The convenience store chain Familymart released a limited edition nikuman hot bun snack in the form of the famous comic book super hero Kinnikuman (キン肉マン). It was the third in a series of nikuman snacks in the shape of comic book characters. Kinnikuman is the story of bumbling super hero that has been going since 1979 and has by now sold well over 53 million books in Japan alone. Despite the super hero getting his power from garlic, that particular onion was not heavily featured in the recipe, strangely enough. Although nikuman are usually about 110 yen, this one came in at 180 yen.
You can see another character inspired nikuman at the end of this post, and a couple of photos of the real thing in Yokohama Chinatown.
One of my favorite cafes in Tokyo right now is the Manseibashi Station cafe, called N3331, right on top of the old Manseibashi Station platform, between the present day Chuo Line tracks. The unwieldy name comes from the cafe being run in tandem with the closeby 3331 Art Chiyoda art center project in the converted building that used to house the Rensei Junior High. You can read my blogs about this project here and here.
Understandably, this cafe is popular both with older people revisiting their old station house, as well as young couples into a slightly more cultural cafe experience, as well as train maniacs and kids who get a thrill out of sitting next to the trains rushing past ever couple of minutes on both sides! The coveted table next to panorama window at the end is taken quickly and even though I rushed to be the first one through the doors at opening time I had to settle for a lesser table until the lucky couple who got it first left. Still, it doesn’t really matter because all the seats are good, as is the food, the soups, the coffee. Not the cheapest cafe in the city but not over expensive by any means.
Best part though is role reversal, usually I am in one of those orange trains zooming past looking out the window. At this cafe I can relax and enjoy seeing them from the other side! Just remember to turn of your flash if you take a photo – don’t want to accidentally blind one of the train drivers!
Passing through Shinjuku station the other day I saw this cake shop, Maplies Cake, where they had some interesting cakes on sale, made up to look almost exactly like bowls of ramen, plates of gyoza and even some tenshinhan. I am lucky to even have noticed the sign!「実はこれ、ケーキです。」I did not get any close ups of the real things as I felt it would have been a little bit rude to shoot and run! Still if you are interested, go check them out for yourself. You can just go to the little underground square between Marunouchi line, Toei Oedo line and the JR lines. Let us know how they taste!
More photos from my day trip to rural Tokyo, beyond Ome City! The walk from the station is quick and easy (the return journey a little harder though) and the river is gorgeous with plenty of people fishing, kayaking or just swimming in some of the calmer pockets of the water. The Tama River is quite famous, as it is one of the major rivers of Tokyo. If you were to brave the river and ride it all the way you would eventually reach the border between Tokyo and Kawasaki City before exiting in the Pacific Ocean. The river used to be pretty wild but civil engineering, grand earthworks and damns have tamed it somewhat. The last time there was major flooding was in 1974, but until then the river was so unpredictable it would cut villages or towns in two as it suddenly changed course (for example in 1590 when several villages were permanently cut in half, the most famous being Todoroki, half of which is now part of Kanagawa Prefecture and the other half is now part of Tokyo).
Up here in Sawai the river is still relatively narrow and shallow though. There are plenty of bridges crossing the river in the area, but the most popular is the hanging bridge just underneath Kanzan Temple (寒山寺), a small building with a large bronze bell underneath which is very popular with tourists who all take the chance to ring it, including me. There is something deeply satisfying to ringing such a large bell! The little temple commands a great view and inside there is a very interesting “memento mori” painting in the ceiling. More photos and more nature to come!