Across the bay from mainland Tokyo lies the island of Odaiba, home to malls, museums, entertainment complexes, the Fuji Television headquarters, and the popular Zepp Tokyo live house. We last saw YOSHIKI here at the premiere of Catacombs.
On October 22, this small island was flooded by thousands of fans from all over the country, there to catch a glimpse of the members of X JAPAN and listen to their new music together as they filmed the promotional video for "I.V." Jrock Revolution was there throughout the day to observe the scene as X JAPAN took over Aqua City. Here’s Part One of our event report!
X JAPAN "I.V." Promotional Video Event Part One
On September 22nd, 1997, X JAPAN officially announced their disbandment.
On October 18th, 2007, Sports Nippon scoops the news — a few hours later on the same day confirmed on the X JAPAN official website, giving the day and place, and promising further updates — that X JAPAN will make their first public appearance again exactly ten years and one month later, on October 22nd, 2007, for the shooting of the PV of their new single, " I.V.," on the roof of the Aqua City complex in Odaiba, one of Tokyo’s most fashionable hubs for amusement and recreation.
Next broadcasted during the entertainment corner of the highly popular "Mezamashi Terebi" early morning "Wake Up TV" show, the announcement creates an instant wave of excitement, swelling as fast as it did when news of the disbandment hit in 1997, though, naturally, this time driving my joy and excitement.
Messages start to fly through cyberspace as soon as the first announcement is made. The first "X JAPAN October 22nd live!!!" thread on MIXI, a Japanese social networking site, is made while the "Mezamashi Terebi" commentator is still talking; just before noon, when I’m able to check for the first time, it has over one hundred comments already — on a weekday morning when everybody is busy offline! By 2 P.M. it’s over one hundred and fifty, and by evening I’ve given up checking MIXI; it’s impossible to keep track.
Very easy to keep track of, on the other hand, is official news from the band on the details of the event: there isn’t any. The lack of website updates leads to fondly exasperated exclamations of "DOU natte iru no yo!?" ("So WHAT’S going on now!?") and "Maa, X ja…" ("Oh well, that’s X…") answers, though no one is angry. X JAPAN fans are used to the idiosyncrasies of their favorite band.
Conversations usually end with fans asking, "So, what are we going to do?" and concluding, "What is there to do, but go there on the 22nd? It’ll work out, somehow." (It always does; that’s X JAPAN, too.)
Going over there, then, is what we do, too. JRR has been accepted for press access, but we’re still awaiting details ourselves, so we decide to see meanwhile how the mood is at Odaiba, among the fans.
I myself am meeting another friend, Mie, at noon at the Yurikamome station in Shinbashi, a busy but rather straightlaced business district, but even in the large main Shinbashi station I can already spot "Xers" in the crowd. Not always by their clothing — probably no one would suspect that I am on my way to the event, from my rather conventional appearance — there is just a certain feeling to them.
On the way to the slightly set apart station for the Yurikamome line, the monorail servicing the separate island of Odaiba connected to the central city by a bridge across Tokyo Bay, the numbers of obvious event attendees increase. After Mie and I meet, we keep pointing out to each other more groups and people we suspect are headed for Aqua City, which is one of Odaiba’s numerous malls.
My guess would be that more than half of the people on the train that takes us out to Odaiba are on their way to see X JAPAN, and we are far from the first to make it there: on the square in front of Aqua City and in the area around it many benches and chairs and other surfaces that might serve as seats are already taken up by early arrivals.
Excitement is decidedly in the air, with the most frequent question asked being "Any news?" and people clinging to their cell phones like their life lines, determined not to miss the updates promised for YOSHIKI MOBILE, in a small website update the night before, that also finally at least mentioned the time of the event, if still not the exact location.
Mie and I head straight inside the building to information, to get a floor plan — during the afternoon we end up consulting information rather frequently; I can’t help wondering if the ladies there are having "oh, them again" thoughts every time we approach again — and then find a spot to sit down ourselves, to wait for the arrival of JRR team member Tomomi, who is precisely on time for our 1 P.M. meeting.
Deciding that we’d like an early impression of the roof and the chance to take some pictures, we head for the elevator, but unfortunately, next to the button of the roof there is this strip of printed on plastic:
"Not stopping on this floor today" is what the message says, with the explanation of why not posted on the right wall:
"Regarding the X JAPAN promotional video shooting"
"Today, 10/22 (Monday), starting at 20:00, the shooting of the promotional video of X JAPAN‘s new song "I.V." is scheduled to take place on the roof of Aqua City, but it is impossible to see the shooting from inside Aqua City.
People not connected to the event may not enter the roof or neighboring locations. Thank you for your understanding.
Well, so that idea, as we already had assumed it would, did not work out. As shooting staff took the elevator route, fans may have been disappointed to reach a dead end, but one of them gave us a smile.
Still, there are more ways to Rome than one, and probably more ways to the roof than the elevator to the parking deck, so after consulting the floor plan, we decide to head to the other alternative, a Shintou shrine on another part of the roof. A whisper in some deity’s ear might not be misplaced either, wishing for good luck for the event.
Again, it was a nice idea, but…
"We humbly apologize, but unfortunately it is not possible to pray at the shrine today."
Thank you for your cooperation."
We briefly consider visiting the observation platform of Fuji TV, across the street, but come to the conclusion that that is probably too far distant from the Aqua City roof to for us to be able to get any good look or good pictures, since our camera, while nice, lacks the super extension lenses of the traditional press’s equipment.
Instead, we head back to information, not for the first time, and inquire about Internet cafes in the neighborhood only to be told there aren’t any, but that at one coffee shop inside Aqua City (which turns out to be the one where Mie and I had ended up resting our tired feet after the Catacombs premiere a month ago), they lend out laptops to customers. That turns into our next stop, to leave a situation update on the JRR forum.
As we correspond with JRR forum members and L.A. staff, fans have yet to receive any updates on Yoshiki Mobile, no matter how much increasingly excited, but also slightly anxious people flip open their cell phones to check.
That update ultimately comes while we are still online, at 2:45PM, telling us that there will be a message from X JAPAN to the fans later, with still no location information for the big screens on which fans will be able to watch and no indication otherwise where those screens might be. As excitement has jumped up even higher with the news, we decide we may as well head out and mix some more and see how the situation has changed during our break. We find that it has obviously gotten a lot more crowded around Aqua City, with people by then having made it inside the building and invaded places where one normally is not supposed to sit around…
In large or small groups they wait in different locations all over the place, such as across from Tokyo’s own Statue of Liberty…
In the outdoors area that usually leads to the roof shrine, the access path is now — surprise! — closed off by a white fence, as groups wait nearby.
And people too tired from standing by now are sitting down wherever they can, even though guards with official X JAPAN passes dangling from cords around their necks that have been patrolling frequently since around 3 P.M. make them get up again most often.
Some lucky individuals, like this obvious fan…
…even find a decent place to sit still, but most are taken. Curious about the situation there, we ourselves head over to Odaiba station. It’s around 4 P.M. now and while we want to get a look to see how things are there and how many people are arriving, we also want to be back at Aqua City in plenty of time before the start of the event.
As we arrive, we see more and more people pouring into the open square in front of the complex. One of the first things we see at the station, actually, is a notice stating that "The Fuji television observation platform is closed today."
Just as well that we saved ourselves the walk over there earlier…
We are still discussing whether or not to take more pictures of arriving fans or save our batteries for shooting later at night when Tomomi’s cell phone rings at 4:25PM. It’s X JAPAN management finally providing us with the details of where and when to pick up our press passes. Honestly, we couldn’t help laughing; this really was an "it’s X JAPAN, after all" moment.
The rest happens in a hurry. Mie — and another concert goer she has luckily caught up with as well — comes along as far as possible, helping us not to get lost in our excitement in Aqua City’s somewhat confusing layout, to the lower end of the indoor staircase leading to the shrine, now blocked off not only by a portable fence but a guard man as well. We check in with management on the phone again to enter and pick up our press passes, then take in the view from the press reception area before heading out onto the roof.
After that, it’s only waiting for the press briefing that is to start at 5:15 P.M., which is not many minutes later by then. The meeting is brief; mostly just the handing out of the press kit and guidelines for the evening’s press coverage, ending with the information that the shooting is scheduled to start at 6 P.M. and that we will be taken to the actual press area after all members have arrived. Which, naturally — this is X JAPAN, after all — does not happen at 6 P.M., though we finally get access to the roof around that time, when the reporters of the attending Japanese newspapers are also given the opportunity to set up their equipment while we and a gentleman who is covering the event for a Japanese online organization discuss the event with management.
The sound check that is already underway teases the audience waiting on the ground ten floors below the roof, waiting in a park adjacent to the backside of the stage, where, I am told later by a friend, huge cars with side mounted screens appeared when at last the long-awaited location announcement came in through YOSHIKI MOBILE. We can’t see the park from our location on the roof, but that something is going on there is clear from the commotion of thousands of people assembling.
I can’t help but remember fans we met during the day and talked to, some who flew to Tokyo from places as far away as Sapporo on the northeastern island of Hokkaidou and Nagasaki on the southeastern island of Kyuushuu, one woman even all the way from Okinawa. Others that undertook all night drives, or several students too short of funds to take the bullet trains, braving uncomfortable night buses because they wanted to be there, to see X JAPAN. Old fans and new, from high school students to grandmothers, people who’d come not just from Tokyo, but from all over the country, without knowing full details, because they trusted, no, knew, that X JAPAN would be there for their fans, as TOSHI once said, during those memorable "Blue Night, White Night" concerts.
"As you are always here for us, X will always be there for you, so never give up on your dreams."
For me personally, for Tomomi, for the thousands down in the park, to see X JAPAN on stage again is a long-time cherished dream.
A dream that becomes reality a few minutes later finally, when YOSHIKI himself, with TOSHI and HEATH and PATA, arrives on the roof at 6:40 P.M., about to write a new chapter in the Japanese, no, worldwide history of rock.
To Be Continued in Part Two
Edited by Misha
Odaiba photos by Tomomi
Fan attendees depicted with their permission
Crowd photo courtesy of Shirasaka (Proceed)