SakuraCon @ Seattle, WA

This weekend, Kyle, Jesse and Myself flew out to Seattle, WA to attend Sakura-Con, Seattle's premiere Anime Convention.

Background

One of the two days i've attending SPAMM this semester, Kyle queries, "say Dyre, Jesse and I were wondering if you'd be interested in flying out to Seattle for Sakura-Con this coming April." I thought about it for a second, but that was all the time i needed before agreeing to their proposal. "Hmmm... that sounds like a great idea, there Kyle. I'll definitely take a look into costs, planning and the like."

Going out to Seattle offered more than just an Anime convention. SPAMM founders Ace and Jess had moved out there when Ace got a job working for Microsoft. Also, another friend of ours, Hilary, lived in the 5 hour vicinity, too. Plus, it's fricken Seattle. I've wanted to go there ever since i graduated High School. I'm not really sure how that came about..

Anywho, i got price quotes, hotel reservations, etc all set up. Did a cost benefit analysis for our options, and everything seemed quite kosher. Off we went.

Seattle, WA

I hardly did any research about what we were going to do in our downtime, but the little research i did just blew me away. I had never actually looked at a map of Seattle, so i hit up google maps and typed it in.

My god. Even from the plain maps, it looked beautiful. Vast amounts of lakes and rivers, covered the terrain. This was all realized as our plane headed downward into the area:

Cool Blue Lakes and Rivers, Lush Green Forests, White Tips of distant mountains.. and the Sky-scrapper center. Seattle is all these things in one.

Once we landed, got our luggage, and rented a car, we set forth on the open roads. The terrain was as green as it looked from the sky. Despite the heavy amount of urbanization, Seattle maintained it's green roadside forests, and beautiful scenery, though the large shipyards took away from the natural scenery. We drove up Hwy 5 towards downtown, but then took a detour East headed for Redmond. The suburban areas kept itself grounded to the environment with heavy forests, mixed with houses, restaurants and other businesses. We attempted to look for Microsoft Headquarters and Nintendo Headquarters, but were unable to trainspot them from the highway, nor the little suburban roundabout before heading back the direction we came.

Our cheap ass rental car felt like it was about to die, so we decided to get to the hotel, check-in, and then register for the Convention.

After doing such things, we got something to eat at The Islander in the Pike Market Place area. It was some of the most delicious shrimp I've ever tasted. We walked around the Pike Market Place a little more afterwards, and then headed back to the hotel. Then i slept for 14 hours.

Saturday Afternoon

Saturday, i finally got around to calling everybody and we met up with Hilary for lunch in the International District. We ate at the Fu-Lin Chinese Restaurant, where the Ramen actually tasted like ramen from the Cafeteria at Nagasaki GaiDai in all of its' bland, rubbery, waxy, noodley, fatty, yet tasty flavor. In the same area, just happened to be an import toy / video game / model / figure store, entitled Pink Godzilla. It's interesting to see how much these import stores hike up the prices for the 'demand' in America.

I did end up purchasing Trigger Heart Exelica on the Dreamcast, though. There was about a $5 markup compared to the Japanese price, so it wasn't really that big a rip.

Cultural Divide

Something that rather surprised me was how large the Asian population is in Seattle. Out here in Madison and up in Minneapolis, you'll catch a couple Asian Americans around. Perhaps a couple more actual Asians in the South Union area, but the vast majority is Caucasian and African American. In Seattle, there's a greater balance of the 3.

Obviously, since we're on the West coast, this is the original landing point for most Asian immigrants. It's real interesting to see some customs that have transfered over and similarities between Japan in particular.

From what Ace and Jess told us about the weather, the lowest the temperature ever gets is around 35 to 40, and the highest it has gotten for them was around the 90s. This weather is nearly identical to Nagasaki, according to what I've experienced and what #five has told me.

The garbage is far more recycling friendly as well. In Japan, you separate burnable, non-burnable, bottles and cans when you throw away your trash. All the public places I've been in around the west just have one single Garbage can that you dump everything into. However, Seattle has garbage divisions much like Japan, separated by normal trash, paper, cans, and bottles. Almost every public garbage can i saw had these four divisions. No wonder the environment looks so damn beautiful.

Also, Seattle has quite a bit of Sakura and White Plum trees. I was rather disappointed that i missed out on Sakura trees blossoming in Japan, but Seattle made up for it with its own blossoming beauties. I'm not sure why i didn't take any pictures.. :/ I suppose the similar weather and immigrants were responsible for the healthy Sakura population around the city.

Sakura-Con

Anyways, Saturday was the day that we really spent our time at the Con, unless you count the hour and a half spent in line the previous day. Bigger Anime conventions always have a higher quantity and quality of cosplayers:

Sonic

Majora's Mask characters

Gir

Pyramid Head

Haruko

Nausicaa

Faust

Stephanie from LazyTown.....

Cleopatra from Ouendan

Shaolin Soccer Group.. I'm not quite who corresponds to who though. Obviously, #10 is Stephen Chow, and the gloved guy is the goalie. I suppose i could go back and double check their shirt numbers.

Phoenix Wright with perfect hair

Blue Boy Link

Nurses from Silent Hill

There were a few cosplayers i saw, but didn't get a chance to take pictures of. Mainly the mailman from Twilight Princess and a huge costume of Robo from Chrono Trigger. I'm sure you could just go over to that fan-something website and see them along with some of the other beautiful j-pop cosplayers.

Honestly, we really didn't do a whole lot at the Convention itself. We walked around the dealer's room quite a bit. Jesse not only got one of his Penny Arcade books signed by either Tycho or Gabe, but nearly defeated one of them in Puzzle Quest. I also pissed off one of import game dealers commenting on his prices compared to those in Japan.

The gaming rooms were pretty disappointing. Microsoft dominated one of the rooms with 360 stuff, while the other rooms had a ton of single player games. Guilty Gear was the only traditionally fighting game present. Dead or Alive 4 and, of course, Smash Brothers were the next closest :/ sadness...

As day turns to Night

All Saturday has been rather cloudy and rainy. Ace and Jess confirmed that it did rain quite a bit, but never the down pours we experience in the Midwest. The weather is usually overcast with a misty like rain that doesn't really get you wet.. So, you rarely get good beautiful days (like Friday), but you also rarely get snow, thunderstorms, and other severe weather.

After much decision making, we decided to go back to the fish Market, and go to Pike's place for dinner, where we had the most delicious meal of the trip. I had stuffed Smoked Salmon with Spinach, along with several of their brewed beers. Fantastic..

Afterwards, Ace and Jess showed us around to some of the attractions, such as the gum wall:

A wall covered with used pieces of chewing gum. I had no gum, so i was unable to contribute. Back up the hill, was some lucky golden pig, which we had Kyle hop on:

We also visited Starbucks #1. (whose photo didn't turn out so hot)

and we also came across, one of those limited edition super rare R2D2 mailboxes, which only a few hundred are scattered across the US:

We ended our night at Gameworks, playing some of our pasttime:

Back to the Midwest

All in all, it was great trip to one of the most beautiful places I've seen in the US. Jesse was somewhat regretful that we didn't spend enough time at the Convention. After all, that was our main reason of going to Seattle. I think my whole time of going to Anime Conventions is coming to an end. I'm really only interesting in what the dealers are selling, and what games are available in the game room. This Con really failed at both for me, despite its large size. The cosplayers were rather fantastic though.

One reason that No Brand Con trumps all other Anime Conventions i've attended is their phenomenal game room, surprising vendors, and the 'No Mercy' room which plays Bad Anime and J-Drama. Plus No Brand Con is at such a small scale that you actually meet people and see them throughout the weekend, rather than just once.

Even though it was just a simple weekend, i'll definitely be back up there for the Penny Arcade Expo at the end of August. Perhaps this time, i'll find time to actual go out and listen to some music.




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