Annual summer trip with the whole family! My brother had a year-long internship at Four Seasons Jackson Hole, so we didn’t really see him for a long time. Well, my mom and I visited him in Chicago last October 2013, but it was only this May that all six of us were complete again. It’s been 10 years since my last visit to San Francisco too!
On our first day in San Francisco, I met up with Kiks, one of my best friends in college. He’s been taking his master’s degree at an art school over there for about a year now, and is actually on a summer vacation here in Manila as of this writing! My brother’s flight from Wyoming got delayed so I had the whole morning free to do whatever I wanted!
Kiks brought me to Mission District, a rather hipster neighborhood which I instantly fell in love with.
Bright yellow pants! I belong here.
We didn’t expect the weather to be so warm and sunny that morning that we immediately had to take a break from all the walking within the first 30 minutes of our meeting.
Dandelion Chocolate along Valencia St. was our first stop! Kiks had an iced chocolate and I had some sort of chocolate-coffee hybrid drink which was absolutely glorious.
So many pretty, photogenic places in this area.
Taken at an overpriced barbershop. If I lived in the US, I’d probably just DIY everything! Don’t want to spend $50-100 for a simple haircut, lol.
Mission District is known to have the largest concentration of street art and building murals in the city. Can we have something like this place in Manila, please?
Día de los Muertos? San Francisco’s Hispanic neighborhood is also on Mission District.
Clarion Alley is a small street between Mission and Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th Streets. Here you can find immensely colorful murals…
And houndstooth patterns on the floor!
I am too pastel for this wall.
"These hearts are dedicated to some members of the SF community who died. If your name’s here, you’re dead. :)"
Voldemort, is that you?
Normally, I’d be grossed out with giant insects, but…
I found a rare flamingo!
The area is also notable for vintage-inspired furniture…
…and bikes, the hipsters’ vehicles of choice.
Ever since I got hooked on Yowamushi Pedal, the idea of biking appeals to me so much. I never learned how to properly bike as a kid, but I’m set on starting in the near future.
So pretty! I want to own one of these.
Density was one of the independent shops that caught my eye. Good grammar is indeed sexy!
This reminded me so much of my friends who never go out without lipstick on.
I bet you read the “shiiing” part out loud.
Sock it to me! Let me have it!
A trip to the most artsy neighborhood in San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without some third wave coffee.
Apparently, they have a rule sheet at their back alley which reads, “Please be respectful of our Caledonia neighbors by not talking about annoying hipster topics, or who you f*cked last night. You shouldn’t do that anyhow, but our neighbors actually can hear you.”
Not talking about annoying hipster topics… is so hipster!
I wonder if you’ll get checkered tan lines if you stay put in this area the whole day.
One of our last stops before I had to head back to my hotel was FLAX art and design.
Arts and crafts supplies heaven right here. The possibilities are endless if you have this many available materials!
Somehow, I wasn’t surprised to see pink hair, tattoos, and patterned tank tops after going to The Mission.
Our the way back to my hotel on Geary St., Kiks and I passed by Christopher Clark Fine Art since they had Mucha lithographs. Spazzed like crazy people because we (and our little college group) adore Art Nouveau!
Aaand that, my friends, was the most hipster morning that I’ve ever had in my life. Stay tuned for more San Francisco goodness in the next couple of weeks!
It was during this trip that I was so thankful for Hong Kong being so near Manila. Early this year, I booked this vacation for myself, only to change the schedule a week before the scheduled flight. I had to attend some important events for work, so I was only left about 24 hours in Hong Kong. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
My mom and brother left Manila on our original date of departure, so I met them around lunch time the next day. I missed going to Langham Place and iSQUARE with them when they arrived, huuu~
Dropped my luggage off at the hotel, and immediately went to Times Square to check out the Batman 75th anniversary exhibition! BATMAN IN HONG KONG. When will your faves?
I think it ended last week, so here are some photos in case you missed it—
Retro Batman and Robin!
Straight from the airport, living on an hour’s sleep kind of face.
Blazer from EMODA!
The 2008 Tumbler.
(I had to do a double take while typing the word tumbler because it looks so wrong with an e…)
Old school Batman!
This was the highlight of the exhibit! It’s always double the fun when exhibits are interactive.
People can take pictures from certain photo spots (there are instructions on the floor) to get that 3D illusion that you’re caught by Joker, etc. Cool beans!
Saw these cute notepads at a bookstore in Times Square.
World Cup x MCM. I was thisclose to getting my first MCM bag (it was black/white/yellow with snakeskin) but figured I should just visit the flagship store in Korea when I go in October! I heard MCM is cheaper in Korea by 10-20%, plus the fact that EXO went there so… *fangirl feels*
Quick macaron and coffee run at Laduree.
I got my energy back when I visited my favorite Aland store! BUY ALL THE KOREAN GOODIES!
Can’t miss out on flat-brimmed hats if you’re into K-style.
Black and white, camo and stripes. I felt like I belong already.
I can’t with the glitter sandals though…
iPhone cases that come with the most adorable toy charms!
Sunglasses! I’ve been wearing them more often since I went to the US last May. Can’t believe I only just started to appreciate them now! I NEED MORE SUNGLASSES IN MY LIFE.
There’s Laforet in Harajuku… and there’s Laforet in Hong Kong! I don’t know if it’s owned by the same company though!
Lots of quirky stuff that you can’t really find in malls. There are also a number of stores that sell clothes imported from Korea, if you’re into that kind of fashion. It’s just near the giant SOGO in Causeway Bay.
A store dedicated to our furry feline friends!
Huu, so cute. I die.
Fashion for the boys.
Laforet x KOBITOS! Do not know if cute or creepy!
My brother made a dinner reservation at a restaurant in Central, so we went there early to check the place out because I haven’t really had the chance to do so in the past.
In a nutshell, Central is a high-end business district with lots of designer brands and luxurious hotels in the area. I loved people-watching here because everyone was dressed so well! I got posh, sophisticated vibes from every single person I passed.
L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon! THE DREAM! I only eat fancy stuff when I’m with my family, and I have my younger brother to thank for all the good food that I’ve eaten so far. Ever since he got back from his internship in the US, his restaurant standards have never been higher! On the contrary, I’m such a kitchen noob. I can’t even cook rice or fry an egg.
Believe it or not, I usually just settle for fast food when traveling alone. I spend all my money on clothes and make-up, if not gadgets lololol I hate spending more than 30 minutes eating at a restaurant when there are other things that I can do instead #travelpriorities
BEST BURGER EVER. The three of us got a sampler each, and it was pure bliss.
Didn’t bother taking photos of all the things we ordered because we were too excited to eat! I swear I’d make a horrible food blogger.
It was during this dinner that I came to the conclusion that this 24-hour trip was worth it. My tummy was very happy!
Welcome to Saint Laurent Paris, my future home. </3
Time to call it a night. At this point, I was a walking zombie.
Woke up the next day, and realized that I was going home already. WHAT THE! I just arrived! *cry*
So I went on hyperdrive, and started going to the nearest malls for some last minute shopping. Went to Miramar Shopping Center for Liz Lisa, Lip Service, SLY, Noela, moussy, snidel, etc.
Went to The One Mall for EMODA, MURUA, and the new STYLENANDA! Park Sora brings all the girls to the yard.
Got the shirt in the middle for my boyfriend. I feel like my greatest contribution to his life is fashion, lol. I get him clothes every time I travel, and I’m so happy that he always wears them!
Last but not the least - collect point at Mira Mall.
Went on a shopping spree at JEANASIS. Lots of discounted items at LOWRYS FARM too. It was a good thing I didn’t splurge on these brands when I was in Tokyo last May! Patience is a virtue. Every sale is worth waiting for, lol.
Before heading to the airport, we had coffee and dessert at Wired Cafe! An invisible ball of energy draws me closer to anything Japan-related, wherever in the world I am. They have cafes in Shibuya, Shinjuku and Shinagawa, so this may seem familiar!
Caramel potato chips! The caramel ice cream was glorious, but I wish the chips were more salted.
You know how McDonalds McFlurry and fries make the most wonderful combination? I need more of that sweet and salty contrast!
Chocolate parfait as a last farewell.
This trip went by too fast. Someone bring me back to Hong Kong. I haven’t finished shopping and eating yet!
(It was such a short trip that I only brought my small a5000 with me. Not bad for a tiny camera, eh?)
On my last day in Tokyo, before I headed to the airport, I decided to follow Gervin's suggestion of going to Aoyama. Aoyama is known for a lot of things, but among fashionistas, this is *the* place to go to if you're in the mood for some high-end local and international designer shopping.
It’s not too far from Harajuku and Omotesando, but I came from Shibuya so I took the Ginza line from Shibuya Station to get to Aoyama-Itchome Station.
Also, there are no photos of me in this post because no one was around to take my photo. #foreveralone Maybe you can spot my reflection, at least.
Balenciaga. I covet.
Issey Miyake Men.
Suddenly, it’s so peaceful and quiet. Nothing like Harajuku and Shibuya!
You can’t skip the Comme store in Aoyama. They have most of the Comme des Garcons lines, including some of their collaborations with other brands.
People sometimes just come to Aoyama for the famous Prada store! I won’t spoil how the building looks like (but you can spoil yourself by searching on Google, I guess) but it was designed by Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron. If you don’t know who they are, they were the ones who were responsible the Beijing National Stadium / Bird’s Nest.
Chloé flagship store in Japan.
Trivia: Did you know that Steve Jobs’ signature black turtle necks were all by Issey Miyake?
Tsumori Chisato. Bohemian style meets kawaii!
The main store of Yoku Moku is also in Aoyama! You can spot their blue brick lounge from a mile away.
I randomly chanced upon Blue Moon The Natural Bar while walking along one of Aoyama’s big streets! It’s a popular outdoor bar slash organic market that has a quirky, hipster vibe to it. I’ve only seen photos of it during nighttime so I didn’t expect that it looked like this in the morning!
Handmade wood collectibles. TAKAIIIIIIIIIII
Beautiful temple in the middle of Aoyama.
The FURLA Aoyama boutique is one interesting place. They have “FURLA yoga” on the 4th floor!
SARARIMAN x STARBUCKS.
Also, reflection #5.
Okamoto Taro Memorial Museum. His work reminds me of the angels in Evangelion.
Red Valentino. Can I live here? Their Aoyama store looks like some sort of futuristic castle!
The lantern-shaped Marc Jacobs flagship store. At night, the top part is supposed to light up like a lantern too!
Jil Sander Navy!
Undercover. Couldn’t sneak a photo of the interiors, but on the ceiling are thousands of lightbulbs that move with the wind and make sounds!
I was too early for Acne! The store was still closed when I went to visit. Some of the Aoyama stores open early, while some open after lunch or early afternoon.
Like the Alexander Wang store. I’ve been eyeing a particular Wang bag recently, and just when I was so ready to go shopping, the store was still closed! I just took it as some sort of divine intervention. Japan, why must you always drain all my fundsss
Oh well. Settled for pictures instead! I’d wear this outfit in a heartbeat!
Yohji Yamamato! THE MASTER. I was so shocked when the Yohji Yamamoto display at Shibuya all contained super bright colors! I’ve always been so used to seeing just black and white from him, lol.
Trivia: Did you know that Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo (of Commes des Garcons fame) were once rumored to be in a relationship back in the ’70s or ’80s? TOO MUCH PERFECTION~
Last shot before I got on the train back to Shibuya to catch a bus to the airport. I have no idea if I missed anything important in Aoyama, but I’m determined to come back again one day! I’m so in love!
Early that morning, I passed by a school in Aoyama and they were dancing to Arashi. Enough said.
Dumping all my photos from my short stay in Tokyo last May in this post, because I already posted a separate entry for Akihabara, and I’ll be posting another separate entry for Aoyama!
Japan temporarily gives me an infinite source of energy. It’s unreal how much I’m able to do in such a short span of time. When I’m here in Manila, all it takes is one blink for the whole afternoon to pass!
Safely arrived in Shibuya! I usually stay in Shinagawa because I like going home to a more peaceful station. This time, however, I had to book a hotel in Shibuya for convenience.
It’s not that I dislike Shibuya! It’s just that the station and the areas around the station get really chaotic at times, and I have crowd phobia (i.e. just looking at Laboracay photos makes me sick - what more if I go there?).
When I say everything in Japan is kawaii, I mean everything.
I posted this on my Instagram and people really thought it was GD. I doubt GD would be able to freely roam around the streets of Shibuya without being mobbed by fans.
Literally had no time to breathe, but it was all good because I never seem to get tired in Japan!
The elevator at Shinjuku LUMINE EST was so pretty.
Dropped by the Laduree at Shinjuku to buy myself some macarons.
My new favorite place to shop for accessories and iPhone cases is Me% in Shinjuku! You can also find this store in Shibuya 109.
Spotted at Bic Camera Shinjuku. If this were not so expensive (4,100 yen is a little too much, I think), would you get it?
That evening, I had an important meeting with some important people! They took me to a fancy restaurant in Shibuya where we had the most awesome dinner!
Their project just got approved by the Japanese government, and I can’t wait to share it with you once all the nitty gritty preparations are done! Keeping it a secret for now!
I usually don’t like anything with red bean, but this was glorious.
My view every night I go back to my hotel.
My second day was my only free day, so I went to Akihabara to meet up with friends! Wrote about it here.
Here’s a photo of a rainy Shibuya crossing, taken as I went down the elevator in my hotel.
With Ashley and Emika in the middle of Shibuya! You can tell that Ashley and I were in total spring mode, lol.
Emika rocks black all year round! Made me miss my all-black style circa 2010/2011 (?)
We queued at the new Kiki & Lala Cafe, found on the 7th floor of Shibuya Parco. It only took us less than an hour, and I say “only” because on weekends, people line up for 2-3 hours! Crazy!
The cafe also sells official Kiki & Lala merchandise! Japan, just take all my money.
Even the menu is irresistibly adorable! We wanted to order everything!
Kiko and I got Kiki & Lala lattes that come with star-shaped sugar wands.
Ashley and Emika got Kiki & Lala sodas topped with ice cream.
I heard the reason why people don’t mind lining up for this place is because it’s only going to be open for a limited time. Kind of like a pop-up cafe!
Later that night, I met up with my friend Kumiko-san at Cheese Table, also found in Shibuya Parco.
Yes, almost everything in this restaurant has cheese in it, omg! I opened the portal to the cheese dimension, and I just wanted to stay there forever.
We had fondue (not in photo because we were too excited to eat it) and pizza. Nom!
After Tokyo Anime Center, Animate, maid cafe and cosplay purikura with Kiko, Izumi and Emika at Akihabara, Kiki & Lala cafe with Ashley, and Cheese Table with Kumiko-san at Shibuya, I spent the rest of the night with one of my favorite people in the world - Gervin! We talked for hours at the Starbucks in Shibuya (the one that’s visible from the scramble crossing).
I ended up going back to the hotel past midnight already. I told you - Japan gives me super powers. Super extroverted powers.
The next morning, with barely 5 hours of sleep, I met up with the lovely Ogawa couple (Sachie-san from CANMAKE Philippines, and her husband Tomo-san who owns a clothing store in Shinjuku) for breakfast. They took me to this popular french cafe in Shibuya where they served different kinds of bread and jam.
I swear we didn’t plan our matching outfits!
Wore some of my new purchases from EMODA Shibuya 109. Blogged about the store here.
Speaking of EMODA, their global webstore currently has sale going on! Up to 70% off! I’m so torn whether or not to splurge again because I already bought so much stuff in Tokyo last May, huhu. SHOULD I STILL…?!
Went back to my hotel to change! On this day alone, I changed outfits 3 times - once for breakfast with Sachie-san and Tomo-san, once for dazzlin touchMe show, and once for MURUA touchMe show.
Or 4 times, if you count my nighttime pajamas.
Super ladylike style for dazzlin! I was obsessive enough to match my outfits according to the brands’ concepts. I blogged about the dazzlin A/W 2014 touchMe Collection here.
After the dazzlin show, Shogo (who gave me his extra ticket to dazzlin) and I went back to Shibuya Station, where he took a cab to another work meeting, and I went back to my hotel to change outfit one last time. Then I waited for Ashley (I gave her my extra ticket to MURUA) at the station before heading back to belle salle for another show.
After the MURUA show, Ashley and I wanted to try out the Alice-themed cafe in Shibuya. I feel like you can never run out of places to go to in Tokyo alone!
I can’t remember where it was exactly, but I think it’s in the same building as Bershka.
There was a giant merry-go-round kind of structure in the middle of the restaurant. Wish we had similar themed restaurants in Manila too! I can already imagine all the pretty photoshoots.
The menu. CAN I TAKE IT HOME?
We ordered drinks just because they made them sound and look so interesting in the menu, but TBH I’d stay away from them next time! They tasted quite funky, though they were definitely Instagrammable.
Alice cosplay. As expected from Japan.
While the drinks were disappointing, the food definitely delivered! Ashley and I loved this avocado and shrimp dish! It was shaped like a caterpillar too, so we couldn’t help but squeal (at the cuteness) when we first saw it.
Rabbit-themed pasta. This tasted good too! I’d totally come back to this cafe for this dish.
Apparently, this was part of a monthly special offer, so they gave us a free Alice gashapon at the end of our meal. YAY TOYS
My last night in Tokyo, and of course, some purikura had to be taken. <3
After this, I just have two more Japan posts (MURUA touchMe show, and quick Aoyama tour) before I start bombarding everyone with my US travel diaries! Please stay tuned!
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!