Thursday, May 01, 2008

Here Kitty Kitty

We woke up just in time to eat our free breakfast at the Hotel Sakura ... which was literally two end pieces of white bread and margarine. There was sign on the front desk (it literally says "front" above it in English) that warned the guests to arrive early to breakfast to not miss the bread. They weren't kidding.

Joss was on a mad hunt for cream cheese, which led us to multiple bakeries inside the train stations. Believe me, the Japanese are serious about their sweet stands. There were more vendors selling sundries of the sweet kind than there were ticket machines and news stands combined. We literally spent over half of our time inside trains and train stations, so it is no surprise that we finally found "Bagel & Bagel" at one of the stations along the giant circle that only existed on SOME maps. There were no signs of lox nor black and white cookies, but it promoted itself as a new york style bagel house. When we went up to the register with two bagels and a carton of cream cheese, there was, once again, complete confusion on behalf of the cash register attendant. Why we couldn't purchase the items we grabbed from the counter was completely beyond us -- so we followed the instructions we half understood and ordered bagels individually smeared with cream cheese. They appropriately came un-toasted.

The ride to Sanrio Puroland was long and filled with anxiety. What if the train didn't stop there? What if it was somehow closed? We kept worrying that our beloved train would somehow fail to get us there, until Joss spotted this massive, white building with giant minarets that looked like a cross between TBN's Crystal Cathedral, the mormon temple in San Diego and Cinderella's castle. Bam!

I'm making Joss out to be much more needy than she really is, but her desire for a Frosty led us astray into a Wendy's, where the brown dairy product in a cup was similar to a frosty but not really. I'm telling you, Japan should be used for rehab from those trying to recover from hallucinogenics -- you can be completely sober yet still experience everything being just a little off.

To say that Sanrio Puroland is inspired by Disneyland is an understatement -- if they weren't flying so high under their post-Eisner management, I'd say there's a lawsuit to be had. The storefronts leading up to the entrance doors are similar to Downtown Disney. There is a theatre that used the same production designer as Star Tours. Another chimera makes an attempt at recreating the look and feel of Captain EO. The interior of the circus-tent type building, complete with fake trees, is designed to look and feel like you're outside at nighttime (Pirate's anyone), and the boat ride takes you through a melange of singing and twirling Sanrio characters. It is so analogous to "It's a Small World," the theme song is even in the same key.

The bakery and ice-cream making station mentioned in the brochure were only to allure you into paying $45 for an all-day passport -- those attractions are nothing more than a plastic diversion behind bullet-proof glass. The shows, however, lived up to our expectations. We went to one called "Cinnamon's Secret Door" which was a delightful homage to Showgirls. Bedazzled women with bare midriffs twizzled along the bright stage, alongside gay men in spandex and large, coffee-themed character animals that had a peculiar direction to shake their nubs and gyrate. I'm not sure what exactly they were getting at with the secret door reference, but for those of us mature audience members, there was definitely a double entendre of the Pee Wee's Playhouse kind. And to intensify the copyright pirouette, the songs were a "tribute" to Sondheim and the great American musical genre. Did I mention that Hello Kitty herself also performs the Nutcracker?

Kitty's house was filled with as many kitty-themed props and furniture items as it was children. Too bad there was still no sign of a mouth. I would say that our day couldn't have been any more complete, but that was before Joss had a major run-in with a bidet. She comes out twenty minutes later, covered in water. Apparently, after hitting the button, she jumped up and away from the squirting throne. Not only did she have to figure out how to turn it off, but she then had to clean up the lake that had formed on the bathroom floor. Too bad the hand dryers that have enough power to rip the skin off of one's palm didn't reach into the mini stalls.

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