... or should I say, Golden four days in Tokyo. My university had class until Wednesday afternoon, with its fair share of quizzes and essays. By the time I boarded my 4 PM highway bus, I was ready for a vacation... and the semester has barely kicked off!
Months ago, my friend from Hawaii (Sam) said she wanted to visit Tokyo for Golden Week. I started planning accordingly, reserving early bus tickets and making spare space in my closet. Since she was coming with three other friends, all of us shared a rental house two train stops away from Harajuku.
We had a blast, and I got to see a lot more of Tokyo on this trip!
Day One, Harajuku and Akiba.
It was rainy, and Takeshita Doori was swamped. I kept getting hit in the face with wet umbrellas, and felt as pleasant as my soggy sandals. Though the weather could have been less of a drag, this was the day we had waited for: shopping together in Harajuku.
After swimming (almost literally) through the sea of ever slow-moving pedestrians, shady touts and out-of-place tourists we reached the stairs to our destination. I sheathed my ribbon-printed 300 yen umbrella in the rack and crossed the threshold into the shop of lolita legend, this time, with one of my closest lolita friends.
I was happy that Sam found some of her dream items: Sugar Pansy in Yellow, the yellow Honey Cake skirt and head bow set, and an adorable Emily Temple Cute jsk. I was less lucky; the dresses I wanted were either in the wrong colour, cut, or they didn't have them at all. Then again, I had set the bar a little too high, hoping for the elusive Chess Chocolate bustier jsk.
We went up the stairs to the gothic floor, enjoying Dir en grey's new album on the intercom. I mulled over some Moitie jsks before deciding no, I'm still not that gothic, and had a mosey around the Otome floor. After discussing the pros and cons of buying a Q-pot chocolate banana necklace, I returned to the lolita floor for one last glance before I made up my mind.
I wandered to the Classic Lolita rack, where I don't usually look, because I'm usually a tack monster who enjoys cupcake printed dresses in neon hues paired with pink motor cycle jackets. But much to my surprise, something caught my eye: a maidenly jsk in a flattering cut, with a vertical blue rose pattern.
I had never tried on a blue lolita piece before, but showed my friends and they ushered me into the pink-curtained changing room.
My heart sank when I saw the Victorian Maiden brand tag. Victorian Maiden has always been known as a small-size brand, and I had long ago accepted that I could probably never wear it. But I thought what the heck, I would give it a shot... and the zipper closed, with room to spare. I saw it in the mirror and thought oh my, where has this dress been all my lolita life?
I got it for a steal. Since the brand tag was still attached, I know it originally retailed for 12,000 yen more than I paid. Plus I filled up a Closet Child stamp card, and with the bonus, got a BTSSB blouse to match for only 500 yen.
Shot from my futon bed, in the tatami room of our rental house:
Later that day we took
an Ark the train to drizzly Akihabara. I had never been, but always wanted to! It was smaller than I expected, but so much fun.
Sam and her friends are really into games, so we played around the arcades, explored a Pachinko Parlor and all the game shops. They had deals like Nintendo 3DSs for about $150, a tempting deal even for me, a non-gamer.
I had a lot of fun collecting merch from Tiger & Bunny, my current favourite anime. (More on that in a sec!) I did fall down some slippery stairs in a manga shop but since the day ended with soba, all was well.
Some more shots from the day:
Day Two. Ueno Zoo, Ikebukuro
Since day two was Golden Week's "Green Day", Ueno Zoo Park was free admission.
Unfortunately, it was still raining.
If you'd like to see the Zoo scenery, this sums it up:
Lovely umbrella fauna. And the Domesticus familius, not in their natural habitat.
Needless to say, we didn't stay very long. We got to see some Red Pandas, grabbed omiyage for my friends and then evacuated to Ikebukuro... where Sam had a surprise in store for me.
Sam knows I like Tiger & Bunny, but wow, I did not see this coming.
We wandered into Sunshine City, to a mysterious front called "Namco Namja Town". I spotted some familiar faces from the corner of my eye...
What was this place?!
Turns out, Namja Town is like an arcade, fused with a themed food court, with a touch of theme park. It's three stories of games, character merch, and more food than you could ever hope to eat in a day. And lucky me, Sam brought me just in time for the end of the Tiger & Bunny event!!
These are just the Tiger & Bunny themed dishes:
Some of the keepers are "Good Luck Mode Gyouza" with Kotetsu and Barnaby's silhouettes, a Blue Rose float, and a sundae with Sky High printed on senbei.
Since Kotetsu is my favourite, I got the ice cream featuring him and Barnaby. It was called "Christmas wo Nazoru", a tip of the hat to the show's theme song.
When it was done, the tenant made me pet little Tiger's beard. XD
The parfait was made on a soft cake base, matcha (green tea) soft serve, a cookie tree and a cake star on top. Bunny was made of strawberry milk chocolate and Tiger was white chocolate.
I didn't want to eat little Kotetsu!!
Here are all of our ice creams together! Sam got Blue Rose's sundae, which was Ramune (soda pop) soft serve with jelly and chocolate snowflakes. When she ordered it, the tenants said Blue Rose's catch phrase!
Sam's boyfriend went for the Origami Cyclone ice cream... which still baffles me! How the heck did they make ice cream in the shape of Origami Cyclone?!
Maybe I should have stayed and watched, instead of running off for soft serve...
Some other things I got to do was take Tiger & Bunny purikura with the characters, ride Kotetsu's tiger and play a lottery for Tiger & Bunny goods.
They also remodelled one of the large restaurant areas to look like the Heroes Bar from the anime! There were original sketches framed on the walls, and in display cases, they had Kotetsu's hat and mask and other things. The "King of Heroes" trophy was also on display under a spot light.
There was an autograph on the wall too!
In summary I enjoyed myself waaayy too much in Namja town. I didn't get to see tigers at the zoo, but an afternoon with friends and Wild Tiger totally compensated.
Day Three. Odaiba.
My last full day in Tokyo started with a return to Harajuku, which believe it or not, was even MORE crowded. The return of the sun must have had something to do with it.
We were just popping in so my friend could grab a petticoat; there was some kind of special going on, I think the first 50 customers could get a massive petti for 1,000 yen. My friend snagged it, and I found something breath taxingly beautiful (and cheap) in the mean time:
Alice and the Pirates "End of Immortal Eden" corset skirt, for a good price too.
I remember loving this print when I saw it for reserve a few months ago, especially the off-center placement of the bird cage. Again, I tried it on expecting it not to fit, but it was gorgeous and comfortable!
It was then I cut myself off from any splurges ever for the rest of my life. But now that I had my classic blue rose fix, I could live with that.
We met up with the rest of our group, and headed to Odaiba, which is apparently, an entirely man-made island. We took a scenic monorail over, with beautiful views of the ocean, Fuji TV centre and the ferris wheel. And once we got to our destination, an even more fascinating view awaited us:
A life-sized Gundam. For scale reference, that's an 8 story shopping mall behind it, to the left. (There's also another Gundam Cafe here, bigger than the one in Akihabara.)
The boys headed to Spocha on the top floor, a club where you pay a flat rate, and get unlimited free use of sporting facilities, arcade games and such. Sam and I went to a karaoke place on the next floor down. We weren't expecting anything unique or special, so imagine the look on our faces when we walked into...
A Hello Kitty themed karaoke room, complete with Hello Kitty room slippers. It seemed each room had a different theme here, and only two of the rooms were Hello Kitty themed.
We shared an order of strawberry Honey Toast, which was fabulous with our Dir en grey.
And before we knew it, it was all ready late and time to head home.
Day Four didn't really count, since I had to wake up early, bid my friends goodbye and head back to Tokyo Station. I spent the next eight hours on a highway bus caught in traffic, and fell asleep as soon as I got home.
I really miss Sam all ready; all we could talk about was the fun we'll have together when I'm home in Hawaii. It really made me nostalgic for my home, the friends and people there. I don't really want to blow any surprises, but I have a few big plans for when I get back... cosplays, themed lolita meets planned with Sam, and two big events at HEXXP, Hawaii's Entertainment Expo.
And as for the rest of May, I have tickets to see the Visual Kei band Dolly, a cosplay event with a friend this Sunday, and I meet my host family on Saturday!!
Like the moon above the Gundam at Odaiba, the future is bright.
In the meantime, I have more tests to study for. Work justifies play! :P
Till next time,