So I have been having a blast here in Tokyo despite jetlag and the pain of walking up and down subway steps (this is the reason I lost so much weight in Korea... you just have to live with the pain for the first few days). I have been hitting the communal bath on the top floor to compensate for all the aches but soaking in hot water can only do so much.
I went to see Star Wars in 4D and it was utterly amazing that way. Having your seat tilt down following the slow pan of the opening shot was really thrilling, as were all the space battles. They sprayed mesquite into the room whenever there were things burning which I liked but it also made me a bit hungry. It was actually a little weird to have something hitting your legs at the same time as a tentacle monster attacking Finn. Japanese 4D theaters have more seats and they tilt forward more. So much so that if they had gone slightly more angled, I'd have slid off. No wonder they suggest you put your bags in free lockers before you go in. Incidentally, to get the tickets, I had to go to the roppongi hills cinema several hours before the show and buy one of the last four tickets for the 3pm showing. They sold out insanely quickly but this was unsurprising considering the weekend was already sold out when I went on Friday. By virtue of seeing it alone, I actually had a really nice center seat.
I made it to Mandarake in Shibuya to check out the "doujinshi for women" as they put it. There's not a lot of series I'm interested in atm (I already have tons of doujinshi that I've only flipped through at home) but I love to look at the western series doujin because it's rather fascinating to compare to the western fandoms. Usually, the focus of pairings is quite different. So for example, the Avengers fandom is still being dominated by Tony/Jarvis with science bros not too far behind. Stucky was a rare pair and I only saw a few Stony. I have yet to figure out too why the Boondock Saints fandom is still going strong in Japan. Anybody? But much to my surprise The Hobbit fandom was really fascinating because the doujin almost exactly reflected the western fandom. Bagginshield dominated (it was nonexistent in Japan in 2013 when I last checked) and Bard/Thranduil had become popular since the last movie, with a couple of rare pairs and gen thrown in for good measure.
I also made it to Akihabara. I checked out animate first as I usually do but my interests in anime don't currently line up with anything that is showing atm (except One Punch Man), so I headed over the building with the mandarake cafe in it. The lower four floors there have recent doujin, electronics, and an astonishing collection of figurines and memorabilia. There's one shop on the third floor I believe which consistently sells all the figures about 20% cheaper than anyone else so it's worth checking out. I first tried to find a new battery for my lenova pad but I was told they don't make anything like it in Japan so I'd have to get one from the US. Oh well. I then set out to find memorabilia and figurines from Natsume Yuujinchou and Star Wars. I particularly wanted some action figures of Rey and BB-8 but she was almost as hard to find here as in the US. I did get a cute 3-inch figure of Rey which was made for the Japanese market only and looks great but there were no BB-8 figurines to be found, or the larger Rey figurine which the internet tells me exists but I have yet to see. My capsule luck held and I got an awesome looking tengu from a gegege kitaro machine. Turns out it's one of the rarer expensive ones so I was doubly pleased. (You can tell by how they price them in other nearby stores that sell figurines individually. Mine was the most expensive, therefore it was pretty rare.) I picked up some tiny Natsume yuujinchou figurines like one of Madara as a daruma. I then headed out and north to another store which was advertising for Star Wars. They did have a BB=8 figurine there but it came with R2D2 and I wouldn't have been able to fit him in my bag. So I bought a cute set of BB-8 stationary and headed back to my hotel.
I have been eating out on occasion but mostly living on the hotel breakfast (which is quite nice) and convenience store food. The thrill of meat buns and onigiri for a buck will not wear off for awhile. I also tried some famous Asakusa pudding which was amazing until I hit the burnt sugar at the bottom which totally ruined the rest of the pudding for me. I also had some famous maple melon bread and a delicious sweet potato paste thingy.
Today, I headed out of Tokyo to attend Bujinkan training at the Hombu dojo. Nobody told me, but they knocked down the old dojo and built a new, larger one with better facilities. It was a bit difficult to find at first until I started looking for the kanji. The other dojo was quite stereotypical looking so it was easier to find, though I suppose you could always just follow all the foreigners on a Sunday morning. There were a ton of Australians there and I made friends. I trained with one of them, M. who was my height and a bit of a beginner, plus she had a leg injury, so we took it easy. I don't mind teaching someone since it helps me learn as well (it's only frustrating if they're not trying and this was not the case). Despite the dojo being bigger, it was still crowded so when we switched over to sword, there wasn't really enough room to do anything. But it was fun. Hatsumi soke has a wicked sense of humour (that Jack definitely gets from him). For example, he took a guy down, let him go and then when he thought he could escape, put him in an even worse lock, and all with a smile on his face. It's interesting to be able to understand enough Japanese to know what he was talking about. He talked about intent and convincing your opponent that they took a hit, even though they didn't. We then got a gruesome story about Japanese executions and people getting their heads chopped off. Apparently, heads being chopped sounds like a wet towel being snapped so they went down a line and at the last person, they snapped a towel instead and the person died of fright. He's also still talking about things that Jack passed on like spiraling in to the proper point while taking people down and of course, taking the right space and distance and moving. I liked his point of using both sides of the chest to take someone out (catching on one hand, then bringing that shoulder down before taking the space around the opposite elbow and letting the rebound from the shoulder you pressed down send the other shoulder up). I ended up with a few more bruises and tired but I found out where there's training in Osaka and made a lot of new friends. Plus I got some calligraphy painted by the soke.
I headed back to Asakusa afterwards and wandered through the markets looking for a place to eat lunch (it was 2pm by this point). Everywhere I tried had people waiting outside in the cold for a seat so I bought some snacks and wandered out of the tourist areas until I found a ramen place for lunch. I haven't had proper ramen in ages so that was nice. I then headed out, bought some food for my dinner and stopped at a cat cafe near by hotel, Cafe Calaugh. This one was set up a bit differently than ones I've been to before. They served food and drinks and didn't cover anything but the cats seemed to mostly ignore the food. I found a snuggle buddy who huddled next to me for warmth and then inherited a lap cat from someone else. That cat just didn't want to do anything other than sleep in people's laps. I had to pass her on myself after my hour of time was up. She did give me a kiss when she first came to my lap - probably to smell the hot chocolate on my lips.
I head down to Nara tomorrow so I'm getting ready. Ja ne!
January 24th, 2016