Figured I should start writing my first actual post. So last month, I had the chance to go to Japan for free thanks to a cultural exchange program sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was my fourth trip to Japan, having gone before in 2006, 2008, and 2013 (and I totally wouldn’t have gone last year if I had known about getting into this trip). Back in 2013, I took the opportunity to go to several prefectures in Japan to go on anime pilgrimages–basically just visiting the locations that appeared in anime–and visited locations from Clannad; K-On!; and Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha, which I guess I might also post about one day.
So back to 2014. While I was on a chaperoned trip this time, I figured I might as well try to sneak an anime pilgrimage in again, just because the Japanese government can’t stop me from doing pilgrimages. It turned out that we would be staying at a hotel in Sendai, and not very far away from the JR Sendai Station. And, of course, this meant…
Wake Up, Girls!
… and a Kannagi pilgrimage, since that also takes place there.
I was already pretty stoked about being in Sendai the moment we got to the JR Sendai Station on the Shinkansen. I was pleasantly surprised when we were headed to the east side of the station too (since that’s where one of the spots that I wanted to take pictures at are located), but sadly, we headed there just to get on the bus right away to be driven away to lunch.
Unexpectedly, though, we stopped right outside a shopping arcade, and we were told that’s where we would have lunch. It turned out that was the shopping arcade that was in Wake Up, Girls! and Kannagi.
Later that day, we visited Tohoku University for a tour there. They were having an open campus day, so naturally that meant a lot of high school girls in sailor uniforms and stalls.
There were also Garigari-kun’s.
And for some reason college bookstores sell light novels now. Naturally, I bought some.
Gotta buy some Wake Up, Girls! in Sendai, after all.
Not much happened at the university afterwards. We were given a lecture by one of the professor about how the students at Tohoku University volunteer their time and money to the reconstruction efforts in Miyagi. I later found out from one of my friends that one of the students was a Teitoku, and they had a conversation about ships and whatnot. Instead I spent time with another student talking about math, but whatever.
Later that evening, a few of my friends and I went out to go to stores. I didn’t take that many pictures that ended up being useful since my phone can’t take night pictures for shit, but we happened by a Tsutaya and this was in there:
Later, we attempted to go to Gamers, but instead wasted half an hour looking for it since it was in one of the back alleys and we had no Internet. By the time we got there, the store had already closed, but at least the Rashinban below it was still open and we could buy used figures and shit there. This is where one of my friends spent half of the money she had brought to Japan on all the Madoka TV series Blu-Ray discs. Fucking casuals. If you are buying Madoka, you buy the movies.
After spending time there, most of my friends went back to the hotel, but a friend and I went around attempting the Wake Up, Girls! pilgrimage. We did some scouting, but since it was night time, and I had left my camera in the hotel room, I couldn’t take any useful pictures. However, we did go into a 7-Eleven, which was selling Idolmaster-themed PSN cards, and of course, I bought two. I might upload pictures for this later since I somehow didn’t take pictures of them while I was there. Afterwards, I went back to the hotel, where my roommate complained that Japanese shower rooms are weird with the shower outside the bathtub. We stayed up for some anime and whatnot, before we both went to sleep.
I decided to wake up (no pun intended) at 5 AM on our second day at Sendai in order to go on my Wake Up, Girls! pilgrimage. Alas, because shows like Majimoji Rurumo and Jojo were on TV, that meant I got around 3 to 4 hours of sleep, but screw sleep. Pilgrimages are important.
So after dressing myself up for the day, I immediately headed out, leaving my roommate falling back asleep after he unwillingly woke up to the song “DreamRiser” from Girls und Panzer, and walked in the direction of the station.
Over at the west side of the station is a large bus station with pedestrian walkways right above it. I don’t recall seeing that many buses at 5 AM, so there’s not much pictures to be taken about buses, but the walkway is important as that’s where some of the scenes in the series occurred, such as that’s being where the girls handed out flyers in the movie. The Loft was also used as a backdrop in a Kannagi scene.
Then there are benches like this one, which Matsuda laid on early in the movie trying to figure out how to get himself some idols.
Afterwards, I headed over to the east side of the station. There are a little less pictures to be taken over here, but one of the notable spots here include the construction site backdrop, where the girls danced to the Nyaruko-san W opening in the movie.
It looks a little different compared to how it looks in the movie, as they took out that entrance in the movie. Sadly, this spot probably won’t be around anymore once they finish the construction.
Later that day, my group and I went to the Miyagi Prefecture Government Offices on a chartered tour bus. I had told one of my friends that I would love to visit the park where Wake Up, Girls! had their first live/concert, but probably wouldn’t be able to since it’s rather far off compared to the other locations. So I was rather surprised when one of my friends asked “is this the park?” when we drove by this spot:
And, holy shit, it was. We drove away pretty much immediately afterwards, but to my surprise, the government offices turned out to be like right next to it. We headed into the offices to listen to a lecture about how the prefecture rebuilt some places after the earthquake and tsunami, and after that, we would split into three groups led by Tohoku University students. One group would go to museums, another would go to temples and shrines, and the last one would go around town and shop. Guess which one I went to?
Of course, I decided to go on that last one, and thanks to my handle of the Japanese language and high power level, I was able to convince the student into letting us go to the park first before we do anything else. Unfortunately, my camera derped on the exposure for a lot of the pictures, but some of them seemed relatively okay.
I had read online that the stage that WUG performed on was overtaken by homeless people taking shelter there, but fortunately, not only were there no homeless people sleeping there, there’s a band performing, which gave me a rather neat opportunity to take a picture with a banner put up. Though I suppose it would’ve been better had it been at night, though.
Not much happened in terms of WUG afterwards, but thanks to my otakuness, I basically completely skewed the trip into an otaku shopping trip. We walked down a shopping street, and I happened to notice a Mister Donut…
My inner loli vampire dictated that I buy one of those donuts.
Then we walked into a shop with Ghibli merchandise. There was even a big Totoro outside of it. Somehow I failed to take a picture of it by itself, but we had a group picture (where I held up an umbrella, which we brought along in case it rained. And it did.)
Later, we had lunch at a kaiten sushi, which is for some reason the only time I had a gyuutan (or beef tounge) during my stay in Sendai. On a piece of sushi, too.
We visited a game arcade next, and there were Taiko no Tatsujin cabinets right at the entrance. Naturally, a friend and I immediately hopped on it. And since it had no WUG songs, naturally we went with Idolmaster instead:
There were also UFO catchers with Love Live! merchs:
After a bit of walking, we got all the way back to the station again. Turns out there was this little store waiting for us to visit in there:
The Pokemon Center was a pretty awesome place. Not only was the place basically decorated with Pokemon decor, it had all the Pokemon-themed plushies, clear files, keychains, cards, and of course, games and anime that one can ever want. Naturally, this is the place that any aspiring Pokemon Master must visit at least once in their lifetime, just to buy them all.
And it turned out that since it’s Tanabata, the Pokemon Center was giving out shiny Jirachis to celebrate. Being the only person in the group who brought a 2/3DS with me (for StreetPassing people), I somehow became the envy of everyone else.
Also, because the line was fucking long and we had to go, we all had to toss everything we wanted to buy to one of the girls in our group who had been lining up. Since she didn’t bring enough money with her that day, somehow I ended up paying for everyone’s stuff and had a keep a tab.
We then walked by this shopping arcade featured in WUG again, which we had visited the day before for lunch.
With little time left, we immediately rushed to the Animate nearby (which I had discovered earlier in the morning while I was on my WUG pilgrimage). Before we got there, though, I had to stop for just a second to take this picture:
The Sendai Animate is just a single floor in a building that’s located in an alley not far from the Sendai Station. I didn’t take any pictures of the stuff inside the store, so a picture of the stairs leading up to it will have to do:
And because we were nearly running out of time, I decided to just run and grabbed everything I remembered about wanting to get (Girls und Panzer OVA and the PS Vita game, as well as some Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha volumes that I don’t have), and rushed to the cashier line, with about ten minutes to spare. Of course, we did that thing where I paid for everyone’s stuff again and keeping tabs.
I was expecting to be able to get out of there in time, but that didn’t stop the cashier from taking his time to wander into the back to look for the copy of Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 3DS game that my brother told me to get for him. It turned out he didn’t fucking have it anyway, and wasted 15 minutes of my time.
And that about sums up what I did in Sendai that morning and afternoon. Ultimately, I think Sendai was a very interesting place, and felt a bit more intimate compared to Tokyo, so I figured maybe I will apply to Tohoku University for a computer science masters next year if I really do decide to go for it in Japan.
With that said, hopefully I can share more of my other pilgrimages or Japan trip experiences next time.