You’ve read the interviews we’ve done and seen the photos we’ve taken. In case you’re wondering how the whole J-Pop Summit 2015 went down for us, read this post! Above: Hanging out with Chinatsu-san and Edison-san of Sou Sou San Francisco. Photos by Christian Hadidjaja and Mira Musank.
As a blogger, I get asked “How did it go?” quite a lot when covering an event I go personally. And for weekend-long festivals like J-Pop Summit, the answer is quite long. While it’s true that the J-Pop Summit 2015 blog posts so far provided partial answers, there are still some context missing. I’ve been asked how I liked the opening night reception, what outfits I wore during the weekend, whether the interviews went as expected, whether I got to see everything (of course not), and whether the first paid format of J-Pop Summit 2015 is better than last year’s massive J-Pop Summit that also featured Ramen Festival. Well, if you’re one of those people who are wondering how I felt about J-Pop Summit 2015, you’re in luck! So let’s get started :)
Opening night – August 7, 2015
Style Note: My designer friend Jesus Romero (from Art Institute of California – San Francisco) was a life saver. I get to wear his blue leather ‘armor’ top to add a much-needed dose of fashion statement to my otherwise all-black outfit. Choosing an appropriate outfit for that night’s event was tricky since I had to go to Castro Theater – the chosen venue for J-Pop Summit and Japan Film Festival opening reception – straight from the office.
Jesus Romero leather top, thrifted-in-Paris black dress, The Arrivals modular duster, black Coclico boots, MANGO bracelet.
Once we got inside, we started to see all the J-Pop Summit 2015 guests of honor mingling on the rather tiny area on the 2nd floor. It’s rather impossible to take pictures effectively; lining up to get fresh rolled sushi seemed to be much more manageable. Thankfully Chris and I spotted our favorite kimocos vocal duo in the room, Yanakiku. They were chatting with another vocal duo, Faint Star, so naturally we took a snap of all the beautiful girls together.
If you’ve read our interview with Yanakiku, you already saw how impressive their outfits were. However, you haven’t see Yana’s fish purse, Kiku’s giant back bow, or details of their fabulous ninja shoes.
The big guest of the night was actor Tadanobu Asano, who has starred in “Mongol”, “Thor”, and upcoming Martin Scorsese’s movie “Silence”. EVERYBODY wanted to trade business cards with him. His movie “Electric Dragon 80000V” was screened that night (a very weird yet hilarious action movie), and he was very frank and humble during the Q&A that followed afterwards. Apparently he got his passion for music and movies from his parents, and he somehow gets casted as a Mongolian a lot =D
Another highlight of the Q&A was his perceived pros and cons of movie industry in the U.S. and Japan. He feels that people are very organized and thoughtful to the movie crew in the U.S. On the other hand, the Japanese are very eager in working 20-hour shift non-stop with little sleep, then continue the same thing on the next day. That being said, the Japanese are more collaborative in creating and executing an idea together as a group, whereas U.S. people are more concerned about their own specialized roles in producing a movie.
Day One – August 8, 2015
Style Note: I’ve been wanting to wear this Sou Sou “Fuji” harem pants for a while, so I did while keeping the rest of my outfit more European. I wanted to add more thought into the overall outfit, so I pulled my hair back and made a modified braid of some sort with small hair accessories I made in the past, three small necklaces, a leather bracelet, and a wooden ring for detail touches. My designated shoes for this outfit (a grey fabric oxford) did not arrive on time, so I wore the same boots as the night prior.
Sou Sou harem pants, vintage men’s waistcoat on top of a Piperlime blouse, black Coclico boots, thrifted necklaces and ring, thrifted-in-Tokyo leather bracelet, thrifted leather bag.
It’s the first J-Pop Summit festival to be held as a paid event in Fort Mason, a main location outside of Japantown. On that August 8 – 9 weekend, another huge event was happening in Golden Gate Park: San Francisco Outside Lands. The annual outdoor indie music festival with big headliners was sure to bring HUGE crowd and awful traffic condition.
However, despite my worry, we parked close enough to Fort Mason and successfully arrived shortly after 10am. Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion was decked out with all things J-Pop Summit, but the attendees were still sparse. We started to walk around, familiarizing ourselves with the layout and interview room locations before meeting Kuni shortly before our scheduled 11am AMIAYA interview.
We arrived 10 minutes early in front of the interview “room” (more like a tent) outside at the back of the main building, with a great view of Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge. The beautiful view kept us company for the next 30 minutes, because our first interviewees were nowhere to be found. It was rather nerve-wrecking, because we scheduled a back-to-back-to-back interview starting with AMIAYA, Ayumi Seto, and Musubizm. With the first one late, the snowball effect was set into motion. How bad was it? You’ll found out.
On 11:45am, our interview with AMIAYA went underway. Not only the interview time was cut short (10 minutes instead of 25), I also ‘choked’. I had all of my greetings figured out and mentally practiced beforehand, but the time delay affected me and I let Kuni do the introduction for Fafafoom instead. He delivered beautifully, so he did all of our introductions for the rest of the interviews that day.
10 minutes went by in a flash, the twin sisters were really lovely and we got our first interview in the pocket. After one minute of confusion and a fleeting greeting with Musubizm girls, we’re whisked to where Ayumi Seto was, and the 2nd interview was going smoothly. Apparently she remembered our interview last year! She’s clearly more relaxed and more certain of herself this time around. What a bonafide Harajuku supermodel, it’s very hard to take a bad picture of her.
From there, we were told that our Musubizm interview had to be rescheduled because they’re set to take the stage for Moshi Moshi Nippon festival. That’s when we got back inside the building and started walking around. There’s definitely a lot more people, but the big space still felt comfortable. Nothing like the awful overcrowded street of yesteryear. While we were making our way to where the food trucks were, we stopped by Sou Sou booth to say hi to Chinatsu-san, the Sou Sou San Francisco Store Manager whom we interviewed last year.
After we got our lunch, we went back inside just in time to see Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival happening on stage. Musubizm, AMIAYA, Ayumi Seto…we covered them all with our past blog posts, but one thing we haven’t talked about is Anna Yano. The “Magica Wars” singer sang a few of her hits – including “Shape My Story” – to her adoring fans. And how cute she looked; that catty hair style, pompom bracelets, tiered flutter sleeves, airy flounce skirt, transparent shoes and white striped socks? Fabulous!
After Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival was finished, we went outside to the back of the building to once again wait for our interview with Musubizm. While we’re waiting around, Chris spotted Ayumi nearby, trying to take some selfies with her camera. It proved to be a hard task, though, so Chris helped her a little bit. He took some shots, and I think she liked them.
AND…of course I had to ask to pose for a picture with her afterwards :)
After waiting around some more, we found out the interview was once again rescheduled. So we decided to just stay where we were, enjoy the breeze, and chat amongst ourselves. One hour later, we found out that our interview was rescheduled again. Oh man, one of the volunteers (who wore a cool grn windbreaker) felt really bad, so he gave us two bottles of iichiko sochu…yay!
We were feeling rather worn out from waiting around by the time we interviewed Yanakiku, but thank the heavens for Yanakiku. The interview was so much fun; they were really funny, gracious, and they lifted our spirits! After that, we had to rush to the other end of the building to FINALLY interview Musubizm. Right after that, we went next door to interview Eir Aoi. Thank God we were there on time, because her staff told us they were ready to cancel if we weren’t there. Sigh…
After all five interviews were over, we went back to the main stage to see the performances from Gacharic Spin, Eir Aoi, and JAM Project to close out the night. Wow, so many people gathering in front of the main stage! We spotted some notable fans on the VIP row: a Hello Kitty fan with cute Hello Kitty plushies pinned to her vest, and these two guys rocking hard to Gacharic Spin. You can totally tell how much of hardcore fans they are by looking at their Gacharic Spin sweat wristbands. Rock on!
That night, we left with half-deaf ears thanks to JAM Project’s powerful set. As expected, we got stuck in a little San Francisco outbound traffic, no doubt thanks to Outside Lands peeps.
Day Two – August 9, 2015
Style Note: Ah, nothing beats a much needed sleep. On the second day, we’re much more relaxed and ready to enjoy the festival more. The sweatshirt gave the comfort factor, but the fashionable sense was kept high thanks to Jesus Romero’s skirt! Thank Jesus for being my style savior during J-Pop Summit 2015 weekend!
Uniqlo sweatshirt and heattech shorts, Jesus Romero skirt, Converse shoes, Longchamp bag.
We arrived at Fort Mason shortly before noon, and Yanakiku was just about to come on stage. They killed it just as expected. Afterwards, I just had to participate in the Fujiyama Disco group selfie!
A photo posted by YANAKIKU (@yanakiku_kiku) on
After Yanakiku cleared the main stage, Baby the Stars Shine Bright fashion show and MaruQ’s Harajuku fashion showcase commenced. However, I remembered about FEMM being in the building, so I left the main stage area shortly after the fashion show’s over and Chris stayed behind to capture MaruQ event.
And sure enough, I spotted FEMM walking around and posing as perfectly as mannequins…except they’re a gazillion times more beautiful.
I went back to the main stage to see the last few seconds of MaruQ showcase and share my FEMM spotting with Chris. Then I suddenly heard cheerful drumming and flute, and that only signaled one thing: Awakko-Ren group! I thought they were only going to be at Union Square, so it’s great that they were at Fort Mason before they took off.
We wandered around to get some lunch, and we passed by Ayumi again – loving these random encounters with her! – on her way to visit a farmer’s market nearby. She informed us about her schedule that afternoon, so we saw her again after lunch, took a picture of her near her Aymmy in the batty girls booth, and participated in Moshi Moshi Nippon photo session with her :)
Oh, a couple of random things. First, I saw Akkuma and took pic with this purple wonder shortly before all Go-torch characters performed on the main stage. Second, I love Shingeki no Kyojin manga (i.e. Attack on Titan), so I just had to take a shot with this Colossal Titan balloon.
What’s not random? Stopping by Sou Sou San Francisco booth again to take a picture with Chinatsu-san and Edison-san, who both went the more traditional outfit route in their clothing.
When we were checking out the five featured ryokans in Ryokan Pavilion area, we saw this beautiful message on one of the mini-ryokan walls. The translation might not be 100% accurate, but they’re close enough.
5 things you shouldn’t forget in your daily life:
1. An honest mind to say ‘yes’
2. A reflection mind to say ‘I’m sorry’
3. A service mind to say ‘I will do it’
4. A humble mind to say ‘thanks to you’
5. An appreciation mind to say ‘thank you’
As we made our way to the main stage again, we bumped into Yanakiku. They just got back from Union Square. Kiku told me their microphones were stolen and the backup microphones weren’t working properly, but they still had a lot of fun performing. Seconds before taking this picture, Kiku looked me over and said, “Oshare!” (i.e. nice style sense ;)
And we spotted FEMM again, this time near iichiko booth, so I just had to pretend to be a mannequin with them (failing miserably, though).
When we were waiting for FEMM to take the stage, our friends Dennis and Charles from J!-ENT invited us for a press group selfie!
And of course, the rest is history. We enjoyed the mini-concerts from the night before as well as FEMM. They all rocked it. We had to go home afterwards and did not get to see DJ Ken Ishii and Anamanaguchi, but I’m sure they were awesome.
What a great J-Pop Summit 2015 experience! It was a lot of work, but we definitely had a lot of fun interviewing artists, meeting old friends, experiencing this new format, and just taking it all in. The festival was much more orderly and enjoyable this year, and it looked like the attendees had a great time. Perhaps the warehouse aspect of Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion did not translate to great sound quality for live concert, but I think this venue had a lot more pluses than minuses. Kudos for all the crew for all the success in bringing more than 30,000 attendees for this first paid J-Pop Summit event!
We’re eagerly anticipating what next year may bring. Once again, special thanks to Kuni Natsuki (for being a wonderful translator), Jesus Romero (for making me fashional, not just functional), and our perpetual hero Erik Jansen!
Ahh…we went back home with light hearts, and Chris took one last picture of me that day.
Phew…now THAT’s my long answer to the question “How did J-Pop Summit 2015 go?”
My short answer? It was incredible. I hope either answer would suffice :)
Until next year, J-Pop Summit Festival!