Tag Archives: Japan

Think You’ve Seen it All? Check Out These Unique Cafes in Tokyo

1.  Butler’s Café
Location: Shibuya

Butler's Cafe

Maid Cafes are taking over Japan by storm, but what about a Butler café? The first observation you will make upon entering this café, is that it’s service staff is made up foreign men from Western countries who will speak to you entirely in English and call you ‘princess’. The whole reason being that this café was founded for Japanese women to practise their English. Staying true to their character, they serve customers with the professionalism and efficiency as a real butler would (complete with ringing of a bell, should you require service). The price to pay for such service is of course steep, with prices from 850 to 2200 Yen, but the food served is tasty and it’s one of those experiences you’d only find in Japan.

2.  Planetarium STARRY Café
Location: Haneda Airport Tokyo
Planetarium
With beautiful 360 degree projection of constellations, the Planetarium STARRY Café is sure to leave you amazed. Have your coffee under the stars but sheltered from the elements. By request, the screens above are also able to project educational videos, or short animations. The planetarium screens different shows throughout the week so every visit will be a new experience. This café serves a hodgepodge of food from snacks such as popcorn, hotdogs to salad, pasta and they even have a bar which opens after 5.30pm. This is a top dating spot for the locals with its intimate and romantic setting in a city where its street lights tend to outshine the natural stars.

3.  Calbee Plus Café
Location: Harajuku

Calbee +Calbee is one of Japan’s most reknowned snack makers, more importantly for their crisps and chips. The Calbee Plus Café allows patrons to enjoy a variety of Calbee snacks which are not available on supermarket shelves, such as chocolate covered Calbee crisps. Those who are fans of the calbee snacks, can get them made fresh on the spot. While queuing up for your bowl of piping hot potato crisps, you can watch the makers in their craft as they peel, fry and dry the potato slices. Whether it be salty or sweet, Calbee Plus Café has it on its menu and it’s definitely an experience for those looking to try a freshly made Japanese snack.

 4.  Ninja Akasaka
Location: Chiyoda

Ninja Akasaka

This ninja themed eatery is more of a restaurant than a café. However due to it’s unique theme, we’re including it in the list. As you enter the restaurant, you’ll be lead through some tunnels and a bridges, by a ninja, before you are led to your private room. You’re told to find the ‘hidden’ button to call for service when you’ve decided what to order. Halfway through your meal, the Master Ninja will pay a visit to your room and perform a couple of tricks which will definintely enthrall and intrigue you. However be warned that the food here isn’t cheap and dinner usually comes in the form of set menus with about 7 courses. However, it is an interesting dining experience for both families and friends.

5. N3331 Café
Location: Chiyoda

N3331 cafeLocated on the platform between two railways, sits a quaint little café which serves light snacks and drinks. The N3331 Cafe might be in a rather small and intimate setting, but it is great for people watching with it’s ceiling to window glass providing a 360 view of the trains and its passengers flanking either sides. This café may not be for everyone, especially if you’re not into the chugging and chooing of a train every now and then but it does provide a rather different experience. If you have an afternoon to spare and trains are your thing, this café would definitely pique your interest. This café is willing to rent it out it’s space and host wedding parties too, perfect for the train enthusiasts.

6.  Sakuragaoka Café
Location: Shibuya

Sakuragaoka Café

When someone tells you to visit the ‘Goat café’ in Tokyo, they aren’t referring to the name of the café but instead the pair of goats which reside outside. Sakuragoaka Café should be visited not just for of its unoffical mascots but the interior oozes a laid back chill vibe with eclectic furnishing. The café serves a variety of western food from pizza to pasta within a low price range of 500 to 1200 Yen. also has a western style bar which is opened until the early morning. This place is a great place to hang and chill out with friends over lunch or a drink and the two goats will definitely be a talking point.

Find more information on things to do in Tokyo, visit Travelog.


Images courtesy of (from top to bottom) Hir@gana Times, Pinterest, Tokyo Belly, Time Out Tokyo, TokyoingTexan in Tokyo.

The Hottest Fashion Spots in Japan

1. Shibuya

shibuya
Shibuya is fast, bright and fashionable. This is the where the fashionable, stylish and colourful youths of Japan mingle and parade their newest looks. It is here that the legendary Shibuya 109 sits with its jaw-dropping 10 floors where shops after shop of fashion retailers target the youths of Japan. Shibuya 109 is also where the 2014 ‘Fukubukora’ sale (also known as ‘lucky bag sales’ during which retailers pack bags of items and sell it at a discounted price) took place. Throngs of girls, women and even men flocked down to Shibuya to be part of this fashion madness. Shibuya is definitely the haven for street fashion photographers and observers as day after day, it presents its eclectic mix of fashion mavens who confidently strut down its streets.

2.  Harajuku

harajuku

Wild, wacky and slightly outlandish to those who sport plain tees and berms, Harajuku is the hangout for the more adventurous fashion mavens looking to make a statement. Surprisingly, the only ‘Harajuku Girls’ that exists are the ones following Gwen Stefani on her tours but what you would find here is Harujuki Street style. Considered to be the centre for Japanese youth sub-culture, you would enter the world where Punks, Goths, Lolitas, and Cosplayers mix and mingle. Check out Yoyogi park, which lies in the Harajuki area, on Sundays where yet another of Japan’s fashion sub-culture groups hang out. the Rockabillies, come together with slicked back hair, vintage dresses and leather jackets reminiscent of the 50s greasers (motorbikes in tow), providing an interesting scene for both tourists and locals alike.

Touted as one of the best places to photograph Tokyo, indeed Harajuku would be an interesting place for one to experience a hodgepodge of Japan’s many fashion styles.
For those looking to be part of the Harujuku Street Style, head down to Takeshita Street, famous for selling wild subculture fashion. Similar to Harajuku would be the equally well known Shinjuku area, so make sure you visit that too if you’re into more colourful and wild fashion.

3.  Omotesando

omotesando

A stark contrast from Harajuku’s gaudy and buzzing atmosphere, Omotesando has a classy coolness about it. It is here that the glitz and glamour takes place. Sometime’s referred to as the ‘Champs-Elysees’ of Tokyo, high-end brands grace the streets of Omotesando, from Dior to Prada to Louis Vuitton. This street is definitely not short of interesting architecture and colourful shop displays as the shops attempt to catch the attention of the rich and wealthy. Along with the shopping, you will find restaurants that serve food on the higher end of the price range. While the main clientele are urbanites in their mid-30s and older, a 5 storey ‘Kiddy Land’ opened its doors in 2012, housing thousands of unique toys for children. Make sure to come during Saint Patrick’s Day because it is here that they yearly parades are held in the beautiful tree-lined street of Omotesando.

4.  Ginza

ginza

Japan’s biggest shopping district comprising of large shopping malls, restaurants (Sukiyabashi Jiro – the restaurant featured in the acclaimed documentary film ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ is located here) and art galleries, it is here that you’ll find high street brands such as TopShop and Zara to luxury stores like Hermes and Chanel. Somewhat similar to Omotesando, Ginza however, has a broader range and variety of stores and shops to choose from. At the turn of the 19th century, a popular phrase going around was “waste time in Ginza” because of the large amount of stores in this district. What it was really referring to was the amount of time wasted just window-shopping alone. As you walk past store after store, you would find yourself looking at bright lights, colourful displays and sometimes slightly bizarre arrangements that the fashion stores put up to market their products. Ginza is bright and beautiful and most definitely the one stop destination for the avid shopper to satisfy all shopping wants and needs!

5.  Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa or Shimokita for short is Tokyo’s little hipster district. With vintage and second hand shops scattered all over Shimokita, it is common to find a more muted kind of fashion that is a stark contrast from the clean and shiny suits of Omotesando and the loud colours of Harajuku. Yet, there is still a strong sense of individualism in the kinds of fashion that’s being sported and spotted here. With alleyways that are lined with indie cafes and bars, you can imagine the kind of people who hang out here to be classified as the ‘cool cats’ of Tokyo. They have an unassuming quirky coolness about them that is made even more prominent by their distressed denims, patched up leather jackets, overalls and bowler hats. Murals often grace the walls of Shimokita, adding to the artistic and bohemian vibe of the district. As you walk through the streets and alleyways, be sure to soak in atmosphere as you wander through the unique, kitschy and quirky shops of Shimokita.

For more information on things to do and places to visit in Japan, click here.


Images (from top to bottom) courtesy of Frompo, Japanese Harajuku Fashion, Tumblr, Bestourism, Go Tokyo.

Your Essential Guide to Unusual, Alternative and Different Hotels in Tokyo

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1.  Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel

Everyone knows the Japanese are an innovative bunch, and this is shown in the multitude of capsule hotels across Tokyo as they make efficient use of space. This capsule hotel, although morbidly resembling a morgue, is far from it. Upon arrival, you are assigned to your little pod, which has a bed and a small television for entertainment. There is also a bath and sauna but these are shared facilities, which are pleasantly clean and sanitary. Be warned though, these capsules are not sound proof and for those who are light sleepers, its recommended that you bring ear plugs. For the sole woman traveller, this hotel has a floor specifically dedicated to women for safety purposes.

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2.  Meguro Emperor Hotel

Opened in 1973, this hotel was pretty much the fairy tale dream come true. With its castle-like exterior, tourists flocked here to ‘ooh and ahh’ at the architectural wonderment. Gone is its’ heyday but yet it remains as one of Tokyo’s more unique hotels. The interior is lavish and the rooms are elaborately decorated with plush bedding, detailed wallpapers, glass chandeliers and marbled fixtures. This hotel may be targeted at couples looking for a romantic fairy tale getaway but it really is open to all who are looking to feel like a king and queen for a day (or as long as you stay for).

33.  Media Café Popeye

The Japanese love their Manga comics and it’s no surprise that they’ve come up with the ‘Manga Kissa’ or Manga cafes. These cafes run for 24 hours and have floor to ceiling bookshelves of manga comics and videos, clearly a manga lover’s haven. As more youths were staying out late watching and reading Manga in these cafes, lodging was provided. At Media Café Popeye, there is a smoking and non-smoking section and it has around 200 cubicles. You can choose your ‘room’ type which basically goes by the kind of seating it provides – a normal office chair, a comfy reclined chair, a flat seat where you can sprawl on the floor after a day of manga viewing or a ‘pair seat’ which are mainly for manga loving couples. There are shower facilities provided as well so you don’t have to worry about going home oily the next day. However this café is slightly different because it imposes a 12 to 5am power shut down to ensure that it’s users get a good night’s rest. A must-stay for any avid manga reader!

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4. Hilltop Yamanoue Hotel

For all the history buffs and old souls, this will be the hotel for you. Used during the war by US army officials, it was converted into a hotel in 1954. Furnished with wood panelled walls, leather seats and carpeted floors, the Hilltop is classically styled and was an occasional hangout for famous writers, scholars. Service here is impeccable and if you want a temporary escape from the ultra-modern Tokyo, the old school charm of this hotel will be a well-received option.

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5.  Sukeroku No Yado Sadachiyo

If you consider yourself a Japanophile, staying at a Ryokan should be at the top of your list. Providing a traditional Japanese experience, guests will be treated to sleeping on tatami mats and for the more daring, public baths (females and males are given allocated timings, of course). Wake up to a choice of either a Western or Japanese breakfast but go with the obvious to complete your experience of staying in Japan, Japanese style.

Traditional forms of entertainment are provided as well such as geisha dancing, traditional comedy and a course on proper Japanese dining and house etiquette. The staff at this Ryokan are both thoughtful and attentive providing tiptop service that’s worth the price you pay.

Note: Private baths are available as well for those who prefer to wash up in privacy.

66.  Komadori Sanso

High up in the mountains of Tokyo, lies a secluded two-storey wooden lodge and behind its doors, a tranquil escape that integrates traditional Japanese style of living with nature. Although the journey here might be a bit tedious, it is definitely worth the time and effort. The naturalist or anyone just looking for a place of serenity can come surround here to surround themselves with the natural beauty of the Japanese mountains. This place can serve as a spiritual retreat as well where you can head to the waterfalls to practice ‘Takigyo’ – a form of waterfall meditation. A must for an unforgettable and different experience!

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7.  Claska

This quirky boutique hotel cum residence, which contains 20 rooms are all individualised and designed with a modern albeit personal touch. There are 3 rooms however that were designed by artists who were given free reign over how they’d like the room to be. One of the rooms is decorated with plush toys stuffed under the mattress and scattered around the room and another with framed up dried flowers to look like someone’s atelier. The weekly residences have walls with carving that are in the shape of a room’s inventory such as a hairdryer, a lamp or even a pair of headphones. This hotel is definitely where design meets comfort and it is recommended that you book ahead to secure a spot.

Find your Tokyo hotel here, or discover more things to do and places to visit in Tokyo here.


Images (from top to bottom) courtesy of TripAdvisor (1, 5 and 6), Global Grasshopper (2 and 4) and VIP Liner.