Saturday, June 27, 2015

Japan Trip 2015

Hi all! It's been awhile. I had a major assignment to complete hence the lack of updates. And I went away for a short trip to Japan! It was my first trip in years. I'm usually not keen on going overseas as I get air sick very easily and can be down for a day or two. Some relatives invited me as they knew I've been wanting to visit Japan. I hesitated at first but eventually decided to go. I couldn't miss the opportunity! 

This post will be quite toy focussed with some of the places I visited thrown in. Link to the toys gallery bottom of the page. WARNING: Pic Heavy.

I only stayed in Tokyo. The first place I visited was Asakusa. The main attractions of the area include the Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Shrine and Nakamise Shopping Street. It's hard to miss those giant lanterns.

The above is a pic of Hozomon, the second entrance gate and below is the Sensoji Temple. It was raining heavily that day and the sheltered areas were packed.

The Nakamise Shopping Street leads to the temple. There are stalls on both sides selling various items such as clothes, fans, masks, snacks and also toys. The snacks were nice and tasty, especially those which were freshly made.

There are several toy shops along the street. It's mostly kids toys but there are some items of note such as Dragon Ball, Ultraman, Kaiju figures and Transformers. Spotted some old Transformers from Animated and Prime. There was also some Kre-O. One store even had the new TakaraTomy RID stuff. 

Next stop Nakano Broadway where there's several toy shops on the first couple of floors. There was hardly any toy shops open beyond the third floor when I visited. This place is good if you're interested older Japanese stuff. The prices of figma and Nendoroids are cheaper too but not by much. I didn't take as much photos here. Many shops had the "no photos" sign up. This include mobile phone cameras.  

The biggest name here would have to be Mandarake with several stores spread across the 1st three floors. Their robots and superhero stores are on the second floor. They had quite a big selection of Transformers including a number of boxed G1 Takara Transformers. The superhero store had some old Toy Biz Marvel Legends and Spider-man Classics but nothing I was interested in.

The most interesting shop for me was Robot Robot (below) on the third floor. They had a wide variety of items. In terms of Transformers they had from Animated to the current RID stuff. Star Wars figures range from the 90s Power of the Force to the current Black series and Rebels. For Marvel they had some 90s Toy Biz figures. Also Marvel Legends from the recent Odin, Hobgoblin and Thanos series. figma and Nendoroids are up to date. There was a DC Direct Hush Alfred which I've been looking for hanging on the peg. I would have got it except for the very poor face paint.  

A break from the city scene with some pics from Shinjuku Gyoen. It's a very large park featuring different garden types such as Japanese, English and French. There was not too many flowers in bloom during my visit unfortunately. Still I enjoyed seeing the greenery. And it was very cool walking in the park. It's well worth the 200 yen admission fee.  

Now for the big one, Akihabara. It's as impressive as what I've seen in pics. I love the colourful anime and manga covered buildings. 

First stop Radio Kaikan which is just outside the JR Akihabara Station. Once again no photos. The toy shops start from the second onwards. I breezed through this floor as I found the prices to be quite hefty. I skipped the middle floors as they were mostly poster and books shops. The shops after those floors had a good selections of figmas, Nendoroids and Anime statues. 

I can't remember the shop name but there was this one store on the fifth floor which had loose bagged figma figures in a basket. Of interest were Misaka Mikoto, the girls from Bakemonogatari and Fate Stay Night. They cost between 2500 to 3500 yen. The same shop had the Armor Girls Project Infinite Stratos Charlotte Dunois which I was very tempted to get it but didn't in the end. 

Yellow Submarine occupies the whole of the sixth floor and it has a great selection of Gundam, and at decent prices. They also have a big selection of opened Gashapon items in case you're missing a piece from the series you've been trying for. Volks is on the eighth floor. While they sell mostly dolls stuff they also carry some model kits, which is where I picked up my Bandai Darth Vader! It's a tough piece to find of late.

If you're looking to pick up anime / manga packaged snacks and items, The Akiba store on the first floor is a convenient place to get them after you're done toy shopping. 

Radio Kaikan 

Crossing the Chuo Dori to the Kotobukiya Craftmanship store. Didn't have anything in mind to purchase here but dropped in for a look. 

There was a Star Wars focussed event ongoing. Many Star Wars items were available which you can see in the gallery.

Check out this display of Star Wars ArtFX. It's not as big as the one they put up at SDCC last year but it's still awesome to see. They also had nice displays of Marvel ArtFX and also of various Bishoujo series.

Next up, Mandarake.

The toys are located on the seventh and eighth floors. I didn't take photos here. It's mostly vintage Japanese toys on the seventh floor. It was interesting to see the lineup of Kaiju and Mazingers among other things. The eighth floor had stuff like Gundam, Transformers and Marvel. The selection of figma and Nendoroids here is good too. Spotted a Spider-man 2 3.75" playset among the pile on the shelves but decided against in as it would be too big to lug back.

Visited Liberty 7 & 8 at a bad time as they were in the midst of reorganizing. No photos again. A lot of stuff was taken out and placed on top of the shelf, leaving the displays empty. There wasn't much Transformers of note. They had a good selection of Ichiban Kuji items and other small anime / manga figures. The displays of anime statues is quite a sight. They also had loose figmas and Nendoroids for sale.  

I went to the Tamashii Nations Akiba Showroom located at the East West Passage next to the JR Akihabara Station Exit. There are two sides to their showroom, one for movies and the other for their regular lines. There were lots of new and upcoming items to view.

Here's a sample of what was on display. You can see the rest in the gallery.

Yodabashi Akiba is a must visit place. They have a big toy floor and carry most of the current items. And a good thing is your buddies can shop on the other floors while you do your toy shopping. 

Check out the selection and displays. They put the local Toys R Us to shame.

The selection of Gundams and model kits is incredible. I found some model kit props which will be useful with my 6" scale figures.

There's no shortage of Kaiju here.

There's a Gashapon and video game area for the younger ones. 

I stopped by the Tokyo Anime Center at the UDX Building. There was an Etotama exhibition going on. I recall catching an episode of the anime. It's about Nya-tan, a cat character who's trying to become a member of the Chinese Zodiac. 

At the entrance were standees of Chuu-tan and Nya-tan. The rest of the characters could be found around the store. There were various drawings and concept art to be viewed. There was an ongoing promotion where you got a free poster with a certain amount purchased. I bought a shirt but unfortunately it's too small.... least I got the poster. I had no luck with the lucky dip where you could win a hand drawn sketch. The merchandise area had items from Angel Beats, Fate Stay Night and Chuunibyou to name a few. There's a number of others but I don't recognise them.

Let's now jump over to... well the Jump Shop. This is the place to get merchandise based on series such as Bleach, Naruto, Gintama, One Piece, Kuroko's Basketball, Assassination Classroom and more. The following pics are from the Tokyo Dome City store.

Here's a sample of the merchandise. I got me some badges and snacks.

Some sights next. The Meiji Shrine at Harajuku. The following is the torii gate which you pass heading towards the shrine. It's a ten minute walk to reach the shrine and I was exhausted by the time I got back out. I wish they had a path cut through from the station. 

Meiji Shrine

Takeshita Dori is a fashion street which targets teenagers. The entrance to it is located next to the JR Harajuku Station. It was very crowded the day I went, made worse by the rain. Navigating the street with an umbrella wasn't easy. Stopping to take a photo meant I got bumped into often. 

One regret of the trip is I didn't try a crepe....

There's good reason to walk through Takeshita Dori. That's so as to get to Toy Sapiens! (There's actually other routes but I wanted to see Takeshita Dori as well.) If you're into Hot Toys and western characters figures this is a must visit place.

After stepping through the doors you are immediately greeted by numerous displays of Hot Toys figures.

Here's some of the Hasbro items. I haven't seen Scarlet Witch on a peg in a long time.

Darth Plagueis and Darth Malgus in the house! They also had the Rebels Sabine and Hera two-packs.

Don't count out DC.

And many more!

Travelling to a magical place now. I visited Disneysea. The only Disneysea in the world. This place is huge! There are seven different zones and they look very authentic to the locations they are supposed to be. The rides I read are awesome. Unfortunately I could not take most of them due to various medical conditions. I was happy for my young relatives who managed to take a couple of rides. It was very crowded. 

I loved the Mermaid Lagoon the best. Simply magical! Under the seaaa.... Under the seaaa....

Here's the Arabian Coast. I can show you the world...

Last one I'll put up here. The American Waterfront. You've got a friend in me....

I felt like a kid again. Exploring the various places, taking rides and eating popcorn. Speaking of food, there are different types in the different zones. Take note they get crowded very quickly. There are various performances you can enjoy as well. If you do visit Disneysea, it is recommended you reach at least half an hour before opening time. The queue to enter starts very early. And if you have a runner, get him to collect the fast pass of the rides you want. Even with the pass you may have to wait an hour to get on the ride.

Another place I visited is the Ueno Zoo. The admission is just 600 yen and kids below twelve enter free. You get to see many animals. Including pandas. 

Why hello there big guy!

I've not seen some of these animals in person before.

This soft shell turtle is what the young ones call the pancake turtle.

Near the JR Ueno Station is the Yamshiroya toy shop. It's another must visit place for toys. They carry both western and anime character items. They are a little more expensive than other shops but you get to check things out in one place.

Here's a quick look of what they have.

There's currently a Marvel vending machine beside the building which is very cool! 

The Toys R Us stores have good stock too. The following pics are from the Aqua City store.

I had to visit Diver City for the life sized Gundam statue. I picked up the Gundam Front Tokyo version of the RG RX-78-2 to go along with the SG50 version.

Tokyo Big Sight. The site of Comiket. I like to be there one day during the event to take photos. I got the next best thing. That is attending the International Tokyo Toy Fair 2015! I didn't plan for it. It just so happened that it was taking place during my trip. More on Tokyo Toy Fair in the next post!

I know you'll want to see more toy pics so here's the gallery:

Japan Trip 2015 Toys

That's about it for my trip to Japan. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I missed some areas but I hope to visit them one day. I got to eat most of the popular Japanese food like onigiri, ramen, curry, yakiniku, yakitori, sushi and so on. Love them! The taste is so much better than what I've eaten locally. I like to thank a friend for some food recommendations. The weather was pretty good. Got lucky with that considering it's the rainy season over there. Great trip!

Thanks for viewing!

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