Tokyo trip- Japan hobby show

I have been a little slow about writing about some of the things from the holiday. After Kawagoe, Friday was the day we allocated for the Tokyo hobby show. This was one of the things that caused to go at the time we did.  It runs for three days and tickets were 1000 yen- about $12.  We ordered on the Internet, took the print out to a 7-11 in Tokyo, and they printed the tickets.  The doors opened at 10 am, but only for people who had tickets (us). I knew there would be crowds so we aimed to be there early.  We were there about 9, and were directed to a large queue. People kept going past, with passes around their neck, while queue grew.  Then, at some point we started walking. The queue was taken the length of the floor, then down the stairs and about 3/4 of the way back on the ground floor.  Looking behind us, I was very glad we arrived early.  Once we got to the entry we exchanged our tickets for the passes. Essentially the tickets are for all three days. Bargain compared to the costs in Australia! Unfortunately, we had plans for the other days.

It was so huge! And crowded.  I don’t have many pictures, because some booths don’t like photos, and I was too busy looking.  So many brands I had not seen before, so much stuff!  I bought thread, and a couple of kits and copies of a Japanese craft magazine.  We also grabbed bits and pieces for cosplay outfits. 

Early stage queue- more orderly than it looks

Fake food decor! Very popular

A workshop area, with a bead store behind

One of the many displays- an origami army

A project using recycled materials

This lady was making felted chocolates. There was a whole display and she was demonstrating how to.

Some of her work

I really wanted these fairy gardens, but bio security Australia is unlikely to be happy about bringing them in…

A small selection at the ribbon store!

This was a genius idea.  My feet always ache at these shows and this was a stand with foot massagers.  I didn’t try one, because it was clearly a sales ploy, and I really didn’t want to have a high pressure Japanese sales pitch. But very clever

All ages represented here. There were a lot of kids, not too many men shopping though. 

It was huge.  And we didn’t even wander into the cooking area (not much point)  there was also a whole hall of people selling things they had made.  

Some of the stuff we got 

Fabric pens that disappear in certain circumstances.  I am always looking for new ways to get designs onto fabric.

A lanyard kit, using ribbon

Bits and pieces

A bag kit.

And a bunch more!

I would recommend going to the Tokyo hobby show, it was really impressive.  Wear comfy shoes and take cash.


Rainy day

The fourth day of th trip was to be to Kawagoe- a town that is now on the outskirts of Tokyo, but that was a prosperous merchant town in earlier times.  It has well preserved areas that reflect an earlier era, so is a bit of a tourist place, particularly for internal tourism.  We were going on this particular day because it has a monthly flea market at one of the temples, on the 28 th of every month.  So of course, that was the day it rained.  Often these markets are cancelled if it rains, but this one was apparently still on. It was, but as a half market- probably about half the traders showed, and few customers. Not a good space.  Lots of antiques, and a lot of kimonos. But times have changed from when used kimonos were incredibly cheap- secondhand kimonos and items made from them are popular in Japan and abroad, so the days of really good quality cheap kimonos and fabric are gone.  


Once we were finished with the market we trudged along the streets towards the old town- where there are a lot of preserved old warehouses and merchant houses and shops selling traditional things. 

We found a lovely small coffee shop for lunch.  Really good coffee.  Here is G smiling at the front

The lunch

As chlidrens day was coming up, lots of carp flags koinoburi

The houses were interesting, the shops cute, but part of the charm is missing when there is a constant drizzle and the umbrella,is constantly folded and unfolded and the feet are getting wet.


So we packed it in early and went back to Tokyo.  We had a productive evening locating a coin laundry within walking distance of the hotel and washing some clothes.  We also found a nice yakitori place near there to eat while the clothes were washing.

Kawagoe seems to be quite a nice place, and I suspect is a lot more fun when there is no rain.  The tourist information people were very friendly and helpful and spoke English.  If you are looking for a day trip from Tokyo, this is an easy one.

Tokyo trip – shopping

Day two of our Tokyo trip was always going to involve shopping.

We headed out to kappabashi, also known as kitchen town. We have been there several times, so this visit was going to be about buying specific things.  When we got out of the train station G realised there was a Book-Off nearby.  Book-Off is a second hand book chain. They also sell second hand games and consoles and CDs and DVDs. So we headed there. I got a couple of craft books and some games for my Japanese 3ds, G got some Playstation games (PS 4 I think).

Then we headed to kitchen town.  G wanted a knife, I wanted a new coffee filter thing and we had a couple of things to buy for others. Once these were bought we headed to the train station to go to Asakusa. Usually we would just walk through the backstreets, because it is quite close, but one of the things we had to pick up was an iron teapot. The preferred one (after text message and photos) was at the beginning of the street. So we caught the train one stop.  I wanted to go to a museum in Asakusa called Amuse Museum, which turned out to be not far from where we would have been if we walked there, but was a good 10 minute walk from the station.

 It’s an interesting museum, with the ticket desk at the back of a shop, and the museum in the floors above.  Some of it is studios of artists. The main exhibit was an exhibit of old clothes from northern Japan, collected over many years and very patched.  The style of patching is called Boro, or sometimes it is called sashiko (sashiko refers the technique). Rural Japan, particularly in the north, did not have fabric to spare.  Clothes were made warmer by quilting layers, holes were patched with more layers. It’s hard to find these clothes anymore- they tended to be worn into scraps, which were then patched onto other clothes.  Once fabric and clothes became easier to obtain, they were often thrown away.  The man who collected these has preserved something very valuable from the everyday person. 

This is detail of one of the pieces.

This is single stitch embroidery on a more formal piece. It’s amazing decoration achieved with very simple materials.

What I found interesting about this- I first read about this type of reusing in Liza Dalby’s book on kimono. She commented that it was hard to find examples, for the reasons I noted above. Sashiko as a more decorative, ornamental craft has become popular in Japan and in the west- one of the things I do buy here are sashiko patterns that are less traditional as the ons in Australia are all more traditional It has become separated from its original purpose, a merely decorative craft, like a lot of other crafts, the original need no longer exists. Boro- the patchwork held together with running stitch, has been gaining popularity in Australia (and I suspect elsewhere as well), driven partially by some Japanese artists.  I know that at the last few craft fairs I have been to there were Boro classes and exhibitions.  By contrast, I have seen no modern Boro kits in Japan so far. This trip has also been the first time I have seen Boro pieces at flea markets.  There were examples at both of the markets we have been to.  I don’t know if this is because the markets were in Tokyo and surrounds, whereas mostly we have been to ones in Kyoto and Osaka, areas where fabric was more available. Anyway, the exhibition was interesting.

The museum also has a collection of ukiyoe prints, and a roof terrace bar (not open when we visited). We were able to go on the roof and take pictures.

View of Sensoji temple from the roof of Amuse Museum.

Once done with the museum we had a late lunch and headed for Kichijoji.  This is a pleasant suburb of Tokyo – less bustling than the centre of the city.  I had been there before but wanted to show G.  We did quite a bit of shopping.  

The original plan had been to go to a baseball game, but we were too tired, so we just took some nice French cheese from the kichijoji shops and went back to the hotel.

On Wednesday morning we headed to Akihabara to buy a new battery charger for our camera.  I had come down with a cold, so we headed back to the hotel, and I spent most of the day sleeping. G was tasked with finding medicine and going to the grocery store!

Late in the afternoon we went to Tokyo station and went to Character street there- it’s a shopping street full of shops selling various character goods including Ghibli characters and the Moomins. Shopping happened.

We had pre booked evening tickets at Disneysea, and it was an easy trip from Tokyo.

A little bit contradictory- a meditation on the great lengths people had to go to for simple resources, and then a lot of very consumerist shopping.


Tokyo trip- Disney

It’s been a different Tokyo trip.  We usually do Disney at the end of a Tokyo trip, as that is when it is easiest/most convenient. This time, for reasons (golden week) we went on the first full day here. We booked the tickets ahead on the Internet (also a change) and booked evening tickets for Disneysea later in the week as well.

Tokyo Disneyland, unlike the other disneylands, is not actually the Disney company.  It is operated under licence from Disney, has all of the rides etc, but not all of the current Disney park flourishes (magic wristbands?). 

So, we showed up near opening time and cruised through into. The park (no line!). The current theme is Easter. Yes, Easter is over, but not in Tokyo Disneyland.  This means eggs everywhere, specially themed food souvenirs and bunnies and pastel souvenirs.  Weirdly, no popcorn buckets that fit the theme. And there were Easter egg hunts!  You pay extra to get a cardboard egg hunt with stickers.  The beginner one was the cheapest, and the easiest, with ten possible eggs to be found but only five needed to claim the prize. I chose to do that one.  There is also an expert level and a master level.  G chose to do expert, and we are both very glad he did not chose master.  Expert and master had sketchy pictures of things near the eggs, and the expert had vague little clues.  The eggs were smaller (in one case tiny) and at least three were in shop windows. There was much frustration.  But as a way to see the park, and as an alternative to rides, it is good. G is vey proud of his medal prize.

We did do some rides, focusing on ones with short lines.  But we did do splash mountain and big thunder mountain (that was on fast pass). We also went on the canoes (where work is required), the new Star Wars star tours and the monsters inc hide and go seek ride.

Eggs and the castle

Beginner egg hunt

More eggs

We had mickey head waffles

Souvenir cup dessert

The photos are a mixed bag- I am using an older phone (my usual phone is work issued, so was left at home), one of our cameras was out of commission,and I am on my iPad for typing, so I don’t have access to the camera photos or G’s photos.  I may add ore later

This was one of the expert eggs.  See the egg shaped acorn?  That’s it. Hard.

We left before the park closed- during the big light show on the castle (which looks amazing btw), as we were exhausted. It was really nice to catch the train without hordes of other park goers.

We returned on Wednesday with evening only tickets for Disneysea.  This is the other Disney park in Tokyo and it is unique.  Organised around water bodies, rather than lands, it has better food, better shows and an older target age (adults).  It is also the 15th year of operation for the park, so that was the theme.  It was a sea faring, steampunky, sparkly theme. You can buy these light up wands, and there are stations around the park that activate if you place the wand in them.  When you have activated all of them, the wand gets a special sound. Once we saw one station activated, G really wanted one!


One of the activation stations.

We managed to activate the wand, it does require visiting all areas of the park.  We also managed quite a few rides, mainly those with short waits (less than 10 minutes).  This included the Indiana jones ride and 20,000 leagues under the sea, usually lengthy queues there.  We also got an anniversary popcorn bucket and some Duffy stuff.  

The park was remarkable quiet, not too busy.  For the next week or so it is scheduled to be very busy, as Golden week crowds show up.

The ship for the 15th celebrations.  

The Italian harbour area!

We stand until the park closed, so had to catch trains home with the hordes.


Tokyo day four

So, this was kind of a day of rest. We let the boys sleep in. And ourselves. And then headed out to Harajuku.

Lots of people there, Sunday is a big day there. First we headed up to Meiji shrine- the culture bit. Big wide path, with woods on the sides. Then at the shrine, there was a production line of wedding photos. Sunday must be a big wedding day there, and there was a set up for the family photo, like the set up for class pictures in grade school.

Kind of cool to see the various wedding kimono set ups. Lots of tourists ( Japanese and non-Japanese) taking photos too.

Then back to the busy part, and a trip to Yoyogi park. Supposed hotbed of costumed groups on Sunday. Big wash out. Have never been before, and am inclined to think it was big in the 90s and everything since has been based on that. Lots of people just enjoying the park though. And nearby, a world dance festival.

So after a street food lunch, time to head into the crowded streets of Harajuku. I couldn’t face it. I gave Greg directions to Oriental Bazaar(good souvenir spot) and headed off to one of the areas featured in the Tokyo craft guide.

It was lovely. I got off the train to smells of barbecue, families hanging out by the river side, enjoying a sunny Sunday. I didn’t go to the river, I headed to the shops.

One of the reasons for the choice was the fact there was a hobbyra hobbyre shop in the big department store. It’s a chain with amazing sashiko kits. I bought several. Then I wandered around the back streets for a while, looking at the little shops in the area. Very enjoyable.

Then back to the department store for cake and coffee.

And a quick visit back to hobbyra, where I found the pattern I had been requested to get. Plus I visited Lido Merceria. Full of bits and pieces. On the way out found a lovely shop full of little Japanese things, little socks, lollies in a mt fuji shapes, homewares. I could have spent a few more hours there, but I got a call that they were getting tired.

So headed to Shibuya, where we met up. There was a 100 yen store I wanted to go to, Natural kitchen, so we left the boys at a cake shop and headed there. One happy but cheap spending spree later, we headed home.

We made an attempt to visit ginza later, but failed to find it, as I insisted we use a different metro stop.
I got to buy a kimono magazine from the bookstore we found though.

Day three

So day three. Hot hot hot.
We got going a bit later than I would like- teenage boys seem to have no desire to get up early. One of these is the same person who woke up at 6 pretty much every day he stayed with us last year. Definitely a WTF?

Anyway late start but made it to kitchentown. Not much enthusiasm from the younger set, although stuff was purchased. G really wanted a knife and another japanese mortar and pestle set ( they have grooved bowls). I like looking at nice pottery. After walking down most of the main drag, we headed to Sensoji temple ( walking from kitchen town). Along the way we had some ramen for lunch. This was enjoyed, cheap ramen on rickety stools, an experience.

We also passed by hanayariku(?) a tiny, old amusement park in the centre of Tokyo. We watched a candy maker make lollipops( really cool) and Jacob tried shaved ice. Sensoji was busy, as usual, but the boys both found souvenirs. When we made it to the end, we found we had missed the boat to Odaiba by 10 minutes, and no boat for two hours. I had a mini meltdown at this point. I usually check schedules in advance and hadn’t bothered ( my unfortunate travel habit, over preparation on transport). We ended up taking the train to Odaiba, and spending a few hours at the onsen. Everybody enjoyed it.

The trip back was a tiny bit problematic- we left our shopping bags at a coin locker in the station, but couldn’t find the locker when we got there.
Testing my ability to load pics below






Kitchentown runs along kappabashi dori, so lots of pictures of kappa.


Day two, Tokyo

So, day two. This was meant to be more cultured, but I also learnt that kids these days, no idea about real mail.

After another healthy breakfast of pastries, we headed off to Ueno. A bit of a slow start ( teenage boys take a while to get ready?!). We headed to the Shitamachi museum, in Ueno Park. It’s a nice small museum, about how the area used to be. There is a replica merchants house, replica tenements and toys from the era. It is very much a hands on museum, which is not common in Japan. A volunteer tour guide from the area takes you round, this time it was a little old lady. I did get abit annoyed, both of the boys had moments when they were more interested in playing with their phones than listening. Upstairs, we played with the old toys and puzzles, which they did find more interesting. J had wanted to go to the Edo-Tokyo museum, but after the relative lack of interest, I think it is off the table.

After that we walked around the Sinobazu Pond, also in the park. One side is full of lotus leaves, and there are carp and turtles and ducks. The other part has pedal boats and swan boats for hire. Very few were out, it was quite warm. Then it was back to Ueno station for lunch. Aafter lunch, a visit to the post office to mail postcards. Neither boy knew how to address a post card.
What is this world coming to?

A wander around Marui ( a department store, but not one of the big ones), spending time at the Loft there. Japanese shopping probably deserves its own post. After that, we went out the the street market area, one of the few in Tokyo. After about a block, I was not feeling happy, so I left G and the boys to it and went and sat in Starbucks. I have a low tolerance for wander shopping, and it had been hit. Plus, I could process my 3ds street pass hits- that too is another post.

Then to Tokyo station, for character street- a run of shops of various anime characters.

Then, on to Shibuya, via the Yamanote. Lots and lots of people. We went to the Seria 100 yen shop, which resulted in some spending on my part. Then back to the hotel for a rest

After the boys had called home, we headed out to Ginza! But got lost, because I was certain that one station would be the right one, but it wasn’t. So wandered around in the dark, no Ginza.

I am learning that I need to pace my plans slower, they like to just look.

A hand pump at the museum