Of course one isn’t enough! I’ve been to four more in the past month, so I figured I’d share my experiences again.

First, a few announcements:

– The new Kirara Carat issue (with Hidamari on the cover) officially comes out on Monday, but certain stores may start putting them on the shelves tomorrow night. I’ll definitely have the issue by noontime on the 28th. For the curious, the cover has been revealed.

– I’m selling some Hidamari doujinshi and other items before I leave Japan at the end of next month. Please take a look and let me know if you’re interested.

Now, moving on!

March 29th: Kansai Hidamarer Hanami Off

Attendees: 28

A flower-viewing party in Banpaku Kinen Koen! There was some concern that we might get rained out, but miraculously, the weather turned out fine. Look at this handmade Principal plushie someone brought! Amazingly, you can pull the cord and he’ll start shaking! I want one.

untitled

Self-introductions were fun. Three people, including the maker of the above plushie, described themselves as dedicated Principal fans and were even wearing t-shirts with his face on it. People brought games like mahjong and Twister. Tons of food too, but we ended up with a lot left over. I had a great time talking with everyone! I got asked some funny questions about the overseas fans like “Are there a lot of Mami and Nakayama fans?” and “What is the order of popularity of the main characters?” To my surprise, someone there actually grew up in the US not too far from where I live. What are the chances?

There was an afterparty at a yakisoba restaurant, then an after-afterparty at a public bath! No Fujisan incidents to report, but I did get a jar of milk afterwards.

The next two events were in Tokyo.

April 5th: 3rd Hidamari Seminar

Attendees: Around 50

Hidamari Seminar is a popular unofficial fan event where a select few Hidamarers give detailed presentations relating to Hidamari fan activities. It’s held in Asagaya Loft A, a bar with a small event space. The Hidamari King himself was a panelist for the inaugural Hidamari Seminar in 2011. This time, the panelists were someone who specializes in making homemade character goods and someone knowledgeable about itasha (cars plastered with character decals).

One of the amusing things they did was print a custom menu with food and drink represented by Hidamari characters. The special food item was “Ume Chinese-style fried rice” which was pretty good! There were three non-alcoholic cocktails with the following names and descriptions: Sae (“mature taste”), Hiro (“sweet”), and Natsume (“a little quirky”). For every drink you bought you’d get a raffle ticket. On the back side of the menu there was a single alcoholic cocktail: Matsuri. I don’t know what it actually was.

Obviously I went for the Natsume drink, which tasted like… Sour Patch Kids? I don’t know what it actually was, but it was tasty (and appropriately sour)! Around the time I ordered, before the seminar officially began, a woman walked in and sat at my table. I couldn’t tell for sure just by looking at her, but I had a feeling I knew who she was. I’ll get to that in a bit.

The first presenter was this guy. He showcased both photos and physical samples of his work. I can’t even begin to list how many items he’s made. Then he gave a tutorial on how to use GIMP to edit an Intel CPU logo into a “Core 2 Yuno Inside” logo. It wasn’t a difficult procedure but part of the audience definitely ended up confused by all the tool terminology. It was a little odd to see fans of Hidamari not understanding what “aspect ratio” meant!

The panel was followed by a brief intermission. In that time, I got to talk to several Hidamari King finalists, including the 2nd place winner! I talked to people who worked on the fan-published Hidamari Magazine too. Also, a few people I’ve tweeted to before walked up to tell me “Uh… I always thought you were a guy”… oops.

Then the itasha presentation began. It was mostly a slideshow of Hidamari itasha and some pointers about itasha etiquette (like asking permission before taking a photo, how far away to stand when taking the picture, etc.). I didn’t get to hear as much of this panel as I would have liked, since I was sitting near the back and couldn’t easily hear the guy over the background music he had playing. While this presentation was going on, the woman sitting near me was keeping another attendee’s five-year-old daughter (starting her young, I see!) busy by drawing in a sketchbook with her. And that’s when I confirmed it: I was sitting across from one of my favorite Hidamari fanartists! I talked to her afterwards and she was very grateful to hear I enjoy her work. She’s a wonderful person.

At the end of the seminar there was a raffle for some official merchandise as well as the homemade character goods, including custom wall clocks! My number was never called, but the presenter let me take home two magnet ribbons and a computer sticker.

Magnets and sticker

For the finale we waved glowsticks to Sketch Switch. I stuck around for a little bit after the end to talk with a few more people. That’s when the itasha presenter asked if I wanted to see his car. This, of course.

itasha

My ride is here.

The parking lot was far away and I planned to walk right back to the station after checking out the car, but he wanted to save me the trouble. And that is the story of how I rode from Asagaya to Shinjuku in the front seat of a Hidamari itasha.

April 6th: Super Sakura Sakura Saku Off 2014

Attendees: Around 32

Held the day after the Hidamari Seminar in Yoyogi Park. Pretty similar to the Kansai event except with different people. We toasted with Ume Monogatari wine! Unfortunately I don’t have any good pictures. The event had to be shortened due to afternoon rain showers, but it was still a nice experience.

April 13th: Hidamarer Eizan Electric Railway Off

Attendees: 8

Now back to Kansai. This was an interesting idea. All participants chipped in to reserve a standalone train car for a few hours. The Eizan Electric Railway is known for running anime and manga advertisements on the exterior of their trains. They ran a Hidamari Sketch promotion in 2012.

For this event the organizers made their own interior Hidamari decorations! The banners are parodies of real ads displayed in trains.

interior1

interior2

Not to be confused with the Hidamari Seminar presenter, one of the organizers for this event also makes his own character goods. We played bingo for a chance to win some of the stuff he made. Less people showed up than expected, which meant more goods for everyone! Also, this was probably the first time in my life I’ve ever won first at bingo. Here’s everything I took home:

prizes

The official pieces of merchandise are the Graduation OVA Nori/Nazuna prize mug, the large Nazuna tin badge, and Nori/Nazuna glowsticks. The rest are all homemade/modified: complimentary booklet giving background on the 2012 Hidamari train, glow-in-the-dark Hoshimittsu canvas print, glow-in-the-dark Sae/Hiro key holder, coasters, and two clear files. What amazing talent this guy has!

There was an afterparty, but I had declined in advance because the selected restaurant was way out of my price range. After saying goodbye I paid a visit to a seemingly familiar place on my own…

sucre  sucre-menu

Was this the inspiration for the Sucre that Matsuri was searching for? Maybe. It’s in Kyoto, but most people agree that the identical name and specialty are a little too good to be mere coincidence.

If Yuno and Miyako hadn’t shown up in that chapter, Matsuri would have ended up like me: failing to locate the store until my third trip. During my attempts to find this place last month I kept making the mistake of crossing a street I shouldn’t have, ending up in a completely different area. I finally found it on my third try but then remembered it was Monday. (This store is closed every Monday.)

Anyway, I made it to the store right before its closing time. They didn’t have much left, but I decided to try their chocolate roll cake.

rollcake

The inside was very creamy!

So, that’s all for now. It looks like I’m going to one more before I have to leave at the end of May. Thank you for all your hard work, Hidamarers!

Advertisements