Japanese Cafes

I visited lots of cafes in Tokyo, starting with the Shirokuma (Polar Bear) Cafe, which is based on the manga and anime series about a lazy panda who gets a job at a cafe run by a polar bear.

IMG_042053

IMG_042056IMG_042060IMG_042059

I also went to the Harry Hedgehog Cafe.

IMG_042150

IMG_042157

IMG_042173

And an owl cafe.

IMG_042618

IMG_042635

IMG_042620

And a cat cafe.

IMG_042652

IMG_042659

And the Studio Ghibli Museum.

IMG_042260

And Okunoshima (Rabbit Island). The island is home to thousands of wild rabbits, plus a poison gas museum. (Prior to WW2, the Japanese military used the island to manufacture poison gas).

IMG_042999IMG_042807IMG_042865IMG_042870IMG_042878IMG_042948IMG_042958IMG_042982

I also paid a quick visit to Kumamoto, to see Kumamon. This is another way that Melbourne’s public transportation is inferior to Japan’s – it is sadly lacking in giant bear heads.

IMG_043219

Posted in Travel Tagged with:

Japanese Hotels

I spent 2 weeks in Japan in March. I had a rail pass and travelled between Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Huis Ten Bosch (near Nagasaki).

It had been 3 years since I’d been to Japan – the longest I’d been away since I lived there. I visited friends along with trying out some new places that had opened recently.

In Tokyo I stayed for a night at a bookshop hotel where you could sleep on the bookshelves (a bit like staying at a capsule hotel).

IMG_042026IMG_042029

I also spent a night at the Hotel Gracery in Shinjuku, which has a giant Godzilla head on the 8th floor. They also have a Godzilla room, which I booked a couple of months in advance.

IMG_042140IMG_042110IMG_042133IMG_042139

The room even had a Godzilla button and when you pressed it, the bed began to shake and the Godzilla statue in the room started roaring.

I also stayed at the Henn-na Hotel, also known as the Robot Hotel. You have the option of being checked-in by Yumeko, the android or by a dinosaur.IMG_043026

IMG_043021

IMG_043012

The dinosaurs can get quite upset if you don’t have a reservation.

IMG_043028

There is a little robot doll in the rooms that can understand basic commands in English or Japanese and can the lights on and off and give you weather forecasts.IMG_043023

There is also a robot cloakroom to store your luggage.IMG_043002

The robot hotel is next to Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch-themed theme park.

IMG_043042

Wandering past windmills in Japan while speaker blare out Hotel California and nearby there is a Venetian masquerade dance party going on in Amsterdam Square can cause a weird sense of dislocation.

IMG_043062

The shops are filled with authentic Dutch products.

IMG_043051

You need to watch out for prickles in the tip though.

IMG_043064

At night the park is illuminated and dinosaurs and robot dragons go on the prowl.IMG_043080IMG_043096IMG_043135IMG_043098IMG_043129

IMG_043196

Posted in Travel Tagged with:

Go-Karting in Japan

When I heard that a Japanese company had started offering tours of Tokyo where you got to dress up as Mario and drive a go-kart through the streets of Tokyo, I knew it was something I had to try.

I hadn’t driven a car for 20 years (not since I had lived at home and borrowed my parents’ car), but I still have my licence. I had to get an international permit and then signed up for a 3-hour tour with MariCar. They had been in the news recently because Nintendo has launched legal action against them for copyright infringement. The company is still running their tours though.

CAUTION

MariCar is healthy recreation service that provides our customers the opportunity to ride our custom go-cart on the street.

Maricar is in no way a reflection of the game “Mario Kart”.

Therefore, when riding the go-carts none of the following will be allowed:

1. No racing each other on the streets.

2. Do not throw banana peals or any other garbage on to the streets.

3. Do not throw red turtle shells or any other objects to each other.

I chose a Mario costume from their range of costumes. The karts themselves are automatic and are easy to drive. They can travel around 60kmh. When I’ve told people about the karts, they often assume that we drove around a track. Instead, we drove through the main streets through traffic.

IMG_042405

You can hire the karts and do you own trip, but unless you know Tokyo really well and have driven in Japan before, you want to do a tour. They offer a variety of tours. I chose the 3-hour one, which goes across the Rainbow Bridge, out to Tokyo Tower and through Shibuya.

Regular Price JPY 11,000/pax

Happiness Delivery Offer JPY 8,000/pax

At This course C, We will drive around the center and the bay side of Tokyo.

Beautiful sight and hi-speed driving through Rainbow bridge.

When we stop at the signal, people at the crosswalks will pause to take pictures and people waved. Many customers say “It felt like we were celebrities”.

Please check the Cource MAP. You can go to Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Tokyo Tower, Roppongi, Shibuya

** Happiness Delivery Offer: Just promise to talk about your trip, what you see, what you feel, what you think to those who are precious to you. We think this is Happiness Delivery.

They have a link on Google Maps to the course. https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?hl=ja&authuser=0&mid=ziZ9dmGwDXDo.kI389_lP7u10

MariCar Tokyo Course C

I was nervous at first because I hadn’t driven in so long, but the karts were easy to drive and our guide made sure everyone stayed together and that traffic was clear when we were changing lanes. It was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had while travelling. It was a sensory overload at first – driving through the streets with so many people waving at us and taking photos.

We zoomed across the Rainbow Bridge at 60kmh out to Odaiba for a photo stop.

IMG_042414

IMG_042425IMG_042427IMG_042432IMG_042444

IMG_042469

One of the highlights was driving through the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the world.

The experience was so much fun that I tried it again in Osaka. A couple of friends and I went on a 1.5 hour tour with AkibaKart, a company that has decided to steer away from Nintendo lawsuits. So this time I wore a Kumamon costume.

IMG_043250

It was a lot of fun too, but Tokyo is more exciting and scenic to drive around.

IMG_043252

Posted in Travel Tagged with: