Posted by Curto on July 17, 2008 at 10:00 PM CST
I thought I'd try something a little different this year...with convention season upon us, I'm heading off to cover Celebration Japan. I'm joining a crack team of Rebelscum reporters where we'll get the scoop on all the latest Star Wars news, meet with some famous faces, and celebrate 30 years of that famous saga from a galaxy far, far away...

July 18th - 12:00am
Celebration Japan is being built right now as I type this! The doors opened early this morning, and Jimmy Mac and I roamed the hall shooting photos and recording a special sneak peek podcast that we will be launching simultaneously later today. So at long last, you'll be able to check out the galleries (which, granted, there ain't all that much to see yet) and listen to our commentary as we give everyone a head's up as to what you can expect over the next few days, and we even score a few interviews along the way!

For now though, here's a sneak peek at what's coming up:

And with this update, I'm ending this report. Call it a blog, call it Dan's Diary, was a fun experiment to share my trip with everyone. Hopefully it felt like you were here with me, experiencing a new country and a new preparing for the show. If you want, I'll try to keep this going throughout the weekend, although the bulk of our reports will be posted the way we normally do them, and you'll see lots of photo galleries, some special reports, podcast interviews, video clips, Photo Archive updates, and oh, so much more from Celebration Japan!

July 18th - 5:48am
As mentioned earlier, I went on a day trip to Tokyo yesterday. We had a day to kill, since we couldn't set up the hall just yet, so we wanted to do sme sight-seeing. Just as I was leaving my room, the phone rang and it was Stan Stice and John Scoleri from The Art of Ralph McQuarrie whom I've met through The Force-Cast. They also got booted from the chat, saw I was on, and called me up to see what I had done (sorry guys!). Anyway, I invited them to join our little excursion.

Our trip began in Chiba (obviously, since that's where we're all staying), where we stocked up on water bottles and boarded the train to Tokyo.

Our group consisted of Dave, Anne, Stephanie, John, Stan, and myself, all led by the mad navigating skills of Antonio, who was kind enough to join us last minute and take us to a few temples, shops, and eating establishments. Along the way, we passed by Tokyo Disney, and i took a few photos of the park from inside the train. They're mostly for my daughter to see, so Star Wars fans can just skip to the next paragraph.

Our first stop was at Asakusa Kannon, the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, which was crowded with visitors, shoppers, and tourists. It was very cool to see this in the middle of the city, and we took a bunch of photos, said a few prayers (one of which was in fact answered!), and did our best to beat the heat. Everyone was really very friendly, and although there's an obvious language barrier, most of the people I spoke to could at least understand a little bit of what I was asking, and they were very friendly. I picked up a few souveniers for my family back home, although I couldn't get everything I wanted. I might have to go back!

For lunch we stopped at this really peaceful restaurant. At first we were the only partrons, but that changed by the time we left. The sushi was amazing, and the overall atmosphere was great. Even with more people, everyone was very subdued....quite, calm. Nothing like what you might see back home.

Up next, we hopped aboard another train and walked around the city, hitting some stores, but mostly just people-watching and trying to not let the humidity get to us. It's interesting to see the multi-language signs everywhere, and hey, we even saw some Star Wars stuff! (and Indiana Jones and The Dark Knight as well). Somehow, I only ended up buying a really tall can of Coke.

Another train ride to another temple (who's name escapes me at the moment. I'll add it once I talk to Anne...she takes better notes than I do!)...but VERY different experience. This was hidden in a park, away frm any kind of noise from the surroiunding city, and there weren't as many people. It's actually more like what I thought a temple would be. Very calming and very clean. It's not that there was a lot to actually SEE per se, but I culd just kind of observe things and collect my thoughts. Prayer cards were available, and down the path was another gift shop, where I picked up a few more things for the family.

After hopping aboard a few MORE trains, Dave, Anne, and I ate even MORE sushi for dinner, then I stopped by a friend's hotel room and looked out over the city of Ciba....which looks amazing at night. We also got to check out some really cool Indiana Jones collectibles I'm going to try and tack down before I leave.

All in all, it was a great day to travel around Tokyo and see some of Japan. We'll be working later today, so we won't have time to really do much more sight-seeing, so it's fantastic to be able to take some time and see a new country.

That will do it for now. We're setting up the hall later today, but only after a shower, some coffee, and hopefully SOME kind of breakfast! Hopefully one of these days, my insomnia will go away and I can get some sleep!

July 18th - 4:15am
Yesteray, I went on a day trip touring parts of Tokyo with Dave, Anne, Stephanie, our tour guide Antonio, and Stan & John from The Art of Ralph McQuarrie. No I won't tell you which one's which. :) I'm uploading the photos as I type this, but we visited some temples, did some souvenier shopping, and ate lots of seafood (and drank lots of beer too).

More to follow shortly...

July 17th - 10:20am
So, I think I just killed the live recording of The Force-Cast. Sorry about that guys. I was eager to hear the interview with Hasbro's Derryl DePriest, but since I'm still getting used to the time difference, I arrived late and thought I'd let people know that they could check it out. 5 minutes later, everything went down. I feel responsible. Hopefully this won't affect the show on Friday.

Ah well, I'm off to Tokyo!

July 17th - 6:31am
I couldn't sleep for very long (you might have guessed I'm a bit of a night owl), so I took a couple photos of the view from my hotel room. We don't actually start setting up until 4:00 tonight, so a bunch of us are heading to #1) find a nearby Starbuck's! and #2) take a tour around select parts of Japan. After all, I didn't come halfway around the world just to sit in my room! ;)

July 17th - 12:42am
Here are a few photos that I took of the hotel, convention center and some other interesting things we spotted in Chiba, Japan.

A little bit about the "No Fan Left Behind" motto...
This is something that The Force-Cast team came up with for last year's Celebration IV, and something that I've adopted with each subsequent event ever since. The goal is to try and make it seem like you're here with us, celebrating 30 years of Star Wars! With each show, we try to give you something a little bit different. This not only makes it entertaining (I hope, anwyay) for you as a reader/listener/viewer, but it also makes us step it up and challenge ourselves as photographers/reporters/podcasters. Be sure to come back as the show gets underway...the fun's just beginning!

July 16th - 9:13pm
It's been a LONG flight to Japan, and after leaving the US, flying over Canada, Alaska, Russia, finally landing in Japan, checking into the hotel and stocking the fridge, this Italian boy joined everyone else to an Irish pub?? Yeah, that's right....

Some photos tomorrow. ;)

July 15th - 11:00am
My flight to Japan is boarding, so I'm off!

July 15th - 10:15am
Uneventful flight to New York. Fun time checking in to get on the flight to Tokyo. Is it really THAT difficult to understand the rules for flying these days? Here are a few tips:
1) Keep your bags under 50lbs. or else you'll get charged extra right there at the counter.
2) Don't bring liquids (shampoos & such) with you unless they are in small travel bottles, and stored in a ziplock bag. It's amazing how many people don't get this.
3) Keep your boarding pass and ID (license, passport) out and don't dig through your carry-ons looking for it. I invested in a $6 boarding pass/ID wallet that I just wear around my neck...VERY handy!
4) When boarding the flight, wait until the end when most of the passengers are done boarding. You're going to sit on the runway anyway, so you can at least be comfortable for as long as possible.
5) When your plane lands, don't rush to get up immediately. Especially when you're in the back of the plane. Just sit back and have to wait for everyone anyway!

Just a few things I noticed. I've got over an hour before my flight for Tokyo leaves.

July 15th - 6:45am
My flight to New York is boarding, so I'm off!

July 15th - 6:20am
Nothing beats waking up with 2 hours of sleep to sit at an airport! I spent most of yesterday preparing some new updates to run while I'm traveling, so you'll have something to check out while I'm gone. My first flight of the day leaves in an hour, so I'm enjoying a coffee and "donuts" as I type this. Jason (from the Force-Cast) gave me the idea for this series of reports, so we'll see how it goes. Most of the news will come later, but this will hopefully give the show coverage more of a personal touch.

Coming later today: new action figures from TAC's Comic Packs line.
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