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It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).

Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.

Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.

Sakura Matsuri 2017

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Sakura Matsuri 2017

Passover

As I look back on this, I have to admit that I really pushed my body to the max. That was because the night before I went to Light City in Baltimore, where I waited outside in the cold for over two hours waiting for my animation, The March of Liberty, to finally show on the big screen. I was so stiff and sore the following day that I ended up skipping church.

I still pushed myself to check out the first annual Kamecon because I like seeing cosplayers all dressed up, I was attracted by the $3 admission fee, it was held on the campus of my alma mater (the University of Maryland at College Park), and it was held just three miles from my current home.

Compared to other anime conventions like Otakon and Katsucon, Kamecon is relatively small. The entire event was held in one of the ballrooms at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union building. But the participants were pretty enthusiastic as they donned costumes and hung out. Here are some photos I took.

There was a line at the ticket office located next to the Hoff Theater but it wasn’t too bad. I think I may have spent about 15 minutes in line at the most.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I decided to bring my Canon Digital Rebel EOS camera with me to this event. Here’s a selfie I was able to take thanks to the restroom mirror. (Yes, I was wearing the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie in order to blend in a little bit with the cosplayers.)

Kamecon 2017

Some people were waiting to have their photo professionally taken.

Kamecon 2017

The entire convention took place in a ballroom, which included an indoor tent/lounge where people could chill.

Kamecon 2017

There was a Jubeat video game that had a cool cube design. I didn’t see anyone play it mainly because it was directly imported from Japan and that machine required a 1 yen coin, which doesn’t do any good for the vast majority of Americans present.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

There were other video games that people played.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I took a few shots of two cosplayers who were dancing alongside one of the dancing video games while it was playing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Poker Face.”

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I even shot a short video of those two dancing cosplayers.

The ballroom was divided, with half of the room being reserved for Artists Alley. There was a photography ban of that area (unless the photographer gets permission from an Artists Alley participant) so I took only one wide shot of the entire area from the other side.

Kamecon 2017

There were board games and card game packs available for attendees to play with.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Here are some more pictures of Kamecon, including cosplayers.

Kamecon 2017

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Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I also took a few pictures of the University of Maryland campus because it was such a lovely warm sunny spring day. But I didn’t take too many pictures because I was growing tired from both checking out Kamecon and Light City the night before. Here’s a long shot of the Jim Henson Memorial.

University of Maryland

The cherry blossom trees on campus were in full bloom.

University of Maryland

University of Maryland

Here’s a shot of the Mall.

University of Maryland

One of the terrapin statues that are located on campus.

University of Maryland

March is Women’s History Month, which ended just two days earlier, but there was still this poster featuring the University of Maryland’s famous female alumni including Connie Chung, Dominique Dawes, Gayle King, Sarah Winnemucca, Judith Resnik, Adele H. Stamp, and Carolina Rojas Bahr.

University of Maryland

I recently checked out the grand opening of a new place in College Park, Maryland called SCETA Japan Center and, as part of the festivities, they held a Little Japan Festival. Okay, I’ll admit that it’s a far cry from a massive anime convention like Otakon but it was still a pretty nice occasion (and the fact that the weather was pleasantly sunny with low humidity helped). Here are my photos from that event, starting with the building itself.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

There were all kinds of Japanese language books on display, including this one on hedgehogs (which brought back memories of the time when I once had a pet hedgehog named Spike).

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

Here are a few miscellaneous cute items I found throughout the building.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

This next photo shows a backdrop that was set up for anyone to take pictures.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

Someone saw me take that last picture and told me what it was. She then offered to take my picture with my own smartphone and I obliged despite my one skinned knee (which I obtained the day before when I fell as I was leaving the Hon Fest in Baltimore).

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

There was also a special Japanese Arts and Crafts Edition of the board game Monopoly that was written in both English and Japanese on display.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

The last photo shows the free stickers and buttons I received that that event.

SCETA Japan Center Opening, College Park, Maryland

SCETA Japan Center is dedicated to teach Japanese as well as providing information about Japanese culture and tradition. Check out the website for more information.

I’m starting a new series of videos based on my experiences with a new doll that I’ve just purchased from Target. Her name is My Friend Cayla and she’s not your typical doll. She’s interactive and has both Wifi and Bluetooth connections. I’m only making the videos in the hopes that I can earn a little extra money through YouTube’s profit-sharing program. For the next week I’m going to release one new video per day in order to coincide with the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend in the United States. I don’t know if it will work out but, if it does, I could end up with at least a part-time revenue stream.

Below if Part 1, which is a basic prelude that explains what led me to purchase a My Friend Cayla doll from Target. It includes short clips from two other videos I shot years ago (2009 Barbie Convention in Washington, DC and 2010 Otakon Convention in Baltimore, Maryland). I also mention instances of interactive living dolls in pop culture such as The Twilight Zone‘s “Living Doll” episode, Chucky from Child’s Play, Mitsukazu Mihara’s Doll manga, Yumiko Kalahari’s Dolls manga, Rozen Maiden, and Chobits.

Anyway, if this prelude video isn’t your cup of tea, wait until I start uploading more videos, all of which will deal with my direct experiences with the My Friend Cayla doll. (By the way, if you’re intrigued by the doll, check out the official website.)

So, without further ado, here is Part 1 of my new multipart series about my experiences with the My Friend Cayla doll.

It’s been two years since I last attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival that’s held in downtown Washington, DC as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival. I thought about going down early in the morning so I could check out the Cherry Blossom Parade that precedes the Sakura Matsuri by starting at 10 a.m. But I was too lazy to get my act together so I could arrive that early so I basically ate breakfast and lunch at home then headed out to the Sakura Matsuri in the afternoon. (I was glad I ate my meals at home because nearly all of the food vendors had very long lines.)

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even dug out this Japanese imported Stitch hat that I purchased at one of the Otakon anime conventions that were held in Baltimore. I know it was before my marriage broke up because I bought it with my then-husband in mind because he was such a huge fan of the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and Stitch was his favorite Disney character. I also remember when I modeled the hat for him and he was thrilled with it. That hat had been sitting in a drawer since my husband left but I decided that I could continue to use it because I think it’s a cute hat. Besides, it enabled me to blend in a little bit with the other people who were cosplaying. I even had several people at the festival notice my hat and telling me that they loved it. When I arrived in downtown DC, the one of the first things I did was to take a rare selfie of me wearing that hat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Like most other years, the festival was very crowded. I still enjoyed myself as I looked around at the sights and sounds of the festival. I even took a few silly pictures while I was there. I recently started to follow the official Sonic the Hedgehog accounts on Facebook and Instagram and it was through social media I learned that there is something called Travel Tuesday where people can submit photos of a Sonic doll or stuffed animal either at an event or some famous landmark (like the Eiffel Tower). I decided to pack my articulated Sonic vinyl doll so I could take his photo for Travel Tuesday. Here are the photos that I submitted but, as of this writing, none of them have been selected for Travel Tuesday.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I also played around a little bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone. I thought it was appropriate since that character originated in Japan. (Although now that I look at the pictures, I realized that I should’ve varied the girl’s pose just a little bit since she had the same facial expression and pose. Oh well.)

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

I basically walked around shooting pictures of cosplayers and the various items I saw on sale. I noticed a lot of ram and sheep plushies on sale this year, which makes sense since 2015 is the year that’s known alternatively as the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Ram, or the Year of the Goat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I only purchased one thing at this year’s festival.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Yes, it’s chocolate gelato made by Dolci Gelati and it was very delicious!

While I heard musicians perform on the various stages throughout the festival, I only managed to capture one of the acts with my smartphone because it was one of the few times that I was even able to get close to a stage because everything was so crowded. As for the act that I captured, according to the program book, she is a pop singer from Kyoto named Jonetsu Mariko. I thought I recognized the name for some reason and the program book said that she was making a return appearance to the Sakura Matsuri. After I got home, I searched through this blog and I found out that I previously saw her at the 2010 Sakura Matsuri and I had also videotaped her that time. (She appeared under the name Jonetsu Marie and Shabondama High School.) In any case I took a still photo of her.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even shot a short video of her performing on stage.

That video was the only one I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.

I also saw that NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was there with his race car, just like the last time I attended the Sakura Matsuri two years ago. Once again he appeared with Eneos, which makes motor oil. Eneos also had a bean bag toss game called “Cornhole.”

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Getting on the Metro so I could go home was a bit of a hassle. The last photo shows the long line that I had to stand in just so I could enter the Federal Triangle Metro Station. I’m only lucky that I had the foresight to put enough money on my Metro SmartTrip card for a round trip so I wouldn’t have to stand in another line at the farecard machines.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Groundhog Day
Back on New Year’s Day I went to Tyson’s Corner Mall because I wanted to see what it was like to be at the American Girl Place on the day that it formally unveiled its new Girl of the Year doll. All I learned was that not only was that store totally crowded but the rest of the mall was also so full that it was difficult to find a place to sit anywhere in the mall. (Not everyone was there for the new 2015 Girl of the Year rollout at American Girl Place. I think there are a lot of people in the DC area who just love to go to the local shopping mall on New Year’s Day.)

While I was at American Girl Place on that day, I saw crowds surrounding one of the new accessories that were made for Grace Thomas. It’s a bakery fit for an 18-inch doll complete with miniature food (which isn’t really edible), miniature kitchen utensils, a miniature refrigerator, a miniature oven, and other miniature things. I made a mental note to return to that store at a later date so I could get a closer look at that bakery because of 1) the amazing details and 2) the fact that this item, which is supposedly made for a target audience of girls between 8-12, costs a whopping $500!

After waiting a few weeks, I decided to give American Girl Place a try again in order to check out that bakery in more detail. I went on a weeknight mainly because I learned a long time ago that the best time to go to that store is Monday-Thursday both day and night. That’s because the kids are in school during the weekday, they tend to spend the late afternoon involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, and they spend the evening doing their homework and preparing for the next day at school. That store tends to be nearly empty on those days so one can more leisurely peruse the inventory without having to deal with hordes of kids running around, grabbing things, and having meltdowns because their parents wouldn’t buy them something that they really wanted.

Once again I took the Silver Line Metro to the Tyson’s Corner station then took the pedestrian bridge to the mall. When I arrived I saw that the Christmas tree that was there the last time I visited has been dismantled but the ice skating rink is still there.

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I briefly sat in one of the outside couches that are surrounded by these special glass tables that put out flames that heat the area. I was fascinated by the flames that heated the area.

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Here is a shot of one of the life-sized bird sculptures that decorate the plaza area outside the mall entrance.

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Like I wrote earlier, I returned to the mall because I wanted to get a closer look at that bakery because a floor model was so crowded with kids that this next photo was the best shot of inside the bakery that I could get on New Year’s Day.

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I’ll admit that I originally wanted to get a closer look at that bakery because I intended to write a post comparing a real-life bakery with that $500 miniature reproduction. A few days before my trip to Tyson’s Corner, I took photos of a local family-owned bakery in my area that has been in business for decades. It’s called Raulin’s Bakery and it’s located in Beltsville, Maryland in a shopping center.

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The next two shots show the inside of the bakery. Raulin’s has some incredibly tasting desserts of all kinds. If you’re ever in the Washington, DC area, you find yourself in the Maryland suburbs and you’re dying to satisfy your sweet tooth,  check out Raulin’s. (And, no, I’m not being paid to write this either. I’m just a total fan of their sweets.)

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So I was all ready to take some close-up shots of this bakery so I could write a post about the $500 bakery. When I arrived at the American Girl Place, I found that—believe it or not—the $500 bakery was sold out! The only thing remaining at the place where I saw that bakery on New Year’s Day was this pad of tiny slips advertising the bakery along with the hefty price tag.

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I was kind of surprised that it was sold out because, to be honest, I just didn’t think there would be too many parents willing to pay that much money for a doll accessory and I thought that the bakery would still be in the store when I made a return visit. When I looked online at the American Girl site, I saw that the bakery was on backorder until February 13. I wonder if there was a situation where each American Girl store was initially allotted only one or two bakeries while its online store was similarly limited to no more than 10 bakeries and all of them were sold out because so few of them were available to begin with. It sounds plausible to me because I just don’t see too many parents willing to buy something that expensive as a toy for their child to play with. When I mentioned that bakery and the $500 price tag in a Facebook post, some of my friends who are parents of children who are in American Girl’s target demographic totally balked at the price.

Even though the bakery was out of stock, there were smaller bakery items available that I could still photograph and write about. There’s Grace’s Pastry Cart, which costs $150, and occupied the same space that once held the $500 bakery.

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Compared to the bakery, the pastry cart is pretty small and would take up less space in any home. I have to admit that the details on this cart were really amazing to behold in person.

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I was impressed with the realism of the miniature pastry boxes that held miniature pastries of various kinds.

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The display for the cupcakes and other smaller pastries had a removable cover. One could also remove the tiny cupcakes and pastries as well.

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I was especially impressed with the tiny bread basket holding tiny loaves of French bread, each in their own tiny bag.

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The realistic details on the French bread were amazing.

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I also got a closer look at the 2015 Girl of the Year. Her name is Grace Thomas, she enjoys baking very much, and she would like to own her own bakery when she grows up. I have to admit that, in terms of looks, she is definitely an improvement over the previous Girl of the Year, Isabelle Palmer. Grace looks very striking with her blue eyes, freckles, and brown hair.

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Her hair is very long in the back and it’s quite lovely. It felt very soft to the touch. If it weren’t for the fact that this doll has a retail price of $120, I probably would’ve bought her on impulse. Instead, I decided to save my money and just take pictures of the doll.

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The next photo shows Grace and her French bulldog, Bonbon, flanking Grace’s Bistro Set. Compared to the $500 bakery and $150 Grace’s Pastry Cart, this bistro set is a relative bargain at only $85. There aren’t as many tiny food and drink items as the ones in the bakery and pastry cart sets but Grace’s Bistro Set still looks pretty cute.

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The next few photos show the attention to detail regarding the food, drink, plates, eating utensils, and even the Eiffel Tower-style menu holder. I lifted the chair briefly and it feels like it’s made out of metal and it has some hefty weight to it.

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I’ll admit that I was disappointed at not being able to get a closer look at that $500 bakery. As a consolation to myself, I decided to browse the store’s BeForever line (which consists of the historical dolls that originally gave American Girl its start) until I came across this item that belongs to Samantha Parkington, who’s supposed to represent the early 1900’s, which was at the height of the Progressive Era in the United States. The next photo shows Samantha inside of her ice cream parlor. Ice cream parlors hold as much sweet allure for me as bakeries, especially during the hot summer months. (Since it’s still the dead of winter as of this writing, I currently don’t feel very tempted to order myself an ice cream cone or hot fudge sundae.)

Like the $500 Grace’s French Bakery, Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor would take up a significant amount of space in any home, looks very realistic, and is full of incredible details. With a retail price of $300, the ice cream parlor is also very expensive yet just $200 cheaper than the bakery.

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I was impressed by the realistic cracks in the ice cream scoops and the tiny roses painted on the bowl.

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The candy jar lid in the next photo didn’t open at all (probably because having those miniature gumballs spill out would’ve provided choking hazards to very young children) but the details still looked very realistic.

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The cash register looked like it was made from metal.

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The pink “marble” on the soda fountain looked realistic and there was also a very charming Tiffany lamp on top.

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The menu in the next photo looked interesting—especially the listed prices. You definitely know that this ice cream parlor represents the early 20th century, especially since nickels and dimes don’t really buy much of anything these days. (LOL!)

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I also saw this area dedicated to horses and stables for dolls. The Stable and Supplies in the next few photos cost $110. But that’s just for the stable and related supplies itself. The horses cost extra.

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The Chestnut Horse that the doll is riding on costs $75 The Paint Filly standing in the stable costs $48. The Apricot Poodle Puppy costs $28. Of course the doll and her riding outfit are also sold separately.

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The next photo shows this doll-sized piano that was really interesting because it looked very realistic.

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I even saw volume control and an input/output button. I didn’t see anything listed about this piano on the American Girl site. I don’t know if it’s a new piano or one that has been discontinued. (If it’s the latter, then why was it displayed in the store like it’s currently available?) The closest I’ve found to an online description is this entry on the unofficial American Girl Wiki.

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Since the next big consumer holiday is Valentine’s Day, there were plenty of Valentine items that one could buy. One cute idea was this doll t-shirt, which came with its own envelope in case someone wanted to mail it to a doll owner in place of a regular card.

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There were the American Girl pets who were waiting to be someone’s Valentine.

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I usually don’t pay any attention to Bitty Babies but I really loved this cute Valentine’s outfit.

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The next couple of photos show American Girl’s Bitty Baby line, baby dolls that are priced cheaper than the other dolls (yet they are still more expensive than what one would find in a big box retailer) and are meant for children who are too young for the American Girl doll. They are designed to withstand more abuse from a toddler. I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of baby dolls (even as a child I always preferred older looking dolls like Barbie to baby dolls) but I thought that the store display looked nice.

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I also got a closer look at the area dedicated to Grace where shoppers are invited to take their own selfies next to a standee of Grace and Bonbon and upload them online.

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I was impressed by the realism of this area, especially since it occupies just a small corner of the store.

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I also took some photos of this display of the BeForever doll known as Kit Kittredge. I never used to care that much about the doll until last year when American Girl retooled the entire historical doll line as BeForever and all of the historical dolls received new outfits that, in most cases, were definitely an improvement over what they used to wear. Kit is supposed to represent the Great Depression and she is said to have a great interest in journalism and photography.

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I was really impressed by the miniature newspaper, photographs, camera, and film.

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Notice that tiny roll of Kodak film in the next photo.

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I ended my visit to the American Girl Place by checking out the place in the back of the store where people can buy something to eat. The sit-down American Girl Bistro was closed early for the evening (which is the only major disadvantage of coming to the American Girl Place on a weeknight). But the takeout area where one can buy drinks, candy, cake slices, and cookies was still open. I noticed that Grace Thomas flanked this area, which is appropriate since she’s supposed to be a baker.

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The cookies served in the takeout section comes in two sizes—one for a human and one that’s sized for a doll.

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I order two chocolate chip cookies to go. The store clerk put them in this really tiny American Girl shopping bag that I thought was so cute that I took photos of that bag when I got home.

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The cookies were wrapped pretty well. They basically tasted like the typical Nestle’s Toll House cookies that are pretty common (due to the fact that they are relatively easy to bake).

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I took a photo of my Julie Albright doll with the tiny shopping bag. If I cut the handles a bit shorter, this bag would be a perfect doll accessory. What a cute idea!

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I did other things at Tyson’s Corner Mall besides hanging around the American Girl Place. I came across these shiatzu massage chairs. I’ve seen them at other malls and I’ve even sat in them and paid the money so I could get a quick massage a few times. What made these chairs at the Tyson’s Corner Mall different is that they also provided USB ports so one could get his/her mobile device recharged while undergoing a massage. I was thrilled with the idea until I found that I needed my own cord in order to get my cell phone recharged. Nevertheless I paid $1 to get a 3-minute massage. (One can get longer massages for higher prices but, for me, three minutes having some machine rub and squeeze me is about as much as I can take.)

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I stopped by the Disney Store where I found these interesting looking small plush animals. Basically they are Disney characters re-shaped as these cute logs or something like that and they are sold under the label Tsum Tsum. I later learned that Tsum Tsum was something that started in Japan as a video game and when Disney released real-life plushes based on the game they were a huge hit. So now Disney is trying to spark a similar craze in the U.S.

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I had a good laugh out of seeing Olaf the Snowman from the Frozen movie as one of those Hawaiian hula dancers that people would put on the car dashboard.

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I walked past the Montblanc pen store where it displayed a special limited-edition John F. Kennedy pen.

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I stopped by the LEGO Store where I saw a few interesting kits on sale (including one based on the Disney Frozen movie).

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I walked past this Steinway & Sons store, which sells—what else?—Steinway pianos. I paid more attention to it than I usually would mainly because I went to this mall just a few days after I visited this piano store in College Park with an interesting building façade that is currently in the process of going out of business.

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I basically looked in the windows because I’m not in the market for a piano. (One of those Steinways would overwhelm the living room of my townhouse.)

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Besides, if I really want a Steinway piano, there’s an app for that.

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I usually don’t blog about public restroom toilets in shopping malls but I noticed that the toilets in the Tyson’s Corner Mall have two different flush buttons depending on how much body waste you eliminated. (Basically the green button is for urine only while the other one is for when you eliminated so much that you need more water to get rid of it.) On top of it, if you’re slow in deciding which flush button to use, the toilet will automatically flush using the right amount of water based on the amount of waste detected. This would be especially of interest to my Unitarian Universalist congregation because, for the past few years, the denomination (especially the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee) has been emphasizing The Human Right to Water, especially as it relates to the scarcity of water in Third World countries and the water pollution resulting from oil spills and fracking here in the United States. I still remember when the minister at my congregation gave a sermon on how important water conservation is and what we can all do to conserve as much water as possible.

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The next photo shows an aerial shot of Wasabi, this sushi restaurant where the food is delivered on a long conveyor belt and all you have to do is select the plate of any food item that interests you. The food is incredibly fresh and I really love eating there even if it’s a bit on the pricey side.

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Here’s a panoramic shot of the same place, which shows how long Wasabi is.

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By the time I decided to leave the mall it had grown cold and dark. Because I was there on a weeknight, the only people who used the ice skating rink were the mall employees.

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I also took the last couple of photos of the outdoor couches surrounding the warming table with flames inside. The darkness of the night really makes the flames stand out more.

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American Flag
Even though today is Thanksgiving Day, there has been a trend among the big box retailers to open their doors on the actual holiday itself. This is definitely a change from the old days when most businesses were closed and even the few that were opened on the holiday (such as supermarkets) would close their doors by 4 p.m. so their employees can spend the holiday with their families.

Now the big box retailers are not only forcing their employees to either spend less time at home or skip Thanksgiving entirely but they are also trying to entice their customers to give up more and more of their holiday time by having hot doorbuster deals on certain consumer items.

You can spend less time with your loved ones or eat Thanksgiving dinner unusually early so you can put on your coats and step out in the usual cold November weather while fighting other like-minded shoppers to grab some consumer items.

Or you can do the alternative. You can stay in your warm home surfing the Internet and go holiday shopping in my online Etsy shop. You don’t have to worry getting into the car and the online shopping experience is so quick and convenient that you can just order something quickly then go back to preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s a sample item that I’m currently selling online now that you can buy while you’re wearing your pajamas or casual clothes.

Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Tote Bag
Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Tote BagThis is a customized one-of-a-kind tote bag that I painted by hand. To learn more about how I created this bag, you can read the post I originally wrote on February 14, 2013. If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, you can order right here.

 

One Saturday I went to two events in one day. I just wanted to have some light-hearted fun in the wake of my recent appearance in divorce court just three days earlier so I packed my Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera and rode on the Metro. There are a few photos I posted that are definitely not safe for work but they are placed towards the end of this entry. (The rest of the photos are all-ages friendly.)

First, I attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival in Washington, DC. Sakura Matsuri is the event that formally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. You know that you are at a Metro stop that’s closest to the festival because you’ll see people in costume like the ones in the next two photos.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 13, 2013
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The Sakura Matsuri is usually very crowded and 2013 was no exception. I arrived late in the afternoon (just a couple of hours before it closed) and there were still plenty of people around. The weather was a warm sunny day as people walked around the festival just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol.

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The next photo show the official art for this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, which was available for sale on posters and t-shirts.

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The cherry blossom trees in the Baltimore-Washington region were past their blooming peak on the day of the Sakura Matsuri but the street festival had plenty of cherry blossom flowers made from glass, paper, and other artificial materials.

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There were some special guests at the Sakura Matsuri, such as NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata and his racing car.

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There was plenty of live entertainment provided by performers from Japan.

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There was a variety of things to do or experience, such as live entertainment and hands-on demonstrations of video games like Dance Dance Revolution.

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The crowdest booths were the ones serving food and drink. (Naturally.) The next two photos are of the non-food booths that were the most crowded. One was devoted to providing free hair styling for men while the other was a McDonald’s booth that was giving away free tote bags.

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There were all kinds of Japanese imported products that one could purchase including candy, snacks, plushies, kitchen gadgets, dolls, action figures, and clothes. Some products were based on traditional crafts and images while others were based on characters in anime, manga, video games, and even Disney movies. In short, there was a little something for everyone.

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Like previous years, the highlight of the Sakura Matsuri are the numerous cosplayers at the event. Many of them created their own costumes from scratch. The hard work and creativity involved in making these costumes are astounding.

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When the festival began to show signs of closing down, I hopped back on the Metro to the Rosslyn Metro station. I decided to check out another special event that was being held. The Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia was the venue for a special party to celebrate Yuri’s Night. When I first learned about it, I thought about my ex-husband because he works at NASA and it was through him that I first learned about the existence of Yuri’s Night

I also had to make a difficult decision for the evening of April 13. Someone from my support group for people who are separated or divorced was throwing a party at her home complete with a bonfire and I got this notice about the Yuri’s Night event. I ultimately decided to go to the Yuri’s Night event because the e-mail I received sounded really promising. There would be a bunch of people dressed as robots. There would be a burlesque performance. There would be a couple of dances. There would be a robot-themed art exhibit. There would be a special sale of smaller science fiction-themed works of art done by local artists that one can buy that night and carry home. There would be continuous showings of cheesy science fiction movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I got seduced by the promised glitz and I decided to go there instead of the other party.

In retrospect I have to admit that there are times when I wished I had gone to the other party instead. That’s because I didn’t know anyone at the Yuri’s Night event while many of the other attendees went with their friends and socialized at times. While the shows and bands were pretty awesome, I felt lonely in a crowd. So my big lesson in my still relatively new foray into the single life is that it’s better to go to a less-splashy event where I knew people than to go to a splashy event like Yuri’s Night where I didn’t know anyone. From now on, if there are any scheduling conflicts between a splashy event and a less-splashy event where I know my friends would be there, I’ll pick the latter. (The only exception to that rule will be if I know in advance that my ex-husband and his girlfriend are going to the same party where I know my friends would be there.)

At least the Yuri’s Night event at the Artisphere wasn’t a total bust for me. There were plenty of interesting stuff for me to photograph, starting with the skyline of late afternoon Arlington.

Yuri's Night, The Artisphere, Arlington, Virginia, April 13, 2013

There were plenty of signs pointing to the venue of Yuri’s Night.

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There were also plenty of tulips and other spring flowers already in bloom.

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But then I came across other flower patches that surrounded tree trunks that were covered in colorful crocheted pieces.

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I began to notice that there were tree trunks covered in these crocheted pieces.

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As I walked around the area, I found crocheted pieces hung and strung everywhere.

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I walked around until I came to this giant metal sculpture that’s in the middle of a median strip where I found the culprits responsible for hanging the crocheted pieces everywhere. A group of people were busy trying to cover both the sculpture and the surrounding garden with as many crocheted pieces as possible before sunset.

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I walked around the streets of Arlington to kill some time before the start of Yuri’s Night at the Artisphere. I arrived at the event just in time for the start. The Atomic Mosquitos played a set while scenes from cheesy 1950’s era science fiction movies played in the background.

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Once the performance ended we were ushered out into a general area where we had a choice of either socializing or checking out the activities that were going on.

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There was this trivia contest that used Rock Em Sock Em Robots. Basically someone would ask prospective contests a single trivia question related to science, space, science fiction, Yuri Gagarin, or similar topics. The first two people to get the right answer would then battle each other using Rock Em Sock Em Robots. It was a delightfully silly contest that was also broadcast on a wall so people wouldn’t have to crowd around the Rock Em Sock Em Robots to see the entire action.

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In the Artisphere’s WIP Gallery there was a show featuring robot art called Voltron’s Corpse that will be on display through May 4. This particular exhibit has gotten the attention of Wired magazine.

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There were vendor tables set up that sold smaller space-themed arts and crafts that people could purchase and carry home with them.

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There was an I Dream of Jeannie-themed kissing booth.

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Even though the event was opened only to adults over 21, there was a Moon Bounce House that anyone could use. (I saw people go in and out of it.)

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There were all kinds of eye candy at the Artisphere that night, which included not only funky decorations but also people who arrived in robot costumes.

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At one point there was another live performance by the band Dance for the Dying.

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There was also a burlesque show called "The Search for Drinkbot." That show was the most packed with standing room only crowds (which was exacerbated by the fact that there weren’t any chairs in the room where the show was held). It was a challenge to take pictures over people’s shoulders at times. There was a thin science-fiction plot but one didn’t need to follow that story to enjoy the entertainment. Some of the photos I took at that show are definitely NSFW.

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There was more to Yuri’s Night including another set by Dance for the Dying, the second part of "The Search for Drinkbot" burlesque show, continuous showings of various science fiction movies, a Celestial Costume Contest, another round of the Rock Em Sock Em Trivial Tournament, and a Lunar Dance Party. I ended up leaving at the relatively early time of 10 p.m. mainly because I was tired from going to the earlier Sakura Matsuri street festival and standing on my feet for the first part of the burlesque show. I also grew frustrated at seeing people socializing with each other and I felt left out because I didn’t know anyone at that event. (Which really made me regret not going to the other party with my friends from my weekly support group for people who are separated or divorced.) At least Yuri’s Night provided lots of eye candy and I got some pretty decent photos from that event.

After spending a full day at Katsucon the day before, I woke up totally tired and sore. I was so fatigued that I had a hard time moving. There were times when I began to think that maybe I’m starting to get too old for anime conventions. I also remembered that for several days before Katsucon I spent long hours trying to finish the tote bag that I submitted to the Katsucon Art Show and I think all that work coupled with a physically grueling first day at the con took a physical toll on me.

So I spent the morning at home. I ended up eating the lunch I had originally intended to bring with me to Katsucon. Afterwards I decided to head out when I found mail in the mailbox. I got yet another reminder of the crumbling state of my marriage—I got a letter from my husband’s lawyer. I didn’t open it that day because I didn’t need to be bummed out before I got to Katsucon. (I opened the letter a day after the convention ended and it was basically a letter verifying that I received the divorce petition from a process server. Blech!)

I didn’t arrive at Katsucon until after 3 p.m. As I was walking from the parking garage I saw this sign from one of the many bars and restaurants that dot National Harbor.

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When I entered the front lobby of the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center I walked past the hotel restaurant that had been temporarily converted into a Maid Cafe. I never checked that one out because the line of people waiting to get in was very long.

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The check-in desk in the hotel lobby featured someone cosplaying as a robot that gained lots of attention from other people waiting to check into their rooms.

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I saw the Asian ball-jointed doll meetup, which started at 2 p.m., was already in progress. I dropped off my tiny dolls then ran to the nearest women’s restroom because I needed to use the toilet after making the commute from my home to National Harbor. Once I emerged from the stall, I found this bottle marked "Vampire Blood" next to the sink where I washed my hands.

I managed to rejoin my dolls at the doll meetup, which was just starting to break up by the time I arrived. I still managed to get a lot of photos of gorgeous dolls (there were more of them than the previous day’s meetup). Someone also brought some homebaked gingerbread, which was very delicious. (I’m sorry I was never able to learn who baked the gingerbread because I would’ve complimented the baker.)

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After the meetup ended I walked towards the Art Show and I found no bids on my handpainted tote bag. Then I walked around both the Artists’ Alley and the Merchants’ Room where I took some more photos that I wasn’t able to take on the first day due to low battery power in my cellphone. (This time I made damned sure that my smartphone was fully charged before I arrived at Katsucon.)

The biggest guest star at Katsucon was the Japanese pop band known as The Sound Bee HD. I missed out on seeing this band perform in concert mainly because the concert started after 10 p.m. and I grew too exhausted to attend a couple of hours before the concert. The group had a table set up in the Artists’ Alley and members of the band were there to greet fans, sell copies of their CDs, and sign autographs.

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Both rooms had a variety of things available for purchase that one can’t find at a Wal-Mart or Target.

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I went to an anime convention and a Twister game broke out.

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The next few photos are scenes from the World Cosplay Summit semi-finals that was held at Katsucon. I never knew that cosplay was a serious international competition like the Olympics or the Miss Universe Pageant. Basically the winners of the semi-finals went on to the finals (which will be held during another anime convention). Whoever won the finals would represent the United States at the World Cosplay Summit in Japan later this year.

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There were plenty of cosplayers who didn’t take part in the World Cosplay Summit semi-finals and they could be found walking the hallways throughout Katsucon, such as these Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

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This person dressed up as a futuristic robot version of Hello Kitty.

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This guy wore a plushie on his head like it’s a hat in the Merchants’ Room.

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Since Katsucon took place soon after Lunar New Year, a group of people came carrying a Chinese dragon.

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This cosplayer posed for professional photographers.

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Are they Anonymous? Are they cosplaying as V from "V is For Vendetta"? Or are they simply Guy Fawkes fans? In any case they were at Katsucon 2013.

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Katsucon 2013

After I walked around the convention for a while, I chilled out in one of the video rooms watching the anime series Fate/Stay Night. I first became familiar with this series when I was at Otakon last summer and I purchased this kit that’s based on one of the characters named Saber Lily. (I’ll admit that I haven’t worked any more on that kit since last September. I need to take it out again and work on it.) I downloaded the fansubbed manga version and it’s pretty entertaining. While the anime version is okay, I probably won’t be buying the DVD version because I personally preferred the manga version. The manga went into more details about the relationship between the characters while the anime version was mostly swordfights and it grew tedious after a while.

The one workshop panel I attended that day was one called "Kickstarter 101 With Obsidian & Dern." It was a fascinating view on the process of getting your work financed via Kickstarter.com. I took the workshop because I had a fantasy of getting a project funded via Kickstarter but after taking that workshop I learned that you really need to have a detailed production plan in order to have it work for you.

After that panel I grew very tired again so I drove home. I began to notice that my stamina for three-day anime conventions isn’t as strong as it used to. It’s another sign of getting older, I guess. <Sigh!> I’m sure that I’ll get to the point where even attending a convention for even a half-day will tire me out but I hope that doesn’t happen for several decades. <LOL!> At least driving home was easy compared with the previous night’s frightening commute (where I had to deal with both heavy rain and crazy drivers).

I had gone to the Katsucon anime convention in the past but it must have been at least five years since I attended the last one. (I remembered I attended the last one when it was still held in downtown Washington, DC instead of its current home in National Harbor, Maryland.)

The past few weeks I slacked off on doing major decluttering of my home because I decided to try participating in my first anime convention-related Art Show. (I’ve been to previous anime conventions but I’ve never submitted anything to the Art Show.) I purchased a blank canvas bag and did this two-sided painting of the Gardener Twins Souseiseki and Suiseiseki from the anime Rozen Maiden. (You can read the February 14, 2013 blog entry for more details about the painting of this bag.)

Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Bag
Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Bag

Even though I preregistered over the Internet (I was able to get a weekend pass at a discount) and it entitled me to pick up my pass the day before the convention opened, I wasn’t able to make it on Thursday because the pick-up time conflicted with my weekly support group meeting for people who are separated or divorced. (Since the meeting fell on February 14—Valentine’s Day—the group was holding an "Anti-Valentine’s Day Party" instead of the usual meeting and I really wanted to go to it.) So I woke up early and got to National Harbor as soon as possible. Luckily there was a separate line for preregistrations and it was shorter than the line for those who were purchasing passes at the door so I didn’t have to spend too much time waiting in line.

Once I picked up my pass I immediately headed to the Art Show where I entered my tote bag. I had put it in a display case but I also posted photos showing both sides of the bag since the display case could only show one side at a time. Here is what it looked like after I hung it at the Art Show.

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By the time I got my pass and hung up my tote bag at the Art Show I was feeling hungry because it was around noon. In order to save as much time and money as possible, I opted to bring my own lunch, dinner, and sodas in a giant Wegman’s insulated bag from home. (The bag was pretty heavy to carry around at times until I consumed the food and drink.) So I sat in a chair in the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center lobby and ate my lunch. I have to admit that the entire large complex was pretty fancy. Here is a shot of the Convention Center atrium.

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The only major snag that first day came when I realized that I didn’t have enough battery power in my cell phone so I couldn’t issue as many Twitter tweets as I wanted. I had a car charger but it would’ve meant going to the parking garage, finding my car, starting the engine, letting it run for up to a half-an-hour while my phone recharges, then go back to the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center. I found a Best Buy Express vending machine and I found that there was a battery recharger on sale for my cell phone. I sucked it up and charged $40 to the credit card to get that item.

So while I was eating lunch I decided to recharge the cell phone with the new battery. It worked for a while then it stopped recharging. I read the manual and found that the battery needed to be recharged and it didn’t have much juice left. The battery didn’t come with any wall adapter and I really didn’t want to pay more money at the Best Buy Express vending machine to get one so I basically dealt with a cell phone with low battery power for the entire day. As a result I ended up making tweets about the day’s events the following morning. I kept on taking photos with my cell phone until I lost battery power entirely.

Once I finished eating lunch I shopped around in the Merchants’ Room. I did mostly window shopping because I’m currently in the process of decluttering my home and I’m trying to be conservative in spending my money due to my husband suing me for divorce. There were plenty of things on sale and if you weren’t careful, you could easily go broke buying all kinds of stuff that you really don’t need to survive but they looked irresistable.

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This one statue on sale made me feel old. It’s Kimberly from the early 1980’s video game Space Ace. I remember when I used to play that game in the arcades. If the statue hadn’t been out of my personal price range, I would’ve been tempted to buy it because of both the video game and the fact that she shares the same name as me. (LOL!)

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The next three photos are from the most bizarre booth I saw in the Merchants’ Room. The military-style armbands promoted tolerance of same-sex relationships by using terms like Yaoi and appropriate symbols. But the hats reminded me of Nazi hats from World War II and there was even a giant swastika against a psychedelic background on display in the background. That booth had me scratching my head.

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I read on the Den of Angels forum of a series of Asian ball jointed doll meetups that were going to happen during Katsucon. I was on the fence about being able to make any of those meetups so I decided to pack my smaller 1/6 and 1/12 scale dolls just in case because they are lighter and easier to carry than my larger dolls. (I’ve carried some of these larger dolls around at anime and doll conventions in the past and it turned out to be such a pain to lug them around.) I slipped these small dolls in a plastic bag then put them in the large Wegman’s insulated bag. Here are the dolls I brought with me to Katsucon from left to right: Orient Doll Ji, Soom Mini-Gem Uyoo, Soul Doll Kimmy, and Bobobie Sunny.

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I arrived at the meetup right at the 2 p.m. start time. The Asian ball-jointed doll meetup went off pretty well for me with no drama. Everyone was pretty nice and I got a chance to see some gorgeous dolls. Here are the photos I took of that meetup.

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After the Asian ball-jointed doll meetup I walked around and took photos of cosplayers and people carrying various plushies until my cell phone battery finally died.

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Katsucon 2013

Someone cosplayed as Merida from the Disney/Pixar film Brave.

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This cosplayer was in a wheelchair yet was still able to rock it in this awesome looking costume.

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This cosplayer in the next photo appeared as his personal fursona Azure.

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Katsucon 2013

Here’s Belle from the Disney film Beauty and the Beast.

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Spiderman poses with a friend.

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It’s a unicorn!

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According to the comments and messages I got through Flickr, the woman in the next photo was cosplaying as Kougoyku Ren from the Japanese anime Magi.

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The last two photos feature a total blast from my own past. Yes, it’s Gumby!

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I attended my first panel at Katsucon. It was called "Publishing for the Speciality Market" and I was mildly curious about the topic since I can draw and write and it was supposed to provide tips on how to make an income off of your work. That panel was a definite eye-opener. It’s disheartening to hear that there is only one major distributor of comic books in the United States (Diamond Comics) so if your idea for a comic book gets rejected by this one publisher, you don’t really have any alternatives. As for me, I could see myself maybe doing a web comic or digital e-book in some distant future as a hobby but I found that publishing my own comic book/graphic novel to distribute myself or convince Diamond Comics to distribute to be downright daunting and scary.

Immediately after the first panel ended I attended a second panel called "Bad Anime, Bad!" That one is definitely self-explanatory. I saw clips of anime that have either a) awful animation, b) lousy dialogue, c) poor translation, or d) all of the above. I’ve seen this same panel at other anime conventions in the past and it’s amazing that the guy who runs it always gets new examples of anime so bad that it’s really hilarious.

After watching bad anime, I settled down in the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center lobby to eat a pre-packaged dinner that I brought with me. What was funny was that I had some people sitting near me asked me where I got my dinner from and they seemed disheartened when I said "Wegman’s." (LOL!)

After dinner I managed to attend one last panel in the evening. It was called "Steampunk to Cyberpunk: A History" and it was an interesting presentation that compared the steampunk with cyberpunk sub-genres of science fiction. When that panel ended I was so exhausted that I decided to drive back home. (In order to save money I opted to commute to this convention instead of staying at any of the hotels located in National Harbor.) I had this harrowing commute because it was raining very hard and the streets were so slick that they resembled mirrors. On top of it there were crazy drivers on the road who were speeding on these very slick roads and it was a challenge to avoid accidents. At least I made it home okay.

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