Friday, April 22, 2016

Shibuya PARCO and the One Piece Mugiwara Store

The Shibuya PARCO is a little powerhouse mall of shopping and dining found in a couple of annexes in Shibuya.  Plenty of fashions here to browse and buy in the first 5 floors.  You have a variety of stores that run from the more mainstream to the eclectic. 
On the 6th floor there is anime related shopping, especially the dedicated One Piece Mugiwara Store, Namco character shops, a funky Village Vanguard store, and other shops.  Above this on floors 7 and 8 are some restaurants and even theme cafes.  If you're in Shibuya and wandering around, it is worth a visit after seeing Shibuya 109, Tower Records, the Tokyu Hands, Uniqlo, etc.  Also, if you are wandering around and see various bakeries, you might want to drop in as the pastries and cakes are usually scrumptious.
Life Size Luffy and Chopper
There is plenty of artwork and merchandise in this store.  If you're a One Piece fan, it is unlikely your wallet will escape unscathed.
The store isn't huge like a Pokemon Center, but is is a pretty good size.  It is nicely themed.
One Piece merchandise and food.
One Piece toys. Lots of blind boxes.  There are plenty of wanted posters and t-shirts to get too.
Try your luck with One Piece gashapon machines.
Yowamushi Pedal Store
This was a popup store, and I'm sure it'll be  different anime when you visit.
Nice roomy store full of merchandise.
A limited time My Melody Popup Cafe.  Again, the theme will be different when you visit.
The menu at the My Melody Cafe.  Looks cute and yummy.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Limited Edition Love Live! Puccho Chews and Snow Halation Mini-figures

A couple of boxes arrived in the mail from Japan earlier this week.  In them were some Japanese snacks, including the limited edition Love Live! Puccho Chews, and a set of Snow Halation mini-figures.  So the Love Live! goods are still coming out despite the fact that the show and μ's has wrapped up.
There are 3 types of wrapping, but the candy is the same.  There is one for the 3rd years, one for the second years, and one for the first years.  Figures are still random and don't match by year.
I have a friend that plays the Love Live! Rhythm game on their iPad and it seems like the show is living on pretty strong with all of the fans playing that game too.  I'll be waiting for the Love Live sequel this summer too with an all new set of girls who want to be idols!

Love Live! Puccho Fruit Chews
Puccho are a type of yogurty chewy candy that is quite tasty and it has little gummy balls in it to provide some extra chewy bits.  Quite a tasty candy really.  This candy is availabe right now in April of 2016, but it won't last long like most limited release items in Japan ( had some).
The figures come in a little blind box attached to the end of the candy.

Well, a limited edition version of the candy came out that included one member of μ's with each pack of candy.  If you bought enough candy you would be able to get a whole set of μ's as cell phone charms.  Since μ's has nine members, you're going to be buying a lot of candy.  I bought 10 packs and had 3 duplicates so I didn't manage to snag a set.  However, friends were more than happy enough to take the extras off my hands as a side benefit.  Each charm is quite nicely made and very petite.
The figures are shown on the back of the package.
I got my favourite, Nozomi, so there was some happiness.  The candy is shown at the right and each piece comes wrapped in some foil.

Love Live Snow Halation Mini-figures
If you collect figures, collecting something like Love Live is ridiculously expensive due to the number of members.  If you ordered gashapon at 300 yen a pop, it would still be 2700 yen for all nine members, if you pulled a unique one on every go.  The price only goes up with more deluxe figures, so you gotta pay to show your love.  This Show Halation is a complete set of characters with little mini-bases.  The bases are just a tad short so they don't properly support the figures, but they would still look pretty good in a display case.
The first years.
The second years.
The third years.
Size comparison between the two types of figures.

That's just a bit of Love Live! goodness, so I'm back to chewing on all that Puccho candy now.

My visit to the Love Live Shrine in Akihabara
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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Nissin Cup Noodle Vegeta Tonkotsu = More Veggies!

Last year I reviewed the Cup Noodle Vegeta with the Dragonball Z tie-in and I liked it quite a bit.  Well, it looks like they brought the veggie part back for another limited run with a tasty Tonkotsu (pork broth) and chunks of their dehydrated ground pork this year instead of the bacon.

The cup is very yellow with big bold print in bright colors and black for contrast against that very yellow background.  This cup of noodles is going to stand out on a shelf and ask you to buy it and eat it.  Best of all, its says you have 1/3 of your daily veggies in this cup of noodle (120 grams rehydrated).
It's very yellow!  You can see the 1/3 veggies on the lid of the cup.
Ingredients and product info on the back.
Popping open the lid you can see the heaping pile of dehydrated vegetables on top that is a little different from the last vegeta.  I love the amount of veggies here!  Best of all, no poorly rehydrated peas here!  The veggies consist of cabbage, carrots, corn, green onin and fried garlic.  The most plentiful veggie is cabbage, but cabbage is good for you :)  There are also pieces of pork and egg mixed in.
Loads of toppings for the noodles.  Yum.
Add boiling water up to the fill line and wait 3 minutes.
The noodles look great re-hydrated with delicious looking vegetables on top.
The soup was thicker than in their regular cup noodle, but not as thick as their curry noodle cups.  The broth was quite satisfying with a nice soy / pork flavour and a heavy hit of the cabbage.  The noodles were their regular cup noodle noodles - nothing unusual here.  All in all, it was very tasty, with a nice amount of veggies that packed in.

More Instant Ramen and Japanese Pop Culture Posts here.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

When Anime Meets Reality in Tokyo

One of the things that is pretty awesome about Japan is the fact that anime and video games are set in real world locations.  So you'll recognize famous places like Scramble Crossing in Shibuya, the Tokyo Tower, Ginza, or Tokyo Station, etc., in them.
The world famous Shibuya Crossing intersection on a rainy day!
 The same kind of effect happens with New York as it shows up in so many movies and TV shows.  When you visit these places for real you get a little extra thrill when you  can imagine everything crossing over.
Anime Statue in Shibuya (temporary in 2015)
Well, here are a few trailers that bring the two together for Tokyo, blending live footage with the imaginary.  Enjoy!  Oh yeah, one more thing, things like the Goku vs. Luffy display are temporary and often never show up again, so if you run across something like that in Tokyo - you're either living there or are blessed with good fortune.

Ultraman vs Kaiju in Shibuya Trailer

One Piece Burning Blood Trailer

Goku vs Luffy Shibuya Display outside of the Parco Mall

Puzzles and Dragons CM

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sandwiches and Food Chains To Try In Japan Next Time

Every time I visit Japan there isn't enough time to try all of the foods you can buy over there.  You can only eat so much unless you just buy it to taste it and then toss it which would be rather wasteful.  I may have passed on some of these things before, but the next time I go, I would like to try it.  Nothing on this wish list is fancy, and it might even be kind of pedestrian, but I still want to try it because it appeals or I've heard good things about it.

Yamazaki Sandwich Packs
These sandwiches are produced by Japan's largest commercial bakery, Yamazaki Baking Company.  This company also owns the Daily Yamazaki chain of convenience stores where you can find their products too!  They carry a large lineup of pre-made sandwiches made out of fluffy white bread with no crust.
Egg and cutlet sandwich packs. Creative Commons License from Nemo's Great Uncle.
These are called sandwich packs and you can find whole displays of these with many different fillings.  The egg salad sandwiches and the fried cutlet sandwiches are the ones that appeal to me the most as they are fillings you don't usually find here at Subway.  These sandwiches are thin, and most uniquely, they have the edges crimped shut so that it is like eating a bread pocket with a filling inside.
Sandwich with crimped edges.  Creative Commons License from Nemo's Great Uncle.
These sandwiches are replenished regularly and should be pretty fresh (probably restocked that day) and should go pretty nicely with riceballs too!  They also stock a nice looking ham sandwich and curry pan (curry bread) which is yummy too.  On a side note, Yamazaki delivery drivers were stranded on a mountain highway by a snow storm along with hundreds of other drivers back in February 2014.  They realized they wouldn't be able to get their bread, sandwiches, and cakes to the stores on time, so they gave away food to the stranded drivers.  I even found a Youtube video of the event shown below and boy there is a lot of snow.

Tenya Tendon
This is a pretty popular tempura chain known for their tempura rice bowls or tendon.  I've never stopped in for  lunch or dinner, as it is always been the wrong time or I've already eaten when I see one of their outlets.
Tendon. Creative Commons License from Ishikawa Ken
Their tempura and rice bowls, especially the seasonal specials always look so crunchy and tasty!
A nice warm bowl of rice with some crunchy tempura shrimp or veggies would sure hit the spot right now.

Camp Curry
I walked by one of their outlets several times in Ikebukuro Station when I was there.  It smelled wonderful.  After I read more about them, it was definitely something I wanted to try.
Curry and rice.  Creative Commons License from hirotomo t
All of their restaurants are done up like you're out camping and having curry with a plate of rice in the great outdoors (even though you are indoors).  Their specialties are vegetable curries, but you can get meat too if you have an appetite for it.  You get your curry in a big cast iron pan, with a little shovel shaped spoon.  It was packed every time I passed by so they are pretty popular.  Vegetable curry anyone?

Tokyo Soupstock
This is another famous chain known for soup of course.  Again I've never managed to eat there even though I've passed a few of them.  They're supposed to have some pretty tasty soup.
Soup and rice.  Creative Commons License from yoppy

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