Sunday, August 16, 2009
Niigata or Bust!
Hello, my name is Amanda and I have a problem. I am an addict. I thought I had it under control after I finished my N'Sync/Backsteet Boys phase at the tender age of 13, but it is back. I am addicted to a boy band. A j-boy band at that. ♥ KAT-TUN ♥

I recently attended several of their Tokyo Dome concerts and thought that I would be through with concert viewing for the summer. But right after their Dome tour finished, they announced a Summer Tour across Japan. I already had plans to visit China for a week or two, but decided the rest of my summer vacation could be held in a city where the concert would be. While the Dome tickets cost me an arm and a leg, this time I was ready. I was already a part of the fan club and after looking up an untold number of kanji, managed to ballot for tickets for the first time ever. You see, you can't just buy tickets to a KAT-TUN concert. You first have to be part of their fan club. It takes about a month to process all the paperwork before you can become an official member. As an official member, when a concert is announced, you receive a ballot. You essentially write down the number of tickets you want (not to exceed 4) and then write down a list of 3 locations/times/dates in order of preference. Last, you pay for the tickets. BUT, nothing is for sure yet. After balloting for the tickets, you have to call the JE (aka, Johnny's Entertainment, who are pretty much the band's agent) concert hotline where they will give you a date and an additional number to call. Once that date rolls around, you can call and see if you won any tickets. Those who don't win are refunded their money, while those who do win are put in a lottery for seat assignment. Tickets are not sent out until about 2 weeks before the show so no one knows where they will be sitting till that time.

I balloted for 3 tickets to the Niigata concert and ended up selling 2 of them to some really nice girls from Italy. Visiting Niigata kind of ended up being a bust as there isn't much to do around the city, but the concert was really fun and the seats I won were amazing! In Niigata I went up to the top of the Hotel Nikko Niigata, which is the tallest building in the city and conviently right next to the convention center where the concert was held. The view was nice, but no spectacular. I managed to catch a glimpse of Sado Island, which is a really popular tourist destination off Niigata's coast. I tried to plan a visit to the island, but ended up not having time for it. I also went on a boat cruise of the river. Relaxing, but not all that exciting.

After Niigata, I took the train to a much more exciting city, Kanazawa. I had been to Kanazawa before with my friend Tiffany, but it was pouring rain the entire time we were there. This time, the weather cooperated and I actually got to take in all the sights. I got around via the very convenient tourist bus. Kanazawa is most famous for the Kenrokuen Garden. It is considered one of the "three most beautiful gardens in Japan" and is filled with a variety of trees, ponds, waterfalls and flowers stretching over 25 acres. Also, right next to the garden is the Kanazawa castle, which is more just a wall than a castle. Parts of it were under construction, but what was there was very pretty and high tech. First 'castle' I've ever seen with a working elevator inside!

I also went to Ninjadera, aka. the Ninja Temple. It really has nothing to do with Ninja's at all, but is still quite interesting. It is an old samurai house that is full of tricks and hidden passages/rooms. Much cooler than your average temple. If you plan on visiting, know that reservations are required and give yourself plenty of time to get there as it's a bit difficult to find. I also visited the geisha house and samurai house districts. I didn't go to any of the samurai houses, because that was the only thing I managed to do the first time I visited. In the geisha district, I had to wander around for quite some time before I managed to find one of them. The signs are not very English friendly and the maps to the house are downright confusing. But I did find it and ended up getting a tea service while there. A bit expensive, but it was a nice break and the sweets were really tasty.

Ended up taking a night bus from Kanazawa back to Tokyo and then trained back home from there. Kanazawa pretty much wrapped up my summer vacation. Normally I find myself ready to start up work after a long break, but this summer felt too short.

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