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Warriors of Legend Tour Diary - J. Navok
 

DAY 4: 6/29/06 (Journey West)

If you think our first few days were packed, you won't believe how much we did on the last day(s) of the tour. Everyone was out of the hotel by 8:30am, and we took the subway over to Shinjuku before switching there for a private train line to head to a city west of Tokyo.

Upon reaching the station, we took the bus to our first major destination of the day; just like in a famous series opening sequence. Where did we go?

This photo may give you a hint:

Welcome to Jindai Botanical Gardens in Chofu City, as seen in the Sailor Moon R movie. When we arrived at this stunning park it was at the height of its Rose Festival, which featured dozens of varieties of roses from across the world and hundreds of rose bushes adorning the lawn in front of its green house.

First we went into the green house, and found it to be a bit different from in the movie, but still quite interesting.

After the green house, the tour members had free time to check out the rose garden.


Sonnie and Rachael viewing the roses


Jason gets a shot of the fountains

We also ate a Jindai specialty, Rose-flavoured ice cream, and Rachael brought back Rose-flavoured tea.


Everyone had Rose-flavoured ice cream as a snack

The gardens are quiet large, with many other varieties of flowers and gardens than just the Rose bushes in front of the main green house, but we were in a rush to return to Shinjuku and change for our next destination, Mandarake in Nakano.

Before that, though, we made a brief stop at the Jindai Temple, the second oldest temple in the Tokyo area. (The first being the Asakusa Kannon which we saw on Day 2.)


A building on  the grounds of  Jindai Temple

Our second goal of the day, the Nakano Mandarake, is a geek's dream: a building with floors and floors of pop culture goods ranging from rare and second-hand comics and artbooks to cels, posters, toys, doujinshi, and more. Akihabara tends to have only what's new, but Mandarake stocked older and more unusual items. Most importantly, there was a better chance of them showing and stocking a certain series that went off the air while back which our tour was based on.

WoL Photographer Yosenex met us nearby Mandarake. Tour members were given the choice to go shopping first or eat lunch at the shopping arcade and then shop, with the goal of everyone meeting back near the entrance at an appointed time. With that, they were off.


Sonnie poses in front of a display case in Mandarake while Yosenex contemplates what he'll look for next


Brant and Rachael look through one of the purchases he made at Mandarake

Here's a small selection of some of the loot people got, as shown off during dinner:


Sonnie got copies of the original Sailor V manga


Rachael poses with a book as Yosenex looks on


Kevin with a plushie he found


Brant collected a lot of great things


Ignatius found DBZ toys

Jared also picked up a ton of stuff but unfortunately I don't think I got a shot of that. When Hans and I returned a few days later, he found a nearly life-size poster of PGSM Sailor Moon.

After Mandarake, we headed back to Shinjuku again to change trains once more with yet a third major destination (and completely different city) in mind. We were going to Yokohama.

We made it there within good time, but one of the most strenuous parts of the tour was coming up: the hike up one of Yokohama's bluffs to reach the foreign cemetery. With the sun beating down on us and everyone already exhausted from several days of intense touring and walking, it wasn't easy, but we made it to the top.


Some tours think you're on "vacation" and you want to be bused around everywhere like royalty.
Not the Warriors of Legend Tour! We make you work to get where you're going!

We were greeted to a great reward for all our efforts climbing the hills; a fantastic view from Yokohama's foreign cemetery, the place where Naru went for consolation after Nephrite died, and one of the city's most famous landmarks.

From the foreign cemetery, we walked down the street to "Port View Park," and enjoyed the view of Yokohama Bay as well as Yokohama Bridge.

From this park we walked back down the bluffs, coming to yet another park, the 'foot of the mountain park.'

Apart from enjoying Yokohama bay, next to which the park is located, we had one goal in mind with our brief stop in this park: the second statue of Kimi-chan, the Yokohama Statue of the Girl in Red Shoes. There are four statues of Kimi in Japan, and with this we'd collected two of the four.

Unfortunately the other two statues are located considerably further away, but two out of four isn't bad.

After seeing Kimi, we headed to our final stop in Yokohama, the city's most famous attraction (which also appeared in an episode of the Sailor Moon anime): Yokohama Chinatown.

The agreement with Chinatown was supposed to be that everyone had a half hour to do whatever they liked. I had a Chinese smoothie place that I always went to when I was there, and said that anyone who was interested was welcome to follow. In the end, almost everyone ended up following.

Their specialty is a strawberry smoothie with jelly at the bottom and frozen strawberries on the top. It's really, really good. We had entertainment by way of Yosenex, who came prepared with a variety of series goods.


Gaijin rushing a Chinese smoothie place


Talking Sailor Moon mapping while drinking smoothies

As you can see from the above picture, Yosenex had brought a bunch of his toys with him, to the amusement of some Japanese who stood nearby commenting on it. He also received calls from several senshi on his Luna henshin phone, to the amusement of everyone.

We left Chinatown and arrived back at the nearby train station with a decision to make: should we head straight back to Shinjuku and go to dinner, or should we go to the next stop on our schedule, the Landmark Tower. We'd done so much walking and it was already nearing 6pm, so the group was split. Exactly down the middle, in fact.

The only one who hadn't voted was myself, and I told them the following: I love tall buildings, so we're going up the tower.


The Landmark Tower

We crammed into a crowded train and rode two stops toward the Landmark Tower, the tallest building in Japan. To go up the tower you take an "egg-shaped" elevator that shoots you up at incredible speeds; from the first floor to the 69th took about 14 seconds.


Riding a horizontal escalator toward the tower building


Watching the "elevator speed" meter rise higher and higher


The elevator goes dark and a skyscape lights up on the ceiling

From the observation deck of the Landmark Tower we were treated to a great view of Yokohama, as well as a nice Sailor Moon-related sight: the Minato Mirai 21 area that Usagi and Minako went to in an episode of the live action (PGSM) series.


Looking out the tower


Minato Mirai 21

After we'd drunk in enough of the view, we headed back down and took the train back to Shinjuku, from which we'd come and gone already several times that day. This time, though, we'd come to stay. Shinjuku was the object of our eye that evening, and it was where the restaurant we had reservations at was located.

At Shinjuku station, the largest in the world with over two million travelers going through it daily, I talked about the history of the station and the land of Shinjuku, and told the story of the owaiya, the night soil salesmen, which ended the day's touring on what I felt was an appropriate note.

We then headed to Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho. Anyone who knows about Tokyo may be wondering why we were going with a tourist group to Kabuki-cho, the city's most famous red light district. Well, that's where the restaurant was- I wanted everyone on the tour to be able to come home and tell friends and family with a grin that they'd spent an evening in Kabuki-cho.

The final night's dinner was at a traditional  Japanese seafood restaurant. We took off our shoes and prepared ourselves for king crab, freshly prepared sashimi, and more. As with all the previous nights, drinks were unlimited, so the sake flowed.

At yet, with all that, we were losing out to some of the boisterous Japanese groups seated near us. Kabuki-cho was tough competition! We couldn't lose!


Arriving in Shinjuku


The lights, crowds, and glorious neon of Shinjuku


The streets of Shinjuku's Kabuki-cho


Fish heads galore

Fish was the name of the game at dinner that night, literally. We Westerners like to play with our food.


Ignatius presents us with Fisheye!


Brant gets up close and personal with the sashimi

We finished dinner, having finally made as much noise (and more of a mess) than our neighbors, and got ready to head home. With that dinner in our stomachs, the tour was finally over, right?

Not in the least!

Read on!

A Funny Thing Happened  On the Way to the Landmark Tower

The train we took from the station near Chinatown to the station near the Landmark Tower was absolutely packed- the type of sardine-can train ride you see in documentaries on Japan. Somehow all 13 of us managed to fit into the train with the other usual riders, but we had to get off after only two stops.

After getting packed in nice and tight, we were concerned about being able to get everyone off the train in time. Everyone seemed to have made it off the train at the right stop, until we realized that Jared was still stuck in there. He'd picked up a lot of stuff in Mandarake, and it seemed that with all that he'd not be able to make it out of the train before the doors closed.

We shouted and shouted, and the train conductor must have heard us, because the train should have closed its doors and continued- but it didn't. After a good minute, a great deal of shouting, and some giggling on the part of Japanese standing on the platforms watching us, everything worked out fine. Jared made it out in time.

Statue Thumping

Being a Japanese history major, I couldn't help myself when we passed by this statue in the foot of the mountain park. It's a statue dedicated to the Zangiri, the Western haircut fashionable during Japan's early modernization period. I did an impromptu lecture on the connection between haircuts and modernity in Japan; Yokohama had the first barbershop that offered the Zangiri haircut, and the statue is commemorating this. They used to say that if you knock someone wearing a Zangiri cut on the head, it'd sound back 'Civilization and Enlightenment.'

CONTINUE TO DAY 4 - PART 2


Hans poses with an advertisement for Komatsu Ayaka (PGSM Sailor Venus) in "Weekly Playboy"

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