Kami Watch Over Me (Japan Day 8 – Tokyo)

Saturday, Oct 29 2022 (Day 8)

Table of Contents

ට  Day 0 – Thursday, Oct 20 2022 to Friday Oct 21 2022 – Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo
ට  Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 22 2022 – Tokyo, Saitama, Ikebukuro
ට  Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 23 2022 – Autumn Reitaisai 9, Shinjuku
ට  Day 3 – Monday, Oct 24 2022 – Akihabara
ට  Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 25 2022 – Hakone
ට  Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 26 2022 – Kamakura, Enoshima Island
ට  Day 6 – Thursday, Oct 27 2022 – Hanno
ට  Day 7 – Friday, Oct 28 2022 – Shinkoiwa
ට  Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 29 2022 – Akihabara, Matsudo City (You are here)

Morning and train journey to Akihabara

Breakfast was a bowl of instant noodles nice and early, because I wanted to work out the kitchenette and try some random instant noodles in the search for one that I would really like, since it’s usually a meal slot that I otherwise throw away (skip) anyway. This was some hot and sour noodles and it was fine, not bad, but nothing to write home about, though I guess I’m currently doing so in this blog anyway. Cooking in that wide and shallow pot was a bit awkward though, and I lacked a proper large bowl, as I only had small bowls and plates. But I made do.

I wandered through Shinkoiwa Lumiere in the late morning on the way to the train station, and saw a bunch of people lined up to buy fresh produce for the day. It was most interesting to me because it seemed to have nothing to do with the shop it was in front of, which was closed. Just sort of a little local secret?

My first goal today was Akihabara, where there was a collaboration event “festival” thing going on for the Kaguya-sama anime on Oct 29-30 2022. My station, Shin-Koiwa Station, had a direct line to Akihabara on the JR Chuo/Sobu local line, but it was quite crowded in the morning.

Phew. I survived that though, and eventually did find the proper exit from Akihabara Station, unlike the last time when I visited it.

Kaguya-sama Collaboration Event

The event, entitled “Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai” Hoshinsai in AKIHABARA, was being held at the Akihabara UDX building, spread across its ground floor, 2nd floor, and 4th floor. I picked up a booklet which I will eventually scan, and wandered back and forth across the different levels for a couple of hours, but for sanity’s sake I will combine timelines and present the pictures in order of location/level since I otherwise did a lot of back and forth trying to figure out how everything (which was in Japanese) worked, as I didn’t really understand how the event worked at first.

Firstly, the ground floor. There was a picture stage there, where one could have their picture taken, and then upload it onto social media for a game event ticket, to be used later on on the 4th floor.

I took two pictures here, one of just Tigey and one of Tigey and me:

Not a fan of either picture, but so be it.

Next to this stage was a front desk area, which I didn’t take a picture of, but the main draw of this area was that people could get some sort of prize for finding nine words/characters hidden around the venue and rearranging them to solve a question that was in the booklet. I didn’t do this one, as I only ever found a couple of them once I understood what we were supposed to do with them, and I’m not sure my Japanese was up to par for that sort of puzzle anyway.

Next to the photo stage and the reception desk were two food trucks, serving collaboration food and drinks and selling/giving away some character goods as well. The food and drink were basically generic and horribly overpriced things that they pretended to be themed after certain characters for no good reason other than to prey on people that absolutely had to get full sets of things or swag featuring their favourite character, since each food or drink purchase came with a *random* coaster featuring the different characters, and people could also buy various “trading” collectibles in blind box packets from there. Corporate greed had its fingers all over this for sure.

The food portion of this was a really bland bakudan yaki, or fried bomb”, basically an oversized takoyaki ball. It cost $6.

The drink section was familiar, though there was a choice of seven different drinks, each one based on a different major character. Each one came in a small cup that cost $7, and came with one of nine random coasters. I didn’t take a picture of my drink because I would have needed four hands for that and it looked nothing like the picture (the hearts had fallen through the tiny glop of cream into the drink by the time I got it), but I got the green Ishigami drink on the leftmost side of the second row.

They also gave away one event ticket per food or drink purchase here, in another attempt to swindle people into buying that garbage. Either way, I had no idea how bad they were until after I bought it, so I bought one of each with my lunch budget. Both my random coasters, from the two different sets, featured Miko Iino, and I have the habit of favouring characters I draw from blind boxes of shows that I don’t have an outright favourite character from, so that’s fine with me, as she’s pretty great. The coasters can be found in the loot picture at the very end of today’s blog.

On the other end of the ground floor, there was a merchandise booth selling some stuff that I don’t seem to have a picture of either, though they’re inside the booklet that I will scan and attach one I get home. They include some keychains and bag tags, postcards, a coffee bag, a hoodie, a profile book thing, and more. There were also stand-up character panels lining the side of the pavement:

The second floor contained an event stage, a memorial board, and several other things. They were recording radio show episodes on the stage with the seiyuu, or voice actors, who played the characters in the show, but an online ticket was needed to attend this section and I hadn’t signed up for that because I didn’t have the Japanese knowledge to appreciate the jokes and banter, nor did I have hours to spend at the event, so I just took pictures from outside.

There was a free gallery section with autographed flower bouquets for the voice actors and theme song artists on display:

Note that two of the characters in the third photograph above, the koku (告) and the te (手), are outlined in a heart — these were two of the nine hidden characters around the venue that one had to find and then rearrange for the bonus quiz in the booklet.

Lastly for the second floor, by the escalator leading up to the fourth floor, there was another small display with posters and autographs.

Honestly, kind of a boring first two floors, though I’d have considered more of the (non-gacha) merch if i wasn’t worried about how much space I had left to fill in my bags.

The fourth floor though, was interesting. There was a theater with shows that required an online ticket for entry as well, but there was a separate section for carnival games which one could play by redeeming event tickets, and by earning points from said games, one could earn enough points to draw a prize from the Japanese lottery machine wheel.

There were also a couple places where more event tickets could be earned from as well, like this photo opportunity place where one could upload a photo of this character collaboration within a collaboration event for an upcoming anime (Oshi no Ko) and earn an event ticket plus a sticker for free:

And this free draw thing where one could pull a string and win a free card from a new trading card game with Kaguya-sama characters called Osica that they were promoting, and possibly more. I didn’t see anyone draw the top tier prize, but the bottom tier prize was a card plus an event ticket, and the middle tier prize, which I pulled, was a card plus a small packet of Kuppy Ramune sweets, and an event ticket.

For the carnival games themselves, there was a cork gun booth where one could get points for shooting down acrylic stands and which was the most popular booth:

A goldfish (ball) scooping booth where one could win points depending on how many balls one could scoop up into their bowl before their fragile scooper broke:

A ring toss booth where one could get points for tossing rings around nearby cones or further off character acrylic stands:

A katanuki or die-cutting booth where one could try to carve out hearts on a piece of candy mold using a toothpick without the candy mold breaking, which was the least popular booth:

A coin booth where one could redeem tickets for coins and toss them into a fish tank to try to get them to land in bowls placed at the bottom:

And finally a balloon stand where one could throw away tickets for balloons tied into weird shapes. I don’t think anyone opted for this since it was very expensive (5-20 tickets per) and everybody was probably aiming for the prizes up for grabs, and the balloons didn’t grant any points.

There was also another merchandise booth from a separate company selling things like Kaguya-sama radio CDs:

As well as more keychains and such, I believe. 2000 yen spent here would get you an event ticket, but each CD was around 3850 yen, which was far too rich for my blood.

Anyway, I had five event tickets, two from the food/drink, two from spamming Twitter with photos, and one from the Osica booth, so I spent a couple of tickets on the coin game and got two coins into the bowl for 40 points (4 stamps), and then three tickets on the fishing scoop game, which I utterly failed in but still got 10 points (1 stamp) from. That gave me 50 points (5 stamps), which was enough for one spin of the prize wheel.

All I got were some Kaguya tissues. They would ring bells whenever someone won one of the bigger prizes though, and this guy with hte backpack took home one of the top prizes, I think one of the autographed boards:

The staff attendants made quite a big fuss with all the bell-ringing, but it was fun to see.

To Matsudo City

Anyway, by this time I had spent far too long here, so I wandered out of the event and back to the train station, passing a performer in the square that a bunch of people were watching:

My sister had told me about train station stamps the previous day and to watch out for them, and now that I knew they were a thing, I found the Akihabara one on a table not far outside the toll gates:

There was a physical station stamp as well as a digital one for some sort of curry festival. Definitely something I should check out if I have time. I stamped my book with the physical one and signed up on some sketchy website for the other.

From here, there were two more events that I wanted to hit today, a shopping street stamp rally called the Koenji Festival in Suginami Ward in Tokyo, as well as a fireworks display in Matsudo City in Chiba. I initially headed for the former, taking a one stop train ride from Akihabara to Ochanomizu Station for a transfer.

before doing some calculations and realizing that because Matsudo City was so far away, and the event started at 5:30 pm, I would only really have an hour at Koenji since it was already around 2:30 or so. So I made a u-turn and headed back to Akihabara.

Akihabara Station still really confuses me, but it’s a bit easier now that I know that the stations are layered on top of each other, so you have to go through one other platform sometimes to get to the exit. Still weird though, but all that means is that I need to go there more often to wrap my mind around it better.

From there, I took my old friend, the Yamanote Line, to Nippori Station:

And then hopped across a JR line to Matsudo:

I walked out the wrong way (east exit) on purpose to look at the buildings there since I would probably never be back:

Then came back into the Matsudo station and found the stamp rally table:

This one was a totally different stamp for a totally different event though, and nothing to do with a general stamp collection rally for stations, or anything like that — it was even a completely different size from the Akihabara one. But a stamp is a stamp, so I took that too, and ended up with two on the day:

I walked out the west exit of the station this time and admired the pretty urban surroundings:

Some politician or something was giving a public speech in the square there, but there were more security guards than there were onlookers, it seemed. I gave this a wide berth and continued down the street:

Another random Bookoff store! This place is a time trap. I still had about an hour and a half to kill though, so I went in and ended up with one CD and a pack of cheap Weiß Schwarz collectible cards.

Once I came out of the sky, evening was beginning to fall and there were a stream of people heading west along the road from the station toward the Edogawa riverbank where the fireworks were taking place. I joined the crowd and followed the volunteers and police directing people and traffic along with signs and batons.

The crowd merged together at the final traffic crossing before the riverbank, which was an elevated walking path area some distance above the actual river and some ponds down below.

The signs ended up here, and the early birds had already taken the best spots, spreading out picnic towels on the ground to sit down on it, but the path was very long and people were lined up all along it, so everyone broke off and spread out from the choke point. Most of the people were wandering northwards slowly, so I followed them.

I figured I ended up with a pretty good vantage point. The festival directions and all the signs had just said to walk west from the station until the riverbank, and everybody was expectantly waiting — adults, schoolchildren in uniforms, the elderly, little kids hoisted up on parents’ shoulders, and so forth. 5:15 pm stretched into 5:30 pm (the original start time) and then into 5:45 pm as everyone admired the fading light of the evening sky painted with nature’s vast palette of colours, and anchored by the half-moon in the sky. It was very pretty.

And then the fireworks started. About 105 degrees to the right (north) from where everyone was facing (west), concealed behind apartment buildings for most people:

There were surprised cries of “maji de?” (“Seriously?”) from the crowd around me, as people realized the fireworks weren’t actually happening where the organizers and guides had sent people to. It was still technically along the very long riverbank, but quite a distance to the northwest, particularly screwing over the people who had gotten here early on and reserved spots on the ground, from which the fireworks were now invisible since they were now at the “back” of the assembled people facing the fireworks and on a downward incline to boot, never mind the fact that the fireworks were mostly concealed behind a building anyway.

Some people packed up and started walking north to try to find a better vantage point for it, I looked at the map and decided that it would be too far to walk (because I had already walked some distance north to find a spot to begin with and was already 15-20 minutes away from the station) and just stayed where I am, and many others did the same, with nearby children complaining to their parents that the fireworks were “mienai” (can’t see).

In honour of the event organizers in Matsudo City, Chiba, who screwed up this event and wasted people’s time, I have elected to have whatever fireworks pictures I could salvage have the honour of being the only pictures in this blog post to be stuffed into a gallery instead of being embedded into the body text of the blog post instead. Not that the galleries are usually used for pictures I want to dishonour somehow, they’re just a more compact way of listing many pictures without wasting horizontal space, but in this specific case it’s a symbolic middle finger to those Matsudo City clowns.

The “better” fireworks still drew a few oohs and aahs from people though, especially when they managed to crest the building’s roof (there were many others that did not). The fireworks lasted for about 30 minutes, from 5:45 pm to 6:15 pm, and somehow everyone immediately knew when the last one was fired because everyone gave a scattered round of applause before shuffling off back home. A lot of people returned using the main street that we all had walked here along from the station, though since I had walked some distance north I had a slightly different path back to that road and didn’t get caught up in the logjam:

I had a two-transfer route back home, all using JR lines, first from Matsudo to Shim-Matsudo along the JR Joban line:

then to Nishi-Funabashi using the JR Musashino Line:

Here I had a small problem — I knew I needed to take the Sobu line from Nishi-Funabashi to my Shin-Koiwa station, but I wasnt familiar with this part of the line and had no idea which direction the train I needed was. A particular thing about a lot of the Japanese train stations is that they don’t actually prominently show a list of stops that the train on this or that platform will head to — some of the lines do, and I’ve shown some of these lists in previous blog entries, but others don’t, and I don’t know why. It’s some sort of local “assume everyone knows what I know” blindness, I suppose.

And to an extent this is true, I more or less learnt the Yamanote Line after 3 days or so there, and I had a very good guess on which way I was supposed to go, because I knew that the Akihabara side led back toward Tokyo, my stop was near the edge of but still within Tokyo, the other direction led into Chiba where I currently was, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t “in between” Akihabara and my stop by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn’t want to take a wrong train anyway so I ended up having to double check on the phone by looking the line’s stations up on Wikipedia of all things.

Anyway, I arrived back at my station without incident.

I bought several bentos for dinner and supper and a random bowl of cup noodles for breakfast the next day, and was delighted with the low cost of the bentos now that I was able to start catching them on sale. The Seiyu supermarket next to Shin-Koiwa Station had tons of 30% off bentos when I arrived there at 7:30 pm, and I’m sure if I had waited a bit more they’d have dropped to 50% off at maybe 8:00 pm or so (needs verification):

And a bit further afield, somewhere between the station and my apartment, a supermarket called Attack already had 50% off bentos by the time I got there at 8pm:

I ended up buying all this for 716 yen, or $6.62 CAD or so on the day.

Yum. I was completely exhausted so it was a good way to finish up the day. And besides the station stamps, this was my loot for the day.

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