January 13, 2017

Tokyo, Japan 2016 | Day 2: Nakano Broadway

Time really flies when school starts, it's been 2 weeks of my final semester so far and generally things have been going pretty smooth and I hope it continues at this pace till I graduate lol. I initially hoped to be able to update my blog once a week, but editing photos and blogging takes time and energy and right now both of them are really precious to me in completing my final projects which is why this post has been delayed for a week. ^^; But like I've mentioned in previous post, looking at pictures from my Tokyo trip helps me to reduce stress and I found that I've gained lots of insights and inspiration from it that is helping me a lot in my current projects so I'm really grateful for that.

And that was a mini update of the first 2 weeks of 2017, so now back to the main topic of this post which is my visit to Nakano! I chose to visit Nakano first instead of Akihabara mainly because there are more older series and unexpected finds which you can only get there. Akihabara is targeted mainly at mainstream anime, manga and games but of course you can find unexpected things there too. Nakano Broadway also has a different vibe to it, and a lot more R21 shops if you're keen to know lol :P

Top floor of Nakano Broadway. The largest shop in Nakano Broadway has to be Mandarake which I totally love visiting because it is selling second hand items, but in mint condition and depending on the item they can be discounted more than half or its original value or they can be really expensive if it's a collector's item. There are various Mandarake shops in different floors of Nakano Broadway and each sells different items eg. collectible trading cards, vintage toys or consoles, figurines, cosplay and mangas.

There are also many other shops which sells anime merchandise, vintage items, figurines and just almost anything. I spent an entire day there checking out the shops, because you'll never know what you might find! Be prepared to get unexpected surprises when you visit Nakano Broadway though, like I said there are lots of R21 shops which doesn't look anything like that on the outside till you walk in and see all the XXX stuff. I walked into many of them without knowing, and even into one store selling R21 doujinshi catered to males and got weird stares then I realized what sort of shop I was at hahahaha! *WELCOME TO JAPAN*

Mandarake's cosplay shop. Ah this was located right opposite the R21 store that I walked into lol.

Nakano Broadway has too many things to see and it can be a little confusing to navigate around at first because every shop is packed to the brim with goods so it can be a little hard to recognize whether you've been there or not. It can also be a little repetitive when it comes to the classic goods such as Sailormoon but at the same time you want to take a look at everything because they might have a different selection or selling the same item at a cheaper price :)

Mandarake's manga store. I LOVE THIS PLACE! Some manga bundles places outside the store can go at really cheap price, and there's a huge shelf of mangas outside that sells at 100yen each plus you can browse through them. Inside the store they have huge shelves of mangas and illustration books lined side to side and everything is so much cheaper here! Now that I've discovered the existence of Mandarake, when I visit Kinokuniya I don't feel like buying anything anymore unless it's a limited item which I have no choice but to pay more :( I'd rather save up more money to visit Japan and buy them there lol.

Mandarake hires cosplayers as cashiers which was something fresh to see. I really love her cosplay of Kenma with Nekomimi and I couldn't stop staring when I was queuing to pay at the counter so I sneaked a picture of her hahaha :P

The ground floor at Nakano Broadway has a variety of shops selling snacks, shoes and various items mixed in with some anime or game merchandise shops.

The day we went there was a mini exhibition of illustration artworks by a young mangaka and was giving out free copies of test reading volumes? I don't know what to call them but they are thin copies of let's say the first chapter of the manga so you can support the mangaka if you're interested in the work.

There was also a pachinko at the ground floor. I like calling pachinko adult's arcade lol. They always have anime posters outside these stores and sometimes they have one floor dedicated to pachinko within a multi storey arcade building. It's very common to find pachinko places in Japan, I saw them pretty much everywhere I went.

In Japan some shopping malls like to turn up the heater really warm plus there were so many things to see inside Nakano Broadway so it felt like visual overload for me that day... and I ended up getting a terrible headache when I got outside. Good thing it was cool that night so Misato accompanied me to chill beside the train station while I get a breath of fresh air to hopefully feel better soon. We were chilling there as we initially planned to visit Koenji too but cancelled it because it was quite late and I was really tired.

ALSO, HERE'S WELCOME TO JAPAN PART 2. So while chilling outside Misato wanted to just go back in because she had to collect her shoes that she sent for fixing and I agreed to just wait there while she quickly gets her stuff. Since I was bored I decided to try Facebook Live on my private account and see if anyone would watch lol. Suddenly a man came up and spoke in Japanese to me and complimented my hair, THEN TOLD ME HE'S SCOUTING FOR KABAKURA (Cabaret Club). Everything was recorded because I was on Facebook Live and it was embarrassing yet funny lol. I rejected of course, but when I told Misato about it she started laughing too and all she said was that Kabakura jobs pay really well....Uhhh but no thanks hahahaha!

So after Misato came back we decided to have dinner and Ichiran Ramen was nearby so we went there. I wanted to try Ichiran to see what the hype was but honestly it was really good.

Day 2 in Japan, first time ordering from a ticket machine~

I had the mild broth version that day because I wasn't feeling too well, but I tried a little of their heavier broth version which Misato ordered and it was really good too. The chashu was perfect, the best I've ever tasted and nothing compares to authentic Japanese ramen now that I'm back here. I really miss the taste and the texture of their ramen.

After ramen I wanted to try this famous rainbow soft serve at the basement of Nakano Broadway which a friend recommended me while I was there. They had so many cute figurines at the cashier counter :D

Layer by layer by layer by layer, the soft serve was really huge and it's lucky that we're sharing it otherwise I don't think it's possible to finish it alone.

OMG. Also everything in Japan coincidentally matches my hair (:

Nakano Broadway was closing so we had to get outside to continue eating our giant soft serve. We're having soft serve in winter at night outdoors, yay~~~ Many people who passed by kept asking us where we got it and were really amused by it lol. The soft serve was really good, and although I can't really remember the flavours, they weren't too sweet and it only cost 490yen for one. It's a must try if you ever visit Nakano Broadway!

The shopping street outside Nakano Broadway.

Lugged my loots back to my airbnb place happily~ Best buy of the day has got to be the full bundle of Rozen Maiden manga for 800yen in total, which means 100yen each volume. Rozen Maiden was one of the first few series that got me really into anime and I love the style of art for this series. Really lucky to get the full bundle! Got 2 copies of Lucky Star, which to date is still my favourite series, the english version of the manga stopped publishing at volume 8 because the company closed down so I never got to read the rest of it but I'm glad I got the last 2 volumes although they are in Japanese. Got a copy of Himouto Umaru-chan's manga because I really love Umaru and also the last one was the free browsing copy from the exhibition.
January 3, 2017

Tokyo, Japan 2016 | Kawaii Monster Cafe

Kawaii Monster Cafe was on my must-visit-list. It was also Misato's first time visiting so I guess it's something new for both of us? Kawaii Monster Cafe is located at the 4th floor of YM Square building, or if you're unsure where Google Maps can be your guide~ Entry was 500yen for 2 hours per person and additional food and drinks order will be calculate together at the end of your visit.

As soon as we enter it felt like we just entered a psychedelic dimension, bright colours and crazy shapes accompanied by loud music. We were greeted by Monster friend, Ene (whom I was so excited to meet since I've been following her on social media) and was led to our seat at the Mushroom Disco area. I actually wanted to sit at the Milk Stand area but it's fine to sit anywhere because you're free to roam around and take pictures of the cafe.

The first thing you see as you enter is the magnificent Sweets-Go-Round which the Monster Girl and Monster Friend will perform on later.

Monster Girl Nasty was there at the cafe when we visited!

Monster Friend, Ene! I love all that she's wearing omg ♡ I actually wanted to take a picture with her but there was a film crew that day and they kept filming her around so I couldn't ask. But I'm happy that I got to meet her at least hehe~

The interior of the cafe is amazing, every single area is meticulously designed to suit the mood of the cafe.

There was also a bar area as they serve alcoholic drinks in the menu.

The bar area led to this pastel area of the cafe called Mel-Tea room. It's super cute too but you can't really see the Sweet-Go-Round from here. Right beside Mel-Tea room there's a door to the Pink Cat room but it was closed so I didn't get to see it. Ah btw the day we went there was an event at night so I think they set the lighting really dark and sat customers at the main area while they prepare for the event. I've seen other videos and images from other people who visited and it usually looks pretty bright. Though it was quite hard to take photos, it was quite cool that the entire cafe had this club kind of feel that day.

The food prices were quite expensive there which is expected so we shared them because we just wanted to take photos and have a taste. Colourful Rainbow Pasta (Painter)! The pasta was surprisingly good even though it looks suspicious at first with the crazy colours. The 'paint' sauces were really good too and I really like this dish.

Sweet potato monster cake. This was a time limited dessert and it comes with the drink options as a set which was slightly cheaper in total so we got this too. Initially we wanted to get the parfait but that one was really expensive. I'm not a huge fan of sweet potato cake so I didn't quite like this. The cake was pretty dry and the icing was so thick that it made it really sweet. The only thing I liked was the chocolate pieces lol. I felt quite bad because Misato ended up eating most of it :/

For the drink we got the Non-Druggy Cocktail (Experiment) because it was the nicest looking drink that was non-alcoholic lol. We got this since we're sharing and I don't drink alcohol :P You have to pour the 'chemical' yourself and watch how the colours blend together. The drink was not bad and I quite like it.

The food was served so early and we were too busy taking photos and exploring the cafe that we ended up rushing to finish out food in the last half an hour of our time there hahaha! Must get the right shots before we start eating since they're so expensive!

Also omg, the pasta matches my hair perfectly lol! It was totally unintentional but it's so funny to see the photo, as if the colours of the pasta palette has been magically painted onto my hair XD

We had such an amazing time there and I felt a little sad to leave at the end. Though considering the cost of visiting the cafe I guess I'll visit only if I'm with people who are really eager to enter the cafe. Hope you enjoyed looking at the crazy pictures and reading this post. My eyes got so tired while editing the photos because I kept staring at those neon colours during editing. Also, my laptop colour is less saturated compared to my phone which shows them as bright neon so I'm not sure how it turns out for you, do let me know so I can gauge how the colours turn out next time.
January 1, 2017

Tokyo, Japan 2016 | Day 1: Shibuya & Harajuku

Happy New Year!

Spending the first day of 2017 editing photos and blogging, I feel productive at the same time I feel really bored sitting in my room the entire day. I hope you're having a better new year than me hahaha! I enjoyed taking photos and looking back at them while choosing which ones to post, but I don't like editing photos as much because it's really troublesome lol. Some photos I ended up editing with VSCO on my phone.....so you know how lazy I am hahaha!

So the first day of my trip in Tokyo I planned to visit Harajuku (what else lol). If you read my previous post you would've known that the first thing I did after I landed was to wash my face then put on light makeup in the train, so my vain self said that I should also go get new circle lenses thus I visited Shibuya first to get circle lenses at Don Quixote. I was also too lazy to wash my lenses lol.

I reached my airbnb place around 11am so we ended up reaching Shibuya around 1 pm I think? I slowly did the rest of my makeup at my airbnb place which is why it got so late by the time we reached Shibuya.

As soon as I got out of Shibuya station, I saw this Haikyuu ad above Tsutaya and I told Misato to stop because I have to take picture of this hahahaha! The first day of my trip I was blessed with amazing weather and sunlight too *v*

Passed by the famous Shibuya crossing..... which wasn't that fascinating to be honest lol. I didn't cross it that day since I was heading another direction, but I did take a tourist photo there later when I visited Shibuya again.

Ads, buses, train and basically most of the things you see everywhere is just so cute. So kawaii.

I didn't take any pictures in Don Quixote because the space is pretty tight and there's always lots of people there, but after purchasing the lenses we decided to walk to Harajuku to get lunch. It was around 3pm already since and we're really hungry. There was so much to see in Shibuya and honestly I wanted to look around more but I was more excited to go to Harajuku on my first day~

Crossing some back alleys on our way there. While I was trying to take photos of the alleys, my memory card suddenly showed that it's full. 30GB of memory was full on my first day in Tokyo and I was devastated at that point. It was the photos from my project that took up all the space and I had to clear them all before I could take anymore images. Thank goodness though that I've already backed up the photos of that project on my laptop so I could erase them for more memory space. So in the end I didn't take anymore images until I sat down in the restaurant for lunch and erased around 700 images. (:

I guess I'll need to bring an extra memory card when I travel next time too. 30GB wasn't enough for this 12 days trip actually, and I had to back up my photos every other day and erase some existing ones so that I can continue taking pictures. Btw, I took over 1500 photos on my DSLR, over 600 photos on my phone and lots of video clips which I posted on Instastory during my trip...and I still wished I took more lol :P

We went to The Great Burger for lunch. Yes, it's western food in Japan but we chose to go there because that's one of Seto Ayumi's favourite restaurants hahaha! We did hope that maybe we will bump into her but no luck lol.

The restaurant had great atmosphere and music, and their lunch set wasn't too expensive either. It's somewhere around Cat Street, Harajuku so do pop by if you're interested! And the place is totally Ayumi's style ♡

The burger was super good, the bun was so fluffy and they grilled the meat patty so it wasn't greasy at all. They added cumin seeds into the salad and I really like it, my first time having cumin seeds in my salad. For the drink I got melon soda because Misato told me that I must try it lol.

So after lunch I wanted to wear the circle lenses I bought (which I will review later on) and because I was too shy to wear them while I was eating at the restaurant, we walked a little further and I just sat at a quiet staircase and popped them in lol. They're really vibrant and pretty actually, so I guess I'll have to take a better picture for the review. ^^;

The neon sign was really cute and there was a dessert shop upstairs but we were too full to eat anything else lol.

While walking to Takeshita Dori we saw this man with a whole pram of cats! They're so fluffy and cute! Apparently it's pretty common to see people bringing a pram full of pets around this area because I ended up seeing dogs and more cats too when I came back for more shopping.

I miss the clear blue skies in Japan, they make a beautiful background for photos. I was really lucky when I took this shot as there was a vapor trail just across Laforet.

Harajuku crepes~

We were too full for dessert since we just had lunch so we didn't eat them there but the shop was really cute to take pictures of. Don't worry, I had crepe on my last day before the day I left lol.

There are actually a lot of crepe shops around Harajuku so you don't have to rush and buy them at the entrance. Do take note that you can't eat in some shops so maybe you will want to have them after shopping.

Basically I just took pictures of anything I find cute throughout my trip so there are a lot of images which I took because 'It looks cute'. XD

Hi there, here's my #OOTD of the day~
Sweater top from Neon Moon, hand made checkered skirt, clear platform boots from Y.R.U and vintage reversible bomber jacket.

We visited W♡C which is one of my favourite shops now in Harajuku lol. The interior display was super cute! Thing is that certain shops you're prohibited from taking photos so sometimes I'm not sure if I can actually take photos there so I just sneak them with my phone. Japanese phones have shutter sound when taking photos which cannot be disabled but mine doesn't so it's less likely for me to get caught lol. But of course when the shop staff told me not to or if they have a huge 'No Photo' sign then I'll refrain from taking pictures there.

After that I wanted to take purikura so we went to one of the many purikura shops at Takeshita Dori. They have so many machines and you can see some girls are so used to taking purikura that they have this 'expert' feeling and we're like wandering around the selection of machines aimlessly. We randomly chose this machine that has Peco as the model but despite selecting the lowest doll face setting, you can see it edited our face so much that we're kinda freaked out by it lol. And the side of my face was butchered in the editing process XD

Short visit to Urahara because I wanted to see the 6% Doki Doki store. No photos allowed inside so I only have a photo of the bear downstairs as a prove of 'I was here'. :P The shop was small but really cool, and it was really pricey so we left empty handed. Oh, and the shop staff we met was Kanata :D

After visiting 6% we went to Kawaii Monster Cafe which I will share in the next blog post. It was really fun btw ^^

Since most shops around Harajuku closes at 8pm, we decided to head back to Shibuya to visit Village Vanguard before heading back home. Btw, the skies in Japan turn dark around 3.30pm to 4pm each day which is super early so throughout the trip I had to wake up early, rush to places I wanted to take photo of before sunset and continue any indoor shopping later on. Also, most shops in Japan open around 12pm and close around 7-8pm.

And that concludes my first day in Tokyo, Japan. I hope you enjoyed reading this post! And Happy New Year once again! :D