Back home again! Settling and fixing other peoples screwups

So we’re back home again.

The flight went fine, food was awful as expected.
Got everything in order at home again and picked up our Ferret from Marcel’s parents again.

Conclusion of our trip:
It was once again amazing! We had a blast, saw lots of new things and still feel there is much more to see for us. We don’t have plans yet for next time, but we’re certain it will come ūüôā

We did have an issue with our blog though.
After our last blogpost the site had issues, and after contacting the hosting service they restored an old backup without informing us first, resulting in the loss of four days of blogs….Thanks a lot for that, bunch of tossers…

So we spent our sunday morning rewriting the lost blogs, hopefully still remembering the details of the days, but I think we did a great job!

Stationary and loads of Pokémon

Today was our last in Tokyo, time flies when you’re having fun!

After breakfast we first headed to Itoya, which is an eight story store, filled with stationary, pens are lots of other stuff Rhonja really likes. Luckily she found the pen pictured below a bit ugly, the price was also a bit steep at ‚ā¨25,000…

  

On one of the floors they had paper flowers, and even supplies so you could make your own. This was free, so of course we participated:

  

In the afternoon we mainly did some last minute shopping, because we had to make sure we had enough Kitkats with strange flavours.

Before dinner we made a quick stop at, of course, an arcade where we played a round of Taiko no Tatsujin (guess who won?)

For our last dinner, we had something special planned. Marcel had made a reservation at the Pokémon Café, where they serve all kinds of Pokémon related dishes.

After waiting in line for a short bit, we could enter the café.
We were brought to our table, where a giftbag was waiting (Marcel ordered this beforehand) and got a brief explanation, in Japanese, on how ordering worked (using a tablet) and afterwards we could reveal which Pok√©mon placemat we got! They used the original 151 Pok√©mon for the placemats, Marcel got Dugtrio which is a bit meh, but that wasn’t as bad as Rhonja’s Magikarp which is about the most useless a Pok√©mon can get.

For the main course Marcel ordered an Eevee burger, along with a Gengar smoothie. The smoothie was really REALLY sweet, but looked amazing. It even had a red light inside to make it look even more amazing:

Rhonja went for a curry (3 days in a row…) and it was made from Pikachu!

Even the vegetables and potatoes were cut in little stars, so it looked really cute (kinda too cute to eat), but it tasted pretty good although not as good as CoCo.

For desert Marcel went for a subtle Jigglypuff Cheesecake, which luckily wasn’t as sweet as it looks.

Of course Rhonja went for a not-so-subtle dessert, and picked the biggest one available. A Mimikyu filled with lots of whipped cream and cake. It looked great but even Rhonja with her infinite dessert stomach thought it was a bit overkill.

We had a great meal and were stuffed. Beforehand we weren’t sure if it would be enough (and it was a bit pricey) but we were positively surprised.
When we got up to pay the bill, the people next to us told us to stay for a few more minutes, Pikachu was going to make an appearance!

So we sat down again, and within a few minutes some weird happy Pikachu music started and this giant Chef Pikachu entered the room. We had prime seets so we could see everything perfectly. Rhonja was overjoyed since she even was able to shake Pikachu’s hands!

After watching Pikachu dance and sing for 20 minutes we decided to head back to our hotel, where we started packing our suitcases again for the flight tomorrow!

Traveling to Fujigoko….or not

Today we wanted to go to Fujigoko.
There was a flowerfestival going on, so after lots of planning on the night before we headed out to the bus-terminal to get some tickets.

When we got to the ticket-dispenser, we unfortunately saw that all tickets were sold out for the next busses. There were some seats available in the afternoon, but we didn’t really feel like waiting four hours. Also seeing the tickets were sold out, we figured it would probably be pretty crowded there anyway, so we decided to explore some new areas nearby the bus-terminal.

We first made a quick stop at Mr Donut, were we got some Pon de Ring donuts. These are made up from several machi balls (which are rice balls) and taste really good!

Afterwards we headed to Shibuya for some shopping, and we ran into this guy who had a cart filled to the brim with fluffy cats! Of course we had to make a quick stop so Rhonja could pet them

We ended the afternoon a little bit early since Rhonja wasn’t feeling that well, so we headed back to the hotel.
Fortunately around dinner she was fine again, so we ended our day the best way possible: Having dinner at CoCo, and playing some arcade games!

Plastic foods, pottery and a LOT of people

For today Rhonja had planned for us to go visit Kappabashi. This is a long shopping street dedicated to kitchen goods and plastic food. It also turned out to be the street where Marcel bought his fancy knives last time. We were looking to see if we could find some pretty bento boxes, or maybe fun chopsticks, but in the end we found some very pretty teacups featuring tanuki. They reminded us of Animal Crossing games, so that along with them looking adorable made us get them instead!

We also visited a fun looking shop dedicated to plastic food. It was especially fun because they had displays featuring the creation process of plastic food from mold making to airbrushing on the finishing touches!

After we finished looking around there we decided to pay a visit to the nearby Senso-ji temple. We managed to take a side-entrance so it seemed quite peaceful for such a well-known location. Until we rounded a corner and were met with a lot of tourists and Japanese alike! Senso-Ji has very large and well kept temple grounds and it’s definitely a pretty one to visit. But you do notice it’s a bit commercialized in its own way. Usually temples sell a few different talismans in one location, but Senso-ji had a lot of talismans for sale all over the place!

Right outside Senso-ji was also a street rumoured to be a very good shopping place for traditional Japanese souvenirs. This seemed like a lot of fun! But unfortunately it was so crowded we didn’t really feel like browsing and just walked on instead.

In the afternoon we made a quick stop at¬†Kabukicho. This area is most known for being the more “rough” part of Tokyo (were apparently the Yakuza resides). It was fun to visit, since once of the games Marcel plays takes place in an almost exact copy of this area. We even spotted Godzilla there!

For we went to visit Marcel’s cousin, who lives in Shibuya. We caught up a bit at her home with some drinks and snacks, and afterwards went out for dinner. For appetizers we started with a meatplatter, as a main dish we choose the grilled Tuna steak, and ended with Macha dessert. Was great seeing her again and the place she took us to was superb! Hopefully we can meet again on our next trip!

Visiting “little Edo”

Today we got up for an early start because we wanted to go to Kawagoe. It’s a little bit outside of Tokyo and also known as “little Edo” for the old style part of town they have. Once we got there it was really, really busy! We didn’t really find much to do there though.

At one point we saw people walking with beers and others with giant potato chips, both of which looked really appetising. We found the beers and got some, and also found the potato chips but there was a queue. It didn’t seem too long, until we reached what we thought might be the end and it went around the corner and waaaaaay back. Nobody should want fresh potato chips that badly. At least we didn’t.

After some walking around we arrived at a little area that was known as “sweets street”. It was also around lunchtime though and we were feeling more like something that wasn’t sweet. We saw a place selling sweet potato fries though which seemed like a great idea! It turned out that it wasn’t fries made of sweet potatoes, but fries that are sweet! Although they were still nice, it was a very unexpected experience.

On our way back to the station we visited an arcade they had there and played a couple of games before returning to our hotel again.

On to our last city!

This last morning in Nagoya we didn’t do anything special. We soon headed for Tokyo. It’s a fairly long trip but since we left early we arrived around noon. Our room unfortunately wasn’t ready yet so we went across the street for lunch in what turned out to be a sports bar. The food was good though, we had a meat and rice bowl with some gyoza (baked dumplings) on the side.

We also decided to make a short visit to Akihabara to start visiting some stores and check out arcades. Marcel scored Hyrule warriors for the nintendo switch today. It’s in japanese, obviously, but the game doesn’t really contain much story so that’s okay. Rhonja didn’t manage to find a cool e-musement pass yet though, but she’s still having fun playing the games.

Afterwards we checked into our hotel, where we even got some origami cranes!
DSC05949.JPG

For dinner we decided on a place that as far as we could tell served noodles with meat. It used a 100% japanese ordering ticket machine though, but luckily the server immediately brought out an english menu and told us to call him when we were ready to order and he’d help us with the machine. We both got some cold noodles with pork and a sardine soup. And we figured out the soup is more of a sauce. By sneaking a peek at other patrons we saw them put the noodles in the (relatively thick) soup before eating them. It was really good!

DSC05954.JPG

Afterwards we visited another arcade, where Rhonja played one rond of jubeat before we decided we were kinda tired and headed back to the hotel for the night.

Shopping and arcades

Nagoya isn’t a very touristy city, we knew this going in. But we also knew that today there was a flea market near the (only noteworthy) temple. So in the morning we headed towards the Kannon temple. Though they had some pretty things, everything was still pretty expensive. We had some fun looking around the market and the temple before we decided to head to some nearby stores that seemed like fun, concerning second hand games and such goods. Though we didn’t find anything we wanted it was still fun to browse.

DSC05929

Nagoya also has a pokemon center, so that was our next stop. It’s always fun to visit the different pokemon centers because they carry goods unique to that location. And it’s pokemon so it’s all ridiculously cute!

DSC05933

We spent the rest of our day visiting more gamey stores and various arcades. We played a bunch of pop’n music and taiko no tatsujin. When it was time for dinner Rhonja located four restaurants that seemed nice. The first was full…. The second was also full…. The third was weirdly deserted….. But the fourth had space and wasn’t empty either! The food was fairly decent but Rhonja had to eat grilled mackerel with chopsticks which was a challenge to say the least!

DSC05943

The evening was young and we really like playing games at the arcades. So we went back to the arcade for more pop-n-music, but we also gave jubeat a try. It’s another rhythm game with a 4×4 grid of buttons that show an animation of when you need to press them. It’s a lot of fun! Rhonja likes it because it has easy to follow visual cues.

DSC05948

Tomorrow though it’s time to head to the big one, Tokyo! We already picked a bunch of places we want to visit so we’re sure to have a blast there as well.

Untitled

One place Rhonja really wanted to visit was Gujo Hachiman. The only problem was that it’s out in the countryside, so we got up at 7:00 to go there with a combination of subway, train and bus. Though yesterday the weather forecast for today was a little iffy with some rain, when we checked again today it would be cloudy but dry. We felt really lucky as we didn’t want to repeat our last sidetrip..

DSC05900

Rhonja already read that there’s a lot of stuff to do at Gujo, and that there’s a combination ticket available at the tourist center so that would be our first stop. Though the people behind the counter didn’t speak any English, with the help of a sign and some pointing Rhonja got some idea of what the two types of tickets entailed. And with the help of Marcel’s translation app we got a little further. When we went to actually buy the ticket at the next counter, the clerk there called someone over who was able to explain it all in english. Why they didn’t bring him out in the first place we’ll never know… But we got a ticket with which we could visit the castle, museum, one out of three art galleries and two consumption tickets each, redeemable at several locations all over town.

 

We decided to go for the castle first as it was rumoured to have an awesome view. The view was indeed pretty great once we got up the mountain and to the top floor, but what we really appreciated was how few people decided to make the climb. We spent a little while all alone on the top floor which meant we could enjoy the view at a very leisurely pace.

Following the map we got, the museum seemed our next logical step. It was small and fairly nice, but all the signs were in Japanese. They told about the history and events of the town, and they also had large collections of dolls engaged in a few activities. There was also a traditional dance demonstration every hour and we got some shitake mushroom soup samples (delicious!).

DSC05894

One of the main reasons Rhonja really wanted to visit Gujo though, is because it’s the home of the plastic food samples! Japanese restaurants often have food samples on display outside so you can see what kind of stuff you can order and apparently 60% of the stuff comes from Gujo.

DSC05908

Some of the stores offer workshops where you can make your own which sounded like a lot of fun!
We located one store that offered workshops, but unfortunately to make tempura shrimp we would have to wait 1,5 hours. However, if we wanted to make our own fruit dessert with a note-holder we could do that right away. Though the tempura would’ve been a more hands-on thing this was a lot of fun to do as well. You got to choose a type of cup (round or heart shaped) and 5 items (strawberry, pineapple, kiwi, tangerine, blueberry, chocolate or maraschino cherry). The cream holds it together like glue.

IMG_20180517_134012

After this and some scenic views, we spent our coupons on a fake cookie keychain, some local sake and crunchy cookies! Marcel also bought a fake takoyaki keychain because he has some fond memories concerning takoyaki.

Gujo Hachiman was definitely worth the trip out there! Upon returning to Nagoya we headed out for dinner and our favourite after-dinner activity – the arcade!
We started with some pop-n-music and Marcel really wanted to play some coin-dozers. The dozers here are pretty neat as they seat 2 at a machine (convenient) and they have mini-games while you play that give you more coins in the machine! Obviously we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. We did have a few buttons which sometimes would light up and we would press, but they might’ve well been duds for all we know. We didn’t win anything, but we did have a blast!

DSC05920

Lots of gates and traveling to Nagoya!

This morning we got up a bit earlier because we wanted to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha, which can get really crowded later in the day.
We also went here last time during the Golden Week, but after half an hour of shuffling along we decided to head back.
Today was different, there were hardly any people and what took us half an hour last time was only 1-2 minute walk now.

DSC05792.JPG

We were surrounded by huge gates (Torii), all being a slightly different size. Families and companies can donate money to erect a shrine, and of course more money equals a higher torii. They start at a few euro’s for a torii of a few cm’s, and go up to ‚ā¨10.000+ for the bigger ones seen in the picture

DSC05802.JPG

DSC05805.JPG

Afterwards we headed back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and headed off towards to Kyoto Station.
At the station we bought Shinkansen tickets to Nagoya. Of course we went for the cheapest ones, these were for unreserved seats.

When we got to the platform, we were just in time for the train and jumped in. The car we were in however was reserved one, so we kept walking to the back in hope of finding an unreserved car. After about 4-5 cars we still didn’t find an unreserverd one, so we just sat down. Of course within a minute (just after Marcel loaded our luggage in the overhead compartments) the conductor came by and told us we were in the wrong seats and showed us where the unreserved car was. (Luckily with enough empty seats left)

After about 40 minutes we arrived in Nagoya and dropped our luggage off at the hotel. Our room wasn’t ready yet, but Rhonja already figured out some nearby arcades where we could spent some time until we could enter our hotelroom, so we did just that. (After making a quick stop at a pizza place we passed)

We played some Pop’n Music, Marcel even got to play a peeing game in the mens toilet
(Peeing and taking photo’s is a bit hard to do, so just a picture of my highscore)

DSC_0799.JPG

and just when we were about to leave we spotted a Japanese Railway Simulator which seemed way too cool to pass without trying, so Marcel did:

DSC05834.JPG

Back at the hotel we rested for a bit and for dinner headed out to a nearby Coco Curry, which is always a good choice when you don’t want to make difficult decisions of what to eat.

After dinner we just relaxed for a bit. Found Luigi’s Mansion in a different arcade, which of course we played, and afterwards headed back to our hotel.

DSC05847.JPG

Aoi Matsuri Festival day

We needed to do some laundry, so we decided to make it a lazy morning to do that and do some minor sightseeing nearby while we waited for the machines to finish. Our hotel is super close by the old Nintendo building, from back when they were just a playing card company. We’d already been there before but for us it’s still a neat piece of history to visit. We also strolled along the river for a little and visited a few nearby shops.

DSC05711

Before we moved onto our next activity, we went to visit the Pokemon Center. They always have loads of cute things for sale that we like to take a look at. We got some gorgeous cards for free because of the 20th anniversary of this pokemon center, and we took some cute toys from a pokemon gacha machine.

DSC05713

Today however, was also the¬†Aoi Matsuri festival. It’s a big procession of 500 people wearing traditional Japanese clothing. The two most important people are a messenger carrying the Emperor’s message and offerings to the two shrines and the Saio, a proxy for the imperial princess serving the deities. She has to dress in the formal style of the imperial court, which consists of 12 layers of kimono (30kg)! Luckily, she’s carried around on a palanquin all day long. Their general timetable is quite easy to find online, so we picked a spot to watch them pass by and got there at exactly the right time for it to start. There were two horse police at the very front, even they were dressed in traditional clothing! It was cool to see them all pass by and we had an excellent viewing spot in the shade, which was nice because today it was 27-30 degrees. Also, because we’re really tall for Japanese standards we had no problems watching the procession pass by.

Once we got back to the city center again we grabbed some BLT sandwiches and made our way to a nearby arcade. Rhonja is motivated to get better at the rhythm games, and Marcel would like to see her try and get better than he is!

Because we said we’d try and take it easy today we went back to our hotel before dinner. Rhonja chose two restaurants for today since one of those two was the one that was full before. Today we were in luck though! This restaurant was known for its fish and we ordered a set menu that included a little bit of a lot of things. We figured it’d be a bit like a course meal, but as we nearly finished our first dish the next two things came out. And while we weren’t even halfway with that the rest all came out so we ended up with a lot of food at once. Its nice to be able to pick and choose though. But unfortunately our “5 types of sashimi” included some octopus. Raw octopus, as Marcel had experienced before, is really chewy and slightly fishy. This time Rhonja had to eat some tentacle as well. And she didn’t like it either. Luckily we had beer to wash it down with and the rest of the food was great!
Except Rhonja had assorted tempura dishes.
Which included a piece of fried octopus tentacle.
But really, the rest of the food was awesome.

DSC05787

We wanted to visit Namco before we had to leave Kyoto again so we headed in that direction by bus. Though the drum game machines were all taken, we did spot a VR-section. Including Mario Kart VR! It was a little on the expensive side, but knowing we likely won’t see this in Europe for several years we really wanted to give it a try. The attendant helped explain the controls to us and get the VR headset on properly.
It was a lot of fun! You could watch the other person in-game and wave. If you looked at your own hands you’d see big Mario-mittens. And if you wanted to grab/use an item you had to make the grab/throwing motion for that. Very cool.

DSC05791

We tried to take another bus to get home faster, but though the first two stops seemed to be correct after that we noticed we were headed in the wrong direction.. We quickly got off at the next stop and decided to walk home anyway. It was quite a walk but it didn’t seem worth it to take another bus to try and get there. Tomorrow it’s time to leave Kyoto behind again and head for our next stop at Nagoya!