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Japan 2013 Part 1

And so continues the merry chronicle of Sin's adventures!

The weather was completely pants today so I wound up spending the majority of it inside away from the cold miserable sleet/rain and catching up on internet and generally watching a lot of fairly bad Japanese TV. This has had the weird side effect of tricking me into watching a lot of Detective Conan since it appears to be featuring heavily in reruns at the moment, and it is a singularly frustrating show. I mean, I know it's a kid's show, but it bothers me that Conan's go-to trick is to knock someone unconscious and impersonate their voice and no one ever notices that hey, that person is actually sleeping and not even moving their lips or anything. It's exactly like that whole 'how the hell does Lois Lane not notice Clark Kent is Superman' thing.

Also it has the weird thing going on where it's so incredibly aimed at kids, yet there's this weirdly dark and adult angle to the premise where hey, Conan is actually an adult shrunk down to kid size because of attempted murder via experimental poison. And the show is full of murders and dead bodies everywhere. I kind of wish I was a kid again so I could fully enjoy it actually, it reminds me of all those glorious 80s/early 90s cartoons that dealt with strangely adult subject matter in hilariously unbelievable ways.

It's also had the strange side effect of hooking me on Magic Kaitou, and seriously, Detective Conan is the spin-off that got it cancelled? Kaitou Kid warrants his whole own series! I am irrationally upset that Kaitou has been reduced to an (albeit awesome) supporting character in Conan. Which means that yeah, I have maybe spent most of today reading Detective Conan and Magic Kaitou fanfiction and lamenting the fact that I'm in a foreign country getting sucked into a weird love/hate relationship with yet another Shonen Jump fandom.

...What was I talking about?  Oh, right, Japan!


First night in Japan - Gundam Cafe. Because Gundam Cafe.


The interior was very cool, they did a good job with the theme! Except for the uniforms, those were comparatively half-hearted. And the food was... not great. It was still perfectly tasty and edible, but definitely microwaved. Perfectly microwaved, yes... but still microwaved.  Well, that's the price you pay at themed cafes.


I'm staying in Chiyoda-ku, very close to Akihabara. Akihabara continues to be awesome. It's just so cool to walk down a street and have all the giant ads be relevant to your interests. Kind of like Google ads irl.


Everything's already blurring into one big lump of time, but went to check out the Imperial Palace Gardens. I'd never been before so this was something new and exciting and honestly, who doesn't love an honest-to-goodness moat.


This most regal swan was patrolling the moat, just swanning about. I'm pretty sure it could transform into a magical girl if an army tried to invade.


Was lucky enough to arrive in Japan in time to catch the last of the Autumn colours! Autumn continues to fascinate me, considering the 'seasons' in Queensland range from 'pleasantly cool' to 'unbearably hot' and I'm not even sure if we have properly deciduous trees at all.


Oh hey, suddenly we have teleported to Ueno Park.


There was an Evangelion and Japanese Swords exhibit on in one of Ueno's many many museums.


There was a video detailing the process of creating a sword, and it's incredibly hardcore. Any interest I might have once had in blacksmithing is safely iced.


...This was the precise moment when we realised that Evangelion and Japanese swords were not, in fact, two separate exhibits as the tickets suggested.


It was hilarious. Also kind of awesome, admittedly. I mean, the whole thing was so fanservicy. Although I continue to ignore the existence of the latest movies. I mean, seriously, what the hell? Touji is the 4th child! I refuse to accept any other outcome. That was such a brutal, pivotal twist in the original series... sacrificed for yet more over-the-top fanservice. Shinji is not allowed friends, only romantic interests apparently.

Derailing again... /rant.


The second exhibit turned out to actually be just a kaiyodo figurine exhibit with a bunch of very well made dioramas depicting various scenes from Evangelion. Made me want to watch the original series again.


One of my favourite things about Japan is vending machines. THIS VENDING MACHINE SOLD HAAGEN-DAZS. HAAGEN-DAZS ICE-CREAM SANDWICHES.

I did not even care that it was like 5 degrees. Was all over that.


The lake at Ueno Park gets a hell of a lot creepier in Winter! I kept thinking 'photoshoot'. Cosplay has ruined me. I don't even photoshoot my costumes!


Pagoda at Ueno Park. Who doesn't like Pagodas? They are just so cool looking. Like a building sandwich.


It's been supremely difficult to rein in my spending in Japan when constantly faced with amazing merch like this. Noooo, I swore off buying figurines! They just wind up collecting dust! But damn is the temptation strong sometimes.


KFC has quite the stranglehold on Christmas marketing.


Caught up with an old work colleague for yakitori in Ebisu! Because I occasionally remember to be a proper food tourist. The food in Japan is just always so amazing that you could so easily take it for granted after a while. Even the rubbish from the convenience store is pretty damn tasty.


On the way to Tokyo Disney Sea.


Tokyo Disney Sea is pretty awesome. I've been to other Disneys, and they are reliably a good time, this one was neat though because it was different and featured a lot of unfamiliar rides and areas.


As well as old classics like Indiana Jones! Fire and water, together at last!


And Agrabah!


And My Little Mermaid! The level of intricacy in the architecture is just amazing.


But nothing compared to when you wander inside, 'Under the sea!'! The photos don't do it justice.


Tokyo Disney is also open until 10pm, so everything lights up! Well, it would need to anyway since it's Winter and the sun sets at like 4:30 in the afternoon, it seriously screws with my sense of time.


The place is all decked out for Christmas, too. Japan is serious about Christmas lights. And mellow Christmas jazz.  Mellow Christmas jazz everywhere.


When I saw this all I could suddenly remember was 'Hentai Woody'. Internet, why you gotta ruin everything?


This needs no introduction.


Okay yes it does. GHIBLI MUSEUM! Finally, after my many trips to Japan.


You can't actually take photos inside the Ghibli museum, which is heart-breaking but probably a good thing because it would take forever to check out the exhibits otherwise. So you have to settle for the usual Laputa statue photos from the rooftop garden.


It's pretty awesome, after all.

Best thing about the Ghibli museum was the exclusive short film, of course. They apparently have three of them on rotation - the one I saw was a heart-warming tale chronicling the forbidden love of a water spider and a pondskater. *__* I want to watch it again.... Curse you Ghibli!


Obligatory cat cafe photo. From Cat cafe Calico in Shinjuku.

I like cats, and I like cafes, but I think I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like cat cafes. The cats there don't actually want to be petted. That's not really how cats work. I already knew this, but went this time because a friend I was with wanted to try one. And hey, they do have some really cool looking cats with a lot of personality so it's still pretty fun as a spectator sport.


Parfait at the best parfait place everrrr - Milky Way in Ikebukuro. Every parfait is like a journey of discovery. Also they seem to have changed their menu, as there are now apparently 13 star signs? At least, last I checked I was Sagittarius... well my birth dates still have the best parfait so no complaints.


And this photo might not look like much but it's the best damn udon I've ever had, and it's right next door to where I'm staying. Seriously, so good and so, so cheap. Makes Mappen seem awful.


Takoyaki at Odaiba!


Obligatory Rainbow Bridge photo.


In Odaiba accidentally wandered into this suuuuper ritzy mall. Luckily I was wearing my good winter jacket so could just barely pass as 'rich foreigner tourist' instead of my usual 'nerd hobo lady' look. But the light show inside was kind of amazing.  Japan. Everything lights up and plays music.


The Daikanransha in Odaiba!  Looking kind of Chernobyl-esque in winter... have already ridden this one so skipped it. It has great light shows at night though.


Obligatory giant Gundam photo! Glad they just moved it to a more permanent location, it was too cool to get rid of. Still draws a crowd even now!


MY HOME. Gotta love crepes~


At the shrine in Harajuku, had the amazing timing to catch a wedding procession!


Epic cake in HARBS, Shibuya Hikarie. Those were real slices of fresh strawberry in the cream layers. The cake was huge, barely finished it. Proof once more that when there's a line, it's a good place to eat.


More Christmas lights! In Shinbashi.


Ginza at night~ Was here for the Sony showcase, but the showcase wound up being a bit of a letdown. The audio technology they were showcasing was kind of ten years out of date? Maybe because I roll in the pro circles, but even then not exactly impressive by home theatre standards...


Pagoda at Sensoji Temple.


Always very impressive.


This time, friend I was with cajoled me into getting our fortunes! You donate 100 yen, then shake a container of sticks with a small hole down the bottom until a stick falls out. Then you find the number on that stick and open the corresponding drawer filled with fortunes and take one.

I got 'Best Fortune'! There were translations to Chinese and English on the back, the English translation read 'Everything will be realized as if you look the flowers from a palace facing the south. Treasures in vehicles will come to your house. You will become virtuous with learning and will be invited to the palace as well as your desire will be realized. While you are riding on horse back, in high spirits, everybody will praise you.'

I need to get riding on some horse back, clearly.


The glorious road of kitschy touristy knick-knacks leading up to Sensoji temple. Asakusa is totally the tourist trap of Tokyo.


Panda cakes from Ueno station. BECAUSE THEY ARE SO ADORABLE and actually did seriously taste good, I was almost surprised, presentation and taste are so rarely related in quality cake.

I am just... eating too much cake in Japan, really. It's a good thing I'm walking a solid 10km every day otherwise I'd be getting so fat.


Mysterious LOVE MAX X MAS! box in Shibuya. I have theories that on Christmas it will open and the invasion will begin.


Met up with dokuganria to visit Squeenix's cafe Artnia! After being LJ buds for so many years - wow, way back in Prince of Tennis days, it feels a lifetime ago now - finally got to meet up in person! It was a blast. There's always a concern when meeting up with people you've only really spoken with online that they'll be hard to talk to in person but as of yet every single person I've met has been so easy to talk to and just plain awesome.


Moogle pancakes! I wanted to get the Buster sword parfait but it was cold and I craved something slightly more savoury. It was quite tasty, too!


ShinRa logo~


Plus the amazing materia display in the merch room. Somehow (only barely) left without buying merch. Have to spend my money carefully! And there's always that looming spectre of suitcase space...

It was freakishly cool, and very beautiful, but a part of me misses the frozen Sephiroth in the floor from the old showcase. (Why can't we have both?!)


Went to go see Persona 3 at the movie theatre! It didn't even matter that I didn't understand anything because I'd already played the game. Only went up to the third full moon though... and they messed around with Fuuka's rescue a bit to provide a proper 'conclusion' to the movie. Not sure how I feel about it, it was okay I suppose. Nice to see the P3 gang again... But also came across this cool Ghost in the Shell display! Definitely will be skipping this one, partially because the previous Arise movie left me somewhat unimpressed with how they're screwing with Makoto's backstory from 2nd Gig and Solid State Society, and also because I would have even less hope of understanding what's going on than usual. GITS is hard enough to follow even translated.

Looove the trailers though.  There was one odd one called 'Gothic Lolita Battle Bear' which was just hilarious. Also one for 'Majocca something something Yoyo to Nene' which looks great and I am totally going to go see even if I am sure it will make zero sense with my toddler-level Japanese. Whatever, it will be pretty. Anime on the big screen!


Hey look, it's the Pokemon Centre! I came here to pick up souvenirs for my nieces who were (and hopefully still are, given the fickleness of children) somewhat obsessed with Pokemon, but I really have no idea which Pokemon are cool anymore. Gosh, even as a strictly Gen 1 Pokemon fan though I wanted to buy heaps of stuff! The merchandising was amaaaazing. Cannot imagine what a kid or hardcore Pokemon fan would do in here, their brains would explode.

Pokemon Centre was also great for streetpasses! I say this like all of Tokyo is not great for streetpasses, all you have to do is hit up the train station or wander through Akihabara for a while and BOOM, maxed. I have been streetpassing a lot, I might actually start getting sick of it soon! That would probably be a good thing as I have other 3DS games I also want to play. Animal Crossing, too, man, get spotpasses for that constantly.


Because one drink vending machine is not enough.


Tokyo crowds were getting to me, so hit up Kasai Rinkai park. It borders onto Tokyo Bay and is lovely and tranquil and I actually went entire minutes without seeing another person.


You can even see Mt Fuji from there! Some 100km away, mind...


And it had a bunch of lovely little gardens scattered all over.


My goal, however, was the Diamond and Flower Ferris Wheel. Japan's tallest at 117m. I've actually wanted to ride this Ferris Wheel for a long time - I saw it from the train on the way to Tokyo Disney some eleven years ago on a three-day stopover in Japan with my family. Finally, mission accomplished.

Will spare you my dozens of photos of it - mostly of the Ferris Wheel itself. The view of the Bay was quite lovely but didn't really come out great in pictures.


It might not be the tallest Ferris Wheel I've ever been on, but it is the most beautiful.


Reflection in the pond~  I hung around until it got too cold.


Then it was out to Lake Kawaguchiko to admire Mt Fuji properly! Since the walking trail up Mt Fuji itself is closed in winter, for obvious reasons. But my story of Kawaguchiko is basically 'Sin trying to get a clear picture of a shy mountain which just won't come out from behind the clouds, even though the rest of the whole damn sky is perfectly clear!'


Luckily, the nice thing about having such a laid back itinerary and fat chunk of time in the area is that I didn't really have anywhere else to be, so decided to go for a wander through sleepy Kawaguchiko.


And then for a wander down to the lake itself. Very quiet in the off season.


Tracked down some lunch for a hobo picnic here.


And tried some Fanta Fruit Punch flavour! All the crazy Fanta flavours in one! Not kidding, it basically tastes like every kind of Fanta ever mixed together. I fully suspect that is what it is.


Abandoned swan boats on the lake shore.


Seriously, the weather was beautifully clear (and windy and freezing) but Mt Fuji was actually generating its own clouds.


Walking the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko is amazing, though. The scenery is just... wow. Every direction you look. Would be incredible in spring or summer.


One of the bridges over the many estuaries.


Eventually though, as the sun began to drop and the wind grew even more fierce, the cold got waaay to much for this poor fragile little Australian and I retreated to the first sign of shelter - a lakeside cafe.


It was actually super western styled, you know, in that sort of 'English high tea fantasy' sort of way.


Also suuuper overpriced - not by Australian standards but definitely by Japanese standards, where all the food is ridiculous cheap, seriously the most expensive meal I've bought here was 2000 yen and included sake, a cocktail, and dessert. But it was tasty and warm inside so I didn't even care.

At this point the sun had started to set and I was a good seven kilometres around the (very large) lake's shores away from the station, so I started to head home, scarf wrapped around my face so my cheeks didn't freeze off.


But wait, what's this?


Yes! The weather cleared! And I actually managed to get a decent several dozen photo of Mt Fuji. :)  Success!

Then for the three hour train ride back to Tokyo, where everybody in the train fell asleep because that's what you do in Japan.

That's all I have time for today. Will write about the Capcom Bar and some of my 'oh my god I am so lost GOOGLE MAPS LIED TO ME' adventures next time. Also hoping to hit up Yokohama for the Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel tomorrow, woo!

Hope everyone is doing well! Nearly Christmas, right?  I've been doing a little bit on giftfics here and there when I drag my cold and tired self home in the evening but not looking like I'll get any out until the New Year at this rate.  Urgh, what else is new.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2013 04:35 pm (UTC)

POKEMOOOOOONNNNNNNN, so jealous you got to go. My life goal is to visit all the Pokemon Centers in Japan before I die. I'd also have to make sure to have plenty of money on me because I know I'll be buying shittons of Espeon, Suicune, and Fennekin stuff, ahaha. xD

Also jealous of the Ghibli museum and SE cafe visits. It's like you took a peek at my geeky Japan bucket list. x3

Looks like you're having a ton of fun while in Japan! Can't wait to see more already. C:
Dec. 20th, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
All the parfaits are pretty special! We went back and tried a couple but I can't remember which was which anymore.

That is a fine life goal indeed. Do the Centers vary much? LOL I think your head would have exploded, you'll need a LOT of money, seriously, there's so so much merch, and since it's Nintendo most of it's quality. (A little on the pricey side though!)
Dec. 20th, 2013 06:41 pm (UTC)
heh, understandable, though I'd imagine you'd have other things on your mind as well. x3

I don't doubt it! I'm going to have a slight deer in headlights variation on my face I'm sure. x3 And they don't vary much, but there are exclusive merchandise to a lot of the various Pokemon Centers. I'm already very familiar with the high prices, though. I imported a life sized Fennekin plush for $115 USD (with shipping) and considering I also love Suicune and Espeon, I know how much it can hurt the pocketbook. xD even moreso being someone who likes popular pokemon sob
Dec. 19th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
Sephiroth is no longer in the floor? WHEN THE HELL DID THAT HAPPEN? *CRIES* Put him back dammit :(

Shinra pancakes YES!

Edited at 2013-12-19 10:50 pm (UTC)
Dec. 20th, 2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
Artnia's in its own little standalone building! It's an egg on the street in front of the office building. I don't think the original store is there anymore? No idea when that happened, sometime in the last five years I guess. :(
Dec. 19th, 2013 11:00 pm (UTC)
Glad to see you're having fun! Enjoy your time abroad, and be safe :)!
Dec. 20th, 2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
Dec. 20th, 2013 08:26 am (UTC)
IKR Kaitou is absolutely awesome! When I was watching detective conan, I did it via a list of "plot relevant episodes" and "minor/supporting characters Qem likes' and Kaitou was number one on that list. XD It's well worth checking out his own anime series too.
Dec. 20th, 2013 03:23 pm (UTC)
*flails at you* I'M GLAD IT'S NOT ALL IN MY HEAD, KAITOU'S THE BEST, RIGHT? *coughs* I would be interested in that list of 'plot relevant episodes' if you still have it. I've seen a few eps of Kaitou's series on TV here, will definitely be tracking down the whole thing once I'm back somewhere where downloading is more feasible.
Dec. 21st, 2013 09:31 am (UTC)
I present to you my freezer as proof it's not all in your head. XD

http://www.detectiveconanworld.com/wiki/Kaitou_Kid_Appearances this is probably the best place to keep track of Kaitou's episodes

http://xerbladex.blogspot.com.au/p/detective-conan-important-episode-list.html this seems to be one that gets updated somewhat regularly - it includes the Heiji episodes and character development ones.

I think this is the site I was working off previously which is less detailed in the reasons for those episodes (in case you want something less spoilerful): http://members.shaw.ca/makimura/DCN/EPS/DCNCRITEP.html

(I've read all of the manga, but am somewhat limited with what's I've seen of the anime.)
Dec. 21st, 2013 09:57 am (UTC)
*__* Oh man, your fridge is just too cool. (pun intended).

:O I knew there were a lot of Detective Conan episodes but I never realised there were that many, that's Naruto and One Piece territory there. Thanks for the links!
Dec. 21st, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
XD Well the fact that we thought it would be cool is one of the reasons why we did it. XD

Also yeaaaaaaaaaaah, pretty much. Detective Conan is the longest running anime on air (it started before Naruto and One Piece, although some seasons it gets less episodes). There are reasons why people tend to be proactive with suggesting episodes to skip. Detective Conan's also one of those series where the "plot" is the filler - I actually think that's the reason why it became the more popular one, it's easier to keep going over a very long period of time with all the random cases.
Dec. 22nd, 2013 04:13 am (UTC)
Makes sense! Even if you don't have all the backstory, it's very easy to pick up at any point, and there's less worry about progression overall when it's basically a series of standalones. But damn is it formulaic! No way to watch all of it.
Dec. 20th, 2013 10:05 pm (UTC)
ahahaha XD sounds like you had a lot of fun and now we will skip past me gushing over your food/otaku/scenary photos to something actually sort of relevant!

The fortune thing. that's a traditional fortune poem for upcoming raise in social status and wealth, typically for when a chinese scholar takes his imperial exams and gets nominated by the emperor into the top 10 and goes home all bequeathed with wealth or sth.

this is usually within a year, so basically in a year, look forward to a raise in your job and your $ like a lottery or sth! XD *thumbs up*
Dec. 21st, 2013 09:58 am (UTC)
Thanks for the extra context! LOL considering I'm basically unemployed at the moment just about anything would be a raise, heh. \o/
Dec. 21st, 2013 02:35 am (UTC)
I'm ridiculously glad you're into DC now. I was massively addicted until the lack of fandom drove me to FF7 (where you became my favorite author :P).

But yeah, KaiShin obsession all the way there. I can pretty much watch black org/plot eps and Kaitou KID eps now but don't have the patience for the day to day ones.

BTW, did you know there's a Gosho Aoyama manga factory (GAMF) in his hometown? Went there on a trip and it was fun if you're going to be in Japan for much longer. Also, they usually have regional cell phone charm mascots and the detective conan ones are a pain to find but adorable! My one trip to Japan was a DC fest. I mainly went when I did because the 14th movie was coming out and it was a Kaitou KID one. Soooo great. :)
Dec. 21st, 2013 10:04 am (UTC)
*coughs* I may also be kinda sorta shippping that, although there's a tragic lack of fanfics that aren't just... horribly OOC or 'add water instant romance!'. Granted I've only had the time to skim the surface of the fandom, do you have any recs?

I was not aware! Awesome. Looks to be pretty far out of the way though, but maybe I'll see if I can swing out there while I'm in Kansai.
Dec. 21st, 2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
I admit most of my reason for going to the GAMF was for the gift shop.


As for fic, I was a bit fan of the Koori, Sama, Sera trio.


There's a lot of unfinished fic between them since they've moved to other fandoms since 2010 and tended to co-author/beta for each other. Most of the fanfics are good though.

Seduction of KID/Kudou is one of their fics that was drabble format, cute, and finished. Great starter fanfic. Mayonaka was my fave but it's unfinished. :(

Most of my other fic recs are in my favorites:
Dec. 21st, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
Also, I did scan the handouts I got at the GAMF to my LJ.


And the movie 14 KID merchandise splurge.


Oh, and there's also a bunch of KaiShin doujin on my LJ. Links are probably expired since I got lazy after I left the fandom and the laptop they're on died. Had most scans (but not scanlations )on an external but been too lazy to dig it out and add them back. If any look interesting, I might try to dig them out if the links don't work though.
Dec. 22nd, 2013 04:21 am (UTC)
Awesome, thanks for the links! Also, ;A; all that Kaitou Kid merch! Jealous~ I've found the odd bit here and there but there's not much at all! It's all Conan VS Lupin at the moment. Cheating on Kid with another phantom thief! D:.

Yeah, the doujin links are expired, but that's okay, that's the peril of coming to a fandom long after its heyday! (Always, always doing this). Thanks anyway~ Friended you because I apparently hadn't already.
Dec. 22nd, 2013 12:16 am (UTC)
Ahh, so much nostalgia! I was in Japan for 2 weeks back in 2007, and this post definitely makes me want to go back soon! *flails*

Glad you're still alive and well. :P Merry Christmas and happy New Year!
Dec. 22nd, 2013 04:22 am (UTC)
Six years! I don't know how you managed to stay away that long. XD

Thanks, same to you!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )