Scoring sweet swag, reviewing awesome products and living the rad mom life.

Posts tagged ‘japan life’

I’m All the Way Up (in the Tokyo Tower)

If you ever come for a visit to Tokyo, one of the most touristy things you can do is visit the Tokyo Tower!  At 1,092 feet high, it’s one of the tallest structures in Japan and a must-see during your next trip.

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On the outside, it just looks like a cool looking communications structure.  But, on the inside there is actually a museum, theme park, restaurants ,and plenty of shops.  I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Tokyo Tower twice – once in the evening and once during the day – and both times did not disappoint!

The first time I went, it was during the Illuminations in the winter.  Illuminations are basically Christmas lights multiplied by 100 that last from November-February.  You can find them all over landmarks and popular attractions in Japan during this time period. For the Tokyo Tower, they had an Illuminations area at the base of the tower, where there were tons of orange lights and lots of photo ops.

Did I mention you can get some pretty amazing crepes at the base of the tower, too? Also craft beer!

After the lights and crepes, we headed up to the Main Deck Observatory for some sweet views of Tokyo!

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You can also grab a drink and hit up a smaller souvenir shop on this level.  And you can check out this super adorable sparkly pink version the Tower! 🙂

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And if you visit on the weekend or a holiday, you might even catch the Tokyo Tower mascot (yes, there’s a mascot) – Noppon! My kids thought he was Patrick Star from SpongeBob, but they were excited to see him nonetheless.

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I will say there is something pretty dazzling about the evening views from the Tokyo Tower.  It’s mesmerizing to see Tokyo lit up in beautiful lights!  Also, don’t forget to stroll through historic Shiba Park to take in some more sights!

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My next visit was during the day which provided even more unique views!

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This time, we (my cousin and I) headed all the way up for the “Top Deck Tour” because we are fancy like that.  For the Top Deck Tour, you ride the elevator to the Main Observatory, then go to a secret room for a whole different tour.

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You will be given a special phone and headphones so that you can listen to the presentation and tour in English (or language of your choice) and you also get a cup of lemonade and learn a secret hand signal! 🙂 Then, you go into a much smaller elevator to head up to the Top Deck.  Now, I love heights – I’ve hiked some pretty tall mountains and have even gone skydiving – but this little elevator almost gave me a mild panic attack.  Not only is it small, it’s see-through all the way around and it shakes a little as it gets higher.  But, no worries, the nice elevator controller lady explained that it was “just the safety mechanism kicking in”.  A piece of info that would have been handy before entering the elevator.  Anyways, once you reach the top, you enter into a disco ball.  A literal DISCO BALL! Like I said, things are fancy up here.

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The day was a bit foggy, but the views were still nice.

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There’s also an opportunity to stand on a floor window and look below!

But is there SWAG?  Why yes, there is!  Besides the scenery, cup of lemonade, and secret hand signal, you also get a free small photo (with the option to upgrade to a larger one for a fee).

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Nothing can stop us…we’re all the way up.

And if it’s your birthday, you get an envelope filled with coupons for free and discounted stuff within the Tower.  For instance, a coupon for a free crepe!

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Overall, the Tokyo Tower was a breathtaking experience that I will remember forever!  I highly recommend a visit during your next trip to this gorgeous city!

Day or night, the views do not disappoint!

Have you been to the Tokyo Tower?  What did you love about it?!

~SM

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Bright Future, Brighter Shades

Disclaimer: I received two pairs of Knockaround Premium Polarized Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Winter is finally fading away, Spring is ramping up, and Summer is right around the corner.  What does that mean?? It means the SUN is coming out and shining brighter than ever (for real, the sun shines bright at 5:30 am here in Japan). So it’s perfect timing to test out some new shades! I chose the Rubber Mint/Aqua Preumium Polarized Knockaround sunglasses to try, but I also received a bonus pair!  Yay for SWAG! 🙂

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I’m all about wearing sunglasses and I feel like you can never have too many pairs!  Another fun fact about Japan – people here don’t wear sunglasses! That’s right, even on a bright day you’ll see most people wearing hats or holding umbrellas to block the sun.  If you catch anyone in shades, chances are they are a tourist, an expat, or Yakuza (Japanese mafia).  It’s also Wisteria season here and these flowers create very whimsical scenery!

When I first saw the black frames, I kind of thought they had a masculine appearance…but I actually liked how they looked with the green lenses! I always like to have a black pair of shades in my stash because black goes with almost anything!

After “knocking around” in my black frames, I took the Rubber Mint/Aqua shades for a spin! I took them around Japan and despite the light-colored lenses, these did a really great job of blocking out the sun! And even though the word “rubber” is in the description, they are really smooth and don’t pull your hair or anything.

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Then I had to put them to the true test – How would they do on a RUN? 

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These sunglasses are super lightweight, so I was surprised that they didn’t budge during my run – and they even held up in the wind! I also didn’t have any issues with the lenses fogging up which is something that can be super annoying.

And the best part about Knockaround sunglasses?  They are SUPER affordable! The  Polarized Premiums are only $20!  I’ve lost expensive sunglasses in the past plus I have small children who have complete disregard for my accessories, so I don’t have to stress too much if I lose these guys (although I would still be sad).

Here are some other things I love about these Polarized Premium Knockarounds:

  • Bigger frames – I like larger lenses so it blocks out more of the sun!
  • Reflective lenses – My kids really enjoy making faces at themselves. 😉
  • Polarized lenses and UV400 protection
  • Fun Colors – They come in lots of fun and bright color combos!
  • Includes pouch – This was a really nice touch – most sunglasses at this price point don’t come with any type of extras
  • Born in San Diego – The company is headquartered in San Diego and this beautiful city will always have a special place in my heart!
  • Snoop Dogg – Even celebrities are rockin’ the Knockarounds!

Overall, I really like these sunglasses and plan to wear them frequently!  The only negative I found was that the lenses weren’t the easiest to clean, but I may try a different cloth and see if that works.

And just to make things sweeter, you can save 20% on your own pair with code “BIBRAVEKNOCKS”!  Plus free shipping on orders over $50!

And join me on #Bibchat on Twitter on 5/8/18 at 6PM PST for your chance to win a pair! 🙂

So are you ready to “knock around” in a new pair of shades?? This guy is…

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~SM

Building Bricks in Tokyo

There seems to be plenty of options for kid-friendly entertainment throughout Japan – including museums, huge playgrounds, and themed restaurants. If you are looking for something fun to do with the kiddos while visiting Tokyo, then I suggest making a visit to the https://tokyo.legolanddiscoverycenter.jp/en/!

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Just to be clear, this is a LEGOLAND Discovery Center and not an actual outdoor LEGOLAND Theme park.  They do have one of those a few hours south of Tokyo, but a Discovery Center is a little different.  It’s more like a snapshot of what a LEGOLAND theme park is all about – it’s completely indoors, much smaller, and a great way to spend the day with the family!  This one is inside of the Odaiba Mall so you could spend part of the day at the Discovery Center and the rest of the day exploring and shopping.

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So what should you expect from a visit to a LEGOLAND Discovery Center?

Well, when you first arrive you can a pay little extra and receive a lanyard with scavenger hunt stamp cards.  You look for stamp stations throughout the center and stamp your card at each station.  They are easy to find and the kids will enjoy stamping their little cards.

We spent the first part of our visit learning about different weights and the kids seemed to be really intrigued by this station.

After that, we moved on to the Kingdom Quest ride.  It was a laser car ride where you had to shoot your laser gun at projection screens and everyone in the car racks up points each time they hit targets.  Then we checked out the 4D show.  Even though it was in Japanese, because it was a 4D Show (i.e. you wear 3D glasses and get sprayed with water and such), my kids were still entertained.

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Next, we hit up another ride called, “Merlin’s Apprentice”.  You get in a car shaped liked a magician’s hat and then go around in a circle and up/down simultaneously.  You could probably get the same effect by spinning around in a computer chair, but my kids really liked this ride and wanted to ride it multiple times.  There was also a third ride at the park, but it was closed for renovations.

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After all that, we decided to stop at the café for a snack and a drink.  There really weren’t a lot of options, just a few basic snacks, juice, water, coffee, popcorn, and vending machines. They also had some Lego Brick lunchboxes you could purchase, but my kids weren’t interested.  Fun fact about Japan: Fountain sodas aren’t really a thing so vending machines are typically a cheaper option for beverages.

We opted for the popcorn so could keep the bucket (SWAG) and get discounted refills.

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My favorite thing about the café was the location.  It’s situated between the Lego Ninjago play castle and the Duplo play area (which is for kids under 5).  There were lots of tables/chairs and it was a nice place to take a break.  This is a great spot for kids to run around and burn off all that energy.  There were a couple of employees walking around the climbing area to make sure everyone is safe, but it’s required to sit inside and supervise if you have littles.  My kids spent a TON of time at this station, so plan accordingly if you have some active children in your party.

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The employees were pretty friendly and even helped my son put his shoes back on! 🙂

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The other cool thing about this particular area was the bathrooms!  Once you have kids you become more appreciative of bathroom layouts and cleanliness.  I love that most bathrooms in Japan have an area that’s kid-sized.  There are also directions on how to use the toilet. 😉

And just like any LEGOLAND theme park location, there is a MiniLand! This is my favorite part of any LEGOLAND.  I think it’s fascinating that people have patience to build entire cities out of Legos with such detail and precision.

Afterwards we checked out the Lego Friends area, but it really wasn’t anything special.  Just some benches and a microphone for the kids to talk and sing.  I imagine they use this area for performances or shows, but there weren’t any going on that day so we didn’t spend much time there.  Then we moved on to the Racing & Building Station.  You could build a little car out of Legos and then race it on a couple of courses.  I think older kids would really enjoy this area – my kids kept getting frustrating that their cars kept crashing.  There was also a nice employee that helped my daughter build her car which was very much appreciated.

Then we headed over to the Creative Workshop area.  You will need to check the schedule as there are projects all throughout the day.  The teacher seemed concerned that we didn’t speak Japanese, but there are plenty of instructional photos and thankfully “Lego-Building” is a universal language.  My daughter was able to build her pirate ship with no problem.  And you don’t actually get to keep your creation, but there is a spot in the classroom where you put it in action.  In our case, the pirate ship set sail in some Lego water.

It was getting close to closing time so we made our way to the exit and discovered another fun area – Train World! This included a couple of giant tables where you could build your trains and planes and then test it out on the tracks.  I think my kids would have spent a lot more time here, but we ran out of time.  It’s also located right near the exit, so once you leave there’s no turning back since they don’t allow re-entry.

After all of the interactive fun, we showed the stamp cards to the gift shop cashier so we could collect our prizes!

And besides that sweet SWAG, you also get this amazing view of Tokyo when you leave the Discovery Center!

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Overall, my kids had an AWESOME 😉 time and we plan to take them back in the future. *Also when we went earlier this year the Dino Explorer Exhibit wasn’t opened yet, so we definitely plan to go back for that!  Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Book your tickets online. Price tickets range between 1950-3200 yen, but purchase your tickets at least 24 hours before your visit to save some dough.  They also have a Parent/Toddler, Toddler Time, and Combo option.  The Combo option saves you money on admission to both the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum which is also located on the same floor of the Odaiba Mall.  We had already visited Madame Tussauds in Hollywood so we decided to skip this experience.  And Bonus!  If you don’t have kids but still want to check out all the fun, they offer an Adult Night a couple evenings a month.
  • Drive or Train?  This is really up to you.  Most people prefer taking the train and the Discovery Center is close to a train station.  We opted to drive and parked in the Odaiba Mall parking garage.  We also had our parking ticket validated at LEGOLAND which saved a lot of money.  However, I’m not sure if you could have your parking ticket validated if you purchase your park tickets online.
  • Pay attention to the hours.  The park stays open until 8:00 PM during the week, but the rides and shows will close down earlier.  There is also a spot where you can purchase your photos.  This will also close early and cannot be re-opened.  And they will not email your photos to you either (we learned this the hard way).
  • Try to go during the week.  We visited the park on a weekday afternoon in January and there really weren’t much people there.  No lines, no crowds – it was like having the place to ourselves!  I would imagine they would be much busier during the weekends or summer break so keep that in mind when planning your trip!
  • Not a lot of food options.  Like I mentioned earlier, there wasn’t a large food selection in the café.  The good news is that the Odaiba Mall is pretty large and has multiple restaurants and a food court!
  • English.  Most of the employees we interacted with spoke enough English to have a conversation so don’t be afraid to ask questions!  Again, everyone who works there is really nice, energetic, and eager to help!
  • Have fun!  Most importantly, have fun!  There are lots of opportunities for kids to express their creativity and engage in STEM activities – you should join them and build your own creation! Because at LEGOLAND everything is…AWESOME! 🙂

And if you’re at the Tokyo location, head outside to enjoy the view!

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Have you visited a LEGOLAND Discovery Center?  What did you think?

~SM

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