Kago Ai in Torrance, California! January 29, 2011Posted by Nights4Saturn in Hello! Project, Jpop, Morning Musume.
Tags: Kago Ai, KDDI, Mitsuwa, Torrance
Yup, this post is about a month late in being written. Sorry about that. I didn’t really want to write it up right when it happened since I feared it would most likely get lost in my “12 Days of Tsunku-mas” posts (just like my goodbye to Eri, Junjun and Linlin did :(). Then the ninth generation happened. And Takashashi was announced to graduate. I also might have forgotten about it.
But, hey, better late than never, right?
So, I literally found out about this event the night before it was to happen. Luckily, since I was on winter break from classes at the time my schedule was completely free and I had no problems making it down to the event.
The event itself was the grand reopening of a KDDI mobile shop in the Torrance, California Mitsuwa Marketplace. Mitsuwa Marketplaces are a slightly odd entity. There are a few of them down here in Southern California and usually half of the building is dedicated to a large Japanese supermarket, while the other half stores a food court and several small shops. They’re a great place to spend a lunch with the food courts usually being quite reasonable, and the supermarket right there to grab some snacks and drinks.
The event was slated to start at 1:00 and I ended up getting there about a half hour early. They had managed to set up a makeshift stage for the press conference in what looked like an unused shop in the “shopping district” part of the Mitsuwa. To be pretty honest, it was actually rather impressively put together. While waiting I also had the chance to meet a few interesting people! I met a fellow from Hello!Online and the couple who threw the Hello! Party back when Morning Musume came to Los Angeles. It’s always a joy to meet fellow Hello!Project fans! 😀
When the event actually started Kago still wasn’t present. Four different representatives from KDDI corporate, the newly opened KDDI store, Kyocera (the manufacturer of the phones that KDDI is selling here in the states) and Mitsuwa Marketplace. The messages from the representatives of Kyocera and Mitsuwa were actually the only parts of the event that were in English. Once these four were done with their speeches Kago made an entrance from the side of the building.
I’m not entirely sure where she was during the beginning of the conference. She had to be waiting outside to enter due to the incredible punctuality of her arrival, but I personally find it hard to believe as the weather that day was pretty horrible (fairly moderate rain, a rarity here). Ahh, mysteries!
Well, once she was present she stood up on stage and bantered back and forth with the MC about something for a few minutes, and then stood with the various representatives to cut the ceremonial red tape to open the store. After this, the representatives sat back down and Kago got back up on stage to talk with the MC again. This time she seemed to be promoting a new Android handset that KDDI will be vending there. From what I could gather (mostly from the flyers present) this was apparently the first Android handset to support Japanese language input. One of the demos she did of the device was playing a little game called “Touch the Numbers” where the goal was to unjumble twenty-five numbers mixed up on a 5×5 grid by touching them in order. It was fun to watch her play, but I’m slightly at a loss at how that was an effective demonstration of the phone’s key feature.
Not long after the phone demo Kago said her goodbyes (partially in English, which was pretty cute) and walked right back out the entrance that she came in. She was probably only present about twenty minutes or so between the time she arrived and left.
After her departure a pair of staff members came out and started to distribute signed autograph boards for those in attendance who had little tickets. I knew they were giving away those tickets in return for filling out a survey, but since the purpose of those tickets wasn’t clear before this I had never bothered to fill one out. Oh well. =\
After the distribution of the autograph boards they started a raffle. Everyone in attendance was invited to take a try at the “Touch the Numbers” game, and if you managed to do it in under 35 seconds you were allowed to pull a card out of a box and see if you won a prize. There were actually some really nice prizes available, including a $1000 Mitsuwa gift card, a Wii, and 25 of those Android handsets among other things.
When it came my turn to try the game, I found it not too difficult, but I still was slower than Kago by about a second! >< I managed to pull the blank ticket, which meant I won the consolation prize of a set of branded pens, lanyard and a light up bouncy ball. Really not too shabby considering that the pens and lanyard are actually quite nice!
I ended the afternoon with a nice lunch of tonkatsu curry from Miyabi-Tei in the food court, washed down with a bottle of Gogo no Kocha milk tea. Overall, it was a pretty enjoyable way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon!