really good crepes
It's a small cafe like building in the driveway of a lady's house, but there is cute seating outside. The lady is extremely helpful and very sweet. I ordered two crepes, both savory, but noted they have fresh strawberries when in season. The price is very reasonable. The base price is 150 and 50 to 100 yen for each typing after. The salad ones include all the stuff in the 100, lettuce mayo and protein item ie egg, tuna etc. Unfortunately the woman does not speak English, but the menu is pretty easy if you can read katakana. She will even bag the crepes for you do you can take them to go. She did this fir me when my son wouldn't let me sit to eat and we had to hurry home. If you love crepes and are in the area, it's worth the small walk from the station. The position is probably for the high schoolers who pass by every day. It's very new so no on ghee map yet
Osaka Castle Park
When visiting Osaka, one of the first destinations should rightfully be Osaka-Jo Park. Take the JR Osaka Loop line and only four stops later it´s like you´re transported somewhere in the countryside. Trees everywhere and a magical looking castle in the middle. The castle has a long history of being built and destroyed throughout history, but the current castle and castle grounds look magnificent and attract hundreds thousands of tourists every year with new events going on regularly. Osaka-jo Hall is a large multi-purpose arena which holds concerts and many events. Last summer they had Disney´s Frozen-on-ice, a figure skating musical which was extremely popular. I urge you to visit on a day when no idol group like Arashi or Hey Say Jump are playing. Unless you enjoy walking through a crowd of middle-aged women fawning over their favorite Johhny`s. Recently, the park´s popularity has increased, since the release of Pokemon Go. On a hot summer´s night, it was not uncommon to see large groups of people (including myself) sitting near the castle itself, catching Arbok´s and Psyducks. Now that the weather (and the game`s popularity) has cooled down, I suppose there are less people around. I wouldn`t know. I am inside, drinking hot chocolate. Keep an eye out for the fat, orange cat that likes to walk around the castle. I named him Hideyoshi. What are you waiting for? Go explore this enchanted place!
The best arts and crafts store in Tokyo?
Sekaido could well be one of the best art / craft / stationery stores in Japan. Located near Shinjuku-Sanchome Station the lofty building is home to 8 floors of all the bits and bobs one could need to get creative. Floors 1 - 6 will be the main focus for shoppers. The two basement floors host a car park and a center for something of which I can’t read the kanji.The floor layout for Sekaido Shinjuku:1) Stationery / business supplies2) Comic corner / Design goods / Drawing goods / Copy corner3) Painting goods (Japanese and Western) / Moulding, sculpting goods4) Picture frames / Certificate frames / Prints5) Oil painting goods, frames6) GalleryOn the first floor, on the left as you enter, you’ll find a good selection of greetings cards for birthdays, weddings, e.t.c. Actually, this must be one of the better places to buy greetings cards in Japan, a pursuit that can often lead to frustration, and poor quality cards. Painters and drawers will really enjoy Sekaido. There’s so much in here to choose from; brushes in all shapes and sizes, pencils with pretty much every grade of lead you could think of, paints for all types of canvas (I was in here to buy some for fabrics), and plenty more. In fact, if you don’t know your stuff, or you’re not sure what you’re looking for, it can be a little overwhelming. Still, this isn’t the chaos of say a massive Tokyu Hands. The atmosphere is much quieter and has an air of the scholarly about it. Serious staff are on hand to help with inquiries, although I can’t vouch for their handling of languages other than Japanese.Sekaido (at least not this Shinjuku branch) isn’t really a place to come for the quirky stuff. The store is more geared towards those who take their arts and crafts seriously. That being said, if there is any ‘only in Japan’ novelty, it may will be on the first floor, by the greetings cards, where you can choose from plenty of stickers. There is a Sekaido homepage which is Japanese only. The design kind of reflects the store’s atmosphere, and also that this art / craft store has been around for some time. (It was established in 1940). The are 11 branches of Sekaido in Japan, most of them in Tokyo, but there are a few in Kanagawa and Saitama, and there’s a solitary branch in Nagoya. Shopping is also available online, but again, it’s in Japanese. Overall, a really useful arts and crafts resource in Tokyo. In terms of painting and drawing, it you can’t find what you’re after in this branch of Sekaido, perhaps it doesn’t exist. For those with a more casual interest, there is plenty of stationery here, and as has already been mentioned, the good selection of greetings cards.Take Exit C1 from Shinjuku-Sanchome Station
Good size for groups, bad system for groups
We've been a few times to this restaurant at the top of Omote Sando, but this past weekend was the first time there was such a big group of us. The space is good for a group, but their pricing system isn't. Most of our group ordered the pasta lunch set which is advertised as 1,500 per person, but there are hidden costs. The bill was way off what we had budgeted for, even with taking into account the extra cost for alcohol. The staff explained that some of the pasta dishes we ordered cost extra. This was not clearly marked on the menu and that is what caused the confusion. They also do not allow people pay individually, which isn't ideal for a group of more than 15 which is what we were. In saying all that, the food is really delicious and the portions are very generous. The set comes with bread, a salad and a hot beverage or you can pay 300 yen extra for wine. It is very good value for money for this part of Tokyo.It is open from 11.30 am to 2 am seven days a week. It is a popular spot so I advise making a reservation. There are stairs down to the restaurant and they request you fold up any strollers or buggies and store then near the bottom of the stairs. Its a no smoking restaurant, but they have a smoking room outside.
Waterpark at Oji Station
The Otonashi Shinsui waterpark is just a few meters away from the north exit of Oji Station. It is a small park designed with some water play. Kids can enjoy the small waterwheels or you can just do a nice picknick there. Especially in the evening when it will be light up it is very beautfiul and romantic. Just next to the Waterpark is a big park with a huge castleplayground on a hill. Also for trainlovers, you can take a look at some old trains or just enjoy the view from the waterpark or hill to see the old arakawa tram line.
Revamped McDonalds with McCafe and free play area
A much better, classier, family friendly branch of McDonalds was re-opened on route 254 in Kawagoe in March 2017. The new branch has a McCafe and a free children's play area.The free children's play area is in an enclosed sound proof family room that has low tables with soft chairs for children as well as regular tables and chairs. The play area is small, basically climbing and a slide, but it is very popular with kids from 1 to about 8 years old. They do request that only children in lower grades of elementary school and younger use this play area. This branch also has free wifi and ports for charging devices for free. The McCafe area has a good selection of hot drinks and doughnuts. There is a smart drive through. The branch and the car park are all non-smoking.This branch is open 24 hours, seven days a week.
Nice Resting Spot for Lunch
In Aikawa, I stopped in at the Joyfull to take advantage of a break between lessons and get lunch. This location is a good size with a sort of separate smoking section, although close to the entrance and restrooms. At least this location doesn't smell really smoky on the opposite end of the restaurant. I was pleased to find there's free Wi-Fi at this location, maybe it's a new thing in all the locations, but I'm not sure. It was easy to get online and I didn't have any issues with the speed, so it was convenient. I was able to get in a little lesson planning and research after eating.I got the Wednesday lunch special with drink bar included – Tori-ten Hamburg. This might be a local thing as I heard chicken tempura was an Oita Prefecture food, so it might be only in Kyushu restaurants. As usual the food was decent for the price and it's a good place to sit for a couple hours and rest while enjoying the drink bar. 390 for the meal plus 100 to include drink bar.
DonDon is one of the first places I ate when I visited Fukuoa prefecture the first time. It's not too far from a friend's house. A little food truck located outside of 'The Joint' supermarket, DonDon is close to Nishitetsu Gojo station in Dazaifu City, between Nishitetsu Futsukaichi and Dazaifu Stations. After ordering, there's usually at least a few minutes wait, then customers pay and receive their hot kara-age. Some orders are sold per piece, like chicken wings, and others by weight, like Yuzu Shio kara-age. Prices are per 100 grams, although the weight will likely go over what you order, and is calculated based on actual weight. I always get Yuzu Shio, as it's a super light sweetness and flavor, but yummy like the American Chinese food, orange chicken. My other favorite is the Shoyu kara-age with ginger sauce. There are usually some seasonal items, like Ume Shiso Sasami which we tried this time. My husband likes the crispy chicken skin, but they ran out the last time we went (luckily our friends shared theirs). There's a bench where you could sit and eat, but we usually find a nice outdoor area or go to my friend's and eat, although it's really hard to not start eating right away. For a tiny place, they do really well, and it's always busy on weekends.Price was 1145 yen for the two of us. Too busy eating to get photos of the food!
Saturday lunch price for the standard menu was 1707 with tax. When our lunch plans with a friend fell through because the restaurant was unexpectedly closed, we decided on trying out Pisolino instead, as my husband had just heard about it. He decided he wanted to try it sometime and it was agreed that now was just fine. A huge buffet restaurant fan, my husband thought Pisolino sounded like a good deal. They have three menu options, standard with pizza and pasta, plus two others which include hamburg, then steaks. We didn't see anyone paying extra for the meat menus, and there really is no reason to. There are already tons of options on the made to order standard menu. There was amazing salty focacia, perfect mentaiko and lemony pasta, crispy thin crust pizzas, and dorias. In addition, there is a huge spread of non-Italian side dishes and salads which included yaki-soba and okonomi-yaki, kara age, fried potatoes, and noodles. I made the mistake of taking too many of these and not leaving much room for the pasta and pizza. The dessert options are also not bad at all. In addition to heart shaped dessert pizzas, there are pancakes, soft serve ice cream, kaki-gori, fruit, and yogurt. Drink bar is included with all menus and is fairly standard. Very nice quality for the price, and we all agreed, better than Shaky's Pizza (way better and more options for around the same price). I recommend going in a group so you can share and try more dishes. We'll be going there again!
I have walked by this place so often and even gone in to look a couple times, but finally tried it. The breads are a little on the fancy and expensive end, although not bad. I was mostly hesitant because they are not baked there, and we can see staff shuttling in yellow bins of breads to restock. I went for the apple cinnamon roll and wasn't disappointed. The cinnamon flavor was nice and strong like I wanted and the apple was yummy. The other selection I chose is the sakura melon pan, for the seasonal quality. The taste was exactly the same as regular melon pan to me, but it was cute and pink on top. There's a small drink selection in a cooler as well as a hot coffee machine. There is no seating so it's all to go sales. There's also a small selection of cakes, maybe for when someone needs something for a gift on the way out. This is a convenient place right next to the bus stops at Nishitetsu Kurume Station, but there's a lot of competition with a busy Mister Donuts next door. Not bad, but I'd prefer one of the pan ya in the neighborhood where I can sit down and have a fresh cup of coffee with freshly baked breads.
Absolutely stunning in spring, but over-rated otherwise
Omiya park features in almost every family guide to Saitama and is highly rated online, however in my humble opinion it is totally over-rated for children. It is absolutely beautiful during cherry blossom season though and if you are planning to visit it, I would suggest this season. However, other than that period, there are far nicer parks to visit with children.The free "zoo" is very old and it is just a few animals enclosed in spaces that are way too small for them. Due to the type of caging, you also can't see them very clearly. The zoo is strategically located beside a merry go round and some other play equipment that cost money. There isn't a great selection and it ends up not being "free". All that being said, if you live locally and don't have family there are some great sporting facilities in the park and it is home to the famous Hikawa Shrine, Nack 5 Stadium and a local baseball pitch.If you can I advise you come by train as the station is close, but parking is miles away and involves using a foot bridge that is not stroller friendly.
Allergy information provided, some allergen free bread
Seven years ago this was the only bread shop in this area of Saitama that sold allergen free bread. They have since reduced the choice available, possibly as there are now many places you can buy allergy friendly bread and they no longer have that unique selling point. All of their bread, cakes and baked goods have allergy information on display. The bread is baked fresh in store and you can watch them at work from a window on the consumer side of the store. There is a small area where you can sit down and eat, but their main business is take away. They have a great variety of breads from all over the world. At Christmas they even sell a Christmas strudel and they have other seasonal breads on offer too. Anyone can obtain a point card and earn points with each purchase.They are open from 10 am to 9 pm, seven days a week. Free parking in the Peony Walk parking area.