This was a two-week trip with some other anime fans, principally to visit Comiket and an anime convention in Osaka. Japanese Animation was one of my prime interests at this date.
Thur 12 Aug Got 7.18 train, ticket cost £25. Departed Heathrow 1.00pm. 3hr flight & quick transfer. 9hr flight over cloud. To Narita, surrounded by woodland – saw big mountains with snow. We flew with Aeroflot – the seats were cramped and uncomfortable.
Fri 13 Aug If I remember correctly, we were met by Mineo M. , Nana (daughter) and his wife, who offered us lunch. As the menu prices were around Y50,000 I think we declined the first over-generous offer. Arrived Tokyo and got lift to Shinjuku, and got train to our apartment address (we lost the directions). Took number 1 bus and found our flat above a barbershop. IIRC, this was when one of our party (Darren) , who was wearing a leather jacket, collapsed from heat stroke. No difficulty in locating the key. This evening Peter E. came over (If I remember correctly, this was Peter’s old flat, which he was vacating.) I remember the flat had a small kitchen, a smaller bathroom, and a main room with an air conditioner and a big Japanese style light fitting. No cosy communal meals – I received bad attitude when I suggested this, so went out and foraged in local convenience store myself.
Sat 14 Aug Trip into town around shops, saw 2nd hand/discount anime. Lots of LaserDisks. Looked for vols of K.O.R. I wanted but did not find any. Ranma ½ 3900Y is probably music clips. Bought manga titles inc To-Y, 3×3 Eyes, K.O.R, Ranma ½ #1.
Denzil lost the key!! Somewhere. We had to go to Peter E. to get the other – fortunately he had a spare! Took ages to find his house numbered 5.5.3. not 5.5.5. Even after phone call Denzil did not spot the error. (I think we alarmed some harmless Japanese by wandering around their suburban estate and calling on door intercoms)
Evening at Peter’s with sore feet and CD’s and loud sound tracks. I remember his room was large, with a bare polished wooden floor. We had English and Japanese beers courtesy of Peter also free posters.
Sun 15 Aug Went to Shoujo day of Comic Market (Comiket) no 44, via train to Ginza then bus. The venue was in the Tokyo docks area, with a long hike to the entrance. But a short wait as queues entered in sections. Attendance about 100,000 cuties! Thousands of tables with several titles on each. Cuties in costume posing for photos. Looked in several halls, each very large, all full of girls. David R. was surly because I found a free copy of the catalogue in a dumper and didn’t pick up one for him (well he could have done what I did). I still have that catalogue. Bought 1 manga as sample – some others might have been embarrassing at customs. Lots of pretty boy covers. Whole hall for professionals (?) Sailor Moon mostly.
Mon 16 Aug Went to Shounen day of Comic Market (Comiket) no 44. Actually a mixed day – half girls at least. Arrived 10.00am, got in 11.20am. I hour just to go round 1 hall. This day there were also computer games, and a couple of fan-made videos which I bought. Weather was misty and rainy. Returned to flat 6.00pm after buying an umbrella. Again, masses of Sailor Moon titles. Bought several titles. The following pics are from a different reel of film from the previous lot so I’ve attached them to this day:
Tue 17 Aug Went shopping in Akhiabara. The addresses and maps for shops here were in Newtype and other anime mags. Vast numbers of electronics shops. Anime was a little harder to find though there are signs for “LD” in the street. Found a KOR box set, various LD volume and OAV discs. Bought 3x LD volumes, nos 6,7,9, and half a dozen discounted tapes. Looked for electronic translators. There seem to be a variety from £25-£100.
Went to Peter Evans’ in the evening. Showed my University student tapes (those I bought at Comiket) which are variable. He showed Dragon Half, which is very warped!
Wed 18 Aug Went to park of antique buildings near the flat (Nihon-Minkaen, Kawasaki city, see its’ website) Took photos. Nice park surrounding. It also has a railway engine and carriage, and a small historical museum.
The old building park has an exhibition hall, which had interesting exhibits of life in old Japan. Also an animated hologram diorama!
One of those days we were standing by a bus-stop in Kawasaki, when a young Japanese wandered up, dropped his bag beside us, and wandered round the corner to a shop about 100 yards away. It wouldn’t happen in Britain.
Thurs 19 Aug Looked at shops (manga) around Shinjuku, after arranging tickets to Osaka. It turned out that the express was impractical as 3 or 4 changes were involved. Decided on bus but could only book outward. Tried train arrangements but only Shinkansen available and Y9000 discount seats were full. So booked Shinkan sen for return – Y13,000.
In the afternoon we returned to pack overnight bags for Osaka. Bus from Tokyo station (also Shinjuku etc?) The indicator board at the bus station showed the departure bay about 15 mins before departure. Buses arrived about 10 mins before departure.
Fri 20 Aug I don’t remember much about the overnight bus journey from Tokyo but it was probably unpleasant. We visited Osaka Castle (a ferro-concrete replica) before check-in to hotel room about 2.45. Rested. (I don’t recall what the hotel was like.)
Sat 21 Aug Daicon programme registration – got standard bag + watch + English programme. Saw some anime (Moldiver, Tenchimuyo), some fan films – one with hundreds of tiny puppets – very good. Others just odd
Went out for lunch with Keith J. who showed us his apartment. Also a couple of Australians, and another Gaijin, Japan resident and his Japanese wife.
Saw Fan art show, some very good.
I still have a Daicon 6 SF programe book from 1993 – in Japanese.
Sun 22 Aug Checked out of hotel. Saw computer animation presentation. Looked in conference rooms (see programme). I remember making embarrassing efforts to find a Japanese person to swap tapes with by mail, at the suggestion of the others, but without lasting success.
Looked for Den Den town, but it was shut. (Probably because it was a Sunday). Den Den, or Nipponbashi, is a famous geek shopping area, latterly a centre for anime and mangs shops, often compared with Tokyo’s Akhiabara.
Returned to Tokyo via Shinkanshen. Luxury travel! We had very soft seats, and the journey took about 2 and a half hours. I remember the carriage seemed very wide, with a digital speed display on the forward bulkhead. There was urban sprawl on all the flat land between Osaka and Kyoto with patches of bright green right up to buildings. There were mountains in the distance. The train passed through a long tunnel.
Mon 23 Aug We went to a bank in Shinjuku. Denzil had trouble getting his money out. Went shopping in Akhiabara. Got two Miyazaki-style videos and a digital translator handheld device.
The evening was occupied by eating and trying out the translator.
Tue 24 Aug We went shopping in a Shinjuku model shop (Yellow Submarine). I didn’t buy anything. I separated from the others, visited small Shinjuku park to east (Y160), then by Yamanote line to Ueno park. Visited Tokyo national museum. The swords and armour and modern art were the most interesting. Also visited the archaeology wing. In the park outside afterwards I saw gaijin busking and others selling knicknacks. There were homeless persons camping in the park – saw lots of laundry!
Lunch was meat curry, Y500 in the Shinjuku Gyden park
In the evening, we went to Peter’s again.
Wed 25 Aug Went alone to Tokyo Metropolitan Building no 1 tower South Observation. The view was impressive but I could not see Mt Fuji. Saw air conditioner outlets of new tower block nearby and below, looking big enough to swallow a bus. Visited Yoyogi park, Meiji shrine and inner (Y300) garden, and had lamb noodle lunch (Y450). Took the loop line train (Yamanote) to Tokyo Station. Got map and went to Imperial Palace gardens. The Inner gardens were closed alas (at 3.30!) Walked to Ginza, looked at shops. Saw some galleries with one having Japanese dolls in traditional costume. Lovely, but very expensive – up to Y1200000.
In the evening we weighed the luggage and went to Peter’s to arrange despatch of any excess weight. I don’t recall that I had any excess weight, but the 2 bags were still a *** to carry around.
Thur 26 Aug Took train to Ueno for Mito. Denzil left his bag on the Yamanote loop line train! He reported it missing, but found it when the train returned after 1 hr. We were met by Mineo. It was raining. Typhoon reported over Okinawa. Had Japanese bath and Japanese dinner with fish, salad, rice rolls, marinated fish etc, with Japanese beer. Watched live action Japanese SF movie on 8mm. video. It was a Jupiter Project/ Black Hole kind of thing and quite good. Mineo’s house was modern and quite spacious – he must be earning a lot.
Fri 27 Aug Still raining in the morning. Our flight was leaving, but with a slight delay. It was a 1 and a half hour drive to Narita. Rivers were high with the wide channels full of water. The van, which IIRC was driven by Mrs Mineo, ran out of petrol a few miles from the airport. The tropical downpour drenched those who ventured out to get fuel. The check-in was very quick. We waited to board, then waited to take off 2 hours late.
Then views of very empty Siberia with meandering rivers, lakes, hills looking much the same for hours and hours and little sign of habitation. Suffered Russian incompetence at the Moscow re-fuelling stop. We waited in a queue just to get into the transit lounge, and another delay just to get out of the duty free area.
I slept on the Moscow-Heathrow leg. Declared all the LDs and tapes and translator at Customs – cost £58 in VAT.
Just caught a disappearing David R. to hand over 3x LDs for transfer to VHS tape (I eventually sold the LDs to Anime Projects for a good price). Darren J. A. (the leather jacket guy) vanished at Heathrow. I heard he later lived in Japan for a while. Guy of same name shows up on Google with various academic honours.
Denzil stayed in Japan that weekend.