Welcome to Day 6 of Janet and Randy's Japan Adventure 2017
Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
Woke up to rain... again. This time it wasn't the odd shower or drizzle. This time it was solid rain - all day long. It was also quite cold - only 6 degrees C first thing in the morning, and it only warmed up a degree or two throughout the day.
We borrowed some umbrellas from the lobby and went over to Starbucks for breakfast. The wet weather was not pleasant. As the weather was too miserable to do any meaningful sight-seeing, we decided to head to an art supplies store in Shinjuku called Sekaido. Randy had stopped in here briefly last time we were in Tokyo, and wanted to go back and do some more shopping.
We decided to take the subway to Shinjuku as there is a subway station right next to the hotel and this would require the least amount of walking outside in the rain and cold. Google maps had told us to take one subway line to one station, and then transfer to another line to get to Shinjuku. Google maps also identified that there were delays with the one line. In fact, in all the options presented, almost every subway or train line seemed to be having delays today. More than one had a reason of 'Passenger injury' - which can't be good.
The first subway line was indeed slower than usual - even stopping between stations for periods. But we made it to the transfer station and got on the second line, which was much faster. We were able to pop out of the subway only a couple blocks from the art store, so that was good. We spent some time perusing the store. I found a mechanical pencil that uses 0.3 lead (at home, the finest pencils are 0.5). I also bought a bunch of lead refills. Randy found some more dry pigments for painting. Needless to say we spent a bit of time there.
Once we were done shopping, we decided to head to Shinjuku station to catch the train to Harajuku. It was a bit of a walk, so we stopped into a few shops along the way. It was a quick ride to Harajuku station, where we crossed the road with a sea of umbrellas to walk down Takeshita Street. I stopped at my favourite sock store (there are such cute socks here in Japan), and managed to find a large quantity of socks to buy. We stopped at a few more stores, but it was raining pretty hard, and we were getting wet and cold, so decided to stop for some lunch.
When planning our trip, I had read about a place called Kawaii Monster Cafe. It is a 'theme' restaurant, and the theme seems to be inspired by someone who took psychedelic mushrooms (my bet is on Acid and LSD - oh and this person probably had a unicorn fetish). The decor is a little bit Alice in Wonderland, and a little bit LSD trip.
When we arrived at the cafe, we were told that there was a 500 Yen entrance fee for each person, and that you had to order at least 1 food order and 1 drink order while in there. We thought - what the hell - and decided to check it out. We had an option of sitting in the Mushroom Disco section or the Milk Stand section. We went with the Milk Stand. We were told that we could only stay in the restaurant for 90 minutes - but we figured that it wouldn't be a problem for us.
We were seated and given menus to order from. We placed our orders, and then wandered around the restaurant to check it out. The Monster Cafe also has 'Monster Girls' - which are interestingly-dressed girls whose only purpose seems to be getting pictures with the patrons and then putting on a show (more about that later).
Our drinks and food were delivered to our table (although my food took quite a bit longer than Randy's). Randy had ordered a teriyaki chicken rice bowl - which was quite tasty. I had ordered a chicken mole dish. But, instead of the spicy chocolate sauce one usually gets in a Mexican restaurant, this chocolate sauce was sweet. And under the chicken breast was a waffle. A little bizarre. It was like eating a main course and dessert all in one. We had also ordered some of the 'specialty' drinks. I got a fruit drink - which had chunks of fruit in it (and was super sweet). Randy had ordered some sort of milky drink that had tapioca balls in it (similar to bubble tea). However, the milky part of the drink tasted exactly like the milk that is leftover when a person has Fruit Loops cereal. So, other than Randy's meal, the rest was not that good. But, a person doesn't come to a place like this for the food!
Shortly after we finished our meals, the lights were dimmed and there was an announcement (in Japanese). We figured that something was happening at the 'Sweets Go Round' (a merry-go-round at the entrance to the restaurant), so we wandered over to check it out. Sure enough, the Monster Girls were about to put on a performance on the Sweets Go Round. Luckily for you, I managed to record part of their performance. You can check it out here.
After the performance, anyone that had bought a candy sucker for 500 Yen (which we stupidly did), were allowed to go up onto the carousel to get their picture taken with all the Monster Girls. So, ya, we did that (check out the picture here). After that, we decided we had enough, so we paid our bill and left. So, all in all, it wasn't a cheap lunch, but it definitely was an experience!
It was still raining, so we decided to just catch the train back to the hotel. Walking from the Yurakucho station to the hotel, we popped into a Starbucks to get some warm drinks. Then it was back to the hotel, where we stripped off our wet clothes, grabbed our bathing suits and headed to the hotel pool.
The Imperial Hotel, like a lot of hotels in Japan, actually charges a fee (about $10/person) for the hotel guests to use the fitness centre and pool. However, if you are an Imperial Club member (which we are), there is no charge. We signed in at the front desk, and were given keys to lockers in the change rooms. We then headed down one level to the pool, where there were showers to rinse off before heading into the pool area. Once in the pool area, an attendant came over and gave us bathing caps (that we had to wear). Randy got a blue one, and I got a red one. The pool had a shallow area that was sectioned off from the main part of the pool. There were 2 gentlemen doing laps in the main part of the pool, and since the water was fairly warm - we just hung out in the shallow section. No one else showed up the entire time we were there.
Once we were done, we changed back into our clothes. We weren't really sure what to do with our wet bathing suits, but when we came back out into the reception area, the gal provided a plastic bag for us to carry our suits back to our room. We relaxed in our room for a while, and around 6:00pm, we headed out for some dinner.
As it was still miserable out, we didn't want to venture too far from the hotel. We found an Udon place nearby that had good reviews. While we were out and about during the day, we had used our own portable umbrellas as they were easier to manage going in and out of stores/stations. But since we weren't going too far, we decided to use the hotel umbrellas again. This time, instead of the Imperial Hotel branded umbrellas, we were given some plain umbrellas. I'm thinking that with the terrible weather, there was quite a run on the hotel's umbrellas supplies today.
With our no-name umbrellas, we headed out to the restaurant Inaniwa Udon Sato Yosuke. This place was a little hard to find, as it's down a very small street, almost alley like, and the entrance is very non-descript. The restaurant had very stylish decor, but the prices were reasonable. Luckily, we were able to get in without a reservation. The Inaniwa udon noodles served here are thinner and flatter than your normal udon noodles, and according to the story in the menu, this method of making these noodles goes back 12 generations. Because of the time and effort required to make these noodles, in the past, they were pretty much only served to nobility.
I ordered some udon noodles with a green curry sauce, and Randy had udon noodles with both sesame and soy sauces. We also had an order of tamago (Japanese egg omelette) to start. The tamago was delicious - very light and fluffy (and served warm). Our noodle dishes were both incredible as well. Even though the food was so good, I didn't have room to finish my noodles (but Randy gallantly offered to finish it for me). It was a really nice meal.
After dinner, Randy wanted to go to a department store to get some more nail clippers. We stopped at Mistukoshi first, but the only clippers we could find there had this weird magnifying glass attached to them. We continued down the street to Matsuya, and squeaked in just before they were closing at 8:00pm. But we were able to head straight to the correct floor, and found some clippers right away.
On the way out of the store, we saw a group of 6 mario cart-type vehicles driving down the main drag of Ginza. Too funny. Crazy stuff you only see in Japan. Then it was back to the room, where we relaxed for the rest of the night and I caught up on the journal.
Copyright © 2017, Polihale Consulting Ltd.