Gingham Check Handshake Festival Recap
In attending Gingham Check Handshake Festival, it was the first time I had attended consecutive handshake festivals. As an overseas resident, it’s difficult to adjust your travel schedule so that it matches the timing of the handshake festival. I, and our Jadilah Nekad participants from Japan, had been monitoring possible dates of this handshake festival since July. Fortunately, JKT48 officials announced the date early enough so that we could each plan our trips accordingly.
Once again, I was responsible for providing live updates on Twitter throughout the day. (This marks the third consecutive time that JKT48Stuff has provided live Twitter updates at a handshake festival.) If you were reading our report on Twitter, some of this recap may already be familiar to you, but I will cover additional topics in more detail.
Venue: Jakarta International Expo
Gingham Check Handshake Festival used Hall D2 of the Jakarta International Expo complex, which is a sprawling exhibition area for many of the city largest trade fairs. Hall D2 itself has an area of over 4,800 m2. In comparison, the previous Kartika Expo Center at Balai Kartini is approximately 3,600 m2. Not including Hall D2’s exterior pre-function area, this new venue is already one-third more spacious than the venue of the two previous handshake festivals.
This extra space was utilized wisely. With a pre-function area available outside the exhibition hall, management moved ticket purchases and CD redemption outside. This allowed more space in the exhibition hall so that fans can roam around easily. During the Flying Get Handshake Festival, I had wanted to purchase a few additional handshake tickets on the spot, but the crowded lines discouraged me from doing so. At the Gingham Check Handshake Festival, on-the-spot purchases took at most 10 minutes, and I was even able to return twice to purchase additional tickets.
Handshake Festival Logistics
A larger exhibition hall also meant that management could create more room in the fenced-off handshake area. By doing this, handshake lanes were wider and longer, so they did not seem cramped. This was crucial for the change in the handshake process. You may recall that we had reported on AKB48’s new handshake procedures (pictured above) following the assault in Iwate Prefecture in May. AKS had reportedly requested for JKT48 management to follow these new procedures, which may have caused the delay in locking down a date for this handshake festival.
Fortunately, images of security procedures in Japan, which mirror security procedures at many international airports, were not seen at this handshake festival. Fans were still able to give gifts and letters directly to members, though they no longer have the privacy of being in a booth alone with members. Our hope is that a horrific incident such as the one in Iwate does not happen in Indonesia, so that fans can continue to enjoy casual interaction with members.
Handshake ImpressionsThe Jakarta International Expo complex is not as accessible by public transport as Balai Kartini. When I arrived at 9:30 a.m., the venue was still largely empty. My first objective was to survey the venue to understand the layout and claim the handshake tickets which I had purchased online through the JKT48 official website.
By the time the first handshake session started at 10 a.m., the venue became slightly more crowded, but it was by no means full. Because the handshake festival was held on the weekend of Eid al-Adha, many fans who are Muslims were carrying out religious duties in their respective hometowns. Some also attended, but did not stay for the entire day and left around lunch hour.
Up to the day of the handshake festival, I had only bought handshake tickets for Beby, Rachel, and Chika. Based on my experience from the Flying Get Handshake Festival, I was initially wary of filling too much of my schedule because of the crowded venue. I didn’t want to spend too much time waiting to get my tickets scanned and verified, but even that process was relatively quick compared to prior festivals. If this efficiency continues, I would recommend to future attendees to buy tickets just for the members you have definite interest in. There is a possibility that you may take an interest in someone new at the venue, and you will be able to buy her tickets on the spot.This was the case when I met Angel and Shafa at the chocolate fountain stand. It was the same stand that is now infamous for fan service where members feed you chocolate-covered strawberries. The stand only became popular in the afternoon when more popular second and third generation members were attending to it. Fans overlooked this stand in the morning, and even when members called out to passersby, fans would be too shy to approach them. Curious at what the stand was, I approached Angel and Shafa (who seemed bored while Nadse and another girl got all the attention next to them). Of course, they seemed thrilled and immediately put on their best behavior. At first, they told me that each stick of chocolate-covered sweets cost 6,000 rupiah, so I said, “Sure, why not? I’ll buy one.” As I gave them a 20,000-rupiah bill, Angel handed it to a staff member for change.
Shafa and Angel then began engaging me in conversation, asking me questions of who I was going to meet that day. Angel was surprised that I knew her name. (Of course I did, as I had taken notice of her when I watched White Team’s Pajama Drive.) Shafa asked me the difficult question of who my favorite member in Team KIII is. Truth be told, I don’t have one to this day. Perhaps in her mind she hoped that she could be the one I would support in the team. I didn’t say no, neither did I say yes, but I promised them I would buy their evening handshake tickets. The staff then returned with my change but informed me that the price was actually 10,000 rupiah. It didn’t matter to me by that time what the price was. The five-minute conversation was already a memorable experience for just one stick of chocolate-covered goodies.
Beby Chaesara Anadila: Sessions 2, 5, 8
My day started out with meeting Beby. I hadn’t paid attention to her tweets the day before, but she had apparently hinted that her costume would be themed “Couple”. I thought it sounded normal enough, though I had no idea what to anticipate. Imagine my surprise when I saw her in a wedding dress in the first session! All this time, Beby didn’t strike me as the type who would try something this daring. Even as she explained that she would also wear men’s clothing later in the day, it didn’t quite hit me what exactly it meant.
Beby took on the alter ego Boby as she put on a suit and tie. I couldn’t stop chuckling to myself as I waited in line for our handshake. When I asked why she wore a suit that was too big for her, she answered that it actually belongs to her brother, and it had been passed down from their deceased father. How could I protest against that? Beby seemed to be enjoying herself, though I’m certain she was anxious and hoping that fans would appreciate her daring costume.
In a letter I had written to hand to Beby during the handshake, I wrote that I couldn’t have been more proud of her accomplishments this year as my oshimen. I hadn’t expected anything in return, but I’m glad each of the “Gingham Check” senbatsu members had written a thank-you letter to their fans.
Jennifer Rachel Natasya: Sessions 4, 6
Ever since the white and red event on New Year’s Day, I resolved myself to start giving more support to Rachel. That is why I was ecstatic when she succeeded in joining the Pajama Drive Revival shows. When I watched the premiere show on September 6, it had been more than a year since I had seen her perform in a theater set list. Some fans consider themselves lucky that one of their oshimen were able to join the Revival, so I was very thankful to have been able to see two of my favorite members on stage that day.
For a long time, I had wondered why the letter c in her name is silent. I was finally able to confirm my suspicion when Rachel informed me that her name follows the Biblical pronunciation as it is read in the Hebrew language. Her mother had added the c. (I assume in order to make the name look modern.) Having been raised in an English-language environment, I had always assumed her name was read in English, which is why when I saw her for the first time last year, I didn’t know who she was because she didn’t pronounce her name with an English pronunciation.
My worry with Rachel is that, although she has good discipline as other Team J members have observed, she rarely puts herself forward. In the letter I wrote to her, I hoped she would become more active in appealing to fans so that others may know her strengths.
Chikita Ravenska Mamesah: Session 9
Chikita (also called Chika, though that has resulted in some confusion with Chikarina who would like to be known as Chika-chan) lately has become the third generation member I am most interested in. Partly because of her interview with the Jakarta Shimbun, but also because of her performance when I first saw the third generation’s Pajama Drive. I haven’t had to the opportunity to get to know her better, however, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this handshake.
When I introduced myself to Chikita, she seemed like she has heard my name before, likely because I’ve replied to many of her tweets. However, she remembered that I once sent her a picture of roadside durian stalls in Malaysia because she had mentioned on Google+ that she loved durians. What caught me off guard, though, was her asking, “You didn’t bring any presents for me?” I could only stutter in response. Had third generation members felt an entitlement to presents? I hope that was not the case.
I still was not able to get a good sense of Chikita’s personality with such a brief handshake, but I hope I will discover more about her in the future.
Other members I briefly shook hands with include Lidya, Yona, Sisil, Delima, Ve.
- Lidya remembered me from the previous handshake festival because I spoke only in English with her, and this time we continued speaking in English. I’m still very impressed at her near-native pronunciation and grammar structure.
- I’ve spoken with Yona on multiple occasions, and we share an interest in anime, so it was easy to talk with her. We discussed about her stage appearance at Anime Festival Asia Indonesia. She lamented how she was not able to get a two-shot picture with Danny Choo at the event.
- Delima’s handshake ticket was given to me by WasshoiJ. She may not be the most popular Team J member, but I feel that she is the most down-to-earth. When I told her I was coming from overseas, she started talking in broken English and was proud of it. I felt that as long as she expressed her own personality, she would enjoy herself, and make others around her happy as well.
- Ve is somewhat quiet during the handshake as I expected, but I think this is because she wants to listen to her fans first before speaking her mind. I didn’t have much time to fumble around with Indonesian, so I spoke in English because I knew she would understand it anyway. I told her we hope to be able to bring more fans of her from Japan in the future.
- The last time I saw Sisil in person, she was performing as a Trainee in Team J’s Aturan Anti Cinta set list. I didn’t quite enjoy her performance then, but she has really turned around to become a more confident person in the past year. During our handshake, she kept throwing punchlines back at me.
To keep my promise with Shafa and Angel, I also bought their handshake tickets toward the end of the day.
- Shafa is perhaps the most underappreciated of the second generation members, but she undeniably works hard. I was happy to see that her fans also handed out tokens of appreciation to people who shook hands with her. It showed that they wanted others to also recognize Shafa’s hard work.
- Angel is 13 years old, but she doesn’t act like it. Although she speaks in a cute manner, she is not an airhead. She brims with curiosity in wanting to know more about her fans. She even proudly told me about her Red Riding Hood costume, even though I’m sure she knew that I knew who Red Riding Hood is.
Third generation Trainees featured more prominently during this handshake festival than the last. It was obvious that management wanted to build the interest in them, but it was also clear that not many JKT48 fans knew much about the newcomers. For example, during one stage game session where the audience had to complete a Trainee’s introduction line with her full name, one-third of the answers were incorrect.
In another stage segment, the third generation Trainees were able to show off their talents, trying to set themselves apart from the more senior members. There were clearly some fans who have devoted their activities solely to supporting Trainees, but they still remained few in number.
This handshake festival felt less stressful from the previous because of the ease of moving around the venue. Queues were orderly, and despite initial concerns about the new handshake format, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves until the end. Even for our international attendees, this handshake festival was a positive experience.
Floor plan images courtesy of PT. Jakarta International Expo.