Finally getting going on posts about my trip to Japan a few months ago! I'm going to try to post about it every few days, but only time will tell how successful I am with that.
Warnings: 43 photos, lots of shrine and swag photos, rambling, and more rambling! Seriously. Rambling.
Nur took the best-looking pictures.
Woke up at 3am. My mom kindly picked us up and dropped us off at the BART station so we could catch the first train. Nur wanted to take more pictures of the two of us together this time, so he decided to start early, when we were waiting for the train. And then didn't smile. He really does not look pleased.
Well, took BART all the way to the San Francisco Airport and caught the computer-run tram to get to the proper terminal. Since it's run by computers, there's no driver and I got to be in the front, DRIVING IT WITH MY MIND. We tried to check in at Alaska Airlines, since that's what our papers said, but NOOOOO, it was actually a Delta flight fulfilled by Alaska. So strange. Flight just took us to Los Angeles (LAX), where they landed in the REMOTE TERMINAL. No, I kid you not. We were on a commuter flight and the pilot's all, "welp, we're in the remote terminal, so they're gonna send buses to pick us up." And then we drove who knows how far (it was pretty damn far) to get to a "real" terminal, which meant we were dropped off on the tarmac and got to walk next to the planes to get to a door that let us inside. It smelled horrible (like gas and stuff burning!), but it was SO COOL to be so close to the outside of the planes.
We had to find our way out of the maze the terminals make to get to the international terminal and check in for the second part of our flight. As we approached the proper terminal, we saw some LA cops and Homeland security putting on bullet-proof vests and loading up their guns. They had some wicked-looking guns, semi-automatic rifles or some sort, with duct tape around the magazine. Not exactly comforting, but interesting to see. The international terminal is very large and new, and they had all sorts of food places. That was nice because we hadn't eat breakfast. We figured we'd check in, go through security, and see what other delicious food they had near the gates.
THE ANSWER IS NONE. The terminal was still under construction and very little was open. The place is seriously huge, and had only a couple food places open, and all the food was even more over-priced than I've seen before and looked disgusting. We settled on some only slightly over-priced bagels and then just sat forever and waited. When we finally got on the plane and got going, we were really blown away. This part of the flight was from Korea Air and it was very. Great service, probably one of the best flights I've been on. It was the cheapest flight too. I don't know why the cheapest flight took us to LAX first, but whatever.
I ended up feeling really sick for the second half of the flight. I had a headache and my stomach was rebelling, but it still wasn't a bad flight. I finally watched The Avengers, played some Pokémon White and Solatorobo, and learned a lot about Korean history and national treasures. There were two cameras on the outside of the plane you could access too; one on the nose, one on the belly. Those were fun, especially when we were landing in Narita.
Had fun filling out the customs card, putting "Manga Letterer" as my job title. But then when I actually gave my customs card to the official he kept questioning me about it. I must have had to repeat myself three times to him. And I had to pee REALLY badly. We got money from an ATM and bought Skyliner tickets to Ueno, and happily made our way into Tokyo. Checked into the hotel we always stay in, got dinner at our favorite little noodle shop, and checked the nearby arcades to see what they had. It was lovely and so familiar, it felt great. Came back to the hotel and Nur passed out. I watched a Yokohama Bay Stars vs Yomiuri Giants baseball game and read fanfic until about 8pm, but then was so close to passing out myself, I called it a night.
Woke up the next day at the crack of dawn and eagerly waited for Andersen Bakery to open up in Ueno Station. But when we left the hotel, we saw these posters:
I WANT THAT MEGUMI NO DAIGO POSTER SO BADLY. I really should have taken it, it was gone a couple weeks later. =T NNNGH, WANT. Nur didn't understand my longing, lol.
Then we saw this awesome shop sign. TORI BANCHO!!
I got curry bread and an apple pie (half an apple baked with sugar and cinnamon in a puff pastry shell). This is Nur's breakfast. He got anpan, curry bread, and this cute panda… uh, I think that might have been a type of anpan too. Pandas were HUGE in Ueno while we were there. Maybe the Ueno Zoo got a new panda? I do not recall.
Did I say Ueno was into pandas when we were there? They were really into Egypt too. They had a King Tut exhibit at one of the Ueno museums, so there were Egyptian-themed "Yokoso Ueno!" signs everywhere and tons of places had special Egyptian-themed items.
It was still early and not much would open until 10am, so we headed to a shrine I wanted to check out. Look at that lovely torii! It's gorgeous.
Ta-daaaaah! This is Kanda Myojin! There are three major gods enshrined here: Daikokuten (god of fortune), Ebisu (god of fishermen and luck), and Taira no Masakado (a samurai with some crazy history). This is the shrine's main gate. It's pretty recent, it was rebuilt in 1995, I think? The shrine itself has a 1200+ year history, but it's been rebuilt many times because of various destructive forces.
Oh goodness, look how gorgeous this is. I took like 150 pictures at this shrine, it's so lovely.
All sorts of fortunes.
The shrine looks sorta small, I think, if you just look at the front gate, but the place is pretty huge. You can see the gate (front and center) on that map in comparison to the full size of the place.
And they had a foal? I don't know. Kinda weird.
Oh, you handsome devil, you! Let me lavish love on you! Such a pretty koma-inu. It looks mostly like a dog, but a little like a tiger too? Gods, I love it to bits. *_*
And it's sibling! I'm so in love with these two, they're so amazing.
Profile shots! You could buy fortunes and stuff in that building.
More koma-inu! I think it's a family… Dad is on top, then Mom, and Baby is at the bottom. There were so many plants growing on this, I love how green it was.
This lion/shishi would dance around a bit when people came near. For ¥200, it would do a crazy dance pull a fortune. My fortune was "small luck," but it had a picture of Daikokuten, so maybe I would have luck in wealth? I couldn't read most of it.
Behind the main shrine were smaller ones. There were two Inari shrines. TWO. This is the first one, with it's almost fuzzy kitsune.
This is the second Inari shrine! The kitsune here were highly stylized, I've never seen any quite like this pair.
This is the "back entrance" to the shrine. Protected by
HELICOPTER PICTURE FOR NO REASON.
We headed across the street to see the Buddhist temple and found a small playground. Nur is a skilled dolphin rider.
I come from the British High Tea Dolphin-Riding Society.
The Buddhist Temple, Yushima Seidou.
This is what that building through the gates looks like. I thought those things on the roof were roosters, but I think they are actually fish or fish turning into dragons. The three-layered stick-thing is on their head and the fan-shaped thing is their tails.
The temple had Baku. BAKU!!! I love how their golden eyes seem to glow. Very neat creatures.
Ema for the temple.
This is a wasp (or hornet) nest. The wasps living in it were… very large. We were probably at least 20 feet away from the nest when we took this.
I hadn't seen creatures like this in Japanese mythology before, so I was intrigued. They seem to be somewhat feline-esque, but they have wings. Does anyone know what they are supposed to be? There's the one on the roof in this picture (they probably had at least a half dozen on this one roof), and one on the pillar to the right.
We had spent a lot of time at the shrine and temple, and shops were starting to open, so we left the neighborhood and made our way to more main streets. This is next to a bridge that spanned a canal.
Ahhhh, the brick-faced shops to the left and all those bridges in the center! So nice!
And a bridge for the Metro, because it looks cool and hey look, there's a train on it!
Oh ho ho, surpriiiiiise, we were next to Akihabara the entire time! The temple and shrine are seriously just like a five minute walk away from Geek Mecca. This is the… er… south end of the geeky area? I mostly took this picture for the Persona 4 Golden ad they had up. It would have been a better ad if it had Kanji on it. =T
And then we spent the entire rest of the day buying a million things.
We were staying at the same hotel the entire trip, so we didn't have to worry about waiting to buy things until the end so we wouldn't have to carry it all over Japan. FLOOD GATES, OPEN! LET'S BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!
Why hello there, Animate! Why yes, I will buy pretty much every KID-related thing you have. And most of the Tsuritama stuff too! There were sexy KID-sama sheets too, but they were ~$100, and I had to hold back on SOME things. A lot of the Tsuritama goods just reused the same art over and over again, so I skipped a bunch of things. They had long hand towels for all four of the boys, but I only got the Yuki one. And you can't see it so well, but I HAD to get the Duck Curry mug. *_* The "long towel" in the lower right corner is an Eva towel from a lottery promotion. We found them at some resale shops for ¥100-¥300 yen each, which was crazy-cheap enough for us that I got that one and I think Nur ended up (over the course of the trip) getting the complete set of them.
Naono Bohra books, a Shanks figure, a Kotetsu figure, some Gaia Memories (Energy, Prism, Xtreme, and Trial, I think), a Tajima keychain, and a bunch of Fourze Astro Switches I was missing. Plus!!! The happiest Kuro plush ever. I cannot look at Kuro's face without smiling, he's just SO HAPPY. I really wanted a Kuro plush, I was contemplating commissioning someone to make one for me, so I was really happy to find this one. He's from a crane game, but I got him for ¥1000 at Mandarake. Woo~ The Hyouka bag was given to me for spending over ¥2000 at Toranoana. You could choose between four series, but come on, my choice was clear. Hells yeah, Hyouka.
The Akiba Toranoana has this deadly trap in their basement. Bins of used doujin for ¥105 each, or 6 for ¥500. CRUEL, CRUEL, CRUEL! I have absolutely no self-restraint. Honestly, none at all. I bought like 35 from the bin, and that's after putting a bunch back. OTL
The top six are El Shaddai doujin, pretty much all absolute wonderful crack. The next two are Itsuki/Kyon (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), then a Kakashi/Iruka (Naruto) one, a Lamento one, some Ichigo selfcest (Bleach), and two Magi ones.
From the top, four Oofuri doujin, a Raidou one, and three cracky P4 ones. You would think that "Magic Sauce" would be very dirty, but it's very cute and fun. The Kanji x Naoto doujin are the only ones on this picture not from the ¥105 bin, and the only het ones I think I got that day? I'm all for Main Character/Yu/Seiji/Ren x Kanji, but I cannot deny the awesome that is Kanji x Naoto. =3
Mind blown when I found a section for Twelve Kingdoms doujin at Mandarake. I actually still haven't read any of them, but I got all the ones with Rakushun on them, because he is the bestest. The rest are Blue Exorcist doujin, a mix of cheap bin and new stuff from Mandarake. I don't really have a favorite pairing for Blue Exorcist, but like 90% of the doujin I got for the series are twincest, so… yeah. =\
Weird break from doujin time! With smiley Kuro to make you smile! And the cool pin sets I got. They were from the Blue Exorcist lotto that was going on while we were there. I snatched the pins up at a used store for ¥200 for all of them. But I have no idea what I'll use them on. =T
¥105 Tiger & Bunny doujin! Tiger selfcest, and some double Bunny-on-Tiger action, but the rest are either just adorable or silly. Tiger and Bunny dress as maids in two separate doujin. Delicious.
I've never had the luck of being in Japan so close to when a series I adored aired, so I was absolutely spoiled by the incredible amount of Tsuritama stuff. Tsuritama doujin were constantly being released while we were there, and I bought… a ton. Mostly Natsuki x Yuki, but if the cover looked good, I picked it up too. I got an awful lot of Akira x Natsuki that way.
And! The last picture of this post! Kamen Rider W doujin! I was really excited to see some books by artists whose work I had seen on Pixiv or /cm/. Most of these are adorable, even if there are sex scenes, they are very sweet books. Except for one that is creepy hardcore rape. The art is great, but it's definitely not for me. I can't remember if it's Philip x Shotaro or Shotaro x Philip (I think the later), but if someone wants it, they can have it. Just let me know. I can't bring myself to throw it away, because it's really pretty, but it's not my thing.
Wow that was long and mostly just pictures of doujin. I really bought a ton of crap on this first day, so most other days will actually be DOING things and not just pictures of bought things.