Asia, Japan

Japan 2.0: Day 9 (Tokyo)

I woke up really excited because today is the day we are going to the Ghibli Museum. I watched quite a few Ghibli films growing up so I was very grateful that we were able to get tickets to the museum this time. Again, the ever-reliable Bear Woman helped us book tickets 3 months in advance for us to actually be able to visit the museum, so plan ahead!

My Favourite Comfort Food: Gyudon

We went with a quick and easy breakfast today so we just stopped by Yoshinoya for gyudon. You can always rely on Yoshinoya for a good, standard gyudon. We had the one with onions and a raw egg and made it a meal with soup and salad. They also gave an egg separator so you can take out the whites and place a bright orange yolk on top of the beef and onion mixture over rice. I, unfortunately, got too excited about my food and I sprayed salad dressing all over myself and Aaron. Apparently, there are Japanese instructions on the packaging to warn you to aim the dressing at the food when cracking it open. If only I could read Japanese. To be honest, the salad wasn’t even that good. Sadly, it was not worth smelling like soya sauce the rest of the day.

Adventurous Taste Buds Don’t Always Pay Off

Before hoping on the train to Mitaka, where the Ghilbi Museum is, we stopped by a convenience store. I saw that they had a matcha soy milk so decided to give it a try. Since we are not allowed to be walking and drinking or to drink on the metro, I had a couple minutes while waiting on the platform to drink this. To my disappointment, it was very strange tasting.

All Aboard the Cat Bus (Almost)

We soon arrived at Mitaka Station and boarded the bus to go to the Ghibli Museum. It was easily recognizable as it was painted all in yellow with Ghilbi characters on it. I was hoping for an actual cat bus but I was still very excited. I was also hoping for Ghibli music but that also didn’t happen. It was only 320 yen for a round trip so I really shouldn’t expect too much. It is also a city bus so the daily commuters would probably not want to hear Ghibli music everyday (or would they?). The museum itself was very cute with only a few floors high with a few exhibits. Photography is not permitted inside, but you can take a picture with the large robot statue from Castle in the Sky on the rooftop patio or with the large Totoro in the fake ticket booth outside. After visiting the various exhibits of the behind-the-scenes of Ghibli films, I have so much respect for animators. The thought and detail that goes into each scene is incredible. There was an exhibit of the drafts of the story boards for various Ghibli films as well as another on the paint selection and colouring process. We also saw a real life cat bus (only for kids…sadly). Their attention to detail is amazing – with hidden Ghilbi characters on signs and lamp shades throughout the museum. No visit to the museum is complete without purchasing a Toroto keychain and fine china from the gift shop. If you were coming here for a grand Disney-like production, then this is not the place; however, it has a different kind of charm, which is highly respectable.

Harajuku Food Distractions

Next on our destinations list is Harajuku. Of course, no visit to Harajuku is complete without visiting the Meiji-Shrine, especially if this is your first visit to Tokyo. Next, we wander around the busy Takeshita Street. We were really hungry by this time and were distracted throughout our walk. First we snacked on some Oreo and cheesecake crepe, which would be excellent for those of you with a sweet tooth. Next, we had the potato encrusted corn dog with mozzarella in the middle. And yes, it was as amazing as it sounds.

We finally went to McDonald’s and we tried a few items that does not exist in Canada – the teriyaki burger (too much sauce; not a fan), the ebi burger (deep fried shrimp patty; huge fan and better than the usual filet-o-fish). What’s even more amazing is that there’s not only “do you want fries with that?” here. You can get nuggets as a side instead, which, of course, I did. I even got their ebi mayo sauce, which appears to be a similar sauce as the one that they place in their ebi burgers. 

Hipster Coffee Break

After lunch, we wanted to head to the Mame Shiba Dog Cafe. Unfortunately, they had a ticket system and they were out of tickets for the day! We were all disappointed and vowed to come back tomorrow morning to try again. Instead, we ate away our sorrows by having some of the famous Croquant Chou from Zakuzaku. This enlongated puff pastry originated from Hokaiddo. It is a crunchy pastry made with baked almond, sugar and egg whites. The inside is smooth and creamy milk cream from Hokaiddo. After that satisfying dessert, we stopped by a hipster coffee shop (Deux Ex Machina) for some coffee/happy hour drinks. I had this a lovely iced matcha mint lemonade, which very refreshing.

We then walked around Shibuya for some shopping. This was when I was introduced to Loft, a multi-level department store, and fell in love. Each floor held a different category of items and there was just so much to see! It’s great place for purchasing nice organizers and various other household products. We bought a foldable duffle bag here to hold some of the extra shopping that we have (/Aaron has) been doing.

Musk Melon Achievement Unlocked!

Bear Woman’s goal this trip was to eat an expensive musk melon and until now, we’ve been delaying it for various reasons (e.g. too heavy to carry long distances, limited department stores opening hours etc.) Today, we made it a point to stop by a department store before they closed to find a melon. We saw one on display at Seibu but the obstacles continue as it was sadly sold out! It was as if the universe was telling us that this was not meant to be. Suddenly, Bear Woman spotted Shibuya Nishimura Fruits Parlor, a store specializing in expensive fruits, so we walked in, pointed at the 12,000 yen musk melon and walked away happy. (Actually, what really happened was that they told us the melon we picked was good to eat in 5 days. Bear Woman exclaimed we were planning to eat it today. The shocked, but very kind salesmen went to pick us another melon and after knocking it a few times, felt that this was one was ready to consume today.) Feeling accomplished, we went to look for an izakaya for some small plates and drinks before heading home. 

Izakaya Fun

The izakaya that we decided on was called てっぺん 渋谷 男道場. We were required to remove our shoes but luckily there was a recess at the table for our legs. This was the best of both worlds as it was nice to eat comfortably without shoes but we did not have to sit cross-legged. As much as I think it’s fun to do this once in a while, my legs do invariably fall asleep. It was a nice, friendly place and our server had excellent English skills. When we complimented her on her English, she told us that she had no formal English education and she just learnt it on her own. Impressive! The restaurant’s compulsory appetizer or otoshi for the day was a sardine salad. It was a nice amuse bouche to start off the meal. Next, we had the visually impressive soba noodle salad which we were hoping would be a healthy addition to our meal. Little did we know that the noodles were deep fried, so not too healthy but it definitely added a lovely crunch to the veggies and egg salad. Then, we had the fried octopus, which we were expected to be like calamari but it was more like an octopus karaage, which was still very tasty. Speaking of which, we had the chicken karaage next, which was good, as expected from most restaurants in Japan. We also had the baked avocado with egg which was not bad but I think we were expecting something different. This is actually something I make for breakfast at home sometimes so the taste is familiar. We ended our meal with a grilled fish and salmon/sardine fried rice which was nice but the taste was not too special. To be honest, I haven’t been to impressed with my izakaya experiences, I guess it’s more for socializing and drinking than for the food itself.

Melon Dream

It was a long day of sight-seeing so I soon passed out once we got back to the AirBnB. I was awoken at 1am with to the ceremonious cutting of the musk melon. It was worth waking up for as it was an amazing sight, with the juices overflowing with every cut. The outside of the melon looked like a cantaloupe but the inside is green like a honey dew. The texture of this melon was unlike any melon I’ve ever had. It was more transparent and juicy like a watermelon. It was definitely the juiciest and sweetest melon I’ve ever tasted; however, I do not know when is the next time I will be eating a 12,000 yen (~$140 CAD) melon. Thanks for the opportunity, Bear Woman! We decided to savour this prized fruit and ate only a bit tonight and plan to eat the rest tomorrow morning for breakfast. Soon, I went back to having sweet dreams. 

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