Ten Days in Japan, Part 3: Storming the Golden Carp

Sorry for the delay in posting! (And I was doing so well there for the first two days.) I tried to sleep for 48 hours straight this weekend in an attempt to beat jetlag & bronchitis into submission. It was marginally successful.

Osu Kannon Summer Festival

Anyway, day 4 in Japan, we left Tokyo via Japan Rail (JR) bullet train. Can I just ask, why the hell don’t we have bullet trains in the States? Why? Can you imagine how awesome that would be, to be able to get from like LA to San Francisco in like two hours? Somebody get on this, please.

Sidebar: helpful tip for anyone planning to visit Japan, getting a JR Pass is excellent value & super conveinent. Highly recommended. You can’t actually get one in Japan, so buy it before you go. End helpful tip.

From Tokyo, we went to Nagoya, automotive capitol of Japan. We elected not to visit the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry & Technology, although I kind of thought it might be fun to see just how awkward the Recent History wing was. Mostly we spent our time in Nagoya randomly walking around until we found, say, a Japanese variety show, featuring a portly man dressed like Sailor Moon, being filmed. That’s the kind of thing you just randomly wander into in Nagoya, it turns out.

We also went to the Osu Kannon Summer Festival at Osu Kannon Temple. The festival featured live jazz, which is apparently big in Japan, along with, happily, another impressive display of Japanese street food. Amy F tried takoyaki, or fried octopus balls, which is not as gross as it sounds. After the festival, we walked to Sakae, the downtown area, to find the finals of the World Cosplay Summit.

Seriously? It was amazing. There were people everywhere, dancing & posing in crazy ridiculous costumes & carrying around giant fake swords & generally being awesome. Don’t believe me? Here’s a video:

That’s just what we randomly saw around the grounds. We weren’t actually allowed to film what was happening on stage. While we sadly missed seeing the winners, which were somehow not Japan (it was Italy), but we did get to see a very impressive showing from the Brazilians, in which they actually rigged one of their players, who had on angel wings (of course she did), to fly. As you can imagine, the crowd went wild. You can check out the video here. Because when I think cosplay, I think Brazilians.

Cheers to the Golden Carp!

Anyway, it was pretty hard to top that experience, although we tried on day 2, when we attempted to storm Nagoya Castle. In an improvement over the Imperial Palace, Nagoya Castle featured not only a moat, but curved castle walls, to prevent, presumably ninjas & particularly annoying tourists from entering. We did, however, get plenty of photo opportunities with Nagoya Castle’s most famous feature, the golden carp, which I am continuing to call the golden carp even though the museum inside kept calling it the golden dolphin. Let’s just be real with one another, it doesn’t look like a dolphin. It’s a carp, let’s call it a carp.

Once again, while the golden carp was marketed impressively aggressively by the Nagoya Castle gift shop, I was not able to walk away with a golden carp USB port & therefore, it still does not match the level of marketing genius of the Taipei National Palace Museum & its Jade Cabbage.

So that pretty much did it for Nagoya. Next up, Nara, one-time capitol of Japan & home to the world’s creepiest antler baby mascot. And here we thought everything in Japan was cute…

-Amy Yen

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