Warriors of Legend Tour Diary - J. Navok
DAY 2: 6/27/06 (High City, Low City)
After a brief talk in the hotel in the morning, on the subject of the High City versus the Low City of Tokyo, we headed on the Oedo Subway line from Shiba-Koen's Daimon station to Azabu-Juuban station, the heart of the Sailor Moon series in the High City. You may need your copy of WoL to be able to appreciate everything we see and did over the next few days, although a number of the sites we visited will be in book 2 so we're skipping over some here.
First, we checked out where the Azabu-Juuban shopping sign used to be. From there, we walked over to the First Bridge Park, which is where the sailor senshi flew to the Kisenian's Asteroid and which was seen frequently in the manga.
We also saw things like the building which Jewelry OSA-P is based on, and the "golden arches" where Crown Arcade used to be. From there, we walked down the street to the supermarket which was featured in the episode "A Curried Favor." Only on the Warriors of Legend tour do people come to Azabu-Juuban to take pictures of curry!
The tour members didn't find any dark fruit but that didn't stop us from looking anyway. We also got Japanese traditional sweets from a famous nearby shop called MAMEGEN, which has an unusual series connection that the tour members learned about.
During our time in Azabu-Juuban we passed by a number of correlated series sites and at each one stopped to talk about when it was seen in the show or how it figured into the Sailor Moon universe. The impression many of the tour members came away with was how small the area that the series takes place in really is, and how close together it all is, changing people's impressions of the series' spacial aspects and an appreciation for the way the anime's creators managed to integrate that part of the city into their show.
A popular site was the statue of the Girl in Red Shoes in Patio Juuban, where many of the tour members took photographs.
We continued walking from there around Azabu-Juuban, seeing various parks and embassies that related to the show, and walking up famous series slopes, pausing to talk about the history of the area and how this or that place connected to the show.
Landmark after landmark was passed, and eventually we came to a big one:
We saw the Azabu-Juuban Hikawa shrine, the shrine at which Hino Rei was a miko in the Sailor Moon manga. An old Japanese woman, passing by, was nice enough to take a picture of us, but unfortunately she didn't quite know how to work them newfangled cameras and the result is we're just a tad crooked. But it adds character, I guess.
We walked down Darkness Hill, didn't get spooked by any vampires but we did see Lyrica Hubert's embassy, and from there went to lunch.
Lunch was at a famous and popular "gourmet"-style ramen shop in Azabu-Juuban. We were the first ones in the restaurant that morning, but by the time we left there was a line growing at the door. Ramen soups from beef tendon to sharks fin were tried and enjoyed.
After that hearty lunch, with the afternoon sun beating down on us, we crossed from the Azabu-Juuban shopping district into Roppongi, seeing such sites as the Juuban Inari Shrine and Rei's school, Toyo Eiwa Girl's Academy.
We continued walking, reaching our next destination by mid-noon: The TV Asahi studios. Not only did they broadcast the series, but the studios appeared in the show as well. We had pictures of what the studios looked like at the time the series aired, which were picture-perfect to how it was depicted in the show.
Glad to be back in an air-conditioned environment, we spent some time in the studio's public floor, checking out their programming guides and gift shop.
We exited TV Asahi, noting the Mori Gardens to our right, and passed through Roppongi Hills, the new megacomplex in the area.
We left Roppongi Hills back toward the Oedo Subway Line, going back toward Daimon for a tour of Shiba-Koen as seen in the Sailor V manga. We saw things like the shopping district that appeared in Sailor V, the park where Sailor V fought Petit Pandora, and the middle school that Minako attends in both Sailor V and the Sailor Moon anime and manga series.
We also saw the nearby Zojoji temple, a very important historical location which was the mausoleum that many Shoguns were buried in.
Since the temple was not busy, we actually walked inside, being hit by the scent of incense and a sense of Buddhist calm and quiet. We discussed the history of the temple, its connection to Edo, and things like the Jizo statues nearby, which represent the departed souls of children.
We also learned why it was that Naoko Takeuchi used these Shiba-Koen locations for her Sailor V series: she went to school practically across the street, at this college which we walked past.
From there we walked to our next destination, one that everyone had been looking forward to. The place where Kaolinite was supposedly killed, that red metal structure that made you think, as a kid, that the show took place in France, that famous backdrop of the series:
First we went up to the main observation deck, where we got a good view of the downtown part of the city.
After spending some time on the observation deck taking pictures and getting things like Tokyo Tower Commemorative Hello Kitty Coins (that say "Warriors of Legend Tour" on them!), we headed up further to the Special Observation Deck.
When you head back down from the Tokyo Tower they don't drop you off at the first floor but rather a few floors up. We found ourselves at a sort of mini arcade/amusement park.
Brant actually ended up winning something at one of the crane games, and they had one or two games that had on them Sailor Moon characters, too.
Exhausted from all the walking and the heat, we were finally finished with the "Sailor Moon Tour" portion of the day, from the High City of Azabu and Shiba-Koen we headed uptown- to the Low City of Tokyo, to Asakusa.
Asakusa is the heart of the modern "Low City," the traditional Tokyo culture. These days it's the best place to get Japanese souvenirs, as well as see the oldest temple in the city- the Asakusa Kannon known as Sensoji. We came for both.
The tour group split up here, with different people partnering up to visit different stores, many of which have been here for hundreds of years. A lot of people bought pretty yukata or Japanese summer kimonos here. We also saw a film store whose owner seems to have a pet pigeon that hung around in front of and behind the counter. At one point it tried to take some money off his counter, which caused the guy to shout at it.
When you walk out of the nakamise, you end up at the famous temple, which is one of the most visited by foreign and Japanese tourists alike.
When the group was finished, we sat on the steps of the temple and heard the story of the temple's founding, its importance to Edo, and about its famous Sanja matsuri, one of the three great Tokyo festivals.
By then it was getting close to dinner and so we walked back up the nakamise, stopping by one store to get its famous Kaminarimon "crunch" candy, which tastes kind of like rice crispy treats.
Dinner that night was "all you can eat (and drink)" Shabu-Shabu, a type of boiled meat dish, as well as Sukiyaki, which in this case uses a different broth. Whenever we ran out of meat we just ordered more, for a whole two hours. It was a good time, to say the least.
The second dinner was a lot of fun, and once against we managed to be considerably noisy, having the Japanese seated in a table across from us looking over their shoulders.
After dinner, the group headed back to the hotel to get ready for Day 3.
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