Traipsing through Japan: Films, Butler Cafés and Merch!

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.

swallowtail
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!!

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  1. 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. 

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist in training. I also love musicals, photography, travel and believe it or not, the game of cricket. よろしく!

6 Responses to Traipsing through Japan: Films, Butler Cafés and Merch!

  1. sikvod00 says:

    Quick status report: Mirage is still doing very well here in Miami! Managed to avoid a hurricane two weeks ago, lol.
    I’m only now beginning to do some research on my trip to Japan. If you can recommend any good sites or resources, that’d be great. Food is at the top of my list, so Okinawa is already on my radar. Not crazy about sushi, but I’d like to try out ramen and some good meat.
    I’d prefer not to go solo on, but I have no close friends or co-workers willing to go with me sadface. I suppose a group tour or program would help with that?

    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.

    Oh boy, LOL. Well when I visit, I’ll be sure to check out a maid café for science and stuff……actually, not sure I even have the guts to do that. The thought of someone like me stepping into a maid café is too embarrassing. >_<
    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed a difference in Kumiko and Reina’s voices in S2. Was this the case in the movie compared to S1? Never read the manga, but The Shape of Voice looks so gorgeous. As expected of Kyoto Animation. I’d LOVE for it to be licensed in U.S. since I’m now trying to avoid pirated media with my new CR sub.

    Oh, and when you tweeted out that full-size Mumei figure, I was thinking what a waste if it were only for exhibition and people couldn’t get their hands on one. Then I looked it up the $25,000 price tag and the lottery-system in place for it. Very smart! There’s no way that hard-core anime collectors with loads of disposable income (or totally messed up priorities) would pass up that opportunity.

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    • karice says:

      Quick status report: Mirage is still doing very well here in Miami!

      Glad to hear that!

      I’m only now beginning to do some research on my trip to Japan. If you can recommend any good sites or resources, that’d be great. Food is at the top of my list, so Okinawa is already on my radar. Not crazy about sushi, but I’d like to try out ramen and some good meat.

      Oh, when are you heading over there? Unfortunately, I have just about never used English-language sites to plan my trips… Japan Guide is good, I think. In terms of ramen, there are a few nice places in the Shinjuku area (the one I like going to is called Musashi. It’s got a fun system where you buy an order ticket from a vending machine and pass it over the counter to get your meal (IIRC, there are pictures of the meals on the machine, but I think there are a fair number of English blogs have covered visits there if you want to read up on it beforehand). Good meat…er…for Yakiniku? Yakitori? Wagyu steaks? Or perhaps more unusual stuff, like ox tongue?

      I’d prefer not to go solo on, but I have no close friends or co-workers willing to go with me sadface. I suppose a group tour or program would help with that?

      If you don’t have an intermediate level of Japanese (or more), then yes, I’d recommend joining a group tour or program, at least for part of the trip. If you like the challenge, it can be fun to strike out alone, but if you join a tour, you won’t have to spend time worrying about figuring out your entire itinerary, or how to find your hotel, or where to eat etc. And you might find someone to explore with once you’re done.

      Oh boy, LOL. Well when I visit, I’ll be sure to check out a maid café for science and stuff……actually, not sure I even have the guts to do that. The thought of someone like me stepping into a maid café is too embarrassing. >_<

      Haha – let me know if you do end up going!!

      Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed a difference in Kumiko and Reina’s voices in S2. Was this the case in the movie compared to S1?

      Yeah, it was rerecorded, and I noticing it here and there when I saw the film. I haven’t rewatched S1 recently, though, so I’m not really noticing the differences at present…

      Hopefully both the S!E film and Koe will be licensed so that you can see both legally!

      Then I looked it up the $25,000 price tag and the lottery-system in place for it. Very smart! There’s no way that hard-core anime collectors with loads of disposable income (or totally messed up priorities) would pass up that opportunity.

      Yeah. Definitely. That was something of a crazy one, huh? ^^; Kabaneri is quite a lot more popular in Japan than Western fans realise, though I suspect extensive marketing had quite a lot to do with it.

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      • sikvod00 says:

        I’m thinking of visiting in December. So while I would miss viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms, traveling is generally cheaper and I don’t have to worry much about rain. I just have to pack winter clothes, ugh. The other reason is because it isn’t too far away, and forces me to start planning rather than putting it off for another time.

        I’ll pass on the ox tongue, but steaks and Yakiniku are up my alley. The tour plan sounds best for me right now. It’d be nice if I could meet a tour friend. The Japan guide site is more extensive than I initially thought too. Also have to apply for a passport, lol. I’m so behind!

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        • karice says:

          Hm…yeah, December’s a pretty nice time. One each of a jumper, scarf, gloves, beanie and jacket should keep you warm, and there are some places with pretty Christmas lights if you like that kind of thing. Enoshima, for example, which is a pretty nice day trip out of Tokyo in its own right. (Also a place to go if you liked the anime Tsuritama ^^)

          Oh, but ox tongue is sooo yummy! (^^) There are plenty of places to get wagyu and yakuniku, but the latter is best done with friends. So it could be a good idea to see if anyone else on the tour group wants to grab some (if it’s not in your itinerary in the first place). Otherwise, there are a number of English speaking anime fans in Tokyo — most of the Macross crew, for example.

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  2. kaydat says:

    Is the VF a permanent installation? I visited Skytree last year in Nov, but I didn’t realise the life-sized VF even existed till about a month ago… so upset I missed it! I of course saw the Gundam at Odaiba in my first visit to Japan three years ago, but I’d much rather have visited the VF instead. I’m headed out to Tokyo in what I hope to be full bloom Sakura season for two weeks next year, this is definitely on my todo list.
    Also, I just wanted to say you run a great blog (or blogs). I’ve seen your comments around on the few aniblogs I read (Enzo’s LiA mainly and RandomC now and then), but when I recently slogged through Gubabablog and saw your insightful comments, it lead me here. Keep up the good work!
    btw, do you mind me asking which city you’re from? It’s always interesting to come across fellow otaku from Aus.

    Like

    • karice says:

      IIRC, yes it is. The attendant I chatted with this time was telling me that a dream of one of the Chiba Institute of Technology’s higher ups (maybe the President?) is to find a way to make a feasible VF. I don’t know how true that is, but I think it’s also there as inspiration for the students.

      The VF is on the 8th floor of Skytree – that’s where the Institute’s Skytree campus is. It’s kind of tucked away in the corner of the floor, but if you ask for “Area II,” or for the “VF-25,” one of the attendants should send you in the right direction.

      Thanks ^^ Admittedly, I’ve been neglecting a few of the others recently, especially the language one.

      btw, do you mind me asking which city you’re from? It’s always interesting to come across fellow otaku from Aus.

      Um…I’d rather not put it down in writing here…though if you happen to have twitter and can DM me there, I don’t mind saying… ^^;

      Like

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