Day 2 started early, wasn’t sure if it was because I couldn’t sleep well in the pod or I was just terribly excited to go explore Tokyo. Googled to find out where I could get some good breakfast and was shown a result not too far in Shinjuku. Got out of bed and got ready to check out. Although I had another night here, I had to check out before 10am and check in again because they had to do some cleaning. However the locker was allowed for guests to be utilised so after taking out what I required and leaving the rest in the locker, I left for breakfast.
Just a stop away, I got off the Shinjuku station and using the Google maps, I walked towards the Aaliya Cafe. The cafe itself was situated at the basement and upon arrival, there were already a few tables taken up by diners. An English menu was given and I made the order pretty quickly for a standard french toast. The food was served on pretty tray but that was nothing compared to the taste of this French toast, it was great! It was nothing like I have tasted before in a French Toast, the soft creamy middle was covered by slightly thin crispy exterior, coupled with the sweetness of the cream, I was loving every bite of the bread!
As soon as I had been served, I was done with breakfast, probably due to rapid devouring of the tasty bread. Paid the bill and complemented the staff for the Oishi breakfast before exploring the stores around. I came upon a Jeans Mate and was elated to find the Anello bags there. Did spend a bit of time considering what colours to get and what size and eventually decided on a dark blue medium size one, amongst the limited choices there. I was quite concerned that I may not find another store that carried this bag, from experience of that store in Shibuya, so I just bought it.
Then moving to a tall building that housed a departmental store Laox, I went to look for more thermal flasks, also briefly looking at the watches that were sold there. It was pretty surprising to find the G-shocks actually were costlier in Japan than in Singapore (at least that’s what I thought), and so were the other watches. Proceeding to the household items floor, there was yet again a shelf full of thermal flasks. Sent some photos to wifey back at home and left, knowing that I would probably be able to see another Laox elsewhere.
Took the train to Tokyo station as I wanted to settle some shopping wishes first. This was for the Issey Miyake famous Baobao bag, and it was mentioned that the flagship store at Marunouchi would be good place to go while the other stores would normally be out of stock or lined with Chinese tourists. Disembarking at Tokyo station, I was in awe of the historical building of the Tokyo station and took a few pictures of it when I came up to the ground level. Then it was just a few minutes walk to the corner block of Issey Miyake.
The staff was conversant in English and I had to carry out a live videochat with wifey to decide the type and colour of the bag that she wanted, as those identified earlier from the website were unavailable. Finally settled for a Y51k bag tax free after introduction of the different combos and even having the staff carried it for size comparisons. Opted to leave the bag at the store after paying as I knew there would be lots of walking around and shopping and it would not be a good idea to lug the bag around but with the commitment to return before 8pm closing time.
Was initially wanting to visit a Muji store but one of the big ones that used to be in Marunouchi was already closed down. Got back onto the train and next destination was IT heaven in Akihabara. Upon alighting at the Akihabara station, the Yodobashi Camera store just next to it and this was the place where I would be purchasing my Nintendo Switch. But before reaching that level, I was surprised to find the entire building selling all electronics and electrical appliances throughout the different levels! It was like a Harvey Norman on steroids. I made a brief walk on one of those levels and saw things like robotic vacuum cleaners but didn’t stay long as my interests were elsewhere. There were thermal flasks (again) which I managed to find the one that Wifey wanted (200ml bottle for Y1980, cheapest yet) and also checking if she wanted anything else. Then upon reaching the 6th floor, I entered, again, the heaven of toys and games. The entire floor had different toys, models like Gundam, arcade games, Gachapon (capsule tikum). There was another section that was security isolated from the rest of the floor, the games section where the Playstations and Nintendo Switches were.
I was planning to get the Pokemon edition of the Nintendo Switch but it was sold out. Comparing the consoles, it was cheaper to get them in Japan, with the Tax refund. Games wise, whilst comparing with one of the more popular game store in Singapore, the games were comparable or even more expensive, except for the bundle Let’s Go together with the Pokeball. After much deliberation, I ended up getting the console (Y29980) and the bundle (Y9880) and left the games to be purchased in Singapore.
Before heading to lunch, I turned on my Pogo and found a raid that was about to begin. I made my way there to check out and experience the Pogo scene in Tokyo, after all, this was the birthplace of Pokemon. I waited for the 10mins or so and people started to stream in. I realised that there weren’t any much difference from what I experienced in Singapore, in terms of demographics of people playing and interactions.
I walked in the general direction towards one popular maid cafe called @Home for my lunch and as I sorta lost my bearings and found myself walking through the tiny street next to the building of @Home. Along this street, there were many girls in cosplay uniform handing out flyers to attract customers to their themed restaurants, something that I guess was extremely popular in this fantasy paradise of Akihabara. I didn’t want to change my plan and continued onwards to @Home. Entered the lift and realised that there were at least 5 floors of this cafe, and I didn’t know which to go. I decided to just go to the highest floor to see and when I exited, it was kinda crowded. So I took the stairs and head downwards and ended up on 5F, which looked relatively less crowded. Waited until one of the staff came over and explained the costs and duration and general instructions.
I was then led to the front row seats just in front of the stage. Thought there would be some sort of performance but there weren’t any as I found out later. The stage was a place where the polaroid pictures were taken. After making myself comfortable, I was shown a menu for the food with packages that included a photo opportunity with one of the maid of my choice. There was also something known as premium maids that would need additional costs if I chose that but I stuck to just one of them, someone by the name of Mai. There were also options of playing games with the maids, for additional costs, but I didn’t really have the time nor the money to experience that.
Then I was given a “Master” card (cos I was the Master?), something like a membership card that I supposed if you visit often enough, you get to upgrade?? The people around me were a mixture, like a group of 3 local guys there to celebrate birthday, a Japanese couple, a foreign tourist couple next to me and even a single lady. While the locals got more engagements with the maids as I supposed communications were much easier, the staff actually tried their best to carry out small talk with whatever Eigo they could manage.
When my omelette and matcha latte arrived, the maid serving asked for subject as a picture for them to put onto not just the latte, but also the omelette! I asked for a Pikachu which she promptly applied the green stuff onto the creamy latte top with ease. Then for the omelette, I asked for Ironman. “Ummm” then I asked for Mario and more “Ummm” and finally I said “Eevee” thinking that this would be just as popular a figure as Pikachu and it was still “Umm”…Took out my handphone to show her the picture and she proceeded to draw on the omelette with the ketchup bottle. Its tough being a maid, needing to do all this nonsense for customers, I thought.
Just before I could eat, the maid informed that I had to say some magical chants to make the food taste good. With clenched fists together at chest level, and moving from left to right to left, I had to chant “Moe Moe Kyun” with her. Could be embarrassing to those not used to doing cute stuff, but I guessed that’s just part of Japanese Kawaii culture. After my chant, I proceeded to munch down my lunch, the food wasn’t bad but it wasn’t something fantastic either (so much for the chant). The main point of the visit was really more to experience theme cafe then to have good food.
A few minutes later, I was being called to stage for the photo opportunity with my chosen maid. Had a few exchanges with her, who spoke pretty decent English. She seemed to look a little more caucasian then Japanese and she claimed that she did have some European blood in her. Then I had to choose a head gear that was either bunny ears or cat ears. Took the bunny ears and with the cutesy pose together with Mai, my polaroid was taken. Back at the seat, I waited for the bill and in between, there was one or two more short exchanges with other maids but nothing else more. Was given the polaroid in a nice card frame, another postcard with a message that I didn’t understand and a pair of chopsticks to take home as souvenirs. The experience though, I felt, didn’t really meet the Master-Maid relationship and merely superficial, such as being called a Master for the sake of it. A simple act of helping the master manage his coat would be nice but the lack of such service showed that the experience focus was more on the acting cute part but not on the service.
My next destination was to go Maricar, the Go-kart that went viral because of its likeness to the awesome family game Super Mario kart with the track on the Tokyo street. It was a couple of blocks away, but along a small street. There was a staff there which I checked for any scheduled trip for the day but was disappointed to find them fully booked. Booked for the next day for a 1hr slot although he recommended a 2 hour drive instead. Paid Y5000 plus Y500 for insurance and borrowed the cable to charge my dying handphone and also to use their toilet that was decorated with disco coloured lighting.
I decided to return to retrieve the bag that I bought in the morning at Tokyo and upon arrival at the station, I noticed my coat pocket had an unfamiliar ringtone coming out of it. When I reached for it, I was shocked to find not 1 but 2 phones, one of them did not belong to me! I couldn’t pick up the call but tried to call the number from the missed call on my own mobile, to find that the phone belonged to the owner of Maricar and somehow I must have taken it by mistake! Thankfully, he agreed to meet me at Tokyo station instead and concurrently, I went to pick up the bag and not too long after, I managed to hand over the phone to owner’s friend whom was helping him pick up.
From Tokyo, my next destination was to visit Ginza, another major but atas shopping area of Japan. I was supposed to get some Shiseido products and there was a Shiseido store in Ginza. As I walked along the streets of Ginza, I was amazed to see that each building was owned by one company, not just for the luxury brands but for any brand! Another interesting observation was that I had seen ladies wearing kimono walking down the street! Didn’t know why this was so but it seemed pretty normal to everyone else.
When I arrived at a red building that was named Shiseido, I went into the first floor and was surprised to find them selling pastries. I thought there was another pastry store named as Shiseido. Tried Google map and walked a few blocks to another Shiseido building and I found out from the security that I was at the corporate office and the red building was the right location, only that the one with the cosmetics were just across the road on the left! Feeling like an idiot, I made my way a few blocks back again and sure enough, another tall block belonging to Shiseido was there! Now I know Shiseido actually diversified into pastries as well.
Went into the building that seemed to have an army of staff and showed the photo of what I needed but that was no longer available. What was available though, Wifey wasn’t interested and so I continued to walk towards Uniqlo. The store in Ginza was in one entire block, consisting of twelve floors! They had one entire floor just for heat tech products alone. Spent quite an amount of time getting stuff for the whole family and at the 11th floor where they had collaboration pieces, I bought myself two tees. Went up and down a couple of times when Wifey had “live” suggestions to buy some stuff so had to go to the different stores catering for men, women and kids.
Then it was time for dinner and another themed restaurant that I planned to visit was Ninja restaurant. While making my way to the subway, I bought myself a sweet potato from a makeshift lorry and as it was too hot, I left it in my bag. Boarded the train and headed towards Akasaka, and this was when I experienced the infamous train squeeze that the viral videos were showing. Somehow, even with what seemed like a packed train, the people on the platform could all still go into the train. Thankfully, it was a short ride for me and all my shopping bags and sweet potato remained intact.
Ninja restaurant was part of a long building but the restaurant only had an entrance and no other windows, thus keeping the secrets of Ninja within its walls. I entered without a reservation and thankfully there was available seats (probably because it was late too, but they were opened to 1030pm, and each seating would take about 1.5hrs to 2hrs).
After confirmation of my dinner, I was asked to wait for a Ninja who would be coming to escort me. He appeared soon enough, dressed in all black, with only the eyes exposed (came with glasses which was funny) and he brought me through a hidden entrance. I had been informed not to take any photos as it was deemed dangerous for me, thus I just followed closely as we had to walk up and down, even had a wishing well to make a wish and saw a ninja activate a chained bridge to cross a broken bridge with his ninja chants before I arrived into the restaurant proper. I was brought to the Ninja village called “Durian” (or something in that pronunciation) and sat at a table, which was pretty dimly lit. The other tables all had customers but some were close to leaving. I was showed the menu, in the form of an ancient scroll, after handing over my jacket to the ninja (much better than the maid) and ordered the standard 8 course dinner with a non-alcoholic ninja cocktail that was part of a very famous incantations (for those familiar with such incantations especially from the movies in the 80s). As my phone was dying, with the cold sapping the battery faster than usual, I helped myself with the power supply nearby (luckily) as I plugged in my power charger that I brought along, as the ninja staff couldn’t help me find a charger that could charge my iPhone.
The dish was then served one at a time, just like fine dining, and I am very impressed with the quality of food! From the first dish of shuriken crackers to the last one, I enjoyed every one of them and they tasted really good! After the food, there was a magic show by the master ninja which was nice and she even thought me a trick so that I could bring it back to show to my family. Awesome experience! This wasn’t cheap though at a cost of Y7074 but I thought it was well worth it. After fulfilling my request to take a photo with one of the ninja, I was escorted out of ninja village, again with more drama, ninjitsu magic of extinguishing fire and even a final surprise in the form of a ninja showing me a scroll with a message to come visit again after I stepped out of the main entrance. Lots of effort there.
As I tried to get to the subway for my final location of the day, I had a videochat with my family whom were about to go to bed. Had to find a place to finish the call before boarding, for fear of disturbing the other commuters on the train. Then to Roppongi I rode, purely for the sake of getting a Hard Rock Cafe Tee. Over in the distance, I took a photo of the orange Tokyo tower that stood out, amongst the street lights of Roppongi. It didn’t felt very different from what was I saw in Shinjuku or Shibuya. Had to get the clothes from the restaurant store as the merchandise store was already closed for the day. Didn’t spend much time before I was on my way back to 9 hours.
Once back, I checked in again, and spend quite some time to do some packing as I had bought quite a fair bit of stuff. Then it was bath time followed by a visit to 7-11 store to get a beer to eat with my sweet potato. Spent some time at the lounge surfing the internet and attempting to finish that massive potato but couldn’t and retired for the night, at about 2am.