Archive for the Tokyo Journal Category


Tokyo Journal: Hell on Otome Road

November 30th, 2017

Our last full day had arrived in Tokyo and we knew exactly where we were spending it. Sunshine-dori is a busy pdestrian-only street that runs along a shopping district full of clothing, shoes, pharmacies, general goods stores, restaurants, pachinko parlors and game arcades, and includes stores like Uniqlo and Tokyu Hands along the path. It terminates in Sunshine City, which is like 2 different malls attached underground, one, with performance space and exhibit space,and restaurants and a bazillion boutiques. This particular Tokyu Hands ends up getting a lot of our money, since there’s always interesting stuff there. This year we bought New Year’s postcards featuring the Egyptian god Anubis because we could. (Jackals are like a dog, right?)

We also stopped here. Or, I should say, my wife did, while I played Pokemon Go and watched people go by.

We gave Tokyu Hands a farewell walk around and noted fittingly that Bruce would not have been able to buy his Euglena (his favorite single-cell creature) bars there anyway, as they were no longer carrying them.

They did have a ramped up crafts section, with these wonderful creations to inspire you.

We then went down to Otome Road and visited most of the stores, looking at whole floors of goods dedicated to fictitious boy singer groups. It was fascinating. And then we saw something that appealed to both of us. Hell had come to Otome Road. Specifically, a themed cafe for Hozuki no Reitetsu, the second season of which is airing on Japanese TV now, in which we are treated to a comedic look at the Buddhist Hell and its bureaucracy, run by the competent, always annoyed demon Houzuki.

It was a blast. We ordered character-themed drinks.

You could take these little cutouts from the shelf and pose them with your food and drinks.

Wifey ordered the curry, I had the rice balls, pickles and soup.

We agreed that, for what essentially was microwaved food, it was pretty tasty. We received special coasters for every item, and there were goods for sale (of course!), which were displayed along with little character-themed dioramas.

Even dessert was yummy. We shared a cake set and an anmitsu.

 

Last, but not least, we went to the flagship Animate store which has, you may recall, the “Yuribu.” 

This signs says that there are 22 Yuribu store locations; the display has some featured manga – both old and some slightly more “classic”, includes novels and manga and is immediately inside the front door of the store right by the wall of magazines. A wall, which I will note had, in every location of every manga store we went into, a tidy little Yuri section once more, consisting of Comic Yuri Hime and Galette. It was especially nice to see Yuri magazines with what I consider to be “good” art. May our tribe increase.

By virtue of imprints clustering books, there were still little communities of Yuri on the shelves, as always. It was nice to see some friendly faces being advertised as being part of the “Yurimate” event.

We dragged our purchases back to the hotel and overfilled our luggage tremendously. ^_^

Here’s the unpacking of most of what I got. All the Sailor Moon stuff was in different bags. This includes stuff I got as gifts for a few friends. You see the white t-shirt?I hate white t-shirts, but how could pass that up? The back has Nobue and Miu dressed as the devils. The pink shirt amazed me, because while I think Chika and Miu are an obvious couple, I thought I was alone in that. I really dislike pink, too, but had to get the shirt. The tote is an omake from the Galette calendar set., which has prompted me to cull some of my many, many, many random tote bags. The coolest ones are going to go in this year’s Lucky Boxes.

And here are a couple of fun purchases I made. Funky Utena calendar.

New phone case.

At last, the reveal on those foil packages from the other day! 

These are the pins from the Asagao-to Kase-san booth at the Animate Girls Festival a few weeks ago,

This New Year’s Lucky Boxes are gonna be awesome. In fact, I think we’ll do a “Premium” Lucky Box that will have some of the items we bought specifically this time for a Lucky Box (with the limited edition harder to get stuff,) and then usual assortment of boxes full off random fun crap. 

And with that, another Tokyo Journal comes to an end (at least until the credit card bills drop. ^_^;) Many many thanks to everyone we saw and ate food with!

 

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Tokyo Journal: Sailor Moon in Harajuku and Shopping for Yuri in Akihabara

November 27th, 2017

It was a beautiful Sunday in Tokyo, so we decided to enjoy the crowds in Harajuku. First stop, we hit up Kiddyland, where character goods are plentiful and the bathrooms are clean. (Stores “for women” in Japan always have clean, spacious bathrooms, with changing tables for children.) Kiddyland had some familiar banners hanging overhead.

 

 

We then made our way over to the La Foret building to see spend money at the Sailor Moon store. Which we did. My wife was >this< close to buying a $400 purse, while I mused about losing enough weight to fit a Japanese women’s Medium to get a hoodie.  Instead we bought stuff.

Including, I might add, stuff for you, dear readers. This year’s New Year Lucky Boxes are going to be lit.

We saw a poster for the upcoming Sailor Moon classical concert and while we won’t be here for it, we did grab a bunch of these awesome promo posters.

We stopped on Takeshitadori and had a cute waffle dessert with our lunch, that we yet again forgot to take pictures of. We also ate it like it was our last meal. ^_^;

For dinner, we crashed the TCAF get-together at a lovely izakaya near our hotel. Caught up with translator extraordinaire Simona Stanzani,, met and had a lovely conversation with indie game developer Christine Love, comic artist John L. Gehron, and bunches of folks who were here with the TCAF crowd, and eat good food (some of which I *finally* remembered to take a picture of!)

The duck sukiyaki below was brilliant. I will totally eat at this place again for this dish.

 

Today was Akihabara day. Traditionally, I begin this day with a statement that I won’t be buying much. As is traditional, I then follow this up by buying too much. Today I kept with tradition.  BUT…and this is a big BUT, things were not the same at all. It is much easier to find Yuri in Akihabara than it has ever been.

Toronoana still has a multi-publisher “Yuri Corner” clearly labeled, with all sorts of creator art and advertising on the walls.

 

And a lovely ad for the Kase-san series.

I picked up a few things I hadn’t heard of or known about, which is always the best. Exactly why Yuri sections are so important, in fact.

The Animate doujinshi section also had a separate “Yuri Corner” with some reasonable inclusions. 

Comic Zin featured both prominent Yuri artists doujinshi on the second floor as you walked in and a section labeled Yuri. I thought I got a picture of this, but apparently took it from the wrong angle, so you can’t see the labels, duh. No large banner, but the shelves were clearly marked and they were right in the front as you walked in. I picked up some doujinshi by Hakamada Mera and Morinaga Milk.

 

Gamers also has a multi-publisher “Yuribu” section, clearly marked and, surprisingly, nicely varied. I’m going to admit that I was expecting skank world there. The last time I visited Gamers, it was all creepy all the time. Not at all true of  the Yuri section, although it favored the moe.

They also had a special exhibit in honor of the release of the 8th volume of Ichigo Mashimaro. There were goods, bags, t-shirts of which I bought two, one each in my least favorite colors, white and pink, because the designs were brilliant and coolest, actual original pages by Barasui.

I’m always surprised and pleased at these new “Yuri” sections, because they will change the way people can shop for Yuri. Up until now, people had to know what to look for, where. These new “Yuri” sections, that are multi-publisher and in some cases, multi-format, with novels and manga together signal the continued legitimacy of our growing genre.  

Even more exciting, the Animate store in Akihabara does not have a Yuribu because, of course, you remember that they chose to locate it in the “girl’s” store in Ikebukuro. In my opinion, this is a major success, separating “Yuri” from being the purview of men, and laying it in our laps and yes, that was meant to be a pleasantly salacious analogy. ^_^

 Tomorrow is our last full day and we intend to spend it and all the rest of our money locally in the girl’s Yuribu. ^_^

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Tokyo Journal: Comitia, CAT 2, Character Alley and Yuribu

November 25th, 2017

Hello Okazu Readers! I am writing you from beautiful Tokyo! (This is said with no irony. I like cities and have always liked Tokyo.)

Every morning I am greeted by this view. We’ve had lovely weather.

Made a short visit to Animate, in which we found the Yuribu (Yuri club) proudly displayed by the door.

Only bought one book, because it was the last copy on the shelf there, but will be back to do actual book shopping later. Instead we bought these.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I reported there was the Animate Girls Festival and Asagao to Kase-san anime had a booth? This is what is left from the goods at that booth. I bought everything that remained (except two that escaped my notice.) 

The wife bought a Sailor Moon collaboration purse at GU, with a little jewelry to hang off it.

We had a lovely dinner with James Welker, who always makes us feel at home.

We’ve hit up half of Book-Off, and a bookstore here, but it was Thursday that we really got the buying ball rolling. At Comitia, I bought multiple copies of Galette, and a number of other original Yuri doujinshi. Not as many as in previous years, because after the 35th one titled “Hajimete” or “Hatsukoi” I just felt a bit eye-rolly. Folks, please learn to write a story beyond “there is a girl, she likes another girl. The other girl likes her. The end.” Thank heavens for some of the folks doing Yuri about adults.  I’ll do a much more detailed review of everything when I get home. 

We then wandered through the Kaigai Festa, the International Comics Festival, where I spoke with folks at the TCAF table. And I spoke with Sonia from France, as I bought her English-language Yuri comic (about schoolgirls in love for the first time, of course).

Next day we hit up Mandarake where I managed to find some stuff to buy (duh) and had a nice lunch with Deb Aoki. The three of us stopped for a rest at the Murakami-owned coffee shop, where I had a Murakami latte.

It was a very relaxing way to ease into buying too much stuff, because the next day, we hit high gear. 

Comic Arts Tokyo 2 is the second year of a small independent comic show, held at the Tokyo campus of Temple University. I found a number of awesome people and things. Among them were An Nguyen, creator of So Pretty, Very Rotten, a very talented artist named Erica Ward (so, obviously I will remember her name! ^_^) And I bought this awesome painting from Makiko Kodama.  Yes, I went to a comic show and bought a painting. ^_^  This is all the things. Rokurokubi is my favorite youkai, in uniform, kissing another Rokurokubi, cutely in a cafe. Squee. 

 

We then had lunch with the indefatigable shoujo scholar Fujimoto Yukari-sensei,  who was delightful as always. She  had a gorgeous Utena-collaboration themed handbag, based on Anthy’s dress from the movie. We were so jealous.

It was a magnificent night so after we left Fujimoto-sensei, we decided to head over to the Toyokawa Inari Shrine. We made some offerings, lit some incense and candles and said farewell to Bruce. It’s been a rough trip without him and we apologize to everyone we’ve met with for moping, but we’d been coming to Japan with him for 12 years and we feel his absence keenly here.

Once that had been done, we headed over to Tokyo Station Character Street. Where I unloaded a mass of money in a beauty shop that was selling Sailor Moon, Utena and other series goods. This store had bath and beauty items for adult women, who just happened to want their bath bombs to look like, you know, the Outer’s henshin wand toppers. (^_^);

And an Utena bath set, journal, stickers and calendar which will need to be put together before you can see how awesome it is.

 

And then we dragged ourselves back after a lot of walking and shopping. Next up, Harajuku for Kiddyland and the Eternal Sailor Moon shop and probably Yamashiroya.

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Halloween Trip to Japan – Guest Post by Bruce P.

December 14th, 2016

Hello and welcome to Guest Review Wednesday! Today we have an extra-special report  by our dear friend and co-conspirator, Bruce P, who ran off to Japan without me. :-( Settle for what always promises to be a good time, in the company of a great writer! Take it away Bruce! 

 

On a trip to Japan this Halloween I was able to attend a couple of events that might be of interest to Okazu readers. The highlight of which was an exhibit of artwork by Yamagishi Ryoko, the exceptionally talented shoujo mangaka who authored Shiroi Heya no Futari, one of the earliest Yuri manga.

But first – a visit to the Akasaka Red Theater, venue for the live performance of Grand Stage, the Takarazuka-esque CD voice drama series that Erica has been reviewing. The final show was already in progress as I arrived in Tokyo, so it was a race from the plane to the bus to the hotel to the subway to Akasaka. Sweating, stumbling (long flight), I arrived in time, if I could just find the theater. Everything was working out so well. It really was a lovely autumn evening, and the Akasaka streets, sparkling with neon and echoing with gentle laughter, had a delicate nocturnal beauty, pole dancing places glowing softly in the night.

Problem was, I had real trouble locating the venue.  As it turned out I wasn’t looking low enough. Descending from the sidewalk, behind some outdoor tables with pumpkin candles, the theater entrance looked a bit like an access to a storage cellar. Grand stage indeed. But the display posters were colorful. It’s interesting that the title graphic includes both a lily and a rose, a wink at the spectrum of gender/orientation conflation possibilities.

 

Less than a minute after I found the theater the show let out, and that’s timing. The audience numbered half a dozen or so, mostly women in floppy hats and clunky shoes.

They all seemed pleased with the show and there was much picture taking as an earnest theater employee (left), with over-caffeinated efficiency, immediately began pulling down the posters.

It really was a nice night-before-Halloween, and I was happy to see that the nearby Akasaka Toyokawa Inari Betsuin had put up their pumpkin lanterns (or maybe not).

On Halloween itself the new Mayor of Tokyo had fun dressing up as Princess Knight.

In Shibuya a lot of other folks had fun dressing up too. Those having the most fun were shown repeatedly on the news being carted away in ambulances and police cars.

The Yamagishi Ryoko exhibit was in the Yayoi Museum near Tokyo University. The Yayoi is dedicated to exhibiting print illustrations and manga art from the Taisho and Showa eras – essentially the 20th century. I had been to this museum some years back for an exhibit of works by the illustrator Takabatake Kashou, at which I snapped up the poster below.

Happy to get reacquainted I headed out to the Museum:

Sign on chair: Closed Today. Improvising on a trip (‘blundering about Japan’) is enjoyable, and takes less work than planning, but I do see a lot of these signs.

I returned a couple of days later. The exhibit was absolutely worth the extra trip. Yamagishi-sensei was part of the talented group of female shoujo mangaka known as the Year 24 Group, which also included Ikeda Riyoko (Rose of Versailles), Hagio Moto (Heart of Thomas), and other exceptional artists. The exhibit was on display in two large rooms, with walls and center display cases in both lined with a tremendous selection of Yamagishi-sensei’s work. About a dozen people were there enjoying the art.

Here are just a few of many examples that caught my eye, imaged from a book that was essentially the exhibition catalogue. Photography was not permitted in the exhibit.

Dream (1978). 1930’s cool.

Left and Right (1969), debut manga.

 

Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi (1982), artwork for a record cover.

 

Secret Love (1986). Columbine and Camelia.

While I was busy taking notes (who knew there was a catalogue?) an older Japanese couple approached in curiosity and introduced themselves. Long-time Yamagishi fans, they had made the trip down from Sendai just for the exhibit. They were pleased, if puzzled, to find a westerner so interested in her work that he would take notes, when there was such a nice catalogue, and we had a lovely chat. They really wanted to make sure I knew that Yamagishi-sensei wasn’t just a manga artist, she was a real artist. While I believe the line to be a lot more elastic than that, there is no doubt that she is an artist in every sense of the word. Here is a link to the exhibition poster.

My only regret was that the original cover art for Shiroi Heya no Futari was not on display. There was too much art for the space, so the display items changed, and that one wasn’t up at the time. But the exhibit was absolutely worthwhile (and is running through Dec 25, so if you hurry…). Definitely the highlight of a great trip.

Well, um, that and the Perfume concert in the Nagoya Dome. If you’re partial to music with your lasers.

E here: Thank you Bruce for the report (and the copy of the catalogue. I’ve drooled over it many times already). It’s always great to hear your travel stories!

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Tokyo Journal 2016 – Home Again

May 9th, 2016

DSCN1038Made it home after a particularly excruciating trip. It was a little shorter than usual, but a guy a few rows over with a hacking cough made sleep all but impossible, and the flyers included a surprising number of people who had no idea how to use the bathrooms appropriately. I mean, really, had no idea at all.

But here we are and here is the picture of most, not all of the items unbagged. We left most of the Gudetama items bagged (which is good, because they are disgusting. ^_^; Gudetama is an extremely lazy uncooked egg who slimes all over the place.)

DSCN0854

You can see the piles of doujinshi and a few manga I picked up, some of the Rose of Versailles stuff and a lot of the Sailor Moon items from the exhibit, Animate and a few other places, including some pens and my wife’s top purchase the Proplica Spiral Heat Moon Rod, which was an amazing last-minute find. I found the Uranus and Neptune figurines in the new set (although I love the figurine set with the Inners all doing their attacks, and if one of those for the Outers is released, I am so going broke.)

And I caved and got a new Saber, too. Back in my Comitia post, I commented on my unwritten rules of shopping. One of the rules I have is that any female character portrayed as confident in anime or manga must also look confident in figurine form. No vacant eyes or vulnerable poses. It feels too much like you had to drug her to wear that bikini and pose like that. Creeps me out utterly. Looking over at my shelves I notice that the characters who carry weapons in the series are carrying them in the figurines I own from Fate T. Harlown and Bardiche to Asamiya Saki and her yo-yo. No baby seal “please don’t hurt me” faces on my shelves. Most of the faces say “I got this”.

I have a *ton* of stuff to share with you and I’ll be doing a couple of post-Tokyo trip lucky boxes to start the summer off right, with exclusive goods, so keep an eye open for that announcement.

Thanks to everyone we saw and met and met again and hung up with this past week! It was an absolute blast. And now…time to start reading…and crashing. ^_^

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