Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Otaku" tour of Tokyo! Day 1

I started writing this post a long time ago, but wasn't able to complete/publish it because I was "distracted" by the accident and my crazy busy Nihonbuyo practice schedule (among other things) after that...

And yes, I'm aware that "otaku" has more negative connotations in Japan (i.e., a hardcore fan obsessed to the point that it's pitiful/weird/scary) than it does in Canada/America (where it's more a badge of honour--i.e. a highly dedicated/knowledgeable fan), but I'm Canadian so... *shrug*

So yes, we arrived at Tokyo Station around 10am on Saturday, October 10. After dropping our bags off at the hotel (check-in wasn't until 3pm), we headed for the Square Enix Character Goods Shop Showcase. Nate only bought a key chain, but I ended up buying a Chocobo keychain (a number of my Kirita students were impressed/envious when they saw it =P), a chirping Chocobo chick toy, and a Final Fantasy Mascot Umbrella. I was tempted to buy a necklace (a FFVII Materia Pendant--either Meteor or Holy) and Nate, being the nice brother that he is even offered to pay for it, but I knew I probably wouldn't wear it that often and so I refrained.

After that we had lunch at a ramen shop--Keika Kumamoto Ramen-- near Shinjuku Station that was recommended by my Tokyo Encounters (Lonely Planet) guide. It was fast and tasty. (Plus Nate got to see what it's like buying a ticket from a vending machine for a restaurant food order.) After that we decided to check out Sweets Paradise. I thought it would just be a regular cake shop, but it turned out to be a dessert buffet (you could also eat actual meal food, like spaghetti, salad, sandwiches, and curry). Despite having just eaten ramen, we both managed to have two plates of desserts each--credit goes to the "betsu bara" i.e. separate stomach (for dessert).

Then we went back to the hotel to check in. After a short rest, we headed back out to hit the Taikokan (Drum Museum). Although it was smaller than I expected (it was on the fourth floor of a shop), it was still pretty fun since you could bang away on various drums and other percussion instruments from different countries.

After that we went to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Even though it's supposed to be open until 7:30pm on Saturdays (with last admission 30 minutes before closing), it was already closed/closing when we got there around 6:30pm. =(  So we just snapped some photos of the Sumo Hall and then wandered over to the Yokoami-cho Park for a bit. (Nate had noticed a pagoda structure while we were at the Edo-Tokyo Museum entrance and wanted to investigate.)

Even though neither of us was particularly hungry, we headed to Tsukishima's so-called "Monjayaki Street" for dinner. Monjayaki is apparently a local specialty of Tokyo, and it's kind of like okonomiyaki, except that when it's cooked it doesn't have any particular shape and is just kind of a blob of ingredients on the grill (which you eat off the grill using a mini spatula). Unfortunately I'd forgotten that Nate wasn't so good with cabbage (a main ingredient of monjayaki), but at least he was able to have a truly "Tokyo" experience.

After that we headed out to Shibuya because Nate wanted to see some of the places--the Hachiko Statue and Shibuya 109--seen/featured in the Nintendo DS The World Ends with You (すばらしきこのせかい) game. The Hachiko Statue was surprisingly difficult to find. I was expecting lots of signage and a fairly large statue, but we had to look around for a bit to find it.

It turned out to be a good thing that he went to see Shibuya 109 with me instead of waiting to see it on his own/with his (guy) friend when he returned to Tokyo the following weekend because Shibuya 109 was the most girly mall I've ever been to. It was pretty much just female fashion/accessory stores inside. Though it was somewhat interesting observing the various fashions of the people in the store, it was WAY too much for me. *shudder*

We walked randomly around Shibuya for a while before going to Tower Records--where Nate bought Tokyo and Kyoto guidebooks--and finally heading back to the hotel.

(See my complete album from Nate's trip to Japan at

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