There’s been a dizzying rush as we struggle to get everything done in time, it makes more sense if I start at last night.
Met up with Trej on arrival back in Tokyo and went out to hit the town. Something we’d been meaning to do was visit the Good Smile Cafe in the new Akihabara Culture Zone building, it’s just been done up for the Miku concerts. Mika-tan actually covers this much better in her article, it’s worth a read.
We really liked it, the place is spacious and tastefully decorated with stuff to look at while you eat and drink. And we got table number 39. Trej and I seem to have found our happy divisions, we got the Miku and Luka themed drinks respectively, and the NegiToro plate each. It’s really tasty!
Caption: The drinks come with a matching take-home coaster. Chibi Luka is ridiculously cute, but I think I like the cool nee-san Luka even better.
There’s a few themes going in the cafe at the moment: Miku, Milky Holmes and Madoka Magica (actually the real theme is the letter ‘M’). There’s copious amounts of design and production materials on display for each one, it’s fascinating stuff to look at.
Milky Holmes still puzzles me with its popularity. I like it because it’s silly fun, and at times perverse, but I can’t figure out if all these other people really like it as well, or it’s just the marketing juggernaut pushing it along.
There were a few things I was still after and suggested we have a look in Melonbooks. It’s buried beneath the Hey game centre so it’s easy to miss, but I’m glad we visited. A couple of nice CDs and some of the books I hadn’t seen anywhere else - they were all there. 7000 yen later, I was done.
The 10th? Why that means it’s a Saturday. Today is Cos-Cha’s sukumizu and kneesocks day! We dropped stuff back at the hotel and headed over. I’m still surprised by the fact that Little BSD is in the same building, right upstairs from Cos-Cha. Not having Blitz with us meant it was a much quieter affair this time, but it was still good fun. We were there for the view, and it delivered. Repeatedly.
As we were leaving I noticed one of the roll-out street signs, next to the ones for Cos-Cha and Little BSD. What’s this… “NEW TYPE”!? I scanned the sign to confirm and spotted オトコノコ - shiiiit, it’s a trap cafe, in the same building as two other great destinations!
These places stay open until like 5am, so I wanted to convince Trej that we should hit up New Type after our next destination but he wasn’t quite sold (can’t say I blame him). We’d been eyeing off another place in Akiba, a Touhou-themed cafe/bar/livespace/karaoke venue called Riauta. It’s tucked away a little north-east of the station, not too far from this godly tower.
Caption: Tip for those looking for Riauta: If you’re coming from the station (out of the page), don’t go right down the little alley next to the Lawson Station sign trying to find the place. Just keep going, it’s that sign in the bottom-left of the photo.
Riauta sounds great on paper, a Touhou-only place staffed by cosplayers with colourful profiles. Hobbies and skills like “Singing, drawing, chatting, delusion”, or maybe voice imitations, moonlight bathing, wota activities, writing poetry, sewing, Osaka dialect - it’s all here.
Caption: That’s the sign, you can’t miss it. Inside the building, go straight up the flight of stairs in front of you (there’s nowhere else to go anwyay).
I think we got there around 23:45, but it was pretty quiet. A few people that we determined to be regulars hanging around the bar and chatting, but not too lively. Cosy though, with lots of stuff to look at and play with. The problem for us is that we have no idea how things work here, and when “stuff happens”. They have a funny sort of system where your table-fee is done on an timed basis, and you buy token with can be used for drinks and various activities with the staff.
Caption: Big advert board inside the building. It doesn’t have the opening hours, but the bit you care about is “evenings until 5am, except for Wednesdays when it’s 23:00, and Thursdays when they’re closed”.
We’ll really have to drag along some good speakers next time (and possibly someone who can pass for a local), as interaction with the staff was very limited. We did see Cirno (the Osaka-dialect staffer) arrive for work at around midnight, so it’s not like it’s expected to be quiet. We had a decent poke around at things before heading home, though not before failing at, oh, every single Touhou game installed on their arcade cabinet. For the record, Touhouvania II is pretty awesome, except for the bit where I suck at it. >_>
Dragged our arses out of bed in the morning to make their ridiculous 10:00 checkout time. We missed it a bit, my bad. First order of business was shipping all my junk off. Note for future trips, having the last day on a Sunday is a bad idea for shipping. Kanda post office is open, but only until 12:30, so I couldn’t send more stuff if I went on a crazy shopping spree.
About an hour later and 15,100 yen poorer, I’ve sent off a 10kg box with my cosplay, games, Single-8 cameras, CDs and some
slightly extremely shady books. Thanks, Usotsukiya. <_<
The Via Inn is really cool, check out the way they label the floors:
Caption: Our floor’s markings.
Caption: Now guess each typeface!
There’s also a huge natural lightwell right down the middle of the building - it rains in the circular corridor between the rooms on each level. The lightwell hits the “ground” at level 4, with the lift stack splitting it into two halves. On the “ground” in one half there’s tiles spelling out the latitude and longitude, while the other half has elevation and a couple of other details. When Google gets their imagery up to date, you’ll be able to read these from the sky. Is that cool or what!?!?
Caption: Answers for the higher floors.
Caption: Answers for the lower floors.
There’s a few things I have to take care of, enough to need a paper list. First and easiest is Ast’s Uiharu figure. Everything’s already shipped out, so I’m going to have to take her with me as hand luggage. K-Books in the Culture Zone building has what I’m after, and at 5,250 yen she’s not a bad price.
There must be some kind of gig happening on the basement level of the Culture Zone, there’s bangin’ dance music coming out of there. I have got to check this out, but it’s going to have to wait a bit. I’ve burnt through two of the three Single-8 cartridges, so they need to be dropped in before we leave.
I hop on the train out to Kamezawa and hope for the best - I mailed my internets back to Rentafone this morning, so I’m off the air for the rest of the day. My spatial senses are good so I make it there easily, but I’m now acutely aware that the clock is ticking; we do not have a leisurely afternoon ahead of us.
Caption: A curious pedestrian passes what’s left of the Radio Kaikan.
On the way back, before meeting up with Trej again, I decide to swing by the “Radio Kaikan 2”. I’m not sure how long it’s been around, but Trej visited earlier in the week on a whim and discovered it’s where they’ve stashed the model time machine that was on top of Radio Kaikan before they pulled it down!
Sure enough, there it is, along with a set of full-scale character popstands. I’m glad I made the effort to drop in, it’d be a shame if I missed it. There’s a little guestbook near the time machine with plenty of visitors’ signature. I leave my own haphazard message to the future and get some more photos.
Caption: There are no good angles of this thing, the room is too tiny and the time machine is huge. And there’s another dude visiting.
I did get a shot where you can see everybody, but there’s too many reflections from the environmental lighting. The popstands are gorgeously printed so I figured it’s worth getting some nice close-ups, they beat the pants off my design materials artbook at home.
Caption: Lab Member 006 - だが、男だ
Caption: Lab Member 005 - 「。。。」
Caption: Lab Member 007 - ☆彡 ☆ミFeyris-nyan~ ☆彡 ☆ミ
Caption: Lab Member 002 - トゥットゥル～
Caption: Lab Member 001 - ＳＯＮＯＶＡＢＩＴＣＨ！
Caption: Lab Member 004 - ガッ
Caption: Lab Member 003 - Super Haker
Caption: Lab Member 008 - Dat part-time soldier
Actually there were a few guestbooks there, they’d managed to fill them up pretty well. I grabbed some of the cute/interesting ones.
Caption: Ast points out that the picture on the cover might be a reference to Gunbuster. As he explains it: “They travel away from earth at relativistic speeds to fight aliens, so when they come home it’s the distant future. They light up the earth with the message オカエリナサイ, but the イ is backwards because, well, it’s the future.” I reckon it’s too good a match to be a coincidence, I love that attention to little details.
Caption: Colon-three never gets old.
Caption: Not quite sure what Kurisu is saying there. Okabe is “But, it’s Dr Pepper!”
Caption: A visitor from Singapore. Self-explanatory.
Well, I’m done here for now, I’d better go meet up with Trej…