It wasn’t a very long moment, and probably not much of a story, but a couple of days ago, a rare opportunity present itself in the land where palm trees sway.
Normally speaking, when it comes to Hello!Project and Hawaii their relationship is rather restricted. You know that there are times when they come to Hawaii, and there have been comments that we’re lucky for being so close to where they are at the time. I assure you that anytime a Hello!Pro idol or group has been here, we’ve been testing the boundaries of luck if nothing else. There’s a reason they never count Hawaii as performing outside of Japan! (lol)
See almost every event H!P does in Hawaii is FC exclusive. Fanclub Tours reign supreme and those aren’t the kinds of things we can just walk into. There are exceptions to this, like UpUpGirls recent participation in last year’s Honolulu Ekiden, which included a public performance from them on the after Ekiden stage, but chances like that are few and far between.
On that day, not that long ago, one of those rare moments occurred. A last minute update from the ℃-ute blog reported they were in Hawaii! There were rumors and pictures of them here before that, but whether they’d do something anyone on island can even go to was unknown. After looking into it here and there (which I’ll avoid the pointless details) I found that they’d be at a nearby radio booth for the show and the station itself said if you were in the area you can come by to see ℃-ute.
A look at the clock, they were going live in about 45 minutes, could I make it in that time? There was only one way to find out. Rushing around to find anything I could bring and get into presentable casual wear, I rushed out the door. Straight towards my destination at brisk pace, fast-walking with short sprints, and the realization that I forgot to bring water with me. Combine that with the fact that the gum I started chewing coated my mouth oddly exaggerated the discomfort.
As the sun began to set I entered the threshold of the mall and made my way towards the store in which the radio booth was located. A dash to the location I saw the on-air signal on the wall blinking and walked passed partially confirming the sight in front of me. Indeed it was no dream, but the five members of ℃-ute in the booth talking. I waved in a bit of shock, my breath still lost from the hurried pace to arrive. They waved at me as they did for anyone who had given them waves and shakas passing by. A pause as I continued to stand there, rather than pass by I walked to the side away from the walkway which customers for the store would pass by to enter staying close to the booth side of this corridor. Sitting on the side, I took out what I had brought with me as a sign of my fandom and waved it, I had brought it with me just to show I wasn’t just a random passerby. Upon seeing it each one had surprised expressions, they were currently not speaking so I didn’t feel bad getting their attention, but they waved more as they noticed what I had.
I had stopped so quickly as I rushed in that my breath was still beyond me, I began to fan myself as I sat crouched for a moment, and they noticed my stance had sunken a little. I saw the concern on their faces for a moment but I smiled and stood up immediately bowing and mouthing “Arigatou” as I backed towards the stores entrance. And turned looking for somewhere with a water fountain, going to a spot I’ve known about from the past I found the fountain broken and no water coming from it. Disappointed and resigned to my fate I returned to the booth, determined to not let the lack of water get to me.
I stood there watching as they talked on the radio, the sound of the show on the speakers outside the booth, soft and muffled by their age. This was only made worse by the opening of the nearby sliding door, bringing the noise of the outside mall crowds into the store. I stood there watching smiling and fanning myself as they spoke. Other people passed by and some waved politely, and other giving shaka signs to which they returned.
The radio station only had 3 pairs of headphones for the guests at the time, so I believe Nakky and Chisa were without headphones. Part way through, during a break, I saw Airi playing with the headphones, noticing they had a swivel to it. She gained Nakky’s attention, motioning like she could share the phones if she wanted to. Nakky declined, as Airi realized the rotation of the headphone cup did not go all the way around. It was a cute small moment only captured in the off time of the show.
Eventually the show finished, the contents mostly lost to me in the sounds of the mall outside, but I continued to smile and clapped as I could hear their general wrap up and show conclusion. The station began to play C-ute songs as the girls got up and thanked the host for their time together. They walked closer to the window of the booth and I continued to clap as they waved. They began to grab their bags (I would assume they went shopping in the mall before their appearance), when the host pointed out the wall of panels behind them, each marked with organizations and companies involved with the radio booth. A marker comes out as each walks back near their chair to sign a panel on the wall. As they turn around they look at me as I back up and I make an apologetic motion, as Maimai does a “don’t worry about it” like wave and apologizes back. I continue to apologize anyway. One by one they come to the panel to sign it and worked their way outside. This was a moment.
As they came out they were greeted by their managers/contacts in Hawaii as they talk with the booth Host and staff about everything. I lean against the nearby wall to not be too forward and I clap softly and give out a clear “Otsukaresama~.” They smile and wave, some with small bows returning the “Otsukaresama” back. They set down some of their bags on the table in that area and some looked at me directly, surprisingly they continued to talk to me in Japanese. They asked if I was okay and I said yes, they asked if I ran there, and I told them as soon as I saw it on the internet I came running. I hear an off to the side comment by someone that my Japanese is pretty good, something I never expect to hear given my problems with spoken Japanese, as the others smile and thank me for coming. I can’t help but keep smiling at this point as I asked them if they had fun and they say they are. The managers/contact begin to move and the Host/staff start talking to them so I bow politely and step back to let them converse.
During this time a tall older Caucasian man approaches them to warm greetings. I didn’t see his face but I think he could have been one of the main staff guys who help them run the fanclub tours, I had seen a tall Caucasian man with graying hair way back when fans got access to the fanclub exclusive store on the very last day, and in my mind he’s the only person I could think of at the time, though it could’ve been someone related to the radio station. He talks with them lightly and they give him one of their leis as a gift.
Around this time, the staff for the radio show note the song was ending and made sure another was set to play, it’s still hard to hear the radio, but the tune that begins playing this time is clearly recognizable. Having recently played Hello!Pro Tap Live before this whole adventure started I recognized the opening measures of Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ right away. My fingers twitch to the song as if I were trying to remember the taps for the songs on the screen. I switch to just clapping to the tune as some of them finish talking with the staff. By habit I found myself humming part of the song as it goes, also thanks to Hello!Pro Tap Live my knowledge of the lyrics is a little fuzzy because of the arrangement in the game, so I resort to humming most of the time. But, so happy with the turn of events I found myself looking down slightly and momentarily singing a part of the chorus. Then another voice comes in to the song singing along with me. In shock I look up to see a smile and a side head tilt towards me. In shock I stopped singing and embarrassed I smiled and bowed again, really not sure of what else to do.
The managers/contacts begin to walk out towards the store exit, ending their interaction with the radio Host/Staff. I back up to give them the space they usually require, giving bows and thanks once again. Instead of exiting right away they lined up front of me for a moment to give me a thank you. I gave them another thank you. Nakky said something along the lines of “see you again,” and I replied in Japanese for “next time yes.” They chuckle at my nervous Japanese. Maimai says something but part of it was drowned by noise so all I can reply with is “I’ll try,” they laugh and give me a smile and a wave as they exit. I give a “please enjoy Hawaii,” and bow as they give a yes response. I allow a couple of moments as they leave before I exit the area myself using the same exit.
And that for a moment was that. They walk their way to the escalator upstairs where restaurants generally are, as I walk by heading towards a down escalator giving one more wave, which Maimi sees and waves back. At this point my mind shift immediately to finding myself a source of water so I can drink before making my way home, but feeling greatly satisfied with the experience.
The moment I got to interact with them couldn’t have been that long, but it felt like I was in a moment I didn’t want to end. It was a random chance that I found out about it so soon, that the radio station had advertised it, and that things went as smoothly as it did.
I could not say whether the low turn-out was a blessing or a curse for them, given that besides the radio show they were pretty much on vacation. It was a shame that more of the people who live here couldn’t also be there, but with all eyes on Houston I don’t think it could be helped. But, with no doubt or regret, I went out and tried my best to represent the loyalty and passion to support them with all the respect for their rules that I could. It’s not often that such a situation could come up at the last minute, and the chances of it happening again are slim. But, no matter what the chances, if you got the chances, sometimes taking it can lead to some amazing results.