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Mike's Thoughts

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Spring 2015 [May. 31st, 2015|09:00 pm]

I saw two bike trips, two countries and twelve flowers.

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Tenchi Muyo Pilgrimage Run: Soft Cream [Apr. 16th, 2015|06:41 pm]
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honey, peach
black sesame and soy milk, sakura
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Tenchi Muyo Pilgrimage Run: Days 4-6 [Apr. 13th, 2015|10:22 pm]
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Day 4: Kurashiki back to OkayamaCollapse )

Day 5: Okayama to HimejiCollapse )

Day 6: Himeji to TokyoCollapse )
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Tenchi Muyo Pilgrimage Run: Days 1-3 [Apr. 6th, 2015|11:23 pm]
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Why did you come to Japan?

This is among the most common questions non-Japanese looking people get here, so of course after eight years I have a carefully practiced answer centering around Japanese lifestyle and linguistics, my professional goals, and now matrimony. These are all true, but more recent developments. My interest in this country goes back much further. A more honest answer then, might simply be "Max". A more descriptive honest answer, might be "The anime Max introduced to me when we were 10."

I know that it started with Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon. I was first attracted to the artistic style, which I enthusiastically failed to replicate in doodles on middle school notebook paper. Though these storylines didn't speak to me, I loved the sense of progression from one episode to the next, something you didn't see in American cartoons at the time. This is what pushed Max and me to wake up at 5am to record the awful dubs, and to buy overpriced terrible quality bootleg VHSes of new titles on ebay. Through this exploration, the first series we found that I can still call a favorite today was Tenchi Muyo.

Tenchi is a typical harem genre anime, in which a boring male character is surrounded by several (absurdly attractive) female characters. But it's also much more than that. Tenchi is unique, fully developed characters whose interactions are well designed and multi-dimensional. Tenchi is world building, an expansive environment full of history, politics and culture. Tenchi is humor, which for me has only gotten funnier rewatched in the original Japanese. Tenchi is action, aided by magic, technology and cute animals which transform into deadly spaceships. But Tenchi is also authentic, traditional Japan. The outer space conflicts are always punctuated by scenes of daily life in a rural farming town. The characters eat zaru-soba in the summer and yakiimo in the fall. They hang laundry outside on sunny days, work the vegetable fields and take breaks for karaoke and onsen. I still remember many Ooh, I saw that on Tenchi! moments from my first year studying here. Even then though, I was underestimating the extent of the realism of this series.

In my year between studying abroad and returning to Japan on JET, I stumbled on a blog of someone who went on a Tenchi Muyo Pilgrimage tour of some prefecture called Okayama. This person described the sites of familiar names of characters from the anime. With a little research, I learned that the creator, Kajishima Masaki, filled Tenchi with borrowed settings and names from the area around his hometown of Kurashiki, Okayama. I resolved then to one day make a trip to explore all of them. It took another 10 years, making it almost 20 since I saw my first Tenchi episode, but it happened =)

Day 1: Tokyo to OkayamaCollapse )

Day 2: Okayama to FukiyaCollapse )

Day 3: Fukiya to KurashikiCollapse )
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Tenchi Muyo Pilgrimage Run Plan [Mar. 27th, 2015|01:08 pm]

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