Day 0 (8/9-10/2009): Token shopping
My trip started out with my NatPacker preparedness coming in handy. As I was waiting at the airport for my flight, the family sitting in the row of chairs behind me had a child with a bleeding foot, and I was able to whip out a box of bandages for them. The flight itself was fairly empty, and for part of the way I had an entire middle row to myself. (Part of the trip, a lady came and spread out across three of the seats to nap.) It was the type of plane with individual video screens installed for every passenger, and I was able to select which movies I wanted to watch from the August list. I arrived at the hotel to find that wednesday_10_00 and sara_tanaquil were already checked in and had done their token shopping for the night.
Day 1: Typhoon, Earthquake, Shopping
Of course, we all woke up in the wee hours of the morning due to jet lag, so we had to sit around in the room for hours waiting until the bookstores across the street opened. A typhoon was passing by the area, so it was overcast and gray. At about 5am, the whole hotel shook with an earthquake. We flipped on the news to see that a very strong earthquake had struck Shizuoka Prefecture. It had weakened considerably by the time it got to Tokyo, though we were surprised at how long the trembling lasted.
A man from housekeeping came in to empty our trash cans, and he spotted the token piles of manga that had been accumulated the night before. Clearly being familiar with fangirl visitations, he pleaded, "Do some sightseeing too..."
Sorry, Housekeeping Guy. Sightseeing just wasn't destined to happen.
What we did do was shopping. As soon as the used bookstores opened, we descended upon them like starving locusts and bought as many books and manga as we could carry.
Day 2: Shopping, Curry
Having gotten a large number of the titles on our lists from the used stores, we went shopping for merchandise and new items at Animate. There we discovered that they had Otome Road T-shirts for sale. wednesday_10_00 has a picture of the shirt in her journal here. For those who haven't heard, "Otome (Maiden) Road" is the nickname for the street where we stayed in Ikebukuro, which is lined with shops carrying manga and doujinshi aimed toward women. All three of us immediately purchased one of the shirts.
That evening we went to Nataraj, a vegetarian Indian food restaurant in Ogikubo. We found that the restaurant has been completely remodeled. The food is still delicious.
Day 3: Earthquake, Shopping, Melty Candy
By this time we were starting to sleep in a bit later, until nearly 4:30. We spent our morning hours reading our purchases so that we could recommend titles to each other. We again felt the hotel shake with an earthquake. It was another big one, but it hit out in the middle of the ocean, so it wasn't strong anywhere except a couple of small islands. We spent the day doing even more shopping and going over the Comiket catalog to mark tables we wanted to visit.
That evening we decided to have a drinking night. We each bought our beverages of choice and took them back to our room. By the time we started to make some headway, the littlest things had become hilarious. wednesday_10_00 collapsed in a fit of laughter for about ten solid minutes over sara_tanaquil's "ewww" reaction to some half-melted pieces of candy, and that was our biggest event of the day.
Day 4: Comiket, Shopping, Tofu
We headed out for Comiket in the morning, braving the heat and humidity and crowds. There wasn't too much that we wanted on the first day, so we took our time browsing tables. After we were done and had dropped our purchases off at the hotel, we headed out for more shopping. Our piles were getting to be quite formidable by this point. We went to a bookstore called Junkudo in a different part of town, because they had some books in stock that we hadn't found at Animate. On the way back we spotted a restaurant called Tsuki no Shizuku, part of a chain that specializes in tofu dishes. We ate supper there that night, and though it was expensive compared to our typical convenience store meals, it was absolutely delicious. Our favorite item was chunks of avocado and cream cheese wrapped in yuba.
Day 5: Comiket
The crowds at Comiket on Saturday were unbelievable. To give you some idea, the doors of the convention site open at 10am. It took so long for people just to walk through the doors that our part of the line didn't get to the convention halls until noon. wednesday_10_00 has a photo that shows a fraction of the line. By the time we finished making our purchases, we were worn out from standing for hours in the blistering heat and humidity and didn't want to leave our hotel room the rest of the night. We did, however, spend a fair amount of time strategizing for the next day. We had a large number of tables that we needed to visit, so we divided them up and marked maps for each of us so that we could hit different targets.
Day 6: Comiket
We left an hour earlier, which helped put us somewhat closer to the front of the line. Even so, some of the doujinshi authors had sold out by the time we got to their tables. We finished up reasonably quickly and headed back to the hotel to admire our purchases...and collapse. wednesday_10_00 has pictures of our haul for the weekend.
Day 7: Ginza Shopping
We thought that, for a change, we would do a different kind of shopping. We went to a neighborhood called Ginza, which is known for its high class department stores. The first store we visited was clearly for a different social class, with each item bearing a price tag of hundreds--or even thousands--of dollars. sara_tanaquil reported that they had very nice restrooms, though. The next department store had things of a more reasonable nature, and we spent the rest of the afternoon there, prowling the various floors. I purchased a small can of British tea from a brand called H. R. Higgins. The type I bought was "Spring Tea": Black China tea with raspberry, blackcurrant and elderberry flavours, juniper berries, nettle and heather leaves, blackberries and peppermint leaves. It was pricey, but it smells heavenly.
Day 8: DisneySea Shopping
Somewhat recovered from Comiket, we devoted this day to taking in Tokyo DisneySea. We started by getting fast passes for the Tower of Terror, which opened after our last visit, so we hadn't ridden it there before. We managed to catch a fair number of rides, and wednesday_10_00 was excited to find curry popcorn available. I bought myself a pair of darling teacups that are decorated with Minnie Mouse standing amid sakura petals. We stayed until nearly closing time and didn't get back to the hotel until late.
Day 9: Akujunkan, Shopping
After some messaging difficulties, sara_tanaquil finally managed to make contact with her friend akujunkan to arrange a visit. While we waited for her to make the trip from Kyoto to Tokyo, we did some laundry at the nearby laundromat. After she arrived, we all went out for more shopping, finishing with a late supper of okonomiyaki.
Day 10: Nakano Shopping, Akihabara Shopping, Packing
Our last full day in Tokyo had rolled around, so it was time to start shopping in earnest. The four of us headed out to Mandarake in Nakano, where we browsed for quite some time. We ate lunch at a small sushi place where our rolled sushi was arranged on our plates in the form of flower blossoms. I haven't seen that done before (though, admittedly, I usually eat at revolving sushi restaurants). After that we headed to Akihabara for more shopping, including a branch of Animate with hidden rooms, K-Books, and the elusive Book Off. You might think that we had done so much shopping previously that there wouldn't be much left to buy, but I wound up taking back nearly more than I could carry.
Here is the final reckoning of my haul for the trip:
Books and manga: 187
Then came the REAL challenge: Packing. I had come with nearly empty suitcases, so I managed to get all of my purchases into my bags without exceeding the weight limit (though it meant I had to stuff quite a lot in my carryon bags). Poor wednesday_10_00 and sara_tanaquil were up until 1am trying to fit everything into their luggage.
Day 11: Earthquake
As we were getting ready to leave in the morning, there was yet another earthquake. This was a relatively weak one that hit Chiba Prefecture.
We checked out of the hotel without incident and took the bus back to the airport. Getting bags checked in was an ordeal for sara_tanaquil, who had the most purchases and had to deal with extra weight. My trip back seemed relatively short, though I had a window seat and spent a lot of time prevented from using the bathroom because the lady in the aisle seat fell asleep with her tray table down. When I got back to San Francisco, the guy at the immigration window stared at my declaration form and asked, "Did you REALLY bring back over a thousand dollars' worth of books?"
Yes. Yes I did.
After I claimed my suitcases, one of my roving co-workers sent me through the agriculture line, causing much hilarity. I took a taxi home and immediately unpacked my suitcases. My purchases are currently resting in piles on my living room floor. I made a couple of trips to the grocery store to restock my perishable items, and then I conked out on the couch because I decided it was far too hot to clean my kitchen as I ought to be doing. Since I am likely to be awake far into the night, I'll probably get around to it after the temperature in my apartment has gone down.
That concludes my report for Comiket 2009.
Edit: Links to my companions' trip reports below...
wednesday_10_00's report: No manga, no life
sara_tanaquil's report: Trip report (briefly released from friend-lock)