Day 12 – Yoyogi Park, Ginza and the Ninja Cafe

Another day and another adventure, a good day always starts out with a good breakfast, and not much can be katsu curry with an egg. For some reason I have a strange liking for Japanese curry even though it’s hardly a proper curry.

Katsu curry breakfast

Being a Sunday, we wanted to go see some Harajuku girls, or the people dressed in cosplay as the last time we went, it was rather disappointing. This time round, it wasn’t spectacular either, but we had an interesting look into the culture of the Japanese youth in Japan.

Entering Yoyogi

Upon entering Yoyogi park, there was a very vibrant atmosphere, almost like a festival. The first sight was the water feature above and surrounding us was the sound of drums from the guys below.

Drumming away

There’s lots of young people doing different things, most (if not all) are practising some sort of hobby or interest. The guy below had some amazing ball handling skills and was doing some amazing tricks with a soccer ball. He was flicking it up and down, catching it behind his head and cycling while keeping the ball in the air.

Football tricks

Moving on, we were perplexed by what we saw. Where this little child was playing, we noticed occasionally leaves would simply just rise in the air. It was almost like he was a Super Saiyan and could make things rise as he charged his Aura. Getting closer, we discovered it was like a vent, with the railway below. Each time a train went past air would move upwards and cause leaves (and rocks) sitting on the vent to fly upwards.

Subway underneath blows the leaves up

Getting closer to the exit of the path, there was a large group of people watching something, getting inside we saw a bunch of guys just doing tricks on their BMX bikes. They weren’t busking or anything, just seemed like a bunch of guys hanging out and practising their moves.

BMX Tricks

Most of their moves were pretty good but after a while it became a bit repetitive as they were struggling with some more hardcore moves.

More BMX tricking

Just beyond the gates, there were a few groups of people dancing to some older music, in particular more from an Elvis Presley or Grease Lightning era. The first group wore red shirts/jackets and were dancing in pairs or small groups.

Grease style dancing

The next group really catches your eye, as the first thing you notice is their slicked back hair, their black shirts and for some, a black leather jacket. They called themselves “strangers” and they’re greasers on the road.

Grease baby!
Greasers on the road

The cutest thing however was this little kid below, hair also slicked back and a little black leather jacket, he was also getting his grease on. They didn’t seem to care that people were watching on, they just seemed to have a fun time doing what they love (they may have been a little drunk though, they were throwing beers around).

Little greaser

Where ever you go in Japan, you’ll always find a takoyaki stall, didn’t buy any this time round though.

Takoyaki stall

We walked out of Yoyogi in search of the Harajuku girls, but they were no where to be found, instead free hugs were being offered. Everyone of us except for Tang said no, but he had to go around and do a round, unfortunately for him, one of them was rather smelly.

Free hugs? no thanks

So we had some more time to kill, so we did another round of Yoyogi and there was a smaller group of guys doing some basketball tricks. Unfortunately it didn’t look very impressive, I guess there’s not a lot you can do with just a basketball, much better if you had a ring to dunk on.

Basketball trickster

Being Japan, you’re always gonna find something odd, and we finally did with this group of people practicing some sort of a dance. Seems all good and normal at first, until you take a closer look at some of the people; in particular, this guy below.

Weirdly dressed dancing

Next up, four guys wanting to be the next super girl group. They’re practicing hard with their laptop playing the video clip of their favourite girl group song.

Copying the dance moves of their favourite girl group

Moving on was something that struck closer to home, a photography club of sorts doing a model shoot. Nothing fancy just a model, a bunch of guys with cameras and a reflector bitch to reflect some light.

Modelling for the photoclub

While I don’t have any pics, the Japanese seem to love their dogs, they treat them like kids, with specially designed dog prams as well. It started to get late, so on our way out we saw this creepy looking woman doing some sort of a strange dance. The only thing I could compare it to is a snake dancing to a flute player. She was insanely flexible though.

Ghostly interpretive dancing

Just outside Yoyogi is this very impressive looking building, and it appears to have been a very large gymnastics stadium judging by the people going in and out.

Massive gymnastics stadium

So instead of takoyaki, we got some of these little buns from this man’s machine. We ordered 12, we first thought it was skillful in being able to just toss the things in without counting and getting it right. He would just toss 3 – 4 in to the air and catch it in the bag a few times. Turns out, he’s not as good as he looks and we ended up with 15 instead of 12.

3 free bun things =D

So leaving Harajuku we went to check out Ginza as we had some time before our booking at the Ninja Cafe in Asakasa (very similar sounding to the area we’re staying in). First thing that caught my eye was a subtly lit Nissan sign, going in would be the Nissan Gallery.

Nissan gallery

Nothing too exciting inside, just showing off their latest concept, the ‘leaf’ which is a hydrogen fuel-based car. Last time I was told there was a GTR sitting inside, would have much rather seen that than a leaf.

Nissan Leaf

So, Ginza is the high end and designer fashion kinda area, where the expensive brands like Louis Vuitton sit. Everything here is modern and classy, with the Seiko store sporting a very cool looking screen/lights behind the window.

Seiko

We just had a walk around the area just to look around really before our 8pm booking at the Ninja cafe. Also grabbed a bit of a snack as we’ve been told the Ninja cafe isn’t the kinda place where you’d be full on the food, again with our instincts, we found a little place which was underground and they had some decent food. I just grabbed some Wagyu beef cubes and some fries.

Matsuya Ginza

So, the Ninja cafe is another of Japan’s themed restaurants, and it’s located in Asakasa. We were recommended this place by a good mate and when we got there, we weren’t disappointed, the detail of the place was magnificent, on arrival, we were greeted by a ninja having a play with some glowing balls and it just made for a very warm welcome. Going inside, the place is moody with a trapdoor as the entrance to the actual dining area. All the waiters inside are in complete Ninja costumes and the darkness of the place gives the feeling that a Ninja could jump from the roof at anytime.

Ninja cafe

First thing’s first, we all decided to get a cocktail each, with each different one supposedly providing some sort of benefit, I believe mine was called the Cleopatra and they brought out spoons with birds nest (or something) and a little something extra, mine had a few specks of gold (supposed to be good for my skin or something).

Additions to our cocktails

Not exactly cheap, but the cocktails were quite nice, definitely a nice touch of class.

I'll have some gold with that

We took a while to decide what we wanted to eat, this place wasn’t cheap at all, I opted for the second cheapest course (which ended up being about $115) and consisted of 10 or so dishes. There others grabbed a slightly less expensive one at about $80 or so, but each dish has some what of a ‘trick’ or illusion to it (and my courses shared some common dishes). With the first, the waitress brought out the plate, and lit it up, it went bang like a cracker, but turns out it was just some seashells, it left a nice trail of fire.

Seashells on fire

My next was a salad with an egg shaped jelly thing, it was kinda like a soup that had jellied up with some seafood and veges inside.

Egg thing

Next she brings out this thing which looked like a bunch of candles, but when she went to light it, nothing happened, they turned out to be some sort of jelly thing inside a shot glass.

Not a candle

Next was a soup, she places all the ingredients in a little pot, pours in the soup and the places a large hot boulder inside. You can immediately see steam up and sizzle, she covers it and tells us to wait.

Soup cooked by stone

Don’t quite remember what this dish was, but it was quite yum, the stick gave it a nice texture.

something

Next was an abalone dish, this was just divine, just wished there was more of it.

Abalone

They gave us a little candy before the main dishes came out, they were chilled and had a nice sweet and somewhat citrus-y taste.

Cold candy

Good preparation for the main dishes, first was some wagyu beef cubes on a sizzling plate with some veges, the beef was so tender and would just melt in your mouth.

Wagyu beef

Next up was a plate of sushi, I poured some soy sauce and was about to dip it when the waitress stopped me, she told me to have it just by itself. I did indeed and they all just had this amazing flavour. Not sure what they add to it which gives it more taste, but I’m glad I didn’t overpower it with soy sauce.

Really nice sushi

While I went to the bathroom, Tang and Gavin noticed one of the other ninjas just practicing a magic trick. He showed us when we came back, but it was just insane. He just casually plays with a lighter, next thing you he just lights up his finger for a good 3-4 seconds! Amazing!  Soon later though a new ninja comes by afterwards and starts to do some magic tricks, the first involved handing us a piece of square paper and telling us to rip it into four squares.

Ripping paper

Next thing you know, she puts it in her hands and it turns into a paper crane!

into origami

There were a few other tricks, but another one that had us impressed was when she took a card, told me to write my name on it, she plays around with it and slams it onto a box. Opening the lid, you see a folded card, once opened the card I wrote on was there. This one blew our mind as we didn’t even see her fold it! After this ordeal came dessert, I had this cute cheese cake in the shape of a frog on a lily pad. Very impressive presentation.

Froggy cheesecake

We had our fun and it was time to go home, probably couldn’t afford to stay much longer. The outside of the place is rather subtle with only a couple of signs, one saying Asakasa and the other the Ninja cafe logo.

Asakasa
Ninja cafe

After a few photos, our waitress does a little twirl and shows of a scroll thanking us for coming. Quite cute.

Thanks

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