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Shinkai’s biggest fan – Noritaka Kawaguchi

 

A man who could be living the life in Roppongi driving around in an open air benz. Instead he made a 15 year bet on an amateur anime director who made a 5 min anime short about a cat and its owner.

 

The anime director’s name is Shinkai Makoto.

 

And the man’s name is Noritaka Kawaguchi.

 

Shinkai’s Biggest Fan.

 

A lot of people know of Shinkai’s story. Of how a modest, humble literature graduate who might have returned home to take up the family business, decided to instead join a game company. Work at day and then on his own animations at night, the man created a 5 minute short She and Her Cat, burned the CD-R himself and sold them at Comiket and mails. It was well received and not long after he made the fateful decision to quit his job, so began his journey as an anime movie director with the one man short film Voices of a Distant Star. From there he made a few others, had a few missteps along the way, but ultimately he made Your Name.

 

As I looked more and more into Shinkai’s footsteps, I found there are plenty others who travelled with Shinkai on his incredible journey, and one man among them, is Noritaka Kawaguchi. Shinkai’s biggest believer.

 

Kawaguchi is a businessman, after graduating university he joined Itochu, one of Japan’s largest sogo shosha (kind of like investment fund conglomerate). After a few years in the company, he was assigned to work in the group’s game related business in Akiba. In 1998 he was appointed to lead the newly formed Comix Wave Inc, at a age of just 32. [1]

 

In 2001 one of the staff at Mangazoo, an associated digital publishing business that had been merged into Comix Wave the year before, heard about Shinkai as the guy who worked 5 days a week and made anime in his spare time plus burning and selling CD-Rs. Too much work for one guy. So the company reached out, offering to at least press and sell the CD-R for him. [3]

 

That was the start of the relationship between Shinkai and Comix Wave.

 

Shinkai had been concepting Voices of a Distant Star for a few months then, however there were limits to what one could do in the short time outside of work [4]. Seeing this the people from Mangazoo offered to cover the costs and encouraged Shinkai to make a go for it. [3]

 

Kawaguchi described their first meeting. (The purpose of the meeting is unclear, described as soon after Shinkai’s 28th birthday, putting it around spring of 2001. Possibly as a meeting to get commitment for Voices). Meeting at a restaurant in Harajuku, Shinkai was already sitting there when he arrived. A very polite, friendly man. [5]

 

Through the making of Voices of a Distant Star, Kawaguchi was convinced of Shinkai’s genius and begins his unwavering faith in supporting him. [6]

 

With the success of Voices of a Distant Star, Comix Wave was on board for Shinkai’s next film, The Place Promised in Our Early Days. The production was rocky and the film barely made it out the door.

 

Nevertheless, the company and Shinkai continued onward to 5 cm per second.

 

Around this time the future of Comix Wave was being reviewed. The company was almost 10 years old and options were explored as to what to do with it. In the end in 2007, a few month before the release of 5 cm per second, the company was split into 3 and bought out by the senior managements: Bulls-eye, Minori (which Shinkai would go on to make the OP for its games EF) and Comix Wave Film, which inherited the name.[7]  For his part in the management buy out, Kawaguchi financed million dollar loans in his own name, making his bet on Shinkai very much a personal one. [9]

 

(Shinkai is not a conventional director, to match neither could Kawaguchi afford to be conventional on the business side. While Shinkai’s growing success has given Comix Wave some animation studio colors, it mustn’t be forgotten that it was founded and still is, a publishing company.)

 

Unlike many of its compatriots Comix Wave controlled its own destiny and Kawaguchi was determined to forge a different path. Prior to Children who Chase Lost Voices, Comix Wave took the risk and handled both distribution of film and dvds themselves, including overseas sales, allowing them to reap a much larger share of the successes. [8]

 

The evergreen nature of Shinkai’s works gave the DVDs long tails, selling well years after release, combined with the greater share of the revenue the steady income kept Comix Wave going between releases, and the company managed to stay small and focused. Kawaguchi compared Shinkai’s works to those of Haruki Murakami, it was something people felt special and wanted something physical to connect to. [8]

 

From very early Kawaguchi had his sights set internationally, borrowing on his experience and networks from Itochu. [2] (How much he worked to expand Shinkai’s overseas audience is not clear though it’s probably intentional, working with JPF to host a workshop in the middle east then encouraging Shinkai to spend a year in England, then the interviews and collaboration with chinese anime upstarts). As early as Voices of a Distant Star, he had been evaluating the state of pirated DVDs in China and looked to make a move there when the time is mature.[12] By the time 5 cm per second came out, Shinkai had a dedicated overseas fan base and overseas sales became a vital income for Comix Wave.

 

The failure of Children who Chase Lost Voices was not just impactful for Shinkai but on Kawaguchi and Comix Wave itself. In the interview he hinted at staff tensions and more than the financial loses, it was the feeling of having let his staff down, having had them invest the golden years of their life into the film. But even if it lead to loses, he felt it was more important to be able to look back and think they put in everything and had no regrets. [8]

 

Kawaguchi had to finance additional loans in his own name to recapitalize the company and worked hard to avoid the company being in the red for a second year in order to stave off the banks. Thankfully with the help of income from overseas, they managed to recover the production cost of Lost Voices after 2 years. [6] [8]

 

Learning from the experience with Lost Voices, a different approach was taken with Garden of Words. A limited theater release combined with little to no advertising. Instead the DVD and downloads were made available at the same time on release to great success.[7] With Garden of Words, both Comix Wave and Shinkai had turned a corner. (A similar approach is being used for Shikioriori)

 

Shinkai is not the only creator at Comix Wave. There’s another handful of manga and anime creators that Comix Wave help produce and publish for, to mixed successes.[11] (Peeping Life has a decent following on Youtube, so maybe it’s doing quite okay) For now, Comix Wave still mostly revolves around Shinkai.

 

With the success of Your Name, Comix Wave has turned a new page. Kawaguchi is looking to lay the foundation for something more than just Shinkai’s supporting studio.

 

Kawaguchi saw himself as someone who could help bring changes to the industry and sought to value those who worked on the films well.

 

The box office line that Your Name needed to hit to definitely see a next time from those on the production committee was 3 billion yen. Kawaguchi thus had announced before release to the staffs that should Your Name hit 3.5 billion, there would be a round of bonuses. (In a way he jinxed himself), that number was of course broken in record time. The first round of bonuses were handed out on just 15th of September (film was released only on 26th August). The bonuses were given to not only Comix Wave staffs, while it was not possible to give a bonus to all, where possible outsiders were also rewarded for their involvements. [7]

 

Comix Wave had been a small studio, many did not even realize Comix Wave had in house production capabilities.[7] With the huge windfall and assured future revenue from continued sales and merchandising, Comix Wave has been on a recruitment spree. While some of the staffs were experienced animators, about half were fresh recruits. [9] Kawaguchi wants Comix Wave to become a place that nurtures new talents that will sustain the anime industry, with a view that fairly paid salary staffs will reflect quality in the works produced. [7]

 

However the company had been structured to support Shinkai, with a very lean staff meant to support a single anime production at a time, to train up the new recruits will take time and opportunity, something the studio did not have. Comix Wave needed a second production line. (Shikioriori presented the perfect opportunity). The collaboration with Haoliner meant finance was shouldered by the chinese side while Comix Wave dealt with the productions, and an opportunity to give its staffs much needed experience. [12]

 

(Perhaps in a few years, Comix Wave would become a place known for producing some of the best animator and artists)

 

Kawaguchi remarked that Shinkai is someone who writes even emails and schedules with such grace and poetic beauty, a man who exhibited a sparkle even in the everyday mundane. [5] He could be enjoying the life from his apartment in Roppongi, driving his open air Benz; instead he made a bet on that young man he met at the Harajuku restaurant. [8]

 

And for 15 years, the man patiently watched and worked, his faith never wavering, determined to support and nurture that talent. Now after all that Shinkai and he have achieved, he looks to give something back to the anime industry, and perhaps one day, see Shinkai walk down the red carpet. [8]

 

[1] Hear from the Spirit of the Wandering Samurai, First Half (rough translation), Itochu Facebook, 2017

[2] Hear from the Spirit of the Wandering Samurai, Latter Half (rough translation), Itochu Facebook, 2017

[3] Framing Makoto Shinkai:15 Years of Anime Art from the Director of“Your Name, Crunchyroll, 2017

[4] Youtube DVD Interview, probably from the Hoshi no Koe dvd release.

[5] Comics Star Awards Interview, Bilibili, 2015

[6] Your Name. The man who believed in Makoto Shinkai. Interview of Comix Wave Film’s Noritaka Kawaguchi (rough translation). Yahoo Japan News, 2016

[7] The decade leading up to Your Name (rough translation), Nikkei Business, 2017

[8] How will profit from Your Name be used (rough translation), Nikkei Business, 2017

[9] Frenzy! Anime Industry (rough translation), Toyokeizai, 2017

[10] All about Shinkai’s works, from CEO of Comix Wave, Talking of Anime Business (rough translation). Anime Anime Biz, 2013

[11] Interview with representative from Comix Wave (rough translation), Wakuwork 2019 Interview with Exhibiting Businesses, 2018

[12] Your Name’s Producer Kawaguchi Noritaka speak on Overseas Marketing and the issue faced by the Anime industry (rough translation), Daily Cyzo, 2018

 

Kanto Maigo – Day 9

Final day.

 

最後一天。

 

Our flight leaves at 1pm, I aim to get to Narita before 11am, either the 8.46 or 9.31 direct train from Shinbashi. Leave some time to do a final luggage check and reserve time for unforeseen issues. That leaves us an hour and a bit in the morning.

 

下午1點的班機,預計11點前到成田,搭8.46or 9.31從新橋直達車。留點時間最後確認行李和突發狀況。早上有一個多小時的時間。

 

The options was either Meiji-Jingu Outer Garden or Zoujouji, a temple with a view of Tokyo Tower not far from the hotel.

 

選項是明治神宮外苑或增上寺,離旅館不遠可看到東京鐵塔的佛寺。

 

Meiji-Jingu Outer Garden is about 7 minutes from Shinbashi, accounting for walking time it’d be about 20 minutes each way. Doable but will be cutting it close even if we left at 7am.

 

明治神宮外苑從新橋站坐車要7分鐘,考慮走路時間來回至少20分鐘。可行但就算7點出發還是有點趕。

 

Zoujouji is about 10 minutes walk, easier to control the timing. And since we had seen ginkgo leaves the day before I felt Zoujouji would be more interesting.

 

增上寺走路10分鐘,較容易掌握時間。反正昨天看過銀杏了去增上寺必較有意思。

 

For breakfast, the egg was scrambled egg with sausage wieners, fish was salt grilled fish, plus roasted potato with bacon, salisbury steak.

 

早餐的蛋換成西式炒蛋與小熱狗,魚是鹽燒魚,另外有培根烤馬鈴薯,絞肉排。

Breakfast

Breakfast


We headed out about quarter past 7.

 

大約7.15分出發。

 

Super Hotel is already outside the commercial areas of Shinbashi. From here to Zoujouji was mostly residential areas.

 

Super Hotel在新橋鬧區外,從這走到增上寺多是住宅區。

 

Along the way we passed the Prince Hotel, it had a fancy looking cafe/restaurant/bakery looking place by the roadside away from the main hotel building. Wondered if it was targeted at the guests or nearby office workers. The large car park before the hotel was mostly empty except for one or two tour buses.

 

路上經過王子飯店,遠離主飯店靠路邊有家看起來很高檔的Cafe/餐廳/烘培坊。很好奇鎖定的顧客層是住客還是附近的白領。旅館前廣闊的停車場空空的,只有一兩台遊覽車。

 

The main gate of Zouzouji was under renovation works. The two side doors were entirely boxed behind protective boards.

 

增上寺的正門在整修中。兩個側門完全包在保護木板後。

Zoujouji

Zouzouji is one of the older temples in Tokyo, though not in its current location, it was moved twice during the Edo Era then much of it burned down during WW2.

 

增上寺是東京相當有歷史的佛寺之一,不過在現在的地點沒那麼久,在江戶時期被移過兩次,之後在二戰中大部份建築在火災中被燒掉了。

Zoujouji and Tokyo Tower

Zoujouji

Zoujouji

As the family temple of the Tokugawa the temple saw periods of incredibly glory, with over 120 buildings at its peak. Even today the temple is a massive complex with several interconnected giant halls.

 

身為德川家的家族佛寺,增上寺有過輝煌的時期,全盛時期境內有120多間建築。

 

The family tomb of the Tokugawa is located here. To the north western end of the temple grounds lies 6 of the Tokugawa shoguns. We weren’t able to enter the tomb area, it’s closed off and only opens at 10 plus 500Y entrance fee.

 

德川家的家族靈廟正在此。在境內西北側,有6位德川家的將軍在靈園內安葬。這次沒機會入內,靈廟要10點才開,門票500Y。

Tokugawa family burial grounds

Along the northern edge of the temple was a long row of child Jizos statues. They wore red little hats and capes and had windmills next to them. Dedicated for the safe growth of children and memorial of unborn babies.

 

沿著佛寺北側立著長長數排小地藏。幼兒臉的地藏們頭戴紅色頭巾和披肩,一旁插著風車。為了小孩的平安成長祈福,與紀念未能出世的胎兒。

Child Jizous

Child Jizous

Behind the temple hall rose the red and white of Tokyo tower. Replaced by the Skytree its original purpose may be have been, its faux Eiffel Tower silhouette remains the spirit and romance of Tokyo.

 

在佛寺大殿後樹立的是紅白交錯的東京鐵塔。雖然當初誕生的原因被晴空塔取代了,那偽巴黎鐵塔的身影依然象徵東京的精神和浪漫。

Tokyo Tower

The hour went by strangely quickly, I had envisioned there being enough time to go to the bottom of Tokyo tower.

 

一小時過得異常快,原本還想走到東京鐵塔下的。

 

We walked back to the hotel in the same way. In the narrow streets we passed a Lawson that advertized that it baked its own bread each day.

 

循原路走回旅館。在小巷中經過一家廣告店內每天烘培新鮮麵包的Lawson。

Lawson with bakery

True enough, the place has a mini bakery with two ovens. I imagine the dough is made centrally then delivered to each store, the staff only need to put the dough into the oven each morning. It’s a good step above regular packaged bread which I would have much enjoyed over cold rice balls if only these were more common place during my trips.

 

還真的,店內有個有兩個烤箱的小烘培間。想來麵糰應該是中央廚房製作後分送,店員早上只要將麵糰放進烤箱就好了。這是個不錯的點子,比一般的包裝麵包好很多,若這種店能更普遍一點,在旅途上就能常享受新鮮麵包,不用吃冷飯糰了。

 

We got back to the hotel with plenty of time to do some last minute packing, brush up and get a last minute coffee. There is no need to check out at Super Hotel, when ready just grab the bags and walk out.

 

回到旅館後還有充足的時間做最後的打包,刷牙洗臉,然後再拿一杯早餐咖啡。在Super Hotel不用退房,準備好了拿起行李直接走就行了。

 

We hopped on the direct train from Shinbashi to Narita according to schedule. The train was a typical urban commuter with seats along the walls. Actually not much slower than the Skyliner express and much faster than the NEX, at less than half the price.

 

我們準時的搭上新橋到成田的直達車。電車是一般的通勤電車,座椅靠車廂兩側。其實每有比Skyliner特快車慢多少,還比NEX快,且只要一半的車錢。

 

There weren’t too many people in the Sunday morning, we had no problem finding seats. The train surfaced after Skytree and I chanced a glimpse before it disappeared behind the high rises. The Tokyo cityscape slowly roll past, the hour slipped by.

 

星期天一大早沒什麼人,座位很多。電車在晴空塔後爬升出隧道,在晴空塔躲入高樓後之前碰巧看到一眼。

Skytree

Vanilla Air was based in Terminal 3, the low cost airline terminal without its own railway station, one has to either walk 500m from Terminal 2 or wait for the shuttle bus.

 

香草航空在第三航廈,廉價航空專屬的航廈,沒有自己的車站,只能從第二航廈走500m過去或是等接駁車。

 

The walkway between the two terminal is painted like a sports ground runway, with several rest stops along the way with benches and vending. A lot of efforts went into making the walk interesting, changing lanes, colours, posters along the walls. The distance was barely felt, in a blink we were at the escalator leading up to the terminal.

 

兩個航廈間的走道漆得像操場跑道般,途中有數個休息區,有座椅和飲料販賣機。設計者為了讓旅客在航廈間移動時不感無趣花了不少心思,換跑道,亮麗色彩,牆上的海報。完全感受不到距離,轉眼就到另一頭上去航廈的手扶梯。

Runways

Not yet 10.30, the counter should open at 10.50, 2 hours before the flight. We were maybe 4th or 5th in line.

 

還沒到10.30,若準時櫃檯應該10.50,也就是飛機時間2小時前開。我們是排第4還是5位。

 

Originally I had considered taking the later train, not wanting to get here before the counter opened. With more thoughts now this way worked better. We may need to wait a short while for the counter to open but we were ahead of the line, as soon as the counter opened, we could drop off our bag and be on our way, whether to lunch or shopping. Had we come later we would have had to wait in the queue for time unknown.

 

起初我是想搭晚一班車的,覺得不用在櫃檯開始前到。現在想想這樣也好。我們可能需要等櫃檯一下但至少可確保在隊伍最前頭,櫃檯一開把行李一放就可以放心去逛了,看是出午餐還是逛街。若晚到的話不知道會需要排隊等多久。

 

While we waited for the counter to open I realized I had not yet bought a Playstation point card. Since I play Japanese games and the store only accepted credit cards from Japan, using a point card was the only way to buy the games online or for the DLCs. Thankfully there’s a Lawson right next to the counters.

 

當我們在等的時候我才想到這次來還沒有買Playstation點數卡。由於我基本上是玩日本遊戲而網路商店只接受日本的信用卡,我若要買DLC或遊戲就只能透過點數卡買。運氣很好,櫃檯旁就有一家Lawson.

 

After checking in we went to find something for lunch.

 

託運行李後我們去找地方吃午餐。

 

Terminal 3 had only a limited selection of shops but no shortage of food. Before customs there is a large food court with about 8 shops with a carefully selection ranging from ramen, sushi, donburi to western burgers and cafe.

 

第三航廈的店不多,但吃的到不算少。入境前有個很大的美食街,有8家挑選過的店家,從拉麵,壽司,丼飯到西式的漢堡和咖啡三明治。

Terminal 3 foodcourt

Coming early definitely worked out well, had we came later we would not have finished checking in till after 11.30, then we’d be in a hurry to eat lunch and get through customs. As it is we could easily peruse the available stalls, pick our choices and have lunch at a leisurely pace, enjoying the bustling activities all about from travellers of all walks. I went with the safe choice of the Nagasaki Champon noodle (same one in Hakata) while Y got a spicy ramen.

 

早來真是對了,若晚點到的話可能要11.30才能辦完託運行李,然後趕吃午餐出境。現在我們則能慢慢看有什麼店家看什麼好吃,然後悠閒的吃午餐,看來往的各式各樣旅客。我選的是長崎拉麵,就是上回在博多吃過的那家,Y則選了一家辣拉麵。

Nagasaki Champon Noodle

After that we went through customs. At one stage there was a tax claim station where they were supposed to inspect the tax free claimed items to ensure the travellers were bringing them with them. Instead there was only a basket with a sign and arrows. Y casually tossed the tax free claim slip into it.

 

吃完通關出境。途中有個退稅站理當要檢查旅客的免稅品,確認旅客有把免稅品帶出境。這裡只有一個籃子跟箭頭告示。Y隨意的把退稅單丟進去。

 

Airside there was just one souvenir store selling pretty much everything. Electronics, especially rice cookers at 220V aimed at chinese. Traditional Japanese wares like chopsticks and textiles, Hello Kitties and of course all sorts of sweets. Y knew about a lot of the various sweets and chocolates, which ones were famous, which ones were talked about. I had already got enough sweets so didn’t buy any.

 

過境後只有一家紀念品店,所有可想到的都有賣。電器,尤其是鎖定陸客的220V電器。傳統日本工藝品如筷子,紡織品,Hello Kitty和當然的各式甜點。Y對這些甜點還頗有研究的,那些有名,那些很紅,那些大家常討論。我已經帶很多甜點了所以沒有再買。

Airside souvenir store

Since this was a low cost terminal there were no air bridges. Passengers had to walk down 3 flight of stairs to the ground level, across the tarmac to the air stairs through an expendable corridor that provided some shelter from the elements and served to keep passengers from wandering off.

 

這是廉航航廈所以沒有空橋。旅客必須走下三樓階梯到一樓,穿過一個折疊式通道走過停機坪到登機階梯。折疊式通道可稍稍遮擋風雨,同時也可預防旅客亂跑。

Cleverly designed eh.. air bridge?

It was a small single aisle 737, the flight was short and past lunchtime, I don’t think many people ordered meals during the flight.

 

小型單走道737客機,飛行時間沒有多久且已過午餐時間,機上沒有多少人另外點餐。

 

We arrived at Taiwan late in the afternoon and after we passed customs, disbanded and waved each other farewell.

 

我們傍晚回到台灣。通關後解散,互相說掰掰後各自回家。

 

Kanto Maigo – Day 8

For once an easy start to the day. There’s no hurry today, everything revolved around places within Tokyo.

 

終於可輕鬆開始的一天。今天不趕時間,全在東京都內。

 

Breakfast had a makeover and all the dishes were different from yesterday. The egg became Japanese eggroll, the fish a traditional grilled fish, a broccoli vege and seafood stirfy, and ginger stir fried pork.

 

早餐菜色全換過了。蛋換成日式蛋捲,於是傳統烤魚,一道青花菜炒海鮮和薑汁炒豬肉。

Breakfast

First stop today was Tsukiji… or outer Tsukiji anyway. Because poorly behaviours from tourists they’ve banned tourists from visiting the inner market before 10am. Most of the fish shops are closed at that point and not much point in visiting. What is it with modern tourists…

 

今天第一站是築地市場….或該說築地外市場。因為一些不知自我約束的觀光客的行為,內市場10點前禁止觀光觀光客入內。那時候大部分魚店都關了也沒什麼好逛的。現代的觀光客真是…

 

It’s one stop from Shiodome to Tsukiji. It’s also walkable if I wasn’t feeling lazy, about 1.2km.

 

築地從汐留過去一站。若不是我懶要走也可以,大約1.2公里。

 

The outer market had changed a lot since 6 years ago. More people, the shops sold more things catering to tourists, and a lot more sushi shops. Some shops are even tax free though I have no idea how that is meant to work.

 

外市場跟6年前差了許多。人更多了,店家賣的東西比較觀光取向,也更多壽司店。有些店甚至能免稅,雖然不太懂生鮮這樣如何處理。

 

We did a general loop through the outer market to the border of the inner market, to the Namiyoke Inari Shrine then back out through each of the outer market streets.

 

我們繞外市場外側一圈到內市場邊,到波除稻荷神社後再繞回外市場一條條逛。

Tsukiji

Tsukiji

The line outside Sushi Dai extended from the alley to a long line on the side of the thoroughfare. To be a gourmet in Tokyo required zenful patience.

 

壽司大外的隊伍從小街內排到大街外長長一排。在東京想當饕客需要坐禪般的定力。

Sushi dai

We passed a Yoshinoya. I did not realize at the time, only found out when we saw a memorial stone at the shrine, that the cheap gyudon chain originated right here at Tsukiji.

 

Should have gone in for a bowl if I had known.

 

途中經過一家吉野家。當時不曉得,後來在神社看到一個紀念碑才知道原來這牛丼連鎖店正是從築地發跡的。

 

若早知道就進去吃一碗。

Yoshinoya

At the crossing that lead to the inner market, a security guard escorted two tourists away from the inner market while holding up a sign saying no tourists allowed before 10. They’re treating the ban quite seriously.

 

在通往內市場的入口對面,一個保全正護送兩名觀光客離開內市場,手中拿著一個10點前不開放觀光客的標示。這禁令還真有在執行。

Namiyoke Inari Shrine

Yoshinoya memorial

Shrine for fallen eggs

Many fresh seafood shops offered service to cook them on the spot, the smell of grilled crab legs and oysters was salivating.

 

有不少海產店有提供現煮服務,烤蟹腳和牡蠣的香味令人垂涎。

 

I checked out some of the knife shops, looking to see if they sold those special knives used to cut specific fish like tuna and eels. Looks to be all sushi and chopping knives though, perhaps the demand for fish cleaning knife is less and aren’t on display.

 

我逛了幾家刀店看有沒有那種專門用來處理鮪魚或鰻魚的專用刀。看來都是壽司和菜刀,大概處理魚的刀銷路沒好到擺出來。

Bonito

Knives

Tsukiji

Grilled crab legs

Actual wasabi

Next to Tsukiji is the Hongan-ji, quite different from the usual wooden temples found in Japan, is built of concrete in the architectural style from buddhism’s birthplace India. There was strangely an organ on the second level by the entranceway.

 

築地旁是本願寺,與日本大多木造佛寺不同,是水泥建造,仿造佛教誕生地的印度風格建築。入口上方二樓奇怪的還有管風琴。

Hongonji

Hongonji

Hongonji

Hibiya line station is just outside Hongan-ji. A quick transfer at Ginza to the Marunouchi line gets us to Ikebukuro.

 

日比谷線的車站就在本願寺外。在銀座轉到丸之內線到池袋。

 

The Sunshine Aquarium is about 10 minutes walk from the station.

 

Sunshine水族館從車站走大概10分鐘。

Ikebukuro

The aquarium is one of several within Tokyo. There’s something cultural about Japan and aquariums, it has to be one of the most common attractions in Japan. Perhaps it’s a combination of love for fish and cute things, and who doesn’t like a cuddly seal or penguins.

 

東京都內有數個水族館,現在去的是其中之一。日本文化中水族館似乎是不可或缺的存在,肯定是日本最普遍的觀光設施之一。或許是熱愛魚和可愛事物的結合,誰不喜歡討喜的海豹或企鵝。

 

Sunshine Aquarium is situated on top of Sunshine City shopping complex. It recently renovated its penguin enclosure into something it calls flying penguin experience. The penguin tank consists of glass on both side so visitor can see out through the tank at the Tokyo skyline, with the interior forming a convex cave that visitors can stand underneath, when penguins swims in the tank it looks as though the penguins are flying through the air.

 

Sunshine水族館是Sunshine city樓頂。最近企鵝區剛翻新過,改造成所謂的飛天企鵝。企鵝池子兩側皆是玻璃,遊客可看到外側的東京天際,內側是凹入的洞穴形狀,遊客可站在水池下方,看起來池中游泳的企鵝就如在天空中飛翔似。

 

I had bought the tickets beforehand and skipped the ticket booth queue.

 

之前已預先買了門票,可跳過買票的隊伍。

 

The aquarium has indoor and outdoor parts. The indoor aquarium exhibiting various habitats and the outdoor area where penguins and seals are.

 

水族館分室內外。室內包含各種生態區,室外則是企鵝和海豹。

 

We headed indoor first, there was still time till the penguin feeding.

 

離企鵝餵食時間還有一點時間,就先逛室內吧。

 

For an urban aquarium with limited space, the place had a good variety of different fishes and other aquatic animals Though the enclosures tended on seemingly too small, Y pointed out.

 

以有限空間的都會水族館來說,魚和其他水棲動物的種類真不少。但是箱子都太小了,Y這麼評論。

Sunshine Aquarium

Sunshine aquarium

 

I don’t think Y like aquariums too much, a miss on my part.

 

Y不太喜歡水族館吧,我沒事先弄清楚。

 

Just before we came the aquarium had an accident where the air bump to the largest tank was turned off and the tank lost most of its fishes. The tank thus was ironically spacious.

 

我們來的前幾天水族館發生了意外,供給氧氣的幫浦被人不小心關掉了,主水箱大部分的魚就這麼完蛋了。於是主水箱反而諷刺的空曠。

 

All else not being too bright, there’s still the penguins. The penguins here are cape penguins, much smaller and more resistance to heat than the more popular adele or emperor penguins, making them more suited for urban Tokyo.

 

儘管其他不佳,還是有企鵝。這裡的企鵝是非洲企鵝,比出名的阿德利企鵝或帝王企鵝小,更能耐熱,適合東京都內的環境。

Sunshine aquarium

Adorable adorable little penguins, so clever and so silly. Before proper feeding time the staff came out with small bucket of fish. The fishes were likely specially prepared, either with medicine or special supplements, since the staff went out of the way to ensure each penguin was fed one fish.

 

小小討喜的企鵝們,又呆又聰明。在正式餵食前解說員先那了一小桶魚出來。這些魚應該是特別處理過的,可能塞了藥或補給營養的維他命之類,解說員特別確認給每一隻企鵝分配一條。

Sunshine aquarium

At feeding time one staff tossed fishes at the waiting penguins while she introduced the penguins, another staff at the front held up placards showing photos of what the first staff talked about, such as the photo of the coastal environment where the penguin came from. The little birds scampered and flapped each other to get at the fish. Those that had their fill wriggled down little holes back to their nest.

 

餵食時一名解說員一邊拋魚給圍著的企鵝,一邊介紹這裡的企鵝種類和習性,另一名解說員則站在前面舉牌子,上頭有解說內容的照片,如企鵝的原生海岸的照片。小鳥們拍著翅膀踩來擠去,搶著接魚。吃飽了的就扭著鑽入小洞回巢。

Sunshine aquarium

At the end of it the staff held up a penguin and brought it closer to the fence. Visitors weren’t allowed to touch the penguins, this was as close as people were allowed to the cute litte thing.

 

最後解說員把一隻企鵝抱到欄杆前給大家看。遊客禁止觸碰企鵝,離這些小傢伙們最近就只能這樣了。

Sunshine aquarium

After the feeding we moved to the penguin swimming tank. The tank was quite large which allowed the penguins to pick up speed in the water. The curved glass tank design works very well, while it’s not quite flying penguins, it’s amazing to see the penguins swim past the shoulder or even over head.

 

餵食結束我們移動到企鵝池。池子挺大的,企鵝能游到挺快的。內凹的玻璃水箱設計真的不錯,雖沒有到企鵝飛翔那樣,但看企鵝從肩頭甚至頭頂游過是很驚奇的體驗。

Penguin tank

Penguin tank

Aquarium

Then we finished looking at the indoor areas, then searched for penguin goods in the souvenir shop. There was a disappointing lack of giant penguin plushies.

 

接著看完室內區後到紀念品店看有什麼企鵝商品。令人失望的沒有大企鵝玩偶。

Aquarium

Lunch was where I messed up again. The original plan was to go to sushi train but my mind had gotten blanked out. The aquarium had not been as interesting as hoped, I was not sure whether going out of the way to the sushi train that likely had a queue was a good idea.

 

午餐我又弄砸了。原本是要去吃迴轉壽司但頭腦一片空白。水族館沒想像的有意思,不知道特地繞去吃多半要排隊的迴轉壽司好還是不好。

 

So I said to walk to the station and grab whatever we find okay along the way.

 

所以我說回車站沿途看有什麼好吃就吃吧。

 

A restaurant was right across the main intersection leading to the station front district. It’s a oyakodon place, similar in concept to Yoshinoya. I looked the menu then looked at Y who didn’t have an opinion either way, so we ended up eating there.

 

往站前鬧區的通路對面正好有家餐館,一家親子丼店,類似吉野家的概念。我看了看菜單又看了看沒意見的Y,總之就這樣決定在這吃了。

 

The ticket machine really did not like 100Y coins. In the end I fed it a 1000Y note for it to grant me food.

 

點餐機很不喜歡100Y硬幣。最後只好餵一張1000Y鈔票才讓我吃。

Oyakodon place

Oyakodon

While we ate I thought about where to go in the afternoon. There were a number of options. The original plan were Rikugien or Koishikawa-Korakuen, the two autumn leaves garden in Tokyo. Though Y was not that eager, having seen the autumn leaves in Hakone yesterday.

 

我邊吃邊想下午該去哪裡。選項還不少,原計畫是六義園或小石川後樂園,東京都內的兩個賞楓名所。Y不是很感興趣,昨天在箱根看楓葉很滿足了。

 

I went through the alternatives. Ginza, Meiji Jingu/Omotesando/Takeshita. Not too big on those shopping destinations. Maybe Ameyoko.

 

我想了想其他方案。銀座,明治神宮表參道竹下通。不是很想去逛街。或許阿美橫丁。

 

Then it occured to me. How about ginkgo leaves, not the same as red autumn leaves and they should be almost at their peak at Tokyo Uni which is also on the way back Shinbashi.

 

想到了。銀杏葉呢,跟紅色的楓葉不太一樣,而且東京大學的應該全黃了,剛好回新橋順路。

 

Y agreed. But before we got to the station we were sidetracked when passing a Matsumoto Kiyoshi pharmacy store. They had several items on sale which Y was interested and we spent some time there looking. Apparently to be eligible for tax free required minimum 5000Y before tax, good to know.

 

Y也同意這計畫。在回到車站前我們路過一間松本清,然後就拐進去了。有幾樣Y想要的東西剛好在打折,就小逛了一下找一找。要免稅必須買到稅前5000Y,我以前都不知道。

 

We took the Marunouchi line to Hongo-sanchome. From there it’s about 300m walk to Tokyo Uni. At the Hongo-Sanchome intersection there was a Doutor and I went into a long story about how my fondness for the cafe developed.

 

我們搭丸之內線到鄉本三丁目。從這走到東京大學只要300m。在鄉本三丁目的十字路口經過一間Doutor,然後我開始分享我喜愛這咖啡店的因緣。

 

I had actually been to Tokyo Uni before, on my first trip to Tokyo. Only back then I did not even realize this was Tokyo Uni, I was merely looking for a way to get to my hotel. That first trip was a harsh lesson.

 

我其實來過東京大學,就是我第一次來東京那次。只是我當時根本沒意識到這是東大,只是在找去旅館的路。那第一次旅行真是上了殘酷的一堂課。

Tokyo Uni red gate

The main thoroughfare of Tokyo Uni from the main gate to the auditorium is lined with giant ginkgo trees against a backdrop of brick gothic brick buildings. Shimmering leaves crowned the tall trees standing tall over gilded carpet, golden flakes snowed in the air. Poetic, painted.

 

東大的大道從大門到講演廳,兩側以哥德式磚瓦建築為背景高聳著兩排銀杏。樹立在金繡地毯上的大樹戴著閃耀的皇冠,金色箔片在空中下雪般飄逸。如詩如畫。

Tokyo uni

Tokyo uni

Tokyo uni

Tokyo uni

Tokyo uni

 

People stood beneath the trees taking photos. Some sat before canvas stands capturing the moment with their brushes. Others slowly walked in marvel.

 

人們站在樹下拍照。有人靜靜在帆布前用筆捕捉這景色。也有人在驚嘆中慢慢踏步。

 

When the ginkgo trees at Tokyo Uni were planted in the early 1900s, ginkgo were not typically used as street landscape trees. In a way the ginkgo avenue here became a prototype and gave birth to the ginkgo tree lined streets that became the symbol of Tokyo.

 

當東大在1900年代種下銀杏樹時,銀杏還不常被用來作為行道樹。這條銀杏大道可說是時代的先驅,從這誕生了代表東京都的銀杏街道景色。

 

We took a break at Doutor before getting back on the train to Shiodome back to Super Hotel. There was no direct train between Ikebukuro and Shinbashi/Shiodome, by coming to Tokyo Uni the transfer was done away.

 

在搭車到汐留回Super Hotel前在Doutor坐了一下。從池袋沒有直達新橋或汐留的車,來東大某方面省去了轉車的必要。

 

I think it was maybe 4.30 by the time we got back to the hotel. A little break before the night’s schedule starting with dinner at 5.30.

 

回到旅館是4.30。在5.30從晚餐開始的晚上活動之前各自休息準備。

 

Dinner was at Gyu-katsu Motomura near Shinbashi station. A fried steak grill place.

 

晚餐是新橋站附近的牛排本村。燒烤炸牛排餐廳。

 

The steak is slightly fried first with batter with the inside still raw, then the customer can grill the steak to the desired degree at the table.

 

牛排稍微炸過,裡頭還是生的,然後客人自己在餐桌的烤爐上烤到自己喜歡的程度。

 

Because of various photos I had actually thought the steaks were meant to be eaten as is, till Y explained to me what the steak actually is. Apparently a similar place opened near Y’s home recently. There’s something about food which I’m just no good at researching.

 

從照片上看我原本還以為牛排是就直接生的吃,Y跟我解釋後才弄清楚吃法。Y家附近剛開了一家類似的店。我對研究吃的總是很生疏。

 

We got there at about 5.40 and just managed to not get in by a matter of seconds. The group just steps ahead of us took the last table. We waited maybe 15 minutes for a table to be made available.

 

我們大概5.40分到餐廳,差一點點沒坐進去。早我們幾步的那一組客人拿走了最後一桌。

 

The place was a little dive hidden in a basement off the main street, about seats for 20 people only.

 

小店在主街旁下去隱密的一個擁擠的小地下室,大概只有20人座位。

Gyukatsu motomura

They were well prepared for foreigners and had menus in english, chinese and korean. We were given a menu and asked to decide while we waited and have to order and pay before sitting down. Not that there was much to decide, there was only standard set, standard set with extra side and set with extra meat.

 

他們對外國客人準備周全,菜單有英中和韓文。在等的時候店員先給了菜單,請我們先決定要點什麼然後入座前先付費。也沒什麼好決定的,基本上只有一個標準套餐,頂多選加小菜或加肉量。

 

Okay Y did get an extra beer.

 

嘛~Y另外點了一杯啤酒。

 

The server sat us down and our order was brought over with extreme efficiency. There’s rice, miso soup, two kind of sauce, plate of beef cutlets with shredded cabbage salad and mash potato, and a hot plate over open flame iron plate grill.

 

服務員帶我們到位子後超有效率的堆來餐點。有一碗飯,味噌湯,兩種醬料,一盤切牛排和白菜切絲沙拉,馬鈴薯泥,還有一個底下點有火的小鐵烤盤。

Gyukatsu Motomura

Grill


The beef was very nice, the deep fried outside giving a slightly crunchy texture and the inside soft and succulent. I tried grilling several pieces at once to different degree to see how to best cook them but it hardly mattered, the meat was always very soft unless it’s obviously charred and overcooked.

 

牛排很好吃,稍微炸過的外皮有點脆脆的嚼感,裡頭軟又多汁。我試著烤到不同的熟度,不過基本上沒什麼差,不管烤多久除非真烤到焦了不然一樣很軟。

 

The evening was Caretta followed by Tokyo Midtown.

 

晚上安排去Caretta然後再去Tokyo Midtown。

 

The illumination theme at Caretta this year was Beauty and the Beast. The main component was similar to the Winter Forest in 2011, though with a lot more light and a much worse song and choreography.

 

Caretta今年的燈飾主題是美女與野獸。主要的元素跟2011年的冬之森類似,燈光更亮,搭配的音樂和演出感覺差了很多。

 

Caretta

 

We just missed the performance so headed upstairs to the observation deck first. From level 46 the observation deck looked down at tsukiji and Tokyo bay.

 

我們剛好錯過演出所以先上樓到觀景台。從46樓俯瞰底下的築地市場和東京灣。

Tsukiji at night

Caretta

Caretta

Caretta

After the Caretta illumination performance, then headed to Roppongi from Shiodome.

 

之後下樓看過燈光演出後從汐留出發去六本木。

I’m not sure whether it’s just this year, but the illuminations did not seem as good as before. Whether Caretta or the Midtown one.

 

不確定是不是今年特別,但感覺燈飾都沒有我之前那一年的好。不論是Caretta或Midtown。

 

I was expecting the kind of crushing crowd I met in 2011 but Midtown only had a small crowd. The display this year was also quite disappointing, forgoing the birth of planet theme for a shorter, much simpler swirling galaxy.

 

原本預期會碰到2011年那樣人山人海但Midtown周遭只有一點點來客。今年的燈飾捨棄了星球誕生的主題,取代的是較短的旋轉星系雲。

Midtown

Midtown

Midtown

We ended up returning to the hotel early and had a late night snack party together in the breakfast area, with the black egg we bought yesterday and the unpasteurized sake the day before.

 

結果提早回到旅館,在早餐區一起吃消夜,把昨天的黑蛋和前天的無殺菌日本酒吃完。