At Roppongi Hills you can enjoy a meal or a drink while checking out the tenth installment of the famous Dragon Quest game series. There’s a special menu, cardboard figures on display and even a car decorated in the usual itasha fashion. The handsome waiter didn’t flinch at all when I took his picture and they even had the famous blue slime nikuman for sale! Although not for take out I was informed. I missed them when they went on sale in the convenience stores a few months ago. If you are a fan of the Dragon Quest games you must attend! This whole thing is done in collaboration with the official Dragon Quest bar in Roppongi that I have passed a hundred times but never had the courage to enter. One of these days I will have to make a blog post about it!
If there is one thing I love the Japanese for it is the ability to keep their traditions alive! Here’s something I came across for the first time at the Kappabashi Tanabata festival on last weekend, near Tokyo’s Asakusa district. A man was challenging anyone for a game of Touhachiken (東八拳), a traditional game of reflect, coordination and wits that’s been practiced at least since the Edo period of pre-modern Japan. The table set up is very traditional and absolutely gorgeous – it is so typically Japanese to design and craft something like this for a simple game of gestures! The wooden blocks are score markers and the first one to win three games in a row is the winner. It is similar to the western “Pat-a-cake” game but much more complicated. The man was obviously a pro but even then he lost a couple of times to the little girl! The boys who were watching didn’t dare try it out though. If I ever meet someone who knows this game I will have to take a lesson! Here’s a good video of the game in action with traditional music accompanying them.
While walking around Akihabara the other day (I don’t get too many chances to just wander around freely these days) I happened to pass the huge Mandarake store there and saw their exhibition of game art, the characters of a strategy game loosely modeled on the epic wars over 400 years ago in Japan, but this time with cats! Adorable, cute, ferocious little kittens duking it out in what looks like a cross between Pet Station and Dragon Quest. The name itself, Nobunyaga is a pun on the historic character Nobunaga (nya being the cute pet word for cat). I guess it’s also a parody of the famous game with the very similar name, but not being a big fan of games I can’t give much more details. I just loved the illustrations! So, which one is you favorite?
You might have heard of one of the most popular video games in recent Japanese history, Monster Hunter? I see this game played on PSP devices on trains and cafes almost daily, it even got to the point where a friend lent me her game so that I could try it out. I soon rediscovered my general disinterest in games but I must say it’s a beautiful game, and very detailed. One of the most popular characters, obviously, is a cat, called Airu (アイルー). Originally a sidekick to the main hero, he/she soon developed a solid fan base and now there’s games devoted just to this lovable cat (see for example Capcom’s Pokapoka Airu no Mura).
This being Japan there’s also several figures, toys and other kinds of goods available with this character, and not to mention a thriving fan-based maker communtiy. One maker of Airu figures that I discovered in this year’s Wonder Festival is Mimishiki (耳式) who created some excellent and very cute posable Airu figures, as you can see in the first three photos of this post.
The last photo is figures from the Pokapoka game, Airu and his friends. If you claim an interest in Japan or all things Japanese, Airu is a character you should now about!
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