Giorgia strikes back in Japan!
Thanks to the victory in the previous World Cosplay Summit 2005, I've been able to travel to Japan using a free ticket also for my second trip there. Once again my travel mate were Roberto, Paolo, Francesca and, new entry, Nadia.
Ready to go...
Thanks to the powerful help from TV Aichi and to the not so cheap Lufthansa's fares, Francesca and I fly alone taking off from Linate, and leaving the others about one hour behind, expecting the usual connection in Frankfurt and the final landing in Osaka, this time.
In fact, this vacation is meant to be a cultural visit to Japan and not only a cosplay related vacation or, just like the last time, the crazy crazy shopping rush during which, I admit it fearlessly, even I was happy and willing victim of the “open sky mall” effect Japan produces “inexplicably” on the unaware tourists who come for their first time in this wonderland.
The trip was smooth after all and, by this time used to long haul flights, I even managed to sleep for a long time, and this is quite much, considering the temptation to watch Ice Age 2 in Spanish was too strong to resist ^_^.
As you can see, together with my dear smoking radish, we unleashed ourselves into taking various pictures : there's a couple of pictures to play “find differences” with similar from last year's... come on, you can't get wrong... “Sun Attack, [...]
Furthermore, the aircraft even had convenient handle for vials for urine analysis, which we immediately used; the ones in pale clear yellow are mine, while, telling from color and density, Francesca should be ready for dialysis XD.
And dulcis in fundo, the steward was a mix between a improbable teutonic Big Jim, the classic big jaw killer from the serial Derrick and Jimmy Ghione from Striscia la notizia... a real handsome one, you are right!
After arriving in Osaka, and after having passed the check without being asked embarrassing questions by the customer officers, and after we rejoined the other three of us, we immediately receive bad news when collecting our baggage: both Nadia and Francesca found their luggage open and tampered with.
Luckily nothing is missing, but there are clear signs of tampering (and Nadia found her Sayaka's gun broken).
So we decide to denounce the fact just as a precaution; this leads us to be somewhat late on our schedule, despite our arrival on early morning, and we manage to get to Kyoto, our operative base for the next three days, only when it's lunch time.
From here on our struggle to reach our ryokan starts.
The map we have is at least... inaccurate, and we start turning around for more than one hour, with our heavy luggage, on foot and under the unbreathable August Japanese air. A nightmare.
From this time on, we will decide that taxis are our best friends, always, anyhow and wherever!
We manage someway to accommodate thanks to the useful help of a gentleman who makes our struggle his own and who, just like any real opera fan, [...]
- can even speak a word or two in Italian!!
Tired to their bones, Francesca and Paolo decide to rest in the ryokan, while Rob, Nadia and I, not happy with the few flight hours and the incumbent jet lag, leave again to Osaka for a fast tour in Den Den Town.
And we do manage to get to Osaka only late in the afternoon, so we have just a few hours to walk around and waste the first thousands of yen in some good shops (cospa shop and the like), not minding the exaggerate weight produced by ten Cospure like magazines and only singing “I want it all and I want it now”, we let ourselves be plunged into the unruly and wild shopping pit.
We get back to our base well loaded but visibly satisfied and we crumble on our futons, tasting the flavor of the vacation just started.
May the deers from Nara be with you!
Our visit gets immediately the cultural style starting from the second hot day during which, boldly sporting the secret power of our JR Pass (very beautiful thanks to Hokusai's Big Wave printed on it! *_*),
we head fast to visit the city of Nara, just an hour away from our base in Kyoto.
Little deers are tightly bond to this town full of history.
Hundreds of deers walk among tourists, looking for senbee (tasteless “cracker” made of soy which they seem to like much and which many booths don't forget to sell) in all the parks surrounding the many city temples.
It's a picturesque show for Italians, used to their best to throw grain to pigeons in San Marco Square.
The deers allow the tourists to caress them quietly, so we too got close to take a bunch of pictures with the cute animals in any kind of pose just as tradition.
Obviously we assaulted the first kitsch booth that was selling elegant hair rings sporting deer like furry hears and horns ^_^.
Not mentioning Roberto's bad idea of buying the senbee : as soon as the four legged animals smell food it's the end; they follow you in group, like you [...]
- were mother goose followed by her chicks, and they don't let you go unless they are convinced that you really ran out of senbee supplies.
At some point I was totally surrounded and while Paolo received an attack to his virility by a particularly greedy deer, I got a “friendly” bite by another who wanted to drag my attention to obtain the precious senbee.
A large bruise in my inner leg was visible for the whole following week, damn you!
Another worrying characteristic and certainly not a secondary one of Nara's deers is their defecation.
A lot, and relentlessly.
They shoot rounds of little shit balls at unbelievable speed; we immediately realized that those covering the ground (which we ingenuously thought were berries) were after all their noble shit.
They for sure have no problem of constipation.
But our real surprise was that in the following days we would all start to produce that matter in the very same way.
But I realize that coprophilia is not a subject to be discussed here, so let's go on with the report ^_^
The visit continued smoothly leading us to discover the [...]
- various temples scattered all around the town, starting from the massive and magnificent Todaiji, that houses both the Daibutsu, one of the biggest Buddah statues in the world, and the way to enlightening.
Let me explain quickly.
There's some sort of a big wood column with a small rectangular hole at its base going through it from side to side.
According to the legend, only those who manage to pass through this hole obtain, honoris causa, access to enlightening
At this point there is something I must tell you.
Speaking of this hole, our paper guide, of which I'm not mentioning the name for obvious reasons, reports as follows:
“Curiously enough children can pass easily through the hole while adults don't”... yes, really strange watching at the hole's dimensions none of us could realize why.
By the way, Paolo accepted the challenge first and managed to reach enlightening, and after him Roberto and Nadia were enlightened... at this point, after having witnessed how a German lady, with an aircraft carrier installed where her bottom was supposed to be, passing through the hole without being stuck, but only [...]
- with a small help, I decided that if she did it, I could too... and that was what happened.
Only Francesca will stay on Earth damned in an endless circle of sins, while Roberto – and his arm -, more than others will remember what be enlightened means for a very long time.
The visit goes on with new improbable purchases (this time it was some small wool hats shaped like a deer... I already know I will never wear hem XD), a brief stop in the afternoon to have a tasty kareraisu (curry rice) and other sacred places where we bought a lot of omamori - the good luck talisman – and drawn, just as tradition the future telling note. It was good for me... mine read “big luck” ^_^ .
While the day is going to end and most of all after having refueled at a Starbucks (practically speaking we were there at least once a day to my personal joy... I love caramel frappuccino!!!!) we stop at a bookseller/newsstand where many magazines reporting the Italian victory in the World Soccer Championship are exposed.
I won't hide it, we are filled by national pride by seeing all these magazines.
We buy a couple of convenient room [...]
- planetarium which we can build at home using a crazy amount of vinyl glue...
The evening ended with a dinner in a typical restaurant you expect to find in an anime depicting a slumber; I don't want to go there again, I still have nightmares about the oil dripping brush with which they used to “clean” our slab!
We go on with our tourist tour and this time we play at home, meaning we won't leave Kyoto because the ancient Capital of Japan has much to offer.
So we visit the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) and the Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji).
The former is really rich and covered with golden leaf, from which it takes its name, it mirrors in a quiet lake where visitors are not allowed, and it is surrounded by a rich forest.
On the other hand, the latter, surrounded by zen gardens, is more modest and sober but being on a hill, it offers a priceless view and an unmatched serenity.
Furthermore the entrance ticket looks like a mystical paper against evil spirits... what more could you possibly want?
The visit to the two pavilions takes a very good part of the hot day, I think I've never drunk so much in my entire life.
After all Japan has a vending machine every 100 meters, you have just to choose.
I tried all the possible strawberry flavored milks, not only my beloved Ohayo, and I have to admit that also the banana flavored one is tasty, it was just a pity that it was not sold at the nearby Sunkus, not to mention the various [...]
- Aquarius, Calpis and the like.
So we quickly see the giant Torii (gate) rising over one of the city streets and we go, before it's too late – all the tourist attractions close very early – to the giant and wonderful Kiyomizuji.
Here the walk among shops and booths selling typical products is too inviting, and we lose ourselves among the beautiful things, not only for our eyes but also for our tongues, strained by the hot temperature, that were available at each step.
To do this, anyway, we drained time to the visit to the temples forming this breathtaking complex that for sure was worthy more than a rushed half an hour... but you know that time is a tyrant....
And so, tired and hot, we slowly make our way back to our rooms, ready for the new moving expecting us on the next day.
This is the time to remember...
We leave towards Nagoya to meet TV Aichi's staff who were busy organizing the final events related to the WCS 2006.
While the trip by shinkansen – the super fast train capable of reaching 400Km/h of speed – is pleasant and comfortable, reaching the Toyoko Inn, the same hotel in the Marunouchi block, where we stayed last year, is a real nightmare.
If Nagoya's tube has a bad point that is the unnecessary length of walking, often without any escalators or elevators to reach the various levels, and there are even kilometers between an exit and another...
Also this time we reached the lobby tired, sun burnt and hot to death, something new ^_^.
After having left our luggage and having signed all the needed papers, to avoid losing time we immediately headed by taxi towards downtown to go and plunder a Mandarake, Cospa Shop, Maple Wigs and some other worthy shops: I bought some real good things you will be able to see in this gallery.
You should know that before leaving Francesca and I were hired by Mari Kato – our Japanese reference point – to perform on the final stage of WCS.
Our performance was to [...]
- be a singing of the opening theme from Cutie Honey as an homage to master Nagai.
So, give the unsuccessful attempts at memorizing the song during the flight, we found ourselves rehearsing trying to create a choreography – based on some ridiculous drawings I made while on the plane – in the hotel lobby, just like in the old times.
Each of us stayed awake until late at night to do something : someone adjusted the costume to be worn on the following days, someone downloaded pictures from the photo camera and someone swore at the Chinese stroker boys who filled the PCs the hotel left for free access to Internet with garbage collected drolling on porno sites.
Francesca and I were trying to learn a stanza from Cutie Honey's opening each, synchronizing our movements with a simple but cute choreography.
But rehearsing it in the hotel's lobby didn't seem a good idea, so we moved towards a nearby building with mirror walls that looked like some sort of a retirement institute for elders..letting everyone walking by see us.
I won't tell you what happened when a police patrol stopped, trying to communicate with us in [...]
- English about what we were doing outside there late at night, and why we were doing it..just know it happened..and everything while the sheets where I had drawn the choreography were hanging on the doors of the institute thanks to a magnet and while the cops watched at them puzzled.
I wanted to dig deep and hide...but it seems we don't like it if it's not surreal XD
And all of this was for nothing...but we would have discovered it only on the following day....
Before going to sleep, Rob and I had even some spare time to drop at the oxygen bar located in front of the hotel, breathing, for about half an hour, high quality oxygen mixed together with other substances that should have some healing, erotic, relaxing, anti stress and who knows what else powers..I don't know, in the end I only had a big headache.
But for just 300 yen they let me keep the lilac probe I used to breath, so I can use it next time!!
A bargain...ah, I do feel oxygenated!
Osu Parade Act 2
The morning starts with high quality shopping in Osu's galleries; I had to face the fact that Gourmet City don't sell my beloved lemon flavor cake any longer ;____________;.
When we get to the appointment with TV Aichi's staff, it is like jumping one year in the past..
They are all there, Mari Kato, Mr Yamaguchi, Mr. Shirakawa, Mr. Kubo – whose eyebrows default to a shape resembling Jin Kazama's *_* - and the rest of the bunch, and the welcome us smiling and wearing a shining new World Cosplay Summit 2006's T-shirt (obviously we will have a free one, complete with a “staff” writing on the back).
And, surprise, Shige, our favored globe trotter, the boy we met by chance last year, is there too, and he will join us from time to time during our vacation when his job let him to.
We have time to eat something we bought at the nearby conbini fast – but no obento for me – before spending the following two hours in the meeting with the staff.
Here, like we are used to, every single detail of our performances for today and the next day is discussed.
We are confirmed that halfway during the [...]
- parade, together with other cosplayers we will board a bus that will rush us to the TV studios for a live interview and, surprise, our singing performance is changed.
No more Cutie Honey but Mazinger Z, instead.
This is not a problem for me, but it is for Francesca who even doesn't know how the music goes; I pull the classic rabbit from the hat and I propose a fifty fifty.
That is, I sing the first few verses in Japanese while she, exploiting the fact that base is the same for the Italian version, will sing the rest in Italian.
Having just one night ahead, it is for sure easier to learn some verses in Italian than in Japanese... isn't it?
When the briefing is over we rush to change clothes for the parade!
We all bring out old classics that are sure to get some success: I wear the dark clothes of Miss Majo, Francesca is Francoise from Cyborg 009, Roby is Elvis, ahem I meant Hiroshi Shiba from Koutetsu Jeeg and Nadia is Sayaka from Mazinger Z.
Given the delay we built during the meeting, as soon as we are ready, they make us rush towards the already started parade, while the other people [...]
- unconsciously block our way trying to take as many pictures of us as possible.
When we arrive to the leading end of the guest cosplayers we start to smiling and letting people take hundreds of pictures of us.
It's incredible to see how these two “old” characters are loved; we are immediately recognized by both the latest generation fan and the elder people who enthusiastically put side by side unintelligible syllables which we like to think meant some sort of compliments.
There was a sprightly old man, I swear he could have been about 70, who has sticked to my left side like a vulture never leaving me for the whole 40 minutes while the parade lasted, and he might have taken, I'm not joking, at least 200 pictures of me, from every imaginable position, maybe even those forbidden by Geneva's Treaty.
But the best is yet to come.
The parade is colored and joyful as usual, and it was hard to keep the cheering people aside; meanwhile we are watched closely by the security officers who hand us bottles of water or blow some wind using fans when we need it.
Nadia, Rob and Paolo – who's wearing Steel Ball Run from [...]
- JoJo – have some success, but we will meet them again only when they are back to their normal clothes after the parade.
When it is time to leave the group to go to the minibus that will take us to the TV Aichi's studios, still watched by security officers, I am approached by a let's say “extreme” fan who, after having taken some pictures of me during the parade, finds the courage to come close and give me a bag full of gifts he made just for me.
Our hero doesn't speak a single word of English, but using the few Japanese words I know, I thank him and I tell him to come to the final stage on the following day.
All of this happens while I'm running in the clothes of the blond dark lady from Time Machine, with him on one side and a member from TV Aichi on the other, while those from the bus were waving to make me hurry because I'm the only one left behind.
I let you imagine the faces of the other people XD
After we got to the TV Aichi's studios, patiently wait to be interviewed chatting with other contestants in the WCS, so we come to know better the Brazilian, French and Thai representatives, all of [...]
- them were very nice and outgoing.
Obviously enough, the interview is about our impressions after our victory in last year's contest, on how we were welcomed back home and how we felt like in going back to Japan for this new edition of the Summit.
It's late evening when everything ends so, tired to our bones, we are forced to decline the invitation to dinner by TV Aichi's staff, also because Francesca and I have absolutely to do some rehearsal for the song we will be singing on the following day, while Nadia has to find a way to fix the damaged Sayaka's helmet for the meeting with Go Nagai.
This is the time to tell you what the bag of gifts contained.
The guy is a great fan of Wonder Woman, strange thing for a Japanese, and he developed some sort of veneration for the character...and for my cosplay.
And so, using a Barbie like doll as base, he modified it to make it look like the wonder amazon and me.
He then shot a photo novel; yes, you got it right.
He gave me a bunch of pictures where this doll can be seen together with others (which, I guess, he imagined to be Francesca, Emilia, Elena and the villains) and [...]
- he developed an absurd story putting each doll in the right position.
He then wrote in Japanese under each picture an explicative caption, translating them into Italian with programs like Babelfish.
I can't describe what the result was *_*
I think I've never laughed so much before in my entire life, I swear.
The package contained other stuff, picture's enlargements and even the doll with which he made all this.
This is insane, it must have taken days!!!!
By the way, I think it's fair to let you see this jewel, so ladies and gentlemen... enjoy the photo novel!!!
WCS Final Stage... Sorani sobieru kurogane no shiro...
Here we are!
For the second time, but this time as a guest star, we are able to participate in the World Cosplay Summit, that for 2006 edition chose a modern concept, semi open structure as stage, just imagine a structure made of glass, water and steel in a park in the center of the city.
The available seats might be considerably less than those in Aichi Dome used last year, but three different floors and the many observation points available in this building still allow for a big audience – comfortably seated in front of the stage – and a number of passers by, standing in the surrounding areas.
We are to meet the staff at about 11:00, so, after a big breakfast, we go to the meeting point boasting our Italy's T-shirts wore also by Shige.
People, who of course recognize us as Italians, smile gaudily, some start some clapping (champions of the world!!!!), others ask us to take the first pictures of this long day, others follow us as long as they can, congratulating for the soccer achievements of our country.
We meet Alberto, a boy from Rome who's Italian team's translator and helper, and after having discussed with him [...]
- some matter about our rehearsal Francesca and I do some short one on the stage... let's hope for good ^_^.
After this we go to the changing room to wear the first costume for the paid photo session with the phone company Do.Co.Mo.
For the first shooting we become two very famous heroins from videogames: Francesca is Morrigan from Darkstalkers and I am Mai Shiranui from King Of Fighters.
Meanwhile the others have the chance to wander in the lower floors where a lot of cosplayers are arriving while the representatives from the various countries are doing some rehearsal for the contest.
I finally meet in real life my Mexican sister site Gigì-chan, a very nice and outgoing girl, and I meet again my Wonder Woman fan who gives me a wonderful violet and red star that lightens up (just like the heart shaped lamp used in concerts).
I won't disappoint him and when on the stage I will turn it on for him who quite excited, swears, I'm quite sure, eternal gratitude ;)
Meanwhile the dome starts to be more and more crowded, while we change again to become Super Sailor Moon, Francesca, and Neenya from Infinite Rivyus I.
It is a [...]
- project I had been considering for years, I practically fell in love with this costume and character as soon as I saw a thumbnail on a French magazine.
I knew in Italy it wouldn't have been welcomed in the same way, so I preferred to debut with this costume in Japan where, being very well known, a lot of people liked it.
As soon as we have finished taking pictures, we go to the back stage, where the contestants are waiting in excitement
We have the chance to talk to Alessandro and Alessia, the Italian representatives, who are earing two impressive costumes from Arms, and we notice how the poor Alessandro suffers from the hot temperature inside his hot armor, dripping sweat from everywhere.
Luckily they were the first one to perform on the stage.
We watch closely all the other representatives among which we are stunned by an incredible Gundam, perfect in every aspect – his performance on the stage will include lights and smoke... maybe it was also capable of flying, but we don't know -, a very nice couple from Final Fantasy, the two girls from Singapore and the web chosen couple from Versailles no Bara.
Their costumes [...]
- might have not been perfect, but their performance on the opening theme from the TV series included 5 real time costume change for each (King Louis XVII, Oscar king guard captain, Oscar in white high uniform, Oscar in woman dancing dress, Oscar guard commander and Mary Antoinette with the same amount of different clothes) and left everybody speechless.
As you know the final victory was awarded to the brother and sister from Brazil who, wearing cosplays from Angel Sanctuary, were able to combine very good and flashy costumes with a dynamic and moving performance.
The silver medal was awarded to the said Berubara group and third place went to Italy.
Toru Furuya, the famous voice talent, introduced the contest, while the president of the jury, that included also the singer of the opening themes from One Piece, was none else than Go Nagai, but I'll write about meeting him later....
Francesca and I performed very well in singing Mazinger Z, the audience was very pleased and, not without a lot of excitement we gave the big Lufthansa ticket that used to be ours last year, to the new champions.
But there was positiveness in the air, [...]
- friendship could be felt more than competition, something that was missing last year.
As I said somewhere else, it was strange to live this experience from outside, maybe I felt some nostalgia every now and then, I must admit it.
But that's it.
Speaking of when I met Go Nagai, I will only report the same thoughts and the same emotions that I put on my blog just after the meeting, when they were still so intense and live....
Take a child who, when helped by her mum in putting on her clothes, was asked “now make the fist like Mazinger” and who used to go on Sunday afternoons to the cinema to see Grendizer's movies, together with her dad and her sister.
Take a girl who was raised with bread and Japanese animation and who, nearly as a joke, learned to sing the opening of Mazinger Z in Japanese, obsessively repeating it to her class mates (come of which in turn learned it during the visit to Wien) and who shows some funny performances in the following years.
Take a girl who loves cosplay to the point of cosplaying a character so cool to be part of the collective imaginary of the old school like Baron [...]
- Ashura, and who, thanks to cosplay, flies to Japan to win not only the karaoke contest with the same song, but also the world championship cosplaying Silen harpy... and comes back for the second time in Japan.
Imagine that this girl can sing the same song on a real stage, in Japan, in front of hundreds of passionate fans who clap their hands in time... ...and imagine going out of the stage shaking Mr. Go Nagai's hand.
Afterward I would have been told that Go Nagai was discussing the prizes with the other members of the jury and as soon as he heard the music form Mazinger Z (which Francesca and I sang one stanza each, in Japanese for me and in Italian for her), he quit everything and rushed to the big screen located in the backstage starting to dance and sing joyfully (!), he then waited for us at the side of the stage to shake our hands.
It was very exciting.
During one of the pauses I took the chance to take some pictures with him, to obviously to get my picture of Silen autographed and to give him some of Silen and Ashura (he liked them very much, he even clapped his hands at me congratulating ;_________;), while Nadia, wearing a costume of Sayaka [...]
- did the same with her brand new action figure.
I was really sad because I didn't have a costume from a Nagai product, but they were both impossible to carry and wear this time, one for the size, the other one for the time needed for make up.
Nevertheless, it was a great emotion.... and you will excuse me if I boast, but I have his name card (and he has mine ;))
After the award ceremony we jumped back to the backstage to have party and dinner with all the contestants in an endless cheerful atmosphere, among interviews and photos (I met again my friend Tenkawa-san and even the TV troupe who came to Verona for the last Cosparty!).
And while the party slowly faded, we changed clothes and received an official Summit T-Shirt as present, and then we went back to Toyoko hotel on a comfortable van equipped with autopilot for parking..I want it!!!!
At this point our roads diverge.
Francesca and Paolo leave to go to Kanazawa, where they will stay for two days, while the rest of us, before getting to Tokyo that evening, stop for half a day in Ise, famous for the “Married Rocks” and for pearl divers.
The view of this seal (the rope joining the two rocks) in the middle of the sea is priceless, nearly as much as the crow that built its nest on the top of one of them.
All the area surrounding the sanctuary offer a wonderful view of the sea and a pleasant breeze, while many stone statues shaped like fat frogs are everywhere during the walk.
Rob and I walk briefly on the shore looking for small shells, until a coward wave makes my sandals wet, forcing me to stand still on a rock while the fierce Rob becomes a good washer.
The hot temperature is still overwhelming even if it is late afternoon....we are tempted by the view of an aquatic park nearby, but it's already 17:00 and we would have only half an hour to visit it, given the usual inconvenient closing hours.
So we board the train towards the Capital and we get to our new and last base - a Chinese hotel XD – in [...]
- the Ikebukuro block.
Shopping power...make up!!!
Finally the funny part of the vacation, the one in which money is unruly wasted, starts.
We have the right start in discovering that 200mt from our hotel there's a Starbucks, perfect: breakfast is set up here too ^_^.
And from here we start with our retaliation mission.
We begin from the Ikebukuro area, and to be more precise, from the Sunshine mall, outside of which a perfect Ultraman is standing, and we then head towards the many shops similar to Animate that are located here, until we get to the aimed Hello Kitty Store..always a pleasure!
Nadia decide that before the end of the vacation she will have a kimono complete with the accessories, and, being her mommy, I agree completely,..after all it will be paid by daddy ;PP
And so between a crepe and a kareraisu, an okonomiyaki and some ramen, we spend two days, that include also a classic – and expensive – dinner at karaoke, walking around the Capital.
On the second day we choose a more normal visit to Asakusa Kannon temple – with the relevant plunder of the booths – Cospa shop and Mandarake a go go!
In the evening we join again with the two traitors who, like two very cool guys, stay at the Sunshine, and we agree on how to settle for the following day.
Kamakura and more...
Given how tired she got in the previous days, Nadia decides to take a break and rest in the morning during which Rob and I will instead go to visit the nice Kamakura, another famous town of the shogunate, where one of the biggest Buddha statues in the World is located.
The little town is more than an hour and two train changes away from Tokyo, but the beauty, serenity and harmony of its constructions is worth the hassle.
Apart from the usual temples, this town has some peculiarities that make the sight even more interesting and unique.
I'm talking about the caves near the main temple, dug in the rock, dark and wet, that following a forced path made of low and narrow tunnels where only some torches and candles provide a weak light, lead the visitor through a tradition of arcane and magic rites.
Or about the cemetery of never born children, represented by many little statues that often wear some clothes or are covered to be protected from the erosion, just like little human beings.
After the visit to Kamakura and to its big and magnificent Buddha, we go back to Tokyo, stopping in Akihabara, kingdom of otakus and technology.
Obviously, in a small uptown like the ancient Edo, where only 20 million people live it's normal to meet people from my forum in a random shop XD.
This is something that will happen again and again in the following days.... and we have pictures to witness it!!! XD
Last day of the cultural visit.
Just like Kamakura, by train Nikko is about one hour away from Tokyo too.
The visit to the temples and the sanctuaries takes nearly the whole morning, but the breathtaking sights pay off for the hard climb.
And if those were not enough, it must be considered that right in Nikko I bought the cult object of this journey; a little box to imitate the animated series “Invincible Shogun”..I too will finally be able to carelessly show the power gadget and shout “Bow in presence of the Shogun Mittsukuni Mito!!!” - and the background music starts -
The faces of the temples sported some very nice and worthy zoomorphic decorations, the famous sleeping cat and the even more famous three monkeys from the legend: I don't see, I don't hear and I don't speak.. to which we immediately shot some pictures in a revised and corrected version that exposed us as usual to the public laugh, while the other tourists took pictures of us laughing and imitating us ^_^.
The boys, who didn't want to be left behind, spoof the two statues guarding the temple, which resemble those of Hokuto... [...]
Moreover, climbing some sort of a hill along the path shown on the map, and selling a lung or two, the grave of Yasuo Tokugawa, the famous Shogun, can be reached.
Tokyo Bay: Comiket 70
Grey sky and hot and unbreathable air, this is how we found the weather waking up on Saturday morning, while we were getting ready for the trip to Tokyo Bay, to take part to the summer Comiket.
This time Kyle, administrator of Cosplay.com, Shige and Florian, the German guy who reports from cosplay events for a German magazine who we had already met in Romics 2004, joined us.
The transfer is made way easier by the brand new train line (without pilot *_*) serving that area otherwise very difficult to be reached.
Here we are, back in the mega complex housing the Comiket, again ready to be registered and to change clothes on the ground in the micro frames available in the changing room, nothing more than a gym, where you have to be careful not to go out of your frame if you don't want to get reprimands from the security officers.
An always worthy experience.
We meet the everlasting Bianca “Genjo Sanzo” Balestrini, the two Final Fantasy guys who just married, and some bad guys who wander my forum :P
Mai Shiranui is a big success, not only among the boys, and more than once the security have to start the countdown to [...]
- disperse the photographers.
Thanks God, Mai has a couple of fans, that were useful like never before; the temperature was really unbearable, and I wish to thank those good souls who brought me fresh Aquarius, whether I asked for it or not, very nice!!!!
Generally speaking, apart some exceptions, the costumes are not as good as one would expect, not that they were bad, but they were somewhat all the same, not original or different, and we would have soon realized why.
Many of them had clearly been purchased in Cospa Shop and I don't know, I had the perception they were undifferentiated... all the same
There's a second cosplay event in the same days of the Comiket, the TFT, indoor, provided with air conditioning and without all the restrictions and rules of Comiket, mainly regarding accessories.
We have confirmation by Kyle that the best cosplayers go there, so we plan to go there on the following day.
By he way, my personal admiration goes to the Hyoga and Shun without armor – they looked great -, the Miyazaki group, featuring a Hayao sensei cosplay, the male Lilith, Lady Oscar and Mary Antoinette and the wonderful Jack [...]
- Sparrow... speechless ;_;
Unfortunately a sudden and strong shower force us to go home an hour before planned, so we decide to have a walk in Shibuya to end it nicely...
Deciding to visit Shinjuku and Harajuku on Sunday, remind me for the next years, it's not a good idea.
An unbelievable crowd prevents from breathing, as if the wet hot air penetrating clothes was not enough.
By the way we boldly stay and we plunge to the exploration of the fashion block, while late in the morning Francesca and Paolo leave us for some secret and mysterious meeting with Cure's writers and photographers.
We lose ourselves among the alternative, gothic or simply unusual shops, and since the TFT event should have closed at 23:00, we take it easy for the whole day, deciding to go there by 19:00, only at 17:00 a phone call by Kyle will inform us that the information is incorrect and that the closing time was set at 18:00.
We are screwed, so we continued to happily wander the named blocks, not refusing playing the drum game or taking the classical pictures in the automatic booths – drug :P
Bushes of the 70s
Females : Giorgia, Nadia and Francesca
Males : Robbe, Paolo, Shige, Kyle e Florian
We felt like in an Italian joke where “There was an Italian, an American, a Japanese and a German...” each ready for the transfer to the thermal town of Hakone!
A relaxing day after a very tiring vacation seemed a good idea, but we would have soon realized otherwise.
The thermal zone of Hakone is more than one hour away from Tokyo and it is, without any doubt, one of the closest and most convenient touristic places, surrounded by the green of mountains that rise around the town, that lives from the revenues from the various public or private thermal baths.
Once we got there, we decide to reach the closest onsen and we rely on Shige's knowledge to lead us to the bath of Kappa.
I have to admit that to me they were half a delusion; even without taking into account the troubles in understanding the reception lady seemed to have, there was a tiger mosquitoes breeding place hidden among the walls of the onsen, cleverly accomplishing its vampire-like duty on the naked legs of the visitors.
Just like in any Japanese animation, the [...]
- male and female sectors are separated by a wall of rock, in which one would expect Happosai to have made some strategical placed holes.
But yet in the changing room the girls and I started to be puzzled.
The other visitors, young or not, walk around with no problem, like it was the most natural behavior in the World, sporting a disconcerting bush from the 70s.
That is to say they are completely hairless like the bottom of a baby, but not there.
And until here it could be nothing bad, but enough is enough.
It seems like the hair refusing skin that covers the Japanese from heir head o the tips of their toes had left fertile space only in those little intimate squared centimeters.
They are many, bush like, black and even pyramidal.
Don't ask me what this means, but I couldn't pretend not to see and not to watch.
Particularly because the tub was small and the water too low – it reached the knees – to not to see anything and walk by.
Those ladies seemed to find comfortable that water that could have reached 3000 Fahrenheit degrees, and looked furtively at us who were not only keeping our underwear, but [...]
- also still keeping our towel, leaving to that primordial broth nothing more than our calves.
Even if we wanted to bathe, that water was way too hot for a complete bath, so after about an hour spent chatting, we decided to put back on our clothes and go out.
The boys didn't wait long to join us, but unlike us, they dived in the water with no problem, and furthermore they were still laughing out loud, boasting about the dimensions of their weenie when compared to those of the Japanese customers. They boasted for days.
There's nothing to do, millions of years of evolution left them the envy for penis, for sure not Freudian ;PP
Back to Tokyo, we arranged a meeting for the evening, while Nadia and I..went to the hairdresser!
Can you find something more exciting than going to a Japanese hairdresser? X
It was a glass hall, located just in front of our hotel, and we had been expressing our will to go there for many evenings now, even if it was only because one of the clerks was really handsome *_*
This time we do go there, mostly after having seen what the humidity of the onsen did to our hair, and we find the courage by [...]
- sending Roberto forward, despite the closing time was well past.
Don't think explaining what you want in Japanese is exactly a simple thing, but we managed to do it in some way.
After all, Nadia wanted just to iron her hair and have an hair dress, and I wanted to cut the tuft a little bit.
Two things are worth remembering (beyond Rob trying to explain everything to the boss, of course) : the first is the massage to the hair they do during the washing phase....double pleasure... the second is my face when they showed me a magazine of haircuts...all identical. *_*
Yes, they don't have much fantasy; I mean, if fashion says that tuft is to be some way, all the cuts will have that kind of tuft.
For example, we were told by the owner of the hairdressing room that at the time the trendy color was pink brown, and all the girls, or most of them, do have that color.
By the way they were really meticulous and precise, so double thumb up for our preferred hairdressing hall ;)The evening ends together with their in a usual McDonald's...and of course in a game arcade, while we definitively say goodbye to Shige who's going back to [...]
Will our heroes...?
The period known in Italy as Ferragosto coincides with the Japanese O-Bon, that is the mourning of passed ones.
This means that many people come from abroad to the archipelago, to go to cemetery and mourn the passed loved one and to spend some time with their relatives.
But for a simple tourist, beyond the foreseeable problem of the overcrowding of public means of transportation, this means only two things
- Fireworks can be seen from Tokyo Tower, and there are a lot of matsuri scattered all around
- some shops might be closed.
This is the distressing sight that we had to face when we arrived in the not so downtown area of Nippori, better known as the fabric block.
Indeed, there were some fabric shops on both sides of the main streets, but at least the 0% of them was closed.
We happened to reach the house of button, which sports the well sounding claim “If you can't find it here, it doesn't exist”.
I've never seen so many buttons in my entire life *_*; endless rooms full of buttons of any shape, color, dimension, quality....and price ^_^
So we headed back to downtown, after having [...]
- pillaged another Maple Wigs, that will be revering us from now to eternity, facing the delusion for what we missed....and ready to split to complete the purchases left behind in the previous days.
And, at last, the 16th of August, the date we are to go back to the Boot, is here.
We are again split into two groups, Francesca and I will go back a couple of hours before the others who, flying by Air France, will change in Paris instead of Frankfurt.
A part from the leaving for the airport at an impossible hour, the transfer by taxi and the train we didn't miss just for luck, when we reach Narita the matter gets more complicated than foreseen.
Due to the terrorist attack just prevented in London, we realize that safety procedures are really strict, and we fear for our overweight, despite the naval shipment of more than 40Kg of stuff we already made !
Before we left, I had asked my friends in the airport some tolerance of at least 10Kg, knowing the level of load I would have had, but I hadn't been confirmed my request had been approved.
Luckily, during the check in our 50Kg are accepted after the clerk smiled at us using 32 [...]
- teeth and said “the kilograms allowed for each passenger are 20, but we are happy to inform you, miss Dani and miss “Vecini” that you have 10 kilos more!”
We breath and go to have breakfast without realizing that there are only 5 minutes left before boarding..and we haven't passed the security check yet.
Here a crazy rush against the clock starts, during which we running overcome at least 40 persons queuing and we show our boarding pass to the first of the queue to be allowed to proceed.
Our usual luck wants us to meet Miss Bitch of the day, who peacefully and arrogantly makes us understand that we can forget about it, while a couple of Japanese elders let us in without any problems.
We thank them and rush to the boarding gate; there are less than 15 minutes before take off, they could have left us on the ground closing the flight and that would have been only our fault ;_;
I don't know how we manage to reach our seats, that are unfortunately split, and get ourselves comfortable.
I spend the two flights quite fast, the first one by assembling my many gashapons and watching the 3d movie “Over the [...]
- Hedge”, and the second one falling asleep on the seat from the taxiing to the landing.
Here we are in Malpensa after about 2 days of travel, not bad *_*
In the terminal we find Max Vertua waiting for us to be able to take pictures of our faces that looked like we were high in terminal stage, and who stays with us offering us pineapple juice, while we wait for the boys to arrive from Paris.
In a short while, the three of us are joined by my father and Giovanni and then Matteo, Nadia's boyfriend.
In the end the group is reunited again, even if for a little time and we, after having said goodbye, split again heading for our own town, tired but satisfied and with many many stories to tell to who, like you, will be so curious and willing to read them.