Tokyo Revisited Day 17

Oh Japan

My final full day of 2014 in Tokyo began with a walk down the street to the bank to exchange a final hundred dollars. Along the way I snapped daytime photos of two of the restaurants that I’d eaten eat during the previous week. Then I stopped in at the Somo Somo 100 Yen store primarily to pick up some hard plastic re-sealable boxes that I could use to transport home delicate collectables within my suitcase. Once again, even though this was a small 100 yen store, I was impressed by its selection and some of the odd, unexpected items it stocked.

desktop card display stands & laptop sleeves
Desktop card display stands & laptop sleeves
PC, cell phone, Nintendo DS cables & accessories
PC, cell phone, Nintendo DS cables & accessories
Onigiri molds
Onigiri molds
Cookie stamps
Cookie stamps
Chopsticks
Chopsticks
A cute rubber grip for removing hot plates from the microwave
A cute rubber grip for removing hot plates from the microwave
Folding fans (sadly, made in China)
Folding fans (sadly, made in China)
A brush for cleaning sink faucets
A brush for cleaning sink faucets
Stackable plastic tote boxes for manga tankouban
Stackable plastic tote boxes for manga tankouban
Tent stakes
Tent stakes

I purchased a 100-yen children’s toy gun as a souvenir gift for a firearms-loving friend back home because the toy was entirely black with no orange safety-tip that all American-issued toy guns need to have these days.

all black toy gun

Jon & I decided to try lunch at Burger King, to give me a perspective on Japan’s BK compared to America’s version.

Yotsuya Burger King

Even before entering the restaurant, I knew what I had to order. The menu board read in Katakana “Garlic Meat Monster,” while the official Romanized name was “Garlic Meat Beast.” I was amazed that in Japan, where practically all food serving sizes are half the size of American portions, Burger King offered a monstrous burger that shamed anything that its American counterpart offered. The “Garlic Meat Monster” consisted of a Whopper beef patty, a regular sized hamburger beef patty, and a teriyaki chicken breast with vegetable toppings sprinkled with garlic chips. Even with my American appetite, the entire meal with Coke and fries was nearly more than I could finish.

Garlic Meat Monster

Garlic Meat Beast

I was also impressed by the restaurant’s plush leather couch seating, reserved for parties of 3 or more, and the restaurant’s “Subway” style kitchen that allowed patrons to watch their burger being prepared.

Plush seats at Yotsuya BK

After lunch, Jon & I split company. I headed to Nakano Broadway to make my final purchases, primarily for friends. On the first floor I discovered a telephone card shop that had two Dirty Pair phone cards for 3,000 yen each. I’m pleased that I had the colorful one but a bit saddened that I didn’t own the black colored one because $30 was more than I was interested in paying for a phone card. However, I did score by browsing the store’s bargain bins, securing three shitajiki (one over-sized and double-sided), three plastic Idolm@aster plastic bookmarks, a Carnelian illustrated metal band-aid case, and an empty sleeve for Miami Guns telephone cards for about a dollar-fifty.

Card Shop Treasure

Dirty Pair phone cards

card_shop_purchases

I passed by a neat whiteboard open for public illustration.

in Nakano Broadway

I also passed by a neat Alien iron sculpture with imbedded colored lights that flashed alternatingly.

Alien in Nakano Broadway

Picked up a nice, large Heisei Gamera stamped “Bandai 1994” for 800 yen to take home to my friend.

1994 Bandai Gamera

By sheer coincidence, I discovered that Gainax had opened a temporary promotional art exhibit for its current Magica Wars ~ Mahou Shoujo Taisen franchise.

I was also slightly dismayed to once again see how much neat anime stuff was available so cheap. I just couldn’t bring back everything with me.

Loose Pretty Cure figures started at $8
Loose Pretty Cure figures started at $8
One Piece busts for $5 each
One Piece busts for $5 each
Dragon Ball & One Piece figures starting at $8
Dragon Ball & One Piece figures starting at $8
Five inch figures starting at $4 each
Five inch figures starting at $4 each
Fate/Stay Night and Monogatari series figs starting at $3 each
Fate/Stay Night and Monogatari series figs starting at $3 each
Madoka figures starting at $4
Madoka figures starting at $4

Nakano Broadway

Mandarake’s selection of Transformers was impressive:

Nakano Broadway Mandarake Transformers

Nakano Broadway Mandarake Transformers

Nakano Broadway Mandarake Transformers

Nakano Broadway Mandarake Transformers

So many that they spill onto the floor
So many that they spill onto the floor

Nakano Broadway Mandarake Transformers

Fat inhibiting Pepsi

On the train station platform I noticed the new “fat inhibiting Pepsi diet soda,” and decided to purchase a bottle of “Skal Blue Soda,” that was specifically labeled as “Sparkling & Refresh Lime” flavor. It didn’t taste like lime at all. It tasted exactly like very lightly sweet blue cotton candy.

Skal Blue Soda

From Nakano, I traveled in the opposite direction to Akihabara, first stopping to find that the Tokyo Anime Center was finally open for business. Roughly half of the large office was devoted to original genga production art from the recently concluded Gokukoku no Brynhildr television series.

Tokyo Anime Center Gokukoku no Brynhildr exhibit

Tokyo Anime Center Gokukoku no Brynhildr exhibit

Tokyo Anime Center Gokukoku no Brynhildr exhibit

Tokyo Anime Center Gokukoku no Brynhildr exhibit

The other half of the office space was devoted to merchandise from recent television anime including Ika Musume, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?, Rozen Maiden, and Natsume Yujin-cho.

Tokyo Anime Center gift shop

Tokyo Anime Center gift shop

The store also sold expensive limited-edition autographed prints.

Tokyo Anime Center gift shop

Tokyo Anime Center gift shop

When I went back downstairs, by sheer chance I discovered that around the corner from the escalator lay a Tokyo Anime Center Official Shop. This cramped store was quite neat, as it had displays of exclusive items from the (now closed) Evangelion Store, the Osamu Tezuka Museum, the Shigeru Mizuki Museum, and neat items like collapsible storage crates with Nerv, Gurren Lagann, and Macross Frontier logos. However, prices were hefty, and this particular shop turned out to be the only one during my visit that enforced its interior “no photography” policy when a salesgirl asked me not to snap pictures.

Tokyo Anime Center shop

So I took the escalator down to Chuo Dori. I made sure that I visited the “new” Tora no Ana store one last time to pick up one more selection of six-for-five-hundred-yen doujinshi.

last_doujinshi

Then I selected two more books from the selection of 200 yen books.

two_200_yen_doujinshi

Finally, with hours to spare, on the top floor of Liberty No. 8 I found one of the Godzilla gachapon that my friend from home had asked me to look for.

Bullmark_Mothra_gachapon

Going one floor down, I discovered roughly Nendoroid sized figures of Tamayura’s Fuu Sawatari and Lucky Star’s Akira wearing yukata & bunny ears for a total of 900 yen and purchased them.

Fuu_&_Akira_figs

I also went back to Meese Sanoh and purchased a 3.5 inch tall stack of random H-doujinshi for 500 yen. I thought to myself, “Even if I don’t like any of the books in the grab bag, the very principle of getting that many ero-doujinshi for five bucks is worth the investment just for the story.”

500_yen_doujin_grab_bag

Finally, on the way back to Yotsuya, I stopped by the Somo Somo 100 Yen store one more time to purchase two gachapon One Piece Pet Bottle Openers. Such unusual and relatively useless items are distinctively Japanese and really fascinate me.

One_Piece_PET_bottle_openers

For dinner, Jon & I walked to a Gast Family Restaurant. I ordered a side-order bowl of soba and a main meal of strip steak, a fried prawn, and a cream croquette. For desert, both Jon & I ordered the XL strawberry syrup crushed ice with ice cream scoop & fruit.

soba side dish

Gast dinner

Strawberry ice

To my satisfied amazement, all of my purchases and clothes fit into my two suitcases and carry-on backpack, and both suitcases weighed in around 45lb – under the airline’s 50lb limit. The following morning Jon assisted me by lugging one of my suitcases onto the Chuo Rapid Express train to Kanda where we switched to the Yamanote line that took us to Nippori. There, I purchased a 2,400 yen Keisei Skyliner ticket to Narita airport, donated all of my remaining Japanese currency to Jon, and said goodbye.

During my two-plus week stay in Tokyo I was able to visit many new places, including Otome Road, the Toei Animation Gallery, Tokyo Character Street, the 1:1 Gundam, Production I.G’s studio, and the top of Tokyo Tower. I was also fortunate to catch three anime films in theaters. I didn’t get to visit the Ghibli Museum again. I didn’t visit the Tokyo Sky Tree. I didn’t patronize either a cat café or an izakaya, as I’d hoped to. I also never got around to locating the Gojira-ya store or the Square-Enix store. I also never visited any of the legendary multi-story Daiso 100 Yen stores. Only once did I eat at the same restaurant a second time. I never entered every single otaku-oriented shop in Nakano Broadway, and I know that I missed several anime shops in Akihabara.

I’ve very satisfied with my vacation trip. Out of the six or seven times I’ve now visited Tokyo, this may have been my best trip yet because with increasing experience, I plan better and make more effective use of my time and money. Even though I never left Tokyo and visited practically nothing but otaku-centric destinations, I still feel very fulfilled while still realizing that I didn’t even see all of Tokyo’s anime otaku destinations.

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