Some of the many highlights of our recent Japan trip that I didn’t have time to upload while traveling…

Our hotel was located close to the Takarazuka Theater which hosts nightly performances of an all-female musical theater troupe comprised of six groups numbering a total of 400 members (graduates of the esteemed Takarazuka Music School).  Every evening, post-performance, a group of fans gather, all women, to patiently await their idols.  On one night we happened by, we saw two of the actresses interact with their fans, greeting them warmly as they accepted what looked like theater programs (or fan letters?).  According to Akemi, many of these fans respond to the lush sets, costumes, and love stories at the heart of the productions, but most feel a connection to the individual actresses, especially those who play the roles of idealized male figures.

Our visit to TV Asahi took us to a mini museum display of one of Japan’s most iconic manga/cartoon characters, Doraemon, a robot cat from the future.  The manga ran for almost 30 years while the animated series boasts three different incarnations numbering over 2300 episodes.  Over the course of his innumerable adventures, Doraemon made use of a slew of wacky 22nd century items he brought back with him.  Among them: an Anywhere Door that can take you – well – anywhere, special shoes that let you step into a book’s story, a device that makes dreams a reality, a passport that forgives your sins, a pen that solves any problem, a flashlight whose light beam returns damaged items to their original undamaged state, a cupid-like bow and arrow set, a megaphone that makes lies come true, a bread that acts as a notepad for you to write things down so that once consumed you’ll always be able to recall what you wrote/ate, a clone-creating camera, a doll that creates a kooky clone of whoever touches its nose, a belt that inhibits you from doing wrong, a mirror whose reflections become a reality allowing you to create multiple versions of whatever you put in front of it, a snack that allows animals to understand you, and puppet that will answer any question you ask it.