This post will not be remembered for its aesthetic values, but it might be useful for tourists in Tokyo over the eager to get some Christmas shopping done! Feel free to disregard if commercialism is not your thing! If you are into character goods, seasonal souvenirs and christmas shopping for young and old children, I recommend giving the shopping arcades beneath Tokyo Station a visit. There are lots of tiny promotional stores down there with lots of peculiar toys and characters, some famous (Like Pikachu wearing a train officer’s hat), while some are very not famous outside of Japan. I took these snap shots last year passing through the arcade, but I think similar shops are open this year’s Christmas as well!
While visiting a shrine in Ibaraki I came across this lone itasha (anime decorated car) in the parking space and could not help but taking a few photos. You seldom see these kinds of cars on weekdays in Tokyo, but on weekends they are quite common all over the Kanto area as their owners take them out for a spin. I had to check this series up on Wikipedia, but it seems to be a series called Dog Days (ドッグデイズ) with this car car being devoted to the character Ricotta Elmer.
Japan has nothing if not some seriously devoted fans! One of the more popular recent anime shows is the Girls und Panzer (ガールズ＆パンツァー), which is basically about teams of girl high school students using WWII tanks in mock battles as a sport. Not having seen or read any of the anime or manga I can’t comment on it but in the series, which focuses on a fictional school in the real city of Oarai in Ibaraki Prefecture the famous Oarai Isosaki Shrine is featured. As such, the shrine has been inundated with fans from all over Japan and have even created a special ema votive plate hanging spot. Not only the shrine but the entire city is taking advantage of the spotlight placed on it and if you walk around in town you can see plenty of signs and posters and cardboard figures with the many characters of the show.
The ema are all handmade by fans and many are extremely well done. Not a small percentage of them were hung by one particularly devoted fan that has created a mini story out of the hudnreds of numbered ema he has produced, some of which are pretty worn from hanging outside for months. Of course all of these ema will sooner or later be taken down and burnt on a ritual pyre. Sorry about all the photos! It was easy to get carried away and so many good ones!
Passing through Akihabara the other day I noticed this vending machine that only sells Sprite, nicely decorated with images from the Aokana TV anime. At first I wondered wether this actually drives sales for either Sprite or Aokana and then I remembered that I had just taken four images of it. So yes, I assume it does at least attract attention!