Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!
Yuki and I are so tired!!!
So we got up really early, barely having had much of a chance to sleep, and we headed right over to the studio so they could do our hair and makeup. They dressed us up like ordinary, pretty Japanese women. I had a nice skirt and jumper, she was dressed like a business woman. (Yuki really rocks the businesswoman look, I had no idea! – and I’m half-Japanese, so I can pull it off) Then we took a bus over to the train, and got on. The front half of the train was clear, the back half had a camera or two, some lighting, a couple of production folks, and a whole pile of backpacks and purses. There wasn’t enough room for the whole crew, so they just made do.
And we spent the next four hours going back and forth on the train from station to station and making a video.
They weren’t actually singing, they played the music on some loudspeakers, and they did their dances and stuff in relative silence. It was actually a little eerie. They’d do a few seconds, then someone would yell “kitte” (cut) and one of the idols would get a talking to, or they’d reposition the cameras, and do it all over again. They got a few closeup shots of me looking annoyed, and a few closeup shots of some of the idols as they danced. At one point they formed a line and ran up to the camera and then veered off, I’m sure it made some really cool footage, but it looked silly from my perspective.
They had Yuki yelling “Yamette kudasai” (stop!) a few times, and then they had all the idols sit quietly looking abashed. Then they had me say quietly “minna daisuki mo” (I love you all too) and we took a break for lunch.
It’s pretty exhausting sitting there looking annoyed, honestly.
I guess the producers were off looking at the footage and making sure they had everything they needed while we had lunch. We were at Shibuya station so we went to a food court and got some bento and stuff, and just kinda sat around eating. Surprisingly no one came over and bugged us for an autograph, though a few were staring from a distance. The girls were dressed pretty garishly.
Miki came over and wanted to talk to me. She speaks almost no English, so this is in Japanese.
“Your Japanese is good. Not perfect, but good.”
“Thanks. My birth mother is Japanese. I met her a couple of years ago. I’ve been studying a lot.”
“You’re… not like Japanese,” she said, softly.
I just looked at her.
“No, no,” she said, waving her hand, a hamburg steak still in her chopsticks. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s… a nice change. I don’t… I can be myself… a little more,” she said, softly. “It’s hard sometimes.” She ate her hamburg steak.
“Yuki told me being an idol is hard.”
“How do you know Yuki?”
So I told her the story, of how I met Yuki. How when I met her I didn’t even know who she was, and how Yuki seemed to find that refreshing. How we became pretty good friends and how she’ll always be Yuki to me, and not an idol.
Yuki and Minami came over to sit down. Yuki had an eel bento, and Minami had a gourmet omurice. They looked delicious. “I really love that,” she said. “In the US no one knows who I am, so I don’t have to worry mostly about getting recognized and fawned over. If someone likes me, they really like me.”
“Must be nice,” Miki said forlornly.
“I didn’t know who you are either,” I said. “I’ve never seen your group before they offered to bring me over.” I took a bite of my tempura. It was amazing.
A couple of emotions warred across her face. Disappointment and relief were the two biggest. “It’s hard. You always have to be on your guard around these girls. They’re nice, and it’s fun working with them, but… you never really know where you stand, and who is going to the producer and making trouble.”
“A couple of times. Not often. Nakamoto-sensei doesn’t much like it when girls do that. He prefers we deal with our problems amongst ourselves. It works out most of the time.” She told a story about one girl who went to the producer, who took her back to the group, told them exactly what she had told him, and then forced her to apologize while bowing deeply. She never pulled that again, and they eventually forgave her. Eventually. They have to get along to work together, so it ended up working out, but it took her a very long time to get back to the point where they’d socialize with her when the cameras were off. She said he deals with problems directly when needed (at least one idol got kicked out of the group) but not those little things that girls tend to fight over most of the time.
While I ate, Yuki then told a few stories of her time as an idol, stories she’s never told me. Stories of jealousy, backstabbing, infighting, hurt… but also of friendship, fun, good times… and at the end, she said “Just remember… these are your memories. Your time as an idol… it will come to an end. All you’ll take from it is your memories. Do you enjoy it?”
Miki nodded. “When you’re standing in front of twenty thousand people in a stadium, it’s… it’s like nothing else.”
“Treasure that,” Yuki said softly. “I still miss it… a little. But I don’t miss some things either.”
“Come to the US when you have time,” I said. “It’s different there. We have a live music venue, and it’s a lot smaller than a sports stadium.”
She nodded. “We have a concert in Houston coming up later this year. I’ll be sure to invite you.” She had finished her food, so she stood up and impulsively gave both of us a hug. “Thank you,” she said. “It’s lonely sometimes.”
Then Yuki did something that really embarrassed me. She told Miki the story of how I’m a “walking shrine”. Miki looked dumbfounded, and then sighed. “I knew there was something different about you,” she said softly. “It’s like you were calling to me.” She stood up, bowed, and clapped. “Thank you,” she said, very formally. That got us a few funny looks but everyone was too busy eating to really care.
Minami hadn’t said much, just listening to Yuki and Miki telling stories, and eating her lunch. We asked her if she was enjoying herself, and she said she was having a really great time, and learning a lot too. She said Miki was a really good senpai, and Miki looked embarrassed.
Soon the producer came to round us all up. We had to get our clothes and makeup touched up before we made up for all of the stuff we missed in the first shooting.
Another four hours of filming later, and we were done.
We were then told that, as a treat for our hard work, the next day all of us (Yuki, me, and the idols) would have a free day where we could do whatever we wanted, all the basics paid for, we just had to let a camera crew come along to film us for a bonus DVD. And before that, Yuki was to take a couple of hours and give an idol masterclass, which they’d record too. Yeah, Minami warned me about that, but… it’s okay. It sounded like fun, and I did need to buy some omiyage for my sisters back home anyway. I guess I get to have the actual life of an idol for a couple of days.
It’s not like I want to be, it’s hard work, but… it’s fun, for a couple of days, anyway.
We all went out to eat that night, and Miki was hanging around me for some reason. She asked to come back to our room for a little while. I didn’t see why not, so, she did. And the three of us spent a long time just chatting.
She really is a lonely girl. A very lonely girl. But… she’s also really sweet. I think I might have found another sister. She… feels like she can be herself around me. Maybe it’s partly because I’m not an idol, partly because I’m not Japanese, partly because I’m a “walking shrine”, and partly just because that’s how she feels.
And I’m okay with that.
She’s crashing on our sofa right now. I guess we’ll just let her sleep. I’m sure she’ll want to take a train back in the morning to get cleaned up before we have our “fun day”.
You know how many people would kill to have her crashing on their couch? But here she is, and it’s because we wouldn’t kill to have her crashing on our couch. She’s our friend.
It’s amazing and sad how few people treat these idols like, well… people.
Love you all!!! ❤️
From the Creator
So this is actually probably not tooooo far off from how it could very possibly conceivably go. I’m sure I got some details wrong, and it would probably take a bit longer for Miki to warm up normally, but hey, this is Lily we’re talking about. Walking shrine, y’know? She probably wouldn’t be allowed to stay over in real life, but this idol group doesn’t really care too much what its idols do in their off hours as long as they follow the dating rules, etc.
And there’s no way anyone would think she was dating Lily and Yuki after meeting them like one day ago.
Lily puts up with Japanese people calling her a “walking shrine” because they wouldn’t understand most other terms.