Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back to Nakano

April 13th: Our last full day together in Tokyo – never mind that Stew was already gone, and that Japan had claimed another back in Kyoto. This was our last big group day. And so we went where we all loved – Nakano Broadway. Except Alan. He went back to Kyoto – bless that Rail Pass.

Why did we return? Yes for the toys, and the shopping – but also the ice cream.

While Mike and Tonia shared another giant cone, I had learned from my last experience and whilst I wanted to try again, I thought better – Calpis ice cream – medium. It was wonderful to enjoy my treat this time. Still without the big one before I'd not have discovered Calpis. It's a soda flavour, and you can – somehow – taste the bubble while you eat it, which should be impossible in ice cream form. Still, it was a good half sized treat that never once attempted to hurt me.

With that checked off, we went off on our own again. I found a shop that sold Dragon Warrior magnets, and they were super awesome. Little pixelated magnets you can stick to a field with battle menus in the corner. I bought three. They were fantastic, and I knew I'd never see them again. The things I bought last time I was in Japan for two bucks a pop were now selling for around ten dollars. If you see something, don't think – just buy it. Unless it's Kobe beef. But I had not learned from the FF7 book at that point.

I also picked up some more Kingdom Hearts toys, and then made my way back to meet up with people.

From the mall we headed to a mysterious noodle shop. And it is mysterious. Here's what I know about how to get there – get off at the Yamanote line stop that plays the Astro Boy music, then exit. If you're at the exit with the Astro Boy mural, good, if not – find it. Turn right, and walk down the street for about ten minutes, looking to the left down all the alleys. Down one of them is a black tarp covering the front of a brick wall. This is what you're looking for. There will be a bone hanging from the tarp as well – don't run in fear, go under the tarp, and then open the blacked window/doors. Step inside and sit down at one of the five seats (just the right number for us) and be amazed at the methodical way the man makes noodles, the fantastic tastes of them, and all the wonder that is provided.

Eat here, and eat here often. It was one of the best finds in the city. Some how our food Guru Mike knew about it, and led the way – not unlike Moses. I'm sure that the two are comparable.

After food it was time to head to Shibuya for last minute shopping. More Mandarake, Disney, and Tower Records.

After that? Back to the flat to rest, watch some Venture Brothers, and then head out to meet up for dinner.

We ate at Doma Doma (a chain restaurant that, apparently, Japanese people scoff at – but I quite enjoyed it.) There a mochi pizza tried to kill me, but aside from that – it was great.

Just like when Antarctica came to an end, this leg of my Japanese trip would end with good times, good people, and good drinks. It's the only way any experience such as this can end – with conversation, and explanation free of inhibitions. It was also here I learned about how a random construction paper book could be opened and framed as art.

While some hate it, I almost sort of sold myself on the brilliance of it all.

Japan with a large group – I thought we would have all tried to kill ourselves by the end of it, but clearly now I know better. And I wouldn't have wanted this any other way.

Also, I ate horse today.

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