Wednesday, 22 May 2013

A Day At Work

Head Office

My reward for answering questions correctly

It was a more relaxed day today. I was able to sleep until 7am. After a leisurely breakfast, I headed for the station with my manager. It was a 30 minute train ride to the Head Office building. The day was long but the material covered necessary. Some highlights included:

  • Lunch at the office Cafeteria – we got to choose our meat with salad on the side and then picked up our miso soup, rice and accompanying dessert, followed by our choice of drink. The cost was covered for us on the day of training but for the rest of the company, it would set them back a mere 300yen ($3)!
  • Getting to meet colleagues from other affiliates as well as head office staff
  • The dinner party at the end of the day held in the office’s entertainment room complete with karaoke machine
  • Acquiring an impressive collection of business cards

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Tokyo Disney Sea

Tokyo Disneyland celebrating 30 years as well as Spring
A 5 am start was unfortunate but necessary if one was to have an excursion to a Disney Park today. I churned through the work emails as quickly as I could to get myself to the hotel buffet breakfast right on the opening time of 6:30am. I had to eat fast so I had no time to take photos! As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t forgo my obligatory tradition of eating scrambled eggs and bacon at hotel I mixed it up with steamed dumplings, Japanese mochi balls and fruit. I didn’t have time to peruse the complete range of Asian and Japanese offerings as I had a train (or two or really...three) to catch.

I made my way to Suidobashi station at 7am. It was still quiet at this time and I was grateful for the handful of people on the platform so I knew where to stand! The doors opened right where the markings were on the platform. At the next station, I had to change from a local train to a rapid train and then had to navigate the rabbit warren that is Tokyo station. By now, there were people everywhere. They were like organised ants. It was a sight to see masses of people moving in such an efficient way. There were orderly lines going towards as well as going up and down the elevators. I wish I could have stopped to take a photo but I was terrified that if I stopped moving I would obstruct the flow of traffic! It was a long walk of nearly 1km within Tokyo station itself to get to the Keiyo line which would ultimately take me to Maihama station.

The local train

Walking from Maihama to the Tokyo Disney Monorail

On the monorail with a glimpse of Tokyo Disney Sea

From there it was clear that I was on the right train. I could spot people with Disney paraphernalia of all sorts. Once I exited Maihama station, it was a short walk to the Disney monorail system and I was on my way to Tokyo Disney Sea. The one day passport was very reasonably priced at 6200 yen (around AUD$62). Ticket purchase like everything else in Japan was efficient! My next mission was to locate Trish, a local who had kindly offered to accompany me for the day. She had given me specific instructions and mentioned that she would probably be the only Westerner near the front of the line. However, with many Japanese dying their hair a lighter colour, it wasn’t as easy a task as I first expected!

Due to unfortunate circumstances (specifically me being disoriented), the meeting with Trish at the gate didn't quite go to plan. I did however, get to witness the phenomenon of the usually ultra polite Japanese losing all social confines, scrambling over one another to sprint to the popular rides and fast pass machines. I met up with Trish at Lido Island where she was waiting, minding me a spot with her Disney plastic mat in the second row. She asked me to sit and wait for the show to start while she whisked my ticket from me and ran to get fastpasses for Tower of Terror. It all happened a little too fast for me to protest! The Lido Isle Welcome To Spring Show was a cute Italian themed Spring show. Trish translated the little skit for me. It was amusing watching the Japanese do Italian. As soon the show was finished, I was shuffled to the next spot for the next show. Trish had noticed my camera and got us a spot where I got a good view for photos. Our window for the next fast pass had opened and off she ran to get some for Indiana Jones. Upon her return, she informed me not to worry as the parks in Japan do not enforce the return times. As the parks are not too busy, and I’ve now got fastpasses for the busy rides, the rest I should be able to do with no difficulty. Not needing to ride on Toy Story Mania helped.

The locals running towards American Waterfront

The beautifully detailed buildings of Mediterranean Harbour

Whilst the crowds were otherwise occupied, I took the opportunity to take a photo with Jiminy

Hmmm...I think I may need to be familiar with this spot for future visits

Watching Goofy dancing away

Here comes Mickey! Pay attention to his suitcase...

One of the fastpass that Trish kindly ran to acquire on my behalf

For those who haven’t been to Tokyo Disney Sea. It is a park based on the Sea. Each “land” is themed around some sort of body of water. The entrance, known as Mediterranean Harbour is themed as an Italian Port City. The rest of the morning went by very quickly as we went on rides and explored the American Waterfront, an area which represents the northeastern seaboard of the USA in the yesteryear. It sure was handy having a guide who could point out interesting facts as well as speak Japanese! We settled for lunch at Magellan’s. Trish had asked for a table in the cellar which happened to be available. I understood why she was delighted when we approached the room. It was a small room hidden behind a door which looked like a bookcase in the corridor off the main dining room. The CM gave me an opportunity to find the secret button that would open the door. Fortunately, another CM came along and helped me! If one did not know of the existence of this room, then one would not be able to ask for table in it (which is most people)! The fact that only about 6 to 8 tables were in the room also made for getting a table difficult.

Looking across the Mediterranean Harbour at Mount Prometheus and Fortress Exploration

Looking back towards the entrance to the park and Hotel Miracosta

Italian style architecture...

...right down to Venetian gondolas!

Even the edges of the park is detailed!

Walking down the street of American waterfront

the imposing Tower of Terror dominating the skyline

Water water everywhere!

The massive SS Columbia

The gorgeous Cape Cod area

Even brick walls are detailed
Lunch was a relaxing affair. The set menu was reasonably priced with a three course meal including unlimited soft drinks setting me back only 2800 yen. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. I cherished the time to be able to get to know my benefactor. I am still so overwhelmed with gratitude that a virtual stranger would be so generous with their time. I had only been chatting with Trish online for a mere few weeks prior to my visit. Alas, we had to end our conversation as she had to pick her son up from school. Trish gave me recommendations on what to do and see in the Park whilst she was gone and we made a plan to meet up again when she returned with her son.


The amazing interior

A bookcase...

...which opens up when you press on of the decorative swirls

to reveal a small dining room within a cellar


Main - get some pork on your fork!

A very very delicious creme brulee for dessert

First stop...Mysterious Island, AKA Jules Verne Land. Unfortunately for me, Journey To The Centre of The Earth was closed for maintenance. I had to be content with only riding 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. It was a walk on. Woohoo! The little ride vehicles were so cute! I had to hurry as I had to get to my spot to watch Mythica, Disney Sea’s version of the street parade. I perched myself as high as I could atop Fortress Exploration as recommended. Although I would be watching the show from “behind”, it is the only spot where one is able to see 2 specials things that the boats do. I was warned that it happened quickly so be on the look out for it. The show is awesome! The costumes and floats were phenomenal.

From there, I returned to Fortress Exploration. I was warned to take a map with me, an advice which I didn’t heed. After wasting precious minutes getting lost...I finally managed to go around the park trying to get the flavoured pop corn that I had promised the children. My schedule was full with Big Band Beat up next. Fortunately for me, because of the low crowds, the show did not require a lottery today. I managed to walk into the theatre with 5 minutes to spare. What an amazing show! It was a tribute to swing, and the singers and dancers were just delightful. The big band though was the star for me!

Mediterranean Harbour as viewed from Fortress Exploration. Central float in position

I love the costumes and floats

The boats spelt out L-O-V-E

Can you spot the Mickey Head?

The body of water around Mount Prometheus

The queue area to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Sadly for me, I only had a mere 10 minutes to shop until the meet up time with Trish and her son Ky! Trish, bless her, had brought zip lock bags for my pop corn so I could try to bring them home. I hope Australian customs comes to the party because the black pepper popcorn and the apple cinnamon pop corn are super tasty! We explored Mermaid’s Lagoon and Arabian Coast during which Trish’s husband, Junichi, joined us. Junichi was previously a Cast Member and Tokyo Disney Sea and was eager to point out facts and share information about the park. He accompanied me on Sinbad’s Storybook voyage pointing out interesting facts about the design and features of the ride including music by Alan Menken. It is like Its A Small World but based on Sinbad and much much better. The animatronics really was out of this world. The movements were incredibly natural. It was here that I was introduced to Chandu, Sinbad’s tiger. When we exited, Trish surprised me with a “Chandu tail”. It is a snack made of chicken wrapped inside some sort of carbohydrate shell, and made to look like a Tiger’s tail. It was delicious! Apparently this is not commonly known to overseas visitors so not many people buy them.

We kept moving through to Lost River Delta and then made our way back to Mediterranean Harbour for Fantasmic at 8pm. This was followed by the night time fireworks and we finally made our way to Port Discovery, Tokyo Disney Sea’s “Tomorrowland”. Junichi had planned for us to take the electric train back to the front of the park. Unfortunately it had been stopped for testing so we had to utilise our feet to return to the front of the park. We swung the past Toy story mania area (which I skipped as recommended as I had too many things to see and do) to admire the amazing carnival like lights at night. As we walked, the facts just kept pouring out...each brick on the Tower of Terror was hand painted, there were lines along the walls in Mediterranean Harbour which indicated where the flood waters rose to in the 2 floods that the “town”, there were 2 lines on the walls lining the canals to to represent the different tides, the SS Columbia ship was built by actual ship builders, the lamps in Mediterranean Harbour were made in Italy, the street names Disney Characters in Italian, and much much more. It was soon approaching park closing time but the tour had not ended! Our last stop was the Mira Costa. Wow! Now I know where I have to stay when I return with the family.

Mermaid Lagoon to the left and Arabian Coast to the right

A most wonderful play area for the little ones!

There's always more than meets the eye

Look at the pattern on the tile

and the hidden Mickey at the top!

Floral display as part of the Spring celebration

Walking down street of Arabian Coast is like being in the movie Aladdin!

Genie light!

Looks even more spectacular at night

Yummy Chandhu tail!

The ceiling of the Miracosta Hotel lobby

Oh the detail!

Tokyo Disney Sea is a stunningly beautiful park. One does not have to be Disney fan to enjoy the details that the Imagineers had poured into the Park. They really did make use of the opportunity with an unlimited budget. What had been in planning for nearly 20 years on paper had truly turned out to be a park of wonder.

By the time I returned to my hotel, it was well past 11pm. I was exhausted from a long day of walking but was so happy and content. I would like to thank Trish and Junichi for their kindness and generosity. Without them, my day at Tokyo Disney Sea would have been a completely different experience. I am eternally grateful for what was a very special day.

The souvenir case for the black pepper popcorn

Apple cinnamon popcorn