Tuesday 7 March 2023

Wonderful Japan Trip 2023

My best trip ever! Thank wifee for planning and a real recovery to my soul...

Day 1 - Hectic traveling from flying to Tokyo, followed by domestic flight to Fukuoka, in between trains travel and taking Shinkansen to Osaka all in a single day… Talk about the anxieties and uncertainties getting mobile data and travel connectivity… Won’t be possible without the planning of my dearest wifee with this last minute wishlist ! As well as recommendations from friends… I’m truly grateful… We were welcome by the magnificent aerial view of Mt Fuji during flights and the sight of full sized Nu Gundam at LalaPort Fukuoka is a dream come true! 

Lucky to take the Hello Kitty train to meet my Japanese IG friend at Osaka. Thank you my friend for the plushie Pikachu keychain from Universal Studios Japan even though I didn’t have time for USJ…Appreciate the hospitality... Scouted Dotonbori with my off balance pose of Glico Man… Sure was a surprise to see Kinnikuman exhibits at Osaka Shinsekai Tower to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Shinsekai Tower. Backstory is that the century old tower had previously been featured in Kinnikuman’s manga! Den Den Town is definitely the Akihabara of Osaka… Too many stuffs on anime, toys & games… Chainsaw Man Cafe pop up in Osaka. Wifee made reservation before going down. This post deserves a mention cos this is by far the most difficult reservation… The online reservation form has 2 names to input. It took me a while to realize that お名前(フリガナ) means katakana name. When we were at the cafe, the staff told wifee that the name used for reservation had discrepancy. That’s because she had used her long time no use jipun name ~ Reiko Kimura (レイコキムラ). It was a pain to choose a family name... 

Next up: Kyoto!!! We stayed at Kyoto Tower Hotel so may as well visit the observatory… Their mascot is Tawawa and currently the tower has a collaboration with anime Sound Euphoria… The tower oversee the old imperial palace… 1st stop: Fushimi Inari-Trisha. Arashiyama was calling us. Togetsukyo Bridge photo taking is a must when comes to Arashiyama. What’s Kyoto without some matcha right? The warabi mochi, dango, ice cream, red bean soup etc tasted really good and it came with a view. After recharging our energy level, we were ready to take on the bamboo grove. It was really nice walking through the long stretch of bamboos. Lastly we took the Sagano Romantic Train which I don’t find it romantic at all cos Sakura trees have not yet bloom. The view will be spectacular when Sakura trees blossom. Last shrine stop for the day - Kiyomizu-dera Temple. This temple provides a good view of cherry blossom but 残念ですall Sakuras have not yet bloom. Lucky to chance upon plum blossom though. Overheard a guide saying this is the first sign of Spring. We brought our own cup bought during our honeymoon ~20 years ago to drink the water from Otowanotaki. Not sure if the temple is still selling it. This waterfall has 3 streams of water namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortune love life. 

A visit to the first tatami seatings Starbucks at Ninenzaka (京都二寧坂ヤサカ茶屋店) is a must if you wanna experience everything Kyoto... 2nd Gundam checkpoint is the Base Satellite at Kyoto... Best place to see the biggest Evangelion EVA Unit 01 bust statue... Trying the pilot capsule, stand on the palm of EVA Unit 01, eating purple curry and of course merchandise... Kaiyodo Figure Museum. Awesome exhibits especially for those are more into old school anime. Cool statues, finished resin kits, beautiful diorama… Lots of Evangelion & Godzilla! Toei Kyoto Studio Park - Best place to see the biggest Evangelion EVA Unit 01 bust statue... Trying the pilot capsule, stand on the palm of EVA Unit 01, eating purple curry and of course merchandise. 

Hakone - We have arrived at Tokyo-3 (Hakone in Evangelion universe)… You Are (Not) Alone Checkpoint 1: EVA-YA … We had the EVA-01 soft-serve ice cream (matcha/purple sweet potato flavor), and melon soda drink with grape jelly, which comes with a special sticker. You Are (Not) Alone … 
Checkpoint 2: We took the Hakone Tozen cable car (looks more like) up the steep slope and transferred to Ropeway (looks more like cable car) to the Owakudani for black egg
and ice cream… Of course the sulphur mine and terrain was featured on Evangelion anime.. Checkpoint 3: Continue with Evangelion pilgrimage with Unit-01 at Tōgendai Station before taking sightseeing cruise that sail across Lake Ashinoko, featured anime in the anime…Last Checkpoint: Rei has received us at the Torii gate

The queue to take pics at the gate of peace was long. Good thing we spent the night there and revisited the gate twice at different timings. Our first experience staying at a Ryokan. The Kaiseki Ryori was sumptuous and we had relaxing onsen thereafter. 

Fuji Q - for Evangelion Ride… Apologies, of course to see Mt Mount... Someone had her Strawberry Fetish. How about a bowl of Naruto’s favorite Ichiraku ramen? Best train ride back to Tokyo… Nice interior with lots of comfort & privacy. Shoutout to Fujisan View Express 

Minami-Tama Station This is the moment when alighting at the wrong station offers a pleasant surprise… At Minami-Tama station and found Peach blossoms (momo) and Inagi City unveil the statue and sewage cover of Yatterman’s Yatter-Wan… Tribute to renowned mecha designer, Kunio Okawara. The search for Gundam sewage/manhole cover concluded at Inagi-Naganuma station. Here at the birthplace of renowned Gundam designer, Kunio Okawara! Here, we were greeted by the statues of Gundam & Char Aznable Zaku II Custom.. There is cozy souvenir shop that sells rice wine ice cream. Not forgetting to mention the life-sized statue of Votom Scopedog.

Odaiba - Much has changed… From RX-78-2 to Unicorn Gundam! Love remains. It’s a small world after all. It’s like entering the universe of little things. My pics are biased towards Evangelion. You will be surrounded by dioramas entirely in the hall as it has perspective of many others from city, space and airport. Try looking for miniature figure of anime characters like Sailormoon too! Apologies,I forgotten to take an overview of the hall so as to do better justice for the attraction.

Try teamLab Planets for visual and sensory experience… Bring your own shorts as you will need to walk through shallow water or rent shorts at venue. Free locker rental too. Do try the Michelin guide vegan ramen. Uzu is located right outside teamLab Planets. Ramen order closed at 5pm…luckily we left the last attraction venue and went straight for ramen. Blessed to secure the last 2 bowls... Another indoor attraction we visited was Joypolis.. I mainly go for less thrilling ones like 3D rides. 

Tokyo Skytree - Brought Macross OOTD to take pics with life-size model of the Gerwalk form of the Valkyrie VF-25F. The 8F gallery was already closed when we gone there in the evening. Returned the next day

Shinjuku - Respect the king of monster! Good thing the underpass that link the East & West of Shinjuku station has opened… Awesome Coco Ichibanya curry both vegetarian & non vegetarian ... First shrine in Tokyo that we visited this trip was Meiji Jingu Shrine. It is nice to see greenery in the midst of busy Shinjuku and Shibuya. This is a 30 mins walk from Shinjuku and link to Harajuku… akeshita street for sweet and kawaii stuffs...Recently took a liking in Human Made stuffs therefore took the opportunity to visit their offline store… Manage to get Blue Bottle coffee bean for a friend and may as well get a cold brew for myself. The vegetarian Okonomiyaki shop at Osaka is too small to accommodate more patrons. We were glad to have it at Shinjuku… Shoutout to Zen

Shibuya - Lots of things to do at Shibuya … Like taking the crossing, look for Hachiko statue. Mandarake for toys, visit the newly opened Miyashita Park, Parco (Pokémon, Capcom, Nintendo, Jump Shop, Bait, Bathing Ape & Radio EVA store)… Complete the Shibuya Sky experience with the view of Tokyo... A short walk from Shibuya station for nice vegan food. Homie restaurant located at the basement corner with friendly patrons. Shout out to Nagi Shokudo...

Tokyo Station - Well deserved victory sign for finally been able to find T’s Tan Tan vegan ramen inside Tokyo Station. It was a tough find until we finally tap in the train station (similar to airport departure area) … Took a walk along 1st Avenue Character Street and find Kamen Rider Store most appealing to me... Stopped over Godzilla Square Hibiya to catch a glimpse of Shin Godzilla.

Gundam Factory Yokohama - Completed the third and last 1:1 scale Gundam in Japan… This is definitely one of the main motivation of this trip before the announcement of its extension. No wonder they say Yokohama is an ideal dating site...

Visited Sensō-ji (Asakusa Kannon Temple) 浅草寺 early to beat the crowd. We entered the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate 雷门) and bought some must eat snack at Nakamise then pass thru Hozomon. Both of us got good fortune from the divination lots. I guess it’s accurate cos we were blessed to see Sakura blooming. Take a few minutes walk from Asakusa to Bandai head office to pose with life sized anime character statues.

Nakano Boardway - The toy shrine & Torii gate to the path of nostalgia! Conquered the 8 decks soft serve and never knew there is a vegetarian restaurant at level 2 that has been around for the past 49 years… Pleasure interacting with the lady boss… 懐かしさ

Ikebukuro - They say if Akihabara is for men then Ikebukuro is for women… There are still many stuffs for male otaku beside Pokémon … Cool Shin Japan Heroes Amusement World, Bandai x Namco cross store, Book-off and Super Potato… Their Mandarake really target women only.

Akihabara - Our preferred stay at Tokyo is Dormy Inn Akihabara… Definitely, not for the room space… We are looking at onsen relaxation before & after our daily outings. The inn also provides welcome sweet treats. Free daily beverages & ramen from 9.30pm to 11pm. Free ice cream at night and free cultured milk in the morning at the manga corner. Not to mention the free laundry service too… 

There is really nice vegetarian restaurant known as Shojin near Akihabara station (below the train track just next to Tamashii store).. We had their Komaki Special set meal in the comfort of private room & Dango for dessert. We revisited the restaurant for eggless omurice & curry rice as well. Heard the crepe cake at Hama-sushi is good so we gave it a try (We should just sell crepe cake) … As for fast food, we has MOS burger and we were really impressed by their plant based selection. They even have their very own plant-based burger patties in can. Cosy two-storey restaurant that doesn’t seems like any fast food place as they serve coffee in ceramic cup… 

The taiyaki near Tam Tam model shop sold out real fast so we had their strawberry daifuku instead… I also challenged the green tea alcoholic drink for that bitter before plus after tasteOur hotel is located at Akihabara... However, Tamashii store and Seek Base were yet to open or already closed whenever I walked passed… The kidult at otaku paradise has finally been unleashed on the last day before flying back… At least the road is closed for me!!! Heavy casualties expected… Top up credit on YouTrip.

There’s my Pokémon field report… Pokémon center visited: Osaka (Shinsaibashi), Yokohama, Ikebukuro, Skytree & Shibuya)… Located Pokémon manhole cover near Yokohama Air Cabin… Managed to catch a Farfetch'd… Bought Pokémon Tokyo Banana for my kiddos. You teach me and I'll teach you, Pokémon! Gotta catch em' all!

Ueno Park - Shopping places usually starts in noon so visiting parks & shrines are the things to do in the morning. We enjoyed Starbucks coffee in the open and admiring sakura. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery we most wanted to visit… By far the biggest… They served my coffee like whiskey 

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