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Nekobukuro and Namco Namjatown

Posted by Shaun

Last Saturday, my J-pop class took a field trip to a cat cafe.
I was disappointed, because there's no actual food at a cat cafe, or at least not at this cat cafe. You go and pet cats, and that's it. It was cute, sure, but I couldn't really get myself psyched about it. Something about the air in there, and all the sleeping cats, made me just want to fall asleep. Maybe it was because I was hungry. So I stayed for a little bit, but it wasn't long before I really wanted to leave. Although I did a lot of stuff last Saturday, it wasn't exactly my most with-it day. I came home and fell asleep right after dinner, and then proceeded to sleep until 10:30am, so I guess I was actually really exhausted.

But anyway, the cat cafe. It was called Nekobukuro, because "neko" is cat, and "bukuro," which actually means "bag," is the end of "Ikebukuro," the neighborhood where it was located ("Ikebukuro" is actually "pond bag," who knows why). You seem to be able to make a lot of cute words out of "Ikebukuro," for whatever reason. There's a statue of an owl outside one exit of the station called "Ikefukurou," because "fukurou" means owl, and there's a new restaurant that opened in one of the department stores on Friday that I've seen advertised all over the Ikebukuro train station. It's called "Tabe-bukuro," because "Taberu" means "to eat," and the mascot is a little owl wearing oven mitts and a chef hat. It's adorable.

Prof. Freedman pets a kitty

After staring at and attempting to pet cute cats for a while, I left with a couple of my classmates to go to Sunshine City, the big (impossibly big) shopping mall in Ikebukuro, that happened to be right next to Nekobukuro.
I say Sunshine City is impossibly big because there's no way you can see it in one day. There's a bajillion stores, an aquarium, and event hall, and a whole indoor theme park.
The indoor theme park ended up being our destination. It's called Namjatown, and it was created by the arcade game company Namco. There are some indoor rides and some really confusing activities, but our destination was the food theme parks.

Yes, I said food theme parks.

Our first stop was Gyoza Stadium. I didn't take any pictures, but it's a bunch of gyoza stands. Supposedly you get a certificate if you try every flavor. Unfortunately you have to pay 300 yen admission to Namjatown and then you have to pay for everything you eat while you're there, which can get steep if you don't control yourself.
Gyoza Stadium, while exciting, wasn't our real destination. I just needed to eat something of substance before heading to the next stop, Ice Cream City.

Ice Cream City has a bunch of ice cream stands where they can make you really cute sundaes shaped like teddy bears and things, but for me the real highlight was the cup ice museum. It's a room full of freezers of little cups of ice cream, with all sorts of flavors to try. Once again, you have to buy every flavor you try, so at a few hundred yen a pop, I had to choose wisely. I quickly settled on unagi, since it's one of my favorite Japanese foods. It's often described as barbequed eel over rice. The sauce is sort of sweet so, I mean, turning that into an ice cream? What could go wrong, right?

Unagi ice cream

With the lid off and the topping added

The flavor was so-so. I don't like my ice cream to be very salty, so the slight salt aftertaste at the end was a little too much. I could sorta see how it tasted like unagi, but not really. Some of the other flavors I will never try with my own money were miso ramen and Indian curry. Flavors I might try with my own money were different kinds of sake, wasabi, milk from Hokkaido, tofu, mikan, melon, wait I can't afford all this ice cream.

One Response so far.

  1. Molly says:

    If I ever go to Japan, I'm going to the cat cafe and I'm never coming out.

    Except to go to Gyoza Stadium because that sounds seriously amazing.

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