Monday, 29 July 2013

For the Cat Lovers: Ikebukuro Cat Cafe

Cats. For most people, they're one of those love them or hate them creatures. As for me, I'm undecided. Sometimes I hate them because they're just so evil but sometimes they become these cute bundles of purring fur. How do you hate that?

Sunday, 28 July 2013

My Host Club Experience

What is a Host Club? Well, to very shallowly surmise it, I would describe it as an establishment where hot men are paid to spend time with, give attention to, and entertain women during the night. Since I first heard about Host Clubs in high school, I've had an unhealthy fascination with them. The whole concept of Host Clubs intrigued me and I've researched extensively years prior to this visit. In my mind, the visit to a host club would be super awesome and fun.

I've been to Tokyo two times previous to this trip  but because I was travelling with my family the first time and the second time with my boyfriend, I missed out on the chance of going to one. They say third time lucky. This time seeing as I was single and travelling with my best friend, there was no way I was missing out on the opportunity!

During my teenage and J-pop fan girl years, I imagined the Japanese hosts to look like Yamapi or Kamenashi.

Kame aka Kamenashi Kazuya from KAT-TUN

Now, being considerably older, my taste in men has obviously changed but, hypothetically, if these Japanese hosts really did look like Yamapi or Kame, I really wouldn't mind at all!

Yamapi aka Yamashita Tomohisa

Prior to our visit, we were advised by our Japanese friend to do some research online. He said we should go to a club with a higher average of good looking hosts and to avoid the clubs with a big discrepancy between the number one host and the rest. He also advised us not to trust the billboards as it's cheaper to change the pictures of hosts on the internet than the billboards! However, after extensive research on the internet, we were extremely put off by the pictures we found of the hosts and nothing appealed to us.

source: google images

source: google images

In the end, we decided to wing it and go with whichever host was more charming and could persuade us to visit their club. So after dinner and a day of shopping in Shinjuku, we headed to the infamous Kabuki-cho; the entertainment and red-light district of Shinjuku. My bestie had no interest in visiting a host club but was obliged to accompany me on my first host club experience. Safety in pairs, they always say. 

Straight away, we were approached by a host. In my opinion he wasn't very good looking and looked quite young. That aside, he was very friendly and charming and made us feel comfortable enough to go to his club. He promptly called another host, Pierre who came down to escort us to the host club. We were led to a building and into an elevator and up we went to the eighth floor.

Because we were first time customers, the price was 1000 yen per person which gave us an hour with the hosts and a cheap bottle of plum wine each. The rules were explained to us and were told we had to pick three hosts. We were not allowed to see them in real life and had to go by photos on an iPad. Each host we picked came out accompanied by two others and they rotated like that until the one hour is up. It was a simple enough process.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Roppongi Hills

Where do you find sanctuary in the middle of a busy city like Tokyo? I didn't think you could. That is, until the day we went to Roppongi Hills. My friend Taka wanted to show us his favourite place in Tokyo and told us to meet him there.

We didn't think much of Roppongi Hills upon arrival. It was big and we had trouble finding the "spider" that we were to meet Taka at.

Eventually we found it and we understood what Taka meant by Spider. I ahhed silently and agreed that it was a good meeting spot. It was an impressive spider.

Inside Roppongi Hills was a whole different world. Classy, elegant, stylish, sleek. It was all of these adjectives combined and more! How I would have loved to have known about this earlier and shopped there! It was fairly quiet, not particularly crowded and there were water features all around, the cascading water creating a relaxing atmosphere.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Food, oh glorious, Japanese food!

Food. It's such an important part of every trip. Everyone asks me how the food was in Japan. I always hesitate before answering. The food in Japan, I've found, can be delicious! And it can also be quite average. Like any other country, really, it's hit or miss. Mostly though, it was a hit! Especially the local places that weren't overly touristy. They were the places my bestie and I found to serve the best food!

On a cold, wet night, we braved the rain and ran to this local, extremely packed restaurant. It was so "Japanese" if you can call it that. It was loud, it was crowded, it was alive! We sat down on a bench with four others squished in, drinking beer and eating their yakitori. We unabashedly gawked at everyone's food like the tourists that we were and felt brave enough to ask what was the most popular dish on the menu. The fried squid was promptly brought to us, along with some braised pork in a salty broth. Delicious!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Kiddy Land Omotesando

Kiddy Land. The name says it all. The inner child in me was ecstatic, the adult in me was just as ecstatic! Kiddy Land houses all the cute toys of Japan! Hello Kitty, Kapibara-san, Totoro, Rilakkuma (my favourite) and the list goes on and on! My appreciation for cute things has not died with age. Does my house really need any more soft toys? Perhaps not. But my unhealthy lust for all things Rilakkuma must be satiated! 


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Omotesando 表参道

Omotesando (表参道) is a wide, upscale shopping avenue lined with trees and many flagship luxury stores. I love Omotesando. In fact, I love it more than I do Ginza.

Armani cafe! It's amazing how they even have luxury brand cafes! 

Miranda Kerr, the current ambassador for Samantha Thavasa. Last time I was here, Victoria Beckham was on the huge Samantha Thavasa billboard!

We couldn't bypass Ted Baker without getting something

Inside Ted Baker, underground level

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Runner Up Winner

Please remember to keep those banners up in your blog for eligibility to win the grand prize. We have had to regenerate a new winner because banners were not up.

And the lucky winner for the runner up prize is...

Congratulations Val! Please send me an email - within 48 hours with your postal details or a new winner will be picked out.

Stay tuned for the announcement of the Grand prize which will be drawn on the 12th of August 2013! Good luck!

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Monday, 8 July 2013

Big City, Bright Lights

I don't think I'm a big city girl. I love it whenever I travel and go on holidays to big cities with their skyscrapers, sparkling lights and all the people and traffic! But to live there, I think, is not my cup of tea. Philippa Fogarty from BBC News described Perth as a "lifestyle city, with a long coastline and the Swan river running through it" (you can find the article here) and from the statistics below, you can really see how spacious and, I suppose, luxurious Perth is.

Tokyo being the capital city, is one of the larget cities in Japan. As of 2013, the population of Tokyo was estimated to be 13.189 million, 10% of Japan's population. The population density is said to be 6,029 persons per square kilometer (statistics from Japan Metropolitan Government).

In comparison to this, Greater Perth's population as recorded in 2012 sits at 1.90 million people with a population density of 1.0 persons per square kilometer (check ABS for more detailed statistics). The vast difference between the two cities is astounding!

I don't know if it's because I'm older now and I'm much more aware of my surroundings and the way people behave (especially given my four years in Psychology) or is it because with every new generation, manners and social etiquette, care for others and plain empathy is no longer as important as it was when I was younger. I feel that this is a trend that can be seen worldwide but especially more so in highly populated areas. 

When we were in Tokyo for two weeks, riding the subway everyday and walking the crowded streets, we saw and experienced some things that really shocked us and made us reassess our and other peoples' behaviour.

Red Opium - Restaurant Review

On Tuesday night, I went to the recently opened Thai restaurant, Red Opium. I love the name Red Opium. In my mind, it resonates with the term "typically Asian". I called up a few hours before their opening time and no one picked up but I left a message anyway and I got a call back soon after to confirm my reservation. I was excited. I've heard good things about this restaurant.

It was raining that night and we arrived about 15 minutes before they opened. We walked in anyway in the hopes that they had a waiting area where we could stay warm and dry. Instead, we were graciously invited in and seated at our table that was waiting for us.

If we had any criticisms on the curry, it was that it wasn't as think as we usually like it but once past that, the flavours were fantastic and the crispy skin of the duck was a wonderful surprise each time we managed to grab a piece.

The real winner of Red Opium though, is the dessert. Oh my goodness! It was the best part of the night!


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