A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

U2 in Saitama

I went to the U2 concert in Saitama last night. I can tell that I am getting a bit old for concerts because, despite the fact that I was about 10 people away from Bono, I felt that I could have enjoyed the concert a lot more from a greater distance (i.e. in the seated part of the arena), since then I wouldn’t feel like I was being made into mochi by the crushing masses.

The concert was great, the fans were enthusiastic, and Bono was able to spread his message of “co-existence”. The concert lasted two and half hours and included lots of classic numbers as well as some of their newer stuff.

The venue for the concert, Saitama Super Arena, was well-suited to the occasion, and it is relatively conveniently located for us in Tsukuba. (Of course, it would have been better if U2 had signed up to play in Nova Hall, but I suppose I shouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen.) My friends and I decided to drive to the arena, but we were not sure what we would encounter in terms of traffic and parking issues on the way. The drive was extremely smooth (with a few moments of extreme uncertainty, as is bound to happen on Japanese roads) and it only took us about 1 hour to get there. And, because we arrived fairly early, there were still a lot of parking spots available in the actual stadium.

The arena is located right beside a train station (Saitama Shintoshin — about one hour and fifteen minutes from Tsukuba), so I imagine most people came by train anyway. The only problem with going by train is getting home after the concert. Because we came by car, we could lollygag and wait for the crowds to clear out a bit before making a move. The people who came by train, however, had to rush to the station and start the trip home right away so they could be sure to catch the last train. No time for looking at merchandise or saying goodbye to friends. If you go to a concert at this arena (or anywhere for that matter), be sure to buy a return ticket when you depart so the lines for the ticket machines don’t prevent you from getting home that night.

There is one more show in the Japan tour (December 4). The concert that I went to wasn’t sold out, so it is possible that there are still some tickets for the last show. If you are a U2 fan and are pining for the glory days of concert-going, this is definitely a show that will satisfy. Just remember to get a ticket for a seat rather than the floor if you are not as close to your teenage years as you used to be.

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