If you have a 10-year-old son like I do, no trip to Japan is complete without a pilgrimage to Pokémon Center. We had to make TWO visits because well, what can we say? Gotta buy them all. So, come ready with your credit card and just accept your fate.
There are several branches in Tokyo, just check their website.
Pro tip: If you spend above ¥5400 (and it’s real easy to hit that, trust me), you can claim a rebate for the 8% sales tax. The branch at Nihombashi Takashimaya S.C. East Building has a tax refund counter so you can do it on the spot. Saves you queuing at the airport.
The first branch we visited was the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo at Sunshine City at Ikebukuro, which did not have a tax rebate counter. It was also where I spent most of my money. Unfortunately, I forgot to claim my tax rebate at the airport. So, don’t follow my footstep. By the way, there’s an aquarium and other fun stores at Sunshine City so you can make a day of it. We only had time to visit Pokémon Center (because we spent 2 hours there!) before we had to rush to another appointment.
Here’s the entrance and an obligatory pic. The son is looking mighty impatient because he’s literally been waiting months for this moment.
In between shopping, we made him pose for pics.
Anything we didn’t allow him to buy, we also took a pic. Like these ridiculous hats that he insisted he’d wear. No way. Here, just take a selfie and have a free memory.
I went wild buying these cute food products!
Pokémon cup noodles! Excited!
Furikake to sprinkle on my rice 🍚 or onigiri 🍙 .
(Left) Pokémon Miso soup with Pikachu floaty bits. (Right) Pokémon seaweed for onigiris.
Look what Ayden bought for Clarissa, with his own shopping money — Pokémon nail polish!
Always smart to buy a girl something pretty 💅 Clarissa seemed pretty pleased!
2nd Pokémon Center trip
This time, we visited the Takashimaya branch.
How to make a reservation at Pokémon Cafe
Follow this very useful guide. The earliest you can make your reservation is one month ahead Eg 1 July 18 for your intended visit on 1 August 18. Each slot only allows you to spend 90min in the restaurant. Pick your time slot wisely because if you want to change it later, it’s too much hassle and you probably can’t get a slot anyways. When I visited the website the week before we left, the whole month of June was taken up!
Add: Nihombashi Takashimaya S.C. East Building, 5F
2-11-2 Nihombashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo,
We spent: ¥7063 (S$87.20) for 3 mains, a Pikachu plate and one smoothie drink. Okay lah, pretty affordable.
Email address (for pre-order inquiries): firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking tons of pics while waiting in line to enter the cafe. Quite a few tables were taken by excited foreigners like us.
You can start shopping for the only-at-Pokémon-Cafe merchandise.
These Pokémon cakes and cookies are pretty inexpensive at under ¥1000, I think. They look very sweet though so I gave them a pass.
If you didn’t manage to make a reservation, you can still buy these at the merchandise section. Not available at the usual stores.
Here’s how the cafe looks inside.
If you’re on a budget, you can just order drinks and cookies; we saw two teenage girls do that and then took a million selfies of themselves. We were there at 630pm so we needed a proper dinner.
Hearty Pikachu Plate: This is the most worth-it item we tried. Omu rice, a plump hamburg, salad, fried prawn, star-shaped hash brown and a small mound of pasta, all for ¥1706 or ¥2894 (S$35.70) with the plate to bring home. Of course we paid for the plate because #sucker.
Snorlax Hamburg and Seafood Rice Plate: Cheesy rice with Hamburg in a hot casserole, a cup of minestrone soup and a small salad for ¥1598. Comforting and quite yummy because the rice stayed nice and hot.
Eevee Teriyaki Chicken Burger: I chose this dish because it looked good in the menu’s photo, and you can’t go wrong with teriyaki chicken, right? Wrong! The chicken was not a full patty; it was like a pathetic few bits and pieces that kept falling out of the burger buns. The fries were slightly warm, not hot, and nothing to write home about. The minestrone soup may be the best part of this meal. A total rip-off for ¥1706. Stick to the other dishes.
I don’t know if there’s a Pikachu performance for every slot, but we had a short 10-15 min segment.
We weren’t really keen on their desserts and drinks and ordered just one drink, a grape-flavored Gengar Smoothie (¥880). Nice and refreshing, and the evil eyes (courtesy of a flashing red plastic ice cube) added a bit of fun.
After dinner, we went back to Pokémon Center, where I seriously contemplated getting this Yukata with its print of hidden Pikachus.
Can you spot it?
These pretty Oedo-themed merchandise were pretty tempting too.
But nah, I didn’t buy them. Instead, we hauled home these goodies:
We held a little Pokémon party for our friends Daniel and Marja, and their 6 kids. The kids were very tickled 🤣
The rice balls were coated with furikake and topped with Pokémon-shaped nori.
Cupnoodles with Pikachu fish sausages! Ahhhh super cute! I wish I bought a dozen. They don’t taste half bad too; one kid told me that the noodles were very springy and the best part of the meal.
We bought a Pikachu-shaped rice scoop but used it to make a mango pudding instead. And we used grapes to make the eyes and a lopsided mouth.
Tucking into Pikachu noodles. We also fed them other food, okay! Including kid-friendly ‘champagne’ (aka sparkling fruit juice) for a toast.
More Pokémon loot. A friend joked that I am making her son very jealous haha. We can’t help it, we’re a toy-loving household.
My tikam-tikam (lucky dip) prize, a v cute little plate. It cost me about ¥600 and was the worst prize haha. I didn’t win the top prize (a fat Snorlax plushie) but this is pretty cute too.
And of course, we can’t forget this tee-shirt. Ayden painstakingly researched it online, nagged us every day that he really realllly wanted to buy this and phew, luckily they still had a couple pieces left in the smallest size. Not too expensive at ¥3000. Never mind that it’s still a bit too big, he die-die insisted on wearing it!
Tokyo Part 5: Rainy Days in Summer = Buy all the Super Cheap (or Super Expensive!) Umbrellas ☔️