Today was our last full day in Japan! It was hard to believe and kind of sad. Considering how much we did it’s amazing that it didn’t feel stressed while doing everything. Very rarely were we rushed or had a sense of urgency to the point of being detrimental to our fun. I guess I just wanted to spend more time in Japan because there’s just so much to see!
Anna packed our bags because a courier service was picking up our luggage and delivering it to the airport. Thankfully Anna’s brother was going to be hanging around at home all day which meant we were free to meet some of her former co-workers for lunch.
We went to “Sunshine City” which is a huge mall with tons of different stores. We had the choice of going to shabu shabu, sushi or some place called “Joe’s Shanghai New York.” We already had some great shabu shabu and sushi during our trip so we went for the latter. With a name like that I was picturing a kind of low key Chinese food restaurant. Boy was I wrong.
Turns out “Joe’s Shanghai New York” is a very fancy looking restaurant on the 59th floor of this building O_O We instantly felt underdressed when we walked in. I took a look around and I saw several people wearing T-shirts so I didn’t feel so bad. Still though, the decor was very nice with a great view of Tokyo from the massive windows. Later on Anna did some research and found out that only their Japan location is this fancy, and if you go to the ones in New York they’re more like what Americans think of when they imagine a Chinese restaurant.
The trademark of this restaurant are their soup dumplings. They’re dumplings just BURSTING with soup/juice. To properly eat them you’re given a small cup to put the dumpling into so that you don’t lose the soup. That is, provided you’re dextrous enough with your chopsticks to not puncture it before it gets to your cup. They were very good, and I ate more than my share of them since other people were either too bashful or polite to be the ones to take the remaining dumplings 😛
The food we had there was also some of the most photogenic food we had on our trip because of the small portions on very large plates which usually makes things look classier. For the main course we shared a chicken with egg sauce over rice and spicy miso ramen. I love eggs no matter how they’re prepared, but soupy eggs over rice always look sooooo delicious.
Dessert were almond and mango puddings. I love desserts at fancy restaurants because they usually have very subtle flavors, and they don’t make you feel gross while you’re eating them. Sure enough, the puddings were very light, creamy and not too filling.
We thanked Anna’s friend profusely for lunch and said our goodbyes. After that we headed to the mall to a store called “Donguri Kyowakoku” which is an official Studio Ghibli authorized store chain in Japan. That meant TONS of Ghibli stuff. Just like when we went to Kiddyland, I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of merchandise. I had to just take a deep breath and look at each shelf individually.
We bought a bunch of gifts for friends and family and also we made the big decision to get this series of 16 Totoro figures which are like a 3D animation of Totoro letting out his mighty roar. I very very rarely drop a lot of money on any one thing, and I usually get very anxious when I do it.
I usually mull over the decision for days even though I know that I’m still going to do it. I didn’t have the time here so I was very quiet for a little while. I don’t know why I get like that, maybe I feel guilty spending so much money for something I know I don’t technically *need* but would love to have. Of course, Totoro stuff is always stuff that I’d love to have. Mostly what I couldn’t wait to make when I got home was THIS!
The zoetrope at the Ghibli Museum was definitely one of the most amazing things that I saw at the museum or even the whole trip. It made me feel like a kid again and I was happy to watch it over and over and over again. So when we got home I took photos of the Totoro figures and animated them in Final Cut Pro. These don’t animate as well as the zoetrope, but with some adjustments to the timing I think it looked pretty good. Maybe someday we’ll buy the 18 set figures which are of Totoro sweating as he tries to make the plants grow with his umbrella.
We ran into a snag regarding the 16 figure set. The store we were at only had 12 of them O_O We had to find the other four, because we might not have the opportunity again. Anna asked the store clerk for a list of their other locations and they graciously gave us a list.
Until this moment we had only used our rental phone for texting because calls are really expensive, but for this special mission Anna started calling up all the places we had gone to during our trip to ask them if they had the specific Totoro figures we were missing. We saved every receipt from the trip so we went through them looking for phone numbers of Kiddyland and other stores. Later on I realized that the phone charges on our phone were per every 6 seconds, not per minute. Oops. (It was worth it though)
Kiddyland had three of the four in stock and were nice enough to let Anna put them on hold. Anna then called another Donguri Kyowakoku location and they had all four of them! Only thing was the location was about an hour subway ride from where we were. The girl she talked to on the phone felt so guilty that we’d have to travel so far to get the figures but we knew we wouldn’t be satisfied if we left Japan with an incomplete set. Anna reserved the figures and we headed off!
While on the train we watched as the stations ticked off on the LCD. Japan’s trains are pretty awesome because the LCD not only tells you how many minutes it is to each stop, but it also tells you what car number you need to be in if you want to be next to the stairs or elevator when you exit.
The store was in a mall connected to the subway station so it wasn’t too far and we were there! This location wasn’t nearly as packed with people as the other one. Even though I knew most of the merchandise was the same, I couldn’t help but take another look around. The other thing going through my mind while looking at all the stuff were those hoarder TV shows where usually old people end up hoarding thousands of things that completely fill their house to the point that it’s difficult to walk through.
I wanted to make sure that anything we got was either so amazingly cute it didn’t matter that it wasn’t useful, or useful enough that I didn’t feel like it was just taking up space in our apartment. I grew up loving plush toys (just look at our apartment and it’ll be abundantly clear), but lately I’ve backed off on buying plush toys because I don’t want our apartment to get too ridiculously packed. Also, they get dusty if not properly stored. Still, there was a Totoro snowman plush which was really adorable that I almost bought.
We picked up our Totoro figures, the store clerks thanked us very much for our business (and also consolidated our shopping bags for our convenience!) and we headed back to Nerima where we were meeting Anna’s brother and friends for our last dinner in Japan!
We went to an Izakaya and had all sorts of foods and a lot of beer and shochu. We had sashimi, yakitori, tuna, paté, monkfish liver, basashi, and yakisoba. It was all delicious and very good times. Then we made our last stop at Hyoutan, the Thai stand that we had finished our nights off at when we first got to Japan. Several more drinks later we were saying our final goodbyes and heading back to the apartment.
With the luggage already dropped off at the airport there wasn’t much we had to worry about doing that night, so all I remember is going to sleep. I was so glad that we didn’t have an early wakeup the next morning. Our flight was around 3:00 pm and our 2010 trip to Japan would be over!