All I can say is, “Screw Tahiti. Japan is the magical place.” If you ask anyone who has gone to Japan about their experience, there are repetitive themes that you’re going to hear. Those being about the food, how clean it is, things running on time, people being helpful, a mix of the future/past, but the one thing that really hooked me was that Japan is a safe haven for being a nerd. Otaku Life Rules!
Anime is a huge part of the Japanese culture, and it isn’t just for kids. We’re talking about all genders and ages actively partake in this comic culture. But, it doesn’t stop there. Gaming is just as much a part as anime. Add the need for figures, model kits, anything you can think of with a character on it and you’ll notice how deep it turns the economy. I dare say the nerd culture in Japan is the equivalent of Sports in the USA. Instead of your favorite team, you have your favorite IP.
Which is why I guess I was taken on the trip. I got to see the life-size Unicorn Gundam as well as a couple Godzilla sightings. Luckily, the Zilla wasn’t hungry nor was he being attacked by any kaiju, so all was calm. I got to see the iconic Toho Cinemas in Shinjuku which had a thorough timeline of his movies on the walls. But that’s not all. If I mention Rainbow Bridge, Mario Kart lovers will perk up due to the very real possibility that it may have been the inspiration for Rainbow Road. Rainbow Bridge had been under construction since 1987 and opened in 1993 with Rainbow Road being first introduced in Mario Kart in 1992. Just a coincidence? Finally, there is no end to the amount of shopping to be done in Japan. Whereas we have a church on every corner in the States, Japan has a toy store, character shop, game center, anime store or six on the same block. Plus, the aftermarket of vintage or retro shops is just as popular as new.
As a card-carrying otaku member, Japan was like reaching that final boss. But, you know you can’t beat it. For every one cool thing that you saw, ate, bought or experienced, you missed out on fifty others you that you didn’t. That’s why before I even got on the plane to come back home, I was already determined to come back. Unfortunately, plans were delayed because of the pandemic.
But, I’m headed back in July/August ’23 when the Main Brain heads back! I’m sure you’ll see my hijinks over on AmericanTK.