Read this as: Top 5 Japan Souvenirs I Will Consciously and Happily Blow All of My Money On:
a) Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
When I was in Kindergarten or First Grade, I was able to watch this, locally titled “Princess of the Skies,” on a government channel. I was mesmerized by it and I could remember tons of details on it. I remember wanting to fly through the air as she did. I remember the protagonist’s bravery, sense of adventure and her underwear – I swear there was too much shots of her underwear showing when she was flying. I never saw it again except for that one time.
Years down the line, when Google was a friend- I started Googling about that cute little movie and couldn’t find anything under that title. I tried variations of it and just couldn’t find anything about it. I was heartbroken that I’d never see that lovely film again.
Then one day last year, on the Disney Channel, Howl’s Moving Castle was on and being the internet-consumed person that I am, IMDB’d the movie and found out through a series of links, this movie: “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.” It was MY movie. It was my Princess of the Skies! Her glider and her very short blue dress confirmed it for me. I watched it, and for every scene that I knew I saw before, for every scene that resonated nostalgia for me, a tear would *almost* well up to the sides of my eyes. This was something I’ve been wanting to see again since the credits began to roll the first time around. I never thought I’d get so emotional with a cartoon movie. Oh wait, I’ve seen Up, and Toy Story 3 and Dumbo – nevermind on the last bit.
Although it was a Miyazaki film, not a lot of people gave Nausicaa much attention as they did to Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke or My Neighbor Totoro. Either way, I’m hoping that I still get to find a video of this when I go to Shibuya or Harajuku since we’re not going to Studio Ghibli.
- TRIVIA TIDBIT: On the English dub, you can find the voices of: Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart and Shia LeBeouf on it!
And one does not simply walk into Studio Ghibli unannounced. Oh no, tickets are pre-ordered ahead of time. So, with our schedule already being pre-determined, that sucks the life out of me. But then, maybe just buying the video would satisfy my craving for it.
b) Series: Yu Yu Hakusho
I was a 6th grader when Eugene, Alfred, Dennis and Vincent (local names for Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama and Hiei, respectively) burst out into the scene in Ghost fighter (local name). It was shown weekly on Channel 13 and our 6th grade class went nuts about it. The day after the new episode was shown, we all had the same chat about it. It’s very nostalgic and it was the beginning of the end of my relationship with consistently watching Anime.
Errbody knows this song and how it makes you feel. Couldn’t help but feel such an grown up adult then when I heard this.
c) Series: Ranma ½
This is one of those series that’s really messed up in the head but it works. I am in love with the while storyline and all of the characters. It was in this series that martial arts was glorified and was peppered with tongue-in-cheek humor. The jokes were sometimes very intelligent and it just made me smile. It’s a very special series for me and I, although I already have a box set of it (meaning one of those anime “collections” bought from your friendly neighborhood pirate), I would still like to have an original in my bookcase.
I’ve got this memorized. ‘Nuff said.
2. Traditional Japanese Slippers or Geta
Not to wear or for Halloween but actually for home decoration. One of the extreme looking ones would look awesome as a table centerpiece or even as a wall décor. It doesn’t have to be one of those zen-inspired interiors but with it being made of wood, it would almost easily incorporate itself into most design aesthetics.
My Mom already expressed her opinion about it (as if I stated that I was going to North Korea to become a secret wife to Kim Jung-Un but like that would ever stop me.
- TRIVIA TIDBIT: Okobo is the boat-like thing that is actually worn by geisha so that the kimono doesn’t touch the ground
3. Hello Kitty Lunch Bag and Bento Box
There is nothing like having lunch everyday with the reminder of your Japan trip early in the year, right? Well, that’s the master plan for the little Happy Meal. We’re gunning for a cutie lunch bag and bento box to go inside it.
Although we are all aware that original Hello Kitty products do cost more than they should, at least this would be one of the real instances that we would actually pay for it Kitty’s royalties. Blame China, ayt?
4. Maneki Neko Cat
We’ve all seen this. And for those who has gone through any Chinatown, you would know that there are as many Maneki-Neko’s as there are “good places for Chinese (food).” I’m actually looking for something made out of wood and that’s not moving. Having something looks a bit more classy than the tacky, shiny, music-playing kind.
5. Japanese Cup Noodles
Yuppo. As I am an avid-convenince store diver for the best bring-back-home souvenirs, I intend on hoarding some instant ramen and stuff home. I’m sure I could find most of it in specialty food stores here, but hey, that’s how I roll.
I do have criteria for choosing my instant noodles, it has to be distinctly Japanese that wouldn’t be so accessible to me. Also, with Japan being the mother that gave birth to instant noodles, a proper gesture is needed. And this is it!
- TRIVIA TIDBIT: These are the top 5 brands of instant noodles: Nissin, Toyo Suisan, Sanyo, Myojo and Acecook
As you can see, I am quite excited to be traveling again. It’s only a couple of weeks away and it’s already brewing up to be an awesome combing of Japan’s finest sights!
What other Japan souvenirs do you suggest that we hoard away during our trip? Other than our mandatory magnets, of course. We are the souvenir type family and we are proud of it!