A Lucky Star Adventure
At this point in the trip, it’s only a few days left until Comiket74. Normally I would rest up in preparation for such an event, but not for me. It was time for another long trip to the middle of nowhere, but this time Rin from Koi Aichaku and friend tagging along as well as my friend ACQ. Our destination? Washinomiya Shrine, home of the Hiiragi sisters from Lucky Star. Hit the jump to check out how the trip went as well as check out a short day in Shibuya for me.
It was a pretty early start to the day for me. However my group of friends had enough of shrines and temples and decided not to join me on this little trip. And after making them pose for the photo outside KyoAni, I’m pretty sure they would curse me more if I dragged them out to Washinomiya. Anyway the plan was to meet up with Rin at Akiba, but I arrived a little too early, thus went around to take some photos of Akiba.
Finally meeting up with Rin, we headed off to Washinomiya. Starting from Akiba, we took the Hibiya Metro Line to Kasukabe, which is roughly a 50 minutes. I met up with ACQ there and then we proceeded to find the school from there. However I hadn’t written down the directions to the school and was basing it off the top of my head to try and remember. Walking along we stopped by a MOS burger so I could at least eat something before continuing on. After about 40 minutes of walking we decided to give up and head back to the station to head off to Washinomiya. But silly Rin and I, we forgot to take a photo of the entrance to Kasukabe station. Oh well.
Getting back on track, I at least wrote down directions to the Washinomiya Shrine. From Kasukabe station, take the Tobu-Iseasaki line to Kuki station and change trains to take a train heading to Hanyuu on the same line as that will take you to Washinomiya. Upon arriving there was no need to ask for any type of directions to the Washinomiya Shrine as there was a map right at the station pointing it out. Makes sense what with all the attention that Washinomiya must get after the bursting popularity of Lucky Star.
Walking along the main road, you can easily tell that Washinomiya is just a quiet little town with not much happening compared to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Things like this aren’t too bad as I enjoyed walking around quiet areas like this and just simply exploring. But I can imagine this place being a bit more busy many months ago. Of course within the vacinity of the station, there wasn’t anything Lucky Star related in site, that is until you cross the bridge.
We started seeing food shops selling items named after Lucky Star characters and such. Too bad most of them were closed at the time. Once we got to the turn off, we could see the Shrine in sight, but Rin had pointed out a building in the other direction with “Shiraishi” on it. Coincidence?? Turning back we headed towards the shrine itself.
Upon entering the shrine grounds, at first it felt like a normal shrine, which is a good thing. That is until you start seeing signs of previous venturers leaving there mark. Most of them I could really read, unless it was in hiragana, but translating some was a different issue. Thankfully ACQ translated a few for me and most of them ended up being pretty average wishes. Though I can clearly remember one asking for a second season of Lucky Star. One can only hope and pray to the gods that there’ll be a second season.
And praying is what I did. Though I didn’t pray for a second season. But before that, I did the usual of cleansing myself (I did this at every shrine I visited). What you do is scoop up some water and wash both hands. Then scoop another cup of water, pour into your hand and drink. However I have seen many people just drink from the scoops but that’s upto you how you want to do it. Once cleansed, I offered my prayers to the local kami to give me guidance from now and the future.
Visiting such an established place, I bought some charms as well as an wooden plaque myself and so did Rin. Yes it’s blatant advertisement but I couldn’t really figure out what wishes I wanted to write nor do I have the skills to draw. I’m a pretty laid back person that doesn’t have many wishes so this is good enough. Though I bet that my plaque has either been taken down or is covered by someone else’s plaque by now.
Now that we’ve finished our little tour of Washinomiya Shrine, it was time to head back to Tokyo, but as we walked out towards the carpark, we noticed a few other otakus were about and they brought about some of their toys:
Seeing a bunch of itasha was certainly a surprise, but I we saw that the guys who owned these cars looked to be in there late 30′s. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I find it strange for a bunch of guys like that hanging out in a carpark at a shrine on a weekday. One of the things that I have always questioned about Japanese society is why do you see a lot of young adults out and about in the middle of the day on weekdays. I thought most would at least be working or studying at least. One of the many mysteries that I’ll never understand.
We gave our thanks to the owners and headed back to the station to head back to Akiba. An hour and half later we arrived back and I took Rin and his friend to some of the shops that they haven’t seen yet. Some of the places I took them to they went nuts about seeing the different types of things to buy, or some of the things they never saw at some of the other stores. Though I would say that Rin’s friend was a little worse off. Him being a touhou fan, he was standing in front of the touhou doujin music section for quite some time. For me, I wasn’t too phased about seeing all the stuff around in Akiba now, but it’s nice seeing first timers of Japan and of Akiba going nuts, reminds me of my first time in Akiba. Ok now I sound like an old man.
After a few hours of browsing, where Rin and friend did most of the shopping, we meet up wih my group of friends and went out for dinner. We randomly found a place on the main street and went in. We ordered food and chat about various things of what it’s like living where we live and various other things. Here are some things we had for dinner:
Everything was in small portions and we finished them off pretty quickly. Though it’s a good thing we ordered at least two of everything. Once dinner was finished we each went our separate ways and headed back to our hotels. The next time I would meet up with Rin and friend would be at Comiket.
It was the day before Comiket and I should actually be preparing myself in terms of rest. But I dislike the idea of staying in the hotel room the whole day so I headed out to Shibuya for some exploring. My main aim was to check out Shibuya’s Mandarake since Roobar went there and bought his Saber dollfie. But before that it was time for breakfast.
My friends had found a nice soba shop on the main street near our hotel so one of them took me there. Although from what they told me, last time they got hot soba due to one of them getting hot soba and they just ordered the same as him. Why he ate hot soba in Summer is beyond me. But I can certainly say that this was quite filling.
In Japan you’ll come across these types of ticket machines at train stations. With the JR pass being useless I got myself a Suica card a few days ago, though this time I had to recharge the card. Having a Suica card makes things much more convenient in Japan as you can not only use this to pay for train fare, but as well as taxi fares, bus fares, buying from vending machines to even buying things from convenience stores. It’s simple to buy one and will only cost you ¥2,000 and you get ¥1,500 credit to start with. Buying tickets all the time was becoming a pain and this makes it much more easier as it works on all JR lines as well as all Metro lines.
The trip to Shibuya from Hamamatsu-cho was about 25 minutes, but it gave me plenty of time to update some accounting of mine. I eventually arrived at Shibuya and taking the Hachiko exit I arrive at the huge crossing. Just outside of the station is the Hachiko statue which is a very good meeting point as it’s something you can’t miss when walking out of the station. I’ve always like coming to Shibuya as there’s plenty of clothes shops around, as well as plenty of cute girls around.
I also made a new discovery that I never found out before and that was the men’s section of clothes store in Shibuya. Shibuya is mainly aimed for women but just across the road from the station is Shibuya 109-2, which is the men’s branch of clothes store. I kept this place in mind as I planned to come back here to buy some clothes, assuming I had the cash by the time I return. I kept walking along and was rediscovering parts of Shibuya that I saw in my last trip here 2.5 years ago, and a lot of it hasn’t changed. Though strange how I came across the Apple store.
Whilst wondering around, I also found COSPA’s small sub-branch store. Though unfortunately there store is quite small and they hold very little stock. Just across the road was Tokyu Hands. Now this place is awesome. It’s pretty much a place where you can get almost anything household goods wise and more. I bought a towel here in preparation for Comiket74.
Exiting Tokyu Hands, I knew I was close to Mandarake as I walked past there when I came to Shibuya for dinner with Tamarket. I got my bearings and eventually found the entrance. The entrance at first looked fine, but as I walked in and descended down the stairs, it was quite dark and looked pretty seedy. Just when you thought the stairs stop, you find more stairs, and with flashing lights. At this point I wondered if I was really heading into Mandarake and not heading into some kind of seedy place. Once inside, the place is pretty much how I thought it would be like. Plenty of old items, even some dating back to the early 90′s and even the late 80′s. Looking around the one thing that had really caught my eye was a Super Dollfie of Suiseiseki for ¥180,000. Perhaps in my next trip to Japan I should buy it assuming it’s still there.
I spent probably a good hour of looking around Mandarake and I got to the artbook section. Looking through the shelves of artbooks I was hoping that I would at least find some of the older Sister Princess books but alas I found only one. However looking at the book I wasn’t sure i I had it already, but what the heck, I bought it anyway. I also picked up a Da Capo fanbook at the same time. Sigh. More spending before Comiket74.
Once finished I headed back to the hotel in fear of spending more money and to rest up before Comiket74. Dinner that night was at a Korean barbeque on the main road of Daimon but I had forgotten my camera. At this point I was hella excited about Comiket74 and went to bed early as I had to wake up at 4am.