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Before I go into Day 2, there’s something that’s been on my mind about the maid café.  The maids are supposed to follow orders, but at the same time, they give orders, and as patrons in the “world” of the maid café, we follow them unquestioningly.  I didn’t see anyone refuse to do the “magic” or refuse to take part in the 15-minute “Dream Time” ordered by two of the patrons. I wonder what the maids say if a customer says, “no, I don’t want to say ‘moé moé kyuuun’ at some guy’s champagne!” ^O^

Anyway…

On Day 2, Wednesday the 30th, we got up and had breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant.  They had a 1000 yen all-you-can-eat Japanese/Western breakfast.

Then, we hopped on the Yamanote Line to Hamamatsuchou to go to the Shiki Gekijou (四季劇場) to get tickets to see the Lion King musical.  I don’t particularly like musicals and decided to go if there were cheap tickets.  Since there were, I bought a 3000 yen ticket, though I had to sit a few rows behind where Cassie was. We got our tickets and since we had over two hours till showtime, we went to kill time at the Tokyo Pokémon Center; we had happened to see a sign for it at Hamamatsuchou Station.

Pika Pika!

The Center was jam-packed with people of all ages.  There was every kind of Pokémon merchandise available.  I was surprised to see shirts with this nice, glittery design on it.  I don’t remember at the moment what Pokémon it is, but it was cheap, large, and pretty so I got one.  I also picked up some Evie clear files (the PCFC grows!) and souvenirs for a certain Pokémon-loving friend. ^_~ (Though, once I got back to Fukuoka I learned there was a Pokémon Center in nearby Canal City Hakata. ^_^; Though it’s only about half the size of Tokyo’s.)

Now, from where we were we could see Tokyo Tower, so after the Pokémon Center we walked towards it.  On the way there, we turned onto a street with a torii.  Before reaching the shrine at the end of the street, we stopped at a Starbucks.  I’d been wanting a chai latte for a while.  (Someone got me hooked on those. LOL) As my friend checked out some Year of the Tiger goods there, a friendly barista started talking to us.  She recommended we go to either Asakusa or Meiji Jingu for New Year’s.  There were free pamphlets at the counter explaining the temple down the street; turned out it was Zoujouji (増上寺, “ji” means “temple” so I think it’s a bit redundant to say “Zoujouji Temple”).

Zoujouji with Tokyo Tower in the background. Preparations for the huge New Year's Day crowds were under way.

At Zoujouji, we got omikuji, or fortunes written on little folded pieces of paper that you draw from a box after dropping in 100 yen.  Since these mikuji also had little guardian charms attached, they cost 200 yen.  I drew a good fortune, with a charm of a bamboo rake.  The bamboo rake helps you “rake in” fortune if you keep it in your wallet.  (You better believe I put that bad boy in there! ^o^) If you draw a bad fortune, you can tie it to lines set out just for that, (some temples have small trees for this) and the temple spirits or gods will take on the burden of your bad luck. ^_^; There was a beautiful Buddha statue there, and across from it was a pine tree planted by Ulysses S. Grant.

I left the photo at full size so you can read the plaque.

Since we still had time before the show, but not too much, we stopped at Mos Burger on the way back to the theater for some quick lunch. It was pretty good.  Then, we rushed out to the theater and got there about 15 minutes before show time.

As I said, I don’t particularly like musicals, but since I did like the movie The Lion King, and that’s pretty much a musical, there wasn’t much difference when it comes to the random let’s-bust-out-in-song-and-dance-even-if-we’re-villains factor so I enjoyed it. Being familiar with the story made it pretty easy to understand in Japanese.  Actually, all the historical dramas I watch also helped, since everyone spoke to Mufasa in keigo.  The sets, costumes, and effects were incredible.  It’s been a really long time since I saw The Lion King so I don’t really know how the lyrics in Zulu and Swahili are supposed to sound (well, to say nothing of them probably being pronounced incorrectly in the original movie anyway), but my friend commented that the Japanese cast sounded funny trying to sing in African languages. They didn’t do the Mufasa/Que pasa joke with the hyenas.  When Zazu was singing in a cage and Scar told him to sing something happier, it sounded like Zazu started singing enka! The audience laughed.  I assume it must’ve been a pretty famous song. At the end, there were about 10 curtain calls!  Before leaving the theater I picked up some “crepe cookies” with the musical’s logo to be an omiyage for my kouchou-sensei. (Once back in Fukuoka, a while after I gave him the gift, he went to the shokuinshitsu to give me a 2010 calendar from Shiki Gekijou that the theater had sent him, lol. The picture for December is of Simba, Nala, and Rafiki presenting their cub.)

消火栓 (shoukasen) means "fire hydrant."

Hm, I could’ve sworn I took a picture in front of the theater, but I guess I didn’t, or I accidentally deleted it from my camera.  Oh well.  Instead, have a picture of cute chibi (samurai?) firefighters that I saw on fire hydrant covers in several places around Hamamatsuchou! I assume that under these covers is just a simple water pipe for use in case of fire.  Seems more logical than the red fire hydrants that stick out of the ground and get used by children on hot summer days to cool off.

After the show, we went to roll around Shibuya some more.  My objective was to go to Tower Records to get CDs of Russian composers, whose work isn’t available for sale in the U.S.  While the poor clerk scoured his database for the uncommon composers, I thought about buying the 3-disc Nodame Cantabile set they had, which covers all the music used in the live action drama and the movies! It was just about 4800 yen, which is pretty good for 3 discs but…I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more interested in the pretty pictures of Tamaki Hiroshi than the music itself. ^o^;;;;

Oh yeah, before going up to the 6th floor where the Classical section was, I picked up GACKT’s latest single, “Stay the Ride Alive,” his third collaboration with the Kamen Rider franchise.  It wasn’t supposed to be out until New Year’s Day, but both Tower Records and Tsutaya had it on December 30th, if not earlier, even though both stores had signs for the single that said “OUT 2010.1.1.” For buying the single, I got a free GACKT x Tower Records poster.

The closest I'll ever come to taking a photo with GACKT? *wump wump wuuummp*

Tower had heavy promotion of Michael Jackson’s This Is It going on.  There was a TV playing “Smooth Criminal” with Japanese subtitles, mega-LOL.  「アンニ大丈夫か。アンニ大丈夫か。大丈夫か、アンニ。」^O^

After Tower, we went into the nearby Tsutaya.  I picked up GACKTIONARY, a book chronicling the 10 years of GACKT’s career so far.  It had been out since mid-December; honestly I could’ve gotten it in Fukuoka, but when it came out I was like “It’ll be a while before I can read Japanese quickly enough to actually want to read this book, so why bother?” but since it was right there in front of me, fangirl collectionism won out. ^o^;;

Tsutaya had a special sign for their store this day; instead of the usual “Tsutaya” sign, the first “a” was Ayumi Hamasaki’s funky looking “A.” People were taking pictures of it, but I don’t really care for Ayu (no offense to her fans) so I didn’t.

When we were done shopping, we looked for a place to have dinner.  A restaurant with various yakiniku caught my eye.  It was actually a motsunabe place. Motsu = innards and nabe = pot.  Nabe ryouri is very popular in the winter months.  I didn’t know that motsu was innards, it was the yakiniku I’d gone for, but since they had a tabehoudai (all-you-can-eat) for the nabe, we got some.  We tried the innards; I didn’t like them so I only ate the other kinds of meat. Ironically enough, motsunabe was orginally a Fukuoka specialty. And here I went and ate some all the way in Tokyo…

~End of Day 2~

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