One Piece Tokyo Tower: An Otaku Paradise

This theme park is the first of its kind in Japan, and just last March it became open to the public. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to experience it in its first week of operation.

Once you arrive at Tokyo Tower, you can purchase the tickets at the counter which also includes an access to the tower’s observatory area.

It is an elevator ride to the One Piece Theme Park, after which you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff and this impossible-to-miss signage/photo spot:

Tokyo Tower One Piece
Tokyo Tower One Piece!!

UponΒ entry to the theme park, it’s gonna be one fangirling/fanboying moment after the other! With walls decorated with some excerpts from the manga (with special effects!) to life-sized character figures, as well as theme park games and frolicking pirate cosplayers, One Piece aficionados will surely think of this place as heaven on earth.

My favorite part of the theme park was the Zoro’s Soul of Edge. It was a short but fun game! The other attractions had a lot to offer as well. It was just One Piece geeking overload! Moreover, we were right on time to witness theΒ ONE PIECE LIVE ATTRACTION “Welcome to TONGARI Mystery Tour”.Β The actors nailed it! My favorites were Zoro, Sanji and Luffy πŸ™‚ I was really impressed with the actor who played Zoro, I mean working with the sword props, that wasn’t easy!! :O And we were given glow sticks that we used, which made it an interactiveΒ live show.

glowstick
The glow stick that was given to each live show audience
liveattraction
As you can see, the audience sat on the cushions that were laid out on the floor when watching the live show.

I had a really great time trying out all the attractions, and it really helped that I knew some Japanese, especially in the Nami’s Casino and Chopper’s Thousand Sunny Tours. A must-visit place, especially for the One Piece fans! Allow me to show you also my picture of life-size (that’s right LIFE-SIZE) Portgas D. AceΒ figure:

My favorite One Piece character :)
My favorite One Piece character πŸ™‚

 

Here is the link to the official website for more info. πŸ™‚

Shibuya – A Window to Japan’s Urban Culture

Shibuya is known all over the world as an iconic metropolitan venue with tall buildings on every side, as well as a sub-culture haven.

Getting off at Shibuya station via JR Yamanote Line, once you get out of Exit No. 8, you’ll be greeted by a ton of people hanging out near the Hachiko Statue. The statue is known as an art built in memory of aΒ dog, Hachiko, who waited at Shibuya Station everyday for almost 10 years for his master to return. Then from that point you could walk over the busiest intersection in the world, known as the Shibuya Crossing.

I went to Shibuya to meet my Japanese friend and of course see the things the place has to offer. We went to an obscure ramen place, and what I noticed is that most restaurants have these vending machines where you would place your order and give your payment (this goes to restaurants in other places in Japan too), which I find very convenient. And of course, the food was superb!! πŸ™‚

We then checked out Tower Records, and Tokyu Hands (a large-scale shop for almost anything, really, but for the most part, those who like to do DIY projects). There are also many arcade places all over the area where many students hang out with their friends.

 

Afterwards, we visited the Meiji Jingu. It was a very calm and quiet place, as expected from a shrine, a perfect place for meditation located in an evergreen forest in the heart of Tokyo (totally amazing!). It was a good way to end my day in Shibuya. πŸ™‚

 

I’m impressed at Japan’s way of fusing urban/modern structures with nature. Shibuya is a perfect example of a place that shows Japan’s passion for technology and respect for nature. I mean how can a forest even exist in the middle of a city?! Ask the Japanese. πŸ™‚

LM.C’s Perfect Rainbow Tour became my rite of passage to jrock concerts

I know I have not done a decent job updating this blog in the last weeks.. but now thankfully I get to share another good experience! πŸ™‚

In my trip to Japan last March, I made it a point to witness a local concert and see how the Japanese appreciate music.

Luckily, with some help from my super kind Japanese friend, we were able to acquire tickets to LM.C’s Perfect Rainbow Tour.

LM.C, composed of Maya and Aiji, is Japanese Visual Kei band whose songs were featured in animes such as Katekyo Hitman Reborn, Red Garden, andΒ Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan.

The Heaven’s Rock CafΓ© where the concert took place was a quick walk from the Saitama Super Arena. It’s a small live house for mini concerts/gigs. LM.C items were being sold outside the venue.

image

When we got inside, we proceeded to the locker room where we deposited our stuff. I was told that when you’re in the live house, it is just an empty space and a stage, so carrying your stuff in there won’t be wise, especially when the room’s gonna be jam packed with people. Basically, it’s a whole hour (or even more) of standing and cramped space! But I guess that’s just how live houses are, which kind of makes sense because if you’re gonna be in a concert (especially at a rock concert), it’ll be such a killjoy if you just sit through it.

By the time we were inside, the place is already full of people. But even so, I could clearly see the stage from my position even though I was standing at the back of the room. That’s how “small” the live house was. Unfortunately, taking pictures is not allowed so I just settled with this picture of the event board outside Heaven’s Rock (and some concert merchandise :p) as a memento for this event. πŸ™‚

LM.C Perfect Rainbow Tour
LM.C Perfect Rainbow Tour

The concert definitely did not disappoint. For the price I paid to be there (which was around 5500yen), it was all worth it. LM.C performed for almost 3 hours and thankfully because of my Japanese knowledge, I didn’t quite feel left out especially when they were taking a break and interacting with the fans. Another thing that struck me aside from the interesting music that LM.C does wasΒ the energy of the crowd during the whole concert.

Many of us know that the Japanese are generally quiet, shy and introverted kind of people, so I thought maybe they’ll just bob their heads during the performances. I realised how wrong I was as soon as the first song played. Maya and Aiji started with a very jumpy song, and the crowd went nuts! I mean I’m used to wild crowds as I have been to many rock events before but this was nuts, as in WEIRD. Why, you may ask. Well it’s because their movements were SOOO CHOREOGRAPHED and I’m like “did I miss the fan rehearsal, or something?”. LOL! They would all wave their arms in the same direction, at the same time, and even bang their heads together!! Just imagine me and my friend, in a pool of people with everyone around us crazily head banging and they would start (and stop) all at the same time. Moreover, when LM.C played their famous song, “88” (opening song of Katekyo Hitman Reborn), they immediately took out their glow sticks and waved it all together!!! It’s as if they all have mental telepathy, like, “Guys, it’s time to bring out the glow sticks, it’s for this song!!”

And then it hit me. These fans must have been to almost every concert of this band. What dedication and such a strong fandom. For them to come out every time just to see these guys play is really something. Here in the Philippines, when there’s a concert, almost everyone just screams and sings while the artist performs (trust me, go watch live footages of Manila concerts, you’ll see what I mean πŸ˜‰ ), with the occasional waving of smartphones as an alternative to glow sticks ( but most just whip them out to record videos, which is quite sad I think). Japanese fans may not be as loud as the Filipinos, but they certainly don’t come last when it comes to fandom commitment!

So here’s us taking a selfie after the concert:

We're still alive after the chaos :P
We’re still alive after the chaos πŸ˜›

Akihabara – Where Tech and Anime Collide

Since childhood, I was already a big fan of anime and as such, I’ve always wanted to go to where it all started; JAPAN! This country has been consistently at the top of my travel goals and I’m very thankful that my dream became a reality when I flew to Tokyo last month. πŸ™‚

Among the places that I checked out during my stay in Tokyo is non-other than Akihabara (also called “Akiba”), an area in Chiyoda, famous for great tech finds and anime merchandise stores.

The place can be easily accessed via the JR Yamanote Line at Akihabara station. The Gundam Cafe and AKB48 Shop is just near the station’s exit.

The area is filled with tax-free shops and stores for any kind of anime merchandise you could think of. Figures, games, DVDs, and other anime-related items can be found in this otaku paradise. And the prices for these items are way cheaper (obviously) compared to when you buy them outside Japan. I was basically at a loss of words when I got there. Feels overload!

It's Akihabara!
It’s Akihabara!

A shopping place that I checked out among others is the Yodobashi-Akiba. It’s a huge establishment filled with various items (not just limited to tech).

Yodobashi-Akiba.
Yodobashi-Akiba.

Each floor in the building features a category of some of the many items being sold there, such as cameras, souvenir items, game consoles, mobile phone accessories, etc. And the best part: it’s tax-free!!

JUST A TIP: ALWAYS bring your passport with you, because many shops in Akihabara (and Tokyo in general) offer discount to tourists! They also sell Β “exclusive” or “limited edition” items at a reasonable price.

My visit to Akihabara won’t be complete without stopping by the numerous anime merchandise stores!!

A particular hobby shop that I encountered is VOLKS,Β a secondhand anime figure shop (but they also sell other merchandise). Collectors have their own glass cubicle where they could showcase and sell their collection. When buying here, it’s important to have a box ready as the store won’t provide you with one since it’s not brand new. But most of the figures sold here are still in good condition.

Other places that can be seen is the AKB48 Cafe & Shop and the Gundam Cafe. And can I just say that AKB48 posters areΒ all over the place?? πŸ™‚

 

So if you’re planning to pay Akihabara a visit, either you bring a lot of money, or a LOT of self-control. HAHA. Get ready to shop ’till you drop!!