Golden Week to Tokushima

Golden week is a time where the people of Japan can take a piece of their lives beyond the daily routine of a repetitive and scripted life. The seeds of creativity were planted on the New Year’s holidays and at last, they are free to bloom on Golden Week. And bloom they did, on our 7-hour drive from Nagoya to Tokushima, you could see cars slow down to embrace the view of the beautiful ocean on top of the world’s tallest suspension bridge. They politely shifted to the left and drove well below the speed limit on the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge as if we were at the Fuji Safari Park enjoying the view of animals. I’ve never seen such a take on driving before! Traffic was backed up but people were enjoying themselves in a polite and very Japanese manner of queuing.

The trip that was supposed to take 4 hours ended up taking 7 instead, but we weren’t even upset. The sunniest and hottest day of the year provided us with much to see around Kansai’s mountainous and sea backdrops and Shikoku’s vast and natural backdrop was the icing on the cake. We didn’t see many whirlpools because of our late arrival, but we got to enjoy a view of the bridge from below, and riverside downtown before the event started.

We got to enjoy food from the famous local “limes” to Tokushima Ramen. Of course, I also ate at the typical chain restaurants ranging from McDonald’s to Sushiro as well. Driving along the rivers was a lot of fun and climbing to the top of Bizan Park by Ropeway was also a blast. Visiting the old castle site allowed us to see many cranes and koi fish.  There were plenty of “Itasha” cars around and on display on the red carpets inside the shopping arcades as well.

 

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Gifu for Okonomiyaki

Just like how there are many types of  hot pot there are just as many types of Okonomiyaki and I got to try them all today in Gifu!  Monjayaki was the most unique one because it comes out wet and mixed and is eaten just as it is basically with a bit of heat which only helps to cook and stick the pieces together. I, however, still prefer the original solid type! I tagged along to Gifu today, a 2 hour drive, to meet up with my friend’s old friends.

Nabe Party

Nothing like a good old fashion nabe party to remind you that you’ve been doing it all wrong for years.  To my knowledge, there are 4 types of hot pot that are popular in Japan.  First there is Shabu Shabu, which comes with a choice of soups, and dips for your mix of meat and veggies.  There is nabe, which uses a nabe pot and is made up of smaller ingredients, including meat and veggies, but nothing from Sukiyaki and Oden. Oden comes with the usual veggies, eggs, and Chikuwa and a variety of other strange ingredients including tofu. Sukiyaki is similar  but more simple and more like a stew.  For the past years I’ve been doing all of them at the same time, but that divides the taste and that is a terrible thing because each of these flavours are completely different from one another.  This is the result of a perfect nabe with 2 other native Japanese friends!

GoodSmile Cafe Again

To celebrate a friends birthday, we decided to visit Tokyo again just before the Christmas season! This time they have updated their figure collection, but it is still operating under the Idolm@ster and Puella Majicka Madoka theme.  An adamant fan brought his Mami doll to take pictures.  Placemats are no longer used but for a special 100 yen fee, laminated and given to you at the end.  Akihabara on a Sunday is wide open!

Are you ready? Curry’s ready!

While in Akihabara I had the chance to try lunch at the IdolM@ster themed Good Smile Company Cafe. At first I had to admit that like at any themed Cafe I was reluctant to spend hard earned Yen on questionable food. However, this was the Akiba Good Smile Cafe and I’ve eaten delicious food at another GSC Cafe location, so I decided to try out this location too.

The inside was certainly a lot larger than the other location, large enough to have 4 different themes in one location, and as many goods on display, but mostly Idolm@ster art and figurines. It wasn’t as magical as the Fate/Zero theme, but the food, yes the food, actually caught my attention! It actually looked good, much better than the Fate/Zero food, which seemed minimal. First of all, what I noticed was the White Curry, which looked like it’d dance in my stomach much like the Idol’s in Idolm@ster would try to dance on stage. Then there was the dessert, which was healthy looking, and I like healthy desserts so, I ordered that as my friend, who came in for the second time that day, accompanied me for this treat by ordering the drink/dessert set.

My friend got his set first, and we learned that they forgot to write down my order! When they finally corrected it they gave me my placemat, which of course I didn’t eat on because I wanted to save it, as well as two collector cards. One card was Idolm@ster and the other was an anime called Accel World. While we waited, we talked about Idolm@ster and the idol’s, especially my favourite idol, Miki, and my experience at the other GSC cafe. When the curry arrived it didn’t come with a spoon, but a spoon in the shape of a shovel! Yukiho, which the dish is based on usually uses a shovel to dig herself a hole to hide in due to embarrassment and what not. It was so awesome that I asked my Japanese friend if I could keep it to dig my own hole, but he said the price for the curry would have been much higher if you could keep it. Feeling dejected I took my first bite, and my mouth had literally never taken curry so sweet, so much like a dessert, and yet at the same time not overly too sweet, and I was in love. It tasted a bit like white chocolate and also a bit like cheese, and I’d really like another one right now!

I ate it quick, not because my dessert got here immediately after and I was afraid of it melting, but because it was just so good. The desert was also super delicious. It came with a frozen Kurogoma pudding and fruits all around. I am allergic to cherries however, and promptly removed it along with the whipped cream using the shovel. The ice dessert with condensed milk was large and the fruits juicy, and like the curry its something I would definitely come back for. After eating I toured the area a bit like most other customers and took pictures of the posters, toys and area.

So if you want great eats that won’t break your wallet and comes with a lot of free goodies to see come to the Good Smile Cafe in Akihabara, and I promise you that you won’t be let down!

Salty Watermelon is more like melted slurpee

Pepsi has yet to give up on their new soft drink flavouring campaign on this side of the Earth. In Japan,  the summer season is the peak season for soft drink sales. According to Japanese reports, people spend up to a thousand yen a day on drinks in the summer! It’s no wonder that drinks in stores have been changing quicker than a chameleon’s colours to cash in on the bucks. Orangina had an early start on the rest of the competition this year, winning over many alike for its fizzy orange taste. There’s no root beer here on the main island either, so it leaves for the emergence of some strange favors or spinoffs to take over. I for one however miss Pepsi Blue, it was the best flavor I’ve ever tasted. I’m guessing the insect that provided that tinge of blue went extinct or something because all we’re left with now is something that tastes like melted red watermelon slurpee, carbonated and packaged as Salty Watermelon by Pepsi.

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Tokai Tuesday

Spent today sleeping and relaxing. Ended up getting Kodama tickets to Yokohama for 7700 at Tokai tours. A bit of an annoying split day tomorrow. However, having eel for dinner now!

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