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I love the pic above. It’s light and cheerful and perfectly describes the happy days I spent in Japan. I couldn’t wait to be back in Japan, the February gigs were announced unexpectedly soon after my previous trip in May. Japan is my favorite kind of destination: calm, clean, polite, well organized… I love people’s sense of humor and the simple style that fits well together with my own Nordic taste.

I knew in advance our trip in Korea will be busy and hectic so I planned from beginning to have some rest after arriving in Japan. My introvert mind needs regular time alone so my first day in Japan was scheduled for that as well. I arrived at my Osaka hotel – everything was tidy and quiet – lay down on the bed and fell asleep. For 13 hours. It was wonderful! I often feel sorry for Mika because he works so hard he probably never has time to sleep as much as he likes or needs. Sleeping is such a luxury, definitely high on my top 10 favorite things to do list.

I had looked forward to meeting our “Japan group”. This was only our second time together but I had and still have a feeling we know each other and already have some routines and I absolutely love that. Everything is calm and easy. Eriko has lived in busy Tokyo for many years so she always knows where to go and what to do. Zhenya is actually from Siberia but has visited Japan several times and has generally a good sense of direction (as an opposite to me) so I could just follow her while waiting for Eriko to arrive. She had even printed maps to find coffee around our hotel in advance! So practical.

From Osaka we took a Shinkansen to Tokyo. We watched the train to arrive (they look human and cute with their faces), sat on suitable seats to spot the mount Fuji (Eriko had booked our seats in advance) and enjoyed the trip. Dear Eriko is emotional just like me. In Tokyo we spent a moment at the dog statue before admiring the famous crossroads and both cried a bit. It’s such a sad story, I can’t handle it. We met Toshiko and later also Mikage and had lunch together and after the show met more fans I already knew from my previous Japan trip.

Such a pleasure to meet everyone! I can meet Japan fans only in Japan what makes these concert trips even more special. Below some pics of us from Osaka and Tokyo. The photo of Zhenya and me under the dog figure is taken by Eriko, thank you so much for letting me use the pic!

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Watching Mika on stage is naturally also high on my top 10 list. The venues in Japan were seated and very sophisticated. In Japan your spot is always a random result from a lottery (unless you buy expensive black markets tickets) so a seated venue is usually a better option than a standing venue and guarantees a better view also from further away. I loved the atmosphere at gigs. The audience in Japan is more spontaneous than in Korea and maybe not as crazy as in China but still generous and very welcoming and I’m sure Mika loved the vibe too.

I shared photos from Osaka here and here and from Tokyo here and here. A few more photos below (I might have shared a couple of them on FB). I like the picture with the funny face (he is joking so he looks like that on purpose) because it’s cute almost in an ugly way. Unusual, pop stars look always so pretty! I miss Japan and everyone I met and wish I had another visit to Asia planned already. xxx

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ARRIVING

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I arrived Seoul one day before the first Korean tour gig in Busan and spent the day with our European/Korean group walking around in Seoul and falling in love with Korean food. We visited the little alley and cool café where the Korean NPIH magazine edition was shot and took some pics just for fun (below). Little tents above are for fortune tellers. There were dozens of them and they actually looked really busy (not with tourists but older local people).

Korea is full of colors, sounds and smells. So full it was almost too much for me but at the same time I found it incredibly interesting and the food was simply the best I’ve ever eaten. I loved my first visit in the country and can’t thank enough Lasher who planned our trip and made all the arrangement taking care of every little detail and was also extremely patient with us. Our European part of the group reminded more a kinder garten than five adult ladies one wanting to find a toilet, another one coffee (that’s usually me) and the third one food, the other two asking “are we there yet”. Lol!

In Asia nothing is a problem and no one is complaining. I loved my little chats with Lasher about the local very competitive education system and working environment. This is what I love to do during my trips. I’m a mother of school aged children and an economist by my original education and always been interested in human resources so I love learning about local systems wherever I go. Lasher mentioned – casually like it’s a fact and not complaining a bit – that she actually works 18 hours a day and sometimes even sleeps in her office if there’s no time to drive home. I know I’m lucky with all my freedom but there’s also a huge cultural difference between hectic Asia and Nordic Countries. 18 hours!

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BUSAN

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We took a train to Busan the morning of the gig with several Korean fans (I knew some of them already from Paris and London) and thanks to Lasher’s careful planning had time to get a nice impression of Busan as a seaside city. We took a sightseeing bus around the city and saw the massive harbor and had lunch in a seaside style restaurant and even managed to catch the amazing sunset just before heading to the venue for the gig.

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I posted some photos here and a few more random pics below. The first gig of the tour in Busan was my personal favorite in Korea. Not necessarily because it was the best one but because of the lovely relaxed day we had before the show and because of the really nice venue with good view for everyone.

SEOUL

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We didn’t stay over night in Busan but instead took a bus back to Seoul during the night. Lasher had booked us (and a big group of Korean fans) a really comfortable bus so we could rest a bit and spent the next day in Seoul before the next and most important show of the tour. The venue was huge. I had a seat far away but really enjoyed the show, the atmosphere was absolutely fantastic. I posted a few videos here, check them out if you haven’t seen them yet.

We had a day off on Saturday so we could walk around in Gangnam area, have some Korean barbecue and watch the live chat Mika did on a Korean web site. Again, thanks to Lasher we could watch the chat in an extremely luxurious conference space with a city view and a big screen. So much fun! I love these long live chats and radio and TV interviews from Asia and especially hearing Mika speaking English again.

DAEGU

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The last city of the Korean tour was cold and windy Daegu. Luckily we didn’t need to walk but the bus took us first to see the market place, then to have delicious Korean barbecue lunch and finally to a trendy, famous coffee house/roastery where Lasher’s local friend kindly offered us coffee before going to the venue. The café was large but so popular it was full of people so we were lucky the girls had booked us a table in advance.

I wrote about the Daegu show here. I wasn’t allowed to take photos so took only one pic of the confetti moment (the last one below). I wish I had a photo of the pretty blue paper planes the audience flied to surprise Mika. Absolutely loved the moment! It was the highlight of the show together with the Happy Ending a cappella part following planes in the end of the song. Magical!

After the last show our bus took us back to Seoul and we headed to the airport to catch an early plane to Japan. A huge thank you to Lasher and her friends for everything and to Sarah, Solange, Grazia and Valerie for their lovely company. See you all soon again! X

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