For some reason the famous Hato Bus Company (the biggest tour bus company in Japan) keep updating their Hello Kitty themed buses, and I thought I should share the third one I’ve spotted so far. I still haven’t been able to get a photo of the giant Hello Kitty doll dressed up like a Hato Bus tour guide girl that is kept inside the bus. Some day maybe! This one was parked in front of Shinjuku station, East exit and Studio Alta. If you are interested in comparing, here is the first Hello Kitty bus, and here is the second. Which one is your favorite?
I don’t know if it has been fully expressed or if most of you dear readers have noticed already, but a large part of this blog is not about the fantastic, but rather the details of Japan, the small things that you’d miss if you didn’t know about it, or the places, streets, back buildings and lesser known festivals you’d never visit as a casual tourist or even as a native of this great country. Tokyobling is as much about details and hidden places (although – hidden in plain view) as the grand, large, cool and fantastic. Take this post for example. Who in their right mind, with a blog that received thousands of visitors every day, would blog about a small temple in a suburb that no one ever visits in a small town that hardly draws the big crowds? Tokyobling – that’s who! Your purveyor of the ordinary!
Myosenji is a very local temple that is happily advertising their main business – the leasing of funeral plots and funeral services (which is true of most local Buddhist temples in Japan), hardly marked out even on local maps and absolutely not on anything a tourist might ever look out. For some reason I was drawn to it, certain that there must be something interesting if only I looked hard enough. Sure, the temple is above-average in terms of grooming and quite well kept. There is even an interesting tombstone commemorating the war dead of the Imperial Army Artillery! Not a common find at all! The mausoleum next to it is built to correspond to the large tree giving the roof an interesting shape. But even that is not enough to warrant a Tokyobling post, until you take a closer look at the Buddhist statuary (the usual demons and guardians protecting the entrance to heaven and hell), and beyond that, to the small granite guardian statues of… Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty. Did I miss a hidden Buddhist meaning in the works of Sanrio and Disney? Who know. Still, I’m glad I found it, and glad I could show it to you, because in a million years, I promise that no readers of this blog would ever chance to pay a visit to the beautiful little secret that is Myosenji, in Odawara City, Kangawa Prefecture, Japan.
When you have successfully merged yourself with the cat herself, Hello Kitty, you have officially entered a new and elevated rank in the pantheon of characters and cultural phenomena! Latest to achieve that honor is the cat from the hugely successful Monster Hunter game, Airu! Airu went from being a rather bland pet character in the online role playing game to becoming a huge character in itself, spawning hordes of games, toys, spin offs, comics etc. Capcom even created a game based on just this cat character called Airu Village (you can see the trailer at Youtube).
Here’s a photo of Airu and Hello Kitty mashed up, as well as some plushies that were on sale in the Capcom booth at the latest Wonder Festival! I don’t have time to play the games, but I just love this cat! By the way, I hope you didn’t miss all the other Monster Hunter related posts I have done, over here, here and here.