[JAPAN 2015] Day 1: Sakamoto Maaya 20th Anniversary Live @ Saitama Super Arena

It was just a whim.

For some weird reason, I was wondering if Kanno Yoko or Maaya had a concert any time soon - I don't know where the idea came from, I don't know why I was suddenly thinking about it (have a feeling I was on a Maaya song binge or something), but there it was. I googled "Kanno Yoko Sakamoto Maaya live 2015".

...And then I found out that she indeed has a concert to commemorate her 20th anniversary in 2015!!!!!!!!!


Funny how some things work out.

I knew then that I HAD to go to the concert. Honestly, I usually plan out my vacations one year in advance, but this trip was planned in the span of 3-4 months lol. Had to reconfigure my funds, savings etc but I was going to make it to the concert because dammit this is me living my childhood dreams right here. You'll never know if there will be other Kanno & Maaya combinations in the future, so I threw caution out of the window and decided to travel solo just for them (ahhh the things I do for YK & Maaya).

I actually arrived in Narita Airport the day before, but due to my own fault, I lost my JR pass voucher and spent much of the day all stressed out :( My friends, because they are awesome, bought me a new voucher and had it sent to me all the way from Malaysia but it wouldn't arrive until Monday so it was a slight inconvenience, but I thought mehhh I'm on vacation might as well enjoy what I can. On another note, I thought it's stupid that we can't buy a JR pass when we're in Japan itself - as long as we have a foreign passport, it honestly shouldn't be such a problem to buy the pass for us foreigners, seriously. 


Maaya Day dawned upon us. I was actually quite nervous to meet up all the people from Maayas.net. They were the ones who helped some of us to get tickets to actually watch Maaya live, because it's almost impossible to buy a concert ticket in Japan unless you're actually living there or have some kind of fan membership. 

A few days before the concert, we were planning on meeting up earlier beforehand to check out the venue, buy concert merchandises, and just get to know each other better instead of meeting up awkwardly right before the concert started lol. 

So yeah, was a bit nervous since I'm actually a pretty reserved person and I'm basically meeting up with strangers whom I've only spoken to on the Maayas.net forum. Well tbh they don't feel like strangers, since I've "met" some on them on YKDB & gabrielarobin like almost 10 years ago (10 years ago!!!) and had a blast with all the karaoke events that was held periodically (ssshhh shut up). Years went on and I became busier, but when I thought of the concert, I held my breath and hoped that these old friends would be able to help me. Lo and behold, Maayas.net (and to an extent, YKDB & gabrielarobin) proved to be an instrumental part of making my dreams come true :)

I needn't have worried about meeting up with them at all - everyone was so awesome, and it was great meeting up with people who loved Maaya (& Kanno) as much as I do :) As you can well imagine, I'm not really acquainted with a lot of Malaysians who love Maaya.

Banner showing us what merchandise is being sold at the arena before the concert.
Our gaijin group met up super early before the concert to get to know each other & buy merchandises :D (Photo credit goes to JKTrix on the Maayas.net forum!)
The awesome people from Maayas.net
The lines for merchandise! As is everything with Japan, it was so orderly and organized that waiting didn't seem too long. Plus it was great to talk with the rest of the gang about what Maaya would probably sing to start off with, which songs we'd love to hear her sing etc etc :') It's like meeting with kindred spirits tbh. (ALSO, HA, I KNEW SHE WOULD START OF WITH SHIAWASE.)

The Super Awesome Gaijin Group (C)
It really was great meeting up with everyone, it felt like we've known each other for a long while and we all just had fun talking about Maaya and our favorite songs of hers, what our expectations for the concerts are and such :) We decided to have lunch at a nearby mall - there was a LOT of people that day, because apparently the newly extended mall had their launching day on the very same day we were there :D;; Finding a place to eat at the food court was no easy feat but we managed to have a great lunch anyway.

Glad we went there earlier, because a while later after we had lunch, there was a loooong queue for the Maaya Live photo booth which went well on until nighttime lol. 

Funny thing about the picture above - basically the banner was just there for posterity and for people to take photos of it. No one was actually posing in front of the banner because, well, most people just want to take a picture of the banner. But us being gaijins, we decided to "enter frame" (as the Malay saying goes) when the line was clear in order to take a group photo, since we saw that no one was taking picture of the banner at the time.

As we were lining up to the take the pictures, the whole area was suddenly swarmed by other concert go-ers (who are mostly Japanese), who were just smiling and laughing indulgently at all these seemingly unrelated gaijin taking a picture together. Someone even offered to take the group picture and of course we happily obliged ;)

I guess it must be weird to see such a mixed group lol. It's amazing how Maaya & Kanno's music brought everyone together :) Country representative roll call: Bermuda, US, Malaysia, France, Belgium, Brazil, Australia and Singapore! Music truly knows no border.

会いたい日は 会いたいって言おうよ~

It was an AMAZING evening. The lights suddenly went out, the music starts playing, and our LED wrist band started lighting up simultaneously; my breath just hitched when the intro transitioned into Shiawase ni Tsuite. What a flawless, flawless introduction.

君が流す涙 拭うためだけに 僕はここにいるよ

Listening to Maaya sing was being transported to another place - to the first time I've listened to the song, to what I was doing at the time, to what my mood was and what my troubles were back then. 


When they started playing the introduction to Pilot, I honestly almost cried (okay, fine, I cried). Maaya just sang everything so flawlessly, and all the songs that she sang was just... incredible. I honestly have no words for it. Pilot was one of the first songs I've listened to when I just started listening to her songs, and it was one of the most poignant songs for me. Years down the line, I think she hasn't lost the innocence & the hope that shines through this song. Her voice has improved so much, and I loved the arrangement of this song.

ねえ 愛したら誰もが こんな孤独になるの
!!! This was it. This was the moment which I have been waiting for - when Kanno Yoko took the stage, all the events leading up to this moment suddenly clicked and it was like I was meant to be there, seeing Kanno in her element as her fingers swiftly moved across the keyboard. Oh Kanno, how I wish you and Maaya had sticked together. And of course the crowd went wild when Maaya appeared and Kanno played the first few notes of Yakusoku wa Iranai. Ahhhh my childhood feels, it hurtssss.

I AM A DREAMERRRRR - this hits me right in the Cardcaptor Sakura feels too, lol. Time for a marathon rewatch

Maaya proceeded to sing her her out with Hikari Are, Triangler, Hemisphere, Replica and Mameshiba - because hey, who needs to rest their vocal chords right??? (Seriously Maaya how u do that.) The live really brought me back to my teenage years, when I would listen to her songs incessantly during the long road trip with my family to NYC, to Orlando, to Miami; when things seemed so much simpler and I never had to think about the consequences of becoming an adult; when everything was black & white and shades of grey wasn't so obvious... These are the moments I've lived through and loved, and listening to these songs live just makes me feel like I'm in those moments again.

The live exceeded all my expectations, and I never would've expected to be able to meet all these likeminded people years before this. I'm so glad I met them and I'm so happy to have been able to watched Maaya live as well as sing along to Kanno's piano medley :D

When all the performers gathered at the end of the show
Kanno & Maaya on stage :') Credit for picture goes to one of the Maayas.net member (you know who you are since I was sitting right next to you in the picture lol)
Thank you, thank you Maaya and Kanno for making my dream come true :')

(Full setlist of the live can be found on Anime Recorder)

Go to Day 2 (Akihabara, Harajuku, Shinjuku) 
Japan 2015 Masterpost