Japan - March 2016
Due to available funds, good exchange rate, cheap tickets, Nova's spring break, Jen's better knees, and our love for Japan, we decided it was time to go on an international trip with Nova.
We spent about 12 days over there, mostly in Tokyo. AirBnB worked out well, and we stayed in an apartment first in Shinagawa, then went to a ryokan in Hakone for 2 days, and then a few final days in an AirBnB apartment in Okubo. It's not easy travelling with a 7 year old, but it was definitely fun, and she impressed us with her resilience.
While in Tokyo, I found that Yelp worked decently as a way to find some local spots. It's not as popular for Japan as web sites like Tabelog, but felt more iPhone and English friendly.
Jelly Jelly Cafe
Something I hadn't considered until I was there, was to look for a game cafe. And when I did think about it, one popped up in our vicinity: Jelly Jelly Cafe. We found a free time slot on the Monday before we left, and decided to try it out.
Took a little looking to find it, but there it was. A cute little crowded game cafe. For adults it was 1500 yen (~$15) for all-you-can-play entry free which includes 1 drink. They don't serve food, but you could either bring food, or leave to eat and come back. Additionally, drinks include not only juices and teas, but also beer and alcohol, and they have a stocked bar! Our daughter is 7, and she payed a child entry fee, which was 1000 yen (~$10), although that doesn't include a free drink.
The cafe itself was very tight. You actually have to squeeze and excuse yourself to get by other tables, if you had your eye on one of the games up on the shelves. That said, it worked, and had about 7 or so available tables. It was pretty full when we got there, which was just about 45 minutes after they opened (which most days is 1 pm in the afternoon).
The family played some Sushi Go (which the cafe didn't have, but we had brought along), and then some Takenoko. We also tried a game that Sugawara-san (the hostess on staff at that time) recommended, when I asked about Japanese games. It was called Gishinankinotou in Japanese, and although my Japanese is pretty rusty, I got the gist of it from Sugawara-san. Nova and I played a few rounds of that. I have since found it listed online on Board Game Geek under Towers of Conspiracy, so you can read more about it there. Unfortunately, they don't have English language instructions for it.
I got to talk to the owner of the shop as well, and I mentioned our local Game Haus Cafe back in Glendale, which we frequent, frequently. We talked a little about how business is going, the difference between both cafes, and about games in general. He pointed out three games they sell in the cafe, which are all locally produced. Two he co-designed, and one was by a different designer, but they put out on their label. You can read more about this on the Jelly Jelly Games website, which has an English page.
I purchased the game called Jelly, after looking through some of the English rules on my phone. Haven't had a chance to play it yet though. I was very intrigued by the other game called Catty, but unfortunately all the rules are in Japanese only, currently.
Anyways, if you get a chance to go to Japan and are into gaming, check them out!