Posts Tagged 'Photography'

Teatime with Peter Rabbit in Tokyo

More like lunch at 2pm because it took forever and three train lines to get to Jiyugaoka, but all that wouldn’t fit in the title. Anyhoo, I went to the Peter Rabbit Garden Cafe in one of the fancier ends of Tokyo.

Here you can find the storybook characters sitting around at blue gingham tables and looking very much at home surrounded by waitresses in that same blue gingham. It was all very Beatrix Potter and very English. I didn’t read a lot of Peter Rabbit growing up—I was more of an Arthur & Friends kid—but it was one of the better done themed cafes I’ve been to so far.

Themed cafes that commit through and through are the best ones to go to. They had a pretty extensive menu with things like Peter Rabbit’s House (a burrow of rice and salad leaves for trees) and Mr. McGregor’s Winter Menu. Plus the quintessential afternoon tea

They called this a Sleepy Salad Plate; I came for the omurice and stayed for the bread. That might have been the best bread I’ve ever had on the side. So fluffy! So buttery! I probably could’ve ordered five of those instead of a main meal.

The Healthier Choice™ i.e. Peter Rabbit’s House and Mr. McGregor’s Vegetable Curry (Peter Rabbit included). There was a little light inside the burrow and it all looked very homely until it was eaten up.

The dessert was a lot bigger than I expected. I’d been in the mood for something light and cheesy, and the Caramel Cheese Parfait turned out to be something of a monster with whole chunks of cheese tarts stuck on top. But delicious! Just do not attempt to finish alone.

Meanwhile the tart was a lot lighter even with ice cream on the side

I had about three seconds to take this picture before Peter Rabbit started sinking into the froth. On the menu it says cappuccino, but if you’re an ambivalent caffeine drinker like me you can ask for hot cocoa instead. Life hacks at the Peter Rabbit cafe.

You don’t really have to be a Peter Rabbit fan to enjoy this place—it’s a pretty special cafe that somehow manages to feel cute and cultured at the same time, which is exactly the kind I like.

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Hokkaido in Winter 2018

Right before finals season I escaped to Hokkaido for three days because freezing in the northernmost part of the country sounded better than studying.

And it was beautiful! I admit I’d voted against Hokkaido at first because I didn’t feel like braving the harsh natural elements, but once I saw all that snow any reluctance I had went out the window. You can actually enjoy the cold, once you’re numb enough.

It helped that we didn’t take a plane there—we went by shinkansen and just zoomed straight to Hokkaido. By zoom I mean it took us 4 hours from Tokyo, but that’s still unprecedentedly fast.

Got my ekiben for the journeyNothing puts me in the mood for a long train ride better than a bento box. I used to bring the boxes back home, so I have an unnecessarily large collection of old bento boxes piled up over the years.

The shinkansen from Tokyo only takes you up to Hakodate (the bottom tip of Hokkaido or what they call the genkan), so that’s where we stayed for three days. I’ve never been in this part but I loved it. It was all brick and snow and the occasional flock of birds.

History nugget for you curious learners out there: the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse (literally named for what it is) dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when it was a trading port. This was one of my favourite places in Hakodate and I had a lot of fun trekking through the snow between all those brick walls.

Thawing out our frozen selves with miso ramenTypically I’m more of a tonkotsu ramen person, but when in Hokkaido…anyway, it was delicious. And hot food really is a blessing in extreme arctic conditions.

As I quickly found out everything in Hakodate is photogenic(I mean…what’s frostbite if you can get nice pictures out of it?)

Wouldn’t be Hokkaido without meeting a snowman standing in the middle of nowhere.

Somewhere along the road we decided to stop and get lunch, and because of the long one-way roads there was a whole ordeal backing in and out of different driveways while we tried to find a place to park and eat at. But thanks to my brilliant intuition (and prior research on the gram), I found a chain restaurant called Lucky Pierrot by chance. And—italicising for emphasis—I want to live there.

It’s hard to describe, but it was dressed like a carnival. The funny thing about this place is that when I read about it on social media no one said anything about the decor. The talk was all on their burger which, fair enough, is what they’re famous for. Except I don’t care enough for burgers to go all the way to a place just for one. Coincidentally though I spotted the Lucky Pierrot sign (with a pierrot on it, obviously) along the road and convinced everyone to go there instead of eating ramen for the second day in a row. And what a good decision it was.

Everything was huge in this place. I didn’t do a good job of capturing it in perspective, but believe me when I say this bowl was almost twice the size of my face. It was a katsudon of Brobdingnagian porportions, and not even ¥1000.

I had the omurice, which was not as scarily big as the katsudon but still an endeavour to eat my way through. Ironically the one thing I didn’t get a picture of was the famous burger, but we did try it. We were probably just too busy feeling guilty about eating a 14-cm tall burger with chunks of fried chicken wedged inside.

We also went to visit the monkeys, who were happily soaking in the onsen while the humans shivered on the other side of the railing. I see those pictures of monkeys bathing in a hot spring on some snowy mountain all the time, but I’d always wanted to see them up close. I’ve changed my mind now—those monkeys are vicious. It’s a much better idea to watch them from a safe distance away while they shriek and run around while pushing each other off the ledge. Check out Hakodateshi Nettai Botanical Gardens to meet some cool monkeysFor just ¥100 you can even get a big pack of snacks to throw their way and watch them fight over it.

I only spent two nights in Hakodate, but everything was worth the cold and slipping around in the snow. I still want to go to Hokkaido in the summer one day, so hopefully sometime soon I’ll be back with a change of season in my pictures.

The Cutest Ice Cream Shop in Tokyo

Also Most Decorated. And Most Likely to Attract High School Girls. Or at least that was the demographic that made up most of the crowd when I was there. But look at that ice cream! It looks like a toy.

I was out on an ice cream hunt in Tokyo for research (believe me), and I found this place in an alley in Harajuku. It’s popular enough that there’re already people queueing in the morning, and I’m not surprised—the whole place is a living Instagram post. It was all pink and kitsch and very strategically decorated with photo props

Even the girl at the counter dressed for the part.

They had a whole lineup of cones covered in bright pastel chocolate and sprinkles—colours and more colours. I thought I’d get to choose my own but it turned out to be random, though it doesn’t really matter anyway because the ice cream inevitably just becomes a rainbow mess.

Thanks to their toppings, which are ridiculously adorable. You’ve got the clssic stars, hearts, alphabets, and if you’re feeling a little wild you can even throw in a chocolate flamingo on top of it. I ended up getting cookie glasses and a big pink bow because I needed my ice cream to be extra dramatic that day. For research, you know.

Their aesthetic is working. There wasn’t a single customer I saw who didn’t spend five minutes pacing around the shop taking pictures at every corner. I mean, I did tooIt’s fortunate that the weather’s become chilly, or my ¥1000 ice cream would’ve just melted right off.

So props to Eddy’s Ice Cream for dressing themselves up wellNow you can’t even just be photogenic with your products, everything else has to be picture-worthy too.

3D Latte Art in Tokyo!

HELLO! Just thought I’d shout that out and dust off this blog because I’ve been away for a while. I just moved, so the past few weeks have been a sort of chaos. I’ll probably blog properly about my new apartment in Tokyo because I like it so much, but for now let me talk about another place I like.

There’s something coming out of my latte. And it’s adorable.

Around the start of summer I went to a cafe called Reissue in Harajuku, and they do custom latte art made to order. You just tell them what you want on top of your drink, and they whip it up for you exactly how you want it. I liked it so much I went back multiple times just so I could get different characters made.

It’s even more fun when you go with friends and see all the different characters coming out in your cup! We’ve got a lot of popular ones here—the staff know what’s in demand and they’re extremely good at what they do. Even if you don’t specially order an original latte art, sometimes they’re nice enough to give you a surprise. (Moomin up there was a surprise)

I’m pretty sure one in every three customers gets a Shiba Inu. I got one that day, and it’s probably still my favourite of all the latte arts I’ve gotten. They even got the foam eyebrows in! Shiba Inu eyebrows are everything.

Kanahei’s one of my favourite artists, so I asked for her signature rabbit on one of my recent visitsI had to show the staff a drawing of the character this time, but I’m amazed at how well they can reproduce a picture they saw for all of three seconds.

It’s not all just drinks either. They have cakes too! Very important. It felt a bit of a waste if I just went all the way there for one drink so I tried their cakes and it went perfectly well with the latte.

And it actually felt really good to just be sitting there having a break at a small cafe. It’s in the quieter streets of Harajuku too, so you get some peace and quiet in a comfy place. I was surprised they weren’t crowded at all each time I went there because you’d think a place that pumps out the cutest latte art you could find would be packed—but even on a Saturday they only had a sprinkling of visitors. All the better for you and me though

Super chill place. I haven’t been there for a while because I’ve been so busy moving (and consequently I’m now a fair bit further away) but one of these days I’ll be back

The Nicest Cat-loving Cafe Owner in Tokyo

I’m writing this in a state of denial now because summer is ending and the new semester is just around the corner. I think it’s because I had so much time to myself and went to so many places (Home! Disneyland! Bali!) and now it’s jarring to sit myself back in the classroom.

But I’m sure I’ll be over it by the end of the week, so time to get cracking.

One of the places I went to recently was Kuroneko-sha, a small cafe near Machiya station in Tokyo. And I really want to talk about it because I had such a special time in that place and the cafe owner was one of the kindest I’d ever come across. He really likes cats by the way, which is why the cafe’s name literally means Black Cat House.

It’s a cozy space and very much like a kitchen straight out of a typical home…which I guess it kind of is. It’s sandwiched in the middle of a residential area, so it’s small and along a quiet street.

When I came and sat down at the cafe myself I realised that somewhere I’d gotten a cut on my leg (that’s another story I’ll never know about lol). It was a pretty big one, so the owner noticed me cleaning it up and offered me a bandage. Which was such a nice gesture of him, but I got kind of embarrassed and just said I was fine

And then he gave me cookies to eat while waiting for my food. (MY HEART)

I got the special Neko Musubi set, which came with two huge cat-shaped rice balls, miso soup and an even huger plate of side dishes. I need the world to understand how great this is, because this massive portion cost me only ¥750 and it was everything I could want in a meal

Grilled fish, fried chicken, pork, salad…you know a cook is generous when the side dishes are heavier than the actual main. Everything was cooked on the spot, so it was all hot and juicy and completely filling. After eating this I got full even before starting on my rice balls

Even the miso soup almost stole the show. I’ve never had a bowl that had more ingredients inside than the one I had at Kuroneko-sha. It’s usually just miso soup, and maybe a few scraps of seaweed and tofu, right? But there were so many other ingredients inside it was almost like opening a gift. A gift of meat and veggies.

So that was my meal! Or so I thought, until I got a surprise at the end.

He gave me scones on the houseAnd they’re cat-shaped. Cat-shaped. This is the way to my heart right here. I was more overjoyed than full at this point so I ate it all even though I was stuffed past the point of no return. And I was amazed at how generous he was in giving so many treats. My random little injury probably had something to do with it, but I really think he’s just a kind person who wants to make his customers feel good in his cafe. He told me to come back again someday, but I didn’t need to be told because I was already planning on it

So that was my story! Of the owner of a small cafe who loves cats and made a girl’s day by giving her such a good meal and more. The place is called 黒猫舎, so check it out if you’re in town!

The End of Summer at Tokyo Disneysea

Summer is almost over so I squeezed in a day at Disneysea—14 hours at the Land of Dreams.

Going to the Disney parks is such a huge culture by itself in Japan that if you don’t plan your strategies well, you might end up getting eaten alive by the hordes of Disney maniacs. My friend and I mapped out our route the night before so we’d get the most out of our day in the most fun way possible. And it worked!

We started with these little Duffy buns from Cape Cod Confectionery

I’ve been to Disneysea a few times now, but it’s so big that I still get to try things I’ve never done before. Like the monorail that goes from American Waterfront to Port Discovery. Usually I’d just watch it chugging along from the ground, but this time I went up and found out for myself what a nice ride it is

Can’t forget the actual rides. I’m proud to say that we got to ride our favorites not just once but twice—throughout the day we managed to nab Fastpasses for the Tower of Terror, Raging Spirits rollercoaster and the Indiana Jones Adventure. Have I ever mentioned the Tower of Terror is my go-to attraction at Disneysea? It’s appropriately creepy, the sudden free fall is the best thrill you could get at a Disney park, and you get your picture taken at the top.

Since it’s September they were gearing up for the fall season and putting lots of pumpkins and yellow leaves around the place. It was pretty perfect weather when I went too—still warm enough for a T-shirt but cool enough we could walk around sans sweat.

Halloween’s not for over a month, but Disneysea was starting to bring out the villains in full force. Plenty of the visitors were getting excited too, like this one person that lined up all their Duffy villains along the ledge.

Got to try some of the Halloween-themed snacks too! The Ukiwa shrimp bun from the Seaside Snack stand usually looks like a plump little lifebuoy with Donald Duck on the packaging, but this time Ursula has taken over and made the whole thing purple.

In the spirit of trying new things, we had lunch at a Disney restaurant for the first time. Usually I just walk around eating on the go, but I’d never really sat down and eaten a proper meal here. The buffet was surprisingly affordable for a Disney park restaurant, so we went for itHonestly it was already worth it as long as they had Mickey-shaped food. That’s the whole point of a Disney restaurant, right? So I ate a Mickey rice ball and got some Mickey chicken nuggets in too.

They had a good dessert bar too! If you ever want to get a good big meal at Tokyo Disneysea, hit up Sailing Day Buffet at American Waterfront.

We just couldn’t stop eating that day. I really wanted to try one of those famous turkey legs, but we were waiting to go on our next ride and the nearest stand only had chicken legs, so chicken it was. But it was good chicken. How many more times am I going to say the word chicken?

I feel like that day was really a day I could just take my time and enjoy the place without rushing around the crowds. We knew what we wanted to do, and throughout the many hours we were just walking around and around Disneysea and appreciating every small detail they put into their decor and performances and hospitality. This may be Tokyo Disneysea, but they pack so many different themes and places into it you really feel like you’re travelling the world inside. How else would I walk from an Arabian city to the Mediterranean next door?

Good day spent at DisneyseaThey do their job so well that they can make me willingly spend all my money and time in their park when I’m not even the world’s biggest Disney fan. But I love theme parks, and Tokyo Disney Resort blows most of them out of the water. It got us walking 36,000 steps in a day, eating at every corner, and jumping in the rain.

Towa Mowa Cafe’s Dessert Aesthetic

Nowadays cafes in Japan can’t get by with just word of mouth; you need every post, like and share on Instagram to drive it into everyone’s desires. And with a presence and aesthetic like that, Towa Mowa’s been doing a great job at making it the place to go to. (That’s how it worked for me anyway)

They have the cutest entrance! I had to take it with a fisheye lens up close that day because it was right in front of the road and I didn’t really want to stand it the middle of it. But I kind of like how it’s puffing out at you with all its different little doors.

Inside is just a lot of cute food. They don’t serve any main meals so it’s pretty much all desserts and drinks. Perfect for tea timeI had the seasonal sweets plate the first time I went, so I got an extremely attractive cherry tart with ice cream on the side.

And a latte, which of course they had to make adorable too.

Both times I’ve been to Towa Mowa it was never crowded because I went on a weekday before school, so I always got to take my time with my dessert. The space there is like its own warm, airy bubble, so everyone just kind of sits around enjoying their own peace.

The second time I had the chocolate gateauWith a big cookie perched on a dollop of chocolate cream and a little pot of raspberry sauce on the side. Like the cake wasn’t already good enough—they had to stack it up and turn into a work of art that I spent five minutes taking pictures of.

I had an ice cream float to go with that one. What a classicEveryone around me was sipping as these bright drinks (their melon sodas are a shocking green) and it just felt very summery at that moment.

Another cafe crossed off the list! I actually have a whole bunch of them I want to go to, thanks to Instagram and the power of circulation. Half my time is spent scrolling up and down potential places I want to visit, and the other half goes to actually finding them. You get real gems out of it sometimes, like this one, so it’s fun to sort of window shop for cafes.


▷ . Cheryl

A university student in Tokyo who takes pictures and puts them on the Internet

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