Tokyo Bum Wash

No blog about a trip to Japan could possibly ignore the toilets here. They have quite a few high tech enhancements. The seats are electrically heated which does take a bit of getting used to, although I’m sure in the depth of a Japanese winter it would be much appreciated.

Most toilets have a built in bidet function, where if you push a button a little arm extends from its hiding place and squirts a jet of warm water right into “the spot” you could say.

I was a bit worried it might squirt water everywhere but they must have some amazing sphincter detection technology as it never misses. Who ever does the user acceptance testing at Toto Industries (makers of the toilets here) must have the cleanest bottom in all of Japan.

I’ve nicknamed our toilet Captain Kirk, as just like the TV show he eliminates Klingons hiding around Uranus.

A zoom in on the controls for the enterprise. Warp factor 9 !

Whilst on the subject of toilets, the ones at Nikko had a display on how not to use them

Japanese Fluffy Pancakes

Today I achieved one of my Japanese food goals. Eating fluffy Soufflé pancakes. My friend Sally (Dave’s wife) told me about them a few months ago when we were out at dinner and after some (by that I mean much) googling and research about them, they were on my absolute must try list for our trip to Japan.

They are very popular, but can be hard to get as each serve takes about 20 minutes to prepare, so there can be long queues where ever they are sold. My advice ? Get there an hour before closing time in the afternoon.

We were in Harajuku this afternoon and feeling a little peckish so I quickly googled for the nearest place and up popped Rainbow Pancake only a hundred metres or so from

Where I was standing. Got there and there was only one other group waiting so we got in pretty quickly.

I had apple and caramel flavour and Dave had macadamia nut. Washed down with ice cold brew coffee.

So the verdict? How do they taste? Wonderful! Flavour isn’t much different to normal buttermilk pancakes but the texture is just so so different. Would I have them again ? Absolutely.

One serving was ¥1,150 or about $15 at current exchange on 27th June 2019

Nikko

We spent half a day up at Nikko visiting the shrines and temples here. It truly is a beautiful spot. Quite lucky it wasn’t crowded as we were here in the middle of the week. Easy place to get to when you have a JR pass, two trains from Tokyo with a very easy train change at the halfway point.

There is a bus system here that can take you to everything there is to see, however we just walked to the two main sites from the station which took about 30min.

The main thing here is the Toshogu Shrine (東照宮, Tōshōgū) which is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu The founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The shrine is famous for the Three Wise Monkeys engraving (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil). It’s a very colourful and beautiful place.

The other famous site we visited is the Shinkyo Bridge. Pictures really don’t do it justice on how beautiful this is. The water flowing below was crystal clear with a blue hue to it. It was a warm and humid day and it looked so inviting for a swim, although I’m sure that would be frowned upon here.

We had lunch on the way back to the station at a little bakery a few hundred metres from the station.

Here is an example of the trains you could take to get to Nikko as a day trip

Kappabashi Street

Yesterday afternoon once the food tour was over we headed over to Kappabashi street to look at all the food related products. The entire street is dedicated to vendors selling items for the food industry. An excellent souvenir to take home would be a good quality Japanese kitchen knife (just don’t carry it in your hand luggage). This street also sells all the fake plastic food you see on display in restaurants.

This guy in the chef’s hat is at the start of Kappabashi St.

How do I get here ?

You can walk from Ueno station on the Yamanote line (the walk takes about 10 minutes). You can get closer if you take the Ginza subway line

When searching in Google maps, the big Chef is found at “Niimi Cooker”. The closest metro station is Tawaramachi.

Bullet Train and Coffee

Off to Nikko today. We booked a seat on a train leaving Tokyo at 7:32. Tokyo is about 20min from Shinagawa on the Yamanote line normally so it was going to be an early day. I worked out since we had a JR pass we could “cheat” and grab a Shinkansen to go from Shinagawa to Tokyo which dropped the time down to 7 minutes. The other advantage is that we would be in the Shinkansen platform area and wouldn’t have to hunt around to find it. Tokyo is a massive station and finding the platforms was something I was a little worried about.

The dilemma for the morning was realised when we went for a coffee and nothing opens before 7. We walked around for a good 30 min checking all the cafes and didn’t find any open before 7. At least now I know where all the coffee places in Shinagawa are! (and there are way more than I initially thought). Dean and Deluca were the closest one to the Shinkansen platforms, so we waited outside that one for it to open at 7.

So here we are almost with our noses pressed against the automatic door waiting for the café to open so we could be first to order, get our coffee and bolt over to the Shinkansen platform to get the 7:13 train to Tokyo. The first coffee made from the machine won’t be it’s best, but hey sometimes in life you have to sacrifice something.

Thankfully just as you would expect in Japan the café opened at 7 (technically 6:59). We ended up with 5 minutes to spare.