On the third floor of a rather nondescript building in Ginza, a line of patrons snaked through the narrow hallway and all the way down the stairway, mostly young Japanese women but with a smattering of men, older women, families and tourists. Not the entrance to a museum or shopping center, no, this place was Sweets Paradise. The line moved quickly and soon my friends and I found ourselves navigating one of the ever-popular automated machines that guided us through our purchase; this one was only in Japanese, but with help from the Host and a bit of miming we were able to make our selections. $20 bought us 90 minutes at an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet.
The interior was cute, cozy and not too crowded, although there was a constant line at the buffet, which was heavy on dessert but also had other foods such as pasta, rice and curry. The drinks were also all-you-can-eat and included coffee, a selection of teas, and melon drinks. I started off with some “regular” fare while my friends dived straight into dessert; green tea cakes, flan, puddings, mousse, strawberry shortcake, cherry pie, tiramisu. We all gorged ourselves until we could eat no longer, and then just sat sipping on drinks (I was very partial to the melon soda) until we felt able to walk once more.
Although my friends had led the way in Mitaka, I took the lead in Ginza, armed with maps and destinations. Our next stop was Hakuhinkan Toy Park, a four story toy store complete with its own restaurant and arcade. I marveled at the giant slot car racetrack but couldn’t get any of my friends to play with me. There was an entire floor of stuffed animals and an entire floor of games; there were gag gifts and dolls and race cars and stationery. My friends and I got separated here, each drawn to their own desires. Here was where I shopped for souvenirs, picking up half a dozen Matchbox cars for a collector, a tiny stuffed rat for myself (a rat fanatic), a pack of cute notecards for another friend. Checking out at the register, I had each purchase boxed or bagged or wrapped, a complimentary custom of Japan.