Blame it all on my perpetually bad luck when it comes to traveling, because it rained on my only free day in Tokyo. Nothing new! The rain was so bad that taking photos in the middle of the street became a matter of life or death for our cameras! (That being said, there won’t any wide shots of Akihabara in this post, but I made sure to include tons of kawaii goodness for the otakus out there so don’t kill me for being a bad travel blogger just yet!)
Good thing I was with the best company I could ever imagine, or else I would’ve spent the whole day sulking in a corner alone… in Akihabara… which isn’t so bad either. 8D *otaku face*
I met up with my friend Kiko, who brought Emika and Izumi with him. Yay for new faces! Emika and Izumi are two half-Filipino half-Japanese kids with whom I fell in love instantly! They’re super sweet, and hanging out with them made me feel young again (They are both less than 20, lol I’m old).
No amount of rain could ruin our parade! We originally planned go to Tokyo Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station before Akihabara, but with the copious amounts of wind and rainwater blasting through our faces, we decided to just settle in one area.
We met up at Akihabara Station, and quickly made our way to the UDX Building. While we’ve been to Akihabara before, it was everyone’s first time to visit Tokyo Anime Center! This day had a lot of “firsts” for everybody, making each activity all the more exciting.
Finally! Tokyo Anime Center is on the 4th floor of the UDX, but it took us so long to figure out how to get there because the building’s elevators were confusing!
From the name, I thought it would be a huge place, but it’s only actually a small gallery where they exhibit posters, character art, etc. from the current anime season, as well as sell a few merchandise of whatever’s currently popular.
Won’t even take you 10 minutes to go through everything in the room. Don’t know if I should recommend or give it a thumbs down or not, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to visit if you’re already in Akihabara!
All eyes are on Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei right now. I’ve only watched the first 2 episodes so far, but going to Tokyo Anime Center definitely motivated me to watch the rest of the series. The animation is beautiful but one of the character’s major brother complex turned me off a little, haha.
Naruto 10th anniversary poster + bonus cute SD Rock Lee!
Studies and sketches.
The Shingeki no Kyojin game is still going strong in Japan! Really wanted a Levi keychain but all his merchandise were sold out. Not surprised!
This mousepad tho!
Persona 4 character pins!
Thought I’d take a chance with this one since the Levi keychains were sold out, but pretty much all the Shingeki no Kyojin gachas were sold out as well, huhu.
HAIKYUU!! My current obsession! Sports anime are my everything right now - can you believe it? And I thought I was 100% allergic to anything related to sports.
I finished 35 episodes of Yowamushi Pedal in just 3 or so days (Thanks to jetlag for making me pass out at 8PM every night and waking me up at 4AM every morning!). Both YowaPeda and Haikyuu!! are both ongoing series! Now I have legit reasons to look forward to Mondays and Tuesdays. <3
Suddenly, ANOHANA! This series broke my heart and tore it to pieces, huhu. Watch it if you haven’t yet!
These merchandise have Anohana x Chichibu on them because Chichibu, Saitama is the setting for the series. Apparently, since the anime premiered back in 2011, there has been a growing interest in Chichibu among local and foreign tourists.
It’s amazing how much anime contributes to Japan’s tourism!
Persona 3 movie - I watched it after I got back from Tokyo… and all i can say that you should just play the game instead, lol. It’s good but the game is exceptionally awesome.
The P3 OST was, at one point, my OST of choice while going to and from buildings in Ateneo. I should write a book about how to treat your life like an RPG.
Next stop after Tokyo Anime Center was Animate! It’s only about 5 minutes away from UDX, so you can’t really miss it.
Animate, in a nutshell, is a mall for otakus.
On the first floor are anime/manga magazines and random snacks with the cutest packaging!
Too cute to eat!
Didn’t have time to go through the whole building, but I made sure to head to the two floors where they sold character goods!
It was UtaPri’s teacher Hyuga Ryuya’s birthday recently, so they had these little banners in the UtaPri section to celebrate it. You can also write your own birthday greeting on a little piece of paper, and leave it on a box that they especially provided for the character!
Shingeki no Kyojin section = JUST TAKE ALL MY MONEY
I got myself one of these. They made the titans look so cute, I can’t.
Shingeki no Kyojin-themed food - it exists. I wonder if these taste like humanity’s desperate cry for survival…
Sailor Moon fever! <3
YowaPeda’s Onoda would fit perfectly in this scene.
You can dress up your stuffed teddy bears in your favorite character’s outfits! Dibs on the Free outfits on the lower left and the SnK outfits on the lower right!
Haikyuu!! iPhone cases - yes, they also exist. (I mean, what *doesn’t* exist in Japan?)
And so do UtaPri cases. I’ll have one of Ren, please!
Japan will leave you bankrupt if you don’t exercise any self-control!
Evangelion 3.0! Man, that movie was definitely something. I don’t know what I was thinking back in 5th grade when I first got hooked with this series.
I watched the 3 movies, and I ultimately decided that there’s way too many symbolisms in Evangelion for a 5th grade kid to properly decipher. Or for anyone to totally get, methinks. I mean, x number of years have passed, and I still go “WTF?!” about so many things in the series…
Izumi, why so cute?!
We were talked into going to a maid cafe! D: DUN DUN DUN
Maid cafes are super strict when it comes to taking photos… or doing anything, actually! Everything they offer is overpriced and the food they offer usually don’t taste like anything special, but the whole MOE MOE KYUN HAATO HAATO DOKI DOKI KAWAII experience is unique enough to try at least once in your life.
Interestingly, I have actual Japanese friends who have never been into one of these cafes before! They call maid cafes tourist and otaku traps - hahaha are they really?
Sneaked in a group shot when the maids weren’t looking!
These cost us so much, but all is forgiven because they’re cute enough to be blogged and Instagrammed, lol.
To complete our Akiba experience, we took some “cosplay” purikura at a nearby game center! Since we still weren’t over the maid cafe we just went to, the following photos happened…
These were fun! Check out our telenovela pose on the left. <3
The costumes are kind of like aprons that you can just tie around your neck and waist. They may seem like actual clothes from the front, but in reality, the back part is totally bare! You can’t not wear anything underneath!
After our fun afternoon at Akihabara, Izumi had to leave, and I went to back to Shibuya with Emika and Kiko to meet up with Ashley!
Last day in Tokyo today, and my way of mourning is by posting about… well, Tokyo. I think I took way too many photos last March, but there’s really no amount that can justify the beauty and diversity of Tokyo. It’s such an interesting place that’s sure to tickle your fancy in one way or another.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet, since I still have yet to prepare for my flight back to Manila, but these are just some of the photos I took on my last whole free day when everybody else went home already. Also included some photos that couldn’t fit in all my older Tokyo entries. Exploration time is the best!
View from one of the many exits of Shinjuku Station.
Recently, Shinjuku’s been growing on me. I’m starting to let go of Shibuya bit by bit because it’s getting a little bit to chaotic for me. Signs of aging, lol
Found sakura on top of Isetan Shinjuku. Was not surprised they had a whole garden on the roof deck.
Will I be able to see these again next year? I hope so!
Pink and white, and all sorts of cute.
Snapped on my way to my main destination that day.
ARTNIA, the Square Enix cafe. I wrote about it here. It took me a while to get here because I was unfamiliar with the place, but it shouldn’t take you more than 20-30 minutes from the station like me, haha
dazzlin shop staff at Shinjuku LUMINE EST. I love shopping here more than Shibuya 109 because the spaces are wider and not cramped, and you can more or less find the same brands anyway!
I met Mari Kotake-san, the sister of Asami Kotake-san of MURUA. Mari works with the brand RODEO CROWNS!
I met up with her because I forgot to give Momoko-san and Asami-san something, and she was kind enough to pass it along for me. Much thanks <3
Shinjuku just after sunset.
Spotted at Studio ALTA in Shinjuku! I waited for my college friend here, and it gave me so many nostalgic feels because Studio ALTA was actually one of the first shopping malls I was able to visit the first time I ever went to Tokyo.
Liz Lisa also surprisingly followed the vintage style trend all over Japan!
At a restaurant in Shinjuku called Brooklyn Parlor. I met up with my college friend Harvey who has been working for Uniqlo in Japan since we graduated.
Anything with egg <3
Tokyu Plaza in the middle of Harajuku. You can’t miss this place because of the unique design of the building! I usually go here for Baroque Japan Limited’s global flagship store The SHEL’TTER TOKYO.
Couple having fun at Harajuku.
The famous Prisila wigs!
Have a nice back?
As usual, Harajuku street style is the best. You’ll never know what to expect!
I walked back to Harajuku Station to rest early and pack my stuff, when I was lucky enough to witness a part of Harajuku Fashion Walk!
And then I realized that it was a Sunday. Lucky!
I used to just see this style in photos when I was in high school. Seeing it in the flesh was way too awesome!
I was taking photos, and the man on the left approached me, asking if I was able to take good ones. From there, we had a short conversation and I found out that he’s the guy behind JapaneseStreets.com! What a coincidence, right? The guy on the right is Junnyan, a Harajuku fashion icon and one of the founders of the Harajuku Fashion Walk.
I feel like my luck doubles every time I’m in Japan. Can I stay here?
Gingham is trendy, even in Harajuku fashion!
Mikako Tabe in Harajuku Station.
All things come to an end, eventually. Too bad I had to go back to Manila so soon! Even if I’ve already been to Tokyo so many times, I never run out of new places to go to.
Back at Shinagawa, I had a quick dinner with artist Shogo Sekine! He gave me this artwork and it was way too overwhelming, knowing how good and famous his illustrations have been in the fashion and lifestyle circle in Japan. He’s the guy responsible for some of the LINE stickers that we use on Instagram! Such a talented person!
I took over a thousand new photos in Tokyo this month, so this entry will definitely be not the end of my Japan series. Until next time!
Here’s another reason why you should go to Tokyo! Say hello to Artnia, the Square Enix cafe and store in Shinjuku.
As a Final Fantasy fan, I put this place in my priority list as soon as it opened back in late 2012! Wish fulfilled!
Here is what it looks like from afar. This egg-shaped structure is actually bigger than it looks. Apparently, Square’s office is in this area too!
Artnia is divided into 3 sections. The first section is the Luxury Area, a showroom/display room of sorts where you can find character figures, silver accessories, etc. Even perfume so you can smell like your favorite Final Fantasy character. We never see them changing clothes often or taking a bath, so…? LOL
Not sure if you can buy everything here, but some of the prices are indicated so I guess it’s possible if they have enough stock.
Everything in this area was so pretty! I want all the Trading Arts and Play Arts Kai figures!
The second area is the Cafe & Bar Area! It was packed when I went as it was a Saturday, but the crowd should be more manageable during weekdays.
I wasn’t able to try the drinks and dessert out, but I wish I did! The strawberry parfait has Aeris’ ribbon on top, while the chocolate parfait has a miniature chocolate version of Cloud’s buster sword.
The coasters have Shin-Ra logos on them, and Seventh Heaven’s (Tifa’s bar) logo is printed on the table napkins. So adorable!
At night, the bar opens and they serve some drinks named after the summonable entities in the Final Fantasy games - Ifrit, Shiva, etc. Non-alcoholic drinks such as Potion and Hi-Potion drinks are also available. Awesome way to replenish your HP after a long day’s work.
As for the prices, don’t expect everything in this store to come cheap! This is official Square Enix stuff, after all. Cocktails are ¥840-900, parfaits are ¥900-950, and pancakes are ¥950. The sandwiches can go up to ¥1010.
Somewhere in between the dining area and the figurine showroom is a music shelf where you can find soundtracks from different games and listen to them for free! Nifty!
The last area is called the Fancy Area. This is a narrow space by the entrance where you can buy all sorts of Square Enix merchandise, from plushies and keychains to mugs and trading cards.
Found a couple buying Dragon Quest armor sets for their kids! Oh, to be a kid in Japan. Imagine all that easy access to geeky stuff.
Best part was being able to buy some souvenirs for my brothers, and bring some of these chocolates home! I got 2 boxes of materia chocolates at ¥3000/₱1300 each (Ouch!) for myself and for my boyfriend.
Total funny moment there because he never played Final Fantasy VII, and these might as well be ordinary chocolates for him. Good thing he had brothers who were able to properly appreciate these shiny works of art!
You can find Artnia at East Side Square 1F 6-27-30 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 〒 160-0022. Enjoy!
Taking a break from the extensive travel posts to share the beauty of Japan’s cherry blossoms! I was 2 weeks too early for full bloom, but one tree is definitely better than nothing.
Thanks to our helpful friends from METI who researched about the earliest blooming sakura trees in Tokyo, we were able to quickly and successfully find one at Shinjuku Gyoen.
Kawazu-zakura are some the earliest-blooming type of sakura! The reason why they’re called this is because the trees’ birthplace is found in Kawazu-cho in Izu Pensinsula. There’s a street there that’s lined with bright pink (Kawazu-zakura trademark) cherry blossom trees, and they hold a festival for it around February/March.
Most of the time, we see sakura illustrations and designs in pink. But the white ones, or the somei yoshino, are the most popular kind of sakura, contrary to popular belief.
If you have friends who went to Tokyo during this year’s sakura season, you’ll notice that most of their photos show the white/light pink variety. There are other kinds that even bloom later than usual, but I’ll save that for next time I go to Japan in spring!
Anyhow, I was so lucky to catch these vivid pink ones! It was so hard to stop to take photos.
I had another jacket with me as this outfit was definitely too cold for March weather! I just deliberately wanted to match with the background, lol.
Dream come true! I’m pretty sure you guys are sick and tired of me saying that in each and everyone of my Japan-related entries. But really, cherry blossoms are EVERYTHING. <3 Seeing them will make you forget all your problems. THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE!
It’s tricky to plan ahead for hanami/cherry blossom-viewing (the weather is unpredictable and the bloom dates change every year), but more or less, first week of April is the safest time to go. I want to go again next year!
Meanwhile, you can check out 100Tokyo for more pictures of sakura. “100Tokyo” is a new website which hopes to present Tokyo’s 100 best places and things to experience.
You can also check out my blog’s Tokyo tag to browse through my past travel diaries.
Early this year, I booked a flight to Tokyo for work and a supposed vacation. After a few weeks, I was invited to Tokyo by Google Japan and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and coincidentally, the dates overlapped the trip that I had just booked. Talk about fate!
METI invited different bloggers from all over Asia to be ambassadors for Cool Japan (クールジャパン), a government funded initiative to bring more attention to Japanese contents such as anime, manga, food, fashion, etc. to other countries.
The main purpose of this trip was for us to participate in a new campaign called “100Tokyo”. “100Tokyo” is a new website which hopes to present Tokyo’s 100 best places and things to experience. This explains all our #100Tokyo hashtags on Instagram and Twitter.
I can never, ever get tired of going to Japan. I already went multiple times last year, but I still have tons of things I want to try. Thanks to METI and Google Japan for bringing us to different places so we can experience the best of Tokyo for ourselves.
On the night before the main activities, we had a welcome dinner at Ginza Sushiko Honten, a one-star Michelin restaurant that dates back to 1885.
You can find it at Marunouchi Bldg. 35F, 2-4-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-6335.
Easily the best sushi I’ve ever tried in my entire life. Everything just melts in your mouth!
I was able to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi a few years ago, and have since included eating in any fancy sushi place in Tokyo as part of my bucket list.
After watching this documentary about Jiro Ono (an 85-year-old sushi master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant), you’ll definitely want to go to the nearest Japanese restaurant for a quick sushi fix! So inspiring, and not to mention, visually appetizing.
Similar to the documentary, the sushi chefs at the restaurant we ate in also experienced years of rigorous training and hard work.
The next day, we went to Nihonbashi Hunatsukiba and rode a boat limo to experience the “Venice of Japan”. I’ve never been to Nihonbashi before so this was a new experience even for me.
With Laureen, Camille and pretty Thai blogger Melissa.
Rainy days always get me down! But dark!Nihonbashi was still gorgeous nonetheless.
Nihonbashi (日本橋) literally means Japan Bridge. The area was built around the first construction of the bridge in 1603, thus the name. Because it was the starting point for “Edo Five Routes”, a cluster of roads that connected Tokyo with outlying prefectures, Nihonbashi served as an immensely important place where people interacted and traded with each other.
Nihonbashi boasts of Japan’s first public company, postal system, bank and department store.
I’ll definitely come back to this place when the weather is better! I’m so intrigued after Miho from METI expressed her genuine love for Nihonbashi. I really want to check out Haibara, a 200-year-old shop that specializes in washi (type of Japanese paper). Their products have always been so good that it became part of the Vienna World Exposition in 1873 and the Paris World Exposition in 1878.
Another place I’m interested in is Yoshino-zushi Honten (吉野寿司本店) where the toro nigiri (fatty tuna) originated! Food is always a priority! NOM.
It’s both a good and bad thing that the JR Yamanote Line exists. I heavily depend on it to go to places like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Shinagawa (where I like staying), Tokyo, Ueno, Yoyogi, Harajuku, and Akihabara, but sometimes it is too convenient that it discourages me from trying all the other subway lines!
To get to Nihonbashi Station, you can go on the Ginza, Tozai and Asakusa lines or Mitsukoshimae Station on the Hanzomon and Ginza lines. Nihonbashi is also a 5-10 minute walk from the Nihonbashi Exit of Tokyo Station.
After the boat ride, we headed to a new mall called COREDO Muromachi! It just opened on the day of our visit!
Our first agenda? Dressing up in kimono/yukata! Another dream come true!
Kyorakutei/Megurian (橋楽亭／囲庵)in COREDO Muromachi 3 is a place where you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture. This includes tea ceremonies, kimono dressing, etc. Definitely a must-visit for tourists.
We were free to choose the design we wanted to wear and I chose black and pink with hot pink color accent simply because it matched the lipstick I was wearing, lol. And because BLACK!
We had to strip down to our undergarments before these lovely ladies helped us to dress up. 3 layers and lots of ribbons to secure the layers in place, but it was all surprisingly very comfortable!
Tried it on once and I still have no idea how they were able to do this. I heard some people have to put on kimonos and yukatas on their own! It’s definitely not an easy feat!
There were some ladies who also volunteered to fix our hair and tie them hair up with cute floral clips to match our outfits! How thoughtful of them!
Cool Japan / 100 Tokyo crew and representatives from the Philippines (Me, Camille, Laureen), Thailand (Melissa), Taiwan (AiAi), China (Lala), Singapore (Xiaxue, QiuQiu), Malaysia (Cheesie) and Indonesia (Stella).
There was a kimono exhibit in the same mall so we went there to check it out.
We were allowed to wear our kimonos for a while so I can definitely attest to its comfort! I was so sad when my little dream sequence had to end and I had to go back to wearing normal clothes! /CRY
Took detail shots of the patterns and embroidery on the exhibited kimonos. It’s no wonder how some of these go for tens of thousands of dollars.
Would love to wear this dainty-looking one.
Kimonos are definitely works of art!
Patterns printed on washi. These became my iPhone wallpapers for a while.
You can find a cute souvenir shop at the mall’s ground floor. Here’s a quirky fan that needs no introduction.
It’s traditional x modern/pop culture collaborations like this one that give me so much life! Japan will never be not cool.
Calling all Hello Kitty fans!
The next photos are all about the stores and products that you can find in the new COREDO Muromachi.
Because it’s Easter today, here are some bunny chopsticks at a chopsticks store that sells so many different designs and colors!
Not your ordinary slippers.
World-famous Tabio socks that are proudly made in Japan.
Unique design from a glasses store called POKER FACE (ポーカーフェイス). The items are produced in Sabae, Fukui Prefecture, the leader in Japanese glasses production.
Can I live here?
Looks like my future house, lol.
Team Singapore/Malaysia decked out in pastels! Too adorable not to post.
Lunch time at Hounenmanpuku, still in Nihonbashi! Finished this in about 10 minutes. SO GOOD.
I heard getting a visa to go to Japan won’t be required anymore for Filipinos. I noticed there are more flights from Manila to Tokyo too. It’s definitely our year! You can check out the 100Tokyo website as you plan your itinerary. You can also refer to my blog’s Tokyo tag to read about my own experiences.
Happy Easter! <3