Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Very Otaku Weekend in Tokyo

Zieg Zion!
My friend from college and fellow Japanophile Kenna recently arrived in Japan to do a study abroad program at Waseda University. Waseda is a good school, located in central Tokyo, where I'm sure she's going to have an amazing year studying the Japanese language and culture.

I took advantage of the three day weekend and went down to see her and our mutual friend Megumi, aka Hio. On Friday we had tsukemen for lunch (ramen noodles which you dip in broth), then headed out to the neighborhood of Mitaka to see the Ghibli Museum. 

Studio Ghibli is an animation studio that has produced some of Japan's most classic and beloved anime, like My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Sprited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle. Everything about the museum was cute- the building was full of lots of little details, like stained glass windows showing Totoro, and curling staircases and tiny doorways. Most of the exhibits show the process of making an animated film, with some really stunning examples of how animation works and many of the original illustrations. We also got to see a short film about a baby version of the cat bus from My Neighbor Totoro. Needless to say, it was adorable!

Sad Laputa robot is sad. :(
 Next we went to the park behind the museum where many people were out playing with their pets, including a group of three people who own birds of prey. There were two owls and a hawk; I didn't understand the Japanese names for the species, but the larger owl was from Bengal and the smaller from England, the hawk I think is Asian but that's all I know about it. We talked with them for a bit, and apparently anyone can buy a pet owl at a rare pets shop in Japan. Personally this sounds pretty dangerous to me... But being a big bird lover, it was exciting to see them up close.

We went to Kichijoji for dinner, a fashionable area with lots of shopping and tiny alleys packed with izakaya's and restaurants. We got dinner and karaoke and basically had a great night. :)

On Saturday we went to see an Indian festival in Harajuku at Yoyogi Park. There were lots of stalls selling beautiful Indian clothes and jewelry, and so much delicious-looking food we had a really hard time deciding what to eat. I got a samosa and tandoori chicken with some iced chai.

Since we were already in Harajuku, we wandered around Takeshita Street where most of the shops are. Because I love costumes, we checked out some lolita shops carrying brands like Body Line, Angelic Pretty, Baby and Moi Meme Motie, and one that was more street style with stuff like Milk and Vivienne Westwood. It was fun for me to see the products up close after many years of checking them out online and in magazines. I really liked the Moi Meme Motie stuff, which is a gothic lolita/visual kei brand.

We finished the day off in Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics/otaku district. First stop was the Gundam Cafe, a newly opened restaurant and bar that is entirely Gundam themed. I geeked out over the various Mecha inspired food and drinks, the screen playing clips from various Gundam series and the cosplaying staff that salute you when taking your order. After dinner I got some awesome beam saber chopsticks and a Gundam shaped taiyaki from the gift shop.

Got the Gundam Seed set menu, with Freedom Pasta and a surprisingly strong daiquiri.
Continuing the Gundam geekiness, we went to a couple nearby arcades where we played the addictive Taiko (drum) game, checked out the vocaloid games, and played a game in which you actually enter a Gundam cockpit and fight as if you're the pilot. It was pretty much the coolest gaming experience of my life, lol.

You're going down now, Zeon. I've been waiting for this moment all my life.
I had a great, incredibly nerdy weekend in Tokyo catching up with my friends and seeing some of what Tokyo has to offer otaku. Even if you're not a nerd, I highly recommend the Ghibli Museum and taking in some of the fashion in Harajuku. See more photos from Tokyo here!


  1. I want to go to all these places!

  2. I really hope that you do someday! It was a blast. :)