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1st Trip to Japan! (2/3) – UFO Catcher Adventures

Hello again!

For those that have come from my 1st blog post blog/31473, thanks for making it thus far! And a warm welcome to everyone else who happened to stumble upon this.

I came back from my trip on Dec. 4, but I haven’t had a chance to unpack until now (bogged down by work and studying for my Core 2 CPA exam, which I just wrote on the 22nd! Fingers crossed that I passed!)
This time around, I’ll be focusing on all the loot that I’ve gathered from UFO catchers and work on a chronological basis, from the start, to the end of my trip. Please enjoy!
(As I wrote this, I realized how long the post was, so I've added an extra part, which will be saved for the unboxing. I'm looking forward to unboxing them all, right after I submit this!)

(Edit: For those that want to skip right to the unboxing, Post 3/3 - UFO Loot Unboxing is now up! blog/31486)

Disclaimer (Similar to the previous post):

This will be both text and picture heavy. The majority of text is running commentary of my personal experiences and other thoughts throughout each picture. I’m totally new to the world of figures, so I probably won’t have too many insightful things say about my loot, so feel free to just browse the pictures - I promise you’re not missing out on THATT much :)

Nov 22 (Day 2): Still jetlagged and groggy after stumbling around to find my AirBnB the previous night, I was still determined to head out and explore. I had a pretty packed schedule that I still intended to stick to. First off was a walk to Ueno park, but what greeted me there was definitely not part of my itinerary. I somehow wandered into a would-be street festival/event that was in the midst of setting up.

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After a brief snack and souvenir shopping at festival(?), I had a brief stop in Shinjuku before connecting to Shimokitazawa. I fully intended on visit Nakajima to try a Michelin-starred sardine restaurant, but silly me did not check their hours of operations as they were not opened today (Sunday). In any case, there was still lots to see and do in the area.

Now where I’m from (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), arcade dedicated areas are a rarity. When I was a kid, we still had a few of them around (RIP Love Gety), but the only places to find them now are very limited. There are things that poorly resemble arcades within movie theatres, but other than that, the next best option are things like Dave & Busters, operating with ticket-reward machines.

So when I strolled around in Shinjuku and gazed at this tall building, clad in bright red, with the words “Taito Game Station”, I was excited. I saw row after row of UFO machines, with various figures waiting to be won. Followed by floor after floor of game cabinets blaring foreign but familiar tunes, but what I had my eyes on the most were the prize machines. All of these valuable, expensive goods, just there for the taking.

If you read my previous post, you might know that I haven’t been an avid viewer of anime. I watched bakemonogatari wayyy back and forgot most of the story. But what I did remember was a character that I enjoyed and liked, Shinobu. So when I saw this at Taito in Shinjuku, I knew that I would have to get my hands on it before I left Japan.

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If you read my previous post, you might know that I haven’t been an avid viewer of anime. I watched bakemonogatari wayyy back and forgot most of the story. But what I did remember was a character that I enjoyed and liked, Shinobu (internal squeal :3). So when I saw this at Taito in Shinjuku, I knew that I would have to get my hands on it before I left Japan. (When I came back from my trip, I was hooked and rewatched bakemonogatari. I have the rest of the series on my phone, ready to go as well xD)

To add a bit more backstory, which will become relevant later on, the available supply of anime figures in my area is very poor. The odd local hobby shop can be found here or there, but the variety is often very limited. In addition, whatever was available, was often very expensive and cost prohibitive. So in my mind, I labeled figures as a very expensive hobby (which rightly so, it can be), but I thought that a high price tag was associated with every single figure (at least $30+ CAD).

From my experience with prize machines locally, I knew better than to try my luck without any experience in winning any of these figures that I were gawking at.

Nov. 22 (Day 3): I had the pleasure of visiting an owl café in Ikebukuro earlier in the day, but my fascination for arcade centres continued on. I found myself constantly searching in google maps “Arcades near me” and accepting this as part of my itinerary for the rest of my trip. Essentially, when I had visited everything I wanted to on my itinerary, queuing up arcades became a very nice and pleasant way to explore the city since most of my commutes were on foot. There were so many exciting and fascinating things I found along the way!

What follows is from Club Sega in Ikebukuro. My eyes were drooling when I found these cushions. But knowing that I had Akihabara as my next stop for the next day, I wanted to hold out trying my luck in winning one of these and instead, purchase them outright from a shop there.

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Nov. 23 (Day 4): Admittedly, I didn’t have a good grasp of the area and in retrospect, I missed out on the majority of the major stores while I was here, so don’t be like me - OriginalRen has a very helpful guide to Akiba which can be found here blog/27358&....

There were no shortages of arcades here. Multiple Segas, Adores and a Taito not far from the JR station. But firstly, I walked down the street and visited various smaller shops and showed them pictures of the pillows. Not one store has ever seen these or carried these.

Down, but not out, I eventually made my way to Club Sega, and here is where all the magic began. This location had both pillows and other monogatari figures that I started to taken an interest in. I began walking someone play for afar, who was trying their luck in winning the hanekawa pillow. I counted what must have been 15+ plays before he left. As discouraged as I felt from watching him, I can’t imagine how much worse he was feeling.

I eventually spoke to 2 very friendly attendants, we’ll call them M and Z. They both gave me great pointers on the best way to win each prize, depending on the individual set ups. At the current time, the place was pretty quiet, so M stuck around and watched as I played. We also chatted in both broken English and Japanese about where I was from and about his life – I also learned that Hachikuji was his favourite character from the show :3 (He did also help me out a few times in repositioning the prizes :3). But my props to him, he was always full of energy and very animated every time I got close to winning.

We first aimed for Shinobu ITEM #400947 and after a few tries I won it. I was so excited and giddy, as soon as I pulled it out of the prize slot, I dropped it!. Then we moved on to the pillows (ITEM #526340 & ITEM #526529). M first played a few times to show me how to knock the pillows off (it was the same set up as the one in Ikebukuro. Essentially, you want to get the claw underneath the metal rod and flick/bounce it in hopes of nudging off the hanging pillow). On my first try, I was able to win it! We were both in disbelief, but seeing as how I still had credits left (I usually played 500Y at a time) we moved on to the hanekawa one. Again, on the first try, I won that too. High-fives all around. Seeing as there were no other monogatari related goods on play, M pulled ITEM #400939 from inventory which was sitting on top of each machine and asked if I wanted to try and win it – a happily obliged and thanked him. So after an hour or two, and just less than 2000Y lighter, I was content with my loot for the day.


We also took a group selfie (and M with one of the prizes at hand xD) before I left with 2 largely oversized Sega bags in hand.

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Now, if there was one time I felt unsafe in Japan, this was it xD - as I walked down the street with merch galore, I received many glances from passerbys while I worry internally that someone will mug me for my merch (I’m just kidding xD)

So this was the final loot for the day. All of the plastic folders also came courtesy of M and Z from Club Sega. Before I left, they told me to hold on, while they gathered behind a counter and pulled out a full set folders and gave them to me as a final gift! :)

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Nov. 24 (Day 5): After visiting Ghlibi museum a taking a stroll through Kichijoji on a snowy day (I heard that this was the 1st time in 50 years that it snowed this early in Tokyo) I made my way to Nakano Broadway. Here, I scored myself Teruzuki ITEM #442887 & Hanekawa ITEM #406200 for < 800Y combined.

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After checking out a lot of the smaller shops in Nakano Broadway, while starting to familiarize myself with the prizes from arcades, I started to recognize that the same prizes were available for sale in these shops as well. What blew me away were the prices. The cheapest I found were less than 1000Y a figure and I began to understand that there was a vast different between prize figures and ones from other companies. Indeed, I did find figure at the price point I once saw back in Toronto, but I finally learned that not all figures were created equal. But no worries though, I was more than ecstatic to still come away with these unplanned prizes.

Nov. 25 (Day 6): Paid a visit to Taito Station in Shibuya and snagged Hatsune Miku ITEM #440642 for 1100Y.

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Nov. 26 (Day 7): A few days prior to this, my 12000mAh external battery pack gave out (the microUSB port came undone) and I desperately needed extra battery due to the constant use of GPS and data D: What surprised me was the cost of electronic peripherals such as battery packs here. The best bang for the buck I could find was a 6000mAh pack for 3000Y. For the same price locally, I could purchase a pack with 20000mAh capacity or more! I took the plunge as I easily consumed the old pack on a daily basis and needed something in the mean time.

Luckily, I paid another visit to Taito in Shibuya and came out with an extra 4000mAh pack and the Shinbou glass, which was the first item that I really wanted when I touched ground here. Total out lay was around 1600Y for the 2.

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Nov. 27 (Day 8): I was in Osaka at this point and made my way to Namco (not the one inside Namba Parks) and picked up Sodachi ITEM #443417 for 1300Y.

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As I was exploring Namba and entered into Den Den Town, I popped my head into serveral smaller prize arcade shops. One of them had a girl in a white dress outside who was attempting to herd people inside. I didn’t see her at first since I walked inside autonomously, but once I started peeking around, she came inside and asked what character/anime I was looking for. Soon she pointed me in the direction of an older looking machine with several variants of Shinobu inside. She insisted that I give it a try, but if all else fails, I could buy it outright. She took out here calculator and punched out a price (must have been around 2500Y) and I smiled and said that I’d rather try my luck in winning it instead. As I wandered through the shop, she followed me around insisting that I play, but armed with my previous knowledge (the retail price of these figures, and to generally avoid smaller arcade shops) I politely declined. Even as I was beginning to make my way out of the shop, she pulled out her calculator again and offered a lower price to buy the figure. Again, I declined but thanked her. Poor girl, she did seem a tad bit annoyed (based on her tone). I hope she was able to keep warm at least, even in her dress outside!

Nov. 29 (Day 10): Made my way to Kyoto this day, exploring West Kyoto, while I explored East Kyoto the previous day. This was one of my favourite days in Japan, as I was riding a bike (I also haven’t been on a bike in at least a decade) around Arashiyama and just peddling about. It was just this serene, peaceful feeling that I haven’t had the chance to experience other wise. It was such an enjoyable experience, visiting temples, which nearly had no visitors at the time, due to the distance from the main city. And too add, there was a light drizzle as well.

In any case, back to prize figures. I was at Namco, close to Kyoto Station and netted myself Rin ITEM #440641 for 1000Y. Not yet pleased, I set my eyes on 10 Year Old version of Kiss-Shot ITEM #440647. And being an additional 2500Y lighter, she was mine :’)

At this point, I was clearly addicted to UFO catchers and logic went out the window. I clearly overspent for that last figure and wasn’t thinking straight. The feeling of not wanting to leave the machine after putting so much investment in it was too strong. “Oh, maybe another nudge here, and I’ll get it. I’m so close, I can just stop now!”, were just some of the many thoughts going through my head.

All the time spent in university learning about sunk costs and opportunity costs went kaplutz. SOOOO, still being under this trance, I naturally sought after another figure, this time, a Kan Colle one. After exchanging what must have been my 3rd paperbill for coins (as I ran out of those many moons ago for reasons that you can guess) and spending 1500Y with nothing to show, I had to stop and think. With that 1500Y, I could have had a LOOOOT of good food….Yeah, I need to stop and spend it on something that I can 100% get. (Yes, when I think of spending money, but converted into units of food, everything makes more sense to me xD). So I called it a night, left 5000Y lighter at this location, but at least with something to show for it.

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Nov. 30 (Day 11)
: Back in Osaka on this day, I visited Round 1 in Shinsaibashi. I spotted Darjeeling ITEM #446591 in a prize machine. The set up was that a single box is placed on a rectangular pedestal – as long as you can knock her off, she will fall and you will win. In this case, she was knocked off her stand, resting forwards against the window (versus leaning against nothing, dropping into the prize retrieval area). I cunningly thought that I could drop 100Y and nudge the box to the right or left, off the platform, which would drop it for a win…

Orz, the claw did not extend low enough to even touch the box. Since the box was knocked off and was now slanted instead of standing up, the distance between the box and claw was now increased. Luckily, I found an attendant who I conveyed the issue to, who was able to reset the position. Another 100Y later and she was mine :)

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Dec. 2 (Day 14): Back in Osaka this day, I walked down to Tenoji and won Mutsuki ITEM #314584 for 400Y. I don’t recall exactly, but this may have been at a Taito, located underground beneath an office building (there was a Sega underground as well). I also made my way back to Taito in Namba where I spent 300Y in hopes to win a plushie, but left empty handed.

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Dec 4 (Day 16, Last day): In continuing with my addiction, I decided to pay another visit to where this all started, Akihabara. After a wonderful lunch at Marugo Tonkatsu, I was hungry to bring back one last prize machine item.

I made my rounds to every arcade in the area, before I settled on the same Club Sega where I won my first prizes. As if this was fate, who other was there to greet me at the entrance but M! We both greeted each other and seeing that we both remembered each other, had a quick chat. M also handed me a set of coupons, as this particular Sega location was running a promotion, “Spend 500Y at a time, you get 2 extra plays; spend 100Y, get 1 extra play. Limited 1 coupon per person”. So I went upstairs and sought the item next to what I first laid my eyes on, the Yotsugi glass in order to complete the set. As if this was the first night I met M, he watched me as I played (I also had to redeem the coupons), and after my 8th play, I finally won it! We shared our last high 5 together and exchanged good byes as I had to pack up my belongings and head to the airport shortly after. Everything came to a satisfyingly, full circle conclusion!

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Now if you’re here from the 1st blog post, you might remember that I came with just 1 piece of checked luggage, but with a duffel bag inside. BOY OH BOY was that a life saver. I knew that I would bring back some souvenirs for family and friends, and a thing or two for myself, but never did I plan on hauling 15 larger items back from Japan. My original luggage and duffel bag was almost bursting, and I had to switch out my carry on (originally a messenger bag) for a backpack and filled that with another 3 boxes.

I just had the chance to properly unpack and sort things out a bit. It looks like I didn’t lose anything on the flight back, and every figure is accounted for, although some boxes have been crushed a bit :(
And I’ve also put the Shinobu cushion to use ever since I got back. It’s been serving me well as a back rest for my computer chair (forces me to have a much straighter posture!), but it’s starting to flatten out already :(

And here’s a quick picture of my total haul from prize arcades after spending an unplanned, ~13300Y

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It was an excellent trip and I learned a lot about myself along the way. Japan was like a fresh start to me, no one knew me and I knew no one else, so I could let me self go, get out of my comfort zone and free myself from my everyday thoughts back home. I definitely came back feeling a lot looser and opened up a more. Even my coworkers noticed and said that they heard me talk more and learned more about me in the last week than throughout the entire year! (Unfortunately/Fortunately, I received an offer for a job at a different company during my vacation, and stayed only another week at my current work place at the time). Obviously, there was way more to the trip than just prize arcades, but I’d figure (no pun intended…:/) that this would be most relevant to the community.

Anyhow, if I still have your attention, stay tuned for post 3/3, the unboxing! Thanks for reading!

(Now, I just need to make extra space for all of these figures...
I also hope that direct sunlight isn't an issue!
Either way, the fun now beings, I can finally unbox them now! See everyone in a few hours!)
1,966 hits • 16 comments

16 comments

0pt
inisipis (9 months ago) #17155707By the way. Did you watched any anime movie's in Japan, Like even though it's in Japanese, it's more for the pleasure of watching them in they're Home country.
I watched "Your Name" and the Kancolle movie because it's first premiere.
I also I did short Youtube vid of Nakano broadway, maybe you're there. Do check it out.
www.youtube.com...

Unfortunately, I didn't, but between hearing all the talk/hype about Your Name and reading the recent blog post on the Kancolle movie, I really wish I did!

Next time, I'll definitely try my hand at the theatres!

Great video btw! (Didn't catch myself in a tho xD)
9 months ago
0pt
By the way. Did you watched any anime movie's in Japan, Like even though it's in Japanese, it's more for the pleasure of watching them in they're Home country.

I watched "Your Name" and the Kancolle movie because it's first premiere.

I also I did short Youtube vid of Nakano broadway, maybe you're there. Do check it out.
www.youtube.com...
9 months ago
0pt
inisipis (9 months ago) #17090744I'm happy to know that you enjoyed your first trip Japan. Such a fascinating place. I'm sure you will be back for more.
Coincidentally, I too was there on holiday this past November (22 - 28). I too was in Nakano Broadway when it was snowing at Nov 24. I was there practically the whole day. We might had even unknowingly crossed path somewhere in the building's alley shops.
Well, have a happy holiday.

Yep, I can't wait to go back and there's still so much left to explore!

Hah, what a coincidence - we may very well have crossed paths then! I was going shop to shop buying some souvenirs for friends.
(I wish I picked up a Nakano Broadway mascot poster as well!)

And hope you have a happy holiday as well!
9 months ago
0pt
I'm happy to know that you enjoyed your first trip Japan. Such a fascinating place. I'm sure you will be back for more.

Coincidentally, I too was there on holiday this past November (22 - 28). I too was in Nakano Broadway when it was snowing at Nov 24. I was there practically the whole day. We might had even unknowingly crossed path somewhere in the building's alley shops.

Well, have a happy holiday.
9 months ago
0pt
rubyserpent_720 (9 months ago) #17073148Damn! Are you a UFO-catcher pro or something? I got shitty skills/luck in that department and gave up after the first 1500 yen that tumbled into nothingness XD
(and I hate those catchers that makes it look super easy to get and all get you is disappointment)
Good job for all those loot
Haha, thanks. It's from a big mix of luck & skill. I usually try to only play once I see that a prize has been somewhat moved from it's starting position already. And asking attendants for tips on what the best technique is given the position also helps :)

But I definitely had or day or two where I just over spent or came back with nothing!

iced_wine (9 months ago) #17074191saving your posts for note-taking later, as I will be making my virgin voyage to heaven Japan later this year XDWow, that's awesome - Enjoy your trip! It's a great time to go! (Albeit a bit crowded, but it adds to the atmosphere :D)

May be of interest to you (may have been hidden beneath the sea of text in my blog post): I linked to ORIGINALREN's blog post blog/27358&amp;... as he as several great blog entries/guides to Akihabara that I wished I checked out before heading there :')
9 months ago
0pt
saving your posts for note-taking later, as I will be making my virgin voyage to heaven Japan later this year XD
9 months ago
0pt
Damn! Are you a UFO-catcher pro or something? I got shitty skills/luck in that department and gave up after the first 1500 yen that tumbled into nothingness XD

(and I hate those catchers that makes it look super easy to get and all get you is disappointment)

Good job for all those loot
9 months ago
0pt
darkfader (9 months ago) #17067450I've forgotten all about the excitement of first time Japan and shopping spree. (actually, each time it's exciting;) Good to read how other ppl enjoy it.
UFO catchers can be addicting. If there's Shinobu goods, I also take a try.

Haha, I certainly look forward to my second trip to Japan in the (hopefully near) future!

Addicting indeed. If they built one of these near my workplace, I'd probably be there after work everyday, spending half of my money on gaming, and the other half on prize machines xD
9 months ago
0pt
bootlegbaron (9 months ago) #17062896Very interesting article, I enjoyed reading this. Seems like you had the same experience as me at those smaller arcades in denden town.
Glad you enjoyed it! Yep, there were a couple of these around. I had another experience where some girl handed me a card (looked like a coupon) to play and ushered me inside D:

cuddleswithfizz (9 months ago) #17067297Great article, thanks for sharing!!!
Thanks for reading!

Pekola (9 months ago) #17067317Reading all of this made me happy. I guess it's contagious. I'm glad you had a great time and were able to feel like yourself.
Looking forward to reading more.

Great to hear that it made you happy :3
And I'm working on the next one as I type!

nishikinomaki (9 months ago) #17067321ah it sounds like you had so much fun!! cant wait to see the unboxing :o
Yep! The best fun I had was all unplanned!

Allnighter (9 months ago) #17067362Glad you had fun. Ohh that Shinobu cushion is so nice.
:3 I knew for sure I had to at least come back with that cushion!

Lyncfs (9 months ago) #17067429Great article and I loved the story with M. It's great you created all these wonderful memories playing the claw games. That's way better than just buying the figures outright!
Mhmm, a huge shoutout to the staff there for making it such a wonderful experience as well. Half of my best memories on the trip were just things you can't find in a guidebook!
9 months ago
0pt
I've forgotten all about the excitement of first time Japan and shopping spree. (actually, each time it's exciting;) Good to read how other ppl enjoy it.
UFO catchers can be addicting. If there's Shinobu goods, I also take a try.
9 months ago
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