☆ anime/manga,  ☆ being a dork,  ☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life

Living Tall in Japan, part 51

Hyaaaa—-h! That was sort of that sigh of relief that anime characters sometimes like to do. I don’t know why. I suppose that’s because things are coming together! I started to write a big life update post earlier today, but have set it aside for a while while I think about what I want to say, in favor of this. This story is still not yet over, after all!

My first year in Japan. It had its ups and downs, but all along it was coming along quite nicely. I was having a great time (outside of work), and at the moment, it looked like I wasn’t going to come back to the US anytime soon.

☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here

Of all of the things to stress over (not moving, not a new job), I was really stressing out over Tenimyu tickets. Those things could be really hard to get! This reminds me of how far I’ve come. If I wanted a ticket to Tenimyu now, I could call Watanabe-san at Shueisha and ask for a complimentary one. The last time that I went, it was my going-away party, my sendoff for working for Konomi-sensei. But back then, it was just me against the world. Or, at least against every other fan.

I was seriously outnumbered.

I’d had to resort to auctions to get seats at all, but for some reason, I ended up with a ton of good seats this time, up close.

The gods had smiled on my little fangirl heart! But those tickets weren’t all that fate had in store for me and my friends… not at all. Nope. Something really, really strange happened on July 1st.

I met up with an online friend, a mutual fan of Tenimyu, for the first time that afternoon. Because she was just visiting, we did all the rounds– mostly shopping, and mostly in Harajuku. Harajuku was just down the block from a new little shop, called Out of Order, oddly enough (oh, Japan), that sold D-boys (an idol group, most of whom the Tenimyu boys were a part of) photos and merchandise, and as such, it was something that I had to show her. A little concert/live show was scheduled for the next day, so I was joking with my friend Hinata, that maybe they’d be hanging around the area, practicing. I was just joking.

Right as we were about to turn into the alley that led to Out of Order (said shop was VERY small, only big enough to fit one person inside standing up, and there was no door), that we were about to get a really, really big surprise.

You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you! Three of the members of D-boys came walking out of the alley, not five feet in front of us.

I don’t know about Hinata, but my heart stopped.

So did my feet. I knew those boys. Those boys! Omg! My heart started beating again, rapid little pitter-patters. I tapped Hinata hard on the shoulder, “Ummm… that’s Yanagi right there.” Yanagi… my adorable, sweet, little now-disabled-bless-his-heart-Ryoma from Tenimyu! Omg! It really was him, wasn’t it?!! He was REALLY tan, which was unusual, but it looked just like him. The two other boys (Suzuki, who was the newer Oishi from Tenimyu, and one that I didn’t know well that wasn’t in the musical) were also really tan, but it had to be them.

Yanagi Kotaroh, Tenimyu version and candid version.


Surely there was.. I mean.. wow! My brain could barely form a coherent thought, and when they turned into the Mc Donald’s on the corner, we (probably mostly me) stared after them in disbelief.

“Wow.. uhhh, should we follow and talk to them?” Apparently my brain was working really, really well (not really).

Hinata didn’t have a chance to answer me, because right at that moment, every other member of D-boys, ALL OF THEM, and there were A LOT, exited the building next door, and walked past our prone figures on the way into Mc Donald’s. Here’s where we become bona-fide (HARMLESS!!!) stalkers. We’re harmless! The nice, baka-rific, harmless form of stalker. Um…

I flashed a peace sign at Shirota Yuu, wondering if by any chance he might possibly remember me from that one time we had met a month before. He waved, and I had no idea what was going through his head, but at least he was nice. And then, we followed them right inside.

Nooooooo, we weren’t creepy at all. Noooooope, there’s nothing creepy about two girls (one of whom is like, 6 feet tall and either as white as a ghost or as red as a tomato right at that moment, and yes, she’s definitely bounding on the balls of her feet) stalking you inside of a restaurant. Well, I’d like to think that it wasn’t creepy. It could have been a coincidence. Until we decided to talk to them. And, I mean, not as two foreigners asking for help to read the menu (why didn’t I think of that back then?!?!?). But maybe I’d already given myself away with the peace sign. I was already outed as a fan (although, maybe they didn’t know that I was so into Tenimyu that I a squealy meltdown was happening inside of my head right then).

We were lined up behind them, not really hungry (BUT WHO CARES!), and the minutes were ticking by as the boys talked to each other ahead of us. Yanagi and Suzuki were done first, and they turned to leave, and then the talking happened. “Yo, yanakoooo~!” He stopped, right next to me.

OH MY GOD. AGAIN. I wanted to touch him, to make sure that this was real, and my fangirl dreams weren’t coming true. If I’d been quicker on the draw, I would have created a scenario where I was in trouble, and needed an English speaker to help (he’s fluent), and gotten him to talk to me that way. But alas, I was not a very good, or very practiced stalker. I probably don’t even deserve that title. Stalkerette, maybe. Chibi-stalker. Maybe just a stalk. I was a stalk, I guess.

So, instead of being clever, I asked him if he remembered me. He looked at me blankly. Who was this tall, strange woman, speaking at him in English? A scary moment passed by, and then he blurted out in an excited voice, “Oh, Dream Live 2! What are you doing around here?”

OH MY GOD! Third time’s a charm, right? “Shopping! I didn’t expect to see you!” I replied. Hinata was really silent, as was Suzuki. I didn’t know what else to say, so I commented on something really, really obvious, “Wow, you’re getting really skinny.” Um, go me.

Okay, yeah, maybe now I was getting kind of creepy. Or, well, maybe not, because his response was to grin and pull up his shirt, revealing boxers and lots of tummy (remember, we were in McDonald’s) and patted his stomach. “You think so?” he replied cheerfully.

He was *REALLY* skinny. Like, anorexic I-haven’t-eaten-in-a-month-skinny. “It’s good that you’re eating McDonald’s because you need it….”

WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? My brain had taken a vacation, and my heart couldn’t keep up a decent supply of blood to my head.

He laughed a little and put his shirt down, accidentally tucking it into the gratuitous amount of boxers exposed above his pants. And then, he stood like that with his shirt tucked into his boxers, not looking the least bit awkward. Not as awkward as I was starting to feel… Maybe I should have told him about the error (WAS IT AN ERROR? Was tucking his shirt into his boxers some sort of sign to me that I missed?), but I really didn’t think about it until later.. I told him we were going to the D-Live the next day, and he said, “Okay, see you there.” He had to run, so he left then, with Suzuki, and we got back into line.

In front of us now was a gaggle of D-Boys. We weren’t going to talk to them, mostly because I was still reeling from the encounter and Hinata was a lot more reserved than me (I’m shy, but my policy is that you have to take the chances presented to you, so that you don’t regret it later), but then Wada suddenly turned around and said, “Ah! Hisashiburi!!” (“long time no see!”) Wada is not shy at all. He was the boyfriend (at the time) of the friend of my old Japanese teacher, and the one who had indirectly gotten us into the friends&family meet-and-greet at Dream Live 2. He was indirectly the reason that we’d met all of these actors in the first place, not to mention that he was an actor himself (Sengoku in Tenimyu).

But, um, still. OMG. He had taken the initiative, and then he held out his hand for me to shake, surprising me. That was so not Japanese (and also not something that you do when meeting someone for the third time). Confusion flooding my body, I started to ramble on in English before realizing, belatedly, that..

Oh yeah, he can’t understand me.

I switched to bad Japanese-engrish and told him we’d be at the live tomorrow. His reaction was the same as Yanagi’s, only more hyper. “Ah~! See you there!!’

And that was our encounter. We left without food, and without talking to the others, because, really, how much can a fangirl push her luck?


Ahhh… it’s so nostalgic thinking back over these old encounters! Tokyo was so  new and shiny, and I can scarcely remember a time in my life that I was so excited about being alive. I am so glad that I kept a journal, because, even though it had been such an important event to me at the time, I’d completely forgotten about it! So much has happened since then. I would love to meet Yanagi again (and I did, when I was working for Konomi-sensei), but I’m preeeeeeetty sure that it wouldn’t give me a heart attack.

Hinata and me, that evening. We were pretty excited, still.. XD I miss my red hair.

This story happened on July 1st, 2005. Almost nine years ago to the day. I’d been in Japan for almost ten months, which means that this story is drawing to a close pretty soon. 🙂

See you soon! Oh!!! And if you want, would you guys comment with what you were doing nine years ago? A lot can change in that much time..

(368 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.


  • Anna

    Wow, I just read this entire blog series in a few hours and you are living my dream. I’m a Dutch high school student and my ultimate dream is moving to Japan to teach English (I like to make myself believe my English is pretty much flawless ^.^) and somehow wiggle myself into the anime world. But everyone around me thinks it’s strange and unrealistic to have dreams like that :c Also, just your experiences made me twenty times more determined to actually go for it, so thank you. I know I’m a bit late, I just stumbled upon your blog today :$ Anyhoo, you’ve got a new reader/fan! (Why did you stop writing this series? )

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Hi Anna,

      I just got busy. I am going to continue it soon, though! It’s funny, one of my good friends is from the Netherlands, and she just started working in Japan as a game translator. It was very difficult for her to get the job, but she was very perserverent. That might be another path for you, too! She studied really hard in University with a major in Japanese, and then studied abroad in Japan for one year before she was able to move there permanently and find the job. Maybe you can do something similar!

  • Joshua

    Hi Jamie, I am an aspiring mangaka from Great Britain and I know little Japanese.so,I wanted to ask you that can we send our manga digitally like mail it,or can we courier it to the publisher.if the answer is yes,can you please provide the details of shueisha. I will be forever grateful to you.
    Thanking you in advance,
    Joshua Charles.

  • jaklumen

    What was I doing nine years ago? Holy schmoly, Jamie, that’s a whirlwind of stuff! If I remember right, I was still in the Camarilla with my sister Jenn and blogging at LiveJournal as all the Cammies were. That all had to wind down because my daughter was such a handful, and it wasn’t too long before my son came along.

    Incidentally, I thought of you because my daughter LOVES to draw and is steadily working hard in the manga style. I guess I need to get on the stick and show her your work, so she can know what to aspire to!

  • victoria

    Wow. 9 years ago…..that was more than half of my life so far! Well, my little brother was born and I had just started taking piano lessons. I hope that life will be just as interesting (or better!) 9 years from now too! *^~^*

  • muna

    You are lucky to meet them, any fan would die for that chance and I am glad that you grabbed it.

    9 years ago my life was not that exciting like yours. I lived a boring life and worked full time at a place that I still don’t get excited about. But now after reading your blogs and hearing stories about others I feel that I should change and live a better life.

  • tilmon

    What a great story! Wow, a whole gaggle of D-Boys right in front of you! And you kinda sorta knew Wada personally! Truly, this was a fangirl dream!

  • Apples13

    Wow 9 years… That is close to half of my life. Let’s see. At that time I was just entering highschool so over the last 9 years I went through highschool, university, and graduate school. Went out of the country for the first time. Picked up digital painting for the first time. Went to Japan for the first time. Got my first job… The list just keeps going. I have to say I am a very different person from what I was at that time.

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