First off, thanks to everyone who read the previous entry and special thanks to those who commented- I’ve checked out your suggestions and included some here. Team McReynolds (formerly Team FYSU, but changed for demographic purposes) is getting psyched and making our final preparations for the trip. This consists mostly of my wife Stacey and me wearing out google translator and trying to eat bulky, greasy, American foods with chopsticks. We’re also squeezing in time to condescend to our co-workers regarding our trip. “Yes, we’re very excited about Tokyo, but I’m sure Sandals will have plenty of museums and temples for you to check out. No? Maybe just stick to the buffet.”

From the comments on the last entry, I checked out 8 bit café- which is less a ‘café’ and more a ‘dive bar with video games’. Definitely right up my alley, the description shows it to be a theme bar complete with Famicoms and Super Famicoms set up throughout, regular DJ shows featuring game mixes, and a menu of classic game inspired cocktails. I’ll be starting out with a ‘Dr. Mario’- a mix of Dr. Pepper and fruity liquor with a side of mystery pills. I know that sounds like a drink you’d find in a trailer park, but rest assured 8 bit café is located in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Dr. Mario

Finally, my three favorite activities combined: video games, binge drinking, and pharmaceutical research.


Another suggestion was naturalBeat Gelateria, a sort of gelato/ice cream parlor. Stacey has been to Japan before and has been preparing me for the sorts of flavors I’d be encountering due to the very different Japanese palate. I’ve tried red bean ice cream, green tea ice cream, and on my own suggestion, a red-white-and-blue bomb pop to remind my tongue it remains sovereign territory of the good ‘ol USA. None of that prepared me for the menu on the naturalBeat website. Flavors include cream cheese, balsamic marinated strawberry, rhubarb wine, and… lamb with raisins. Maybe this is a mistranslation. Maybe google translator is screwing with me. Maybe I should have heeded the warnings ‘Iron Chef’ has been trying to give me all along.


Lamb with raisins gelato. Your move, Andrew Zimmern.

Speaking of mistranslations, I’m beginning to get the feeling that the language barrier might get in the way on this vacation. Gamers are familiar with the occasional hilarious Engrish phrase. We’ve chased down spoony bards, we’ve had all our base threatened, and through it all we’ve been encouraged to ‘Keep Try’. It’s all fun and games at home, but when you’re trying to find a bathroom the laughs dry up real quick. Team McReynolds has purchased a pocket translation guide to help avoid this, though if sitcoms have taught me anything, it’s that this will only lead to more outrageous situations. While trying to order breakfast, I’ll accidentally proposition the waiter’s wife; while trying to find Tokyo Tower, I’ll inadvertently declare myself the new Prime Minister, etc. What will Balki and I do next week?

In light of this, I’ve memorized a handful of useful phrases- ‘arrigato’, ‘konichiwa’, and most importantly ‘ni birru’.

Two Beers

It means ‘two beers’. But what will Stacey drink?

Last week I teased a possible visit to the Hello Kitty park, Sanrio Puroland. I’m on the fence about this place- on the one hand it’s geared towards small children, but on the other hand the potential for an excellent Christmas card photo is phenomenal. Has anyone visited? Any opinions on this place? Has anyone else played ‘Hello Kitty: Big City Dreams’ on the DS? Did you make sure the door was shut and the curtains pulled first?


Cat people are weird.

So that’s it for my pre-trip posts, it’s time to start packing and guilt tripping my family for a ride to the airport. I’ll take plenty of pics and videos to post along with my future entries, so stay tuned. Any other suggestions- please drop them in the comments.

Is Japan anything like Red Steel had promised? Click here for the next entry.