Warriors of Legend - Tour
 
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Warriors of Legend Tour Diary - J. Navok
 

DAY 4: 6/29/06-6/30/06 (The Birthday Bash)

After dinner, we split up at Shinjuku station. Hans took the tour group back to the hotel for a break while I rushed to my apartment uptown for a certain special something.

Dinner was finished around 11pm on June 29th. Within an hour, it'd be June 30th.

Tsukino Usagi's birthday.

Like any good fans, we wanted to get her a cake and hold a birthday party. But this was the Warriors of Legend Tour, so we were more than just 'any good fans'.

We ordered a custom cake and wanted to hold a birthday party for Usagi in the center Azabu-Juuban, at Patio Juuban next to the statue of the girl in red shoes. The cake arrived the night before, and Hans had to leave dinner early to be around to accept the special "cool delivery" package.


The birthday cake arrives.
The cookie in the corner says "Happy Birthday Usagi."

The problem: my apartment is considerably far away from Azabu-Juuban and we were running out of time. The trains would stop running by around 12:30 am, and I might not get down there before midnight.

With considerable stress and concern I rushed to my apartment from Shinjuku (no easy task in and of itself), grabbed the cake, and tried to flag down a taxi. The first driver told me flat out that he wouldn't drive me to Azabu-Juuban. The second agreed, and I asked him to step on it.

He got lost.

It took him about an hour to finally arrive in Azabu-Juuban (more time than it'd have potentially took me to take the subway), with a bill of nearly $70 for the ride. (Needless to say, I was not happy about that.)

But I'd made it there just before midnight. Unfortunately, the others hadn't. It would be another fifteen minutes before the cavalry arrived, they having endured their own problems on the way from Shinjuku to Azabu-Juuban. With the clock ticking toward the close of the train system, Hans let them know that they'd probably have to walk back from Azabu-Juuban to the hotel in Shiba-Koen after an already tiring day. Nearly everyone decided to come to the party, though, which says a lot about the group's dedication.

Having a few minutes before they came, I hopped into a nearby convenience store and stocked up on Japanese snacks, candies, soda, plates, and utensils for the birthday bash. The only problem? I'd forgotten to take a cutting knife for the cake, and the only thing close the store was stocking was an "exacto knife." It'd have to do.

With the party preparations purchased and the crew in place, we held Usagi's birthday bash a little after midnight on June 30th, 2006 in Azabu-Juuban, Tokyo, Japan.


Cutting the first slice.

People at the party were commented how awkward it felt to be cutting up Usagi (with an exacto knife). We actually debated what would be the best to slice off first, and settled on the odango, which was given to me.


Brant takes over cake-cutting


Ignatius eats some cake.
(It was really good cake, too!)


Patio Juuban on a cool, summer night. It was pretty loud all around us, actually.
Lots of other stuff going on, which has been unusual for my experience in that area around that time.


Everyone liked the cake a lot

I think the birthday bash was one of my favourite parts of the tour, as I spent much of the tour a nervous wreck trying to make sure we made it all in one piece to each destination and worrying about this or that little thing, and with all that over I was finally able to relax and talk frankly.

We had a great conversation between the tour members, talking about our experiences with the show, about the tour and Japan, and more.

The birthday party, the tour, everything was an experience I'll never forget and hope everyone else enjoyed too. To me, it's truly been one of the top highlights of being a fan of the show for over a decade.

I'd like to thank Hans, who flew to Japan as he'd promised he'd do and helped me organize and run everything. The WoL tour wouldn't have happened without him.

I'd like to thank Yosenex and Brad for spending time with us, and particularly Yosenex for his help on the fourth day.

And I'd really like to thank our ten tour members for signing up and coming to Japan for a whirlwind tour like this. You guys did an amazing job, somehow withstanding four days of heat, walking, exhaustion, jetlag, and most of all, somehow enduring me over those few days, with my constant pushing to get to the next destination on time. We had no problems with people getting lost or in trouble, and I was really proud of that. Thank you for being the best tour group I could have asked for.

COMMENTS FROM TOUR MEMBERS

"Both Alex and I enjoyed our trip to Japan very much. Our feet hurt... but it was very much worth it! I can always rest and recover later. I did want to thank both you and Hans for putting so much effort and work into the trip. I know it was stressful and crazy for your both. But we did have a great time and Alex has thanked me for taking her many times. Those thanks do need to be passed along to both of you because of the hard work that I know went into making the tour a real thing." -Kyleen

"The tour was value packed. We covered so much in such a small time frame. I'm honestly amazed that we were organized enough to have pulled off such a memorable tour of the city. Experiencing the same haunts that the show's characters would have seen in their day to day lives has forever shifted my frame of mind when it comes viewing the series. Everything is just so much more real. I can't help but point at the screen now and go, 'damn, I was there!'" - Jason

"Truly, I don't think I can ever become completely bored/disinterested with this series for the rest of my life, now. There will always be new 'little things' to pop out at me." - Sonnie

"During the tour I felt like I've always lived in the Azabu-juuban area and was just sort of coming back home from a very long visit abroad. Even though that was my first time going there, I couldn't help feeling that Azabu was almost like a second home to me." - Brant

"And I know that itís not Sailor Moon, but lately when Iíve been watching other shows little things just jump out at me. Two big ones were: Naruto, Inoís team was sitting down having Korean BBQ and I thought, wow I actually know what their eating because Iíve eaten it too; and Eureka 7, Iíve been seeing these little exit signs above the doors on the Gekkostate and I know that they arenít just decorations because I saw them all over Tokyo.

Jay, youíve forever changed the way Iíll watch ANY anime again." - Jared

"I had a great time in Japan and the tour. Thanks for your hard work and making the tour run as well as it did... Thanks for the tour, as if it weren't for the tour, I don't think I would have gone in Japan anytime soon." -Ignatius

Cake'd

Usagi's birthday bash was something I conceived of after we'd decided on the final tour dates; it wasn't originally in the cards for the tour because I didn't think we'd be holding it so late in the month. But the later dates ended up working well, since it allowed us to be in Japan for Sailor Moon's birthday.

I figured we'd go around midnight on the final night to Azabu-Juuban and just do a quick birthday celebration with a cake. It wasn't until May, when I started looking for a store to order a birthday cake from, that we hit upon the idea to do a custom cake. I looked through various services, eventually settling on one site who did cakes in the shapes of characters.

I e-mailed the cake-maker, asking for a Sailor Moon-shaped cake. She said she'd never made one of that character before and wasn't sure what it'd look like, but if that was okay with me, she'd make an attempt. I sent a few samples of what I thought it should look like, and she said she started to develop an idea, and was willing to do it.

So I sent in a bank payment (the cake was considerably expensive, plus it had to be sent via "frozen" overnight shipping from another part of Japan) in early June, and left it in her hands. Up until the cake arrived, I actually thought it'd be a full-body thing, not just the head, but I was happy with how it turned out none-the-less.

The cake maker requested we send pictures of us eating the cake and comments and such about it, because she puts it up on her website. But as far as I could tell, she was under the impression that the "Usagi" to whom the cake was dedicated was an actual person (and I don't mean as in the character.)

I kind of wonder what her reaction would be if I sent the picture of who actually ended up eating it, but have ended up not sending anything for the time being.

Regarding the party, I wasn't sure that people would still be awake or have the strength to do it. But more tour members showed up for it than I had expected, especially after we had to announce that people would have to walk back (they ended up taking a taxi) instead of the train. So I was really happy about that.

Naoko-sensei-e

I'm going to be writing a letter (in Japanese) to Naoko soon describing what we did on the tour, and include pictures and all sorts of information about it and who attended. We're also going to put in the package the votive plate that we received from the Hikawa shrine. I don't know how she'll react, but knowing how she collects and loves everything from bootlegged goods to the handmade goods that fans send in, I think she'll really like it.

After the birthday bash was over and we'd seen the last group of tour members to cab, Hans and I stood in Azabu-Juuban wondering what to do next. It was nearing 1:30 in the morning, and I didn't want to pay another $7o for a cab ride. Besides, the two of us were still running off the adrenaline rush of the day and had some energy to burn.

So we started walking. First, down the street, leaving Azabu-Juuban and heading toward TV Asahi and Roppongi Hills. Then we turned the corner onto the main Roppongi street, stopping in a bookstore to check their selection of maps (already hard at work on materials for the second WoL book). We continued into the seedy red-light district, dodging requests to visit this or that club, and made our way down the street to see a couple of series-related sites that Hans had wanted to point out to me.

As it neared 2:30 am we found ourselves near the Tokyo Tower, glowing an eerie orange. I remarked that it seemed like an unreal object, a fitting comment for my mindset at the time.


Standing under the Tokyo Tower in the wee hours of the morning

From the Tokyo Tower we continued, passing by the Mielparque where we assumed all our tour members were already fast asleep, and walking down the road until we were close to Hamamatsu-cho station. Finally, the exhaustion catching up to us, I talked to a taxi driver and asked him if he'd be willing to drive us uptown to my apartment, and how much he'd charge.

$30, he said. We jumped on it.

On the way uptown I spoke to him about my experience with the previous driver. "What a bad taxi driver," he told me, and explained some things about tricks Japanese taxi drivers pulled. I listened with interest, we got to our destination considerably faster than had been the case earlier, and reaching the apartment, Hans and I collapsed into our respective beds.

The Warriors of Legend Tour was finally over.

But the work on our project was far from complete. The tour was just one step in preparing Warriors of Legend 2. We hope to release it by the end of 2006 or sometime in early 2007. Please look forward to it!

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