Monday – April 17, 2017
Unlike yesterday which started out great and ended up only mediocre, today started out crappy and ended up great. I started my day by leaving the room before Pete in order to get to Ginza early enough to scope things out before he got there. Also because he was taking too long to get ready and I didn’t want to wait for him.
My first goal was to get breakfast at the Monocle Cafe. However, upon my arrival at Ginza station, despite doing Google map research, I was having a tough time finding the place. Eventually I busted out my phone and tried to find it on Apple Maps. It appeared it was inside of a building, rather than having a street-side location like I expected.
I went into the building and did a bit of snooping but could find nothing. Eventually I asked a security guard for help and he took the time to walk me to the cafe. I was pissed because I had literally just come from there and had missed it and because I wasn’t set to open until 11am! Who does that?
I called off Peter and told him that I was going straight to our first stop, the Tokyo Skytree, and to just meet me there. This was a bummer not only because I wanted to eat there and cross it off my list, but also because my plan was to find it fast, just to know where it was, then go to the Kit-Kat store and grab some Japan only Kit-Kat flavors to bring back to the states.
So, after this first failure of the day I made my way to the Tokyo Skytree. For those of you who don’t know the Tokyo Skytree is the second tallest structure in the world., second only to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Additionally, since construction was completed in 2014, this thing is only three years old, who knew!
Tokyo Skytree; the second tallest structure in the world
I exited the station, turned around and boom, there it was. The tower is disorientingly tall. You just can not get over how big it is, especially the closer you get. In any case, being that I hadn’t grabbed food at the cafe, I stopped into the Tully’s Coffee that was right there and grabbed a bite. Shortly after, Pete joined me and once we were both finished, we headed to the tower.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was not a “Disney World length line,” to get in. Which is what the internet had promised. Haha internet, turns out you don’t know everything. We actually got our tickets super quickly and got right on an elevator. The elevator too, despite having to take you up to 1,150 ft, is surprisingly quick doing the job in what felt like maybe 30 seconds.
Once at the top (technically there is a bit higher you can go but you had to pay more money so I was like ‘eff that) I walked around and checked out the views. After about 10 minutes I was bored. The thing about observation towers that I will never learn, is that they are all the same. Pete wanted to look around some more and he actually did take advantage of the higher observation deck.
However, at around 12:20 we called it quits and started to make our way to our next destination.
I won’t bore you with the details of our train ride, however, I will just say that involved taking three trains and, including the walk from the final station, the total travel time was about an hour.
Panorama of Rauh-Welt Begriff garage
We arrived at RWB a little after 14:00. When we got there it felt very surreal. I was finally at this place I’d read about on so many blogs and seen featured in countless Instagram pictures and YouTube videos.
Pete and I approached with caution. We started taking pictures of some of the cars outside the garage and as we approached, we noticed that the garage door was open. We peeked in and, at the back, I could make out a shadowy figure with poofy hair. Could it be? We said hello and the man waved us in. Low and behold it was none other than Akira Nakai AKA Nakai-san himself.
RWB 964 911
This man is a legend amongst car enthusiasts. Particularly Porsche fans and tuners as he is famous for making wide body kits for ’90s era 911s. I could not believe I was meeting him. He was just a regular dude, chill as he always in his videos. I fully did not expect him to be there and so I was bummed I hadn’t gone through with buying him a 6-pack of Stella Artois, his favorite beer.
Nakai was busy packaging some body kits that were bound for Canada but he was super accommodating. He let us see everything and take pictures of whatever we wanted. Whether you love or hate what he does with 911s, you have to respect a man who has been able to make a living out of doing what he loves.
This Mint Green one was my favorite
I zipped around the shop snapping pictures of everything inside and outside while Pete chatted his ear off. Nakai popped in a signature cigarette and was very respectful despite the fact that he seemed to be only half listening to everything Pete was saying. I then asked about buying a t-shirt. He told me they were 3,000 Yen and so I found a design I liked and pulled out my wallet.
I then bothered him for a picture, which he obliged and then, basically was on my way. Pete hung back to take it all in, take more pictures and to continue to talk his ear off. I just do not have the attention span for that. Also, being that it was going to take over an hour to get back to the apartment to drop this stuff off, and that I still wanted to do more with my day and didn’t want to get back super late, I dipped.
I got back to the Air BnB around 16:30 (the train ride back was a lot smoother for whatever reason) and checked my itinerary to see what else I could accomplish. I found two things that weren’t too far away from the apartment nor from each other and after making a game-plan, headed back out.
Tokyo Tower as seen from Roppongi Hills
The first stop on my list was Roppongi Hills, a shopping district with a bunch of cool stores. However, I specifically wanted to visit their Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi book store. While making my way through the Roppongi Hills complex, I grabbed my first glimpse of the Tokyo Tower. I grabbed a shot then continued on my way.
When I got to Tsutaya, I did a bit of a walk around before asking for the item I had come to purchase. As I expected they would, they had it, Terada Mokei. I had first heard about this Japanese paper craft through the website Tested dot com.
I knew however that I had to buy some if I could while in Japan. Though they were a bit expensive, actually much more than I expected them to be, they would make great gifts. After finishing my purchase, I made my way to my last stop of the day.
Just a few blocks down the main drag from the Roppongi Hills complex is a restaurant called Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu. This place was the inspiration for the “House of Blue Leaves” from Kill Bill Vol. 1. Upon entering, you immediately get the same vibe. It feels exactly like the set built for the movie.
Overview of the layout
In the entrance there are photographs of celebrities that have visited the restaurant and once inside there is a little Kill Bill plaque inside a case. Despite not having a reservation I was seated almost right away. I had arrived at 18:15 so the dinner rush hadn’t really started yet.
I was seated at the “bar” right in front of where they cook all the food. Everything on the menu looked great and, despite the fact that the restaurant was somewhat upscale, the prices (as I’ve found has been the case with most things in this country) were very fair. I ordered a beer and two appetizers for my meal; the personal pizza and the pork belly.
The seat with the red jacket on the back is mine
After I placed my order, I walked to the upper level of the restaurant to get a few pictures of the layout. Because of the theming, it felt a little like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney. Shortly after I sat back down, my food came.
Though the portions were relatively small, they were incredibly delicious. I tried to take my time and enjoy them, rather than just scarf them down. After I was done, my waitress brought me a cup of tea. I ordered dessert and it too was fantastic. I couldn’t place the flavor of the ice cream, but whatever it was, it was good.
Being that I had spent my allotment of cash for the day (between breakfast, putting money on my Pasmo, buying the t-shirt and the paper crafts) I put the meal on my credit card. I was completely full and very satisfied. Not only with my meal, but with my day. This was the first day in Tokyo that I felt I got a lot done and it felt good.