(you can see me right next to Kei's neck/head on the left, with a red piece of my flag.)
Needless to say, July 11th will be a day I will never forget. Anger, sadness, helplessness to complete bliss. All felt in one day! It was the amazing day when I got to see and meet INKT.
In all honesty, I’ve been a KAT-TUN fan from 2007. Though my interest kind of died when Jin was out, it came back a few years later very strongly. It is true that I enjoy the OT6 and OT5 better than the current OT4. I was even more heartbroken when I knew Koki wasn’t going to be part of it anymore but I was also looking forward to his own projects. It was more than obvious, for us hyphens, that Koki had always been siding towards rock more than actual pop. One of my dreams has always been to see him in a rock band and that came true! With Kissy, Sassy, mACKAz and Kei, Koki made his way in a new path! Since long I was waiting for them to officially ‘debut’, of course I loved their sound as soon as they released Trigger and since then I have been supporting all of them non-stop.
I’ve been dreaming to see Koki for SO long, and it was never in my mind the thought of this being possible. It’s not like kpop bands that most of them tour around the world and out of Asia. In KAT-TUN, Koki has only gotten to Taiwan and Korea at most… but when I read the headlines of him and the rest of INKT coming to Brazil, I KNEW I HAD TO BE THERE.
I could never explain it, how can you explain the feeling you get when you see someone in flesh and bones after almost a decade of watching them only through your screen with no possibilities of seeing them at all because you /knew/ they wouldn’t ever dare to come out of Asia? There is no way of explaining it until you go through it yourself.
BEFORE THE M&G
And so we left Paraguay with Uru, my dearest friend on Saturday July 11th at 2am with destination Brazil. Because of some problems with our flight, we arrived later than we expected, at around 6:30am in Sao Paulo. We had to wait long hours until we could check-in at our hotel, which happened at roughly 10:30am. By then, both of us hadn’t slept for 30 hours already.. we were dead. While waiting for our room to be ready, we made sure to finish preparing the gifts I had decided to give Koki and also INKT.. Sadly I forgot to take a picture of the flag but here's what one page of the letter looks like.
So as soon as we went into our room, we thought about taking a small 30 minute to 1 hour nap- but what happened? Uru suddenly opens the window because we could hear some weird noise, and what was it? IT WAS INKT. From the window of our hotel, we could clearly, VERY CLEARLY listen to them doing the soundcheck at the venue which was really close to our hotel. They were playing ‘The Gift’. I spazzed for a minute or two and then went to bed, but even then I could listen to them and so all thoughts of sleeping went away, how could I? When it felt like INKT were pretty much serenading me, haha.
I ended up falling asleep nevertheless because of the lack of sleep but it wasn’t long until the alarm woke me up- I wasn’t even sure I slept at all, more like I closed my eyes since when we had to get up, it was only 20 minutes after my head touched the pillow.
So we woke up and got ready to go to the venue to see INKT. We took a cab and arrived around 12:30. Once inside, I met with Stephanie, my dear friend from Brazil that helped me get the Meet and Greet plus Hotzone (to be near the stage, front rows) tickets since they couldn’t be sold online for foreigners. Once we saw her, we signed the big flag you can see in pictures where there’s the Brazilian and Japan flag mixed in one with INKT’s logo on the front. After that I met Joyce, a very hyper and nice girl as well, we were both queueing for the M&G. She was the first one and I was second, lucky lucky!
While we were waiting, some guy with a camera came to record us and we were really confused but suddenly he said ‘Message for INKT’! So we both just freaked out a little and said what we could. I ended up saying ‘I came from Paraguay, always be happy!’ in Japanese to the camera. Later the guy noticed I had both of INKT’s released albums and so followed to record the albums in my hand before moving along to record the whole queue for the M&G.
THE MEET & GREET
Not long after 2pm, the M&G had finally begun! Before though the STAFF of the event had told us that no hugging was allowed or too much touching.. they basically said that we should stand next to INKT like little soldiers…. But I had another idea from the beginning.
I could never explain what it felt to watch them from afar while we were walking towards them. “Are they real? Is this actually happening?” This feeling intensified with the closer we got and even more with everything that happened. I was carrying the gift I had prepared for them and Koki, it was a flag of Paraguay with the words ‘Paraguay loves & supports INKT, ganbatte!’ written on it, and a very deep and emotional letter for Koki. Once we arrived to the first member, mACKAz (they stood in the next order: mACKAz, Sassy, Koki, Kissy and Kei.) They shook our hands, all I could muster was “Be happy! Thank you!’ To mACKAz and Sassy, in return I got their beautiful smiles and thank yous as well. But once I reached Koki, I was in a total daze, completely out of it. I mean here’s the guy that I’ve been watching on my screen for a decade almost! Even now, I can’t completely comprehend how all of this is real- but anyway when I shook his hand I looked up at him and told him I had come all the way from Paraguay (In Japanese, of course lol) and he was surprised. ‘Oh! Really? Great!’ was what he said, and suddenly he gave me this huge smile that had me bedazzled! I had to look down in embarrassment- I think I even blushed ahaha and I had forgotten to give him his gift. And so I moved forward and shook hands with Kissy as well and Kei who gave me their picture with their signatures.
Joyce, my friend, was actually opening and showing Kei the gifts she had got them and so I also left my gift with him which he then ended up gathering them all on his side of the table. I almost totally forgot about the picture with them by then, I only woke up from the daze I was in when a guy came in saying we had to take the picture with INKT. And so I ran to Koki’s right side. I was still in shock by then, I had once again completely forgotten about the camera and so I stared at him.. I was still not believing he was there! So until now, I haven’t gotten the picture so I have no idea how it came out. I probably ended up looking stupid but who cares! I got a picture with INKT. Shortly after the picture was taken, I turned to Koki again and he was looking to the opposite side so I lightly tapped his shoulder so he could face me. It’s like I could hear angels singing when I met his gaze. I had used a mixture of Japanese and English then.. I pointed towards the little bag that contained my present on the side of the table and told him that it was for him, Koki then had just said yes and smiled at me.
Once more I tried to win over my shock and told him in Japanese that I was very proud of him… and that’s when I lost it, really. The moment I said that he gave me a really surprised expression… the kind that speaks a million words. He had this face of utter flattery as if he was really touched. I told him this because I knew he had always felt so much guilt for the things he did in the past.. But because he got past his mistakes and continued to pursue his dreams, I told him that. “I am really proud of your person, Koki-san.” That’s what I said in Japanese. The thankful expression of his face, which I wish I could’ve saved it in a camera or something, was worth more than a million words to me. It really felt like a personal experience since he was really paying attention and thanking me for it with a sincere heart, he had also mentioned my Japanese was good which all I could respond was with a No!. Hahaha, ‘cause I had only memorized these things, nevertheless he spoke to me in basic Japanese so luckily, I could understand everything he said and answered back.
Then I remembered I also had the intention of hugging him. For me hugs mean more than just touching someone, it’s really comforting experience and so I wanted to give him one. And so, before I had to leave since time was up for my turn.. I asked Koki if I could have a hug. ‘Hagu shitemo iidesuka?’ I had to ask since I would never force him or anyone else to do it if they didn’t want to. I was really happy to see him smile as he did and feel him so nicely agreeing to it, so he wrapped his arms around my shoulders while I hugged his waist, he also patted my back and I felt his head against mine because he’s so short! I’m only 162cm but I am pretty sure Koki isn’t above 173cm, I would even say he’s 170cm. They’re all really tiny except Kei, hahaha. He was indeed tall, at least for me.
After that I asked the same question and got hugs from Sassy and mACKAz. I couldn’t get them from Kei and Kissy because it was already time to go. AAAh, all of this seems like it’s so long but it all happened in a span of probably 3 minutes! So it feels like such a blur that I wish I had a video of it to remember it better, haha.
Out of the M&G tent, my friend and I went to stand at the back to take pictures and film videos of it (which you can find on my youtube account) It was really funny because Koki was dancing a lot to the background music and also saw the rest of the members doing some weird but funny expressions and gestures!
Once the M&G was over, they all turned to wave at us before disappearing to the back, probably into their dressing room. For the rest of the afternoon I joined the KPOP cover challenge event and live stage of kpop group Cross Gene. I was practically a zombie when INKT’s live time came. By then I had been awake for 37 hours, had been jumping, running, etc. I was falling asleep while standing as I waited for the staff to prepare the stage. I was luckily on the first row, in between Koki and Kei. So I really had a perfect view for everything.
THE LIVE CONCERT
Around 8pm, after an instrumental intro, Kissy and Kei appeared first followed by Sassy and mACKAz. They started heating up the audience until we all started calling out for Koki again and again until he finally walked into the stage! Like that, the concert started, with Wanderlust! It’s the only song I recorded with my iPhone 6 Plus because I wanted to enjoy the show, and I knew I wouldn’t if I had to record everything. So I was there enjoying the show, waving my Paraguayan flag and singing while feeling the whole time as if it were all dream. It was great to see them. The sound was amazing! You could clearly hear the instruments and Koki’s voice, all perfectly. Koki’s raps were also great and he also did some funny dancing, I hope someone recorded that! And as all hyphens probably are aware of, Koki is like the tongue monster! He of course, showed his tongue so many times all through the show and then gave us a cheeky smile, because he knows it drives us all crazy! Some things never change, huh.
There was a part where Koki started introducing everyone in the band and after he said Kissy’s name and Kissy talked for a little bit, there was silence for a short time and so I took advantage of it and shouted KAWAII! Because of Kissy’s permanent kawaiiness(? and the guys heard me well, they all laughed because of what I said, more so Kissy and Koki- I was happy I could make them laugh with that, hahaha.
I had very high expectations for the group, and they excelled on everything. Their sound is amazing, and experiencing it live… I just have no words. I always also knew Koki was good with controlling the audience but it’s a totally different thing to see it with your own eyes. He has an indescribable charisma and stage presence! He really worked up the crowd so nicely! I am definitely impressed, this makes me want to get their DVD even more but because I’m not part of the FC, I can’t. :(
I can’t go into details about the concert because I was too far gone and I can’t remember any special details besides the fact that it was so much fun and an experience I will never forget! I was crying by the time Koki came back for the encore with the flag my friend had done and that had all our signatures. I could even spot mine from the first row and just the thought that INKT read that amazes me to no end.
It also surprised me that I could understand everything Koki said when he was speaking Japanese, I guess I didn’t forget everything I learned!
He talked about how he would love to come back to Brazil and all I know is that I’ll definitely have to be there next time as well, or anywhere they decide to come that’s near enough. He also mentioned about how we should always remember INKT! More so for the people who were there and didn’t know them.
By the end of it, it felt so damn short and I didn’t want them to go. I was hyped the whole concert so by the end of it when I was returning to the hotel by 9:15pm, I couldn’t even feel my legs anymore. Thanks to Koki who asked us to go strong, my neck hurts from all the headbanging even. All the after pain is worth it though! I love them even more than I already did if that’s even possible!!
I returned home to Paraguay the next day, arrived on Sunday, July 12th by 1pm. Once I checked online, I saw an article on Oricon about them and also the blog update on INKT’s ameblo that they posted after the M&G and before the concert…. The fact that both of them mentioned Paraguay made me tear up once again. All the effort I did for them to remember me and my country were paid off! It also makes me think they might have read my letter and also saw the Paraguayan flag I gifted them with. I was the only one there from Paraguay so I feel recognized! Hahaha.
Everything feels like a dream still and I will never ever forget this day, one of the best in my life.
If you read until the end, I salute you! Thank you for your time! Keep supporting INKT!