Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tokyo, Day 6 – Ikebukuro Shopping and Surprises

Since we didn’t make any plans for this day and the weather wouldn’t be so great, we decided to go to Closet Child in Ikebukuro. The breakfast the day before had been so great, that we decided to go to the same little shop to get some nice things. We left the hotel a little later, since we didn’t need to get breakfast before ten, so we snapped a picture of the big clock at 11:05 am. We went to Shinjuku Station, to the shop called ‘Tap House’ and bought ourselves some nice treats.

Breakfast in Tokyo
My dad’s plate on the left, my plate on the right. This time we both took a cup with fruit, cake and whipped cream.

Then, we went on our way to Ikebukuro.
Ikebukuro Station was quite big, but since I had collected information about shops in Ikebukuro too, I knew we needed to find the Sunshine City exit. It took us a while to find it, but after following some signs we took an escalator up and found ourselves in a busy street.
We were quite hungry and decided to eat some of our rolls, while we looked at the people passing by. I expected Ikebukuro to be a quiet district (I don’t know why), but it was really crowded. It was a Saturday of course, but still.
We finished our food and walked into a big street, where I saw a colourful shopfront: Sanrio!

Sanrio Ikebukuro
The shop was both on the in- and outside so colourful and cute!

Of course we had to go inside! I’ll be honest, I thought Sanrio was all about Hello Kitty, but was I wrong! I saw a lot of familiar looking animals and characters, but I never really realized they were from Sanrio! The merchandise the shop sold was beyond cute and I could have spent at least an hour just looking around.

Fashionable Bunny
Don’t I look fashionable?

They had everything, from bags to pencilcases and from stuffed animals to umbrellas. Heaven for any Sanrio-lover!
We left the store again and continued our search for Closet Child. We crossed a big Book-off (Remember that name? It’s a store that sells any possible manga!) and many, many machines to win stuffed animals.

In it to win it x2
I was in serious love with those lamas!

After buying a Coca Cola Zero from a rainbow-coloured vending machine, we went left and walked into a bit of a deserted street. According to my map, Closet Child was in this street, but apparently I had read it wrong, since we had to go one street back. Then, I finally saw a Starbucks (this was the first time I was happy to see one) and saw the Closet Child sign in the window above it!

Closet Child Ikebukuro
It took a while to find it, so I was happy to see the four dressed mannequins behind the window!

We walked into a small hallway and went up to the third floor with an elevator (which had a poster inside of things you shouldn’t do inside an elevator, it was very funny). When we got out, we walked through an open door and found ourselves in quite a big room filled with shelves and tables with CDs. All the clothes were to the right. I wasn’t really interested in music at that moment, so we walked up to the dresses right away.

Any nice dresses?
Closet Child Ikebukuro doesn’t only sell clothes and CDs, but also dolls, as you can see behind me.

I have to be honest: I was very disappointed by what Angelic Pretty and Baby, the Stars Shine Bright dresses they had to offer. They had only a few AP pieces and only a little more Baby. Although this is the biggest Closet Child, I think it’s mainly directed at Gothic and punk-style and far less at Sweet and Classic, since there were a lot of black clothes. The dresses they did offer were none of my taste, so I was afraid I wouldn’t buy anything. Suddenly, my dad pointed at a rack of coats and I noticed a light pink coloured coat with borders of white fur. I pulled it out of the rack and it was a beautiful Angelic Pretty coat with an embroidered pony on it. Of course, I had to try it on, with and without a petticoat!

Dream Coat
It was quite hot inside with the big coat on!

Oh my God, I fell in love with the gorgeous coat! My dad also showed me an oldfashioned pink coat by Innocent World, but when I tried it on he said he highly preferred the Angelic Pretty one. While I browsed the shop a little more, my dad guarded the coat with his life (there were two other, beautiful Lolitas in the store, but I didn’t want to give the gorgeous coat to them)!
I also noticed some bloomers and although I wanted a white pair, I chose a pink pair, since the white one was offbrand, the pink one Baby, the Stars Shine Bright. I’m turning into a brandwhore! Whaaah! XD
I tried the pink one on in the shop, just under my skirt, but of course I should have mentioned to the staff I wanted to try it on, so I could use the changing room. So they took it from me for a moment (I felt really stupid, I was just so excited to find such lovely bloomers)! After choosing a pink Melty Chocolate ring, I said I wanted to buy the bloomers, so they gave it back to me (pfew! XD) and I bought the coat too (after doubting between the coat and a lovely pink Angelic Pretty capelet). I received such a big bag!

Closet Child Purchase!
A purchase from Closet Child Ikebukuro after all! I was so happy…

We walked back to the big Book-off we had seen, where I bought a pile of Japanese manga, both for myself and as a birthday present for my friend Tia-chan. It was interesting to ask the shop staff where I could find the manga I was looking for, since there were so many books with unreadable titles! I was glad I knew all the titles in Japanese too! And it felt really cool to ask for ‘Hagane no Renkinjutsushi’ or ‘Hanazakari no Kimitachi e’. ^^

Reading People
Reading Japanese people everywhere again.

We left the Book-off again, after which my dad browsed another shop while I waited outside (the mosquito bites started to really itch and ache again, my poor legs…). After that, we walked back outside and looked around us. We didn’t know much about Ikebukuro and I didn’t really think we were going to spend much more time there. I only knew about this big centre called ‘Sunshine City’ and that there was an observation deck there, so we decided to go check it out. We didn’t know we would spend the rest of our day there..!

The Way to Sunshine City
The underground way to Sunshine City.

We had to take an underground way to Sunshine City, since it was on the other side of the road. I saw several posters of the Sunshine Aquarium, but I didn’t think we would go there. We crossed several cute shops, including one that sold some adorable mobile phone straps. They turned out to be from Paris Kid’s and they were just too cute! After that, we went on our way too find the observation deck we had heard about. When we found the elevators, two ladies in elegant outfits showed us the way to the elevator and bowed for us until the doors closed. As soon as the elevator started to move, the lights turned off and the elevator turned dark blue, while the walls showed stars and constellations while dreamy music was playing. A screen showed us how fast the elevator was going.

600 m/min
The elevator went so fast!

When we arrived upstairs (the 60th floor!), a man in a neat suit showed us the way to the ticket vending lady. Just when we wanted to pay, I noticed a small text saying that combined tickets, observation deck and aquarium, were cheaper, so I told my dad about it. Before I knew it, he bought two combined tickets! After paying, we were allowed to enjoy the view over Tokyo at 251 meters!

Tokyo view
You can see the Shinjuku Skyscrapers we could see from our hotelwindow!

Although the weather wasn’t too great, the view was amazing! We spent so much time just looking around at the city. You could see from every side of the building, so we walked around and looked at some posters with pictures on it from what you could see.

Don't Fall Off
My dad enjoyed looking around so much! He kept pointing at things and taking pictures.

I noticed a door that led to some stairs. When we walked up the stairs, we found ourselves outside on the top of the building, at 256 meters high! The view was even greater from up there and I used a binocular multiple times.

The binoculars worked so extremely well! I could even read small signs (if I could read Japanese, that is).

After a while, we left the observation deck again (with the superfast elevator of course) and continued our way to the aquarium. After asking the way to a lovely lady (who spoke a little English, yay!) and walking quite a while, we saw some people in Hawaii shirts directing people towards a queue and we understood we had found the line to the aquarium. After waiting for a short while, some of the Hawaii shirts (XD) led a group of people, including us, to an elevator. While the elevator started to move upstairs, a girl in a Hawaii shirt looked at my dress and smiled, indicating that she liked it. When we got out, she smiled again and complimented me (I felt so honoured ^^). When we walked around a corner, there was a huge line in front of the ticketbooths! I was so glad we had bought our tickets already!

Sunshine Aquarium
Sunshine Aquarium! I really had no idea what to expect.

We followed a path that led into the building, where the aquarium officially started. Now I’ll have to be honest: describing the aquarium is quite hard. There were so many basins with sea animals that it is impossible to tell you everything. Plus, it was very crowded. So crowded that we sometimes walked in lines past all the windows. I’ll try my best to tell as much as I can, but forgive me when I jump too much in my story. ^^’
Well, as I said: it was very crowded. A lot of people had decided to visit the aquarium that day, most of them with kids. Maneuvering between all the people with my huge Closet Child bag was quite a challenge, but I managed to survive! It was very dark inside, so you could see the fish and other animals really well (of course).

One of the many beautiful basins. So many colours and fish!

After a few windows I saw something that scared me quite a lot: it was a basin with two huge Japanese spider crabs in them!

Spider Crab
I hope I don’t scare people with this! They were so big…

After squeezing myself through the mass of people somehow, I managed to get a good look at the huge crabs. They were gigantic! A bit too big for my taste…
In the basin next to it lived another animal that I also found very scary: the biggest octopus I’ve ever seen!

I don’t know which I found creepier: the giant crabs or this giant octopus…

When I thought about it later, the octopus’ basin was quite small for his size. I just hope he had a bigger basin behind it for the night or something…
After walking for a while we encountered one of my favourite parts of the whole aquarium: the giant wall basin.

Wall Basin
In front of the wall basin, there were multiple benches that got higher, so everyone was able to see the basin well.

We just sat down when a woman in a diving suit jumped into the water and started to feed the fish and rays! I never knew rays could be so cute! They just kept on 'kissing' her with their little mouths so she would give them more food.

Feeding the Rays
The rays were so sweet to her!

After watching for a while, we went to stand in line to look at the jellyfish in and behind a tunnel. After that, we just kept on walking and saw many sea animals, including two giant moonfish (who looked a bit creepy to me), tiny squids, weird sea/land animals and Finding Nemo’s Marlin and Dory. There was just so much to see! Eventually, we arrived in the souvenir shop. I swear, in Tokyo they have the talent to make cute merchandise for everything. Even the creepy moonfish!

Kiss The Girl!
Kiss the girl!

We looked through the windows and noticed there was something going on outside, so we quickly left the shop.
We found ourselves on a big square with some kind of big glass ring above, in which two seals were swimming (well, I think they were seals). You could see them so well and they were really sweet!

Swimming Seals
The seals returned to their own basin later in the afternoon, I believe.

Next to the ring, there were some big, round white blocks with coloured lights in it that sprayed water in an irregular pattern that you could catch. All the children, and me, were playing there!

Catch the Water
I really had a ridiculous amount of fun with this!

We were getting pretty tired and decided to eat at least something. We bought a coke for my dad and ice cream for me (after some trouble with ordering. I didn’t know they were saying the ice cream taste was vanilla. XD). The ice cream tasted more like milk by the way, really nice! We walked past the penguins, some land animals and a pelican and decided to leave eventually, after taking some more pictures with a wall that poured water.

Say 'Water'!
My dad looks a bit worried, but he looked like that on more pictures like these. He was focusing on getting the picture right. XD

We really had to leave: we were so tired! In case you had forgotten: I was carrying a large, very heavy bag with me and not only that, but I was also wearing wooden sandals. My feet were killing me! I hadn’t expected to stay in Ikebukuro this long, so I didn’t really care for good shoes!
We left Sunshine City again and went to Closet Child one more time, to take some pictures of it in the dark, after which we returned to Shinjuku.
We were really hungry, so we decided to go to MyLord and eat something at the café I really wanted to go to: Café Est! Est! The fake food (especially the ice cream) looked so great in the shop window! We chose to order their ‘Popular No. 1’, which was a big plate with rice-filled egg, a cup with something cheesy and delicious, meat, salad, fried shrimp (I believe) and smiles.

Dinner at Café Est! Est!
I apologize for the blurry picture. I believe the plates were 15 inches long!

The food was delicious and while we ate, we could watch some baseball on one of the screens. Then, we finally returned to the hotel, Skyped with my mom and went to bed. It had been a tiring, but fantastic day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tokyo, Day 5 – Akihabara and Shibuya

The evening before we had decided to go to Akihabara, the otaku district. Since we didn’t want to have breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant everyday, we had decided to buy some things in a shop and eat them later. We took some outfit pictures outside, when I suddenly realized I had forgotten my ointment upstairs. The day before, in the gardens of the Imperial Palace, I was probably stung by several mosquitoes, since my legs were covered in itchy bumps. My dad had none, but he had worn long pants.
We walked into the subwaystation and in one of the halls we found an adorable bakery called ‘Cafe Tap House’.

Cafe Tap House
The bakery was so cute! And they had a lot of delicious-looking things!

After looking around at all the food, we both chose some things to take with us. We chose something that ressembled croissants, some kind of sweet rolls, something more salty and I chose a cup filled with fruit, cake and whipped cream. We both received a bag and the food was carefully wrapped in plastic bags. Then we bought our tickets for the subway.

Yamanote line
We took the Yamanote-line, which rides in a big circle.

The trainride took quite a long time to reach Akihabara, since it was on the exact opposite of Shinjuku in the circle (at least, in the schematic pictures the subway uses).

Subway Girls
This pictures pretty much sums up what people in the subway do: sleep, stare at their cellphone or listen to music. It’s mostly the cellphone part though.

Then, we finally reached the station of Akihabara, where we followed the signs to the Electric Town exit. We arrived at a very crowded place and we didn’t really know where to go, but it quickly became clear we had to go left and we immediately saw a very wellknown building.

When I think of Akihabara, I think of this building. It looks even more awesome in real life!

Of course we also went inside! It wasn’t really special: lots of electrical devices like laptops and tvs, but standing on the escalators was really cool!

Escalator View
The escalators were so awesome! It was a shame the top floor was closed.

We left the building and just followed the street, looking around at all the signs and colours and listening to the many noises and music coming out of the shops. There was a really nice atmosphere! When we arrived at a huge street called Chuo dori, we just didn’t know where to look.
I didn’t really know much about Akihabara, except for a store I wanted to visit: Don Quijote. While we looked for the store, we saw many other things of course. We walked a long, small hall filled with tiny shops that sold anything related to electrical devices, from cables to tiny buttons and plugs. Sometimes a shop was so small, the owner could barely be seen behind the piles of boxes.

Almost every building in Chuo dori looked like this: covered in signs and posters.

We decided to have breakfast, but of course not without a drink! Luckily, drink vending machines weren’t far away! We found a big row of machines and one of them contained coffee and another one chocolate milk!

Aroma Black
Aromax Quality Black, for anyone who seeks quality coffee from a vending machine.

There weren’t any benches to be seen, so in the end we decided to just sit down on a small fence. We had no idea if this was looked upon as weird, so we joked about what people were thinking. It didn’t matter anyway: we had a delicious breakfast (especially my fruit and cake in a cup with whipped cream was super yummy)! While we were eating, we saw the first maid of the day! Of course, Akihabara = Maids, so I was really excited! She wore a pink dress, a white apron and a black top and she was just way too cute! While we walked the street, we saw so many maids handing out flyers! They had often added cute accessories to their outfits and I’ve seen quite some Lolita stuff. I think I’ve received a flyer from each and everyone of them! The flyers showed for which company the maids worked and the biggest one was probably MaiDreamin, since they had three locations. The flyers were so cute and the maids… they were just so kawaii!!! Sorry, I can’t help myself! ^^
While we looked for the Don Quijote store, we noticed that the buildings became less colourful. We discovered we had missed the store and we had to walk back, but this time we took the other side of the street (which caused us to cross the street again later).

Chuo dori
Admit it, this street is huge!

We finally saw Don Quijote and went inside (after we had encountered a wall of noise coming out of a Pachinko hall). We took the escalator up and found ourselves in what I can best describe as the best organised chaos I have ever seen! Every floor was filled with everything you can imagine, from anime and manga related things to key chains, make up, games, costumes, electrical devices, food, anything! There were no walls to be seen, everything was covered! And yet, there was still a system of small paths leading through all those things. I can’t remember all the things I’ve seen, there was just too much!

Culture Shock
Our first culture shock in a foodshop: squid on a stick-snacks!

My dad and I made sure we stayed together: we didn’t want to end up losing each other! We especially liked to look at the costumes: since Halloween was coming up, you could find the most outrageous things!

Geisha Look?
Don’t you think I make a pretty ehm… Geisha?

Behind a part with costumes, we found all kinds of typical ita-like dresses and also Bodyline dresses. It was strange to find them in such a store.

Waffle Dress
I think Lolita would totally suit my dad too! ^^

We also visited the AKB48-floor, home to the incredibly popular band. You could also go to their concert on the highest floor, I believe. After looking around some more in Don Quijote (my dad discovered a 4D puzzle of Tokyo, he doubted about buying it), we left the store again. We initially planned to leave Akihabara, but after some thinking I really wanted to visit a Maid Café! I mean come on, we were in Akihabara! After receiving all those flyers, I had developed a preference for MaiDreamin and we decided to visit the closest one, number 3. After finding out how to get upstairs (the elevator, not the stairs, hihi) we got out in a bright pink room with tables in college set up and some more normal tables. Everything seemed to scream ‘cute!’ at us! We were welcomed by a maid, who asked us how long we would be staying. We chose for one our. Since we didn’t understand any Japanese, the maid who knew the most English served us. Her name was Pico and her cutefactor was out of this world! She showed us our table, lit the candle on it (we had to help by saying the magic words ^^) and explained us how everything worked. Even though she was the maid who knew the most English, she mostly spoke short English sentences with a heavy accent and threw Japanese words right in, but it made her only cuter! After she had asked our names and gave us cute nicknames (my dad became ‘Menmen’, I was ‘Rosa’), we ordered ice cream and just looked at all the things that happened.

Maid Ice Cream
No pictures allowed in the café, except for the food. The bunny was mine, the bear was my dad’s. ^^

We were positively overwhelmed by all the things the maids did. When we received our ice water, we had to make a heart shape with our hands and make the water more delicious by saying ‘Moe Moe Kyun!’ (my heart, the cuteness~!) and they sang and danced and made drinks together with the other guests who had to participate in the whole process. Everything was hyperactive, loud and adorable! In the end, I asked for a picture with Pico and she wrote and drew on it for me! We also wrote a message in their guestbook. I regretted to say goodbye, it was such an interesting experience! Indescribable…

MaiDreamin 3
MaiDreamin #3. You can see one the maid that had welcomed us on the left. She seemed shy, but of course she was really cute too!

We visited one last store: Laox, where we finally found a souvenirshop! The shop had the craziest souvenirs and we decided to come back later to buy presents for everyone at home. Then we finally left Akihabara and after sitting in the subway for a while, we arrived around 4:15 pm at our hotel where we rested the rest of the afternoon.
In the evening we decided to go to Shibuya, to see the famous crossing by night!
When we entered Shinjuku Station, it was so crowded! Apparently, we had chosen the wrong time and for the first time we experienced what it was like to stand in a metrotrain while being squished.

Tokyo Subway
It was so crowded!

Luckily, Shibuya was only three stops away and we got out quickly. We followed the signs that said ‘Hachiko Exit’ and got out at one of the most famous places in the world!

Hachiko statue to the left, Shibuya crossing to the right!

We walked up to the dog’s statue, where it was very crowded. I had read that the statue is a popular meeting point and that is absolutely true! I was glad we managed to take some pictures!

Hachiko looked so sweet! When I read his story for the first time I felt so sad…

Since we wanted to get a good view of the crossing, we entered the station again, took the stairs and walked to a bridge with windows, which gave us a beautiful look over the crowded crossing.

The armies are marchin'
Like my dad said: ‘It’s almost like two armies marching into each other!’

After taking pictures, it was time to cross the street ourselves!

Shibuya Crossing
Can I have some drumrolls please?

The crossing wasn’t really scary or anything, but the fact I was walking on such a famous point made the whole experience really cool!
After crossing, we walked up to Shibuya 109, another building I have seen on many pictures.

Shibuya's Tower
We saw this girl everywhere! Her new cd had just been released, I believe.

We had seen some plastic bags drifting through the air, but when we came closer, it turned out to be something else! It were hearts and textballons of foam that floated through the air, promoting a new series (or movie, I have no idea). It was such a great way to draw attention!

Shibuya 109
Shibuya 109! So shiny~!

I had no idea what to expect of Shibuya 109. I only knew it contained the shop ‘Tralala’ and I had heard it was a cool shop. We took the elevator up and browsed through some stores.

Ruby Rose
This was such a cute shop! It was called ‘Ruby Rose’.

Finally, we found the Tralala shop, but it was different from what I expected. I believe it consisted of two shops: Tralala and Liz Lisa. I looked at some adorable shirts (it is a cute brand) and one of the shopgirls yelled (the music was very loud everywhere): ‘One size only!’ I was like: ‘Are you trying to tell me something?’ -_-“
I browsed the accessories corner and found an adorable pink velvet headbow with rhinestones and a pin on it that said ‘Tralala’. The other shop girl, wtih long blonde curly hair, was a total sweetheart and showed me all kinds of accessories and telling me things about them in Japanese. I just smiled and said ‘Kawaii’ sometimes. ^^ In the end, I also bought a pink bowshaped bangle with rhinestones that matched the bow. After I had paid, the sweet shopgirl took me to the border of the shop and thanked me for my purchases (I really loved it when they did that)!
We decided to leave Shibuya 109 again to eat somewhere, but when we got outside it was raining! I had brought an umbrella (for our ‘in case we lose each other-plan’) but my dad didn’t, so we ran to the nearst subwaystation entrance and took the subway back. We suddenly realised we still wanted to try those little fried balls, takoyaki, we had seen on the day we arrived, so we decided to try them and got out at Yoyogi Station. We quickly found the tiny restaurant and ordered two plates off a menu.

The Takoyaki Cook
There were only standing tables in the restaurant. You can see the Tralala bag I got for my purchases!

The way the cook made the little balls (which turned out to be fried octopus balls, I had looked it up) is a bit hard to explain, but let’s just say he was fast and we quickly received our plates.

I have no idea what kind of toppings we had ordered, but it looked nice on the menu so we just picked something.

The balls were very hot, but so freaking delicious! I can still taste it when I think back… After we finished our takoyaki we slowly walked back, past our hotel, to pick up some dessert at McDonald’s (coffee for my dad, a ‘sankaku choco pie’ for me). Then we went back to the hotel, Skyped and went to bed. It had been another amazing day!