Grabs Ghibli

Well they say while travelling you’re going to get a runny butt at least once. So that’s where my morning went. Down the tubes. But it gave us time to plan some of our next trips before popping (read that correctly) a couple Thai imodium to bung me up for the day.

We head out and aimed for Electric Town, where we found lots of electronics shops, but also components shops and stands that will make up cables for you in any type, colour and length. But we were here for the legendary Japanese arcades.

This area is dotted with loads of them, all multi-storey and we found that most of them have several floors dedicated to grab machines. It seems they are incredibly popular here, perhaps because since gambling is illegal, this scratches the itch of chance. They mostly have 2 prong grabs and a boxed figurine of a sexy anime character (mostly girls but also boys) resting on a shelf. It’s expected that you’ll need to spend several attempts to tip if off the ledge and win the prize. Travelling by plane, we can’t fill our bags with big models, so we played the smaller grab games. One in particular vexed me as I picked up the prize 4 or 5 times and each time it dropped out the claw before it got to the prize chute… I think it was rigged. In the end I managed to win 2 Mario figures and Aimi got a cute… thing… too.

Just before leaving we found a solitary machine of a shrine with a robed woman standing with an offering plate. You put in your 200Y (£1) and she turns and walks to the door of the shrine and pauses while some music plays. The doors open, she walks inside and the doors close. After a brief pause the doors open again and she’s facing you with a yellow tube on the offering plate. She comes towards you and deposits it in the prize chute. Inside you get a slip of paper with fortunes on it. I didn’t know it was possible to automate personal fortune telling, but here is what it said:

Quite pleased with that, we wandered back onto a train and went over to the SkyTree. This is a huge telecommunications tower that dominates the Tokyo skyline. You can see it from everywhere, even way out at our apartment you can see it lit up at night. 

Here is another pokemon centre with a few more models to take photos next to, but the main reason Aimi wanted to come was to visit the Studio Ghibli shop. Unfortunately the museum and the theme park get booked up many months in advance so our spur of the moment detour means we wont get to see those on this trip. But I know we will be back, both of us love Tokyo more than any other city we have been to. The Ghibli shop did have a giant Totoro and Catbus to photo with. We even used our new pink travel umbrella to get the iconic image of standing in the rain waiting for the bus.

There was no stopping Aimi, she got souvenirs. Even I bought myself a small Calcifer flannel and keyring. Hes definitely the character I identify with the most. Aimi got a larger one with Totoro on it, among other trinkets. The reason for buying a flannel, is we noticed most japanese carry them and use them as personal drying towels, or to wash their faces. They often don’t provide paper towels or hand dryers, and hand dryers are rubbish anyway. We might even adopt carrying one at home as its such a good idea.

There were a load of shops in the SkyTree centre selling all sorts of things. Like animals on sticks that looked like they were made of glass. We found out they were actually made from candy! It would be distasteful to eat these works of art, they were incredible! We also found a jewellery shop selling steam punky watches. One even had a solid metal band that was operated and held closed with springs. It was very tempting, but i just dont wear watches so it would have been a waste of money for me.

By this time, it was dark and the SkyTree was lit up with lots of lights. It looked great, towering over the roof terraces and balconies of the shopping centre. Built to give better telecommunication reception and transmission, I wonder if they actually make more from it as a tourist destination and shopping centre?

It was a weekend evening and a central Tokyo tourist spot so all the restaurants were absolutely jammed. They even put out stools for customers to sit and wait outside because it gets busy so regularly. And all the stools were full with people standing beyond. So we chose to walk out the centre and around the corner to find a quieter restaurant on a nearby street. We happened to luck into one of the recommended cheap eat out chains Yoshinoya. This was super tastey and as promised, really cheap for the amount of food you got. They only had the option of hot/cold water/tea or a coffee machine, but that also dispensed hot/cold chocolate so we were very happy and left stuffed and knackered again.