I’m sorry for the silly title, I couldn’t help it xP
Pheeew… this post has been a long time coming. It wasn’t that I’d been working on it all this time, but I wanted to get all the other catchup posts done, and also hadn’t finished sorting through all my Japan photos so I was never sure if I was missing any of the pictures I wanted to put in this post.
My trip to Japan from December last year to January this year was full of discoveries of new, weird, funny, beautiful and memorable things. I don’t know how interested all of you are in reading a post like this in an Animal Crossing blog, but well… the things I saw fascinated me, and I think it doesn’t hurt to share ^_^ And of course some of it is relevant to this blog!
There’s SO much I want to share, but of course it’s impossible for me to show you everything. Also aside from these intro pictures and a few others towards the end, the rest of this post is supposed to be about all the little things I saw here and there, which should otherwise have felt alien to me, but felt very familiar thanks to a particular well-known cute and quirky gaming series by Nintendo, and gave me a little warm feeling inside every time I saw one 🙂 They also gave me a lot of ‘aha!’ moments.
I’ve done this post very roughly chronologically, and you’ll see me moving through Sapporo where all the snow was, Kyoto with all its traditional architecture and temples and finally Tokyo, albeit the quieter side, although we did certainly see the noisy, bright-lights-city side of it too 🙂
Except for one photo (with me in it – You’ll work it out 🙂 ), all pictures were taken by me.
And to get warmed up, here’s a photo of me actually Crossing Animals on a 10-hour train journey to Sapporo through a mostly snowy landscape.
A first glimpse of familiarity 🙂 Before the localisation of New Leaf I would have had no idea what this was. I would have called it a beehive.
Speaking of public works, we whizzed by this cute little mushroom shelter with table and stools that I thought would actually have made a really nice PWP had they included it.
I actually just recently found out too that you could build a mushroom “PWP” in the Japanese version of Animal Crossing e+ o_o
In Sapporo this shopping arcade was run by Tom Nook— okay not really, but its mascot was certainly a ‘raccoon dog’ just like Tom Nook. (Zoom in and you’ll see.) This was the Tanuki Koji Shopping Arcade, which runs ten blocks long and from what we saw, just included a bit of everything – food, clothes, souvenirs, groceries, animals, cosmetics, bars and clubs.
In Sapporo was also… SNOW. I had only been in this much snow once before, and aside from that I pretty much rarely see any snow. Certainly none where I live in Sydney. Oh, and of course I had to make myself a real snowman! I have to say I wasn’t very good at picking up cues from Animal Crossing – I didn’t know you could really roll snowballs! I molded this snowman carefully by hand, adding snow bit by bit, and when I showed Mum the photos she said I could have rolled the snow and made a big snowman xD I thought you could only roll snowballs in cartoons and videogames
It was below freezing the whole day but I had so much fun romping around in the snow
It got dark in these parts by around 4:30pm, and then this winter wonderland was lit up with fairy lights ^_^ Most of the busy commercial areas in the places we visited during the trip had illumination displays of some sort.
I also found an ‘Illuminated Tree’ 😛 This was actually the front courtyard of a church… in a shopping mall.
Japan. Was. FULL. Of. These: Crane games! These were from a whole floor of them run by Namco, which we found next to the Pokémon Center 😀
I had no idea which franchise the dog was from but it was so cute I had to have a go x3 I won it in 3 tries!
In Kyoto we were lucky enough to stay in a studio apartment right on the edge of the Gion district, full of beautiful old streets and temple grounds. We spent an entire day wondering through the neigbourhood, and no matter which street we took, we always ended in one temple or another 😛
There were these boards crammed with writing and folded paper that visitors to the shrines would occasionally hover around. They deposited 100 yen into the slot on the hollow pole in the centre, found their name, and picked up their fortune. I still don’t quite understand how these two boards could include every person’s name.
In the background and in the first photo of the post you can see all the fortunes tied onto the trees. These are either the bad fortunes that people received and tied up to leave their bad luck behind, or good fortunes which their recipients chose to tie there to strengthen their effect over keeping for themselves as good luck charms.
At the Fushimi Inari Shrine people wrote their wishes on the backs of these wooden fox-shaped ema. . . and also invented a variety of fox faces on the front.
We went to the magical Kasuga Shrine in Nara, where stone lanterns lined the path from one end to the other, stretching off into the distance.
Also in the streets of Nara, we got to see this… I recommend you watch the whole thing 🙂
Making mochi 😀
The end product. It was soooooo soft and yummy x3 And still warm, too. Nothing like the cold hard preserved mochi bought in Asian food stores. I was holding it as gently as I could here without dropping it.
Err sorry for showing you my mochi after I took two bites out of it 😛 Inside you can see the red-bean paste stuffing they used.
This was taken in Arashiyama where there is a well-known bamboo forest, but it’s actually of something we came across a lot everywhere in Japan: level crossings. In Australia aside from the tramlines I have seen a total of one level train crossing. Oh, two if you count Arcadia 😉
Just along a semi-run-down-looking commercial street on the way to the grocery store from where we stayed in Kyoto, I found this little smoking area outside a house… with a ‘Zen Bench’? 😕 Honestly this was such an odd PWP at the time NL came out –a red cloth-covered table-looking thing that you sit on??– that I just never expected to actually find one looking exactly the same in real life xD And evidently at that size it’s no table.
Redd’s left his calling card on a telegraph pole in Osaka.
In Tokyo too, we found lots of ginkgo leaf motifs on the streets, such as a footpath fence with the bars shaped into the leaves, and there were many actual ginkgo trees lining the streets shedding leaves all over the ground, where I’m guessing the influence is from.
I never managed to get a photo of their traditional version in shops, but here is a series of chibi-fied daruma, or Dharma, as Animal Crossing calls them. I couldn’t help buying a couple (both this cute ornamental version and the traditional ones) whenever I came across them, just because I liked them from Animal Crossing 😛 I have a little red one sitting beside me on my desk right now 🙂
I found this in a 2nd-hand type store dealing in anime figures and merchandise ^^ It is a Japanese card game called Karuta, and this set of cards was released for Club Nintendo members in Japan in 2010. At ~$40 though, I chose to give it a miss ^^;
Some Nintendo plushies for sale. I wish we could just walk around the toy stores here and bump into these guys.
Haha, this is a picture of a shopping brochure I was flipping through on another long-distance train ride. Something on this page felt reeeeeally familiar.
This doesn’t look like any of the buildings in NL, but the characteristic red light gave it away 🙂 What is it?
On the grounds of a beautiful Nikko temple…
Aaand a not-so-flattering variant 😛
Anyone know what this is? 🙂 We saw these in quite a few places toward the end of December.
Can you find a daruma too?
And another DLC we received this new year’s, this is an example of the bamboo Kadomatsu being displayed in pairs out the front of buildings.
Here’s the photo of New Year’s Eve that I showed in my last post. We went to a midnight ‘fox parade’, where local residents dressed up with fox masks and at the stroke of twelve made their way to the nearby Oji Inari shrine, reflecting an old legend that once a year fox spirits would all gather here to meet and receive their orders for the new year.
So that was all of the ‘Animal Crossing references’ I came across on my little holiday… but here are some guys I met along the way that I can’t resist adding — and they belong in this post too in a way!
Awww, aren’t they sweet? ^_^ We met a lot of deer in two places, Nara and Miyajima. Although I managed to get lots of good pictures of many of them, in general the younger ones were friskier and less trusting of humans. The old grizzled ones, on the other hand, didn’t mind at all if you wanted to chill out next to them 😆 Oh, but you instantly have all their undivided attention if you pull out some food. They also eat brochures and travel tickets.
Next… Can you work out what this place is?
On our second last day before leaving, we went to a cat cafe! x3 The only cafe part of it was a drink machine that served hot and cold drinks, included in the hourly rate you pay and the end of your stay. Aside from that it was all just cat and cat furniture. And a bit of human furniture. But not much. 😛
FINALLY, on the 3RD-LAST day of our trip: We found public garbage bins!!!
Literally, the only places you could find garbage bins in public were at places like the airport. Everywhere else, on the streets, in shopping malls: nada. There were plenty of bins for drink bottles and cans (and people do only put appropriate items in these), but none for garbage. We met up with a friend in Tokyo who told us that apparently about 10 years ago, the government decided to scrap all garbage bins because they figured it was a cost they could cut on. The result? The streets are just as tidy as they were before the bins were gone. Trust the Japanese >_>
So that was everything. I didn’t feel like I had this many photos prepared, but this post sure turned out long! ^^; But I hope you Animal Crossing lovers got something out of it, like a look into where some of the references come from, or in general just a glimpse into this country and its culture if you haven’t been here before. I absolutely enjoyed my time there, and wouldn’t hesitate to go back. Just a note for next time: bring a bigger suitcase for goodies!!
Aaand lastly back home: my Darumas all lined up 🙂