On December 27th I headed down to Tokyo to meet wednesday_10_00, mangaroo, and sara_tanaquil. We spent that evening and the next mostly shopping and strategizing for Comiket (a huge three-day event for non-professionally published comics and stories). The reason it takes strategy is that different items are sold on each of the three days, the dealer tables are located in vastly separated wings of a monstrously large convention center, and you are competing with hundreds of thousands of other fans for limited stock.
We found that we only wanted a few items on the first day, so we used it as our "practice run." (Not everyone in the group had been to Comiket before.) It took a bit of creativity even to organize ourselves for the practice day, because the only Comiket catalogue (which lists the dealers and their locations) we were able to get was the CD-ROM version. Although we had a laptop to view the catalogue, we had no printer to print our lists/maps. We had to go through a process of making screen captures of everything, emailing to ourselves, and then using the hotel lobby pay internet service to open the images and print them on the hotel printer.
The second day was our big day, and we had to split up into two groups to have a chance at getting the items we wanted. Sadly, mangaroo woke up with a case of food poisoning and wasn't able to attend. sara_tanaquil and wednesday_10_00 developed sore throats, but it wasn't enough to slow them down.
Our shopping went successfully, and we decided to skip the third day of Comiket to shop elsewhere. We spent New Year's Eve watching the Kouhaku song competition and admiring our various purchases. Our hotel reservation came with breakfast tickets for New Year, so we ventured forth to sample some of the buffet food. Half of the buffet was typical Western fare, half was traditional Japanese food, with special dishes added for the holiday.
We had planned to go to Disneyland on January 2nd, but I woke up with a low fever and couldn't get out of bed, so we wound up scrapping that idea. I think it's the most ill I've been my entire time in Japan...go figure.
On January 3rd, after a desperate packing frenzy, we checked out of the hotel. We shopped until mid-afternoon and then took the shinkansen to Shiga, where everyone crashed at my apartment. We spent a couple days watching movies, reading comics, and shopping with gnine in Kyoto.
I had to go back to work on January 7th, so my guests all headed to Tokyo for one last day of shopping before catching their flights home.
I took a number of pictures of the things we encountered, but I haven't had time to upload them yet. I'll compose another post later with those.