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  • Sakurai Tomo Satsuchakai

    Event Sakurai Tomo Satsuchakai
    Location Ellestaff Promotion Studio (Nakano ward of Tokyo)
    Date 2007.06.24
    Time 13:00 - 16:00
    Cost 10,000 yen (kouenkai members)
    15,000 yen (general admission)
    HostessSakurai Tomo (as "Madame Tomo")
    Master of Ceremonies Asakura Kaoru
    Maids (as pictured from left to right) Nishimoto Saki
    Kitahara Maya
    Midorigawa Yuki
    Mataka Ryo
    • Event report by Gary L. Blickhan, 2007.10.28

    This was my first event in Japan, having joined the Sakurai Tomo Kouenkai (supporters' association) this year. The event was held as more a French-themed party instead of a traditional Japanese tea party.

    There were about 16 members attending, and we were seated around a circle of plain white tables in the studio. Asakura-san introduced me to Sakurai-san as the special new fan from America, and Sakurai-san was pleased to meet me.

    Sakurai-san was wearing a long blue dress in the French style and sandals. Asakura-san gave me the privilege of being seated nearest to Sakurai-san. The maids handed out menus as if in a cafe and provided a variety of drinks.

    The first course was Sakurai-san's homemade cheesecake. Everyone had the opportunity to take a picture of it. Sakurai-san cut it into 17 slices, and she transferred each piece onto a plate and passed each one to me. The last piece was placed on a cafe table on a photo stage. The cheesecake was delicious, and after eating, the guests stood up and introduced themselves and said how delicious the cheesecake was.

    Other courses included Midorigawa-san's custard pudding, Nishimoto-san's jelly (orange, black tea, pineapple and Chinese tea varieties), Mataka-san's gelatin, and Kitahara-san's cream-filled pastry. The last piece of each kind was also placed on the cafe table.

    Each fan was given the honor of having their portrait seated together with Sakurai-san at the cafe table.

    Next, Asakura-san went to the left side of the stage, picked up his guitar, and each of the four maids sang a song. Mataka-san sang a fast song called "Samurai". While she forgot her lyrics, she recovered to finish to applause. Midorigawa-san sang the slow song "Sayonara no Mukougawa" ("Goodbye's Other Side"). Kitahara-san, the most experienced, sang "Oborodzukiyo" ("Misty Moonlit Night") confidently and very well. Nishimoto-san sang "Yogisha wa Doko e" ("Where is the Night Train Going?"), one of Sakurai-san's slow songs from one of Asakura's-san's musicals, Midnight Flower Train, delicately yet well.

    It was a great surprise to then hear my favorite singer sing "Hana no Kioku" (Flower Memory), from her "Summer Holidays" album from 1999. Sakurai-san sang very well and still had a great singing voice. There were many high notes in this selection, which she hit all on key. Her posture was as would be seen at a classical voice recital.

    Sakurai-san then discussed her upcoming Idolmaster Xenoglossia releases and Tomo Natsu '07 comeback concert. Next were four games of paper, rocks and scissors, called "janken-pon" for prizes. On the last prize, it was down to two fans, who each chose "scissors" with Sakurai-san at least six times in a row, which was very amusing to all.

    Next, each member then had their portrait taken with the four maids surrounding at the cafe table. At this time, I shared my thick photo album of my Sakurai Tomo goods collection with the fans, containing nearly every compact disc, laserdisc, videotape, DVD, game, book, magazine, poster, etc. of her 20-year career. When Sakurai-san saw that half of the fans crowded around my table, she wanted to see. I explained that although I was letting the fans look first, this album was my gift to her. Sakurai-san was extremely astonished and impressed that the new fan from America would have nearly her entire career in one book. She stood over the group, pointing out and recalling memories about her various albums and roles over the years.

    Upon leaving, each fan shook hands with Sakurai-san. I formally presented the album to her as a gift. I was invited to sit while Sakurai-san wrote a handwritten thank-you note, and I was graciously welcomed back.

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