Chasing Planes Day 2: Minnie Mouse Ears

A day that begins with Manneken Pis is bound to be a good day. It's such a wonderful throwback to my early-bird adventure in Brussels.

We were all going to meet up at Tokyo station before heading off to Disney Sea, and the boyfriend and I were (miraculously) running early. When I realized that our train was stopping at Hamamatsucho station I immediately dragged his sleepy ass out of the train. "Manneken Pis is here!" I exclaimed excitedly (with crazy eyes I'm sure). Don't ask me how I know - it's just one of those little tiny packets of information you pick up while googling random stuff that you keep and file for later.

We crossed over to the opposite platform, and there, at the very end, is Tokyo's very own little peeing boy, dressed in a fire department costume. Is it the most wonderful work of art I've ever encountered? Probably not. It's so very highly amusing, though.

Manneken Pis

Even with that tiny distraction, we were the first to arrive at Tokyo station. It's not the ideal meeting place, to be honest, because it's crazy huge, but we had mobile data so we knew we'd manage to meet somehow (see how convenient?).

After wandering about for a bit, we spied a Gindaco stall at the basement and that's where we had lunch.

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Gindaco is a chain of restaurants specializing in fried octopus balls, or takoyaki (read: it's the only thing in their menu). Of all the crazy food that Japan has to offer, this is one of my favourites.

Part of the fun in eating takoyaki is watching how it is made. I've seen it done so many times, but I'm still in awe. Fashioning perfect spheres of deliciousness from liquid batter with nothing more than two metal toothpicks is no mean feat, but they make it look so easy!

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They are served hot off the griddle in pretty paper boats with a variety of toppings, although I usually just stick to the classic sauce with a sprinkling of bonito flakes.

Takoyaki

To eat a takoyaki, you just pop the entire thing into your mouth - bite through the thin, crisp outer shell, and wait for the tears to come as the molten interior slowly gushes through your mouth. After a few minutes of furious, open-mouthed breathing (wild hand gestures optional), you should be able to recover from the searing pain of octopus lava tearing through your tissues, and move on to the next. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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Are we there yet?

Confession: in the four hundred and ninety-eight days I spent in Japan I have never set foot in an amusement park. Not once. The idea of braving the crazy weekend or holiday crowd just did not appeal to me at all.

There are two Disney-themed parks in Tokyo, a mere stone's throw away from each other: Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. The latter is the only one of its kind in the world, and according to Wikipedia it is also the most expensive theme park every built, so we decided it's the one to visit.

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We got no troubles, Life is the bubbles!

The moment we entered Disney Sea what became immediately apparent was the percentage of people wearing Disney head gear. It's kind of crazy - I would say nine out of ten people we saw had some sort of Disney paraphernalia plopped on his head. We even came across a group of seven guys all suited-up and they were wearing matching Minnie Mouse headbands. With huge red ribbons. It got to the point where I could actually feel people staring at me for wearing normal clothes. What? No Mickey Mouse ears? No refillable popcorn container in the shape of a Disney character? What is wrong with that girl?

We ended up spending half our time there scouring through souvenir racks for the most appropriate headgear. It's tough trying to find one, I tell you. It's going to define me for one whole day (or in our case, two long hours), dammit - this decision cannot be taken lightly. Do I want to be Mike Wazowski? The Toy Story aliens with three eyeballs? Goofy with shades? Goofy without shades? Minnie Mouse with an obnoxious pink ribbon? Minnie Mouse with an obnoxious pink ribbon and pink crystal earrings? Wait, is that a Daisy Duck ribbon on that girl's head? Where did she get it? I must try that on!

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In the end I settled for really fluffy pink Minnie Mouse ears because it was getting crazy cold. I even contemplated getting a matching popcorn holder but the Minnie Mouse ribbon-shaped ones were sold with strawberry flavored popcorn, and I wanted sweet corn. Who knew Disney can be this tedious!

We stayed until after the light show, and had dinner in one of the resort's restaurants. After that it was way too late to do anything else, so we headed home. I collapsed into the hotel bed, stared at the ceiling, and thought to myself, "What the hell do I do with those Minnie Mouse ears now?"

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