This was Ian's last day before heading back to the US and we wanted to check out somewhere new so we went to Odaiba, a man-made island of Japan, which I'm sure is a fancy way of saying made of garbage. In any case, you wouldn't know that it was made of trash by the looks of it. It definitely caters to tourists what with Disneyland, the Rainbow Bridge, sea life park, cirque du soleil tents, the Statue of Liberty, buildings with Dragon Gates (which I just learned about), the Emerging Science Museum and of course, the big Gundam statue. We mainly went for the Gundam because Ian wanted to see it. Why, I don't know since neither of us is really a Gundam fan, but I guess it's a thing we hadn't done yet.
We started with a late brunch at a French-style restaurant and as is always the case with us, the two items we wanted were sold out, but the alternatives were good too. After our bellies were full of brunch, we at last saw the mighty Gundam in all its glory. Ok, I didn't think it was all that exciting, but Ian said there was a sign saying there'd be a show later on with it, so I was determined to return in hopes of something actually glorious. We strolled around and saw the tinier version of the Statue of Liberty. I laughed that it was like being in New York along with my bandmates, who were actually on vacation in New York.
As we walked back to the Gundam statue for the show, I stopped to do some horse stance while doing some dragon bridges with my hands (a la kung fu) between the dragon gates in the buildings. I'm sure you're wondering, "But, Mandy, what is a dragon gate?" Well, let me tell you. Apparently when you're in China, many buildings will have a large hole in the middle of the building where offices could be built but aren't. These are created so that dragons may pass through them while navigating the heavens surrounded by skyscrapers. Pretty interesting concept.
At the Gundam statue, we were ready for the show. Lo! And Behold... It was a complete letdown and absolutely unglorious.. 😑 All it did was move its head up and down and to the side. No sweet moves, no arm waving, nothing. After waiting about 4-5 minutes, surveying the landscape for anything else interesting looking to do, I gave up on it doing anything cool and we walked over towards the Venus Forte. Venus Forte is a shopping mall designed to look like a scene in Venice, because of course. There happened to be a car museum exhibit on display at the mall entrance, which was actually pretty cool because it had a bunch of vintage Italian cars and like the ramen museum, was made to look like a street in Italy. I discovered a car made by Volkswagon that actually opened from the front! Whaaat?!
One strange note about Japan, many times there will be a host/guide in a museum who will give a tour out loud even if there is no one following or listening. This woman was doing that at one car and made her way to the oddball little VW. Also, they will continue to speak, even if you have no clue what they're saying. It's certainly not a bad thing, nor bothersome, but I do wonder if their poor voices get tired. The same goes for the "Irashaimase! Girls" as I call them. When you're in a shop all the clerks shout "Irashaimase!" and as you're browsing they'll say it if you're near them. I know it's meant to make you feel welcome, but it can be exhausting to hear and doesn't actually help me shop better or make me want to buy more.
Aside over. We strolled through the mall and there was an area in the shopping halls where the roof was circular like the Sistine Chapel and if you stood in the center of the room, you could hear an echo. We didn't spend too much time in the mall since my feet were already tired from walking around for a couple hours, as well as the lack of sleep from the night before. Visiting Odaiba was a truly international experience in which I got to see Japan, China, New York, Venice, and arguably, Africa (I've seen Cirque Du Soleil's Totem which was being shown in the circus tent in Odaiba).
Anyways, we decided to head back to the room and pack before we were to have dinner with Hitoshi and Kayo in Shimbashi. Since I'm a master at packing, I packed Ian's bag, with mostly my gifts for people. I have a problem where I am constantly buying presents. I think it's because I want to buy cute things, but I can't keep them all myself, especially as a minimalist, so I buy things for others instead. Haha
We headed to Shimbashi to meet our friends for dinner. A little background on how we met Hitoshi & Kayo. I met Hitoshi as the result of running a magazine some years ago. Hitoshi works in the advertising industry, and therefore friended me on Facebook. When we visited Tokyo last year I asked if he wanted to meet in person, even though I didn't run that magazine anymore. He had showed us around Shinjuku, Harajuku and later in the evening, Shimbashi. He introduced us to his friend Kayo after dinner and we all karaoked. So of course this trip, we wanted to make sure to meet with them again.
Hitoshi took us all out to a restaurant in Shimbashi, called "Mimiu". He chose this one because of its rich history in Tokyo, as well as the fact that it has a rabbit and moon for its theme, which he knew I loved. :) Our dinner was lavish, arriving in courses of appetizers, the main udon dinner and an order of Shabu Shabu, Kayo's favorite! The udon was a fun experience because the broth was heated at the table (nabe, Japanese hot pot style) and then the server would add the noodles, vegetables, meat, and eventually, live prawn. I know many would of my vegetarian friends probably don't want to hear about that part of the experience, but Hitoshi made sure to ask if that wouldn't upset us to see a prawn cooked alive. That kind of thing doesn't bother me, and furthermore, I'm not one to tell a cook or server how to present my food to me. In any case, dinner was wonderful and I was so glad to see our friends again. And so happy that we got to all meet together on Ian's last evening in Japan.
I would have loved to go do Karaoke with Kayo and Hitoshi, but I was just so sleepy after the late night out the evening before, but I made plans to meet with Kayo at some point again during my trip. :)