It’s good to be home!
Been sleeping like a fiend since arriving back home from Tokyo yesterday morning though.
The plane landed at 5:25 am and I zonked out from 9 am til 7 pm in the evening. Then I stayed up til 3+ am, and actually tried to get out of bed this morning to make it for Pole Grooves at 11am but of course it didn’t happen. (Who am I kidding) Then I tried again later for Prep Advanced at 1pm, but that didn’t happen either.
I’m still riding a happy post-vacation buzz though! Especially because Tokyo is my absolute favourite city in the world. Every time I go, I get inspired, and this trip was no different. I’d never been there that long (8 days) and with so many friends (7 of us) but it was such a blast from beginning to end!
On the first day, we arrived at Narita airport at 8am, showered and changed in the airport lounge, hopped on the bus to Shibuya, checked in, had lunch at the always-awesome Ichiran Ramen, and took a subway to Ueno park where we saw the famous Sakura trees in gorgeous full bloom! Talk about a perfect welcome.
I’ve been to Tokyo four times before and had never seen the cherry blossoms before. They’re notoriously temperamental and only stay in bloom for about a week or so in the whole year. By the time we left Tokyo, they were all gone.
The next day, while the rest hit the Shinjuku for some shopping, I chilled in then wandered around Shibuya by myself for a bit before hitting up Pole Dance Tokyo. It was my second overseas pole drop-in experience and this time I did 2 classes back-to-back. I’m so, so glad I went!! Yes I’ll do a full post on it shortly, just hang in there!
Besides PDT, this trip was filled with other highlights: We went to a Cat Cafe, located very near to our hotel. (If you’re looking for an affordable hotel located in Shibuya, I’d recommend Tokyu Stay Apartments. It even has a small kitchen with a stove, microwave and washing machine!)
Japanese cats must be cleaner than any other cats in the world, because I’m usually very allergic to dust and other people’s cats, but amazingly, I didn’t even sneeze once in the cat cafe!
The trick to getting them to come play with you is to buy a pack of cat treats. Just pop the treats open, and they’ll literally be all over you in seconds!
Speaking of treats, I got to indulge at Berry Cafe (my very favourite pastry cafe in the world) not once, but twice this time! As far as fruit pastries go, Berry Cafe trumps them all, in my book. That moment just before taking the first bite is practically a spiritual experience..
We also managed to catch the Calbee Plus store at Harajuku just before it closed for the day, where they fry the chips fresh on the spot and you can choose your toppings. My default topping of choice is Royce chocolate. (Don’t get judge-y now! I’ve converted many a doubter to the cult of Royce’s Potato Chip chocolate. It’s one of those things that sounds wrong but it really oh-so-right.)
And what is Tokyo without some shopping? I popped my Hysteric Glamour cherry at the flagship boutique in Aoyama. The last time we were there 3 years ago, I was way too tired to look at anything after a whole day out but I knew I had to come back eventually.
Actually though, I buy far more cosmetics than anything else whenever I’m here because many of the local drugstore brands kick ass and aren’t available anywhere else. Watson’s has absolutely nothing on Matsumoto Kiyoshi!!! If I had to pick my top beauty destination in the whole world, this would be it. Suck on that, Sephora.
I love being inside Shibuya 109 mall too, cos that’s where all the local girls’ labels are located. (if you like the fashion in Vivi magazine, then you’ll find all the clothes they feature in Shibuya 109) Although to be perfectly honest, you can shop the same look in the streets of Taipei for about a quarter of the price, which is why I don’t really shop for clothes in Tokyo.
But if you’re into thrift and vintage stores, there are loads of well-curated ones all over Harajuku. My friend managed to score some awesome, rare vintage Louis Vuitton and Chanel bags in pristine condition, as well as a rocking leather jacket at probably a fraction of its original price.
Too much shopping can get meaningless though, which is why I’m so glad I made it to the Meiji Jingu shrine in Harajuku on my last day. Ironically located just next to the frenetic Harajuku shopping area, once you step into the very zen-like grounds of the shrine, it’s as if time is standing still.
You can write down you wishes and make an offering, as well as buy a charm or two from the variety available. And you can even drink from the quaint little drinking wells inside. I had a really good feeling of calm and serenity, and the water was cool and soothing. Probably the purest drink I’ve ever had!
Visiting the shrine was definitely a refreshing change of pace.
As serene as the Meiji shrine was, as yummy as all the snacks I ate were, as cute as the cat cafe was, as scenic as the Sakuras were, and even as fun as my Tokyo pole experience was, everything got overshadowed as the highlight of my trip compared to Robot Restaurant in Kabuki-cho.
(The highlight of my last trip in Tokyo was being the only female patron in a Cosplay maid cafe in Akihabara with the husband and 3 guy friends. In Johannesburg, it was checking out the morbid local voodoo market, and in Mexico, it was the masked midgets of Lucha Libre wrestling. So I guess you could say I have a thing for freakily-fabulous subculture.)
Robot Restaurant is a 1-year old entertainment complex situated in the red-light district of Kabuki-cho. It’s also the only restaurant I’ve been to in Tokyo where the food is legitimately terrible, but then again the 5,000 yen you pay for it is solely for the show.
And what a show it is! The brochure says, ‘Female drumming, fighting dinosaurs, and giant robots’, and you really get all that and more. From the moment the music starts, it’s a sensory overload.
I’m not sure if I was more impressed by the non-stop choreographed dancing, the way that some of their outfits entirely light up, or the fact that most of the girls are a minimum C-cup and beyond.
One thing I’m certain of: the next time I’m in Tokyo, I’m definitely going to Tiger Restaurant, just opposite Robot Restaurant. Why? Cos it’s just as manic inside, and I heard the girls there pole dance!!!
In the meantime, I’m going to try again tomorrow to pry myself out of bed in time to make it for the last Pole Grooves class of the week (that way, I will only have missed Prep Advanced this week!) and go for some much-needed pole practice. Just thinking about the Prep Tammy-DVD combo makes me shiver…