Most definitely my favorite day of the trip for reasons which I would reveal later. In any case, referring to the guide meticulously thought out by Hoshi-kun, we are to head out to the Meiji Shrine near the Harajuku Station.
This place was built for an Emperor, and it shows, judging from the vastness of the entire vicinity as it took us quite a while to reach the main shrine. To be honest, I'm ain't much of a religious person, but there was one reason why I had bothered to come here in the first place, and that is of course to see the Mikos(Shrine Maidens) >< As luck would have it, there was a wedding ceremony being held at the same place, so we got to see a couple donned in the traditional wedding kimono and hakama, not to mention the appearance of the head Shinto priest as well.
Meiji Jingu's Torii
Shrine Maidens! <3 Oh yeah, beautiful bride as well
Since it was Sunday, no visit to Harajuku would be complete without stopping over at Yoyogi Park, where members of the Gothic Lolita subculture were supposed to hang out. Unfortunately for us, we probably got there pretty late, as there were none in sight. However we managed to chance upon some Rockabillies and live bands performing there. As mentioned earlier, we were somewhat behind schedule as too much time was spent at the shrine earlier, so we wasted no more time and proceeded to the next location.
Live bands at Yoyogi. They sound real good and have albums on sale
The first of locales that we've planned to visit which is outside Tokyo, you'd be wondering why anyone would want to come to this sleepy part of the Kanto region. If you had read my earlier posts, you'd know that I came here to visit a particular shrine. Again, as I've admitted to the fact I'm far from pious, my visit here has ulterior motives.
One of the oldest Shinto shrines around, this place received a huge influx of visitors outside Saitama when Newtype ran an article on the places featured in Lucky Star. Ever since then Otakus from all over have been pouring in to the extent that the locals were alarmed by them. It took us a short walk from the station to get here, and as expected, there weren't many people around to ask for directions. Nevertheless, we found our way around without any problems and reached the shrine at around past noon.
The one and only. For the curious, the little building on the right is actually a teahouse that sells souvenirs as well.
My inner fanboy was jumping for joy as I rushed towards to the main entrance of the shrine, taking pictures of myself and my other two accomplices standing at the same spot where Kagami was supposed to be. Speaking of which, I had Evern record a short clip of myself doing the Kagami Walk.
Without further ado, we went inside the shrine itself and noticed that there was minor construction taking place. I immediately guessed that it was for the Lucky Star event which is supposed to be held on the 2nd of December. Anyway, we reached the spot where worshippers were supposed to hang their ema(wooden prayer plaques) and surprise, surprise(not), it had Lucky Star all over it. They looked pretty much as I'd expect them to as seen before, but my jaw dropped when I came across a humongous ema featuring Konata which made the other emas look awfully noobish.
The many emas at the Washinomiya Shrine. Note the one on the extreme right
A closer look. Now that's what I call an ema
Minor construction/renovation at the shrine
Speaking of amateurs, I did what I came here to do(after from taking pictures of course) and bought myself an ema to write on. This is what I wrote:
KAGAMI IS MY WIFE!!!
LUCKY ☆ STAR
Please don't laugh lawl
I was caught by some old lady writing and hanging the ema who asked what anime the characters were from, to which I replied "Lucky Star." She had a puzzled look on her face so I continued by saying "Er..shin(new) anime", not that it helped clear her confusion anyway...
We took the rapid line from Saitama all the way back to Shibuya, and by this time, it was already dusk. Probably the most busiest place in Tokyo I've seen so far, we exited just right outside the Shibuya crossing, which was a sight of its own, as it is apparently the world's busiest. Surrounded by big screens and commercial buildings it is a very popular meeting spot it seems, as it is also home to Hachiko the dog which waited for its late master for 12 solid years! It became a symbol of loyalty, and a statue was erected in its honor.
Our last stop for the day, this place is the Medina to Otakus, if Akiba was the Mecca. Unlike Akiba, this isn't so much of an entire district, as the only place you'd want to come here for, is situated on the 2nd floor of the Nakano Sun Mall. The place in question is Mandarake, one of the big time anime merchandise retailers similiar to Animate. Unlike the latter though, this place seem to serve the more elite crop of Otakus, judging from the atmosphere when we reached their shop. The Mandarake at the Sun Mall consists of several shoplots occupying the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor, each specializing in different goods. It was this point when I first realize on the otaku merchandise retailers phobia with cameras as I was stopped several times by the shop attendants, something which I will experience later at other places as well. Still it didn't really stop me, as I took pictures of what's available anyway. Apart from the feeling of elitism Mandarake seems to convey as opposed to the more family friendly feeling from Animate(which also bars photography if I recall, but I didn't notice this fact till I visited their outlet at Akiba), they stock goods such as animation cells and ready to wear cosplay outfits as well.
Nakano Sun Mall at night
One of Mandarake's many shop lots at the mall
Just like Animate, it has sections selling only male manga and another catering to girls
Ready to wear cosplay outfits. Most of them retail at about 20k yen, but the Suiseiseki one costs almost triple. ORZ
It was a pretty long day, as we got back to Ikebukuro quite late. Despite the minor setbacks such as not being able to meet the gothic lolis at Harajuku and not being able to get my hands on the Lucky Star phone straps at the shrine(I just found it is only available on the event day) it was still a successful day I feel. Heading straight to bed without taking a shower, today's eventful day marks the end of our 2nd day in Japan. つつく。。。。。