Travel Post: Our Japan Trip - Day 5 (Shinjuku Gyeon National Garden, Sunshine City, J-World, Pokemon Centre, Piss Alley aka Omoide Yokocho)



Cherry Blossoms, Anime, more anime, alcohol and a barbecued selection of meats! Sounds like a perfect day to me. This day ticked both our boxes as Christine got to visit Gyeon National park to see the cherry blossoms, while Matt got to do everything else. See, Perfect! 
(You can tell Matt is writing this).


Gyeon National Garden is located in Shinjuku and come cherry blossom season, it is swarming with both locals and tourists travelling to see the beautiful pink and white shades of the cherry blossoms. 
Entrance to the garden is 200yen per person which is cheap in comparison to how well maintained these gardens are. You can see how popular this park is, it took roughly 20-30 minutes just to enter!


The beautiful shades of pink cover the entire garden. Such a beautiful and jaw-dropping site to see. I also love the below shot where the cherry blossom is amassed between the light (almost pastel) green colours.



We came to Japan to see the cherry blossoms, however these white blossoms are just as beautiful! We were luck enough to experience a shower of blossoms when the wind picked up.
Very romantic spot to take your significant other.


... so long as you can ignore the thousands of other people =)


Make sure to bring lunch when visiting the park. We bought some sandwiches from Tokyo Station to enjoy for brunch and that managed to last us a couple of hours of walking. But blogging has caused us to have a HUGE appetite and subsequently we were hungry again.

So we took the JR Saikyo Line from Shinjuku to Ikebukuro station. Just a short stroll you will find the famous Sunshine City! Home to the Pokemon Store, Tokyo J-World and numerous other retail shops. Similar to Westfield shopping centre, but on a much grander scale.
There is even an aquarium on the 20th level!!!


We were lucky enough to see a live performance of a Japanese singer who had a HUGE following. The fans in the front row had not only remembered her lyrics, but what was most surprising was that they were mirroring her every dance move (yes, these were all guys as well). 


J-World was a place Matt really wanted to visit. It is the flagship location in Japan for all Jump Shonen fans out there. This includes Dragonball Z, One Piece, Naruto, Hunter X Hunter, Kuroko no basket and much more! It focuses more on Dragonball Z, One piece and Naruto while leaving little room for the others. 

In terms of pricing, it was 800yen per person, or 2600yen for a pass that gives you access to all rides (cheaper if you show your passport). We highly suggest buying the 2600yen pass as you will not want to miss out on some of the fun activities!
SUPER!

 The Dragonball Z zone has several noticeable figures which you can interact with. Unfortunately it seems that most were either designed for kids or midgets, but it didn't stop us from trying!
Holy smokes, it's over 9000!!!!!!!!!!


The one piece zone was heavily influenced by the attractions, otherwise you can just enjoy the scenery which resembles what it would look like to be on the set of One Piece!




Similar with the Naruto zone, it was relatively small, with majority of the focus being on purchased activities. Datebayo!




LUNCH TIME!
Everything here is anime related... from the kitchen, to the menu, to even the outfits that al the staff were wearing! It really made you feel like you were eating in a different world.




Ice Tea and Melon Soda!



Peekaboo custard dessert puff!
We didn't try this, but it was too cute for Christine to not take a picture of!


Luffy - One Piece Corn soup with Sweet bread
Matt was really excited when he saw the One Piece dish, he thought it was a pot pie at first. Turns out it was actually corn soup with a sweet bun to dip into. On the outside of the bread was a sweet strawberry sauce. Having both sweet bread and savoury soup, it was definitely weirdly enjoyable.


Chopper - One Piece Spaghetti and Meatballs
Christine got the Spaghetti and Meatballs which was very different to your traditional Italian style spaghetti. The sauce was very sweet and the meatballs were DEEP FRIED! The serving is only a kids portion so be prepared to have something else on the side.


Portgas-D-Ace - One Piece Chicken Nuggets!
 We promise you that it isn't just one piece related food here. We only realised now that everything we chose was ordered from the one piece menu! The chicken nuggets were nothing special. They had generous chicken filling and three different types of sauces to dip in (sorry can't recall the sauces, but the barbecue flavour was our favourite).

They also give you a post card from the Anime when you order this meal.
 I like how the positioned the dips to be similar to the Sake cups in the show!



At this point we were satisfied and the line for desserts was way too long. So we only took pictures, but wow they looked fancy!


So... Matt wanted to buy the whole store. He was later reminded of our limited luggage space =P


The level below J-World is the largest Pokemon centre in all of Tokyo.
This store was huge and so was the line of people waiting to pay for their items. It was crazy!


As you can probably tell, we went more to be Tourists rather than to buy anything..
It was a mission just to walk around the store!



Later that night, we walked back to the Ikebukuro station and caught the Saikyo line back to Shinjuku. We were adamant to visit the famous Piss Alley (a.k.a Omoide Yokocho). A selection of very small and tight alley ways which houses several Yakiniku restaurants, with each one only being able to server a maximum of 8-10 customers at a single time.

These restaurants are very popular amongst the working class as it is a cheap way to fill their bellies and warm their faces.



The smell is far different to what you would expect from Sydney alleys. All you can smell is the barbecuing of succulent pieces of chicken, beef and bacon wrapped spring onion!



There were approximately 30 different restaurants you could choose from, each serve a very similar style of food. Similarly each is also set up in a very similar fashion.



Our choice where to eat was basically determined by which restaurant had an available seat for both of us. We were fortunate to come across this restaurant as the food was AMAZING!
Just an FYI, you must purchase a drink when you sit down.
Matt chose a local beer on tap, while Christine chose to have a juice.
The other thing worth mentioning is that all the dishes are relatively cheap.
Ranging from 300yen to 400yen!




Marinated Beef and Spring Onion
Wow this was good. Not only was the beef tender, but the spring onion gave it a completely different taste to the regular beef and onion shish-kebab.


Bacon wrapped spring onions
BACON WRAPPED SPRING ONIONS
BAC... yeah I think you get the point. Something so simple is so tasty!



Beef stuffed with whole garlic
Alright, most people might turn their nose to eating a whole garlic. But they must have been cooked prior as they were quite soft and almost blended in with the beef. It was by far the best dish of the night! We ordered a second serving of this =D


After eating, we decided to take a walk around the Shinjuku area (commonly known as the red-light district). It is quite friendly and we didn't feel threatened at any point during the night. Once again, it was very different to our red-light district (Kings Cross), I wouldn't be walking around Kings Cross during the day time let alone at night.


That ends our visit to Shinjuku! 
You might hear this a lot from us, but you must visit this place!! 

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