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Day 7 - Tokyo: Hibiya, Akihabara, & Shinjuku

This was the one day during my trip where I didn't have any shows planned and that's only because the Tokyo theater was closed that day. XD Otherwise I'm sure I probably would have gone to see Lost Glory again. I originally had planned to spend the whole day away from the theater and explore other areas of Tokyo, though I hadn't decided where beforehand as I figured I'd just decide then and explore. Welp. That didn't happen. XD Since I ended up making a make-up and photo appointment at the mini-salon place next to QR that day thanks to Chibi. The appointment wasn't until 3pm but I wanted to meet up with Chibi beforehand so she could help get me set-up since they didn't know much English and I knew very little Japanese. ^^;; So we agreed to meet up before she had to go to work since luckily her work wasn't too far from the theater area. We weren't going to meet til like noon though and I didn't want to bum around my hotel that long so I decided to head out to Hibiya beforehand and just revisit Taka-An and QR again for any more shopping decisions and since I tend to browse better when I'm by myself since I'm not getting distracted by chatting with friends. XD I didn't really find anything else I needed in Taka-An though. I had hoped for a few more OG photos but they had less photos than the one near the Grand Theater did. Oh well.

I did pick up a few more things at QR though since I seem to be unable not to buy something when I go in. XD Though at this point it was mostly stuff for other people. Then I went over to the theater since I was going to meet Chibi in front of it. It was kinda odd being there with it being so empty out front though I did watch some people with lanyards come out of the side at one point. I think they must have been a special business tour or something since they were all dressed in suits. Either that or they work for the company and they were just all getting out for lunch break. lol I know from when I worked in theater that even when the actors have off, the office workers and theater staff still work. Anywho, Chibi eventually showed up and helped me set stuff up. I got to go ahead and select the costume I wanted, which originally we had thought maybe I'd do Phantom since we were surprised to see that one on their wall since the official salon doesn't have it but apparently they don't have it anymore. Originally I thought of doing Oscar or Andre but I wasn't a fan of the wig they had for Oscar and I had almost decided to do Andre but then remembered I'd really only want to do him if I had an Oscar to pose with so decided fuck it, I'm going with traditional otokoyaku look because you can't go wrong with that one. ...though it then occurred to me that they'd be using my real hair since there's no wig for that one and I thought my hair would be too long but they assured me it would work though I still had my doubts. lol

I had a few hours to kill. I had been thinking of going back to Ikebukuro since I had barely any time there on Sun and was thinking of spending most of the day there originally. But Chibi suggested maybe I shouldn't due to the mosquito thing (though we already spent time there and I'd just be going to that same area in Sunshine City) and the fact that it would take some time to get there but pointed out that Akihabara was only like 2 stops away and that was my other original consideration for the day so off I went! It was a bit weird not having any particular destination in mind for once though but also kinda nice to be able to just explore even though I only had 2 hours to do it in.

I figured I'd just go out the "Electric Town" exit since I know that's like anime central and was immediately bombarded by it the moment I stepped out. lol I was not entirely prepared for that. XD I was so immersed in zuka this trip that it was like "Oh wow, anime. Right. That's a thing."

Its probably a VERY good thing we did not go to Akihabara the first time I went to Japan because I know back then, we would have all spent our entire wallets right there. XD Yet know, wandering around, I realized that while I enjoyed looking at everything, I had no real desire to own any of it. I still love anime but I'm more picky about it now? And I don't follow a lot of newer stuff and there was very little merchandise for the older ones in this area at least. I also am pretty happy with what I own and even at cons, I don't buy as much as I used to. Probably a good thing.

Very first place I went into, which was totally on a whim btw cause I was like "oh hey this looks like a fun anime store, why not" and cause it was like the first one I saw, ended up being one of the Volks showcase stores though I didn't know this til later on. Hell I didn't even know it was Volks until I saw the logo on the bag I got at checkout. This store did have a lot of really cool stuff though. I got pretty excited that they had the new FF Chibis so bought my Cloud, which was like the one non-zuka thing I wanted to try to find in Japan. lol And found it in the very first store too. XD They also had the Cloud cologne but I was unsure if I was really willing to spend that much on it plus was afraid I'd break it on the trip home. I figured I'd think on it and maybe come back later on or see if they had it at the Square-Enix cafe since I was already pondering trying to go there later. They had the Tales of Xillia phone figures but of course they had like all of them...EXCEPT Gaius. Bah. I know it was like the special one and such but I thought maybe they'd have it but for a higher price cause I'm sure it'd still be cheaper than when I see it on ebay. x_x They had a huge section of cell phone cases and I got excited because they had some REALLY nice ones, especially some for Utena. But then my hopes were dashed when I realized they were ALL for Iphone only and I have an Android. I even tried lining the package up with my phone but they were definitely way too small. lol They also had this section of glass cases full of figures but I was a bit confused by it and not sure if I could go in or not since I noticed there was a bunch of signs before it and the English wasn't very good. Turns out it was basically rental cases where people rent them out to showcase their 2nd-hand items for sale and you fill out a sheet if you wish to buy something and the store gives the money to the owner, etc. Pretty cool idea and they supposedly get a lot of super rare stuff that way. Kinda glad I didn't go in though because who knows what may have tempted me. XD It was mostly the really big statues and such.

I looked in on the 2nd floor of the store but I just saw supplies and photos of trains and stuff so I figured it must have been more for that type of hobbies. Though according to online sites, there's also a TON of anime statues and collector figures there, along with the resin kits and stuff. So doh. I would have actually been interested as I'm sure they had Myth Cloths there but once again, probably for the best. XD I was kinda trying not to buy anything big as my zuka was already taking up all the space in my luggage plus I was getting close to the spending limit I gave myself. The 3rd floor advertised to be Dolfie and Super Dolfie which is what I know Volks for but the stairs to it seemed to be blocked by cardboard signs so I wasn't sure if that meant they weren't opened right now or if only certain people could go in since I know Volks can be finicky like that. Since in the Super Dolfie stores, you can't bring in any dolls that aren't Volks and you can only go to their big store/cafe in Kyoto if you are a Volks member (which I am not). But I did see some people move them and come out but I was still too nervous and thought maybe it was just a showcase room since I'm only familiar with the stores that are really just for Super Dolfie stuff and I thought maybe this was just the regular Dolfies which I have a lot less interest in. Once again turns out I was wrong and they have a lot of both but who knows. Maybe they weren't open yet. I'd feel awkward moving the signs to get up there so *shrug*.

Entire alley full of Gashapons! My camera wasn't wide enough to fit them all in. They were EVERYWHERE in this place lol Yet sadly there were like none that interested me which made me sad cause I love those things. I abused them when I first came to Japan XD

Continued to just wander around, being amused at everything. Went into a few of the game stations which were all full of prize games with some really good stuff but I suck at those type of machines so figured it wasn't worth the price. In a way those things are kinda unfair though because if several people have already tried and failed but managed to budge the prize just a little further, it makes it easier for the next person. I figure eventually someone can just go up and get it in one try if the person before them got close but gave up or ran out of coins. And considering how much those things retail for afterwards... (like my $50 Utena one) it does seem like its worth trying if you find one that's been loosed up a bit buuuut there wasn't anything I particularly wanted. I did watch a few fellow foreign girls try desperately to get one of the Free! items though which was kinda hilarious. XD

I decided to go into the Animate store next since I knew the name and it looked like a pretty impressive one. It turned out to be 7 floors total...which I was not expecting. It just. Kept going. XD And being the dork I was, I had to check out each floor. I noticed quite a lot of other foreigners doing the same thing. Hell there were foreigners EVERYWHERE in this part of the city which I'm not that surprised by. lol Heard a lot of different languages too. But yeah this store had like everything an anime fan could ever want though of course limited to series Animate sponsors but that's a pretty large amount. And yet I did not find a single thing I actually wanted. XD Since it was all newer stuff and I'm not really obsessed with anything new. There was LOTS of Free! stuff. Sadly only a very teeny tiny corner for "Tales of" stuff and none of it was things I was interested in. Like no Pandora Hearts either but I did find a gashapon for it with little charms (very little ones with just a headshot photo but they were pretty) so I decided to give that one a go and got Gil so was pretty happy. Though later I looked at the little insert showing the rest of them and wish I had tried for more. I just assumed it'd be all Oz, Alice, and Gil but there was one for Vincent, Leo, and Jack. PH merch is pretty slim so I take what I can get. XD There was also a big section for Sailor Moon but one of the workers was just now starting to put the section out and I didn't want to get in her way but some of the stuff looked pretty cute. The first floor of the place was basically just manga and then floors 2-5 were all merch (with one section JUST for collectible cards and game cards) and then the 6th floor was DVDs and the top floor was CDs. I used the elevator to go back down since I really didn't want to walk down 7 flights. XD I also couldn't help but think as I was leaving "Man so many of my friends would kill to be in this place and will probably kill me for being here and not even getting anything" lol ^^;; But honestly it was just stuff you see at cons...just...A LOT MORE of it. XD;

After that, I decided to wander only a little bit more since I had to keep in mind the time to get back to Hibiya. I was getting pretty hungry so started looking for food but of course all the vendors seemed to be for sweet things and I kinda wanted food-food. lol One thing the anime haven does not have is combinis except for closer to the stations. I saw some cute maids out so took their flyers solely just because they were cute but the one stopped me, asking if I spoke Japanese or English and then when I said English, she then proceeded to talk in REALLY good English holy crap, lol. Like perfect grammer and very little accent and tried to talk me into going to her maid cafe, which she claimed was the most famous in Japan and was very friendly to foreigners (by the flyer looks like foreigners might be their main income so no wonder she was going out of her way to stop and talk to me XD they probably assume we're willing to spend more money lol). She was super cute and I was hungry but I only had like 30 minutes left before I needed to go back and I doubted I'd be able to be seated, served, etc in that time if it was indeed as popular as she said. That and lets be honest, its not a dansou cafe so I'm not as interested. XDXD I also think she may be one of those maids/cosplayers who comes to anime cons here in the US as a guest because she did look familiar so I wonder if maybe I've seen her on a flyer at a con and considering how good her English was, I wouldn't be surprised if she lived in the States at any given time. Part of me was tempted to take a photo to show her and the other maid handing flyers out but decided that would be rude since I know in the cafe you have to pay to get their photos and such. But the image of seeing them was just like "Yup. I'm definitely in Akihabara." lol

Soon after that I decided I should head back and decided to cross the street and check out that side as I went. There was a store full of NOTHING but the really nice figurines/statues which I had to force myself to say noooo to. Ugh. They had TONS of Saint Seiya Myth Cloths in their display and I just knew I'd probably give in and that would be really hard to fit in my luggage since I was already having a hard time fitting it all in as is. XD But oh man anime figures will forever be my weakness. lol I almost went into Mister Donut for lunch but then told myself, no, I need real food. Though I'm sad I never got to eat at one this time around. We practically lived for Mister Donut when I first went to Japan with my college group. To the point where we had racked up quite a bit of point cards for my professor who was able to get a free tote bag as a result. lol But I was good and got food at a combini before heading back on the train. Ended up still getting back to the salon way earlier than I needed to be but they did say to come early so I wanted to be safe. And the lady who had helped me fill out the forms before remembered me and brought out a bunch of zuka programs for me to look through while I waited so its not like I was bored or anything.

When we were scheduling my appointment, I did kinda wonder why I couldn't just do it earlier since they didn't seem busy at the time but I think they only have certain make-up artists who do the zuka style since I noticed the lady who did mine had literally just come into the place and I was her first one of the day. That or they may have wanted to give me her specifically because she knew some English as she was born in the States. Her English was far from perfect and she had to resort to her phone translator a lot but it was enough that we were able to communicate pretty well so in the end I didn't end up needing Chibi there after all. It was a huge relief because I was so super nervous about this but this lady was so super nice and fun and I was able to just totally relax. I was worried since usually people have a hard time with me since 1) I tend to blink a lot by accident and ruin it (though I've gotten a lot better with this and I do try my hardest to stay still) and 2) I have really small eyes to work with but she had no problem whatsoever and nothing she did bothered my eyes or face at all! I guess that's what it means to be a professional make-up artist as they obviously know how to do it so the person barely feels it. She also made sure to point out what each tool and product was before she used it, mostly relying on hand language lol. I got it though. ^.^ I also couldn't help but laugh when she was getting the foundation ready and testing the color on me...she kept having to add more white to the mix cause I was too pale for the usual tones they had. lmao Oh my goodness, the eye makeup was the most exciting though and it was so cool seeing what a difference it did! The white part they do just above the eyeliner really does make a whole lot of difference and I always forget its in the zuka make-up since you don't really notice it when looking at them but it does make it more intense I think? I tried my best to make mental notes of what she did but I was lost on a lot of it. ^^;; Oh well. I do have a few youtube tutorials to try to learn from at least. The first pair of eyelashes she put on, she thought weren't big enough but then the big ones looked...too weird so we both agreed to go with the first pair. lol She kept calling me "Cool Guy!" the whole time. Like seriously so cute and definitely worth the money I spent to have her do the make-up.

I really had no idea what she'd do with my hair though but she put a hell of a lot of hairspray in it and worked her magic to get it to do things I never thought possible. XD lol I also thought it was hilarious how she took some of my curly side pieces and curled them more and sprayed them in place in front of my ears to kinda use them as fake sideburns. XD Though to be honest, at first I wasn't sure if I liked the hair since it seemed like it was a lot of "up-do" when I usually think of otoko hair as being slicked back but hey my hair is what it is. I should have cut it before my trip but didn't think I'd be using it for anything like this. But next was the costume part though since this place only does portrait photos, this meant only the top half of me had to be in costume. lol Which of course makes it a lot easier since its harder to get pants sizes right than tops. I had brought my own binder just in case but never had to take it out as they had binders there already (something I don't think the Takarazuka one provides since I've been told you need to bring your own there). She used two on me and honestly got me down even better than my own binder would have. I know she seemed a little nervous about causing me pain but I kept giving her the "Ok!" sign since I knew she wouldn't know enough English to understand that I do this a lot and am used to it so it never hurts. I found it hilarious how there was no actual dress shirt, just pieces to make it look like one under the waistcoat and jacket. XD Clever way of doing it so there isn't too much bulk and I could just wear my regular clothes underneath. The first coat she tried, she didn't seem to like much (it was mostly too big on me lmao) so she came back with a tailed coat and I got much more excited over that one. ^.^ Though boy did I feel silly having jeans on with all of that. Its like the top half of me looked super cool and then the rest of me was like " whut?" but of course it doesn't matter for the photos.

So next came the other part I was nervous about, the actual photoshoot. I was super worried I wouldn't understand any of the photographer's directions but turns out...he also knew pretty good English! o_o! So in a way maybe it was better I did this place instead of the salon in Takarazuka since I know they definitely don't know this much English over there. But yeah he was super cool and he put on a zuka DVD in the background for the right atmosphere XD (it was a TCA special too so sweet). We did some test shots first, mostly for me to chose which color background I liked best. I wasn't digging the way my hair looked in the first shot and wasn't sure how to vocalize this to the make-up girl who was helping out in the shoot but I kinda just gestured to it and went "...too big?" lol and she came back with a comb and hairspray and fixed it up and it looked a lot better so glad she kinda got what I meant. The actual shoot was a lot of fun and he kept bringing out more props for me to play with. There was a hat, rose, and mask. We did the first 6 shots just with the tuxedo and then the last 6 with the feather backpiece (which I learned is called "hane", they kept asking me what its called in English but ugh I'm NOT the person to learn English from since my speech isn't very good so I couldn't vocal the pronunciation of "feathers" right so now they're totally going to be saying it wrong oops but hopefully someone will eventually correct them. I just have issues getting the "f" and "th" sounds to not sound the same), which I had made sure to ask for when selecting the outfit I wanted. And then for the last shot, he was all "and for the finale..." and brought out a shan-shan which I'm pretty sure my face totally lit up at that since I didn't know they had one and he was impressed I knew what it was called. lol

I was a little sad we did so many photos cause it made me feel guilty only selecting a few but I really had no use for big photos of a bunch of them since I really only wanted one photo to frame since I rarely keep physical photos of myself. For me it was more about the experience and then having a photo to prove I did it. But it was hard deciding which to get so I ended up getting two. lol And at least I got a decent size so that gives them some money and the girls helping me with the ordering process seemed to expect I'd only want 1-3 total anyways. That and I couldn't think of anyone else who'd want a copy since my parents would be a bit "..." of having a framed photo of me crossdressing. Made me a little sad thinking on this since I know a lot of my friends who have done the salon got photos to give to their parents so I wish I had ones who were truly proud of me doing things like that. Instead my Mom would just be like "" I don't have the photos yet cause Chibi had to pick them up for me since they prefer to have someone there to pick them up instead of shipping them out but she has them and I'll get them soon-ish. Excited to see the final product. ^.^ And they did let me get a few shots on my cellphone (which I noticed is standard procedure as the ladies just doing beauty shots also got to do this).

Cellphone shot. Though if you're on my FB or tumblr, you've seen this since its my profile icon on both XD

I was surprised how quickly and easy the make-up all came off. Usually when I take make-up off at a con, it takes forever to scrub it all off. lol But I guess its just the difference between the cheap stuff and this more expensive professional stuff. lol While I was paying for everything my make-up lady also came over and gave me a "gift" which was a little bookmark sized laminated photo of one of her favorites of the shoot though I wouldn't be surprised if everyone gets one of those too. XD But they all seemed to be really excited over me since I noticed I had more people catering to me than the normal customer, lol. Guess they really don't get foreigners often but I have a feeling they may get more soon since Chibi and I both spread the word of how the experience went and got several people interested. I mean yeah its not as nice as the official salon but its a lot easier to get an appointment and closer if you're in Tokyo. Plus they're all insanely friendly. The pricing is about the same though and they don't have the charm options but I am determined to still get a appointment as the real salon some day whenever I go to Japan next and then I'll probably do one of the character costumes and get the charms and whatnot.

Feeling pretty good with myself and having several hours to the day still, I decided to be bold and got on a train to Shinjuku with the intention of finding the Square-Enix cafe, Artinia, which I only had a very vague idea of where it was since I did not get directions for it beforehand like I did with everything else considering I had originally no interest in going there since its no longer the museum it used to be which meant no Sephiroth in the floor. But when we were at the dansou cafe, Chibi mentioned going there and the fact they had a Cloud-themed parfait. ... THAT doomed me. So yes, I went there with the intention of JUST having that stupid dessert. lol Only issue is that I had to find it. Got off the train at the Shinjuku stop and it was dark already and quickly realized this may have been a stupid idea cause even though I had the address, I had no idea where it was in relation to where I was and I was having a hard time figuring out street names. I just started going in one direction figuring it was worth a shot and I'd just give up if I got too confused so I wouldn't get lost. I was about to give up in fact, until I finally looked up...

Welp. I suddenly had a feeling I was going the right direction at least. XD So figured I'd just go towards that building, which of course turned out to be the Square company building so that was pretty cool to see.

I knew the cafe was somewhere around it since the street name was finally what I needed but I couldn't figure out quite WHERE it was. I was getting nervous that it might be IN the building but that seemed weird since I was pretty sure this was an office building and wasn't so sure what parts were open to the public. But eventually found it around the backside of the building, even though its listed as being part of an underground mini mall in the building on the signs.

The cafe itself is basically this odd egg-shaped building. lol It was all decorated for Halloween already.

The cafe was cute though smaller than I thought it'd be. There was an area to sit and eat and then merchandise all around so you could just go to shop and not have to eat there at all. Then there's a showroom with all the more expensive merchandise on display, including the latest Play Arts. Most of the merchandise seemed to be more Dragon Quest themed which I forget is a lot more popular over in Japan than it is here. I had read that its usually busy and you have to put your name on a waiting list but when I went in, there was only 2 girls sitting in the cafe so didn't have to wait at all. XD I was slightly surprised the waitresses were all in maid uniforms. I don't know why I was considering this is Japan lol but I guess I only expected that at maid cafes though these girls didn't seem as happy as the maids I ran into earlier were. Though I was more distracted by their (what I assume was) manager-on-duty who wore a Turk-like suit. She was hot. XD Though she only seemed to stay behind the desk and do paper work from the looks of it though I did see her chatting with one of the waitresses later on. To go with the Halloween theme they had going on, they were playing Ultimecia's Castle theme from Final Fantasy VIII in the cafe part...which got kinda annoying as it repeated over and over and over. I got annoyed with it and I was only there like 30 minutes tops? lol I can't imagine how annoying it must be for the employees. From my knowledge the music changes per season but I hope they play at least more than one song normally? I mean yeah it gave the right feel but there are a few other creepy pieces they could have added in for variety.

Luckily the menu had a lot of English on it so it was easy to read and order, lol. I already knew I wanted the parfait but figured I'd at least get a drink too. I considered some food too but they mainly had things like pancakes and other sweet foods and Chibi had told me the parfait is huge so I just got that and some caramel latte, even though I don't drink coffee...I just wanted the art in my foam that you get with those. XD You get to chose between if you want Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest for it and of course I went with FF and got a cute chocobo!

The "chocolate parfait" and my chocobo coffee. XD Motherfucking chocolate buster sword dude! Totally worth it JUST for that!

The thing was a little difficult to eat without spilling it everywhere but I got the hang of it. It was pretty good but nowhere as tasty as the one I had at the dansou cafe, just saying. XD But really you go here more for the experience than the actual food quality or anything. After my meal, I went into the showcase room, which was thank god playing different music. This time it was Vincent's theme from FFVII. The room was pretty cool in its set-up especially with the "floating" crystal in the center and the materia down at the bottom. The merchandise on display wasn't as expensive as what I thought there would be and sadly they were sold out of the cologne even though it was on display so realized i I wanted it, I'd have to go back to the Volks store but it was getting late and I had a feeling they'd be closed even if I did try to go all the way back over there. But thought maybe I'd try going back there after the show the next day or something.

I was honestly pretty happy with myself for finding the cafe on my own like that. Maybe I'm not completely helpless when it comes to directions after all? XD Didn't really see much else I wanted to see in the area though and figured it was best not to explore an unknown area at night so went back to the hotel.

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