A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.
So, let’s get into it!
From Shauna’s Journal
Day 10, December 23rd, 2019
My tattoo with Horimitsu started at 12, and was at his studio in Ikebukuro within walking distance from Sunshine City. As such, I left at 11:30 to give myself plenty of time- even still, when I reached the tagged spot on Google Maps, I couldn’t tell which building was Horimitsu’s. I found a wooden structure with some signage and a doorbell, but Google Translate didn’t really tell me what it said. I thought, well, this is mainly a residential area, so maybe it’s Horimitsu, or a business that can direct me to him.
I rang the buzzer and waited. A hunched, tired looking old man answered, standing in his dark entrance, and I knew right away this was not Horimitsu’s studio… I blurted “Horimitsu desu…ka…?” and the man sort of smiled and said “ah… Horimitsu…san…” and beckoned me to follow him. He hobbled along with his back bent at an improbable angle, heaving himself up the couple of steps to the building across the street. Tucked there in a corner was a door covered in cool stickers. He told me to knock. Soon, Horimitsu answered amidst my desperate apologies to this kind old man: “Doumo sumimasen! Gomennasai! Totemo gomennasai, doumo arigatou gozaimashita!!!” The man told Horimitsu something, probably like “she knocked on my door so I took her to you” with a bit of a smile (likely translation? “another damn gaijin mistook my business for your tattoo place, jeez…!”)
After apologies from Horimitsu, I entered, and he bid me sit on his couch, where a coffee table sat covered in tattoo magazines, including the one featuring John Mayer on the cover with his Horimitsu tattoo on full display.
Master Horimitsu was quiet, charming, and knew quite a lot of English. We decided on the placement of my tattoo and he began with the linework, which is done with a regular tattoo gun. Right before starting he said “Okay… starting… prepare… my tattoo hurts more than other tattoos!” ok thanks, got it… ^-^’
His linework was indeed thick and a tad painful at times, but I think I did okay aside from a few grimaces. As he worked on my arm, we listened to Christmas jazz & chill music, and I gazed up at his impressive wall of stencils from previous tattoo designs.
After a while, maybe 45 minutes, he said “Hai. Tebori ne” and started tebori (hand-poke) method just like that. Amazingly, it didn’t hurt any more than any other tattoo I’ve had! I could hear the needles puncturing my skin again and again, but it wasn’t bad.
We chatted on and off through my tattoo- about Japanesed tattoo laws and the current court cases, Japanese food, Canadian weather and seasons, our pets, Dustin, teaching English in Japan, onsen etiquette, all kinds of things. He is a very accomplished and impressive man, but also very humble and kind. ❤ I gave him some maple candies, a card, and a magnet with my designs, and he thanked me.
The tattoo was over in just 2 hours! It really does capture the energy and cuteness of Tegan!
I said my goodbyes to Horimitsu, and as I was standing outsite setting up my GPS directions he dashed out of the studio, patted my shoulder and said farewell once more, and ran across the road towards the old man’s house/business. I feel certain he was giving the man a gift (he had something in his hand) in apology for my earlier intrusion!
I walked a bit to the Ikebukuro Ichiran Ramen, where I enjoyed another bowlof delicious tonkatsu (no waiting in line this time!) and laughed at the bathroom that had something like 12 toilet paper dispensers mounted to the wall- you won’t run out of TP at this Ichiran!
I took a couple of detours before heading back to the hotel, spending a considerable amount of time browsing at Animate, where I bought some vampire comics and BluRay musicals. I also stopped at the Gakuen cafe for a drink or two and met a couple of nice girls from New Zealand, and chatted for a bit.
Later on, back at the hotel, Dusty and I enjoyed a great assortment at the buffet on the basement floor. The dinner spread was elegant and fancy, but my favorite was the dessert- cakes, squares, and soft-serve ice cream, plus a chocolate fountain!
Now I am doing laundry on the 6th floor and tidying up our hotel room -_- zzZZZzzzZZZ
Last night I watched A Silent Voice, the anime adaptation of the manga by the same name. I’d previously read the first volume of the manga, so I had an idea what the movie was about and expected it to be an emotional film, but it surprised me with its masterful and deliberate techniques. It brought a few tears even to my eyes, and I very rarely am able to cry.
A Silent Voice focuses on the relationship between Shōya, a young man who was once a habitual bully, and Shōko, the deaf girl who used to be his favorite person to tease and bother. The movie weaves naturally between the memories of the past and the raw emotions of the present day, wherein Shōya is trying to make amends for the callousness of his past actions.
Many moments of the movie hinge upon the subtleties of communication and mixed messages— through spoken word, written word, and sign language. It also touches upon the delicate ties maintained between former friends and acquaintances, and how efforts to rekindle or mend former friendships can open oneself to vulnerability and shame.
At the same time, A Silent Voice highlights the maturity and bravery of making choices that open up this vulnerability, and the struggles and rewards that are born of it. The deeply personal messages of the film, as well as the several gutdropping and heartstopping moments throughout, punctuated by moments of silence and crescendo, make for a truly thoughtful and moving film.
Takaya Natsuki’s Fruits Basket was one of the first manga series I began collecting in my teen years, and I also loved the original anime.
When I moved out from my parents’ house, I left behind my Fruits Basket manga in their attic (there were too many for me to fit in my suitcase!) and eventually ended up donating them to a library a few years later (still couldn’t fit in my suitcase!)
I haven’t read Fruits Basket, or watched the original anime, since those years long ago, so I was excited to see that the manga was being remade and accompanied by an anime reboot! I have a Crunchyroll subscription, so I watched the first new episode today and found myself getting sucked back into the story.
This new Fruits Basket keeps the humour, optimism, and sentimentality of the original while presenting a fresh, detailed new art style that I really love. The shading is lovely and the highlights really pop!
For me, the casting and animation of Tohru is most important for this story- she is the main protagonist of course, but more importantly she’s also someone who was really inspiring to me when I was younger, so for me to enjoy this new reboot Tohru has to feel right. Happily, I wasn’t disappointed! The voice acting by Iwami Manaka captures Tohru’s bright personality perfectly.
When I worked my first job in high school, as a grocery store cashier, I was thrown onto the till with very little training, and customers would get mad at how slow I was ringing through their purchases and looking up their product codes for produce. The store I worked at was very busy, lines were long, and I struggled a lot at first. I would sometimes be driven to tears.
During this time I specifically remember looking up to Tohru as a role model- from the very beginning of the story we come to know that she has a hard life, but she works hard through every circumstance to try to make things better, not just for herself, but especially for others. Her work ethic made me want to be strong too- and I did get better at my job eventually!
The story of Fruits Basket involves the animals of the Chinese zodiac- each member of the Soma family is cursed with an animal form, so it’s fun to see each one revealed as the story progresses. In the first episode we see three such transformations happen in quick succession- I love the powdery & otherworldly mist that is unleashed in the new anime!
Most die-hard fans of Fruits Basket (that I knew of, anyway) were either Team Kyo or Team Yuki- these two boys are the major contenders for Tohru’s heart, but I found it hard to pick sides, myself!
I always did have a little thing for Shigure, though…
There are also lots of other interesting characters who will be revealed as the show goes on, each with very distinct personalities, so it will surely be increasingly entertaining!
Overall, I’m impressed with this first new episode, and I’m sure that this new Fruits Basket will capture the hearts of fans both new and old!
Megan from A Geeky Gal posted her Pirate Crew with an open invitation tag for anyone who wanted to play along, and I couldn’t help imagining who I would choose! Thanks for sharing Megan! And thanks to Lynn Sheridan for creating this fun tag!
Display the My Pirate Crew logo and add ‘My Pirate Crew’ as a tag.
Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.
Link back to the original post here (so I can compare your crews to mine).
Select seven anime characters and give them a position on the crew. These are the positions you can fill: Warrior, sniper, chef, doctor, scientist, navigator, strategist, mechanic, entertainer.
Nominate 5-10 bloggers.
Set sail and rule the seas!
So, here is my miscreant crew- scallywags, the lot of ’em!
I’m not copying you Megan, I swear! InuYasha is the first anime warrior who stole my heart, he’s totally badass, and I would definitely bring him along in my crew. Plus, who needs an anchor for the ship when you can just strap him with some rope, toss him over, and yell “SIT, BOY!!!” (I know, I’m terrible.)
Sorry if this is a spoiler for anyone, but you know Mey-Rin from Black Butler? You eventually come to know that she’s actually more than meets the eye…
Yeah, she’s a crack shot with a variety of types of guns. Plus, we can squee about Sebastian together! Eeeeeee!~
In FFXV Ignis has more than proven his skill at improvising some delectable grub with meager rations while out in the wild, and I feel certain he’d be able to keep us from getting scurvy.
***Pastry Chef: Najika Kajami
Ok, I added Pastry Chef as an additional crew member because dessert is VERY IMPORTANT TO ME OK? I feel like Najika Kajami is just the kind of pâtissier that I want on the crew- observant, in touch with the seasons, innovative, and creative. She would also bring a cheerful positivity to the crew.
Doctor: Naoki Irie
Ok, I’ll admit he’s a bit harsh sometimes, but he knows his stuff and cares about his patients. And, Kotoko is smitten with him, so she’ll probably tag along, meaning we have 2 medical professionals on board instead of 1! I’ll admit that I haven’t read the manga or watched the anime, but I am a big fan of the Japanese edition of the drama series!
Scientist: Reiji Sakamaki
Let’s count all of the benefits of having Reiji as our on-board scientist, shall we?
He makes a mean cup of tea
He will probably bring a large collection of books with him
He’s skilled at bloodletting, so no need to have leeches on board
He’s a vampire, so like Dracula he could take care of the ship’s rat problems easily if needed (though he’d surely complain that it’s dirty work below his honour)
Mey-rin will have her glasses off most of the time (she’s our sniper, after all) so Reiji can be our dedicated megane character
He’s a sadist, so… if you’re into that… >.>
Navigator: Sailor Mercury (Ami Mizuno)
Ami’s precise, mathematical mind would ensure her success as the navigator of the ship. She is skilled at data gathering and calculations. I imagine she would have the foresight to take necessary precautions and avoid potential misfortunes while at sea.
L may not be the most socially aware or tactful, but I like his aesthetic and vibe. He’s a brilliant strategist, there’s no denying that- he sees through deception and knows how to plan effectively. Plus, with him around I’m sure we’d never run out of candy!
Mechanic: Impey Barbicane
Impey is a skilled mechanic as well as a comedic optimist and ambitious dreamer. He’ll keep our spirits up and our ship running all the way to the moon!
Entertainer: Ren Jinguji
Ren is my fave playboy from UtaPri and he plays a mean sax. What’s not to like? I mean, for that matter can we just bring the entire band onboard?
*** BONUS- Pet: Roen
I need to be around animals or I get really sad. We would need to have a pet on the ship- we just would! Preferably a dog. Roen would be great kuz he’s super cute and fluffy, plus he can transform into a human to help out with combat or whatever else is needed.
Well, that’s it for my crew! The sky is red- we set sail in the morning!
For the last couple weeks I’ve been watching this anime in bits and pieces on my lunch breaks at the library:
While I picked the Sakamoto anime up on a whim and haven’t yet read the manga, I thoroughly enjoyed this series and recommend it for anyone who wants a lighthearted and humorous romp.
That said, a lot of the humor may be lost on people who aren’t already familiar with anime tropes- much of the hilarity comes from the ridiculous setups, recognizable character models, and punny wordplay, all of which generally poke fun at often overused or exaggerated scenarios.
Sakamoto himself is the star of the show, of course, and he is a character that is impossible not to like- some students love him, some want to be him (or beat him), but he is completely on another level- aloof and magically skilled at never being uncool. At the same time, he’s also kind and chivalrous.You can’t rustle his feathers, no matter how hard you try. The best part, though, is the variety of inventive and ridiculous ways he manages to circumvent every attempt to thwart him or take him off guard.
The show takes itself just serious enough to get you invested in the characters a bit, but it’s extremely fun to simply go along for the ride and see how many times suspension of disbelief can be crushed, or how many times the fourth wall can be broken by a side-character’s casual observance.
I recommend Sakamoto for you, your Mom, your dog, your boss, and every childhood friend you no longer communicate with.
Brace yourselves, this is something I’m realllllllly passionate about, so here comes another one of my blog posts that is pounded out in an uncontrollable flurry.
Bill Maher knows how to kick up a firestorm online- his recent blog post disses the recently deceased legendary Smilin’ Stan Lee and challenges the legitimacy of comics as a format. It closes by laughably implying that the people who view comic books as important are the ones who voted for Trump. Sure, Bill… yeah no.
Firstly, on dissing Stan Lee- even if you don’t appreciate comics, Bill, there’s no need for that low blow (other than shoehorning it into an intro for a controversial blog post that will get you lots of views, I guess?). It’s undeniable that Mr. Lee’s creative genius has touched the lives of many people, and suggesting that art, literature, and entertainment are not vital to life paints a false picture. Bill writes:
“Someone on Reddit posted, “I’m so incredibly grateful I lived in a world that included Stan Lee.” Personally, I’m grateful I lived in a world that included oxygen and trees, but to each his own”
What exactly is your point here? I don’t know about you Mr. Maher, but I don’t want to live my life fulfilling only the lower rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Ok, on to comics. Here’s what he has to say on that topic:
“Twenty years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature.”
As an educator and an MLIS student, you really awaken the fire in me with this one, Bill. Who is to say what constitutes “sophisticated literature”? Is it a word count? Is it a certain vocabulary? Is it one of those “i’ll know it when I see it” things? I call bullshit.
So, again, what makes something “sophisticated literature”, exactly? Does the use of sequential art immediately reduce something to junk reading for kids?
Comics are just a format, Bill. They can be used to address any kind of information, and can be tailored to suit the needs of readers of any age. They are increasingly diverse and inclusive as more artists, authors and publishers jump on board. Comics are especially wonderful because they are approachable and lots of readers, even reluctant readers, may be enticed to read a comic because of the pictures.
Yet, unfortunately, Bill, you have joined the masses of people who mistakenly believe that the comics format = kid stuff, as if the format somehow dictates what kinds of content can be delivered in a comic.
These are just some examples, but comics can be about ANYTHING. More and more comics are coming out every day on all kinds of different topics.
And yes, comics also include superheroes sometimes- what’s wrong with that, Mr. Maher? The world of superhero and fantasy comics is gigantic and diverse in its own right, and has been and continues to be entertaining, inspirational, and motivational for many people all across the world.
At the risk of triggering Bill Maher, i’d like to finish here with one last sentiment:
This is day 7 of revisiting my journal from our trip to Japan last year! If you’d like to start at the beginning, here is day 1.
So, day 7, here we go!
From Shauna’s Journal
Day 7, October 7th, 2017
Today was definitely an adventure. Dustin and I were going to go to Akiba again, but his feet were in bad condition from all the walking we’d been doing, so I went out on another solo exploration. Originally I was going to go to Akiba alone and get more doll supplies, but I got distracted by loud music near the station.
I’m not sure what sort of festival it was, but dancers of all ages were doing group choreography in colourful dress. Some performances featured huge flags being waved in synchronization- each flag used someone’s entire body weight to wave! One performance utilized costumes that flipped into different colours 3 times (green to white to pink.). It was such a cool thing to see. Lots of people on the sidewalks stopped to watch along the sides of the roads.
After i’d watched several impressive performances, I was starting to get hungry and was feeling brave, so I used Google Maps to find the place i’d been extremely curious (and nervous) about visiting: Theme Cafe #6 of my trip- The BL (Boys Love) Cafe in Ikebukuro!!! o.o
Be forewarned: the following adventure is not for everyone, but I couldn’t resist!
This cafe has developed a reputation for providing a very unique atmosphere and experience, and was something I just couldn’t pass up- again, you’re not in Japan every day! Might as well check out the yaoi cafe! Judge me if you will!
I came upon a discrete signboard and steps leading up to a nondescript door with a cherub knocker. When I entered with a tinkling of bells, I was greeted by a handsome young man and I said in my best Japanese, “Hi, I don’t have a reservation… is it ok?”
He said yes, and guided me to a seat at the bar. He gave me a brand new Cafe ID card for their points program, and explained the menu to me as best as he could, often turning to “Sensei” for help. Hyuma Sensei has very good English (he told me he studied in America for a while). He turned to me and said “so, you’re 16”.
Me: “Oh, me, no! I’m 27! You need my ID? I have it som…”
Sensei: “No, we don’t care about that. But here, you are 16. I am “Sensei”. This is high school. So-and-so has a ____ coloured tie, so he is a 1st year. So-and-so has a ____ tie, so you can see he is a 3rd year.” etc. I couldn’t keep the names, tie colours, or other details straight, but I got the idea. So, I had entered a strange world of role play where I, and all of the customers and staff, were “in high school”.
I ordered a full set – cafe au lait (iced) with a hamburger steak meal and for dessert- the infamous Pocky Challenge.
As I ate my hamburger steak and nervously sipped my cafe au lait, the staff chatted with me about my trip, about Dustin, about Canada, about if I knew what BL was (>.<‘) and how I found their cafe (internet!). I asked if they get many foreign visitors. Hyuma assured me, “yes!”
It was starting to feel sort of like a normal cafe, until a girl ordered the “Coupling Pocky”- I watched from the sidelines as Hyuma Sensei and another guy did a role-play scene resulting in a close encounter on the chaise lounge and a pocky eating challenge, each biting the pocky stick as far as they could without their lips touching. I felt my cheeks burning red. When staff returned to the bar I exclaimed in Japanese “IT’S WARM IN HERE, ISN’T IT? T-T” which they thought was really funny.
I finished my meal and worked up the nerve to ask for my Coupling Pocky to be served- the final part of my meal set. I nervously ate the pocky as instructed, eating all but the last stick (which I was to save for a heart-pounding performance featuring 2 boys of my choosing). I chose Sensei and Shoma, a funny, chatty boy who spoke excitedly with me in English about his love of Gossip Girl and my love of vampires. (We kept making jokes about the phrase “xoxo- Gossip Girl”).
Sensei pulled a chair out to the side of the room and motioned for me to sit. He asked “what kind of scenario would you like?”
Surprised, I paused awkwardly and said “like… kabe don? Sort of thing? Sort, of, maybe?…”
The kabe don wall-hit move is an often over-the-top anime and jdrama trope that never fails to bring a blush to my cheeks (or a smile to my lips): here is a kabe-don example video for the unfamiliar:
Could the young men of the Ikebukuro cafe do kabe-don justice?
“OK” Sensei said with a smile, “which one of us is performing the kabe-don on the other?”
“Sensei?….” I peeped.
So, together they created and acted out a scenario where Sensei scolds Shoma for being a messy dresser and not wearing his uniform correctly. In the heat of the argument, Sensei pins him to the wall- pushes him so hard the walls rattle and all the girls in the cafe turn to look at the spectacle I had commissioned: the two boys against the wall (mostly hidden from view of the other customers) and me sitting stiffly in a wooden chair in the middle of the room covering my mouth and stifling nervous giggles.
The boys’ eyes met briefly with a stifled laugh, silently acknowledging, I think, something like “oops, I pushed you too hard lol”. Then, Hyuma Sensei procured the Pocky stick and they completed the scene as I watched through my fingers, my hands pressed against my cheeks.
Afterward they asked “So, how was it?” and I said in english “You did great!”
“Wow, we did good!” they rejoiced.
“No. GREAT. Better than good. Totemo, totemo good”, I assured them. They were proud XD.
Before leaving the cafe, I was offered to pick a photo from a random draw as a memory keepsake of the cafe- I got this picture of Souta, the boy who initially greeted me at the door. We had some language barrier, but he is very kind and funny. He kept making jokes about important aspects of Japanese culture I needed to experience on my trip, such as harakiri/seppuku. Ok! I’ll get right on that!
I told the staff that I was leaving soon for Gunma and Kinosaki but that I would be back after and wanted to visit again. Sensei said “We’ll waiting for you!” All of the guys gathered at the door and said bye to me… then I forgot my umbrella and had to run back to get it ^-^’
So, it was a VERY memorable experience in the heart of the Otome Road.
After that thrilling lunch, I collected myself and took the Maranouchi line to see Maika at the cafe where she works. I had to take 2 trains but I missed a stop and had to backtrack. I made it eventually! It was a nice walk through residential neighborhoods to her cafe, Allpress Roastery. There was construction in some places, and it was a quiet area without much signage- i’m so glad for google maps! I saw lots of people walking dogs, and one biker collide with an apologetic woman. (Gomennasai!!! Daijobu desu ka!?)
At the cafe Maika made me a beautiful latte with hearts in the foam.
I saw a big, interesting bug on the door.
Maika introduced me to her friends Colleen and Kyosuke, and we went to a cosy little Okonomiyaki restaurant together. It was my first time sitting at a traditional Japanese low table with my feet folded under me. We made the okonomiyaki together and it was so delicious. The bonito flakes sway and move from the heat like they are dancing. I drank beer and plum wine.
We went for a lovely evening stroll after dinner. While walking on the streets together, Maika pointed out remnants of a completed festival: scarecrow-like figures with large bag heads.
Maika, Colleen and I took the same train for part of the way back. The train seats were different than others i’d seen before- they were the colour of bread. I was the first to have to get off, and wished my friends goodbye.
After such a busy day I wasn’t tired at all, and it’s not often that I’m in Ikebukuro on a Saturday night so…. I looked up the BL cafe and found out it was OPEN UNTIL 5AM! I wanted to make the most of all the time I had in Japan, so I headed back there again and was greeted warmly by the staff.
I met a cute, stylish girl who was also seated at the bar. I complimented her style and we began chatting excitedly with the aid of Google translate. We talked about my trip, and her visit to the BL cafe (she is a semi-regular customer and rode the train 1.5 hours to get here!). Another woman to my left was shy and barely spoke any English, but when staff told me she was an expert tequila drinker, I declared that she was Tequila Champion, Queen of Tequila. I got the staff chanting “1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, 4!…” and we all had a good time chatting for a bit.
A few more shenanigans:
Before he finished his shift for the day, Shoma was showing off a cute sticker on his middle finger and making it talk. I asked “what is his (the hamster) name?” Answer? HAMUSTA CHAN!
Before he left, Hyuma and I had a conversation about mascots in Japan vs. Canada. He thought (maybe he was pulling my leg?) that moose were made-up creatures! When I explained how big they are, he was shocked.
Before she left, my bar-mate friend told me I was pretty and showed me on her phone translator “I’m glad I met you.” She told me I am a “colourful person who can do anything” and that my personality and expressions remind her of a puppy dog! Haha. She was such a sweet girl and wished me a great trip.
One staff, Misaki(?) was quite a joker, and kept doing the “I have a pen- I have a apple- UHH! PINAPPLE PEN” song, except at the “UHH!” parts he made a variety of indecent noises that had me in stitches.
Another late-night staff was excited to learn I was Canadian and trying to learn Japanese, and cheered me on with “ganbatte!”
One of the staff found out I like SHINee, and he was also a kpop fan- he played SHINee Lucifer on the speakers for me!
Around 11:45 or so I left the cafe- the boys said “Bye bye!” and made sure I was comfortable with finding my way back to the hotel. I played a couple of rounds of the drumming game at Taito station before calling it quits and walking back to the hotel amidst a current of swaying salarymen. I got to pet a corgi!