Monday, September 03, 2007

Nippon 2007: Last Two Days; On to Tokyo

Sunday and Monday, the last two days of the Worldcon in Japan, were activity-packed for the two of us. On Sunday morning, we blew off most of the con programming, and walked around downtown Yokohama. The weather cooperated; the sun showed itself for the first time during our vacation, and the temperature wasn't too hot. During the walk, we noted the cicadas' song. In anime shows set in Japan during the summer, you will inevitably hear the cicadas chirping in the background. It's one thing to hear it in a fictional, animated show; and quite another to hear it in person.

After we got back, we hied ourselves down to the convention center for the masquerade. This was billed as the first westsrn-style convention masquerade ever held in Japan; but in reality the one at AX Tokyo takes that honor.

We scored places in the photographer's area, where we and a few others took pictures of the costumes as they came off stage. Although there were only 15 entries in the masquerade, the costumes showed an impressive amount of variety and ingenuity.

Unfortunately, one of the masquerade contestants was a visibly inebriated British man in a Japanese schoolgirl's outfit. The stage manager of the masquerade and another man escorted the cross-dressed gent into the photography area, apparently with the idea that taking a few photos of him would keep him mollified. Alas, he took the opportunity to swig booze and make obscene commments about a female contestant. (Fortunately, she only spoke Japanese -- or at least acted like she did.)

After the photos, we headed out to a pier for Donburo-con, a dinner cruise on Yokohama Bay for con goers. Our embarkation was delayed by a medical emergency (fortunately not ours), but after that we had a pleasant moonlit cruise around the harbor, sailing under numerous bridges. I stood on the aft observation deck next to artist guest of honor Yoshitaka Amano as seagulls frantically kept pace with the ship, perhaps sensing the food scraps that would soon be theirs.

And after that, we headed over to the Cosmo World amusement park next to the convention center, and rode the humongous Cosmo Clock 21 ferris wheel
, probably one of the biggest in the world. The wheel turns so slowly that it does not stop to take on passengers; folks just step in and out of the moving gondolas. The ride was smooth, and the view spectacular.

Among the other rides we noticed at the park was a shooting ride, where the passengers shot light beams at targets. The poster showed folks riding by a mermaid -- and shooting at her, as she apparently shoots back. ("Wow, look! A mermaid!" "Oh no! She's packin'! Waste her!")

On Monday, we packed up our goodies, checked out of the hotel, grabbed a soba-noodle breakfast at the nearby train station, visited a 100-yen discount store, and hit Worldcon in time for the very emotional closing ceremonies. Then we boarded a bus and headed over to Tokyo. More specifically, our destination was the Prince Hotel in Ikebukuro -- the same place we stayed during our 2004 visit to Tokyo. As soon as we had checked in and dropped our bags off at our room, we grabbed lunch at the same corner cafe where we ate breakfast on our first morning in Japan, over three years ago; and then hit one of the Meccas of anime shopping, the nine-story Animate shop across the street from the hotel. Several hours later, and several yen poorer, we struggled back to the hotel with our heavy bags; grabbed an Italian dinner at the mall attached to the hotel; and then turned in. Whew.

Once again, photos can be found here.

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