For those reading who don't know me, or have forgotten my name, I am Neil Gordon and I intend to keep this blog up to date with my travel activities in Japan - taking place from mid July 2010 till some time in January 2011.
I'm English and am interested in the Japanese culture and language, as well as computers and technology.
The blog name neiltanken is simply my name + 探検 (tanken) - which means expedition.


Tokyo Game Show

I contacted one of the students I met two days back and ended up going to TGS with 2 of them.
I also got Yousuke to come along and we saw each other again for the first time in a while.
"Makuhari Messe" where TGS is held

I haven't played many games besides a first person shooter called "Left 4 Dead" in ages, so I didn't know that many of the game series' on display but it was interesting to see the game footage, cosplayers(people dressing up as fictional characters) and the atmosphere was enjoyable.
This hovering thing has 2 cameras on board and allows you to watch the video live on an iphone while controlling the movement by tilting the phone. It looked like a pretty good toy.
The last photo is me with someone dressed as Hatsune Miku.


A rainy Yanaka, Ueno and Jinbouchou

I went to Yanaka fro the afternoon.

I visited Tennou temple before looking at the cemetery where the Shogun Yoshinobu Tokugawa is buried.
The Tendai sect temple - Tennouji

After getting slightly lost wondering the Yanaka cemetery, I got to see Yoshinobu Ieyasu's grave.
Grave of the last shogun of the Edo shogunate.

I left the cemetery and walked around Yanaka a bit. There were a lot of old looking houses and temples.
The damages to Yanaka during the great Kantou earthquake and the second world war were fairly low, so there are still old buildings remaining.

The Tendai sect head temple for the Kantou region - Kaneiji - was close by so I checked it out.

I walked through Ueno park on the way to Jinbouchou.
Ueno park Toushouguu shrine

Next I walked through Akihabara, and then Ochanomizu after checking the direction with someone.
Incidentally, the character "Professor Ochanomizu" from Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy was named after this place.

It was already about 6pm by the time I arrived in Jinbouchou, and most of the second hand bookstores it's famous for were closed...
Anyway, after walking around for a while I tried asking someone if they knew a good restaurant nearby, and they told me about a curry restaurant called "Ethiopia".

I asked some students if they knew where the restaurant was after walking a bit, but they didn't remember exactly and gave me a rough area to check.

After I'd walked a little in the direction they told me, one of them ran up from behind and said they'd show me the way.
Apparently he'd gone to the effort of finding the pace on his phone after I asked, what a great guy!
Before going to "Ethiopia" he showed me an interesting shop called "The book store where you can play" (after translation) so I looked at the stuff on sale there for a bit.
It felt a bit like England's GadgetShop, and I was surprised at the range of things they stocked.

The friends the guy was with entered the shop after us and reintroduced themselves.

After walking to the restaurant and saying farewell I went in and ate beef curry.
It reminded me of the beef curry I sometimes have at home in England and was very tasty.

A "ghibli" coloured day

I met with E-san who I met in Sapporo, and we watched the latest studio Ghibli animation "The Borrower Arrietty" together.
I thought it seemed simmilar to "The Borrowers", and it turns out the film was based on it.
The picture felt very Ghibli-style and moved nicely, plus the story was pretty good.
I think it's a good film.

After seeing the film, we went to eat lunch at a good udon noodle restaurant E-san's friend told her about.
I went for udon with beef topping and a katsuo based soup. It was delicious!

We then went back to Mitaka city and walked to the "Ghibli Museum, Mitaka".
Totoro was(n't) selling tickets!

The first room we saw after entering the museum showed the history of animation.
The Zoetrope and physical zoetrope, using models of Totoro characters and a strobe light, were particularly interesting.
One of the corridors was set up as a gallery with various pictures and pencil drawings from Ghibli films.
There were several rooms which were set up as workrooms for making the animated films. The walls had all sorts of illustrations stuck on them, and the rooms were full of objects and resources which would be used as reference material when drawing.
It was also possible to handle (replica, I guess) the storyboards for the movies. I took a look at the storyboards for "The Borrower Arrietty".
They were drawn with surprising care. (I would have expected more rough drawing)

We also watched a short animation "The day I bought a planet", which can only be seen in the museum.
I thought the way planets were born in the film was brilliant.

It was interresting just walking around the museum.
Right before closing time we checked out the rooftop garden and looked at the statue of the robot which appears in Laputa.

I had a fun day with E-san.



Today the couple I'm staying with took me to Nihonbashi.
In front of Nihonbashi
The Nihonbashi bridge was built in 1603 and made the starting point for Japan's roads.
5 roads known colectively as 'Gokaidou' connected Edo (present Tokyo) with the rest of Japan.

Next we went and looked at the Mitsukoshi main store. The current building was rebuilt in 1929.
Apparently it was Japan's first department store.
Mitsukoshi main store front & the Celestial Maiden statue inside

Next we went to the Mitsui Memorial Gallery and looked at the display they're currently doing about statues of Buddha which were in old temples in Nara. There were also short poems written by a famous poet called Aizu Yaichi.

It was interresting looking at the various bodhisattva, though the explanation text didn't really stay in my head. (heh...)
The short poems were hard to understand, though I just about understood 1. With explanation from Y-san's husband. ^^

On the way home, we rode on Japan's oldest underground line, the Ginza line.
It opened in 1927 and was influenced by the London underground.
The line width is norrower than other Japanese lines.

Mitaka City

This is my 4th day since arriving in Mitaka city.
I'm currently on home stay with Y-san I met at Moscow airport (and later spent the day with at Ueno park)
I'm taking things easy at the moment.
I went to the propeller cafe in the local Choufu airport with K-san, the daughter of teh household.
I got to see various models and real planes up close and the food was great too, so I was a satisfied customer.

I had makizushi (rolled sushi) for lunch with everyone. It was delicious & fun, what more could you ask for!
I bought the ingredients together with Y-san. I'm still not used to the selection of goods in Japanese supermarkets.
Yesterday's makizushi "welcoming party" lunch

The elder brother of the family (hereon M-san) was planning to go to Shibuya before dinner to buy some stuff for footsal, so I took advantage and went with him.

Apparently "scramble crossroads" is even more crowded with people on weekends.
Scramble Crossroads and the statue of Hachikou
After getting home Y-san made us tempura. It was my first tenpura and it was delicious.
yummy tempura
After taht I updated my blog(s) (bitter grin) and went to bed.