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Thursday, June 26, 2014

LaLaport Sasuke 30 Festival

(Back row) New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志, Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己 and Sasuke Veteran Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次
(Front Row) Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広, Masashi Hioki 日置 将士, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3), Shinya Kishimoto 岸本 真弥 and New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 ©TBS

As I mentioned before, last weekend was the first promotional event for Sasuke in quite a long time. It was nice to see that TBS invested money in revitalizing the show and bringing in a new audience! The first of the events is a TBS hosted event in LaLaport Toyosu over a 2 day time period (Saturday, June 21 and Sunday, June 22).  There was a small obstacle course built and demonstrated by special guests both days.  Day 1 was hosted by the guys above.

Event posters ©TBS

The event spanned two days and had 3 different times where demonstrations were going to be given by it's guests.  This again was in promotion for the upcoming Sasuke 30 broadcast on TBS.  It's been a long time since Sasuke was even promoted so many people thought the show was cancelled.  Once again in the spotlight and literally open to the public (this was a free event), it is nice to see it brought back to inspire a new generation of fans to the show.

Nice shot of the port ©garando

The event was out in the open on the Toyosu dock in Tokyo, Japan.  Day One luckily had good weather and shoppers visiting the famous LaLaport shopping center would have had a view of the event going on outside.

Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己 ©TBS

The big name on everything was of course Sasuke All-Star and Mr. Sasuke himself, Katsumi Yamada. He's holding here tissues with the date of the Official airing of Sasuke (which is Thursday July 3).  TBS had a small corner where people could get signed autographs (also free), pose with their favorite stars in attendance and even buy special Sasuke Rising T-shirts made for that day alone.

Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次 posing for Hioki ©Masashi Hioki

The course consisted of 3 stations. The Soritatsu Kabe (そり立つ壁) (what we call the Warped Wall), The Pipe Slider (パイプスライダー) and the Crazy Cliffhanger (クレイジークリフハンガー). I couldn't believe they actually brought those three!  I thought they would take it easy and bring easier obstacles, but nope, they wanted to make a statement!

Crowd in LaLaport Dock ©TBS

The crowds gathered in a fashion that I hoped would happen.  Most people were just shopping and saw the signs for this event and got curious.  Some came through word of mouth and of course the hardcore already had this date on their calendar. Every age range attended this free outdoor event.

Day 1 demonstration line up ©TBS

The day started with the announcement of the guest line ups.  In addition to those above, there were a number of STQ'ers who came to help out as part-time demonstrators (Guys like Ryoma and Yoshida whom most don't know by name but might recognize their faces) and take part in the festivities.

Day 1 Demonstration Lineup ©Ryo Matachi

They were instructed to each introduce themselves and then pass the megaphone down to the next person. Day 1 though belonged to Katsumi who was the star guest for the day's festivities.

2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) doing a demonstration of the Crazy Cliffhanger ©DSatoru

The way it worked is that if you were interested in trying out the obstacle for free!  After the demonstrations by the stars, people would line up behind each of the individual obstacles.  The demonstrators were there to help them get past the obstacle one way or the other.

Crowd at the LaLaport Dock ©Ryo Matachi

As the day wore on more and more people showed up.  Word of mouth spread that the event was free and the fact that you could buy Sasuke T'shirts and towels that in the past were exclusive to the closed set of Sasuke taping.

(Back row) New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志,  Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己, Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次
(Front Row) Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広, Masashi Hioki 日置 将士, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3), Shinya Kishimoto 岸本 真弥 and New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 ©pontachoro

The day offered a glorious opportunity for fans to finally walk up to their favorites and pose for photos and even get an autograph. For the stars, it was a great time to hang out with fans and meet up with their friends.

A very happy fan with 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) ©pontachoro

This is probably the best photo of Yuuji ever taken. Period.  He seems at ease and happy to meet up with fans. I'm hoping there are more of these public events in the future to help raise his notoriety. For as accomplished as he is (2-Time champion) he's one of those who isn't often recognized outside of the Sasuke setting.

New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志, Sasuke Director Director Masato Inui 乾雅人 and Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広 ©Masato Inui

Showing up briefly to the event was the Sasuke Director that by now you should know by name.  Inui is now a fixture in Sasuke Rising. I thank him personally for coming up with a lot of these things and raising the image of Sasuke back in the domestic market.  Japan surely needs it right now. Btw for those who don't recognize Tomo on the right, he's usually shaved bald! I'm getting used to his new look! I like it!

Sasuke Autographs! ©gogo4550

A rare opportunity for the general public to get these many autographs in one sitting. I'm so happy this event happened!

Masashi Hioki 日置 将士 posing with a fan ©gogo4550

For those who read the blog, you might recognize Hioki. I've been following him for over 6 years now (same time-frame as Tomo as well).  He was most recently a first clear in Sasuke 29 (that made Yuuji cry) and for long-time readers of this blog, he's the "Lucky bastard who got Bunpei to give a toast at his wedding".  He's back for Sasuke 30 as well!

Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次 posing with Katakabe Hiromasa 片伯部浩正 ©vulcancan

Sasuke long-time competitors and Sasuke hopefuls alike were able to mingle and hang out all day together.  Day 1 had them sporting the exclusive Sasuke Rising shirts made for this occasion (more on that later).

Fan posing with 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) ©Rn_snO

There's dozens and dozens of photos I had to sift through to get the ones I chose for this blog.  It was difficult to chose!  So I tried getting a wide spectrum of types of photos that represented the day.

New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 without his shirt (again) ©Hitoshi Kanno

As usual, Kanno gets nekkid when on camera.  So it's no surprise to see Kanno posing for the camera and promoting himself and his body at this event.

Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己 with a happy fan ©Otomodach_Punch

Not doing the demonstrations today was Katsumi who for the most part was there to take photos, sign autographs and mingle with the crowd.  Happy fans too this rare opportunity that as time goes on will disappear. He's pretty lucky!

Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己

Speaking of Yamada there was a Yamada-centric article written by MyNavi News.  There were actually several different articles written about this rare occasion.

Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己 posing with a happy fan ©SSK_Rising

This is the corner where they sold the Sasuke merchandise. My honest opinion, they underestimated how much would be sold that day. The booth should have been MUCH bigger.

(Back row) New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志,  Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己, Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次
(Front Row) Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広, Masashi Hioki 日置 将士, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3), Shinya Kishimoto 岸本 真弥 and New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒

Then there was this article by MyNavi News that had an overview of the day, synopsis of the history of Sasuke and it's future promoting Sasuke Rising and beyond.

Tomo, Ryo, Katsumi, Yuuji and Shinya ©MyNavi

And it had great photos! These below are a sample of the photos in the MyNavi News article published online.

Fan on Pipe Slider being helped by Katsumi and monitored by Shinya and Tomo ©MyNavi
Yuuji's turn to introduce himself to the crowd.
Ryo, Katsumi, Yuuji, Shinya and Hioki ©MyNavi

Kanno demonstrating the pipe slider ©MyNavi

Ryo demonstrating the Crazy Cliffhanger ©MyNavi

Shinya demonstrating the Crazy Cliffhanger ©MyNavi

Kanno Demonstrating the Crazy Cliffhanger ©MyNavi

Yuuji demonstrating the Crazy Cliffhanger ©MyNavi

Fan on Crazy Cliffhanger ©MyNavi

LOL and a sample of the types of things they did for the kids during the day.  If they couldn't jump, then they helped them do it!  There were some amazing videos out of this event.  Some of course didn't need to and shined on their own:

Kid pwning the Pipe Slider on his own (and almost cleared the Crazy Cliffhanger on his own)

(Back row) New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志,  Sasuke All-Star (Mr. Sasuke) Katsumi Yamada 山田勝己, Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次
(Front Row) Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広, Masashi Hioki 日置 将士, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3), Shinya Kishimoto 岸本 真弥 and New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 ©Masashi Hioki

Day 1 was a roaring success with good weather and a very very good turn out that stunned everyone considering it was short notice and most people didn't even realize Sasuke was still going!

A rain soaked Sunday ©TBS

Day 2 was met with torrential rains all throughout the night and into the morning totally soaking the grounds that were dry the day before.

Crowd standing in line for the day's activities ©TBS

However that didn't dampen anyone's spirit as people lined up to get a go at the obstacles once the rain let up!  This shocked everyone that they had so many people the 2nd day!

Aerial view of the LaLaport festival ©Yonezake

By this point though, those who heard about it the day before told their friends to show up the following day.  There was a steady increase of people as the day cleared up.

Masashi Hioki 日置 将士, Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3), Katsuhide Torisawa 鳥澤 克秀 and Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広 posing with happy fans ©TBS

Day 2 had Katsuhide Torisawa 鳥澤 克秀 show up to see how everything was going. It was a nice excuse to hang out with everyone and celebrate Sasuke.

New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 signing an autograph ©Hitoshi Kanno

Day 2 also marked when Kanno decided he wanted to hawk his own wares! LOL  Since most of the merchandise was gone (more on that later) he took the opportunity to sell his own stuff.

 New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 and Katsuhide Torisawa 鳥澤 克秀 ©Hitoshi Kanno

Not entirely sure what the shirts mean, but this is part of the new line that Kanno designed.  He had his friends wear them to help promote it more.

2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) posing one of Kanno's shirts ©Hitoshi Kanno

Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次 posing the hell out of that shirt! ©Hitoshi Kanno

New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 with his son Yuuto 雄仁 ©Hitoshi Kanno

In the adorable category, Hitoshi brought his infant son to get him used to the obstacles early! Here he is on the Crazy Cliffhanger with him.

 Hitoshi Kanno's wife Emiko 笑子 with their son Yuuto 雄仁 in front of the Walk On booth ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Here's his wife Emiko (with yet another new hair style) with their son selling the new merchandise.

Uki Yoshii posing with New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 ©Uki Yoshii

Meanwhile the husband is posing nekkid with chicks out in the open air (and clear view from the selling booth)!

Day 2 line up
Kong, Kanno, Ryo, Tomo, Hioki, Yuuji, Jin, Ryoma and Yoshida ©Kung-Cheen Howng

This line up I have to explain because something funny happens halfway through this. Just like yesterday, both the stars and the part time demonstrators are being introduced to the audience.

2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3), Jin and Ryoma Katou 加藤僚馬 ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Jin, if you remember, is the guy that has been serving as interpreter for the past couple of interviews (Tada and Morimoto) I did for Rambling Rican. He also (finally) qualified and competed in Sasuke 30.  Here he is with Ryoma (2-Time Sasuke competitor and fellow STQ'er) saying to the camera "wtf are we doing here.. this is the friggin' 2-time champion here next to us.. what are we doing here again??".. LOL

Hioko and Yuuji giving weird looks to Jin as he introduces himself after Ryoma  ©Kung-Cheen Howng

So.. the weird looks from Hioki and Yuuji (with support from Ryoma), Jin decides to have fun with his introduction (especially since no one knows who the hell he is in that lineup. LOL).  So.. (IN ENGLISH) he says "Hello!  My name is Jin.  Thank you guys for coming today!" Then in Japanese he says "I was number 65, please watch Sasuke on July 3rd." then he promptly passes the megaphone to Ryoma who cackles at that crazy introduction.

Then the funny thing happened where Yoshida (the tester) and Ryoma (who also was in Sasuke 30) totally buggers off leaving Jin with the rest of the group while they take group photos.  Jin only noticed Torisawa come out of nowhere so he thought he was supposed to stay (especially since no one kicked him out after the introductions) only to see his 2 friends just laugh as they are nowhere near the cameras.

Warped Wall Photo ©TBS

So Jin is totally having a surreal moment as his image is immortalized forever as the day 2 star demonstrators. Yes, Torisawa totally crashed the party. LOL

Warped Wall photo ©Setsubiyasan

Inside, Jin is saying to himself, "I totally don't belong here...." LOL!!!!!!!! I'm too busy laughing. Though to be fair, everyone in this photo did compete in Sasuke 30, so it's all legit.

As I kept telling him, none of the producers and none of the competitors told you to leave. In fact they included him and encouraged him to get on the wall. So in my opinion he belonged there. Even a couple months ago he never dreamed he'd be in this picture!

Ack I forgot where I got this photo as well! (if anyone finds which are the copyright holders, please le me know so I can credit it).  But I liked it so it's staying! Anyway this sets up for the other thing that was funny (tied to the Jin story from above).

TBS had everyone in the photo do a chain of clears on the Warped Wall for the cameras (Video posted on both of their Facebooks).  Torisawa seeing what was happening totally buggered off going "no way I can do that!" leaving Jin in the middle with the rest of the stars.  Kanno pushed Jin in front of him so Kanno could finish the event in grand style.

A very small merchandise booth! ©Kung-Cheen Howng

So I mentioned how small the Sasuke merchandise was by the end of the first day. See how small it was for the 2nd day?  Anyway, I bring your attention to what is behind Ryoma. See that television screen?  I'll talk about that a little later (near the end of blog).

What's left of the T'shirts by early Day 2  ©Kung-Cheen Howng

This is what was left at the start of the 2nd day. Most of the shirt were gone (and were completely gone after this photo) and all of the towels were gone shortly after they opened the day before!  TBS completely underestimating the fan's hunger for official Sasuke Merchandising.  Fans overseas can't even buy them anyway since TBS won't do international shipping.  Clearly, even domestically, there is a need that is not being met.

Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次 and Katsuhide Torisawa 鳥澤 克秀 ©SSK_Rising

As a result of the shirts being sold out, the demonstrators (who were promised a shirt for free as compensation for showing up and helping out) were forced to wear their own shirts.  So as a result, ANW got an international nod with Kong totally repping them during the event! LOL  (And yes, this photo/pose should totally look familiar to blog readers)

Autographs Day 2 ©Ryo Matachi

In the future though there is a lot they can improve on. However, given that they wanted a small scale event and hoped to get some publicity, they got a lot more than they were expecting. The event was considered to be a roaring success!

Another photo opportunity with a lucky fan!
Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次, New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志, Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広, New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) and Masashi Hioki 日置 将士 ©rfmbfmasnh

More fan photos from Day 2. Again, amazing considering that a couple hours before this entire area was under water. Talk about the Spirit of Sasuke! 

Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次 listening to 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) bark orders ©DikUtm

 With Mr. Sasuke gone in Day 2, the head megaphone falls on the 2-Time champion Yuuji.

Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3), a fan, New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 and Masashi Hioki 日置 将士 ©shin_ra_men

A rare smile from New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒 and 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) ©TBS

2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) massaging the dome of Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次, a fan and New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 ©Hitoshi Kanno

I love this photo.. LOL Yuuji is totally massaging the noggin of Kong.  Only true friends can get away with that! LOL

2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3) in a group photo under the droplets of rain! ©Yuuji Urushihara

That's some hardcore Sasuke fans!  Even in the rain, nothing can keep them from coming out and taking part in the festivities!

Fun day out with STQ friends! ©Tatsuya Tada

I was really happy to get these photos!  Those remember that I interviewed Tatsuya Tada 多田竜也 few months back! He was able to take some time to hang out with his friends on the 2nd day.

Tatsuya Tada attempting the Crazy Cliffhanger  ©Tatsuya Tada

Yuuji and Ryo on the Wall ©Yukiko Onishi

Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広, Uki Yoshii and New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志 ©Uki Yoshii

Yuuji helping out the short Ryo get on the Crazy Cliffhanger ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Happy fans waiting their turn at the obstacles as Ryoma Kato 加藤僚馬 waits  ©Kung-Cheen Howng

One absolutely determined kid as Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広 watches ©Kung-Cheen Howng

I absolutely love this photo!  That kid is nowhere near the top but he's giving it his all to see how far up the wall he can get!  This kid has some serious guts!

 Not sure who is checking out who in this photo ©Kung-Cheen Howng

One totally jazzed out kid meeting his idols ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Kenji  "Kong" Takahashi 高橋賢次, 2-Time Grand Champion Yuuji Urushihara 漆原裕治 (Cliffer #3), New Generation Star Ryo Matachi (Cliffer #2) 又地諒, New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志, Tomohiro Kawaguchi 川口朋広 and Masashi Hioki 日置 将士 ©Kung-Cheen Howng

Almost as if Kong was making back for that dome massaging from earlier, he punches Yuuji in this photo. LOL I love these guys!  Finally, thanks to Jin for getting a video out of the guys having fun with the Crazy Cliffhanger.

So anyway, here is another photo of the television screen I mentioned earlier.  During the 2 day event they had two Sasuke 30 teasers running back to back on an endless loop.  It wasn't until early this week that TBS finally posted it online.  Here is the first teaser and the second teaser.  These are too small to make a big blog about it but wanted to at least show them to you while we wait for Navi.

Sketch of the planned Sasuke Park to open July 19th ©TBS Hot Jyouhou

Finally the last bit of news!  Fans had been wanting a more permanent place to get a chance at the obstacles (similar to this), so TBS rented out a lot in Tokyo to open up an outdoor  "Sasuke Park" for the entire summer!  I'll do a bigger blog later in July to cover all of the festivities. In the meantime, Sasuke Park has a website (with ticket information), new Twitter account and Facebook.  Keep up with the building of that project on social media and I'll do a synopsis later in July!  Sasuke Park will be open from July 19-August 31, 2014.

If the Sasuke 30 official preview event in Tokyo Media City tomorrow turns out to be something that TBS promotes on social media, I'll blog on it. If not I'll do a small mention in the Navi broadcast over the weekend.  Sasuke Navi is in 2 days!


Unknown said...

Kenji rocking the ANW shirt! I bet the others are like 賢治が話し着ているのは、この「アメリカン忍者戦士 "のことは一体何でしょうか?私が知っている必要があります!! (Kenji ga hanashi kite iru no wa, kono `amerikan ninja senshi" no koto wa ittai nanideshou ka? Watashi ga shitte iru hitsuyō ga arimasu! !) which means "What the heck is this "American Ninja Warrior" thing that Kenji is wearing about? I MUST KNOW!!!!" LOL

jenn said...

You know, I wonder if anyone taped Jin's introduction... (g) I also love Ryoma's reactions to him - classic. I really, really, really hope he did well in Sasuke 30, and he definitely deserved to be up there in those pics and the Wall run, since he IS a Sasuke competitor.