To get to Pokemon Centre Yokohama, go out the west exit of Minato-Mirai Eki, turn left, and then head left again on Sakuragichou. Eventually you'll come to a pretentious statue.
To your right is Landmark Tower, and your target is inside. I have to say that Pokemon Centres, as a concept, are somewhat losing their impact with each successive visit, since they're kind of samey. Doesn't detract from the sweetness of acquiring my Yokohama Original charm, though. Too bad I can't sell Soymilk on a daytrip to Sendai. I fantasize about working at the Oosaka location. That would be awesome.
Know what else? They've got Showers dolls, so my Eeveelution set is complete. Soymilk grabs a few for himself, because apparently profiteering is a lucrative industry among Pokemon-loving expats, who speculate on limited-sale dolls that are likely to become hot items in a few months and then sell them on eBay at a 1000% markup. Have I mentioned that Soymilk is morally against both advertising and having to pay money for entertainment?
One floor up, there's a store that sells nothing but merchandise from Shounen Jump serials. Eh, meh.
Rude Boy: This would have been the coolest thing ever if I'd come here in high school.
Soymilk: Me too.
Rude Boy: Oh my god, is this what it's like getting older?
Soymilk: Yes. It's terrible.
Soymilk only agreed to my Pokemon errand on the condition that we at least check out the Yokohama DDR scene, and we're quite pleased to find that the group is made up of some pretty rad people. The culture here is pretty different from what we're used to. Japan has a higher density of players, a dickload more tournaments, and skews towards timing whereas the West has a stamina bias. Plus, when you want to play, you have to write your name down on a sign-up sheet.
Rude Boy: Hey, never seen it done like this before. In my arcade in Canada people just kind of do whatever.
Yokohama player: Yeah, we do things differently in Japan.
Rude Boy: Well, I think it's because it's a much smaller arcade.
Yokohama player: Japanese people need rules. If we don't have this, nobody will know who gets to play next.
Rude Boy: Are y...yeah, sure. That's gotta be it.
Also, there's two girls there, and they're both genuinely hot. Any idea how rare that actually is? Like, really rare. I mean, I know that all readers of this blog are stunningly attractive and intelligent, but outside of you guys, there's a dearth of hot rhythm-gaming girls. I'm just saying.
So, uh, we really didn't end up seeing too much of Yokohama. Um. The area around the station seemed nice.
Does it seem like we started strong on the sightseeing and then lost steam? That's not quite it. We still did stuff, it's just that most of it wasn't especially bloggable. For example, there's a ton of stuff I wouldn't mind getting to on my final day in Toukyou, but Soymilk vetoes all my ideas and takes me clothes shopping instead. God only knows why, but he's determined to transform me into some kind of fashionable ladykiller. I think it's a little side-project he's taken up. Not that I can complain, since he's got a damn good eye for this stuff, but it does mean that we're left with a very narrow window before I need to be getting on my way.
Soymilk: So basically you have your choice between Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. Neither one is better.
Right outside the station is Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Kouen, which features prominently in the drama “Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Kouen.” I'm disappointed to see a distinct lack of yankii, but maybe times have changed. Might be for the best, considering the stupidity I got caught up in last time I shot a group of yankii.
That said, I do see slews of uniformed schoolgirls huddling in groups of ten and fifteen, with nary a guy in sight. If the back alleys were arteries, these girls would have given Ikebukuro an aneurism long ago. I contemplate taking a picture of some of them in light of the yankiiless park, but decide that would probably get me in real trouble.
My very last Toukyou sight is Animate, or “Akihabara for Girls,” as it is apparently sometimes called. Which pretty much sums it up. Ever the niche fan, Soymilk makes a beeline for the doujins.
Soymilk: We're the only two guys on this entire floor. (beat) Yeah let's leave.
The highway bus company I'm riding back with has a number of classifications for their buses, and I'm a little concerned that I'll be riding Standard on the way back, given the experience I had with the level above it, which was called Relax. If you have to upgrade just to be able to relax, I can't even imagine what the hell kind of emotions the Standard ride is supposed to invoke. By the way, if you go yet one more level above Relax, only then do we finally arrive at “Comfort,” which speaks volumes.
Back in Kyouto, I feel like I've returned to my domain. My time away has only made me appreciate it more. Toukyou was great, but after all, Kansai is home.