February 2010 Japan Visit





Usually, I wander around in Akihabara searching for old Ma.K garage kits, but this time, as I was behind in the purchases of all the injection kits that had been released one after another for the past six months, I was also after them.

Since Luca, the Italian Master behind the incredible model kits by Kallamity, was also in town, we decided to coordinate our shopping sprees.

We also had an appointment by the end of the day at Yokoyama-sensei's house, and Linc was to join us later in the afternoon.

But it's still morning, and Luca and I had rendez-vous at a coffee shop, the one where I usually wait for the doors to toy hell to open at the beginning of a shopping day.

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The day starts with lots and lots of coffee!
(Picture courtesy of Luca)

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OK, that was a bit too bright!
Finally, we're almost awake!

As anticipated based on my last trip, I did not find much Maschinen GKs, but still enjoyed digging. As for Luca, he was after very specific items, either for friends or himself. I learned that he was a huge fan of Five Stars Stories, so we first hit Kotobukiya, a manufacturer of the series' kits. I also learned that it was the difficulty of getting his hands on imported Japanese kits at reasonable prices that made him start building original models, which eventually led to Kallamity. You can sort of see that FSS influence, amongst others, in his work.

We were in a building with many hobby shops crammed in on almost every floor, some of them so packed with merchandises that getting through is hard even for the thinnest people. I was stuck in the middle of such a place when the mobile phone I rented rang:

Phone: Moshi-moshi, this is Yokoyama.

My brain: ?!?!?!?!?!?!

That was quite unexpected! Apparently, Sensei ran out of ink and since he somehow knew I was in the Akiba area (Linc?), he called to ask me to pick up a color cartridge for his printer. Aye, aye Sir!

Some more browsing and we decided to sit down a bit and re-energize ourselves. After running in circle in the food court of the Yodobashi Camera Building in search for a place that didn't have long lines of hungry customers, we landed at an okonomiyaki restaurant.

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Trying to decide which variety to choose...
Vegetarian, meat, seafood...?
(Picture courtesy of Luca)

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After thoroughly mixing the ingredients in the batter ...
(Picture courtesy of Luca)

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... it is ready to be poured onto the hot plate and formed into a pie-shape.
Someone is definitely enjoying this!
(Picture courtesy of Luca)


Video Clip: Dancing Katsuobushi!
(Requires QuickTime Plug-in)
When the consistency is hard enough, some katsuobushi is brought in to cover the pies.
Most Westerners have problems with the view of these thin flakes moving as if they were alive!

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After a while, they are flipped over and cooked some more.
(Picture courtesy of Luca)

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Finally, mayonnaise is spread over and topped with a Wooster-type sauce,
accompanied by a circular finishing move that gives the appearance of an egg!
(Picture courtesy of Luca)

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But enough waiting, how about eating?!

After we got our bite, we dove into a couple more shops on our way to the station where we were joined by Linc and off we went to the Yokoyama residence.

We were greeted by Sensei and the official Ma.K mascot, Uran the cat. Mrs. Yokoyama was out and joined the party later.

The first thing we did was to check the printer with the new ink cartridge, and behold, out came the latest version of a Melusine picture, which, if I recall correctly, was to be delivered the next day for the box art of the 3Q kit!

Yokoyama-sensei is always glad to sign anything and everything we ask him to, especially when requests are from overseas fans to whom attending the many Ma.K events held here in Japan is not always simple.

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A fan wanted to have a SAFS box signed,
but we decided to not stop there and asked Sensei to...

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... draw a unit marking on the kit itself!
Now: To build or not to build?

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Linc got carried away and notarized the instructions with his own contribution.
I pretend I am not seeing anything, LOL.
(Picture courtesy of Luca)

We were shown original sketches and told of various ongoing projects, after which Sensei decided we should all go out for dinner. We got to a place he apparently used to go as an art school student.

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The place is famous for their bowls of rice topped with unimaginable amounts of calories, which is very welcome when you are a student on a budget!
(Picture courtesy of Linc and Luca)

We then went to a coffee shop in a nearby department store, where we spent a long time discussing various subjects, including the popular Yōkai illustrator Shigeru Mizuki, whose work I introduced Luca to earlier in the day because of a connection to Maschinen Krieger, albeit a convoluted one (more on that in another article, I hope). He is now a big fan of Mizuki-sensei's too!

Alas! The day was ending, and go we must!

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But before that, Mrs. Yokoyama kindly took this shot of the happy boys!
(Picture courtesy of Luca)

A big thank you to Yokoyama-sensei and his wife for always taking the time to meet with visitors from overseas, and also to Linc for making the conversations so... animated!

Katsuobushi creeps me Out!
I think you are Nutz!