On 11/2, the Fukuya bookstore hosted a handshake event for Morning Musume who are featuring on the December issue of BLT magazine. For me, it marks the first time that I get to see all members of the group close up. The cost of entry was to order all versions of the magazine, which was just 5 slightly altered copies featuring different members on the inner cover page (except Oda Sakura who is featured on all of them) and was distributed each in a different region of Japan. So the cost was 420 x 5 = 2100yen. Of course, no one was there for the magazines, but for a chance to shake all the members’ hands instead. This was also my first time experiencing a light speed handshake event, but more on that later.

The handshake at Shinjuku started at 7pm. Falling asleep on the train was inevitable after the long day I had, but by total fluke I managed to wake up right in time at the stop to make my transfer. I arrived at the underground shopping mall right at 7 and went into the washroom even though the cleaning sign was up (sorry, I tried looking for the other bathroom but couldn’t find it), then went to line up. My number was somewhere in the 500s if my memory serves me right. Since the line-up started before 7, it was already after my number and somewhere in the 800s when I walked up to get my ticket from the staff and got into the line. There was way over a thousand people that day. Regardless if I was late or not, the speed was going very fast. From getting in line in the tunnel passage to the snake line in the mall, we could all tell that the handshake was fast, real fast.

 

It is happening! All members handshake!
Inside the mall, the temporary cashier station was there as usual to sell tickets for the handshake, in case you came late or want to go through it again. But I don’t think there was a lot of people looping the line, probably because 5 copies of the same magazine is quite enough for most people. Present boxes were there too for each of the girls, which in itself can be a reason to get people to come. As people walked out from the handshake booth, everyone coming out and waiting to get in were saying “wow that was fast”. But realistically, for an easy-entry handshake event with 11 girls, we all knew what to expect going in. The girls understood that too, so you know you won’t have much time to say anything, and the girls will generally reply with just a standard thank you. I didn’t plan much (it’s hard to think of things when you fell asleep most of your way on the train), so I figured I’ll probably have time to just say “thank you” and hopefully squeeze in a “belated happy birthday” for Haruka and Mizuki. I was also expecting the order to begin with leader Sayu and end with the newest Oda, but when I was in the line, I overheard a wota that finished telling another guy in line that Reina was in the end. That didn’t sound logical, but whatever.

 

The snake-line right before entering the handshake booth, and bookstore staffs everywhere to prevent people from loitering.

The line was running so fast that it took probably at least two or three times the time for me to type up this entry than to travel from the end of the line to the booth. I handed them my ticket and stuffed the bag of 5 BLTs into my messenger bag. Soon it was my turn to enter, and when I got a view of the girls, they were lined up from Oda to Sayu, so the order was: Oda, Kuduu, Ma-chan, Ayumi, Iikubo, Zukki, Rihoriho, Erina, Mizuki, Reina, Sayu. I have no interest in Oda whatsoever, so I was glad to start with her in the line instead of ending off with her. I could also see that they were wearing their WKTK outfits, which isn’t surprising since they don’t have a new group uniform yet. Before I realized it, I was done observing and it was my handshake opportunity already, and here is briefly how it went:

I walked up to Oda, I said “Thank you” as she said “Arigatougozaimasu” and I went onto the next without the staff needing to push me through. Not only because I have no interest in her, but more importantly, Haruka was next! Of course I couldn’t wait to shake my oshimen’s hands. I said “Thank you” as she says the standard “Arigatougozaimasu” again (which you can go ahead and assume all the girls said that as the standard), and I took a second to say “For last week, happy birthday” to which she thanked me again. Next Ayumi and Iikubo were standard (by the way, I didn’t do the dumb name-tag thing this time). It was my first time seeing Zukki close up, and I’m slightly glad to report that from my height, she doesn’t look as fat as she does in everything else. Also her bright smile was there that day, so that’s a good sign. Rihoriho going out of the way to say “Thank you” back to me again in English even after I was pushed away, left quite a good impression on me. And Mizuki, man oh man. She is so beautiful in person that I was stunned. I had in mind earlier to look out if she really dyed her hair and if I got the Mizuki-lock, but I was so overwhelmed by her beauty up-close, I forgot about all that and couldn’t remember a darn thing. In fact, I almost forgot to say belated happy-birthday to her until the last split second as I was getting pushed away by the staff, and she responded with a heart-melting smile. As I was still in half-dazed mode after Mizuki, I already was forced to moved onto the two 6th gen members. As you would expect from professional handshake veterans, Reina and Sayu are so good at these events that even though they can give you the standard reply you don’t feel any cent of cheap-out coming from them. Their smile and attention given to you will convince you that they are taking every handshake seriously. Not to mention, they are really pretty up-close, that helps a lot too.

The whole handshake went very efficiently, aka really quickly. Excluding the time you side-step to the next girl, I’ll say you have not over one second with each girl unless you take a stance against the push to say something extra real quick. One second multiplied by 11 girls plus side-stepping time, might sound like a good amount compared to the 3-5 seconds individual handshake events. However, when you just can’t wait to get to your oshimen, most of those seconds just don’t matter nearly as much as the one with your favourite member. When the adrenaline is rushing as well, entering the line and leaving it feels like it all happened in a blink of an eye. I tried so hard, and failed, trying to recall if I had the Mizuki-lock sensation on my wrist. This is the negative side of a light-speed group handshake, when you would walk out and think “wait… what just happened again?” because you can’t remember much of anything. Well, at least I couldn’t, besides recalling that it was awesome.

 

They really want us the fans to get used to this 11 line-up.
(Photo credit to sanspo.com)

Afterwards, I stood in the bookstore closest to the booth to wait for my friend to finish his turn. From outside, I was constantly able to clearly hear Ikuta’s generic yet energetic “AHHH ARIGATOUGOZAIMASU!”, and I could occasionally hear a few girls making some non-standard replies once in a while. But no doubt everyone was being pushed through at super speed.

I feel that a group handshake is more for the novelty of getting to shake all the members’ hands, and I walked out with quite a different, though not necessarily bad, feeling compared to solo or smaller-group handshakes. After a long day, we went to eat abura-soba, which is this soupless ramen with a special soysauce at the bottom, then put in vinegar and chilli oil and other optional seasonings and mixed well before eating. It’s a Tokyo food and I would easily recommend this bowl of incredibleness over everything else I’ve eaten in Japan if you ever come to Tokyo. Not to mention some shops sell the big-size at the same price as a normal size. It was a perfect way to wrap my day up before returning home. Also, remember to wash your hands before eating. As much as you don’t want to because you just shook your favourite idols’ hands, you also indirectly shook the hands of hundreds of wotas. Protip!!

 

The 5 versions of the same BLT that everyone walked out with. Really makes me wonder what people are going to do with them.
So there’s that. My first time at a light-speed MM group handshake event. I prefer individual or small group handshakes because I get longer time with my oshimen, but this was definitely a great experience and I will consider attending something similar again when the next opportunity presents itself.

 

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