I'm actually typing this in Tokyo- my friend and I decided to pop down to Japan for a holiday, and to see the World Expo that's going on in Nagoya, so that's how I ended up down here. Anyway...^^
From an observer's point of view, the FF support that the Japanese community gets appears to be a whole lot better than the English-speaking community. Not only are there novels, and mange galore about FF, there are several guide books, all written by company employees who actually play the game, as opposed to fumbling guesses that make up the English guides on sale. I saw an entire book devoted just to the maps of Vana'diel, including all the NM spawns, and mission locations. I saw a book completely dedicated to crafting, including charts that showed a recommended skillup 'path', although the book was sealed so I couldn't see what that was about.
There was a book on xp locations, and party formations. It's amazing to see the difference. That, and all the pretty comics is also a nice touch. ^^ I ended up buying a generic FF magazine, that also happened to include information about this place called "Real Vana'diel". So, after discovering the place is in Akihabara, Tokyo, I decided to pop down and have a look (dragging my friend along with me).
It was a little hard to find, as most Japanese backalleys are, but after a little bit of searching, we climbed the stairs to enter the place, to be greeted with a counter, a male attendant, and a servicegirl, dressed in a (very nice) set of Hume starting gear. Unfortunately, because the place was Square Enix property, I couldn't take any pictures of the place, but suffice to say, I was quite impressed. ^^
Real Vana'diel is basically an internet cafe, where the sole purpose of this setup is to play Final Fantasy. You can't even surf the internet here- just play FF. The place was rather empty when I went in, with only five people or so; pity, as they had some very nice computers there, which were really a pleasure to play on. (That, and little lag is quite nice, too ^^) The charge to play was rather exorbitant, at ￥300 to play for just thirty minutes, but that comes along with free drinks, and free browsing of their various FF-related magazines and manga. I enjoyed myself. ^^
They also sold a few pieces of FF-related goodies! My friend ended up buying an ashtray with a Goblin's face on it, saying something like "Danger! Explosives!", and we were tempted to buy a T-shirt that said "100% TP WS OK", but at ￥3,000 we couldn't quite bring ourselves to spend that much on just a T-shirt, and a white one at that, too.
All the computers came equipped with a mouse, keyboard, and a gamepad with resembled an x-box controller with three D-pads, and ten other buttons, and not being able to do that much in half an hour, I decided to fool around with the pad for a bit. It was a little counter-intuitive at first, but I suppose with time, I could've gotten the hang of it. Still prefer my good 'ol keyboard tho. ^^
I managed to say "Hi" to a few people in that brief half an hour I was logged on. It's too bad I didn't get anything to remember the place, not even a picture, or a souvenir, although I do have a membership card to the place, with Shiva on the front. Too bad, they were out of Fenrir and Leviathan designs. Ah well...