Obonyasumi Day 4 SQUARE ENIX CAFE

Did you know that I’m a huge video game nerd? Well, now you do.

Yesterday was overcast and a bit rainy, but didn’t stop us from waking up early to explore. I woke up around six, but didn’t get out of bed until nearly six thirty. That’s also something my body has forgotten all about: a legit bed. I’ve been sleeping on futons, in chairs, standing on packed trains, people’s floors, uncomfortable highway bus seats, and the occasional internet cafe recliner for the past year. Needless to say, I was out as soon as my body hit the bed.

After going to a few temples, eating shaved ices, and saying hello to the local yam-man (who now also serves corn), I headed back to Tokyo to see if the Square Enix cafe was open. 

I’ve been a huge fan of their games since I was in middle school and have been to their shop when I visited Japan five years ago. 

Well, of course I got lost in the station. I had to take the Oedo Line one stop and walk a couple of minutes. I found it eventually and added my name to the long waiting list for access to the cafe. I planned to try their smoked salmon salad and a cup of tea, but I had to wait so long that I had to order from the dinner menu. I ordered a smoked salmon salad and an apple juice for about ¥850. They were…okay.

The store itself was pretty small and focused on selling overpriced merch, which I did end up buying. I am now the proud owner if a small plastic Laguna Loire keyfob. Set me back a little over ¥700. 

An Experiment

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After talking with a friend, I set up a makeshift recording studio for the creation of youtube videos. The premise is talking about and reviewing interesting foods, drinks, and snacks I find here in Japan. The videos are mostly a way to share some of my experiences with folks back in New York and it looks like it will take me some time to get used to the new format.

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That isn’t to say I’m giving up blogging. Hell no! But think of it as a suppliment to my usual content. If you are interested, you can find my channel here. It has a few travel and nature videos as well.

Yakitori in Osaka

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Late last month, I took a short trip to Osaka for some sightseeing. It really was a spur of the moment trip. I had wanted to do some sort of traveling, but tickets to Tokyo Disney (where I originally wanted to go) were sold out, so I ended up looking up bus tickets at 5 pm, Sunday night. I bought a round trip, with my bus leaving at 6:30 that night, and the return trip scheduled to arrive back in Nagoya around 5:30 pm Monday evening. I made a reservation for a capsule hotel while the bus was leaving the terminal.

It took some time to find my hotel (I arrived in Osaka around 9:30), during which time I found this interesting chicken restaurant. It could hold about 10 customers max, with 2 staff members and a grill. It specialized in yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers), which I ordered a decent amount. It cost me around $10 for my fill of chicken.

I realized after the fact that it was about 5 metres from my hotel.

Kitkat Otoshidama

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The post office just released these special edition kit kats today. They’re available for a limited time for ¥140 and contain 3 candies. I wad mailing a letter when I saw them on the counter, so I bought one of each design to give out during New Years. I heard they sell out fast, so I’m happy to be one of the first people to get them.

Shaved Ice at a Tea House

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Recently I visited a tea house in Kanayama. My assignment there had just ended (I’m a substitute teacher, so I go wherever I’m needed) and I figured why not visit the shop I pass everytime I work at that school. It was a hot day and there was a sign out front advertising shaved ices. Better yet, they had my favorite flavour: Kyoto green tea with red bean paste.

So, I popped in and said I wanted to try their shaved ices. The first floor, I  learned, was just for tea and tea accessories. I would have to take the elevator to the second floor. A young lady dressed in a 1920s style kimono and hakama escorted me to the counter where I could place an order. After asking to be sure that the ice did not contain milk (some are mixed with condensed milk) I ordered and was told to take seat on a tatami covered bench, with a bunch of other people, in front of long wooden tables facing a large window. In the background, traditional music was played for our enjoyment.

Twenty minuted later, our ices were brought out on beautiful trays, with oshibori towels to clean our hands, a hot cup of barley tea (which is supposed to help combat heat stroke and the like), and a wooden spoon. The ices were stacked at least eight inches high and fluffy as freshly baked bread. The tea was the colour of emeralds, while the sweet beans looked like port wine. Apparently the long wait time was due to someone having to shave the ice by hand with a knife and the tea having to be made and cooled.

It was amazing.

I have plans to go back this weekend with my friend. I also plan to visit the other six floors. For ¥780, I feel like I got quite the experience.

Birthday Sushi

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My birthday was earlier this week, so Mom took me out for dinner. She got a chirashi-don (a bowl of rice with various fish/toppings), while I got a hamachi-don (a bowl of rice with yellowtail sashimi) and a couple of salmon rolls. It was all very good. Part of the fun was helping Mom identify the different types of fish in her’s.

Fujinoya Restaurant

26 South Central Ave
Hartsdale, New York
Open 12-2 / 5-10pm