shrimp burger of the trip. Along with those delicious onion rings. That Shibuya location is pretty good with a bit of room for seating which was nice.

So while I missed out on experience Lion Cafe from the inside, I did locate a couple of places which would be helpful a few days from this return to Shibuya. So it was a success in part and I was ready to see another place I had spotted on my last trip. Which will be in my next post.