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Japan trip 2009: The otaku experience August 9, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film, Friends, Gunpla, Japan, Personal, Travel.
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Gundam and I, Odaiba, July 2009

Gundam and I, Odaiba, July 2009

So, I’ve written all about my Japan trip. But given the nature of this blog, it’s the geeky things you want to hear about right? ^^

Otaku highlights include the 1/1 scale Gundam in Odaiba, seeing Evangelion 2.0 in a Shibuya cinema (review to come in a later post) and discovering the ‘Akihabara of Osaka’ Den Den Town.

Gundam Odaiba

Impressive. Most impressive. I can’t tell you how excited I was about seeing an actual life-sized Gundam. To measure yourself up against such a structure is beyond any fan’s dream. Not only that but on the hour, it moves!

To an orchestral score the mighty RX-78 Gundam moves its head from side to side and up and down as smoke bellows from its chest. If the cockpit had opened I might have wet myself ^^;

We were lucky in that the Tokyo rain (unforgiving for three days) let up with clear sunshine for the hour we visited Odaiba. Which is just as well, as the setting, overlooking Tokyo Bay with the skyscrapers in the background, is incredibly fitting.

The Gundam is free to visit. Take the Yurikomome line from Shimbashi to Odaiba and get off at the Daiba stop (just after the shopping centre). It’s well sign-posted and you can usually follow the crowds to the park where you’ll eventually see the Gundam poking over the trees. There’s a small merchandise store right next to the entrance and plenty of food stores around the outskirts. You can also queue up to get up close and personal with the Gundam’s feet.

A real symbol of Japan, I can’t believe they are going to take this down (but if so get there before the end of August and see it for yourself!).

A full set of pictures from Odaiba on Flickr.

Den Den Town

Den Den Town I can highly recommend for anyone torn between the sightseeing draws of Kansai and the otaku shopping draws of Akiba and Nakano in Tokyo.

Osaka doesnt have a lot of sights, but it is a good base for Kyoto, Nara, Himeji and others, and it is a great city for generally hanging out and shopping. And in Den Den Town it has pretty much everything you’d get in Akiba, only more concentrated in a smaller area. Photos available here.

All the major anime chains are here (Animate, Gamers, K-books etc.) with plenty of second hand stores,  a massive dedicated Osaka Gundam store and a decent official Cospa store for merchandise. There’s even a couple of branches of Volks for plamo fans. Of course, there aren’t quite as many small shops as Akiba, but after a while everyone gets tired of looking at gashopon ^^;

Den Den Town is very conveniently located in the centre of Osaka (get off at Nipponbashi on the subway) and easy to navigate, with two main streets serving up all you’d want and possibly some rarities you wouldn’t find in Tokyo.


I went to Akiba as well of course, but on a prime-time Sunday this time. Some pics available here.

It was indeed rammed with sweaty otaku (male and female) but I was disappointed by the lack of otaku hijinks. No major parades or demonstrations and only a handful of cosplayers and itasha.

On the plus side I did get to see native otaku in their natural habitat and even caught some kind of launch event for a new game in Melon books (a dating sim no doubt. There was a guy playing a violin, which gave me shades of Ef).

I never tire of going from shop to shop hearing all the anisong music I love, and seeing rooms full of familiar characters from all the series I love (this summer K-ON! was most definitely the word, with everything from K-ON! tea to K-ON! bread in a can on sale).

Anyway, on to the loot.


Japan haul

For one reason or another, my haul from this trip was relatively small compared to last time. I still spent a lot more than expected, but I guess lots more went on clothes, experiences and (particularly) food rather than stuff. A sign of growing up? Still, I did manage to have two full bags to lug to the airport ^^;

Of the stuff I did buy, I was pleased to find a Honey and Clover poster in Den Den Town (Honey and Clover merchandise is so rare).

Hachimitsu to Clover

There was a vintage cinema poster store in Den Den Town and I would have loved to have bought the old Totoro or Whisper of the Heart posters I saw but I wasn’t sure if they would survive. Mental note for next time: pick up a postal tube >_<

Other than that, I got my MG Exia. It came out a few days before I left Japan, but I was too slow to get the Ignition Mode. Still, I was lucky to get this one as it was the last one in Akiba and at least it saved me several thousand yen. I also picked up a couple of display bases, including a special Celestial Being one for the Exia.


I also found my Miyuki Lucky Star Figma figure for what I thought was the cheapest price, only to find it again later in, of all places, Animate, for even cheaper >_<

I didn’t get as much music as I expected but I did pick up the new Stereopony and Perfume albums and found my two favourite Brilliant Green albums (The Winter Album and Los Angeles) going cheap second hand.

In terms of books, I got the second Haruhi light novel for a bargain 200 yen second hand to aid my Nihongo reading practice. And along those lines, I also found a couple of good bilingual books (with CDs) teaching you to read contemporary Japanese short stories and essays by well-known writers like Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto.

In games, I treated myself to Taiko no Tatsujin for the Wii (brilliant. Almost as good as the arcade). Elsewhere, my only plushie was a dango from Clannad.

There was also the usual copies of Hobby Japan and Newtype, the latter coming with a particularly nice gashopon of new Evangelion character Makami Mari.


And, ahem, I also got a couple of life-sized futon covers of Yoko and Nia from Gurren Lagaan.

Futon covers

I couldn’t bring myself to buy an actual dakimakura, the official ones of which cost an astounding 9,960 yen (that’s £70! For a pillow case!). Was thinking about an oppai mouse pad as well, but to be honest, none of them really appealed (not particularly interested in the oppai of Ranka Lee) and 4,700 yen is a bit steep for a mouse mat.

And surprisingly (Mari aside) no gashopons bought this time, which believe me was a tough ask….


1. Sena - December 2, 2010


2. も一度日本にくる « Canned Memory - May 3, 2011

[…] of course, I can still do my usual otaku shopping now that I know of Den Den Town. Plus, this time I’m flying Emirates, which gives me a whole extra 10kg baggage allowance on […]

3. Tetsujin 28 statue, Kobe « Canned Memory - July 4, 2011

[…] saw the life-sized Gundam on my last trip to Japan, so it seemed appropriate to this time visit the other giant robot statue […]

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