Full disclosure here. I'm a life long collector having started with comic books and branching out into books, toys, movie memorabilia, gum cards, original art, and tons more. As I've advanced in age, I've come to that point where downsizing and getting rid of clutter has moved up on the priority ladder. The photos I take are now my take home "souvenirs" although I still enjoy browsing through the various stores.
The various shops and restaurants are careful to maintain the Italian theming with "Merchants of Venice" and "Mamma Biscotti's Bakery" being two of my favorites. The window displays and attention to details are top notch, although the merchandise itself is somewhat generic. T-shirts, a popular item in the states, are scare here. Shirts with theme park designs are almost non-existant. I did manage to find one with a Disneysea logo (which I purchased for Mark), but otherwise, nada!
"Omiyage" (gift) is a very important tradition in Japan. The locals purchase multiple items to give as presents to family and friends upon returning home. In Hawaii, sales associates are use to giving Japanese tourists extra packages when ringing up their purchases. Being able to give the gift in a bag with the store logo/name is very prestigious (and sort of proves they were on vacation). I did buy a number of pins and snacks for friends, and the cast members were constantly adding extra bags into my package. I ended up giving quite a bit back as I hate to waste (especially when it comes to plastic).
One of the most popular omiyage is snacks. Besides having colorful outside packaging, a majority of the snacks are individually wrapped. This allows the buyer to divide the snacks between a number of recipients (thus the need for extra bags). Japanese sweets use a lot less sugar than American versions and tend to be a lot lighter. A very popular treat is "arare" or rice crackers. Covered with a shoyu sauce and "nori" (seaweed), its tastes a lot better than how it sounds. If you do visit the parks, try it in addition to the standard cookies & candies.
Mamma Biscotti's Bakery is right outside Miracosta's park entrance so I found myself having coffee and a delicious danish during much of my hotel stay. I think I've learned to enjoy those moments of soaking in the sights and just living in the moment. It doesn't last long until I'm back out there fighting the crowds and trying to take a decent picture, but hey, you take what you can get!
While in the Mediterranean area, I decided to give the snack cart a try.
It was a toss up between the Tiramisu Ice Cream Sandwich and the Mickey "Tropical Fruit" Ice Bar. Being from Hawaii, where tropical treats are pretty common, I opted for the Tiramisu.
Like the pastries, Japan ice cream tends to be less sweet which makes devouring one of these high calorie delights guilt free (almost). Unfortunately, this was one of the rare times where they actual experience failed to live up to the hype. The cookie layer was frozen so hard that I could barely bite off a piece. The overall flavor tasted very indistinct and somewhat bland. A rare thumbs down for a food item at the Tokyo parks!
To be continued...
Photographs copyright 2018 by Len Yokoyama