Odoru Tanuki Matsuri: Opening Day of “HKT48 Sashihara Rino Zachou Kouen” at Meiji-za (Part 3)!
HKT48 opened their first stage production, “HKT48 Sashihara Rino Zachou Kouen”, at the historic Meiji-za theater in Tokyo on April 8th, making them the first idol group to do so in its more than 200-year history. The first part was a play which we have divided into part 1 and part 2 because of all the amazing pictures. This third and final report is about the HKT48 live that followed the play.
Rino Sashihara started off the “Odoru Tanuki Matsuri” with the special song that she had promised to perform in honor of Minami Takahashi’s birthday, the classic Hibari Misora song “Kawa no Nagare no You ni”. By singing what was considered the greatest Japanese song of all time (with lyrics written by Yasushi Akimoto, the producer of AKB48) for one of the greatest idols of all time (Takahashi), Sashihara set the tone early for what was to follow.
As the low-lying fog on the stage dissipated, the mood shifted quickly to that of a Japanese summer festival as the rest of the members of HKT48 ran onto the stage in happi coats with folding paper fans in their hands to perform “Flying Get”.
A brightly colored yagura (a traditional tower/bandstand at Japanese festivals) rose out of the stage and Sashihara and the other members threw out plastic balls wrapped in fancy paper to the audience while performing “Baby! Baby! Baby!”.
The lights dimmed and what looked like the procession of oiran (Japanese courtesans) turned out to be the intro to one of AKB48’s earliest singles, the controversial “Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru”.
The sound of high heeled footsteps echoed throughout the theater as Sashihara made her way to center stage with only her legs being lit up. The rest of the members, also in short skirts and bright red high heels、strutted across the stage for “Kondo Koso Ecstasy”, sending hearts racing.
The stage cleared of members and props as Sashihara and Miyawaki sang the Nogizaka 46 song “Kimi no Na wa Kibou” to a piano arrangement similar to the one from the AKB48 Kouhaku Uta Gassen of 2013 with Mayu Watanabe and Erika Ikuta. It was a touching coda to the relationship between their two characters during the first half of the performance.
The acrobatic troupe spin metallic silver flags behind HKT48 as they danced like leaves on the wind to “Kaze wa Fuiteiru”.
Taking a break to talk about their experiences performing the play during the first half, Rino Sashihara was relieved that she made it through the entire almost 2 hour production without missing a line. Aika Ota admitted that she messed up one of her first lines but was able to pull it together and finish strong. Anna Murashige pointed out that her parents had come to watch her but that her father was actually a huge “Sasshi” (Sashihara’s nickname) fan and wanted to take Sasshi and his daughter out to eat sometime. While that sounds horrible for Murashige, those who are familiar with stories of Sasshi’s family, they have said far worse things about her before.
Despite being one of the smallest and youngest members of HKT48, Nako Yabuki started being called “sempai” by the others when they were reminded that she had already appeared in several commercials as well as television shows and films before joining the group. The actors playing Hideyoshi Toyotomi and his men appeared on the stage and declared that it would be okay for the audience to stand up and get a little bit excited like they would during a regular HKT48 concert but warned those in the balcony to be careful.
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