Japan has buttloads of stuff to see. Did you know that? Oh. Of course you did. But did you know they have plenty of touristy things to — what do you mean, “no shit?” Fine. You sit quietly.
For the three of you who didn’t know, Japan has lots of sights to see! Sure, to someone who’s never left the Western world before even the complicated trash cans are amusing (“What’s a pet bottle? A bottle of pet waste?”), but if you tilt your head slightly upwards you’ll find yourself staring at all sorts of cool sights. Here are a few of the sights I’ve seen in my three months and two days (at the time of writing) in Japan.
Odaiba is a district in Tokyo that is popular for one thing and one thing only:
That is a 1/1 scale, life-size, fully operational RX-78-2, also known as the Mobile Suit Gundam. Well, it may not be fully operational but it’s still a scale replica. Unfortunately tourists aren’t allowed to go inside the cockpit (probably to hide the working controls. I’m on to you, Namco Bandai!), but pretty soon fans will be able to walk between the Gundam’s legs. To look up its butt? Honestly I don’t think robo-crack is the biggest draw to the genre, but whatever.
This isn’t a repeat of the same statue, it’s actually a smaller scale model. Most mech models stand about a foot tall, and this guy stands around six feet. If the Earth Federation Special Forces ever needs volunteers for power armor, sign me up.
I know they’re part of the classic series, and it wasn’t until later years that the Gundam series realized that everybody can get a cool robot, but the Guncannon and Guntank always looked lame to me. At least the pilots were likable…
Those last three pictures are from the Gundam Museum inside that mall. There were all sorts of Gundam sights to see, but I sometimes get over-excited and forget to take pictures. All I’ve got is me poorly doing the Top Gun pose.
Observant readers may have seen the Gundam Cafe in the background of the original image. Well, I didn’t go that day. But I did later! To a different one! In Akihabara!
The food sucked. It was Chef Boyardee quality, but honestly, who would go to a themed restaurant expecting the food to be good? You go for the atmosphere, the merchandise, the alcoholic drinks named after your favorite characters (though they didn’t have a Duo Maxwell drink, which, since he’s an American, would probably be a black, greasy lump of fast food and cheap beer), and the opportunity to listen to the intro and outro sequences of every series on loop. Honestly, I was a little disappointed, but I may have expected too much.
“But Ben!” you must be thinking, “Surely you can’t spend all your free time seeing sights.” You’re right! So where do I go when I’m not riding the intimidating train system? The arcade!
I spend my time inside the Gundam pods, naturally! They’re little rooms with a projector, two joysticks, and a chair. It’s essentially a four-on-four or five-on-five deathmatch where you try to do more monetary damage to your opponents than they do to you. Honestly, besides Counter-Strike, I haven’t seen many games that take an economic approach to multiplayer running and gunning. Oddly absent from the economics is the cost of human life, but that might be a little to philosophical for a game about robots bonking each other with pink laser swords. 8/10.
There’s plenty more to see in Japan, and I’ve only scratched the surface. There are countless hobby shops dedicated to Gundam models, a Gundam themed hotel room (it’s $400 a night, so that’ll have to wait until Uncle Sam pays me a little bit better), all sorts of console and portable video games released only in Japan (I already own Shin Musou Gundam and Gundam Breaker, obviously), and who knows what else? You’ll know as soon as I do.