Some music shall we? Today’s tune is a 1972 recording of School’s Out by Alice Cooper. Why? No idea, it was playing on WinAmp.
Good evening everyone and welcome to 春分の日 (shumbun no hi, Vernal Equinox Day), a national holiday here in Japan where people visit graves of departed family members and holding family reunions. And since I could do neither of the above, how did I spend my day eh?
Well to start with a nice lie-in was had (no food on holidays, you know the drill by now) as well as a day off from Uni. This in itself seems quite rare, as we normally (as exchange students) go in on most national holidays. Some of my Leeds friends at other Uni’s in Japan always seem somewhat shocked that we still have to go in during the Spring break.
Today I’d arranged with a couple of Japanese friends to go down to 日本橋 (Nippombashi) to look at the second hand manga shops and other anime related goodies. Like me, my friends arrived earlier than we agreed to meet so we could head off earlier. I love it when people are punctual ^_^.
After arriving at Nippombashi we headed in the direction of Den Den Town to first grab some food. Suddenly we came face to face with a barrier and a guard directing foot traffic. After crossing a road to where we wanted to go, we noticed a sign over a bridge saying that ‘something’ (not being able to read the kanji) was happening that day. According to my friends there was some kind of festival on, but even they weren’t entirely certain, suggesting it could be an Otaku Festival.
Sure enough the moment we turned the corner the street was jam packed with cosplayers, photographers and maids among other people. Voices could be heard over loudspeakers aswell as the excited calls of shop staff as they tried as hard as they could to entice people in to make a sale or two. After having a very brief nose around, we headed to the nearest McDonalds.
After chowing down we headed off down the road to the A-Too Media Recycle Shop, my favourite shop in the area. For my friends, this was the first time they’d gone to Nippombashi, so going in a shop that had manga starting at 10 yen (just over 7p at today’s rate) appeared to be a real treat. I too was astounded by the number of books that had been put down into the 50 yen and 100 yen sales. Picking up 7 books from the 100 yen section and a set of 6 books for 300 yen I headed for the till.
Now, either this shop was having an amazingly generous sale, they undercharged me, or both. Let’s just do a little math shall we? 7 books at 100 yen is 700 yen, plus the 6 book set for 300 yen, totalling 1000 yen (convenient number). Now when I was at the counter I heard one girl (there were two at the counter serving me) mention that the 100 yen books were now at 50 yen. This in itself was pretty sweet, so let’s change the equation. 7 books at 50 yen is 350 yen, plus the 6 book set for 300 yen, totalling 650 yen, right? ブー (buu, wrong (audible noise like a buzzer)).
I paid a total of 410 yen (£2.97) for my 13 books, giving an average price per book at just under 32 yen (23p) each. Get in! Checking the reciept later, they’d charge me just 60 yen instead of 300 for by 6 book set.
Shopping List: The 山田家 (The Yamada-ke, The Yamada House) books 1-6, 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 (Suzumiya Haruhi no yuuutsu, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) books 1 and 2, and げんしけん The Society For The Study Of Modern Visual Culture (Genshiken (a word made from an acronym of) The Society For The Study Of Modern Visual Culture) books 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8. There is of course one big problem with buying manga at the moment at that has a lot to do with the fact I only have 2 months (ish) left, shipping this stuff home is going to be a heavy and expensive PITA.
After having a nice look around the area and in some other shops, we then headed to nearby Namba for some more nosing. One of the biggest differences between the two places was the vast difference in the kind of people that seemed to be in the area. Sure, both were full to the brim, but whereas Nippombashi was packed with people dressed in outfits of characters from Ace Hono to Zodd The Immortal, Namba had a more “commonly dressed” crowd, the two barely seeming to notice the fact that they’re right next door to one another.
Vistiting Namba Parks again was a nice little experience. We didn’t really go with a set plan or list of things we wanted to see, meaning we could freely wander around. Heading up through the restaurant section we were treated to a display where a chef was showing how cold soba noodles are made from dough. One person from his restaurant was then giving samples out so we could have a taste. Personally I’ve never been a fan of soba, but these were quite nice. I took a video of him cutting it with great care and attention, so that’ll be on the photo and picture blog soon.
After this we headed up to the top floor where there was a garden area. Performing on a staged area was a clown from America (I think he said his name was Dave or something). Don’t get me wrong, when I said clown I don’t mean he was some tosser arsing about, I mean he was actually performing clown-like things (well, we only got to see his finale, juggling knives on an elevated unicycle). Also fair play to the guy, his Japanese was pretty damn good (he slotted in English every now and then, but it seemed to work), so good in fact that it wasn’t until the end that he said he was from the States that I’d have believed it. Good show Dave.
Throughout the rest of the garden were handprints people who had achieved fame in Japan. We had fun comparing different people’s handsizes to our own and I felt a nice sense of acomplishment that my hand could compete with writers and athletes to name a few professions.
Parting ways in Umeda, I headed to Matsuya for my usual holiday meal of Curry-Rice.