What an absolutely glorious, fantastic day I had today, Saturday, April 28 2012. As many of you know, I have been planning to go to Bunbou-Do Art Gallery in Tokyo to attend the Kaze To Ki No Uta Exhibit, as well as get the legendary Keiko Takemiya’s autograph. I have been writing to Bunbou-Do, and thankfully a woman writing to me could speak English. She told me I had to buy at least one of the artbooks in order to get the autograph, as well as be one of the first 100 people to buy said book(s). I was tempted to offer double for the books to assure a spot, but I refrained. If worse came to worse, I would.
I was supposed to wake at 6:00 AM; screw that, I could barely sleep and stirred at around 5:00 AM. As mentioned in my previous posting, I had taken a shower the night before, as well as had my hair roots bleached, so my morning was again making sure I had everything prepared. I had already written the destination in kanji in case I got lost, and I wrote all the train stops going - I decided it wasn’t as crucial that I needed to know the return stops. I had prescored the panting the night before so it’d come out easily from the pad and grabbed Sunroom Nite. I decided to wear my blue glass necklace, as I consider it lucky. All right, all ready.
My bike’s kickstand was rusted, so I lost time there. I quickly walked to the bus stop, but just missed the bus; the next was in twenty minutes. I knew I couldn’t make the train I had intended to ride, but I knew there were other Shinkansen to Tokyo on a Saturday.
I finally got on the bus and was on my way to Shin Shizuoka. I was going to ask the bus driver if the bus actually went to the station, as I had never ridden the bus long enough to get to the station, but I then saw the kanji on the bus display showing “Tsugi wa Shizuoka eki mai” (next stop, Shizuoka Station). We drove in front of the station, and after some complicated maneuvers on the bus’ part, we stopped. I ran inside, asking where I could buy tickets to Tokyo. They pointed me to the Shinkansen ticket office (yes, the Shinkansen are THAT elite that they require separate ticket areas). It was a room, actually with a glass wall. Using my guide book, I asked for a ticket to Ochanomizu station in Chiyoda, Tokyo. The price they quoted was cheaper than what was on the website, so awesome!
I boarded the Shinkansen and found a seat. People at the school were saying there’d probably only be standing room, but there was barely anyone on it. I sat on the left side of the train, spending most of the time practicing what to say to Takemiya-sensei (yes, since she’s a well-known mangaka she get’s the title “sensei”). Mt. Fuji was cloudy that day, so I didn’t see it.
I kept checking my phone, camera, and money. I couldn’t believe it: I was off to Tokyo to meet my idol at a Kaze To Ki no Uta art exhibit! As the greenery gave way to concrete, I knew I was close. I would make a transfer at Tokyo to Ochanomizu, so I kept my yes open for Tokyo; I even double checked with the conductors as they walked past.
I transfered at Tokyo. OMG, the place was so packed! It was so alive! I asked the attendants which gate I should go to, as the tickets aren’t marked with gate numbers, but track names. They showed me the way thankfully. The regular trains were so small! Of course, you couldn’t have a Shinkansen racing down the small, old tracks in inner city Tokyo at 150 mph.
Off we went. Tokyo spread out in every direction in what seemed like forever. I caught a glimpse of Akihabara! There was a multi-story Sega building, but while tempting, it paled to what I was about to do. Every inch I got closer to my destination, the more excited I became.
I finally arrived at Ochanomizu Station. Remembering the photos showing the river on the left, I exited and found myself at long last in Tokyo. It felt so different from Shizuoka! I got to an intersection and saw the sign in the photos: “Karao” (karaoke). Perfect! I walked for about four blocks, past shops that hadn’t yet opened for the day (including a curry restaurant) until I saw the Shotsu building, and oh God, I at last saw the gallery, glimmering. When I arrived there were so many people already, even though it was only 9:30 AM! How lucky these other people are, I thought, as they more than likely lived in Tokyo. I went to the end of the line, which wrapped behind the building. More people arrived after me, so I didn’t feel too badly. There were younger people and older people, mainly all women; some were normal, others were eclectic. There were a few guys, and I had to feel sorry for them. A woman worker started handing out cards, but I wasn’t sure what they were for. As soon as people got the cards they dispersed. What were they thinking? I got closer to the door, and a man associated with the exhibit handed me a card: #67, with a picture of Gilbert and Serge! I was a giddy fangirl. People rushed in and out of the gallery, carrying what I could tell were padded pictures. The artwork! Another worker handed out a paper written entirely in Japanese. I asked someone if there was a person available who spoke English; the man could speak some, but the woman worker went inside the gallery to fetch someone. The person she got was the woman who’d been writing to me! She explained that the note explained the auction. Auction?! Yes please! It also had the prices of the art books (the one from the previous exhibit and the new exhibit) and postcards. Numerous flower displays were taken inside, adorned with notes addressed to Takemiya-sensei. I kept looking for her, but I didn’t see her.
10:00 AM! The man announced something, and people lined up. I figured I was close to the door, so I could get in first, but it turned out our card numbers designated our entry order. They let five people in at a time, who would then ride the elevator to floor 4. I was already mapping my entry - I HAD to get up there quickly to acquire an art book. I noticed stairs; should I take them instead of the elevator, I wondered.
It took FOREVER for them to call 67 (I kept going to the door at the wrong time), but when they did all time stood still. I only had time to glimpse my surroundings: a very artsy store with expensive art supplies. The elevator opened; on the wall was a poster for the exhibit. We pushed 4 and up we went.
If there’s a heaven, I’m sure it exists on the 4th floor of Bunbou-Do Gallery during the exhibit.
I was met with an enormous canvas image from Kaze showing Gilbert’s face amongst the trees. I stepped out onto the hardwood floors and was certain I was in paradise. All around me were Kaze pictures. Originals. Fucking originals. The flower arrangements were everywhere, and the placed smelled like a flower garden. Soft music floated around the air-conditioned room. I quickly spied the line and got in. It moved slowly, but while it did I saw the postcards on the wall with images of Takemiya-sensei’s works. There was a gold pocket watch with Gilbert’s face for 15,000 yen. As I browsed the postcards, I allowed a woman to pass me,but then I remembered that I had to buy my books! I quickly got in line after her and approached the table, where they sold the items. I asked to see both of the books, but it wasn’t necessary for me - of course I’d buy them,which I did. They threw in two free pics, so that was good! I also got some postcards. One of the women there spoke English, too! And then I got my autograph card number: 49! There were people signing secret ballots for the auction near the merchandise table (as well as around the gallery); there was a woman that I thought at first glimpse was Takemiya-sensei, but it turned out to be her manager! The guy who’d been outside and letting us in before the exhibit started was somehow associated with the manager.
Books in tow, I started looking at the exhibit. I felt like I was watching it from afar, as I was in shock. I first really noticed the clock picture. Or dear lord… it was beautiful. No photocopied image of it can replicate its beauty. It’s so vivid, even though it’s nearly 40 years old. I took out my camera, but a woman worker told me no photos were allowed. What? NO photos?! No, no, I had to remember this! What would I do? I realized I had to take in every detail, never allowing myself to forget. I next saw the main cover image. Gorgeous. I saw everything in the pictures: the correctional fluid, eraser marks„ pencil lines, food stains, half tone film… it was magic. The pictures were behind a high-glare glass, which was unfortunate.
On a piano and table there were framed photos with high prices (60,000 yen, 120,000 yen). Were these originals?! I asked a worker, and from what I could tell they were reproductions. But they were framed by Takemiya-sensei herself! As much as I wanted one, I thought it was expensive for reproductions.
Over near the gigantic image of Gilbert were the original works available for auction (no Kaze originals, but pictures Takemiya-sensei has recently made). I HAD to get a picture. As quickly as possible, I got a photo without flash, but the workers came over and politely told me that Sensei would be upset if she found out. Welp, that was enough to stop me - I couldn’t stand the thought of her being upset!
I continued looking at the exhibit. It was so exciting seeing pictures I’d only witnessed in books in real life right before my eyes. It started in order of chronological history, telling an abbreviated rendition of Kaze starting with Serge’s parents and how they met. At the end of Serge’s history, told over a time of about 7 pictures, I got to one of the cover art paintings randomly placed in the exhibit; it was the drawing of Augi standing in the blue forest and Gilbert is tangled in the branches; Serge is a centaur in the background. When I saw it, it all really impacted me. Here I was, in Tokyo, seeing these masterpieces in person, about to meet my artistic idol. I couldn’t help but quietly weep. I continued forward, eventually viewing “Summer Make-Up”, the gorgeous picture of Gilbert wearing the sailor outfit in the forest. When I got to the final pictures of the exhibit (showing Gilbert’s death and after it) I again got teary-eyed.
I met a woman who could speak some English. She asked if I was going to get Takemiya-sensei’s autograph, and I said yes. She informed me she was a friend of the staff’s and offered to kindly translate anything I wanted to say. I thanked her, but assured her I already had my script (I showed her the words, and she said they were fine). She said she’d still hang around, so if I needed help, she was there. Lucky!
I went back to the merchandise table to buy more postcards, and then continued perusing the exhibit. I pulled out my Japanese dictionary for translating some of the pages (the workers were watchful as I opened my bag, but when they saw I only grabbed a book they lost interest. It took time, but I could translate a bit of what was being said. At one point I was working on the page with Gilbert and Serge watching the seagulls, and a girl about age 18 came up to me, asking if I could understand the words. I told her I had an idea, thanks to my book (I roughly read the seagull page to prove it). She asked if I liked Kaze, and I answered yes with much gusto. She was surprised to hear that Kaze isn’t for sale in America; I told her that I was wanting to understand Japanese so I could translate the story. She then proceeded to ask if I like BL genre. Of course I said ‘yes’, and what happened next was unexpected: she told me to wait, and she ran to her backpack. She then returned with a beautiful compilation manga magazine with various stories, but the main feature was a shounen ai story. I thanked her and her friend, who was sitting nearby and watching. And that’s not all - a little while later she brought over a small manga of the same yaoi story! Excellent!
The rest of the afternoon was spent with me practicing what I’d say to her, looking at the art, buying more postcards, or going downstairs to drink water. I DARED NOT drink water in the exhibit, as I didn’t want to spill a single drop and possibly ruin something. There was a bathroom downstairs on the third floor. Most people were leaving with later intention of coming back with their number for the autographs. I was too… everything, to leave the building: nervous, excited, scared… my emotions were so wrecked. I managed to get an allowed picture of a banner with Serge and Gilbert in the auction nook area near the merchandise table.
I bought more postcards. There were so many! The English-speaking lady at the table was impressed that I was such a hard-core fan, and she told me that if I went to the conference the following weekend she’d give me some out-of-print postcards from previous exhibits, including postcards from “Tenma no Ketsuzoku”. I was at first hesitant about buying the 2,000 yen ticket for the conference, but I finally gave in. My number… 69. How appropriate. X) I also bemoaned that there weren’t any Takemiya-sensei manga shirts; she informed me that there were shirts at one time of Tenma, but they were counterfeits.
At long last, 2:00 pm approached. People started returning, and there was a sort of electricity in the air. I kept looking around for a glimpse of Takemiya-sensei; was she in the building? The workers handed out pieces of paper to people and told them something; the woman who spoke English explained that I was to write down a message I’d like for Takemiya-sensei to write in my book; I didn’t want her to write a message I prompted, so I said she could simply write my name. I asked if it was okay if she signed “Sunroom”, but they said that may be unfair to other people. The woman then told me that since she’d be leaving soon that she could get me to the FRONT of the line so that she could translate and then be off. OH. MY. GOD. I informed them that I wanted to give her the drawing, and they said that was fine. The woman told them that I came from Shizuoka on the Shinkansen, and they were impressed by that. The art gallery woman who’d been emailing me also spoke to the manager.
I will try to describe what happened next the best I can, for it was all a blur to me. The manager kept talking to someone on her phone, the guy talked on his walky-talky. They then took me over to the area where people were filling out their auction info, the place in front of the banner. I knew she’d arrive any minute, so I bent down to get out my camera, check my Japanese words again, and find the drawing, allthewhile muttering the phrases under my breath, which we basically an introduction, telling her how I loved Kaze and Terra, that I drew her a painting with an English message of gratitude on the back, and it was nice meeting her. I saw people out of the corner of my eye walking in the nook, and when I looked up… my mind went blank. There she was, my artistic idol, talking to her manager and smiling at me. She was wearing a beautiful cream-colored shirt and skirt. Her hair was lighter than what it was in the Terra interviews, but everything else was the same about her. I forgot EVERYTHING that I wanted to say, and I instead had a 2-second crying spell. I apologized for my brief breakdown, and handed her the picture with a sharp, “Hai!” I did remember to tell her that the message was in English, as my Japanese was minimal. She was saying something,and I think the woman was translating my words, but I can’t remember. I showed her the copy of Sunroom and she laughed in surprise. I asked, begged, her manager if I could get a picture with her, and she agreed. Oh hell! I asked the manager to take photos with my camera, as I couldn’t miss the opportunity to get the photos on my camera. She took one photo, then told Takemiya-sensei to hold the drawing higher. She was POSING with it! I was a trembling ball of happiness! They then took me over to the area with the large banner, where she sat at a small table with an arsenal of markers of gold, silver, and black. The woman gave her the note with my name on it, and Takemiya-sensei asked if I wanted her signature in kanji or romaji; I said kanji. She signed, and while she did I recalled how to say the sentence of my admiration for Kaze and Terra; I said it, but I’m not sure she heard. I felt like that scene in Terra when Makka’s rambling about his strange abilities and seeing his friends becoming facets of society, but Keith is thinking about Makka’s obliviousness of being a Mu. So yes, I talked, while she signed her kanji name in black ink and her manager said something. I thanked her repeatedly, not wanting to leave. She even shook my hand! The woman who helped with translating brought a woman over, and the new woman turned out to be the owner of ticket #1 in regards to autograph order. The translator told me to apologize for “cutting” ahead of her. Now, I didn’t ask to be number 1, but I apologized anyway. She was understanding.
With a final glimpse, I left the exhibit with the woman who had ticket #1. I watched as the doors closed, cutting off my view of Takemiya-sensei’s face. I made small talk with the woman as best I could; she, too, had tons of merchandise, and we were both in great moods. My hands were so sore from all of my merchandise, but I didn’t care.
I got outside… what a glorious day! The sky was blue, the air was fresh! I realized I had a huge grin on my face, which hasn’t happened to me for a long, long time. I felt so alive! There was a large bookstore, and I wanted to explore it, but my hands were full, and now that I was out of the exhibit, I was exhausted. I went back to the train station, feeling on top of the world. There were some people selling stuff outside the station, and I threaded my way past them. I bought a train ticket home, opting to use the regular train rather than Shinkansen (the exhibit drained me financially that day). The guy asked incredulously if I really wanted to use the regular; yes, I knew it’d take three hours. -_- He then explained it’d be making numerous stops, and that I’d have to transfer at multiple stations. He wrote the transfers (Tokyo, Atami, and finally the stop at Shizuoka).
I got on the train, unable to find an area to sit. There were reserved areas for elderly and families with children; hey, the things in my hands were like my children - did that count? It was hot and crowded, and my mind kept wandering back to the air-conditioned Shinkansen, with its toilets, vending machines, and real seats.
I panicked at one point, thinking I was heading in the wrong direction. See, Shizuoka is west of Tokyo, but I was going south to Kawasaki. I exited the train at one point and asked a station attendant as the train was pulling away; yes, I was supposed to have stayed on it. DX Fortunately, the trains arrive every ten minutes.
My journey home continued. The trained snailed by, stopping at every station. At the Atami Station I waited for my new transfer. There was another train waiting at the platform (“The Black Ship Train”), which had decals to resemble an old steamliner ship. I laughed, because for some reason it reminded me of some Ciel Phantomhive would own.
Finally, after hours on an uncomfortable seat, I arrived at Shizuoka Station. I longed for Tokyo, mainly the exhibit and everything that had happened there. I stopped at Cenova (the new mall) and splurged on the 500 yen dessert “Spring Has Come” at Bluberry Bakery; I also bought a chocolate mille fiuelle from Shizutetsu store. I was considering dinner at the beef place that smells wonderful and brings you sizzling meat, but I didn’t want my stuff getting grease on it. I went outside and took the bus home.
I discovered that I got a small piece of the mille fiuelle on one of my books, causing an oil stain (fuck!). Thankfully, it was so small. Exhausted, I went down to Ally’s (my neighbor’s) apartment and asked if she wanted to join me for dinner at the local udon shop. She accepted, and we left. I told her about my day, explaining that if I had the money I’d easily spend thousands of dollars on the auction art; she was bewildered by this, which I find baffling. WHY would anyone NOT consider spending such a piece for an original Takemiya piece? I knew I was nerding out, and I jokingly apologized for it. We both got the tempura udon. It was an okay place, but nothing so spectacular. Afterwards we went back to her apartment, drank wine and gossiped until about 3:30 AM. OMG, I was up for nearly 24 hours!
It was magical. Argh, but I had to get up in four hours for a picnic!
(Pay no attention to these following words - they’re notes to myself for a later post: Red Forest, Greek profile, Summer Make-up)