Midweek Tokyo Vacation: Shimokitazawa and Shibuya

After Sapporo, I was still on leave so SMS and I decided to have a fun Tokyo mid-week vacation.  Tokyo is nearby but far enough that I can’t really go there when I’m on call.  I made reservations at the New Sanno and we were set.  Before heading up to Tokyo though, I saw a notice on a local Facebook group page letting people know that there was a bento class that morning at a local coffee shop.  I signed SMS and I up.  We quickly packed and headed out the door to the Mikasa Cafe!
The instructor was a noted Kyaraben, or character bento box, creator.  It was a little difficult to tell how high-profile she is- is she the Japanese Julia Child or just a friend of the English translator who’s active in the local community?  It didn’t really matter because she was really nice and very talented.  The project for the day was rice balls decorated like Spiderman.  This was achieved with rice mixed with ketchup, seaweed cut into lines and processed cheese cut-outs for eyes.  It was a lot of fun to play with our food so creatively!
Left: The apprentice bento artist Right: Our finished creations!
SMS and I stayed for lunch afterwards since the cafe was hosting the event to boost their business.  I had a delicious Navy Curry and learned that Yokosuka Navy Curry has been made for over 100 years.  There are very specifics rules on how to make the curry and what can be in it.  The JSDF eats curry every Friday! SMS had a tasty all-beef hot dog.  
After lunch, we drove up to the New Sanno, parked and checked in.  Then it was off to a new neighborhood for us, Shimokitazawa.  It’s a neighborhood 4 minutes by express train from Shibuya.  It is a very cool neighborhood in a seemingly hipster way.  There are a lot of vintage shops, vinyl record stores, small craft shops and lots of bars and restaurants.  
SMS ordered a delicious banana pudding crepe from a crepe stand with a lot of old-school Disney knick-knacks.  The store apparently well-known although there does not appear to be a sign or a name.  One blog I read talked about the crazy crepe lady with one eye.  That may be true since something seemed off, but I can’t verify the missing eye.  There was a line when we arrived and for good reason.  The crepes are freshly made and well-stuffed with delicious add-ins!
We wandered through some of the stores.  My favorite was Simple Song, a leather workshop where the guy makes everything in his little studio right there in the neighborhood.  I didn’t see anything I needed to buy, although there were certainly things I wanted!  
Finally, we had dinner at the Vizz Cafe, a bar/lounge with super comfortable leather couches and chairs.  The venue allows smoking and it does smell a little but since it was empty when we arrived it was tolerable.  It was so much fun to sit in deeply recessed leather “womb chairs.”  The food was pretty good.  We had our second attempt at taco rice.  It wasn’t quite as sloppy joe-flavored as our last one but it still wasn’t very spicy.  I think I may give up on the dish though it might be fun to experiment at home. 
CW from top left: flowers outside a market, SMS ordering his crepe, the crepe stand (right), Vizz Cafe couches, Vizz
Cafe leather womb chair, Tokyo is everyone’s!

We took the train to Shibuya and got off to see the Hachiko statue.  Hatchiko was a loyal Akita dog who always met his owner at the Shibuya station.  One day, the owner suffered a stroke and died away from home but Hatchiko didn’t get the memo.  For over 9 years (1925-1934), Hachiko would wait every day for his master’s train.  The story is in popular consciousness now and is a symbol of loyalty.  I took a picture of the statue and in researching a little more about the story, found out that the exact spot where he would wait is commemorated with two bronze paw prints.  I must find them! It sounds so cute!

Left: Shibuya Crossing Right: Hatchiko!

After taking a picture of Hatchiko, we wandered around Shibuya.  We stopped for an after-dinner snack at Shibuya Fromage, a delicious counter wine/cheese/sake/beer restaurant open from 1700-0500.  Sagoy!  I know where I will spend my late nights in Tokyo waiting for the trains to re-open now!  SMS and I split a Sakura goat cheese from Hokkaido and Epoisse cheese, a delightful, slightly stinky French cheese.

We walked back to the New Sanno from Shibuya and discovered some new finds in a different area of Hiro-o from the one we knew (which was basically between Hiro-o station and the New Sanno).  We found the City Bakery, which we planned on getting breakfast at the very next morning!

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