Meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time can be a memorable occasion and the journey there can be a nervy one for many. When it happened to me eight years ago though, my mind was perhaps over-consumed by the sight of a mystery drink called Mr. X which I had never seen before. There was a reason for that.
My girlfriend (now my wife) pointed out that it wasn’t actually the name of the drink but just meant that you don’t know which drink you’re going to get for your money. Her family moved out of that home a few months later so I never got to see Mr. X again and inevitably forgot all about it until my friend James said he lived near that area of Tokyo.
Many, many months (years?!) after discovering that, I finally told him about Mr. X and gave him directions to go and see if it was still around. It was. Wanting to check it out for myself I then looked at a map and realised it was pretty much just one road all the way between the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Itabashi and the Russian-roulette style vending machine in Ota Ward.
One road maybe but I should point out that there was still the small matter of it being just under 25 kilometres away! However, with a new bike I was keen to get out on it and go somewhere. Anywhere! This seemed like a great idea and the trip all fell into place quite quickly and the very next morning I was on my way at 9:15 am.
Typically my bike was out of action when I needed it most as work continued for over six weeks as Corona struck and I had to ride the trains everyday. I finally bought a new bike (plus cycling shorts and gloves) in May; the first new bike I’ve had since I was about 11 as the five or six I’ve had since then were all bought second-hand from a variety of friends.
Having spent so much time inside during the State of Emergency I was desperate to get out once it was over so I decided to go on my first cycling adventure of the year, and the first one of note since I did the Star Wars Tokyo Metro stamp rally on my wife’s bike back in October last year.
There were just a couple of things worthy of mention on the one-way road down to Ota Ward. I saw the Rissho Kosei-kai Headquarters (2-11-1 Wada, Suginami-ku) in Nakano by chance as I was at the traffic lights so took the quickest of detours to get a shot of this architectural building which is home to a religious cult.
When I saw this building (below) on the other side of the road I thought it too might be some religious building of note due to it’s interesting architecture but on closer inspection it was just a Chinese restaurant!
After about 90 minutes I arrived at Kugahara Station on the Tokyu Ikegami Line which runs between Gotanda and Kamata.
Having followed the track south for a couple of minutes and crossed it I was at the vending machine corner. There was a machine stocked full of beer which is quite rare these days but you occasionally see them out of the city centres. I wasn’t there for that though.
The machine on the far left was what I’d come for.
Before I could make my selections, a female office worker dropped by on her bike and it seemed like she had a lunchtime list to pick up for her colleagues. She didn’t opt for any of the Mr. X drinks though!
The can in the centre does have a very faded picture showing what I thought were the six possible drinks you might get.
However, that was not at all the case as the first one out was a can of milk coffee. This was a little frustrating for me as I don’t drink coffee but I thought my guest might like it when he arrived. Sadly he was not interested either. Waste-not-want-not and all that so I chose to take it home for my wife.
Next out was a vitamin drink called Dodekamin (made by Asahi) which I was most in need of as I didn’t drink a drop of my water on the ride in the sun to the machines. This was not elsewhere in the machine so it was also a bit of a surprise to see it pop out. That’s the beauty of Mr. X though! You just never know what you’re going to get!
That was proved correct yet again as my third drink was a bottle of orange which, despite the word squash on the label, was actually a fizzy beverage.
The aforementioned local hero James arrived shortly after that and got in on the act. He received a bottle of lemon tea which he was more than happy with.
Such a lottery was in a way addictive and I decided to try my luck again. A yoghurt drink was my reward on this occasion.
One for the road? Why not! I decided to round my selection up to five drinks but huge disappointment lay ahead as yet another bottle of the fizzy orange drink was the result of my 100 yen input.
What’s funny is that the machine belongs to a drink shop where (during opening hours of course) you can buy a huge range of drinks for 100 yen each rather than gambling on what you might get dished out by the mysterious Mr. X. Not so much fun though!
Sad as it may be I was actually very happy with this trip just to revisit this mysterious vending machine but we couldn’t leave it there so went to Senzoku-Ike Pond (the first time since my one and only visit in 2014) which wasn’t too far up the road and very much on my route back home. We walked round the pond and chilled in the shade for a bit on a day where temperatures reached 28 degrees. Quite cool compared to the 34 degrees celsius in which I cycled to Kawagoe last July!
There was just enough time for a quick detour to see this nearby Italian restaurant with the slightly dubious name that James knew of. Very childish I know!
Cycling a fairly long distance to a place is one thing but of course you then need to go back and the return is never the same as there’s no glimmer of excitement really other than just riding. I left Senzoku-Ike at about 12:45 pm stopping only briefly to take the next three pictures, and it’s arguable whether any of them were were worth breaking up my journey for!
As I passed Koenji I couldn’t help but deviate from the main road to visit Star Case; the Star Wars shop. Sadly it was closed though and I just had to go directly home.
As you can see below this bicycle ride is not such an exciting one with perhaps the most interesting points being those slight curves!!
Distance: 50.26 km Time: 3.22 hrs Calories Burned: 1494
Click here to read ‘Doing The Star Wars Tokyo Metro Stamp Rally In One Day……By Bicycle!’
Click here to read ’34 Degrees Celsius! Not Ideal Weather For Cycling To Kawagoe (& Back!) But That Is What I Did!’
Click here to read ‘Dining Out: A Long, Long Row Of 30+ Retro Vending Machines In The Middle Of Nowhere’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Out & About In Ota’