Okay, I think I better ask this question because it keeps coming up while we're working: is there a common English way that people are describing the kabe-don phenomenon? We Googled it once and got a couple of articles about it, but if people are reading forum discussions or Twitter or something where it gets brought up, maybe they would know a more common term for it. Anybody know?
I think I had something else to say about Noragami today, too, but now I don't remember what it is. Ah well.
Anyway, back to our travel log. The Tuesday of our trip, we hadn't quite decided what we wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to go to a Disney Store, and Cecille knew she wanted to go to the Pokemon Center. So we Googled "Pokemon Center" and the first thing that came up was articles for the one in Ikebukuro--in the very same shopping mall as the Disney Store we wanted to go to! I still can't shake the feeling that there's a bigger one out there somewhere, so I wonder if the GPS on our iPads had anything to do with it, but the point is, we were going to Sunshine City!
This time, we didn't let Animate distract us; we just charged ahead! We went under the overpass...and almost got lost again, but fortunately, the mall is big, so wherever we turned, we probably would have ended up inside it eventually. And that we did! And then we wandered around until we found that den of temptation known as the Pokemon Center. We haven't played Pokemon in years, but as I have mentioned previously, we have a weakness for plush toys, and Pokemon is a veritable plush toy factory. There were so many! And they were so adorable! They had life-sized sleepy Bulbasaurs! They were so stinking cute, the only thing preventing us from slapping down the almost forty dollars (which really isn't that much for a plush that size, come to think of it; are we remembering that wrong?) to get them was the fact that it probably wouldn't have fit in our luggage. So we decided to get some smaller plushes instead...and after much deliberation (they had the Eevee-lutions! and some newer Pokemon that were super cute! and Ditto, who would technically be ALL of the Pokemon!), we decided that we couldn't decide, so we'd think about it and come back later.
In the meantime, we got a super adorable game that's supposed to be for ages six and up, but we got it for our four-year-old nephew anyway. There's a Snorlax on a hammock, and you take turns stacking Pikachus on it until they all fall over! Our sister tells us he loves playing games with people, and we also knew he likes (or liked?) Pikachu, so we figured it was the perfect souvenir for him! But we haven't been able to give it to him yet, so we still don't know for sure.
After taking pictures with the Pokemon statues and making our purchases, we left the den of temptation and continued to explore the mall in search of the Disney Store. We found...a bookstore! There were some really cool books there, including! the series that that TV show we'd seen the week before was based on! So we bought the first volume, along with a book about what you can learn from Disney Princesses (which was not in the kids' book section, by the way), and some seiyuu magazines. And now we had a nice heavy bag to carry with us everywhere we went. Nice job, buying books at the beginning of the day.
As we continued to wander the mall in search of the Disney Store, we found ourselves at the elevator leading to the aquarium. Cecille had mentioned the aquarium before in an "I don't know if you want to do this but I wouldn't bring it up if I weren't secretly hoping to" sort of way (although it's possible that she didn't mean it that way at all, which is why it's important to speak your mind, because you never know if people will understand your hints properly), and it sounded awesome to us, so up we went! What Cecille didn't realize is that once you get us in a place with live animals, it will be quite some time before you leave. ...Or at least before we
leave. She could have left without us.
We didn't have very much cash on us, so Cecille had to cover our admission (thanks, Cecille!), but once we were in, we made sure she got her money's worth! The aquarium was divided into three main sections: Ocean Journey...either Land or Forest Journey (we got a brochure, but it's buried in our luggage), and Sky Journey. And as you can guess, they each of creatures that are specific to land, sea, or sky, although really, I think it referred to how each area was decorated more than anything else, because a lot of the sky creatures were not flying birds. I think most of the awesomeness of the aquarium will be expressed when I post pictures, but I can try a little bit.
First of all, there was the sea otter. We'd seen river otters at the Fresno zoo, but I don't know if I'd really seen a sea otter before (or at least not in many many years), because I was surprised at how big it was! We got to its tank right when they were having the feeding demonstration, so they had handlers there feeding it and giving it a checkup, and to give it a checkup, they need to look at all its paws, so they can also make it pose for all the tourists while they're at it, and oh my goodness, this guy was so cute! My only complaint is that we got there in the middle of the demonstration, so there were a lot of people between my camera and the otter and it was hard to get a picture.
Next, there was the Performance Time in the big center tank, where they kept all the sharks and rays and eels. They had an announcer explaining what was going on, and they had a scuba diver inside the tank to point out what all fish were being talked about. She also had food for them, and so she was being mobbed by fish most of the time. At the end of the show, they pulled one of the eels out of hiding so we could all see its whole body.
Forest Journey (not sure of the exact title) was in a really nicely decorated hall that had lighting to make it look like the sun shining through leaves. That's where they had all the turtles and poison dart frogs (you have to have poison dart frogs). They also had a couple of seals that got into a fight while we were there. We think it was over who got to sit where.
Sky Journey was my favorite. That's where they had the penguins and the sea lions and the river otters and the anteaters and the lemurs and the pelicans. But before we got there, we passed through the gift shop, which was also full of temptations (we wanted to buy the whole store! there was a little seal toy that would mimic you, and one time we were there when a little boy was playing with the display one, and it was the cutest thing ever). It also had benches looking out over Sky Journey, where they had...it was like those hamster habitats, where you connect it with tunnels and stuff so the hamster can run around everywhere, only it was for sea lions. So there was this one waterway that went in a circle, and sometimes there would be a sea lion there, just swimming around and around, except for the one time, when there was a sea lion just lying there. I like to think it was chillin', but it might very well have just been tired of life.
When we left the gift shop on our way to look at all the animals in Sky Journey, we came across the cafe! We figured we ought to keep ourselves fed, so in we went! The idea was to get "real food" and then get dessert probably later, so I ordered some spaghetti (it had sea creature shaped macaroni on top of it!), Cecille got the kids' plate (we figured it was okay for adults to do that, since Yato did it in Noragami, and it looked like a good sampling of all the aquarium cafe food), and Athena wasn't feeling very adventurous, so she got some chicken nuggets and waffle fries. Sadly, we did not go back for dessert, even though they had sea salt soft serve ice cream (which they colored a sea green; was it also mint flavored? we don't know!). Why didn't we get ice cream? Because it was cold that day. That doesn't usually stop us, but being cold and in a foreign country and low on cash combined against us. That's probably also why we didn't try any of the other neat aquarium themed desserts, which is probably our greatest regret.
At Sky Journey, we got to see the sea lion show, which was really fun (and pretty much what you see in all sea lion shows even in cartoons), and the penguin feeding demonstration. There was also a pelican feeding demonstration, but we left before they did it, because we'd already been there for a long time, and we would have had to wait for another half an hour at least. But! I did touch the sea slug. And that was pretty cool, but I regretted it later when I remembered that Japanese faucets don't all have heated water. The sea slug people told me there was hot water somewhere, but I guess I didn't look hard enough.
Anyway, we couldn't leave without buying any
souvenirs, so we got a little plush of an armored thingie and a little jellyfish cell phone charm, which is super adorable. When I made my purchase, the cashier asked me if I had an annual pass, and I gasped because I want one! But it wouldn't have been reasonable to buy one because we don't live in Tokyo, alas.
We also bought admission to go to the "Weird Creatures" exhibit. They had things like long-necked turtles, and a frog that screamed "like the blonde woman 20 minutes into a horror movie", and little fish that will eat you from the inside out, and a giant crab, and armored thingies, and waterbears, and for the finale...a barn owl! We were like, "That's a weird creature?" But I guess when you look at it a certain way... They call them "masked owls" in Japanese, and they do look like they're wearing faceless masks. On the other hand, we think they're adorable. The guy who wrote up all the plaques (including the comment about the horror movie) said he wanted the owls to start a spooky-cute trend. There were some Japanese visitors at the exhibit and I heard them commenting on how the barn owls are Not Cute. We, on the other hand, made it a point to buy a miniature barn owl plush at the souvenir stand outside. It's so cute, and it has just the right weight for sitting in your hand! Then it was time to move on for other adventures.
We did eventually find the Disney Store, and oh the shiny merchandise they had there. Of course there were plenty of Tsums, and there were lots of handbags and cell phone charms and smartphone cases and pass cases. What caught our attention was the hairpins. They had lots of very pretty hairpins, and we thought we could use them to help people tell us apart. So the idea was to buy one each, but then they were on sale buy three get the fourth one free. And then there were so many nice ones that we ended up getting four more, for a total of eight. I think my favorite is the one that has the sun emblem from Tangled in gold, and the center of it is an amethyst (or a purple rhinestone). Those plus the Tsums we bought were enough to qualify us for one of the store's special deals, which is how we discovered what clever salespeople are working for Disney in Japan.
So if you spent more than...however much it was, you can get a little...thing? A container for little things, and it's all fancy with a figure of Stitch. It normally costs like 5,600 yen, but we could get it for just 1,900, which is less than half price!, the saleswoman informed me. (She was super cute, too. And I think she might not have given me the spiel if she didn't already know we spoke Japanese. She pointed out that we bought two of the same Donald Tsum (he was wearing a monkey suit for the New Year!), and I said one was a gift and that's how she knew.) Athena and I looked at each other hesitantly, and then the saleswoman pointed out that there's a magnet inside, so we can put our hairpins in it! So we're like, "Okay, give it to us!" How often are we going to be throwing away money in Tokyo anyway? And it is super cute, but come to think of it, I haven't taken a picture of it.
Having accomplished all our shopping goals, we went back under the overpass...and back to Animate! We were determined to get a Yukine keychain from that darn gachapon machine! But first...we bought more seiyuu magazines. Cecille had become adept at spotting the ones with Yuuki Kaji on the cover, and grabbing them and putting them in our hands. And while she was retrieving another one, I noticed a small ad on one of the shelves about a monthly seiyuu magazine that features only one voice actor per issue, and I'm sure you can guess who was in this months issue. It said to ask at the register, so I did! And now we have it! And someday, we'll open it and read it.
Then it was on to the accursed gachapon machines. Oh, but that reminds me! Of course there were more gachapon machines outside, and Cecille spotted a Gundam one that had Heero toys. She went to put her money into it, and was approached by a Japanese fan who was carrying a big grocery bag full of gachapon capsules. She asked who Cecille wanted and when she answered Heero, the girl pulled out a Heero gachapon and sold it to her for the amount Cecille would have put into the machine. Very smooth. In retrospect, we should have asked for Kira and Athrun. Oh well.
Anyway, Noragami gachapon. We wanted a Yukine, so we put in our money and got...Hiyori. Which is good, because we didn't have Hiyori yet, and of course we love Hiyori (just not as much as Yukine). Then we put in more money and got...Hiyori again. I don't even remember how many times we tried. We were going to stop at one point, but Cecille handed us money and insisted we keep trying. We did eventually get Yukine, but by then we only needed one more to complete the set, so we kept trying even longer. The last one never came, but we decided enough was enough and it was time to walk away. And probably try again on Friday.
We also wanted to go back to the audiovisual floor, because we were having the hardest time finding Disney CDs, and we thought maybe Animate could help. It couldn't, but by this time, we had investigated Kyoya's Facebook friends to find the name of CD-making Man. We discovered that the company he works for most recently released a series of drama CDs called Guilty 7, and in each CD a demon representing one of the seven deadly sins tries to corrupt your pure heart so they can eat it or something. The premise is kind of hilarious, but also intriguing, and most importantly, the most
recent release featured our beloved Yuuki Kaji as Sloth. So we had to buy it, to support our new friend and our favorite voice actor. Eventually, we'll pull it out and check all the credits to see if we can find out exactly what it is that our new friend does.
We finished at Animate again and then went back to KFC for dinner. This time, we noticed that they had a fancy drink called a chocolate crusher, which was a dark chocolate drink (in texture like a smoothie) that had cookie bits in it. We each had one, and they were delicious. And the other special thing about this visit to KFC is that as we made our way out, Athena noticed a man and a woman sitting together looking at something that appeared to be a manga manuscript. What! this is probably a manga artist and his editor! Right here at KFC! Athena thought really hard about whether or not she should pretend to go back to her seat in order to pass by again and get a better look, but would she seem like a stalker? But it all happened so fast, and I didn't process it quickly enough when she said something to me, so we were already heading down the stairs. Bummer.
And then we went back to our hotel and went to bed, because we were going to Disneyland the next day!
Today I'm thankful for having a wonderful time at the aquarium, getting to see the Pokemon Center, making good progress on Noragami, getting to try chocolate crushers, and getting a Yukine keychain from that gachapon machine.