Hey everyone! I got back safely from Dallas and AnimeFest. I had a fantastic time and I just wanted to say a quick note that I was home and that I will be back for a production update next week to recap the event. Stay tuned!
Forgive the lack of posting recently I have been in a little bit of a race against time. So last week I was planning on posting up a review of Persona 4. However, we got notification last Monday that we could start planting our community gardens. The forecast the entire week was scheduled for rain but the storm shifted and we spent every night after work in the garden putting the fences up and getting the ground worked and our seeds and seedlings planted. So everything is in the ground now and doing pretty well with the exception of a few plants. Last week we didn’t get home until later and I forgot to get the blog posted, so it will be pushed to next week.
I also am writing the production update today because of the holiday weekend. So time to get you caught up to speed!
I spent some time last week working through some planning for the second episode. I have an outline done and need to flesh out the dialogue next. I am traveling for Akon later this week so I will have some plane time to hopefully start writing. Over the holiday break I spent time uploading new files and submitting Cosmic Rage into animation festivals. I will do my best to share any information on these submissions with you.
This week I am starting my photography class so I will have some homework for the next couple months. I still need to get into some drawing and start roughing out some covers for the e-book. I also have to finish off some end-of-the-year grant paperwork too.
Another update next week, post-Akon!
Things have been a little quiet around here lately, here is what’s going on. First off, I was traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday to spend some time with family and also rest to get healed up. Typically over holidays I go dark in terms of social media and being online. I use them as reasons to unplug and be offline. Plus I had to get in several games of Sushi Go.
But of course things couldn’t go that smoothly over the holiday right? I started developing an allergic reaction to one of the medications I was on. I was pretty nervous for a few days until I got back here to go to the clinic since the rash was pretty localized to the same elbow.
Traveled through a series of storms to get home, rain, ice, snow, the typical midwest travel hazards for this time of the year. Even a massive traffic jam in Oklahoma due to one lane road construction over the holiday. Don’t get me started on how little sense that made.
After all of that, I spent most of yesterday afternoon at the clinic seeing a couple new doctors for my elbow and new-found rash friend. In the end, I got a different diagnosis on my elbow. One that let’s me get off the meds to heal up the rash and my elbow may not have been as bad as originally diagnosed.
Having said all of that, I start my time off to work full-time on Cosmic Rage. YAY! But I wanted to give everyone another update since things have been a little dark here. Aiming to get back up to full speed this week, it will be nice not being on sleep-inducing meds and being able to stay awake for more than 8 hours a day.
Back to kicking ass!
I was watching Penguindrum last week while working on some artwork and jokingly sending texts to a friend. I was in episode 9 and the episode started with the characters arriving in Ikebukuro. My friend that I was texting was the one that traveled to Japan with me. The reason I texted him, was because after the characters were revealed to be in Ikebukuro they were at an aquarium.
This past summer when we traveled to Japan, we also visited an aquarium in Ikebukuro. This immediately got me sending him texts about how funny it would be if that was the aquarium we were at. Well, it turns out it was.
Here is the subway signs that Penguindrum uses to let viewers know what area of Tokyo the characters are in.
Now you may be thinking big deal, but let me proceed with my point from an artist stand point. As artists we typically use reference material for characters, environments and objects. It is virtually impossible for anyone to have intimate knowledge of every item to be able to draw it convincingly all the time. For instance if you had to draw a desktop or car or house from memory, chances are you could but to take those areas to the next level is to make it look like someone uses the desk, the car and lives in the house.
If you were to draw a living area of a house, you could draw the couch, tv, tables, maybe some magazines on the table and a ceiling fan. But when you compare scenes and items that you draw from memory with ones in real life, you will notice all kinds of things that you may have missed. Maybe there is a child’s toy on the floor in the living area. Did you draw a tv remote or a coffee cup on the table? A book? There is so many little things in areas that reference material is needed for artists.
While I was in Japan, our guide told us about an area (that I can’t recall) that was the setting of a manga series, and that this area drew thousands of visitors each year just because of that. I want to say it was a school… I’ll have to look into this. But this is part of the appeal of basing series off of an actual location.
Another film that comes to mind is My Neighbor Totoro from Studio Ghibli. That film is based on locations in the countryside of Japan. On dvd extras it is revealed that other films such as Ponyo and Spirited Away are also. It is through research that these rich worlds are created and it my opinion actual locations help connect with viewers as well.
My apologies for being a day late again. I have a couple freelance projects that bottlenecked a bit, I am actually blogging while waiting for a render to finish up. An article I read last week from a friend actually inspired me to write one last entry about my trip to Japan, which seems long time ago already. Blogging about the trip and looking at pictures to post has really been a fun way to look back on my trip, I would strongly recommend it to anyone. Clearly, I would strongly recommend a trip to Japan as well as going through the agency I did.
I basically wanted to run down some of my favorite things, favorite foods, best experiences as well as share some pics of the haul of goodies I brought home and more.
Since there may be some foodies out there, lets go over that first. My friend and I had the intention of finding fugu, or pufferfish. Pufferfish is poisonous and will kill the consumer if the chef fails to prepare the food correctly. There are next to zero deaths a year of consumers dying from prepared food, most deaths come from fisherman that eat the fish in the wild. During all of our adventures we seemingly pushed this endeavor back each day until we basically ran out of time. This is on the list of things to do on our next trip.
My favorite food came from a ramen shop and the takoyaki from the street vendors. I would have to wayward an honorable mention to the squid I ate from a vendor as well, I am a little disappointed I didn’t get a chance to eat octopus. Again, next time.
Japan has a lot of lemon flavored drinks, which I miss greatly. A specific drink was CC Lemon, I have been looking for somewhere to get it from in the states, but to no success yet. It will only be a matter of time.
My favorite place that we visited would have to be the Ghibli museum. As an animator, it was the closest thing to heaven I could have imagined. I wish I could have taken pictures inside to post, but I settled for a book with pictures of the inside. If you haven’t seen any of the Studio Ghibli films, I strongly suggest you give a couple of them a chance. If you ever visit Japan, this is a must see site. They even show short films that you can only see at the museum.
This was also the first trip I was able to see the ocean. Some of the funnest moments I had was around the ocean. On one occasion I went seashell hunting and found some shells to take back to give to my sister. My second ocean experience was when we were in the country and we had a group of locals want their pictures taken with us. The people in the country were extremely nice, especially at the festival events.
My favorite experience was climbing Mt Fuji at night and witnessing the cities at the foot of the mountain’s fireworks. As I stated in a previous entry, climbing Fuji was one of the most mentally demanding things I have ever done, but it is also one of my proudest moments. I would like to climb the mountain again.
Probably the most unexpected awesome experience was the ryokan. I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. The breakfasts were amazing, we walked around in yukatas the majority of the time we were there, the hot spring was amazing and the customer service set a new standard. When I go back to Japan, staying at a ryokan is on the top of my list.
The arcades in Akihabara were super fun, you would be surprised at how far you can get in a game just based of user interface design and game animation without understanding the language. The card reader games blew my mind. Shibuya had some musicians playing, I would like to return and go listen to some music some night. Theres something very cool about walking down the street and seeing various musical acts and being able to stop and listen at will.
I had a pretty good toy and book haul on the trip. I ended up with a book about the art of Princess Mononoke and also a picture book about the Ghibli museum. I also ended up with 3 production art books from the series Neon Genesis Evangelion as well as some Asuka chopsticks that I eat my cup noodles with. I picked up a giant list of gachapons, from various stores in various areas. The coolest was a store that you could actually trade your gachapons in to and buy other people’s trade ins and complete your collection. My favorite toys were small figures from Neon Genesis Evangelion I picked up in sealed mystery boxes.
While in Japan, I wanted to pick up some anime cels. In early 2000 animation went into the digital realm, which meant that cels were no longer being used to make animation. For example, you can not find cels of newer series, you can only get them of older series. Studios sold cels to fans as a way to make money and provide fans with content that they didn’t have much of a use for. At the cel shop, I could’t read any of the names of the binders of series he had. I did stumble across some binders of Inu Yasha and bought 3 cels. 2 of one of my favorite characters, Miroku and also a cool cel of Koga from the same series. I found some binders of Dragonball Z, but most of the cels were missing backgrounds and I want my cels to have background art. On my next trip, I plan on taking more money to get more cels. It was cool when we found a small gallery displaying cels and art of Rouroni Kenshin.
As for me, I would like to return to Japan again. I am targeting the spring of 2014 for the spring festivals as my next trip. Hopefully the stars align and I am able to get the trip lined up. If you get the chance or are looking for a trip, I highly suggest Japan!
*(Images of my anime cels and also of my toy haul from Japan. Makes you want to go doesn’t it?)
Our final day in Japan was a little bit of a lazy day. We hadn’t really had anything planned except for hitting up a few areas that we wanted to revisit. For the duration of our trip, we constantly saw signs pointing to a Pokemon Center nearby at the train station we used daily. We decided that we would check it out. We sadly discovered that it was basically just a store with a ton of Pokemon gear. We thought it was going to have a different layout than just being a store.
When we went to the Evangelion store earlier in the week we picked up a magazine that had other Evangelion sites we could visit and get stamps at. We didn’t do the stamp collecting but we did go check out a giant slide of one of the main characters, Rei Ayanami. We also stopped at the Evangelion store by the slide but it was a rather small one that had mostly the same content as the other store we went to. By the Ayanami slide, there was other stuff advertising for various series, old and new alike. In this area there was a giant steampunk clock.
We headed back to Akihabara for some ramen and we also went to spend the last of our loose coins. When exchanging Yen back in the states, they only take the paper bills. So we had 500 and 100 Yen coins we decided to deposit at the arcade. It was the cool seeing Neon Genesis Evangelion posters, billboards and such being advertised everywhere. We even found people sized figures of Asuka and Rei at arcades as well.
We made our way back to the area of Tokyo that we were staying at. We decided to go to the park that we saw when we first arrived in Tokyo. The park was very large and it was smack in the middle of the city. There were ponds of koi fish, turtles, and lots of flowers.
We found one turtle that was swimming and as we watched him he made his way towards us and actually got out of the water and walked up to us. We would hold our hand out and it would try to touch it with his nose. I haven’t seen anything like that before. We took some really good videos of the turtle before he worked his way back into the water.
We sat at a park table as it started to rain and we talked about our favorite aspects of the trip. We headed back to the hotel to grab our stuff before we headed to the airport to fly out that night. We landed back in the states safe and sound 🙂
*(First image is of the Rei Ayanami slide, next is the giant steampunk clock, the third is of a curious turtle that came out of the water to greet us, finally a close up of some flowers).
After recovering from the Mt Fuji hike and not getting a case of pneumonia we left the hotel in search of more adventures in Tokyo. In our planning phase of our trip, we both had decided that we wanted to go to a museum and get a little bit of a “learn on” while we were in Japan. Our online searches had directed us to the Edo-Tokyo museum, where we could learn about life in the period and the development of Tokyo to its present day.
One of the things I enjoyed about the museum was all of the models to show castles, cities and bridges. At one point the museum had a mock storefront of a print shop with all sorts of ukiyo-e art and how the woodblock printing process works.
Later in the museum we started to see the western influence in Japanese society, in architecture, cars and clothes. The museum contained items all the way up until post World War 2. We also learned a lot of what life was like in Japan during the war. Kids were forced to the country because they were afraid of fire bombs and raids in the cities. It even had artwork from kids in school at thte time about the war.
Before we left the museum, we watched a few performers at the museum do tricks with umbrellas and balance things on them. It was quite an interesting show.
After the museum we went to Ikebukuro to find the Sunshine aquarium. It happened to be the one year anniversary for the aquarium so it was jammed packed. We saw all sorts of cool fish and a crab that was the size of a small car. Little kids were taking all sorts of videos and pictures with their Nintendo DS.
They had several tanks that you could walk under and see jellyfish, and even sharks. There were tanks of lizards, seals and turtles also. We had the chance to see a lot of interesting creatures.
The aquarium had an outdoor area where we saw seals, penguins and some other birds. The seals had an interesting tank that you could walk underneath and see the seals from under them. The same seals also performed a show with all sorts of tricks and acts.
After the aquarium we stopped at a restaurant for some food and I had an awesome bowl of soup. Ikebukuro had a little bit of a nightlife that we decided to enjoy that evening. We spent most of the night at an arcade playing crane games and a pokemon game that gave us tokens that had computer information on them that we could use on other pokemon machines.
As we searched the arcade for other games before heading out for the night, I found a crane game for a show called Penguin Drum. The machine had all sorts of penguins in it. I deposited 500Yen and got an extra play, I ended up dumping out 6 penguin toys. I also grabbed a pepsi in the flavor of “salty watermelon” and we headed back to the hotel. Next week is the final day in Japan!
*(First image: The sign for the Edo Tokyo Museum, the second: a bomb from WW2 that was found well after the war, the third: penguins from the aquarium, the fourth: the seal tank that you could walk under).
Days 10 and 11 in Japan were solely focused on hiking to the top of Mt Fuji. We slept in that morning because the plan was to start hiking Fuji in the afternoon, sleep on the mountain and then get to the summit in time to see the sunrise. This method is pretty much the norm among hikers and we were hiking during the busiest week of the year. My friend and I stopped at a Subway (yes the sandwich place in the states) and had breakfast. We also stopped by a nearby convenience store to grab a few extra eats and some water for our trek.
In my pack I had a pair of pants, a hoodie, 2-2liters of water, spare socks and some food. *Spoiler alert* Notice the above paragraph and notice the lack of certain things packed, such as a light and more clothes.
The morning was spent train hopping a bit until we got to the place where we were to switch to a bus. At this point it was the middle of the afternoon. Our originally planned bus was actually canceled so we didn’t board the bus to get to the base of Fuji until almost 3PM. We grabbed another quick bite to eat and boarded the bus.
The next hour and a half was spent on the bus driving through fog, and clouds to get to our base station. We got to our starting point around 4:30, we were already a couple hours behind where we wanted to be at in terms of time. We purchased a couple walking sticks so we could get wood burnings in them as we reached certain stations.
The base of the mountain was pretty wooded and the trails were pretty easy to hike. Certain areas of the early path was even paved for hikers. We kept up with our fluids and took small snack breaks every so often to keep up our calorie intake. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to have to suffice on granola bars and bananas too much, so I wanted to keep kind of full as I hiked.
As we hiked through the woods, we would find some outlook points where we could look back and see down the side of the mountain and get a peak at the peak as well. It was a little unbelievable at the time to think we were going to make the journey. The clouds were really moving by the peak and the summit would clear at one point and then behind the clouds and fog another.
At this point we had put on our extra clothes since the elevation had made it drastically cooler than we had experienced before we got on the bus. The air was a lot cooler and humidity wasn’t a factor.
We reached our first check point and got our first wood burnings as well. We sat at a table and took a little bit of an extended break. We were making pretty solid time as we were making our way to a hut that we had reservations for that night.
The next section of trail was again wooded but trees were starting to thin out a bit. As we made our way out of the trees we were now hiking in the wide open space and night time was starting to creep in. We made it to another checkpoint and my friend was starting to get tired.
After a long break we started our journey again as night time fell upon us. It was now pretty dark, the lights in the cities below the mountain were starting to turn on. A little time passed after we started hiking again and my friend couldn’t go any more. We formulated a plan where he would go back down to the station and we would meet up tomorrow. There was a distinct trail we were on so we knew if we stayed on the trail we would meet up the next day.
I continued to climb up the mountain solo, for all of the things we read online about the busy season, we didn’t see a whole lot of other hikers. I reached another check station and got my second wood burning.
I tried to make up for some lost time, so I had a brief stop and kept pushing on. As the night sky continued to get darker, I could see fireworks from cities below having their festivals for the season.
It was starting to get cool out, so I hiked to stay warm. The night sky had gotten so dark that it was hard to see in front of your face without a light. With no place to rest at I pushed on through the night.
Between the hours of around 1AM to 4AM I had several thoughts of climbing down the mountain to the station where my friend was staying. These 3 hours were some of the mentally challenging times. I had no light to see the path and the temperature was well cooler than hoodie weather. At this point I had used my bandana to cover my mouth from the wind and I had used my spare pair of socks as mittens. I would sleep outside a check station for less than an hour before I was so cold I had to move, in which I would hike to the next station to warm up and repeat the process.
At each check station i would look for the station our reservation was at to sleep. After not finding it at a few stations and with the hours winding down to when I would have to start my ascent I decided to bypass the hut and just hike. At around 4:30 in the morning I reached a checkpoint where two paths merged and it was jam packed with people. Hikers filled the entire camp, finally I saw the amount of people I read about online.
Hikers had started their ascent to the the top, there was so many people, that there was a line of people hiking towards the top. The line of hikers was so long that by the time people were preparing for the sunrise you could not hike to the top because it was full.
I was one check station below the summit when the sun started to rise. Hikers were cheering as the sun rose and many were taking photos. A storm started rolling in and clouds were blocking the sun at points as they rolled in and out quickly.
After the sun rose people started to descend the summit allowing for others to get to the top. I reached the summit and got my final wood burnings in my hiking stick. I slept at the top of Fuji for a while in a big shelter.
The wind ripped through the summit and clouds rolled over the top that you could see them. The other side of the mountain was even more foggy then the side I climbed.
Our original idea was to climbdown the other side of Fuji but I had to go back to find my friend. The plan we devised last night I was to wait at the top for a few more hours for him. With it being so cold at the summit, or me being so underdressed, I headed back to find him.
As I worked my way down the mountain the fog started to roll in and it started raining. I hiked down to the station he was staying at and didn’t see him. I figured he headed back to the bus stop because we had to be back to the bus my mid afternoon.
The rain continued to fall and the descent trail was soft, loose dirt that filled my shoes as I tried to not fall face down in the dirt. Some hikers were running down the mountain in the dirt, some people slipped and some used the guide rope to stay upright.
I reached the bus station at the base and found my friend, who was dry and was able to stay out of the rain. We hopped on the bus back to the train station and slept for most of the way. As soon as we arrived at the train station we boarded and slept some more.
That night we hung out and talked about our hikes. My friend captured some beautiful sunrise pictures because he was low enough on the mountain he was between cloud layers. My pictures were blocked by clouds.
We grabbed some beef bowls that night and crashed to recover from our hike. I was pretty sure I was going to get some kind of sickness, at least a cold if not pneumonia from that hike, but I actually came out unscathed even when I got back to the states.
It was an awesome hike and it pushed me farther in mental toughness. I was well prepared on the food and water front of the hike but under prepared in terms of clothing. Which is good to know for next time. I had my hiking light and such laid out to take to Japan but they were forgotten at home. I really want to hike Fuji again and hope to get that opportunity again someday 🙂
*(First image is the path pointing us to the trail, second is the wooded area that we hiked in, third is looking up at the summit through the fog and clouds, fourth is a look back at the foot of Fuji, fifth is the same thing only later in the day as night started to fall, sixth is the hike up in the foggy morning, seventh is my clouded sunrise shot, eighth is a shot down at the cities covered by clouds, ninth is the line heading to the summit, tenth is how foggy and cloud covered the summit was, eleventh is how foggy it was at the start of the hike down, and finally the foggy trail further down the mountain).
Today was our final day in japan with the group 🙁 I had a great time getting to know some fellow travelers and had so much fun over the previous week or so of adventure. The majority of the group was flying back to the States and a few of us were staying in Japan and going our separate ways.
For the last few days there was a handful of us talking about going to the fish market for sushi breakfast. Admittedly, some of us had too much fun at the beer garden so morning came a bit too soon but never-the-less a small group of 4 including myself made our way to the market.
We had options of breakfast sushi platters so i went with the variety platter that included, eel, salmon, sea urchin and many more. At the end of breakfast, our guide had suggested we try one more type of sushi. I am not sure what it was called but it was a slightly seared piece of fatty tuna. It was seriously the most delicious thing I had ever eaten, hands down. Nothing has ever come close to that.
After we made our way back to the hotel we waited for a few other travelers before we hit up a couple areas. In the meantime we wandered a nearby temple and took some interesting pictures.
Around lunchtime we made our way to a mall that I was itching to go to since I started planning my trip. The reason I wanted to go, was to score myself some anime cels. The mall we went to was 4 stories tall, and covered a lot of ground. As we got to higher floors we started finding nothing but toy stores. So naturally I bought some more gachapon figures.
While roaming around looking for the cel shop, we discovered a small art gallery that focused on Rurouni Kenshin, featuring cels, figures and more. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so I was only able to get one off the wall.
As I continued to look for the cel shop, I finally broke down and called the guide for directions. I was able to get a vicinity to the shop and I found several cels to my liking 🙂 My objectives of the trip were almost complete.
We decided to stop by in harajuku again and we showed a couple travelers where the Neon Genesis Evangelion store was at. To our surpass, they had a lot of new content in the store from when we were there a little over a week ago. I was eyeing an Asuka figure earlier in the trip but they were now all sold out. I picked up a couple more art books and we were on our way back to the hotel.
By this point the other travelers were nearing their departure time. We hung out and swapped information with some of the travelers and watched as they boarded the shuttle bus and headed to the nearest station. It was now just me and my friend in Tokyo and neither of us speaks japanese. We went out for some eats at a chain place called Yoshinoya, which has some awesome beef bowls and went to bed early that night. We had a long day with the short amount of sleep and tomorrow we were starting a new challenge, Mt Fuji. Stay Tuned!
*(First image is my variety sushi platter for breakfast, the second is of lanterns at the nearby shrine, third is the wall outside of the Kenshin gallery showing and the final image is one of thousands of glass cases filled with toys at the mall.)
Today marked the biggest day for me of the entire trip. First thing in the morning we were heading to the Ghibli Museum and as an animator this was a highly anticipated adventure.
I have seen most of the Studio Ghibli films (my top 3 faves: Kiki’s Delivery Service, Whispers of the Heart and Princess Mononoke) and was eager to see so much work from Japan’s most famous studio.
On the way to the Ghibli Museum we stopped at a well known bakery and grabbed breakfast. I had a couple bite sized cheesecake bites that were absolutely amazing. When we got to our final train stop we started to see signs pointing us to the direction of the museum. The signs were decorated with various characters and Totoros as we got closer to our destination.
The museum was hidden away in a very green park with vines dangling on the walls. From the outside we could see stained glass windows with characters from all of the films. We entered the museum and were instructed that we were not allowed to take pictures inside the museum. Our entry ticket also was a ticket into the theater room where we could see an exclusive animated short. The short was very well done and executed without any voice over for the characters or subtitles for that matter. On of the things I love about animation is the ability to tell a story through body language alone. It was a very cute film and it is only one of several that are screened at various times at the museum.
The first floor of the museum was very satisfying as an animator because it had several displays and exhibits on the various processes of animation and techniques. They had several stop motion exhibits that varying in pictures but also larger displays that used flashing lights to break up the motion blur on actual moving objects to give you a sense of stop motion. They had 3D models of characters all lined up to replicate the various drawings you would see in a characters run cycle for example. There were multi layered cels in deep frames so you could see the various layers of depth in cel animation. I spent most of my time here checking out all of these exhibits. I was proud that the museum spent so many resources on the first floor to show people the process of animation which sometimes gets overlooked, especially in the digital age. This floor would give anyone a greater appreciation of the animation process.
The second floor boasts several exhibits about the animation process at Studio Ghibli. The exhibits spanned the entire second floor and had concept and reference drawings hanging up on all the walls from various films. The first exhibit focused on the content creation of the films and how each got their starting point/concept. The second room had a replicated desk of an animator with reference materials scattered around. I know how that happens 🙂 The other side of the room had a colorists desk set up, with all sorts of brushes and color tubes scattered around for painting on cels.
In a small adjacent room, there were completed storyboards for each of the films and you could page through several binders for several films. One of the final rooms had some compositing and camera exhibits that kids were enjoying quite a bit. One was a crank that would move the background behind a hot air balloon. Kids were surrounding that station waiting for a chance to turn the crank and see the results.
The third floor had a couple non-Studio Ghibli works and a couple gift shops. At one gift shop I picked up a little stuffed Ponyo and the other gift shop I picked up a book about the museum along with pictures and also a book breaking down the film of Princess Mononoke. The fourth floor was the roof which had a couple sculptures, one was the giant robot from Castle in the Sky and the other was of a cube I believe from Castile in the Sky as well. The museum had several doors, stairwells, bridges and areas that made even the most serious person feel like a kid and want to explore the museum more. I fell in love with the museum on the trip.
I was just finishing up my rounds in the museum as we were preparing to head over to Shinjuku and the world’s busiest train station. At Shinjuku we made a small excursion to the Square Enix store to check out their goods. It was a lot of Kingdom Hearts content.
After the Square Enix store we ventured to an arcade by our meeting spot and played an epic 3D shooter arcade game. The game had rumbling seats, air guns and such to give you an immersed feeling. The air guns would blow in your face when a door opened or when a zombie/creature would jump out at you. Pretty awesome experience, we easily dumped in 700 Yen into that game and played a couple levels.
We left the arcade and went to a nearby rooftop beer garden for a last meal with the group before they would fly back to the states the next day. The garden had little grills and trays where we could make our own food with various sauces and such. We were also allowed to drink as much as we wanted, we started to pile up empty glasses and then found out that we had to return empties for full ones and that workers didn’t retrieve empty glasses like here in the states. It was a rather funny cultural difference. We headed back to to the hotel and got some rest for our final day with the group.
*(First and second images are a couple of the Ghibli Museum signs we saw, the third is the robot from Castle in the Sky on the roof and the final image is our grill at the beer garden in Shinjuku).