I've already written some about Sakura-con. The highlight of this con was their anime music video (AMV) room, which was really well done. Pictures of cosplayers can be found here
. After this trip I have decide that the big cons (like Otakon and Sakura-con) are definitely the way to go. There are more people and more stuff, but they feel less crowded than the smaller hotel-based cons. I may still go to Anime USA, especially if my friend Mary Jane is going, but the big con experience is definitely more enjoyable. I have to find another one to try sometime.
Tokyo was spectacular! I must go back soon. I didn't have a lot of time to wander around, because it was a business trip, but I did get to see Shibuya. I wanted to hit Akihabara, but it didn't work out. The few pictures I took during the trip are located here
.One caveat, the photos of the cookies were taken in Seattle on Saturday Night. That's not the table in my awesome Japanese Hotel, but in the crappy airport Ramada. What to say about Tokyo...
Crowded. I don't think Americans know the meaning of the word. We went to Shibuya in the morning on Friday and I have never seen so many people. Leaving the metro, it was like two rivers of people in the mall that gave access to the station. And everyone was going to or from the metro, because the shops weren't open yet. Somehow we got on the wrong side, going against the stream. My dash across the hall, accomplished without bumping into anyone was a spectacular feat. The masses of people waiting to cross at intersections was like nothing I've ever seen. Think Manhattan and double it. It was a sight to behold.
Amazingly, watching anime prepared me more for this trip than I ever would have imagined. Of the three of us who went, I knew the most Japanese, despite one guy having been there before. I recognized food items from shows (Rice balls from School Rumble
, bread filled with yummy stuff from Azumanga Daioh
, and a type of fish cake from Black Heaven
). I felt a little embarrassed explaining my anime-viewing habits are the reason I know some Japanese (everything I know I learned from anime and Shogun
). Those guys probably think I'm nuts. Still I think I was a little more savvy than somebody who might learn about American Culture from American cartoons.
I didn't eat as much Japanese food as I would have liked. We had Japanese for lunch most days because of where we were (mmm eel over rice), but the guys I was with weren't huge Japanese fans, and I stuck with the group. Korean barbecue one night. Hamburgers another (this I was actually into because I wanted to see what a Japanese "authentic American hamburger" would be like). God those hamburgers were great. One night we were treated to dinner, which was a great Japanese meal, with LOTS of Sapporo beer to wash it down, as well as some other yummy J-booze. That was where I had to explain my language prowess. First to "This is your first trip to Japan, but... I think you have some experience with the Japanese language." And later to a somewhat incredulous "Why you speak Japanese?" I think this might have been because I was the one of the three who put forth the most effort. I wanted to try some rice balls, but I was never hungry when I saw them in the convenience stores. Didn't eat any sushi until the day I left. There was a sushi place near my gate at Narita, so I stopped there for lunch. The other option was McDonalds, which I didn't want. The sushi was VERY good. Had some nice saké, too.
It was fairly easy to get around Tokyo as an American with minimal Japanese skills. The metro was very easy.
Efficiency. Everything ran very well. The shuttle to and from the airport was one of the most well run systems I've ever seen. Ticketing, taking luggage, boarding passengers. You would have to be an idiot to get on the wrong bus or lose your luggage.
Everyone was very friendly. The way people said "good morning" and "thank you," it wasn't like they were just saying it, more like singing it. I don't know whether this is just something about the language that they always do it this way, or whether it was because I was mainly interacting with staff at businesses and they were dealing with a customer. Customer service, by the way, was excellent over there.
I kinda wish I didn't have to come back.
"Yes, Mr. PlumBob. It came through." Those word were music to my ears leaving Tokyo. I used some of my miles to upgrade and flew business class from Tokyo to San Francisco, and First class from SF to Seattle. Business class is nice! I was actually able to sleep for most of the flight to the States, despite not being totally exhausted.
When I got back to Seattle, the first thing I did after twelve hours on planes was, of course, rent a car and go look at planes. The museum of flight is most excellent and I recommend it if your ever in Seattle. Pics here
. That night I grabbed dinner at a red Robin and went to bed early. Got out of Seattle earlier than expected, after a bit of a scare (my original flight was canceled; thank God I got to the airport three hours early). After business class the day before, coach was doubly horrible. Middle seats all the way back to DC, too. Landed here around 11. Took today off work. Slept LOTS. Eleven days of running around must have taken a greater toll on me than I had realized. But it was a great experience. I loved it. I want to go back to Japan so bad. I need to get off my ass and renew my passport.