On September 17th, I took an early bus into Tokyo to attend Nakao Kenya’s First Fan Event. Looking at the venue details online before I left, the details stated that it had a “homely atmosphere” perfect for talk shows. It made me wonder what the place would be like, and there were three interesting things I noticed when I entered.
- At the door, we had to remove our shoes and they supplied slippers for us to wear in the room.
- There were only four rows of seats, with about 18 seats in each. It meant the room was quite wide, but it didn’t prevent a good view.
- The venue was called “The Kitchen” and there was an actual kitchen on the side of the staging area, and several roll out counter tops. I’m guessing the venue is used a lot as a studio for cooking shows, but it was an interesting feature.
The show began with Sagawa Daiki (St. Rudolph’s Nomura), who was the MC for the event, entering the room. He introduced himself, and then finally he had us shout Kenya’s name, and he entered too. Kenya came into the room in complete silence, got to the front, and promptly said, “ah, I forgot to shout in excitement on my way in.” Typical Nakao Kenya failure.
They sat down, and Daiki was extremely focussed on his MC folder which had the schedule and notes in. Kenya was impressed by this, saying that Kaisei (who had been the MC for the first show that day) had been a compete unorganised mess. They talked for a few minutes and seemed to quickly run short on discussion topics, but Daiki was very strict that they had a set amount of time for the section, and really wanted them to keep talking.
As if by magic, there was a sudden obnoxious knock on the door, and everyone gasped. Then, without a care in the world, Kamimura Kaisei entered the room holding his cellphone in one hand and a bag in the other, and sauntered across the stage, taking the MC seat that Daiki hadn’t quite sat down in yet. Kaisei had been the MC for the first show but Kenya was so shocked that he had randomly reappeared. “Didn’t you go home?” he asked, and Kaisei replied, “No. I went to the combini.”
Because I’m also a fan of Kaisei, I had been disappointed that I hadn’t had a ticket for the first show where Kaisei was the MC, and so I was really happy to see him. He stayed in that same seat for more of their opening talk, which ended up revolving around how much they had all cried during Dream Live. Kenya revealed that he had cried even before the final show had begun. He said he had been putting on his mike while sobbing and while the make up staff were trying desparately to keep his make up on. Daiki commented that Kaisei had probably been laughing at that time, and Kaisei replied with “probably”, although he said he really couldn’t remember much about that time.
Kaisei still had his phone out, and Kenya noticed that it was an iPhone7, which is brand new. Kaisei said that he had been out the day before and bought it. Kenya was jealous to the point where he looked like he either wanted to steal it or smash it, because Kaisei looked so smug about having it. Kaisei then gave us a lesson on the stats of the new phone, and commented on how good the camera was compared to the previous iPhone. To prove this, he took a selfie of the three of them with it (the picture I posted above is the one he took). Kenya really seemed to want to play with the phone but every time he commented on part of it, Kaisei would just say “it’s something awesome” in a really smug voice, and would not let anyone near it.
Eventually, Kaisei stated, “if I leave now I’ll be home at 6”, and stood up. I was sad that he couldn’t stay for longer but I suppose it was about time he stopped stealing Kenya’s thunder, and let Daiki have his seat back.
With the talk time filled to Daiki’s satisfaction, they moved onto the next part, the Question Corner. They had asked us to submit questions through a site beforehand, and I was amazingly happy when my question was chosen by Daiki first. I had asked Kenya to do a self-introduction in English, and he immediately rose to the challenge. “English?!” he stated, and then took a deep breath and went ahead.
“Hello. My name is Kenya Nakao. My favourite subject is math……. Do you understand? I love… My… I… My… My favourite food is omurice. Do you know? Thank you.”
I was pretty impressed with his effort. I’m not sure why he thought telling us his favourite subject was a good way to start a self-introduction, but I’m guessing it’s probably something he learned to do in school. I’ll admit that, as a teacher, I did later give him some pointers on how to improve in his blog, but overall I think he did quite well.
Because I was so happy that he had answered my question, I don’t actually remember much about the other questions. I remember that he got asked what kind of role he’d like to try in the future, but I don’t remember his answer. He also got asked what food he had enjoyed most out of all the cities he had visited during Tenimyu. His answer was the hitsumabushi he ate in Nagoya, which seems to be a popular choice! He also said that he liked to eat okonomiyaki when he went to Osaka.
He only answered four questions altogether, which made me even happier that mine was chosen.
The game they played involved one of the guys trying to make the other say a specific phrase. One would close their eyes while the phrase appeared on the screen, and then they would have to try and make the other say it, using whatever they wanted including various props that had been prepared.
So they couldn’t see the screen when the word was being shown, the person who had to guess would wear this pair of comedy glasses with eyes. Kenya commented that in the first show everyone had said how gross he looked when he wore them, and we were basically in agreement. But when Daiki put them on, everyone shouted how cute he looked, and Kenya was not impressed in the slighest. Eventually he got so annoying with his whining that Daiki told him he looked cute just to shut him up.
Daiki was the first challenger, and had to try and make Kenya say “nandeyanen”. He chose to try and do this by using various props in the wrong way (he used a baseball bat as a flute, a water bottle as a weight, etc. etc.) but Kenya was really over complicating things despite Daiki continually telling him to think in more simple terms. Kenya didn’t manage to say the phrase in the correct time and Daiki had tried so hard he was really frustrated and said “what do you say when someone does weird things like that?!” and finally Kenya caught on and said it, but it was far too late.
Next, Kenya had to try and make Daiki say “お母さんのか！”. During this time we learned that Kenya would be the most irritating mother ever, but he was accurate to the point where Daiki was able to guess it quite easily.
Then it was Daiki’s turn again. I don’t remember the exact phrase but it was something along the lines of “don’t do it!” and Daiki chose to threaten to pour a glass of water on Kenya’s head. I have no idea what Kenya was thinking but all of his replies were along the lines of “just get on and do it!!!” because Daiki was just constantly on the verge of pouring. That wouldn’t be my first reponse, for sure. Daiki was also shocked that Kenya didn’t manage to get it. By this time, Kenya was really beginning to hate this game.
Finally, Kenya had his last turn, one final chance to redeem himself and get himself a point. The phrase he got was “引くわ”. Kenya spent a lot of time declaring his love to pretty much every single prop, went after Daiki who did not want Kenya anywhere near him, and eventually declared his love to everyone in the whole room, to which Daiki helpfully suggested “… bike?” In the end though, it was hopeless, and Kenya failed once again.
Researching Kenya’s Bag
It was revealed that the punishment for losing the game was that Daiki would introduce the contents of Kenya’s bag to us. The staff had specifically chosen this batsu game if Kenya lost, because they were always curious as to why Kenya’s bag was so heavy, and wanted to know what was in it.
Kenya had no idea this was going to happen, and he really did not want it to.. He kept saying. “What did I bring today?! What if something bad is in there?!” and Daiki would just reply, “what kind of bad thing could be in there…?” I’m not sure either, but Kenya was certainly thinking hard about what he had put in his bag that morning all of a sudden. He was almost believing it was a joke right up until the point the staff produced this huge heavy looking backpack and put it onto the table. So, the contents of Kenya’s bag was:
- A portable DVD player (plus all the cables)
- 2 BASARA stage DVDs he was watching for research.
- His cellphone. He pointed out he’d just bought a ring that sticks to the back to hold the phone on his finger. He demonstrated how it makes it easier for him to catch Pokemon.
- A portable charger.
- His wallet (he warned Daiki not to check the inside).
- Glasses. Daiki asked him to put them on which he did and almost killed his eyes because he was already wearing contacts.
- His make up bag which contained so many sponges he couldn’t even get them all back inside when he tried to close it again.
- Aftershave. He offered to spray some on Daiki and Daiki almost ran away and told him he didn’t want them to smell the same.
- Two different books.
- A tiny pouch with a necklace in.
- A copy of his own DVD (which caused great laughter from everyone).
When the bag was finally empty, Daiki tried to pile everything back inside and commented that he didn’t know which of the many pockets everything came from. Kenya told him it didn’t matter, until Daiki put something in the ‘wrong’ pocket and Kenya told him firmly, “not that one!” In the end Daiki gave up and just shoved everything in and told Kenya to deal with it later.
Video Message Corner
Finally, Daiki announced that in commemoration of Kenya’s first Fan Event, some people had sent video messages for him. Kenya was trying to guess for the longest time who the messages might be from, and named pretty much everyone in St. Rudolph, but actually, the first message came from his best friend Zaiki Takuma! Zaiki had filmed a message on his cellphone from his hotel room in Shanghai and sent it. All Kenya could comment on while he watched was the bad quality of the video but you could tell underneath all of that he was really surprised and touched that Zaiki had gone to that effort for him while he was so busy working.
Again before the second message, he tried to guess who it was from and again named everyone in St. Rudolph and suddenly he said, “… it couldn’t be Kaisei, could it?” And sure enough, that little troll had come back to haunt Kenya once again and had done a message for him. Kenya was so mad because since he was wearing the same outfit he’d been wearing during the event and because the curtain behind him was the one on the stage area, he had clearly filmed it earlier that day. He was complaining so much I’m not sure he was even listening to Kaisei. As Kaisei would, he started his video by saying “Did you all have fun???” and then stopped to listen for a moment before saying, “actually, this is a recorded message so I can’t actually hear you anyway.” When they paused the video at the end when Kaisei had finished, all Kenya wanted them to do was remove his face from the screen as quickly as possible.
I don’t think Kenya could have possibly guessed who the final message would be from, and it was obvious how surprised and touched he was when the face that appeared on the screen was that of his dai-senpai in his agency, Shiina Taizo. It’s obvious that Shiina is someone who Kenya respects a lot, and it was nice to watch him viewing the video. Shiina mentioned that he was looking forward to finally working along side him in BASARA, but that Kenya need to work on the power of his punch movements. By the time the video finished, Kenya was on his knees. Afterwards, he was still really surprised. Daiki made him practice his punch movements. And then he talked a little more about Shiina and ended up embarrassing himself. He said, “we’ve done DVD filming together, sleep together…” At which point Daiki interjected with an “eh?” and a laugh, but Kenya did not catch on and continued with, “he’s really kind to me.” And Daiki’s “eh?” and laughter just got louder. Then Kenya suddenly realised what he’d said and collapsed in embarrassment for about five minutes.
There was a final short bit of talk time, in which Daiki asked Kenya what had surprised him about coming to Tokyo. Kenya mentioned about a thousand times that he’s from Fukuoka (I heard a few people around me muttering “we know…”) and told how he had been surprised that people in Tokyo weren’t familiar with some character who was on TV in Fukuoka. He said whenever he referred to the character to anyone not from Fukuoka, no one knew what he was talking about. He proved his point by asking if anyone in the room was from Fukuoka, and the one girl who was, along with one of his staff members from Fukuoka, were the only people in the room familiar with the character.
With a final ending comment thanking us all for coming, Kenya left the room to prepare for the handshake send-off.
Because I was quite far back, I had a long time to wait for my turn for a handshake, and so also had a lot of time to watch Kenya interracting with the other fans. I really admired how much time he spent with each fan and how attentive he was. I’ve been to quite a few different handshake events, and I know that fans are satisfied with even the shortest amount of talking time. But not only did he spend a lot of time talking to each fan, he also personally signed a postcard for everyone as they were talking. He had also stated before the event that one of his aims was to remember fans names, and he was trying so hard to recall the names of fans who went to both the first and second shows. He didn’t always succeed, but he really wanted to. While he was very attentive of those he was speaking to, he was also very aware that we were all having to wait, and would sometimes stop to apologise to us all. He would always be sincere, tell us to wait a little longer, and told us to “keep reporting on Twitter” while we waited.
Finally though, the number of people in front of me decreased and decreased until I was the one standing there in front of him. I became Kenya’s fan almost exactly a year before this event, and the first time I had noticed him back then was during the St. Rudolph musical first day, where I extended my arm and managed to get a finger tip touch from him in the encore. Since that time, I had been really wishing that one day I would be able to get a real handshake from him. And after missing out on him during the special handshake send-offs at the Yamabuki Musical, I was so happy that my wish was finally able to happen. And here is how our conversation went (the “E” marks times we were speaking in English).
Me: “Good evening!”
Kenya: *super loud voice* “Hello!!!!” (E)
(Everyone still in the room laughs)
Kenya: “Ah! How are you? (E)
Me: “I’m good! How are you? (E)
Kenya: “I’m fine!” (E)
Me: *hands over my letter for him*
Kenya: *looks on the back where I wrote my name* Josie. Josie?
Me: *nods* “That’s right.”
Kenya: *grabs a postcard* “Okay, let’s try this in English.” *looks at my name and copies it* “Should I write ‘san’?”
Me: “You don’t need to.”
Kenya: “And how do I write ‘へ’ in English?”
Me: It’s ‘Dear’.
Kenya: “Ahhh!! ‘Dear’, right.” *writes it on the postcard* “Where did you come from today?”
Me: “From Nagoya.”
Kenya: “But you’re from…” *thinks for a moment* “England, right?”
Me: “That’s right! Do you want to go?”
Kenya: “I do! How is the food there? Is it good?”
Me: “It’s good! Things like fish and chips.”
Kenya: “Ah! Fish and chips, right. But Japanese food is good too, right?”
Me: “Yeah. I think Japanese food is better.”
Kenya: “Just a little.” (E) *does a cute ‘just a little’ gesture with his fingers*
Me: “Just a little.” (E)
Kenya: *looks back at the postcard and speaks his words while writing* “I… love… you.” (E)
Me: “By the way, your self-introduction was very good!”
Kenya: “Ah, thank you! But your Japanese is really good too, I was surprised!”
Me: “Thank you! I have a way to go, though.”
Kenya: “Thank you for coming today.” *shakes my hand*
Me: “It was fun!”
Kenya: “Really? Thank you! If I do something like this again, please come!”
Me: “I’ll come!”
Kenya: “Thank you!” (E) *stops and tries his ‘thank you’ again because he prounced it in the Japanese way*
Me: “THank you.”
Kenya: *tries again but almost spits all over the place so gives up* Bye bye!
This is the postcard I received from Kenya (we also received a flyer for BASARA from him):
And that was it, it was over. Although I had been nervous to meet Kenya, he was so chilled out, relaxing and easy to understand, that once I was talking with him I felt like I could talk to him all day. I can’t state enough how much I respected him for talking to each fan for so long, and I was also really happy that he remembered me and where I was from. I was really sad to be leaving and wished I could go back to the beginning of the event again.
Of course, I’ll be continuing to support Kenya from now, focussing next on BASARA which will be performed earlier next year. In the mean time, for those reading this, please support this amazing, cute, idiotic guy too.