Oh shitâ€¦ whatâ€™s this? Could it be? It is! Itâ€™s:
Yes, itâ€™s NAMJATOWN, a multi-floor themed indoor amusement park. Sort of. While there are three over-riding â€œgamesâ€ you can participate in (if you both read and speak perfect Japanese), really, you just go to see one of the most amazing, tacky, fucked-up places youâ€™ve ever been. Seriously. Itâ€™s NAMJATOWN. I was first made aware of NAMJATOWN by my buddy Jim Zubkavich of Udon Comics. He, sleep-deprived and in total culture-shock, traversed NAMJATOWN within his first couple of days of being in Japan his first time, and found it thoroughly surreal, and dammit if that wasn’t an experience I wanted for Andrew and I. NAMJATOWN, by NAMCO, makers of Pac Man. Hang on to your hats, kids!
Maybe whilst in the theme park you would like one of 7 different kinds of massages? Why not enter the massage forest?
Look, itâ€™s Andrew and Mr. Owl, in the massage forest!
Weâ€™ve entered haunted Edo-period village from the past now. Lots of black light. Oh, and thereâ€™s one of those masks with spider-legs that are on the floor up in that birdcage there too. It would periodically move around and scare the bejeezus out of people.
This man would cut off your hand if you stole his disgusting food. Actually, the food was plastic. Actually, he was animatronic.
Haunted Buddha statues.
Crazy 3-d/video screen presentation with creepy frogs singing at you and the many-armed statue dancing along.
Not just a broken-down truck, it also served food on busier days.
â€¦and what it served was GYOZA! NAMJATOWN is also the headquarters of the WORLD GYOZA STADIUM, featuring more than a dozen gyoza-maestros strusting their stuff from a cacophony of stalls! Iâ€™d been in Japan for 24 hours at this point, and I was used to Japanese people shouting things at me in a language I didnâ€™t understand, but this took me back a little. Iâ€™m pretty sure everything translated to â€œHEY WANNA BUY SOME GYOZA WE HAVE THE BEST GYOZA HERE RATED NUMBER 1 BY SOMETHING YOUâ€™VE NEVER HEARD OF HEY DONâ€™T WALK AWAY GYOZA!â€ I donâ€™t mean to seem rude or anything, but I clearly could not understand these people and that made them shout louder, which I found odd. Butâ€¦ fuck it. Delicious fucking Gyoza. So we went and got some.
On the left there, the Garlic Gyoza? HOLY SHIT. SO GOOD! Easily the best Iâ€™ve ever tasted. I wonder if these guys have to audition to get in here? I mean, you think youâ€™ve had one deep-fried pocket of seasoned pork and garlic, youâ€™ve had them all? Not even close. Just thinking about them now is making my mouth water, and all I have is grilled shrimp Pringles. Sigh.
This was dish 2. We seriously DEVOURED these Gyoza. They were Garlic and Pork, and were easily the best Gyoza I have ever had. They were so good that my husband had fully half of them, and he’s a vegetarian. I am strongly considering going back at the end of my trip for more Gyoza.
Our suspiciously attractive gyoza girls.
NAMJATOWN also has shops decorated with signage. Like this.
OH LOOK ITâ€™S THE SADDEST CANDY IN THE WORLD. Fucki.
Despite not being able to take part in the electronic games that were going on, the experience here was still amazing thanks to the expertly crafted llittle streets and walkwaysâ€¦.
Look! Itâ€™s Mr. and Mrs. Namjatown, and theyâ€™re playing with the children! Run while you still can, kids.
Gosh, heâ€™s adorable.
This was a shrine that had at least three different bits of religious iconography in it, which was weird enough, but you actually knelt down in front of that screen on the lower left there to play a game called â€œPrincess Maker 2â€. Oh, and donâ€™t worry, thereâ€™s a fake bible in front of the angel there on the pillar. Because why wouldnâ€™t there be, itâ€™s NAMJATOWN after all.
This was the room that… Okay, seriously? There was nothing in this room except for that angel, and video-projected stained glass windows that are washed out a little there by the flash. NOTHING ELSE IN THE ROOM. I really can’t express how little any of this made sense.
Then in the next room, it was Christmas!
Giant Italian stone face of truth (more on this later).
Mmmm, itâ€™s worth noting that the little angels on top of the pillar? They actually moved and played their instruments in time with the music from the merry-go-round. Yeah. They all had different instruments, too.
Oh shitâ€¦ I ran right into him. Maybe he wonâ€™t notice me?
Mr. Namjatown notices EVERYTHING.
There was a tiny plastic net over top of those buns, so you could not steal them.
Look into the eye and put your hand in his mouth. If you are lying, he will bite it off.
The official robot of NAMJATOWN. Itâ€™s worth noting that this character appears nowhere else in the entire theme park, nor on any goods, and was apparently not attached to or relating to anything. In fact, it was set up in the middle of the fake French/Italian walkway area. I feel like this theme park is constantly being revamped and reworked, it’s almost like a mall where shops or areas close and new ones open up. I feel like this guy was part of something that had disappeared and was just too cool-looking to do away with completely…
Oh man. This dude was talking and he was SO EMO. All skulls and deep sad voice and goth and shit? But he was behind a two-way mirror, and just as I tried to take another picture… he was gone! I think he’s the angel of death actually. There ain’t no angel of death at Disneyland kids, not even Tokyo Disney.
Andrew knows what he did.
Itâ€™s a trap!
This was a fake bar set up in the middle of a hallway. I think it had something to do with one of the games? Maybe?
We waited around to see what came out of the little box, but nothing ever did.
Itâ€™s the Ice Cream land! Because why have on Ice Cream stand when you can have at least 6!?
The Ice Cream in Japan museum is housed within NAMJATOWN.
Here we go.
I ordered this because I decided I was going to eat weird things on this trip. But yeah, it looked pretty unappetizing.
Also, the cone said â€œQUEEN TOPâ€ on it. The jokes write themselves, ladies and gents!
â€¦and you were all wrong! It wasnâ€™t Sesame Ice Cream, but Sesame Gelato! At least I think so, I can’t read Japanese. It was definitely Gelato though, fromâ€¦
Yes… The darkest Gelato known to man… or cute little (badly dressed) Japanese women. Actually, the Gelato Nero in the display case was basically full, with most of the other flavours clearly having at least been ordered. Andrew had a delightful lemon sorbet, for example. Anyway, it was… okay. Sesame-ish, but something else as well, and I think it was actually DYED black. This gelato was so black it actually stained my hands a little. Oh, NAMJATOWN.
Ghost Panic, one of the games you could play that looked really cool, actually… You held up these little ghost hunting devices and you could see ghosts, I think? Hmm. Oh well. Maybe when my Japanese is betterâ€¦ :-/
And so we bid farewell to NAMJATOWN, and its weird collection of shit. Did I mention there was a game there where you had to stop terrorists from detonating a dirty-bomb? There was. Just saying. I had a blast though, honestly. We both did. Getting off the plane and, for all intents and purposes, just diving into the wackiest stuff that Tokyo had to offer worked out great for us, Iâ€™d recommend it. NAMJATOWN probably wouldnâ€™t have seemed quite so strange if we had a chance to acclimate to the rest of Tokyo first.
Ah, who am I kidding? NAMJATOWN is weird no matter what.
This post had nothing at all to do with comics…