Tokyo Anime Fair

There’s something for everyone and like the rest of Tokyo, quite the sensory overload. Doesn’t matter who you are, what you fancy or how old you are. If you’re into animation, there’s something for you. Kawaii? Check. Action? Check. Comedy? Check. Dark? Check. SD? Check. Boys? Check. Girls? Check. Kids? Check? Adults? Check. It had everything anyone needed 🙂

The first couple of days, it’s opened to the industry players and I heard come the weekend, the suits disappear and it’s cosplay heaven. Not quite Harajuku but the booths are manned by characters rather than suits 🙂 Wish I was there for that but I was already back in Singapore by then.

cutedarkfor me

Going to a market as an officer from a government agency is a little different from a player of the animation industry, being surrounded by all that different shows, sure did, make me reminisce about the good old days of development, production and selling of our own products. Concepts, pilots, series that we spent hours developing and producing. It was hard work, not that what I’m doing now isn’t hard work but how do I say this … it’s a different kind of hard. When you believe in something with every bit of your being, hard work becomes … becomes worth it. Yet I still remember very clearly the time when every bit of being was so worn down and the day I realise I had to take a break from it all before I started to resent the things I so love to do and the people I care about.

boys?actionthe boys, for sure

As I walked through the halls of the fair, it got me thinking if it was time for the break to be over. In all honesty, I don’t know. What I do know is that, just when I needed it, the opportunity for the break made itself evident and hunting for the perfect opportunity to go back is not my style. The perfect opportunity doesn’t quite exist … not now anyway.

cute and action

Meanwhile, I scratch my creative itch by enjoying the work of other people, let them kick start my creative engine and think about as far as I can possibly go in my head. Hey, if I can’t enjoy conjuring up my fantasies how will I ever go back to creating them. I’m just saying 😉

Quaint Japanese Coffee Places

I always thought the Japanese were more a tea drinking culture rather than a coffee one. I guess I was wrong, they sure do drink a lot of tea but I’ve learnt that they do drink coffee and quite a bit too. Probably too weak for the regular Singaporean coffee drinker, which means it’s perfect for a coffee softie like me. So I thoroughly enjoyed the quaint little places we stopped at for our regular breaks but my favourite is this little one that is apparently dedicated to Edgar Allen Poe, Coffee Ranpo, that’s coz the Japanese refer to him as Edogawa Ranpo.  Although that refers to the name of a Japanese author who was seriously into Edgar Allan Poe and had changed his name to sounds like his favourite author.  Yah, whatever, it’s still a homey little place to stop and charge up.

jules and me in coffee ranpo

A little hole in the wall type place with its own cat that rules the roost. Yes, Tessycat would feel completely at home 🙂  We wrote in their little journal for customers, maybe some other Singaporean will chance on this place and read what we were thinking about that day. I’ve forgotten already :p

drinks afte a long walkjules and me again

Anyway, that’s what I also loved about Tokyo. Despite the crazy hype energy that consumes you, there are little Mum-and-Pop spots like this one that makes you feel completely at home in a foreign land.

Soaking up Japanese culture

Exactly two weeks ago today, we went to Ueno Park to check out the sakuras, we also went in the the National Museum. It has the most amazing collection of Japanese art as well as a real impressive archaeology collection. I just wished we ate before we went in and had more time. There were so much to see and be provoked by.

national museum

One of the authors I enjoy, Paulo Coelho actually reckons when you visit a country you shouldn’t visit their museums but just spend time hanging out in their coffee places and learn how other cultures live their lives. I don’t necessarily disagree but I’m more old fashion that learning about someone’s past will always throw light on how they live their lives today. So while I did my fair share of people watching in cafes, the museum opened my eyes to the evolution of Japanese art. They were always pushing the envelop and I guess that’s why they still do in so many way. Here’s my favourite shot from inside the museum.

japanese woman and traditional kimono

It isn’t posed at all, that’s a real Japanese lady in traditional wear enjoying the collection of kimonos through history. I pretty much stalked her through out the museum as the plan was to catch her in a shot but I lost her somewhere in between the silk paintings and samurai swords. Just when I started to look for another subject, I turned into the hall showcasing the kimonos and there she was 🙂

2 days later and on the only day that rained while I was in Tokyo, I visited the Yasukuni Shrine and Yashukan, the museum devoted to Japan’s military past. Yep, the one and only controversial Yashukan. So the weather seemed apt for the occasion and as I held my umbrella, enjoying the somewhat quiet walk into the shrine, I couldn’t help but feel sad for all the people who die in the fight of war. I’m a softie that way, empathy is the one emotion that usually fills me before anything else. Made me wonder as a race, when it comes to wars, the human race hasn’t evolved much.

the walk in

What did I think? Well, I figured everyone has their own version of the truth. Like the Akira Kurosawa’s film, Rashomon, we see what we can and want to see. It happens everyday, even in our own home turf. It still doesn’t make it right.

lovenotwar

With that said, walking the grounds made me ponder between black and white, right and wrong. If my life experiences are anything to go by, grey is more common than anything else.  I have hope yet 🙂 Deep down in my sometime quietly cynical mind, my soul believes that everyone is good and at the end of all, it’ll all work out right.

Hachiko in Shibuya, Tokyo

When you get to the Shibuya station, there’s an exit called Hachiko. Everyone knows Hachiko, the little dog born in 1923 and belonged to a Professor who lived in the Shibuya area. This little puppy would wait for the professor everyday at the train station and they would walk home together. One day, the professor has a stroke and passes away in the university. Hachiko continues to go to the station everyday for the next 7 years before joining the Professor in heaven. How incredible is that?

hachiko

So the Japanese people did up a bronze statue and placed it where he waited. Sweet, huh? Now people say, “Hey let’s meet by Hachiko.” Since it’s by the most popular crossing in the world, regardless of the time of the day, there are always heaps of people around him 🙂

hachiko, jules and me

This is quite the crazy crossing. Apparently, it sees about 2million people daily. That to me is a little insane but there’s a certain rush that fills you when you’re among the crowd making through the crossing.

 

shibuya

 

 

It affects me in a way like the ferry ride in HK did. Not exactly the same way.

While in HK the ferry crossing took me away from the hustle and bustle, in Tokyo, the Shibuya crossing heightens the intense energy that is quintessential to Tokyo, Japan.  Two transient moments in two different cities, yet they both strangely inspired very similar poems I wrote.

I’m not feeling particularly brave today but when I do, I’ll post the poems up 😉

Softbank from Tokyo

To get my Tokyo fix, I surf the net for Softbank ads.  That’s a Japanese mobile provider and the one that Jules uses. Nothing special about them except they have the funniest TV commercial campaign ever … ok, I don’t understand a word when it comes out and had to have Jules explain the premise of the ad but once I got that idea, it’s funny regardless of the conversation.

This is why it’s funny, that’s a whole family, the dog is the Dad and the older looking woman is the Mum, the younger one is the daughter and the guy of African descent, is the son. Makes no sense but it’s funny that way. Funnier yet, the Mum’s a Principal of a school and the Dad (the little white dog) is a teacher in the same school. So she’s the head at work while he’s the head at home. Not quite sure what the son does but the daughter works in Softbank. The different ads simply play around the different scenarios around the family. Here’s another one:-

I can’t be the only person who thinks this is hilarious, right?

Eating in Tokyo – Part Three

Yes, there is a part three. If you’ve been to Tokyo you’ll understand why 🙂 and I can’t believe how many tiny people there are there. That’s because they have the most beautiful looking desserts, next to the French, the Japanese know how to make food look good.

dessertmore dessert

So the question is, how do these Japanese girls stay so slim? My favourite was this we tried at this place in Mark City, Shibuya.

desserts again

See the glass in front, it’s like a Japanese Ice Kacang of sorts and that’s like a scoop of red bean stuff on the top … totally yummy 🙂 Before dessert at this same place, I had a really simple and unexpectedly delicious sushi type thing.

cheese and rice

First, the juice in the top right hand corner. It’s yuze or something like that. Tarty like a grapefruit but slightly more aromatic. I really like it and tried to drink it everywhere that had it. The little cup of yoghurt in front of it was suppose to be dessert, I think but it so yummy I had to eat it first. Now to the rice balls, I don’t think they’re called sushi when they’re moulded into little triangles like that but I call them triangle sushi and these were filled with veggies in a one and cheese in the other. Totally totally yummers 🙂

The night before we went to a macrobiotic place called Chaya Macrobiotic Restarant in Shinjuku. It was innovative and guess what? Yummy again. Thought the portions looked small, it filled me right up. Guess that’s the difference between natural nutritious food as opposed to overly processed empty calories. That’s a picture of the appetiser and the tofu patty I had.

to start withthe main

Like Jules said, the Japanese have a very high standard when it comes to food so we were rarely disappointed. So unless you don’t like Japanese cuisine, you should really go to Japan once in your life. Even pasta Japanese style was not disappointing at all.

pastalast meal with jules in japan

As I mentioned in Part 1, ramen was so yummy, I had to have it one more time before I left and that’s the picture of my miso ramen with corn from Jules. She and I agreed that corn should only be enjoyed on the cob.