Continued from Day 11: Asakusa and Odaiba.
The morning of the first day of Anime Contents Expo 2012 did not look so promising. The weather reports showed heavy rains and strong winds throughout the day. However, we figured that since Makuhari Messe was just two trains and one switch away, we were in good shape. Big mistake 😐
When we reached Tokyo station from Ikebukuro, our switch on the Keiyo Line was no longer running due to strong winds. Stranded for the next three hours, we decided to make the most of our situation and explored the underground warren that is Tokyo Station. That’s how we ended up on Tokyo Ramen Street and Tokyo Character Street.
Tokyo Ramen Street was a wonderful find in what was otherwise a cold, tiring, utterly ruined morning. A collection of eight ramen shops from all over Japan, the street featured everything from shio to shoyu to miso ramen. There was also a tsuke-men shop — noodles that you dipped in a separate bowl of broth, and a maze-soba shop — soba noodles that you mixed around in a flavorful gravy.
The shop we chose to line up for was called “Ikaruga”, which served a delicious shoyu-pork broth ramen topped with char siu, soft-boiled egg, and crunchy senbei bits — yummeh ❤ The steaming hot and rich soup warmed us to the core, and the chewy and flavorful noodles filled us up in a way no pack of instant noodles will ever live up to. The senbei (rice cracker) bits added an interesting crunch to the ramen, and the char siu just melted in the mouth — OM NOM NOM NOM.
The other discovery we made on that day was Tokyo Character Street, located in the same part of Tokyo Station as Tokyo Ramen Street. Tokyo Character Street is a collection of shops selling anime and character goods, with each shop catering exclusively to a single series or franchise. In this case, there were separate shops for Shounen Jump, Studio Ghibli, Lego, Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, and so much more.
To call the place a “black hole” is an understatement — we spent the next three hours in there killing time until the trains ran again. For example, the Lego shop — a mere five minutes in the store and I dropped JPY 6000 on a Lego-Star Wars wristwatch and a Storm Trooper mini-fig keychain. Another five minutes in the Studio Ghibli shop and I walked out with a pair of fridge magnets — as if I didn’t already spend enough at the Ghibli Museum shop.
Thankfully I escaped purchasing anything from the other shops, but it was still fun looking at what they had on display. The NHK shop had a variety of Doumo items on sale — there were even some in bunny suits, which I didn’t really understand ^^;; The Pretty Cure shop was thankfully full of little girls and their mums — I was a little afraid it was going to be full of big burly men 😛
Likewise full of little girls and big girls were the Rilakkuma and Hello Kitty shops. The most fascinating thing I found in the Rilakkuma store were the tiny tins of Rilakkuma-designed bandages. The Hello Kitty shop was also selling something interesting besides the usual hand bags and accessories — they were selling Kitty-shaped bagels. However, having sworn to eat nothing but Doughnut Plant for the entire trip, I gave the bagels a skip.
Eventually, we made it to the con — but not after a five hour delay. I have to say though that the day was not a complete waste, thanks to our excursions to Tokyo Ramen Street and Tokyo Character Street. I enjoyed Tokyo Ramen Street in particular — if I wasn’t so stuffed with ramen from Ikaruga I would have cheerfully downed a bowl at the other seven places.
Now there’s a thought ❤ Next time, Tokyo — next time!
Continued in Anime Contents Expo 2012 Event Report.