Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kaito Explores Tokyo

Over the last two days with beautiful weather I've had the chance to get into my cosplay and wander around the city. I had an absolute blast. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was taking second looks at me and I heard so many times people refer to me as "Kaito-san" or even "Kaito-sama" behind my back. If they didn't know who I was I'd usually hear "Kakoi~!" which I found meant they thought I looked cool. I had a few folks approach me for photos. I was waving to people who approached me or smiled at me and stared. On so many occasions one person would see me and then inform the rest to turn and look. I didn't know I was this much of an attention whore because none of this bothers me. I had a 5 year old use a word which means both "shameful" and "embarassing" on different occasions when talking to me.

I tried to get pictures of everyone who took a picture with me but Billy was not present at all times to take the photos. I am, however, profoundly greatful that he was able to take such awesome pictures of me in the city.

The adventure started yesterday in Akihabara where I whipped out the cosplay and did some minor shopping. I got stopped by a delightful group of girls who wanted pictures with Kaito-san. I also saw a Haruhi cosplayer who was handing out flyers for a cosplay cafe and she let me take a photo with her.

Today I ended up in Ikebukuro at Sunshine City (Otome Road...BL Town) and I stayed ever so briefly. The stop there was actually on our way back from Nakano Broadway where we did some otaku shopping before heading back to Akihabara (for the second day in a row for me as Kaito).

I spent some time at Nakano Broadway today. This is where the costume first went on today. I wandered into a cosplay shop that had all the VOCALOID cosplays in it and had some giggles from the clerks and customers. I have to give props to Danny Choo for recommending this place for us. It really was a neat little treasure trove. It's funny how Mandarake (a buy-back chain) had about 60% ownership of the stores we'd go into:

Of course I ended up in Akihabara again today where I spent more time as Kaito than I did yesterday. I'll just let you all scroll down to read the rest for each picture. Here's some of me waving goodbye to Akihabara, the electric town otaku mecha of the world...

Read the rest after this, they're mostly Akihabara pictures; image-heavy but resized for web:

Some shots of me with some random people who wanted to take my picture:

A cute duo of girls who patiently waited for me to drag Billy out of the 2chan store to take a picture of the two of them with me. They were too shy to ask anyone else to do it for them. It was very cute...

After that some guys came out of the maid cafe I was standing around and they all wanted pictures with me (you'll see one further down), but when they were done this huge group of maids came around the corner in a bunch (I have no idea why, I never see them travel in bunches). They started getting excited and wanted to take pictures of course. One of them can be seen clinging to me (the cutest one there in my opinion) where she confessed to loving me and then they all ran into the cafe. It must have been a shift change or something. I went back to that maid cafe as Kaito the next day (but saw none of the 5 pictured below):

Another maid wanted a picture. I asked if I could hold her sign for it. I ended up going to her cafe the next day. When I was there I had another maid show me her and her co-worker doing Miku and Len cosplays. I let her take a picture of me. The dumb thing was that they wouldn't let me get a picture with my camera unless I paid 500 yen. I decided not to argue with that. I shouldn't get special treatment. I was just happy to have her get a photo with me just because she wanted to.

This is a group of girls who ran at me in Ikebukuro station on my way to Akihabara. They didn't know who I was but asked me my name and where I was from and wanted a picture as well:

This Haruhi was really excited to see me. She was exclaiming, "AH! KAITO!" and the big fuzzy one was wiggling its arms at me with enthusiasm:

Here's me outside of Gamers. Danny Choo can be seen dancing and playing a guitar exactly a week ago in this same spot:

A cross walk in Ikebukuro. Those people staring at me were 2 of about 50 sets of eyes across the street:

How Kaito gets around...

And here's one of the awesome dudes who came out of the maid cafe before I was assaulted by the group of maids a few seconds later:

...and that's probably just a little bit of what I could be writing about. But I think I'll stop there. Kaito is very tired.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Washinomiya - Lucky Star Town

As promised, this will be my little mini-report about Washinomiya Shrine.

What we did was venture off about an hour away from Tokyo (heading north-east I believe) to the absolute middle of nowhere. Farmlands, houses, narrow streets, barely any traffic, and fresh air. We found out that there was a big...monument...thing...that they carried through the town. There's an abundance of news articles regarding the popularity of this small town since the anime series aired, but I'll leave that to you to find on your own. Here's my experience:

I had some directions in my head that I'd read online and once exiting the station we started to head towards where the shrine was. It was easy to notice that virtually every shop had something Lucky Star-related on their window. There was even a Lucky Star cafe:

It was pretty funny how commercialized this small town got after the show. I almost had a fan-gasm when I saw this:

The shrine itself has been reduced to this, fans putting up pictures and prayers regarding hopeful second seasons of the show or declarations of love for their favourite characters:

I of course made one as well:

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Monday, April 27, 2009

To Kyoto and Back Again

I'm back in Tokyo for a few more days before I'll have to pack up and come home. I really don't want to but really you can only stay here, wander around, shop til' you drop for so long.

Yesterday I returned from my trip to Kyoto so I'll share with everyone what we did. Upon arrival I made my previous blog post about those girls who discovered I was a VOCALOID cosplayer and then I headed to bed expecting a wonderful day of tourism and excitment...I awoke to it being pouring rain outside. The last 2 years in Kyoto for me have been bad weather. Of course it was sunny when we were on the train to go back to Tokyo the next day.

Read the rest and see photos:

First morning we were in Kyoto we went to the Golden Pavillion (in the rain) and were approached by another nice group of 15-year-old school girls from some islands off the coast who wanted to get a picture with us. We obliged of course.

The afternoon was our Nara tour where it actually started to clear up a little bit. I visited Todai-ji temple for my third trip in a row and saw the wild but docile deer in the park (roughly 1000 in population). The temple is the biggest wooden structure in the world and before it burned down and was rebuilt it was 12 pillars wide (currently 8). Inside is the biggest bronze Bhudda in the world as well. It's hard to show pictures of it to justify just how massive this place is.

Next morning before we had to head off to Tokyo we took a quick taxi ride up to Kiyomizu temple which is a 1300-year-old temple on a mountainside overlooking Kyoto. It's in most anime and such whenever Kyoto is featured as a school trip or something. I'd always wanted to go and finally was able to (last 2 trips to Kyoto I never ended up going). Jon and I posed with more people because we're the Super Gaijin...that's the only reason I can think of really...and then we got stalked by more school girls and had them speak to us to practice their English. After that it was off to Tokyo again.

Today we went to the Pokemon Center and Tokyo Tower. The Pokemon Center took us a bit of wandering aimlessly through city blocks to find but once we did we went inside and were greeted by cute women in pikachu headbands. Everything Pokemon imaginable was in this place. Tyson wasted more than a few 100 yen coins on gashapon machines trying to get all the toys he wanted; I ended up buying little figures of all the Eevee evolutions. We walked to Tokyo Tower from the Poke-center after that. For the first time it wasn't crowded, nor hot, but it was still the same view of the same things on an overcast day. I did manage a nice shot or two. Later, we were going to go to Ueno Zoo and have kobe beef but the zoo AND the restaurant were closed so we just wasted time in the park and then did some shopping at Yodobashi Camera (think Future Shop).

So that's really everything up to date right now. I'll be posting tomorrow about the Washinomiya Shrine adventure we had before we went to Kyoto. In the mean time, here's a shot I took of Nendoroid Itoshiki-sensei from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei hanging from the lamp string in my hostel bedroom:

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Friday, April 24, 2009

School Girls Meet the Gaijin

Today I had what I should call an amazing chance-incident with some Japanese school girls.

I've just arrived in Kyoto. On the way here we stopped at Odawara and then took 4 different transit modes through the Hakone area to check out Mt. Fuji (which for the 3rd year in a row I did not see due to it being an overcast day). It wasn't a complete loss though!

It started when we had to run to catch our train going down the mountain. We just ran into the nearest car not having many people in it. When we got inside it the doors shut promptly and we turned around to find out it wasn't very empty but packed full with small school girls. And only school girls. Elementary to Middle I'd guess. Some of them started to laugh at us and we initially thought maybe we got onto a school girl-designated car until the next stop when other people started to get on as well. Trip down the mountain was reasonably uneventful apart from laughing at the fact that we were a bunch of white guys on a train packed with little girls. They were all loud and cheerful; some of them stared at me. I heard the word "gaijin-da" from a group of I'd say 13-year-olds and then turned in their direction and chuckled and they turned away embarassed.

When we got to the bottom of the mountain this is where the story gets amazing. We transferred trains and the same group of about 5 girls got on the same car with us again. We got a few train stops down the track when I started to hear them singing. They were singing World is Mine by Hatsune Miku, just a verse. I was like, "Holy crap are they really singing that?" and then they started to sing Meltdown by Kagamine Rin. Billy was like, "Sing with them!", so I did! I started to hum along to their song (I was a few meters away) and one of them stopped and turned to me and then they ALL stopped and turned to me. I said, "Kagamine Rin" and they started getting excited. One of them said something to me in Japanese and I just pointed to myself and said, "Kaito Cosplay" and they started getting even more excited. It was like, "What's this? A gaijin knows VOCALOID?".

So as if they weren't hysterical enough they went completely off the walls and screaming when I showed them a picture of myself in cosplay that Billy happened to have on his phone. Without that I don't know what I would have done. They were literally screaming and grabbing the phone from me. Then others came from the train to see what the commotion was about. I had to sign English text-books for them and notebooks. They insisted I shake their hands and I said "sayonara" to them and they got all excited again. I gave out my website URL so I hope they find this post alright.

What are the chances I'd find a group of VOCALOID/Cosplay fangirls in the countryside of Japan...

Here's a picture of the girls from today and a cosplay picture for them if they happen to stumble upon my page:


Yesterday I didn't get to mention I took a trip to Washinomiya Shrine. The town is inspiration and location reference for Lucky Star. I'll be blogging about that experience with photos very soon.

Tomorrow is our Kyoto tour day. Hope to check out a few things here before we make our Nara trip in the afternoon. Be blogging tomorrow night perhaps, or when I get back to Tokyo on the 26th (25th for North America).

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ghibli Museum Outing

Today our group got a chance to go to the Ghibli museum! It's all the way out on the western edge of Tokyo (our hotel is on the east). We had a bit of an adventure getting there. Despite the tickets being so hard to get the experience was amazing. I was surprised at how many different types of people were there. There were the groups of school kids aged from pre-school to high school, foreign travellers, couples. It really was a place for all ages. The best thing there I think would be the giant Laputa guardian on the roof made of metal and surrounded by shrubs.

There were many different types of rooms: Catbus room for the kids, animation studio sketches and cells, rotorscope displays, and even a theater. We were quite lucky because the movie they showed us was "Mei and the Catbus" which is a 20 minute sequel to the 1988 Totoro. I was like..."WOW! Nostalgia!"

Anyways, here's some photos. Unfortunately none were allowed inside, but I brought back postcards with interior shots. It's even more impressive than the outside. Click 'Read More' to see more at the end of this post:

Also I'd like to share a photo of our group at the Asakusa shrine area (big tourist trap):

And here's day 3 loot. I'm almost done, I swear it. There's a few small things I have to get. I didn't plan on buying the two boxed things but they were 60% and 80% off respectively and I couldn't pass that up. I should mention none of the books in this picture are for me (and yes, that is a second Haruhi Gekisou ver, the other one I bought yesterday was for a friend). Oh, and we have a picture of everyone's loot piled high in the hotel room but the stuff we bought today is excluded. I'm not posting it here or on Danny Choo until we get another one done:

More Ghibli photos:

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