Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day in Ginza with Gloomy Bear Creator Mori Chack!

Ginza is an upscale area of Tokyo where you can find lots of department stores, cafes, and boutiques. On this day, we will be meeting up with Mori Chack, creator of Gloomy Bear, for lunch. He will meet with our tour and do a signing and drawings for our group and take photos with us. Mori Chack is very handsome and very nice. He met with our first tour in 2008, and everyone loved him.

We will be having lunch with Mori Chack at Sweets Paradise, an all-you-can-eat Dessert Cafe, in Ginza. They also serve other foods like pasta, curry, and sushi, (the price for lunch is included in the tour price). You have 90 minutes to eat all you want...so yummy!

After lunch, you are free to explore Ginza, where you can find the largest Sanrio store in Tokyo. There are actually two here. One is called Questina, where you can find Hello Kitty Flowers...

And you can also get Hello Kitty nails done here...

This store has a lot of great stuff...including the bling Hello Kitty stuff...

Upstairs is the Ginza Sanrio World. This flagship Sanrio store features the entire range of Sanrio shop brands, all under the same roof: Gift Gate, Vivitix, Hello Kitty Store, Little Twins Stars Shop, as well as regional item corners, Greeting Cards and more. I spent hours here, it is so amazing. I only have a small picture from the Sanrio Japan website. They don't let you take photos in there. This is just one small corner of the store.
You will probably want to check out some other things in Ginza, like the Gucci Cafe, where you can buy Gucci chocolate.

There are plenty of things to do in Ginza. Your tour guide will give you a map with some places we recommend, like a Tea House where you can do a Modern Tea Ceremony. After Ginza, we will split into smaller groups and decide our next adventure from there. One option is to visit the Wholesale Fabric District, where you can find character fabric, including Hello Kitty, San-X, and Anime Fabrics.

Ginza + Mori Chack + Sweets Paradise + Hello Kitty Heaven = Awesome Day!

P.S. There is also a Vampire Themed Restaurant in Ginza, called Vampire Cafe , may have to check that out!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tokyo Toy Show & Odaiba Adventure

During the trip, we will go to the Tokyo Toy Show. This is an annual tradeshow where you can see all the cool Japanese toys coming out. The picture above is our group from the 2008 trip!

The Tokyo Toy Show takes place at Tokyo Big Site, in Odaiba, which is an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan. There are tons of fun things to do in Odaiba. You are free to do whatever you like in Odaiba, and we have some fun options for you.

Here are a few pics, I took from Stephanie Nguyen's livejournal (aka bubblesung). She took lots of great pics at the 2008 Tokyo Toy Show. There are lots of mascots around for you to take pictures with. Here are some that we liked...

Usarusan = monkey who turns into a superhero when he puts on his rabbit suit.

Lego Guy with Rick, Jamie, and Stephanie

Rabbits with Dresses, (I forget their names, but they make toys of them)

Anpanman (with Stephanie and Ben, our tour guide)

Looks like a rhino, with Araceli and My

Gachapin...I heart him!

There are lots of booths, but most of them won't let you take photos inside, this was the Sanrio booth. We got to see all the new stuff that was coming out.

There is stuff guys will like too, like this giant Ultraman made out of Ultramans.


Nearby, is the Aqua City Mall. It has lots of great stores including a Vivitix Sanrio Store, Disney Store, Toys R Us, Adidas, 0101 Outlet Store, Stussy, G-Shock Store, and more!!! Aqua City is the lower building structure. In that giant building, you will find Fuji TV. They have mascots perform there, like Gachapin and Mukku, and a store. You can go into that giant sphere, it is actually an observation deck, and you can find a replica of the Statue of Liberty out front!

Here is a great video from last year's show Tokyo Toy Show, (by japantrends.com)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Summer 2010 Itinerary

JapanLA Summer Tour 2010
July 14 - 22, 2010
$2595 (plus $225 estimated tax and fuel charge)

Tour Price Includes: Airfare, Hotel, Limousine Bus (to and from airport), Admission to Puroland, Admission to Studio Ghibli, Local Transportation (including local trains and charter buses), Tour Guides, Guidebook, Shopping Maps.

Hotel: Shibuya Excel Hotel (7 nights, double occupancy, add $620 for room by yourself)

Airline: Korean Airlines

July 14, 2010 - Wednesday
Leave LAX

July 15, 2010 - Thursday
  • Arrive Narita Airport
  • Take Limousine Bus to Hotel and Check In
  • Night time: Shibuya (Tour Guides will be available to take small groups to dinner, and some people will be on their own to wander around Shibuya to eat and shop. Maps will be given with landmarks to find your way around easily.)

July 16, 2010 - Friday
Charter Bus To:
  • Asakusa - Traditonal Japanese souvenir shopping, visit Buddhist Temple, and Shinto Shirine
  • Nakano Broadway - Toy Shopping (place to buy used and hard-to-find toys that people sell back to small shops, most are in brand new condition, and you can find rare items)
  • Akihabara - Electronic City Shopping for electronics, video games, anime, toys. Visit a Maid Cafe, or a Cat Cafe, (where you can hang out with cats).

July 17, 2010 - Saturday
Odaiba Adventure
  • Tokyo Toy Show - At Big Site Tokyo - See all the new toys coming out in Japan
  • Hang out in Odaiba and go to: Aqua City Shopping Center, Venus Fort, Fuji TV, Decks Tokyo Beach Shopping Mall, Sega Joypolis (Indoor Arcade Theme Park), Little Hong Kong, Replica of Statue of Liberty, Daikanransha (ferris wheel), Tokyo Leisure Land
  • Visit a Japanese Onsen (Spa) (No tattoos allowed, it’s a Japanese thing)
  • Character Street - Shop at small shops of particular characters like Ultraman Store, NHK Store (Domokun), Rilakkuma Bear Store, Sanrio store, Fuji TV Store and more!
  • Visit a Japanese Supermarket

July 18, 2010 - Sunday
  • Studio Ghibli Museum
  • Harajuku Shopping
  • Shibuya Shopping

July 19, 2010 - Monday
  • Puroland (Hello Kitty/Sanrio Indoor Theme Park
  • 100 Yen Store (Japan’s version of 99cent store)
  • Things I like to do around there: Eat a Japanese donut at Mister Donut, Eat a Fried Apple Pie at McDonald’s, Eat a Japanese Crepe, Play some claw machines and video games at the Arcade
  • Optional at Night: Kingyo (Burlesque Dinner Show, not included in the tour price)

July 20, 2010 - Tuesday
  • Ginza- Lunch with Mori Chack, Creator of Gloomy Bear, at Sweets Paradise. All-you-can-eat sweets pasta, curry, and other foods too! Mori Chack will do drawings and take photos with our group. (Lunch included in tour price)
  • Shopping in Ginza including visiting largest Sanrio Store in Tokyo (you can get Hello Kitty nails done here, and Hello Kitty Flowers)
  • Optional rest of day: go to other parts of Tokyo in smaller groups like Wholesale Fabric District. Other options will be available depending on where the group wants to go.
July 21, 2010 - Wednesday
  • On your own day! Wander around Tokyo!
  • Options: Tokyo Disney/Tokyo Sea

July 22, 2010 - Thursday
  • Leave Tokyo
  • Arrive LAX

July 22, 2010
OSAKA GROUP - (Extra Charge To Be Decided Soon)
Leave Tokyo
Arrive Osaka, Japan
Hang out in Osaka

July 23, 2010
Tour Shrines & Temples

July 24, 2010
Free Day
Options: Nara
Options: Kobe
Options: You Choose (you have a rail pass to travel around wherever you want, explore Kansai Region)
Stay in Osaka and celebrate Tenjin Matsuri Festival Activities

July 25, 2010
Tenjin Matsuri Festival Parade in Osaka (Festival of Water and Fire)
Boat Procession
Fireworks Show

July 26, 2010
Leave Osaka to Narita Airport
Back to LAX

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Shibuya Excel Hotel

The JapanLA Summer Tokyo 2010 trip is planned! This, year, we are staying at the Shibuya Excel Hotel. We chose this location because it is right in the middle of great shopping, eating, and night time hanging out, and it is easy to find your way back to your hotel without a tour guide if you are wandering around Tokyo, and it is an awesome hotel with great reviews too!

The Shibuya Excel Hotel has 408 guestrooms, all with views of Tokyo, and there are 25 floors. The rooms have free wired high-speed internet, (so you can bring your laptop), tea maker, soft tempur foam pillows, and Japanese-style yukata cotton bathrobes. Some other things in the hotel that you may want to know are there is: air conditioning (you control climate in the room), TV, hair dryer, iron, complimentary toiletries (this usually means big pump bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash). The tour price is for double occupancy per room, and each room has 2 twin beds. If you would like your own room, by yourself, please add $620 to the tour price.

If you are bringing your laptop or other electronics, you will need a plug converter, if your cord has a 3-prong plug, or one of those 2-prong plugs where 1 prong is bigger than the other. A 2-prong plug with both prongs the same size will most likely work in a Japanese outlet. If you do find you need an adapter, you can see if the hotel will let you borrow one or run over to Tokyu Hands, (there's one in Shibuya near the hotel).

Here's an action shot of Shibuya at night. This is the Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the world. It is referred to as a "scramble" crosswalk. All of the car traffic is stopped in all directions, and everyone crosses in all directions at the same time. It looks intimidating, but everyone is used to it and knows what to do to avoid running into each other.
You can CLICK HERE to see a YouTube video of people crossing, pretty amazing. Our hotel is right around here too!

Shopping in Shibuya is pretty awesome! You will get a map of all of our favorite shopping spots in every neighborhood in Tokyo that we travel too, including Shibuya. Some popular spots to mention are: Loft, Tokyu Hands, Shibuya 109, Parco, Marui 0101, and my favorite Don Quijote. There are also lots of record stores, bars, and restaurants around here too!