Our Tokyo adventure continued in Harajuku, where we visited the Kawaii Monster cafe. This cafe is an overload of cuteness, color, sweets, and animals. It is supposedly meant to represent the inside of a monster's belly - a monster that has a strict diet of kawaii cuteness. The restaurant is split up into 4 zones of the mushroom disco, milk stand, bar experiment, and the mel-tea room. Even their menu has all types of colorful food and drinks from rainbow spaghetti to rainbow cake and even menu items with the name "color poison cake" #what? #isthatlegal #translatefail
This place was completely overwhelming but in a fantastic way. We enjoyed a little afternoon coffee pick me up and even a got to watch a show performed on the main carousel with the kawaii monster girls!
Walking through the cafe:
Kawaii monster girl performance:
Paige and I were worn out after the monster cafe (took a lot out of us!) Paige needed a few things for her trip so we made a quick stop at Forever 21. While browsing we found some adorable, blinged out cat ears - naturally we had to get them because we wanted to blend in while in Tokyo, especially the Harajuku area #fashionistas Our new purchase provided us with that extra boost of energy we needed to continue our exploration of this huge metropolitan city.
On the way back to Asakusa, we stopped quickly at the Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツ). When it was completed in 2012, it was the tallest structure in Japan and the tallest tower in the world (but not anymore). It is a restaurant, broadcasting, and observation tower. It's full height of 634 meters (2,080 ft) is easily remembered because it stands for musashi (on old name for the region where the Tokyo Skytree is located) 6 (mu), 3 (sa), 4 (shi) - 634 meters. It's quite impressive to look at.
The Senso-ji temple is located on the way back to our hostel so we snapped a few pics on the way. While we were taking pictures, a group of Japanese with cameras and microphones asked if they could interview us #mustbethecatears #workseverytime #futurecelebrities They asked where we were from, why we were visiting, etc. Then they had us test out a new translating device. It was a tiny device about the size of a pen that we would speak English into and then it would play it back in Japanese. We had a whole conversation back and forth with 2 other Japanese women, asking for restaurant recommendations, etc. #prettycool Apparently they're testing it out for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to make it easier for foreigners to get around the city #gladwecouldhelp #iwantone
After becoming local celebrities #yearight #iwish We found a little izakaya (Japanese pub) down the street from our hostel. We enjoyed some yakitori, quail eggs, veggies, edamame, and fried chicken - all washed down with a little sake and beer #perfect
The next morning, we started off our day trying to dress like the locals (and probably one of the few places we could get away with it). The day before, in Harajuku, we bought some awesome cat items (that also went with our fancy cat ears). Paige, was sporting her dinosaur and cats with laser eyes leggings, and I had a cat with a sushi headband in outer space. #score
Nameneko (なめ猫) started from a Japanese photographer, Satoru Tsuda, who took pictures of his kittens dressed up as people and was very popular in the 1980s. The first item was a poster of a kitten dressed as a motorcycle gang member with the slogan "All Japan Fast Feline Federation - You Won't Lick Us!" This began a whole craze of people buying images of cats dressed up as people on posters, shirts, etc. People also use the phrase namennayo which literally means "don't lick me". People would use this phrase in a fight - essentially meaning "don't be silly". #thankskazu We sent pictures of us in our outfits to our friend Kazu and he was pretty excited since Nameneko was very popular for his generation #seejustlikethelocals
We started off our morning by meeting up with Chris and Carly again in Harajuku. Lucky for us, we spotted some of the famous Harajuku fashion that the neighborhood is known for, this style being 'sweet lolita'. They were nice enough to let us take a picture with them
After seeing pictures of delicious, fluffy looking pancakes, I knew we had to eat these one of the mornings we were here. Lucky for us, we got one of the coveted 60 pancake orders served that day at gram cafe. Delicious. Fluffy. Soft. Pancake Towers. #yum #getinmybelly The pancakes, stacked up on top of one another, are so soft and fluffy that they jiggle when you shake the plate
Wanting to get in at least a little bit of culture, and with Paige being a museum curator, we decided to hit up the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (MOMAT). #culturedladies This museum houses both Japanese and Western-style artists consisting of art from mostly 20th century onwards. They had some interesting prints and it was nice to get in a museum on our tour around Tokyo
We finally had some time to check out Senso-ji Temple, one of the most visited temples in Tokyo. You enter the temple complex through the Kaminarimon (雷門), or thunder gate. Under the gate hangs a large chochin (traditional Japanese light), measuring 4 meters tall, 3.4 meters in circumference and weighs 1,480 lbs (670 kg). On either side of the gate, there are two Shinto gods on display, Fujin, the god of wind, and Raijin, the god of thunder.
When we walked up to the temple, we were approached by University students who asked if they could give us a tour of the temple and explain its meaning to us to practice their English. In any other country, this would probably be a scam; but being respectful Japan, it was actually legit. One of the students even studied abroad one semester at CSU Fullerton. They told us the statues on both sides of the Kaminarimon represent the alpha and omega, or beginning and ending of life. When you pass through the middle of the gate, you acknowledge your mortality. #deep
Once we passed through the gate, we walked along Nakamise-dori, the temple's shopping street with all types of trinkets and even some Edo-style crafts. Once we passed through another gate, we saw a massive straw sandal referred to as Owaraji. It was made by 800 citizens of Murayama City - weighing 2500 kg, and 4.5 meters high. These are charms against evil and people believe it's good luck to touch them. Back in the day, the waraji (straw sandals) were offered as part of people's prayers, primarily for safe travel and lower body health (leg strength was very important to be able to survive). Don't worry, Paige and I made sure we touched them :)
The main temple enshrines a golden image of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy). According to legends, this image was found by 2 fisherman in AD 628 and the image has remained at the spot ever since. In front of the temple there's also a large incense cauldron, where the smoke is said to bestow health. This has led to people rubbing it/waving it over problem areas on their body. I waved it down to my feet since they hurt from all the walking we had been doing around town! Paige and I both went and used our new found knowledge of how to properly pray at the temple #thankskazu The students were impressed we knew what to do!
Quick time-lapse video of our walk back from Senso-ji temple through the Asakusa area:
With us being in Tokyo, naturally I had to find an owl cafe to take Paige to. Lucky for us, there was one located across the street from our hostel! This little cafe had about 15-20 owls, We were able to hold them and pet them lightly with our fingers. This cafe also had a bird room. We had to put some raincoats on to protect ourselves from all the bird poo and entered the room with tons of parrots, parakeets, and even a toucan! These little birds would fly right up to you and start nibbling on your zipper, your phone, your hair - whatever they could get their little beaks on. At one point I think I had 8 different birds chill'n on me #futurebirdlady
After a quick nap, we met up with my friend Kazunobu again for dinner. We met him and his friend from America, Coy, at Muta Marine, an upscale aqua clothing and accessory store, where Kazu is a talented graphic designer. While checking out the store, we noticed one of the store's magazines open. I looked at the magazine, then at Kazu's friends Coy...back at the magazine, and then back at Coy.... Wait a minute - Coy was in the magazine! Turns out he's been modeling in Japan for the past 30 years! #wow
After Muta, Kazu took us to a restaurant at one of the gyms he works out at, located on the 43rd floor of a building. Naturally, there was a gorgeous view of the city at night. While at dinner, Kazu grabbed another magazine and found more photos of Coy modeling #whoisthisguy #famous Haha, who knew we'd be going to dinner with a model!
After a tasty dinner, I took everyone over to Geronimo's, a bar my dad frequented when he would visit Tokyo for work. (Same bar Nate, Mel, and I went to last time I was in Tokyo). My dad's favorite bartender, Eri, was working - glad I got to see her again! Chris and Carly were also able to come meet up with us. One of the many fun things about Geronimo's is if you wait long enough, someone usually will buy shots for the whole bar (there's a contest going on the wall). Sure enough, a guy bought a round of tequila shots for everyone. Around 12, we finally had to call it a night, so we could catch the last train back to our hostel.
Video of the guy buying shots
On our way down to the train station, Paige needed a picture for her Vietnam visa. In most major train stations in Japan, there are photo booths for you to take ID/passport/visa photos #convenient #ofcourse Coy found one at the train station near us, and helped give Paige model tips for the perfect photo #modelintraining #modelschool I think her photo turned out pretty impressive #niceworkcoach
All in all, a fun night with new friends! Next blog will be on Paige and my day trip up to see the snow monkeys in Nagano!
And if you're wondering, yes, we did eat McDonalds when we got back to the hostel..... #shame #butsosogood
Check out my new friends Carly and Chris' video below on their time in Japan:
Follow in our Footsteps:
Kawaii Monster Cafe
〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区 神宮前４丁目３１−１０ YM スクエア 4F
Hours: 11:30am - 4:30pm, 6pm - 10:30pm; Sunday 11am - 8pm
Tokyo Sky Tree
1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045
Hours: 8am - 10pm
Fee: 2060 yen (1st observatory, regular); 1030 yen (2nd observatory); +510 yen for reservations in advance
Cafe gram (only serve 60 pancake orders a day, get there early to reserve) multiple locations
〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 1 Chome−９−３０
Hours: 11am - 9pm
〒102-8322 Tokyo, Chiyoda, Kitanomarukoen, ３−１
Hours: 10am - 5pm, closed Mondays
Fee: adult/student ¥430/130, extra for special exhibitions
2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo 111-0032
Bird Cafe, Asakusa
1-12-8 Asakusa | Oyama Bldg B1F, Taito 111-0032, Tokyo Prefecture
〒106-0045 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Azabujūban, 1 Chome−５−９
Hours: 12pm - 8pm, closed Tuesday
Geronimo's Shot Bar
7−14−10, 山室ビル 2階, 六本木, 港区, 東京都 106-0032, Japan
Hours: 6AM - 6PM
Phone: +81 3-3478-7449
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!