Day 1 may have been a bust, though Day 2 was anything but. Church, art, and piping hot ramen – all that a solo traveller needs to make his Sunday as great as it can be.
Despite this being a fairly busy day, large chunks of my travelogue will appear in separate posts so this present entry will actually be quite short. (More on that later.)
Given my preference for going to church as early in the morning as possible, I found myself standing on the cold, quiet westbound platform of Asakusabashi Station before the sun was even up.
I like these older Tōkyō-area stations. Careful inspection is so often rewarded by glimpses of lovely architectural detail.
After attending the first Mass of the morning at St. Ignatius, I returned to my hotel for breakfast, then started making my way towards Odaiba for the second of today’s appointments. At Shinbashi Station, I hopped off the JR network and crossed over to the newer Yurikamome, Tōkyō’s first fully automated transportation line.
The stark modern appearance of the station offers a bit of contrast to the lacy, almost Victorian elements we saw earlier at Asakusabashi.
Unlike conventional trains, Yurikamome vehicles run on rubber tyres that roll upon a concrete guideway, instead of hurtling along steel rails. The difference becomes apparent when one looks at the tracks – or lack thereof – on the elevated route, as seen in this shot taken later in the day (when I was making my way back from Odaiba).
My destination on Odaiba was the sprawling Tōkyō Big Sight convention centre.
An appropriately named landmark, I might add, for a place that happens to be in Tōkyō, happens to be very big, and happens to be quite a sight.
The sprawling complex is just plain massive, and there’s massive art on the grounds to match.
Right, we know where we are, but why are we here?
One word: COMITIA.
If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a dōjin convention that happens four times a year and provides a venue for thousands of artists, writers, and illustrators to showcase their self-published work. The event is similar to the more famous – and much larger – twice-per-year Comiket dōjinshi convention, except that Comiket mainly features derivative works (often based on popular anime/manga series) whereas COMITIA focuses on original creations.
COMITIA may be a smaller event than Comiket (which can draw in over half a million visitors at a time), but “smaller” is a relative term and the queues were already monstrously long by the time I arrived.
After spending much of the day browsing through the thousands of stalls at COMITIA, I was feeling quite tired (in a good way) and feeling quite peckish. Time for my third appointment of the day – a visit to one of my favourite ramen joints.
I’ve set out my account of dinner in a separate post – click here to savour the mouth-watering experience.
For dessert, I popped by a convenience store and bought a prepackaged version of a world-famous pastry that I never got to try on its home turf (even though I spent several days there during my trip across Japan last year). Were it not for a recent post on a fellow blogger’s site, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but after reading her account I decided I had to try it for myself.
No doubt castella tastes infinitely better fresh out of the oven than out of a plastic wrapper, but I’m far far far north of Nagasaki at the moment so this’ll have to do. Besides, it wasn’t half bad.