Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Force Awakens in Japan; Star Wars toys at Toys R Us in Tokyo

Well, the Force fever has caught up with me.  After viewing countless Facebook posts of Force Awakens commercials, I decided to check out if the people here are as Star Wars crazy as us Americans are.   I'm almost certain that the English and Aussies are, in fact, most of the Imperials speak with a British/Australian accent anyway.  As for Far Easterners... Darth Vader is wearing what looks to be a samurai helmet and the Trade Federation baddies do speak with a Chinglish accent.  In any event, the movie is more than three months away so it wouldn't surprise me if the Japanese are reserving their Star Wars love for later.

 If I recall correctly, for the Phantom Menace, the toys were released only a few weeks before the movie came out.  Flashback to April 1999: Dad, Uncle Jim and I run into a bunch of unopened Phantom Menace figure shipping boxes at Super Walmart in Kissimmee, Florida.  The Kenner boxes were marked "Do not put on floor until two weeks after the X date" (two weeks after the then-present date).  Well, of course we opened them and carried out as many Jar Jar Binks and Darth Mauls we could carry in our arms.  Even the checkout scanners were reading "Do Not Sell" when we tried to pay for the figures. The long line of customers behind us and apathy-toward-her-job attitude of the cashier allowed us to get out of the store with the figures.

This time around it is different; we can see what type of vehicle Rey is flying and the various locales of the movie from the playsets for sale, three months before its release.  This is what I saw today at the Toys R Us's in the Tokyo area.  As demonstrated by Toys R Us, the Japanese are having the Force Awakened after all. 

Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren displays.
Many of the goods had Hasbro packaging, so I assume they are the same in the States, such as the deluxe figures above.
These sets kick the asses of the sets we had as kids.  We had to use the megaphone piece as a laser gun.
 There were many new Lego sets.
Perfect. Jango's head comes off.
More Lego sets.
New stormtroopers are in the house!
Some really large figures by Hasbro.
Mostly characters from the original trilogy.
Bandai models.  Pretty cool.  Perhaps you can't find these guys in the States.
I'd try getting the Boba Fett helmet, but they are blind-bag packaged.
I think these mini-replica helmets are Japan-only.  I learned a lot about the Force Awakened locales from the Hasbro Micro Machine playsets under the mini-helmets.
I'll get Boba in the near future.
These die-cast figures and vehicles are Japan-only, produced by Tomy.
These guys were around 50 bucks.
Pretty cool line of Star War vehicle drones.
A hodge podge of collectibles.
More cool stuff.

I'll probably get a few die-cast Force Awakened vehicles for my desk.  3 and 3/4 inch figures, the staple of my Star Wars collection as a kid, teen and young adult, were mysteriously absent from the assortment of goods I saw today.  Perhaps they will be released later here?   Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised that the Force is strong with the Japanese.  I can only surmise from what I saw at Toys R Us today that we will get lots of Star Wars promotional items such as Pepsi bottle caps, stickers with candy and gatcha gatcha toys in the future.  I can't wait.  Thanks for the read, and may the Force be with you.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Ikinari Steak; Throughout Tokyo

If you live in the Tokyo area (including the parts of Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba touching Tokyo), it is hard not to have noticed Ikinari Steak locations popping up everywhere like daisies.  I had been intrigued by these steak shops and looked into their windows more than a few times.  Each time, I witnessed the same, standing diners with white-paper bibs on greedily cutting up and wolfing down chunks of beef. 

Not long ago, I found an Ikinari Steak at of all places, the food court at Koshigaya Laketown Mall in Saitama.  I decided to see what all the hype was about and got into the line to get myself an Ikinari steak.

Ikinari Steak in English and Ikinari Steak in Japanese too.
I saw the sign!
In front of the line, I was greeted by a sign explaining how you order your steak.  First, you pick your cut of beef.  They have rib roast (American beef) @ 6 yen a gram, sirloin (American beef) @ 7 yen a gram and filet (Japanese beef)  @ 8 yen a gram.  Next, you pick the size of your steak, measured by weight in grams.  If I remember correctly, 200 grams is the minimum-sized steak you can purchase.  Finally, you pick how you like your steak done.

When I got to the front of the line, I chose the cheapest cut possible and the minimum weight as I didn't have much cash on hand and didn't feel like using the credit card.   I requested them to cook my steak medium rare.  They also asked me if I wanted anything else with my steak.  I chose the salad set, which included a small salad and a cup of soup.  Each set was something like 300 yen.  Most of the others around me chose the rice set with a cup of rice and a bowl of soup.  I watched as the man who took my order took out a knife and cut my steak from a bigger piece of meat.  He then weighed it.  It was 215 grams.  I was given a pager-type device and found a table.

In about 7-10 minutes, my buzzer went off and I got my steak.  It was served on a cast-iron hot plate, on top of a pile of corn and onions.
Here she is...
The steak was a little bit overcooked and was much closer to medium than medium rare. Perhaps that was because the 200-gram cut was a little on the thin size. If I had a little more cash on me, I would have chosen the 300-gram cut.  If that happened, being thicker, it likely would be cooked closer to my liking.  However, my steak was seasoned very well and didn't require any sauce.  All in all it was a nice dinner that didn't give me that too-full-feeling.  The most difficult part of the steak was the that not more than two weeks earlier, I had enjoyed this 28-ounce beauty of a porterhouse at the Boathouse at Disney World in Florida.  The Ikinari steak just couldn't compare with the Boathouse steak.
My brother-in-law ordered the steak and we all shared it.
In any event, I will return to Ikinari in the not-so-far-future as the prices were reasonable, they cut your steak right in front of you and well, it tasted pretty good.  I give Ikinari Steak four rib-eyes out of five rib-eyes for its convenience and uniqueness in food preparation.  Thanks for the read!