Welcome to Day 4 of Janet, Randy and Family Japan Adventure 2016
Sunday, April 10th, 2016
Woke up at 2:00am and couldn't get back to sleep again until about 4:00am. Then I woke up again when Randy got up around 4:30am. Worked on the journal and posted some photos. Then we showered up and headed out to Starbucks to have some breakfast. On the way, we ran into Randy's parents and aunts - who were coming back from having breakfast at McDonald's (which is open 24 hours).
We went for a little walk around the Ginza area, then went back to the room to hang out until we were meeting up with everyone at 9:30am. This morning we were going to do a tour around the Ginza shopping area. We headed to the Matsuya department store to be there when they open at 10:00am. In Japan, the store employees all stand at their stations when the store first opens and bows to and greets everyone as they come in. It is quite a unique experience - especially compared to department stores in North America.
In the basement of every department store is one or two levels of a Food Hall. This area has a number of different counters selling food to take out. From sushi to chocolates to noodles to tea - it has it all. The Matsuya department store also had a little grocery store in the basement as well.
We also toured the gang through the kimonos and souvenir areas. In the knife department, Randy ended up buying some high-performance nail clippers, as my brother Dennis mentioned that the best clippers are in Japan (they are very sharp). Then we headed to the Ginza store of Tokyu Hands - which has a number of different kitchen gadgets. We spent 45 minutes just perusing though the different floors.
Just down the street was the new Tokyu Ginza Plaza shopping mall. So, we decided to go in and check out the Pandora store that was there. It was quite interesting to see that there is an actual job role to direct people as they get off an escalator. We looked at the charms at the Pandora store, but were wondering if there were any other Japan-themed charms. So, we wandered further down the street to the flagship Pandora store. Randy's mom ended up getting a couple of charms, and Randy bought me a couple as a birthday present. Shhh don't tell her, it's not quite her birthday yet :)
By this time I was getting hungry and thirsty. Across the street was a Sapporo Beer Hall, so we went in there to get some lunch. As we were in a beer hall, we all had beer or wine with our meal. I ordered an omelette and rice dish which was seasoned rice wrapped in a type of egg omelette with beef gravy on the side. It was surprisingly good. Randy had a pork katsu curry which was also good (and a very large portion size too, which is not typical of Japanese places).
We headed back to the hotel to drop off our purchases, and told the family we would meet up with them later for supper. We went to our room, but it was in the middle of being cleaned. So, we dropped off our stuff and then decided to head across the street to Hibiya Park where there was some sort of fair happening. Once we got there we saw that it was actually a food festival. Too bad we had already eaten (some of it smelled really fabulous). We wandered around to check out some of the booths and then discussed what we should do next.
Randy had wanted to check out an art supply store in Shibuya, and since we were right next to a subway station, we went into the station to see if this station had any trains that went there. We found a map that seemed to indicate that in order to get the subway line that went to Shibuya, we would need to take the Yurakucho line to the Ginza-chrome station and then change to the Ginza line. So, we followed the signs to the Yurakucho line - which indicated it was a 490 metre walk. Yikes. So, we end up walking almost to the Yurakucho station and then getting on the subway to go one stop. We get off at the next stop, and look for the signs to lead us to the Ginza line. We don't see anything, and end up at an exit. Randy asks the gate employee how to get to the Ginza line, and he directs us out one of the exits. We get above ground, and find ourselves 2 blocks away from the Yurakucho station. What the fudge??? I still don't understand how that happened, but we basically ended up going nowhere.
From the very basic map we had seen, it appeared that the 2 subway lines connected at a station. But apparently not. Since we didn't know where the station was that we needed, we decided to abandon the plan to go to Shibuya. So, instead, we stopped at a vending machine to get a drink, and then headed to nearby Bic Camera to do some shopping. On a previous visit to Tokyo, Randy had found these contact lens cases that he really liked. He hadn't been able to find anything like it at home, so we checked out the Optical Department in Bic Camera. Randy found the cases he liked, and ended up getting 3 of them. We then went into the basement to check out camera bags. The camera section of Bic Camera is quite amazing in all the different types of cameras and accessories they sell. The camera bag section was bigger than anything we had ever seen before, and was a little overwhelming. We saw a couple possibilities, but we were starting to get really tired from all the walking, so headed back to the hotel. There were more tripods than I thought even existed !
Just before we got to the hotel, Randy told me to continue up to the room while he ducked into a convenience store to get some drinks. He ended up coming back to the room with some beer and sparkling sake (and some chips). We sat around eating chips and having our drinks until fatigue caught up with us and we crashed for a short nap (about 45 minutes). Love naps !
We woke up 15 minutes before we were supposed to meet everyone for supper. Randy quickly did some googling to find out where we could go for supper, and found a ramen noodle shop. We met up with his family and they were on board with that suggestion. Randy led us a couple blocks away to a back street. But the restaurant he was thinking of appeared to be closed. So, we went back to another place we had passed on the way that had pictures out front of ramen noodles. After looking at the pictures, we decided we would give it a try.
We enter the place and we are directed to a machine to do our ordering. This machine has absolutely no English, so it took a while to figure out a) how to use it, and b) how to get through the menu system to the type of food we wanted to order. We were shown that we had to feed in our money first, select the dish we wanted, and then hit a green button to indicate we were done (at which time any change owed would appear). The machine would spit out a little ticket - which was given to the waitress to take to the cook. I ordered a stir-fry with bean sprouts and pork, and Randy got some sort of ramen.
Randy and I ordered first, and then Randy helped the others with their order. I went to sit down at the table that the waitress had set up for us, and my food came out before the next person had even gotten their order put in. Once we got all the orders completed, we sat down and only waited a few minutes before everyone had their food. The food was actually really good - and for a good price. I would be glad to recommend this place to others, but I have no idea of what it is called. But here is a picture of what it looks like.
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