Working out how much change I can dump into the top up machine. Always fun when you have too much even though most places accept card now or even just Google Pay. Don't know if the latter charges a fee too though.
Shame the top-up machines only take so much change and no 1 or 10 yen coins so my wallet didn't get much lighter...
Was a quiet morning at the hotel. Looked like the weekend Japanese families had left and almost had the whole area to myself.
I was going to meet up with the stranger I met last night at Donki and since I'm travelling solo, I thought I'd leave a note behind about where and when just in case.
First up Shinjuku for the Your Name and other Shinkai movie spots.
Got to see the long screen at the station I keep seeing on Twitter X and it's pretty impressive. Designers must have fun creating ads for it.
Another nice day with clear blue skies.
While I was at the station I thought I'd drop by the East Exit for the Cross Shinjuku screen with the hyped 3D cat but it was very underwhelming.
Nothing exciting about the screen at all, haha...
Touring the Shinjuku Anime spots was fun. Plenty of activity.
The East Exit happened to appear in KanoKari too, episode 28 or S3E04. Zom100 episode 3 too.
Kazu and the girls handing out leaflets about their crowdfunded film. You'll find this spot featured in Jujutsu Kaisen episode 29 or S2E05 where Shoko and Suguru hang out for a bit.
Never knew there was a Godzilla at the top of the cinema here although I heard about it, literally.
Ghibli Boy and The Heron, Bocchi recap movies were screening.
They must have decided to rename the Ghibli movie because translating it literally "How Do You Live?" would be too silly or offensive even.
A lot of the Weathering with You spots are in a kind of dodgy, sleazy area full of clubs, soaplands, love hotels so it was best visiting during the morning when most venues haven't opened up yet.
I heard they don't take too kindly to photography or video when privacy is highly valued during that time.
Not the kind of person who enjoys night life anyway but still interesting to explore new areas.
There's actually a lot of homeless people around this area.
You'll find a lot of cardboard boxes lying around as makeshift beds and there's quite a stench too. Some look very young sadly.
Often see Kabukicho Tower on Japanese news; full of restaurants and arcades which was popular with mainstream tourists apparently but I must be the rare few not interested.
WcDonalds always appear in Anime and Shinkai movies isn't an exception.
Another key place from the movie where Hodaka first meets Hina but been having so much fast food, Katsu, Karage I was not going in there for lunch and interior shots, haha...
Yunika Vision screen area was pretty impressive since there isn't such a big screen where I am in the UK. Maybe one in the capital London but also very lively around here. If you wanted a better shot of the place from a higher angle I think you'd have to stay in Prince Hotel here.
Jujutsu Kaisen episode 41 (S2E17) also features this spot.
Was just going to tour the key areas of Shinkai's movies but came by this spot anyway as I made my way to the next, a scene from Weathering where the detective is doing some questioning.
It's full of parked bikes.
Never mind the over-hyped Shibuya crossing. There are busy crossings like these everywhere.
This spot's been quite popular in Anime recently, not just Weathering. Appears in Hataraku Maou-sama S2E18 too although it could be Shinkai's movies influencing the rest of the Anime industry. Might get people talking on social media.
So many spots from Shinkai's movies around Shinjuku and the sun was so bright, ended up with some flare.
It can get quite smelly around here. Sometimes you catch the smell of sewage like you would in Hong Kong.
Spotted a dedicated store for Goths.
Said I was tired of fried food in Japan but not many quiet places around Shinjuku. This place, 3rd Burger seemed different enough than the global fast food chains (and quietly spacious) so decided to pop in anyway.
Minimal contact with staff too so another plus for my social anxiety. Just order via a machine and wait for your number to collect.
Double cheese burger was quite nice mostly. Bun was soft, your usual burger filling like those from McDonalds but fresher. Bit too much beef, better with one slice but guess it's a double cheese. It was mostly students it seems hanging around working on assignments together.
Retro interior was quite nice.
So recharged, back to Shinkai movie spot hunting.
Just right outside is the walkway featured in Your Name so not far to... walk.
The locations are really close together so you can tour them within the day.
Many angles used from this walkway in Your Name.
Probably because this walkway is made up of many paths.
The Sompo Japan Insurance building here that looks like a rocket gets featured in both Your Name and Suzume but the round Sompo Gallery on the left wasn't built until 2020 after Your Name.
That's why you can't see it next to the same building in the Your Name shot above, only in Suzume here (at least the top of it).
It appears in KanoKari S2 ending too.
On another side note, the rocket-like building kind of appears in the 1986 Steel Troops Doraemon movie too I think. At least something that resembles it...
Gallery looked like a nice place but had other spots to tour so I didn't go check it out.
Circular traffic lights was quite impressive even though it was fairly much a regular cross road.
Appeared in Hataraku Maou-sama S2E15 too. Think Shinkai's movies kicking off a trend in the Anime industry.
Saw this sign by Robert Indiana a lot when I used to watch J-drama. Was used as a meet-up spot for dates but don't know if it's still the case.
I didn't know what this is at Shinjuku Station, West Exit but looked like something out of a post apocalypse movie. There were several of them and they were huge!
After a bit of searching it seems they're remains of a water treatment plant, re-purposed as ventilation shafts back in 41st Showa Year, 1966 and still operating as such. They used to be 20 metres high but because they have 4 of them in the area, they were reduced to the current 10 metres.
Ah, yes... Remember my first visit to Japan and passing this spot.
Probably why one of the foreign artists on Shinkai's team insisted in keeping it in the Your Name movie since it was also Mitsuha's first time in Tokyo.
Shinjuku Station appears briefly in Weathering with You too.
Re-used assets and locations are pretty common in Shinkai's movies.
This is probably the Starbucks Adult Taki was at.
You have a shot of the ground outside with the rain in the movie but not exactly a key scene and too busy to get a good shot so I skipped it.
Wasn't planning on a shot of the station bakery too but... I was here so let's grab one anyway!
Since the day was still early and my legs were still fine, I decided to visit the Ikebukuro spots I had planned to visit earlier during my trip.
We Road where Hodaka and co passed through was a very busy passageway. Surprised I managed to get a clean shot. The wall painting has been re-painted now, changed like many things in the busy ever-changing capital city.
This side of Ikebukuro is actually full of sleazy establishments like the spots around Shinjuku too so again, best touring during the day.
In the distance there's this huuuge tower that looked like something out of Promised Days. You can see it from all around Ikebukuro but you'll barely notice it from Weathering on the right of the scene with red lights.
It seems to be a chimney for the Toshima Garbage Treatment Facility but funny the area isn't as smelly as Akiba or Shinjuku though. Maybe because the odours are being funneled high into the sky. 210m high and the place burns 11 tonnes of garbage annually.
You have a nice view of intersecting rail tracks from here, kind of like the one in Tabata.
The area has some interesting buildings too as you head back towards Shinjuku Station, some rundown looking like this theatre place.
Quite a throw back here because I spent a day touring the same area for the 5cm spots on my first trip to Japan in 2016.
The old Yoyogi Kaikan building has been re-constructed now, not the same abandoned building as during the production of Weathering in 2019. If I shot the surrounding area back when I toured 5cm spots I might have captured the original then.
Remember browsing this Book-off store too but closed down just last month.
Think I bought a pre-owned copy of Youkai Watch for the 3DS from here. That game really shows off the 3D on the handheld console and good fun too.
The Odakyu train crossing.which first appeared in 5cm but re-used in Weathering via a different angle of course. The crossing took so long this time but three different trains passed by!
The hospital Hina visited is nearby too but let's respect the patients privacy.
Evening, still some time before meeting up with the Donki stranger for dinner which was also in the Ikebukuro area so decided to re-visit the Evangelion Store.
You see plenty of owl sculptures around Ikebukuro because "fukuro (owl)" sounds the same as the place name so it became its symbol.
I knew the Eva Store had expanded but didn't know it had also moved from P' Parco to the main Parco now, same 6th floor. Funnily enough I got it the other way round the last time...
On the way up there was a Genshin store. I haven't really gotten into any Chinese mobile games other than Azure Lane at one point. Don't play mobile games at all these days.
Store itself is bigger but not much changed since my last visit.
Ended up getting a few postcards for decor 220 Yen each but you can see there are encased versions too that sell for 3850 Yen... Not really worth the extra imo. Was considering getting all 3 variations of everyone by the sea but didn't want to pile up on too much merch, haha.
They still do more expensive themed jewellery but they are made to order so be sure to drop in early and expect to wait a couple of days at least before you can collect the goods.
There was a promo where if you spent more than 3000 you'd get a hand towel but my postcards weren't going to make that quota, haha.
There were some other gaming goods on sale on the same floor too including Sonic, Minecraft and even the spin-off Cyberpunk 2077 spin-off Anime, Edgerunners.
Not sure why but they had Nessie plushies too though.
Not that much a Fallout fan but kind of wanted those Nuka cola bottles because I really like the retro aesthetics of the games. Gacha style, one random per box decided not to get one.
Exchange rate seems about right looking at the official Bethesda merch site (when I checked anyway).
Nice mirror and decor.
I don't quite get why they decided to put the Evangelion Store on the same floor as ladies' fashion...
Christmas is different in Japan; Christmas cake and KFC as a replacement for turkey. Aesthetics look the part at least.
Sent a present to my friend in Japan once and they opened it immediately. Was expecting them to wait and anticipate what it was inside but, they didn't know traditionally we leave them under the tree and don't open them until Christmas.
So there's a bit of cultural difference for you.
Just casually watching an ad for the current Rurouni Kenshin remake outside Ikebukuro station. Was kind of planning to watch the original show since it's considered a classic.
Didn't realise how well the moon in the video goes with the night until I looked back at the photo, lol.
Still some time before I met up with my new friend so I decided to checkout the new flagship Animate store I've been seeing on YouTube while browsing vlog videos about trips in Japan by fellow Otakus.
10 floors dedicated to Animanga game merch.
There were no escalators. It was either the stairs or the elevator.
It was... ok imo. Never was a fan of the chain stores even on my last trip. I think it's because most of the goods are character related rather than artsy stuff like background art or vista prints.
Variety of goods including background art books for Shinkai's movies. Took some photos for the guy I met at Donki Quijote (thus "Donki guy") because that was how our convo kicked off; he was asking me where he could find Lycoris Recoil goods for his cousin. I messaged him to see if he was still looking but he said he already bought a keyring so oh well...
There was also a Oregairu exhibition on the dedicated exhibition floor but wasn't fan enough to pay the 2000 entry.
Not long later the Donki guy called saying he was already at our agreed meeting point. Wasn't expecting him to be on time but forgot I'm hanging out with Japanese. Always punctual.
Anyway, after we met up we decided to go for pasta but once we were at the restaurant and got settled down, it didn't turn out quite as I expected. I had my suspicions why we were going somewhere for a meal right after our first meeting...
The Mount Fuji Cult Recruiting in Akihabara
We ended up leaving Ikebukuro because he said he knew a quieter place outside of the big city areas.
On the way to the restaurant, he claimed his friend was in the area and wondered if he could join in. I thought, sure why not. More Japanese friends to meet.
So while his friend was on his way we got back to the Lycoris Recoil gift he had asked me about back at Donki. He had claimed he already bought a keyring earlier but now he said he didn't because it was too expensive.
We ordered our food and chatted about Anime and Ghibli. Not long later his friend arrived and our friendly chat continued, moving onto about culture and football in the UK. Donki guy claimed he works as a salesman for a waste water management company while his friend worked in rehab, mostly with elderly folk.
It was all friendly banter til one topic lead to another. For a moment we were talking about other mainstream Anime like Attack on Titan and its theme songs by Sekai no Owari which lead to how one of its members dresses like a scary clown. That went onto the Joker Halloween incident and life troubles at which point they started talking about a Mount Fuji "Bunpou" ritual they practice that turned their lives around for the better.
This was when the alarm bells rang and they were very persistent I saw a demo of their said ritual. I didn't want to just up and leave since I didn't know how influential their cult was or if they had more people nearby.
First they suggested I rent a room somewhere and they would show me. I said no, I had other things to do for the night but they continued to persist. They then suggested showing me at their place which was nearby but I also persisted, continuing to say no thanks but just knowing about it as a bit of trivia was interesting enough.
They went on saying, you're missing out Japanese culture you don't usually get to experience and most foreigners don't know about. There must be something you want to change in your life like social anxiety etc and this could be something that will do just that. I should check out their ritual immediately. It's free.
I know cults prey on people facing difficult times so this was confirming my suspicions some kind of scam was going on. After I continued to deny them they gave up and guess what... They handed me a leaflet the other man in Akiba had given me in English the same night I had met this Donki guy.
When I told them someone else had already given me a copy of the same leaflet, they weren't happy someone else approached me first. It seems they operated in numbered teams. Every leaflet they give out has their number and name on it.
I was with them for almost two hours, probably because of casual banter at the start too but glad nothing major happened really. Don't know how big this cult is although they claim to be international with members worldwide, foreigners included. Some who were idol fans when they visited Japan.
Was quite an unsettling night.
So if you ever get approached by some random Japanese stranger while in Akihabara, be wary. They might just be cult members looking to convince new people to join them.
I guess fairly much just exercise caution as you would in any country. Just because Japan is often heralded as the world's safest country doesn't mean there's no crime. You'll see if you watch the local news (there's a free 24/7 stream).
But the upside? Some Japanese style pasta instead of the usual conbini bento and plenty of language practice because we chatted in Japanese the whole time.
Other than that, modest purchases of the day; said Eva postcards.