☆ anime/manga,  ☆ being a dork,  ☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life

Living Tall in Japan, part 7

☆ Continued from part 6.
☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here.

Day four (my 3rd full day in Japan) dawned , with the holy grail of awesome finally in my hands: a computer monitor! I could finally get on the internet, check my email, write my friends, chat, and everything else that I’d missed over me three days without it! My life is not complete without the internet, I tell you! Otherwise, how else would I have told all of you my story? How else would I share my ongoing life with all of you?

Yes, I’m addicted to the internet, and I was from the moment that I had my first taste of email and text games via telnet in my public library back in 1994. 🙂

Oh, but let me give you some advice: If you are going to pack your computer tower in a suitcase and fly to Japan with it, intending on buying a monitor there (I’m sure this happens a lot 😉 ), you probably should install Japanese language support before you go. You see, my monitor had come with a CD for installation (of course, it would operate on plug-and-play crappy drivers until it was calibrated), but as my OS didn’t support Japanese language, all that I got was menus full of random gibberish.


ƒn~9_Ö•J A:
bZ³Þ9NHPŽÑsHÕmƧ5Åíü@ì §#Ûµ
ƒn~9_Ö•J B:
ðryÿ Uõ#g›ÄuÕ†ÈÇã“Ç¥”



What would you do? I tried, I really did, but in the end, just left the monitor with the crappy driver until I had more time to deal with it.

You see, today was my last day of freedom before orientation for the new job. This meant that it was absolutely completely unconditionally imperative to find some anime goods today! As it should be, for any anime fan who has just moved to Japan. 🙂

My roommates, while sweet enough, weren’t really into anime. (Rachel watched Zatch Bell on tv every week, though she didn’t actually know what it was called or what was going on. That’s sort of adorable.. okay, no, it’s really adorable!) Well, this meant that I was on my own with finding out where to buy all the anime things. Normal stores (as far as I’d seen so far), didn’t really carry anime merchandise, unless you count the occasional tie-in or special promotion, or the little kids’ collectible figures. So, where was I supposed to go, exactly?

There was zero information in my guidebook, or in books left behind by previous roommates, so I turned to the internet. This was 2004, not 2014, though, and information in English about where to buy things like yaoi doujinshi was almost noneixtent. So… where was I supposed to go?

Finally, on someone’s text-only website (I wish that I still had the link!), I found a mention about Ikebukuro and the flagship Animate store there. Animate.. alright, I liked the sound of that! And again, because I still had not learned my lesson about Japanese train stations being a maze, I set out for Animate, sure that I’d just be able to look around and find it.

Obviously, that’s not how things work. I know that now that I’m ten years older. ^o^;;;

Hours later, sweaty and with aching feet, I finally found it, though. The (other) holy grail. ANIMATE. I spent money that I should really have used for food (pssssh, like an otaku needs food?), and bought a lot of anime things that I didn’t need. Anything that was cute. 

To put it in words from the old me (from my old journal):

It really is crazy over there!! XD *bounces* But today, even though I was dead tired getting home, has been my favorite day so far… why? Because Animate rocks my world!!!!!! <3 They have a whole floor (out of 7 or 8) dedicated to Boy’s Love! I nearly died in heaven.. so did about 3253406736095724 squealing fangirls that invaded the store at roughly the same time. XDD Oh wow, Japanese fangirls put us american ones to shame. Especially this one girl on the ground floor that was REALLY squealing over a poster with some guy on it (singer? I dunno). It was soooooooo cute! I was in heaven. ^_____^

Would you like to see some pictures that I took that day? I know that you would! 😉


Just outside of Ikebukuro station, I thought this vending machine was awesome because it had Tweety-bird coffee in it. The thing is, it’s actually cocoa, not coffee. I couldn’t read that. XD;;

This is right outside the Sunshine City exit of Ikebukuro station (well, almost 10 years ago). I was amused that there was a Nova school there, as tomorrow I had my orientation!

I was amused because, hey… Mc Donalds! With Halloween burgers! It was like home, only stranger.

More of home! I really wanted to go in and see what flavors there were, but I was too afraid to try and order by myself, so I couldn’t go in. It took me months to finally work up the courage to go somewhere and order something on my own! (My first time was a McDonalds, by the way. I would end up going on my lunch break at work one day when I just couldn’t take the temptation anymore, and all that I could do was point at the menu.. try telling them that you don’t like ketchup when you can’t talk! That, however, is a story for another day!)

I marveled at just how many people were out walking in Ikebukuro. Nobody walks in the US. Not like this, at least in smaller towns without any tourists.

I thought that this cafe was quite honestly named. 😉

My first glimpse of a Hello Kitty store! I had thought that they’d be all over, and when they weren’t.. it was shocking.

Randomly, there was a mikoshi being carried down the street, which means that it was a holiday. I had no idea, though, and just assumed that it happened all of the time!

I, Robot was playing at the time. No surprise.

I did NOT expect to see this movie playing, however!

More streets while I searched for Animate.

What a weird vending machine! Or, so I thought….. (It’s actually a very common one)

More movies in this other theater down the street! I thought that the one on the right looked interesting from the poster, but I never ended up seeing it. Whoops! I wouldn’t have understood it anyways (not that that stopped me when Howl’s Moving Castle came out later on)!

“Ooh, I looks like Times Square!” I thought. Obviously, I’d never been to Times Square, either. >.>;;;

My obligatory “I feel like a dirty old man, but omg look! School uniforms!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” photo. 😀 They had the word “Gakuen” written in English on their backpacks, and because of The Prince of Tennis, I mistakenly thought that “gakuen” meant “middle school.”

It doesn’t. It means “school.”

Score one for ignorance! 😀

Strangely enough, I did not take any photos of the Animate store that day! I was too overwhelmed with awe and excitement. And even funnier, I did not notice that the entire street that Animate was on was packed with other anime shops. I went in by the back entrance, and exited the same way…… hands full of anime goods and completely missing all of the rest of the street!

Crazy, right? But ignorance is bliss, and I was very, very blissful!


Are you guys enjoying reading my first thoughts and experiences as a clueless foreigner in Japan? I hope so! 😀 (Please let me know with a comment!)
I am sure having a great time writing!

I’ll see you tomorrow! 😀

(708 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.


  • MagicalEmi

    I’m reminded of my first trip to Japan in 1999. I was a chaperone for a dance team that was performing at various schools and at Tokyo Disney. I went with my cousin. For the first few days we stayed with a host family in Atsugi, but after that we stayed in Tokyo. I was desperate to get anime goods. My host mom actually bought me some manga and helped me find a talking Kero-chan plushie, but that was it. By the time we reached Tokyo, I was desperate. But luckily, we had a free day that first day, and when I looked out of my hotel room, I saw the most amazing thing… Ikebukuro Animate! LOL The dance team was staying at the Sunshine Prince and my room faced what would later become Otome Road 😀 😀 It was like fate. You can imagine my delight at seeing all that shoujo manga in person. There was so much, it was overwhelming~ Ahh, that was a good trip…

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Omg, Emi, that is one of the best stories that I’ve heard in regards to anime and Japan! It really was fate, wasn’t it? Ahhhhh, I bet that it would be nice to relive that trip over again, knowing what is in store for you. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! It really brightened up my morning. 🙂

  • larissa

    God it sounds awesum over there! i so badly want to go and i can even get free tickets cuz my parents work at the airlines but i got no where to stay over there, plus i’m in college rite now but i’m glad i’m taking Japanese now lol.
    after living there do you feel like you know the language better?
    have you taken any tours?
    i love that you take pictures of where you’ve been…its cool hearing and seeing what you are talking about…feels like i could really be in Japan.
    have you gone to a anime-con? i bet they are huge in Japan!

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Oh, definitely! I speak/read advanced Japanese now, but I have quite a ways to go before I’m fluent at all.

      I have taken tours, yep! I took the Ghost tour, a Cherry/peach picking tour, and my friend Patrick’s old Akihabara tour. I think those are the only ones, but they were all a blast!

      And yes on the anime cons! In America that is! Japan has events where they sell things or you can meet creators or get together and cosplay, but there are no anime cons like we know them. ^^ Weird, isn’t it?

  • zoomingjapan

    You were quite lucky to have a few days before you had to start work.
    I came out of the plane and the taxi (3h drive!!!) brought me right to my workplace where I was introduce to everyone (after not having slept for 209348203948h).

    Then, I had a day off – and then I had to start working. ^^;

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      That does not sound like fun at all! If I’d had to go to work straight off, I would have been so upset. But then again, I didn’t actually want to work. I just wanted to live in Japan and the work was the only way to make it happen. 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.