Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Around the Area: Ikspiari Shopping Center
We started off the day with some coffee which I had packed for the trip. This turned out to be a very useful thing especially the "blendy sticks" that I had also taken along with me which gave the coffee that gourmet taste without the gourmet price. If you are into paying over $10.00 for your coffee there are a number of places in the local shopping center known as Ikspiari where you can find a variety of places that serve up almost anything you can think of but more about that later. The Ambassador Hotel did offer up a few different types of hot drinks such as instant stir and go coffee as well as tea but I am glad that I had brought along my drip coffee especially with the amount of coffee that we drank.
It was a long flight for my mom who was coming from Boston so we decided to start the day off at Chef Mickey's and then spend some time in the area at Ikspiari seeing as it was very close to the hotel, in fact it was about a 5 minute walk from the elevator to Ikspiari itself. We had actually planned on going to various other places in Tokyo to explore, however, the sheer size of Ikspiari coupled with the amount of food, shopping and entertainment offered ended up keeping us entertained for most of the day.
To be completely honest although it would have been fun to go from place to place as I had originally planned I was actually blown away by the variety of what was offered at Ikspiari. If you are familiar with the Disney Resorts around the world, mainly Walt Disney World, I would compare Ikspiari to Down Town Disney. There is a movie theater, live shows, food and various shopping all with the high quality Disney customer service that you would expect from the company. There are, however, some main differences. Although there is a Disney Store there are very few Disney themed shops in Ikspiari which was nice. There were also a lot of places which were more practical rather than novelty. For example they don't have places like the magnet store which only sells magnets but they do have various clothing stores, cosmetic stores as well as some familiar brands like Coach and Lush.
If you do not want to shop there are various other areas you can explore like the large court yard with a stage in the center where there are various acts for everyone to enjoy. Although we did not sit down to watch any of the shows in particular we did see a bit of one where a man was doing tricks on the stage with the help from the audience. It seemed silly to me but the crowd seemed to like it and were very involved. These shows seemed to happen every night although we did not see a schedule nor did we watch every night so we took it as more of something to see if you happened to be in the area. The rest of the area is just beautiful though, there are flowers which were just fantastic and the sights and sounds were very enjoyable.
I do, however, think that it is important to note that although it is a nice place to stroll this is still a high traffic area. Although it is not as high traffic as some areas in Tokyo might be it is still Tokyo and you will experience the hustle and bustle of the city so be aware of that. If you have children strollers will be just fine but I would think twice about having young ones walking freely because of the amount of people and the slightly confusing layout of the area.
So you want to save all of your money for Disney merchandise, I understand, but everyone's got to eat! I was incredibly pleased with the food options which were available at Ikspiari. No matter what you are looking for or what type of food you enjoy you can find it here. . . somewhere. And you can even find those places that you otherwise would have searched all over Tokyo to find, right here, at your fingertips. Rainforest Cafe was no surprise but I was pleased to see that there was a Sweets Paradise which I had been searching all over for. Other restaurant options included Yakiniku, Italian, Sushi, Traditional Japanese, Tempaura and more. If you wanted to grab something for your room there are various places like a grocery store where you can pick up various international favorites. The prices were a little steep compared to what I am used to but according to Mom they weren't that bad and were rather affordable in many cases. There were also other places where you could get fresh foods such as sushi, rice balls and various other favorites. This was in my opinion much more affordable and I wish I would have seen this sooner. There are also places where you can get hotdogs and sandwiches if you are not in the mood to try some different Japanese style foods although I should warn you that many of the American foods are a bit overpriced because they are a special treat.
Overall this is a fantastic area and certainly worth the trip if you are in the Tokyo Disney Resort Area. It's also a little taste of Japan Shopping even if you are not out in the city and stay in the Tokyo Disney Resort.
Here are some more photos from Ikspiari including some of the foods that we got from the grocery store: