I had my old co-worker and kohai from high school, K, show us around Akihabara. I haven't really visited Akihabara since they cleaned up, so I was pretty excited.
I also wanted to try out a maid cafe for the first time.
We met in front of Gamers, since it's the store of our former company. And it's also easy to spot.
I got there a bit early, so I took a picture of a man sitting around.
Surreal and a bit creepy...
Anyway, K took us to a maid cafe of his choice.
My friend H got the omrice with the option of having our maid draw something with ketchup.
In the end, I think I had the most fun because our maid happened to be a Hunter (as in, she plays Monster Hunter). I asked her where I can get Monster Hunter goods and she named two stores. K was nice enough to show me where they were.
A sample of what Japan has to offer!
There were lines at the AKB48 Cafe (which I wasn't interested in visiting) and the Gundam Cafe, so we didn't go in.
I think I'll come back to visit the Gundam Cafe... Well, I have to come back to buy all the Monster Hunter goods...
We visited other cafes, and one of them was the Wonder Festival Cafe. It's more of a food court than a cafe.
There was a work station area where you can build your plastic models. 200 yen per hour.
When we were leaving, there was actually a man building something. I wanted to ask questions (because I always do), but didn't want to cut into his time.
I had to go back to the hotel to work, so I was only able to spend half a day with K, but hopefully I'll see him again at Winter Comiket.
I didn't take pictures of monja because they're not the prettiest thing in the world.
I did take pictures of the temple and stuff, but they're pretty boring. You know what's exciting? Food!
What I like about coming to Asakusa is the deep-fried manju.
This was kabocha deep-fried manju.
We traveled to the Hamarikyu Gardens via the Tokyo Cruise.
It was such a nice day.
The contrast of the Japanese garden and the city in the background is pretty spiffy.
We then went to Roppongi Hills. It's mostly blah blah holiday boring stuff, but the one awesome thing about this place was...
Even the ticket dispenser is cute!
We then went to Shinjuku, where they were having a festival at one of the shrines. It was for Tori no Ichi, where people would go and buy decorated kumade (rakes) to wish for good fortune and a thriving business. The kumade is so that they can rake in good fortune. (Or money. Heh heh.)
I don't really believe in buying things for luck and stuff, so I didn't really show much concern...
I was mainly looking at the food.
We then went the Shinjuku Golden Gai area.
My friend H wanted to go into one of the bars, so we chose one with an anime theme. Obviously the guy is an otaku... I wanted to keep my occupation a secret, but I had to reveal it in the end.
Haha, not that I really mind...
I was so tired at the end of the day, but I had a LOT of fun. Thanks, L & Y, for showing us around!!
For lunch, I met up with my childhood friend Ayu and her daughter.
We spent a few hours catching up.
Here's the food I had.
Crab rice set.
At night, I went to D's performance in Saitama. It was the first night of their tour.
This was the first time in Saitama for me, I think... I almost got lost in Omiya Station.
Thanks to Y-san, I got in with a backstage pass.
When going to the dressing room, Y-san told me to go in and pretend to be a foreigner to freak the members out, so I yelled out, "Hello~!" and started to greet them in English. But I stopped immediately, because I didn't want to stress them out (with having to speak English) before their show.
Hide-Zou did ask me how to say some stuff in English, so I did help him with that. He didn't use it in the end...
Ruiza before the show. I think he was ready first? So he had a lot of time, and I was able to take a picture.
The live was loud, but fun! The crowd would headbang with the band, and after the song was done, took out brushes to fix their hair. LOL!
They surprised Hide-Zou with a cake, and he was so surprised he was stammering. We had the cake later, but we didn't have a knife or forks, so we ate it with chopsticks.
I had to work at the hotel today, so I let my friend H roam around Ikebukuro on his own. But before that, we went to go get our JR Rail Passes.
For this trip I have to JR Rail Passes. One is the normal one. I got the ordinary 7-day pass, as did my friend H.
The other one is the JR East flexible 4-day pass, for when I go to Niigata to stay with my relatives. I couldn't get that one yet, so I'll get it later.
We then went to lunch.
H thought of Japanese food as "ramen and sushi," so we went to get ramen.
Spicy Negi Bankara Ramen. 930 yen.
Then I went back to work.
Since I'm working on BL, I had to look up sex toy sites for inspirations for dildo names. I chose something called "Pleasureskin," so please look for it. The title isn't announced yet, so I can't say which one it is... But it is a SuBLime title.
For dinner we went to eat horumon (intestines).
Shishito (twisted pepper), sweet potato, okra, and chicken.
I totally forgot to take pictures of the horumon... It's okay; I'll go eat more during my stay.
So my first day in Japan was mostly spent in the hotel. How sad...
I got up at 6am to shower and head to the airport. I had a medium-sized suitcase and a pretty large duffle bag to check, and a backpack plus a briefcase as carry-ons. The suitcase was all omiyage for my friends and clients. It was about 30lbs.
The check-in at the counter went smoothly. This is why I travel on a weekday. I usually prefer Tuesdays, but for this trip I decided to leave on Monday to accommodate my friend H.
Since the check-in went so fast, I had a lot of time to kill. Even the security gates weren’t open. So I found a seat and checked email and stuff. I also started to rip my next manga up, but I had to stop because someone sat near me and was looking at me. She was probably wondering why I was ripping a book up, and not necessary looking at the content. But it’s pretty graphic (but censored) BL, so I put it away.
Instead, I wrote a summary for the book (as required by my client). Since it’s BL, I really can’t write more than a few sentences…
I was planning to work on my BL manga on the plane. Unfortunately I had young people sitting across the aisle and diagonally behind me. Even if I didn’t translate the book, I had wanted to at least get the formatting out of the way. Oh well.
So instead, I watched some movies. First I saw “The Help.” I loved it! Stellar cast. I might even pick up the book to read. (Like I really have time to read anything other than work material.)
I was going to go to sleep after watching “The Help,” but I wasn’t that sleepy so I watched “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” I liked that too, even if the apes were creepy. I had recently watched the original “Planet of the Apes,” so I appreciated the references here and there. I should have watched the movies again, this time in Japanese, simply to study, but this was when I got sleepy, so I went to sleep.
By the way, if people are curious, I usually fly Korean Air. I love their flight times (early departure, early arrival) and especially love their plane food, bibimbap.
I usually don't care for personal tv monitors (like on Singapore Airlines), but I guess it's nice. As long as you don't overuse it...because it's not good for your eyes.
They even had audiobooks, which are perfect to put you to sleep.
This "Lessons at the Halfway Point" was horrible, though. I was scoffing the entire time. So instead I listened to Shakespeare stuff.
After arriving at Narita, I had to ship some stuff to my relative's house in Niigata. Then I waited for my friend H to arrive.
As I was waiting, I spotted Taka, the great interpreter at many conventions. We talked for a bit as I waited for my friend. We even called up Mamoru Yokota-san and left a message.
H finally came through customs and we headed to Ikebukuro. I usually stay in Higashi Ikebukuro (where Sunshine City is), but because hotels are cheaper in Nishi Ikebukuro, we're staying there. After H goes back to the states, I'm going to be staying in Higashi again.
For dinner I had onigiri, but H had the McDonald's KBQ burger.
There was a review online praising this as the best burger from McDonald's. But I'm not interested.
I have special holiday cards made for my business this year. Of course, designed by the bestest designer I know, my friend F. It's soooooo cute. It's too bad I can't show it off online.
Anyway, I had to get holiday cards labeled, personalized, stamped, and ready to go before I leave for Japan.
It was a lot of work, since I met so many new people this year. I spent $45 just to send the cards to my Japanese acquaintances... -_- I could have sent them from Japan, but I thought it would be confusing since my U.S. address is printed on the card.
In order to save the hassle and postage, I'm having my sister hand-deliver the cards to my friends who are in the industry. (Square Enix, Sony Pictures, and Treyarch.)
Today was the day D was going home. I accompanied them to the airport.
There was a loooong line when we got there. The reason was the 100+ guys from Honda who came for overseas training for a few days. (I know this because I asked the guy who was standing in line in front of us. He looked so uncomfortable talking to me...haha!)
But it didn't take long, and D had about 30 minutes to shop. Hiroki didn't want to shop, but wanted to eat. So I accompanied him upstairs.
We decided on Pink's.
I wasn't hungry, but Hiroki insisted on buying me something (because he felt bad for causing me trouble), so we got a veggie dog and something with chili, sauerkraut, and tomatoes.
Hiroki liked them!
*I'm not sure how he feels about his pictures being posted, so it's a smaller picture than usual*
D left happy and satisfied with their LA trip!
After getting back, I accompanied Nonaka-san.
He had a panel first.
It was so interesting! He showed multiple drafts of his designing process, etc. I wish he would go to more events to do panels.
He did a demo sketch. He draws really fast...
And he did two sketches.
After the panel, Nonaka-san did his press.
I actually left to go talk to the We [Heart] Japan people who were nearby. I wanted WHJ to get in line for the Nonaka autograph session coming after this, so we can use it for one of our events.
I actually made voice actress Stephanie Sheh stand in line... Of course, she was cool about it. :D
Nonaka-san's autograph session was awesome. It was an amazing experience to sit next to him and see all of his sketches. He did a different sketch for every single person. Different uses of shading, different props, different compositions...
I took a picture of every sketch! Some examples:
After the autograph session, we went to the closing ceremonies but the room was empty. (Apparently we got there too late, since Nonaka-san was sketching for extra people.)
So we went up to the green room to wait for Imagawa-san, who was out and about. We waited a looooong time...
While we were waiting, Nonaka-san's wife and co-worker tried Twinkies. They said it was okay. Wow, because the sight of Twinkies makes me gag.
Finally Imagawa-san came, and we sent the guests off to dinner. Most of the staff stayed behind this night. I think we were all tired.
As always, I was tasked with informing the procedure of it to the Japanese guests. Because a lot of them didn't know what they were supposed to do, haha.
From the left is Imagawa-san, Suzumi-san, Nonaka-san, Atelier Pierrot, translator Taka, and Mike Tatsugawa.
At the end, Mike had Atelier Pierrot fill in one of the eyes.
After the Opening Ceremonies, I convinced Suzumi-san to stay for Imagawa-san and Nonaka-san's panel. So she could see what a panel would look like, and also so she wouldn't be nervous about what she's expected to do tomorrow.
Imagawa-san and Nonaka-san at their panel. They look like they're having so much fun, right? It's because they were talking about stuff they can't openly say in Japan about the relationship between toy companies and anime studios. Everything was to stay in this room.
Nonaka-san's baby. He specifically asked to picture it with the water bottle to show how big it is.
After the panel, I split with Suzumi-san and stayed with Imagawa-san. He was super excited that George Takei was coming, and we were figuring out how he can go say hi.
I was ready to interpret, but Mr. Takei spoke perfect Japanese.
I once again split up with a guest to chill in the green room. I think Imagawa-san went to go eat?
While I was chilling, D came up before their concert.
They look so different in makeup and costume. By this time, I had only memorized Hiroki-san's name because he kept asking me questions. (Now I know their names. From left, front: Hiroki-san, Shion. From left, back: Hide-Zou-san, Tsune-san, Asagi-san, Ruiza-san, Brandon, and Melissa.)
I went to the concert later. It was pretty fun. I kept gasping because Ruiza-san would allow so much touching. I asked him the next morning if he's like that in Japan, and he said he allows more touching in Japan.
I went to sleep early because Saturday was my big day with Suzumi-san. (Although I really didn't need much sleep because I wasn't interpreting anything.)
This year I joined the guest relations staff to help out my friend J.
Since it was Day 0, I didn't do much.
I greeted the guests at LAX.
The band members were asking me if they could walk to the nearest supermarket. But I told them it's a good walk, and it's a bit dangerous, so I recommended against it. I think someone took them later at night...