Monday, July 30, 2012

Japan's Real Mecha Kuratas Unveiled at Wonderfest 2012

Normally I'm only looking at garage kit models at Wonderfest in the photos.  I've seen the new Madoka Magica figures, Pretty Cure, and tons of other nice 1/8 or 1/6 scale figures.  Then then over at Gigazine I noticed that somebody has a really BIG GARAGE with a 1/1 scale giant robot!  You can even put an order in for one if you have LOTS of coin laying around as high tech isn't cheap --- it'll cost you over $1.2 million dollars.


The Kuratas is a big robot and they did a pilot boarding demo and some motion demonstrations for the robot. No robot maneuvering demo, but it does look like they have come a long way on its development.  Motions seems a little sluggish but they have built a big custom robot with real moving arms and parts! This is pretty cool no matter what.  Demo weapons included a pair of miniguns so that would be pretty nasty if it were real.  Lets keep cheering on this giant mecha's development!

It also looks like they have updated their website.
http://suidobashijuko.jp



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Evangelion 3.0 Exhibit and the Hideaki Anno Tokusatsu Exhibit

Wow!  I wish I really could get to Japan in early Sept / August of 2012.  Many anime museum exhibits going on but you would be traveling a bit around Japan to see all of this.  If I get there in the late fall it'll all be over.  There are seem to be a ton of museums with temporary exhibits to beat the summer heat in.  I recently wrote about the Evangelion Sword Exhibit here.

Tezuka Manga Museum Evangelion Exhibit
Now there is an Evangelion Exhibit at the Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka-city, Hyugo Prefacture too.  The new Evangelion movie promotional tie-ins continue!
Flickr / Jeroen020
http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-feature/2012/07/27-1/feature-tezuka-manga-museum-exhibits-evangelion

Tokusatsu Exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Just near the new Tokyo Skytree, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, is the Hideaki Anno exhibit about Tokusatsu or the Special Effects of your live action monster movies.  Hideaki Anno is the director of Evangelion and seems to have a love for these types of movies as they influenced his career. This is an exhibit I would love to see! You can walk around a movie set that they would have built to film a Godzilla movie where you are guy in a big rubber suit. Very cool!



A short film that was also made for the exhibit showing CG and traditional special effects. It features the giant god-warriors from Nausicaa Valley of the Wind ravaging Tokyo.  Studio Ghibli lent a hand!  You'll recognize the miniature room at the beginning from the exhibit videos above.

http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2012/07/15/a-look-inside-hideaki-annos-tokusatsu-exhibit
http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/visit/run-your-lives-godzilla-hits-tokyo-museum-748460?hpt=hp_bn8
So more Evangelion memorabilia and art, followed up by a visit to a monster movie set with mini-buildings where you can act out your fantasies as Godzilla!

August 27th Update.
Japan times ran a very good article about the exhibit.  You can hit the link here.
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN)


Monday, July 23, 2012

Evangelion Sword Exhibit

Just sharing a few news items today that I ran across on the Internet! I'll cover Japanese swords (with the trusty katana) along with a temporary EVA Sword Exhibition outside of Tokyo - well outside Tokyo.  A new set of Mecha Montages showing robots from all time periods, and some handy Chinese / Japanese fonts you may find very useful for any writing / printing projects you have!
Asuka and Spear   Flickr / kazamatsuri
Evangelion 3.0 Sword Exhibit - Limited Time
This looks like a great little exhibit at the Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum in Setouchi (a long way out from Tokyo in Okayama Prefecture).  The exhibit showcases swords and weapons have appeared in the anime "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and the exhibition runs from July 14, 2012 to Sept. 17, 2012.  The 3 metre long, 30 kg, Lance of Longinus is a highlights along with some Evangelion unit swords and variable knife.

Another of the Evangelion 3.0 movie pre-release publicity events I'd love to go see, but too bad the models displaying the swords were probably only there for the publicity event.  There is a great writeup and pics of the swords and weapons made by real Japanese swordsmiths below.
http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2012/07/22-1/a-look-inside-japanese-sword-museums-evangelion-exhibit
Sword Exhibit closeups.  Very big Lance of Longinus.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25786065@N04/sets/72157630642143786/with/7599581150/

Japanese Swords
I didn't know that most katana that you see (especially outside of Japan) are not made in Japan, even if you buy them there.  Apparently there are strict regulations about authentic Japanese-made swords - not to mention there probably are not that many qualified swordsmiths.  Authentic swords are $7000 and up! There are also apparently annual Japanese sword shows if you are really interested in bladed weaponry.

Japanese Sword Museum
For the more casual sword aficionado there is the Japanese Sword Museum in Tokyo (NW of Meiji Shrine / Shibuya) with a fine display of antique weaponry.  I've never been there myself but the photos look pretty interesting as it looks like a very nice small museum dedicated to its topic. http://www.touken.or.jp/english/index.html - look for the map link.

A very nice overview of the museum here.
http://injapan.gaijinpot.com/play/travel/2012/05/14/japanese-sword-museum/





Wednesday, July 18, 2012

OMG! A Godzilla Video Slot Machine!

I was down at the Calgary Stampede wandering through the casino there after the mandatory livestock viewing and rides on the the Midway.  I tried a couple of different slots and then noticed the Godzilla on Monster Island Video Slots!  They towered above me with the split display and it just looked like a ton of fun with Big G.

I didn't do particularly well, but I did manage to win back some of my money.  I only managed to trigger the Monster Island bonus rounds twice and they were fun, but I just wished it would have popped up more often.  I fought against Mecha Godzilla and the Military.  It was pretty cool dragging your finger around to fry tanks with your nuclear breath.  There are a few blog posts and such out there about this slot machine that came out in 2011, but it was a big find for me.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Roppongi Hills and Mori Tower Megaplex

Roppongi Hills is a megaplex of underground and above ground construction that I had always wanted to see.  It didn't disappoint.  Another Tokyo megaplex is the Shiodome which I posted about here and that was pretty cool too.  A large underground mall complex with a huge glass enclosed atrium is also located here.  You can access the Roppongi Hills complex via the subway with a golden themed subway station that looks very posh. Tokyo Midtown is also nearby, so you might also want to visit it too.  I posted a travelogue article with Roppongi in it here previously.
Mori Tower and Mall Entrance
http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html

This was the largest urban redevelopment project done in Japan.  Constructed by building tycoon Minoru Mori, the mega-complex incorporates office space, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theaters, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheater, and a few parks. The centerpiece is the 54-story Mori Tower. Mori's stated vision was to build an integrated development where high-rise inner-urban communities allow people to live, work, play, and shop in proximity to eliminate commuting time. He argued that this would increase leisure time, quality of life, and benefit Japan's national competitiveness. From Wikipedia.

The Mori Tower is a 54-story mixed-use skyscraper completed in 2003 that is named after builder Minoru Mori and is the centerpiece of the Roppongi Hills. It is currently the fifth-tallest building in Tokyo at 238 meters (781 ft). The building is primarily used for office space, but it also includes retail stores, restaurants and other tourist attractions. The Mori Art Museum is located on the 53rd floor and visitors can view the city from observation decks on the 52nd and 54th floors. The headquarters of Mori Building Company are located in this building. Visitors are provided with views of the city at Tokyo City View on the 52nd floor and an open-air roof deck on the 54th floor. From Wikipedia

View Shibuya Shinjuku Harajuku in a larger map

Before I made it to Tokyo for the first time I had seen these wonderful night pictures of the Mori Tower with the Spider at the base.  The tower itself changes colour at night like many of the buildings in Hong Kong and it is very pretty.  Combined with the scary spider statue it looked like something I wanted to see in person.  The spider is one of many famous spider sculptures "Maman" by Louise Bourgeois.  These spider statues are strategically taking over the world as they are in numerous cities!
Maman (the spider) and Mori Tower
The Mori Tower is the heart of the complex and it contains a mall with lofty ceilings, theaters, the Mori Art Museum, a fantastic modern art museum, on the Tokyo City View observation deck floor.  The observation deck here on the 52 floor was higher than the Tokyo Tower observation deck and provided very good views of the city.  I loved it.  In fact, there is also a rooftop observation deck that would probably be pretty cool to view the city from at night with a light breeze in the air.
City View Observation Deck
However, next time I'm in Tokyo it will be a priority for me to check out the Tokyo Skytree first, but I'll definitely make it a priority to visit here again if there is a great art exhibit at the Mori Art Museum.  In the Roppongi Hills complex are the Grand Hyatt Hotel of "Lost In Translation" fame, a neat park with some fascinating modern sculpture, and a playground with Robot Totem Poles. On a side note, the whole Roppongi area gets blasted into rubble in the anime Birdy the Mighty: Decode by an energy weapon strike from space.  I think the area is better as non-rubble!

Official Roppongi Hills Site: http://www.roppongihills.com/en/
Official Mori Art Museum Site: http://www.mori.art.museum/html/eng/index.html
Tokyo City View Observation Deck Site: http://www.roppongihills.com/tcv/en/

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum and Nissin Ramen Museum

Exterior of the museum
http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html
Just 10 minutes south of Tokyo by bullet train (it cost me $12 to ride a few years ago) is Yokohama and two famous ramen museums.  You can interact with and eat your ramen here, and not just view it! These museums both discuss ramen history with the Shin Yokohama Ramen museum dedicated to restaurant / stall ramen and the Nissin Ramen Museum dedicated to Nissin Instant Ramen in the package and cup forms.


To get to either museum from Tokyo you will likely have to take a train south from Tokyo and transfer to another line to get to the closest station to either museum.  The museums aren't very close to each other either.  If you're doing both museums it'll probably be best to make it a day trip to see the Yokohama sights too.

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum
1950s central court of the ramen museum
I had a great time in this museum even though I couldn't read most of the Japanese.  The highlight of this museum is the replica of Showa Period Japan that acts as a bit of a mini-theme park / diorama that you can walk through to get a feel for booming 1950s Japan.  This is when Godzilla was invented along with many modern snacks and even instant ramen.  Japan was recovering from WWII and was in a hard working industrial boom.  It is a nostalgic era for many older Japanese.  There is a path that circles a central food court area shown in the photo right at the top of this post that acts as a street with shops and homes that you can look into.  There is an actual candy shop with live shopkeeper and you'll hear and see snippets of radio and TV while walking along.  All very cool.

Even better is the central court with fair games and real ramen shops from across Japan that have been invited to set up here for 6 month stretches.  You can sample ramen from across Japan and the food court is often crowded.  This is a very yummy museum.

Official Website: http://www.raumen.co.jp/ramen/
This museum is near a subway station but isn't easy to find unless you know the location or follow the instructions on their website.  It isn't too hard to find, I actually misread the instructions myself, but by backtracking, I found it easily the second time.  It is 5 minutes on foot from Shin-yokohama Station (JR Tokaido Shinkansen, JR Yokohama Line, and Yokohama City Subway line). Print off the page and follow the walking directions on their website here.http://www.raumen.co.jp/ramen/so_froms.html

Actual ramen shop in the museum - there are 6 shops.

Nissin Raman Museum in Yokohama
This museum is a twin of the first museum in Osaka and is also known as the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum.  This museum is dedicated to the history of Nissin Cup Noodles and just opened up in 2011.  I previously blogged about the pop culture of cup noodles here.

I haven't been to this museum but would love to see all the previous varieties of cup noodle and the whole process around making cup noodles.  One of the highlights of the museum is the shop/exhibit where you get to create you own instant cup noodle as a souvenir that you can take away and eat or give to a friend.

The link below shows an aerial view of the island that the museum is on, but is old enough that this brand new museum opened in 2011 is not in the picture. The museum would be to the left of the big red building to the right of the ferris wheel. yokohama-minato-mirai-aerial-panorama

Official Website: http://www.cupnoodles-museum.jp/english/index.html

・8 minute walk from the Minatomirai line Minatomirai Station
・8 minute walk from the Minatomirai line Bashamichi Station
・12 minute walk from the JR/Shieichikatetsu Sakuragicho Station


Other Tokyo Anime / Otaku Highlights Worth Visiting

Friday, July 6, 2012

Big City Fun in Chicago Part 3

Continued from part 2.

Chicago definitely has some big museums. A good portion of our trip was spent visiting these grand institutions and viewing the wonders stored inside.


7. Museum of Science and Industry
This is a big museum that is very well set up.  The place has interactive exhibits on tornadoes, tsunamis, avalanches, and fire.  They have a massive tesla coil which you cannot mistake when it goes off with a zap!  A 5 story high tornado simulator is very cool.  The space exploration exhibits has an actual Apollo capsule, space suits, etc.  The transportation area has a massive train diorama with full sized Stuka dive bomber, a Spitfire and an old Jet suspended in the air.  There is a lot to see here.
Our favourite exhibits here were the U-505 U-Boat Exhibit with a real captured German U-boat that you can tour through.  The interiors are claustrophobically cramped with valves and switches all over the place.  I wanted to watch Das Boot after touring the sub. When it was operational the insides of these "swine boats," as the German crews called them, must have been pretty rank as crewmen didn't have many changes of clothes or regular showers.  However, the sub still only smells like motor oil and diesel inside now.  They've done a great job telling the story about the U-boat crews and the capture of the U-boat and its Enigma machine.  A first rate exhibit.
There was a temporary Mythbusters exhibit there too that was a great deal of fun.  You could try your hand at busting a few myths and seeing the props and devices created on the show.
A must see for any Mythbusters fan. I cannot dodge a bullet based on my experience in one of the experiments.

8 . The Art Institute of Chicago
This is a wonderful art museum with a wide collection.  They even had some pottery on display from the Jomun period (I wrote about Haniwas and Dogus here) there along with some amazing Tang Dynasty ceramics.  One of the rooms there was designed by Tando Mori the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando and it is quiet meditative space with these pillars.
 There is a nice collection of Impressionist art with Monet, Van Gogh, and Seurat as highlights.  Seurat's big painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was a star attraction. A giant Warhol of Mao was another nice thing that I saw.  The famous Nighthawks painting by Edward Hopper was pretty nice too.

A special exhibit of Roy Lichtenstein comic book style artwork was the big highlight of the visit.  His artwork is just wonderful in how it blends the simplified style of the comic book with something deeper.  I particularly like his work that has comic book panels with text.

The restaurants in the museum are pretty nice too and we made a long day of it here as there is so much art.

9. The Field Museum
A big old natural history museum with anthropological, geological, and paleontological exhibits. Star attractions here include Sue the most complete T-Rex Skeleton in the world along with a very nice Egyptian artifacts exhibit and a huge exhibit on the development of life on the earth from the earliest organisms, through the dinosaurs to the recent past.  The Americas native cultural exhibits were also very informative and includes a massive Aztec Sunstone replica.  Lots to do for kids too and you can spend a long time in here as it is sooo big.
Anyhow, this little trip to Chicago walked my feet off and was a ton of fun.  While I won't be back soon as there are many other places I would like to visit it was pretty worthwhile.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Big City Fun in Chicago Part 2

Continued from part 1.

You do a great deal of walking to see Chicago so bring good shoes and be prepared to take breaks.  The city has a ton of great old architecture from the roaring 20's and onwards.  Skyscrapers abound and the cultural life is rich and vibrant. We hit the city at the end of June and early July and were caught up in a heatwave and record breaking heat for a good two-thirds of the trip so we planned inside activities to beat the heat.
Riverwalk
If you are planning on seeing the sights make sure you buy either the Chicago City Pass or Go Chicago Card to save money, but make sure you add up your use for the cards or you're paying for extras that you'll never use.

4. The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower)
This is still an impressively tall building and the views from the Skydeck are pretty good. There was an informative little documentary (that didn't include the newer taller buildings in the world), but going up was worth it.  It was a hassle to go through the security with a metal detector and baggage x-ray to go up though.
Willis Tower and Views
Willis Tower (formerly named and still commonly referred to as Sears Tower) is a 108-story, 1,451-foot (442 m) skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. At the time of its completion in 1973, it was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the World Trade Center towers in New York, and it held this rank for nearly 25 years. The Willis Tower is the tallest building in the United States and the seventh-tallest freestanding structure in the world. The skyscraper is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Chicago, and over one million people visit its observation deck each year.  Although Sears' naming rights expired in 2003, the building continued to be called the Sears Tower for several years. In March 2009, London-based insurance broker Willis Group Holdings agreed to lease a portion of the building, and obtained the building's naming rights. On July 16, 2009, the building was officially renamed the Willis Tower.  From Wikipedia.
James R. Thompson Building - The inside looks very cool.

We also walked through the Historic Loop Area and saw the sights.  They had a color wrap Chicago theme running at a few intersections where it was all decorated in bright colors.  We visited the James R. Thompson Center which is a very nice piece of architecture and there was a nice little shop in it on the 2nd floor for local Illinois Artists at good prices too.
The "Baboon Sculpture" by Picasso was pretty cool too along with all the old theater buildings.

5. The Bean At Millenium Park
This is a must see.  We all loved this big metallic sculpture that resembles a big silvery mirrored bean that reflects everything around it.  Seeing all of the reflections is pretty darn cool.
It is huge and you can walk around it and under it to see yourself and others in all kinds of views.  Lots of fun.  There are a number of other sculptures in the park and it is a nice piece of greenery in the city.

6. The Shedd Aquarium and Sea Jellies
On the hottest day we were at the Shedd Aquarium with half the city it seems, but staff said it's been even busier which was kind of scary. The whale and dolphin show here was entertaining and they emphasized the care and health of the animals throughout.  I'd say they were dead on as these animals are pretty smart and they seemed pretty happy.
The aquarium has some very nice exhibits with a large reef tank with sharks and rays for the Philippines and a big Caribbean tank on the main floor. The Amazon River tanks were very informative and they have some BIG freshwater fish!
My favourite highlight was the temporary Jellies exhibit.  Jellyfish are so cool and almost all water.  For something without a brain they are amazing to watch as they move around in such a delicate fashion.

Continued in Part 3.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hot Anime News (+EVA) and Anime News For Summer 2012

Evangelion 3.0 news below!
Haven't posted about anime news in a few weeks and I realized that quite a few interesting trailers and announcements had been made. So a few news items first then the trailers. The biggest announcement is probably the release date for Evangelion 3.0 and a short trailer for it. (Eva 1 image above by myrrh.ahn)
Just In / Quick Update on July 17, 2012
Looks like two good movies to look forward to!  Looks like two good movies to look forward to. Director Guillermo del Toro’s announced he is working with Legendary Pictures to do a Godzilla movie remake.  He is also doing Pacific Rim, a movie about giant robots vs. giant kaiju, that is coming out in 2013. Hit the link to read more.
Also a longer article with the director and actors about Pacific Rim and some photos of the pilot suits. Looks pretty good.

Evangelion 3.0 Trailer 
Finally, the 3rd remake movie gets at November 17, 2012 release date and there is a trailer to back it up. Yippee!  Can't wait to see where they are taking the show as 2.22 started taking the show in a new direction.

Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse Anime
Showing now on Crunchyroll.  Based off a couple of computer games, this anime takes place on an alternative Earth which has developed mecha types to fight alien invaders.  The mech types have naming conventions like our fighter aircraft such as F-18, etc.  Should have some good mecha action.  Visit my post on my 6 favourite anime real robot mecha here.  Saw the first couple of episodes and they were ok - not great, just ok.  Nice form fitting pilot suits and mechas, but the defence of Kyoto was lacking in any military tactical or strategic sense (e.g. they deserved to get their butts kicked).

Smile Pretty Cure Movie
The latest set of Pretty Cure Heroines end up in a fairy tale adventure while battling evil.  Some tote bags are being offered for pre-release ticket buyers.

Ni No Kuni
A young boy goes on a quest to save his mother in an animated game produced by Level 5, Namco Bandai and Studio Ghibli.  I hear the animation and visuals are awesome due to the Ghibli involvement.

Nerawareta Gakuen Anime
A movie about a high-achieving middle school where there is a revolt against a student council president who is enforcing the no-mischief rules. Apparently this isn't the first time this novel has been adapted to the screen. Supercell is doing the OP.  Looks like there are some nice visuals.

Robotics;Notes Anime
Based off a new video game by Nitroplus this looks like it could be interesting as the Chaos Head and Steins Gate were pretty good.  Another scientific mystery visual novel!

The Starhip Troopers Anime
This animated version based off the Starship Troopers movie has some good animators involved and the trailer looks awesome.

Tokyo Jungle
This is a weird one, but it looks so interesting that I want to play it on my PS3.  After an apocalypse that has removed humans from the picture animals roam the streets of Tokyo and fight it out in tribes for survival.  Strange and potentially very fun.




Big City Fun in Chicago Part 1

Just got back from Chicago for the first time and it was pretty fun.  Haven't been blogging or writing for a week as I've been "out of the office."  I had a bit of a sore foot and caught a cold at the end but it was a nice visit to a big city.
Iconic Chicago Theater
This post covers items one to three about nine touristy things to do in Chicago but it has the theme about the fun things to do in any big city with really tall buildings and mass transit. 
View Chicago Downtown in a larger map

1. The Subway and Trains
How do you get to downtown Chicago, The Loop area, from the airport?  You take the blue line CTA train from O'Hare Airport.  It isn't the speediest option as it stops at over a dozen stops before getting downtown, but it gets you there in 45 minutes regardless of traffic.  It is also cheap (cost of a regular bus ride).  If you drive or take a cab, it depends on the traffic and when we arrived, it would have taken longer by car as the traffic was crawling on the freeway when we could see it from the train.
Pretty nifty wall wraps advertising a new iPhone grocery app in the train station.
Red Line Subway Station
Buy a multi-day CTA pass from the machines at the airport (and it isn't too hard to find the CTA stop at the airport if you follow the signs either) so that you can ride the trains for an unlimited number of times.  We bought 7 day passes and rode the train at least twice a day, making it easily pay off for cost and convenience.  If you pack a single suitcase with rollers that you can comfortably lift you can get around the subway / trains without too much trouble if you are in decent shape and it isn't rush hour in the morning or evening.  BEWARE of many stairs, but not usually more than one or two floors worth at any time.  We took the Blue Line in from the airport to Jackson station where there is a tunnel that connects over to the Red Line trains.  The Red Line is the tourist's best friend as it takes you within half a mile or closer to most tourist destinations.
Metra Commuter Train
Getting to the Museum of Science and Industry was a little harder by CTA as you need to catch the train and the bus, but we took the Metra from downtown instead.  The Metra is only covered on your train pass if you buy the more expensive pass (we didn't - but ask for help from the CTA staff at the station or airport).  The Metra had commuter trains running on it and these were kind of neat as they are train cars that have two levels.  I've never been on one and it was fun, especially after seeing the movie Source Code which happens on a Chicago bound commuter train.  Source Code was a pretty good movie too that is well worth seeing if you have a chance.
L Train / Loop
You can also ride the L Train(s) around The Loop area downtown and get places faster.  The subways are fairly clean, but show their age.  The same goes for the trains themselves, but they are air conditioned and run frequently so it works pretty good.

2. Shopping and Entertainment Districts
This Near North Side area containing the The Gold Coast / Magnificent Mile is shopper's paradise.  Many, many mid to high-end stores in this area, many of which are flagship stores that are big and nicely done up.  Dining abounds in this area with every block having multiple restaurants if they are not all shop fronts. Very fun to shop and look around in.
John Hancock Center
If you aren't into fashion and home accessories the options are more limited but there is a Lego Store, Candyality at Water Tower Place, American Girl for girls, a Best Buy at the John Hancock Center (also with a nice sky deck view and the 6th tallest building in the United States).  You can also view the historic Water Tower which survived the Great Chicago Fire.  This tower is quite a cute little structure that reminds me of some of the castles from Dragon Quest.
Historic Water Tower
You can also walk along the river walk here that separates the Near North Side from the Loop Area. Note all the bridges that can be raised to allow larger ships to pass!  Iconic Marina City (the lower floors are a parkade!) and the very sleek and tall Trump Tower are a few of the fantastic sights along the river.
Marina City
Trump Tower
We stayed in this area at the Homewood Suites by Hilton which was just a block from the NE exit from Grand Station on the Red Line.  There must have been 2 dozen excellent restaurants within a two block radius of our hotel, along with malls and supermarkets.

3. Eating Out With Deep Dish Pizza And Much More
We scratched the surface of dining out in Chicago.  As a tourist you walk and walk and walk and then you eat and eat and eat.  This city has a lot of see and eat with near infinite variety.  Some of the things we wanted to try was Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and the funky fusion and tapas restaurants there.  The tourist information and places like Yelp and many more will give recommendations for many places to eat out at.
  • Sushi Samba. South American influenced Japanese food and tapas.  Tried sushi rolls, and a number of other tapas that were very tasty.  Different spices and zesty citrus livened up the meal.  The children's bento boxes are awesome here.
  • Weber Grill. Tasty BBQ / Grill dishes.
  • The Purple Pig. Had a number of tapas style dishes that were shared.  We had an awesome dinner by appetizer.  The pork shoulder and the turkey were very tasty and tender, but the turkey was huge as it was a massive drumstick (Fred Flinstone style).
  • Pizzeria Uno. Very nice deep dish pizza and a spinach salad.  Had a nice crunchy crust and lots of filling. Takes 45 minutes to cook, but it's a good thing you can order in advance and wait in line.
  • Giordano's Pizza.  Another long wait, and pizza's take 45 minutes to cook too, but they gave out glasses of ice water.  It was a record breaking hottest day of the year the day we went.  The deep pizza here was tasty too with a very good but less crunchy crust than Uno's, homemade sausage, and was much cheesier.  They make a very good eggplant parmesana.
 
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant (this is a chain, but still a fun experience).  Easy access to it as we were at the Navy Pier with its many attractions (see the ferris wheel and stained glass collection here!)
  • Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery (just for convenience as we needed to see Blue Man Group that night, but the micro-brew and burgers were good!)
  • Foodlife and Foodease at Chicago Water Tower Place.  This is a pretty amazing modern take on restaurant quality food that you can buy from a massive hot and cold buffet or prepacked in the fridge.  An absolute zoo of people grabbing food.  Reminded me of those Natural Lawson supermarkets in Japan kicked up a another notch in food quality.  I hope this idea spreads but it looks like it needs a big customer base to work.  If you are in the area, well worth seeing and eating at, especially for lunch.

Continued in Part 2.