November 19 (Friday evening) – We spent more time than we planned for in the arcade beside Hello Kitty Kawaii Paradise and it was getting late. We were now desperate to look for the bus stop where we could ride the bus to Hamamatsucho to go visit the Pokemon Center.

Bus to Hamamatsucho
Xianelle has been a Pokemon fan since she was 5 years old and has accumulated some Pokemon stuff dolls since then. One of the things that excited her most for the trip was the visit to Pokemon Center. And it was this that probably kept her from complaining though we’ve been walking the whole day and not getting enough food in our system.

I didn’t exactly know where the front of Venus Fort was but I knew that it was where the Bus stops for Hamamatsucho. We could have taken the Yurikamome Line to Shimbashi and then to Hamamatsucho but the bus is the fastest way without the need to walk stations. Also, it is cheaper!

Arrow Lights up to indicate if Bus is coming nearer

Arrow Lights up to indicate if Bus is coming nearer

Based on my itinerary plan, the bus was supposed to arrive in 10 minutes and if we miss it, it would take another 20 or so minutes before another arrives. I crossed the walkway that connects Venus Fort to the other side and found two Japanese men waiting for a bus. Luckily, it was the same bus that they were waiting for! The signs on the Bus stop actually show you how close the bus is and lights up the appropriate size/distance of the bus. The bus arrived exactly after 8 minutes!

The problem with the bus was that there were no more seats available so we had to stand for 33 minutes till we got to Hamamatsucho. It would have been faster if it was a direct trip from Venus Fort to Hamamatsucho but there were lots of stops on the way.

Getting out of the bus, the most prominent thing you’d see is the red Tokyo Tower. It is a long walk from the bus station and even the JR Station so Tokyo Tower was not really in our itinerary that day. We did get some photos of course!

Reshiram and Zekron are the two new Pokemon Legendaries

Reshiram and Zekron are the two new Pokemon Legendaries

I can’t say that it was huge and I would have expected it to be bigger but it is where you would see the most Pokemon merchandise in one place. This ranges from cereals, cookies, Pokemon food, pens, tin cans, mugs, towels, stuffed toys, DS covers, kids underwear, jackets, rarities and more.

Pokemon Center!

Pokemon Center!

Most of the items are either the new Pokemons from the Black and White Game that has been released in Japan or Christmas-themed items. I expected to see lots of UFO Catchers and Capsule machines carrying Pokemon items but sadly, we only saw capsule machines that didn’t have good items in them.

Pokemon Starters

Pokemon Starters

Pokemon Candies

Pokemon Candies in a Tin

More Pokemon Food Stuff

More Pokemon Food Stuff

Mavis wasn’t too much of a Pokemon fan so after going around, she waited for us outside where she could sit. Xiane and I went back and forth, looked at all the nook and crannies and debated on what Pokemons she’d buy. We did promise her that we’d get her 3 stuffed toys before leaving for Japan since she did great in her school’s with her progress report card as proof.

Hula Pikachu!

Hula Pikachu!

Zorua

Christmas Themed Merchandise

Christmas Themed Merchandise

There were a lot of people doing some shopping and there were other tourists who didn’t really know why they were there or what people were fussing about. When it was time to do the real shopping, Xianelle was trying to pick a big Mijumaru Pokemon. This would have been a problem since it would occupy bulk of the space for us in our luggage but I got to convince her that it would be better to get the 4 smaller Pokemon Plushies than just 1. Since the big Mijumaru would cost 4 times than the smaller plushies. So it took her another 10 minutes to decide on who to get as they were all “kawaii”. She just can’t seem accept to leave the other Pokemons as they’d feel sad for not being picked.

Giant Mijumaru

Mijumaru and Pakabu

Mijumaru and Pakabu

Chilarmii

Chilarmii

In the end, she ended up getting Chilarmii, Yooteri and Musharna. I asked why she didn’t pick the normal sized Mijumaru and was told that it wasn’t smiling like the big Mijumaru. Also, I got her a Zorua, which I kept hidden so we can give it to her for Christmas! It was already 7PM by the time we left the Pokemon Center.

Shopping for Pokemon

Shopping for Pokemon

8,500 Yen for a Pokemon

8,500 Yen for a Pokemon



From Miraikan, you’d be able to see Venus Fort from a distance. We were supposed to take the Yurikamome to Venus Fort but then going back to the station would mean walking almost the same distance as going straight to Venus Fort. Walk is what we did.

We stopped in front of a building that had some “kawaii” dog figures to get some shots and was amused at the Vendo Machine in the corner of nowhere. After 10 minutes, we finally reached Venus Fort.

This is not Blues Clues!

a Vendo in the middle of nowhere

a Vendo in the middle of nowhere

Venus Fort at last!

Venus Fort is a shopping mall designed to resemble a medieval European village. Inside, the painted ceiling is lit up with lights that reflect the time of the day. If you’re from Doha, it’s basically like Villagio except that Villagio is brighter and wider, its ceiling doesn’t change color, and only has a ground floor.

Much like Villagio in Qatar eh?

Since it was close to Christmas, Venus Fort was decorated with more lights than usual. There were not a lot of people in the mall itself and the shops themselves are quite tiny in size in comparison to the usual malls. We didn’t have any map of the mall so we just went walking and walking.

Venus Fort Illumination

VenusFort Illumination

More lights!

More lights!

The ceiling changes color every now and then.

We saw Kiddyland and went in again just to see some stuff. If you really want to see how big Kiddyland can be and thoroughly enjoy it, you have to go to Omotesando in Harajuku. Tere is no comparison as Kiddyland in Omotesando is 3 floors of enjoyable fun just looking at all the variety toys available in the shop. Kiddyland In Venus Fort didn’t really stand out.

KiddyLand Plushies

Dancing Disney Characters

Wanna buy a cat? Only 18,900 Yen!

Walking further, we saw some caricature drawings displayed in the middle of the pathway and immediately asked the guy how much it would cost us to get ours done and how long it would take. We decided that though it is quite expensive at about 6000+ yen for the 3 of us, it would be a good souvenir from Japan so we sat there for 15 minutes. He probably took 15 minutes to draw the basic outlines and then took another 15 to color the drawing. We had a good laugh when he showed us our distorted and exaggerated faces but were impressed with what he did so it was money well spent!

Taking photos of the artist while he draws me

Ta da....familiar?

By chance, we found the Lego ClickBrick Store! Xiane played a bit in their play area trying to build something. She isn’t that too creative with Legos as I was when I was a kid but she did try . I went gaga over the number of displayed Lego boxes for Star Wars but deemed them to expensive for my budget so I settled for some Star Wars Lego figures. At first I chose to buy the Key chains but then saw the magnets and asked the lady in the cashier if we can exchange them for the magnets.

Lego Buzz

Look at what I did!

Star Wars Lego Sets

I am your father!

Moving on, we were getting hungry and were looking for a place to eat but Mavis found a shop that sells lots of Japanese souvenirs so we got in and told our rumbling tummies that we may never have the chance to go back to that shop again. I was able to buy a colleague a key chain ninja and I bought myself one of those traditional Japanese bandanas you tie to your head as I got reminded of “The Karate Kid” when I saw the cloth. It turns out that this would be one of my favorite souvenirs from Japan and would constantly wear it at home! I wish I bought the red and black ones too! Mavis got loads of stuff for friends and family.

Loads of Japanese Souvenirs

We finally got to the actually front entrance and got ourselves an English map. With a map in our hands, we looked for a fastfood joint where we could quickly chow down some food. We saw Toyota MegaWeb but we’re hungry and knew that we would not have enough time for it anyway since we had plans to go to Pokemon Center after Odaiba. However, we stumbled upon Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise when we got down the escalator and totally forgot about eating again! Yup, it seems our penchant for seeing something “Kawaii” is getting the better of our rumbling tummies. Time is such a commodity in Tokyo! We even passed buying food in a small stall in front of Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise as we were not sure if they’d let us in with food in tow.

VenusFort

We skipped Toyota MegaWeb

a Giant Christmas tree at the back

Crepes at Hello Kitty's Kawaii Paradise...which we skipped too!

It was Hello Kitty Paradise indeed as it was filled with anything and everything about Hello Kitty. We are not really fans of Hello Kitty and her friends but it’s a Japanese thing so we just looked and looked at the merchandise. We also got lucky that we saw one of the characters’ Mascot come out to sing and dance for a while. I’m not sure if they do this by the hour or only a couple of times during the day.

Hello Kitty's Kawaii Paradise!

Can't get enough of Hello Kitty and Friends

Kawaii!

Not really sure who this is... he he he

What was really funny was how we were again pulled in to playing these Japanese UFO Catchers. There was one entertainment area literally 3 steps outside one of the exits of Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise (HKKP) which Xiane had run off to, thinking it was still part of HKKP and we got sucked in. But it was a good day for us as we got a Hello Kitty and Kuromi plush toys. If you watch the video below, note that I didn’t even know who I was trying to get and thought anybody in Hello Kitty’s world is called Hello Kitty 🙂 .  Xiane had to tell me several times that the character was named “Kuromi”. For the duration of our stay in Tokyo, we kept blurting “Her name is Kuromi, her name is Kuromi, her name is Kuromi”. We still do sometimes 🙂

We’re off to Pokemon Center in Hamamatsucho next!



Note: I would be providing a downloadable Excel file of our Itinerary for this trip and the next succeeding trips. This was the itinerary we followed which really helped us on what trains to ride, how much the cost would be, web links to the places and areas, rough time tables, etc. I divided my main Tokyo Japan Itinerary by day so you can just grab the itinerary for the day. You can use this as a basis in making your own itinerary.

Download Tokyo Itinerary: Odaiba and Hamamatsucho (day 1) – Right Click > Save As

November 19 (Friday morning) – We are set to go to Odaiba today and our main itinerary should lead us to Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation), Panasonic Center Risupia, Palette Town where you have Venus Fort and Mega Web, then head out to Hamamatsucho to get to Tokyo Pokemon Center! Yup, lots of stuff, lots of photos and lots of good memories!

Odaiba (お台場?) is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo.

Yurikamome Line

Rainbow Bridge: A view from the Yurikamome

Bringing our trusty Suica Cards with us, we traversed the JR Station to get to Shimbashi Station then cross the station to ride the Yurikamome Line to Odaiba/Daiba. We left the apartment at exactly 9 and we’re on the Yurikamome line 15 minutes later.

The Yurikamome is Tokyo’s first fully automated transit system, controlled entirely by computers with no drivers on board. It is named after the black-headed seagull (yurikamome in Japanese), a common denizen of Tokyo Bay and the official prefectural bird. Read more about Yurikamome on Wikipedia.

Facing Seats at Yurikamome

Facing Seats at Yurikamome

It’s difficult not to admire the Japanese how they can create such infrastructures; The Yurikamome, the Rainbow Bridge and Odaiba itself.  Though a bit more expensive than the Rinkai line, the Yurikamome lets you see a panoramic view of Tokyo and Odaiba which makes the ride a sort of an attraction by itself and a must-do in Tokyo.

Tip: Riding the front car of the train makes the view and experience better. For first-timers, make sure you get to the front of the car by judging where the track is headed. If riding from Shimbashi , this would be easy as the tracks only lead to one direction. If you don’t like to stand up when the front car is already full, wait for the next one so you can get the seats up front.

Getting off at the Telecom Center

Getting off at the Telecom Center

We got off at Telecom Center Station as it is the closest to Miraikan. From the station, you have clear signs on where to go if going to Miraikan. You have to walk for another 10 minutes to get there but in our case, those 10 minutes became a 20 minute walk as we had to stop once we saw the installations in the area.

Finally reaching Miraikan, we were greeted with a bunch of students in an excursion. It seems that Japanese students go the excursions every now and then (remember the excursions to Disneyland?).

Miraikan!

Miraikan!

It took a few minutes before we got ourselves the Grutt Pass which is a booklet that gives you free or discounted admissions to museums around Tokyo. You can get a ticket for Miraikan by using an automated teller but for the Grutt Pass, you need to get it at a manned counter.

What is a Grutt Pass? A Grutt Pass is a value-priced ticket booklet which provides admission or discounts to the 70 facilities. Grutt Pass allows you to enter each facility once. Grutt Pass is valid for two months from the date of your first admission. Click here for more information.

We kept telling the guy that we needed Grutt Passes but he didn’t seem to understand till I remembered to show him our itinerary where Grutt Pass was written in English. “Ah, Grutto Passo”, he said. We smiled and got our tickets. We still got Xiane a ticket from the automated machine as she only has to pay half and eventuallly, for other museums, she gets in free so no need to buy her a “Grutto Passo”.

A lot of words in English can be made Japanese if you add an “o” at the end, for example; Fried Potato becomes “Friedo Potato”. Easy peasy-o!

Shows at GAIA

Shows at GAIA

Ticketing machine for GAIA

Ticketing machine for GAIA

We immediately went to an automated machine to get tickets for the Dome Theater GAIA. This is a domed theater, of course, that shows different scientific topics. We wanted to watch a different show but “Furusato” was the most convenient in terms of our schedule.

Looking at Cells under the Microscope

Looking at Cells under the Microscope

Miraikan is big and you can easily spend 3 hours there. You get to do hands-on experiments which Xiane really liked. You are actually encouraged by the staff to touch and hold the objects around you. Xiane and I were able to create our own insects, operate on a brain, look at some optical illusions, look at cells and worms under a microscope, arrange internal organs, and pet Paro (CNN Link).  I’ll let the photos do the talking…

PARO

PARO

My 4-winged insect

My 4-winged insect

Doing a timed-puzzle

Doing a timed-puzzle

Interactive Displays in Miraikan

Interactive Displays in Miraikan

A Surgeon or an Embalmer?

A Surgeon or an Embalmer?

Sadly, the Geo-cosmos globe that displays near real-time displays of global weather patterns, ocean temperatures and vegetation cover was being maintained so we didn’t get to see it work.

Geo-Cosmos globe under maintenance

Geo-Cosmos globe under maintenance

We also went to 4D2U to watch Spacewalk where you can experience high-profile 3D images presented by the Four-dimensional Digital Universe Project. Based on observation and simulation results gained through the latest astronomical techniques, you can experience a magnificent space journey from the solar system to the end of the universe. Mavis and I agreed that you can easily skip it since there was no English translation for the narration making it less appealing for foreign tourists.

Science Book Cafe

Science Book Cafe

Menu at the Cafe

Menu at the Cafe

Since we were already hungry and seeing a small cafeteria, we ordered some food at the Science Book Café.  We spent 1990 Yen for 3 hotdogs, a cake, coffee, and soft Ice cream. By the way, Mavis and I kept saying that if that the lady at the counter worked in the Philippines, the place would be filled with guys. She looked like Gwen Garci, who is an actress in the Philippines.

Looks familiar?

Looks familiar?

We were already hungry!

We were already hungry!

At 1 PM we went to the 5th floor to watch “Furasato”. The film is in Japanese but we were offered headphones for an English Translation. I know that this may sound really bad but we fell asleep while watching. I’m not sure if it was because we were too tired,  being seated in the dark or the film not being interesting enough which led us doze off.

Asimo

Asimo

We were just in time to see Asimo do his thing. The presentation was in Japanese but it was ok if there were no translations as the focus is on Asimo can walk, run, kick and talk.

ASIMO (アシモ, ashimo?) is a humanoid robot created by Honda. Standing at 130 centimeters (4 feet 3 inches) and weighing 54 kilograms (119 pounds), the robot resembles a small astronaut wearing a backpack and can walk or run on two feet at speeds up to 6 km/h (3.7 mph)

We left at past 2 after going through some of the items they were selling at the Miraikan Shop. Interesting finds were the Elekit Theater, Solar Frog, Tokoyaki Space Food, Rock Collections and Asimo Figures.

Elekit Theater

Elekit Theater

Solar Frog

Solar Frog

Space Food for Sale

Space Food for Sale

Takoyaki in Space

Takoyaki in Space

Time to say goodbye to Miraikan

Time to say goodbye to Miraikan

See how we spent our afternoon at Venus Fort, Odabia, next.



Tokyo, Japan 2010 Trip

This is our blog of our 14-day trip to Tokyo, Japan! Itineraries, budget, where to go, what to see and what to do!

  • Angie: It's a personal trip. I will be in Manila before the Japan trip and will be back to Doha after a mon [...]
  • xtian001: I am not sure about this and you may have to ask the Japanese Embassy directly. Is this a personal t [...]
  • An jie: Hi. I want to ask if instead of personal bank account (which I don't have here in Qatar), I will hav [...]
  • xtian001: Renato, visit the Japanese Embassy website so you'll know the requirements for you. As for your fami [...]
  • Renato Paglomutan Ilisan: Dear Sir/Madam; I would like to apply for a tourist Japan Visa with my Family on this coming thir [...]


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