Aug. 28th, 2009

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Just checking back in before I forget anything that's been happening in the last few days. I've been in California for the past week and I'll be heading back tomorrow. This trip started out as just to visit family but eventually evolved into getting to visit two of the three Japantowns of California. I've become very aquatied with Caltrain, VTA, and SF Muni transit systems as is the best way to make it between all these cities on the coast.

Tuesday I spent some of the day in San Jose Japantown, which is mostly a residential district, so there wasn't much to do other than look at the houses and the outside of the temples. There were a few shops, but quite a few weren't open yet. I ended up eating food from the Nijiya Market since it was cheep and had plenty of onigiri in stock. Even their yakisoba tastes good cold. The rest of the day a spent riding around on VTA and getting off at random places. I stopped by several theaters, but most of them didn't open til 4-7pm, so I decided to pass.

Thursday was the most interesting, finally reaching San Francisco Japantown. By this point I was very comfortable using Caltrain, having used it almost every day to get around. The SF Muni transit website was very complicated, so I ended up using google maps to figure out buses in down town San Francisco. I do like that they come so often in the morning and many run 24 hours a day.

The New People World building that just opened two weeks ago was closed for repairs, so I spent most of the day the in the other mall buildings on Post street. It was interesting that just about every place to eat there was a formal sit down restaurant. I ended up choosing what looked like the least formal of the bunch, On the Bridge. It was located on the sky bridge between the Kintetsu building and Kinokuniya building. There were walls of manga to read, Miyazaki on three different screens, and several mountains of plushies in different corners. They had a variety of soju drinks combined with calpis and soda which seem to go very well with Japanese food. The vegetable curry I had was amazing, so it didn't really matter that my whole lunch ended up coming to about $20. I also went and saw a mid day show and the Kabuki Sundance theater next door. It's the first cinema theater I've been to where you have assigned seat and the price is adjusted accordingly. There was almost no one in there on a Thursday afternoon so we just sat where we wanted.

Friday was spent at the Viz building. I spent about a half hour looking around. A big chunk of the building was devoted to fashion, which I'm not at all interested in. The Superfrog gallery was interesting, albeit small, and the mezzanine had a nice gift shop, but much of it was very over priced. However, that really wasn't out of the ordinary for the store. My main reason for going was to visit the theater, the only one of it's kind in the United States dedicated solely to Japanese cinema, or so I'm told. The only thing really playing there that week was the 20th Century Boys trilogy, so I decided to see all three. The third one was having a world premiere there the same day it was opening in Japan and I figured I wouldn't have another chance to go to something like that anytime soon. Only about 40 people showed up for the first show. It was lots of fun, and the story was interesting enough that I might eventually have to read the series. I still have yet to read Monster by the same author...

The new people building had very interesting interior designs throughout. The whole place was decorated with various artists art painted right onto the walls. I found the theater the most interesting. For lighting, the sides and ceiling were covered in what looked like hundreds of full spectrum fluorescent lights, all different lengths with very little rooms in between each. However, only about 10% of them were lit up. It gave a curious impression that out of the corner of your eye it seemed like the room was covered in black drapes with a little bit of sunlight peaking through the cracks. The biggest flaw in the room was the floor light were much too bright during the actual movie, so you had to sit closer to the front to get away from them.

Even with everything I'd seen, I still prefer living in Portland. Because of the Urban Growth Boundaries, there is less urban sprawl so it takes less time to get to places, and I only need one transit pass to get everywhere. The Kinokuniya near by in Beaverton, though the building is small and cramped, has just as much stuff as the San Francisco one. I also looked at the different cinemas there and it seems like I have even more variety and choice here in Portland than I did there. The new Living Room Theaters helps out in the vast variety. The main thing we don't have is the new Viz theater, but I think I can live without it. I have plenty to watch here already.

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November 2011

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