Anime Expo 2011 and Japan 2011: Pregame

Going to Anime Expo and Japan was something I planned to do for a long time now and after many months (you could also say years), this epic trip is about to start. So, I wanted to write a few thoughts about both.

Anime Expo 2011

Anime Expo was a convention I really wanted to go to, even in high school. The problem was that I didn’t have any money. I also didn’t have anyone to go with, though money was the number 1 factor here.

Now as we all know, my first convention was New York Anime Festival 2008. Before that, I didn’t have anyone to go with so I couldn’t get myself to go to a convention. Though I only went for a day, it was a great first convention for me, since I met someone new and I was able to go with friends. I went to two more conventions with those friends (Mokucon 2008, AnimeNEXT 2009). I started going alone in 2009 (NYAF 2009) since those friends were busy and they started loosing interest. I also started cosplaying that same time. It was still great, but I know it would have been even better if I were able to go with friends. This trend continued until recently (AnimeNEXT 2011), so being the shy, timid person I am, I was determined to make new otaku friends since a majority of my friends are not otaku (or don’t even watch anime). How would I start doing that? Well, I started by joining the Anime Expo Forum.  (Actually, my original reason for joining was to try to suggest that AX have a speed dating event, which is not happening). Unlike the other forums I’m in, I’m more active in this forum. Next thing I did was get a hotel room with people I don’t know, which I’m going to be doing. Then, I started planning a meet and greet of people that are going alone to AX, which is looking good so far. They say that you need to take action if you want something to happen, so I’m doing things that I would have never done before.

So, what are my goals in Anime Expo. Well, my main goal is to have fun. I’ll be at Mikunopolis, the AX Masquerade, etc. I also hope to make new friends. (I also do hope I can get an otaku girlfriend that likes to cosplay (and will cosplay Chrome Dokuro), but we all know that’s probably not going to happen). I’ll be posting stuff on Twitter throughout AX, but as for the blog, that’ll have to wait until after AX, since I’m expecting to be busy the whole time.

Japan

The second portion of my trip (actually, more like my third or fourth part) is going to Japan. Since I was able to make a little bit of money, I decided to go to Japan. This is something I planned since last year. Originally, I was planning to go on a tour, but then that devastating earthquake and tsunami happened. That tour was cancelled and my trip was in jeopardy. But, against the advice of some people, I’m still going. Before I talk more about my trip, let me say a few words about what is going on right now.

It is my assumption that a majority of people outside Japan think that Japan is just a small island maybe 50 miles diameter with everyone living in Tokyo. However, just the island of Honshu (biggest island in Japan) is 750 miles from north tip to south tip. The devastation is mostly confined to the coast of Tohoku (north of Tokyo). Most of Japan is still open for business, despite what the foreign news might show. They’re even trying to get people to visit Japan, which they wouldn’t be doing if they couldn’t. About the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster, I don’t deny that this is something to overlook. This is a serious problem and of course you should not go near that area. But the problem is that many people think that all of Japan is radiated. Not true. The amount of radiation in Tokyo (or even Sendai, which is even closer) is at par and sometimes lower than in New York City. Another thing: Tokyo is over 125 miles away from Fukushima Dai-ichi. Kiev (capital of Ukraine) is only 60 miles away from Chernobyl. The US State Department advises people to avoid the area 50-miles from the plant. So to summarize, a majority of Japan is safe to go to and you should go to help out the economy. Hey, even Lady Gaga is there right now.

Now about my trip, I will be arriving on Tanabata and I will be staying in Tokyo, except when I tour the Kansai region and when I go to Tohoku. What will I do? I’ll go to Akihabara and other otaku areas (including going to the AnoHana secret base and trying special foods made for the FMA movie). I’ll be vising some of the shrines. I’ll be watching the FMA movie, baseball games, etc. I’ll be doing everything, including helping out the Japanese economy. In fact, I’m going to be volunteering in Tohoku before I go back, helping out in the devastated areas.

I’ll be posting daily updates when I’m there (hopefully) and I’ll show that you can go to Japan without any worries.

I’m excited for this trip and I’m glad that I’ll actually be helping out for part of the trip.

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Earthquakes and Japan’s Resilience and My Plans (地震と日本の回復力と俺の予定)

As you probably all heard, a terrible earthquake hit Japan a little bit more than a day before. For many years, Japan has been preparing for such an event, but this is something that caught some of them by surprise. At 2:46 in the afternoon, a 8.9 magnitude earthquake occurred just off the coast of Miyagi-ken. That, itself, caused a lot damage around the region. Japan has one of the toughest building standards in the world because of the frequent earthquakes that occur there, but this earthquake was one of the largest in record. If that weren’t enough, the earthquake produced a tsunami that reached up to 10 meters when it hit the coast of Sendai and the surround area. Japan is also prepared to deal with tsunamis with its extensive warning system, but the height of the tsunami, which hit soon after the earthquake, was up to four stories high, and in that area, not many building are that high. The tsunami also continued inland for several kilometers, carrying debris from the coast, which in some cases were burning.

Even though damage was extensive in the area and many people died, had this earthquake and tsunami occured anywhere else, the amount of dead would have been a lot higher. It was really sad watching and hearing what was going on there, but there was one thing that was great to see: the calmness of the Japanese people. Being that they are used to earthquakes, they did not panic. As I said before, they prepare for earthquakes all the time. They even have a day (September 1) dedicated for this preparation. On that day in 1923, a great earthquake devastated Tokyo and killed countless people. They use this day to drill people on what to do during a disaster and the number one thing they learn is not to panic. Panic only leads to more trouble.

Another thing that you could see is the resilience of the Japanese people. Sure the trains in Tokyo stopped; sure Tokyo was in gridlock, but did you see any chaos or any looting in Tokyo or any other affected area? Nope. In fact, they helped each other out; they shared and gave out food. The area closest to the epicenter was more chaotic, but they remained as calm as they could, considering that the whole area was devastated. I know some people are going will think otherwise and I know I might be criticized about what I will say, but I think that in any other country in a situation like this, a lot more people would have turned to looting and a lot more people would have just fended for themselves.

Now to my plans in the next several months. I’m not sure if I said it here, but I was planning to go to Japan in July. I was thinking about taking a tour of Tokyo for about a week (link here). Since the earthquake occurred, I have think a little more about the trip, but barring any larger catastrophe occurring in the next several months, I think I will still go. One think you should know about me is that I will rarely let anything get in my way of doing something I want to do; and going to Japan is something I wanted to do for a long time. I’m getting pretty old right now (yup, 23 is old) and I can’t keep on holding this trip any longer because there might be a time when I cannot make that trip any longer (well, at least to Akihabara). Tokyo sustained some damage, but I think that by July, Tokyo will be ready for me to arrive there. And also, I’m sure that the Japanese economy will need some help after this, so I’m taking my part in helping the Japanese people by going to Japan. I might not be able to go to the north and help them out, but the next best thing for me to do is being a tourist, injected some money back to the economy.

If you want to help out the Japanese people affected by the earthquake and tsunami, you can donate some money to a charity; for example, you can donate $10 to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999. You can also help out the Japanese people by continuing to buy stuff from Japan. I hope for the best for Japan. 頑張れ日本!!!ファイト!!!

小太郎の新しいブログへようこそ。Welcome to Kotarou’s new blog.

Hey everyone, welcome to my new blog. I have many friends; however, I only a a few friends I can talk to about anime, so I decided that making this blog would help me get my thoughts around. What am I going to write about? Basically, I’m going to write mostly about anime and anything else Japan related. There are a lot of things I have in mind that I want to write, so in the next few days/weeks, I might have a lot to write. I don’t really care if not many people want to read this blog. Even if I have one person reading this blog, I’ll be happy that I can get my thoughts around, because I want to be able to tell other people about anime and Japan and my thoughts about anime and Japan. It’s not like I can really do that in real life. Again, welcome everyone and I’ll start posting new things tomorrow because it might be afternoon in Japan, but it’s night here in New Jersey.