Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Favourite Tokyo Starbucks and Bills for Breakfast

Have a morning and an afternoon to kill in Tokyo by eating and drinking coffee?  Well, head down to Omotesando and the Tokyu Plaza Mall.  It's located on Jingumei, the main street, at the intersection on top of Meijijingumae Station.  On the roof is a wonderful patio / urban garden, a really classy looking Starbucks Omohara and Bills Omotesando Restaurant in one convenient package.
Tokyu Plaza

View Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku in a larger map

http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html


Cool Mirrored Entrance
Lots of shopping in the Tokyu Hands store inside.
Rooftop Garden Patio
Starbucks with fancy drinks and a great dessert cabinet.  Check their link below.

View from the roof.

It was raining the day I visited this Starbucks and the inside was packed, but I was pretty impressed by the layout and setup.  You could take your drinks out onto the rooftop garden when the weather was nice and relax.  A little crowded, as a lady bumped into my tray with coffee, but not too much spilled.  The rooftop garden in an urban setting seems isolated from the hustle and bustle below.  The building and the restaurants are relatively recent and worth a visit if you are in the area.


For breakfast, I'm going to have to try this Bills Omotesando, an extension of the restaurants from Australia that is supposed to serve the best breakfast in Sydney.  There's often a lineup, but it might not be too bad depending on the day you visit.  Have a nice, hearty, eggy breakfast.  Then, if you haven't had enough coffee, head down to the patio below to Starbucks for dessert and more coffee.  They have a nice selection of pastries and cakes here.  It is a showcase store for Starbucks and it shows!!!

http://danielfooddiary.com/2013/10/02/billstokyo/
http://gigazine.net/news/20131227-starbucks-chocolate-pretzel-mocha/
http://www.starbucks.co.jp/store/concept/omohara/




Donbe Big Tempura Udon and Nissin Chicken Instant Ramen Bowl

Just a brief post today.  I hope everyone had a good Christmas and is looking forward to the new year.  Over the last little bit, I've had the opportunity to try a couple of other Nissin Instant Ramen products and they were up to their normal tasty goodness.

Donbe Big Tempura Udon
This is a nice big bowl of instant udon noodles in the typical soy / dashi type broth for udon noodles.
Nice packaging, but the photo shows the lettering upside down as the nice side of the bowl faced this way.
There is a dry flavour packet, a big disk of shrimp/vegetable tempura.
Add the boiling water and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.  Then add the disc of tempura which would otherwise get completely soggy.
Looks yummy! Was filling.


http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html

Nissin Instant Chicken Ramen Bowl
This is a nice way to eat Nissin's classic chicken ramen flavoured instant noodles.  I'm not sure why this chicken flavour is not sold in North America.  It is a nice rich, roasted/smokey chicken flavour rather than the regular chicken flavour powedered you get over here.

Classic looks and brandiing.  Little Line Messaging App promo tie-in.
The chicken stock is baked onto the noodles and the extra ingredients came in a little puck that contained chicken shreds, omelet shreds of egg, and green onion.  Kind of neat!
You can see the puck kind of dissolves after adding hot water.  Wait three minutes again!
Yummy chicken ramen!
Visit my Pop Culture Page for more Instant Ramen Posts and More!




Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Best Pick of Anime on Crunchyroll Fall 2013 and Gundam Build Fighters

This has been a pretty good year for anime viewing with Crunchyroll bringing over a bumper crop of entertainment.  There's been pretty much something for everyone and you don't have to pay a dime to view it all.
Vending machine in Japan.  It is going to be sad when most of the machines replace the little models with a TV screen.

http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html


Shows I'm watching now in the fall of 2013:
  • Gundam Build Fighters (this is on Bandai's Gundam Channel on Youtube)
    This is a really fun show (even if it is a big commercial for gunpla).  Reminds me a bit about Angelic Layer by Clamp, but it is pretty cool that you take your Gundam models and fight in a competitive arena.  Lots of nods to the Gundam anime and neat world setup.
    Fan Service: 1 of 5
    Fun Level: 5 out of 5
    Story: 4 out of 5 (once you accept that models can by animated in the arena by special particles).
  • Arpeggio of Blue
    This is a pretty good military SF anime if you don't mind anthropomorphized AIs in the form of cute girls that control alien battleships modeled on WWII naval units with super weapons.
    Fan Service: 3 out of 5 with 5 being high.
    Fun Level: 4 out of 5
    Story: 3 out of 5
  • Log Horizon
    Like .Hack and Sword Art you have people trapped inside a fantasy MMORPG.  No explanation is supposed to be forthcoming yet about why they are trapped, but this show has been really good for story development and the characters.  I really like how the interactions between the players are turning out.
    Fan Service: 2 out of 5
    Fun Level: 4 out of 5
    Story: 4 out of 5
  • Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods
    Really nice story about a future priestess at a Inari shrine and the relationship with the fox messenger to the gods there.  Nice set of characters and dilemnas between the spirit world and the human world.
    Fan Service: 1 out of 5
    Fun Level: 4 out of 5
    Story: 4 out of 5
  • Non Non Biyori
    Slice of life anime set out in the country with a very small single classroom school.  Not much happens each episode, but it is relaxing to watch if you like this genre.
    Fan Service: 1 out of 5
    Fun Level: 5 out of 5
    Story: 1 out of 5 (can slice of life really be a story story?)  The 1 isn't bad, there just usually isn't much of a plot.
  • Outbreak Company
    This show is unusual.  Modern Japan finds a portal to a real "fantasy" world with knights, elves, dwarves, and magic.  They decide to export Akiba / anime culture to said world to generate trade ties.  Unrealistic - hell ya.  The other world loves anime and manga - really?  What if it really worked this way and you suspended your disbelief? Then it is a recipe for fun.  There has been some interesting commentary on society and otaku culture, but it is nowhere near as deep as it could go.  Dragons versus RPGs too!
    Fan Service: 4 out of 5
    Fun Level (turn brain off): 4 out of 5
    Story: 3 out of 5
  • Golden Time
    Great little romantic show.  Amnesiac character, love triangle, and good stories.  College age romance.
    Fan Service: 2 out of 5
    Fun Level: 4 out of 5
    Story: 4 out of 5.


Shows of Interest:
  • Valvrave  - kind of lost me a bit when vampires turned up. Don't like vampires or zombies.
  • Galilei Donna
  • Gargantia
  • Sword Art Online
  • Durara
  • Majestic Prince
  • The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
  • Samurai Flamenco
  • Space Brothers
  • Strike the Blood
  • Attack on Titan
  • Kill la Kill
  • Girls und Panzer
  • Vividred Operation
  • Infinite Stratos
  • Beyond the Boundary
  • White Album
  • Nagi no Asukara
  • Kyousougiga
  • Walkure Romanze
  • Yowapeda
  • The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
  • Dog Days
  • Miss Monochrome



Another Batch of Japanese Themed Apps

It has been awhile since I posted about apps about Japan.  I've been pretty busy writing my scifi novel Neo Ace, but here is a belated update.  This update has a variety of apps that are utilities, games and educational software for IOS devices.

Yamanote Line.  I listed some Yamanote related apps on another one of the pages.  I kind of love this train line as it is so useful for transportation and iconic.  I've read that it carries a billion passengers a year!

Moku Hanga by JixiPix
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moku-hanga/id506703833
This app makes your pictures look look like a Japanese Woodblock print.  $1.99.

Tap Hanabi by Seesaa Inc.
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/tap-hanabi/id625188772?mt=8
This is a simple little app that allows you to set off a fireworks shows with various Japanese locales include Tokyo with the Rainbow Bridge.  I thought it was pretty fun for free.

Enjoy Learning Tokyo Map Puzzle by Digital Gene
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/enjoy-learning-tokyo-map-puzzle/id553382029?mt=8
This was a cool little app that basically has you memorize the prefectures in Tokyo so you know your basic geography.  Plays like filling in a jigsaw and it was free the last time I checked!  This is a keeper.

Notakto by Counterwave, Inc.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/notakto/id412097279
This was a pretty nifty concept.  It is a variant of Xs and Os where both players make X's and the first to do three in a row loses.  The Japanese themed art is nice and it is a great app for free!  On my Ipad.

Samurai Wars
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/samurai-wars/id442916628
Lead your samurai armies in a tactical wargame in realtime.  It is a tabletop wargame simulator and is an awesome little app for free if you like wargames.  Great job on this freebie!

Pillbug Collection by 58works
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pillbug-collection/id512535143
Squash little pillbugs of different colors and types to collect them all. Had to admit I played this for a bit... more entertaining than it sounds for free.

Pigg Fishing in River by Ameba Pig
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/defense-witches-for-iphone/id507366983
A scoop the fish as a bear kind of game.  Not quite sure what else to say.  Free at writing.

Pigg Crane Game by Ameba Pigg
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/pigg-crane-game-by-ameba-pigg/id508438577?mt=8
A variant of the UFO claw catcher game where you have a UFO pick stuff up.  Different and free at the time of writing.

Hiragana Pixel Party by Springloaded
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/hiragana-pixel-party/id517578891?mt=8
This is a really good rhythm learning game for Hirigana.  Great deal to start at the price for free and it looks great!  I really liked this but thought it could use an easier mode where things are still spaced a little further apart.  

TenuGo Kana (Hirigana and Katakana)
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/tengugo-kana-hiragana-katakana/id487344705?mt=8
This app lists the kana and pronounces them for you too.   There are flash cards and quizzes.  I liked it and you should probably check this out if you're learning Japanese.

Learn Japanese Hiragana! by Makoto Ishida
https://itunes.apple.com/nz/app/learn-japanese-hiragana!/id708363188?mt=8
This is a simple little learning game for Hiragana for the younger ones who already speak Japanese way better than me.  Nice little free download.

Hiroshige: Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido by Wei Yao
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hiroshige-fifty-three-stations/id606685873?mt=8
This is a nicely designed art app to show the wood block prints of Hiroshige.  I previously posted about several other free apps relating to ukiyo-e art prints too, but this one seems to have more information in it.  Free at the time of writing.

Littleberries
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/littleberries/id580761655?mt=8
A sightseeing guide in Japanese to the Doou area in Hokkaido.  That northern island has a few apps like this now where there are cute mascot characters that you can add into local photos.  Good if you read Japanese.


Defense Witches for iPhone / iPad by Newgate
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/defense-witches-for-iphone/id507366983
A tower defense game using cute anime characters as the defenders.  I played a half dozen levels and thought it was fairly well done and fun with nice moe art.  What more could you want for free in a tower defense game?

Groove Catch Free by WG Publishing
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/groove-catch-free/id554556620
There is the regular edition of Groove Catch too for $2.99 at the time of writing.  I'm posting about the free one as you can see if you like the app first.  It is a 500 MB download for the full version, but you get a fair number of songs to play the rhythm games with.  Nice anime themes and such and it seems like it could be pretty fun based on the sample.  Hatsune Miku and more.

Check out the main Japan / Japanese apps page here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Android Maid Cafe and One Piece Restaurant Baratie

Androidol CafeEarlier this year (2013), another maid-type cafe opened up with a new twist.  The android idol cafe, where your server is a humanoid android woman (acted by the waitresses there).  As you interact with them they become more human and show more emotion towards you.  It is an interesting concept and I think the ladies must be darn good actors.  You can also pick a personality type for them and pay extra for some on stage karaoke, etc.  Pictures of the cafe make it look like a pretty nice establishment that is hoping to attract the salarymen in the area for a bit of relaxation.  Not located in Akihabara, it is in Akasaka.


View Larger Map


Androidol Caffe
Address: Tokyo, Minato-ku, Akasaka 3-17-1 KDG Building 1F

Official Site: http://androidol-caffe.com/


http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html

Baratie, One Piece Restaurant at Fuji TV
Fuji TV opened Baratie, a One Piece themed restaurant, at their headquarters building in Odaiba in June, 2013.  Seems like all kinds of anime themed stores and restaurants are opening these days in Tokyo.  There is also the One Piece Store in Shibuya, the Shonen Jump theme park in Ikebukuro, and all of the Shonen Jump stores to see too.

View Larger Map
Baratie is based on a restaurant that appears in the One Piece anime/manga and it is located on the seventh floor of the Fuji TV building on the rooftop garden.   There are many One Piece themed dishes and it kind of sounds like a Disney theme restaurant as there are life-sized figures, cosplay, character voices coming from the kitchen, etc.  However it is a full restaurant and I don't believe it is cheap, but if you're a Luffy fan, it is probably going to be worth it.  The Fuji TV building is a cool piece of architecture with an observation gallery in the big ball there, and it is right near Pallet Town, and the giant Gundam / Gundam Front too.  You can do a lot of sightseeing and eating here.

Oh yeah,  Fuji TV has a big gift shop on the main floor too!

One Piece Restaurant Baratie 
Address: Fuji TV Building 7F, 2-4-8 Odaiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Official Site: http://op-bt.com

More Tokyo Highlights and Anime Attractions on this site.


More Recent One Piece News
http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2013/06/17/one-piece-themed-restaurant-named-baratie-to-open-in-tokyo
http://en.rocketnews24.com/2013/11/02/limited-edition-one-piece-gum-gum-fruit-treats-on-sale-at-7-eleven-japan/
http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2013/11/20/one-piece-celebrates-300-million-copies-with-cruise-across-japans-prefectures



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nissin Kitsune and Tempura Instant Ramen + KING Cup Chicken Ramen

I ordered a bunch of stuff from Japan awhile back and have been slowly eating my way through all sorts of instant ramen goodness (yes - I'm using that term for what some people call junk food).  Today, I'm posting about three more kinds of instant noodle in a cup or bowl and talking about the miracle of adding boiling water and waiting three measly minutes for some noodles to be ready in a savory broth.  The Kitsune and Tempura Instant ramen are usually available year round, but I'm not so sure about the Giant Cup Chicken Ramen.

If you're looking for a fix and cannot find it in your area, check out HLJ.com as they have good ordering, packing, and shipping system.  As a business analyst myself, I think they have one of the more interesting systems for determining weight and optimal packing, and then shipping than most vendors.  Their system seems to be quite reliable too. Just remember to ship your bargain ramen at SAL rates to avoid making your ramen even more expensive.


Donbe Kitsune Instant Udon Noodle Bowl
I should have been a fox (kitsune) as they love deep fried tofu.  This instant ramen has a simple soy broth and the thicker udon noodles.  The highlight of the noodle bowl is a nice big hunk of fried tofu or inari that is both sweet and savory.  This is a very tasty noodle dish, but you have to not mind a piece of slightly soggy and spongy tofu after it has absorbed some of the broth.  In Japan, Kitsune can be the messengers of the gods and they are supposed to love eating inari tofu!


Kitsune Udon

A piece of dehydrated tofu and a simple flavour packet.
Add hot water and wait 3 minutes.
Nice thick noodles! Yum.

http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html

Donbe Tempura Instant Soba Noodle Bowl
This is another tasty bowl of instant noodles with a nice big disc of tempura to put on top.  This is another simple soy type broth with instant buckwheat noodles (soba) for noodles with a different taste and texture.  The noodles are firmer with a chewier consistency and there is a nice sized tempura disc in its own little package.  Dump in the flavour packet, add boiling water, wait three minutes, then put in the disc of tempura.  I don't do it too early because you'll end up with completely soggy tempura instead of crunchy fried goodness with little pieces of vegetable. Was quite yummy.

If you can eat the real thing, there is also an app in the Apple App Store from Nissin to simulate this instant noodle bowl!  Click here to see my Apps page and look for the Itadaki Donbei link.

Instant Soba and Tempura noodles
Tempura disc, flavour packet, and soba noodles.

Tempura disc on the old noodles!

KING (Gigantor) Size Chicken Cup Noodle
I really enjoyed this particular cup of noodle as it was actually a lunch at work with some fruit and veggies one day.  It is a BIG cup of noodles of Nissin's traditional chicken ramen flavour with many extra fixings to go with it.  I like chicken ramen flavour a lot and was actually quite happy to see this particular cup noodle on offer for awhile.
King Chicken Cup Noodle
 The picture below shows that there are plenty of toppings for this ramen. Included are big chunks of chicken, green onions, eggs, cabbage, and some red peppers.  It was a tasty treat. Just like their regula  instant chicken ramen, the flavouring for the ramen is coated onto the noodles.  I need to see a factory secrets show to see what kind of processed food magic is being worked here.   I wrote about the original chicken ramen here.
Chicken ramen toppings.
Chicken Ramen done!

Size comparison between regular and King sized.
Closeup of the noodles!



Monday, November 11, 2013

An Anime Figure Classroom Diorama

This is quite the busy classroom that I put together from a bunch of mini-figures that I had from capsule toys, etc.  There are figures in it from Lucky Star, Evangelion, Please Teacher, Kamichu, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. I think it would be a madhouse if you were actually in this class.  So we have cosplayers, aliens, shrine maidens, time travellers, a goddess, clones, mecha pilots who pilot Evas, etc.  Nothing like diversity in the school.



A Display of Japanese Culture With Hatsune Miku and More

It is pretty obvious from this site that I like Japanese culture.  Their soft power export definitely works for me!  In the last little while we were redoing some display cases and here are a few photos of some of the displays.  The first one with a scifi Hatsune Miku in the foreground is one of my favourites!  Also, I finished my first draft of my scifi novel Neo Ace today! Hurray!  I'm now onto revisions before eventual publication at Amazon. Have a look here if you're interested in reading the draft for free or want to purchase an ebook.

I've been collecting the cute little Japanese coffee cans and other beverage cans for awhile and used them for a backdrop for the Hatsune Miku figure.  All around her are little Japanese food models from Rement of various displays you would typically find for a restaurant.  Very fun to set up, but fiddly with all of the little things and stacking.
A figure of Gwendolyn from Odin Sphere and Saber in fancy armour.  Again, there are some little models of traditional Japanese foods / meals and some tiny models of Japanese castles.

Some Japanese samurai armour, a kotatsu with all the fixins, and more little food models.  Some nicely detailed bento boxes in the foreground.
That's all for now.  I'll post another article about the little Rement food models later!  They're so detailed for their size.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tostzilla's Top Ten List of Sights in Tokyo

Just today, a recently retired friend of mine asked me if I could recommend a few of the best things to see in Tokyo on a one week trip.  I pointed him to this blog and said that I was jealous of his jet-setting lifestyle.  Still, he asked for some recommendations so I'm putting the top 10 list of things to see that are a blend of traditional culture and the modern for a non-anime fan.  If you're going to see all of these sights, get a PASMO or SUICA card for riding the trains/subway (no counting change this way) and a good pair of walking shoes!  BTW, arriving at Narita and taking the NEX Express Train into Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station is extremely convenient as there are no transfers and if your hotel is nearby, it can buy you an extra half day of sightseeing.
Tokyo Skytree!


http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html

My Top 10 Sights
  1. Ultra-Modern - The Tokyo Skytree.
    This is an amazing tower with fantastic views of the city and for us Canadians - look - it's taller than the CN Tower...  The tower dwarfs the old Tokyo Tower (which you can see for nostalgia - but this tower tops it).  All of the architecture for this new tower with its upper and lower observation galleries is pretty snazzy.  Expect lineups and you may have to go into one line to get a time to come back and buy tickets to go up.  Millions have gone to visit this recently opened tower.  The Solomachi Mall underneath it is a pretty fantastic little mall that sells all manner of traditional and modern merchandise.  For anime fans who can only see a few things - there is a Hello Kitty Store, a very fancy Ghibli Store with giant catbus and Totoro included.  The restaurants and food courts here are also top notch.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/02/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-1-giant.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/05/i-want-to-see-tokyo-skytree.html
    Shameless Blurb - chapter one from my Neo Ace novel with the Tokyo World Tree - available from Amazon in the near future.
  2. Modern - Shinjuku at Night.
    Shinjuku is a bustling business hub in Tokyo.  Most cities have a downtown.  Well, Tokyo has many downtowns such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Marunouchi, Shiodome, etc.  These are all centered on major train stations.  Shinjuku is the busiest train station on the planet and the amazing architecture of Tokyo Metropolitan City Hall is here (with free observation deck) along with famous sculptures and other buildings such as the Gakuen Cocoon Tower.  Also in the area Piss Alley for its little pubs/bars/food, Kabuchiko the red light district, the entertainment district on the east side of the station, and the amazingly lit up street of  Yasukuni Dori (shown at the beginning of Lost in Translation - also happens to border Kabuchiko).
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-5-ghibli.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2011/11/tokyo-craze-part-02.html
  3. Modern - Shibuya Crossing. 
    One of the busiest pedestrian crossings on Earth.  A sea of people at rush hour.  Watch it from the Starbucks on the second floor of the Q Front building.  It is also a shoppers paradise around here with Shibuya 109 building for women, and many, many stores in the area.  The famous statue of Hachiko the dog is also here.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-2-part-2.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/03/shibuya-crossing-viewpoints.html
  4. Modern - Roppongi Hills Megaplex (Mori Tower)
    This is epitomized by the Mori Tower, an amazing building with a very nice observation deck that also houses the Mori Museum.  The famous spider statue "Maman" is here and the building lights up at night too!  Amazing, enormous, modern architecture, a world class museum, shopping, make it one of my favourite sights.  Tokyo Midtown, the National Gallery, and more are within walking distance of here.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-7-part-1.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/07/roppongi-hills-and-mori-tower.html
  5. Modern - Harajuku / Omotesando or Ginza
    This one is a split. Pick one of the two.  Harajuku with trendy alternative culture on Takeshita Street (Daiso 100 yen store, Evangelion Store) , Omotesando with very nice shopping (Omotesando Hills Mall, Kiddyland, Prada Store, etc.), or Ginza for high-end shopping (Cartier, etc.) and department stores (also amazingly lit up at night).  All of it is great to experience.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-2-part-2.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-4.html
  6. Traditional - Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.
    This is a road trip to Yokohama, but it can be done in half a day.  Eat amazingly tasty ramen from across Japan and also see a recreation of 1950s Showa Era Japan which older Japanese remember with great fondness.  Restaurants and theme park in one.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-6-nissin.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/07/shin-yokohama-ramen-museum-and-nissin.html
  7. Traditional - Sensoji Shrine.
    The one temple you should visit in Tokyo, have your fortune told and to shop for traditional souveniers on Nakamise Street leading up to the temple.  Also near Kappenbashi Street or Kitchen Town (you can get food models here).
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-4.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2011/11/tokyo-craze-part-05-travel-guide-tips.html
  8. Traditional - Ueno Park.
    For a walk along the lake, a visit to the many museums in the area (including the National Museum), the many smaller temples, and a wonderful little Shitimachi museum at the south end of the park.  Can also visit the very lively open air market street of Ameyoko.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-3-pt-1.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2011/11/tokyo-craze-part-03.html
  9. Traditional - National Museum or Tokyo / Edo Museum.
    Again, pick either amazing cultural artifacts (I especially like the dogu and haniwa), or the rich history of Tokyo.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-3-pt-1.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/03/alien-art-haniwa-and-dogu-figures-from.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2011/11/tokyo-craze-part-05-travel-guide-tips.html
  10. Traditional - Meiji Shrine.
    A large traditional shrine in a park setting.  Near Harajuku / Omotesando.  Amazingly large Tori Gates and walls of saki barrel offerings.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-2-part1.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/02/shinto-shrine-etiquette-and-anime.html
Giant Gundam in Odaiba
For Fans of Anime / Manga / Gundam
  1. Akihabara.
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-3-pt-2.html
    http://www.tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/03/gundam-cafe-and-akb48-cafe-in-akihabara.html
  2. Ikebukuro
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/01/ikebukuro-animate-flagship-store-and.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-7-part-2.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/09/dragonball-naruto-and-one-piece-at.html
  3. Nakano Broadway
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-5-ghibli.html
  4. Odaiba Gundam Front / Giant Gundam
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/02/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-1-giant.html
    http://www.tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/02/gundam-front-tokyo-at-diver-city-in.html
  5. Ghibli Museum
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/05/ghibli-museum-in-tokyo.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-5-ghibli.html
  6. Pokemon Center
    http://www.tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/03/pokemon-center-store.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/03/tokyo-2013-trip-highlights-day-6-nissin.html
  7. Kiddy Land and Yamashiroya Toy Stores
    http://www.tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2012/04/kiddyland-tokyos-amazing-toy-store.html
    http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/2013/07/yamashiroya-big-ueno-toy-store-to-visit.html
Sensoji Temple Thunder Gate

Japanese Conveniences To Be Experienced
  1. Conveyor belt sushi restaurant.  Also, most big department stores / malls have restaurant floors with good restaurants (Takeshima Times Square in Shinjuku for example).
  2. A good sized 100 Yen Store like a Daiso
  3. Don Quixote department store (just nuts for the cramped space and tons of oddball merchandise).
  4. Japanese konbini (convenience stores)
  5. The train system and the amazing train stations at Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukero, Tokyo Station.  The famous Yamanote Line that circles central Tokyo every hour.
  6. Onsen / traditional hot springs inn / tea ceremony
  7. Maid cafes or themed restaurants (if you're into that sort of thing)
  8. Great Japanese food That is B-Cuisine (aka for normal folk)
    Food like beef bowls (gyudon, curry with rice, tempura, tonkatsu cutlets, ramen, okonomiyaki, traditional Japanese breakfast)
  9. Amazing toy stores that can make the most jaded person want to buy something.  See Kiddyland or Yamashiroya.
  10. Japanese department stores or Depachika (some have amazing food floors in the basement that you have to see)
  11. Giant electronics stores that are like having 5 Best Buys stacked on top of each other.  E.g. Yodobashi Camera, Bic Camera. 
  12. Really, really good Japanese bakeries with their pastries. They also have really good Japanese coffee shops (but it could be smokey). Great for breakfast, but I'm also partial to the well run McDonald's for breakfast too.  You might also want to experience the craziness of the American / Japanese Fast Food chains over here too.  For Japanese style fast food, try  Denny's, MOS Burger, Sukiya, Yoshinoya, etc.
There are also many other great things to see like the Ghibli Clock in the Shiodome, The Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo Disneysea, and more, but this is just my top 10.  Check out the Highlights link at the top for more to see.  Finally, hit this link for souvenir suggestions.  I hope my friend and everyone else finds this mini-guide useful.  Leave a comment if you liked it please!  Now I must go and do the dishes...

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Japanese Snacks and Candy

There are all types of snacks and candy that are unique to Japan.  These range from unique local brand names, Japanese only varieties of international brands, or even the style of candy.  They have old fashioned candy like konpeito that you saw in the anime Spirited Away (fed to the soot sprites) to ultra-trendy items like Kit Kats in green tea or more exotic flavours. You can find most of this stuff in the konbini.  I've shown a small sample of these items below.  Just remember that the Japanese are pretty good at making both chocolate and coffee (aka canned coffee or kisaten coffee shops) so don't be surprised by the tasty treats and drinks you can find.
Ramune Soda, still done in old style bottles where a glass marble seals the bottle at the top.  You have to push the marble in to open the bottle.  There is a way you have to drink these to avoid having the marble block the flow of soda.  The sodas come in a range of fruit flavours with the traditional ramune (lemon flavour) being ever popular.
Kit Kat with the ever popular green tea (matcha)  flavour that always seems to be in season.
Calpis.  A kind of fizzy yogurty soda - actually refreshing in many ways.
Pretz, a type of stick biscuit with a nice light tomato seasoning.  One of my favourites.
All type of Pocky biscuit sticks.  The classic is the chocolate covered ones in the red box above, but there are strawberry and other flavours.
It's custard sponge cake.
White chocolate pocky.

Mens Pocky with darker chocolate.
Now you get green tea Collon, with the filling on the inside, not the outside.
Caplico snacks with more filling on the inside of the biscuit tube.
Chocolate and custard pies from Orion.
Some oddball potato chip flavours from Calbee. I have to say that the seafood ones are well... fishy tasting.
Cheesecake Pocky.
More biscuits.
Chewy UHA Puccho yogurt candy with these flavour bits in the middle sorrounded by whistle candies.  These whistle candies make a pretty loud whistling noise when you blow through the middle.  Puccho can be found in little packs that look like packs of gum.  Look for them at the store (they're even sold in North America now).
Seafood flavour potato chips (two kinds of lobster and then shrimp). The shrimp was pretty good, but the lobster not as good.
Traditional rice crackers, always one of my favourites.
Three flavours of Pocky.  Tropical, Matcha, and one of my favourites, Coconut.
Ramune candies. Ranging from hard candy, to super sour soda, and ramune gummy. 

http://tokyoexcess.blogspot.ca/p/my-sf-writing.html

That's all.  I'm getting hungry just captioning this stuff.