Pink Memories


August 2003. Wow. How time flies when you’re having fun. On this, the five year anniversary of my having attended my first and only Pink Lady concert, I thought I’d present for long time readers and any newcomers to the website just how my trip to Japan to finally see Mie and Kei live came about. It, like the trip itself was, quote the title of a Beatles song, a long and winding road.

It was in early March 2003 that I received an email from fellow PL fan Mitch Osawa, telling me that Mie and Kei were back in action, having recorded a brand new song called “Terebi ga kita hi”, their first new song since “Pink Eyed Soul” in 1996, for the popular NHK television show “Min'na no Uta (“Everyone's Songs”)”, and that a full-blown concert tour, the Ladies’ first since 1997 would kick off in June. Needless to say, I was thrilled at hearing the news, and that put the wild-assed idea in my head to try and go to Japan to see Mie and Kei in concert, something I neglected to do back when I was stationed in Japan during Pink Lady’s incredible heyday in 1977-78. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I absolutely HAD to go, I positively HAD to do anything and everything in my power to correct that awful mistake I had made and see Pink Lady. I was of the opinion that if I didn’t, I would never get another chance, even worse, that was be THE most terrible regret ever in my life, a regret I would literally take to my grave.

Having made up my mind, next came the not so small problem of working out all the logistics. First and foremost, getting my hands on tickets to the show, or rather, shows as Mie and Kei did two performances at almost every venue during their 21st century Japan tour, something that was amazing in itself, given all that dancing the Ladies do during a show, and doing all that dancing in their mid-40’s! Thankfully, I did have someone on the inside that I could turn to for help, Akihiro Seki, webmaster of PL-NET, the Pink Lady Network Association of Japan. Akihiro already knew who I was since my site was part of his network, in April, I wrote to him and explained my proposition: if he could arrange to get me tickets to a PL show, I’d take care of everything else, namely plane fare and hotel reservations. Much to my delight, Akihiro was glad to help me out, giving me dates for shows in the greater Tokyo area which I was most familiar with from my time there back in the late 70’s. It wouldn’t do to trek to Japan and wind up lost.

A couple of days later, Akihiro wrote back with five locales, including, believe it or not, opening night in Nakano. Problem was, that was in early June, and I feared I wouldn’t have enough time to arrange for everything I needed to get done for the trip, so I opted for August 26th in Yokohama, an area I visited several times since it was near to Yokosuka where I had been stationed. After telling Akihiro my choice, we made the financial transaction and the most important part of the logistical angle was complete. From there, it was simply a matter of arranging for plane fare and hotel accommodations, both of which proved to be easier than getting the tickets, managing to get round trip tickets on American Airlines to Tokyo for around $854.00. Getting my hotel room was a tad more complicated as I had to have a credit card to secure a reservation, then I had to scour the Internet to find a hotel as they were plenty expensive. I finally decided on the Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Shinagawa, a mere ten minute train ride to downtown Tokyo.

Between May when I obtained the tickets from Akihiro to practically the day before I left for Japan on August 21st, I spent practically each and every day studying all I could about Japan, how to get around, what the airport was like, what to see, learning where the concert facility (Kanagawa Kenmin Hall) in Yokohama was located, buying tourist guides and subway books which I read through, everything I could. You see, it had been twenty-five years since I left Japan, the last thing I wanted was to fly blind into a country I hadn’t been in for a quarter century, a country where English wasn’t the language of choice, hell, the airport I’d be flying into, Narita International wasn’t even built when I left in December 1978, so I needed to reacclimatize myself to the country as much as I could so nothing, or, at the very least, precious little would go wrong while I was there. This would be more, much more than a trip, this would be a full-blown adventure, the likes of which I hadn’t had the chance to enjoy since my Navy days, and it would be a pilgrimage to see Pink Lady.

Friday August 21st, departure day, was a steamy, muggy mess as the east coast was gripped by a wicked heat wave as it was already 75 when I left for the airport---at 5:30 a.m.! It was after I arrived at Philly International that it hit me: this would be the very first time I had been on an airplane since January 1991, twelve whole years, and I was plenty damn nervous when I boarded the jet for the flight to Chicago, the first leg of the seventeen plus hour trip to Japan. Once the plane taxied down the runway, there was no turning back, I was both excited and a little terrified, what with thoughts of TWA Flight 800 and 9/11 rambling around in my head. But once the plane was airborne, I remembered just how much I enjoyed flying. After arriving in the Windy City, I transferred to a Boeing 777 for the second leg. That was easily the biggest jet I had ever been on in my life. It was fun too, even though I was in the air for just over fourteen hours, lunch was served after it’s noon takeoff, followed by in-flight TV and movies, dinner, even a light snack prior to arrival.

On Saturday the 22nd, I was back in Japan. It was everything like I remembered from twenty-five years ago, and, at the same time, nothing like I remembered. Following a ninety minute bus ride from Narita to my hotel, I settled in then did some neighborhood exploring. It was hard to describe at the time, but it felt, well----good to be back in Tokyo, like it was a second home to me, that’s how much I loved being there. After two days spent happily sightseeing, taking lots of pictures, it was off to the show on Tuesday 26th. I was extremely nervous when I arrived at the venue, it didn’t look all that busy outside, but it was quite crowded on the inside with lots of fans whom I’m sure was just as eager to see Pink Lady, and there I was, a lone American in the crowd, given how tall I was, I stood out like the proverbial sore thumb, but hey, I didn’t mind that at all. Then it was time to enter the auditorium area and I went to my seat for the first show, eight rows from the stage, practically dead center. I simply couldn’t imagine just how lucky I had been.

ABOVE: Mie and Kei's sassy Flamenco dresses for "Carmen '77". In a word---YOWSA!!

FInally, a buzzer sounded, the lights went down and a hush fell over the crowd. My heart was literally pounding in my chest as the moment I had waited half my life for had arrived. The curtains onstage parted, and THEY came out to the sound of delirious cheers. At last, at long last, I saw THEM, Mie and Kei, live and in the flesh. As the Ladies began the show with “Terebi ga kita hi”, it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears, that’s how happy I was to finally see Pink Lady, and they gave the audience quite a damn good show indeed, thrilling the crowd by singing all their famous songs from “Pepper Keibu” to “OH!”, even a very competent version of “Kiss in the Dark” as their English sounded as good as it had been way back in 1979. Oh, yeah, there had been costume changes too, and the outfits Mie and Kei wore were dazzling, with my favorite being ruffled, fire engine red sequined Flamenco dresses they wore for “Carmen ‘77”. Mie and Kei were at the very top of the game, singing and dancing as fabulously as they always had.

In just over 90 minutes, the show was over. I was emotionally drained from my euphoric experience, physically too as I clumsily tried dancing along with the crowd. Needless to say, I resembled a hippo on rollerblades, but I didn’t care, I finally got to see Mie and Kei. Words failed me then, and now in describing just what an experience the concert was. And, four hours later, I got to relive all the fun, all the thrills, all the excitement during the evening show. The entire day was an experience of a lifetime, watching Mie and Kei at the peak of their powers as performers, basking in the warm glow of the crowd that cheered wildly for them, and I could see that the Ladies were having a great time as well, just like I was. While I wished I had gotten to see Pink Lady back in the late 70’s when they ruled Japan’s pop idol scene, I was glad to have atoned for that error as this had been a truly phenomenal event, one I will never forget and always cherish for as long as I live. And I thank Mie and Kei for that from the bottom of my heart.

Three days later after more sightseeing, I was back home in Philly, my luggage chock full of PL stuff I had bought at the show, and my mind filled with delightful memories from having seen Mie and Kei in the flesh. My trip had truly been a pilgrimage, one I had been very happy to undertake. And I’m glad to be able to relive the experience with all of you. Peace.


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