In Hawaii, there are many annual events I try to take part in if I can. The Ohana Festival at New Year's, the Honolulu Festival, Bon Dance, and then, there is the Morning Musume Hawaii Fan Club Tour.
In 2004, I saw Morning Musume by waiting outside of the Hello! Project Museum/Shop in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center (that was closed a few years later) Kaori was the leader at that time. I couldn't say anything to them, I was so happy. I just bowed over and over again. Ishikawa Rika smiled at me (a beautiful smile!) Niigaki Risa gave me a shaka, and Tanaka Reina waved at me.
In 2007, I listened/watched their concert by sitting outside of the Waikiki Shell, which is an outdoor venue. There were a few of us outside there, and we climbed up on a utility box to get a slightly better view, albeit very far away. We waited outside after the concert was over to get a glimpse of them as they came out. At this time, Fujimoto Miki was set to be the next leader after Yossi's graduation. I sent a letter to her radio show, then when I went to Japan, I saw her at one of the "Okitegami" events, entered her karaoke contest, and she told me she saw my Youtube video when I saw her at UpFront's charity event in 2011. In 2011 I also went to Morning Musume's event for "Only You" and got waved at by Reina again when I waited around for them to leave the venue.
And now, in 2012, I am back in Hawaii, and this time, I had someone to come with me...my daughter! On August 29th, I remembered they were coming soon and started to look for any inside information. I checked the dates on the Hello! Project website, and found that they would be doing "optional tours" this year, in three "groups". One group was Sayumi, Haruna, Masaki, Kanon, and Mizuki. The other "group" was Erina. And the other group was Reina, Riho, Ayumi, and Haruka. And all of their tours were headed to Moanalua Gardens at some time between 3 and 6:30. I packed a bunch of vegetable sticks, fruit, and other snacks, a bottle of water and a can of V-8, and a plastic mat, and a 20 minute bus ride and 30 minute walk over the highway later, I was there. 5-10 minutes after I arrived, Sayumi's group came. They arrived before the fans to take some video for the DVD. I walked up to them with Chinami, and they saw her and came over. Haruna asked in English if she could take a picture with her, and Sayumi was going on and on about how cute the baby was. I told her in Japanese her name is Chinami, and she asked if her dad was Japanese, I said yes, and Masaki cut in saying "I knew, I told you!" The cameraman took a group picture of us, and I commented how I want to see it, and then Sayumi asked if she could put it on her blog, and I said yes. I then said "So....I have to check Sayumi's blog later then, right?" and all of them looked surprised and they start asking "You know us??" and I said "Yes...and I'm actually shaking right now..."
The cameraman took out what looked like Sayumi's smartphone, all pink and sparkly, to take another group picture. I gave Chinami to Sayumi to hold for the picture. Then we all said thank you and they went on their way to film more stuff and I sat in the grass marveling at what just happened.
After a little while, the two buses full of fans arrived, and a little later, Erina and her fans arrived and Erina reunited with her fellow members briefly before everyone left. Then I waited about 2 hours, and the sun started to set when Reina's group finally arrived at 6:15. They took pictures with the fans, and they hurried the fans back onto the bus. Ayumi was on crutches with her foot bandaged up, and Haruka had a knee brace. They met Chinami, and then they played with a little boy and took pictures. Reina kept hugging him until the staff told her to hurry and get on the bus! Before they left, I told Ayumi to hurry and make her leg better so she can dance in the concerts again. She said "concert...you watch our concerts?" and I said "Yea, when I was in Japan." Ayumi seemed impressed by that.
And then on Friday, I had no idea where their event was going to be. Saturday, my husband has mornings off. When he left for work, I checked some hashtags on Twitter and found that some Morning Musume fans were posting that they had arrived at UH, just a few minutes ago. I put Chinami in her wrap and headed off (UH is about a 20 minute walk from where I live) and arrived in plenty of time to find a spot outside the ampitheater where I could see the concert pretty well. I watched most of it from that spot until another person on a bicycle came, and the security guards saw him and asked us both to leave. So I changed spots. It's not illegal to stand outside of an ampitheater during a concert (as far as I know) I walked around and found a spot where I could see the concert from behind the stage. Then after it was over I found another fan who was doing the same thing.....the same guy who had watched the concert from outside the Shell in 2007! He had been watching the various Hello! Project Hawaii concerts at the UH ampitheater for the past few years and had a general idea of how things were done. The vans were parked across a small grassy area by a school building, so after their handshake event and any video recordings were over the vans would have to either go to the entrance of the ampitheater or they would have to walk across. With how casually they were hanging out in Waikiki and with the fans during this tour, we predicted the latter, and we waited in a seating area close to the vans (but far enough away from them to not irritate the security) We saw them come out and start to walk across, and the other two fans with me were like "OMG what do we do" and I just beelined it for them, but stopped about 2 feet away and waved. I shouted "Otsukareina!" (If they didn't know I was a huge fan of theirs yet, they knew now!) and Sayumi looked at me and the obvious Sayumi fan with me and was like "OMG" and I said "I'm watching Sayumi's blog!" and she was like "OK I'll post the pic soon!" and Haruka walked across and was really happy to see us and I was like "I hope your knee gets better soon!!" and then Haruna saw me and Chinami and gasped and went "It's Chinami!!" and I was like "OMG they remembered your name!!"
So 8 years after my first encounter with Morning Musume, my fandom and drive are still going strong. It was difficult to keep up especially after Takahashi Ai graduated, and now the group is mostly 9th and 10th generation members who I hardly knew, but I have been watching their Youtube channel and became a fan of Haruna after her whole "chocolate" thing and the way she says really borderline inappropriate things about her attraction to Sayumi. I also am very impressed by Riho and Ayumi's dancing, and Haruka is kind of tomboyish and funny. Kanon's cheerfulness and love of food is cute. Masaki however got on my nerves, honestly. She ran around and shouted and was really over-the-top at Moanalua gardens, and for me, I would find her really annoying to be around.
Anyway, I am looking forward to their next Hawaii tour and wish them the best of luck with everything in Japan and abroad until then. Otsukareina!!