Archive for April, 2010


Tokyo Tops!

Going back to Tokyo this June, WOOOOOOOOOOOO, so to celebrate, here’s a collection of top places to visit in Tokyo, by myself and friends. Some, you will have heard of, some (hopefully) you will have not….any suggestions, please comment!!


Ameyoko, Ueno

1. Ueno

Although best known for it’s fabulous park, Ueno is quite the lively place. It’s nice to get away from the typical sky scraper, crazy lifestyle Tokyo is so famous for, and personally, Ueno always feels like I’m actually living in the city.

Pictured left is Ameyoko, a FANTASTIC little area that I recommend to everyone. It’s one of the few true markets left in Tokyo, where you can find anything and everything.

There’s also a zoo, a motocyle district and my personal fav, Tokyo National Museum.

The building is MAGNIFICENT. Anyway. Visit. Pls. 🙂

Nakano Broadway

2. Nakano Broadway and the Ghibli Museum

OK, I kinda cheated and put these two together. Mainly because everyone I know, does them in the same day. They’re both really close to each other, and anime related!!

If you’re taking Children to Tokyo (good luck 🙂 ) Ghibli Museum is a definite, also if you love the wonderful films they produce, or even if you’re just interested in seeing a different side to the Tokyo Anime scene. Ghibli Museum -it’s suprisingly cheap but you do need to buy well in advance. Do check it out.
Nakano Broadway is a slightly underrated anime or just shopping destination! But all my friends love it. It’s got several Mandarake shops, and stocks cosplay items and some fantastic (and rare) retro goods. Check it out here.


Akihabara Main street

3. Akihabara (The obvious choice!)

The mecca of all things anime/electronic/cosplay/manga/crazy stuff. If you haven’t heard of it…well OK you might not be into Anime. Anyways. Constantly evolving, there’s now a new J-list shop and finally a proper Mandarake. If you come out of the Akiba (short for Akihabara), Electric Town exit off the metro, you’ll bump straight into the wonderful Kotobukiya shop. Don’t forget to visit that Samurai Maid Café.

There’s also the hundreds of electrical goods shops, from cameras to computers to speakers shaped like Lego bricks. With plenty of duty free shops-just take your passport!

Myself and friends at-Kaminarimon Gate

4. Asakusa

This June I’m lucky enough to be staying in a lovely Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) near the beautiful Asakusa. Considered a must see destination by pretty much all tourists, this is a fantastic introduction to an “old Japan” that is still very much important to the every-day Japanese.
Google Images for all you lazy people out there. The Buddhist temple is fantastic, with a walkway of trees and lovely little (if slightly overpriced) stalls that are perfect for souvenirs. Oh, and a great Totoro shop on the corner 🙂 A lot of people don’t realise that there’s a whole other area to the temple too, (search for asakusa maps, or get one at the temple), with koi ponds and then it leads onto an old-style theme park and fantastic side roads.

I’ve been EVERY time I go, that’s how much I love it.

Takeshita Dori

5. Harajuku

A definite. I refuse to believe you have seen Tokyo if you don’t go here. Go. Infact, go now. Now. WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE!?!?!

The area best known for it’s fashion, and if you visit on a Sunday afternoon (definitely the best time, though not the only), you’ll be treated to a crazy amount of people in even crazier clothes. See this book for some brilliant photos of Harajuku fashion. It’s a truly vibrant, mad place. With everything from vintage to Lolita to punk to trendy, there will definitely be a shop for your tastes. OH and I found an awesome school uniform shop off on one of the side roads 🙂

Make sure you continue all the way down the main road, and out onto where H&M is. There’s a brilliant caramel café that’s well known –Hanabatake Bokujo Cafe where the Caramel milk is divine, as well as suprisingly cheap second hand shops. Though obviously, beware of how small Japanese sizes are.

ALSO-nearby is Meiji Jingu shrine (awesomely beautiful and a lovely chance to get away from the hustle and bussle).

Hamarikyu tea

6.  Hamarikyu Gardens

For more detail, see the Tokyo Parks site , but this has become my favourite place in Tokyo. If travelling from Asakusa to Odaiba, or you want to get to Odaiba, the boats stop at Hamarikyu and use this as a great way to hop from place to place. Although I could easily spend a day in this beautiful, edo style garden, a few hours could easily do you. There is an admission charge, but it wasn’t expensive.

Most people hate the tea and sweets you get from the tea ceremony, and so avoid it, but the tea house at the centre of these gardens serve a lovely (not too bitter) tea with wagashi (trad. sweets) along with an ENGLISH explanation of what to do. Also, there’s a nice lil pier-type-area to look over the ponds. It’s only 500 yen, DO IT!

Shibuya Crossing

7. Shibuya

A complete contrast to Hamarikyu, Shibuya is another obvious stop-off on everyone’s Tokyo Travel list! Or atleast, it should be.

The crossing is very famous, and is unbelievable during early evenings, where just thousands of people can cross in the space of SECONDS (well maybe not seconds)……..and there’s a good view point higher up in Shibuya Station.

There’s also the well-known Hachiko statue where people meet up, read the story behind it here . I think it’s now a Hollywood-Richard Gere film!

Urrrm oh, brilliant 900000 storey (or summat) building with CDs, DVDs, Manga, and at the very top is my favourite magazine store. Check it oouutt.

Yoyogi Park


8. Yoyogi Park

Although close to Harajuku and the Meiji shrine, this large park certainly deserves it’s own mention. Especially on Sundays, Yoyogi is a fantastic, eccentric and wonderful place to visit, with people busking, dancing, singing and just generally doing whatever they want to. Friends tell me the live performances have dried up recently-since Japan introduced licensing-but it’s still got the atmosphere.

I actually first heard about it for it’s large homeless camps, but they are quiet and you don’t tend to find any problems.

The people here are really friendly, and friends say they always end up having a chat with someone random. Oh, I also remember there being dog runs, which is rare in Tokyo, dogs are usually not allowed off the leash.

Eeerm, OK not much to say about the park, but do give it a visit if you want a slow walk for a few hours, absorbing the lively feeling.

Odaiba

9. Odaiba

Everyone I know says they love Odaiba, and it has become quite a popular tourist destination. I would recommend getting the boat there, because you get to see the wonderful Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay, although there are other ways to get there!

Museums, theme parks, entertainment and shopping-this place literally has everything! The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is wroth a visit if you enjoy all things modern, and you can find the famous robot ‘Asimo’. Don’t forgot Oedo Onsen Monogatari, I’ve never managed to visit but it has great reviews, especially if it’s your first time in a hot spring.

FOR MORE- check out JapanGuide for better detail than I can give here.

The lights of Ikebukuro

10. Ikebukuro

This June will be my first visit, hence it not being very high on the list-I’m going on information from everyone else! This mini article is a good describition of the area- CLICKIE . Sunshine 60 is one of the best places to get a view of Tokyo (I always found the Tokyo Tower uninspiring for it’s price) and it has an aquarium, the department stores are varied and very different to our own, it has a massive car showroom of funky mobiles,  oh and a musical instruments museum!!

My friends all say Ikebukuro was one of their favourite places, it’s not as horridly busy as Shibuya, but it has a more friendly, medium-city-like feel. If you’ve seen Durarara, you’ll get what I mean. There’s always something mad to find here, just go and explore.

EDIT: I completely forgot about the Animate here! It’s a massive 9 story building with some great merch and the usual manga/anime collection. I recently heard Ikebukuro described as the female Akihabara, so have a look around 🙂

Other places of note: Roppongi, Kamakura (short day trip from Tokyo), Omotesando Hills, Ochanomizu (for guitars!!) Jinbocho (used books), Tokyo Metropolitan Building, Tokyo Tower.

Hope this helps, any questions on places to visit within these places, just comment. I’m certainly not the law on all things Tokyo, but I enjoy the city and hope to help in any way!

xxxHolic Rou

EDIT: People are still getting onto this article looking for download sites, SO

WWW.ANIME-ACCESS.COM

WWW.ANIMETAKE.COM

I get most my anime from there, and I know anime-access have xxxHolic Rou, so you can find it there x

* Hyperventilates  *

It’s here. Finally. After being postponed (originally meant to come with Volume16) xxxHolic Rou, the OAD (Original Animation DVD) will be released in Japan along with Volume 17 of the manga. 23rd April.

So. Excite.

I’m not sure where I’ll be able to watch it, but I usually watch things in RAW, then later subbed, at Anilinkz.

Here’s the ending song…with random screenshots. It’s so sad 😦

Here’s Kodansha’s official site, with lovely screenshots and the official trailer…CLICK MEH.

Official Site

It’s a little scary seeing Watanuki in such outfits, but I won’t ruin it all for you if you haven’t read the manga. Do watch the anime though!!

If you don’t know the story….I’m sure I can enlighten you —————————->

My favourite character is, of course, Mokona. Although Yuuko comes in at a close second.

Mokona Madoki

Sake guzzling, and all round funny guy, I spit on all those who prefer white-I’m so boring all I do is eat apples-white mokona.

*sorry*

Anyway. Watch it.

.Shibuya Psychic Research.

KYAAAAAAAA ❤ Just finished the 25 marvellous episodes that make up Ghost Hunt. I started watching it when it first came out, but I’m a complete scaredy-cat and couldn’t watch it alone ;-;

Anyway! I finally watched it all (today :D), and hell-fire I’ve got myself attached to a couple again!

Gosh that looks uncomfy...

Siigh ❤ Mai Taniyama, and Kazuya Shibuya (or Naru, short for Narcissist!). Everyone loves them….although personally I’m also a fan of hilarious Yasuhara-san.

Aaw!

I don’t get it. Why do I always fall for the twatty ‘cool’ proud cold rude guys? Well either way, it’s rare I genuinely like a main female character. THEY SO ANNOYING. Snotty, beautiful, fancied by all the guys, and usually a bit thick. But Mai gets the balance, not to mention the fact she’s very down-to-earth about what a knob-sack Naru can be, it’s quite refreshing.

If you’ve not seen the anime, it’s about a young girl (Mai), who accidently breaks the camera, and in the process injures the assistant, to Shibuya Psychic Research, a company investigating her school for paranormal disturbances. So, to pay it off, and act as assistant, the young company director (Naru), takes her on for help on cases. There’s a host of other characters that join them, one of my favourites being Australian Catholic Priest “John Brown” 😛 Although it’s a Shoujou, it is actually quite creepy at times…

0_o Steady on girl!

All the images I’ve used are screen shots from episode…22? In one of Mai’s sorta-psychic-dreams. Unfortunately it doesn’t actually happen ;-; I’ve heard rumours of a Season 2, June 18th, but it seems that’s not true 😦

SO, for the sake of revision, I will buy the manga while in Japan this June 😛

FAN GIRL RANT OVER.

My First Cosplay~

I first cosplayed some years ago now, back in….gosh….2006. For the MCM Midlands Expo, I bought the top, then made the rest, for a Suigintou cosplay.

Emo shot xD

Suigintou is the ‘baddy’ character from Rozen Maiden….an anime series I actually thought was as boring as it’s main character, a dirty little-black-haired-nasty-to-his-sister-knob called Jun….(sorry fans). BUT Suigintou really caught my imagination, and was a nice addition to a sea of…well…dolls. It is a shame…the idea behind the anime is quite cool… ANYWAY!!!!

These photos were taken January 2010….’cause it was snowing!! AND I LOVE SNOW. SNOW SNOW SNOW 🙂

I did however, manage to fall over just before this shot…and I was SO COLD I thought my butt was gonna turn to ice.

My Nanny helped me make the wings, and I made the petticoat for underneath, as well as socks, and added the exciting white sleeves. I’m crap at sewing, and can’t afford ready made ones….so for May Expo I will likely cosplay with something I already have. 🙂 Comments and advice would be appreciated!!

Chu ❤

Purikura, or Purinto Kurabu, is the Japanese photo booth craze where you take lots of photos with

Friend Fun!

friends, then you can decorate the pictures!

It’s so much fun, and I experienced it first in Shibuya, Tokyo. Luckily I had Japanese people with me, so they could translate the instructions!


But where can you do it in Britain? Well there was a little shop in the Birmingham Pallasades, but my favourite place is in China Town, London!

Most people only know about the small Chinese machine downstairs, but I only recently found out that going up the escalator takes you to a whole beautiful new world 🙂

Japanese Machines, slightly more expensive…

BUT WITH MONKEY BARS.

Family Fun

So, you wanna go to the Mecca of all things anime…eh?? Well I’d certainly recommend a visit 🙂 And along with said recommendation, here’s a small list of things I think you should keep in mind….courtesy of someone who’s been a fair few times 😀

    Tokyo Tower

  1. If visiting a city with a subway/metro, print off some maps BEFORE you go. Myself and several friends have found that grabbing them while there…is not easy.
  2. Don’t expect people to speak English!! Most Japanese probably can, but it’s very rare they don’t leg it at the first sight of an approaching foreigner…(This tip was reinforced by my Mother!)
  3. On the above note, do try to learn some phrases before you going. Not only do they appreciate it, but it will help you. Anything from simple words like “Water”, to “Where do you keep the eroge?”.
  4. Why not make a fairly detailed itinerary? I mean, don’t be anal about it, but having an idea of what you wanna do will make things a lil easier, give some structure and you’re more likely to get to do everything you wanna do.
  5. Always overestimate how many money to take. Not by much, but by adding £50 to my food allowance I managed not to starve on the last 2 days >_>; It’s better to be prepared!
  6. On the subject of money, DO NOT rely on Traveller’s Cheques, ATMs or Cards. Pretty much everyone will tell you this…banks and ATMs are few and far between, and credit cards tend to only be excepted at major international restaurants or hotels. Japan is very much a cash society.
  7. Think carefully about clothing…which season are you going in?
  8. TRY all the food! Even if it looks…well…proper gross. I still have nightmares about the “Swirl of Doom” and “Sweaty Muffin”.

    Meal in Kyoto

  9. Before you go, see if you can walk to different places, don’t just rely on public transport. I was surprised how close many destinations are in Tokyo, saves you that 200円 that’ll buy you an extra manga…
  10. Chuo Dori, Akihabara and Takeshita Dori, Harajuku are prime examples of why you should take the side roads. Check them out certainly, but you’ll find similar shops at much cheaper prices with a lil wanderin’.
  11. Don’t be too surprised if you get stared at…especially by babies…or if you’re tall!
  12. You CAN eat cheaply!! Try the local Ramen bar, or even the hot food from the convenience stores. Eating doesn’t have to cost a bomb…and most places will have pictures/plastic models of the food, so no worries if there isn’t any English.
  13. Why not try an Onsen? Or Sento (public bath houses). It’s a little scary at first. My mate’s first time, involved walking in on a naked little Japanese guy doing squats. This Onsen in Odaiba, Tokyo is a nice intro. for foreigners.
  14. Why not explore, get a bit lost? Loads of travel blogs advise just sitting on the Yamanote Line train in Tokyo, for 160円, will take through temples, grave yards, high-rise buildings and neon lights. The metro in Tokyo is certainly never far away, and walking down that road might take you somewhere maagiicaall 😀
  15. My most important point. Try and make friends before you go!! Try the forums on Japan Guide, where you can ‘advertise’ for travel buddies, or someone willing you show you around their part of Japan. Obviously, be careful, but you will have a truly unique trip.

Some lovely gals I met in Kyoto

This is by no means a complete list of tips, but it will get you started! Also, most of these apply to all travel! This June will see my 4th trip over there, but if you have any more, let me know!

Living in lovely Blighty, means I don’t get much access to English language anime magazines. I still remember getting the news about NEO, the only true British Japanese media magazine…alas….even after importing Newtype USA, nothing quite compares to the glory that is the Japanese magazine industry.

First off, if you’re wondering where to buy, I would recommend the Japan Centre or Mitsukoshi (Piccadilly, London), both excellent stores. Or if you can’t get them there, there’s my good friend J-List.

I would definitely advise all anime fans to import at least one Japanese mag. in their life of fandom, so here is my humble guide to buying them.

First up

Nov 2003 issue

Newtype is likely familiar. It’s pretty thick, always has at least one pull out smexy poster, a manga chapter and some pretty interesting articles.

It’s a monthly magazine, and one which I used to get in bundles at anime expos as getting new issues will set you back (in my experience) anywhere between £12-£17. Ouch. But, a lot of people think it’s worth it. It’s so popular in Japan it gets a lot of good interviews and exclusives….oh and I did get a free model with it once!!!

“Newtype, the Moving Pictures Magazine” had its 300th issue anniversary in March, and is still going pretty strong. I, however, wouldn’t buy it anymore. Not enough freebies for the price, too much text if you’re not a Japanese speaker, plus I always find the posters to be few, and not something I’d want me Nan to see…(though this may be your thing!), there are better out there.

Second…

Aug 2007 issue

Megami…OK . Would never buy. Ever. Even if….I was paid to.

Well alright, I probably would if I was paid, but the principle would still be there somewhere.

If 14-year-old girls with no clothes on, in wierd positions, and maybe falling into other naked prepubescents is your thing (which, hell, might be. I won’t judge….well…), then by all means buy buy buy. It’s just….not really mine.

I’ve never seen it for over £11.50, and I’ve seen up to 20 posters included before. I think it’s J-List’s top-selling anime mag…So yeah. Not my cup of tea, but might just be yours.

Third…

May 2010 issue

Well, this will be bias. I’ve spent so much money on this magazine last few years, damn everything to hell if I’m gonna bad mouth it now.

It’s actually by the same dudes who did Megami, this is like…it’s tame, not so pervy little sister. Not that it’s just for females or anything, that’s why I like it, it’s just…well what you want from a magazine. OK, the issue pictured on the left, also included 4 posters, 2 A4 files, a song book, page of stickers and a real sense that you just contributed to a great institution. Or summat like that. Admittedly, the A3 poster with Lelouch on it probably had something to do with my keeness…*FANGURL*…Definitly sexiest character ever, with an allure like no—–anyway. I digress.

I paid £11 for it at Mitsukoshi in London, you can get it online for around the same, and you can subscribe (like the others). It’s one of Japan’s most popular magazines for good reason, a decent all-rounder and certainly one I’d recommend if you’ve never bought a Japanese magazine before.

Other notables would be Nyantype-a cute girl orientated mag. Or try Dengeki G’s Magazine-for those with a penchant for DD’s. Also, if you’re into figures, I’ve always liked Hobby Japan, or Figure Maniacs.

Or how about you go wild…and get Mum to buy you Moe Moe Uniform Encyclopedia for yurr birthday?

アニメディアのキャラクターランキング

Ok, I’ve always liked knowing what’s popular in Japan at present, and the brilliant Japanese anime magazine ANIMEDIA always has it’s monthly character poll. So, from me to you, the rankings. I’ll try and put more up as it goes along…depends how popular it is 🙂

Also, please buy Animedia! This months was pretty good actually, Kobato stickers, posters for Black Rock Shooter, Gintama and Code Geass, a song book and two A4 folders of K-ON and Hakuouki.

  1. 1. FIRST PLACE- Gintoki Sakata from Gintama

2. SECOND PLACE- Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

3. THIRD PLACE- Hirasawa Yui from K-ON!

4. Hibari Kyouya from Katekyou Hitman Reborn!

5. Misaka Mikoto from Toaru kagaku no Railgun

6. Teito Klein from 07-Ghost

7. Okita Sougo from Gintama

8. Akiyama Mio from K-ON!

9. Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist

10. Izumi Konata from Lucky Star

11. Rokudou Mukuro from Katekyou Hitman Reborn!

12. Hanato Kobato from Kobato

Sorry it's not a great picture!

13. Nihon (Japan) from Hetalia Axis Powers

14. Ranka Lee from Macross F

15. Sheryl Nome from Macross F

16. Hitsugaya Toushiro from Bleach

17. Date Masamune from Sengoku Basara

18. Igirisu (England) from Hetalia Axis Powers

19. Sebastian Michaelis from Kuroshitsuji

20. Kira Yamato from Gundam Seed

21. Orihara Izaya from Durarara!!

22. Gilbert Nightray from Pandora Hearts

23. Fate Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha

24. Saten Ruiko from To aru kagaku no Railgun

25. Kinoshita Hideyoshi from Baka to test to shoukanjuu

PHEW that took me awhile. I was gonna put pictures of each of them up….but I really need to write my essay ;-; Do you think it needs pics?

Ever heard of SOAS? Didn’t think so.  I love my university, but hellfire I get the whole “Oh….what?” all the time. It stands for the School of Oriental and African Studies, and is…well….pretty good for anything Asia/Africa related. But  did you know, that the one and only mirai.fm owner, Mr Danny Choo is in fact an alumnus of said uni?

Hell yeah.

So, on a sunny Tuesday 13th April, Mr Choo paid us a visit…I actually dragged myself out of an Easter holiday-procrastination-oversleeping slump to attend his talk. If you don’t know who he is…SHAME ON YOU.  And then go visit DC …he is the god of all that is blogging. Oh and then go watch him dance… Tokyo Trooper

————————————————————————————-

So, back to the event at hand.Danny’s talk was definitely worth going to, especially for me as a student of Japanese. Introduced by my History lecturer, Dr Angus Lockyer, who heads up the Japan Research Centre,  Danny began with his childhood. Growing up in Hackney,  his sega megadrive (SCORE!), his starting to watch anime and wanting to play more Japanese games…and so it followed that Danny started learning the language. I bet that’s the route a lot of you guys have taken?

I’ve gotta say, I was impressed at his dedication. Danny claims his love for a J-pop idol made him more determined to learn Japanese, and he gave a few interesting tips for us learners…

  • Danny recorded the audio from anime and played it back on his mp3, while walking/on buses etc.
  • He translated j-pop songs that he really liked (something I’ve heard many people do).
  • And most importantly in my opinion, the creation of Kanji charts and then putting them all over the house, especially in the toilet.

I would definitely recommend the last point, putting up grammar points on the side of the shower was certainly the key to my success at Japanese AS Level 😀 (If you can call it success >_>;)

Technical problems during the presentation...

Danny also put a lot of effort into getting jobs that would give him a chance to practice his language skills.

From a Japanese restaurant (where he met his lovely wife), onto JAL at Heathrow (Japan Airlines), and it must’ve worked as he graduated SOAS with First Class Honours….

*realises she should get her butt in gear if she wants to do the same….*

ALAS Danny Choo just wanted to live and work in Japan. He called it his “Destination”, and finally got a position with a magazine in Japan, thanks to his skills with the web, and then after that worked for Amazon.jp, also with their website.

  • One thing he also mentioned here, was that if you’re nay too keen on being an English teacher in Japan, a key thing to getting a job out there, is developing other important skills-NOT just language.

ALAS (I really like that word), he still wasn’t doing what he wanted to do. And he made a poignant, if slightly clichéd, speech about how little time we all have, how we should do what we truly love, and enjoy it. It certainly struck a chord with the audience though, and made me wanna go home and do my homework.

*Disclaimer: She did not actually go home and do her homework. But the thought was there.*

And thus Mirai (meaning future in Japanese), was formed. And the famous dannychoo.com. It’s user based content of blog-style posts vary from life in Japan, to anime, to figures, to Ball Jointed Dolls. A lovely example of which can be seen to the right, some of the audience brought their “daughters” with them.

Danny briefly spoke on the success of his business, all the Mirai related merchandise, TV appearances and now an in-the-making Anime. apparently showing all of us, that putting in enough effort will get you somewhere.

Not telling you where I am.

A lot of people turned up, and it was a good night, with a few hours for networking (or rather in practice for myself and friend….going really red and asking for photos with the Choo-ster). I would definitely advise checking out Danny’s website, a friend of mine can’t stand anime but she still reads it for the interesting insights into Japanese culture.

So, in the words of Danny himself….Lovely Jubbly.