The Mochi Diaries: Chapter 15 Gomatamago ごまたまご

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Welcome to another instalment of the Mochi Diaries, Chapter 15 Gomatamago ごまたまご! Once again these guys really aren’t mochi but in fact intricately designed cakes, however they are omiyage お土産 nonetheless and so kawaii I couldn’t resist!!!

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During my last top to Tokyo 東京 I picked a box of Gomatamago ごまたまご (Lit. Black Sesame Egg) cakes on my way home as the packaging intrigued me. Furthermore Gomatamago are a meibutsu 名物 (Specialty product) of the Tokyo region, so it’s not as if I would have the opportunity to purchase them again in the near future.

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As far as omiyage go these are on the pricy side of things at 700円 for a box containing 8 pieces, that said they are each individually wrapped and sizeable.

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The centre is a sweet paste consisting of kurogoma 黒胡麻 (Black sesame seeds) and anko 餡子 (red bean paste) which is supposed to constitute the ‘yolk’ of the egg…… Perhaps they are piitan 皮蛋 (Chinese century eggs) ( ^ω^ ).

This ‘yolk’ is then coated in a thin layer of kasutera カステラ (castella cake), a type Japanese cake originating in Nagasaki through trade with the Portuguese in 16th century that is immensely popular here. Finally the tamago is coated in a thin layer of white-chocolate to form a delicious crispy ‘shell’!

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All in all I was quite impressed by this tasty treat, I imagine they to well hand in hand with a cup of afternoon tea.
The centre retained a perfect level of moistness and was not overly sweet.
If your ever in Tokyo give a box a try! 4/5

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Mintia Tokyo Skytree Limited Edition

During my visit to Tokyo Skytree a while back I was delighted to spot these limited edition Skytree Mintia flavours on offer in the gift shop as I’m quite the advocate of all things Mintia!
I purchased each if the 3 flavours on offer, Peach, Green Tea Mint and Grape. Oddly as opposed to the regular packaging, all 3 had their names boldly written in English with a small furigana translation underneath. I suppose this is to cater to the large amount of foreign tourists that would be visiting the tower.
The peach and green tea mint flavours are new and although there is regular grape flavored Mintia I was interested to see how the Skytree variation would compare.

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Mintia – Peach
もも

Ok seriously these thing are fucking amazing!! In fact it pains me to know that I can’t obtain any more of them without returning to Tokyo!! Honestly from the moment you pop one in your mouth it feels like you have just taken a bite of a tasty ripe peach! I can not sing these things high enough praise, my only complaint is that compared to other Mintia I felt these dissolved a lot faster. Perfect!!!!
5/5

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Mintia – Green Tea Mint
グリーンティーミント

From the moment I opened these I was impressed simply by by their colour, giving me very authentic matcha 抹茶 (powdered Japanese green tea) vibe from the get go.
Much more subtle in flavour than the peach ones and mildly minty, being a huge matcha fan it’s hard to disappoint with such a flavour. That said I usually shy away from anything minty but these really hit the spot, if more mints tasted like this I’d be sure to invest in them more often!!
Tasty, minty with hints of matcha, a winner in my books.
4/5

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Mintia – Grape
ぶどう

Honestly save for being a slight shade of yellow as opposed the white of the regular grape flavoured Mintia, I really could not discern any notable difference between the two which I tried one after the other. Perhaps the Skytree variant tasted a tad more authentic grapey and less artificial but that could have just been my imagination. Regardless I thoroughly enjoyed the originals and these just as much so. 4/5

All in all I get the feeling that the Skytree Mintia flavours are a higher quality than the regular kind. Although slightly more expensive (131円) they are well worth the price, I only regret I didn’t purchase more!!!!

Tokyo Alcatraz E.R.

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During my visit to Tokyo we visited Alcatraz ER, a jail/hospital themed theater restaurants in Shibuya.
I came across the place during a previous trip to Japan in 2006 and now finally returning I had my heart set on experiencing it.

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The camera flash really ruins the spooky atmosphere of the place but its much to dark inside to take photos without them.

Upon arriving guests are ‘admitted’ to the restaurant ‘sexy nurses’ ask one member of each party their symptoms (an imagined affliction), before being handcuffed and led to a cell where the dining takes place to be ‘locked up’. The actual dining booths are convincing jail cells little more than a meter in height, in order to call a waitress for service one takes an iron bar and racks it across the bars of cell, as this happens quite frequently the constant rattling of the cells around you adds to the spookiness of the atmosphere.

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The drinks are an experience in themselves, the top one being a banana yogurt cocktail (with extra cock) when served the waitress has a syringe full of condensed milk she dribbled over the ‘head’ of the severed member.

The beers are also quite the novelty, we ordered a liter jug that was served in a urinal bedpan, looking quite convincing and frothy.

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Even the snacks they served whilst we waited for our food were hospital themed, mini Senbei resembling pills in a little paper cup pill cup.

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Although we ordered quite few dishes ill post a couple I found amusing, the salad was suppose to resemble an eyeball, filled with extremely oddly textured tomato flavored jelly.

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These 2 dishes, takoyaki and shuumai respectively were off the ‘Russian roulette’ section of the menu with one of each of being filled with karashi 辛子 (hot Japanese mustard) that i accidentally ate in both without so much batting an eyelid (let’s be honest guys if you going to advertise something as being spicy with 7 chillies next to the description at least make it hot!)

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Finally we got this breast shaped flavored fried rice with umeboshi 梅干(salted Japanese plums) for nipples much to fathers amusement.

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Even the bathrooms were quite horrific, again ruined by the flash but the male one is lit by a black light with gore spread across the walls glowing in an eerier purple haze.
Such dim lighting makes a trip to the bathroom quite the challenge particularly if you have had a couple beers but makes for an interesting experience.

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A quite cool little sendoff they give you is the diagnosis and cure for the symptoms you had when arriving as well as the pills (mints) containing the cure.

Look at the end of the day it was quite an interesting experience, the food was nothing special and the drinks nothing special. That said its not crazy priced or anything (about 7000円 for 3 of us with drinks), coming on a week night I think it was all toned down a little and would like to return on a weekend, online I had seen videos of mid meal ‘prisoner escapes’ with costumed actors running through the corridors but we saw nothing of the sort.

Regardless it gets my おすすめ for a spooky night out!

A Night In A Shibuya Internet Cafè

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Saturday evening I found myself in Shibuya without a room for the night. The last night of my trip I had foolishly not got round to booking a hotel, hoping to simply walk up to one on the day. My presumption that there would be rooms available in one of the most densely populated areas in the world was far from accurate.

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And so midnight rolled around, defeated I looked to the next best thing…. A mangakiss (Japanese internet cafe).
These establishments typically offer customers a small room with a comfortable chair, computer with Internet connection, gaming devices, movies and access to a vast manga library.
Alongside this other amenities include a communal shower, luggage storage and free all you can drink vending machines.

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I decided upon one of the larger venues Gran Cyber Cafe B@gus, even checking in at the wee hours of the morning they had space at a fairly reasonable rate of 2000円 for a 9 hour stay.

To be honest it wasn’t what I would consider the most comfortable night sleep as the chair doesn’t exactly go all the way back. Not exactly sure if I would be up for it again, but for a desperate lad on the streets of Shibuya it did just fine!

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This is the entrance to Gran Cyber Cafe B@gus.

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Free vending machines

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Part of the manga library

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Tokyo Skytree Adventures!

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Today I’m at Tokyo Skytree, freaking epic!!!
Although similarly so were the lines, arriving at 10:30am we were given passes that would allow us to join the queue at 1:00pm, after returning from a brief trip to Asakusa it was another hour before we could buy tickets to go up!

That said the view from 450m was well worth the wait, I’v been up Kobe’s Port Tower, Kyoto Tower and Tokyo Tower but nothing compared to Tokyo Sky Tree!

At 2000¥ for the 350m viewing platform it was a little pricy compared to visiting viewing platforms at many other towers.

We decided to also head up to the 450m viewing platform, although hesitant at first in my opinion the extra 1000¥ was a fair price to scale the worlds second tallest structure!

All in all a fantastic experience!
(^∇^)

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Please Wait a Moment しょうしょう おまちください

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皆ーさん しょうしょう おまちください
Gomen (Presumably) loyal readers, I apologize for the lack of updates recently.

Parentals are in town and we headed to the capital leaving me little time to blog, so hang tight whist Nihonomnom takes a short break this week.

I shall update on my adventures soon
(^◇^)

Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー) Opens Today!!

Tokyo Skytree today opened to the public for the first time after 4 years in the making after it began construction in July 2008 ! Towering over Tokyo at 634-meters the tower is officially the worlds tallest almost doubling the Eiffel Tower in Paris (standing 324m) and just beating the Canton Tower in China, which is only 600 meters.

Taking almost 43 months to complete at a cost of 40 billion yen (503.7 million dollars) the primary purpose of Skytree is broadcasting radio waves which had previously been via  Tokyo Tower but tall buildings constructed over the past few decades had begun to interrupt the signal as it simply wasnt tall enough for a meccha large city like Tokyo.

Since 1958, Tokyo Tower standing at 333m has been the iconic figure of Tokyo’s skyline and a symbol of Japan’s capital, however today marked the end of its dominance with Tokyo Skytree sanding 90 percent higher than Tokyo Tower.

Tallest broadcast tower in the world

Currently the world’s tallest structure is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which stands 828 meters. However it is in a different class as it not a tower but a skyscraper so Tokyo Skytree currently takes the cake for worlds tallest broadcast tower as you can see above!

Of course the Japanese never let a chance pass them by to create a mascot for well…… pretty much everything! Tokyo Skytree’s anthropomorphic lil character is  Sorakara-chan, which can be literally translated to means “From the sky-chan.”

Ans she even comes with her own little back story:

Sorakara-chan (ソラカラ) is a girl with a star-shaped head hailing from the “Pointy Star” from which she scanned the universe using her favorite telescope. She apparently saw the 634 meter Sky Tree brightly piercing through the clouds, which enable her to find and visit Tokyo. Her clothes are imprinted with a design based on the framework of the Sky Tree itself.

Now the 634 meter height of the building is no coincidence, it actually comes with a great deal of significance. Not only to take the building over the mark to name it worlds tallest tower, but in Japanese these three figures together 6-3-4 can be pronounced Mu-sa-shi which is the name of the former province of what is now Tokyo. It is also an homage to legendary swordsman and ronin Musashi Miyamoto who was the author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪の書).

Admission Fee

Admission to the first observation deck, at 350 meters above ground is 2,000円 for adults. An additional 1,000円 is charged for visitors to head up to the second, observation deck, which is 450 meters above ground level, totalling 3,000円.

Despite the high ticket prices, more than a million people made reservations as of May 7. Along side this the place is fully booked for the next two months so unfortunately I wont be able to visit when I head down to Tokyo next week, on the bright side this can be the motivation for a trip to visit it in a couple months.

^_____^

Tokyo Skytower grows pictured in October 2009, April 2010, August 2010, December 2010 and May 2012