Tokyo - Day 10 Ameyoko, SHINJUKU. Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kirk:

Started this day with nothing in mind, except that we had to be back at the Robot Restaurant for our 17h55 dinner show. Over breakfast, we decided to check out the Ameyoko Market. It’s quite different than the shiny and new neon lights of Shinjuku. It’s an outdoor market. Shops are more geared toward things like produce and cheap clothing. The pictures give a better description than I can with words.

Didn’t think much of buying anything. Just happy to explore the area and soak in the flavour of the neighbourhood.

Another denim nerd paragraph warning. I walked into a denim place. First, I thought it’d be selling cheap used jeans and such. Then I started reading labels. Momotaro. Sugarcane. Evisu. As only a moderate denim head, I’m more into American labels with only a slight knowledge of the Japanese brands. Turns out, I was in THE Hinoya shop, which is one of the most established denim shops, and they have their own house brand, Burgus Plus. I saw a pair of collab Naked and Famous with Burgus Plus and thought they’d be perfect: Canada and Japan -- great souvenir! Thankfully, they had my size. The guy really wanted to talk to me too after I said keywords, like slubby and sanforized, but I couldn’t understand his Japanese. He kept pointing to different jeans and smiling and saying something. I just nodded and smiled back.

We walked over to Ueno Park, which is just a couple of blocks over. The tourist guides said they had museums.

We went into the Shitamachi Museum. Very nice staff. We got a free English tour from a very enthusiastic woman. It felt like they didn’t get many visitors. She once lived in San Francisco for three years. The museum has replica historic homes from the area. One belonged to a widow and her daughter who sold toys out of their home/shop. The home is just two rooms: multi-purpose bedroom and a shop/kitchen room. Probably total under 200sqft. Then she said the family lived in it about 25 years ago! Keep in mind, we were standing in an area full of modern buildings and subways. This house looked like a 100 year old artifact. I guess this is similar to how the Vancouver Heritage Society is trying to preserve old homes as their neighbourhood gentrifies and modernizes around them. The rest of the small museum had old toys and pictures, and info about the Great Kanto Earthquake. One of the museum women (volunteers?) made an Origami box and spinning top for us to take home — like I said, I don’t think they get many visitors.

Elaine:

This museum was a good for all of us. The main floor was supposed to show replicas of buildings in the downtown area. The fact that the two room homes/storefronts were present within this generation is amazing when you see what is there now.

The second floor had two rooms. One room contained old toys which you are encouraged to play with. The kids spent most of their time there. They loved the puzzles and the different wooden toys they had.

The other room had information about the Great Kanto Earthquake - after reading some of the postings, Kyle had lots of questions about earthquakes. I think seeing the photos really put some context to the drills they get at school.

Kirk:

Took the train back to Shinjuku, dumped our bags and headed to the Robot Restaurant.

I don’t even know what to write. It’s just loud, bright, crazy fun.

Elaine:

I truly was not expecting much here. I was pleasantly surprised with the show. Unlike Kali and Kirk, I did not watch any videos of the place, so I had no expectations. The show started with some Taiko drummers.

Once again there was an underlying story in the show about the fear of technology (think Godzilla), even in this crazy loud and neon show! It was definitely entertaining.

I don’t think the kids would have made it through the night without the earmuffs. This show was the highlight of the trip for Kyle.

Kirk:

Grabbed some Krispy Kreme donuts and a Starbucks latte.

Then finally some legendary Hokkaido cheese tarts. I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought it’d be some kind of cheesy custard egg tarts. But, no. Wow. Awesome cheesecake type of thing with a fantastic crust. Things were amazing.

Elaine:

Hokkaido cheese tarts were recommended to us by an Air Canada employee when we were checking into our flight in Richmond. He couldn’t stop gushing about them! I have to say those cheese tarts were really good! AND Kirk is not a big food dude, so for him to comment - that speaks volumes!

Kirk:

Ate noodles outside from a ramen cart — because Japan.

Elaine:

It was cool to eat at the outdoor ramen stand. It felt very Blade Runner/Fifth Element like. The kids said that they thought the outdoor ramen stand was the best ramen they had throughout the trip. That’s saying a lot!

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