I know this sounds cheesy, and possibly culturally offensive, but one of the (many) highlights of our brief sojourn in Japan was a visit to Tokyo’s DisneySea. While I’m not normally the biggest fan of the Disney empire, I have to admit that there’s something somewhat magical about being surrounded by the whimsical architecture and general ambiance of a Disney theme park. DisneySea is no exception to this, and in fact, I was informed by many that the park is generally thought to be very true-to-concept in its design.
Last spring, fellow traveler (and generally all around talented dude) Chaz Moneypenny had the privilege of interning in Florida with Disney Imagineering. He was particularly excited about our visit to DisneySea, but really I think it made us all feel a bit like little kids again.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is interpretations (and often misinterpretations) of other foreign countries. Lord knows this kind of thing happens in America all the time. I had a particularly hilarious experience in a Mexican restaurant in Beijing once, so when we found Miguel’s El Dorado Mexican Cantina in the DisneySea theme park I knew we had to eat there. We had ourselves a beer and feasted on pork teriyaki tacos, which were very much like a McRib in a flour tortilla. This was served with a paper cup of cold fries. Just like Abuela used to make.
There was also an American themed section of the park, that featured a big fake steamliner called the S.S. Columbia. One the second level of the ship there was the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge, where we chilled out and had a drink after spending the day going on rides. The whole place was decked out all fancy and filled with faux Roosevelt memorabilia. It was hilarious. Being at DisneySea was pretty surreal. for the most part, it was like other theme parks I’ve been to, and it was easy to forget for a moment that we were in Japan.
A completely unplanned (and unrelated to comics, for once) adventure that we went on was to see a professional men’s volleyball game, of all things. We heard that the US Volleyball team was in Tokyo for a series of matches that would determine something or other about the Olympics. I don’t know, really. But we all went, and I think the guys were hoping we’d get to see some ladies volleyball but of course when we showed up it was all men! I love showing up at sports games to root for the away team, although in this situation – with the US playing Argentina – they were both away teams. There wasn’t really much of a turnout for Argentina though, and honestly, there wasn’t really much of a turnout. When we started cheering and making a big ruckus, the players looked utterly confused. Afterwards we were talking to a few of the players and he explained that it was so unexpected that we’d turned up at all, much less cheered. He said, “We’re men’s volleyball. Everyone hates us.”
None of us being especially big sports fans (much less volleyball fans), we spent most of our time there with our faces buried into our sketchbooks. I got some pretty good quick figure drawings out of it.
The majority of the time we were in Tokyo was spent walking around, ducking into shops and exploring the city. We found so many awesome little stores. Jinbocho, the book-seller’s district, seemed especially cool – I wish I’d had more time to go back and explore it. There were all kinds of shops with books and comics and DVDs and that sort of thing. I would have loved to bring some of it home with me, but considering I don’t read Japanese and DVDs from Japan don’t work in american DVD players, it seemed kind of silly. Tokyo was an awesome city to wander around in. There was always something interesting to see and the transit system was incredibly user friendly. I wish I could say I’ll go back but it’s so far, and who knows when I’ll have time to do that sort of thing? Hopefully I will, someday.
This was the last post about Tokyo – I promise!