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I have my photos from the SD Owner Event at Tokyo Disneyland up, finally. and Flickr Uploadr screwed things up again, nice My report is long, sorry? x.x;

Took the train out - slightly faster than buses; though it's one heck of a hike through Tokyo Station from the Chuo line to the Musashino line (around 15 minutes, including several escalators and moving walkways). After you leave the train station, you walk through a shopping mall called Ikspiari. It's Western brands (there's a Lush hah), or shops that specialize in Western goods (like one place that had Popples o_O;); tending towards the high-end but not "real" designer, laid out sort of like a (largely) covered town. Bit of a strange cross between a modern "lifestyle center" and an 80s mall, and for some reason there's a grocery store on the lower level. It clearly is supposed to have a theme to its design, but I sure couldn't figure out what it was; there was a large staircase in one area with a quote in English about fairies. o_O;

The lobby areas for the Disney Ambassador hotel are somewhat deceptive; it's a VERY large hotel. We got there around 1PM, but couldn't check in until 3; the lobby was already full of SD owners. So many people in either full-on brand lolita or punk, it was the regular people who looked funny (the salaryman types might have looked odd anyway, but their dolls were dressed up). FYI, a lot of Japanese owners carry their Yos in plastic boxes from the 100yen store (or I saw that type there); large enough to pack them, homemade cushioning, and some extra clothes and wigs. Followed some people upstairs to find the information desk; picked up my award and outfit payment from Kuni-san. For some reason we couldn't pick up the Yos until after checking into the hotel, so we wound up bag-checking the dolls and going to have lunch in Ikspiari (since I totally forgot there was a diner in the hotel). (I know better than to go into a fancy dinner without having a snack first.) Didn't realize until we were sitting down that the Hawaiian burger restaurant was ACTUALLY Hawaiian. It was also quite popular.

The line to get checked in was a bit slow, but I have a lot of good things to say for the staff at the hotel - impeccable English from the majority of employees, very friendly and helpful. There was also quite a queue for the elevators, though the staff had that under control as well. Regarding the elevators - THEY TALKED. In Mickey's voice (in Japanese of course). "Doors closing! Going up!" "Ah! First floor!" There was lots of giggling every time people rode it; I really should have shot video so I'd have the audio.

LOTS of walking to get to your room - it really is a huge hotel! The rooms are laid out sort of in wings with a courtyard in the middle, and then more wings off of that. There are photos of the room so you can decide for yourself but I thought it was lovely, everything in pristine condition, thoughtfully stocked (including overpriced minibar with candy and kids' cookies, but there were free Disney princess postcards), very large.

I had decided to wait to change the "kids" until I got there so they wouldn't be rumply, and then I had to change also . . . x.x So we got downstairs at only a bit before 4:30. It was kind of unclear what we were supposed to do and it looked like a lot of people might be saving, or tables were full, so I went towards the back. For a while it was just us and a Korean couple, which was a little unfortunate since I don't know any Korean at all; I think we had a similar level of Japanese, which was just key phrases, and "the boyfriend" sitting next to me clearly spoke no English. I suppose I could have tried more but it seemed weird, me speaking Japanese to a Korean person. I believe that by the end there were no empty seats - we had a few Japanese owners seated with us as well; to my knowledge there were no other Western foreigners there, I guess everyone was on the lunch plan.

For the record, no one was really walking around at all taking photos of other people's dolls; not so much even at the same tables. Probably because this part of the event was dinner - it's all sort of a giant event mashup at the US events. So I didn't either because i would have felt weird being the only person up and about XD; There was some confusion as to what to do with dolls, also, since the server told us not to put them on the table (though some people did anyway); many people wound up with SDs on their laps lol (Naoya was NOT pleased about having a napkin over him).

Before things actually started, Mr. Enku was going around taking photos; he came up to me and asked if I spoke Japanese (I told him "a little"); but I never did get what he was asking after that D: He wanted a photo of my F-08 - I said sure. But then he wanted me to do something with my dinner badge - I got that he wanted me to take it off, but not what he wanted with it after that. o_O; Unfortunately when you tell a Japanese person "I'm sorry, I don't understand", instead of trying to use a different phrasing, more often they seem to just go totally quiet. They'll look all distressed (or sometimes make vague hand gestures that don't help), and then look away to continue being distressed while I try to figure out how to say "just talk to me like I'm really stupid" . . .

They pretty much started things out by dimming the lights and bringing out costumed Disney characters, who did a sort of song and dance number on stage. There was commentary along with it but I didn't understand enough to say what it was really about (it sounded cheesy, heheh). After they had finished on stage, they were wandering around the tables getting photos with people. (No, I'm so not posting mine, sorry :P They had trouble with my camera anyway.) My mother is convinced that Goofy was a Westerner . . . when he came to get our group shot, he certainly was quite friendly with me o.O Kept pulling me closer and giving me little squeezes (not harassment like, just VERY friendly, which seems especially unusual for the Japanese). He certainly was tall and a . . . broadly built? guy (lot of Japanese guys have very small frames), it's possible he wasn't Japanese. I wonder if he was of mixed heritage - I've heard there is a lot of discrimination, so it'd be an ideal job to be in a costume like that, don't you think?

I was trying to translate Mr. Shigeta's periodic speeches as he went for my mother; but, I didn't get much of it. I think it was largely generic and like what he has said at US events, only longer and more formal. I did get some parts about how he hoped everyone would fully enjoy this treasured moment with their SD, that kind of thing. ;) I was very lucky to have been able to understand what the staffer told me about the slip they gave us for bingo (fill out the bottom, rip it in half, give the bottom half to the staffer when they came back and keep the number). Though I didn't grasp how they were doing it until later, I'm glad I understood enough to get that the tables were split into color groups (ours said "gray"). Each color (seven I think?) had a separate box, and they drew the number slips from each. But then my number was one of the first ones drawn (lucky for me, Mr. Shigeta read the number again in English and my name lol), and I hadn't understood ANY of the explanation about what that meant or what you should do XD;;; So I didn't know until I got up there that I'd won . . . a bag, and didn't know until I sat down and read the kana that they were crackers. lol. You can tell from the photos, but they gave away a lot of Reis and Seis at the event - I believe it was 15 Reitenshi and 20 Seitenshi. When he announced the number, there were lots of gasps from the audience. We had a pretty lucky table I think, another girl won a wig grab bag and the Japanese owner next to my mother won a Reitenshi!

I still think it's weird how little people react when folks win things - for the most part, no one's paying attention. I guess since it happens fairly often! There were a few instances of loud squeeing when certain people won, though, so I suppose it was a matter of having friends along. But at the American events people muster polite applause for everyone, usually even for the small stuff.

The food, btw, was good; what I ate of it. I don't eat seafood sooooo . . . yep. I felt terrible about it, I didn't want to waste it . . . they were serving red or white wine, beer, orange juice, ice tea, and water; they also had tea at the end of dinner. It was all presented very beautifully, and the steak certainly was excellent - definitely a high quality cut. It's a little too bad that they didn't have a menu or say when they were serving; we're really not sure what the fish items were at all, lol! Some of the other people were confused, there was some looking askance and I overheard some "what is this?" discussion, so it wasn't just a clueless gaijin thing.

After dinner had wrapped up and Mr. Shigeta was sort of doing his goodbye speech, they brought out a person dressed as Komame, and that certainly got a big response! Suddenly everybody whipped out a camera. Then on the way out you could choose either Komame (with Enku-san still handling) or Mr. Shigeta's line at the door. Mr. Shigeta's line appeared to be longer than Komame's X3 We went to Komame's line since, in truth, Mr. Shigeta I've met before! They were passing out candy, small chocolates of various types (as well as the plastic bags for the wine bottles).

After dinner I went to pick up the YoSDs; the line wasn't too long, and Kuni came running to help out though I think that I could have managed since I was getting the instructions about the line okay . . . but then he had to explain that there weren't any English instructions in the box (supposed to get them mailed to me, but I doubt it, and anyway the Yos all went to new homes with people older than 13 ^_~).

After they were dropped off in the room I came back downstairs since I wasn't sure what else to do; I was trying to decide where to go but Kuni saw me and seemed rather frantic about us looking indecisive, at which point he asked if we'd seen the one-offs. x_X; Which I didn't know existed, because I didn't look carefully at the map and only read the part about memorial something and didn't know what it was. I also know that I missed the hallway where they had a photo area set up . . . oh well. Anyway went upstairs to see the one-offs, which didn't go so well for me actually . . . it was a small room and quite crowded, and I've been having trouble with temperature regulation - I get terrible hot flashes, basically. Only mention it so you know why the photos are poor :( I was shaking badly and so hot I was almost sick. I took the one-off form on the way out, but they didn't say anything about how to use it at the time and I didn't have the presence of mind to ask so I assumed that I wasn't eligible.

On the way out, saw people already lined up for the cocktail party. Had to go back to the room and rest for a few minutes though . . . when I came back down, spiderlace and the_fall_season were at the front of the line for the cocktail party, but when I saw how far around the line went I decided I wanted to go get some fresh air first. I figured I'd come downstairs and find some dolls to take photos of, but when I did, there weren't too many people around . . . mostly just some serious photographer types doing shoots with their own dolls. (I think that there were some "room parties" going on.) So I took my kids outside for some photos.

Then I figured I'd come all that way, I had better try and get into the cocktail party. It was a 40min-hour wait, not sure exactly. Definitely came incredibly close to passing out. Everyone was complaining how hot it was in the hallway, though Mr. Shigeta even came down the line at one point to tell people they were close, wait just a little more! I think they were counting out about 20 people in the room at once (and some of the really VIP members, I can only guess, were pulled from line and let in immediately).

When we did get in, it was totally unclear what you were supposed to do (it wasn't just us, there were conversations to either side about it, and some about the lack of alcohol). They had juice set up on a bar and otherwise it was sort of like a banquette along one wall and small tables. For the most part the Volks staffers stood near the door. One younger guy I'm not sure I recognize came up and asked a few things, took a pic of my dolls (I *think* he was manager from one of the Tokyo showrooms, but only know it wasn't Shinjuku...). Aone was circulating as well; she walked past a few times but didn't say anything or make eye contact, think she was a bit shy, and I didn't quite know what limited Japanese was appropriate to get her attention with (or what to say afterwards).

At some point, maybe when the one guy asked me something and I answered him, the woman sitting next to us asked me if I spoke Japanese. She seemed so relieved that I could even understand the question lol. Then she was ready to "play dolls" XD She was explaining about her Madoka head being a one-off and she was getting it signed, and gave it to me to see, and then her friend came over and wanted a photo of her Sweet Dream A (who I think was on a girl body) with Naoya.

Mr. Shigeta did come by, but didn't really say anything and didn't quite make eye contact so . . . I was pretty zoned so I didn't go like "HEY HOMEBOY" or anything ^^; I'm pretty sure he didn't know who I was; it occurred to me later he's only ever seen me in glasses and I was wearing my contacts. Now I think he may have come under the impression I live in Japan hahah. He had to have been tired, too, though my mother insists he looked fine and that he seemed healthier and less tired (and that his hair looked better) than he has at other events.

We were there about 20 minutes before they indicated it was time to go. I saw Mrs. Shigeta sitting on the couch outside on the way out, but she was talking with a bunch of staffers and looked a bit tired. It was after 11 at that point and I was too much at my limit to wait around to say something, though I feel bad about that since she looked up . . . anyhow end of the day since I went upstairs and collapsed.

We had a Chef Mickey breakfast the next morning . . . I'm not sure why they even bothered to give times out since we showed up like 25 minutes early for our time and weren't let in until after it anyhow. By the time we got let in, I was in really bad shape from not having anything to eat . . . It was Japanese buffet down one side, Western down the other; basically what you would expect. There was also fresh fruit and a cereal bar - the cereal bar had bran flakes, chocolate flakes, and a wide assortment of . . . JELLY BEANS. o_O; I actively dodged the characters on the way out, apparently Mickey came by while I was getting food and was upset I wasn't there. A staffer came by and tried to explain something to us partway through but I totally didn't get it - I could only get that it was about the characters, and did catch the time she was mentioning. I figured out much later that she was using some weird vocabulary to explain that they would have to go back to the park soon and she was worried we wouldn't get a photo.

About the event in general - there were people who had badges that were "hotel stay only", so I think that there were between 800-1,000 people there (so you can go with about 900). Which would explain why no one got into the workshops. I think if I'd been able to read the packet there was thorough information; as it was, I was pretty confused. I never went over to the Rose Chapel. Obviously they didn't spare much expense on the event itself; I'm sure the wine, if nothing else, was a pricey investment. The owners seemed more laidback than at the Osaka Dolpa, I think; probably since they were guaranteed their limited items, and it was also a vacation type thing. Everyone had big Disney resort shopping bags, so they weren't there just for Volks. X3 Age and taste wise the group was pretty similar to what you'd see at an American event; mostly women, mostly 18-30, but with a surprisingly large subset of guys around 30-40.Having looked at blogs since, nearly every person with an online doll presence in Japan was there.

I think that's the extent of what I can say, really. I wish I could say it was fabulous, but I was isolated by lack of language skills and too tired to initiate things myself so I didn't really interact with anyone or fully exploit the opportunity. So it'd be unfair for me to pass any kind of judgment on the event; however I felt about it probably had more to do with how I was feeling physically. I don't regret that I went, but I regret that I was sick. It's also too bad I only saw the "expat" Westerners I'd met in Osaka for a few minutes at breakfast.

I had intended to check bags and go to Disney Sea that day, but I knew I couldn't do it so we went back to Tokyo. I went back out though and I do have a few pics of Jynx from there so I'll post a link when I get those up. I still have other photos I haven't processed yet from Tenshi-no-Sato (general trip photos aside). It takes a really long time without software like Lightroom (I still have a few doll shoots wandering around somewhere on my HD, I'm not sure where).


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 24th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
I'm gonna be reading this...

But not now XD man that's longgg I'll first gonna look at the pwetty pics and then I'll get back to reading :D.
I wanna know all about it!

Mar. 24th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
Ahahaha, I took a vid in the elevator with Mickey talking, I'll have to send it to you XD; And YES, Mr. Enku is epecially shy if he thinks you don't know Japanese. I spoke to him once at NYDP2 in Japanese and he must've thought I was fluent because he busted out this major keigo XD When I asked him to explain again he just got all awkward and silent and now just says hello when he sees me XD;
Apr. 2nd, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
So sowwy ye weren't feeling well! But thank you for taking these pictures and this post :)!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )