In Mid-2019, it was announced that AKB48 would hold its first solo concert in Taiwan on October 2019. Taiwan had always been on my bucket list for travelling, but I had never had a chance to visit it. I frequently asked my family to go to Taiwan, but they barely showed any interest. When AKB48 announced it, I sincerely believed that it was the right time to visit Taiwan. At least I had an excuse to travel alone. Not to mention, I had never watched Tomu’s performance in a proper AKB48 concert despite being her fan for more than 6 years. I had only watched Tomu’s performance in AKB48xHKT48 Halloween Live at Nippon Budokan in 2015. I could hardly remember it and frankly speaking, it was not a concert.
At first, I had no clue how to purchase the concert ticket because all instructions were in Chinese. Fortunately, a fellow Tomu Oshi from Japan offered to help me securing a ticket. She has been going to Taipei back and forth for AKB48 Team TP events as Abe Maria oshi. It feels good to have friends who voluntarily offer her/his help for you, without having to ask them first.
Going to Taipei from Singapore is relatively cheap. I bought a flight ticket of Scoot airlines for only 250 SGD (round trip). Furthermore, I do not have to pay for Taiwan visa because the Taiwan Government created a regulation whereby an Indonesian national only needs to apply an online visa if they have acquired Schengen, Australia, US, Japan, UK, Canada, South Korea, or New Zealand visa in the past 10 years. In my case, I hold Schengen, Australia, US, and Japan visas, but I chose to apply with a Japan visa. I obtained Taiwan visa only a few seconds after submitting all my data to Taiwanese immigration site.
I booked a hostel nearby Taipei Arena. Little did I know that the hostel located in a central area and very near to shopping areas. It was very nice that I could spot a lot of hipster cafes. However, I did not travel a lot on the first day I arrived in Taipei. I was extremely tired because my flight was delayed for more than two hours due to technical issues. I arrived in Taipei early in the morning and could not check in to my hotel until 3 PM. I decided to have lunch nearby my hostel and had a coffee afterwards. There was a nice halal beef noodle shop only 10-minute walk from my hostel. It had been such a long time since I had my “me time”. I spent more than 30 minutes in the coffee shop, enjoyed my coffee and checked latest updates on social media. I left the café after learning the schedule of AKB48’s member arrival in airport. They arrived at 4:50 PM in Taipei Songshan Airport. A fellow Tomu Oshi from China tweeted that only a few Tomu Oshi appeared, so she would need some help. I returned to my hostel and the staff allowed me to check-in even though it was still 2 PM. I took a rest for a while and went to airport at around 3:30 PM.
It took me only 20 minutes by bus to reach the airport. I found a huge crowd of people in the arrival hall, waiting for AKB48 members to arrive. I immediately contacted the Chinese Tomu Oshi and she told me that she was in the front. She told me to stand in the front and replaced her while she was checking the other Tomu Oshi. She also gave me an uchiwa with Tomu’s name written on it as I brought nothing with me. I left most of my Tomu goodies in Jakarta. It turned out that a number of Chinese Tomu Oshi had prepare a special gift for Tomu, it seemed to be an expensive bag. I did not prepare anything for Tomu because I had no time to find presents for Tomu. We waited for about 2 hours until AKB48 members arrived and cleared the immigration. I felt so thirsty and tired, but it paid off because Tomu saw us! My friend also successfully handed the gift to Tomu. It was fascinating to see a lot of people waiting for hours to greet their idols in the airport, even though only for a few minutes.
On the day of concert, I went to Taipei Arena at around 3:00 PM. It was too early, but I just wanted to check out the venue and meet my Japanese friend who held my ticket. She was busy preparing the graduation projects for Abe Maria. She was surrounded by local Taiwanese fans and spoke in both Japanese and Chinese. She told me that the ticket would be available 2 hours before the concert started, so she asked me whether I wanted to travel more before it started. Her Taiwanese friends recommended a bubble tea shop nearby Taipei Arena. My Japanese friend was very kind to offer me going together to the bubble tea shop and helped me to order because everything was in Chinese. We parted away after we bought our drinks as she returned to Taipei Arena. I decided to check out Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall which was not really far away from Taipei Arena.
At around 5 PM, I returned to Taipei Arena and met the other two Japanese Tomu Oshi. They were collecting birthday message for Tomu as I arrived. Three of my Japanese friends are active members of Tomu’s seitansai committee in which one of them is the head of Tomu’s seitansai committee. They told me that not many Taiwanese fans wrote birthday messages for Tomu. They assumed that Tomu is not really popular overseas. I told them that their statement is ironically true. Lol. Sometimes I have to reach out to a lot of people or fanbase accounts, begging them to fill out Tomu’ birthday messages form. Actually, it takes less than 3 minutes to write down everything, but somehow people are not interested in writing a simple birthday message for members who are not their oshimen. Honestly, a simple “happy birthday” greetings will make Tomu happy. On the other note, language barrier might also be the problem. My friends brought a sign that was written in Japanese, meanwhile those who came to concert were mainly Taiwanese. At last, our friends from China helped us to communicate with local fans and we managed to collect a few more birthday messages. In exchange, my Japanese friends gave some stickers from AKB48 National Tour to those who wrote the birthday messages.
Finally, it was the time for concert!
I was extremely nervous as I entered the venue. My seat was at the second floor and right at the back of FOH. There were a lot of empty seats next to me. Sadly, only the first floor was full house. I did not bring any uchiwa, but I brought a penlight with me. I got the penlight from my friend, Dachi-san, who passed away last year. He was a Japanese fan who frequently came to Indonesia because he was a fan of JKT48. We always met whenever he visited Jakarta or when I went to Tokyo. We actually met in Tokyo a few months before he passed away. I still clearly remember that he told me, “Tell us whenever you come to Tokyo, we will try our best to meet and hang out with you.” Unfortunately, it was our last meeting and I could not say a proper goodbye to him. This penlight was very special to him because it has a sign of his oshimen Jessica Veranda, former member and centre of JKT48. It was very useful for me because it is a multicolour penlight and I can change the colour depending on songs or performing members.
I could not hide my excitement when I heard overture. I am not a type of person who do a proper mix during a concert. I would rather sing a long throughout the concert. And, I did that. Haha. I sang like crazy because no one sat next to me, so nobody could hear my bad singing voice. Oh well, the sound system was very loud though. Hahaha.
I enjoyed the concert from the very beginning until the end. I could not take my eyes from Tomu. It was my very first time watching Tomu’s performance in a proper concert. I could easily spot Tomu although I did not use binoculars, thanks to Tomu’s long black hair. Lol. She was simply amazing, and I could not say anything else. I was completely stunned when she performed “Blue Rose”. While the other members performed cute songs, Team K members opted for a cool song. Tomu’s facial expressions and dance were the best! The other members, Miichan, Naru, and Komiharu also did great. But of course, I poured my attention into Tomu. Oh, another member that stole my attention during unit song was Yukari, Tomu’s cohort in 12th generation. She performed Tenshi No Shippo with Satone and Seichan. Of course, you can’t get wrong with Satone and Seichan on this song, but 24-year-old Yukari still nailed it!
This concert was also a graduation concert for Abe Maria. I am glad I could go to this concert because Abe-san is a close friend of Tomu. I always call her “Abe-san” because Tomu also calls her like this. Hahaha. Her solo performance of Migiashi Evidence was lit! She might not be the best dancer, but her great figure fit the song and choreography very well. I was quite surprised when I saw Izurina came with a flower bouquet when the other members sang “Sougen No Kiseki” on Abe Maria’s graduation ceremony. It was nice to know that most of Abe-san’s cohort could attend the concert, including graduated member Fujita Naana. Naana came all the way to Taipei to watch the concert.
Overall, I had so much fun, although I sat alone because my friends were on the other sections. Watching AKB48 on screen is fun but watching their performance with my own eyes was beyond words, especially with my oshimen on it. There are so many things that I might not be able to watch online, for instance, a special video during the dance medley. The video for NO WAY MAN was much better than the original MV. Lol.
Tomu is turning 25 next month and I would say that her graduation might come anytime soon. She passed the weather forecaster exam earlier this year and will probably earn her master degree by next year. Nothing much to do left in the group.
I am glad I flew all the way to Taipei to watch Tomu’s performance in a proper concert. I hope I can go to other concerts in the future.
P.S: I went to local night markets with my three Japanese friends and one Taiwanese fan after the concert. It was my very first time hanging out with other Tomu Oshi after an event. Lol. I am always hesitant to hang out with them because of my poor Japanese skills. But this time, they personally invited me to come along with them. They were very nice to accommodate my diet that I cannot eat pork because I am a Muslim.