Saturday, 7 January 2012

Louise & Rob: Day Eight

We wake up late and eat  Pocky for breakfast with yet more bizarre Japanese gameshows. Louise decides to take a shower, instead of soaking for hours in the short but deep bathtub. The water pressure is so high that she almost gets pushed down the plug hole and comes out of the bathroom with red marks all over, before deciding to never brave it again – but soon feels consoled by milk Pocky.

We head out in the late morning, managing to avoid rush hour for what seems the first time during our holiday. At the train station Rob disappears to investigate a ‘new-looking’ drink vending machine while Louise panics on the platform that we are going to miss the train (despite the fact there’s another one in about 10 minutes). We get on the train safely and then suddenly realise we’ve forgotten where it is we’re actually going to, before realising we’re making a quick stop in Ginza before heading to the Moomin Cafe in Koraku-en.

We’re going to Ginza to look up Yakitori Alley, but it seems we’ve gotten here a little early and nowhere is open – but then we spot a small traditional looking restaurant nearby and duck in. We buy a set lunch (without much idea of what that entails..) and end up with deep-fried chicken, pickled radish, rice and miso soup all for around £3, including free rice refills – which is pretty standard in Japan.

We notice on a map that there’s a Godzilla statue in Ginza and want to check it out. We get really lost and wonder why it is that we can’t see a statue of the GIANT lizard, before noticing a Sega arcade. Louise wins 2 stuffed rabbits and 2 mini digital cameras in quick succession, while Rob is empty-handed.

We eventually find the statue – which is a LOT smaller than we expected, it’s in a quiet courtyard which quickly begins filling up with austere-looking businessmen. They all have a chuckle as we pose for tourist-style pictures with the statue.

We then make our way towards Tokyo Dome City, where we pick up a few Japan-exclusive goodies in Lush and ask for directions to the Moomin Cafe. We find it without a great deal of difficulty, and are delighted to see it resembles a cosy Nordic house.

Only with Moomins sitting around and about! We have Moomin-themed cakes and drinks while sitting with Moomin-Mama, which are delicious, before taking a look around the gift shop and spending probably more than we should on various goodies.

Outside, we see a fountain-and-lights show which is sponsored by Asahi (like many other things here!) and watch the scary-looking rollercoaster, which somehow manages to go right through the middle of a Ferris wheel. After a spell of sitting and relaxing, we feel an irresistible urge to go and play in more arcades. We play on a giant Pop-Up Pirate (and win an LED candle!), before Rob becomes glued to a sumo-drumming game and Louise pockets a Snoopy cup-and-spoon set but becomes sad at missing out on a Stitch in a panda suit... But what’s this? One more 100Y coin? Louise puts it in the machine, and one minute later she’s walking away proudly clutching her spoils. Victory from the jaws of defeat! 

Feeling as though our work here is done, we return to Shinjuku, to watch dusk fall from the hotel room, with a beer. Feeling ready for tea, we venture out for noodles at a traditional ramen bar. The bowls are huge (we have seen smaller baths) and filled with the most delicious broth, noodles and toppings. We noisily slurp our way through them, and Rob professes it’s the best food he’s ever tasted, and head to more arcades. One machine involves sliding a drink across a bar, cowboy saloon-style, and having it come to rest in a specific place. Rob (a closet cowboy) leaps at the chance to prove his Western mettle and ends up winning Louise a whole big goody-bag of various kawaii toys, including a giant Tarepanda, only to find her clutching a life-size Rilakuma wearing a crown, which she scored from a UFO-catcher. We worry if the arcades will have anything left in a few days’ time, or whether they’ll have to shut before we leave for home!


I like these photos! I would like to visit "moomin cafe" one day...

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