Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tokyo Adventure IV- Day #6: Ueno and Toshimaen

Ohayogozaimasu!  I'm so glad I've been able to keep up on all of my daily posts!  Yesterday was all about the food.  I think I'm still full from yesterday!

Grandma went to get us some breakfast while I worked on my posts.  She went to the grocery store and got us some ichigo (strawberry).  I think she said it like $20+ back home for Japan kine, so we should try it here.  I think she said it was less than 400 yen here.  She bought the basket of small berries and large berries.  They were so sweet!!!

Tried a different onigiri today.  Grandma found this crab mayo one for me!  

And this gem is a layered cake. The layers look like crepes, but I think it was actual cake. We ate the strawberries with it and it was heaven!

Our trip is winding down (so fast yah!), so it was time that we figured out when we had to take our luggage to the takkubin service at 7-11.  If you travel on your own in Japan as we do, this service is a godsend to us.  Once we took our filled luggage on the subway back to the airport and it was pretty hard.  We didn't know what we were doing back then, but I think we got it down now.

If you are staying in Tokyo, any 7-11 should take your luggage for the takkubin service to Haneda Airport.  I'm sure it will deliver to Narita as well, but not sure about the timing, so you would need to check with them.

We checked the day before drop off to see if there was a deadline to drop off our luggage for the day that we would need our bags delivered by.  Its normally 2 days prior to your flight, so you will need to plan on not having your suitcase for 2 days.  That is totally fine with us.  We pack a couple of duffle bags and we have our backpacks to hold our clothes.  Oh, and there was no time deadline to drop off.

So we knew we had to drop off our bags yesterday in order to get it to the airport in time.  Which meant Paul had to hurry up and pick up his order from Miyamoto (taiko shop) and the tabi store (don't know the name) back in Asakusa.  He had forgotten his order the first time we went, so he knew he had to make another trip.  He ended up walking there from our room in Nishi Nippori.  I think it took him about 1 hour to get there.  Meanwhile we were packing up our suitcases to see how much room we had.

If you know me, you know I love to shop... so I was pretty surprised that I fit all of our stuff in the large suitcase!  Still had 2 more suitcases to fill but Paul and Akemi's clothes still needed to go in there too

When Paul came back to the room, he finished up packing and we headed out to meet up with fellow Hilo-boy Randy!  Randy now lives in Tokyo with his family, so we try to see him whenever we visit.  He took us where the locals go in Ueno- so nice to have someone help us who knows where to go!

The restaurant he wanted to go to was crowded, so we headed to the candy store... OMG it was the cheapest store!  They also offered tax free, so if you spend so much, you don't pay taxes on it.  Let's just say we were happy we didn't send our suitcases through to the takkubin yet!  I think we finished off our omiyage list in that one store.  I told Paul we needed to go there on the first day so we can also get snacks for ourselves! Sorry, I wish I took a photo of it!  All I can say is that I saw a bag of cookies for 500 yen that was a small bag that you would normally get in a grocery store.  In the store we bought our stuff in, it was a bag about 4xs that big and it was the same price!  They also had other snacks like dried seafood, dried fruits, arare, and upstairs had the snacks I like (pocky, pretz, and other goodies).

Across from the store there was a little supermarket.  They had the sesame dressing we like for less than 400 yen!  We normally pay $12.00 at Don Quiote in Honolulu.  I didn't get any cause Randy just gave us as omiyage.  Thank you Randy!

By the time we were finished shopping it was time to eat!  Randy took us to (what I think is) his favorite sushi restaurant.  Honestly, if he wasn't with us, we would've had a hard time there.  Here's what he ordered for us:

This first pic features torigai (cockle) and otoro sushi.

Here's the fresh fresh uni (sea urchin). I actually ate one piece of it and it was good.  Reminded me of opihi.

Here's the big one... from top to bottom:  chutoro, mirugai, tobikko (for Akemi), akagai, and daikon.

And here's my anago... Mmmmmmm! He also ordered me another version of anago but it had shio (salt) to season it.  Both were good!  Arigato Randy!

When we first met up with Randy, he told us that we were going to have 2 lunches.  He wasn't kidding.  After sushi, he took us to another place where they sold this...

Just kidding!  They sold these wraps- I think the guys were from Turkey?  So looks like the brazillian style, but I think its different flavors. 

Somehow, Paul managed to eat again.

I don't know how they ate another lunch!  Everyone said it was good!

Thanks Randy!  Always nice to see a familiar face in Tokyo!  And this time no earthquake!

After that we decided to head back to the room to finish packing all our omiyage and dropping off our suitcases at 7-11.  It took us awhile since Paul had to translate the form.  If you need to do this, the top left part is where you want your suitcase delivered.. so we had to input Haneda airport info- you'll need the address and zipcode.  Under that section, is your address- so we put the room address where we were staying.  I think we took a picture of it, so let me know if you want me to send that info to you so you can see what we did.  Crossing our fingers we did it right so it goes to the right location for pick up!  Oh and in case you didn't know, right at the international terminal where you check in on Hawaiian, there is a storage area where you can claim your bags.  So convenient.  I love Japan!

After we dropped off our bags, Paul suggested we go to an onsen!  We're on our way!

Now, out of all of our trips to Japan, we have never gone to an onsen.  Never.  What I was afraid of was getting nekked in front of other people.  I know its good, and healing, but I was just not ready for that!  So Paul did some research and found one that we can wear bathing suits.  So we were all game after that.  This particular onsen is just off the Ikebukuro line in Toshimaen. When you get out of the station, there are some shops facing you.  Veer left towards the amusement park looking thing but take the road down the hill parallel to the amusement park (don't go through the park).  A little down the road is the onsen on your left.  Sorry, they wouldn't let us take any photos in there (Grandma got scoldings!) so this is the best we could do.

This is the sign in front of the onsen. Paul said it was cheaper if we went after 6pm.

No tattoos are allowed, so you can't go if you have tattoos.

As soon as you go inside, you need to take off your shoes and put it in the shoe locker for 100 yen. Its just a deposit- you get the money back after you get your shoes.  Then you check in at the desk. They take your shoe locker key and give you a bracelet with a number and key.  Paul's didn't have a key, so he didn't know how to open his locker!  He said luckily a guy came next to him and used the bracelet to push the lock and it opened.  We think there must've been a chip in his wrist band whereas ours had an actual key.

They also give you a little bag with a towel, washcloth, and clothes to wear while walking around.  I know its one size fits all there, but I did not fit.  LOL!  Luckily, we had our swimsuits, so I didn't wear the clothes they provided. 

It was a bit difficult since we don't speak Japanese, but they did give us an English flyer. I'm bummed that I think we threw it away.  I think we broke a lot of the rules though.  I think before you go in you supposed to bocha, but we didn't (Paul did).  There's a pool like area (no swimming or diving allowed) that's heated and has these water pumps to masssage you.  It felt very good.  Within that same area was another pool connected that was a little cooler but longer and it looked like guys were doing laps by walking... kinda like exercising in the pool.  You can look out into the garden area, but it was too dark by the time we got there.

Paul suggested we go outside.. I was hesitant cause it was so darn cold outside, but we managed to go to the actual onsen jacuzzi type pool.  The water was brown in color, but it was supposed to be from the actual mineral springs.  It was really hot but felt good in the cold air.

Then we headed back in the main pool area and hung out there awhile.  Paul then saw a "hotto tub" next to the pool, so we tried that out.  That felt good too.  The temperature was way hotter than in the pool.

They also had saunas and the outside hot springs where you go nekked, but we didn't do those.  The naked ones were separated by gender, so I'm guessing that's why people go to this one- we saw a lot of couples together.

After we got out, there was a small machine that would spin your swimsuits so that it would get the water out.  They think of everything.  I wish some of these things would come to Hawaii.  Sorry, couldn't take a picture.  By then we were pretty tired and hungry.. so we made our way back to the station to get some food.

Saw these signs everywhere.  I have a feeling this is part of their winter illumination?   Too bad it wasn't open.

So we checked the website for Pizza-la to see what time they closed.  It looked like 10:00, but we weren't sure.  So we were going to try find food at Ikebukuro station, but everything was closing by the time we got there.  So we just headed back to our room to see if we could scrounge something in our area.  Then we saw the Pizza-la sign still lit!!!

So we placed an order.  It wasn't easy since we left the wifi in the room.  They have an engrish menu online but didn't have access to it cause no wifi.  Boooo.  Instead we relied on my memory of TabiEats video and ordered the bulgogi pizza (on the right) and the crab quarter (4 different crab toppings).  They were all good!  A little on the expensive side but I think it was worth it to check out Japanese pizza.

Need biru with pizza right!  The regular and clear Asahi basically tasted the same.  The one on the right was Yuzu flavored.  It tasted really good!  Not like beer at all and hardly had alcohol. But still enjoyable.

Akemi had the clam chowder pot pie looking thing.  It was good too!

Paul was out cold after breakfast, 2 lunches and a killer pizza dinner. Couple that with the onsen and he was toast.  Oyasuminasai!

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