Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kristy and Adam's Most Excellent Unexpected Japan Holiday - Part Two - I HEART Tokyo!

Day Five June 6th
This morning we checked out of our hotel, said goodbye to Osaka and activated our Japan Rail Pass! We caught our first ever Shinkansen - which in our opinions is now our favourite way to travel! If only we had them in the Land of Oz.

It's comfy and quiet, with plenty of room to move. Much easier and less time wasted than catching a plane. Needless to say, we are massive fans of the Shinkansen. I spent a lot of time looking out the window, fascinated as so many variations of Japan flew by. Mind you, I did spot an advertisement, that could sway me to chose the plane option.
A fully Pokemon themed plane!!! Who wouldn't want to ride on that?!?! WANT! 
When our Shinkansen arrived in Tokyo we realised what a busy train station was. The route maps weren't always easy to decipher...
...but like before there was always people who would volunteer to help us out. We came to realise that using the trains in Osaka was like a practice run, and now we were in the big leagues. A week earlier when we were planning and booking our trip, we spent an entire evening (yes, until 4am) just trying to work out which hotel to stay at in Tokyo and which suburb. It was the one thing we struggled with in our planning. We wanted to be close to the Loop Line... but that often meant a big increase in costs and we were trying to do it on a budget. In the end we settled on EHotel in Higashi Shinjuku - about a 10 to 15 min walk from the Shinjuku Train station. It is arguably the busiest train station in the world. NOT for the faint hearted.
After leaving our luggage at the hotel we headed back to the train station to make our way to Akihabara, the computer/anime section of Tokyo that was loved +++ by my chef brother, Nicholas.

 Whilst we were there we couldn't help but order something from the Gundam Cafe. For those not in the know, it is a cafe completely based around the anime (Japanese cartoon) called Gundam.

We once again found ourselves in the SEGA gaming parlours. Wishing we could win some Evangelion prizes. No luck there.

But I did manage to purchase a few Evangelion themed capsule keyrings. Once again, not a massive success as I got my 3 least favourite characters, but it was still cool to be buying from a capsule station in Japan.

We spent a lot of time browsing the video gaming parlours and collectable stores, traipsing up and down many flights of stairs. But in the end it was time to eat a rice ball and head home for the night.

Day Six June 7th
You may have noticed in some of our photo's, that I am toting a handbag that looks a lot like a stuffed toy. His name is Totoro, I actually adopted him from one of my previous Thailand trips. He is however, actually a popular Japanese anime character from a film by Studio Ghibli. To be able to go to this museum we had to purchase our tickets before we left Oz. From the train station it is an easy and beautiful tree-lined walk to the Museum, with themed sign posts guiding your way there.

The Museum was designed by Hayao Miyazaki one of the founders of Studio Ghibli, the result of which is that not only the exhibits, but also the building and gardens are all beautiful works of art. Every little detail has been thought of, and you truly feel like you are in a Ghibli film.

You are not permitted to use your cameras inside the museum, which I figure is fair enough... But we still managed to take a truck load of photo's while we were outside. One of our most favourite things was the robot from the film Laputa : Castle in the Sky.

We spent a good half of our day exploring the magical museum world and then proceeded back to Akihabara to explore more there.

So many awesome shops with retro games! And yes!! That is a throne made out of game cartridges. As big fan's of the documentary film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, we couldn't walk past a vintage Donkey Kong machine without giving it a go:

We also had a long look around the store called LOFT which I am pretty sure was in Shibuya. More fancy hat options were found, and shenanigans occurred.

We finished the day off in our first ticket restaurant, with a massive glass of Kirin and a freaking delicious yet affordable meal.

Day Seven June 8th
As I mentioned back in part one, Adam and I LOVE themeparks. So when posed with the question, which Disney theme park do we go to whilst in Tokyo? There was much deliberation, and online research. There are two options, Disneyland - a replica of the original that is located in America, and DisneySea - a Disney themed park designed especially for Japan. It was a tough call, but in the end we decided on DisneySea.
Tickets! Yay! My first time ever in a Disney theme park. It's a big deal for a girl who knew every word of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast and swam around the local swimming pool thinking she was The Little Mermaid.
We had a lot of fun playing around again with hats and headbands, and this time we even had tails as an option!

We decided to do as the Romans do, and purchase our own head gear to fit in with the crowd (any excuse is a good one really!). We went traditional. Me with my Minnie Mouse ears and Adam with the original Goofy hat.

Under the Sea was mainly built for littlies. It was cool to walk through, we skipped the kiddy rides, but I couldn't resist seeing a show with an awesome real life Ariel swinging swimming above our heads, singing Part of Your World with some crazy cool puppetry of her fishy friends. I remember always singing that song to myself, wishing that one day someone would hear me and be so surprised and impressed with my vocal talent (Kristy! I didn't know you could sing! You sound amazing!), but truth is I can't - I love to sing but my vocal skills are lacking. Mind you, I did get my moment, in a way. I will never forget walking around the toilet block in highschool, singing that exact song, hitting the ?crescendo (is that what you call it?), and my friend Bucky, stopping in his tracks, turning his head to say to me something along the lines of "that sound's really good Kristy". Little did I realise that same friend would one day in the future stand beside my future husband as another of my dreams came true - walking up the aisle to my future husband, who I love like crazy who would get teared up at the sight of me in my wedding dress.
Whoops. I digress.
Adam, prooving yet again how perfect a match he is for me, is also a massive Disney fan, especially of Aladdin... and he got pretty choked up excited at the sight of Agrabah.

He tried to purchase some 'Dead Sea Tupperware', gleefully rode a fake stationary camel, and tried to get a photo with the Cave of Wonders but was sabotaged by a small child. I topped Adam's camel, by managing to score a carousel ride with my mate Genie.
The Tower of Terror is a spooky elevator themed ride that is probably one of our most favourite rides to date. Here's Adam looking cool, with the ride in the background. Yes, it is that massive weird shaped building.
And here we are waiting in line to ride it:
And here is Adam enjoying a beer outside of it:
A perk of DisneySea is that yes - they serve beer and massive delicious smoked turkey legs.
But what you ABSOLUTELY MUST DO, if going to a Japanese theme park like DisneySea, is immediately give in to the popcorn bucket! Trust us. Just do it.
I think that is me back inside the line up for the Tower of Terror chomping down on delicious popcorn whilst riding what we like to call the line ride. Yes, Totoro scored his own matching popcorn bucket. The flavours may be odd sounding to some Oz folk, but trust me when I say they are all worth trying.
The Japanese themepark go-ers are fantastic consumers, and most will come for the day fully equipped with disney themed clothing, a hat or headband and their very own popcorn bucket to refill throughout the day. To foreigners it may seem odd at first, but once you join them, you realise there is method to their madness. 1. It's fun.
2. Popcorn buckets are lifesavers when you are waiting in line for an hour and half.
Yes. That is a 45 minute line ride, just to meet Mickey Mouse.
We opted out of the Mickey line ride and instead lined up for 20 minutes to meet Goofy.

We had a fantastic time, and would go back in an instant.
It was very late at night when we left, after seeing a spectacular night-time water parade. It was a big day, so not so surprising that this little girl mouse was all tuckered out!