Posts Tagged With: Tokyo

Highway Bus from Tokyo Shinjuku to Lake Kawaguchi and Fuji-Q Highland

Highway Buses in Japan are a cheaper alternative to taking trains and if the travelling time to get to your destination is almost similar for both rail and bus, I will choose the latter as you can save quite a fair bit of money.

In this instance, the highway bus ticket from Shinjuku to Fuji-Q Highland or Lake Kawaguchi costs ¥1750 as at the date of this post, but taking the train will cost between ¥2080 to ¥4650 depending on which trains you are taking (i.e. fast/slow, reserved/non-reserved seating) and the number of times you’ll need to change trains. Do note that the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on these highway buses and you’ll need to buy a separate ticket. If you have already purchased a Japan Rail Pass, then it’s a no-brainer to take the JR trains to maximise your pass.

Both the Fujikyu and Keio Buses operate one to two direct buses per hour from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station (Keio Highway Bus Terminal) to Kawaguchiko Station in the Fuji Five Lakes region. The one-way journey takes close to two hours and most buses will stop at Fuji-Q Highland before arriving at Kawaguchiko Station.

Reservations are required for the Highway Buses and this can be done on-site at the bus terminal, by phone or online.

Inquiry and Reservation
Fujikyu Highway Bus Reservation Center: 0555-73-8181
Keio Highway Bus Reservation Center: 03-5376-2222

For online reservations, click here (in Japanese only).

If you need help to search for the route「新宿~富士五湖線」, click here where I have already entered the search criteria to board from the bus terminal in Shinjuku.

More information:

Locating the Keio Highway Bus Terminal「新宿高速バスターミナル」- it is opposite Yodobashi Camera on this map.

This is how the street looks by day…

…and by night:

Try and collect your tickets at least one day before your date of departure, so that you don’t have to rush on the actual day (in case there is a long queue) and also to familiarise yourself with how to get there. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to get lost navigating the streets to locate the bus terminal on your departure day and miss the bus!

Collection of bus tickets for departures on the next day and beyond can be done at the 2nd floor of the bus terminal building. Look for this door:

When you get to the ticket office, please take a number and wait for your turn.

On the day of your departure, look out for the correct bus bay for your destination. The bus departure times and their destinations will be displayed on the digital signboards.

Lastly, to ensure that you have boarded the correct bus, the destination will also be displayed on the TV screen located at the front of the bus.

For those planning to visit Fuji-Q Highland, you will alight at the Highland Bus Station「富士急ハイランド」. This is located on the left of the parking area at the Highland Resort Hotel & Spa, which is near one of Fuji-Q Highland’s entrances.
[Map]

Those who want to explore the Lake Kawaguchi area should alight at Kawaguchiko Station「河口湖駅」.
[Map]

If the weather is clear, you should be able to see Mount Fuji behind the train station building. Unfortunately if it is a rainy day, the mountain will be totally hidden in the clouds. The picture above was taken in the early afternoon and on a somewhat rainy day. Usually the clouds will start to descend from mid-morning onwards, so the best time to take good pictures of Mount Fuji without much cloud cover would be in the early morning.

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Categories: Fujiyoshida (富士吉田), Japan, Kawaguchiko (河口湖), Tokyo (東京) | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Adorable Owls at Fukurou no Mise 「フクロウのみせ」

Owls!! I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to pet them and have them perched on my arm and I finally got my chance at an owl cafe in Tokyo!!

Fukurou no Mise「フクロウのみせ」 is one of the few owl cafes that can be found in Tokyo and is quite easily accessible via public transport.

A friend of mine, Hannah, told me that it took her 3 trips before she successfully managed to get into the cafe as it is usually fully booked! (admission is by reserved slots and you’re only allowed to stay a maximum of 1 hour in the cafe) Prior day reservations are not allowed and their “reservation policy” is that on the day itself, you’ll need to queue to register for a timeslot and make payment on the spot. Hence, Hannah’s advice to me was that in order to ensure that I can be guaranteed a slot to get into the cafe, I’ll need to queue at least 1 hour before the cafe opens.

Unfortunately on the day of my visit, I was running late (had spent too much time indulging in yummy food at a restaurant! LOL!!) and only got to the cafe about an hour after it opened (it was a Friday and the cafe’s operating hours were from 2pm-9pm) and I was mentally prepared to be turned away at the door. The lady in the picture above was updating the status of the bookings for the day on the handwritten notice at the front door. I was surprised that the last slot of the day (i.e. 8pm) was still available but seats were being filled up fast! Wow…I quickly made my payment (2000 yen per person) and my reservation was confirmed! Yeah!!

We were told to return at 7:55pm (i.e. 5min before the appointed time), so we headed off to while away the time and came back at the end of the day a little tired (since we had done lots of walking earlier), but the sight of the adorable owls soon made us forget our weariness and perked us up!! ^_^

Upon entering, we saw 2 live owls housed in box-like enclosures against the left wall of the cafe.

Ama-chan was born blind and there was a sign telling visitors not to touch it, otherwise you will give it a terrible fright.

The other one, Mozuku-chan, was also not to be touched, but I must say that it looked cute!!

Here’s one of Mozuku-chan sitting down on its perch – KAWAII!!!!

Further into the cafe were several small owls and those at the back were having some “time off”, so customers weren’t allowed to touch them. The ones at the front could be interacted with – just let the cafe staff know which owl you would like to “befriend” and they will assist you by placing the owl on your arm.

Here’s a closer look at the owls (picture below) – the ones at the far end seemed to be checking me out and they looked SOOOO CUTE!!! (sorry, but I just can’t help repeatedly gushing about their cuteness!)

As a result, guess which one I picked to be my first owl friend? LOL…

You can choose to have these small owls perched on your arm, on your shoulder or on your head. If you choose any of the last two, the staff will ask whether you would mind if they pooped on you – if you tell them that you’re fine with that, then they will proceed to place them on your shoulder/head. As you can see from the picture below, this little one is actually quite tiny! Its feathers were surprisingly very soft and fluffy!!

The second owl, which I chose to interact with, refused to look at the camera and this was the best shot that I could get!

I love the patterns on this next little one’s feathers! I’m not sure why it was perched by itself, right next to the sitting area, but you can interact with it too.

I was rotating myself and turning my arm to try to get it to look at the camera but its head kept turning to look everywhere else except at the camera!

We finally managed to get a shot but with its head facing its back! LOL!!  Anyway, this picture demonstrates the flexibility of an owl’s head!

Larger owls were kept on the right side of the cafe, just next to the entrance. We were told not to bring the small owls to this area and also not to bring these large owls over to the other side of the cafe where the smaller owls were. WHY? This is because the large owls will prey on the smaller owls and we do not want a bloodbath!

The first of the larger owls – gosh, it was heavy!!  I didn’t have it for long on my arm before it regurgitated some food! Thankfully one of the staff pre-empted this and managed to catch that undigested gooey lump before it fell onto the floor!! I didn’t dare to look at what was purged out, just in case it was part of a mouse or some other rodent!

This next one was heavy too and I liked its hooded look! However, it seemed fascinated by the metal buttons on my coat and kept pecking at them!!

This Barn Owl had its own perch…

…and I was glad that I managed to spend a little time with it too.

Included in the admission fee is one drink – take your pick from the menu and you’ll need to place your order upon entering the cafe (i.e. before the owl interaction). If you want an alcoholic drink, you’ll need to pay an additional 200 yen.

I ordered Strawberry Au Lait and it came covered with a piece of cling wrap just in case there is an “accident” with feathers or bird droppings – it wasn’t much to rave about, but I was there for the owls, so the drink wasn’t really important to me.

Also included as part of the admission fee is a souvenir (one per person) and there are several to choose from, so you’ll need to raise your hand to indicate that you want it when they show the items one at a time.

As there were limited quantities of each souvenir item (all with an owl theme – earrings, bracelets, plushies, etc..), depending on the demand, if there are more people who want the item, you will need to play a game of rock-paper-scissors and the winners will get their “prize”.

There was only 1 handkerchief available and my hubby opted for that – the shop’s owner was surprised that there were no other takers, so he got it easily. I chose the mini owl plushie, which is actually a phone/bag strap, but as there were only 3 of these available and 4 of us who wanted them, we spent about 5-10 minutes “fighting” it out by playing jankenpon!! Heehee…somehow my plushie felt more “valuable” after all that hard work to earn it!

Alas, that one hour passed rather quickly and I didn’t have enough time to take selfies with every single owl!  Took one last look at the cute owls and I was sad to bid farewell to my new found feathery friends but at least my little plushie was my consolation and will serve as a reminder of my experience there!


Address:

Fukurou no Mise 「フクロウのみせ」
Tōkyō-to, Chūō-ku, Tsukishima 1-27-9, Japan.

Getting There:
Take the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line or Toei Oedo Line to Tsukishima Station. It’s about a 2 minute walk from Exit 10 – once you get to street level, you should see Hotto Motto across the road and there is a grocery store on its right. Walk along the street between Hotto Motto and the grocery store, keeping to the side of the grocery store and you should see the cafe after a short walk.

Opening hours:
Wednesday-Thursday, 2pm – 6pm
Friday, 2pm – 9pm (English speaking staff is available every Friday)
Saturday, 12pm – 9pm
Sunday, 12pm – 6pm
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.


Things to Note:

  • Same-day reservations start an hour before opening time (on a first-come-first-served basis). You will need to pay 2000 yen per person to secure your reservation. Please inform the staff on your choice of preferred timing, your name and the number of people in your group. If you arrive at the cafe and none of the cafe’s staff is in sight, knock softly on the glass door and you may need to be patient and wait for a while before a member of staff comes out.
  • Once you have a confirmed reservation, do ensure that you return to the cafe at least 5 mins before your appointed time and wait outside until the staff comes out to mark the attendence for the next session. Note that your reservation will be automatically cancelled if you are more than 15 mins late.
  • At the time of my visit, each 1-hour slot can take up to 12 people (there were 6 seats around the sofa area and another 6 seats at the bar counter).
  • Children under 2 years of age are prohibited from entering the cafe (for safety reasons).
  • Videography is not allowed in the cafe but it is alright to take photos (no flash photography please!)
  • Once payment has been made, there will be no refunds.
  • An English-speaking staff is available only on Fridays, but do note that her vocabulary is quite limited. I tried to ask several questions in English just to clarify some of my doubts, but she didn’t understand me and it was only when I switched to broken-Japanese that she finally understood and provided the answers to my questions!
  • Do listen to the instructions from the staff before interacting with the owls. If you happen to go on a day which isn’t a Friday and the instructions are only given in Japanese, please check the coffee table to see if there are any instruction cards that are written in English.
  • DO NOT bring the large owls over to the section with the small owls and vice-versa. This is because the larger owls will eat the smaller owls and we do not want that to happen!
  • If the owls try to fly, slowly stretch your hand (i.e. the one which is holding the owl) upwards and above your head, then bring it back down slowly and gently.
  • Finally, DO BE GENTLE WITH ALL THE OWLS!! Yes, they are cute, fluffy and are silky smooth to the touch, so if you pet them, please ensure that you avoid any sudden movements and do not use force! I’ve kept birds (not owls) as pets before and you can actually tell if they get annoyed.
Categories: Japan, Tokyo (東京), Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tomato Beef Sukiyaki at Mita Basara「三田ばさら」

Mita Basara「三田ばさら」 is located in the Mita ward in Tokyo (near the Tokyo Tower) and can be a little tricky to locate as it’s housed in the basement of the KDX Mita Building「KDX三田ビル」.

This place specialises in Tomato Sukiyaki「トマトすきやき」 and if you don’t want to blow your budget, dine there for lunch as they have affordable set meals, otherwise dinner may cost you 2-3 times more!

I had already checked the menu on their website (Japanese only) and had decided on what I wanted, so it didn’t take long for me to place my order. ^_^

The interior of the restaurant was furnished in a simple, minimalist Japanese style, with private rooms available for reservations.

I found the clientele to be mainly Japanese and it was almost full house during a weekday (i.e. the remaining tables were all occupied after I took the picture above).

When the sukiyaki was brought to the table, the fragrance of the soup filled the air and we breathed in as much of this delicious aroma before the bowls were set down on the table. It just heightened the anticipation of how the flavours of the soup would react on our tastebuds! Just imagine how the soup’s fragrance can permeate the air even before the lid on the claypot is uncovered!!

The Tomato Sukiyaki weekday lunch set comprises of a sukiyaki hotpot (100g wagyu beef, tomatoes, onions, basil), rice, pickles, a side dish, red miso soup and a dessert. There is a bowl containing a raw egg and you are supposed to beat the egg and use this as a dip when eating the beef.

Yumm…I couldn’t wait to tuck in!…

Just look at that piece of delicious juicy tomato!

The well-bodied flavour of the soup was a blissful combination of the ingredients and none of them overpowered the other. It was really good and you can taste the beefy goodness combined with the sweetness of the tomatoes and mirin. Definitely one of the best foods that I’ve eaten to-date!

Dessert was included in the meal and there was a choice between Tiramisu and Sakura Monaka (i.e. sakura ice cream sandwiched between 2 pieces of wafer).

Since cherry blossoms were in season during our visit, we went for the monaka (and so did the 2 ladies at the next table after looking at ours!)

The ice cream came with a piece of mochi and was topped with a salted sakura flower bud. I thought the plating of this dessert was rather unique!

However, to eat it, you are supposed to put the wafer cover over the top and press it down – this makes the dessert look rather uninteresting (see photo below), which explains why it was initially presented to diners uncovered.

I don’t usually like eating salted sakura flowers, but the combination of all the ingredients in this ice cream sandwich made the overall taste quite alright.

Even though this place was a little out of the way to get to, we were glad that we made the effort to ge there! Their Tomato Sukiyaki is definitely A MUST TRY!! ^_^


Address:
MITA BASARA「三田ばさら」
東京都港区芝3-43-16
KDX三田ビル地下1階
[Map]

Tel: 03-5444-6700

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri:
11:30~15:00(LO 14:00)
17:30~23:00(LO 21.30)

Sat & Public Holidays:
11:30~15:00(LO 14:00)
17:30~22:30(LO 21.00)

Sun:
17:30~22:00(LO 21.00)

Getting There: Take the subway to Mita station (exit A10) and walk for about 10min.

It’s best to check Google maps so that you don’t get lost along the way. You’ll need to walk along a side road before getting to the main road where the restaurant resides. Walk in the direction of Tokyo Tower and the KDX Mita Building「KDX三田ビル」 is on the right side of the road (just to clarify – I took this picture of Tokyo Tower from across the road from the restaurant as I felt this angle of the tower was nicer – you will already be walking on the right side of the road if you are making your way there from Mita station).

Categories: Eating in Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo (東京) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bandai Character Street「バンダイキャラクターストリート」 in Tokyo

If you love taking pictures with statues, one of the places you can visit is the Bandai Character Street, just outside of the building which houses the Bandai Head Office, which is located near Asakusa and you can find characters from various anime and TV games on display.

Anpanman「アンパンマン」 certainly looks eager to welcome visitors to this place!

I had previously heard that on rainy days the staff will dress the characters in raincoats and when I visited (it so happened to be raining that day!!), I discovered that some characters had preferential treatment while the others were left to soak in the rain! :p

Mametchi「まめっち」 from the Tamagotchi anime series

Primopuel「プリモプエル」

Doraemon「ドラえもん」

Ultraman「ウルトラマン」

Kamen Rider「仮面ライダー」

Common Frog from the Frog Style Family「フロッグスタイル」

Cinnamoroll「シナモロール」

The rain somewhat dampened my spirits, but I eventually decided to abandon the shelter of my umbrella and have my picture taken with Pac-Man「パックマン」, one of my favourite game characters when I was growing up. (and yes, I ended up a little drenched after…)


Address:
BANDAI Co., Ltd Head Office「バンダイ本社ビル」
〒111-8081 東京都台東区駒形1-4-8
1-4-8, Komagata, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-8081, Japan.

[Map]


Getting There:
・ 3-min walk from Asakusa Station (exit A1) on the Subway Toei Asakusa Line.
・ 5-min walk from Kuramae Station (exit A5) on the Subway Toei Oedo Line.
・ 8-min walk from Asakusa Station (exit 4) on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line.
・ 10-min walk from Asakusa Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line.

Categories: Anime / Games, Japan, Tokyo (東京) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delicious Pineapple Ramen at Papapapapine「パパパパパイン」

Papapapapine「パパパパパイン」 is a little ramen shop located in a quiet area next to the train tracks and you can’t miss it as there is a pineapple lantern hanging just above its entrance.

Tickets for your food will first have to be purchased from the vending machine located outside the shop. Check if there are empty seats before you proceed to enter, otherwise you’ll just have to wait until the seats have been vacated. Once you are comfortably seated, pass the tickets to the chef behind the counter to process your order.

A closer look at the items available.

This shop is quite tiny and only 7 counter seats are available.

We found a bottle of pineapple vinegar at the counter, plus a little sign saying that pineapple wine was available by the glass. There was also a pineapple ale (seasonal item) that was available during my visit, but I was too excited over ordering the ramen and totally forgot to add on one of these drinks to try!

One of the highly recommended items on the menu is their pineapple flavoured egg. My hubby and I were initially a little skeptical about how it would taste but it only costs an affordable ¥100 each, so we both added this to our bowls of ramen.

パイナップル海老塩ラーメン (pineapple prawn salt-based ramen) + パパパパパイン名物 パイナップルの味付け玉子 (pineapple flavoured egg) – the noodles were cooked just right and the soup broth was absolutely delicious and wasn’t as salty as we had imagined a salt-based soup to be! It was a refreshing taste with the added pineapple. The slice of pork was tender and I loved the onsen egg, which is a hard-boiled egg with a semi-runny yolk inside and this egg was infused with a pineapple flavour! As you are about to bite into the egg, you get a whiff of the pineapple fragrance and once you have tasted it, you’d want more!! I’ve never had anything like it before! Imagine that the fragrance and sweetness of pineapple can be tasted in an egg!


パイナップル醤油ラーメン (pineapple soy sauce based ramen) + パパパパパイン名物 パイナップルの味付け玉子 (pineapple flavoured egg) – the soy sauce flavour somewhat masked the original taste of the soup. It was still yummy but I thought the salt-based one tasted better!


Verdict:
I would highly recommend this ramen shop as it is unique and the soup stock is a refreshing change from the traditional ones. That pineapple flavoured egg is a MUST TRY and something that I definitely would go back for!!

I’m not sure if they will offer it again, but they did serve chocolate (cocoa) ramen for a limited period between February and March this year. I wonder how it tasted?


Address:

Papapapapine「パパパパパイン」
Nishiogi Minami 3-12-1 Nisshin Nishiogi Plaza 1F, Suginami
〒167-0053 東京都杉並区西荻南3-12-1日伸西荻プラザ108

[Map]

Tel: 03-3247-2181

Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm
Closed on Wednesdays.

Access: A 30-second walk from the South exit of Nishi Ogikubo Station (JR Chuo Line/JR Sobu Line).
JR中央線・総武線、西荻窪駅南口を降りていただき、線路沿い右手に歩いて頂き30秒。

As this place is a little out of the way from downtown Tokyo, I would recommend that you incorporate dining here with a visit to either the Ghibli Museum or Inokashira Park.

Categories: Eating in Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo (東京), Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BAKE Cheese Tart 「ベイク チーズタルト」 (by Kinotoya) at Shinjuku

Kinotoya, a long-established confectionery store in Sapporo, Hokkaido, started selling their original cheese tarts「焼きたてチーズタルト」 in Tokyo in 2014 under the name “BAKE Cheese Tart“.

They have a cafe in Jiyugaoka, Tokyo, which sells cheese tarts, ice cream and beverages, but I couldn’t find time in my packed schedule to travel there, so I went to their takeaway-only store at Lumine in Shinjuku instead.

There were long queues here at intermittent times of the day, depending on when the trains get in (Shinjuku JR station is located just next to it). Not bad, considering only cheese tarts are being sold here.

If you buy 6 pieces, they will be packed in a box (see picture below).

Upon opening the box, you’ll see a double-deck of cheesy goodness!! ^_^

Heh heh… you can’t really envision how they would taste just by looking at them, but trust me, they are really good!!

I found the cheese tarts to be quite fluffy, very creamy, yet light in flavour (the Japanese don’t really like strong-tasting cheeses anyway). These tarts have a cheese mousse filling, made from a blend of 3 types of cheeses. Loved them!!

My hubby and I had 3 each and they were sooo good that we started to wonder why we didn’t buy more! LOL…

A word of advice – they are best eaten on the day of purchase or the very latest eat them first thing in the morning if you had purchased them on the evening before.


BAKE CHEESE TART 「ベイク チーズタルト」
LUMINE EST SHINJUKU, 1F
ルミネエスト 新宿店 1F
〒160-0022
東京都新宿区新宿3-38-1

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri  11:00-22:00
Sat, Sun & Public Holidays  10:30-22:00

Telephone: 03-5925-8170

Categories: Eating in Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo (東京) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Night Cherry Blossom Viewing at Naka-Meguro River「中目黒桜まつり」

Due to my tight schedule and the fact that the cherry blossoms weren’t going to last long, I decided to join the locals and enjoy cherry blossom viewing after dark!

I couldn’t get on the earlier bus from the airport and thus only arrived at my hotel in Tokyo at about 6pm. Dropped my bags, freshened up a little and immediately headed off to the Naka-Meguro「中目黒」 area…

One thing I’ve learnt from my trips to Japan is that typically during festivals or similar events, if you don’t know where the festival venue is, just follow the crowd when you arrive at the train station and most of the time, you’ll definitely end up at the right place (or look out for the festival banners/flags placed along the streets). True enough, we arrived at side of the river in no time. ^_^

There was a lightup between 7pm-9pm and in typical festival setting, street vendors lined the walkways along both sides of the river.

We decided to admire the flowers first before having dinner.

However, due to the cold weather (about 11 degrees celsius), we soon got hungry and decided to look for something to eat along the way…

This shop caught my eye as it sold steamed oysters and some sparkling drinks.

We ordered a strawberry sparkling and a mixed fruit sparkling and both turned out to be sweet alcoholic drinks containing fresh fruit! Mmm…they were delicious and a good accompaniment to the fresh plump oysters!!

The stall adjacent to it seemed quite popular with the crowds too and one of the items they were selling was clam chowder and I thought some hot soup would be good to warm the tummy – well, it turned out that I ordered the last bowl! The soup was creamy and had a generous serving of clams and potatoes.

By the time we finished snacking, the lanterns were switched off but people were still out and about taking selfies or wefies with the sakura!

Here’s a short video clip which I took – policemen were directing the traffic as the roads weren’t closed and there were many jaywalkers! LOL….

If you happen to visit Tokyo during the sakura season, do note that this is one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in the city (I personally think it probably looks nicer during the day but I didn’t have time to come back to check it out during daylight hours).

Categories: Festivals (Matsuri), Japan, Tokyo (東京), Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fuji Matsuri (Wisteria Festival) at Kameido Tenjin Shrine 「亀戸天神社」

On the trail of flowers and festivals, I decided to go check out the Fuji Matsuri or Wisteria Festival「藤まつり」 at Kameido Tenjin (or Tenmangu) Shrine「亀戸天神社」 in Koto-ku, Tokyo. There are over 100 wisteria roots in the shrine’s precincts, and they are usually in full bloom in Spring.

The Kameido Tenjin Shrine is relatively easy to locate as there is a trail of flags on the lampposts lining the road from the JR station towards the direction of the shrine.

On the street closer to our destination, decorative tiles can be found on the sidewalk and they depict seasonal scenes of the shrine’s premises. I took a picture of only one of the tiles as this was what I hoped to photograph later:

There is a torii gate at the main entrance of the shrine and already we could see temporary food stalls lining the entrance all the way into the shrine’s premises, which is a typical sight at any Japanese festival.

Ok…let’s go check out the flowers!

This was my first time seeing wisteria and it has a nice purplish colour.

I think from afar the flowers look like clusters of grapes!

Ok, mission accomplished!! Although it doesn’t quite look like the picture on the tile which I photographed earlier, it was good enough for me. ^_^

Another shot of the wisteria against the contrast of the bridge.

Close-up of the flowers…

   

I was amused when I heard many visitors to the festival (mainly Japanese) exclaim excitedly with animated chatter when they saw the Tokyo Sky Tree from here. Anyway, I joined in and took pictures of the wisteria with the Sky Tree as a backdrop. LOL…

   

Another shot with the Tokyo Sky Tree.


There were many food stalls selling local delicacies but I was saving my stomach for a buffet lunch later and thus didn’t patronise the stalls although the wagyu beef skewer at one of the stalls looked tempting and I felt it calling out to me… (^o^)

Here’s a brief look at the wisteria and the food stalls at the festival:


My visit here was only for the flowers but for those who are interested, this is the main building of the Kameido Tenjin Shrine.

There’s a performance area located just across from the main building…

…and a monkey show being performed on the day we visited! You don’t have to pay to watch but the lady will go around with a hat after the show and donations of any amount are welcome!

  

I must say that the monkey is extremely talented but it does have its temperament as there were certain stunts that it refused to do (or took its own time to action on) and just sat there nibbling on food and staring at everyone.

  

I’ll leave you with a short video of the monkey show…


Overall, it was a nice quiet festival (apart from the sounds from the monkey show) where you can go and admire flowers, plus try out the local food being sold at the stalls setup for the festival.

Not many visitors from outside of Japan are aware about this festival (i.e. not on the typical tourist map) and it’s something that you can consider adding to your itinerary if you are visiting Tokyo in Spring. However, do check their website (in Japanese only) for the latest schedules as flower blooming dates may differ each year.


Festival Dates for 2014:  21 Apr – 6 May

Address:
Kameido Tenjin Shrine
Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
〒136-0071
東京都江東区亀戸3丁目6番1号

Phone: 03-3681-0010

Getting There:
JR Sobu Line to Kameido Station「亀戸駅」, then walk for 15 min.
総武線亀戸駅下車 北口より徒歩15分

JR Sobu Line or Tokyo Metro Hanzomon line to Kinshicho Station「糸町駅」, then walk for 15 min.
総武線、地下鉄半蔵門線錦糸町駅下車 北口より徒歩15分

Categories: Festivals (Matsuri), Japan, Tokyo (東京), Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mickey and Duffy’s Spring Voyage (Tokyo DisneySea)

Ahhh…a familiar sight when the monorail got to Tokyo DisneySea station. お久しぶり!

As we approached the entrance to Mediterranean Harbor, we could see the area was decorated to reflect the latest special event at the park – Mickey and Duffy’s Spring Voyage (2nd April to 23rd June 2014).

Picture taken at the same spot after dark:

Let me take you on a photo tour of what’s different at the park during this season…

Synopsis of the event:

“Mickey and Duffy together with Minnie Mouse and ShellieMay embark on a cruise from Cape Cod to see how spring is celebrated around Tokyo DisneySea.

Dressed in costumes that reflect the colourful season, they visit Mediterranean Harbor with its romantic Italian festival of spring, travel to American Waterfront for the lively Easter party, and then in Arabian Coast they find a magical celebration of the season.”

For those who are unfamiliar with who Duffy is, he is a teddy bear that Minnie made for Mickey on the night of his departure, to keep him from feeling lonely on the long voyage.

What looked like tapestries from afar – upon closer inspection, we discovered they were actually pieced together using flowers!

 

More flowers and banners of the current event – these are just some of the decorations which can be found around the park.

OMG… there were even topiary plants shaped to resemble two of Disney’s most popular mice! How cute!!

  


SPECIAL EVENTS

Lido Isle Welcome to Spring

This show takes place at Lido Isle in Mediterranean Harbor and is a festival themed to springtime in Italy.

There is limited seating available and I only arrived 10min before the start of the show, thus had a partially obstructed view.


Easter in New York

This was a parade held at Waterfront Park. There was already a long queue at the entrance to the parade area about an hour before it started. Unfortunately, I was rushing off to use my Fastpass (for the Indiana Jones ride) before it expired and thus didn’t have time to go queue for the parade!

Synopsis:
“Mickey Mouse and Duffy take Minnie Mouse and ShellieMay to American Waterfront to enjoy the Easter festivities and take part in an Easter bonnet parade. The Disney friends enjoy a wonderful time in this delightful celebration of springtime in New York.”


Springtime Surprise

Location: Courtyard in Arabian Coast

The area welcomes a uniquely wonderful spring filled with flowers, thanks to Genie’s magic!

People started sitting around and waiting for the show as early as 2 hours before!

For the finale, everyone sings and dances with Minnie in the centre surrounded by flowers.


DECORATIONS

Meditarranean Harbor will be adorned with colourful flowers and plants, and Guests will also find benches decorated with motifs of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. The decorations in American Waterfront will feature colourful eggs, while Waterfront Park will have statues of Mickey and Minnie, created from flowers and plants, enjoying Easter in New York City. Arabian Coast will be blooming with unique flowers shaped like Genie for a special photo location that enhances this magical and enchanting world.

In addition, there are 4 spots in the park with floral Duffy bears!


ARABIAN COAST


Genie flowers!


Floral Genie and Duffy bear.


More floral decorations at Arabian Coast…

Add a pair of Duffy bears to the picture – do you think it looks nicer??


More Genie flowers…


…and yet another photo spot!


AMERICAN WATERFRONT

At Cape Cod…

Couldn’t help taking this pic of a sparrow balancing on the fence post! ^_^

More flowers and Duffy bear decorations…


Located across from the SS Columbia:


At Waterfront Park – the venue for the Easter in New York show.

Back view.


This particular Spring decoration comprised of many Easter eggs…

…and there was a duck who kept hanging around the display and refused to leave! Perhaps it was “guarding” the eggs??  LOL…


MEDITERRANEAN HARBOR

I couldn’t find anyone with Duffy bears which I could “loan” for this next picture, hence the empty seat.

More flowers…

…and a nicely decorated bench which makes for a nice photo spot.


SPECIAL MERCHANDISE

About 170 different types of merchandise themed to “Mickey and Duffy’s Spring Voyage” are available but unfortunately, I had spent too much time queuing for rides/shows and hunting for the special decorations, thus didn’t have time to hit the shops!


SPECIAL MENUS

There were some special food items recommended for this season and these were the ones that I went to check out…

Cape Cod Cook-Off had a special set of Pork & Braised Vegetables on Rye Bread, French Fries, Maple Pudding, with a choice of Soft Drink.

However, I was more interested in what was being sold at Cape Cod Confections!

Happy Duffy  ハッピーダッフィー(ミックスベリー) and Iced Mixed Berry Milk Tea (アイスミックスベリーミルクテイー).
ダッフィーの顔の形をしたもちもちとした食感の生地に、ラズベリーとストロベリーのクリームが入っています。

The Duffy dessert was too cute to be eaten!! Once you bite into it, you will find that the dough has a chewy mochi-like texture and contains a yummy and smooth mixed berry cream which wasn’t too sweet and had bits of fruit in it.

I loved the milk tea as it was very fragrant and tasted like royal milk tea, except that it also contained mixed berry jam, plus an additional topping of roasted almond bits. It looked like a strange concoction when I first saw it but once you have mixed it well, it’s really oishii and I will definitely order it again if it’s still available when I visit the park again in the future.

Overall, it was nice seeing all the floral decorations of the season but unfortunately I only spent one day at the park and there was insufficient time to cover everything due to the long queues.

Categories: Bay Area - Tokatsu Area, Chiba Prefecture (千葉県), Japan, Theme Parks, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fishing Restaurant Zauo「‎釣船茶屋ざうお」 in Tokyo

I am not the sporty outdoorsy type and have never tried fishing in its natural environment before (i.e. the only times I’ve somewhat tried previously were in man-made ponds). Since I was on the trail of themed restaurants, I decided to go check out this fishing restaurant called Zauo「釣船茶屋ざうお」, located at Shinjuku in Tokyo.

This restaurant chain originates from Fukuoka in Kyushu and has since opened several branches across Japan.

It was such a coincidence that the restaurant happened to be located at the hotel I was staying at (I had booked my trip in Jan 2014 but hadn’t finalized my itinerary then), so that made it even more convenient! ^_^

When you step into the restaurant, you will see a huge fishing boat which occupies most of the floor area of the restaurant and is surrounded by what looks like a moat containing various types of live seafood. Cool!

Diners can sit at tables on the fishing boat and try to fish for your meal from above. However, there is limited seating on the boat so if they are all occupied, you will be ushered to the ordinary table booths located around the back of the boat.

As I wanted to maximise my experience at the restaurant, I made a reservation a few days earlier and specified that I wanted a table on the boat.

English menus are available and diners have the option whether you want to fish for your dinner or simply order off the menu. A brief fishing guide is also provided for your reference (a “how to” guide on the process can be found here).

I asked the restaurant staff with regards to how long it would take to catch a fish and they said it depends on how skillful you are at fishing! That didn’t help at all!!…

We were kind of hungry and weren’t sure whether we could successfully catch any fish, so we decided to order a few items from the menu just to temporarily satisfy our hunger pangs.

Love the logo on their chopstick covers!

They first served us with an appetizer (¥324 incl. tax, per serving) which was a piece of radish and some kind of fishcake and it was quite nice. We didn’t order this but had to pay for it – I suppose it’s like a mandatory fee for dining at this themed restaurant (e.g. miscellaneous charge similar to the tea/towel/peanuts charge in Singapore)??


Dried and Grilled Squid (¥734 incl. tax) – This was dry and chewy and I think would be a good accompaniment to alcohol.


Japanese Omelette containing Alaska Pollack Roe (¥734 incl. tax) – I’ve never had tamagoyaki stuffed with other ingredients and this sounded interesting, so I decided to order it. The fish roe was a little salty but overall it was quite nice.


Now for the fishing part…

It costs ¥108 (incl. tax) for a small portion of bait (shrimp) which is to be used to catch the fish. The fishing rod with a tiny hook at the end is provided free of charge.

   

Do note that there’s no such practice as “catch and release” here – once you have caught something, it means that you will pay for it! Therefore, do have a look at the menu first to check out the prices of the fish/seafood, then target the more affordable ones.

We decided to try fishing for Sea Bream「鯛」 (bait needs to be used to catch this) as it was the cheapest fish on the menu but they just wouldn’t bite!! 😦

There are other fish and even lobsters and turban shells, which you can try catching with your fishing rod. Some of them do not require any bait to be caught and you’ll have to test your skills with the tiny fishing hook.

For those seafood which is charged at market prices, there is a signboard near the tanks that lists the current prices but the fish names are in Japanese, so seek clarification from the staff if you are unsure.

As I wasn’t having any luck with the Sea Bream「鯛」 from where I was seated, I decided to move to the other side of the boat and try to at least catch one fish for dinner!

The Sea Bream「鯛」 wouldn’t bite at this end as well, so I tried my luck with the Flounder「ヒラメ」 and it took me 3 attempts before I caught this one! As the fish will be wriggling on the hook once you’ve caught it, nets are provided so that you can better handle that slippery creature and pass it to the waiter.

Haha…my hubby was still trying to catch Sea Bream from our table and was oblivious to the fact that I had already snagged a Flounder!

According to their website and signboard outside the restaurant, the staff are supposed to beat the drum, do a victory dance and chant to celebrate your success in catching a fish but there was no one around to witness my successful catch except the other diners who were still attempting to catch their own fish. Thus, I didn’t get any celebratory dance from the staff – what a letdown! (not that I wanted the attention anyway but still it was part of the novelty of this restaurant….and I did hear the victory chants much earlier when other customers successfully caught their fish!)

Next was the decision as to how the fish was to be prepared…

As you can see from the menu, the fishing price is much cheaper than ordering straight off the menu. Even if you add on the cost of the bait, it still works out to be cheaper.

We decided to have half the fish as sashimi and the other half grilled, so my cooking specifications were given to the waiter when I quietly handed over the fish to him with my table number.

The sashimi was served on a bed of ice. I don’t think I’ve ever had Flounder「ヒラメ」 as sashimi before and it was actually quite nice.


This was our grilled fish minus the parts that were removed for the sashimi.


Various sauces and seasonings were available at the table and we were testing out the different types of soy sauce including ponzu「ポン酢」 (they had slightly different tastes and levels of saltiness) with the sashimi.


Finally, here’s another picture in case you were wondering how big the portion of fish was. It definitely needed 2 persons to finish this – I don’t think I would have been able to eat the whole fish all by myself! (or maybe I could have if we didn’t order the other dishes earlier)

Our total bill came to ¥6306 but I used a discount coupon (only applicable for use on Mondays and reservations are required) and got 10% off, so our final bill was ¥5676 which wasn’t too bad for a dinner for 2 persons (including 2 non-alcoholic drinks), considering that it was at a themed restaurant in Tokyo.


Verdict:
I declare that I am better at fishing than my husband! LOL!!… :p

Overall it was quite a unique dining experience but I probably wouldn’t do it again as I don’t have the patience to wait for the fish to bite if I’m hungry! The fish was very fresh as it is prepared almost immediately after you’ve caught it.

Important points to take note of:
– You can’t release a fish back into the water once it has been caught and this could be a problem if by accident you catch a really expensive fish that may burn a big hole in your wallet.
– You CANNOT scoop the fish out of the tank with a net if you haven’t actually caught it with the fishing hook!
– If you don’t manage to catch anything, you can order the fish off the menu but it will cost more.


Address:
Zauo「‎釣船茶屋ざうお」
Shinjuku Washington Hotel
3-2-9 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-8336 Japan.
〒160-0023 東京都新宿区西新宿3-2-9
新宿ワシントンホテル1階

Phone: 03-3343-6622

Operating Hours:
Lunch (Weekdays) 11:30~14:00 [Last Order 13:30]
Dinner (Weekdays) 17:00~23:00 [Last Order 22:00]
Sat, Sun & Holidays 11:30~23:00 [Last Order 22:00]

Check this link for a discount coupon (terms and conditions apply) – http://www.zauo.com/img/shoplist_img/shinjuku-cuupon.jpg

For more details on this themed restaurant, check out the restaurant’s page (Japanese only) at http://www.zauo.com

Getting There:
SHINJUKU WASHINGTON HOTEL is directly connected to Shinjuku Station by an underground passageway (serviced by JR, Tokyo Metro, Odakyu, Keio and other railway lines) between 06:00 and 22:45 for comfortable access even in bad weather.

8 min walk from Shinjuku Station.
新宿駅徒歩8分

Oedo subway Line, Tocho-mae Station (Tokyo Metropolitan Government)
5 min walk from Tocho-mae Station.
都庁前駅徒歩5分

Categories: Eating in Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo (東京) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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