(written on the train heading to Gunma before our trip to Hokkaido)
Well hey there! Since I'm about to go blog crazy with Hokkaido adventures, I figured I should tell you about last weekend (March 22) first!
(Even before then: At the end of February we tried to go see plum blossoms in Nihondaira in Shizuoka, and we waited for the one bus to get up there, and lo and behold they had all completely bloomed already and there was practically nothing to see. Utterly epic fail, so I attempted to take some pictures and we got on the same bus on its way back down the mountain. I waited to post these pictures because we were going to see more plum blossoms in the mountains in March, but we were poor and decided against it. So have some pictures of that failed event, haha.)
Anyway. Picture it. March 22nd...((The pictures are there btw))
SO I have a friend who loves One Piece just as much as I do (I feel if you read this blog that by now I probably shouldn't have to explain what One Piece is [but Mugiwara does mean straw hat, if you wondered]) and we've been planning for a while to find the time to hit some major One Piece attractions in Tokyo. More specifically, a One Piece themed restaurant and the mother of all One Piece stores (that opened a few months after I left Japan the first time, if I'm not mistaken -.-). Budget-breaking day trip, gooo!
So there are many different ways to reach Tokyo from where I live at various speeds and prices. Wishing to save some money, my friend and I reserved seats on a bus (which roundtrip is about 45$) which in theory would take us to Tokyo in about 3.5 hours. I say in theory because Tokyo traffic as hilariously insane as you'd think it to be, and (both ways) we had to wade through such business. So leaving at 8:50 we were supposed to arrive around/after 11:30, aaand we got there at 12:15. Yeeeah. But! The day wasn't super urgent, so no worries! Our return bus departed at 6:10, so we had lots of time for shopping and copious money spending.
First. Lunch! The One Piece restaurant was a bit far away, so we decided to make our way out there first (and we were also quite hungry of course). I was expecting just a type of quick-food service place with One Piece themed food, just like other One Piece events I'd been to. So I was very impressed by how...upscale the place was. It was very impressive, and the food was delicious. And we also happened to be there for one of the random times that the "owner" (show character) came out and talked to the customers, so we got to take a picture with him :D
Afterward we stopped at the nearby (sort of new) mall called Diver City Tokyo because there used to be a Jump Store there (there wasn't) -.-. But the journey wasn't an utter waste; when I was in Odaiba last this place was under construction, and the Gundam I took pictures in front of was shrouded in construction and fences. So now I have better pictures of the Gundam! ((Irony: this gundam was built in Shizuoka, where I live now XP))
Meanwhile, fortuitously my friend David from college (who is a JET in Kyoto) had come up to Tokyo the night before to visit a friend of his. And he was free, so he met up with us at this point to hang out and have merriment!
So we headed over to Shibuya to find the fabled Mugiwara Store, the sort-of-new store that is a beautiful place to spend all the money on One Piece goods. It took us a minute to find it because it was in a mall called Parco, but because Tokyo is Tokyo there are three different Parcos, but we found it. And it was so beautiful. And I'm proud to say that I spent less than what I thought I was going to. :D
When we were waiting in line at the checkout, behind the registers they were playing a Universal Studios Japan (USJ) commercial on loop. I was already aware that in the summer USJ has a huge One Piece event, and we were already planning on going (also: Harry Potter is supposed to open here then; yes please). But! This commercial was advertising for something going on now in USJ, until the beginning of May.
AND, the star of said show was my and my friend's favorite character. Needless to say, before I made it home that night we had booked tickets for a weekend trip to USJ in the end of April. Woo! Get excited.
But anyway, after some One Piece purikura--
--We took a brief pit stop at The Disney Store before heading to Tokyo station to attempt valiantly to find the stupid bus (which we did, eventually. And it was hot. And we were talking, which no one else was doing. And I added to my foreign stereotype by eating hamburgers from the rest stop. Yes.)
So all the One Piece adventures! We have a lot more One Piece plans in the future for some reason. Go figure.
Now, to Hokkaido with me!