japanesedream_72: (japan)
For anyone reading this who doesn't know me incredibly well, I'm not an obsessive stalker or anything. I'm just a bit of a fangirl who gets kind of excited over stuff. ^_^

For those of you who do know me, what follows will probably come as no surprise. XD

Being a lover of pretty much all things/people Japanese, it was only natural that, several years ago, the news of a nihon-jin winning the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest would eventually reach my ears & draw my attention. Over the next few years, Takeru Kobayashi's consistent winning of the "mustard belt" would make me a very happy Japanophile.

Likewise, his loss of the belt would render me, yes, a little bit sad, but certainly hopeful that he could come back & win it again. Until the fiasco last year, with that whole arrest thing. That just pissed me off.


For those who don't know about that: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/04/joey-chestnut-wins-hot-dog-contest_n_635124.html

It had long been a hope of mine to be able to watch Kobi, as he's known, in action, in the venue that made him famous in America. But that was not to be. I was planning, this year, to go with some friends to Coney Island (site of the famous - or infamous, depending on your POV - contest), anyway, just to see how it all goes down (no pun intended). Wasn't really expecting Kobi to show up or anything. However, thanks to Twitter, I found something even better.

By the way, I hope no one minds pictures or names being posted. If so, please tell me, & I will remove/edit accordingly.

Alice goes down the rabbit hole once again...click here for all the details! )
japanesedream_72: (japan)
Finally getting around to putting words to this awesome, awesome day known as Japan Day 2011!

And down the rabbit hole we go... )

But wait - the Japanese news did a report, too!


Last but not least, I made a wallpaper for my computer at work, as an ode to the occasion!

japanesedream_72: (geisha)
Before I begin detailing our NYC adventure from Saturday, please refer to the map here, so you can follow our little hiking trail, as I reference the neighbourhoods we visited:


Also, I’m trying my hand at thumbnails with this post...

CRAP! The thumbs aren't working! They don't link to a larger photo! I know nothing of HTML, & my editing attempts yielded nothing worthwhile, so I'm just gonna include links to the larger versions. Sorry, guys. If anyone knows how to actually make it work, please let me know!

And now, on with the show... )
japanesedream_72: (gackt)
Work has me ready to join the straightjacket set (literally!), but at least I have nice co-workers.

Allison & I had been talking with some of our colleagues for quite a while about getting together to try various foreign cuisines. Sherrod mentioned a Thai place, Chao Phaya, near the Chinese buffet, & as it was his birthday this past week, Allison & I took him there & treated him to a birthday dinner.

It was really nice! Very cozy, intimate, relaxing, welcoming place. Nice decor - paneled walls, dark wood tables, tapestries & pictures & sculptures all around (a LOT of elephants ^_^), even Thai (I'm assuming it was Thai) music playing, but modern, pseudo-R&B kind of stuff, as opposed to strictly traditional.

We split an appetizer of vegetable dumplings w/peanut sauce (SO GOOD!). Part of the garnish was a carrot cut into a flower shape. Pretty!

For the entree, I had something called Rama, steamed vegetables with tofu in a light sauce. It came with a side of white rice, which I mixed in. Very tasty! Allison let me try her Pad Thai, which is a noodle dish. Sherrod had a basil rice dish, which I would've also tried, but he got the spicy version, & I'm not too great at handling hot/spicy food. We all drank Thai Iced Tea, which is black tea mixed with some other things, one of which I think is milk of some sort. It's very sweet, with a deep undertone, hinting a bit of mocha/coffee. An interesting drink, which we all enjoyed.

Lots of good food, a relaxing atmosphere, & a great deal of candid conversation. Life as it should be, yes?

Oh, & thanks to Sherrod for inspiring the title of this entry. :)
japanesedream_72: (tired)
Made it to the San Gennaro Festival today/Saturday, which was a lot of fun!

Up early, got ready. Wore the same outfit as I’d planned for last weekend, when we were originally supposed to go (things came up & we had to cancel), except with my hair up this time. Managed to get a few things done before meeting Allison at the bus station. (We took the bus 'cuz it costs the same as the train, but you don't have to pay for parking.)

It was a nice ride, & I saw some things/places I hadn't seen before. Even Port Authority (the NYC bus station), I'd never been to, as I've always taken the train, so that was new, as well. Took a couple of different subway lines, too. Learning something new all the time.

Before the Italian festival, however, we decided to grab a light lunch (I love Italian food, but it tends to be somewhat heavy, & my digestive system has been a bit disagreeable of late). Thought we'd try Sushi Mambo, a Japanese restaurant which we'd seen on our previous excursion. Unfortunately, they didn't have the bento lunch special (apparently, that's only on weekdays), but we got something very nice in lieu of that. Allison had the Oyako-don, while I opted for the Nabeyaki Udon. I'd have gone for a donburi dish like hers, but I really wanted to try those naruto kamaboko (steamed fish cakes, spiral-patterned, like in Uzumaki)! It was great, lots of big chunks of veggies...nice, warm broth (the morning was chilly)...they bring it to you in a hot-pot, with the bowl on the side. I just wish I could master the art of eating udon with chopsticks. O.o *someday*

After lunch, walked down to Mulberry St., where the main part of the festival was. Took about 15 minutes (maybe less). We were now in Little Italy, another part of the City I'd never been to. The place was packed! The streets were decorated with banners & such, marking the festival, as well as Italian & US flags. On either side of the street were stands & stalls, almost all of them food-related. There were also games & prizes (like the kind you'd see at the boardwalk as a kid), a few vendors here & there, along with outdoor dining areas for the local Italian eateries. There was just about every kind of Italian food known to man there: lots of pasta, sausage, pizza, calzone, & desserts galore - cakes, cookies, biscotti, cannoli, zeppole, gelato...even deep-fried Oreos!

Walked up & down Mulberry (seemed like a really long street!) & Mott (these were the 2 main streets of the festival), looking at all the goodies, which also included some rides for the kids. There was an 'attraction', like the old freak shows, advertising a 'snake girl' (part human, part serpent), but we didn't go in.

As Little Italy & Chinatown overlap a bit, & I'd always wanted to see Chinatown, too (particularly the oft-spoken of Canal Street), Allison was kind enough to walk me around both sections, watching me be a total tourist as I snapped shots of cool buildings in the area & bits of Chinatown that caught my eye.

Back to Little Italy, where we had some sorbetto (more of a sorbet, whereas gelato is like ice cream). She had something fruity - was it raspberry? - & I had coconut. We walked up to the church where they had the San Gennaro shrine outside, & inside, they house the statue of the saint, which is paraded through the streets on the feast day. It turned out to be much better that we didn't go last week, ‘cuz Saturday (19 Sept.) was the actual saint’s day, & were able to see the procession of the statue, which we wouldn’t have caught otherwise.

Our friend & former co-worker, Glen, had been attending Rosh Hashanah services uptown, but he called Allison to say he had a couple of free hours, so we met him where he'd gotten off the subway & took him down to the festival. I bought a couple of t-shirts denoting the occasion (1 for me, 1 for my mom), while Glen got some pizza & Allison shared her water with me. It was starting to get warm! Even the weather was on our side.

Heading into the afternoon, we watched the procession of the San Gennaro statue (I took video clips, too - there was a band playing, which did an upbeat, semi-jazzy rendition of "When The Saints Go Marching In" with trumpets). Got some zeppole (deep-fried dough with powdered sugar, kind of like donuts, but a little chewier, & hollow) & shared that as we walked back with Glen to the subway station, where we saw him off.

Allison & I then went back to the festival to buy cannoli. They had this one stall with these cute little 'baby' cannoli, in new & interesting flavours. I got an original, a mint chocolate chip, & the Almond Lovejoy (almond & coconut). One of the ones she got was pumpkin pie, I'll have to ask her how that tasted! Afterward, we walked around for a bit, hunting down a particular stall that had a good deal on regular-sized cannoli, which we'd promised a couple of people at work we'd bring back for them (we saved some zeppole, too, since we'd promised those to others). Found it at last, bought the snacks (I made a quick call to my mom at this point), & headed back to catch the subway ourselves.

While walking Glen to the subway, we'd passed a little Chinese shop that had those parasols hanging, the pretty, Asian ones which everybody seems to have but no one seems to sell. Well, on our way back, we stopped there, & they actually sold them! I got a very nice green one at a very reasonable price.

Caught our train, made our way back to the bus station, & just managed to snag the 6:30 bus! Parted ways at the bus station back in Jersey, after which I drove my very tired butt back home. Snarfed my cannoli, called my mom to detail the day, & took a much-needed nap.

Not planning on doing much of anything tomorrow!
japanesedream_72: (gingersnaps)
Where to start?

Summer in the City... )

Is this a horror flick or a disaster movie? )

The coming of the red & the black... )

Yeah, I know, it's a LOT. I just hope I haven't forgotten any details!! XD
japanesedream_72: (hyde)
It’s been a long, tiring, enjoyable weekend.

Saturday started off pretty crappily. I’d wanted to go to bed a little early, get up early, & do a few things before meeting up with Allison & Glen. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to sleep until around 4:30 in the morning, with my alarm set for 6:30. Naturally, I said to heck with the alarm, but still only slept until 8:30. It was already getting humid when I woke up, which means my hair decided it was gonna do crap-all except go super-frizzy, so I opted for a little braid-work. Then I couldn’t figure out what to wear - nothing looked or felt quite right. After, at last, finding something remotely do-able, I managed to get to the bank, the shoe repair shop (my mom fixed the teeth on my one boot, but it still needs a new zipper, which the shoe-man said he could do - it’s a tad pricey, but I’ll have my favourite shoes again!), a quick jaunt to the grocery store for a few necessities (where I saw Gerald from work - or, rather, he saw me), then back home for a quick chat with my brother (Johnathan; my mom was out shopping) before leaving to catch the train.

Allison & I had coordinated beforehand, so we were able to catch the train into the City together. Took the subway downtown, to Christopher Street in the Village, where we met Glen at a little pizza shop, & chatted up a storm while we grabbed a bite to eat.

After that, we walked down to Hudson River Park, which is beautiful! It’s a long pier with little grassy areas, places to sit, & large, tent-like structures for shade, right on the Hudson River. You can see sailboats & the Circle Line ferry-cruiser coasting by, & the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We sat on the steps, chatting, enjoying the view & each other’s company.

I was able to get a few photos & possibly a snippet of video of this lovely place, before my camera up & clunked on me. I thought it might be the batteries - even though they were freshly charged, the ones that worked best are rather old - & planned to buy new ones when we found a store that had them.

Walked back to Christopher & around several other streets, going into various shops in the area. (Some of this part of our day gets a little mature, so I may do a separate, friends-only post, with regard to a few of the finer details.) There were lots of things I’d have liked to have bought - some really nice clothes, music/videos, etc. - but even though I’d brought money with me, I was reluctant to pay some of the prices for things (like $125 for a dress!). There were some groovy restaurants, as well: several sushi places, & a nifty, themed place called Jekyll & Hyde (which they were kind enough, when Glen asked, to let him & Allison walk me through).

Made a pit stop at CVS so I could purchase my batteries, which - sadly - failed to revive my now-departed camera. Ah well. I’d been meaning to get a new one, anyway. (Of course, it would’ve been nice if it could have lasted just this one day, ‘cuz there were still fantastic things to see!) Next, it was a quick duck into Starbucks, where there were glorious nature-related photographs on the walls. Several shots were of wolves! And those who know me are surely aware of my wolf-connection.

Next, it was on to another fabulous place, Washington Square Park. It’s really fantastic! Both Glen & Allison had cameras in their cell phones (why am I so behind the times?), so they took some shots for me, & will e-mail them to me. We sat there, at the edge of the water fountain right in front of the arch, for some time, talking & people-watching, enjoying the cooling weather & the sights & sounds around us. And, to think, all I had to do was walk down 5th Ave., past the Empire State Building, & I’d walk right into the place! I’ve been going to the City for 2 years & I never knew that. Thankfully, I do now.

Glen suggested, somewhat earlier during our travels, that we stop for dinner at Jekyll & Hyde. So, after bidding good-bye to the park, that is where we went. This place is awesome! Well, if you’re a geek-a-zoid tourist with a passion for cheeze & horror, anyway. ^_~

I really wish I hadn’t lost the use of my camera, ‘cuz the interior was groovy! Very old-London, with lots of Gothic horror cliché, but so cool! It was dim (they even have votive candles on the tables), with a big streetlight in the middle of the place. Everywhere you looked, there was something neat. Over the bar was a big glass shelf case with (non-human) skulls, a brain in a jar, animals preserved in glass - bats & spiders & such. A little sad, but beautiful, too. There were skeletal figures perched in various places, as well as a mummy in a sarcophagus, a caged fellow, a mad scientist, a gargoyle, a giant boar’s head over a faux fireplace...you get the idea. There were framed photos of Lugosi, Karloff, & either Frederick March or Lon Chaney (it was hard to see), & paintings with moving eyes. The staff passage was a long hallway that looked like a library, with books on shelves & such.

I found a few shots on the ‘net:




We sat right under the wolf’s head!!

I kept thinking they should’ve brought Hyde there when Vamps was in town...he could’ve even ordered the Hyde Burger! XD They had fun names for the food. My friends got the Mummy & Frankenstein burgers; I stuck with a garden salad, though I did drink an “elixir” - 3 or 4 different fruit juices mixed w/7-Up. Yum! I took a couple of the napkins home with me, ‘cuz even the napkins in this place are cool.

There was a very fitting selection of tunes being played over the PA: horror theme songs, novelty tracks, tunes from movies. These would be interrupted periodically by the animatronic entities, like the gargoyle & wolf’s head (who reacted with the patrons, talking to & occasionally insulting them in a humourous way), the mad scientist & caged “Hyde” figure (who sort of battled each other, ‘til the scientist played “YMCA” & ‘saved’ us from the wrath of Hyde, LOL!), & the skeletal organist (who told bad jokes). The Cockney-maid waitress (actually, I don’t think she did any waiting, she was there purely for entertainment purposes, for which you pay extra ~ warning: as awesome as this place is, it’s a bit over-priced; otherwise, I probably would have asked about buying a t-shirt) was a total hoot! She sat at our table & talked to us...after first putting her head down on the table & complained that she was tired of ‘fake-cleaning’ all day, ha ha!

I can’t even get into all the details, ‘cuz it’s just one amazing blur in my mind, suffice to say I got a complete & total kick out of it, & when I told my mom about it, she said it seemed like a place she’d like, too! I’ll have to try & get her there sometime. :D

It was getting late by the time we left the restaurant, but while we needed to catch the train home, we were having so much fun, so we walked something like 20 blocks, all the way up 7th Ave., from Christopher, all the way to Penn Station! Funnily enough, even though we’d walked so much already that day, I barely noticed it. The weather was quite nice by this time, having cooled off tremendously, & we yakked up a storm along the way, talking about this, that, & the other.

Penn Sushi was closed when we got to the station, or I’d have picked up snacks & such to munch on during the remainder of the weekend (stuff I get there almost never lasts me longer than that). Next time, perhaps. Anywho, it was more yakking on the train. Glen’s stop was before ours, but Allison & I were able to continue all the way to the parking deck, where we parted company & made our way to our cars. We’d taken the train in around 2:00, & it was after 11 when I got home!

Talked to my mom, telling her all about our fun-filled day (& noting how much of it she, herself, would have enjoyed...except, perhaps, for all that walking), stayed up for a little while, but zonked out around 2 am.

Sunday morning, I once again disregarded the alarm & slept a little later. After breakfast, I ordered the tickets for myself & [livejournal.com profile] charaxinae for the horror convention. Still no sign of an events schedule, but I’m looking forward to it, nevertheless. I told Johnathan (when I talked to him on Sat.) I’d pick him up a goodie or get an autograph for him or something. If it’s the latter, I’m hoping it’ll be from Katharine Isabelle!

On to the order of the day - Wal-Mart was kind enough to let me buy the display model of a light green Kodak M320. I looked at the various cameras there for a rather long time (not my first time doing so, either), before deciding on that one. It cost just over $100, with 1-year warranty & rechargeable battery included. The lady even ’cleaned’ it up for me, since it was a display camera & lots of people touched it. It fits my SD memory card (some new cameras, you have to buy a whole new kind of card for), which is fab, too. I haven’t really gotten a chance to do much with it, but at least I have it.

Next, it was off to Woodbridge Mall, where I’d hoped to hit Hot Topic & maybe find the third live-action Death Note film, since I heard it might be out by now (with subs). I didn’t find it, but I did get what I guess is the newest D’espairs Ray album! I think it’s called “Redeemer” - I haven’t made my copy yet (I never play originals, my machines want to eat them) or looked up the Kanji titles, but if this stuff is anything like what’s in that concert video I got, it should be good!

They have an FYE there, so I ducked in on the off-chance I might find one of the 2 other “Ginger Snaps” movies. Would you believe I found BOTH of them?? I was, like, jumping for joy! Watched them both Sun. night, & watched GS2 again today (Mon.). That one has yielded an idea for the cosplay we’re doing for the convention...at least, for the character I’m doing.

The weather seemed to work against me, however good the musical & cinematic spirits had been to me: it was sunny when I left my house, drizzling when I came out of Wal-Mart, & POURING by the time I was finished at the mall! And I’d left my umbrella at home! I was not about to go out into that, esp. since I had to walk a ways to my car. So I figured I could buy a cheapie umbrella & use it, then keep it in my car for such emergencies. Can you believe I had to go into FOUR stores before I found an umbrella?? Actually, 3, but I wasn’t going to pay $14 for the one I found at JC Penny’s. Ended up in some shop I can’t remember the name of (Bilibo, or something), where I got a black umbrella with a pink handle & butterflies on it, for $5. :)

Armed with protection against the dreaded wetness (I really wouldn’t mind rain so much, but the least sign of moisture & my hair goes into afro-drive!), I made the mad dash to the car & headed toward home, with a quick stop in Menlo Park Mall to buy more over-the-knee socks (I got 5 pair for $20!) & grab some Oyako-don at Kabuki in the food court.

And that was my weekend. ^_^

By the way, keep me away from glass. Within the last 2 weeks or so, I’ve dropped a drinking glass, had a picture fall off the wall (shattering the glass in the frame), & accidentally broken one of my favourite glass bowls (which my mom gave me 2 of, so there’s 1 left, but I might not use it for a while). Ugh!


Jun. 13th, 2009 10:28 pm
japanesedream_72: (anime)
Given the illness that struck me in the wee hours (sorry, non-LJers, it was a friends-only post, suffice to say I had a rough night & was feeling sick), the day sure turned out interestingly!

In my pajamas with no make-up & my hair something of a frightful sight, I was a bit scared when my pal Sean from next door rang the doorbell & said his mom might take us to the anime convention...today!

Too bad his dad was on a business trip, he missed some coolness! But his mom & sister came. His mom, who said that she heard going on the last day isn't as good, since many vendors/items may not be there) didn't have time to do up a costume, but his sister did a Naruto character. And he was gonna be L from Death Note, but since he didn't have a way to blacken his hair & it was gonna rain anyway (which would flatten any attempt at tously bed-head, he wore some suit clothes & went as Light. Which kinda worked out better, in a way, since I was already doing Misa (I dress like the anime version, but I have dark hair like the movie one), so we were able to go as Light & Misa. ^_^

It was raining when we got there (doom for my hair!), but at least they remembered to bring an umbrella, even if I didn't. We walked in, & saw all kinds of neat & interesting things! People from all sorts of anime, games, shows, & movies (not all of them anime - I saw a Smurfette, a Ghostbuster, & a Jedi). Some, we recognised, others not so much, but all of them were cool. There were some Goth-Loli people, too. We had to register by filling out a brief form, pay the entrance fees (Sean's dad had already said they'd pay for my ticket, for which I am grateful, since these things are not cheap; fortunately, the kids either got in free or at a discount), & get our badges & programme packets. They said you could write anything you wanted on the badge, so Sean & I wrote our character names.

After that, it was quite a bit of wandering around, taking pictures of (&/or with) cosplayers, & a little shopping. Sean got his birthday presents a tad early - his mom got him a sort of robe-thing worn by one of the Naruto characters, Itachi (the vendor threw in the hat for free), I bought him a Death Note. His mom got his sister some goodies, too, of course. And I turned around to see none other than Pikachu Girl from Japan Day just across the aisle!

(Photos from Japan Day can be found here.)

We both looked at each other like, "I know you..." & I went up to her & was, like, "Didn't I meet you at Japan Day?" Squee!! We hugged & took photos, shocked that we actually ran into each other again. She complimented my outfit. I told her I'd been thinking I should've gotten her e-mail after our little encounter at J-Day, so I could send her that shot with Hot Ninja Boy - but, would you believe it, he's her FRIEND!! And he was THERE! She pointed to a nearby fellow in a cool jacket & a hoodie, but (no offense to him whatsoever) he wasn't Japanese & looked nothing like Die; however, when she pulled the hood back a bit, he did have the red mowhawk. XD

I gave her my e-mail address, told her I posted our shot on my blog, & she said she'd e-mail me & get my blog addy so she could check out the post & pics & such (we had a very nice IM session earlier this evening). Then it was off & running again.

I found a kick-@$$ J-rock stall, the vendor guy being a very tall gentleman in a long, blonde wig & a killer white Loli dress (which I told him I loved, though, at first, I thought he was just an attendee!). There were postcards of many of my boys (one section, Sean dubbed, 'the Great Wall of Mana'), a Mago poster, Diru, Malice, & Gackt photobooks, & various CDs & singles. I had an extremely limited amount of cash on me, not being able to go to the bank Sat. morning due to feeling ill & run-down, so I had to pick & choose just what to buy.

And then I saw it.


And I bought it. And now, I've only got $6 until I can get to the bank again, maybe Tuesday. :P

But I got my Mana, so I don't care!

Oh, & get this - they had the SAME BAG as me! The coffin-cross bag I got in Harajuku! I even told him that. I don't know how much it was (Body Line had it on sale for, like, $20), but I was broke by then, anyway.

Took more photos & video, then the kids wanted something to eat (I'd already had a fairly decent-sized lunch, having begun to feel better), so we stopped at the snack bar. On the way, I saw a great pair of cosplayers, doing Misa & Rem from Death Note 2: The Last Name. I couldn't catch them to get a photo 'cuz they went into the ladies' room, so we waited there until they came out! I was hoping for a pic of me & Rem (she is Misa's Shinigami), but she already had a Misa, so I figured I wouldn't intrude on that. (There were several versions of various characters floating about the place, including Misa.) I joked, "It's a sad thing when you have to wait for your Shinigami outside the ladies' room!"

In the meantime, though, Sean & I did have a conversation with someone who works for Funimation, the voice-over company that does Dragonball Z & Yu-Yu Hakusho, among other titles. He wasn't one of the seiyuu (voice actors) or anything (I peeked at his badge but didn't recognise the name), but he remarked on my observation that there was a second Inu-Yasha (I'd already photographed the first), saying there were about 5 of them in the building (this was before we noticed the multiple Misas & Itachis & whatnot), & was telling us about someone who works at these things that often does some major dressing up, & will prob'ly do so at an upcoming anime convention in NY; may have been AnimeFest, not sure.

CRAP! I just looked at that site & it says something about Hyde & his new project, Vamps, coming to NYC!!! I wonder if I'd be able to get tickets & go??? It's on July 11, so it might be sold out already...but I may have to look into this, just in case.

So Misa & Rem finally emerged from the bathroom, I got my shot, & on we went. Ducked into a side room where they were showing excerpts from Death Note 2: The Last Name, so we sat & watched that. We also saw a martial arts demonstration (reminded me of the one at the Sakura Festival in Philly - they were cutting through tatami mats with a sword), as well as an anime characters' conga line!

I noticed a Spike from Cowboy Bebop, & naturally, had to take a photo with him. I asked him if it was okay & he said, "Sure," then the girl he was with (dressed as something from another show) told me, "He's such a pimp!" *gigglesnort*

They had a guy playing sax there, & I caught sight (& shot) of Pikachu Girl again (she was standing with him & someone dressed as a Pikachu). He played pretty nicely, too. I was hoping to see if he knew "Good Night, Julia" (a Bebop thing), but I didn't get a chance to ask him. He did, however, play the Simpsons theme song.

Looked at some more goodies (& really wished I had more money!); there were some Loli clothes/bags, & socks/fingerless gloves I would have snagged, but oh well. The kids were able to get a couple more things, & then Sean's sister saw a character she'd been hoping to get a photo with, so I helped her chase the girl down! Ended up being a cute photo. Another cool one was the one I got of Sean as Light with a guy doing L. (Sean had been wearing his Itachi outfit, but then let his mom wear it.)

From there, I nearly got my head sliced off by some guy with a chainsaw (not a real one, tho', & he did apologise), & then it was on to the thing that was a cross between aerobics & cheerleading. Sean's mom & sister went & did a little of that, then we floated around for a while, trying to find the way out. We got a bit lost (going out of one building & into another, which turned out to be the hotel, where I guess some of these people were staying, since the convention runs Fri. thru Sun.), but eventually found it.

Fortunately, Fate gave us a bit of a payoff for our troubles, 'cuz I spotted a Matt from Death Note in the lobby, dancing with several other cosplayers - I think they were doing those cheerleading moves. Sean & I have a thing about Matt, seeing as how he only appeared in the anime for a tiny, tiny bit (we always say it was about 3 seconds). So we asked if we could get a shot, & since one of the other cosplayers was also doing Light, but the movie version (did you know that's the kid from Battle Royale?), we got in the shot with them (& both Lights had their Death Notes). I can't recall, exactly, but I might've caught a last glimpse of Pikachu Girl at this point. One quick photo of some very good Full Metal Alchemist costumes later, we bid our adieu to "Anime Next, 2009". The whole day is a sort of magnificent blur in my brain right now, & I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but - as I usually do - I'll put in addendums or additional posts if that's the case.

Anywho, it was out into the rain again, & back home. I hung out at Sean's for a bit, looking at computer stuff & playing the Pikmin video game. Then he came over to my house, where I whipped him up a new J-rock mix:

Dir en grey - Namamekashiki Ansoku, Tamerai Ni Hohoemi
Dir en grey - 304 Goushitsu, Hakushi No Sakura
Dir en grey - Machiavellism
Dir en grey - Saku
Malice Mizer - Gensou Rakuen
L’Arc-en-Ciel - Shout At The Devil
Gackt - Speed Master
Gackt - Asrun Dream
L’Arc-en-Ciel - Kaze No Yukue
Phantasmagoria - Lost In Thought
Gackt - Death Wish
Gackt - Doomsday
Dir en grey - Karasu
Dir en grey - Vinushka
Dir en grey - Mr. Newsman

I loaded the pics from the camera onto the computer, & e-mailed them to Sean's mom. I won't post any with them, since I don't have permission (they have to ask his dad - if I get it, I will post them later), & I'm prob'ly breaking every rule in the known universe by posting everybody else's pic without permission, but just so you can see some of the goodness of this awesome day, I present to you...

Me & Pikachu Girl. <3

Conga Line...la la la la la, hey!

Anime fun: left - Misa had a Death Note, too; right - me & Spike Spiegel.

Cosplayers: I don't know who the 2 in the middle are, I just liked their kimono. Left - Rurouni Kenshin; right - movie-Misa with her awesome Rem, outside the ladies' room.

Masters, Mice, & Music: left - Dragonball Z's King Kai, working at the Funimation stall; right - Pikachu (the electric mouse), Pikachu Girl, & the sax player.

Alchemy, Demons, & Gothicness: left - Al & Ed from Full Metal Alchemist; middle - Inu-Yasha; right - a very nice Loli girl.

Last but not least: I have no idea what any of these are, but I thought they were really pretty!

That's all for now. It's almost 5:30 in the morning. Think maybe I ought to go to bed...
japanesedream_72: (Default)
(or, "It's a good thing you did that, a real good thing!")

Yeah, thank my mom for the tag lines there. ^_^ And for this mega-nostalgia trip clip! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux3laLkueZk

That stemmed from our conversation when I called her to tell her about my day. Now I get to tell you:

So Michael, my friend from work, came over this morning, & I drove us down to the train station. Took the train into the City, & had a good, long walk. But, unlike my Japan Day experience, we actually found stuff without wandering very much, 'cuz he has a sense of direction! Took the subway up to 72nd, & walked around Central Park, or at least a nice portion of it. Actually hit a few spots I hadn't seen my previous time there, which, of course, required the taking of photos (Strawberry Fields was decorated today, too, so I also got a shot of that). Strayed a little off the beaten track at one point - we were going in the right direction but exited too early; it was okay, though, 'cuz I got to show him Columbus Circle (59th), & we walked up the rest of the way (back to 72nd). On the way, I saw a few nifty buildings I'd never seen before, & took pics of them. Passed the entrance to Tavern on the Green, too, which I'd never seen (though I didn't get a shot of that - it was only the sign). Went to lunch at Kumo Sushi, where we had bento (tried the Teriyaki Tofu one this time - YUM!) &, of course, green tea ice cream. My friend had never had that, & hadn't ventured into chopstick territory before, either (despite having had Japanese food before), so that was fun to introduce him to. He dug the food, & was very good with the hashi (sticks) for a first-timer. Also taught him a teeny bit of practical Japanese. :)

He was kind enough to pay for lunch (I offered to chip in for my half, but he wouldn't let me, so I left the tip), & we missed the majority of the rain - it was starting when we left the park, but I'd brought my umbrella; it poured while we were eating, but had almost stopped as we were leaving - & took the subway back to Midtown...where it started to pour again. As my umbrella wasn't quite large enough for 2 people to fit under comfortably, we stopped at a souvenir place & he found a nice, large one, which he bought. I showed him some landmark buildings/areas, like the Chrysler & Empire State bldgs., Times Square (including the theatre where I saw Diru, & where the line stretched - the restaurant where I had dinner that night isn't there anymore! It's a Levi's outlet now), Rockerfeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, St. Patrick's Cathedral (which we went into for a minute; my first time in there - it's SOOOOOOOOO beautiful!! But I didn't take any pics 'cuz there was a wedding going on), Bryant Park (which we went in - I'd been outside it but never in it before), the NY Public Library, I can't remember any more. Took him, of course, to my haunts - Kinokuniya (where I showed him Mana's many appearances in the Goth-Loli Bible, as well as perusing various issues of CURE, one of which had an article on Jun's new project, another of which had an article on Riku's band, Chariots - including a very scrummy photo! But I saved my cash (don't think I wasn't tempted, though), showed Michael the CD & DVD section (no "Bara no Seidou", though I picked up a flyer for one of the Death Note live-action films), then made our way to Book Off - which they've rearranged! The same thing happened to me in Tower when I was in Shibuya. MUST be a Japanese thing. So I got promptly lost (I used to at least be able to go right to the L'Arc), but found a couple of my bands eventually, or should I say, where there stuff would've been if they'd had any. Took a gander at the anime & whatnot, debated whether or not to buy that Death Note soundtrack again (yeah, it was still there), decided against it (though again, tempted), & headed back to Times Square to check out Virgin Megastore. Didn't buy anything, but looked long & longingly at many things I would get if I could afford to get them all...

Back to Penn Station via the subway, where we ducked into Penn Sushi. I bought a bottle of green tea (which I think was the same brand I bought at Narita Airport when I landed in Japan), as well as some desserts I'm always itching to try but never do 'cuz I end up buying sushi &/or gyoza & shumai instead. But since I had sushi with my lunch, I went in for the mystery desserts today. There's a green cake thing (sort of rolled around a bit of cream), a brown cake thing that may or may not be stuffed with something, & green tea daifuku. (I saved the cakes but ate the daifuku a little while ago - they're like marshmallows! Very lovely!) Used my own bag, natch, & had a little conversation with the bishette who works there. I always see her when I go there, but haven't really spoken at any length with her. I can't remember who started it, it might've been my friend asking me what the word for delicious was for the umpteenth time (not that I minded - it's "oishii", in case you were wondering), & she said it, too. He asked if she were Japanese, but it turns out she's Korean. I used my Rirakuma bag, which she thought was cute, & she & another, older lady who I guess works there, too, or runs the place or whatever, were trying to read it (I knew it meant something + bear, but I just found out it means "relaxed bear"), & I was showing them the katakana. It was kind of a neat little moment.

We had some time before the train, so we wandered about a bit, looking at different shops & whatnot. Ran into one of the guys from work, Luis. We were introduced to his wife & son, & his parents - the latter were here on vacation from Puerto Rico, & Luis had taken them into the City to show them the sights. We chatted for a bit, then went on our way.

When it was finally time to board, we were on the niftiest train!! It was a double-decker!! I'd never even been aware that those things existed! The seats were like airline seats - more comfy, even! And there was a digital thing that noted the upcoming stops. It was so cool! Got into some conversation with a guy sitting across from us. Between throwing about tiny bits of French, talking cinema, & concocting the Great Cult Crossover - The Kiss Saves Santa Star Wars Xmas Special (Kiss, light sabers in hand, saves Santa from Darth Vader, who can't stand the sound of rock music) - it was a hoot & a half.

Back to the station, finally, & drove home. But the day isn't over yet. See, Michael used to live in Arizona, & got to know some of the Goth community there. You'd never think this person who is kind of soft-spoken, a chemist, a little nerdy-looking (& I don't mean that in any derogatory connotation whatsoever), who likes watching comedies, would be into music like Goth or metal. But he can actually dig that sort of thing, & was interested in hearing the Japanese take on it. So I'd had a few CD's in the car, & it was pretty intriguing (& fun) to see him react so positively to stuff like Dir en grey, Moi dix Mois, & Phantasmagoria! He asked about my J-rock colleciton, & if I had any video that he might be able to see. So I let him hang out for a little bit when we got back & showed him clips by Diru, Malice Mizer (Klaha era), Hyde, Gackt, & Mago. If I can figure out how to do it on this computer, now that my Music Match Jukebox seems pretty much defunct, I said I'd make him a sampler. (Worse comes to worse, I'll do it on audio-cassette.)

Said our good-byes after that, & he was off home. I called my mom, finished my tea & daifuku, & came on-line. Will probably pass out after Death Note.

EDIT: Photos!

Just a quick shot before company arrived.

Pretty picture by the water’s edge, Central Park.

Another pretty shot of the lake, Central Park.

Strawberry Fields, Central Park.

Teriyaki tofu bento from Kumo Sushi.

Grand Central Station, exterior.

Interior of Grand Central Station.

Japanese desserts - daifuku, sponge cake, bean paste cake. Please note, the sponge cake pic I had to nick off the ‘net since I forgot to take a photo of mine before snarfing it. ^_^
japanesedream_72: (Default)
I’ve been sitting here for several minutes trying to think of an amusing title for this entry; sadly, this is the best my brain could come up with. (Various earlier choices included “Three amigos” & “Saiko Taiko (& other Japanese goodness)”.

Got an early start & made it fairly easily to [livejournal.com profile] charaxinae‘s. Hung out with her ‘til she finished getting ready (I was earlier than expected, but I’ve never driven to her place, so I left in plenty of time in case I got lost), then she drove us down to Philadelphia, where we me up with [livejournal.com profile] tarotbydiana, who showed us the easiest way to get to the pick-up point for the shuttle bus that would cart us off to the lovely park where we would be immersing ourselves in J-ness for the whole afternoon.

Though we made good time, we missed the first bus - there were so many people (& more gathering behind us), I don’t think they quite expected this kind of turnout! The festival actually runs for a few weeks, but today being “Sakura Sunday”, I think everybody came today ‘cuz you could get kind of a taste of everything in one afternoon rather than trying to make it during the week with work & traffic & such.

Once the bus came for us (after we stood around in the chilly wind trying to keep our dresses down & our ears warm, & I took a few photos of historic buildings), there was another problem - there were still so many people, a few were tripling up on seats meant to hold only 2. Happily, I reaped the benefit of this - [livejournal.com profile] tarotbydiana sweetly offered me the use of her lap, since I was hanging off the seat when we tried all sitting side by side. She’s not only comfortable, but thoughtful, too, holding onto me when we hit bumps in the road or came to a quick stop, so I wouldn’t fly off into the aisle, or into the lap of the good-looking Asian guy (given the way he spoke to his companions, I think he was Chinese) in the seat in front of us. ^_^

Got to the park, disembarked, & walked about a bit, scoping things out. Decided to eat first, then take in the sights, shopping, & events. Of course, the food line was quite long, though I got in a few photos & video clips while we were waiting, & I got to say hi to Kevin & his girlfriend, Christine, who were passing by.

They were running out of certain menu items by the time we got up there, but we still managed to find good things to snarf. I got a cup of miso soup with tofu & kelp, some sushi (they were out of Inari so I got the California roll), & chicken with vegetable rice. (Also got to use a teensy bit of our Japanese to thank the woman who served us.) We sat under a cherry-blossom tree ([livejournal.com profile] tarotbydiana brought a blanket for us to sit on - so prepared, this girl!) & ate & talked ([livejournal.com profile] charaxinae kept getting “menaced” by a low-hanging branch, though I think it was just trying to be friendly), watching as people in kimono & cosplay coasted by (not to mention that person in the Maggie Moo costume, & a guy dressed as Alice in Wonderland), the sounds of soft J-pop & energetic Taiko drumming drifting toward us from different directions.

After lunch, we sauntered over toward the J-pop stage, where I took more clips as a girl was singing prettily & playing acoustic guitar. There’s some shaky video as I’m walking & filming at the same time, but you can hear some of the song & quickly see the cosplayers dancing with each other (I think there were some Chobits & Naruto). Nearby was a kimono stand where I bought 2 fabric panels I’m hoping could be used as obi (sashes) for my kimono. They’re quite pretty, & the colours fit in with what Toshie suggested: matching the obi to the deep, reddish tones in the floral pattern rather than going for the obvious blue of the more prominent flowers.

Next, we took a quick walk through the greenhouse (I took video clips - it really was a quick walk), & around the Japanese tea house & garden. It was really pretty, a bit like the gardens at the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. And like Heian, they had a Koi pond, too! Took a few shots there, & a few shots on the way back to the main grounds, where we watched a little of the martial arts/swordsmanship demonstration (got a bit of that on video), picked up some dessert - light, soft, fluffy things (the Japanese are so good at fluffy!) like maple bread & chocolate cake (at which time, we got to use more of our language skills) - then made our way toward the stage where the Taiko drum & dance performance was due for its second showing, though not before a cool-looking fellow (one of a group of Cool People we’d seen there at various times in the day) came up to us with a flyer for a Gothic/Industrial event, & an older, Japanese fellow took pictures of us as we walked by.

The Taiko troupe (from Tamagawa University, a performing arts school) was amazing! And cute!! We had ourselves a bit of droolage over Taiko bishi. We all want to become Taiko fangirls now. Think we’ll start a club. Maybe call ourselves the Taikoettes. ^_^ The energy, coordination, sound, all fantastic. They were jumping, drumming, blowing whistles ([livejournal.com profile] tarotbydiana, who found an amusingly phallocentric angle to the masculine side of the performance, thanks to those thick-@$$ drumsticks, pointed out the fact that Japanese dudes can make whistles quite sexy; I have a couple of J-rock concert moments in my collection which also attest to that). I took video, though the sound is garbled, since my camera doesn’t handle loud sounds in close proximity very well at all. But I got stills, too, & I surprised myself with the decency of those, considering how much those guys move about.

Then there was the feminine side of the performance. I’d caught sight of the girls earlier - they were all wearing the same pattern of kimono - & got a photo of them standing around in a group prior to their on-stage appearance. Took video of the first piece they did (the sound is okay on this one; it was accompanied by a recorded koto or shamisen track, which is not as loud as the drums were), a combination of dance & juggling as they twirled & tossed these little rattly sticks with tassly ends. They were all so adorable! Lovely & smiley. During the next number, they did a cute little move with a strand of fabric, where they did a sort of towel-wipe motion against their bottoms. I’ve got stills of that - the Taiko boys also came out & danced with them during the last part of that piece.

One last number from the Taiko bishi (I just took still shots for that one), then it was all over. We made our way back to the bus pick-up point, where we were just shy of getting on the first bus yet again. While we were waiting for the next one, we (mostly [livejournal.com profile] charaxinae) got into a brief chat with a guy I can only describe as an old hippie who attends anime conventions. We also saw the Japanese fellow who’d taken our photo (it occurred to me later that we should’ve stopped & asked him if he wanted us to pose, unless he’s like me & would rather shoot sniper-style). He was with what must’ve been his grand-daughter, a totally kawaii little shojo who came pretty close to being the female version of Pikachu Boy (sans helmet or encounter-turned-anecdote). She was climbing on a rock in the middle of the garden-like island around which they had us lined up (since people at the back of the line for the first bus had cut in & taken what should’ve been our places), & had a camera. I think she took our picture, too. ^_^

Unfortunately, Camera Girl didn’t make the bus back with us, though I got use of the friendly, thoughtful lap again. Once we got back to Center City (& I took a few more photos, as it’s such an artistic-looking part of town), we went to a groovy little tea & gelato place with the greatest sign ever, & got some...well, tea & gelato. I opted for a combination of gelato, half grape (which was light & lovely!) & half chocolate (which was rich & creamy!).

Walked back to where we’d met [livejournal.com profile] tarotbydiana & said good-bye, then it was off to the parking deck so [livejournal.com profile] charaxinae could drive us back to her place, whereupon I got a quick recap of the directions that would take me home (though I’d brought Maggie, to be safe), picked up my car, & made off, arriving, thankfully, before it got dark.

If I’ve forgotten anything important or amusing, I hope the gals will chime in & remind me, but I think that’s the long & short of the day. The rains held off, the festival was a blast, & I found out that even though I went all the way to Asia to take pics of Japanese people/scenery/culture, it was right here in the US where Japanese people wanted to take pics of me & my friends.

It’s getting late so I can’t post any photos right now, but I will next time. So stay tuned!

EDIT: Photos here! )

August 2017

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