Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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Take me home

We have returned! It was the most annoying thing, actually. We had to swear off the internet (except for reading email and LJ (not posting), because together those things take very little time) because we had too much work to justify spending any great amount of time doing anything other than work. ...We may have taken a slightly longer snack break as a result. It was kind of bad, though. We had Noragami at a point where we could get it done by our Monday deadline without too much trouble, and then since it would probably take about two days each to finish the next two books (which are due on Friday), we'd have just enough time and it would be great!

...And then, Gaston, who was visiting, started talking about his plans to come back again next week for three days! Only one of those days would be spent at Disneyland, but the idea of missing a deadline because we went to Disneyland was just a little stressful. Of course the obvious solution would be to say nope, can't go to Disneyland, and that's just what we intended to do, but we were already stressed out and just the idea of having someone in our space when we were stressed out and trying to get our job done was overwhelming enough. Stupid Annual Passholder Days are not helping.

So we spent as much time as we could on Friday and Saturday working, but on Friday stress was high and productivity was low, which heightened stress and lowered productivity even further. So we had to quit a little bit after nine, and attempt to decompress by watching Castle, which is when Gaston and Alice came back from hockeying, and I was like, "NOOO! Now they'll think we have free time!" But it was all made better when Gaston suggested we go to Joe's Italian Ice. Increased blood sugar was a big benefit to our mental state. (We had eaten, of course, but I think the intense mental workout and stress combined into a need for even more sugar.)

Furthermore, during the course of the hockey, it was discovered that there's some kind of super hockey lesson/camp/clinic/thing that Gaston wants to go to, so while he will be coming back next week, he'll be staying in San Diego for most of it, and we'll be free to get our work done in our own, uninvaded space.

And now that all that's out of the way, maybe I can finish this Japan trip report. This was going to be our last full day in Japan, and the world was our oyster! Or something. Anyway, before we made any concrete plans to go to Japan, I downloaded a Japan travel guide from an official Japan tourism site, and it mentioned something in Ikebukuro called "Otome Road", which apparently is basically like the Akihabara for female anime fans. This information was corroborated by a Japanese penpal of mine who suggested that Ikebukuro would be a cool place to go, since it's starting to rival Akihabara in anime awesomeness.

So of course, since we got a hotel in Ikebukuro, the suggestion was made to check out this "Otome Road". It had mostly gone unconsidered, though, because after we brought it up, Cecille mentioned it to her Japan expert friend, who informed her that Otome Road was mostly defunct now. That seemed to contradict the very recent information from my penpal, but since I didn't really know anything about it, I didn't argue. Nevertheless, Cecille felt the adventuring spirit telling her to check out the remains of Otome Road, and that's what we decided to do!

After another breakfast at Hokuo, we headed toward Sunshine City, since that was around where the old Animate building was, and it seemed like a good place to start searching. Athena had Googled it and Google may have given her a vague idea of where to go. But anyway, that's where we went. We saw some girls with the tell-tale anime fan totebag (something Cecille desperately wanted--a canvas bag covered in anime pins and badges, inside a clear plastic totebag to keep them all safe), so we followed them for a little while. We saw one of them go toward a dojinshi shop that wasn't open yet, so we continued on and found ourselves out on a main-ish street that had a bunch of shops that also weren't open...until finally we found a store that had a beautiful window display of amazing anime costumes.

The door was open, but according to the hours listed on the same door, the shop itself wasn't supposed to open for ten or fifteen minutes. So our options were to hang around and wait, wander around until we found something else or the store was finally open, or ask if we could go in anyway. The first two options were unappealing enough that we opted for the latter, and they did let us go in! "Oh, they're so nice!" I thought, "We should be sure to buy something!"

I figured we'd probably find a little accessory or something, at the very least, because many of these costumes were not cheap. The store belonged to a chain called K-Books, which seems to be a secondhand anime distributor. We discovered later that they had several stores in the area, effectually discrediting the "Otome Road is dying" theory, especially because once they were open, those stores were packed. But the point is, each store had a different theme: cosplay, anime goods, BL & Otome Games, manga, seiyuu...pretty much something for every type of anime fan. This, of course, was the cosplay store, and it was filled with gorgeous costumes, lovingly made by other fans.

We looked through the whole store, because even though there were a lot of costumes from things we didn't recognize, they were all beautiful. Sometimes they came with wigs, likely because those characters had very distinct hairstyles that couldn't easily be used for other characters. Still, I've mentioned before that I have misgivings about not making our own costumes, so when we found a Hiyori costume, we were filled with mixed feelings. Actually, they weren't all that mixed, because there was only one, and we need two for our Hiyori cosplay purposes. But then we found something right next to it--the costume accessory we could never not buy. ...Okay, not true; if we already had one, we wouldn't need to buy it, but I was trying to express how very much we needed this costume. And we didn't have one, and we probably wouldn't have thought of it unless we had seen it, but now that we had seen it, we knew that we needed it, and who has time to make costumes anyway!? Plus, it was so beautiful, and we'd already decided we should buy something, since they let us in before store hours anyway.

So what was it? Are you in enough suspense yet? This is probably going to be a big letdown now. Sorry about that! Only not really, because I'm amusing myself. But the point is, it was a King Yato cape! WHAT!!! And it was such a beautiful deep shade of red, with beautiful trim and a gold cord and...oh my goodness, if that had not been the first thing we bought all day, we might have gone right home and taken a picture of me wearing it (I wear a black jacket that looks similar enough to Yato's sweatshirt, and the scarfs we were wearing that day resembled his yurufuwa enough that we could call it Yato Bounding) and posted it to Facebook.

But it was the first thing we bought, so instead, we continued shopping at other K-Books stores. There wasn't very much Yuuki Kaji stuff at the seiyuu store, which actually made us happy, because it shows he's more interested in being a seiyuu than in being popular. We also went into the otome game store, where they had a lot of used CDs. They also had things like extra items that came with limited editions of manga, which is how I found the rubber keychains that came with the limited edition volume 14 of Noragami. I showed it to Athena, and we said to each other, "I think we have to buy it," and that's when Cecille came up and snatched it out of our hands! What! She was all like, "Oh... No reason!" She did that a few times that day. We found a couple of CDs we wanted (featuring Shiodome from Miracle Train and Hideyoshi from Nobunaga the Fool), which ended up in Cecille's basket as well. "It's okay; we can share a basket," she said. And then she wouldn't let me pay for any of it! Well, fine! If you insist! ...And thank you so much! (She did make sure to give the things we wanted back to us, for anyone who might have suspected she was trying to take them for herself.)

We went to a few more stores where Cecille bought some more stuff, including another Yukine keychain for us (other than that, we mostly looked at stuff and said, "That's cool," and decided we didn't need it), and at some point we realized we were starving, so we went to Family Mart to buy some junk food, which we took to the park across the street for consumption. The reason I bring this up is that there were signs at the park saying not to feed the animals, but this proved to be very difficult, because! there were cats! So many of them! ...Well, at least three. And one of them walked right up to us, like, "Hi, how ya doing." There was speculation that maybe the "don't feed the animals" signs were specifically talking about the birds, because clearly the cats were welcome enough that they all had cute scrunchy-like collars around their necks, and the signs may have also specifically mentioned droppings being a problem. And can you imagine if you attracted birds there and there were all those cats...

Anyway. The cats were adorable and very outgoing. That was probably the closest we got to being inside a cat cafe our whole trip, which is sad, because there were at least three cat cafes in close proximity to our hotel. We just hadn't yet had enough experience at Japanese cafes to feel like we could clear that hurdle. Maybe next time.

So then we went back to shopping and eventually found ourselves at the old Animate building, which was no longer an Animate store, but was now an Animate Cafe! ...Well, it was a cafe on, like, the sixth and seventh floors, and small Animate shop on the first floor, and a couple more cosplay stores inbetween. This was some serious cosplay shopping, too. One floor was the costume level, one floor was the wig level...maybe there was a makeup level. We don't remember, but we get the feeling there were three levels.

Anyway, our main concern was the first floor, mostly because we walked by the outside, and it was all decorated with decals of Noragami characters! What! I have to get a picture of this! And in the course of taking pictures, we discovered...okay, so we're not sure we're remembering this exactly accurately (it was kind of a blur), but we discovered something and I'm going to just go with this because it makes sense. We discovered a menu. Of themed drinks. Themed Noragami drinks. What.

Of course we had to go in and see what this was all about! And they had merchandise and decorations and rough sketched from the anime on the wall of here and Yato's shrine and Sekki on the wall over here! And not just pictures of Yato's shrine and Sekki. Like an actual little Yato shrine that somebody made, and Sekki displayed on the wall like one of those sword display things that people do when they have swords to display. And life-sized cardboard cutouts of the featured gods (Yato, Bishamon, and Ebisu, all of whom were shorter than we are)! And oh my goodness, it was the bestest best bestest best!

So we picked up one of each piece of Noragami merchandise (there actually wasn't that much of it, because they had merchandise for other stuff, too). There was a random acrylic keychain, a random...something else, a little ema-shaped flashcard book thingie, and a cushion of Yukine! It had human Yukine on one side and little snow-puff Yukine on the other, and best of all, it was already vacuum packed so we knew we could fit it in our luggage! It's like they designed the cafe just for us!! Our one regret is that we planned to return and pick up the eight-set of both of the random things we bought, but when we made it back later we didn't get a chance. On the bright side, we saved a bunch of money.

We ordered a Hiyori Jungle Savate and a Kofuku & Daikoku Binbogami Tsubu-Tsubu Ichigo Milk. (You can see the whole menu here!) The milk was kind of weak, probably because it had ice in it, but the Jungle Savate was amaaaaaazing! It was so good! I think the strawberry milk doesn't require much description (it's strawberry flavored milk with strawberries in it, and whipped cream and a little cookie Kokki). The Jungle Savate was a lemon squash drink with blueberry syrup, grape gelatin at the bottom, and strawberry ice cream (I think it was a sherbet) on top. And it was so good! (We shared both drinks.) And Cecille got a Yukine Hafuri no Utsuwa Cocoa, and we asked her how it was, and she was like, "Umm, it's hot chocolate?" and we were like, "~~~~!!!!" But anyway, we took a bunch of pictures, and we got coasters of Yukine and the stray, and Cecille gave us her Kofuku coaster (they came randomly with the drinks), and for buying stuff we got some bromides, too! (Yato, Ebisu, Kazuma, and Daifuku!)

I was busy taking pictures of EVERYTHING!, and Athena was filling out a survey, when Cecille realized she was missing a bag. So our cafe visit was cut short as we retraced our footsteps in an attempt to find the bag with all the shiny things Cecille had bought earlier. It wasn't at the park, so we had to start asking shop employees if anyone had turned it in. Fortunately, we found it at Lashin Bang (we think that's how they spelled it), and the people there very friendly. Athena calls the place Compass, because that's what the name means (rashinban=compass), and now she jokes about how we should have followed the compass of our hearts and checked there first. Ha, ha, ha.

Okay, I still have a few things to tell about, but they might get long, and this has been going for a while. So I was going to end it here, but then Athena pointed out that including the review for new week, we have six Review Rednesdays backlogged, and it would be nice if we could post those reviews Monday through Saturday. So I interrupted this post in case you readers decide you want to finish it later--if you stop now, you'll know you left off at this next lj-cut.

By this time, we'd seen almost all we wanted to see of what we arbitrarily decided was probably Otome Road, and I wanted to see the planetarium show, so we headed over to Sunshine City to make sure we didn't miss it. See, the top of Sunshine City has both an aquarium and a planetarium, and we took so long in the aquarium before that the planetarium was done for the day. We were all a little bummed out about it, I think, because everything was just so cool everywhere (in our case) and because we love planetariums! Especially Cecille, who has an interest in science and astronomy.

So we went back to the planetarium and bought tickets! They were very accommodating, and were even able to provide headphones with an English translation of the show! The employees there had very Tomorrowland-like uniforms, too, which made me happy. In the waiting room, they had a wall with a projector trained on it, and if you walked by, stars would follow your shadow! Or if you stood there and moved your hand, stars would follow your hand's shadow. It was super awesome.

The show was interesting, but not in the scientific, astronomy-based way we expected. Cecille was disappointed, but I liked the experience, even if our biggest impression of the show is that the visuals were quite stunning. Come to think of it, it was kind of like Circle-vision, which is an old thing they used to have in Tomorrowland, where they had a 360 degree camera, and screens circling the room, and it felt like you were traveling along with the camera and could look around and see everything. (The only reason we know about it is that they kept it in the queue area for one of our favorite rides from the late '90s, the Rocket Rods. Now the Rocket Rods are defunct and that building is Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters.)

But as for this show...I don't remember the order exactly, but I think it started out talking about the ocean, and how it's like inner space or something, and how it's a reflection of outer space. It was Deep and Philosophical. And they showed us some stars and outlined the signs of the zodiac, stopping on Pisces to talk about fish some more. And they talked about how everyone in Tokyo is always rushing to get from place to place--this is where it got to be the most like Circle-vision, because it went around Tokyo for a while. And then it went all special-effectsy, and started having the buildings disappear brick by brick (by "brick", I mean, like, you know how skyscrapers have windows all along the walls? I mean "section including window") and be rebuilt, and it was kind of like whoooaaaa. And I seem to remember somebody running...? I'm not sure if that was really in there. Athena says it seems kind of familiar. And I think that's the best I can do as far as descriptions.

I do want to mention, though, that they did have "couples' seating", where, instead of sitting in a reclining movie-theater style seat, you and your significant other could lounge in a cloud-shaped sofa-type thing. I may have been a little jealous, but mostly I was interested in seeing the show.

The show was about an hour long, so we had plenty of time to go back to the Animate Cafe afterward. But before we went to order more Noragami drinks, we explored the rest of the building, which is how we discovered all the cosplay stuff. Then we made it to the main Animate Cafe, which of course we had to stop in because its theme was the whole reason Cecille came to Japan to begin with: Uta no Prince-sama.

It was an interesting experience in many ways. First, we got to that floor, and the hostess noticed us right away. She quickly turned to the page of her hostess guide that had the English translations of common phrases that she might need to ask foreign visitors, then she came to us and pointed to where it said, "Do you want to use this cafe?" I said, "Nihongo demo daijoubu desu!" and she launched into a whole spiel that included the word for "90 minutes", and as soon as you get math involved, our language skills run away. (That's why I was so impressed with the girl who sold us honey popcorn at Disneyland; she knew all the numbers in English, and numbers are my weakness.) Plus, she was talking very fast. So I said, "Sorry, can you go back to English?" It didn't occur to me until much later that I could have asked her to repeat it slowly.

Anyway, it was determined that, whatever 90 minutes meant, we were okay with it, so they seated us. We thought it meant there would be a ninety-minute wait, but now we think it actually meant they were going to kick everybody out after ninety minutes. We were too awed by everything to figure out why the anime cafes that serve food seem to do it in shifts. But anyway, we sat down, and the waiter gave us all the menus and laminated papers that had English descriptions of everything--the food, the drinks, the cafe etiquette rules, and the mini-game rules! That's right, there was a mini-game!

But first, to order. We each ordered a drink and a food item. It happened to be the day before the birthday of a character named Camus, who also apparently loves parfaits, so despite her aversion to sweets, Cecille couldn't help but order the Camus parfait. Athena and I both wanted a parfait, too, because desserts are safer than "real food", so we both ordered the Masato Mini-Melon Bread Parfait, because the Camus parfait (which was by far the more impressive of the two) had a layer of berries, and we're not fans of berries. Although, in retrospect, the ice cream would have been a good counterbalance to the sourness of the berries. It's okay; the melon ice cream was really good. And of course, both varieties of parfait had corn flakes. Ours came with a little miniature melon bread, too, of course, and that was very nice as well.

Athena ordered the red Otoya drink (it was called Something Diamond, which is the title of one of his songs, only with a different word than something), and I ordered the purple Tokiya drink (which was called something I don't remember at all), and Cecille got the Cecil green tea, of course (and of course, it was called something else after one of his songs). This time, it was Cecille's turn to go around taking pictures like an obsessed fangirl, and the whole experience was pretty fun. Cecille is so excited about her fandom that she was always happy to use her limited Japanese whenever she ran into new fans, so she had a very brief discussion with the party who was seated at the next table, all of whom were squeeing about everything as well. It was a little heartwarming.

The mini game was fun, too. Every table had four sets of four cards displaying some characters from the series. When it was time for the game, we'd all choose one card, and the MC would pull a gachapon capsule out of a box, and it would have a picture matching one of the pictures from the cards. Whoever was holding up a card matching the one in the capsule got to keep playing. When there were few enough people left, those people would win! Of course, the distribution was such that it was over in one round. And that's how Cecille very quickly won a coupon for a free drink from any of the various Animate Cafe venues (including the Noragami Cafe and the Osomatsu-san Cafe).

Another highlight of the Animate Cafe is that it has a lovely view of the stairs outside Sunshine City, which have LEDs installed in them that were programmed to put on an amazing light show. The front of each step would light up so that they all formed a pattern, and they would move and change and it was pretty awesome. I took pictures, but I don't know if they really capture the effect. We'll have to see if I can also post the video I took.

The tragic part of all of this is that when we were done at the Uta-Pri cafe, we had had Enough ice cream, so even though Hiyori's Jungle Savate was delicious and I'm sure it would have been anyway, we just didn't see ourselves enjoying the ice cream part of it. So we left and went back to the new Animate building. Why? Because of that stupid gachapon machine. Also, Cecille promised to get a light stick for one of her friends. But anyway, we figured that, now that it was a different day, maybe the odds of getting Daifuku would be better, so we were going to Try Again!

Then the fated moment arrived. We put our coins in the machine and turned the knob...and got a purple capsule! We hadn't gotten purple before! Hurray! And we opened it up, and it was indeed Daifuku. Then we thought, we know somebody who sure would like a set of Noragami gachapon keychains that included Daifuku (Kofuku and Daikoku, by the way). So far, we were two for two on getting the same keychain on the second try, so we tried our luck again! And I guess third time is the charm, because we got a different one this time. Another Hiyori.

Well, now what were we going to do? We'd wasted enough money on this machine anyway, and we really needed to stop this gachapon habit. Athena was thinking we could try it just one more time, but wavering, but Cecille was still at the Uta-Pri machine so maybe? I dunno... And then a girl came up to the Noragami gachapon machine. And she got Daifuku! What! Now we know we would have gotten the right one if we'd just tried again, but now it was too late and there's no telling who could come out! Aaaaaahhhhh!!!

So we did the logical thing. This girl looked like she was thinking about whether or not she should try again, so I asked her who she was aiming for. She pointed at Yato (she seemed very nervous; either she was very shy, or nervous about the possibility of having to speak English), and we were like, "Argh!!! We have THREE Yatos back at the hotel!", but she wasn't finished. She kept moving her finger to point at...Hiyori! YES!!!! We said, "We have Hiyori! Would you like to trade?" And she agreed, and I seem to remember her seeming pleased and/or grateful, but I'm not sure, so we're mostly just hoping that she wasn't trying to appease the towering foreign giants. Anyway, Cecille was still trying for Cecil at the Uta-Pri machine, so we were able to witness another girl come to the Noragami machine and get another Daifuku. Wow, that really was the day to get Daifuku.

We also stopped at the shojo manga floor to pick up the newly released Tenshi 1/2 Houteishiki limited edition volume 7 with CD drama, and we ended up on the merchandise floor for some reason. But that was good, because we came across a set of...we think they're clear files, but we haven't had time to unlock all our treasure and properly identify it. Anyway, it had Yato rocking out on the front! And we thought, "Oh, man, this is hilarious! But...800 yen? I dunno..." Then Athena turned it around to reveal Hiyori and Yukine on the other side (not rocking out as hard, but our love for Yukine), and that sealed the deal.

We also braved the temptation of the audiovisual floor, because Athena realized that if they had the bonus CDs that came with DVDs of Seven Deadly Sins, maybe they'd have the bonus CDs that came with DVDs of Noragami, so maybe we could get extra copies of those Noragami character songs to send to people. Alas, no luck on that front. The only Noragami CDs they had were singles for the opening and closing themes to Aragoto. I guess the other Noragami CDs are just too last year.

We had to stop by Tokyu Hands one last time, because Cecille's brother asked for a cat toy as a souvenir, and we knew they sold them there. Of course we also had to stop on the hobby floor to get at least one Disney puzzle. They had so many beautiful puzzles, we couldn't decide which one(s) to get! So we got crystal puzzles instead. But that worked out pretty well, because we were able to get a Disney princess crystal puzzle for each of our biological sisters (we already bought a souvenir for our stepsister at Animate), and one for each of us, too, of course. Then we went to the pet floor, where we realized that the coupons they were handing out on the first floor were for yet another cat cafe. By now, we were cafe veterans (and Tokyu Hands is more familiar and therefore less intimidating), so we totally would have gone in if it hadn't already been closed for the day. They had some pretty awesome cat toys, and we totally would have bought one of the electronic ones if we weren't already worried about room in our luggage. So instead we noted the website of the company that made the ones we really liked (and were fairly certain Page would like, too, based on how she plays) (it's, by the way), and we bought Page a little woven wicker jingle ball that looks like a tumbleweed. She likes it.

Then we went to KFC and just got some chicken nuggets, which were half price that day. But sadly, we didn't make it back to the hotel in time to catch the beginning of that show about the detective who can't read the room, so we decided not to watch it. At least we have the book.

On the bright side, we did remember to stop by the hotel's bakery and buy two of the super cute owl cakes we'd been seeing every morning. They were little round cakes made of vanilla mousse, with hazelnut beaks and white chocolate eyes to make an owl face, and they had a kind of strawberry and something else filling. I didn't really care for the filling, but the cake was so adorable, I'm glad we tried it.

The next day, our agenda consisted of getting Cecille's stuff shipped off to the States and otherwise getting ready for our return flight. First, breakfast at Hokuo. This time, we tried the twisty thing with peanut butter flavored chocolate icing and sliced almonds, and the icing tasted like Reese's Pieces, so that pastry won for my favorite Hokuo treat. We stopped by Family Mart for some Choco Eggs, which we ate back in the hotel before we checked out. We also ate our Black Butler chocolate bars, and shared some of Cecille's, so by the time we left, we were pretty chocolated out.

At check out, we asked about a post office, and the hotel staff all looked very troubled because the post office is closed on Saturdays, but then someone made the connection that we just needed to send stuff back to the States and oh hey! we can do that here. So we filled out some shipping forms, and we bought tickets to the limousine bus, which is not as fancy as it sounds but is a good reliable way to get back to the airport. We figured we had plenty of time before our flight, so it's okay that it sometimes takes two hours to get to the airport from the hotel--it was still easier than worrying about catching the right train.

While I was waiting to buy the tickets, I kept looking at the schedule and looking at my phone to check the time and telling myself that we needed to get tickets for the one o'clock bus. I was very sure of this. But then we got our tickets...and found out we had about an hour and a half to kill. Well, shoot. But hey, maybe there's time to run over to the Noragami Cafe and use Cecille's free drink coupon! So we headed in that direction, and after a while we realized that it was too far away; we weren't going to make it in time. At least not in time to enjoy it.

But we did realize that we needed to get something to eat before we got on a two-hour bus. We were already chocolated out, and McDonald's was right there, so we thought french fries sounded really good about now. So we headed on over and saw it. The poster of destiny. An ad for a new menu item.

First, some backstory. Back in 2013, a cartoon we enjoy called The Weekenders was released in its entirety on DVD as a Disney Movie Club exclusive. We bought it and watched it! Ha! And in one of the episodes, they invented a food that we thought sounded amazing. In the episode, one of the characters couldn't join his friends because he was busy fulfilling an obligation, so they kept calling him to check in and he kept finding out about all the amazingly awesome stuff he was missing out on, and of course it was way more awesome than anything that is ever usually around. And one of those things was this food. And it was the most brilliant invention ever, and we told ourselves that one day, we were going to make it a reality! But to do that required help from somebody with a driver's license and a car, and all the people we know like that were like, "Uh... Ew." Except for Sarah, who did come around to the idea, but we're still terrible at making plans, so it never happened.

So for almost three years now we've been dreaming about this food...and here it was on this poster at McDonald's in Ikebukuro: chocolate covered french fries. What. Like seriously, what? Are you kidding me!?

I'm pretty sure that this is why something in my mind kept telling me to get the one o'clock bus tickets--so that we wouldn't miss out on this amazingness. They actually had the chocolate covered french fries we'd been longing for! Of course, we were chocolated out by then, but the french fries would surely cancel out the sweetness overload, and even if they didn't, who cares!? It's chocolate covered french fries, for crying out loud! So we ordered them, and of course Japan being Japan, they made them even better! They also give you the option to chicken out if you want, because they give you the fries, and a fork, and a packet with white chocolate on one side, and milk chocolate on the other. And you fold it so that the perforation in the middle breaks, forming a kind of chocolate pen, and you squeeze them together, to drizzle the white and milk chocolate over your fries, and oh my gosh you guys it's the best and we're convinced Japan came up with the idea to convince us never to leave.

On the other hand, I'm also pretty sure it was just a seasonal thing because of Valentine's Day and chocolate and stuff. But still! They could have had chocolate anything! And we sure are grateful that they introduced them before we left.

Then Cecille realized she hadn't gotten any souvenirs for her mother. We actually hadn't, either, but I remembered seeing a Minnie Mouse crystal puzzle at Family Mart, and I also remember that of all the people we told about crystal puzzles Mom seemed the most interested, so I was really glad to see that because why didn't we get her a crystal puzzle at Tokyu Hands!? We got that at our last stop before returning to the hotel. But before that! it just so happened that the park by the McDonald's was having a flea market! And since Cecille needed a souvenir, we figured this would be a good place to look for one, and that's how we got to experience a real life Japanese flea market.

It's pretty much just what you think it is. People bring a bunch of stuff they want to sell, and if you like something you ask them how much. And then you buy it. There was also a little community stage with a show going on. Neither of us remembered what was happening on the stage, but we do remember applauding, because we're nothing if not a good audience, even if we're just passing by, which is what we were doing. So the MC said something to us, but I don't remember what, just that it was favorable.

We made it back in time to catch our bus, and the trip went by pretty quickly, because there was another American on his way to Narita, and so we spent the whole ride talking and hopefully not annoying the other passengers too much because things like Frozen and Tinker Bell movies got brought up and I can be very passionate. At Narita, we bought some azuki Kit Kats to share with the Primary kids, and some pizza to eat (it was just like the pizza we ate at DisneySea, only more green, and it made us very eager to go home and order a nice Pizza Hut pizza with salted pretzel crust). On the flight home, we watched the Japanese dub of Aladdin, and oh man, I can totally see why that movie is so popular in Japan. The dub was amazing! Kouichi Yamadera is a perfect Genie--he's spot on with all the impressions, and the energy is just fantastic. The translation was good, and I even laughed out loud at places, despite the fact that I've seen the movie a thousand times and I'm even less likely to laugh at something when I'm watching it with headphones in an airplane. Now I'm eager to see even more Japanese dubs of Disney movies. ...Mostly the ones with Yamadera-san, but the other voice actors were really good, too. (Shin-ichiro Miki was Aladdin! I mean, we knew he was, because he was in Kingdom Hearts, but Wikipedia or something told us someone else was, so we thought maybe he only did the voice for the animated series, but either he always was or they had him redo it, because he was Aladdin in this version. Sadly, though, he did not do the singing voice.)

Finally, we were back in the United States, and I admit I was a little sad to think of the kind of mood we'd be returning to, even though that mood is generated mostly by Facebook, and we did check Facebook while we were in Japan. And then we did a bunch of long journal entries and a lot of work on manga and a few (ill-advised) trips to Disneyland, and now here we are.

And there you have it. This has been Nibley Trip to Japan Jan.2016. Thanks for joining us!

Today I'm thankful for making it home safely from a wonderful vacation, not missing out on the Animate cafe theme for January, also not missing out on our dream menu item at McDonald's, friendly cosplay shops, and hope for finishing all our work on time this week.
Tags: aladdin, animate, chocolate, cosplay, event report, japan trip, noragami, uta no prince-sama

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