Day 0 : 12.30/12.31
We departed on 12/30/2017 and Arrived in Japan 12/31.
This trip to Japan was one of my favorite flying experiences. The airports were pretty empty the day we flew out and we got the fancy United Polaris business class seats. Tons of food, very nice seats! The divider between mine and my husband’s seats could go up or down, so we had our own private little booth! During the flight, I finished decorating my itabag, watched a not very good movie (flatliners), napped and read some of a book.
We went to bed pretty early after having dinner with friends. Alexander had grabbed some Comiket items for me that I was interested in, and I was so thankful! *_*
Our hotel (My Stays) was pretty convenient, but the bed was not comfortable at all. Literally like a block of wood. I did think they had decent pillows, though
A New years program that was on had blackface and it was a little shocking, but we were asleep before the whole countdown thing happened.
Woke up in the middle of the night to horrible abdominal pain, and after it subsided, following my doctor’s instructions, went to the hospital. Did some tests, got some information on something I should check out back at home, and then went back to the hotel to sleep. I did not feel pains for the rest of my trip. My first time in an ambulance! And for your reference, unlike in the US, an Ambulance ride is free in Japan, so don't stress if something happens to you.
Luckily, on new years, we were able to get in contact with a doctor that spoke great English. Overall, Japan's healthcare system seems good from that I experienced. Significantly more affordable than the mess we have in the US, but I think they could do with being a little more sensitive about privacy of the patients (even when it's another Doctor). I feel a little stressed that a male doctor walked in on an exam I was having.
After being discharged from the hospital, we were able to see the first sunrise of the new year as we made our way back to our hotel to.. actually sleep.
Day 1 : 1.1.18
After all the medical scare, I put on a brave face, and we went out, not knowing what we would find on New Years Day. Surprisingly, most of the stores were open, and had sales out the wazoo! We did some light shopping/exploring around Sunshine City and the surrounding area. I also picked up this hilarious Kemono Friends penlight at the conbini.
I love exploring little side streets in Japan, it's so peaceful and interesting! We went to a small shrine in Ikebukuro since it was new year's day before going back to the hotel to move our things.
We decided to grab an Air B&B at the last minute, in hopes we could get a better bed, and fortunately, it worked. So on this day we moved our stuff over.
We also made our way to Akihabara, did some shopping and had dinner in the fancy Chomp Chomp building. Cheese fondue and fancy meats! Yum~
Day 2 : 1.2.18
After getting ready for the day (and wearing one of the cute shirts I bought while shopping!), we decided to go to one of our favorite spots, Bill's in Omotesando! The wait wasn't too long, so we waited to get our favorite ricotta pancakes and their special eggs! This time we tried their Hibiscus lime soda and it was amazing! Our waitress said that we had Okinawa mind. So true. Our stay in Okinawa made us fall in love with Hibiscus flavored drinks!
Afterwards we did some more exploring/shopping around Harajuku, and Ikebukuro.
I always hope that the Evangelion store gets SOME KIND of Misato merch in but.. I'm disappointed every time! We were very close to buying the dog an Unit 01 shirt though!
We got this amazing apple croissant things at a place called Ringo in Ikebukuro! I highly recommend trying it!
One of our favorite stores to check out is Tokyu Hands! We found some fun face masks and this big dipper necklace, among some other stuff. I love looking at all the household goods Japan has. Sometimes, you can find some things good for cosplay, too!
Since my winter coats are all heavy, we stopped into Uniqlo and got one of those puff jackets, to save my shoulders. I've been needing a less fancy winter Jacket, so this worked out great!
For dinner, we ate at Kyushuu Jangara in Akihabara, my husband's favorite ramen spot! I tried the regular level of spicy this time, instead of mild, and he was so proud, haha! This ramen is interesting because it has a level of spice and a level of numbing. I would recommend trying it!
Day 3 - 1.3.18
While leaving the apartment in the morning, a middle schooler told me "good morning", and it put me in a very pleasant mood! I don't know why I was so flattered they would greet a foreigner, but I think simple things like that can really set your day off right.
We headed to Asakusa, to get tickets for a cruise to odaiba. Since they weren't open yet, we went to the Sensouji temple, and got some charms and new year fortunes. I tossed in 15 yen for "ichigo", while praying for my new year's wish. I received a "small fortune" with some reasonable advice.
Afterwards, we grabbed the tickets and some coffee before going on the Himiko to take a cruise to Odaiba. The Himiko is a ship designed by Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of Galaxy Express 999. There are cardboard cutouts of his characters on the ship, and a recording plays with their seiyuu pointing out landmarks along the cruise. It's a nice way to get out to Odaiba, though if you can get tickets for night, I would suggest doing it then because the ship lights up, as do some of the bridges you pass.
Once in Odaiba, we went straight to the idol festival! You can read about that here!
Right next to Zepp Tokyo is Toyota Megaweb, which has a ton of really cool Toyota cars, including really cool futuristic ones that I would recommend checking out if you're in the area! You can even test drive any of the cars there, if you have your international driver's permit (which is super easy to get). We poked around here while transferring to the other stage.
After (and during) the idol festival, we saw the cool new Gundam Unicorn, which is way more impressive than I thought it would be, wow! Then we got dinner with our friend Omo in Venus Fort, which is a mall designed to look like a medieval European village.
Day 4 - 1.4.18
First thing in the morning (thank goodness for Jet lag!), we headed to Shinjuku VR zone!! It was a lot of fun, and I want to write up a separate blog post about it, so you can read about that here!
Right outside of the station where we were to get to Shinjuku VR is a little Korea town! So if you're into KPOP or want to get some Korean cosmetics, this is a good place to go. I popped in and got some new BB cream (though I'm a little unsure of the quality of it now- this happens to me often).
Afterwards, we made our way to Yurakucho, to meet some friends at a Sailor Moon cafe. When we go to Japan, we will often try to make plans to meet up with friends I made in college. We've known each other for 10 years!
The Sailor Moon cafe was pretty small, but it was fun. We ordered an Usagi Spicy latte, Uranus/Neptune pancakes (with MYSTERY ice cream flavor for Neptune.... melon??), and a Chalice parfait. Afterwards, you get the opportunity to buy some of the special goods!
We went to Karaoke for an hour in order to kill time before the illumination nearby turned on, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Karaoke in this area! Wow it was so classy and nice! Compared to the place in Akiba we went to later, this one was leagues above! We tried out the Joysound in the area, and showed Yurina and Chiaki a UO kanpai!
Afterwards, we went to the Marunouchi street illumination, which was very nice. We walked by Tokyo International Forum, which is amazing looking. This area of Tokyo is very upscale, and Tokyo Station from the outside looks SO COOL now.
After saying goodbye, we went back to Akiba, popped into a few stores, and had dinner at Sekai no Yamachan with Omo and Wah. Shikuwasa Sours are the best drink! I'm on such an Okinawa drink kick lately! Afterwards, I tried (and failed) to go to a nail salon that was open late (Many nail salons are open till 10 or 11pm in Japan, wow!), and met back up with the guys at this awesome Video game bar called GameBar A Button. Best Lemon sour I've ever had!
Day 5 : 1.5.18
Since we stayed out late (and I forgot to drink water, oops), my husband headed to iM@S Buppan (goods sales) early in the morning. I got ready for the day, and ate an adorable donut. In Ueno station, many of the souvenirs are Panda-themed, so I couldn't resist a cute panda donut. It said congratulations, and they had a donut hole baby in the center of the donut. Delicious.
I headed to Harajuku/Shibuya to check out a shop I wanted to see. Princess One Spoon is an adorable shop, especially if you like Disney princess (or Villian) items. They were having a Sailor Moon Collaboration that I wanted to see. It was a charming store, and the employees wore fancy European maid outfits. I ended up getting just a few items, including some Ariel themed star earrings!
Afterwards, I was once again on the hunt for a nail salon that might possibly take a last minute appointment. In Japan, it's mostly appointment only. I recently stopped getting regular hard gel fills, so the ends of my nails were very brittle and it was hard to deal with. I spent some time walking around the Harajuku/Shibuya area. The buildings are SO interesting in this area, so even getting lost is super fun. I eventually found a nail salon by Dominique Ansel bakery that would take me relatively soon, so I made an appointment at Efil (Life spelled backwards) salon. I was happy with my outcome. It strengthened my nails, which was my main objective, and looked very cute! This type of gel nails may not last long like the other kind, but I found it very fun.
Afterwards, I reunited with my husband at Dominique Ansel Bakery and we went back to the apartment to drop our things off and pick up omiage before our next meeting!
After meeting with our friends and showering them with American snacks, we again did some last minute shopping in Akiba, and ate at Jangara Ramen. We stopped by Donki to grab some cute stationary to write our favorite Seiyuu a letter. We also randomly ran into someone we met at a convention in the US, who wanted to Karaoke, so we tried out Pasela in Akiba for about an hour. It was not very good, especially compared to the other Karaoke location we tried this trip. I could barely breathe from the lingering cigarette smoke in the rooms, and the sound quality was the worst I've experienced.
Day 6 : 1.6.18
This was the first day of the iDOLM@STER New Year's Live, but this day we were only doing the Live Viewing, so we were able to attend another event in the Tokyo Area.
I suited up with my embarrassing Itabag, and we headed out to Shinjuku for an event related to an anime we hadn't actually seen, Kakegurui. It had a lot of very good Seiyuu in it, so it was very fun. The characters in the show are all a little crazy, so that made it particularly entertaining. It was held in a theater, and before you entered, they had you draw paper/rock/scissors (your choice) on a card, which was used later in the show. I thought that was a very fun way to engage the audience. They would say a little something about the drawings that interested them, and it kept you internally hoping they would choose yours (randomly) out of the box. Alas, ours were not chosen, but I had a lot of fun hoping for it.
The event consisted of some talk, games, and a live portion. The talk session consisted of "favorite ___" scenes (moe, scream, etc) chosen by the seiyuu. They showed a clip of their favorite scene, and a little explanation of why they chose it. They also did a few behind the scenes talks, which consisted of fun stories that happened while recording. During the game portion, they had a jankenpon game using the cards we drew. They also had a game where they tried to make the other team do a particular action, but that team was unaware of what the action was. The live portion had "Deal with the devil" by Tia, and "LAYon-theLINE" by D-selections (this group includes MayuC and Yoppi from WUG). Unsurprisingly, for the live portion, everyone pulled out penlights.
Right after the live portion was finished, we had to rush off to the Live Viewing for iM@S, which was in Nihonbashi. This was actually my first Live viewing! Thanks to one of our friends, we got really good seats, and it was very chill. The people behind us sat down the entire time, so out of consideration for them, we also sat. We were only about 3 rows back, anyhow. More information on the iM@S New Years Live here!
After the LV, we went to a very chill maid cafe called Granvania, which actually had real food and did not include the moemoe stuff some other typical maid cafes had. One of the waitresses was so nervous and tried talking to us in English, which was very cute, before we told her Japanese was okay. Another waitress was a fan of Kaede, who's seiyuu we just saw at Kakegurui, so we made sure to talk to her!
Day 7 1.7.18
We had very serious business to do the morning before the live!! We had to write Nu, Hibiki's Seiyuu our first letter! I wrote the English portion of the letter, and decorated it. Then my husband did the painstaking task of translating it, and writing it in Japanese. We included some amazing Roca chocolates, and we hope she enjoyed it!
Right afterwards, we rushed to Makuhari Messe for the Day 2 portion of the live. I'm going to direct you to my iM@S New Years Live blog post here!
Day 2 was amazing, I enjoyed so many of the songs!
After some socializing after the live, we went to an izakaya for dinner. Hilariously enough, we were seated in the same room as some (SKE maybe?) idol wota. Naturally, a lot of mixing, OMAE GA ICHIBAN, HAI SENO, ORE DAKE MITERO, etc occured.. and they seemed surprised and very excited these random Gaijin wota could also be yakkai at izakaya with them. Again, I was very thankful for Shikuwasa sours.
After dinner, we went to school. Afilia Magic School, of course! That was pretty fun, the waitresses were very impressed by the things our group could drink, and we had a random Japanese wota guy join in on the shenanigans. It was a lot of fun. For some reason my Japanese speaking ability was pretty broken this night, so I didn't interact with the waitresses very much, but I enjoyed listening and watching everyone have fun.
We stayed out late again!
Since we got up a little later than we would have preferred, time was a little girigiri! We packed up, put our things in a locker at a train station and made our way to Sunshine City for a Kemono friends event! It was super fun, and my silly Serval penlight came in handy!
Unfortunately, because of bad weather in the states earlier in the week, our flight back home was completely full, and we were bumped down from getting our business class upgrades by some last minute folks. We considered staying another night, but they didn't end up offering anything for people that were willing to take a flight the next day.
The flight wasn't awful, but initially one of the flight attendants was very nasty to us. He tried slamming a luggage compartment closed (note to self, DO IT YOURSELF before they get a chance to), and since it didn't work, instead of trying to adjust anything, he just yanked our suitcase out, yelled at us and told it "DIDN'T WORK" and was too large and they would have to put it up front or check it. Obviously we were carrying it on because it had some fragile things, so we refused the checking it, and I sternly informed him it IS the correct size and it works all of the other times we fly United (HINT: WE GIVE YOU A LOT OF MONEY). After that he seemed to realize his blooper and they put it in business class, and was significantly more kind about it.
The flight back, I mostly just slept. I also watched the new Jojo live action movie. I tried playing some Zelda, but kept falling asleep lol.