Tokyo Maigo 東京迷子

Day 10

The last day in Tokyo. As I dine on my breakfast, I contemplate whether to go to Comiket again.

Homeikan Breakfast


If rumours has it, Day2 of Comiket is full of Touhou, which, while I do like the mikos, I’m not that big of a fan of.

(Turns out Day2 actually had some of my favorite artists :/ not that I’d be able to find them I suspect)

I decide that standing once more in the queue might just be too much. After check out, I head to Keisei Ueno station to first offload my luggage in a locker.

Bye bye Homeikan


Keisei Ueno

Then it’s a casual stroll down the shopping street toward Akihabara.

It’s the second last day before the New Year, and the market is packed with vendors and people shopping for the New Year feast. The fashion of the day is apparently giant crabs with 30cm long legs….. evidently I ate some 20000Y worth of crabs during my previous trip to Hokkaido O_O


Taiyaki~! Hot and warm on a cold morning, so good


Walking past the Matsusakaya department store near Ueno, I accidentally discover there’s also a Harbs here – the cake shop I failed to visit a few days ago at Roppongi. Perfect, I got time to kill!

There’s still a queue, but at least this one is tolerable. After some 10min wait I showed a window seat. The server immediately recognized I’m foreign and switched to speaking in English (perfectly too, a rarity so far in this trip). I hazard a guess that due to the department store’s location (next to a fairly famous shopping street for cosmetic bargains, something Taiwanese tourists love), the man has plenty of experiences with Taiwanese.

They do not have the most famous strawberry cake here, I pretty much rolled a dice on the choice of cake and tea.


Harbs cake & tea


Decent… not sure it’s worth the fame. Might be I picked a bad cake choice.

After cake it’s down to Animate and it’s only now do I also discover it has a back section where they have Guilty Crown concept arts on display. I also went up the stairs to the anime info center where they have PVs of upcoming animes on show. One of which, Aquarion Evol, stood out to me. (And one of the ones I currently follow fervently)

One truly needs to be left with too much time to be forced into exploring and finding little surprises.

At last it is time to head back up and catch the Keisei express to the airport and say goodbye to Tokyo.

The Keisei Skyliner runs on a new route directly the Narita, instead of detouring south like JR’s NEX. Going through mostly countrysides and running parallel to the motorway, it does it in 40min instead of over an hour like the NEX.


Keisei Skyliner


Narita is a small disappointment, very compact with few shops to explore. I suppose I’m too used to Hong Kong’s airport with all its shops and utilities. Or Sapparo’s airport with its huge row of arcades connecting the international and domestic terminals.


Narita airport's shop


Day 9

*warning, severe otaku talk ahead, you may want to skip this day*

I don the helmet and arms the bayonets. It’s war (comiket) time. With all the wisdom granted by Konata-sama, I heed her advices and load up plenty of supplies at the nearest Watson convenience store.

Gear check –

Bread buns. check.

Water and drinks. check.

Extra warm clothing. check.

Bag. check.

Loose change… eh.. don’t think I’ll be buying but check.

If I don’t make it back to the rendezvous by 1300… please send someone after me Konata-sama -.-

Onward to doom!

Since there’s nothing I really wanted on Comiket D1, there is no need to be the first ones in. I timed my arrival around 8, a few hours before it opens at 10. (To be the ‘first ones’, one need to kill time at Odaiba (somehow, the onsen I suppose) the night before and then start lining up at 5am)

Even before arriving at Big Sight I feel the power of comiket. The Yurikamome is packed with others heading into battle.


Escalator up to Yurikamome


Into the hot zone


Comiket staff directing the crowd

Quick, go to the west or the east hall?

East hall is where the main doujin entries are, while the west has the commercial company booths.

Since there’s no doujins I’m aware of today, I picked west.

What followed is a long. long. long. did I mentioned long yet? walk to find the end of the queue.  On the way I passed various cafes and stores packed with people. It reminds me of Taipei 101 on New Year’s eve, where people floods the nearby 7-11s while waiting for the countdown.

Packed cafe


Shops has put up makeshift stands to sell breakfast


On and on to find the queue


The Sunkus convenience store have put out temporary counters outside


Uh oh, those buns and hot dogs are running low

Very good thing I already bought my breakfast. Thanks Konata-sama!



Are we there yet?


Nope keep walking


At the bridge already.. eeesh


End of the line, huray!

Finally, after over a kilometers, halfway onto the bridge connecting to western Odaiba, I see a big sign post indicating the end of the line.

I file in with the crowd, smartly picking the edge of the 40-abreast queue so I have access to view and fresh air.

Immediate after settling in a few groups breakout folding chairs or mats, sat down and start having breakfast. Experienced people they are!

I also fish out my bread roll and bite into the long wait to come.

I thought I’m already late at showing up, but then people just kept coming and coming, growing the queue behind.

The queue builds up behind


The queue grows over the bridge

And on and on it builds. It eventually reached a point where I can’t see the end anymore due to the rise of the bridge, only that there are plenty of people marching further and further away.

By the time Comiket starts at 10, I gather I’m maybe 2/3 in the whole line. That means the queue is probably 1.5km long in length…

Suddenly, like a sink unplugged. The crowd shuffles ahead at a quick pace that almost caught me off guard. I quickly put my drink away before being swept away.



Onward comrades


Take the high ground


Almost there...



To say there are alot of people is an understatement.

To say there are alot of queues is a gross understatement.

I have never seen such a crowd. Inside the corporate exhibit hall it is impossible to move of your own accord, instead you get swallowed up by these ocean currents that sweeps you from one end of the hall to the other…

If you’re quick and lucky, you can nap the brochures being given out…

If you’re thinking about buying something, some limited edition figma from one of the booths perhaps, which thankfully I’m not, you best be prepared for a long wait….

There are queues for queues, like.. you have to go outside the exhibit hall, line up beneath one of the signs indicating which booth this queue is for, then once in a while someone will come and lead the queue back into the hall to queue up at the booth.

My respect goes out to the brave soldiers who have a long list of objectives which they must acquire before others get to them first.

Company exhibit hall





Lesson, my mobile phone’s camera is terrible. Or I’m terrible with cameras…

The convention is organized with typical Japanese neatness. Despite the huge crowd there’s no issue moving from west hall to east (unlike the hours Konata-sama suggests), perhaps they’ve improved the crowd control over the years. There are staffs at junction points all along the main corridors, shouting over speakers, directing people along specific routes.

First day comiket is the miscellaneous entries categories, that’s video games and things. All the good original illustrations are on day 3 (which sadly I cannot attend). Most of the doujin entries are actually by girls, which uh.. also means a huge number of entries are yaoi. The quality is also somewhat lacking. If Pixiv has 1 good drawing out of every 100, my guess is there’s 1 for every 500 here.

There are some people who are true fans, who’ll browse every table and buy anything they find the tiniest interest. Others zoom from  pre-targetted doujin circles to doujin circles, hunting down objectives with brutal efficiency.




Lunch involves finding some out of the way courtyard. If you’re lucky you might even get a seat to sit down. There are restaurants in Big Sight, all incredibly packed, even with the 90min dining limit imposed specially for the day.

















I leave in the late afternoon, my bag full of brochures and 3d anime character cards where the girls undresses as you tilt the card.

I stop by Gransta at Tokyo station to grab a bento. Figured since I was not taking the shinkansen, this might be as good a chance as any to try one of them bentos.




This one is advertised as the Gransta’s best seller… hmm I can see why, the meat is fatty and succulent, with a delicious sauce. The taste lack variety though, and I think maybe I should have gone with the nigiri bento, or perhaps one of those super expensive, 4000Y ones that comes in two layered box and 10 different dishes.







Day 8

This day is my off day, or catch up day, where I have nothing planned before hand.

Odd choice of breakfast...

The day start with a leisurely breakfast. Unlike hotels, at ryokans breakfasts are brought to your room.

The breakfast is a weird mix of western and Japanese food, I attribute to the need to cater to westerners. I would have been happy to go the whole experience but this does just fine. It’s been a week since I’ve had a proper breakfast anyhow, so rice and miso soups are always welcomed, even the oddly out of place hams (though I do wish they got coffee).

Homeikan courtyard



My room is in the bekkan, or annex, across the street from the Homeikan main building.

Looking across at Homeikan honkan


Homeikan koi pond

So what do I do on an off day? After chilling on the tatamis, I decide that I go have that dessert I missed the other nights at Caretta.



Blue forest at day

While empty outside, Caretta remains packed, with lines outside of restaurants, albeit smaller ones).


Alot of people recommend Tsujiri for its matcha desserts…though.. the menu isn’t what I quite expected.

Do Japanese just love eating ice cream in the cold of winter? o_O

momi no ki

I picked their Caretta limited special, momi no ki, or Japanese fir tree, a tie in with the Blue Forest illuminations.


Thankfully they have hot tea available to warm your body after the matcha ice cream.

I can’t really say I liked it or not…. it’s… just different, a strange bizarre mix of ice cream, jelly, warm muffin and red beans.

After that it’s off to Akiba! I’ve only had a quick tour on Day 1, and only the main streets.

I spent the afternoon exploring less well labelled buildings, backstreet shops.

Time well spent, for I found a gallery displaying various anime illustrations, including Tinkle, Cradle (Misaki Kurehito), Kantoku (omg omg) and even Kishida Mel (wheee). Can’t take pictures though, so nothing to show for it but memories of staring at the works of these digital masters.

It’s great to see that anime illustrations is being treated as real art, if only in Akiba. The art also comes with art prices…. 30000Y for a tapestry?! And fully framed prints are in the 6 digits.

As much as I’d love to hang some of Kishida Mel’s works on the wall of my room…I’ll stick with artbooks.. thanks.

The advert outside pointed me in to the art gallery


Not sure what this bus is for..but only in Akiba

I got back to Homeikan fairly early. I’ll need to sleep early for the war tomorrow.


Some more poking around the history filled ryokan, a hot bath followed with a bottle of iced coke. Ahh.. that’s the life.

Homeikan bath


Homeikan kitchen

As I passed on the way to the bath, I noticed the Homeikan staff preparing dinner for the guests who’ve ordered them. Couldn’t really tell what they are making, but it smelt good!

The day ends early, as mentioned. It’s war tomorrow and I best be prepared.





Day 7

The Xmas rush behind, it’s time for the more relaxed phase of the trip. I leave the convenience of Ueno and will stay at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) for the remaining few days.

Homeikan is across Ueno park and Tokyo University, and a good opportunity for me to have a leisurely walk through less touristy areas of Tokyo.

After check out. I first scope out the Keisei Ueno station, where I’ll catch the train and leave Tokyo on the last day.

Keisei Ueno Station

Then into the adjacent Ueno park.

Ueno Park

Ueno park is one of the prime spots for sakura viewing. Of course, the trees are all barren now.

Ueno park


Gojyouten shrine

One of the major sites in the park is the Tosho-gu whrine, where Tokugawa is enshrined. The grounds are filled with copper lanterns which were daimyos’ offering to the shogun.

Tosho-gu shrine

There’s also a whole lot of museums in the park. It’ll take a whole day to visit them all. Me, I’m just passing through.

I drop off my luggage at the hundred year old ryokan, Homeikan.


Then I head off to lunch.. and unfortunately the noodle place I have planned is closed.. another meal at the FamilyMart for me.

In the afternoon I wander around the area between Homeikan and Ueno. It’s a place with some history, with plenty of small walkways that weaves between little clusters of houses. It’s easy to feel lost, as if in some anime scene.

Area near Homeikan

I absolutely loved exploring the area, so many little streets, stairways, tucked away shrines. I can almost picture some scenes like from Toradora or other drama, boy and girl walking together to school, shyly glancing at each other though they’ve been friends since childhood.

Steep stairway winding through the quiet neighbourhood






Yushimatenjin is a shrine on the Kasuga-Dori, another sakura viewing place I think.

A small road side shrine


Mini shrine


Near Homeikan

Time passed quickly, the sun is quickly falling toward the skyline. I check-in and head down to Tokyo Dome.


Dinner is udon near Tokyo-Dome. Cheap, and huge portions… too much perhaps. I couldn’t finish it for sure.





Tokyo Dome


Rainbowed archways


Tokyo Dome.. not sure what this is supposed to be. Futuristic xmas tree..?





Tokyo Dome is a mix of amusement park and restaurant complex. There are various rides like water-slides, roller coasters and free-falls. I did not linger for too long though, have to say I was quite disappointed with their illumination… To be fair, I think everything would be a disappointment after Carretta.

Back to Homeikan


Homeikan, on the way to the bathhouse

The awesome thing about Homeikan is they have hot baths. One shared, and another family. Since I got back to the room fairly early the family bath is not in use, and I get the whole bath to myself.

It’s a great way to relax and catch a breath after so many tiring days.