Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Japan Trip XVI: Palette Town

As I said last time, we were going to Odaiba, a touristy area of Japan. Being someone who rarely tours places, though, I'm not really sure what that means. I guess there's lots of things to look at and take pictures of there? I'm not sure.

That was certainly the case here, though I guess that sort of thing doesn't interest me much. Still, there were a few interesting things to see there.

Honestly, though, I kinda wish I had gotten up early to go with Laura, Kari, and Ryan to visit a traditional wood printer. It sounded a little less commercial, which is more my cup of tea.

Odaiba is definitely very commercial. We got in touch with Xan, also known as Luna from Starmen.Net, to meet up with her and her boyfriend Steven at a mall in a place called Palette Town, which was very different than Pallet Town in Pokemon.

On the way into the mall, we stopped on a balcony to watch some kids down below who were in go-karts. We probably watched these kids for a good 20 minutes trying to figure out what was going on; they were all in a small, fenced in square, each with a parent nearby, all listening to a guy with a microphone. I'm guessing it was some sort of training thing, since they spend some time having the parents push the go-karts forward for a while, while the kids either kept the steering wheel straight or steered the kart in a circle. It was quite some time before they even turned the go-karts on, and even then they didn't do much. It was very strange.

Anyway, we entered the mall, which had an interesting decor: the outsides of the stores were designed to look like the streets of Venice (hence the name of the place, Venus Fort, I believe), complete with a painted ceiling depicting clouds. It gave the indoor mall a much more open feeling.

Still, though, much like that area in Shibuya, it seemed like most of the stores there were the same sort of thing you'd find in an American mall: The Gap, Old Navy, etc were all represented, as well as a few stores with more Japanese-sounding names, but which seemed to be going for a similar aesthetic.

We hung around a fountain in a plaza-looking area for a while until Xan showed up. After introductions and greetings were out of the way, we proceeded out of the mall and into another large building, which was apparently a Toyota exhibition hall, which was filled with a bunch of automotive exhibits. We passed through there and by another huge ferris wheel, similar to the one we saw in Yokohama.

Under that ferris wheel was a massive arcade, which Linday had us run around in for a while. There were tons of games in there, but I'm not a huge arcade fan so, like a fuddy duddy, I just kinda looked around for a place to sit and rest until it was time to go.

The most memorable thing about that place to me (again, fuddy duddy) was how while I was sitting down I heard the opening theme to the game Thousand Arms come on. I hadn't been paying much attention to the music being played before then, nor afterward for that matter. However, at that moment it hit me that I was pretty much in a nerd's paradise: in Japan, in a massive arcade, filled with all sorts of games I'll never get to play in the US, while video game music streams through the PA.

And here I was, taking a rest. Clearly, I'm kind of an awful nerd.

Anyway, we left Palette town and proceeded to visit the full-sized Gundam statue located, I think, in front of the FujiTV building? Maybe? Anyway, it was exactly what it sounds like: a massive Gundam statue you can stand next to and feel tiny.

After that, we headed to another nearby mall, but this time it was much more interesting: it was just filled with all sorts of interesting shops, each one just packed full of all sorts of things. There were figures, candies, jewelry, clothing, and way more than I could really take in. The main things I really remember were the food and a store named, simply, Michael, which contained more Michael Jackson memorabilia than I wanted to know existed.

From there, we broke off into two groups to find food, which I'm going to discuss next time because that's a topic all on its own.

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