Solo in Tokyo (Day 6): My First Concert Abroad

December 28, 2019

A little intermission...
Before I dive into my wonderful experience during the concert, I just want to mention visiting a shrine after dropping my shopping items (that I bought at Takeshita Street) at my hotel and before going to the concert venue...

I have been very into visiting shrines and temples during my visit in Tokyo. I've been to popular ones like Sensoji TempleMeiji Shrine and Arakura Fuji Sengen Jinja Shrine, and also to lesser known ones like Ushijima Shrine near Sumida Park and Kanda Myojin Shrine in Akihabara. I got  drawn to these places because I am interested about the beliefs that surround these temples/shrines and so as a new soul visiting these places, I wanted to know about them, experience the atmosphere in these places and also at the same time, pay my respects. 

One aspect that I got curious about these temples/shrines is the fact that I could offer specific prayers/requests for each of them. Well, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I devoted some of my time visiting some of Tokyo's "Love Shrines." I have never had a romantic partner (ever!) and so when I learned that there are shrines dedicated to accepting romantic requests, why not ask the help of the deities to finally let me meet my man? πŸ˜… And so I bookmarked websites like this for future reference. 

I have planned to walk by a shrine that coincidentally is just walking distance from the concert venue. The place is called Tokyo Daijingu Shrine. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any photos of my visit because of a lot of factors, the main one being me feeling disappointed because I wasn't able to make the most out of my (once-in-a-lifetime) visit there. Upon arriving there, I learned that there weren't any English translation amongst the signages there. I tried looking around first and I must say there were lots of things to check out -- there were the usual amulets and also small papers that you could write into. If only I could understand Japanese! I found a pamphlet in English, and so I took one and searched for a spot to sit so I could delve more into it. At that moment, I felt that there was hope for me for in this place. There were a good chunk of information in the pamphlet, but nothing that I needed at that moment (πŸ₯ΊπŸ’”).

I stayed there for a few minutes to just do some people watching because there were several people there, and I was the only foreigner. My buffer time is running out so I just decided that hmm things weren't just meant to be so I just have to let things be. I still paid my respects though. I lined up at the Worship Hall and did the prayer ritual (which mainly consisted of clapping, bowing, and tossing coins to the offertory box). As I said my requests, I prayed the deities would be able understand me despite the language barrier LOL. After that, I started my walk towards my next activity for the day -- the concert! πŸ˜

And now we go back to the main topic of this post -- the concert!

But again before I delve into the details of my concert experience itself, I want to talk (or write?) more about the two main elements of this post: my college friend and John Mayer.

Reunion with Ate she -- my mentor and friend in college
As soon as I have locked the dates (and my plane tickets!) for this Tokyo trip, I messaged two of my closest friends in college -- ate She and ate Kristel. Ate She has been based in Tokyo for years now, and we've always toyed with the idea of going there to visit her. Now that my plans have become a reality, I informed them right away! Even though ate Kristel didn't really had plans to travel, she was encouraged then to plan one so the three of us could meet. Ate Kristel's travel plans did come to a reality,but because of some things and another, her dates were pushed to June. So as saddening as it was, I had to accept that we won't be able to travel together. But still the good news -- I'm going to meet ate She!

Ate She and I were boardmates in college. She is a few years above me, in a different course but under the same department. Looking back, she had been my mentor then. We've spent countless nights in the boarding house's study area emotionally supporting each other in our acads. She was also the one who introduced me to UP Astronomical Society, the only org I treated as my family. She is in Tokyo pursuing a PhD (because that's how hardworking she is). She was actually in a very hectic schedule then because of her thesis, so I was just so thankful she still was able to spend some time to watch the concert with me.

And who is it? Oh the start of the night -- John Mayer ❤️
So how did I arrive in this situation of attending a concert in Tokyo? Well, the Universe's serendipitous powers made me discover that he would be having a concert within my travel dates in Tokyo. I have never seen him live (the last time he visited Manila was in 2010). I like his music. I'm not really an avid fan that followed his activities, but he's one of those artists that I would want to see live in case he visits the country again. But now that I had this opportunity to see him in Tokyo? Like, why not? I have also dreamed of attending a concert abroad (I was interested in going to a Lorde concert during my first trip to the US, but decided to back out because it might be dangerous for me to go alone, and also it would be expensive to commute to the venue from my hotel, note that this was a pre-Lyft era). Attending this concert would actually be hitting two of my goals in one stone!

Remember that couple that I should have been travelling with in Tokyo? They were supposed to be my concert buddies here. They were actually the one who encouraged me to push the plans of going to the concert. We've already bought our tickets before they decided that they would not be pushing through with their travel plans. So I was left with two extra tickets. I already have plans with one, since I would be inviting ate She for the concert. I paid for her tickets instead. This was my way of treating her at that time. She didn't know that I didn't get the tickets for free, hmm but I think she doesn't read the blog, so she wouldn't know this 😝. At that time, I just wished for good karma from the Universe, of which as of this writing I think I have already received in some way or another.

I actually had two dilemmas at that time:
  1. I hope they would honor me to claim the tickets, because the transaction was made under my friend's name. we just printed out supporting documents, in case (her passport, the credit card used in the transaction, and an authorization letter from her). This is the first time I'm attending a concert in Tokyo, so I was not sure how strict they were. So I was really crossing my fingers that everything would go fine. My friend told me if the worst case happens, she'll just ask a refund. And still if the worst worst case happened, she'd gladly give back the money I paid for my ticket, which of course was really really kind of her to consider. So I really prayed that our tickets would get honored. πŸ€ž
  2. I still had one spare ticket. Initially my plans for this were one of the following: a) sell it at the venue on concert day, but that would be considered as ticket scalping, which is illegal, b) give it away free to one lucky lucky fan that's there on the venue, c) invite Carl, the guy I met at the Klook tour the previous day. Although I admit I really wanted I would be very glad to see him again, it might get awkward. Plus it would mean I needed to divide my attention between ate She and Carl, which I am never good at (it drains my social energy so I hate it). There's also a high chance he'll decline the offer because of course he would have plans on that day too (I knew he would leave on Friday that week), and I was afraid of rejections LOLOL.  

Meeting up with ate She
So I've set up to meet with ate She at a landmark near the subway within the concert venue area. We were chatting and all in Messenger and she was telling me that her train would arrive at the subway at this specific time. It was an interesting statement because that would only apply here in Tokyo (or in any place with an efficient subway system). Anyway so I found my waiting spot on a sidewalk seat outside a Starbucks cafe. It was already around 4-5PM I think and the wind was chilly. πŸ₯Ά I could still recall the cold breeze I experienced while waiting for ate She.

When she messaged me that she had just gotten off the subway station, I eagerly waited for her. She was crossing the street from the subway on the other side when I first saw her. It's so amazing because even though we haven't seen each other for years (for sure my appearance changed a lot, I already had glasses on, and it applies the same for her), it took only milliseconds for us to recognize each other. We grinned and we gave each other big bear hugs. πŸ§ΈπŸ₯°

We talked and did some catching up while walking towards the concert venue. She told me about her life here in Tokyo and how hard it was because of all the stuff she needed to do for her PhD. I like listening to other people's stories more than me sharing my own. So when she asked me how I've been, I just told her: "okay naman, ganun pa rin" (same same *in an exaggerately high tone* lol my friends know this mannerism of mine). She asked me about my lovelife (ugh ate She wala 😭). It was funny because she thought the guy I always had photo with is my SO. I immediately knew who she was referring to, and I told her (while laughing hard) that that is Krishan, one of my closest friends, and he's gay. That idea really made me laugh! Well it did kind of made sense from an outsider's point of view. So to clear things once and for all -- no, that guy is not my boyfriend. I don't have a boyfriend, okay?

We reached the concert venue while happily chit-chatting. We searched for the counter to claim online tickets. The staff that was stationed at the lines gave us the directions. Good thing there was no line when we arrived. And so I handed the transaction voucher together with the supporting documents that I brought. I tried to explain to the staff that it was my friend who bought the tickets and I was claiming it on behalf of her. I watched the staff as she looked through my documents and matched my friend's name with a list on a notebook. After a few minutes, she handed me our tickets. YAAAAY!

As soon as I got the tickets, I messaged my friend back home that we were able to successfully claim our tickets!

Now that the first dilemma was already out of our way, we needed to face the next one. What should we do with the extra ticket? Ate She thought for a while, and asked me if it was okay to message a friend she knew lived nearby. I said of course! I didn't want the ticket to go to waste. Upon a few minutes of messaging, she confirmed her friend was free and could attend. I felt relieved, at least we would be making another person happy with the concert ticket! Apparently her friend was from the same university as mine. They were orgmates back then, and he was there in Tokyo undertaking his PhD also. I was very happy because things are settled now! We could just relax and wait for the concert to start.

Happy me at the concert venue. (πŸ“·: Ate She)
The concert was set to start in ~2 hours, so we still had time to grab dinner. We arranged to meet with ate She's friend in a ramen house nearby.

We passed by this gorgeous park with beautiful Sakura trees! I was still at awe at how beautiful this city is. 

Ramen at Fukumen Tomo
(resto's twitter handle :@hukumentomo2009, as stated on their door)
Ate She just randomly searched for a high-reviewed ramen place in the area, and so we landed upon this hole-in-a-wall ramen place called Fukumen Tomo. There were only less than 10 seats available inside. This kind of ramen place is quite common in Tokyo. Based on the Google reviews, usually a long line would be seen outside the door, so we were lucky because there was no line when we arrived. We just had to wait for a few minutes because all the seats were occupied.

Ate She's friend arrived before we got inside. His name is Rusty. He's a few years younger than me. His aura felt nice and it blended well amongst the three of us, so I didn't have a hard time adjusting when he arrived. It felt like he was also a long-lost friend that I got reunited with also. πŸ˜€

When we finally got inside, I noticed that all of the signages were in Japanese. Good thing their ticket machine had some English translations. Ate She mentioned that every restaurant should be tourist-friendly, especially since there's an upcoming Olympics to be held in Tokyo in 2020. We ordered ramen and settled on our seats (if I remember correctly, one customer transferred to another chair to allow the three of us to sit adjacently huhu the people here in Tokyo are just so kind!). The seats immediately face the kitchen. Only one cook was there taking the orders. As he got our tickets stubs. he asked us something, but since we couldn't understand any Japanese, we weren't able to answer properly. I felt that he felt frustrated, but took our orders nonetheless. At that time, I had no idea what that was about, until I researched about this ramen place. According to this blog, the cook usually asks the customer's preference for the soup base of the ramen. I guess he just prepared a "default template" ramen for the three of us.

This is the ramen he served for us. It tasted good!

I noticed that the soup tasted saltier as I slurped down the noodles. I also noticed that the chef was asking something to the other customers, and upon their reply, he refilled their ramen soup. And so I had this conclusion that this was how the ramen should be consumed -- with soup refills. But since we couldn't understand each other, the cook might have just ignored us. LOLOL.

Upon further googling I learned that this is one of Tokyo's very sought-after ramen place. I really need to learn Japanese to make out most of my experiences in this country, eh? πŸ˜…
And so with our bellies full of great ramen, we walked towards the concert venue to meet John Mayer!!! Wohoo! Stay tuned for my next post! πŸ˜

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