26th July 2017: Kyoto buses *eyeroll* {Japan, summer 2017}

Someone told me that using Kansai public transport made her appreciate Tokyo trains, and I whole-heartedly agree. I am thankful to the Kyoto [京都] Tourist Office Lady told me the two shrines I had left in the Kyoto Gosha Meguri ~Shi shin Sou Ou No Miyako~ [京都五社めぐり~四神四神相応の京~] would take me a long time, because it allowed me to plan accordingly. Good thing that with a JR Pass you can travel between Osaka and Kyoto in barely half an hour for free.

I went to Matsuno Taisha [松尾大社], but I did not try the famous sake they had because not a drinker here. The shrine was being restored, too, so that took away some of the impressiveness.

After I was back at the station, I travelled back to Osaka [大阪] to get the shuuin at Sumiyoshi Taisha [住吉神社] there.

Then I headed out to Zepp Osaka Bayside for the last of my VAMPS concerts for the time being. There had been no surprises this time, so it was just a “normal” concert without extra adrenaline, which was good for a chance, honestly. I was too sore to jump after the previous day though (≧▽≦).

Note: there is a longer commentary of the VAMPS’s Underworld tour over at SemiRandom.

25th July 2017: Osaka → Shinagawa → Osaka → VAMPS {Japan, summer 2017}

Yeah, well. That day, I had to go to Tokyo and and pick up my VAMPS at Zepp Osaka Bayside because there had been a slight mess up. But in the end everything resulted fine and I was able to attend the concert. Let’s try to break it down.

Through the mostly-sleepless night I had booked another hotel, so I just picked up my things, returned the keys and did not even try to cancel the other nights. I was just happy to get out of there. I took a shinkansen to Tokyo, where I retrieved my ticket, had lunch with B****, and jumped on a train back. I checked in my new hotel – I’ve never felt this happy about a boring hotel – and had a shower. Then I headed off to the venue, Zepp Osaka Bayside.

After the hotel stress and not having slept much that night – the atmosphere was super creepy – and having to do the Osaka-Tokyo round trip, the concert felt super-cathartic, and one of the most tension-releasing ones I’ve ever attended, even with an album I’m not the biggest fan of. Furthermore, there was a very lovely The Jolly Roger, one of my favourite songs.

On my way back I saw Tsūtenkaku [通天閣] lit up (but I seriously had no energy to climb it) and bought yummy, yummy salmon at a random conbini before I bunked down in my nice, safe hotel in Shinsekai [新世界].

Note: there is a longer commentary of the VAMPS’s Underworld tour over at SemiRandom.

16th July 2017: Kumamoto and VAMPS {Japan, summer 2017}

In the morning we headed off to get to know Kumamoto [熊本] a little. The first stop was Honmyou-ji [肥後 本妙寺], a temple in outskirts (with a tram stop conveniently placed at the end of the street). It is a temple that suffered a lot of damage in the 2016 earthquake and it’s in process of being rebuilt. A double staircase (176 steps) leads up from the main door to the main building. In-between the two sets of stairs there is a line of stone lanterns contributed by believers. Most of them, however collapsed in the quake, and that’s not the only reminder. I climbed up to the top of the hill (300 steps) to the grave of Katō Kiyomasa, the daimyo of Kumamoto who built the castle.

After that I walked around town for a while and checked out the B.9 V1 Live house, the venue where the concert was going to be held, and bought some goods. VAMPS brought their act Underworld to Kumamoto as a sort of improvisation, to “cheer the town up” after the earthquake. To be honest, Underworld is not my favourite VAMPS album, because the music reminds me of a lot of American hard-rock bands. Not that I dislike them, but in my head the songs sound like “someone else’s”. It is not a bad album but… it feels weak, and that shows in the concerts, in my opinion. However, they’re still fun.

After the concert and watching the departure of the band, we had dinner with a friend and then D****e and I walked around Kumamoto’s castle park, Kumamoto-jo Koen [熊本城公園] at night to eat ice cream and see the actual castle, Kumamoto-jo [熊本城].

Note: there is a longer commentary of the VAMPS’s Underworld tour over at SemiRandom.

15th July 2017: 1,176.2 km with a stop {Japan, summer 2017}

Shinkansen are a wonderful invention (although the air-con regulation could use some work). D****e and I jumped on one to go to Nagoya [名古屋] from Yokohama at around 8.20. We were to be at Zepp Nagoya at 11:00 for the VAMPARK that was held there, which was a sort of exclusive film documentary of the previous year’s activities.

After the VAMPARK and a forgettable lunch at an Indian restaurant in Nagoya station D****e headed to the airport and I continued on another shinkansen to head off to Kumamoto, where we had a concert the following day. This was because I had a RailPass but for her flying was cheaper.

In the end, it took me about 5 hours 20 minutes on trains from Yokohama to Kumamoto [熊本] in three different shinkansen. Once in Kumamoto, I got to meet the city’s mascot, Kumamon, a huge friendly black bear.

I had to invest a bit until I figured out the tram system, and that made it that – funnily enough – both D****e and I arrived at our hotel within 10 minutes of each other. After checking in we headed off to have a bite with a bunch of VAMPS fan friends at a freezing izakaya where I tried raw horse (basashi [馬刺し]) for the first time o.o.

Note: there is a complete commentary of the VAMPARK event at SemiRandom.

28th July 2016: Ueno + VAMPS Replay {Japan, summer 2016}

As the time to leave drew near, I felt a bit sad this morning (T^T). However, I did not let myself be dragged by it, so I forced myself out of the apartment to do things, and these things involved Ueno Kōen [野公園].

First I headed off to Ueno Tōshō-gū [上野東照宮], which I had not found open last year when I was there, because there was a matsuri, or something, I don’t really remember. Then I found out about the two dragons, the ascending dragon and the descending dragon, who come to drink at the pond at night. It is a very nice imaginary. Also, the shrine is really cool. It has a bit of a Chinese style, and is decorated with a gold layer. The inner fence shows animals of the sea and the wind, making it a unique shrine. I really liked it a lot.

Then I found the Ueno Daibutsu [上野大仏], the Great Buddha Pagoda, which I had missed before – one of the things I love about Ueno is that whenever I go I find something new, yay. Most of the Ueno Daibutsu was melted for metal during WWII.

Gojoten Jinja [五條天神社] is really cool too, but I decided to leave getting its seal for another time. Next time.

I walked by Shinobazu no Ike [不忍池], the Pond in Ueno.

Finally, I went to the museum of Shitamachi of Customs, Shitamachi Fūzoku Shiryōkan [下町風俗資料館], where they keep some old houses from the years after the great Kanto Earthquake. A bunch (hundreds) of houses were built there to make sure that the population was housed. The museum shows how life was those few first years, and how people lived and organised themselves. There are a few items, houses, photographies and so. The second floor is hands-on, with games and pastimes and so. There was a very nice guide there and she explained a lot of things to me.

Later I went to class (I found another Gyoza Franchise on my way back to the station) and then I skidded out because I had to get to Yoyogi National Stadium, Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo [国立 代々木 競技場], in Yoyogi [代々木]. I was attending the Sukkiri Superlive in order to see VAMPS one more time before heading off back home. All in all, a very complete day that ended up with a bang – when I should have been studying Japanese to be honest ^^;;

Note: you can read more about the convert over at SemiRandom.

27th July 2016: I could not miss an aquarium {Japan, summer 2016}

I mean, visiting aquariums is like a second nature to me when I’m in Japan. It seems that each has something that I really love but had not realised it before.

In this case I headed off to Tokyo Sea Life Park – Kasairinkai Suizokukan [葛西臨海水族館] in the namesake park, Kasairinkai Koen [葛西臨海公園], in Edogawa [江戸川], especially famous for keeping a tank of yellowfin tuna (all of which died unexpectedly last year and had been replaced though) <・ )))><<.

The aquarium is mostly an underground complex, accessible through the main dome in the middle of the park. During my visit it was full of parents with young children. For some reason, Japanese people believe that children must love fish? I don’t really understand… ~(・・?))

Before class I went to Tokyo Daijingu [東京大神宮] in Iidabashi [飯田橋], which is surprisingly quite small, and I think it has something to do with finding love?

At night I met with my new friend M. to try to find a cat café we were interested in and somehow did not manage to find, but we turned that into dinner and karaoke – Joysound, to watch the VAMPS special message v(^_^v)♪.

24th July 2016: I can Osaka (ish), Haido can’t Japanese {Japan, summer 2016}

Before going to the concert I headed over to Shitennoji to pay a visit to the complex. Before that I had a great view of the Tsutenkaku Tower [通天閣].

Shitennoji [四天王寺] was as cool as I remembered it, but I did not find the place to get my seals, which I guess just means that I’ll have to come back. Damn it (^_~)

I headed off towards Namba Hatch again, as there was a second VAMPS concert happening, and I tried to find a coinlocker in the Namba station area, basically at the end of the world, and on my way back I got the wrong turn. That is why you get to see a whale sculpture.

I found myself a friendly katsu place and this time I really enjoyed my meal – I would have gotten takoyaki but I did not think it would have lasted enough.

The concert had a similar set list to the one the day before, but it was different enough to make the experience different. Also, it was weird to have seats and not be in the arena – I had a seated ticket for the second floor –, though I can’t say it was a bad experience – I might have to consider it from now on. One of the funniest points of the concert though was that Hyde was having a bad Japanese day, and he kept tripping over his own words for some reason. After the concert was over I headed back to the hotel and there was gyoza from 7/11 for dinner because I was ravenous. And I slept like the dead.

Note: You can read all about the 23rd and 24th of July concerts over at SemiRandom

23rd July 2016: My two fandoms {Japan, summer 2016}

While most people would not consider that a fandom, the truth is that my yokai research and related stuff is insanely fun, so I guess it is fair to call it that. Thus I headed out to visit Abeno Jinja [阿部野神社], which stands at the birthplace of Abe no Seimei. Luckily in the same metro line I had to take to go to the VAMPS‘ concert at Namba Hatch.

I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but Japan had unified IC cards, so now you can use any card in most major cities, which is bloody awesome. On my way back, I checked the Zepp Osaka, basically because I had a mental slip and was confused about the place for a second, and when I saw ‘Zepp this way’ I just felt like following directions.

Between goods and concert start, however, there was katsu, which was really yummy even if the waiter was rather unwelcoming. If not for the fact that she would have been happy I would have left the restaurant. Sometimes I just feel sad that Japan does not do tips, I would have made the leaving one-penny statement.

When it was finally time for the concert, all the woes went away though, and I had a lot of fun.

Note: You can read all about the 23rd and 24th of July concerts over at SemiRandom

29th August 2015: a-nation day (Ajinomoto Stadium) {Japan, summer 2015}

I woke up early that morning to do laundry… No, wait, that was the plan XD In the end we were not able to wake up early as we arrived super late the night before as we were doing the VAMPS Karaoke Booth. A friend had gotten D****e and myself a-nation Fes. tickets and we were baffled to find out that they were nothing less than Arena Tickets. E-block, which was before mid-stadium, which in Japan is super lucky. She ended up in block A, which is epic, but hey, her tickets, she had the right to choose her best seats ^^

So off we went to Ajinomoto Stadium [味の素スタジアム] in Chōfu [調布]. This time, we were not going to a concert, but a real music festival. Our main interest was VAMPS, but there was another band, Golden Bomber, that I also kind of like – I try not to like them too much though, because in general they are very expensive. It was really interesting to see the different fandoms and their reactions to the different bands. The weather was rainy on an off and umbrellas were not allowed, but raincoats helped us have a good time overall.

Note: there is a longer commentary of the whole festival over at SemiRandom

28th August 2015: Matsushima and Sendai {Japan, summer 2015}

The day started in Matsushima [松島], the Pine Islands, where there are… lots of pines. And temples. We paid the small fee to cross the bridge to the biggest island, Oshima [雄島] and headed off there, to just walk around it. There were pines and other trees, but I am no tree expert, so… I could identify the pines… However, there were nice views and it was a good way to start the morning, even if I was not feeling 100%, as I had a small accident coming out of the station that ended up with me sprawled on the floor. Not fun.

This bridge survived March 11, although a smaller similar one was destroyed. In general, the area was quite spared by the tsunami.

View from Oshima into the bay:

After the main island, we visited a few of the temples around. First, Zuigan-ji [瑞巌寺], which has some really cool cave altars.

Entsuin [円通院] – Mausoleum of Date Mitsumune.

Back in Sendai, our first stop was the combini Ōsaki Hachimangū [大崎八幡宮], also known as the Black Shrine, as it was supposedly erected to enshrine the kami of war. It was ordered by Date Masamune, who was a very important figure in the history of feudal Sendai.

Though we did not make it to Date’s mausoleum, we did see the sculpture erected in his honour up on the ruins of Aoba-jō [青葉城]. Here are the Date Masamune memorial on the ruins of Aoba Castle

View of Sendai from Aoba Castle:

Afterwards, we headed back to the station as we had to catch the 19.30 train, since we had an appointment in Ginza [銀座] at 22.00. We had a reservation for VAMPS Joysound special karaoke booth, which was normal karaoke, but in a room decorated with VAMPS stuff and a special video, along with some themed drinks. Just one of those cute fandom money-drainers activities.

Note: there’s a longer commentary of the karaoke experience over at SemiRandom.

22nd & 23rd August 2015: VAMPS XV Beast Party {Japan, summer 2015}

Early on Saturday morning we headed off to Makuhari [幕張] in Chiba [千葉] for the VAMPS Beast Party, which took place that weekend. This is a festival-style concert and you are supposed to stay there the whole day having fun and doing stuff. There are games and food stalls, and maybe when it is near a beach it can be entertaining enough, but for me it did not feel like something I would like to repeat.

The concerts themselves were not bad, but the experience itself was rather lacking – maybe my expectations were too high, and I was very far away from the stage (my tickets were round de 8000 entry order). I also got stuck with people I did not know for for a good part of the time, and my Japanese skills did not allow for much communication, so it became a pretty uncomfortable couple of days, which did not help much.

Note: There is a longer commentary of the concert over at SemiRandom.

3rd – 5th July 2015: Japan Expo in Paris (France)

I went back to France rather unexpectedly because VAMPS announced an appearance at Japan Expo, a Japanese Culture convention held in Parc des Expositions de Paris-Nord Villepinte. I flew in on Friday and as I had time, I decided to go to the Louvre museum. I discovered the automatic ticket selling machine, so my queue was unexpectedly short once I was out of the security waiting area. I geeked out to my heart’s content and I reflected on how I had got used to geeking out alone and how comfortable I felt compared to my first time alone in a museum, back in the Dark Ages when I was 14.

The following day I met up with some friends at the Japan Expo for the VAMPS concert act that had been organised. Japan Expo is one of the biggest European conventions about manga, anime, Japanese culture and everything in between, including concerts, food stalls, merchandising, and so on. The concert in itself was all right – one of the shortest ones I’ve attended, but in the end it was “just” an act in something bigger. I wish they had talked about the Sunday autograph possibilities earlier, though, because I could not attend due to my flight being in the morning.

Note: You can read a longer commentary of the concert over at SemiRandom.

19th August 2014: Change of plans {Japan, summer 2014}

My day in Kansai was yet another carefully laid out plan, only darkened by a 90% chance of rain in Nara, where I was going to head out in the afternoon. Morning in Fushimi Inari Taisha, afternoon in Nara, maybe heading to Osaka in the evening to eat takoyaki in Namba. However, just before heading off I checked my emails only to find one by D****e telling me about an even which was going to happen in Tokyo that evening – a VAMPS’ secret live.

Hyde had been mentioning a ‘secret’ with a number code which turned out to be the event that was being organised, timing up with the release of VAMPS’ latest single. Having discarded trying for their interviews in Osaka on the 21st. It was a tough decision, because it meant losing one hotel night – coming back to Kyoto would be a rough 5 hours the day before, and that night would be impossible.

In the end, knowing that whatever I chose I would be missing out on something I really wanted to do, I decided to go with what could not be repeated – the VAMPS concert.

That still left me morning and eawrly afternoon in Kyoto [京都], so I dashed towards Fushimi Inari Taisha [伏見稲荷大社]. I was rather amused to find that some torii were under repair. I spent two hours in the Inari Forest and Mountain, but once again I did not make it to the top – it was just too hot. I did walk along some forgotten paths and was alone for a good 40 minutes or so, which was amazing. One day I have to try this either at dawn or in winter.

Before heading back to Tokyo I wanted to do something else, so I headed up to Kiyomizudera [清水寺], the Temple of Pure water, which was sadly being renovated. Never the less, I could come in and see most of the gardens and Pagoda and stand on the balcony. There were dozens of wind-bells and despite the rumble of people it was magical.

After that I went back to the hotel, showered, changed and headed off to Odaiba [お台場] to the VAMPS Mezamashi Secret live, that introduced two new songs – one of which I enjoyed a lot.

Note: there is a bit more on the VAMPS concert over at SemiRandom.

28th & 29th March 2014: London (England, Great Britain) for VAMPS

A friend convinced me to attend this VAMPS concert in London by paying for the VIP upgrade in advance. I took a red-eye flight on Saturday morning to Gatwick and went directly to Camden, where the venue, Koko live house, stood.

Aside from the run to the hotel, I spent most of the day in the queue, which was rewarded when I got an autograph from HYDE himself on the Sex Blood Rock ‘n’ Roll album.

It was probably due to the high of the autograph, but this is one of the best concerts that I’ve ever attended, with lots of amazing songs, and I had a great time. I did not freeze during the Meet and Greet, and I shook hands with both members, mumbled something along the lines of “thanks for the autograph” to Hyde and “thanks for the pick” to K.A.Z, referring to the one I got in Barcelona. Then I bounced off the evening with most of the songs.

The next morning my friend went off to the airport first thing in the morning. I was not travelling back till the evening, so I took the chance to… Well, first things first, I took the chance to get myself to a Costa Coffee and get a vanilla latte.

Then I took the underground towards the end of the world, or more precisely the end of the Jubilee line – to North Greenwich. I took the O2 Arena exit, to say hi the IndigO2, where I had been once back in 2012 to attend the L’Arc~en~Ciel World Tour, the first and only time I’ve ever seen them.

I left the O2 Arena behind, and walked about 20 minutes towards the Cutty Sark, a tea clipper built in Dumbarton in 1869. It took eight trips to China to trade for tea and other items. Its history involved mutinee, murder, trampling of cargo and travels to Asia and Australia. In the 1880s it was considered one of the fastest ships if not the fastest sailing the ocean.

The Cutty Sark’s figurehead is the witch Nannie Dee, created by Robert Burns – in the poem a man falls in… love or lust… with a witch during a coven meeting that he’s spying, and the witch chases him away, getting away with the tail of his horse, that you can see in her hand.

The steam engines made sail-ships obsolete, but the Cutty Sark was active until the 1950s, when it was rammed by another ship on the Thames. In 1954 it was moved to a custom-dock in Greenwich to become a museum.

I wanted to see the exhibition inside, which turned out out be about Chinese tea and the history of the ship, which was not unexpected. I bought a pet-rat souvenir plush because I found it adorable. In 2007 it was ravaged by a fire, and extensive rebuilding works were undertaken, which included building a new support of glass and steel that would also become the new visitor centre when the museum reopened in 2012 (when I was there in 2012 it was not yet open. I guess this was an itch I had to scratch).

Oh, and by the way… here’s the binnacle!

I walked back towards the underground and by the Thames riverbank.

There stands the Old Royal Naval College, a UNESCO World Heritage site build between 1696 and 1712 – it was originally conceived as a hospital and it became the Royal Naval College in 1873.

Continuing on the riverbank, you can see the floodgates in the background.

I paid my respect to Admiral Lord Nelson Statue and went on.

I had to take a bus at Victoria Coach Station to go to the airport, and I got a very nice tour of the city, with the Big Ben and Houses of Parliament

… the London Eye

… and the Tower of London.

Once at the airport, I had some Yo!Sushi dinner – not the best, but hey I take sushi wherever I can find it because yay sushi.

Note: There is a longer commentary of the concert up on SemiRandom.

28th & 29th September 2013: Barcelona (Spain), VAMPS, and friends

I had just started a new job so getting to Barcelona for the Saturday concert had to be undertaken on that same day. I missed all VAMPS members and supporting musicians coming in and signing autographs but I got a good place as someone had been “saving” my spot at the queue. I have some awesome friends ^^

This was unfortunately a rather empty concert, even if a fun one. Hyde tried his best at Spanish, which was not too good to be honest, but kudos for trying. The setlist had a couple of my favourite songs, so that was a plus. I also managed to catch one of KAZ’s picks, and got one of the bunch that bassist Ju-ken’s left on stage!

I slept over at a friend’s house, and “sleep” means we stayed up talking until the wee hours of the morning, but then I was meeting up yet another friend for breakfast. We went to the Parc de la Ciutadella [Park of the Citadel], which features a… mammoth and a really nice fountain / pond.

Afterwards we went to the area of the harbour, Puerto de Barcelona (harbour), to have something to drink.

Finally, we all got together to have lunch in a Japanese restaurant before I headed back off to the station to head back home and work on Monday.

Note: There is a longer commentary of the concert up on SemiRandom.

3rd July 2013: Tsutaya, Manatsu and Odaiba (yes, again) {Japan, summer 2013}

Being the fanby I am, I wanted GACKT’s Best of the Best CD set, the special pack, and I headed for Shibuya [渋谷] first thing in the morning for it. After a successful buying, I headed off for TOHO Cinemas to watch the Galileo movie, Manatsu no Houteishiki. Fortunately enough, it was not Suspect X, so not depressing at all (don’t get me wrong, Suspect X was awesome, but it still left me heart-wrenched XDDD)

galileo-manatsu_poster

After that there was an Odaiba trip, changing into the yukata and attending the VAMPS Tanabata festival. The idea of the Tanabata Event was to make a sort of “summer festival” and you had to attend in yukata – I bought one I did not feel comfortable in, and I got quite a few stares and felt the most unwelcome I’ve ever felt in anything related to J-rock. It was most a talk show than anything else and after the event was over I did get to meet very nice fans… so it was a bit on the strange side, all things considered.

After that there was purikura and exhaustion XD. Very, very fanbying day, right? XD At first I felt a bit bad that there was nothing “cultural” to be done that day, but after all everything I did could only be done in Japan so I figured out that it was all right ^^

Note: you can read a longer commentary on the whole Tanabata event over at SemiRandom

2nd July 2013: Yet more Odaiba, and Ueno Zoo {Japan, summer 2013}

Once more I headed out to Odaiba [お台場], this time to try and get tickets to the VAMPS Tabata Event and buy the single. The whole idea was that if you bought a CD you got entered into a lottery for a ticket to attend the Tanabata Event the following day. If you bought the three versions of the CD, you also got a poster. They were expecting a huge crowd, but it turned out that crowds of fans on a weekday morning… It was all a bit chaotic because… there were two few people. One can expect staff to get overwhelmed, but this was totally… underwhelming for them, and they did not know what to do about it.

I finally managed to get tickets to ensure my and my friend D****e after the third or fourth round. Once that was successfully taken care of, I went to Fuji TV to get myself some Galileo merch, just because I could, and rode back downtown Tokyo to do one of those things I would ever like to do if I had some time to spare – Ueno Zoo, Ueno Dobutsu Koen [上野動物園].

The iconic image of Ueno Zoo is any of their Giant Pandas. Here’s one getting stuffed:

A secretary bird, which made me remember an old movie and greatly amused me:

And a friendly and bored Hokkaido bear which came to say hello at the glass:

Aside from the animals (I’ll spare you more pics, though I have an amazing close-up of the polar bear), Ueno zoo holds the pagoda of the former Kan-eiji Temple:

After the zoo was closed, I headed for Shibuya [渋谷] where we had scheduled a meeting at the Hachiko Memorial Statue (one of those things you should do in Tokyo at least once), the Chūkenhachikō-zō [忠犬ハチ公像].

Meeting successfully achieved, dinner was acquired in a goats cafe, Sakuragaoka Cafe. Then the goats got dinner too.

Note: There is a longer commentary of the whole Tanabata Event over at SemiRandom

30th June 2013: Odaiba (revisited) {Japan, summer 2013}

Once again heading to Odaiba [お台場] we lined for a couple of hours to get access to VAMPARK same-day tickets. I was honestly expecting something a bit more impressive than a 20-minute movie, crane games, and pictures, but the company made it fun. There was cute Chupacabra merch to be bought, too.

Chupacabra was designed by Hyde and looks like this. It is just too cute:

After that there was okonomiyaki and we headed off to Madame Tussauds Tokyo. Let me be honest here, the main goal of the event was finding Yoshiki in there, and of course there were pics. Quite a few (≧▽≦)

Then we went for a stroll on the beach to see the original reason why the island was built in the first place. Odaiba is an artificial island that was built to protect Tokyo from Admiral Perry’s ships as a daiba [台場], a battery of cannons. There were several fortifications around Tokyo bay, the Tokyo-wan yosai [東京湾要塞]. The battery we saw in Odaiba is the third one that built – although there was little left.

On our way back, as the sun set, we had some amazing views of Rainbow Bridge [レインボーブリッジ].

28th June 2013: Odaiba {Japan, summer 2013}

Odaiba [お台場] is big and quite empty actually, which can give off a bit of an eerie feeling after bee-hive-like Tokyo. It however has beach (as in duh, it is an island, albeit an artificial one) and some awesome sights, found after Google Maps trolled me sending me on a scenic route ¬.¬

After the Marine Science Museum seemed to be 90% closed, I headed off to the Miraikan [日本科学未来館] (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation), which was unfortunately a bit disappointing. Works well for the regular peer (and awesome for kids) but when you are a bit knowledgeable in science, it comes… short. Lots of English, though, so that was at least good.

This is what I liked the most about the exhibition, a little corner on abyssal ocean info, including a bit of a hydrothermal vent and some colourless abyssal crabs:

I headed to the Diver City Mall for VAMPS 2013 Live concert which was to be held in the the Zepp Diver City later in the evening. I queued for about an hour to buy some goods, and when that was done, I walked around. The shopping centre has an 1:1 Gundam reproduction near its main entrance, which I did not know about:

The concert was really fun, as VAMPS concerts tend to be. There were rocky-fast songs and some ballads, even some nostalgic ones from the time Hyde was working solo. I enjoyed second half best, but all in all it was a good, fun concert, even if a painful one, as my right hip did not approve of the day’s effort. There is a longer comment of the concert on SemiRandom. After the concert we went off the long way home, which involved several train changes drenched in sweat. Ew XD.

17th July 2012: The Sword and the Vampire {Japan, summer 2012}

After a failed shopping trip to Shibuya [渋谷] and Ikebukuro [池袋] looking for an adaptor for D****e’s WiMax who fell victim of the Sakaki clumsiness, on the 17th I visited the Japan Sword Museum / Tōken hakubutsukan [刀剣博物館], where they’ve got the tightest security ever. Pictures were not allowed and there was a security guy checking on you and a bunch of cameras following your every move. Impossible to sneak them ^^”

Afterwards I took a rest in preparation of what was to come in the evening. Since I was feeling kind of down I decided to head off to Shibuya’s Book Off for a self-spoiling or twenty before going to pick up D****e at her workplace with a change of clothes.

We took the Yurikamome Line to Odaiba [お台場] and the Zepp Tokyo where we were attending VAMPS live concert “Beast at the Beach”. It was a very cool thing to go over the Rainbow Bridge [レインボーブリッジ], another of CLAMP Tokyo landmarks.

VAMPS’ vocalist, Hyde, is one of my favourite Japanese singers, and I went to see him with his “main” band in London back in April. Thus, this was the second time for me seeing Hyde in half a year, which is fun because not long ago I thought I’d never manage to see him XD

Although VAMPS is Hyde’s second(ary) band, but that does not mean he is any less energetic or enthusiastic about it. The music is fast and catchy, and Hyde had a blast during the lives. That man was born to be on stage, I swear. However – he is too short! Really, people, give him a higher spotlight! We want to see him!

We really patted his ego last night, and there were some very funny moments when he messed up his emcee. He climbed up onto the second floor for a few minutes and slammed his guitar there, having one hell of a blast. I was surprised that K.A.Z., the other main, barely got any attention at all, which is strange considering that he is good at what he does and rather easy on the eyes. The light effects were awesome, starting by the clock projected on the curtains waiting to signal the kick off at 6:66 pm (19h 06mins) to which there was countdown, of course. Sound quality was much better than any of the European concerts I’ve attended. Hyde had a blast, I did too and all was good with the world. Oh, and we toasted to Frank’s happy birthday with… water XD Expensive water though!!

It was all in all a very fun concert, with powerful songs balanced with well-placed ballads that made the mix work really well. The only downside was my aching feet, and a big-headed girl in front of me XD.

Afterwards there was purikura and very sore feet and a couple of cramps, but it was so. Damn. Worth. It. And I didn’t feel nearly as sore as after the LARUKU con in London.

Now, where the hell is Hyde’s lamb, people?

Note: There is a longer comment of the concert at SemiRandom.