Traipsing through Japan: Films, Butler Cafés and Merch!
October 18, 2016 6 Comments
It’s kind of frustrating to find out—after a day of experimentation, the bulk of which involved cleaning out my Twitter favourites—that the look I wanted for this post involved simply copying and pasting a bunch of links here. I suppose I can take one positive from that, which was a realisation of just how many more production-related interviews we’re seeing translated this year. I’ll get back to adding to them soon, but first, let me look back on my recent forays into Japan.
I’ve already covered the absolute best experience of my journeys this year, but there were several other highlights that I’d like to share. On the first trip, I went back to see the 1:1 VF-25 at the Skytree Town Campus of the Chiba Institute of Technology. Chatting with a friendly attendant got me a glimpse—and photos that I’m afraid I can’t share—of a ‘present’ that Kawamori himself left behind. Unfortunately, the blurbs in the Macross exhibit are only in Japanese at present…though I am hopeful that this will change, especially if more Western fans traipse over there to take a peek! Other than that, I picked up a Sea Cat phone cover as well as the first Macross ∆ vocal album, Walküre Attack, and tried my hand at some lottery-based character merchandise. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the specific mini-shikishi that I wanted, but this pretty Mirage one was a pretty soothing consolation prize, as was seeing Tenjin’s magnificent gift for fans at Akihabara UDX. I also met up with long-time fan Gwyn Campbell and caught a Macross episode on TV for the first time ever—probably better not to ask which episode that was, though!
Of course, Macross wasn’t the only series I was paying attention to. I had a lot of fun looking out for Joker Game and Mr. Osomatsu, and made my usual trip out to Odaiba and the noitaminA cafe, where Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and Anthem of the Heart were still very big deals. And even though I was incredibly disappointed about my luck at lottery goods, it was great to run into key frame reproductions of Nico one day.
And of course, there’s another thing I always go to Japan for: the food. Returning to Okinawa for the first time in two years, I went crazy for the things I missed: Okinawa Soba and roasted sweet potato in particular. Okinawa’s sweet potatoes are an unbelievably deep purple, and are far tastier than any other type I’ve ever had—including the Satsuma variety that you can find on the Japanese mainland and the reddish one that’s the norm in supermarkets Down Under. I had ramen too, of course, but honestly, nothing can beat my Okinawan favourites!
The second trip, again for work, entailed incredibly similar things in my spare time. One highlight, however, was my very first trip to Swallowtail with a couple of friends. Most people probably think that this famous (or infamous?) butler café is just like a maid café, but aimed at women. That’s true…but the atmosphere there is quite different from what I’ve heard or read of most maid cafés. I haven’t actually been to any of the latter, though one of the friends I was with had, and the experience she related to us had me quite content that I’d never bothered to seek out a maid café.
|We weren’t allowed to take any photos, so this comes from here|
In any case, visiting Swallowtail was quite a refined experience, one that takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you’ve lived in Japan long enough to be inclined to bow slightly when someone bows at you! Tables have to be reserved through their website, and the 80 minute sessions are staggered so that you do not enter the venue with any other guests, from what I could tell. We weren’t supposed to do anything for ourselves—instead, we were to use a bell to call for our butler, even for something so simple as pouring tea. Though we never actually needed to ring it, which, I suppose, is the mark of a great butler! One of my friends and I made sure to visit the restroom (where I wish I’d had my phone on me to sneak a picture of the sliding cubicle doors and the towels, because they were pretty neat). Our butler even made sure to escort us both to the restroom and back to our seats! Finally, I should mention that the butler who attended to us made us feel like we were fated to go on that day at that very time—for his name took us right back to the place where the three of us had first met, almost a decade ago now.1
I also caught the final episode of Macross Δ on TV, though since I’ve talked about that extensively elsewhere, I’ll leave this here for the moment. Let me wrap up this post with a little gallery of all the stuff I picked up: merchandise that I’ve mentioned above, as well as a tonne of books and interviews that I’ll have to find time to work through!!
- There were a few other notable things, though I was paying less attention than I might have otherwise since this also doubled as a huge catch-up for us. You can read a far more extensive write up by another young lady here, and the website and venue both provide for guests who do not speak Japanese. For Western fans of “the fairer sex,” it’s definitely worth checking out. ↩