Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Last Trip to Tokyo

I moved out of my apartment Saturday morning. Despite the blackout Friday night, I was still able to get most of my last minute packing done. I woke up early Saturday morning to finish packing and cleaning my apartment.

My IC (a translator/helper hired by Interac) arrived around 9 and we packed my things into her car and waited for some people to come so that I could pay my final electric and gas bills. My IC drove me to Mishima and by 11 or 12 I was on a shinkansen on my way to Tokyo.

It didn't feel weird to leave Toi like I thought it would. It didn't feel like I was leaving. I think that's partly because I didn't have to completely clean out my apartment. When I left, there was still furniture, dishes, cleaning supplies and more. So the apartment never had that bare feeling that most places have before moving.

Earlier in the week higher than normal radiation levels had been detected in Tokyo, but they still hadn't reached dangerous levels. I kept checking the situation and decided that it was safe to go. But I wondered how Tokyo would be. I had heard that at times the streets had been almost empty but I wondered if that was still true.

When I reached Tokyo station there were plenty of people, but the station was kind of dark. They were only using about half the lighting as normal. Also, most escalators were turned off so I had to search around for elevators because I had two suitcases, a backpack, and a shopping bag of shoes I hadn't managed to fit in my suitcases.

I left one suitcase in a locker in the station and took the rest of my stuff to my hotel in Akihabara. By that time I was really hungry and didn't want to search around for food. So I went to a nearby McDonald's. I had a Happy Set, Shake Shake Chicken, and grape Fanta. I was excited because they had pizza flavor for the Shake Shake chicken which I hadn't had before. It was good! :)

I wandered around Akihabara a bit after lunch. First I went into Yodobashi Camera. Like the train stations, they were also reducing their electricity. Some of the lighting was turned off and many displays were turned off, but it wasn't really that different. It was still as crowded as usual.

I went into an arcade in Akihabara. I tried winning a cute stuffed animal out of a claw machine (and failed of course) but didn't play any other games. It was still interesting though.

That's not what I tried to win, lol.

Some of the skills I see in those arcades are just crazy!

mannequin advertising a maid cafe

Sooooo many AKB48 gachapon machines!

I got thirsty and bought this grape jelly drink (like chunks of jello in juice). I don't know why I wanted this because I didn't like the aloe jelly drink I tried before, but it sounded really good right then. I'm glad I got it because I actually really liked it!

The Donki store in Akihabara has an AKB48 shop. There was a line to get in and it was ALL guys. I didn't go in, lol.

Arashi advertising the 3DS

Later I went back to Tokyo Station to pick up my other suitcase and take it to my hotel. After that I went to Shibuya. I went out the Hachiko exit like usual and for a second thought I had gone out the wrong exit. It looked so strange with the TV screens and many other signs turned off!

There was some random guy with flashing sticks dressed as an angel... 

I went to Ichiran Ramen for dinner. As I walked back towards the Hachiko crossing I saw some street performers. They had a sign that said "We Play For Japan" and another sign in Japanese that I couldn't read much of but I think I saw the kanji for "earthquake" so I'm pretty sure they were playing for donations for the earthquake/tsunami victims.

The next day I had to drag my luggage across Tokyo because I was spending the next couple of nights in Ikebukuro. Going back and forth wasn't so much fun, but the rest of the day was. :)

In Shibuya I saw a sign advertising new Fanta.

I stopped in a konbini to see if they had any new flavors. They had Honey Lemon so of course I had to try it!

It was pretty good, but not one of my favorites. My very favorite was peach. I also loved melon and white grape. I don't know why melon fanta isn't sold in the US. I knew so many foreigners who loved melon soda so I think it would sell well here.

Next I went to an area I hadn't been to before called Shimokitazawa. It's a nice area, but not super super interesting. I went because I wanted to go to Kokoro Soup Curry which I had read about online. It's a restaurant that originated in Hokkaido. I never had the chance to try soup curry when I was in Sapporo so I wanted to at least try it in Tokyo.

However, I couldn't find the restaurant. I had found their website online and drew their map onto a piece of paper, but it wasn't very helpful because the streets were at a different angle than the map, so it was confusing. I settled for Mos Burger instead.

I had fun looking around though. I almost thought these mannequins were real!

That night I headed to Odaiba to go to Oedo Onsen Monogatari. It's a hot spring "theme park."

First you go in and pay. The price is reduced after 6 PM so it's only 2,000 yen for adults. Though I remember them only charging me 1,600 which is the price for kids 4-11. I hope there was some special deal that night because if they thought I was some random 11 year old foreign kid there by myself that's just kinda weird.

Anyways, after you pay they give you a wristband with a key. You go to a counter and pick out a yukata. Then you go to a locker room and change into a yukata. Next you enter a room designed to look like an old fashioned festival.

You can enjoy many old-fashioned things such as arcades and Dippin' Dots! Haha. It is a bit cheesy I guess, but it's well done and I really enjoyed it. :)

From the main area you can enter the bathing areas. I went in there and tried all seven of the baths. My favorites were the outdoor ones.

After relaxing in the baths I went back to the main area and bought some green tea Dippin' Dots and ramune soda. The Dippin' Dots were really good! :)

The wristband has a barcode and you use that to pay for food and stuff. Then you go back to the counter when you leave and pay for everything that you bought.

The next morning I went to Ueno to visit my favorite toy store, Yamashiroya. There was a pretty, but fake, sakura tree in the station. There were panda bears because Ueno Zoo recently got some pandas. I would have liked to go see them, but it was a gross and rainy day... not good for going to a zoo. :(

I went to Starbucks and enjoyed a Sakura latte, went to Yamashiroya, and then decided to try finding the soup curry restaurant again. I had looked up the address on Google maps and was pretty sure I knew where it was.

Hello Kitty warns passengers to not get their fingers stuck in the doors.

This time I had no trouble finding the restaurant at all. I ordered the 14 vegetable soup curry. Let's see if I can remember all the veggies...

Carrot, green pepper, potato, sweet potato, edamame, green beans, okra, baby corn, cabbage, mushrooms (2 types), eggplant, tomato, and broccoli... I'm not sure if they two types of mushrooms are counted as one or two. So maybe I remembered them all... anyways... it was delicious and here's a picture!

A METAL SPORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

After my super delicious lunch (I wish I had known about this restaurant sooner!) I bought taiyaki from a stand. It's a fish shaped waffle with red bean paste inside.

Next I went to Ikebukuro. I went to Book Off and Tokyu Hands.

cute sign in Ikebukuro

Next I went to Shibuya and went to Loft and some other stores. It's such a fun area to just wander around. Though many of the stores closed around 6:00 to save electricity.

I went to Sapporo Ramen for dinner and had miso ramen. I ate a lot of Hokkaido Food that day!

The next morning I didn't do a whole lot except for take a couple trips to drag my luggage between Ikebukuro and Nippori stations. Though I did some shopping at Yodobashi Camera when I went there to cancel my cell phone. I had about 1,500 yen worth of points left on my point card. I couldn't let them go to waste! So I bought a cute puzzle of a cat and K-On (a cute anime) keychain. 

I ate a quick lunch in Ikebukuro Station at Anerson, a bakery. I had quiche, a potato and cheese roll, a sweet potato thing, and some sort of chocolate covered thing. It was all super good like usual. I will miss Japanese bakeries so much! They're so convenient and good! :)

I rode the Yamanote Line one last time to Nippori Station and then took the Keisei Skyliner from there to Narita Airport. It was sad to leave Tokyo! :(

Things had been a little different than normal. Signs and stores were less lit up and stores closed earlier, but it wasn't all that different. Trains were on time and the streets were full. I was glad to have one last fun weekend in Tokyo. :)


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