Winter Vacation, Part 2: Comic Market, also Kyoto

Continuing where part 1 left off. Now you can learn about what I did in Tokyo.

December 28

IMG_4084.JPGThis granite house was close by Beksahn’s house.

It’s so absurdly out of place in the little village that I invented a fantasy about it.

I decided it was a government installation. Inside the building there must be lasers and trip wires and other traps.

Please be careful if you try to sneak inside here.

IMG_4094.JPGI spent this day traveling to Tokyo.

Take a look at the picture. Can you identify the airline I traveled on?

Is it a Japanese or Korean airline?

No points for a right answer.

December 29-31

These were the days of Comic Market 79 in Tokyo. Comic Market is the world’s largest art sale. About 300,000 people, a majority female, go there to buy comic books and other self-produced artworks. I have my favorite artists so I went to visit them as well as meet my friends.

Most photography at Comiket is forbidden. I took my camera out to the cosplay area but I had to ask permission to each person separately and most had already posed hundreds of times for really good cameras and didn’t care about my crappy little digital camera. Dr. Wiley was really into it, though. The last photo is one of the scam artists on the Akihabara streets (advertising a cosplay “convention” with a 1000 yen entrance fee) who was doing a decent Miku Hatsune. She’s grimacing because it was really cold outside.

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On Day 1, I met up with some friends after Comike and we went to Akihabara together.

I was glad to make some new friends, but Tokyo was putting me through a wringer. Sorry, guys. Next time, come out to my village, I’ll be in a better mood there…

I took a nice boat ride instead on days 2 and 3. It was quite relaxing.

On Day 2 I had many comics I was buying for other people.

IMG_4107.JPGOn Day 3 I spent way too much money buying comics for myself.

I discovered a lot of new artists.

The sky was clear on the way back and I had a great view of the Sky Tower.

My bus was scheduled for 10:30pm. I got bored quickly and rode the Yamanote Line around in circles. Eventually I came back to Akihabara and watched the Kouhaku at a maid cafe. But my troubles had not yet begun.

January 1, 2011

IMG_4111.JPGI arrived in Kyoto grumpy and lonely. The last meaningful conversation I’d had had been with one of the maids at the cafe. And I didn’t know anyone in Kyoto.

IMG_4113.JPGRemembering the layout of the city from my time there in 2008, I walked to the river in time to watch the first sunrise of the new year. Other people were standing silently and watching it with me.

IMG_4114.JPGIt felt good to be back in my favorite city in the world on such a beautiful day. It was like the gods were still running the show in Kyoto, throwing some clouds here and some snow there to complete the picture for an appreciative, international audience.

IMG_4119.JPGKiyomizu-dera was also very nice. The road was very icy and on the uphill slope many people were falling over. But the snowy view was great.

IMG_4127.JPGI think things went downhill when I started walking back from Shimogamo-jinja. That shrine was one of the most bewildering things I’ve seen in Japan. For New Year’s most shrines (and Kiyomizu-dera, a shamelessly commercial temple) have you buy ema, wooden blocks to write your wishes for the year upon. But Shimogamo-jinja was selling arrows instead. Wooden arrows with ema tied around them. And rather than hanging them at the shrine, people were taking them home. As I left, I realized I wanted one. It’s probably some rare lucky item you can only buy at that shrine on New Year’s Day. Then I realized I had no idea what I was supposed to do with it. Then I realized I hadn’t showered or brushed my teeth, and my legs were giving out.

IMG_4129.JPGI looked for an open cafe for an hour (on New Year’s Day, in the old district… yeah..), and finally crashed in a McDonald’s. I went back to the train station, where all the shops were open, and spent the rest of the day as if I were stuck in a particularly long layover, killing time in the shops, taking a long rest at the public bath in Kyoto Tower and gorging myself on a blueberry parfait. I didn’t see the rest of Kyoto, and I was painfully¬†forced to ignore that it was New Year’s Day and all the Japanese people I knew were at home with their families. The second overnight bus to my apartment was awful; let’s not talk about it.

Next time I go to that city, it’ll be on my own terms. No more buses. I’m riding the shinkansen.

Posted: January 2nd, 2011 | Travel 1 Comment »


One Comment on “Winter Vacation, Part 2: Comic Market, also Kyoto”

  1. 1 ESB said at 6:34 am on January 3rd, 2011:

    Wow, sounds like you had an awesome winter vacation. Thanks for writing this up.