FINALLY … here we are, after 2+ months of editing, researching, media files uploading, endless loading and waiting … you’re looking at the last day of my Japan 2015 trip!!!!! As with the previous posts of the series, you’ll navigate through this post by clicking the place you want to see first on the list below, then come back to this section of the post whenever you see the upward-pointing arrow (↑). To round up everything, I’ll be posting an individual post dedicated to the complete itinerary for my trip. It was a highly requested post, so stay tuned~
If you’ve ever played any Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and/or Kingdom Hearts game in your life, you’d want to visit Artnia, the official Square Enix Cafe. Shortly after they decided to shut down the original Square Enix Store, they established this store in December 2012 which now sits right outside the Square Enix headquarters in Shinjuku. They called it ‘Artnia’ as it is a portmanteau of “art”, “area”, and “near”, implying the company’s intentions to better bridge their goods with their customers.
Surprisingly, there are 3 spacious areas within the modest store: The cafe and bar area specializing in themed foods, the “fancy area”, where you’ll find all kinds of character collectibles, and finally, the luxury area, a mini-museum of sorts selling super expensive merchandises for the die-hard fans.
ARTNIA Square Enix Cafe
+81 (0)3 6457 6714
M-S 11:00am – 10:00pm
Nearest JR station(s):
- Higashi Shinjuku 東新宿
- Shinjuku Sanchome 新宿三丁目
* * * * * * * * * *
Tokyo ONE PIECE Tower ↑
Another location, another destination for the otaku nerds – we’re now headed to the One Piece Tower~ The large-scale facility is fairly new, just opened last March to celebrate the anime/manga series’ 15th anniversary. It’s especially convenient for visiting tourists who are also fans of the comics, as Tokyo Tower is a destination by itself, and that this indoor amusement park is located within the Tower.
So yes, even if it’s a one-stop destination, you still have to buy separate tickets. The guide maps on the picture below would follow with our same-day tickets to the One Piece amusement “park” (tickets purchased advanced are a little bit cheaper), whereas later on, we had to buy another set of tickets to enter the observatories in Tokyo Tower. Regardless, if you do purchase your One Piece tickets ahead of time, please do yourself a favor and DON’T BE LATE!!! Take not that your entry is only valid during a specified time slot, so let’s say yours is between 10:00-12:00; if you arrived at 12:05, your ticket is no longer valid, and you’ll have to buy a new one in the next time slot to enter. Once you’re in though, you can stay as long as you want.
In addition to the separate tickets, both the Tokyo Tower and the One Piece theme park also have their own special floor dedicated to selling omiyage おみやげ (souvenirs) – one merchandises every product you can think of themed with One Piece characters, and the other one ranges from Hello Kitty goods to Tokyo Banana), so … just prepare a lot of cash in hand.
There are a bunch of displays and sculptures throughout the park – there’s even a Thousand Sunny recreation you can enter to explore from one deck to the next. Lots of things that I don’t recommend people with stroke or those prone to heart attacks, but nothing as crazy as traditional theme parks though. I really love the carnival-type games, which I didn’t get to photograph because I was playing them!!! Other than that, I enjoyed Brook’s Horror House the least because, well, I hate haunted houses!!!!!
A list of main attractions:
- Luffy’s Endless Adventure – a dynamic walkthrough to the most memorable moments in Luffy’s life
- Zoro’s Soul of Edge – fun; you can have a swordplay sesh with an archenemy on a large projector inside
- Nami’s Casino House – we didn’t get to enter~
- Usopp’s Road to Sogeking – I FRIGGIN’ LOVE THIS GAME!!!! HAHAHA it’s a mini shooting game
- Chopper’s Thousand Sunny Tours – the Thousand Sunny recreation I was talking about
- Robin’s Finding Ponegliff – we didn’t get to enter too~
- Franky’s Ball Run – didn’t play~
- Brook’s Horror House – not so spooky as much as it’ll catch you off guard every few minutes!!!
There’s also a live-action show that features projection mapping technologies, so please ask the local staff, who are all dressed in pirate clothing, about the show schedules on the day of your visit.
If you’re feeling like brunch, there’s buffet served at Sanji no Oresama Restaurant サンジのおれ様レストラン, although I heard the food is not so good. But eat up lest you starve; entrance is JPY 2,000 per person before tax.
* * * * * * * * * *
Now we’re overlooking the city from 150 meters high from the 2nd floor of the Main Observatory in Tokyo Tower. Entrance is JPY 900, including the 1st floor (145 meters), but you can also go up 100 meters higher to the Special Observatory with an additional fee of JPY 700 yen. Go up higher than that, and you’ll find the 360-degree panoramic spot, which you can virtually view right now. Interesting note: There’s a Club 333 on the Main Observatory’s 1st floor, and on the foot of the Tower itself is the Freemasons’ Grand Lodge of Japan.
Tokyo ONE PIECE Tower 東京ワンピースタワー
M-S 09:00am – 11:00pm
(last admission at 10:30pm)
Nearest JR station(s):
- Onarimon 御成門
- Akanebashi 赤羽橋
* * * * * * * * * *
Akihabara district ↑
By mid-afternoon, we’re already on our way northward to Akihabara 秋葉原 (or simply Akibaアキバ), the popular district among electronic junkies, gamers, AKB48 fans, and otakus in general. All the weird stuff are here – including the internationally-famous maid cafes, cosplay cafes, and other kinds of themed cafes. Among the hundreds of shops unique to the contemporary Japanese culture, notable highlights in Akiba include Gundam Cafe, the official AKB48 Cafe right next to it, the Tokyo Anime Center located on the 4th floor of the UDX Building, the complete and rare otaku collectibles at Mandarake. In general, most stores offer tax-free shopping on purchases over JPY 10,000, which is probably why electronic enthusiasts from all over the globe flock here.
Neko JaLaLa~ ↑
Neko JaLaLa~ is just one of the many cat cafes (and among the many pet-themed cafes) in Akiba. There’s everything from owl cafes to reptile cafes in the area~
Neko JaLaLa~ ねこ・ジャララ〜
M-S 11:00am – 20:00pm
* * * * * * * * * *
Kyushu Jangara Ramen ↑
One of the most popular tonkotsu 豚骨ramen chain stores nationwide is the Kyushu Jangara, a variation originating from Kyushu island’s Fukuoka city (hence the name). The most popular Jangara outlet in the Tokyo metropolitan area has got to be the one in Harajuku, located conveniently nearby the Meiji Shrine. Usually, you’ll have to line up on the long queue as the staff manages crowd control. But just for the sake of your first traditional ramen shop experience, visit this one in Akiba – it’s super cramped, yet it’s cozy, air-conditioned, and even has a little well-maintained toilet inside!
What’s made its nationwide sensation (renowned enough to be featured as Japan Airlines’ in-flight menu) is its tender, thinner-than-usual noodles, which carries the thick pork-based broth really well. The broth itself tasted so complex, you can tell it took a lot of time, maybe even days, to roast the pork bones till the stock’s that rich.
Obviously, I don’t know how the chashu tasted, but like I said, the broth’s richer than any other tonkotsu ramen I’ve ever tasted. Since thickness is my general preference for soup-based meals, I got the fuller, fattier Bonshan 盆しゃん, which literally means “fat”, lol. The generous mentaiko (marinated pollock roe) added so much flavor to the extra-creamy soup, and every ingredient and topping just blended so well. You can tell how fatty the serving was just by its cloudy appearance:
So if you’re hungry while shopping in Akiba, look nowhere else but Kyushu Jangara for your full-fat, super indulgent experience. I promise you won’t regret it ;)
Kyushu Jangara Ramen: Akihabara 九州じゃんがら 秋葉原本店
外神田 3 丁目−11−6
+81 (0)3 3251 4059
M-F 10:30am – 11:30pm
Sa-S 09:30am – 11:30pm
… Aaand that wraps up my whole Japan 2015 trip! There will be a couple of posts about my Hong Kong trip, but for easier navigation, I’ll just put out an individual post for the whole Lebaran 2015 trip like I said before. I gotta be honest – I thought summertime was the worst possible time of the year to visit Japan, because the country offers such beautiful sceneries during autumn and spring – you’ll have crimson leaves and cherry blossoms falling all over the place. But hey, I guess now I know anytime is a good time to visit Japan~ <3
Will keep you posted on the full itinerary.