Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ito Yokado Supermarket and Aeon Shopping Center Near Shinagawa Tokyo

One of the things I like to do when visiting a foreign country is to see a local supermarket - the bigger the better.  It is always kind of fun to see what is on the shelves, how they are organized, and the prices (non-tourist prices) for food and other essentials.  Also, if you are looking for more than the typical souvenirs available from tourist outlets (which isn't usually a problem in Tokyo), a supermarket or large department store for families may be the way to go.  If you're looking for a particular food product like instant noodles, some types of candy, etc., this would be the way to go to find them.

Aeon Shinagawa Seaside Shopping Center

In the center of Tokyo there are many department stores, which are also amazing with their basement food floors, but they are not your regular day to day supermarkets.  There are few regular supermarkets in central locations, or they tend to be smaller.  For the big suburban stores, you have to go slightly further afield, but not too far.  I've listed a few below that are well known to the locals and are within a train stop or two of Shinagawa Station via the Rinkai Line.

Ito Yokado Supermarket at Oimachi Tokyo
Ito Yokado is a large supermarket / hypermarket chain owned by Seven and I Holdings which is one of the largest retailers in Japan that also owns all 7-11s worldwide.  This branch of the store is located just outside the south side of Oimachi Station and you just have to look up to see the big sign.  The directions here are from JR Shinagawa Station.  If you are at Shinjuku, you can also get down here from the JR Shinjuku Station by taking the Saikyo Line direction Shin-Kiba in 20 minutes.  Note that the Saikyo line becomes the Rinkai Line at Osaki Station.

Ito Yokado Oimachi
1-3-6 Oi
Shinagawa, Tokyo 140-0014

Tripadvisor link.

Train connection from Shinagawa via JR Keihin Tohoku Line

Ito Yokado Supermarket Shinjuku
This is a smaller Ito Yokado, as it is just a groceries, but it is in Shinjuku.  It is about 10 - 15 minutes walk east of Shinjuku Station.  If you are staying at the Citadines Shinjuku Hotel it is like a block away, but it is off the main street and in a newer residential high-rise complex.

Aeon Shinagawa Seaside Shopping Center
Aeon is a huge retail conglomerate that runs malls all over Japan and overseas.  Jusco is now part of them and they have a large supermarket / shopping center over at Shinagawa Seaside Shopping Center.  This place is accessible by car, making it popular for large weekly stock up trips for families, and there is plenty of shopping on the multiple floors.
NOTE: This isn't a mall, but primarily a large multi-floor department store.  I would only go here if I was looking for groceries myself as it is more out of the way.

Aeon Shinagawa Seaside Shopping Center (イオン品川シーサイド店)
〒140-0002 Tokyo, Shinagawa, Higashishinagawa, 4丁目12−5

Train connection from Shinagawa on the Keikyu Line.  There are a few trains you could take.  You can also get to Seaside from Oimachi on the Rinkai Line if you wanted to hit both places.

Colorful and Vibrant Page for the mall, but not much info below.

Amazon e-book available.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yakitori Alley in Yurakucho, Under the JR Yamanote Tracks

I previously wrote about a couple of other places in the Yurakucho area and mentioned Yakitori, the classic Japanese dish of grilled meat or vegetable on a stick.  If you are sightseeing in the Ginza area you can visit Yakitori Alley for an evening meal of grilled food and beer. Pieces of leek, chicken meat balls, chicken thighs, and other savory chicken parts are some of the tasty highlights.  Weekend days or showing up a little earlier might let you find a table easier.  I actually stumbled upon the location myself on my first trip to Tokyo as I was in the area to see the statue of Godzilla and the International Forum.

When I accidently ran into Yakitori Alley.  There is also a narrow passage running underneath the tracks around here somewhere.
Yakitori Alley is a little ways south of Yurakucho Station and east of Hibiya Station exit A2.  There are yakitori stalls under the train track, but there are more on both sides of the track (I've drawn lines on the map). A large concentration of them are on the east side of the tracks near the underground passage.  Follow the scent of gilled meat to see many open air restaurants here.  Food and beer might set you back $30/person depending how hungry or thirsty you are.  The area will also remind you of an more nostalgic Japan that isn't all high tech steel and glass.

My posts about attractions near Yakitori Alley.

Some other links to blog posts about Yakitori Alley.
Introductory guide ebook for the price of a latte at Amazon.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kimuraya Bakery and Anpan, The Uniquely Japanese Bread

Anpan is a very popular sweet bun developed in Japan.  It is a well loved treat and is famous enough to even have a long running anime character named after it, Anpanman.  The original bakey that invented it, Kimuraya, is still in business in Ginza.  In fact, the bakery invented a version of it for the emperor of Japan when he was going on a trip to see the cherry blossoms blooming.

Anpan.  Image provided via Creative Commons License from

This bread is made with yeast that is usually used for making sake and when you smell the bun there is a different aroma to it.  Inside the bread, there can be a variety of fillings, but the traditional one is red bean paste.  The emperor's version is called the Sakura Anpan and has a salted cherry blossom in the middle.  If you're in Ginza, definitely worth a stop to grab a bite to eat here to stay or to go.  The bakery has multiple floors.

KIMURAYA ( 木村家總本店 )
Address: 4-5-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3561-0091Open: 10am-9:00pm

Anpan's costs 150 to 200 yen, with many varieties, but you can also buy bread.

A very good blog post about Kimuraya.
This is another blogger's post about Kimuraya.

Anpanman.  Image provided via Creative Commons License from

You can also visit Anpanman Terrace for more anpan fun!

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Small Sidewalk / Standing Bar In Yurakucho Under The Tracks

I saw this on Four Square and it looked like one of those little vending machine refreshment areas you sometimes hear about in Japan.  It has fridges, a few tables, vending machines for various drinks, and is open to the outside.  This place is just south of the Bic Camera at Yurakucho station.

Place looks very atmospheric as a watercolor.

It and a number of other shops and restaurants are located right under the train tracks here.  You'll find many bars / restaurants under the tracks along the Yamanote Line here, with many more both the north and south of here and towards Ginza.  Not sure about the ambiance, but you're outside for a break if you stop here so you'll probably like it.

Tokyo International Forum, Bic Camera, Ginza Yakitori, and the Toho Godzilla Statue are also near here.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fantastic Bandai Gundam Hakovision and Hello Kitty Mecha

Bandai Japan released some interesting toys this year and Hello Kitty and Gundam are both involved. Another release of Hatsune Miku Hakovision kits is coming this summer 2014 too.

Hakovision is a little display made out of a plastic background, a clear plastic sheet, and the cardboard box the toy comes in.  Very simple and minimalist.  You assemble the toy, scan the code on the side of the box, place your cellphone on top of the box, and then you get a projection mapping lightshow with techno soundtrack to bring it to life.

I ordered a box containing a Gundam and a Zaku projection mapping kit.
Closeup of the boxes.
Here is a disassembled box, the plastic backdrop with Gundam imprint, and the clear plastic reflective sheet to give the holographic type effects.
Box assembled with plastic sheet in place.
You place your cellphone on top after scanning the URL code to get a video on Youtube.  Do this in a dark room for the best results.  I don't think my phone was a bright as it should have been, but it was still cool.
Another projection mapping scene.  Lots of lights and colors and special effects happen.

A Hakovision commercial.

Hello Kitty Chogokin Mecha
This is the 40th Anniversary of Hello Kitty and Bandai has released Super Robot Mecha Kitty!  Hello Kitty pilots her own mecha like in Mazinger and a little Hello Kitty fits into the top of the mech that has rocket punch and can fly.  A pretty cool metal mecha figure that can do battle with the forces of evil.

Great Chogokin box.  You will not mistake it for another robot.  This is a Hello Kitty Giant Mech.
All the accessories and poses.
The mecha itself.  Nice sturdy metal Chogokin "Super Alloy" Kitty Mech.
Promotional Video

Other 2014 Hello Kitty Toys
Revoltech Hello Kitty with different faces and multiple points of articulation.  A very nice posable figure.  This is a very small sized Revoltech though.
Back of the box.
Hello Kitty Stackers.  These are little Kitties that you can stack into a pyramid or some other geometrical shape.  One of many different stacking toys branded by many different anime.
A Gundam based stacking toy with little ACGuy mechs.  Grabbed this on sale earlier in the year.

That's all for now!

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Late Summer Japanese Snack Attack

Well, after the first order from Candysan arrived some months ago I placed a couple of new orders to them for various types of snacks and foods.  Well, my packages arrived and I'll share some pics of the various items contained within.  I haven't even been able to eat my way through half of this yet, but they stay good for awhile.  Don't forget to eat your fruits and veggies!  I'm not heading to Japan anytime soon, and the types of products I order I cannot buy at the local Asian supermarkets.  The prices after shipping are similar or sometimes cheaper than buying the imported products in Canada.  I've also mixed a few items in that I found locally.
Big box of food.
Big box of food 2.

Box of food emptied out.
Box of food 2emptied out.
This is Nissin Chicken Ramen. I blogged about this previously here.  It is very tasty and very popular in Japan.
Thin potato sticks.  One is plain and one is chicken ramen flavour.  The chicken ramen one needed more seasoning as the taste was too subtle. I was hoping for more of the original Chicken Ramen flavour to come through.
These are Lays, Chinese Roast Pork flavour, brough back from China for me.  They taste like Chinese side meat with a nice hit of 5 spice.
These are Calbee Jagabee potato sticks.  They are like the crunchy fries you get sometimes when a french fry has been fried too long, but they are not crunchy hard.  These are the butter flavour and they are delicious!  The regular flavour is not quite as good.
Soy sauces flavoured Pretz.  Nice hit of soy sauce flavour with a crispy sharp crunch make it very snackable.
Sesame oil flavoured Nissin instant ramen out of Hong Kong.  Very tasty with lots of toppings included like egg, naruto, corn, green onions.
A shot of regular sized cup noodle, regular sized bowl noodle and the Sesame Nissin ramen for scale comparison.
This is a very tasty, type of instant coffee by UCC imported from Taiwan.
Deep fried beans.  They are a soft crunch, savory and sweet at the same time.
A kind of taffy-like ramune flavoured chewy candy.
Ramune flavour chewy candies with multiple layers to each candy ball.
Miso vegetable soup by Amano Foods.  Dehydrated and you just add hot water.  It is a high quality product that tastes quite good.
Miso soup with eggplant.  Just add hot water again.
Melon flavoured candy.  Very yummy.
Ramune flavoured gumballs.  I like ramune, and it is a popular Japanese summer flavour.
Pokemon candy balls that are shaped like pokeballs.  Look out for the shocker flavour!  Grape and cola flavours.
Pokemon gummies.
Instanr curry rice.  Add water and nuke for 5 minutes or less depending on your microwave.
Takoyaki flavoured corn puffs.
Slightly minty blackberry and citrus candies.
Chicken flavoured  mini-chips that are like Pringles.  Quite tasty and you get the spices that go into chicken seasoning.
Shrimp flavoured rice crackers.  I thought these were chips at first, but they are actually thin rice crackers.
Canned coffeee!!!! Put in fridge and drink when it is hot outside.
More canned coffee from a local Korean market.  About a buck for a little tin.
Curry cup noodle.
Regular soy flavoured cup noodle.  These are good as they have big dehydrated shrimp inside.
These Kaneeza crackers are very good.  These ones are lobster flavoured and go great with beer.  The cracker is very firm, has a great crunchy breaking point and also combines a cheese flavour.  Definitely good.
Finally, for a wrap-up, I was gifted with some Pretz from China.  They have some pretty good flavours there.  They also come in these nice gift packs.
These are Peking Duck and Shark Fin Soup flavours (no duck or shark, but the seasonings for these dishes).

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