Warriors of Legend Tour Diary - J. Navok
DAY 3: 6/28/06 (Shifting Modernity)
After the sightseeing-packed second day, where we
went all over parts of Minato ward scouting out Sailor Moon locations, the third
day was supposed to be a bit of a breather. We'd be looking at different aspects
of the city's modernity, starting out with a concrete, steel, and glass
testament to tomorrow and beyond- Tennouzu Isle, better known to some as
Infinity Island, the setting of Sailor Moon S.
We walked from the hotel down the main boulevard,
moving away from the Tokyo Tower but toward the waterfront. There, we caught the
monorail to Haneda airport, getting off at its first stop, Tennouzu Isle.
We were awed by the Infinity Academy building,
went inside and around, then across the street to check out other
series-relevant locations such as Sea Fort Square (the inside of the academy),
the courtyard and concert hall, and more.
Series veterans may recognize some of these places
By the time we were finished, it was already time
for lunch. We ate sandwiches in the shadow of the Infinity Academy.
Following lunch, we jumped back on the monorail
(which was, incidentally, also seen in the manga) and then began the long
transfer to our next destination, one that I was particularly looking forward
It's a bit hard to get to; you have to change
subway lines a few times then walk around in the high city maze of Akasaka, but
once we accomplished all that, we were rewarded by the sight of the Akasaka
Hikawa Shrine, the shrine with a long staircase that anime Rei's Hikawa is based
On the way there we also caught sight of the
headquarters of TBS broadcasting, who showed the live action Sailor Moon series.
We spent quite a while at the Akasaka Hikawa
shrine, which was very quiet, pretty, and dignified. We also bought many Hikawa
Shrine charms, the story about which you can find at the bottom of the page. I
thought I'd manage to survive through the day but after performing all the
translation work for the charms I wasn't feeling well. The stress of running the
tour had gotten to me; during lunch that day I wasn't able to eat as my jaw had
tightened (apparently from grinding my teeth out of stress the night before.)
It was decided that I'd part ways for a while,
head back to my apartment to get ready for the second half of the day while Hans
would take over the group for two hours. The members took a vote on whether they
wanted to head to Akihabara (the evening's final destination) early, or go to
Arisugawa Park in Hiroo for a few more Sailor Moon-related sites. The latter
I rode the subway uptown, examining the red
amulet I had bought from the Hikawa shrine to kill time but eventually falling
asleep as is wont to do on Japanese subways. I slept with the bright red object
in my outstretched hand, and just before my stop, woke up and quickly put it
into my backpack, to the amusement of two gold-tanned Japanese twenty-somethings,
who laughed at the sight of this foreigner falling asleep with a shrine charm.
The group, meanwhile, headed to Hiroo, near
Azabu-Juuban and Roppongi, and saw Sailor Moon sites ranging from a wooded park
that appeared in the show (as well as its fountain), to the school that Mamoru's
is based on in the manga, and in whose spot the girls' middle school is located
in the anime. Hans did a great job of leading everyone on his own.
In Arisugawa Park. To the back is the Central Library of Tokyo.
We all met again in Akihabara station,
where the rest of the day's festivities were to begin.
The first place we went to was the massive
Yodobashi Camera Akihabara store, a giant multi-floor wonderland of electronics
which also has a good selection of anime goods (including creepy "character
pillows" the size of people), video games, figurines, and all sorts of other
items anime fans enjoy.
In Yodobashi Camera Akihabara
From there we moved to Akihabara's main "Electric
Town" square, where girls in maid outfits were handing out flyers.
The group walking through Akihabara Electric Town's main square
We walked into Gamers and went together through
the famous anime shop's various floors of goods. Wherever possible I tried to
help people translate the name of this or that CD or DVD, or attempt to find
what they were looking for.
Shelves in Gamers are full of goodies
Walking around Akihabara
After Gamers we went to a maid cafe for tea and
cake, served to us by girls in those cute maid costumes. This was a welcome
break from the heat and the crowds, and everyone enjoyed it. Plus the cakes were
Kevin, Hans, and Ignatius finish their (iced) tea and cake at the
maid cafe. Ignore the halo of light that
was the result of my poor photography skills.
Unfortunately the maids were not allowed to be
photographed but Hans tried to use Ignatius' dictionary to ask one out.
It being Akihabara, there was all sorts of weird
stuff to see.
Sakura roots for the Japanese soccer team
After the maid cafe we went to Don Quixote
Akihabara, a psychotic Japanese Walmart that sells all sorts of weird goods from
Hard Gay sunglasses to S&M Maid costumes.
From Don Quixote we rushed back to the Electric
Town district, where we were to have dinner on the 8th floor of a nearby
building, overlooking Yodobashi and the rails of Akihabara. Dinner that night
was Korean BBQ, another two hour feast.
Joining us this time was Brad from
the excellent and long-established website MoonKitty.net.
Tonight as with the previous nights the people around us endured a dozen gaijin
laughing, talking, and singing songs from the DiC dub opening to the Gummi Bears
The group enjoys Korean BBQ in Akihabara
Brad, and Big Bottles of Beer
Hans, generous man that he is, left the dinner
early with an important mission: to be in my apartment when a special cake was
to arrive from another part of Japan. His ears were probably all the better for
it, as it was at that point we randomly started belting out our medley of
cartoon themes. The only appropriate reaction to this is to put pieces of
seaweed in ones mouth, as Jason demonstrates:
After dinner we stuck around Akihabara to go
through one of the anime shops that was still open and check out more goods,
then called it a night. People would really need their rest for all we had
planned the next day.
Gifts from the Gods
When we were at the Akasaka
Hikawa shrine, many of the tour members were interested in
purchasing omamori or "good luck amulets" from "Rei's
shrine." There were no miko around that day, but there was
the shrine priest in his office, who opened the store window to sell
a dozen foreigners the shrine's amulets.
There was a selection of
several general amulets for about 500 yen a piece, bell attachments
for 200-400 yen each, as well as specific amulets for things such as
traffic safety, then more deluxe charms like arrows or votive plates
(called ema, you write wishes on them). I
purchased a single red amulet, thinking it'd be enough for myself.
A red Hikawa Shrine Amulet
The gold lettering doesn't come out well
in the photo but it says Hikawa Jinja in Kanji
The other tour members,
though, wanted more. A lot more. Some were purchasing five or more
amulets, along with bells, because they made great souvenirs to give
people back in the states. (A Hikawa Shrine good luck charm does
sound like a good gift to me.)
So person after person would
come up and make their selection while I translated. It wasn't too
long before the priest had to go and open more boxes of amulets.
Many were purchasing the generic green or red amulets, as I did, but
the priest at one point suggested the votive plates- based on famous
paintings held by the shrine he said- and Brant did end up getting
Between all the tour members,
the transaction took upwards of twenty minutes if not more.
The Akasaka Hikawa Shrine is not one that gets groups of tourists,
tucked away as it is in the middle of a mess of modernity, an oasis
of greenery in a desert of concrete. Although it is not one of the
city's famous shrines, like Yasukuni, it is well known among those
who live in the city. During pauses, as the priest was placing each
amulet in packaging, he would ask me questions, such as where the
group was from. All over, I told him, and I was from the United
States. Excited, he opened a drawer and pulled out a letter; his
shrine was a notable one, he was trying to show, and he had recently
received an invitation from the American embassy to attend a
function. I offered praise.
In the end we must have bought
several hundred dollars worth of amulets from the priest that day.
Over the course of the transaction, his wife returned and he
received several visitors, who sat with him in the priest's office
and watched this all take place. When we finally finished, he
thanked me for the translation work (I was exhausted and dripping
with sweat from the humidity), then gave the group a votive group in
appreciation of our large donation (as it were) to the shrine. After
that he, his wife, and his guests all bowed formally.
We were quite grateful for the
gift that the priest bestowed upon our group, and happy that we were
able to leave a good impression on the priest of a shrine which
meant a lot to us fans.
We wondered what to do with
the votive plate- usually you write a wish on it and leave it to be
hung at the shrine. But the plates are made of wood and burned after
a period. Brant came up with a good suggestion: I'd write a message
in Japanese, we'd all sign it, and I'd include the plate in the
letter we'll be sending to Naoko Takeuchi (more on this next page)
along with a description of how we were given it.
Our Ema, a gift from the
priest of the Hikawa shrine
Watch the closing doors!
CONTINUE TO DIARY - DAY 4
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