Archive for the Tokyo Journal Category

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.)


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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Tokyo Journal, Part 4 – Tokyo Rainbow Pride Day

May 8th, 2016

trpOur final event of this eventful trip was to the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Festa at Yoyogi Park. Yoyogi Park is the Park closest to Harajuku and the Meiji Shrine, so the crowds there are always delightfully immense and full of girls with cute, fashionable clothes.  Today it also included cute little gay kids and families spending an absolutely gorgeous day in the park for the final Saturday of Golden Week. It could not have been more perfect a day.

I love festivals, and Rainbow Pride was one of three at the park that day.  Sharing the space was a Cambodian Festival and a Latin festival. The food smells were making us so hungry!

Like most festivals, the booths were a mix of corporations, services and stuff for sale. I bought an official t-shirt, of course.^_^ I’m always throwing money at these things.

We had a fucking yummy hamburger for lunch. It was so nice to see something written in New Jersey.


And instead of flame-broiled, it was flame throwered.


I think this would play very well at the Jersey Shore.

We met a friend from the Tuesday night event and caught up with scholar Matt Thorn and his friends and saw Remi-san and Yuki-san once more to say good bye and thanks.

It was such a beautiful night, we walked around some more, ate at a local cheap tsukemen place (noodles to dip into soup) and walked around the discount stores on the street until we crashed.

That’s it for events in Tokyo. When I get home I’ll show you everything we picked up!


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Tokyo Journal 2016, Part 1 – Sailor Moon in Roppongi, Rose of Versailles in Tokyo Station

May 4th, 2016

It’s been a whirlwind trip here in Tokyo. As I type a whirlwind blows a storm across Kantou, so it seemed like a good day to catch up. ^_^

The very first thing we did was hit the Sailor Moon exhibition in Roppongi. Rather than post our few pictures, I recommend you take a look at this extensive set of photos, by They covered it all in way more detail than we did.

The line for the café was about 90 minutes long when we got there and they had run out of the locket burgers, but we managed to get the Outers curry and the Tuxedo Kamen spaghetti. (Thinking about it, they should have made it ramen and called it Tuxedo Ramen, but no one asks me. ^_^)

outers curry

The curry was better than expected, honestly.

Drinks were Inners themed, and they contained BB Chocora energy drink, which was a main sponsor.  All of them were pretty good, but I had the Mars drink and thought it the best.


The only downside of lunch was, that without the burger and with the sugary drinks, it was a carbfest. By the time we got to dessert, I was already pretty sugared up. Then I got the Sailor Moon parfait – which was excellent, but by god was it sweet. Like a gumball parfait, with a white (yellow) chocolate moon.


Then we came back and checked out what we had gotten at the shop. Some of what we wanted was sold out, no surprise. There were a *lot* of people buying stuff. So many, that there was a sign that you could *only* buy 20 of any item. Reselling is big business here.


Some of these items are destined for future lucky boxes, because I love you folks and want you to be happy. ^_^

We’ve also visited a shrine and climbed the most treacherous path I can remember having ever been on. This bit actually had a handrail. One part was a rope and other bits were unaided.



We ran into a Rose of Versailles pop-up shop that sold the most amazing boxes of tissues I have ever seen.


Had to show you this large so you can see everyone crying. ^_^

We saw a Chihayafuru popup, as well, as the live action movie is coming soon.


We’ve hit up a few other places, but it’s time to get dressed and get breakfast, so I’ll tell you all about the lecture next time. What a day it was!


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Maria-sama ga Miteru Anniversary Exhibit Report by Bruce P.

January 11th, 2015

mgsmeventIt is my very great pleasure to welcome back Guest Reviewer, all-around amazing Okazu and Yuricon supporter and great friend Bruce P! This time he has made it to Asagaya Anime Street for the Maria-sama ga Miteru Anniversary Event and were are delighted to have him tell us all about it. Thank you Bruce, the floor is yours…

I was pleased that a trip to Japan I had planned for Christmas this year coincided with a Maria-sama ga Miteru special event in Tokyo, in Asagaya Anime Street, appropriately located close to the heart of Marimite country. The event was in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the anime, and was coupled with the release of the Blu-Ray edition of the complete series. I just had to see what it was all about.

Asagaya was a happy, bustling place when I arrived late afternoon on Christmas day. Shoppers were everywhere, as can be seen in this covered mall, which managed to contrive a Magritte Empire of Light kind of lighting effect. No doubt to make the experience more fun. And possibly to disorient you into more readily opening your wallet.


However, for reasons probably related to storefront rental costs, Asagaya Anime Street is not located in this heavy cash flow area. It’s hidden away in a slightly sad and depressing site under the Chuo railway line elevated tracks. Definitely not prime real estate. To find it I had to work my way along and under the tracks, through tiny streets and alleys and girders, like Gene Hackman in The French Connection chasing the el train. Though he got to wreck a Pontiac. I had to walk.

But the walk was a great opportunity to take in the local sights, like this display of grimy, broken eggshells in front of a rice shop. Apparently all the surrealists were in town. An eye-catch for a rubbish disposal center.


Finally, in the gloom under the tracks, there it was.



Asagaya Anime Street consists of about 15 small shops selling anime related items of one sort or another. It actually seemed to be a worthwhile attempt to transform a deserted waste area under the tracks into a retail space, though the crowds were somewhat lacking. It took some effort to find, but of course that’s just what anime fans are willing to do.



The Marimite event was in the GoFaLABO (Gallery of Fantastic Art Laboratory) Café and Gallery Space. Yes the place was small, and located in a relatively deserted spot under the tracks. And it rattled with every passing train. And the retail item shelves were mostly empty. But the thing is this – the event itself was downright fabulous. GoFaLABO consists of a small retail space with café counter, plus an event area containing five café tables. The event area was hung with about 60 beautiful framed copies of all the Marimite hanken illustrations used for the series. In addition, episodes of the series were being shown at one end of the space, which you could watch as you lingered over Marimite-themed tea and pastries, surrounded by all that gorgeous art. There were four people doing this when I entered, two guys at one table, and a guy and an exquisitely Lolita-outfitted girl at another. As I lingered myself, another guy dropped in and settled himself at a fourth table. Photography was not permitted inside the café, which was unfortunate, but not unexpected.

What surprised me most about the experience was that, when concentrated in one place and viewed as a whole, the official Marimite images demonstrated a striking, powerful, almost single-minded obsession with Yuri (Yuri in implication, Yuri in fact, and (mostly) Yuri in fan enticement) that was really not fully representative of the multi-faceted story itself. But I’m not complaining. The images were beautiful, they were Yuri, and there were 60 of them. More tea, please.



Eventually I had to leave to head back to Ikebukuro. There were two extremely lovely Christmas/winter themed prints of Yumi and Sachiko for sale that I would have liked very much (one at least was new to this event), but they were only available for pre-order. I did purchase all the goods that were currently available, except for the Blu-Ray series: two lidded drinking cups, a coffee mug, and a calendar.


I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience the GoFaLABO Marimite event. It was superb, an emerald under the tracks. And with all those cups and mugs my dehydration worries are a thing of the past. If you have the opportunity to visit GoFaLABO in Asagaya Anime Street while the Marimite event is still taking place (through January 25th), please do so. If you’ve made it this far in this report, you’ll just love it.

Well, except maybe for Ana, you freakin’ tough Marine. Ganbatte, CO!

Erica here: Ganbatte seconded. And of course I’m insanely jealous.  I thank you again for the lovely calendar! 

Thank you once more for your time and effort on our behalf! I’m glad you enjoyed the show. 

In case any of you want a glimpse of the kinds of sweets they were selling, I’ve stolen borrowed two pictures from YNN Correspondent and friend Jackie S. to give you an idea. ^_^



This event will have had  a number of Okazu readers visit. We should do a travel special. ^_^

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