Pikachu with a view: My trip to the Pokemon Cafe in Tokyo

20140722-230738-83258785.jpgSome times, when living in Japan, one finds oneself at some pretty wacky places. After spending the weekend touring (and tweeting!) the newly designated World Heritage Sites surrounding the Tomioka Silk Mill (more on that soon), I found myself spending Marine Day in line at the Pop-up Pikachu Cafe that just opened in Tokyo this weekend. Opened in conjunction with the newest movie in the unending money-printing machine that is the Pokemon empire, the Pikachu Cafe sits at the top of the tony Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. This is classy experience, from top to bottom.

First off, while the website proudly proclaims that the cafe is free to enter, there’s the little fact that the privilege of riding the elevator to the 52nd floor will cost you a cool 1500Y, or about $15 (my exchange rate, it is not so exact.) With this you get access to an art exhibit at the Mori Art Museum, the option to buy a ticket to the Gaudi Exhibit, and of course entrance to the Pokemon Exhibit. There’s enough background art, storyboards and the like to pretend that this is an art exhibit as well, but pretty much everyone is there for the Cafe.  So many people that it took over 100 minutes to get through it, but a coworker tried to go on Sunday and faced a 3 hour wait, so I guess I got off easy?

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The menu is fairly simple, with only a few main options, but even still the huge crush of humanity meant that even once you got through the ridiculous line, there was still quite a wait for your food. Still, people were generally pretty positive, and there was enough to keep the kids running in and out of line entertained that there weren’t too many screaming hellions flailing about.

To be honest, there weren’t that many kids in general. Sure, there were some, but there was also a striking number of adults with no tots in tow. After all, grown ups have money, and this place requires a lot of it. And there really isn’t quite the same “childish” stigma here to cute things in general and Pokemon in particular. If you love you some Pikachu, that’s cool. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a weirdo in the same way it seems to in the US, and the table next to mine even had very fashionable hipsters, one of whom was wearing a fancy black polo which had a tiny Pikachu logo that I only noticed as he was leaving.20140722-230739-83259103.jpg

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20140722-230740-83260047.jpgIn order to keep things moving, you prepaid using the ticket systems found in many less fancy Japanese restaurants. Noodle counters and food courts make liberal use of this technology, and it probably did help minimize the line, as you still had a good twenty minutes between purchase and sitting down. No hemming and hawing at the table!

 

My meal set came with a Pikachu pudding (pictured later) as well as my choice of ice cream float. I went with the Kiwi 20140722-230740-83260368.jpgChespin (ハリマロン) drink, and it was actually pretty tasty. They used Monin syrup and Kiwi sauce in addition to the milk and vanilla ice cream. It was nice! And the coaster was mine to keep, what a deal!

The main attractions were of course the main meals. The Teriyaki Burger was actually really solid. It’s a little pricey, but about what you’d expect to pay in Mori Tower anyway.

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This is where you hand in your ticket and get your drink. Look, adults! Hipsters in manly capris even!

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The assembly was going a mile a minute, and still having a bit of a tough time keeping up!

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The curry was also ridiculously adorable. I’m not the biggest fan of Japanese curry, and this one seemed more about the presentation that the food. Honestly, I’m kind of ok with that. I mean, everyone is well aware that they are paying for the experience, and having Pikachu’s face plastered on everything, and carrots and omelets cut into tiny stars are definitely part of the experience.

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The set dessert pudding was pretty lackluster. I think it was mango? Maybe?20140722-230742-83262099.jpg

The Pikachu Parfait, on the other hand, was definitely one of the main attractions. Nicely layered with fruit, whipped cream, strawberry & kiwi sauce, and of course the Pikachu pudding with shocking blue sugar, the Pikachu Parfait really packed a punch. It’s 880Y, but an impressive amount of food. The other dessert on the menu costs the same, but seems to contain approximately 1/30th of the food quantity, and I did not see a single one go by in the entire hour I was seated. (It pretty much looks like powdered sugar on a plate.)

Anyway, the parfait is nice, though a little bit of a sugar bomb. I feel like a scoop of ice cream probably would have brightened it up, as it got pretty warm during the eating, and a nice spot of cool would have been quite welcome. Still, it was fun to eat, and felt worth the 880Y. The food may not have been the most delicious ever, but it was reasonably tasty, and the food design was on point. I mean, look at this thing!20140722-230742-83262627.jpg

Had to grab a souvenir, of course. I couldn’t resist this tin of cookies with Japanese styling!20140722-230743-83263425.jpg

 

The vanilla sandwich cookie had Pikachu’s face printed on it, even!20140722-230743-83263899.jpg

 

Was it expensive and silly and somewhat ridiculous? Yes. But it was also a ton of fun and a great experience. I think that as long as you know what you’re going for, and your expectations are along the lines of “kinda pricey but well put together”, then you’re bound to enjoy yourself. I did!20140722-230742-83262221.jpg

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Today’s Art: Tomioka Silk Mill Mascots!

tomioka art square

In randomly exciting news, I’ve been invited to participate in a two day Tour & Workshop about how to develop promotions for the Tomioka area, home of the Silk Mill, a newly minted UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s only 8 people on the tour, and the others are University Professors and members of committees with fancy acronyms, so I’m honored to be included. It’ll be my first time visiting the sites in Tomioka, and I’m really looking forward to it, as well as to discussing how best to promote Gunma’s first World Heritage Site!

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New Kyary Pamyu Pamyu “Serious Hitomi” English Lyrics Translation

pika pika fantajinKyary Pamyu Pamyu’s newest album Pika Pika Fantajin finally came out last week! While the music videos for Dreams Beginning Ring Ring, Family Party and Kira Kira Killer have all been released, there’s a few songs on the album that have yet to have music videos. Serious Hitomi is one of those, but I decided to go ahead and translate the lyrics.

The main meaning of this Continue reading

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New World Order: WakuDoki

 

This just in: Toyota wants a viral video hit, and they’ve enlisted our boys in suits to help them get it. There’s a fancy set, there’s a funny monkey, there’s a little bathroom humor, and there’s a wacky dance that you can easily learn the moves to. And upload a video of yourself doing. And win a trip to Tokyo!

There’s one little catch though–the contest is only open residents of India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore and so on. North America and Europe are sadly not eligible for the free trips to Tokyo, though the website says that they are more than welcome to upload their own versions of the dance for fame and glory. Here’s how:

It’s a little bit heavy on the commercial side, but World Order has never hidden their embrace of capitalism. They continue to seem to be able to balance their pursuit of the almighty dollar (or yen, as it were) with a solid helping of creativity and unique voice.

 

Not much in the way of lyrics on this one, aside from the obvious “Do the WakuDoki!” WakuDoki is a portmanteau of two Japanese words: わくわく or wakuwaku which means to tremble, and ドキドキ or dokidoki, which is the onomatopoeia of a heart beat.  (You may remember it from Yume no Hajima Ring Ring) Combined it vaguely translates to “Heart Racing” and seems to be the current catchphrase around Toyota’s present marketing scheme. You can even see this Swiss version of the WakuDoki video (spoiler alert, it’s completely different, and there’s no Genki Sudo dancing his way into your heart.)

So what do you think of the new video? Will this song be stuck in your head forever? Will you try your hand the WakuDoki and try to WakuDoki your way to Tokyo? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to follow along on TwitterTumblr and Facebook :)

waku doki

 

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World Cup Donuts at Krispy Kreme!

Well, the World Cup is wrapping up, and the varied and creative marketing efforts of companies here in Japan are coming to a close. From the McDonald’s Risotto to the Brazil Cup Noodles, there has been a huge range of flavors, not just from Brazil but the whole world. Not to be outdone, this American company really brought the creativity to their product development. I posted recently about Krispy Kreme’s Sakura Donuts, and their World Cup line may have been even more impressive. You may have caught a glimpse in my Keyaki Beer Festival, so let’s get a better look!

 

20140709-193038-70238506.jpgFirst up, Japan’s offering: a Green Tea donut. What a shock! How innovative! Ok, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not Continue reading

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Tanabata Macarons!

Happy Tanabata! The Star Festival is a romantic holiday in Japan, where two literally star crossed lovers meet once a year across the Milky Way, if the night is clear.

I picked up these adorable Tanabata Macarons the other day, and they were a perfect way to celebrate the holiday! There’s also a big Tanabata Festival in town this weekend with great food and decorations.

Also, on an amusing note, my post titled Happy Tanabata from a few years ago has had quite a little spike in views recently, so hello, new readers! Have you heard of Tanabata? And what do you think of these macarons, aren’t they the cutest?

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