Friday, October 28, 2011

Yesterday found us back at Tokyo Disneyland and this time, dressed as B'rer Bear and B'rer Rabbit.

Br'er Bear and Br'er Rabbit

Halloween at TDL runs for two months and is not a hard ticket event like Not So Scary. Everyone can enjoy in the decorations, festivities, and watch the Halloween Parade ("Obake, obake, obake!").


Unfortunately, there is no candy. During the first and last weeks of the Halloween party, guests can dress up in costume. Obviously, this is one of those weeks. It's also one of the most crowded. I wouldn't say it's Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day crowded, but the swarm factor is very high.

Our day started with breakfast a "traditional" "American" diner. There were two options on the menu: scrambled eggs with sausage, bacon and toast or pancakes. Both were served with yogurt (plain) and strawberry sauce. Both were pretty good, although definitely American through the eyes of the Japanese.

American Breakfast (sort of)

Our day was mostly filled with parade waiting/watching, including the aforementioned Halloween parade and the evening parade, Dreamlights -which is pretty much the Main Street Electrical Parade.

We were also treated to an amazing sunset view of Mt Fuji last night.


My Top Three:
  • Dressing up as Br'er Bear and Br'er Rabbit
  • Sunset over Mt. Fuji
  • Eating at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall
Seafood Assortment

Jeff's Top Three:
  • Getting good spots for both parades, video recording both and photographing basically every inch of them
  • The Fish Assortment at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall
  • Dressing up as Br'er Bear and Br'er Rabbit
I want to wear a costume again and Jeff want's to see the sunset over Mt. Fuji again.

My least favorite was running over small children (it happened a lot) and Jeff's was waiting around for our Monsters, Inc. FastPasses to go active.

Tea Cups

Today is our last full day and we are off to Disney Sea and probably hopping back to Disneyland. As Jeff says, the days always seem to fly by the closer your trip gets to the end.

See you soon!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tokyo Disney Sea

Like Morgan said, we're going to have to wait on any long form blogs until we get back to CLE, but we've having a great time in Tokyo Disney. Yesterday we went to Tokyo DisneySea, which is most similar to California Adventure.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

There are six themed areas compressed into a very tight little package and barring a few stage shows, we actually did everything. We even were able to grab spots to watch Fantasmic, which they do Disneyland style on the lagoon in Mediterranean Harbor (their version of Main Street).

Mermaid Lagoon
Inside Mermaid Lagoon

Today we're heading back to Tokyo Disneyland in costume! I'm going as Br'er Bear and Morgan's Br'er Rabbit. We'll post a photo as soon as we hit the lobby wi-fi.

Ariel's Greeting Grotto
And in the role of Ariel... Katy Perry!

Of course, we realized we forgot to post our Top Three for our first day in Tokyo Disneyland, so here it is:

Morgan's Top Three:
Watching the guests in costume
Mad Hatter and Alice meet-and-greet
Explorer Canoes

Jeff's Top Three:
Star Tours in Japanese
The curry at The Hungry Bear
Watching the guests in costume

Morgan's least favorite thing was the internet not working. I think my least favorite was a tie between bug killing and the no internet.
Morgan Note: I don't do bug killing. 

Shockingly, Morgan can't wait to see more guests in costumes, and given how amazing they are, I just hope our costumes don't look lame. I want to go back to Critter Country, I think our on ride photo of Splash Mountain as Br'er Bear and Br'er Rabbit is going to be awesome!
Morgan note: ...and cold. Although it doesn't look like guests get very wet on Splash Mountain here.

And now for our Top Three from yesterday:

Morgan's Top Three:
Meeting Donald Duck
Stormrider
The Shrimp Steam Bun

Jeff's Top Three:
The Shrimp Steam Bun
The Teriyaki Taco
Park themeing - I think this is on of the heaviest themed parks yet.

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Steam bun!! 

Morgan and I both agree the rides are all too short. Just as they start to get exciting, they end.

Morgan wants to get another steam bun and I want to ride Tower of Terror and Journey to the Center of the Earth again.

Lost River Delta

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tokyo Disneyland!

Konnichiwa blog readers!

Clearly we still owe you an update from the second half of our last day in Tokyo; now we also owe you an update of our first day in Tokyo Disneyland. Unfortunately, we are having too much fun in Tokyo Disneyland to even think of blogging!

Big Thunder

Just kidding!

Sort of.

We had a great first day at Tokyo Disneyland, blasting through a good majority of the park attractions, gawking at other guests costumes and eating our way through the lands (you knew that was going to be a factor, right?). 

Turkey Leg

Also, the weather has cooled down quite a bit. Jeff has been loving it, but with the super cool breezes off Tokyo Bay, I've been a bit too chilly. Thank goodness for warm hats.

Starjets

Characters are a lot more sparse at TDL but we did have a really good time playing with Alice and the Hatter. 

Alice & The Hatter

Although, more than once I have been tricked into thinking a certain character was out, but it was actually only a guest. Yes, their costumes are that good

Now we are off to DisneySea, which is unfamiliar territory for us, albeit with some familiar attractions.

We are down to one internet connection at a time (no more WiFi *sob*) so bear with us as we try to get images upload and blog posts posted.
Jeff says: I think Morgan summed it up, Tokyo Disneyland is pretty amazing. The hotel is nice too, but I have one serious, serious issue. Lets forget the bug and wifi for now and ask, who puts of coffee pot in a room and DOES NOT PROVIDE COFFEE?!?! The head is pounding for the first time in days. Off to the store of more delicious energy beverages.

Sayonara!  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our Last Day in Tokyo Proper: Part One

I honestly feel that Tokyo is a frantic place. Everyone moves fast, some people run. There is no stopping, no breathing, just doing. Zig left, zag right. Up stairs, down stairs. Shuffle in, shuffle out. Why wait for the next train when you can just squeeze in. Push a little more and you'll fit in just fine. Push your way back out two stops later.

I like fast. I like busy. But this is something completely different. This is frantic.

So it seems fitting that I honestly can't remember anything we did today. It's a blur.

Outside of Sensoji Temple

After our kebabs last night, we literally passed out. I could hardly upload photos. We talked about going to Tokyo Fish Market at 5am to watch the giant tuna auctions. Thankfully they closed those off from the public due to too many tourists. Thankfully? Because we didn't have to get up at 3am. But we still weren't sure if we should go anyways just to see the market.

We passed out with a game plan to get up when we got up and head over there. When we woke up about 6:30am, neither of us was very motivated to go there. Morgan read a few more things about fish guts and a huge mess and wearing your worst shoes and pants. Yeah, sorry Fish Market, but we packed light and can't afford to lose a pair of pants or shoes.

Walking from JR Kanda Station to Tokyo Metro Kanda Station

So, skipping that, we decided to head to Sensō-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. Getting there involved taking the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda station, then transferring to the Tokyo Metro Ginza line. Seems that the JR and Tokyo Metro lines don't share the same station, so we had to walk about 5 blocks from one to the other stopping for morning set (breakfast) at St. Marc Cafe Choco Cro. The ham and cheese croissant was delicious, but the black ice coffee was bitter.

After a 30 minute train ride, we hit the main vain of tourism and Sensō-ji. A small percentage of Western tourists, mixed with a greater proportion of Japanese and Asian tourists exited the train with us and walked fifty feet to the start of the temple. Joined with several Japanese and Asian tour groups, we walked with a thousand of our closest strangers down the ended row of chachki stalls selling everything from fans to wigs to pastries to the temple.

The Yebisu line-up

First we got our fortunes, then we washed our hands and mouths before entering the temple. The actual temple was closed to tourists, but even just standing in the "lobby" it was one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had. I'm normally not one to put a lot of thought into faith, but it was hard not to think about it. This wasn't a Buddhist thing, or even a religious thing, it was just a feeling, a sensation.

We left the temple and picked up some free wi-fi, so of course we uploaded a photo to Flickr. Duh! What else would you do?

The sun was getting hot, so we got some water and Morgan's shoes where killing her, so we went shopping for some socks. Luckily every train station seems to be connected to, or directly across from a shopping mall. Unfortunately the sock didn't help much. Next we were off to the Yebisa Beer Museum in Ebisu. Back on the Ginza line to Ueno, then to the JR Yamanote line to Ebisa. The Yamanote line is basically a big circle, we wanted to go the short way, but got on the wrong side of the platform and went the other, longer way. Luckily it took us right passed our hotel, so we got off and Morgan changed shoes. I did too, actually. my new Bape's are comfortable, but just not made for walking long distances.

Back on the train, we hit Ebisu in less than fifteen minutes. The Yebisu Beer Museum is located at Yebisu Garden Place, a beautiful area similar to Easton in Columbus, with higher buildings and fewer stores. Less a shopping area and more of a live/work neighborhood I think. It took us a few minutes to get to the beer museum by foot.

Cheers

Morgan told me the Yebisu Beer Museum only open about a year ago, and it certainly looks brand new. The building is huge and really nice inside, with an incredible tasting bar for tour groups. The free walking museum tour is reasonably short, a u-shaped pathway maybe 300 feet long start to finish. I read every description, photographed a number of things and the whole tour took about 20 minutes, although I might have been less. I enjoyed it and there was some good historical information that I didn't know about Japanese beer, but if it was a paid for it, I would have been disappointed.

After the tour we hit the tasting salon, where after getting tokens from a vending machine, we ordered one each of the four beers they had on tap and the snack sampler. The Yebisu is a basic German-style Lager, think Bud. The Kahoku is an Amber, which I think tasted like a Pilsner. The Cream Top Stout is true to it's name with a creamy three-finger head and a hint of smoke. The Black is robust stout, with a decent backbone and a hint of black tea instead of the usual coffee. The snack sampler included crackers, dried peas, prawn crackers and dried fish jerky. Morgan and I both agreed The Black was our favorite brew, with the Cram Top and Kahoku tying for second and the Yebisu a distant fourth. Morgan liked the prawn crackers best, while I liked the dried peas and the fish jerky was better than you'd expect.

Hipster Wife drinks Stout

Even though this only like 2 in the afternoon, we need to get moving and looking back, this entry is pretty long as it is. I honestly feel like I'm rushing to say the next thing, perhaps part of the Tokyo syndrome. We'll pick up the rest of Tuesday soon and here's out Top Threes...

Morgan's Top Three Things:

  • Fortunes at Sensō-ji Temple
  • Sitting on the park benches at Yebisu Garden Place (there's a story there)
  • The hilariousness of walking through Shinjuku with a 3 ton bag of McDonalds

Jeff's Top Three Things:

  • Sensō-ji Temple
  • Yebisu beer tasting
  • Korean BBQ and Hite

Mmm Piggy

I'd definitely like to drink another Hite and even a Yebisu The Black again and Morgan would like to do more beer tastings.

As tasty as that Bacon Lettuce Burger was, I really don't want to do another walk of shame with a McDonald's bag. Ah, that's something you'l read about in part two!

Morgan does not want to experience the sheer pain and torture of crushed toes in ballet flats again.

Taken for a Tourist

The past two days have been an absolute blur as I think we've finally adjusted to Japan time and their unusually early (to us) sunsets (4:30pm sunset? Really?).

Monday morning started out much like other mornings with a stop at the hotel store for a sampling of one of the many Japanese cold coffee beverages. Jeff had the Blendy and I had the Dororich, which was labeled "crushed jelly sweets".

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I was expecting something akin to bubble tea but was instead treated to a gummy, jelly "drink" sucked through a straw. Not my favorite coffee so far.

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After that joyful discovery we set off to the famous Mitsukoshi department store - you may know it's little sister store, located in Epcot. That store is nothing like the actual store. Nothing. The real Mitsukoshi department store is very much an international cousin to my other favorite department store mecca, Harrods. In fact, there is a mini Harrods located within Mitsukoshi.

We started on the ground flour, which housed the beautiful and impressive food hall. Smells, mostly yummy, but at times um.. pungent, wafted from the various cases. Almost anything you could possibly be craving was located here.

Mitsokoshi Food Hall

Eventually we ascended to the other goods floors, but eventually became bored with clothing we couldn't afford. We decided to get some of the food from the hall and make our way up to the roof, where there were benches and tables for sitting and eating.

We had onigiri (filled with katsobushi, I think), a croquette with mincemeat and onion, and I had a sushi set while Jeff had yakitori and shrimp tempura.

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We left Mitsukoshi full and happy but not before I purchased myself a YSL tenugui. Word to the wise: many Japanese bathrooms don't have towels/dryers, so it's advantageous to carry your own tenugui.

From there we headed to Ginza and, more importantly, SanrioWorld Ginza. A single floor devoted to that fabulous feline and her red bow.

Morgan poses

This would be where I purchased the best iPhone case ever. 


Morgan's new iPhone case

It also happened to be near The Bulldog, a British-style pub that was on Jeff's Beers in Japan app.

Biro at Bulldog in Ginza

After a refreshing drink, I decided we should venture to Akihabara, the electronics district. Once there we got lost and realized it was a bust. The stores looked like low budget Radio Shacks and neither of us were interested in anime or um... other ventures... red light red light... BUT we did find the infamous mochiCREAM!

Mochi

Which was amazing and delicious and fun to eat as we watched the maids from the maid cafes lure in their prey.

From there it was back to Harajuku, this time with detailed instructions in hand for the places I was looking for. Like the massive toy store known as Kiddy Land and the much sought after Harajuku crepe.

But Morgan, didn't you just have mochiCREAM?

Yes, yes I did.

I get offered a bite

Full on crepe and about to give up on ever finding the Harajuku streets of the intertubes, I followed a gut instinct and walked down the road to find Takashita-dori alley!! The Japanese street fashion mecca!! Sadly, there are no photos because I was just so deliriously happy to have found the street and so in awe of the fashions and people that I never thought to take a photo. Suffice to say I now own the cutest hat ever.
Jeff says: I honestly thought about pulling out the camera several times, but basically every single store had a sign indicating no pictures. And this place was seriously busy. Picture taking would have required too much energy on my part to function.

And then we ate... again. I know it seems like we are eating every 5 seconds, but I swear there is a lot of walking in-between. Visiting stores, people watching, all of that good stuff that doesn't make for an interesting post but makes for interesting times. So bear with me, because there's more food.

We finally made it to Yakitori Alley (also known as Shomben Yokocho or Omoide Yokocho), which we'd been planning on doing for a long time. Yakitori Alley (or Piss Alley) is a semi-hidden alley way full of tiny restaurants serving up yakitori. Some are for regulars only and will not service tourists, you just have to make your way along and figure out which is which.
Jeff says: Oddly enough, I find Omoide Yokocho the very first night we arrived. Wandering around Shinjuku in our dream-like state, I happen to be looking at all of the random businesses and bam! There it was. Finding it again on Monday was easy.

We were beckoned into one stall by a younger lady and as we turned in, we found it completely empty. We soon found out why: they charged a Y300 per person seat charge. I had read about these places and knew that this was not customary, but for some reason we stayed instead. We shared a bottle of beer and the "special menu" (English tourists didn't get to choose a la carte) and paid entirely too much for our "meal". We left a little disenchanted and unsatisfied.

IMG_0265

After wandering Shinjuku for entirely too long (and finding the red light district... we seem to have an uncanny knack for that) we decided to head back to the hotel and hit the doner kebab window on the way. Yes, I said kebab. In Tokyo.
Jeff says: After wandering this city for the past few days, I think you can find a red light district pretty much anywhere. Just pick a random side street, follow that for a block, then turn onto a second random side street, then start looking up.

Doner Kebab

It turned out to be a pretty tasty sandwich and the proprietor was quite an entertaining guy himself, so we fancied it dinner and a show.

Me with the Turkish Kebab Guy


Monday, October 24, 2011

Getting ready for our last day in Tokyo

Okay, so yesterday was a complete blur and we actually managed to stay up past 10pm local time. Unfortunately, today is our last day in Tokyo proper and we want to accomplish quite a bit more.

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Morgan's Sushi from the Mitsukoshi Food Hall
Morgan's Top Three Things:

  • Buying a New Hat in Harajuku
  • The Mitsukoshi Food Hall
  • SanrioWorld Ginza

Morgan poses
Morgan at SanrioWorld Ginza
Jeff's Top Three Things:

  • The Mitsukoshi Food Hall
  • Navigating the subways like a champ
  • The Turkish Kebab guy and his street food dinner and a show


Tempura
Tempura at Mitsukoshi Food Hall
We both agree our tourist trapped moment at yakitori in Omoide Yokocho was our least favorite part of the day. There were two suckers, and we were them. At least the food was good, although more expensive than necessary.

IMG_0265
Yakitori from Omoid Yokocho
Morgan wants to eat sushi again today and I want to ride the rail like a champ again. My Japanese might be horrible, but my sense of direction and knowledge of the railways and subway stations is pretty good considering we've been here three days.

Me with the Turkish Kebab Guy
Kebab man, comedian and poor English speaker, yet funny and stange
Tomorrow we're off to Tokyo Disneyland which will hopefully allow us to slow down a bit. Tokyo is unbelievably fast. I seriously think we could run the entire time and still be slower than the locals.