I thought I would post a few more shots from my Japan trip just to show that it was about more than battling robots and AV starlets in metallic underwear--although there was that. As you might expect, in addition to visiting picturesque shrines and drinking Japanese whisky in cramped attic bars, I took the time to make as many of the nerdy pilgrimages that would be expected of a geek like myself as was humanly possible. To wit:
Sadly, Toho Studios, located in Tokyo's Chiyoda District, does not offer a tour--which, though disappointing, is not all that surprising, given the studio's long-held reputation for guardedness. Nonetheless, a visit to their gates offers enough spectacle to be worth the trip. For starters, there is the approximately 7' foot statue of the Big G that greets visitors, and which adults and children alike are welcome to paw and clamor upon to their hearts' content.
After that, there are the towering murals that grace the studio's walls, one commemorating Kurosawa's The Seven Sumurai and the other, completed in May of this year, of Godzilla himself.
Also from outside, one can glimpse a massive Mothra mural that overlooks the employee parking lot. We asked if we could be allowed inside to photograph it, but were told that we would have to do so from outside the parking gate. Whatevs, Toho!
In stark contrast, Toei Studios, in Kyoto, offers itself to guests in the form of an entire theme park. Admittedly, many of its attractions are pretty cheesy, but it nonetheless features a lot of displays of vintage posters, props, and costumes--giving no short shrift to the studio's many Tokusastsu and animated productions.
And then there is the park's Animation Museum, which features enormous statues of Grandizer and Mazinger. How cool is that?
Mandarake is a chain of super stores dedicated to vintage Japanese toys, particularly of the variety related to kaiju and tokusatsu heroes, as well as manga and anime. The Shibuya branch was sizeable, to be sure, but the largest has to be the one at the Broadway mall in Nakano, which appears to have metastasized to take over the majority of the multi-storied shopping center's storefronts. As someone who used to collect and deal in these types of toys, it was interesting for me to explore the store's many display cases, which were crammed to bursting with myriad Bullmark vinyl figures, Popy "Chogokin" die-casts and other assorted delights. It left me wondering, though, how the store was able to command such high prices for these items, as the conspicuous display of over-abundance seemed to contradict the aura of scarcity that the collectibles market so depends on.
All in all, Japan lived up to it's reputation as a nerd's paradise. To be honest, I think I saw more kitschy sci-fi toys and memorabilia than my admittedly voracious appetite for same could comfortably tolerate. Fortunately, we were not so consumed that we couldn't take time out to sample the local delicacies:
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