Monday, February 25, 2013

Return To Tokyo 2013 Highlights For Anime and Regular Tourists

I haven't been writing or blogging much in the last few weeks as I was visiting Tokyo this February of 2013 with my family.  This trip was for fun and to confirm the best anime or pop culture or tourist sights for Tokyo. For the next little while I'll be posting about my experience there again so stay tuned. 
Shinjuku Signs by Tostzilla
Since the last time I visited Tokyo in 2009 the city has been:
  • Shaken by a large earthquake that cracked the earth in Odaiba (made of fill with buildings on deep piles) and shut down the trains.  Had shortages of toilet paper and bottled water afterwards.
  • Dealt with radioactive fallout from Fukushima due to the same Great Eastern Japan Earthquake.
  • North Korea tested an underground nuke and threatens war again.
  • Sporadic news reporting says that Mount Fuji is building up the most pressure ever (possibly due to the big earthquakes).
  • Has had at least one major outage on the trains due to typhoons.
  • A big meteor or hadouken streaked over the Kanto region of Japan, but it was nothing like the big meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia while I was there.  Hmm... Russians and meteors - Tunguska again?
  • The Radio Kaikan Building in Akiba is now a hole in the ground and a new building will be built.
  • Completed and opened the new Skytree to the public.
Giant Gundam by Tostzilla
Skytree by Tostzilla
The city has bounced back though and there are new experiences to be had.  So I wanted to do the following:
  • See the changed the Haniwa and Dogu exhibits in the National Museum.  
  • Visit Akihabara again and see if I felt the same about it with the new Akiba Zone, Gamers, Animate, etc.  I've never really been into the maid cafes, but I liked the energy in the area.  I think the Radio Kaikan was the heart of the district for Otaku in many ways and I don't think it will be easily replaced.
  • Go and see the giant Gundam in Odaiba and Gundam Front.  The big RX-78-2 was awesome.
  • Visit the Gundam Cafe Akihabara which is the largest one and has seating.
  • Visit Ikebukuro this time and the new Animate flagship store which is awesomely large and still shiny new.  Also seems to be female friendly as there were lots of ladies shopping there - not the same as Akiba at all - and a better experience for everyone.
  • Make a cup of noodle at the Yokohama Nissin Cup Noodle Museum and see the very nice museum.
  • Eat tasty ramen at the Yokohama Ramen Museum.  I actually ate and slurped the tastiest ramen broth I've ever had there this trip.
  • Shoot more pictures of Shibuya Crossing, Ginza, and Shinjuku at night.
  • Visit the Hikarie Building in Shibuya.
  • Visit a few of the "talked about ramen shops" in Tokyo.  I hit two.
  • Visit Nakano Broadway for the first time.  I actually think Nakano is truly a wonderful place for more classic anime fans and for merchandise (might actually be better than Akihabara - so it is a must visit if you are visiting the Ghibli Museum or just have the time to go from Shinjuku).
  • Ascend the Tokyo Skytree where the first observation deck is basically at the same height as the tip of the old Tokyo Tower.  See the wonderful animated wall boards they have on the ground level of the tower lobby.  The shopping at the Solomachi Mall at the tower is amazing in the upper floors - the shops are really good - not just for fashion.  The Ghibli Store at Solomachi is nice too - especially if you are not going to the museum.
  • Visit the Evangelion Store in Harajuku.
  • Visit the remodeled Kiddyland.
  • Visit the Artnia, the Square Enix Cafe and Shop in Shinjuku.
  • Visit Ekibenya (the train bento store) and Tokyo Character Street in Tokyo Station.
  • Visit the big fancy Uniqlo store in Ginza to visit Uniqlo T in particular for pop/anime culture themed t-shirts at a great price.  I picked up four pretty nice Evangelion T-shirts for 4000 yen there.
  • Do more shopping in Kitchen Town and visit Nakamise Street at Sensoji Temple again.
  • Take a Sumida riverboat ride on a Spaceboat.
  • And generally sight see, have great eats, enjoy the konbini, vending machines, excellent train service, and other fun stuff.
Well, I managed to pull all that off in 7 full days, so posts will start trickling out as I get over my jet lag and all that.  While I was there two small earthquakes also hit Tokyo.  There was one on February 20, which I didn't notice at all at it was magnitude 5.6 at about 9:30 PM.  Then a second one on February 24th with a magnitude of 6.2 that hit around the time my plane left Narita at 4:23 PM.  Tokyo was still there so visit when you have a chance!

View the Tokyo Travelogues Master Page here.

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