“Ralph Nader has slavery reparations on his platform, which makes me think he’s not serious. If he thought he could win he wouldn’t even say that.”— Dave Chappelle
This was aligned with my interests:
Despite the enticingly-bound Cutie Honey just inside the entrance, let’s just say that the reality of Nakano Broadway is not as exciting or interesting as the version in Asobi Ni Iku Yo!. A lot of storefronts are empty, a lot of the rest are Mandarake specialty shops these days, and nothing really opens until noon.
I bought some collected capsule-toy cats, a Girls Und Panzer tank with the girls riding it, and an Onsa-chan with bike. I was strongly tempted by the large Rory Mercury figure, but it didn’t have a box to protect her polearm, so it would have been “fun” to pack.
Also, it was over $150.
Most of the figures were from recent shows I don’t follow; nothing was as old as the Happy Lesson figure I found earlier, except for some major collectibles with matching prices. Lots of raunchy porn, including a sex-toy shop.
I was quite surprised to see a framed print of the cover of one of the original Dirty Pair novels displayed in a bookstore that was half art gallery in Ginza Six. “Oh, that would be cool”, I said, and then saw that it was signed, from a limited edition of 30, and cost ¥880,000.
This was not the most expensive artsy thing on display, by several orders of magnitude…
I did not buy Rem & Ram capsule toys.
I did, however, buy a light-up duckie and a few onsen duckies.
I searched a lot of machines in different malls, and the only place I found these was in Akihabara Station on the way to the exit.
I didn’t actually buy anything in Akihabara. The ground floors were full of the latest interests, and the upstairs were up stairs. Perhaps if I’d gone there at the start of the trip…
(I did, however, buy a whole bunch of used stuff on Amazon Japan using a free trial of Prime; useful to be in the same hotel for 12 nights)
I did not go into this pachinko parlor in Akihabara to try out the new Tanya slot machine.
People generally are surprised by my Japanese, assuming I’m much more fluent than I am, like tonight’s waiter who was failing to come up with enough English to explain that it would take a while to prepare our orders, and said “jikan ga kakarimasu”. I translated for my sister, and he was pleased that I’d understood, leading him to treat me as fluent when I went up to pay the bill.
Last week, however, we ran into a waiter who managed to hear “diet cola” as daikon oroshi. We were a bit puzzled when our dinners came out with one drink and a side of cold grated radish. We Did Not Know This Was A Thing.
Someone at a plastic food sample store on Kappabashi Street immortalized the American Dream:
Our last few days in Tokyo will mostly be shopping, since we didn’t want to ship it all to Kyoto and back, so I might not break out the big camera again this trip. Also, our current hotel just has showers, so I won’t be able to give my aching knees a long hot soak every night to recover from all the walking.
I really need to prioritize getting my knees worked on before the next trip. When’s the next trip? No idea; my sister’s planned next year around the upcoming Springsteen tour, so I’m seriously considering finding a good time to “work from home” out of an extended-stay hotel somewhere in Japan for a month or so. It would be very good for my rusty Japanese, which still gets me in trouble when I speak rapidly and smoothly and then can’t keep up with the responses.
In other news, this guy’s everywhere:
Literally; there’s a whole ad campaign photoshopping him into various backgrounds.
The Shinkyogoku shopping arcade in Kyoto (next street past Teramachi) now has a Bengal Cat Café and an Owl Forest, across the street from a Mameshiba Café. As far as I can tell, none of them wear maid costumes. Although, it is Japan…
Next stop, Tokyo!
This little fella was hanging out at the Toji Antique Market, looking for a home. He’s got some miles on him, but that just means he’s got stories to tell.
Kitagawa Craft Garden was small, but had a few vendors with interesting stuff. Toji was a different mix of items than their monthly flea market, but just as huge. If I were willing to pack and ship things home, I could have spent a few grand there. As it is, I got out pretty cheap.
More money left for Akihabara and Nakano Broadway, I suppose…
My sister and I were wandering around Shimogamo Shrine yesterday carrying big shopping bags plastered with an anime-style store mascot, not something I ever expected to be able to get her to do.
It worked because they were full of premium booze we’d just picked up at Matsui Shuzo. Sadly, for a sake brewery that’s been around since 1726, you’d think they’d include at least a small callback to the classic poster girl who was hanging in their store. (the poster, that is, not the girl…)
In other news, my sister’s habit of wanting to take long walks on concrete above Perfectly Good Subway Lines has taken its toll on one of my toes; no blisters, just a subungual hematoma that I need to baby for a few days. Seriously, I don’t need to walk 9 miles a day on vacation, and if I’m going to, I want it to be a slow ramble around a scenic destination with a camera in my hand, not a power-walk from A to B on a city sidewalk.
Anyway, I now have an excuse to cut back on that nonsense. Also, it’s just above freezing out there this morning, so we’re taking a train one stop to go directly to the Umikoji Park Handicraft Market instead of walking.
For the rest of the day, I’ll stick to shopping near the station, and get all my purchases carefully packed for sending to our Tokyo hotel in a few days. The pre-cut braiding silk packets will neatly fill in the gaps. Tomorrow, two markets with possible rain.
Back in 2019, I found a small illustration of a Kagouchi-dai at the craft museum in Kyoto. Yesterday, I found an actual kagouchi-dai at the Adachi Kumihimo Gallery, and after I purchased a large supply of pre-cut silk for braiding, I asked for permission to take lots of pictures of it, so I can build one.
Next up, Matsui Shuzo sake brewery, makers of Kagura. The first time we went to Hanaroku for dinner, we ordered sake flights that were paired with the course meals. Kagura was paired with the A5 wagyu, and every time we’ve been back, we skip the courses and just order the A5 and the Kagura.
It doesn’t seem to be exported, so a few bottles will end up in our luggage. Hopefully we’ll be able to sample the blue, the clear, the yuzu liqueur, the east wind, the south wind, the west wind, …
Of course, if we sample all their sake and buy several bottles, we might not do anything else today. 😁
Loosely related, at our second-favorite gyoza joint, Tiger Gyoza Hall just off Shijo, something else caught our eyes while filling up on their bukkuri gyoza, and we’re going to be making it at home: dan-dan potato salad.
Osaka’s Koreatown is clearly the real thing, even though Remo and Chiun must have had the day off.
As a tourist destination, though, it does not live up to the hype. Admittedly it was pouring down rain, but even so, there was basically nothing to buy unless you were into kimchi and knockoff k-pop pretty-boy merch, and nothing to see except a typical mostly-food shopping street.
Ditto the “retro” shopping district around Tsutenkaku Tower, whose JNTO page was actually deleted recently, so I can’t quote it without using the Wayback machine. TL/DR: mostly closed, and what was open was less interesting than kimchi and knockoff k-pop pretty-boy merch. There was a crew working on the sign, so maybe they’re revitalizing it. Or tearing it down completely.
Fortunately, we were mostly just killing time on a rainy day waiting to get into Tenpei Gyoza near Umeda Station, which is a religious experience. They do one thing, and they do it very, very well. Combined with the over-the-top food floors in the Hankyu building, we have vowed never to stay in any of the hotels around Osaka/Umeda stations, unless we plan to die of a calorie overdose.
Annoying note: Google Maps has weird UI issues on iPhones. Several times it got stuck in navigation and refused to show the search box until we force-restarted the app, on other occasions it wouldn’t enter the turn-by-turn navigation for walking, and then sometimes when it did the instructions would be in Japanese, but most annoying, it was not at all clear when it was using a mix of indoor and outdoor routes.
We ended up taking twice as long to reach Tenpei as necessary, in the rain, because it didn’t make it clear at the start of the walk that it was taking us via a nice dry underground passage. The surface streets that it always displayed almost lined up, most of the time, but because it thought we were following along the undisplayed indoor path, it assumed the GPS location was approximate, and never gave us any information that would have corrected the accumulated errors.
Coming back, we caught the brief flash of a “hey, this route goes indoors” popup, and stayed dry all the way back to the station.