I just watched a POV of that carousel and it's really trippy how the different levels rotate at different speeds. I also love any carousel that has rocking horses like Story Land's. I used to think that was unique to the one at Story Land.
oo. . didn't realize there were some Youtube POVs out there.
I believe that my ride had organ music playing, at least I don't recall there being *no* music. .but I was so enthralled I may have just not noticed
one note of clarification tho. . El Dorado does *not* have rocking or galloping horses. Looks like they used to, but the animals are bolted in place and do not move independently.
a bit tired, and hungry (at least those of us who hadn't snacked much at the parks today), the 4 of us followed William as he navigated via his phone to find this restaurant he had seen on a travel Vlog.
William had done (or would be doing) a ton of cool stuff on his own during the 'off' days on the trip - such as wood carving prints, and touring historical sites. . So I TOTALLY trusted his navigation skills via his phone.
I wanted in on this restaurant stop, as it featured a "Grilled-Beef-Sushi" that sounded amazing, and a fruit-infused sake option. The place was called Arabashiri Kameido
Exiting the station in downtown Tokyo, it had started to sprinkle a little, and the clear umbrellas (which I saw all over Japan. .the clear umbrellas are super popular) came out.
although I had been out at night in Japan thus far, this was really my first real "excursion" into Tokyo at night, and the neon and people really did feel just like I imagined it would from seeing the Country in films.
and that it was slick made it even more beautiful, as the lights and neon began to reflect off of every wet surface
I snapped a bunch of pics while walking. . but sharing just a handful here.
as noted, it really was pretty much what "cinematic" Japan was to me.
the restaurant was down narrow streets / alleys, and it did take us about 20 minutes to find from the train station, as the narrow streets are almost maze like, and all look very similar - with tons of tiny (seating 8-12 people) restaurants/bars lined up one right after the other up and down both sides of the street.
there was some English, but not much.
and tho down these narrow streets, there were not near as many people about as on the "main" streets/pathways? I didn't at all feel unsafe.
of course, *had* to stop and take a picture of a Vending Machine that we passed, that was located just outside the restaurant when we found it, and William went in to be sure this was the place (since there was nothing in English outside).
Once we confirmed we were in the right place (thank goodness for William's Japanese that was enough to get us confirmation and ask if we could be seated), the Manager welcomed us in - at least I *think* he was the Manager, there were only two Employees there, this Gentleman and the Cook.
as I noted, he welcomed us in, but wanted to be sure we understood that the menu was completely in Japanese (ie: no English), and we agreed that would be fine, we were in Japan, we'd manage :)
the restaurant was very small: maybe 6 stools at the bar, and 4 tables, that would hold maybe 16-20 people. . so the entire place would hold ~25 people total. there were two customers eating (separately) at the bar, and one of the tables had been pre-set for a group. . but we were welcomed in and led to the table at the back (maybe 15 feet from the front door, that's how charming and small the place is).
(I took this pic as we were leaving, but it's the only one I have of the outside of "Arabashiri Kameido" restaurant, so putting it first)
It was a small place, but very comfortable.
Our plan to just point to what we'd like to order went out the window as soon as we were handed menus tho - since there were no pictures at all on the menu. Just double sided Japanese Text.
Jon had a translator on his phone, but it was kinda iffy (and besides, he was focused on translating the beer options. . LOL).
But the two customers I mentioned? - Gentleman and a Lady - *both* stopped their own meals, and came over to join the Waiter at trying to figure out what we were trying to order. They were both wonderful, and the lady really got a kick out of my "trainers" for the chopsticks, and they both absolutely loved the "Disneyland - Galaxy's Edge" that William had brought along in his bag, and gave to them as gifts.
it took a little bit of pantomime, and phone-translator, but eventually, they understood that we had seen the Vlog that featured the Grilled Beef Sushi, and that is what we wanted to try.
it was a bit odd, that once they realized what we wanted, they knew exactly what we were talking about. . and were repeating the name of the VideoLog where William had seen it. But they did not have any English on the menu, nor any pictures advertising the Grilled Beef Sushi. you know if this place was in the USA, then they would have pics of that particular dish plastered all over the outside of the place, or as an insert in the menu. But I guess tourists are not really their main goal, since it really did seem like a local, family place.
We eventually just asked the Waiter & Cook to give us what they thought was good, that we trusted them. And they said they would bring us 4 servings of the Grilled Beef Sushi, and asked if we liked Vegetables (to which we all said yes), and we nervously put in the order (wondering if we should have said "bring us what you like" and we were going to end up with a $500 bill at the end. . LOL - spoiler. . we did NOT. It was SUPER reasonable, and so, so good).
once the food was sorted out, we had another 10 minutes or so of help from everyone to order drinks, and most of us ended up trying some of the fruit filled Sake (myself and William both had Kiwi, Allison had Orange, and Jon stuck with local beer).
as noted, it was absolutely a charming place, and on the wall near the front door, was a poster highlighting famous Sumo Wrestlers, which interested William (as he was going to a Sumo practice the next day), and he got into a discussion with the male customer about it for a while, since the customer was a Sumo fan as well.
this is us at the table while William is talking to the Customer about Sumo.
here's my Kiwi infused Sake.
it was so. damn. good.
the cubes of Kiwi were frozen, and when the Sake was poured over them, they became fruit ice cubes. The Sake was sweet, but really, all I tasted was the Kiwi.
and I'm a fan of Kiwi, so I loved it. (only had 1 tho, as I was feeling it from this 1)
Here we are with our Sake (Luke didn't drink, he posed with William's Kiwi one), and you can see part of the Menu in front of Jon.
out of curiosity while typing this up, I googled the restaurant, and found a review of it - in English! They should print this out and keep a copy for visitors, as it recommends a few things, and could certainly increase the tourism a bit. . tho then again, maybe they want to keep it local focused, as the owner says the loyal patronage is what allowed them to open this location.
interestingly, the review notes it's a "Fish" and Sake restaurant - tho it does also note the Grilled Beef Nigiri. I'm happy that we had 3 of the things mentioned :)
it's an interesting review, and has a nice overview of the restaurant if you're curious:
and then the food started coming out.
he brought out 5 orders (one for each of us). Each order has 4 pieces, so what they did was give us 4 plates (one after the other) with 5 pieces on it, so we could all enjoy and the cook could prepare them one batch after the other.
here everyone is reaching for the first piece (and yep, notice my "trainers". . LOL)
Oh. My. Gawd. This was possibly the best thing I ate in Tokyo (outside of a Disney park).
the beef was a super high quality beef, that the cook just barely grilled, and then finished off with a blowtorch type contraption once it was lied over the nigiri rice.
see all that fatty looking stuff on the meat? it *melted* in my mouth. I'm salivating just thinking about it.
it was THAT good.
I would eat this every meal if I could, and I don't think I'd ever burn out on it.
we were all very surprised when the "vegetable" dish came out, and it was. . . Potato Salad.
we didn't quite know what to make of it, and we all had a great laugh about it later.
It was very good potato salad, with pieces of meat in it (turns out it was sausage) and topped with fermented benito.
(found that info on the link posted a few pics ago)
turns out it's a specialty in the area. So yeah, it was potato salad, but it was a very good one .. tho I don't believe we finished it completely.
here we are posing with the two Customers who helped us, and the Waiter/Manager (the cook was off to the left cooking on the grill)
I'm so glad William took this pic, as it's a wonderful memory of the great people of Tokyo, who really went out of their way to try to help the group of English speakers who found their way into their local dining place.
they were all so cool.
dinner was wonderful, and pretty filling.
tho we got hungry again smelling all the wonderful odors coming out of the small restaurants as we passed them heading back to the train station (planning to head back to the Hotel).
a couple of us had seen lots of folks eating "waffle" ice cream sandwiches (including a little boy and his Mom when leaving Toshimaen), and in this station we spotted a vending machine selling them.
so myself and Allison each bought one to try. This is me with a mouthful trying to finish it before the train comes, and you can see Allison daintily eating hers behind me (I just took giant bites).
the clock notes it's only ~8:20, so tho it had been a really full (and fantastic) day, we weren't really ready to go back to the hotel and go to bed yet.
So when William asked if anyone had been by the famous Shibuya crossing yet - I was all in to swing by. After all, it was a station we were going to be passing on the Yamanote line going back to the hotel.
so even tho it was a bit rainy, we had plans to go to Shibuya Crossing area now.
Some Train cars are "Women Only" during certain hours, and those cars are clearly marked not only at the station but also on the connecting car doors into those cars.
we made certain we didn't accidentally go into Women Only train cars, even tho it wasn't the time when it was being enforced.
still thought it made a great pic of the sign stating a car is Women Only - with just behind the sign? a car full of Guys.
when we got to Shibuya Station (a very large station, too, tho not the biggest we saw), we noticed several of these signs posted about "not retrieving articles that have fallen on the tracks" -- or maybe "call the Station Security to retrieve articles that have fallen on the tracks" ?
but we thought they looked like something Banksy would have painted . . so I snapped a pic of one of the signs.
and down a few hallways, and up some stairs. .and we came out close to the famous Shibuya crossing (tho we still had to walk a little bit to get to it).
the drizzle had really moistened up the street, and I was *loving* the reflective surfaces that had been created reflecting back all the lights & neon.
some advertising for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
getting closer. . but not quite at the crossing just yet.
can spot some of the lights there from here tho.
sent to my Spouse, with the text: "Guess where I am??"
touristy, I know.
and here it is. . glowing and glistening, and not as crowded as it would be if it weren't raining - but still pretty crowded.
the famous Shibuya Crossing - what is known as one of the most crowded crosswalks on Earth and has been featured in tons of films.
That Starbucks there, is also one of the busiest in the world (if you believe Wikipedia).
it was so incredible and impressive, I took a crap-ton of pictures.
I was happy the rain had kept away some of the crowd (it was way more packed when I made a stop back during the day later in the trip), and seeing it at night all lit up?
got to check it off my bucketlist.
when the lights change, and everyone gets the "walk" signal.
Oh my. . just incredible.
and even not "super" busy, there were still tons of folks stopping during the crossing to take selfies in the streets.
we crossed a couple of different ways, and headed towards that "alley" of neon signs directly across in this picture.
yes, it's touristy, but I love that stuff. . felt like I was in a much more polite, and cleaner, Times Square.
snapping pics while crossing.
this shot in particular, I felt, is VERY New York / Manhattan.
tho, nope. . purely Tokyo.
these two guys were plastered on several giant displays around the Shibuya Crossing area. Never really did find out what they are advertising, but maybe a Movie?
and now we've crossed, and we're about to head down this wonderfully lit neon street. . which *screams* tourist come look!
we gave in, and wandered.
look a teeny, tiny, British Pub.
(oh, I'm *sure*it's very authentic. . .LOL. . but no one wanted to go in to check it out).
tho I do believe that it was near here where William stepped on a dead rat? THAT is very "London"
again, so glad I got to experience this area at night.
so hypnotically beautiful.
and not super crowded. . just how I can best handle it.
it was starting to sprinkle a little harder, so we started to head back towards the train.
Besides, even tho it was only ~9pm, many of the stores were shutting down, so if we didn't want to go to a bar, eat, or Karaoke place, options of browsing were getting less and less as places shut down.
even the advertised "Souvenir Shops" we all closing or closed. . . the main reason I swung back by with Jon later in the trip. I wanted a Shibuya Crossing magnet.
but hey, what's this?
Burger King? I saw McDonald's many, many times in Japan. But this was the only Burger King I saw.
too bad I wasn't hungry at all, otherwise would have tried something out.
I mean. . this intrigued me. Those mushrooms look delicious.
snapping a pic down a side street as we're walking back.
neon and lights everywhere.. so much sensory overload. And I loved it.
and who doesn't like giant light up Gyoza ??
back on the train, which was pretty empty at this point, and we ended up in the very back train, which seemed safe enough (although I guess if another train were to impact us, the back would be just as bad as being in the front - where we tried to never go in the front car).
there was no operator in the seat at the back of the train, since the conductor was I guess, at the other end. So I had a great view of the tracks disappearing behind us thru the rain spattered windshield as we headed back to the hotel.
we were worn out, but everyone was in such a great mood. We'd had a fantastic day, and got to do some touristy stuff - including checking out "movie style" Tokyo this evening.
I really must thank William again, for enticing me to come along - and for leading the way. Jon for that wonderful (and buggy) iPhone translator. and Luke & Allison for the wonderful company.
I had SUCH an amazing time. and it was still on the start of the trip.
I believe this was the night on the way back from the station to the hotel, that I walked a couple of folks over to the location of the 7-11 that was connected to the Shinagawa Prince Hotel (and ended up with a strawberry parfait. . sheesh, no wonder I put on weight during the trip!).
then it was back to our rooms, where I took a shower, called home to talk to Nick, and then climbed into bed for a great night's sleep.
That's awesome that you got a picture with the two customers who helped at the restaurant. I remember my first day in Japan, how nice and helpful people were especially after seeing a confused look on my face. Another fun update to read.
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