For our last full day in Japan I was planning a trip over to Odaiba island in the middle of Tokyo bay during the day and a nice dinner somewhere scenic to end our holiday. First things first though, I needed to do a trial pack of our suitcases to see if we actually needed to buy another suitcase to take back with us.
We had the two carry-on bags that we’d originally brought over stuffed with the heavy things and everything else seemed to fit into the suitcase – including the four bottles of Myers’s Jamaican rum and the assorted food and 100 yen shop goodies so we decided that another suitcase wouldn’t be necessary. Yay.
So we could start our day and it, of course, started with a Starbucks coffee and a chocolate chip scone – which we’d both become addicted to and I’ve since tried to recreate on many occasions, but haven’t quite managed to yet.
After fueling up, we walked outside to the Yurikamome monorail station and hopped on, riding it over the Rainbow Bridge and went all the way to the end stop just to have a look. Then we hopped on one going in the opposite direction to come back and got off at the stop nearest to the Venus Fort Shopping mall.
Venus Fort always reminds me of something you’d see in Las Vegas as it’s totally enclosed with no light of day, but instead a sky is projected on the ceiling and it changes colour with the times of day.
There are also lots of romanesque statues and fountains and things interspersed throughout its several floors:
After wandering around for quite a while and M drooling at the many pairs of boots he was seeing, we decided to grab some lunch. M decided he’d like another okonomiyaki experience so I put our names down on the waiting list at Botejyuu and we took a seat to wait for an open table. Funnily enough wherever we went in Japan and I had to make a booking or give a name, I always used my old married name. It just made things smoother and who were to know what anyway?
After a 20min wait we were in and soon tucking into yummy okonomiyaki. I ordered Hiroshima style where there is a thin layer of batter and then the veggies, seafood and noodles sandwiched between:
M ordered Tokyo style modanyaki where the veggies & meat are mixed into the batter and cooked and then topped with a fried egg and bonito flakes:
After lunch we decided we needed coffee and after looking at the map we found a Starbucks and headed for it. On the way I found a Cheesecake Factory outlet and purchased a couple of pieces of cheesecake – one NY style baked and one German baked (the Cheesecake factory in Japan only sells takeaway cakes and some shops have a small cafe area where you can have tea/coffee and cake, so it’s a bit different to the US)
Here they are tucked up in their pretty box:
The lady in the shop asked me how long I was going to be walking around with the cakes and supplied me with two-hours worth of ice packs to keep them cool:
I neglected to tell her I was going to be stuffing my face with the cheesecake immediately upon exiting the store…
As we were sitting and drinking our coffees we were kept busy looking at all the pets people had brought with them. This area of the mall was open to pets and next door there was a huge pet clothing and department store. Along with the regulation dogs, we also saw some ferrets and other assorted pets. A lady pushing an unusual pram pulled up outside the Starbucks and went inside to grab a coffee.
Looking closely at the pram there was a dog inside wearing a Mickey Mouse jumpsuit:
The NY cheesecake by the way, was superb and once again I was amazed that I needed to travel 7000km to have decent cheesecake:
Then we hopped on the monorail again and went around to the opposite side of the island near the TV tokyo building to snap some pics. The small islands are what gives Odaiba its name as they were originally part of the fortifications of Tokyo to prevent foreign vessels entering and were built in the 1850’s. Odaiba means a stand or a place to put things on, and the little islands were used to stand cannons on. Yes, that’s your piece of Tokyo trivia for the day.
The rainbow bridge lights up at night in different colours depending on the time:
You might also be confused about where you are on Odaiba with the resident statue of liberty:
There are oodles and oodles of things to do on Odaiba with several big malls, a man-made beach with sand brought over from Australia’s gold coast, a hot spring bath, museums and assorted exhibition areas done by Panasonic and Toyota (you can test drive cars and all sorts of things). You could spend several days there, but we couldn’t, so it was back to the hotel in the late afternoon for a rest before we went out for dinner.
While M was resting I decided to go out and do some more shopping. I’d noticed a second-hand book market outside the Shinbashi train station the other day and went back to have a look. I picked up 4 cookbooks for a couple of dollars each and a couple of novels for 50c. Then I hit the electrical store on the other side of the station looking for an electronic dictionary as I’d not found one at a price I’d liked previously.
I found the superseded model of the latest dictionary and they only had a display model left. I haggled the guy down on the price a bit as there were a few minor scratches on the case. He went off to get the okay from his manager and came back with a new-out-of-the-box model that we would sell me for the same price. Most electrical places offer you a point card and you get points to spend on your next purchase but they only become available the next day, so I told the guy I was leaving Japan the next day and asked if he could he make it so I could use the points today. He went off to see his manager again and returned a few minutes later with the ok. So I bought the dictionary and a case and then went down to another floor and used my points towards buying some electronic scales and a pedometer.
On the way back to the hotel after dinner I stopped in at a CD store and bought a cd too and probably would have bought more things but my wallet was looking seriously empty of cash.
After my shopping I returned to the hotel and we got ready for dinner. I’d decided to try the Caretta building as I’d never been in there and it was just a couple of hundred metres from the hotel. On the way in we discovered a liquor store, Shochu Authority that stocked 3000 varieties of shochu, awamori and sake from all around Japan. M went in to see what they had and I discovered a bottle of the plum wine I’d had at my friend’s brother’s pub the other night and liked so much. It was pricey at $40 for a 500ml bottle, but I indulged and hoped it would fit in the suitcase.
We took the slightly scary see-through elevator to the 46th floor and looked at our dinner options and decided on Hibiki.
Because we didn’t have a reservation we couldn’t have a window seat, but we still had a fair view of Tokyo from 200 metres up:
It had an open kitchen and was famous for rice cooked in a stone pot that you had to order an hour before you wanted it so I ordered some and we received a plate of organic veggies served with miso as the otoshi (enforced starter):
Once again, M left the choice of dishes up to me so I ordered a variety of little dishes izakaya style.
Because the lighting was so low inside to allow people to enjoy the view, all of the food photos look a bit crap, but you get the idea…
We also had fish cakes and some tempura and other nibblies and drinks and then it was time for the rice that was delivered in its stone pot and placed on a special collapsible table next to the table. The waiter dished out the rice and served it with a bowl of fish roe and a DIVINE miso soup. I think that was the best miso soup I’ve ever had in my life.
After the rice had been dished out, the waiter came back with some hot water and poured it into the stone pot and stirred it around to remove all the okoge (burned bits of rice) and served that to us in bowls with salt to taste.
It wasn’t one of my favourite things as it reminded me of when you go to a noodle shop and they serve you a cup of the water that the noodles were cooked in. It tastes like drinking floury water and it’s definitely an acquired taste. I would have preferred just to scrape the okoge off the pot and crunch on it 🙂
Then we ordered dessert and I had the creme brulee:
One thing I really liked about the restaurant was the ‘earthy’ tableware they used. After we’d eaten the table looked very arty:
After dinner I went out shopping again as I was feeling the pressure of ‘had I bought enough???’ as we were leaving Japan the next morning. I picked up a cd and went looking for some books but thought that heavy books might be a bummer as far as the weight of the suitcase was concerned.
Back at the hotel we packed our suitcases so we wouldn’t have much to do in the morning as we were catching a bus at 7am to go to the airport from the Hilton hotel next door. I put the batteries in my new scales and decided to weigh the suitcases. The bag we were checking in was 20kgs and the two carry-on bags were 20kgs each. I was going to have to carry my rice cooker and the 10kg bag of rice and look like everything was really light as I boarded the plane. I wasn’t sure how we were going to manage lifting the carry-ons into the overhead lockers. Hernia anyone?? lol.
The return to Australia, Part 13 to come…