good-bye tokyo

i hadn’t really made a plan for our last day in japan.  we needed to be out of the apartment by 10am and michael, a16 and s13 weren’t due to fly out until 23:30 or so.  we could store our luggage near the apartment, but that would mean getting back to the luggage and then to the airport which seemed like it could be a headache.  and we had a lot of luggage.  a quick internet search and i learned that we could leave our luggage at the airport.  so we were up and out and headed to the airport.  the kids were only slightly embarrassed to have to lug the suitcases through the streets of japan and from train station to train station.


on our last trip through the train station i saw that i had missed out on a great opportunity.  i’m thinking i could have ditched the family and enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the housewives hall.  or i guess it’s possible it’s also where they do housewife training.  i think i’m okay not taking that gamble.

we made it to the airport, took a little maneuvering, but we managed with no big problems.  once we got there we suddenly had a lack of motivation to do anything else.  for a few of us the lack of motivation looked a lot like napping.  so we wondered the airport a bit.

while we were wondering we found another thing that was on the eat this while you’re in japan list.  the tokyo banana.  of the giraffe variety.


what’s a tokyo banana?  it’s sort of like a twinkie.  with banana custard filling.  it was okay, but not earth shattering.  and i’m not sure the giraffe theme helped.


we did finally end up leaving the airport.  the kids saw another pokemon center that was close to the airport so we figured that would be better than nothing.  turns out it was the exact same pokemon center and no longer photo worthy.

then we were off in search of dinner.  we chose japanese curry since it was our last opportunity.  while we were searching we came across this.  the thai beer was tempting, but not that tempting.

back to the airport were we said good-bye to michael, a16, and s13.

then chan and i snuggled down for our wait – our 7 hour wait – and we met up with the rest of them in bangkok.

friday trifecta – part three

turns out two is not too many ramen noodle museums to visit in one day.  we didn’t eat any ramen noodles at the cup noodles museum we just created some to eat later,  but at the shin-yokohama raumen museum we had every intention of eating some fresh ramen soup.  i’d read that you went to this museum for the eating – the museum part is secondary.  while the museum part did create some nice ambience, there wasn’t really much to it that a quick walk through wasn’t enough for.  i wonder how close to 1958 japan it really comes.

after our walk through it was time to get down to business.  we decided to split up to sample ramen from two of the eight shops located in the museum.  these eight shops were chosen from the 10s of 1,000s located through out the country, so they should be pretty good.

chan and i chose sumire.  they make a miso soup from soybean paste with chicken, pork, seafoods, garlic, and ginger as ingredients.  we both chose pork.


michael, a16, and s13 all had ikemen hollywood.  it’s tonkotsu ramen with soy sauce as the basic seasoning and pork, garlic, and ginger as ingredients.

everyone was satisfied with what they chose and everyone cleaned their plates (bowls), so it’s hard to say which was better.  but all that really matters is that everyone was happy.

we finished up and were ready to head back when this happened.  we’re still not sure just what it was.  but it involved dancing.  and acting.  and cup stacking.  and juggling.  where do they find that kind of talent?



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whatever it was it was certainly worth the price of admission and s13 voted it the best part of his day.

friday trifecta – part two

after the niagara curry house we headed to the cup noodles museum, because how could a trip to japan be complete without a visit to a museum all about the creation of cup noodles?


this museum got a thumbs up from everyone in the family.  i think michael even said it was one of the best museums he’s ever been to.  when you pay to get in they also give you the option of making your very own cup noodle.  yep, you read that right.  you can make your very own cup noodle.  if you cant to take advantage of that option then you have to do it at the time they assign you.  for us that time was pretty much immediately.  so our first stop was very hands on.

you start buy purchasing your cup noodle cup and then move on to sanitizing your hands.


then we were given a lid to for our cup and asked to wait until our entire group was together.

we found a table and began the task of decorating our cups.  everyone was pretty committed to making the coolest cup ever.


once we were satisfied with our cups it was on to create the perfect cup noodle combination.  we started by trying our hand at the reversal technique.  we didn’t know what that was at the time, but we learned later,- once we were able to explore the museum – that the reversal technique was momofuku ando‘s brain child and the answer to how you get the noodles in the cup.


then it was time to come up with a perfect flavor combination.  starting with the seasoning and then adding in freeze dried meats or vegetables or some other freeze dried food type items.

and then we inspected our finished creations.  i’m sure they will be amazing.

next up in the process is the packaging.  we were shown how the cup noodles get their paper lids and how the shrink wrapping happens.

and finally we were left to turn our cup noodles into pillows.  i’m not sure the purpose of this, but it made them very easy to carry.


once our cup noodles were made we were ready to see the rest of the museum.  starting with the ramen time line.  from 1958 – present day ramen’s sure come a long way.

the next stop was a movie about the momofuku ando’s challenges and successes in the ramen noodle world – they had an english translation for us.  i wasn’t sure about committing to a ramen documentary, but it turned out to be informative and entertaining.

after the movie we headed out to the rest of the exhibit.

a replica of the house ando lived in during his early ramen years.


the dates of ando’s big instant noodle breakthroughs.  interesting factoid – cup noodles came about because of america.  true story.


a few other great minds that changed the world.


a statue of ando and a big ol’ cup noodle art statue thing.

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and finally, a sample of a collection of limited edition cup noodles.  they could be yours for 100,00 yen.  which i believe is $1,000.  wow.

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friday trifecta – part one

any trifecta worth it’s weight will require one post for each or its ectas.  so three posts are coming up.

wednesday when we went to the ghibli museum and the parasitalogical museum we were also meant to go eat at the niagara curry house.  but we got lost.  so instead we ate some just okay japanese food for dinner.  little did we know how close to not lost we were.

today started with another attempt at the niagara curry house.  turns out it was only a few blocks from where we ate on wednesday night.  we even asked folks if they knew where this restaurant was.  i sort of thought it would be well known – how many curry houses can their be that are also miniature train stations?

the guy behind the niagara curry house has two great passions and he’s managed to combine them into one great idea.  he has loved trains since he was a little boy and he also loves curry and he found a way to connect the dots between these two amazing things and came up with one cool restaurant.

when you enter the train car (it’s not really a train car, but certainly feels like one inside, nice and cozy) you have a machine to order your curry from.  the attendant was very helpful and we managed to get everyone’s selections right.  we also managed to order extra rice for everybody.

then we had a seat and waited for our order to be delivered – by train.  drinks first.

followed by food.


we ordered a few different kinds of curry to share and all agreed that the pork cutlet curry was the best, but they were all good.

the engineer/chef kept a close eye on the restaurant making sure everyone was satisfied.

if i lived in tokyo this would be high on my list of places to take guests when they came for a visit.  it certainly made for a great start to our day.

wild goose chase

today’s agenda included searching far and wide for funky flavored kit-kats, the pokémon center, eating sushi, and maybe catching a movie.  i was determined that we would make it through at least one day without getting lost so i wrote down very precise directions to each location from which ever train station we needed to be at.  our first stop was the tokyo station.

and from the tokyo station it should have been simple enough to find the store google said would have kitkats.  it was meant to be just a short 3 min walk south east of the station.  about 5 min in we ran across an information desk.  the nice lady there said we were almost there.  we just needed to head down to the basement.  she even gave us a map.  we followed her directions and low and behold… it wasn’t where we wanted to be.  but we were just a few steps away from another information desk.  where a different kind lady told us we were on the wrong side of the station.  she gave us another map, this one in english and we were off.  but before we could get too far we came across a hair cutting stall.  michael’s been wanting a hair cut and this stall looked intriguing so we stopped.

there were just a few rules

michael paid his 1000 yen (about $10) to the machine and then we waited.  

the kids and i gave up on the waiting part and went in search of the kitkat store.  and – with the help of our handy dandy in english map and just one more kind lady at information booth – we found it!  they had limited flavors because chocolate melts.  at least that’s what the explanation on the sign said.  if we want to come back in october we can get others.  we decided to go ahead and just buy what they had on hand today.  rum raisin and green tea.  those flavors are different enough for us.

we made our purchases and took bets on whether or not we’d be able to find michael again.  i was a little worried that separating like that might have been our one bad decision of the trip.  turns out there was no need to worry.  we found him and his new haircut – easy peasy. i took a picture of a stranger getting his head vacuumed because we didn’t wait around to see michael get his vacuumed.  but he assures us he got the full treatment.

once we were all back together it was time to find the pokémon center – high on a16 and s13’s list of things to do in tokyo.  this time my directions worked.  or it’s possible that my lucky guessing and the rest of the families sign reading were what did the trick.  either way we didn’t make any wrong turns.

not everyone was as excited to be here so some of us might have rested outside while others of us saw all the pokémon stuff you could imagine.  and that’s how we all managed to enjoy this stop.

finally, sushi.  our first (and only) sushi restaurant stop on our vacation.  i’d read several recommendations for a restaurant called sushizanmai (good sushi at a reasonable price) and there happened to be a location near our next stop.  so we headed back to the subway and were off.  we got to our next station easy enough and then had no luck finding the restaurant.  we looked here and we looked there and it wasn’t in any of those locations.  not wanting to give up on our sushi dream we chose another restaurant that had comparable prices.  and we were happy.  most of us were happy.  a16 had never had wasabi before.

one of the reasons i chose this train station is a nearby movie theatre.  chan is a bit of a movie buff and really wanted to see a movie in tokyo.  the only way i could figure out how to find out what would be showing and the times was to physically go to the theatre.  luckily, we had no trouble finding the theatre.  not luckily, there were no movies showing that a16 or s13 had any interest in seeing.  so we once again parted ways.  the three of us headed home and michael and chan stayed behind to see alien 2 – digitally remastered.  chan was pretty excited about that.

s13, a16, and i made it back to the station okay.  and we managed to get back to the station nearest our apartment with no problems other than a little confusion because we were on a different line and had to exit at a different corner than we were used to.  we picked up subway on the way home.  i had beef bulgogi – i know, bulgogi’s korean – and the kids had what they would normally get.  it was nothing special, just your typical subway.

we spent a quiet evening in and not walking anywhere.  now we’re just waiting to see if michael and chan are able to manage the trains with out our amazing help.

ghibli museum and some parasites

we were out of the apartment by 9:30 this morning.  it was so impressive.  but by the time we managed to get on the train at the station it was almost 11.  the early start had been blown because of forgotten passports and grabbing a quick breakfast.  oh well. during my fast walk back to the apartment to get the passports the rest of the family made a new friend.

s13 and he really hit it off.

eventually – once we said goodbye to our new friend and made sure we had everything we needed – it was time to get on the train to head to ghibli museum.  this was one of the places the kids were super excited about.  i’ve only seen one ghibli movie, spirited away, but they’ve seen almost all of them.  we had to ride the train to the end of the line and then it was just a short 15 minute walk to the museum.  or at least it would have been had i read the instructions i wrote down correctly.  i swear i read north.  and a few minutes into our journey we came across a quaint little mochi shop and i’d read that there was one on the way to the museum.


cherry mochi.  yum.

20 min into our 15 minute walk i finally stopped to ask someone where the museum was?  they couldn’t give me exact directions, but did manage to make it clear to me that the park was on the other south side of the train station.  we got ourselves turned in the right direction and – with the smallest amount of grumbling – set off in the correct direction.  funny enough, once we made it back to the station and out the other entrance there were signs pointing the way.  that made a lot more sense.  cameras aren’t allowed inside the museum so all the pictures are from the grounds of the museum.


the ghibli museum is amazing.  i wish i’d seen a few more of the movies so i could get the full benefit of the exhibits, but no matter, it was well worth the having to get up early and the getting lost on the way.  we had lunch at the museum.  there were two options in the line we got in.  hotdogs or curry and rice.  both were pretty good.  and catbus enjoyed a few beers.


once we were finished up at the museum it was time to get back on the train and head back a few stops so we could visit the meguro parasitological museum.  this was high on my list of must sees.  i’d read a review that described it as “amazing and a little bit terrible.”  i’m not sure i agree with that assessment.  i would go a bit heavier on the descriptives for terrible.  it was gross.   but i still took a few pictures.

not sure how necessary this sign is. while i was inside i couldn’t begin to imagine eating or drinking.

that’s one long tape worm.


we barely made the museum before closing time and when we were done there we had a bunch of hungry kids on our hands.  i had a great place for dinner scheduled, but language difficulties and bad directions caused that to be put on hold for another day.  instead we opted for taking a long train ride and eating a just okay japanese meal for dinner and then it was home to rest up for whatever big adventures tomorrow might bring.

ryogoku and akihabara

we’re still rocking the can’t get ready and leave the apartment before noon thing so snackfast (that’s snack/breakfast – you know, just a little something to tide us over until we could find something more substantial) today came from the local 7.  and everybody seemed pretty content with that.  s13 & michael had american dogs or, as we call them in america, corn dogs.  the rest of us went the sushi route.

but one thing impressed us all –

yes, that is a ketchup and mustard packet.  so smart.

after lunch we were off to the train.  not sure what was different about today, but there were many school girls and their moms in the terminal – those uniforms and bags are so cute.

we managed to get tickets to the correct stop without any help at all today.  we didn’t look even slightly confused.  once we got to the station we went in search of the sumo museum and on our way we came across more bicycle parking.

we might have made a wrong turn out of the station and ended up going the long way around to the sumo museum, but a little more walking never hurt anyone, right?  once we got there we were sad to discover that there was an invite only kimono exhibition going on at the arena – and we didn’t have invites.  however, we could still get into the museum and the gift shop.  we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the museum, but we did get a few around the museum.

after the sumo museum we found lunch.  i’m not a huge fan of chinese food, so this wasn’t my favorite, but it was okay.

with full bellies we were off in search of yokoamicho park and the tokyo memorial hall and the great kanto earthquake memorial museum.  the memorials weren’t huge, but they were meaningful.


after yokoamicho park we made a quick jog across the street to kyu yasuda garden.  this wasn’t on the itinerary for the day – we just dumb lucked into it.

i also discovered that not all potties in japan are fancy japan potties.

the squatty potty hand rail is a nice touch.

after some relaxing in the garden we headed back to the train and, if i were kind i’d stop this post now, but our day continued and so must this post.  next stop – akihabara (this was a selection made by a16) – anime central, just one of many in tokyo.  today i learned that anime is not just for kids.  i ended up in comic book store where i am 100% certain i was the wrong gender and the wrong age for entrance.  shocking!




we also discovered maid cafes.  i mean we discovered their existence – we didn’t actually go in one.  i’m not sure i get the novelty of them.  but some folks must, because there are more than one.