In the midst of my trip to Tokyo last weekend, my keitai rings. It’s Shingo. “Hello? What’s up? We still meeting today?” I ask. “Maritan to Hanasou signing event at K-Books in Akiba. Starts at 11. I can’t get in in time. Can you make it?” comes the distorted voice (his phone ain’t so good) of HDs Editor-In-Chief. “Hell’s yeah,” I reply, looking at the nearest subway clock. “I can be there in 10 minutes,” I say. The next train is coming in 5 minutes and I have to travel one stop then change from subway to JR Line.

I make it at 11.10 and hoof it from Akihabara station to K-Books in the Radio Kaikan building. The line isn’t too long, which is nice. I see the uniformed Maritan handlers touting the signing. Jie-tan voice actress Kadowaki Maii is signing, in costume no less. I make my way to the counter and hand over my 2100 yen and get a receipt and a special K-Books pencil board for my troubles. I’m handed a coupon and asked to write my name on the back of it for the signing. An old trick for high volume signings – especially useful for the myriad of different ways of writing conventional and unconventional Japanese names. I write mine down and am ushered into line.

“Oh, bugger,” I think. “I’m gonna have to say something to this lady of whom I only know a little (Kyou no go no ni and Suzimiya Haruhi – she was the band singer that lost her voice at the festival) and all these other people probably know her entire life history, etc.” My fears confirmed by the two guys before me, who proceeded to lavish some of the most fawning Japanese I have ever heard (outside of the creepy unmarried woman in my apartment complex who has the chihuahua in the Louis Vuitton bag) upon her. Suddenly it was my turn. K-Books staff usher me forward. She takes my signing receipt.

“Shi-shipon, san?” she asks, looking up at me.

Maritan to Hanasou

Make that out to

“er-Yes,” I reply. Hell, might as well go for it. “Kadowaki-san, I’m really looking forward to listening to this CD. Many English speakers enjoy the Maritan books because they are interesting, especially for those who are studying Japanese. Thankyou for your hard work on this,” I kind of tumble out. She finishes signing, and holds out her hands.

“Huh?” I think. Oh right, handshake. I shake hands and she says “Thank you very much for coming today,” and bows. I bow back and move along. Another K-Books staff member offers me a bag for my signed treasure. Photos were prohibited, but later as I was passing Gamers I noticed a long line on the street. Another signing, this time outside.

I hefted out the camera and tried to grab a few shots before the uniformed handler came out and batsu-ed my attempts. Enjoy. Also check out the coverage (in Japanese) over at Akiba Blog.