Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour at Tokyo Dome

Just before the concert

As an introvert, I’m not much of a concertgoer. The entire experience is quite frankly stressful, with the massive crowds complicating every task that’s normally fairly easy to complete (using the bathroom, getting food, riding a train).

I didn’t go to concerts when I was in high school and college thanks to being an introvert and not having a lot of money set aside for things like that.

I’m also a casual fan of Taylor Swift. I have been for well over a decade now. By casual, I mean I focus on her music rather than her, and I don’t particularly care about her beyond that. I’ve always liked her lyrics and songs, but I have to say her album Evermore really sold it for me that she is truly fantastic at writing songs.

I also have to admit I have a friend who is a casual fan like I am, and we went to Taylor Swift’s concert together about 8 years ago when she played at Tokyo Dome. I want to say it was her 1989 tour, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. It was a fun concert, and we both promised we’d go to a concert together again if we ever had time.

This same friend told me half a year ago that Taylor Swift was coming to Tokyo, and by then her Eras Tour had kicked off and was incredibly hard to get tickets for. Knowing this, we entered the ticket lottery system fully expecting we wouldn’t get anything. I also chose the cheapest tickets because I really didn’t see the point in spending what could have paid for a vacation somewhere on a single seat.

We got really lucky – we got tickets for her February 10th concert.

Extraordinarily expensive souvenirs for sale outside Tokyo Dome

It was crowded at Tokyo Dome, of course, but my friend and I waited in line outside the dome to buy t-shirts since we’d gotten one at her last concert, too. Everything was selling out fast, but we managed to at least get shirts.

Seating proved to be a bit tricky. We were shoved to the right of the stage (stage left), but because signs everywhere said we were on the second floor, we thought we’d lucked out with our seats being pretty close to the stage. Confirming with security, however, sent us up to what is actually the fourth floor but what security was calling the second floor, and we soon understood we had indeed been banished to the “nosebleed” section.

Just before it started

Taylor Swift, when she appeared, was a spec of dust on the stage to us.

That dot in the middle of the stage was apparently Taylor Swift

Still, being surrounded by diehard Taylor Swift fans actually helped make the concert more fun to watch. It felt like being at a highly controlled party, with teen fans a couple rows up from us waving their hands to the beat and acting like their minds might explode every time Taylor Swift announced the next song. We were all given wristbands that lit up in varying colors according to whatever the lighting programmer wanted at any given time, which I think helped the audience feel like we were all helping to make the concert amazing.

The best way I can summarize it was that it was fun.

My friend has been to other concerts, she said, where the performer was extremely late starting the show, but Taylor Swift was out and ready to go right at 6 p.m., and even though the entire world knew she had to fly back to America for the Super Bowl, she acted like we were all just hanging out at Tokyo Dome together with all the time in the world.

I know she’s a professional performer, but I still found it amusing that she kept asking the audience “Do you have time for one more song?” or “Do you have 10 minutes to spare?” Did anyone say no?

Going to that concert, I can understand why people shell out a ton of money to be crushed by other people and have their eardrums assaulted. It’s not just about that, it’s about finding other fans and singing and dancing along to the music together. The music was so loud, I could see the people around me singing because their mouths were moving, but all I could hear was Taylor Swift’s voice crashing against the ceiling.

I also quickly regretted we hadn’t spent even a little more on tickets so we could see better. It was nice the organizers put everything up on a massive screen, but I think it would’ve been amazing to have at least been able to see Taylor Swift’s face with my own eyes instead of on a screen.

Maybe next time.

The Kirby Cafe

The hardest cafe I’ve ever had to get into

The Reservation

After battling online reservation systems from Tokyo Disneyland, The Pokemon Cafe, and the Sunrise Seto, I feel like at this point in my life I’m a veteran of dealing with reservation systems under fire. That is, reservation systems that handle everyone on earth seemingly trying to reserve one of only a few spots available.

(Tokyo Disneyland, I’d just like to note, is usually really good with their systems, but there was a point two years ago I think it was where kids were half off for the summer, and the reservation system for that was absolutely bonkers.)

Reserving four spots at the Kirby Cafe at Tokyo Skytree’s Solamachi shopping center has been my white whale of reservations. I’ve been trying for the past four months to get one.

Reservations open online at 6 p.m. (Japan time) every 10th day of the month for reservations that would be for the following month, and spots fill up literally within the first minute of them becoming available.

I looked around online for any tips and tricks and read the recommendation of refreshing the page for the next half hour in case of cancellations, but I think maybe it was because I was going for four seats that nothing budged even an hour after.

Then, last month, fates smiled on me. Or maybe it was because I nearly slammed my finger through my phone tapping on the exact date and time I wanted, but I managed to finally get the reservation.

The Kirby Cafe is outside on the fourth floor in a terrace-like area of Solamachi.

Make sure you bring I.D. with you when you finally get to this cafe because they will check it against the name you wrote when you made the reservation (it looks like people selling or giving away their reservations has become a problem.)

I think the reason this cafe is so hard to get into is for three reasons.

  1. The food was amazing. It was cute, and it was delicious.
  2. Kirby is popular right now for some reason for being cute. I don’t know – I got the feeling a lot of the patrons didn’t love Kirby for the video games so much as because Kirby is cute. That was just my impression.
  3. The cafe is much smaller than I thought it’d be. There’s room for maybe 20 people at a time, and you’re given about 90 minutes to eat, I think it was.
Inside the cafe

The Food

The food is expensive, so just prepare yourself if you do get in and plan on going.

Another thing to note is you need to order everything you plan on eating all at once. You’re not allowed to call the server back to your table to order again. One time, then you’re done.

For four of us to have a main course, a special drink, and a dessert, it was about 20,000 yen (or only about $134 for people lucky enough to be converting from the American dollar). A lot of the menu items included souvenir plates and cups, but of course for an extra fee.

A Waddle Dee chilling in an “omuraisu” rice omelette option

The nice thing is at least the food also tastes amazing, rather than it just looks cute. I think considering how fast the food came out, too, it was really impressive.

A dessert to celebrate the “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” video game
A strawberry latte with a winter-only decoration on top. The mug cup is also available to purchase as a souvenir, of course for a fee

Can’t get a reservation?

For anyone who wants some Kirby Cafe gifts but can’t get a reservation, there are two Kirby Cafe gift shops in Solamachi to choose from.

There’s a relatively small one you can access inside Solamachi on the fourth floor just behind the actual cafe, and there’s another, bigger, one on the opposite end of the fourth floor across from The Pokemon Center store.

A mug I bought at the Kirby Cafe gift shop

The Kirby Cafe shop opposite the Pokemon Center also offers desserts and some drinks that are also on the menu at the Kirby Cafe, but they sell out really quickly so you’d need to get there first thing in the morning to get one.

Takeout from the cafe is also available without needing a reservation. You just talk to the staff at the Kirby Cafe (or manning the cash register at the shop just behind the actual cafe) and ask for takeout. Just be prepared to go back to that gift shop an hour or so later to get the food.

It was a great experience, though I think considering the price and how difficult the reservation was to get, I won’t be going back for a while. I think this was something I’m going to mark down as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and leave it at that.

Watching rugby in Japan

While I’ve only ever seen rugby tests in stadiums in Japan, and only about four at that, I’ve heard that there’s a drinking culture to rugby fans in other countries that I don’t see here.

The rugby tests I’ve seen involve spectators who are almost silent, like they’re watching golf, with the ocassional shouts here and there, followed by collective gasps, cheers and applause if something exceptionally exciting happens. Otherwise, it’s quiet enough that I can usually hear the players shouting at each other.

A recent rugby test I attended

I’m a supremely casual fan of rugby, by the way, but watching the tests in Japan has been a complete pleasure.

I love seeing people out with their kids, waving flags and enjoying snacks while watching. I don’t go to these tests worried about supremely drunk people bothering me, and for me, that’s a nice feature to Japan’s culture of rugby.

While there are plenty of places in Japan where you can run into extremely drunk people, I’m personally glad I haven’t had to deal with any at the stadiums. It’s just nice, to be honest, and I’m not sure if that holds true in other countries.

I’m looking forward to attending more rugby tests in Japan in the future.