Tokyo Part: Two

Posted in: Ryan Kopf's Blog
Continuing my rampant adventures in the bustling metropolis of the world's second largest economy, I spend quite a bit more time in Tokyo after the first two days.

Day Three - March 11, 2013
Day Three included my first truly uniquely-Japanese experience, at Kabuki Theater in Tokyo. This ancient theater has long traditional roots, focused on presenting beautiful actors and acting, rather than being focused on imagination and story. From the English narration "While western theater has you pretend that everything you see on stage is real, Kabuki Theater knows it's theater, and takes advantage of that."

It was definitely very interesting! Bright, exciting makeup and huge outfits combined with a really drawn out, somewhat screechy long speech made the theater unlike anything you could see elsewhere. Having a headache before I went certainly dampened my fun, but it was still cool; and with the English guide I knew what they were talking about on stage.

After Kabuki Theater, I ventured to Akihabara - anime capital of Tokyo, and perhaps the world, with the street lined with manga, figurine, anime DVD, and game shops. Most focused on manga, figures, DVDs, or games, with relatively few selling anything like plushies, wallscrolls, and other space-taking collectibles loved in America. There were also tons of UFO Catchers, giant money-sucking claw machines.

I also noticed several men in suits sneaking past some arcade games down a set of stairs to a store called "Melon Books." And there were a lot of melons. That's right, I had found a huge hentai store filled wall to wall with... everything ecchi that Japan could produce.

At the end of the day I headed back to Mickey House, which was really quiet, although I did not expect much on a Monday.

DAY FOUR - March 12, 2013
The next adventure took me a short train ride to the Meiji Shrine, on the opposite of Harajuku fashion street. My adventure started at 10am, and didn't end until past noon and well past time for me to need food, showing the size of the shrine and it's surrounding park area was quite massive for a large wooded area in the middle of Tokyo. There were quite a few people.

I made sure to leave a wish-card-thing at the Shrine itself, after I had visited the Meiji Gardens nearby. Afterwards, I strolled again through Harajuku and Shibuya a bit, as I was in the area, mostly just looking at all kinds of youth-fashion shops.

At night, I went to Asakusa and towards the towering Tokyo Skytree, which I left only ten minutes after discovering, upon finding the line to get in line to buy a ticket to get in line to use the elevators was over an hour long. You may need to read that again, yes.

DAY FIVE - March 13, 2013
On to serious business, I went to a Maid Cafe in Akihabara! It was filled with pink shades and heart shapes, and a picture menu filled with pictures of the maids and various items in "combs" for a price, plus a table fee. Pictures of the place and the maids weren't allowed (haha!), and when you want your maid to come to you you are supposed to call out "Meow Meow."

I ran into a couple of Swedish guys who spoke perfect English but zero Japanese on the way into the cafe, and we decided to join a table together. It was nice not being the only one confused.

When they first took our order, the maid wrote all of our names down on little cards, and assigned hand-drawn animal faces to each card - cat, dog, and bear. After we ordered, a maid brought our drinks, telling us that she made them special for us, and that we all had to put our hands together in a heart shape, and say "delicious delicious" over the drinks, finishing by saying "Meow Meow" and making a cat pose.

When they brought our cake, as we all ordered the same thing, each plate had the same animals drawn on them in chocolate syrup, to represent each of us. And again, the thing with the hands and the words "Delicious magic."

We also saw that someone must have ordered something special a couple of times, as we witnessed a live dance from one of the maids just after sitting down. It was silly.

At the conventions, we will want to ensure we have everything planned as well as we possibly can, so I've narrowed this down to: An awesome menu with pictures and more, songs and dances along with maids who can sing and dance specially, silly "delicious delicious" stuff, and animal faces.



Overall I expected, or perhaps hoped for, more personal maid service, as it seemed like we were helped by several maids - however, at the end, we got to pick which maids to take a picture with. Perhaps some maid cafes are different.

After finishing con research at the Maid Cafe, I did some more cultural research - playing more UFO Catchers in Akihabara. There were no maid cafes to be seen anywhere in Japan outside of Akihabara.

DAY SIX - March 14, 2013
WHOA NOPE KYOTO. To clarify, I spend the day on a train to Kyoto, and then a bus to my next stay, at "Tani House" in Kyoto... and I was so... let's just say I left before I went inside, because the place looked like a rundown 200 year old house, and it was freezing, and the internet said there were bedbugs. So I froze my butt off returning to the train station and hoping a train back to Tokyo. Thankfully my Japan Rail Pass gets me all the free trains I want.

DAY SEVEN
Back in Tokyo, I look forward to having a little more time to explore the city, which is what I do, but nothing particularly exciting happens. I did explore a bit, such as returning to Harajuku.



DAY EIGHT - The 16th
A bunch of walking around, and a short tour of Ueno Park today, where I saw some interesting shrines and things were not nearly as crowded as at the Meiji Shrine. These parts of Japanese culture are really interesting, and something I hope can be part of more conventions.

DAY NINE - The 17th
I spend most of the day at Mickey House, the English Language Cafe I previously mentioned, and afterwards discovered Pizza! :) Pizza in Japan always seems to have very thin crust, and cheese pizza does not really exist by itself - you need to order "Margarita" pizza to get anything close.

DAY TEN - 18th
I think I may have a cold, so as far as I remember I stayed in bed most of the day. I had planned to use my Rail Pass to visit Kagoshima, as far south as possible, but I wasn't feeling up to an eight hour train ride. I do manage to wander off to Tokyo Tower and take some pictures from the main observatory, a couple hundred feet above the grand city Tokyo.

More to come! See the pictures on Facebook.

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