Thursday, August 29, 2013

Japan 2013: Of Mobile Suits and Fast Cars

As if geeking out at wasn't enough, we went out to search for more geekiness. Next up: . As we walked away from , we couldn't help but notice the abundance of cosplayers around the area. Karly and Ariel wanted to take pictures with them but the cosplayers seem too engrossed in their own world (having photo ops with the lovely tulips haha) so they let it slide.

Cosplayers love Odaiba too!

We also passed by a vintage car show in one of the parking lots at Diver City. It was already over by the time we arrived but we were still able to see some of the cool cars pass by.

Cool cars.

We've gotten accustomed to the chilly spring breeze but this row of bikes just proved today's wind is even more stronger than yesterday.

Nope, not windy at all.

As we made our way to , we passed by an authentic J-pop gig in front of . The band was being flocked by fangirls but even in crazy situations like this, the Japanese manage to be polite and keep their distance. I didn't know who the band was but thinking about it now, I should've fangirled just for the sake of experiencing it. In Japan.

Japanese fangirls.

Finally, we went up close with the famous mobile suit. It was so surreal standing in front of it. Gundam Wing was probably the first anime I truly loved (not watched obviously) so being in front of a 60-foot Gundam model definitely made my day. Believe it or not, I used to dream of being a Gundam pilot back when I was still in grade school. It may be because I love the anime too much or maybe because aside from Noin, there were no other female pilots so it made me want it even more. Of course, there was no way that dream was coming true but seeing a life-size Gundam model was the closest thing.

The 60-foot tall Gundam model.

The mobile suit looks like the real deal. I felt like I was transported into the future where Gundam Wing, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dual! Parallel Universe, Rahxephon, and other mecha anime* took place. It was awesome. My otaku self was absolutely delighted by just being there.

Feeling pilots.

Before we moved on to our next destination, we stopped by for some snacks and souvenirs. We hoarded a bunch of Gundam merch but our favorites were the surprise Gundam model magnets. Like the usual Gundam toys, you have to assemble them but I love how they are flexible so you can actually position them to create your own battle scenes. Sugoi! And since they come in surprise boxes, we spent quite a while shaking the boxes as we all wanted the heavy ones which simply meant they had wings or bigger weapons. Thank goodness for patient and really helpful staff!

Happy otakus at the Gundam Cafe.

is famous for their Gundam-themed food obviously. However, not all beverages come with Gundam art so Nee-chan and I specifically ordered Haro Latte just for the coffee art. Haha I also ordered a strawberry Beam Churros while Karly ordered a custard Gunpla-yaki (Gundam taiyaki). Yup, we're suckers for adorable edibles. And apparently, adorably dressed staff. Haha Karly may have been too shy to approach the cosplayers but we pushed him this time to take a picture with one of the Gundam Cafe staff and she happily obliged. Kawaiii~!

Cars galore!

After satisfying our otaku needs, it's time to satisfy our dad's love for cars as we made our way toat Palette Town (yes, the place actually exists outside of Pokemon). is a theme park that boasts of a "see, ride and feel" experience for their visitors. First up, we checked out the TOYOTA CITY SHOWCASE where you can see Toyota's newest models. They encourage trying out the cars for yourself so feel free to jump in any of your dream cars. I love how the staff are so accommodating as if you're actually there to buy a car. As Tokyo Tokyo would say, so Japanice!

You can actually test-drive the latest models as long as you have an international driver's license and can speak fluent Japanese. So that's two giant X's for me. Fret not though because there's another option - a better one actually. At least for me. :) You can sign up for the free RIDE ONE experience where you get to be a passenger on an actual F1 racing car. Way too cool!


Of course, we signed up without thinking about it. After all, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I hate to say this but YOLO! I love how the F1 racers showed up in sentai** gear. Haha Even their personalities match their colors. We're definitely in Japan alright!

We all got excited as the racers pumped up the crowd. But when the event actually started, I began to have second thoughts. HAHAHA I was stunned at the speed and the sound of screeching tires as they drove through obstacles. I am so not ready to experience Tokyo Drift. But at the same time, the racetrack was there calling out to me. Chos! But seriously, it may seem scary but the longer you watch it, the more you get drawn to the racetrack.

Dream come true!

When it was finally our turn, we had no choice but to put the helmets on, buckle our seats and hold on for dear life. Since the cars can only accommodate up to four people, we had to split into two groups. Nee-chan and I chose Red One as our driver while the boys chose Green Two, one of the two girl racers in the group. I sat in the back while Nee-chan chit-chatted with Red One in the front seat. No matter how many times I've watched the cars go through the racetrack, it didn't prepare me for the actual experience. We were going so fast, I was screaming and laughing (my weird coping mechanism) while bouncing around in my seat. Can't blame me though, I feel like we were going to crash into one of the orange cones any time. Red One noticed how I was bouncing around too much (forever walang break, sorry na)and told me to hold on to the railing above my head to save myself from bruises. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely fun - like riding a rollercoaster fun!

After a few rounds of going through the racetrack, our time was finally up. Aww zannen! Red One gave us some souvenirs and we asked him to do the sentai pose with us. He was happy to do so and then the boys joined in with Green Two as we volted in for the photo op.

Do you know how to drive?

Then we went to the TOYOTA UNIVERSAL DESIGN SHOWCASE where personal mobility and future technologies were displayed. We missed signing up for the free trials but we were able to try out the simulations though where you'll see the difference of driving with and without uhh something related to shock absorption I think. Haha

Aboard Daikaransha!

Nee-chan, Karly and I then proceeded to try the (Daddy and Ayel decided to pass), a 115-metre tall Ferris wheel. For some reason, I always end up riding Ferris wheels abroad even though I'm terrified of heights! The view above was breathtaking but we all had to sit down when we reached the highest peak as the cabin shook a little from the strong winds. Kowai!

I wanna be a pop star!***

After buying yet another souvenir photo (because the frame is so darn cute), we were off to meet up with Daddy and Ayel back at the Toyota showcase. But when we passed by this standee, we couldn't help but take turns getting our photos even if it meant having to stand on tip toes. Haha Too funny! Only when we got back in the Philippines did we learn that this random standee was , a singing voice synthesizer that is featured in over 100,000 songs worldwide. WHAT! Her name alone means "The first sound from the future" and she has performed sold-out 3D concerts worldwide. O.O

Exploring Venice.

After meeting up with Daddy and Ayel, we went to to check out the HISTORY GARAGE which showcases vintage cars. We had no idea we were in for a treat as is a Venice-themed shopping mall. SAYWHAAAAT? After Bangkok's , Venus Fort comes second in my current list of favorite shopping malls all over the world. So pretty!

The first thing I noticed upon enteringwas the clear blue skies above. Imagine my surprise as we entered the place at night. It has an outdoorsy feel so seeing the blue skies ceiling is pretty awesome. In the middle of the mall was a wishing fountain which made us feel like we were really in Venice. But my favorite part is probably the area beneath the dome (see that little circle on the lower left photo?). I love Easter eggs so I was ecstatic upon discovering a little secret. When you speak inside the circle, the sound somehow bounces wherever and creates an echo but you wouldn't hear it from outside the circle. Cool! Nee-chan and I spent a good couple of minutes there talking nonsense and looking like fools. Haha

Cars galore.

Unlike most of the exhibits we've seen inthat features solely Toyota models, the HISTORY GARAGE showcases different brands and models of vintage cars. I love how the exhibit gives off that car show vibe. So if you love taking selfies with luxury cars, this is the place to go! Entrance is free so there's no need to steal billions from pockets of the working class just to humblebrag. Okay, enough about that and let's move on (but seriously, I wish Napoles and all other guilty parties rot in prison or better yet, hell).

Tarush! Exclusive!

The HISTORY GARAGE has two floors. The ground floor has the car exhibit while the basement houses a cafe where you can also buy souvenirs. The cafe is themed after automobiles obviously but I especially love their exclusive parking signs. Ang taray!

Light up the sky!

We were deciding where to have dinner but after realizing it was already past 8:00 PM, we decided to go back to for the Gundam show which starts at 9:00 PM. Thank goodness, we found a good spot before the show started. They show started with the cockpit lighting up first as they flashed the pilot on the big screen. It was so surreal seeing the Gundam light up slowly and then they were flashing scenes from different Gundam series. Upon seeing my beloved Gundam W characters, I couldn't help but cry a little. That's my childhood right there! It would've been more awesome if the Gundam could move around more though. But nevertheless, the show was awesome.

We ended up eating dinner at the food court nearby but it was alright. We ordered from different stalls so we had Korean (bibimbap), Japanese (yakisoba) and Italian (pizza & pasta) cuisine for dinner. We came home tired but still high from happiness.

* Mecha anime - a genre of anime that revolves around piloted robots in battles.

** Sentai - Japanese term for a military unit or group. Popularized in anime as a group of superheroes working as one while sporting matching outfits to save the world.*** To the tune of Hirai Ken's Pop Star, not as in Sarah G. :|

Traveling party: Daddy, Karly, Nee-chan (organizer), Sera, and Ariel

Travel date: April 14, 2013 [Day 5]

Photo credits:
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