Obi-Wan Kenobi and I share the same distaste for flying. Sure, an X-wing is different from a commercial airline, but I bet we were both suffering the same symptoms of being in the air- turbulence and motion sickness. Not to mention the germaphobe in me felt like punching people who coughed and sneezed without covering their mouths. Also,to those people who did not have to suffer the same fate as I did, I’m looking at you, business class and first class passengers, hope you choke on your martinis. That’s what those people drink, right? Anyway, I’m just bitter because I have air motion sickness and I always have trouble sleeping on a plane. Stan, on the other hand coped well throughout the entire flight. Despite all the long hours; crying infants; annoying middle-aged women who pushed and nudged, once we touched down at Haneda airport, it was all worth it.
Stan was excited to be greeted by his childhood favourite anime characters– Goku, Gohan, Piccolo and Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z in giant 2D form, nonetheless. Since we were travelling on a budget, Stan and I bought train cards and immediately hopped on the next train to our budget hotel in Ikebukuro.Once we reached Sakura hotel, I was itching for a nice hot bath but Stan thought food took precedence in this trip. So, we visited several convenience stores near our area to grab some dinner. We did not have any meal on the plane as we were too cheap ass to spend more than RM10 for a small meal. As expected, near our\hotel, there were about 3 to 4 Family Marts and one 7-11. Our eyes gleamed as we saw the variety of foods and snacks displayed before us in the stores.
Like a bunch of hungry hippos, Stan and I grabbed whatever that caught our eyes. As you can see from the photo above, we bought Oyako-don (chicken and egg with rice), Inari sushi, Teriyaki beef, various snacks and drinks, and a piece of fried chicken (inside the black paper bag). Since it was the month of Christmas, all convenience stores in Japan sold fried chicken. Fried chicken has been associated with Christmas in Japan, thanks to a successful marketing campaign launched by KFC in 1974. The fried chicken was delicious as every fried chicken should, juciy on the inside, crispy on the outside. The rest of the food we bought tasted just as good and Stan loved the runny egg of the Oyako-don.
Before heading off to Odaiba, we had ramen for lunch at Mutekiya, a ramen restaurant famous for its creamy broth base. Stan described his first slurp of ramen was like,”heaven in winter.” Both of us are not big fans of creamy broth base ramen, we are more of the clear shoyu type, I supposed, but what we have ordered and consumed there proved us otherwise. Stan had the Jontorotokuramumen whereas I decided to try one of the kanimisomen with crab flavoured broth. Stan was impressed with the rich creamy flavour of the broth and the best part for him was the half boiled egg with the runny yolk that complemented the dish. As for my crab flavoured ramen, it tasted amazing and I loved how the generous slabs of marbled chashu pork just melted in your mouth.
We then took a train on the Yamanote line and decided to have a pleasant stroll at Hama Riku. It was a large and scenic landscape garden in the middle of Tokyo, formerly a garden for the imperial palace and duck hunting ground. There is a small admission fee for 300 yen and we were given a free self guided audio tour. On the way to Odaiba, Stan decided to stop at the Pokemon Centre, much to his excitement. As a vivid fan of Pokemon that has played and completed every single Pokemon game and knowing how hard it is to get official Pokemon merchandise in Perth, he decided he wanted to “catch em’ all” (I’m beating myself up with this pun already). Unfortunately for him, it was more like “catch what you can afford”. Nevertheless, Stan was content to purchase several limited edition Pokemon products, such as a pencil case; a mechanical pencil and a mug set.
Odaiba or Daiba is a man-made island in Tokyo bay and is a popular shopping and entertainment district. It has 4 shopping centres, Aqua City, Divercity, Decks and Venus Fort. By the time we reached Odaiba, it was about 4pm and the sun was already setting. We headed to Decks Tokyo Beach and Aqua City to walk around and stopped by Godiva for a break. I know the irony, just a few paragraphs ago, I have said that we were on budget but we ended up using that term quite loosely when it comes to food. It was our first time having Godiva and it was pretty awesome, but expensive. Stan had a hazelnut chocolate ice cream and I had a green tea white chocolate frappe. I may not be a big fan of white chocolate but I do make exceptions when the combinations are right. Chocolate and green tea just do not go as well was white chocolate with green tea.
Decks is more than just any other entertainment complex. It has Madame Tussade’s Wax Museum, Lego Discoverland and Sega Joypolis. Stan’s favourite part of Decks is on the 4th floor as it housed a collection of vintage arcade games and carnival games. There are rows of small shops on narrow walkways that sell soft serve, various trinkets and snacks. The pin ball machines were the ones that caught our interest the most as they came in many themes and designs, such as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and many more. As for the rest of the night we ended up at Joypolis, an indoor theme park full of arcade games, rides and simulations. Our favourite arcade games include Welcome to the Jungle and House of the Dead 4 Special. Rather than the normal shooters,players are strapped onto seats that moved and rotated to add more dimension and suspense to the games. What amused me the most was how the game measured the players’ compatibility out of 100 percent based on how much combos they did. The highlight for Stan was the Initial D simulation ride, which we went on for 3 times! While I held on tight, Stan was exhilarated by the G-force simulated in the ride. Little did I know, that ride reinjured my lower back that had just recovered a week before our trip.
After spending some time at Joypolis, Stan and I went to have a quick meal at a Tonkatsu restaurant in the shopping centre. Our meals came with fried pork cutlets coated with crispy bread crumbs, which were accompanied by a generous serving of cabbage, rice, piping hot miso soup and not forgetting the sweet and salty worcestershire sauce. The meals really hit the spot and it was pure satisfaction.
On the way out of Decks, we caught a view of the Statue of Liberty and the Rainbow bridge. Upon seeing that, we decided to have a sit and have a quiet moment to ourselves. Stan and I were still friends during my first trip to Japan, and now as a couple, I have never seen Japan in a romantic point of view. Christmas itself has made Japan even more special. My musing was soon disrupted by Stan, who decided to leave for our hotel in order to grab some more snacks from the convenient store.