Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pocky cake

Limited edition Pocky cake! Shaped like Pocky, with chocolate icing on the outside and dried fruit inside. It tastes nothing like Pocky but still pretty good. (Oops sorry, that's not my review, but someone else's. I do have a thing about Pocky, though.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chocolate tooth brush

The brush is wafer and the tooth paste is chocolate sauce. Hahaha! What a way to clean your teeth!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

1st Ikebukuro (2)

Oops... forgot the stuff that wasn't otaku! Ahahahaha!!!

The sake keg was broken open and everybody had sake. We were tired from the previous day so we didn't get up until almost noon and missed the party. Oh well. There were still some food left and that was our lunch.

An interesting service from glasses stores. There are self-serve glasses cleaning stations in front of a lot of stores. This one was inside the Sunshine City building.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Andre Rieu!

Aaaaaargh! Andre Rieu is coming to Vancouver on Oct 11!!!!!! Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 23, 2007

1st Ikebukuro (1)

New year's day! Otakaku shopping day~! Yay~!!

Last time when we were at the Sunshine City building, we made sure it would be opened on the 1st. As many stores didn't, that was where we went. Department store were selling Fukubukuro, a "lucky bag" containing mystery items, but guaranteed to worth much more than the price tag. Personally, I think it's just a gimmick to get rid of unsold merchandise.

First we went to the Otome Road, a one-block area that has a high concentration of otaku stores. (Otome = maiden.) Well, it actually has 2 big stores that specialize in BL doujinshi. Mandarake and K-books. (BL = boys love = homosexual.) BL's target audience is usually female. Get it?

Personally, I'm not a BL fan. But it's the touristy thing to do. So I wouldn't mind visiting the stores. However! Mandarake was closed! Aaaaargh! Oh well, we went to K-books. Since I missed my chance to buy any FMA doujinshi at Comic Market, I wanted to buy one here. But, but!! All the books were bagged! Some of them displayed a photocopy of one page on the back, but that wasn't enough to accurately represent the book. It's like, you have to judge the book by it's cover, and it's difficult. I... couldn't decide. And then suddenly, I saw a book by one of my new friends at the FAM party! Hmm... doesn't seem like BL, but it wasn't cheap either, at almost 1000 yen. ($10.) I hesitated, hesitated, and hesitated. And then times up. We gotta move on. So I ended up buying nothing. Sob sob sob...

Next stop was K-books' toy department, which was in a different building. And then Rashinban. More toys. I had a chance to see some rare items, and picked up some loose capsule toys. At the end of the block was Animate. 7 floors of otaku stuff. Comic, toys, character goods, you name it. I bought a set of etching 1/6 glasses and some Black Jack cough drops for friends' souvenir.

Last but not least, back to the Sunshine City building. I immediately bought a doujin suit case. (^_^) At about $10, it was a good deal. (But was broken before I got home.) After that, Toysr'us. Woooo... Pinky, Sylvanian Families, Microman, Stikfas, plus a mini RC car as a friend's gift. How come my local Toysr'us selection is so small? It sucks! Look at how many stuff the Japanese one has!

My companion bought a Hello Kitty Fukubukuro at Sanrio House. With the other toys she bought at Toysr'us, she ended up buying a doujin suit case too. We both had a pretty satisfying shopping day.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

31st Kichijoji again

A huge keg of sake had been sitting at the hotel's lobby for a few days. It's for a new year ceremony. Apparently the keg would be broken and everybody drink the sake.

We went to Kichijoji again on the 31st. I took my companion to the awesome shoe store my Japanese friend introduced me to 2 years ago, where I bought a pair of black leather high-heel which has since been my favorite. My companion bought 2 pairs this time. Oh~ I wanted to buy at least a pair too! But I wasn't done with toys yet. Those shoes were so good, you'll buy it once you try it on. Expensive, though. But it's worth the money.

Then we revisited Kichijoji Loft for the Re-ment event. It was still going on. My companion bought some more. There were other interesting stuff, like the towel cakes. And the tarako suite.

On our way out she bought some tea. I noticed the Engrish packaging of some canned fried sea weed.

It was Akihabara afterwards. The Radio Hall was a must-go. Too bad Kaiyodo was closed already. We bought a bunch of toys at Volks's 7th floor, mainly rental lockers. And I got the last MedicomToy Ed at their 4th floor show room. It was 10% off, but I later found out that was still quite a bit more expensive than Yodobashi Camera. (The cheapest is Amazon Japan. 9,999 yen. Everywhere is over 11,000) Then, a ground floor store that was filled with rental lockers. And Kotobukiya. Plenty of opened loose candy toys although slightly more expensive. I don't mind, when I don't want to buy a whole set.

Anyway, we got back at the hotel after dinner. The plan was to go to Asakusa to experience the local new year's eve atmosphere.

And then to my surprise, one of the new friends I met at the FMA party phoned me at the hotel! She was on her way to see me! Wow!! I... was speechless! Some of us were to meet again on the 3rd but she couldn't go, so she came to meet me at my hotel. That's so touching!! And she gave me a silver FMA pendent too! (Later I found out that it's worth about 12500 yen! That's over a hundred bucks!! Yikes!!) We talked, and talked. Her family was waiting for her at home to have dinner, although it was way pass dinner time. (Ooow... I felt so bad...) After she left, I realized I was too tired to go to Asakusa, so my companion went alone. I took the chance to organize my luggage, stuffing in the toys I bought. She came back and told me it was really crowded at the shrine and line up moved very slow. Didn't think I could survive that anyway.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

30th Comic Market 71 (7)

Why did I go again? (1) My companion wanted to go. (2) I wanted her to go. (3) I didn't get to take any cosplay photo the previous day.

We arrived around 12:30. 1 hour made a difference. Although there seemed to be fewer people, it was still very crowded. I took her to the Kaiyodo booth to buy the Vignette Chan figurines, but the line up was so long, we couldn't see the end. So we looked around at other stuff first. She was interested in some of the game booths and stayed to watch promo videos. I didn't want to watch but was stuck with her. (Better not get separated or it was impossible to find each other again.) At the end, she got the figurines after lining up for about 10 minutes only. Much better than I did.

Then we proceeded to the doujin area. No more FMA today. Sob sob sob... My companion's a One Piece fan and she bought a doujinshi. There were so many, it took her a while to decide which one to buy. (Aaargh I should have bought some FMA ones yesterday...)

Then... trouble came. I said I want to take cosplay photos, hinting that we should go. She immediately spotted 3 FMA cosplayers near by and pushed me to take their photos! But, But! (1) Those people were clearly busy shopping for doujinshi. (2) When there's a designated cosplay area, it's rude to shoot photos elsewhere. (3) I didn't want to repeat yesterday's "media pass" incident. So I refused, and at least told her (1) and (2). Perhaps I should have told her about (3), but I didn't think she can understand my personal experience.

She kept pressing on and on. Saying I should do it. Not a suggestion, but an order. Sorry, no written word can describe the situation, but she's been talking to me in a tone of voice like I'm inferior. The lack of sleep had a hand too and I was grumpy. Finally, the stress that had been building up for the past 6 days erupted.

Why do you act like a Japanese travel expert while you actually don't know as much as you advertise? You're too chicken to speak to the cab driver. You're an expert but you only "explore" things on eye-level. You make everything sound like it's for my own good, but it's actually for yours. Most of all, you speak to me in a totally different tone of voice when you need me. Otherwise, I'm just a waste of your time.

No, no. I didn't say it out loud. But it was very tough to hold back. I simply shut up. It was a bit late. Around 3, maybe 4? We went by the cosplay area without taking any photos. And then we went to Nakano. All this time I didn't speak a word. The atmosphere was tense. We didn't start speaking to each other until Mandarake. She needed my help to find some books. To be exact, she needed me to talk to the staff. Sigh... yeah, I was still mad at her. But I think she knew I was upset. So that was that.

Apparently she's been to the Nakano Broadway before. But "couldn't find the otaku shops". Hmm... really...? The whole 2nd and 3rd floor are otaku shops. (That's what I meant by "exploring at eye-level".)

We spent too much time in Mandarake and were only able to look at the 3rd floor. We agreed to come back on another day.

On our way out, we had takoyaki for dinner. My exhaustion robbed whatever remaining brain I had, and I just couldn't calculate the price. (Not to mention the lost of math ability from the near-fatal accident 11 years ago.) I thought she knows about my difficulties. But she would still make insensitive comments that makes me feel very, very bad.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Push... 2-way

Last summer I took a picture of the "push or pull?" doors near Broadway and Maple. Haha! Who knew my dentist would actually move into that building! Now I can officially go inside and check out the back of the handles. (I thought they might be reversed.) So, the answer is, "push" all sides.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Belated card

Happ Chinese new year again~! (^_^)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!

Oops... the card isn't ready yet. Will post later.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chinese new year eve dinner

Yikes! It's Chinese new year's eve already ! Another year has passed. (2007= year of the pig.) Used to be a bigger family event. More like a big cook-out at home. Recently years we eat out instead. No complains from me because I'm usually the one who have to wash the dishes afterwards.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Paper craft Shinku

It's usually robots. Now you have cute dolls.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! (^_^)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Chocolate tools

Very cute! The nuts and bolts actually work too!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cat corset

Actually it's a stomach warmer.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Chocolate for Valentine

Kind of looks like a set of sampler. 99%? Is the last 1% sugar, then? That would be so bitter!! This would be the Valentine chocolate to myself. Haha...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cat paw mouse pad

So Cute~!! But... to be honest, I don't want one.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

29th Comic Market 71 (6)

We went to an Izakaya (Japanese pub) next. There was a line up and we had to wait outside for a bit. This time we didn't get a private room and there were people smoking. Aaargh that's one thing Canada is superior. No smoking indoors. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience.

My exhaustion was getting pretty bad. I was even more non-responsive and couldn't remember much of what happened. We had more food and drink, I got to chat with some people who I didn't talk to in the first party.

Yu wasn't feeling well but she hung on till the end. Damn the vampire. I felt so sorry for her.

Since this was a public place, we couldn't display the toys or talk freely and loudly. But that didn't change the content of the conversations. (^_^) Everyone is such a huge fan! Oh why aren't there more FMA fans locally?

All good things must come to an end. We said good-bye and the subway. My station was on her way so Saya ride with me. A few of us would meet again for toy shopping on the 3rd in Akihabara and Nakano.

It was for sure one of the most unforgettable days in my life.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

29th Comic Market 71 (5)

Apparently some people were meeting us at the pub. On our way there, a few got separated and lost. It was kinda like a mini adventure. (^_^)

It was a German style pub that had private rooms at the back. We got one of those rooms.

So... everyone was there, and the self-introduction began. Although I never wrote to everyone, I recognized their blogs! Wow! It felt... like a miracle again!

The food came, but everyone was busy with toys. Masoho brought her custom made Pinky Streets and Chiwasaki brought her Medicom Elric brothers! There was an extra Ed from... I think it was Totsu's. (Or was it Touko's?) Oh I was bad with names and the exhaustion didn't help. I'm sure I was too quiet and non-responsive.

Someone asked me if I'm a "rotten girl". I said "not rotten", and a few of them backed off in a strange way, like I had the flu or something. Huh??? Was... was I impolite...??? I don't treat BL as an enemy. I'm able to read it, but it's not my interest and I don't seek it.

Saya, the biggest Shamballa fan on earth, quickly staged a BL scene using Pinkys. Haha... Oh the other side of the room, the same thing happened to the Medicomtoy Elric brothers. I could say with confidence that, I was probably the only non-BL fan in the room. Wahaha...

The Medicom brothers were one of the targets of my trip. Since last June, I had been running around town asking any promising toy store if they would carry the item, and the answer had always been negative.

When I was absorbing the atmosphere, Sora came up to me with one of the Ed figures, and encouraged me to undress him. (Wahaha...) She even started by taking off his shoes. O...K... I was saving it for my own figure, but a "free meal" is always good. (^_^) It's really well made! The detailed review of the figure goes to my other blog later.

Yu (one of the 2 cosplayers) made Al snow men as gifts for everyone. They were so cute! Thanks~!

Masoho had to go to a concert so she only stayed for about half an hour. Aaaw... she wasn't even in the group picture!

It seems to be a Japanese thing to switch location for the second half of the party, so we left the pub. (Or is there a time limit on how long you can stay in one restaurant?)

Monday, February 05, 2007

29th Comic Market 71 (4)

Leaving the "party gang" to the last, I visited Yukasuke first. Hmm... yeah... I was a little nervous, haha... Looking at what was on display, I sported her table right away. (Recognizing the Elric brothers magnets.)

It was like a miracle. I'd never dream that I could actually meet a Japanese blog friend in person! She's so friendly and funny too! And she gave me a set of doujinshi, magnets, and stickers! I return with one of those Premo Al beads I made last summer... I'm so sorry Yukasuke, that was hardly any equivalent exchange! Sob sob sob...

As we talked for a little bit, I realized I was getting slower and slower. My exhaustion was setting in. (Lack of sleep and all that running around carring the Kaiyodo figures.) And then, argh! I noticed people were starting to pack up! It was still slightly early for the 2:30 meeting time with Masoho. So I went to Saya's booth first.

Among all my FMA blog friends, Saya was actually the first one I started correspondence with. I didn't tell her about my trip and was going to spook her on the day, but Masoho leaked the info. Oh well, hahaha! I don't mind that, but I hope Saya wasn't mad at me for not telling her. So, just to be fair, I visited her booth first. She doubled up with Yue, another avid Shamballa fan. Oops... even they were starting to pack up! I'd better go see Masoho soon!

Saya lead me to Jino's table, where Masoho had been helping out. (The application for her own table didn't get approved. It's common for doujin friends to join each other's booths.) Apparently, to avoid having to carry the heavy books home, most people use courier service. And it was near the shipping deadline. No wonder everyone was packing up!

I was quite tied already. Good thing that the group next to Jino's had left and I could sit down while waiting for the party members to show up. There were altogether 15 people! Yikes!!

At that point, I realized I didn't take any cosplay photos!! Aaaargh!!!! But (1) I was too tired, (2) I wasn't sure what was going on. So I'd better stay put. 2 of the party members came in costume. I managed to snap a shot before they changed and that was the only cosplay photo I took. (The one on the bottom of this page doesn't count because it was a sneaked shot.)

Aaaargh! And I forgot to buy any doujinshi! (Regretting strongly!!!) At stores, doujinshi are usually bagged and you can't tell what the inside looks like. (Sometimes they'll display a photocopy of 1 page, but that's hardly enough.) The books aren't bagged at the Comic Market, and I missed a really precious chance! Sob sob sob... (Thanks so much Yukasuke and Jino for giving me some of their books, so I wouldn't be completely empty handed..)

Everyone was running around busy. Masoho and Jino disappeared for a whole so I was left with Chiwasaki alone at the table. Aaaaaw I could tell she was intimidated... I should have tried harder to communicate but I was just way too tired. She brought delicious cakes from Hiroshima! Thanks! And then I was introduced to Touko, my personal translator for the night. (^_^) She went to school for 3 months in Vancouver and her English is pretty good!

More people showed up, but that wasn't even half of 15. Without knowing what was going on, I just follow the group, and off we went to the party.

(I should really have visited the cosplay area... because there was an awesome Al armour!! Aaaargh!! Here's the entry at Yu's blog.)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

29th Comic Market 71 (3)

After lunch, I headed for the FMA doujin area. Many thanks to my blog friend Masoho who gave me so much info and scanning the map, even marked out my "target" tables. (^_^)

There were at least 2 halls but less crowed than the commercial area. No line-up either. It must have been around 1PM or so. From what Msoho told me, many of the doujin booths start packing up around 2 or 2:30 although the events are until 4. (Because everyone wants to read what they bought ASAP.)

As I did at the commercial area, I lifted my camera up above my head to take a corner photo. And immediately! 2 men rushed to stop me before I could fire the shutter. (That was scary!) What?! No photo? Ya gatta be kidding me!!!!!! I've come all the way form half an earth away, and there was no way I could accept "no photo". The language barrier was thick, because they spoke no English. Using my broken Japanese and writing kanjis, I was able to find out a work-around: to get a media pass.

I was pointed to an info station in the opposite hall. There was a line up. And they couldn't speak English either. Although I was extremely unpleased and annoyed by the whole situation, the way they panic when having to deal with an English speaker amused me. I did try my best to communicate using Japanese, but I guess that wasn't enough. (Or did they just want to throw the ball to someone else?) At last they called for help from the international help desk. After more waiting, a guy who could speak English finally came to the rescue.

He took me upstairs to an office area that looked like their headquarters. I had to fill a 3-page form, including my address and phone number, publication, reason, what and when the report will be published. Then, I was given an arm band and a numbered pass that had to be returned before 4. The guy explained that some years ago, some sort of paper came to do a report, but did it in a really negative way which gave Comic Market a bad name. To avoid it from happening again, all media need to be approved. Hmm... I guess that makes sense. But I'm just a tourist! Yeah I'm an otaku too. I won't bad-mouth the event, but I will complain about all the hassle you put me through. It's very tourist unfriendly and I was (and still am) very unhappy.

Armed with my newly acquired media pass, I went straight to the same corner to continue the photo shoot. Ha-ha! As expected, someone (a different guy) came to stop me, again! But he backed off immediately when he saw my arm ban. Heee-he! Well, at least all the people I had to deal with were polite. This aspect of Japanese rocks!

It must have been at least 2PM by now. That whole incidence cost me a precious hour! Grrrrr...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

29th Comic Market 71 (2)

From web research before the trip, Kaiyodo's new Vignette Chan figure set is a must-have. It's an event-only edition and not released in stores. So naturally, I went straight to their booth.

The day's luggage included a box of liquor chocolate (for the party at night), and an ATI bag I got in SIGGRAPH 2003. Yup, to camouflage the otakuness of my shopping. (^_^;)

Also from web research, the estimated line-up time to get in at noon is 0. (10AM= 1- 1.5 hour. First train= 5 hours!) I timed my arrival at 11:30 and guess what, there was no line up at all! But for sure lots and lots of people! I was just following the person in front. There were plenty of traffic conductors guiding the flow. Before entering the building, I came across the cosplay area (outdoor). Oooow I'd love to take some pictures but was also worried about the line-up at Kaiyodo's booth. So I headed straight to the commercial booths.

Getting in was one thing. Getting to Kaiyodo's booth was another. The place was packed!! It was horrible!!!!!!!!! It gives you the feeling of drowning on dry land! (These pictures were taken at the corners where it wasn't so crowded.) After being swept around 3/4 of the floor unable to control where I go, I finally reached Kaiyodo's booth near a gate. The line up grew outside! Aaaaw... in fact, there were some game company's line up that also went outside and the end couldn't be seen. Nevertheless, I was able to make my purchase within half and hour. It wasn't pleasant, but bearable. (Just barley.) Each person can purchase up to 4 sets and I maxed it out. 2 for myself (one to play with, one to keep.) One set for someone who asked me from before the trip. And one for my trip companion. (Turn out we went again together the next day and she bought her own, so I ended up with a spare set for sale.)

Booths were giving out pamphlets, print-outs, even bags, CDs or DVDs although much rarer. None of those were relevant to me. So I didn't take any, trying to minimize my luggage. By the time I fought my way out of the hall, I was half exhausted. Found some benches outside and sat down to eat the sandwich I bought at a corner store just outside the hall. Unfortunately it was a smoking area, plus reeeeally windy and cold.

Friday, February 02, 2007

29th Comic Market 71 (1)

Comic Market is the biggest doujinshi event in Japan. When I used to make dojinshi, it was my dream to go there at least once before I die. Although I stopped drawing manga, I'm still really happy to have the opportunity. It was almost a miracle for my trip to coincide with the event, there was no way I could let the chance pass.

It was the 71st Comic Market and lasted for 3 days. The commercial booths stayed the same while the doujin booths were different everyday. FMA was on the first day. That was when I would meet some of my blog friends at their booths. An FMA party was scheduled for that night.

On one hand, I was high, filled with anticipations and excitement. On the other hand, exhausted from the lack of sleep since before the trip. The stress of preparing for it (hotels were full). Packing (without sleep). Bunking with a girl friend in a semi-double bed (who had a cold and cough all night). My back condition doesn't allow me to sleep in that pose, so the quality of sleep had been poor.

My companion went with her friends to Tsukigi (the famous fish market district) while I went to the Big Sigh at Daiba for the Comic Market. The Big Sigh is a huge exhibition facility. It's just... huge. Oh! And they have landmarks for people to meet at. Giant colour spheres. I myself have seen red, green, and blue, although there might also be a yellow one. Probably for east, south, west, and north. The English name for the spheres are called "ball". Nothing wrong with that, until you come to the blue one. Need I say more? Hahaha... Too bad I couldn't take any photos this time. These were from 2 years ago. I suspect they know about it and intentionally put the smoking room in the way so you can't get a good shot of the word "blue ball".

To get to the Big Sigh, you pretty much must take the Yurikamome train line, which is expensive! (About double!) Maybe it's new, maybe it's got good seaside scenery, maybe it's just a scam. The line does go by some interesting places, like the rainbow bridge, and the Fuji TV station. (The top photo.)