Wacky Japanese Hijinks

or how I stopped being afraid and learned to love Japan

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In which fun and sunstroke is had by all

A few days ago, I went with my mother and sister to Tokyo Disney. I find it strange that many people haven't heard of or do not know about Tokyo Disney. If you've not gotten the hint from my talks about the contents of UFO catchers and the like -- Disney is super-popular here. It is almost entirely due to Disney that anime began in Japan. Those big eyes? They're based on the big eyes of early Disney characters like Alice. Osamu Tezuka may have been the father of Japanese animation, but he was heavily influenced by Disney and said as much at many opportunities.

So, seeing as Disney is very popular in Japan (with Pooh easily being the most popular and most widely-seen of any animated character, Japanese or Western) Tokyo Disney is equally popular. Big date place actually. Thus, it is big and is full of the impressive and cool shit. First day was the Magic Kingdom. I don't have many pics of it because it was basically the same as every other incarnation thereof. There was an additional themed area in the form of "Toontown" from Roger Rabbit; but otherwise it was mostly the same. Cinderella's castle contains a walk-thru ride in which can be seen the only Disney park incarnation of The Horned King from The Black Cauldron that I know of. Also, Fantasyland contains an extra ride called Pooh's Honey Hunt. The latter is a brand new ride. Very technologically advanced. Great animatronics. Each car contains 4 riders and is individually computer controlled and self-propelled. No track. Some very clever moments, such as a room in which is projected an animated tigger who bounces, shaking the floor so that your car seems to bounce too, though it's mostly an illusion. Mostly, the main difference of Tokyo Disney's Magic Kingdom is all the Japanese people. Seeing girls in yukata with Pooh and Tigger ears on, or standing in a ghost town in the old west was very incongruous.

FYI -- lots of Japanese speech in the rides, but less than I'd expected. In most rides, the narration has been translated to Japanese, but the various characters' speech and the songs are still in English. The Tiki Room is an exception as the entire show had to be re-recorded in Japanese. Interestingly enough, it's not just a translation but a whole new show with different songs like "Fever." Fever sounds pretty cool in Japanese. Another exception is Pooh's Honey Hunt. It exists only in Japan and so is entirely in Japanese. But the rest, like Pirates of the Caribbean are in English except for Narration. Too bad. I kinda wanted to hear it in Japanese.

"ヨウホウ、ヨウホウ、海賊の生活はおれのために。" Or somesuch.

One additional very different thing about this Disney is how affordable things are. The souveniers and food are downright cheap compared to the other parks. We had an amazing three-course dinner in a themed, sit-down restaurant for about $50 for 3 people. It would be near double that in America. Especially considering that the food was excellent and very attractive. We had topped off the meal with an Unbirthday cake and all was well. I also picked up some pirate-y props for renn-fest, including some amazingly realistic toy fintlock pistols. I will mail them home so I do not get stopped at the airport.

Oh, btw. The spaceship in Tomorrowland still says "USA." That's kind of amusing.

The second day we went to Tokyo Disney Sea. Very cool. This is one of the newest Disney parks and it really shows. There's so much attention to design and detail. Much like Euro Disney, there is more emphasis on themed areas to explore than actual rides. But there are, indeed, rides a'plenty. And they're much cooler for the addition of the detailed surroundings. When you enter Disney Sea from the monorail station, the first thing you see is a moderately interesting fountain. This is only the courtyard, however. The real meat lies further in. To enter the park proper, you must pass through an archway, atop which is situated the hotel Miracosta -- a hotel actually INSIDE the real park. That's just too cool. Once you pass through the arch, you are assulted by the primary feature of Disney Sea. The Magic Kingdom has Cinderella's Castle. Epcot has that big Sphere Thingy. Disney sea has a motherfucking VOLCANO! An ACTIVE volcano that periodically BURSTS INTO FUCKING FLAME! Well, it was obvious where we had to go first! Reene accompanied us on the second day. So, when we passed by a Spanish Galleon on our way, The Dread Pirate Bunny had to stop to inspect the cannon and the hold. With such pleasantries out of the way, we entered the volcano crater. Turns out that it's actually a full-scale recreation of Mysterious Island of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea fame replete with the Nautilus docked nearby. Coming out of the top of the volcano is a roller coaster ride of sorts that is themed by Journey to the Center of the Earth. The crater itself contains a 20,000 Leagues ride. The former is moderately lame, but culminates with an attack by a 20' tall lava monster (which Reene remains adamant in calling a Balrog). The 20,000 Leagues ride is very different from the Fantasyland ones from other Disney parks. It's a very cramped, dark, and claustrophobic rail ride that is much more impressive than the other parks' version.

The rest of the park is divided up into the futuristic Port Discovery which actually opens out onto Tokyo Bay, The Mediterrenean Shore (which includes incredibly accurate reproductions of Venice, cappuccino popcorn [?!!!], gondoliers, and vinyards with REAL GRAPES), an Aladdin-themed Agrabah in The Arabian Coast, and The Lost Delta which houses only one Indiana Jones-themed ride. The ride also exists in California, but the stepped pyramid in which it is housed in Disney Sea is much more impressive. I have, however, neglected to mention the most disturbing section of the park -- The American Waterfront. This is easily the largest section by nearly double any other part. It contains a painfully accurate reproduction of Cape Cod as well as a rather unnerving early-20th-century New York. The latter is replete with full-size ocean-liners in the harbor, a New York Deli (serving potato and edamame salad), an elevated trolley, steaming manholes, broadway, yellow cabs, and a pitifully small Hudson River bridge. As for Cape Cod, the illusion was only broken when you changed angles and saw the volcano looming above the church. Of course, this was immediately behind me as I took that Hudson River Bridge pic.

All in all, it was very interesting and fun, if horrendously hot and humid. Reene had an awful time. But it's her fault since I TOLD her there would be long lines and horrible, hot, sticky weather. Ah well.

The following day we spent a few hours in the evening at the Azabu-Juban Noryo festival in Roppongi. Roppongi is the clubbing area, so I've never been there before. The festival was fun, if also terribly hot and crowded. There was a shrine with some musicians and about a bazillion yattai selling all kinds of food. We ate things on sticks, fried potatos with about a cup of butter, some sort of clear sugar-jelly with fruit, melon ramune, and doraemon-shaped cakes. I also had a blue candied apple which made me look much like Reene when she passed out. Reene was enamoured of the The Dog cotton candy, while I was amazed by the conchs and scallops grilled in their own shells. The festival took up many blocks and many small side streets. It kept going well past sunset. We even passed people having what seemed like impromptu bonfires on the sidewalk.

Fun, but hot.

Deep Thoughts

Majiri. The Horse's Ass bar.

The neighborhood kitties continue to love, but we miss Floppy a lot. ;_;

I got a new nonsensical Japanese shirt. It proclaims, "SAVE THE WORLD. Your body needs good to be happy. Your spirit needs joy and happiness to be strong. SAVE THE CHILDREN. BECOSE I LOVE YOU. World peace begins in the heart of each person on earth." Now, all that might be ok -- except that it is written atop an image of several boxes of Kellog's Corn Flakes.

Laforet is a huge clothing department store/boutique complex in Harajuku. They just put out their ad campaign for fall. It consists of a pregnant, caucasian girl who gives birth in comic detail to a bunch of fashion dolls which she then proceeds to cradle like a baby. Umm, ick?

Damn. Now that's a platform shoe.

*sings* Bionic, bionic drink! Woo-oo woo-oo. We stick together. We fight for right!

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So if I looked just a little more evil and demonic, I could be in Japanese ads?


Sorry. You're not tall and blonde. You're obviously not a real foreigner, regardless of breast size.

Which reminds me -- bra cup sizes are done by centimeters here. It confused me a great deal before I realised that. When reading ads for Playboy on the trains I would see girls with modest C-cups above big headlines like, "すごい! F-cup!!!"

Bras don't seem to go above American C in Japan. I'm actually surprised they go above B.

Does that actually surprise you? ;) Doesn't Japanese B sound better than AAA?

Also, not to argue semantics, but Disney does not deserve props for Winnie the Pooh ;)
They just were the first to animate it in the early 60's, but there is still a huge group of people who hate the Disney version of the characters and still make plushies of the illustrated Pooh from the books.

True, Disney did permeate every markey in every country with Pooh, but there are those that say that their Pooh is false ;)

I never said they deserved props for Pooh. Where did you get that idea? But since you mention it, I prefer the early Disney Pooh to the stuffy original British version. I always disliked Christopher Robin in the books and he thankfully makes fewer appearances in the animations. Plus, I think that the voice-acting in the original Pooh animations was perfect. The new Pooh I could do without.

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