Ah, morning in Ueno! Today (03/20/10), our goal was to locate a Comiket Special catalogue. Comiket regular is free to attend, but it's recommended you buy the ENORMOUS catalogue to plan out your trip and see what circles are there. For Comiket Special, you're required to buy the (much smaller) catalogue. So we needed to find one.
The day started out with breakfast at Andersen Bakery. They have lots of crazy breads, that morning I got the "cheese and bacon" bread and the "apple pie" along with a fruits and vegetables drink. The drink seemed to upset my stomach, so we hung out behind Ueno Station for a while to let it settle down. Although we had spent a lot of time in Ueno on our last trip, I don't think we ever hung out around this area. This is riiiiight next to Ueno Park, those trees on the right are on the park grounds.
I hear this area has is a popular gathering spot, but this was early on a Thursday or Friday or something, so there weren't many people there.
Nur surveys the area in his ugly pants. I just really don't like those pants.
Neat picture Nur took of a tree just inside Ueno Park. Hmmm, I guess I forgot to resize it, so it's linked. This page has too many pictures already! (I think the picture is really neat though, I recommend checking it out!)
Since it was still quite early, we wandered the park, eventually seeing these signs. I don't know where the cat sign leads to, but the one behind it was for a neat exhibit at the International Library of Children's Literature. The exhibit was about books from Japan in other countries... showing the different cover art, the translations, etc. The example on the poster is Kiki's Delivery Service.
This is Prince something-or-other. Wait, checking a map. Ah, Prince Komatsu. Thanks, Google.
On one of the far edges of the park, we found a neat gate with a tiny tiny door in it.
Another neat entrance!
After nearly getting lost, we were able to make it to the International Library of Children's Literature. We hung out for a bit in the front because we got there before it opened. Our chosen resting ground was neat, you could feel the subway trains going by underneath!
The Library was very neat. Big, stately, beautiful building. The book adaptation exhibit was REALLY neat. It was very strange to see some books I remember as a child. Like, "Whoa, I just never thought that was originally a Japanese book!" Strangely, we didn't see any other books in the library, not that we looked too hard.
A statue garden's gate had opened when we were making our way back to the station, so we got to see some copies of Rodin's most famous pieces... the Thinker, Gates of Hell... this is a shot of the Burghers of Calais. My mom once told me she really loved this piece because of the fantastic emotion in it, so I took a lot of pictures of it for her when I saw it in Japan (even though she's seen copies of it many times). When I showed her the pictures, she just went "the Burghers? *sigh* They're everywhere." Nyoro~n. At least they're good studies for me!
Stores were starting to open in Akihabara, so we headed over there.
Are these very cool? YES. YES THEY ARE. Kamen
We saw a Uniqlo that was cleverly hidden in a building. After we finally figured out how to get there, we realized it wasn't open yet. So we wasted time checking out every arcade in the area. We weren't there for shopping... not yet. We made the mistake of shopping too much at the beginning of our last trip and having to drag our purchases all over with us, so we decided to try to hold off most purchases until the end of the trip.
Nur found some sort of Apple service area place.
We hoped Mandarake would have some Comike Special catalogues, but it didn't open for another half hour. I decided to wait and write in my journal. Nur decided to explore.
Nur wants me to add that he saw a dude get dragged out of a restaurant by his collar (the stereotypical grip of the shirt!) and then the dude that did the dragging threatened him for a while. They eventually parted ways. Alas, there was no epic street brawl!
NOT A HAPPY GAIJIN. It was REALLY windy. Wind would whip around the buildings like a drunken man. It was insane and annoying.
Nur seemed to have fun looking at the crazy computer and console parts at the stores in the smaller Akiba streets.
And he found... THIS. We didn't buy one, and we both regret it.
There were no catalogues in the Mandarake or the Toranoana in Akiba, so we decided to try our luck at the Shinjuku Toranoana. The trouble was... we weren't exactly sure where the Toranoana was.
Unit-01 invites you to play pachinko. OR HE'LL GO BERSERK ON YOU. AHHH!!! IT'S TOO LATE! RUN FOR YOUR LIAAGGGRK—
Ahahahaha, it's AMERICAN Blvd. with "American Casual Stores." They had a Uniqlo in the building. Yesssss! The "American" stores were weird... a couple clothing stores, I think there were a couple food places, and this one place that looked like a mix between a military surplus store and a 99 cent store.
It was late and we were starving, so we found a convenience store. Nur found this gem, a chocolate progressive knife. He hasn't eaten it yet, so I dunno if it's any good.
So maybe I had been watching Eden of the East and had just gotten to a certain scene that takes place in Kabukicho. So I had to pose for a picture. The part in the anime takes place just to the left of where I am, but they had some strange food thing set up there, so I made do in the middle of the plaza. Cole (my iPod touch) had to pretend to be my super awesome Seleção phone.
The Toranoana was not in Kabukicho, so we headed over to the next section of Shinjuku. It's cleaner and more upscale. It's neat to see the change, which seems to happen right at this street. My picture doesn't show it very well though.
Hahaha, it says "MYLORD." But I guess it's pronounced "Mi'lord." I don't know if I like that better or not. It sounds more... upscale or something.
AHHH DOCOMO I LIKE YOUR ADVERTISING. Tetsujin 28 &hearts:♥
This building reminds me of a puzzle...
See? This part of Shinjuku is a lot more upscale. That basket weave building in the background is really neat.
The last day of the last trip I saw this neat building with a clock on it. I wanted to know more about it... and I just happened to find it this time! How neat! And of course I've forgotten the name of the building.
Biiig buildings! And a Krispy Kreme! Lots of people were lined up for donuts.
Hey look, it's Shinjuku station, the busiest train station in the worl— OH GOD WHAT IS THAT? NNGGGHHRRRYYYGHHHH
I'm just good at getting in the way of Nur's shots. But yeah, Shinjuku station has something like 2 million people going through it a day. It's REALLY crazy there. My feet were absolutely KILLING me, so we rested a bit.
We retraced our steps a bit and found ourselves looking at an 8-story Kinokuniya. Glorious. *_* But first we headed to Tokyu Hands, a really neat store. It feels like anything you want you could get there. Each floor had different types of products... floor 1 was bags and purses, another floor was for stationary and writing materials... etc, etc. It was cool.
On one of the top floors, you could take the sky bridge to Kinokuniya. You can see it in the previous picture.
I got tired again, so I watched trains for a while. Trains are great. I don't know why I sat right in front of a pole though. I guess my feet AND my brain were tired.
Kinokuniya had a floor for foreign language stuff. Hey look! Dino King is one of the books I worked on! Crown of Love is one of my titles too! There's something amazing about seeing the English adaption of a Japanese book you worked on IN JAPAN. Total ego trip.
We actually never found that Toranoana we were looking for. =\
We had some super super extremely tried feet, so we headed back to sweet, sweet Ueno. I needed to get cash from the ATM, so we headed to the post office. Nur found out that people aren't so good at following signs.
HEY LOOK ANIME IN JAPAN WHAT A CONCEPT. We actually had some fun watching this. It's Element Hunters, as we discovered later. The ending song is catchy!
Nur brought a GPS logger with us, so we can see where we went each day. This is our path on the 20th.
View Larger Map
We woke up on the 21st to cloudy skies and a wet ground. We happened to get in the station riiiight before the skies opened up and started pouring. Today was Comiket Special day!
Comiket Special was out in Mito, about 2 hours away by train. We narrowly missed the first train, but the next one was not too far behind.
The rapid train we thought would take us all the way there actually stopped in a place called Toride, so we had to wait there for a while before hoping on a local train. D'awww bunnies at Toride~
We saw some crazy garden/amusement park on the local train. I should have paid more attention, but I was watching Burn Notice. Ahhh, beloved Burn Notice~<3
We finally made it to Mito! We had to get in line to buy a catalogue (thank goodness they sold them there!). It's strange, I don't mind being one of the few non-Japanese people around most of the time, but it felt sort of awkward in Mito. Like I was really the only white girl in the entire city... it felt a little lonely, I guess? It was a strange feeling. It's not like people were being mean to me or anything though! Surprisingly (maybe?), I think I saw the least amount of foreigners here in comparison to the rest of the trip. We did see one other Westerner when we were inside the building they were using for Comiket, a tall lanky guy, but that's all.
After buying our catalogue, we got into another line and they marched us halfway across town,
They were advertising a sentai show. I want that outfit. *_* OH! But Nur says he thinks this guy was a local hero... like, he represented the area. "MITOMAN!" Well, something like that.
This Mito landmark finally came into view and it meant we were finally there...
...the next part of the line. We stayed here for over an hour, maybe closer to two hours. Thank goodness for Cole! I watched more Burn Notice and some Eden of the East. We got to see a few neat cosplayers, including an excellent Ingram (from Patlabor)!
The line eventually moved forward slowly and just as we were going in the sentai show they were advertising earlier started! NOOOOO!
You had to hold up your catalogue as you went in.
So Comiket? TOTALLY AWESOME.
Comiket Special? NOT AWESOME. SORTA DEPRESSING. The selection was TINY compared to regular Comiket and many things were already sold out. It took place in an empty department store. It was strange to see all sorts of empty displays on the sides.
He's watching us! SHERLOCK!!!!!
I think this is my favorite picture from Japan. It's Nur's, btw. (Most of the previous Mito ones are his too) Something about Sherlock staring at Nur in the center of all these moving people... amazing.
Nur bought one or two books, I bought four. And three of those were from one person because they were a series. One of the books I bought was a Brigadoon one. I was really excited when I saw it, because holy crap, Brigadoon? Kinda no fandom. At least in the states. I sorta doubt it has one in Japan either though, because the artist seemed all excited when I got excited about it. It was cute. =3
This just... depresses me, guys.
You can relive our experience with 99.9% less waiting in line! Video taken by Nur.
We marched back to the station, but not before hitting up the (extremely crowded) Animate to help sooth my doujin woes. I was ready to toss down a couple hundred dollars buying new doujin! Alas! At least my wallet enjoyed the break. I saw this poster at the Animate, MOCKING ME. CONAN MOVIE. WITH KID. COMING OUT SHORTLY AFTER WE LEFT. I swear, they USUALLY come out during the time frame we were there. I was SO EXCITED TO SEE IT IN THEATERS. BUT NO. Oh the things I would have done for this poster though... dear gods...
Our late lunch included this amazing candy bar. Crunky became a good friend of mine and I had a blast trying different flavors during our trip. It's like a Crunch Bar that actually tastes pretty good.
Although our time in Comiket Special was short, the train ride and the long wait in lines really wore me out. It looks like I wasn't the only one.
After a break in the hotel, we headed to the mysterious festival that signs kept telling was going on in Ueno Park. Since we hadn't seen anything during the day, we thought maybe this "Nazo no Matsuri" was at night.*
*My Japanese vocabulary is very limited, but I really liked calling it that. And it made me feel smart. Please don't think too poorly of me for my rudimentary Japanese fun!
Oooh, pretty lit exhibit promoting Ueno Zoo!
We went up some steps to a section of the park we had never been to before and found a neat tree with changing lights. It make it look like the tree was dripping blue light. There was also a very 1880s Western-style building there, and a statue of this guy named Saigo. I guess the statue is famous?
Nur has a lot more patience and a hell of a lot more skill than me, so all the night in the park shots are his.
Hobo hut! (This one had cool covers of baseball players from comic magazines on the side)
Pretending to be something other than a menace to society by fixing fallen signs! I felt totally suspicious doing this too... I had to wrestle it a little bit and I was really worried people might think I was trying to steal it. Attempt to help = petty thief.
Oh look, this is where the post started! Except at night a day and a half later! I think it looks so cool at night. =3
And that meeting area!
And the raised walkways in front of Ueno station!
I think every night we were in Tokyo we ate here. Yes, we should have branched out, but we really liked this place. It's our noodle shop. Nur found it last trip and it's near our hotel and GOOD. I especially like the curry rice and curry udon. Except after discovering how AMAZING curry udon is here, they took it off the menu. We came back from our Southern Japan adventures two weeks later to find it GONE. *le sob!* But it's easy to make, so it's all good. I can make it here!
Annnnd a short ways away, across the street it the convenience store we always bought ice cream from for after dinner! Mmm!
The goods from these two days! Three new Uniqlo shirts: Saint Seiya, Mazinger, and Galaxy Express 999, Chu-wa♥, the Brigadoon doujin, three Kurohitsuji (black sheep) doujin, three Nitro+CHiRAL figures (one Togainu no Chi, two Lamento... just need one more Lamento to have every single one of those Lamento figures!), a Basara figure, the Comiket Special catalogue, the first volume of the amazing Robo and Usakichi (a goal was to buy as many copies of the series as possible for devious things), and the first two volumes of MidNight.
I bought MidNight because coppeliad had suggested it as a cool Tezuka series to license in her blog.
The path we took on 3/21/10:
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NEXT TIME: WHO NEEDS COMIKET SPECIAL DAY TWO WHEN WE HAVE ROBOT PLAYGROUNDS?