For a while now, I’ve been wanting to go back up to New York City. I LOVE it there. More over, I’ve wanted to go by myself. I usually go for the purpose of meeting up with friends. While that is fun and always allows for a great time, sometimes, I just want to go by myself and not be pressured to go along with the flow of my friends.
It was a Friday night. I was in a bad mood. I didn’t want to be home. I mentioned to my mom that I wanted to go up to NYC and she said “go ahead!” like she always does whenever I complain. When it hit Saturday morning, I still wasn’t that happy so I decided to go on a last minute trip to NYC. Initially I didn’t want to tell anyone and just go, but when I realized the only station that had multiple trains running throughout the day to New York was New Haven, I told my mom, thinking that she or Devin could drive me. After I sent her that text, I did a quick Google Search and actually found there was parking in the area. I quickly regretted already screwing up my plan. I accidentally called my mom and we spent a good 20 minutes figuring out what to do. I couldn’t wait any longer, so I went by myself and took the 10:55 train up to NYC. I briefly talked with someone who was also going up to NYC, who was asking me a question about the train tickets. I spent probably a good half hour or so just looking out the window looking at the changing scenery. I eventually pulled the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas special up on my iPad and watched it for the remaining time. I have to say, that Christmas special was fantastic and way better than the 2010 one. I couldn’t stop crying! I arrived at Grand Central at around 12:45 and used my phone to quickly search my way to my first destination: Kinokuniya.
You see, earlier in the morning, I actually did a ton of research of where I wanted to go and printed out directions. Problem? I printed out the directions to Kinokuniya from Penn Station, since I had originally planned to go there (I was going to go by Amtrak from Hartford, but none of the times were desirable, which I realized at the last minute).
I walked out onto 42nd street and first went the wrong way, like I usually do. I turned back around, walked down to 6th avenue, and found Kinokuniya pretty quickly. I’ll admit – I actually almost missed it. There’s nothing that really makes it stand out, so it’s really easy for me not to see. I walked inside and immediately headed into the basement level.
I love it’s basement level – it’s where all the study materials, children’s books, and things of interests (how-to-books and such) are. I typically go for the study materials section and browse to see if there’s anything that I might want to get. Before I properly browsed the section, my eyes locked onto Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo (means something along the lines of “The Japanese the Japanese Don’t Know”)- a book that recounts a teachers experience with her foreign students and learns things she didn’t know about her own language, told usually in a comic format. I was going to buy them and I put them in my basket, but after seeing the stuff I wanted piling up, I put them back. I did the same thing with the “Japanese Graded Readers” Level 0, volume 2 – I put it back after weighing what I wanted. I left the studying area, keeping only a workbook that goes with my Basic Kanji workbook (…a workbook for a workbook, wow) and a N5-N4 vocabulary book for JLPT preparation. Obviously, I wasn’t done with the basement section quite yet and headed over to the children’s book area, once again hoping that I could find a children’s novel full of furigana.
I have a ton of manga (graphic novels) in Japanese and a lot of them have furigana in them. Thing is, a lot of things that are written aren’t written like manga. Manga is just dialogue with very little paragraphs. I REALLY wanted something more to help me build a vocabulary, understand grammar, and have an overall better comprehension of written words. That’s where novels come in – they’re written in paragraphs. What more could I ask for?
So, some of you might be asking me why I’m insistent on children’s novels instead of young adult or adult novels. Leaving out the fact I have a much easier time connecting with younger characters (a 10 year old kid is easier for me to connect with than a 20 year old person for some reason), I figured that children’s novels would be FULL of furigana to guide the kanji readings. I don’t know a lot of kanji (I know about 100 – it’s recommended to know around 2,000 kanji, just to put it into perspective), so I need the furigana there to guide me. Older people in Japan are expected to know a lot more kanji, so novels written for them lack furigana over most words (usually you might see them over names and occasional, uncommon used kanji compounds, but that’s it). I frankly don’t have the patience to pull out a dictionary every two seconds and spend 10 minutes trying to find the kanji because I don’t know the reading. Children, on the other hand, generally don’t know too many kanji and learn a ton of them from 1st grade to 6th grade, if I’m remembering correctly. That’s why I think/thought children’s novels would more than likely have furigana.
I know last time I was in Kinokuniya and browsed the children’s book section, there was a lack of furigana in the children’s books. Honestly, I couldn’t believe that all of them lacked furigana, so I made sure to really look this time. As I was browsing the titles, one caught my eye: パセリ伝説 (Paseri Densetsu). I can read the title, so I took that as a good sign. I pulled out the book, liked the cover, and opened up to the start of the book. I flipped to the Prologue and saw what I’ve been hoping for – furigana everywhere. Not to mention, I could kind of understand the first sentence of the prologue. (You might be thinking “kind of understanding the first sentence?! how is that impressive? you should know how to understand it all”. Well, to answer you, I’m still learning Japanese and being able to kind of understand it means I’m obviously making some sort of progress.) I decided to buy the first novel. I know I won’t be actually reading it for a while, but I want to have it on hand when I do.
After I browsed the children section, I briefly glanced at the magazines and walked over towards all the stationary stuff. As I was making my way over to all the stationary, I stopped to look at the art supplies I had noticed. When I saw them, my thoughts immediately went to Nao Yazawa’s YouTube video of her painting a picture with what she called a “Japanese Painting Brush”. From what I could tell from the video, the brush itself had water inside of it, instead of you dipping your brush in water. She recommended to someone who left a comment on the video to ask their art supply store – I had actually checked two of the art stores I usually go to and failed to find a brush like that. I figured since Kinokuniya was a Japanese store chain, they might have a higher chance of having it. Lo and behold, I found it! I actually found the brush – it was called Aquash. Not to mention, I found another one in a small kit that also had dry paints and a sponge. I decided to get both of those. I kind of glazed over the stationary sections (didn’t really find anything I wanted, even though the flashcard key rings looked very tempting) and headed back to the study section one more time before I went upstairs.
My mind went back to one of the Anki decks I downloaded. One of my favourite Tumblr blogs recommended that people should download a deck called “UBJG”, which was a ton of flashcards with sentences from a book called Understanding Basic Japanese Grammar. I did try using it once, but I felt really awkward not having the book, so I decided to search the study section for it. I actually managed to find it! I placed it in my basket and went up to the first floor, glanced over the magazine section (yes, there’s another one on the first floor), and headed upstairs for the anime/manga section.
I knew for this trip, I wanted to get volumes 2 to 5 of a series called Beelzebub. It’s a manga series about a delinquent who goes to a school of delinquents who has to take care of a Demon King’s baby, who is suppose to eventually destroy humanity. I actually have been watching its anime adaption for a while and have been wanting to read the manga, but it’s not licensed in English [yet], so I can either go find translations online or eventually read through it myself. I’ve decided that after I finish my two textbooks, I’ll reward myself by reading Beelzebub. Unfortunately, volumes 2 & 4 weren’t there. I decided to buy 3 and 5 anyway and browsed around, particularly thinking of what two of my friends said they would gladly read in Japanese. However I completely failed to find what my friends had wanted for manga. I looked over in the art section for any sort of CGing and manga-illustration books, but failed to find any. I then made my way to an artbook (basically a giant book with a lot of giant images) section and browsed around. I was looking hard for two specific things: 1.) to see if the illustration guides were over there instead and 2.) Hyrule Historia (a book released for the 25th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda series). I was really hoping for Hyrule Historia, as it’s limited edition (to my knowledge) and is sold out everywhere online. So, I browsed around and found nothing…until I went onto the other side and saw a pile of ten or so copies of the freakin’ Hyrule Historia! I got super excited and swiped up two copies – one for me and one for Ryan. I immediately called Ryan and said “Guess what?” and he asked me what. I then went on to explain that I was in Kinokuniya in New York and they had Hyrule Historia there! He was like “get me a copy” and I told him “already did”. I looked around a bit more before heading back down to the first floor, paid, and left.
I decided to make a change in where I wanted to go next – I don’t remember where I originally wanted to go after Kinokuniya, but I do know I changed my mind and wanted to go to Book Off instead. I was going to go to Book Off after Nintendo World, but I decided to go before. After all, there was a 40% chance of rain and I wanted to make sure I got all the books I wanted before then. Of course, I didn’t have directions from Kinokuniya to Book Off, so I pretty much had to use my directions I had printed and my cellphone to find my way. I briefly stopped at Subway for a cookie and orange soda (I was craving orange soda really badly) and to stuff all the books I got into my backpack, because I didn’t want to carry around a ton of bags all day long. Once I was done, I left and walked off, using the directions I had on me as my guide. Unfortunately, I suck at figuring out which way is north and which way is south and the sun wasn’t out to guide me. The map on my phone also sucked and really only helped me get a sense of the street order, which was helpful. Fortunately, I’m great at wandering around and eventually getting to my destination. Essentially getting lost was really helpful in figuring out really how NYC streets are named – it’s one thing to have someone explain it to you, but it’s another to experience it first hand. I managed to walk in the completely opposite direction of where I wanted to go, but found the district I wanted to go to – the fashion district. I didn’t really look much, other than attempted to make a mental note about a Panera Bread being somewhere on, what was it, 7th Avenue and…25th? I don’t quite remember. I passed by Times Square and made my way to where I think I was going. Eventually I saw a sign that noted that whatever store it was bought used books, CDs, and DVDs. I figured it was Book Off and guess what! I was right!
I’ve been to a Book Off before – when I was in Japan. I knew there was one in NYC, since my friends always mention it, but we’ve never gone before, so I never had a chance to check out the NYC Book Off myself. I’m glad I was eventually able to find it, even though I’m pretty sure it took me a good 45 minutes or so.
When I walked in, my eyes were greeted by shelves of DVDs and video games. I decided to check out the video games and hoped they would have some Japanese ones I didn’t have for a somewhat cheap price. Unfortunately (?), they did not. Everything I wanted to buy was between $35 and $45, so I decided to skip over on the games. Maybe next time. I went over to the CD and DVD collections and browsed it for a bit, wondering if they had a physical copy of K-Toxic’s CD and the Girls Generation CD that contained the Japanese version of “Mr. Taxi”, but didn’t find them. Granted, I have a ton of trouble find out how CDs are organized in the first place, let alone a place that is labeled in mostly Japanese. I briefly glanced over what I think were dramas before heading to the basement, to the manga section. I looked at the English-language manga for a moment before heading over to where all the Japanese-language manga was. The first thing I looked for was Beelzebub. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact they actually had volumes 2 & 4, while missing 3 & 5. For $3 a book. So I managed to reach my “goal” for collecting that trip – volumes 2 to 5. I searched for the manga my friends said they had wanted for a bit, but failed to find the manga again. I walked to where the children’s books were and flipped through them. I decided to get Treasure Island. It lacks furigana for some characters, but most of them are basic enough for me not to be too worried about it if I read the book after I finish my textbooks. I thought that since Treasure Island was originally in English anyway, I could read them along side each other and learn some new words and sentences that way. I started to do that with Sherlock Holmes, actually. Anyway, I also grabbed what I think was my missing volume of MÄR, went upstairs, browsed around a bit more, grabbed volume 3 of Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo, paid, and left.
I decided that after Book Off, I was going to Nintendo World, since it was what I was going to do before Book Off anyway. I followed my directions I had backwards to the best of my ability (yes, my printed directions, if I didn’t mention I printed out directions to places already). I found it pretty easily, if I’m remembering correctly. I kind of like Nintendo World, but I liked it more when it was called the Pokémon Center. I walked in through the heavy doors that are pain to open and immediately went for the Pokémon section, because obviously I’m a huge Pokénerd. I saw an Otamaro plushie smiling at me and quickly melted. It’s one of my favourite generation 5 Pokémon, so I just had to get it! I quickly noticed there was a Churine plushie (another one of my favourites) and a Hitomoshi plushie (another favourites) as well. I wish they had more of a selection or a Darkrai plushie (my favourite Pokémon of all time), but they unfortunately didn’t.
It probably seems silly for me to get plushies of Pokémon, even though they really just sit on the shelf in my closet. I realized a while back that I feel more comfortable and at home when I’m surrounded by Pokémon plushies. I should really have my bedroom furnished with Pokémon plushies everywhere. The only one that has an honour of staying by my side is my Darkrai plushie, who, for whatever reason, keeps my nightmares away. I don’t really understand it, but whatever.
I walked around and briefed over the Pokémon section a bit more, cringed at some annoying guy who was complaining about the Pokémon spin off game, PokéPark 2. They were saying that it wasn’t really a Pokémon game and it was crap. I REALLY wanted to lash out and pull an “elitist” move (meaning I wanted to go off on how it’s a spin off game, like the ones from the N64, and he shouldn’t open his mouth unless he knew that), but I didn’t. It didn’t help either he was being all nostalgic afterward, talking about the original games. I REALLY hate when people do that. I kept my mouth shut though and walked away, browsing the rest of the first floor, before heading upstairs. I looked at the glass casing of a ton of franchises. The Legend of Zelda set up was nice. I think they had a much larger set up last year in celebration of the game’s 25th anniversary though, which I’m disappointed I didn’t get to see. The Pokémon game section was disappointing to me, since the only acknowledgement they had to the Japanese versions were the game soundtrack CDs that were released. They could’ve at least had Pocket Monsters Green on display! Oh geez, my preference for the Japanese version is showing here, isn’t it? I was pleasantly surprised though to see the Mother series on display! There was one game of that series released here (I think it was Mother 2?) under the name of Earthbound a while back for, I think, the Super Nintendo. The games haven’t been released in English since, which is kind of disappointing. Anyway, after looking at the cases, I went over to the t-shirts section, picked out one that featured Toon Link (my favourite incarnation of Link from The Legend of Zelda series), looked around a bit more, and paid. I didn’t quite leave immediately. I was going to leave, but some people were coming in through the door, and I let them come through. The security guard who was standing there was impressed and made a comment on how a lot of people just usually push through people and rush out, not wait. We began talking and probably spent about 20 minutes just talking about…well, stuff. He was telling me a lot about trains, since he was interested in them. It was cool to hear about and made me wish, once again, that the entire US was heavily connected by trains, not highways where you need a car. I left afterward and went to M&M World and Hershey’s World.
Both of the places were crowded. M&M World was pretty nice, especially their giant wall of M&Ms! I made a custom bag in my signature colours, with pretzel & peanut butter M&Ms, and one Legend of Zelda theme for Ryan. I quickly left after I bought them (I’m not that interested in M&Ms) and went over to the Hershey’s World, knowing I was definitely going to be getting one of the giant Hershey’s Cookies & Cream bars for Jenni because she LOVES them. They were having a sale on the giant bars (4 for $12), so I got two of the Cookies & Cream ones and two of the regular milk chocolate ones. I left after I paid and began walking, deciding that I wanted to go to Panera Bread.
My feet were HORRIBLY killing me at this point and I didn’t really want to walk for much longer. I really wanted to go to Panera Bread, hope they had plugs for me to charge my cellphone, and rest my feet. Unfortunately, I was having trouble finding my way back to the fashion district, so I just opted to get some okay pizza instead. The pizza guy said they liked my hair style. I sat down and ate, pulled out my cellphone, and called my mom to tell her that I was going to do the idea she suggested. You guys will know in the future! I realized I had lost my train ticket back to New Haven though when I was tucking back in my cellphone. Honestly, I had a feeling I was going to lose it, with it being in the same pocket as my phone. I really should have shoved it in my wallet. After I sat around for a bit and went to the bathroom, I headed back to Grand Central station and took the 9:07 train back home. It was mostly a nice train ride back to New Haven, but I kept dozing off. Eventually I got back to New Haven, left after some annoying trouble with paying (note to self: stash cash in my wallet), and went back home. I arrived home around midnight. The drive home wasn’t bad once I left New Haven.
I laid out what I bought on my
table bed, took some last minute pictures of everything I bought, and considered writing this blog entry, but I was honestly way too tired to do that. I grabbed my Understanding Japanese Grammar book (which I actually had started to read on the train) and my iPad, went into my closet (I sleep in my closet – don’t ask, it’s an irrelevant story), laid down, read for about 30 seconds, and went to sleep.
Overall the day was good and mostly worked out in my favour. Worst parts were probably losing my train ticket and my legs hurting. Either way, I want to go back to New York soon. Maybe I’ll bring a friend next time.