Meeting Kago Ai

30 11 2009

In my current lifetime, I’ve had the chance to meet several people who mean something to a great number of people. What they do is what fascinates us to the point where we celebrate them. This is of course, a celebrity. There are all kinds of different celebrities in so many fields: sports, music, acting, writing, science, being but a fraction of the possibilities.

I have met several “celebrities” over the past years. When I went to Video Games Live, I had a short 2 minute conversation with Jason Hayes, the composer for the popular game, World of Warcraft. It’s funny, I noticed his badge and just initiated casual conversation. He was a very nice guy and he really wanted me to play the game so that I could listen to the music. But I still haven’t nor plan to get around to doing it. Really, Jason Hayes was not a celebrity for me. I didn’t know who he was before being introduced (looking at his badge). In this sense, celebrities are very subjective.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting for all intents and purposes, my first TRUE celebrity, the one and only…

Kago Ai as captured by CharlesNguyen

Kago Ai, ( 加護亜依 )

Read on further for my thoughts and recap of the event. You may skip the next paragraph, as I assume you already are familiar with Aibon.

For those who may not know who Kago is, here’s a short rundown. Kago Ai joined the popular J-pop girl group, Morning Musume, at the young age of 12. She was a very popular member throughout the years until she graduated with fellow 4th generation Morning Musume member, Tsuji Nozomi, to continue singing together as W. In 2006, a scandal broke out revolving her smoking underage. This caused her to go under arrest and a subsequent scandal caused her to be fired altogether from Up-Front Agency (the agency managing Hello! Project). She has since returned to show business.

On Sunday, November 22, 2009, Kago was to be promoting KDDI Mobile in Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey. Recent news that she had become the American spokesperson had ran through the internet. More interesting news was coming from a blogger that she would be at certain places hanging out in America. While this seemed too good to be true, the blogger happened to be in close touch with her and her staff throughout her trip to America. A big special thanks goes out to Daisuke who let out the info that she was going to be in Mitsuwa.

Small press conference set-up

The calm before the storm

When I read the news, I was initially hesitant to go, as it was a bit far away from my school. It was certainly doable, but inconvenient, and I wasn’t sure what would happen. Maybe it would be a closed event or maybe it wasn’t even real!? After sitting around in wotachat and thinking, I decided that I’d go for sure. I missed Morning Musume at AX, I would certainly not miss Kago here in my own home state! A good friend of mine wanted to go after I told him, so it was a matter of staying at his house the night before and making the trip in the morning. I pumped myself up by watching the crowning of Kusojo special featuring, the one and only Kago Ai. For those who don’t remember, that was the Mechaike Sports Special.

We arrived at Mitsuwa at 9am and waited till the doors opened to go in. By then, several people had already formed a line ahead of us. It was definitely the right line as I immediately saw a non-asian wota (I will use this word to refer to fans in this post) and knew that I was in the correct line. My friend and I got a red ticket which would be important later on.

Kago-chan desu.

The ad tells it all. Notice first glimpse of Mr. Awesome KDDI Man

It was a long wait for the main event since we were there early. I took periodic footage of the place and of people as more wotas came. Funny, in my excitement I had completely forgotten about batteries and had to buy batteries while I was waiting. Sure was a good thing that my camera is a AA battery user and not a Li-ion battery. I also took some time to go the Sanseido Books next door to get the latest UTB. Maimi, Maimai, Suzuka Morita, Shida Mirai…<3, among other girls were featured in it. But, I digress. As mentioned before, more wotas came! It was a good experience to finally be able to talk about one of my biggest interests with people that could relate. For those who haven’t had this experience, it truly is wonderful to finally fit in with peers. ^_^

Siggy and Usako Siggy and Madara

I hung around Usako for practically the entire pre-conference time. Madara joined us and the storm of wota came shortly after. Charles from wotachat appeared and I recognized him (I presume he did too). It was really nice to see a lot of fans come from all over the place. Someone came from California even. If you listen carefully in my documentary video of the press conference, you can hear California when we shout out our representative areas.

Sneaky sneaky
We awaited patiently for Aibon

I must say, as the event drew closer nothing mattered except for the event. I was refusing a bathroom visit in the case that I might miss anything during the minute or two it would take me to go. I hadn’t eaten anything and had been awake since 7am. I was wearing a vest and a jacket inside, this was already starting to wear me down and I was sweating. But I was so into it, that none of this mattered to me. This would probably explain why I forgot to take off my jacket and backpack when I went to shake Kago’s hand later on.

S7301384 S7301383

KDDI mobile users got to sit down while us wotas stood around the perimeter. I hung with Madara at first, but we tried to get in for the seats which failed. He returned to his original left-side perch and I stayed behind the main line entrance for the remainder of the event. The event had been delayed at least 3 times from the original time that I had heard. But when Mr. Awesome KDDI Man took the floor, it was serious business.

Kago-Mitsuwa 04 Kago-Mitsuwa 01

I travelled from Somerset to New York, a good 2 hours. Then down to Weehawken, another half hour. Finally, after a 13 minute drive and about 4.5 hours of waiting, Kago appeared in front of me. Relatively speaking, she was a good couple of yards away from me until the handshake session.

4129911917_6c5c28e047_o 446px-kago_ai_heart Kago_ai_2001

There’s something about anticipation. In anticipating this event, I must have played through a good hundred+ different scenarios. What would she wear, what should I say, what would she say, what would she do, would she show? There are so many variables in anticipation… No matter how many different scenarios your brain processes, once the real thing is up, that’s it. Throughout those 4 hours of waiting, I didn’t know what to expect. When I think of Kago, I see her as I fondly remember her, in Morning Musume and W. When I think of what she sounds like, she sounds exactly like what I expect to hear when I try to identify her voice in songs or hear her talking in her relatively high-pitched voice. Basically, when I think of Kago, I think of the Kago that everyone has seen and expected for years. Nothing more, nothing less. That being said, I was certainly not disappointed. Kago is EXACTLY what I expected. She still sounds the same as if it was 2003 (which it was the night before ^_^). She’s as short as she should be. She’s everything I’ve come to look forward to in my idol.

Kabocha by CharlesNguyen

My friend forces a funny reaction out of Kago

And as my turn came to shake her hand I find that my mind was completely blank. This is probably one of the few if not the first time, I can remember that I was clearly not thinking of anything. I don’t recall that I had forgot something during that time, I just recall it being a crystal clear moment from being in line to the moment our hands connected. Then a thought came, and I was so surprised. As stupid as it may sound, my first thought was, “Wow, she has really soft hands”. In regards to my speech about anticipation. I lost all the ideas of following any plan. I just said, “Kago-chan, daisuki,”, kept my eyes on her until the kindness of my heart allowed me to go on. She said, “thank you”. And I can’t help but feel she wanted more out of me.

May not be able to see my face, but it certainly is one of the happier moments of life.

In reality, I’m quite assertive and friendly. But I sure got shy when it came to Kago. This event has made me feel that I have to be mentally prepared for the next chance I get with a celebrity I care about. Kago introduced me into the world of Hello! Project and for that I thank her very much.

It was a great experience hanging with fellow wotas. It was a great privilege to shake Aibon’s hand. Lastly because of this experience, I can now put my fandom for Kago to rest. I chose not to say anything unnecessary to Kago, as I felt I should be truthful. Saying I’m a big fan would be somewhat rude as I have not been following her recent progress. That being said, while I love Kago forever for her time in Hello! Project, I realize the need to move on and dedicate myself to the next in order, Gaki-san.

In hindsight, there were so many things I should’ve/could’ve done. Why was I still wearing my jacket and bookbag when I had plenty of time to leave it with my friend? Why didn’t I film more stuff at the end? Why didn’t I say more things? The most important question, why didn’t I stay longer!? Oh well, it all happened so fast. But I do cherish it. It will be a moment to really remember for years to come.

If you haven’t already check out my earlier post with my little documentary of the event. I included some of my own personal thoughts in the post too for a meta-documentary.

Big thanks go out to Charles for the great pictures. He sacrificed a handshake for more pictures. Though, I suppose if Kago is not that high on his list, the trade-off is reasonable. A great thanks too, goes out to Daisuke for letting the fans know about this, so we could participate. Shout-outs to Madara for the authentic journalist experience, Usako for being a super awesome Kago fan, Rocky for moral support, and Awesome KDDI Man for being awesome. I’ll never forget this experience and I hope I can make more memories sometime in the near future. That means you Momusu…. come over to east coast sometime ^_~

~Siggy, who thinks he will never feel hands that are as soft as Kago’s~




6 responses

30 11 2009

WOOOW!! I still can’t believe u met kago-chan!! SOO LUCKY!!! I am happy for you! Next time you meet another Japanese celebrity …you better take me with u! ^_^

30 11 2009
Dolorous Haze - Blog Archive » Meeting Kago Ai Ends Fandom

[…] Meeting Kago Ai « Conflict Productions. […]

1 12 2009
Charles Nguyen

Yea, I really understand the celebrity thing. When I was working at a movie studio in NY, I didn’t recognize most of the actors in w/e was being filmed except Anne Hathaway (she’s awesome!). That’s from me not watching TV (except Discovery Science and Weather Channel) or anything non-Japanese. XD

1 12 2009

Anne Hathaway is awesome!

23 12 2009

i know it’s a little late, but i’m just reading this now. i was there, also! i’m not in any of your pictures, though. wasn’t it fantastic? ❤
i was also really nervous meeting her, too. but i managed to say "kago-chan no single ga totemo daisuki!" i was really embarassed, haha. i never thought i could be so excited to meet someone.
you're very lucky, i wasn't able to get a picture of myself shaking her hand.

31 12 2009
2009 Year in Review « Conflict Productions

[…] biggest memory for winter was in November when I got to meet and shake the hand of former Momusu, Kago Ai. It was a great experience and I feel great that I […]

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