Sake to me Baby – Japan Day Five

IMG_0667Today is our last full day in Tokyo and it was a glorious day so we were looking forward to doing some walking. I love walking in foreign countries because you see so much more than if you’re always in a train or car.
You get a better feel of the place you’re in.

Hubby wanted to go to the Honda Welcome Plaza and Google Maps showed it was about 7.5kms away so we set off.

I had planned out the walking route and knew to look out for a “Curves” because we were going to be turning right straight after that.  I told hubby to look out for curves as we were turning right at the next intersection after that.
Tell me that’s not clear.
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We were walking and walking and I started to get confused as I thought we should have passed it by now. I even said from time to time “Still haven’t seen that Curves sign”

It just goes to show that hubby doesn’t listen to me when I talk because after about the third time I’d said that I still hadn’t seen a Curves sign, he says “oh, we passed that ages ago.”
What the heck!!!
I said “why didn’t you tell me!! I told you we were turning after Curves!”

1f644He said that he thought I meant we were turning after curves in the road.
I’m sorry to tell you dear readers, this is indeed a true story.

It’s all fine, fine… We made a new route that took us eventually by the water and we love to walk anyway so what was an extra three of four kilometres?


Finally we saw the Honda building in sight! It sort of takes you breath away as you walk in. Its a big place, not a huge display but what’s there is interesting to look at.


I even got to get on a motor bike! Who said riding was hard!

After that, we were looking for a train station to take us to the next stop when we passed a McLaren dealership. This was a much smaller place but definitely more breathtaking than the Honda place!


Very nice!! And as we left we wondered if they would have let us sat inside. I wish we’d done that now.

We passed a park that looked interesting so went inside for a little bit. I told hubby we could do with a bit more serenity in our lives. It was really pretty but within a few minutes I was ready to see something else. We both don’t know how to sit and be peaceful.


Oh and look at this sign that was at the start of the park. I’m assuming it’s a list of things not to do at the park. What’s the first one? No sleeping in the park?

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We got off at Tokyo Station. That place is CRAZY! And walked to the Imperial Palace. Last time we were here there weren’t many other tourists around, today there seemed to be heaps. There were tons of buses parked in the car park too. I’m not sure what they’re all going to see because it’s not like you can look inside. We all just walked up to the bridge, took some pics, then walked back. Lovely grounds around there too and I love the view of Tokyo from here. This is more of a business district so doesn’t have the craziness of some of the other places we’ve been to.


Everything is cute in Japan. Look at the roadworks barriers.

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We really wanted to see a themed cafe and still haven’t done that with all the times we’ve been here. That’s mainly because they haven’t been open at the times we’ve gone there.

Today we wanted to see Alice in an Old Castle (Alice in Wonderland theme) at Ikebukuro.

It took a little bit to find but unfortunately, it was not open until 5pm.

The same thing happened to us last time we were in Tokyo.
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So instead we wandered around Ikebukuro.

This place is special to us as it’s the first place we saw in Tokyo. The very first time we came, we stayed at a hotel in Ikebukuro.

Before we knew it we were in front of Shakey’s pizza.
I’ve mentioned this in a past entry but this has meaning for hubby as he and his family owned a few Shakey’s Pizza Restaurants in the past.
The Shakey’s here in Japan is not exactly as he knew it but we couldn’t help but go in- even though we knew we would be regretting it as we walked out because would surely eat too much and that’s exactly what happened.

We were hot from walking and hungry and I’m sure the staff are still talking about the crazy Westerners who couldn’t stop eating and drinking.

We even ate dessert pizzas!!!
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We realised we were less than two kilometres from our apartment so we walked back and I had to take a picture of the roses that are growing along the tramline tracks.
How pretty are they!
Much nicer in real life.

 

My photo does not do them justice.

We spent a bit of time researching things to do in Osaka this evening. It kind of already feels like we’ve left Tokyo and we’re a bit sad that this part of our vacation is quickly coming to a close but are really excited for the next bit!

For now, Oyasuminasai

 

 

 

 

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seven

We spent a good part of this morning trying to decide what to do.
We’ve looked at day trips out of Tokyo and River Cruises but nothing really appeals within the time frame we have.

So I went online and found a market area that is supposed to be really popular with tourists and better yet, it was in “walking distance” from us (It’s all relative)

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The Nakamise market was a couple of kilometres from us.

As we approached we saw a whole lot of bicycles parked.

Everyone rides a bike and you’re constantly looking over our shoulder to see if one is about to whizz past you!

 

I really don’t know how there aren’t more accidents with them here.

 

 

 

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Before we shopped at the market we walked through Senso-ji Temple which adjoins the market.

 

 

 

There were some food stalls along there and hubby and I tried some of the Crab Meat on offer

 

 

(At least, I hope that’s what it was)

 

 


You would have a hard time being here if you don’t like crowds. Wherever you go there are just crowds and crowds of people. I found myself getting anxious a few times but you just have to go with the flow.

There are soooo many shop stalls to look at and we didn’t really get to look at everyone but we did spend a lot of time there.

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I had read about the many themed cafe’s here and one I particularly wanted to visit was based on Alice in Wonderland.

It was called “Alice in an Old Castle”

 

Unfortunately no one was around so I just took a few photos (it was really dark in there) and then left back through the winding staircase.

 

 

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It looked like a pretty cool place so I was sorry we couldn’t even just have a drink there.

 

Maybe next visit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wussed out at lunch time and went into an Italian place.

I seem to think we’ve eaten at this chain before but hubby says we haven’t. I love the message on their napkins!

 

 

Then it was time to walk around Ikebukuro.
There’s a department store there called Seibu and on the basement level, you will find all sorts of food that will be wrapped, packaged, then packaged again for you to take home.

 

 

The pictures I took were mostly of the desserts/cakes because that’s what we were after but they had lots of meat and savoury products too.

Hubby and I got a large share of cakes and snuck off to find somewhere to eat them.

One thing about Japan is that you can be hard pressed to find public seating and rubbish/trash bins!  Yet it is mostly always clean. We haven’t seen litter apart from the odd cigarette butt, but there are no bins around.

We walked for a bit then found a sunny spot that we thought was behind a walkway. We sat down and started greedily devouring our goodies when all of a sudden, people started rushing by.

Turns out we were in a walkway through the train station.. Whoops. So much for trying to be discreet.

But that’s ok, no one knows us here….

We walked around some more and spoke to a few locals that approached us speaking English.

So many things to see. There is always something happening.

Hubby and I often look at each other saying “Where are all these people going???” because it’s like a major rock concert or something has just let out and everyone is rushing to go home.

But in Japan it’s just another regular night where crowds, loud electronic music and dress ups are just part of everyday life.

I think today was the first day since we’ve been here that we didn’t have dumplings! Who would have thought that there is a limit to dumpling love.

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow is going to have in store for us!

Turning Japanese – Part Five

I’m much more relaxed now in this wonderfully different country.
I knew exactly what to expect from our complimentary breakfast at Denny’s… and look at that meal. So Western, so good.
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You may think it’s a bit strange to have a salad at breakfast but actually I enjoyed it. You may also think it strange to have Lounge music playing while you’re eating your eggs on toast in Denny’s but that  somehow works too.
The only thing that I’m not too happy about is that the coffee they give you is an espresso size. It’s teeny tiny and I just need more coffee!! But that’s ok. I can get over it!

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Fully satisfied we headed to Shinjuku once again. Last time we were there it was evening and we were dazzled by the lights. This time it was late morning and it was still an impressive place!
We went to the Observation Deck in the Government Building then walked around being awed by sights, sounds and smells.

After a couple of hours walking thirst overtook us and hubby found a cute little place called “Brooklyn Parlour”. Once again, totally deceptive from the street. All we could see was a stairwell leading down to something. What was it going to be? No idea! It’s always an adventure.
So we went down there and were surprised by the size of the restaurant. It was large, it was loud, it was happening and it had fantastic mood lighting. The walls were lined with bookshelves creating a wonderful atmosphere. Everyone is just sooo polite and accomodating.
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We ordered a wine and cider. My wine was delicious and long overdue!!! I could have sat there sipping that for another hour or two…

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However we headed on back to our hotel – snuck in a couple of sweet treats, and rested up before heading out for our last dinner in Tokyo.

So this evening we stopped in front of a place that said it had authentic Japanese food. Not really sure what that meant, we went in.
Our waiter had limited English but we’re really happy to have anyone that can half understand us. He brought us our drinks, a hot towel and a bowl of something..
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Hubby was a bit frightened to try it but he did, and he didn’t die so i thought I’d try some. It was only afterwards that I thought… I hope we were meant to eat that? Maybe it’s for something else??
It had the consistancy of jelly. Tasted a bit like chicken broth and chicken fat. I’m not really sure but I ate it with chop sticks. I know… I’m a pro now!

We also ordered dumplings, noodles (traditional Japanese style apparantly) and skewers of meat.
When converted to Aussie dollars, it was all quite expensive and not very filling however it was very tasty and I guess it’s not their fault that the conversion rate for our dollar is not the best at the moment.

As usual the staff were bending over backwards to make sure we had the best time.
There were a line of tables around the kitchen which was in the centre of the restaurant and at one point hubby told one of the chef’s directly that he’d like a bowl of rice, and they just did it! If we weren’t being charged, it would have felt like we were dining at a friends place.

Tomorrow  we’ll be heading off to Osaka for the next leg of this adventure!

Turning Japanese – Part Four

We woke up in beautifully busy Tokyo this morning but before I get to food related topics, let me tell you a few things that have amused and delighted me…

I’ve discovered that eating or drinking while walking on the street is considered rude but picking your nose seems to be ok.
Talking on your phone on the train is extremely rude and in fact, there are service announcements on the train to tell you not to do it.
Dorky electronic music plays everywhere for all different reasons. For example, when we enter a convenience store, a ten second clip plays. We were in that store for about five minutes and by the end I wanted to punch that speaker out.
When a train arrives on the platform, the music plays again telling you to get on that train.
Maybe it’s to hurry everyone along as they’re all trying to get away from that god awful sound.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how the bathroom was stocked here in our hotel room.
Full bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash AND skin cleansing bottles too!!!

 

And another corner of the bathroom was stocked with all kind of things from razors to hair combs to toothpaste and toothbrushes….
So imagine my surprise when I saw the following packet…
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My first thought was…. is that a condom??
The fact that it was called “Lady’s set” didn’t phase me as things are labelled in interesting ways here in Japan but really, a condom?
I mean hubby and I read all about their “love hotels” before we came here because we almost booked ourselves into one of them. Luckily we found out what they were and changed our booking.

So, I opened the Lady’s set packet and this is what I found.
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Well, that’s NOT a condom but certainly very handy!

Moving right along… breakfast this morning was at Denny’s. It’s part of our hotel package and if you don’t know, Denny’s is an American chain so I was very interested to see what they’d be offering for breakfast.

The menus we were given were both in English and Japanese. I took a quick pic to give you an idea of what we were looking at.

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There was a little frustrating moment for both myself and the Japanese waiter. I ordered number three from the top line so I said “three, with the mushrooms”.
I totally accept the blame. I should have just said three but the fact that I mentioned mushrooms confused him and he thought I was saying I didn’t want them in the dish. We back and forthed a bit and honestly I wasn’t really sure what was going to come out. Thankfully, it came out as it was supposed to.

I didn’t take a picture but we’ll be back tomorrow so hopefully I’ll remember then.
The mushrooms were delicious and added a lot of flavour to that dish. The toast was thick and I was just craving bread so badly!!! It was a perfect breakfast for me today.

Hubby and I did a lot of touristy things including going to the Oeno Zoo, and we mostly grazed during the day. I can’t get over the sweet shops here.

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Their desserts are amazing. How do they stay thin??? And if you do a brief crowd sweep, you’ll notice that there are very few overweight Japanese. I wonder if they think Westerners are all fat?

And then it was time for dinner and again I find myself getting a little stressed as I have no idea what I’m going to eat or where we’re going to eat it.

We started strolling through the streets behind our hotel at Ikebukuro and lo and behold what do we see but a Shakey’s pizza!! Now hubby has a long association with Shakey’s and once we saw it, how could we not go in?
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We had to wait in line to be able to go in, and many people lined up after us as we waited.
The restaurant was full!!! And not full of tourists, but full of locals.
I was very happy that it was a buffet and hubby and I were able to finally really fill our bellies. I felt like we hadn’t eaten for a few days!

As well as pizza’s Shakey’s has beans and cornchips, mojo potatoes, salads, spaghetti, curry and rice and very interestingly, dessert pizza’s! Drinks with free refills and coffee were also included in our buffet price making this easily the best value meal we’ve had since we’ve been here. Very happy to use a regular fork to eat the spaghetti, but I had to have a little giggle when I saw a local trying to eat her pizza with a fork.

No need to visit the convenience store for snacks tonight!! In fact we walked the streets a little longer to try to help us digest the large meal we’d just consumed.
So much life in this place! No matter where you go, there are people everywhere!!

I’ll leave you with one last image. Hubby was begging me to pose with her but all I could think was the caption that would read “frumpy with fabulous”
So instead I took a pic when her back was turned. Gotta love Japan!

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