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Warriors of Legend Tour
Jay Navok - 11/28/05
 

Today I was in Moto-Azabu, visiting the Hikawa Shrine there to see about getting omamori (good luck charms) for Sushil. After that I strolled down Sendai Hill, where the bus disappeared in the Rei introduction story; it's literally down the road from the shrine. Did we mention Sendai in RoJ? I forget, but if not, it'll be in the next book.

Here's a photo and a video I took at Hikawa:

Video clip

Images and video are nice but they're nothing like really being there. Want to see Sendai Hill yourself, stand on the grounds of the Hikawa shrine, and get spooked passing nearby Darkness Hill? Then you've got to come on the Warriors of Legend Tour.

I've not discussed details of the tour in the past and purposely left it vague. This update isn't the start of our major tour push either, that'll begin sometime in February, but I've been asked a number of questions about it recently and thought I should put a more public face on this one-in-a-lifetime event.

It's looking like the tour will be three days. Over those three days we'll visit dozens of places you've seen in the Sailor Moon series. We'll walk through both Hikawa shrines, check out Hino Rei's T*A Academy, gawk at almost everything in Azabu-Juuban (I recognize that! and that! and that! and that!), see the sights from the top of the Tokyo Tower, look at where the sailor soldiers went to school, waltz past the Mansion of Princess Rose, stand in the exact spot where the sailor soldiers flew to the asteroid in the R movie, marvel at Mugen Academy, and that's just the start. While the first two days will likely cover spots seen in the anime and manga, the third day- depending on the desires of those attending- is open and can be on anything from visiting the shoot locations of the live action series to taking in, oh I don't know, a Sailor Moon musical, if they still live.

The sites we attend will be decided by the attendees. Basically, I will draw up a list of all the places we can go to, and those who are coming will select what's the most important to view in these three days.

In addition, while we'll be visiting the major Sailor Moon sights in the day, we'll be doing the typical tourist thing by night. How can you come to Tokyo and not shop Akihabara? We'll go to hotspots Shibuya, enjoy pre-war culture in the nakamise of Asakusa, snarf up some authentic Japanese ramen in Shiba-Koen, and maybe even take in some hot springs in the Edo-era Onsen themepark.

But I want to stress something, which is that while this trip is mainly about you being able to experience both Japan, Sailor Moon, and the Japan in Sailor Moon, it's also about bonding between fans. If you're going to visit Japan at some point in your life, this trip ought to be it. This tour will be a small group of dedicated Sailor Moon fans; basically, other people like you. Our first night, before the tour the next day, we'll be going to Karaoke together. Yes Virginia, for once everyone else will be able to sing Moonlight Densetsu along with you. Maybe whoever can pull off "I am Sailor Moon" the best will get a prize. We will understand your rants on why Usagi and Seiya are the perfect couple, even if we disagree. And we'll probably still laugh the fourth time someone starts singing "Rain or shine / I'm happiest / when I'm with Tuxedo Mask."

That being the case, part of the trick with this tour is that everyone needs to stay together. I'll be booking you all in the same hotel, we'll all be taking the same transportation, etc. This is part of why the pricetag may seem high. It adds to the cost of the tour (e.g. you might be able to find a cheaper hotel if you looked on your own) but it's a necessity; I'm sorry but we cannot accept tag-a-longs. Anyone attending must be part of the tour package.

Incidentally, we'll also have a few bonuses for those coming. Exclusive Warriors of Legend tour caps and polo shirts, for example, will be given to you once you arrive. This is very tentative and may end up costing too much to be feasible, but I'd also like to make a small run of Warriors of Legend: Tour Limited Edition books. When we say limited, in this case we mean it: the only copies will be those given to people coming. I'm unsure yet what the contents would be but it'd likely involve a mixture of the contents of WoL 1 and 2, revised for the intentions of the tour and expanded to include more history and culture. I don't know if it'd happen but I can dream, right.

With this being said, here's a mini-FAQ of sorts:

"How many tours will there be?"

We're only holding this once. There's just one shot to take this magical mystery tour of the real Sailor Moon world with Genvid staff as your guides, and this is it. I don't have the time (or the stamina) to do this twice, and while it's tentative, we're trying to get Sushil and other Genvid staff to be there too.

"When will it be?"

I've spoken with a couple of people who have shown strong interest in the tour and the time that seems to be best for everyone is early June 2006. Keep in mind that this is still highly tentative and will change according to attendee's schedules as well as the possibility of any events (i.e. if there's a myu being held, we will try to go; if we can tour Toei studios, I will have to schedule around that too).

The decision for the final dates, pending any special events, will be made by the attendees. It'll work something like this: those who are interested in the tour will pay a per-person deposit of $100. Those who have paid the deposit will then discuss which days are best for them, and the days that work best for the majority will be chosen. If the days do not work with some people's schedules, and thus they cannot attend, their deposit will be refunded.

"How many people can attend?"

There is a strict limit of 10. It is very, very difficult to organize a group of people and lead them around a busy city, and I simply cannot handle more than 10 people. Have you ever tried to get more than 5-6 people into a restaurant? Many places won't accept groups of 7 or more just walking in, you have to make special reservations in advance, etc. It's extremely difficult, and the amount of difficulty goes up exponentially with each person.

There is also a minimum of 5 people necessary for the tour to take place. If we do not have 5 attendees then the tour will be cancelled.

"Any other limitations on people who can attend?"

We will not have an age limit but we highly recommend that you do not bring children under the age of 6. Please note that we will also not give a discount for children, it complicates factors too much. If you plan to bring your son or daughter, they will need to pay the full package cost.

In addition, note that there will be a great deal of walking on this tour, and sometimes over steep slopes. The senshi didn't ride a bus and neither will we (unless we go to the Jindai botanical gardens, in which case they did ride a bus in the opening of the R movie, and thus ride we shall); when we're not taking the train to more distant locations, we're going on foot around Minato ward. And remember our discussion of slopes in the book? They're real and they're spectacular, but they're hell to walk up and down. If you are handicapped and in a wheelchair, given the terrain, I am sorry but it'll be nigh-impossible for you to attend.

Helpful hint: you may want to get in shape a bit in the weeks before the tour.

"How can I get on the attendance list?"

Attendance is first-come, first serve. It is the only way to be fair. The first 10 to pay the deposit will be on the tour. If you cannot attend due to scheduling conflicts and have had your deposit refunded, your slot will be given to the next interested person.

"How much will it cost?"

I am not sure how much the tour will cost yet, and likely will not know for several months, so I will suggest the maximum I think it will be: USD$1000. This DOES NOT INCLUDE AIRFARE. You will have to pay your own airfare to Japan separately. This means that even if you live in Japan you will pay the same WoL tour price as those coming from the United States.

The tour covers in-country expenses:

-Hotel
-Transportation
-Passes to places like the Tokyo Tower
-Events we will attend (including Karaoke, etc.)
-POTENTIALLY, but not certain- some meals.

Japan is a VERY EXPENSIVE country, which is why costs are so high. Transportation alone may cost close to $200 per person, even though we'll be walking a lot. I don't know whether we'll be able to include meals as part of the package price but the fact is I want us to all eat together, which is why it'd be better if it came as part of the tour price. This is something I'll decide in the coming months.

The final cost of the tour is tentative depending on whether we can do double occupancy at hotels, for example. (We would pair you with someone of the same sex.) If so, we can probably chip the cost of the tour package down to $800 or so. Once again, very tentative. But if you are considering the tour, keep in mind the maximum price of $1000.

Once the schedule is finalized, we will require payment immediately. I need to go about reserving the hotel rooms, buying the train tickets, getting our passes to the Tokyo Tower, etc. That means that the tour payment, unlike the deposit, is non-refundable.

"How much should I be prepared to spend in total?"

For the entirety of your trip, I would suggest you prepare minimum USD$2500. In addition to the maximum tour cost of $1000, airfare will likely also be $1000. You'll need another $500 for other expenditures such as food and various other costs that tend to be incurred when traveling. Of course, you'll probably want to bring a lot more for all the anime and manga stuff you'll probably buy.

If you intend to stay in Japan past the three days of the WoL tour, which I highly suggest you do, expect the final cost to rise. Since it's very expensive to both come here and be here, you will want to take advantage of the fact that you're already in Japan, and I suggest a minimum stay of a week to visit not only Tokyo but also Kyoto and Osaka. I will help those attending plan their post-WoL tour trip.

"I can see this stuff on my own. Why come on this tour with you?"

There are lots of other tours to Japan, many of which will probably have better deals in terms of pricing. And if you don't mind getting frequently lost, you can probably see a number of the Sailor Moon sights on your own, WoL in hand. But what you'll get with the WoL Tour is a guide in Japan who speaks Japanese, knows the lay of the land, and can help you take care of things both in preparation to coming here to Japan and to get things taken care of once you've actually arrived. I'll be the personal advisor for everyone attending, giving suggestions for where to book your post-tour hotels, what's the best way to get to Kyoto, etc. It's one thing reading a guide book, it's a whole other to have this kind of service at your fingertips.

Furthermore, while the fact of the matter is that while you can see Japan at a certain level on your own or with a mass-produced tour, you'll never do more than scratch the surface, polished in English for foreign tourists. If you want to see a different Japan, not just the Sailor Moon Japan (which you will LIVE THE LIFE OF, I assure you), but a cultured Japan that only those of us who've lived here and spent rigorous years training in the history and anthropology of the country can see, come on this tour. This may come off as pompous but since  I'm selling myself here, I've got to make this point: odds are there aren't many other people with "Government scholar" on their visa who are giving tours of Japan. Most of us are performing our research, and indeed that keeps me quite occupied, but I have this love of Sailor Moon and am doing this to share that with others in a way that's still more personal than writing a book.

"This sounds great, when can I sign up?"

We will open reservations (with $100 deposit required) in February.

The timeline works something like this:

-In January I'll begin doing trial runs and making hard cost calculations.

-Once I'm able to give a final price, I can open reservations for 10 people in February.

-By the end of February those who have paid the deposit must make the final decision on when the tour will be held, and pay the tour cost.

-March I'll have the money to be able to book the hotel, get the passes, etc. I also need to prepare reservations at restaurants and decide where we'll be stopping for food, karaoke, etc. Since I'll know the dates, this is when I'll try to get us tours at TV Asahi and other places.

-April we should have the schedule of all three days of the tour decided upon. Also, those who plan to stay longer than three days will also have their post-tour schedules worked out.

-May we celebrate my birthday and if that doesn't excite you, we sit around in anticipation and who doesn't enjoy that?

-June we have the time of our lives.

"I understand the costs and the timetable, and I'm interested. What can I do in the meantime?"

Send us an e-mail. Give your real name, age, and what days next summer would be best for you.