If you haven’t read Chapter 1 yet, you can find it here.
Chapter 2 is fairly long at 70+ pages. The book splits the chapter contents by date, but as that would create too many short posts, I’ve decided to instead create several parts that each cover two or three dates. This part will cover the stops in Kumamoto and Fukuoka, which are on the southernmost island of Kyushu.
There are two kinds of footnotes in this post. Those denoted by a purple superscript number contain Fukuoka-specific information, relayed from personal experience, which I hope will help you picture the events described in the text, but which otherwise aren’t crucial to your understanding. Footnotes with a red number contain additional explanations which would aid in comprehending the text if you didn’t understand it.
Chapter 2: Live House Tour
June 4, 2002 Kumamoto Be-9
Gackt, who had already been on Kyushu, headed to Kumamoto from Kagoshima; meanwhile the other members would be going to Kumamoto today, by plane. I took the same flight.
The group that gathered at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport consisted of Gackt Job and a few staff members. The instrument techs and lighting techs were already on their way to the live house in Kumamoto. By the time Gackt and the band get there, all prep work should be done.
Even though today was the first day of the tour, the members all wore such haggard expressions you’d think they were getting ready for the last stop. They had been on a tight schedule, recording and rehearsing at the same time, and the fatigue seemed to weigh heavy on them. But it was indeed the first day of the tour, and they had new songs that they’d never performed before an audience. They had yet to get people’s reactions to the songs, and get a good feel for them. The members could find no release with their thoughts and feelings bottled up inside. Maybe that was why, as they lined up in the airport lobby, they bore a certain manly expression, as of warriors before a battle.
“It kinda feels like I’m in a different band.” *Laughs*
Chachamaru’s comment relaxed the tense air in an instant. He was pointing out the hairstyles of Ryu, the new drummer, and You. Ryu sported a mohawk, while You had undone his finely braided extensions, greatly changing up his look with a more dread-like style. Being blunt, they looked like a group of people you wouldn’t want to approach. *Laughs* Were the unusually masculine expressions also the result of these somewhat tough-looking hairstyles?
The party got to the hotel in Kumamoto at 1:30 p.m. But we wouldn’t be spending the night at this hotel. The live house dressing room was so small it would have been impossible to put all the equipment and luggage there, or even do make-up, so 2 hotel rooms were booked to serve as dressing rooms.
Ren, who seemed in particularly low spirits from the start of the trip, went to the hospital complaining of a horrible headache. The other members had lunch and went into make-up. Since they wouldn’t be going to the venue until 4 p.m., Ms. Kotake, the hair & make-up artist, gave an impromptu lecture called “Skillfully Applying Foundation.” This was so that from now on, each member would spend less time in Ms. Kotake’s make-up chair. There was a relaxed atmosphere.
Once made-up and dressed, the members joined up with Gackt, left the hotel, and started rehearsing at the venue as planned. I went there a little bit before doors opened, around 6 p.m. It was plain to see that the many girls in the vicinity of the live house were Gackt fans by their dark clothes. How effective had the hints during last night’s All Night Nippon been? According to the staff members who had already gone in, when they had been carrying the instruments into the venue at a little bit past noon they saw many Gackt fans about. All these girls who still weren’t quite sure if they were at the correct venue for the day’s secret concert….
This time around, the staff didn’t wear t-shirts that said “Gackt” on them. Nevertheless, sharp-eyed fans spotted the name written on the instrument cases, and said with confidence, “This IS where Gackt will perform!” They spread the word via cell phone, and even more fans gathered. And so it came to be that the fans would henceforth find the correct venues by looking out for the instruments being moved inside.
It’s not that Gackt didn’t want people to find the secret shows. He gave hints on the radio precisely because he wanted many fans to make the effort to seek out the correct venues and go see the concerts. Of course, it was crucial to avoid having too many fans gather, causing a panic, so the staff couldn’t help but be on edge as they watched the fans closely. Everyone was strained until it was time for the show to start.
The venue for the first stop, in Kumamoto, was a new store called “Be-9” situated on the edge of a shopping district. There were about 100 people who looked like Gackt fans, and about 150 people total. Whether that was too many or too few, the ambiance was good as the show kicked off.
Today, Gackt would be the first performer. At 6:45 p.m., strong American bodyguards stood in the wings.
“Gackt really is here…….”
A rising commotion stirred the air in the venue. The lights were blacked out and “Noah” flowed out over the speakers. As the track was on MOON, which had yet to go on sale, the fans hadn’t heard it before. Mixed in with the cheers from the audience were voices questioning, “Is Gackt really the first performer?” But the minute fans saw the members entering from stage right, the indecisive murmurs changed into loud shrieks.
Chachamaru gave the audience his usual salute in greeting. It was the start of the first song, “death wish.”
For the staff and audience, of which I was a part, it was the first time seeing Gackt, Chachamaru, You, Ren, and Ryu perform together live in concert. Yes, today we would witness history in the making. There was a certain nervousness amongst the fans that their excitement failed to mask. They swayed along awkwardly, but it wasn’t only because of their lack of familiarity with the new songs. Seeing a new face, seeing a line-up without Masa in it for the first time, also had them looking up at the stage with anticipation.
“Uwaa! Was Chacha always this big?!” That’s what I silently whispered to myself.
Without Masa, the line-up had gone from 6 people down to 5, but Chachamaru was moving around so much he compensated for the absence. As “death wish,” “Speed Master,” and “Lu:na” continued, what caught my eye was how big the small-framed Chachamaru was.
Masa had decided to leave Gackt Job for his own reasons. As a more experienced, sempai guitarist, Chachamaru had taken Masa under his wing. In the past, he’d have Masa stand before him on stage, himself staying out of the spotlight, but today Chachamaru was going full throttle, moving about with total abandon. There was no hint of sad longing for Masa on that stage.
“We can keep going even with Masa gone. And we’ll do his part too.”
That was the drive behind Chachamaru’s smiling face, from beginning to end, and it seemed everyone understood it. Of course, You, Ren, and Ryu were bursting at the seams with energy, too. You, Ren, and Chachamaru would trade spots on stage as the mood struck them. There was some clumsiness in their movements though, perhaps on account of being unaccustomed to the narrowness of the live house. Nevertheless, their power was on point.
Gackt’s expression, during “death wish” in particular rather, gave off a very intimidating vibe. At the same time, I could see that he was checking out the audience response more than he usually did. His singing seemed a bit off, perhaps because he was a little under the weather. Like last year, he was moving on stage with a somewhat unusual expression. Even so, in the “MC portion,” when he stopped to address the audience after “Lu:na,” he was able to ease the audience’s nervousness in an instant. All I could say was “As expected.”
“Y’all doing okay? 1 Just one more song to go. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a stage like this, so I’m all worked up! We’re so close it looks like we’re kissing, huh? Alright, this is the last song, so let’s go wild!!!”
The audience got really hyped up during “ANOTHER WORLD,” even those that weren’t there to see Gackt. But there was one dicey moment when I yelled out without thinking, “oh no!”
During the interlude, as Chachamaru was twirling his guitar around, its head grazed Gackt’s face. Just a few centimeters more and it would’ve been a direct hit. It was a really dangerous moment.
Having gotten used to touring in halls, performing in a narrow live house for the first time in a while brought new problems to the surface for the band members. Up till now, the members probably took their positions on stage based on a sense of spatial orientation imprinted on them through performing in halls. But in the live house, the starting point, they’d have to reset their senses and their spacing; they’d have to achieve perfect mental and physical harmony, keeping up with each others’ breaths. Well, for them, it would probably be an easy thing to do.
After finishing their set, they returned to the hotel dressing room. You came out after taking a shower. He looked like he was in much better spirits than he had been in at Haneda Aiport earlier, and spoke with the same energetic tone from the concert.
“I don’t have the pacing for these shows down at all, so it feels like we haven’t finished yet. And man, is my hair heavy! *Laughs* It’s been a while since I’d been that close to the audience, I felt like I went back in time. People were grabbing my guitar’s neck and stuff….”
Chachamaru also had energy to spare, saying cheerfully, “I’m not tired at all! How ’bout doing another show?”
Meanwhile, Gackt had removed his make-up. Then he suddenly went out into the hallway, leaned heavily against a wall, and slid down to sit on the floor. He started speaking spontaneously, without my asking anything.
“When I first went out on stage, the people in the audience were all gaping at me. It was like we were playing catch, only when I threw the ball, they wouldn’t throw it back, it’d just fall straight to the ground. When I was singing ‘death wish’ I put as much ‘energy’ into it as I would performing in a hall, but everyone just stood there, stiff as boards.”
Just as I suspected, Gackt was giving it his all from the start. He didn’t hold back just because it was a live house.
“Little by little, I started thinking, crap, this is no good. I mean, if the people in the front row think to try to touch me, they could easily do it from that distance, right? And there were people who did reach out, but then they’d get so scared they’d stop midway. They had these looks like they didn’t believe what they were seeing was real. Way back in the day, hadn’t there been people who’d pass out at Group Sounds concerts?2 Several of those never regained consciousness. There were some people near stage right that I was really worried about.”
I see, that’s why the fans seemed stiff and out of it, staring fixedly at Gackt. On the first day of the secret show, it was just too hard to believe such a concert could be happening.
“It’s not that I’m trying to be intimidating during ‘death wish.’ But since that’s how it came across, I better think about the song order.”
“I agree. Starting off with ‘death wish’ creates this solemn atmosphere, and it’s probably hard for the audience to get into it,” I replied.
“I think next time I’m gonna switch ‘death wish’ and ‘Speed Master’…. I got the impression that the people who didn’t know much about me enjoyed today’s show more than the fans. Ahh……being close is scary, huh?”
The first day of the tour had already brought to light some issues for the members to reflect on, and Gackt was searching for a new way to develop the show. Granted, today’s show had a unique style, but it was starkly obvious that Gackt was puzzled by the unexpected results. Of course, that live house shows are hard to pin down to routine is part of what makes them interesting, and that was probably something Gackt was aiming for, but even so, his expression showed he’d been completely blindsided by the show’s outcome.
It seemed like Gackt could have gone on talking about the show, but it was time for the bus to depart. The staff came to get Gackt.
“Should I be putting this much energy into it….” Gackt said to himself as he headed toward the bus.
The worse Gackt feels, the more he tries to compensate for it by redoubling his efforts. This strains his body, and his physical state becomes still worse. It’s a pattern that’s come to repeat itself with every tour so far. Gackt’s whispered words were out of concern for his own condition. Ever since being hospitalized with pneumonia last year, Gackt has been fighting with his body, which never seems to quite recover. Actually, current doctor’s orders were not to strain his throat.
Gackt took the backseat in the large, 40-person bus and started chatting pleasantly. No one could know that after this, his light expression would turn to one of grief.
June 5, 2002 Fukuoka
Having wrapped up the first secret concert, the bus carrying the staff and band members arrived at the hotel in Fukuoka sometime around midnight.
The previous night, Gackt had done All Night Nippon in Kagoshima, and late into the night before that he’d had dance practice. The tight schedule was a given for Gackt, as was the fact that he got fewer hours of sleep than the average person, but he couldn’t help but worry about his physical well-being.
The event in Fukuoka would be tomorrow, but today, the 5th, the schedule was jam-packed with promotion activities, making the rounds at several TV stations to appear on their shows. I was allowed to follow along all day.
Gackt checked out of the hotel and headed to RKB Mainichi Broadcasting Corporation. He got his hair and make-up done, then appeared on the show. He spoke at length about the album MOON, and wouldn’t finish up at this station until past 1 p.m. But as Gackt was about to leave the station, he was spotted by about 30 elementary school children who were apparently there on a field trip. They called out to him in unison:
Gackt turned toward those cute voices, and walked toward the children without paying attention to the other people nearby, taking some time to chat amicably with the kids. He shook their hands and patted them on the head. A little girl silently whispered “…he’s so cool…” The students’ eyes had turned into hearts. *Laughs*
Next, Gackt went to Kyushu Asahi Broadcasting Company (KBC) to record radio guest appearance segments for two weeks’ shows. This comment about MOON was particularly noteworthy:
“Does it refer to the actual moon, or to the state of the human heart? That’s what I want the listeners to feel.”
The recording had gotten into a good groove, but it seemed Gackt wanted to get some fresh air for a bit. He went out to the parking lot and sat down in a shaded spot for a quick break.
“Yesterday? I haven’t slept. Honestly, it’s getting a bit tough to speak, but….”
At 4:30 p.m., Gackt went to FM Fukuoka and made a guest appearance on a live broadcast. When he went out to the parking lot at 5:50 to leave, he was surprised to find that about 20 fans, who had learned where he was from the segment, had gathered at the station. Then, he headed for Tenjin, the heart of Fukuoka City.3
Gackt was scheduled to participate in a talk sponsored by a radio station at 7 p.m. in the IMS Building, which houses many fashion shops.4 Surprisingly, the organizers had received about 30,000 postcards from people wishing to participate in the event. Only 500 lucky people chosen from that pool were allowed entry into the hall.
The hour-long event consisted primarily of Gackt and the host talking, but it also included a screening of the video for “Wasurenai Kara.” Now, in a brief meeting before the event, it had been decided that Gackt would return to the greenroom while the video played. But Gackt said, “I’d like to stay out in front with everyone as long as possible,” and he did end up staying on stage for the duration of the event.
On top of feeling unsteady and being ill, Gackt sometimes looked frustrated, but he continued with the talk. The audience, comprised almost entirely of adults, was clearly “observing” him. Even I could tell that for many of them, it was the first time seeing Gackt with their own eyes. Gackt could perceive that as well, but he didn’t particularly try to tailor what he was saying to first-timers, instead speaking calmly, occasionally drawing laughs from the audience.
Even with the promo campaign done, there was one more event to go. But that one would be a private, “Gackt Family” event.
It’s become well-known amongst fans that Gackt sometimes springs surprise parties on people. This time, the victim would be the dancer YOSH. The party was for celebrating his birthday. He wouldn’t be appearing in the show this time, but since he was originally from the Chikuhō region of Fukuoka Prefecture, he was visiting his parents there. He had said he’d go check out tomorrow’s show, but the plan was to force him to come out by telling him that there was a staff meeting tonight. He didn’t know that Gackt would be waiting.
Gackt and company were on standby in a private room in a Chinese restaurant. The strategy for surprising YOSH had already been decided. When he got word of YOSH’s arrival, Gackt got up. When YOSH opened the door, the person he saw prostrated on the floor before him was none other than Gackt himself.
“Uwaa! Wh-what happened?!” YOSH, confused, stood rooted in the doorway. For no apparent reason, Gackt started apologizing. (Ahaha!)
More perplexed than before, YOSH didn’t even know what to do. After a brief silence, Gackt started singing slowly in a deep voice.
“Haaappy Biiiirthday, Yooosh…” Then, all the party-goers joined in the song.
“It took me an hour and a half to get up here from my hometown. I was wondering if you guys were up to something, but to see that this was your plan! Wow….”
“Alright then, let’s put the candles on the cake. How many was it?” Gackt guided YOSH over to the specially ordered cake. It had a message from Gackt written on it: “Grow up soon.” Tears welled up in YOSH’s eyes.
Gackt’s birthday presents to YOSH were the Air Jordans he’d been wanting, and, inexplicably, a jinbei set.5
“Shouldn’t you be putting that on?”
Thus coerced by Gackt, YOSH sat in the Chinese restaurant, dining with people who weren’t wearing jinbei.
“For the next tour, the whole staff will wear jinbei!”
Gackt’s comment drew laughter from the entire staff. The feast went on until the restaurant staff’s faces seemed to be pleading, “Please go home already!”
June 6, 2002 Zepp Fukuoka
Even though June had just barely started, the Fukuoka region was enveloped in the heat of midsummer. Well, I suppose it feels better to put on the show when skies are clear rather than in the rain……. That’s what I was thinking as I headed to the venue, Zepp Fukuoka, at a little bit past 1 in the afternoon.
Today would be the first of the fan club-only events, “Dears Presents Special Talk&Live Addition” [sic]. (What a mouthful!)
Zepp Fukuoka is off in a corner of the Hawks Town complex, the main part of which is the baseball stadium. The Yomiuri Giants, rather than the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, where slated to play a game at the Dome today.6 The area was quite congested as buses from nearby prefectures full of tourists come to see the game arrived one after another.
The members of Gackt Job arrived at Zepp at 2 p.m., sans Gackt. Did he have an interview? I should think he wouldn’t schedule an interview directly before a concert, but Gackt didn’t show up until more than an hour later. When I asked him about it, he said that he’d been at the hotel with Mr. Asano, the producer, editing videos. There was plenty of time set aside at this event for showing fans some special footage, the “Video Treasures,” and it was that which Gackt and Mr. Asano had been doing the final checks and adjustments on. The image of the two discussing things, clicking away on the computer, floated before my eyes.
“Hmm, there’s still some parts I want to modify. The content of the videos will probably change. Not by much though,” explained Mr. Asano. In this aspect, too, I could see how everyone was striving for the best possible outcomes despite the tight schedule.
Rehearsals started a bit past 4 p.m. It was impressive how carefully they practiced the intro to “Missing,” over and over again. When 5 o’clock rolled around, Gackt said, “Alright, let’s do our best! Thanks in advance.” With that, the music rehearsal wrapped up.
In all the tours so far, those same words always signaled the end of the final rehearsal, and the arrival of the break before the show. The atmosphere was the same as with previous tours, but there was still the matter of the event-specific rehearsal for the “Talk Corner” that would take place after the musical performance. Of course, the content of the talk is basically ad lib, so the main point of this “rehearsal” is to confirm the positioning of Gackt and the moderator on stage, as well as to perform a mike check.
The moderator for the chat would be Furumoto Shinnosuke.7 He’s actually an actor who leads a theater company, and he has also acted in movies and direct-to-video releases. Previously, he had been an on-air personality for a radio show, on which Gackt eventually appeared. That was how they met, and how he ended up becoming the moderator for these events. Thanks to Mr. Furumoto’s conversation skills, the rehearsal felt like it came to a good close.
Returning to the greenroom, Gackt sat down in front of Mr. Asano’s computer to fuss with the video once more. As he concentrated on the task, people started to clear the area. After a while, Gackt came out, laughing wryly and looking for Mr. Asano. What was he laughing about? When he found Mr. Asano, he said just one thing.
“……The video froze.” *Laughs bitterly*
“What?! What were you doing?!” In the blink of an eye, Mr. Asano’s face turned grave. But he was able to restart the computer and everything was fine.
Thanks to Gackt’s mischief (?), a genial air permeated the backstage area. Even so, it was the first day of the event shows, and nervousness took over. Gackt went into make-up.
I’ll try to explain the parts of the show, “Dears Presents Special Talk&Live Addition.”
First, a video looking back on the previous 2 tours is shown on the screen on stage. The background music is “dears” and “Kimi no Tame ni Dekiru Koto.” Just as the tension rises, the live show kicks off with “Doomsday.” The live music portion consists of 9 songs total. Between the 6th song, “Lu:na,” and the 7th song, “Soleil,” is Gackt’s MC (talking to the audience). The last song is “Missing,” after which begins another video portion, the Video Treasures. This includes a behind-the-scenes look at the flying scene from the MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~ Tour,8 footage from the band’s training camp in Okinawa, the fan club trip to Hawaii, and other delectable clips. Plenty to enjoy. Next, a fair amount of time is dedicated to the Talk Corner. Right on its heels is a showing of the music video for “Wasurenai Kara.” After that, as the band starts to give the impression that the show is over and the audience starts to wonder, “Is this the end?” it’s actually time for the live performance of “ANOTHER WORLD.” I can firmly assert that the two-hour show is full of good content and fan service.
However, delivering that level of entertainment put considerable strain on Gackt’s body.
The show started far off schedule at 7:20 p.m. Compared to the live house they’d been at the day before yesterday, Zepp was bigger by far, so naturally the sound was so loud as to make you think you were hearing an explosion, and the lighting was flashy. It had a good vibe. Gackt was giving it his all from the first song. The exchange of “oi!” “oi!” with the audience during the third song, “Speed Master,” was fresh and powerful, and I predicted that it would surely become a special feature of the live shows. Even so, Gackt gradually seemed to be getting worn out. The way he was sweating was unusual. It was the first time I’d seen him sweat that much during a show.
“This is getting a bit crazy now, all this sweat. A bunch went in my nose. This is as hot as it could possibly be!”
It was so bad that’s what Gackt said during the MC.
On top of the fact that he was ill, it was clear that all that perspiration was caused by the leather outfits the members would wear from these shows on. Today was the first show they’d done in these leather outfits under the heat of proper lighting. No matter how much fighting spirit they had, getting used to those temperatures wouldn’t be easy. However, in order to deliver the world of MOON, those costumes were indispensable, and if they couldn’t even wear them, they couldn’t begin to express that world. From now, the members would have to overcome the challenges posed by the outfits and the heat.
“Overcome”…for the members, there were countless other, bigger problems they’d have to contend with. Masa was gone, and Ryu had come in Toshi’s stead as drummer. With this new line-up, in preparation for the upcoming hall & arena tour, the members would have to consolidate every aspect of their performance. At the same time, today, they had to present the audience currently before them with the best show possible. This was a battle of each man against himself, and against each other.
For Gackt, there were many battles: with his body, which he had been ordered to rest; with his uncooperative throat; and with the side effects of the medicine he’d been prescribed. The battles were too numerous to mention them all.
Today’s show was the start of the real fight. The question for the show at this point was “Can we grab the audience’s attention without them having heard the songs from MOON yet?” The result, to be frank, seemed a bit off.
Previously, the Fukuoka stops were always worked into the second half of the tours. That was probably why the shows there had a very high level of finish, repeatedly delivering a performance that was nearly the best of the entire tour. The staff, the band members, and even myself had come to hold the idea that “Fukuoka fans are passionate, they get really hyped up.” And it was precisely that which threw the low level of today’s performance into sharp relief. The energy from the stage didn’t reach the audience at all. They were still groping about in the dark. The members had their hands full just performing the songs, they didn’t have the leeway to do much else. That was my honest evaluation of the show.
In the past, Gackt would faint and be out for a bit after a concert, but today he recovered quickly. Even though you’d think the strain on him had been substantial……
Gackt’s expression plainly showed his extreme irritation. His feelings of anger toward the inadequate show were greater than his fatigue, which probably denied him the “luxury” of passing out. His mental state was as easy to read as words in a book. Steering clear of him was probably best.
Starting with Mr. Asano, Gackt called a few staff members into his dressing room. Undoubtedly, a contentious postmortem session was going on behind the closed door. Then I was called into the room.
Drawing a deep breath, Gackt asked me, “How was it?” I gave him my harsh critique honestly, and listed some of the problems.
“Yeah, today’s show was certainly ‘a bit off,’ and that’s nowhere near acceptable! But just you watch, I’ll fix it for sure. …Thanks for your input.”
With that, the conversation was over, but I could see the deeper resolve in his face. He must have been thinking, “At this rate, I won’t be able to execute the ‘MOON PROJECT’ in its various forms to my satisfaction. I have to do something.” Despite the fatigue, the light in his eyes was extraordinarily piercing. Like a wild beast starving for prey.
Afterwards, Gackt was unusually quiet at the dinner table. He got up to leave all too quickly, with staff rushing up to chase after him.
Tonight, rather than trying for a change of pace, Gackt would probably spend time thinking deeply about the live shows and the overall “MOON PROJECT.” What thoughts came to Gackt as he walked with the Fukuoka moon at his back……?
[Continued in Chapter 2, Part 2.]
1. Gackt greeted the audience in Kumamoto dialect. The standard Japanese greeting would’ve been 元気しているか (genki shiteiru ka meaning “are you well?” or “how are you?”) but Gackt said 元気しとると？ (genki shitoru to?). Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that’s also the form it would take in Hakata (Fukuoka) dialect. ↩
2. “Group Sounds” (GS) was a style of Japanese music from the mid-1960s, originally inspired by the Beatles. From what I gather on its Japanese Wikipedia page, the combination of “long” hair and rock & roll made society believe that these bands and their fans were a bunch of delinquents, and some schools went as far as to forbid students from going to GS concerts and even dismissed students who broke this rule. What Gackt mentioned here about people losing consciousness at these shows apparently started with the GS band OX (オックス). OX’s members would become enraptured on stage and pass out, or fall off the stage one by one and (pretend to?) lose consciousness. Eventually, the fans also started passing out in rapture. ↩
3. Fukuoka City has two downtown areas, because the modern city is the result of the merger of Fukuoka City, inhabited mostly by samurai, and Hakata City, inhabited mostly by merchants. As the story goes, when it came time to name the new city in the late 1800s, some samurai from Fukuoka crashed the meeting and forced everyone to pick the name “Fukuoka.” Ahaha! ↩
4. IMS stands for “Inter Media Station.” Most people refer to it by the phonetic reading of the abbreviation, iimuzu. It’s hard to miss as it’s a hexagonal, shiny gold building. The shops are expensive but if you’ve got money to burn or like window shopping, make it a stop on your Fukuoka visit. ↩
5. Jinbei (甚平) is like an informal kimono with shorts, usually worn by men in the home or in their own neighborhood. I guess the Western equivalent of going out and about town in jinbei would be going out and about in a sweatsuit. ↩
6. The Hawks are Fukuoka’s baseball team. Back then they were sponsored by the supermarket chain Daiei, but now they are sponsored by the phone company SoftBank. The Dome they played in was called Fukuoka Dome when The Air Moon was published, but it is now Yahoo Auctions (Yafuoku) Dome. As of 2013, in the area in front of the Dome, there was Zepp Fukuoka, an Adidas store, Hawks Town Mall, and the Fukuoka Hard Rock Café. I first went to Zepp Fukuoka for the 2010 YFC shows, I’ve written about the Hawks a few times on my JET blog Lucky Hill, and you can find an updated translation of their team song here on Warped Frost. ↩
7. This is the same Furumoto Shinnosuke (written as 古本新之輔 back then, currently written as 古本新乃輔) who went on to play the rakugo teller Tachikawa in Nemuri Kyōshirō and Benkei in MOON SAGA -Yoshitsune Hiden-. ↩
8. MARS 〜空からの訪問者〜 (MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~ meaning “MARS ~The Visitor from the Sky~”) was the tour in support of Gackt’s first full-length album, MARS. The tour final, subtitled 回想 (Kaisō meaning “recollection”), is available on DVD. There you can watch Gackt flying around singing “Ares.” ↩