Posts Tagged 'Photos'

A Real Cafe from a Ghibli Movie

Today I went to a special place, possibly one of my favourite places in Tokyo I’ve been to in the time I’ve stayed here. But first let me tell you about one of my favourite films of all time (yes, it’s relevant)!

The Cat ReturnsOr Neko no Ongaeshi in Japanese. It’s an old Studio Ghibli film, and it came out more than a decade ago when I was 7 or 8. I couldn’t get enough of all those cats—even the human protagonist turns into one—and years later it’s still one of the few shows I always go back to.

Anyway, these fish cookies are a recurring motif in The Cat Returns and a symbol of friendship between cat and girl. And they’re the same ones in the first picture on top. They’re real!

Everyone knows the beauty that is Ghibli art; this scene of a cake shop was just one of many gorgeous shots in The Cat Returns. What’s less known is probably the real shop that it was modelled after. The director of the film based it on an actual cafe in Koenji, Tokyo, and I never knew until I stumbled across it online. So of course I went to look for it

It was just right there around the corner of the street! So modest, so unadorned, but so surreal to see come straight out of the Ghibli film I love so much. It’s in a quiet neighbourhood and not a lot of people pass by. There aren’t often fans or people who watched the movie coming for a pilgrimage either, probably because The Cat Returns isn’t as known as some of Ghibli’s bigger hits.

Inside the cafe hangs a framed message from Morita Hiroyuki, the man who directed The Cat Returns, and it’s the most adorable autograph I’ve seen.

“Thank you for not only appearing in our The Cat Returns, but for even making these cookies in real life!” The famous fish-shaped cookies initially appeared only on the film and weren’t sold in original cake shop, but it seems that once they found out they were in a Ghibli movie they decided to make them for real as thanks to the director. And I’m so glad they did

They keep lots of film memorabilia inside, and a guest book for people to write in. It’s not a big cake shop, but there are a bunch of stools lined up along the wall and the counter for people to sit in and have tea. When I dropped by there were two grannies talking away with the shopkeeper while eating cake, so it seems like a good place to come to when you want some peace and dessert.

I only got the cookies and had to dash, but I enjoyed my 5 minutes inside lots. And the other 10 spent taking photos outside.

Tokyo never stops surprising me; I didn’t think I’d come across a place so familiar yet what was always just a fictional part of my childhood. Coming here made me feel like watching The Cat Returns all over again. And if you haven’t seen it before, you should too! It’s highly underrated and I need to share this imaginative gem of a Ghibli film with everyone. And maybe cookies, if there’re some left.

Tokyo Food Diary

Sakura trees are losing the pink and sprouting the green—the season’s crossed over the threshold of spring and said goodbye to those photogenic flowers for another year.

Here’re the last of my sakura food snaps—if I wasn’t taking pictures of the flowers I was walking around Tokyo looking for everything pink and limited edition, like this cupcake I found in a bakery cafe at Nishi-Ogikubo. It’s amazing how much difference one sakura leaf makes to a plain cupcake. Really though, it was salty and sweet and an unforgettable ten minutes spent on a dessert.

Something homemade for a change! Except the pasta. When you walk into a store and see a packet of pastel pink sakura-shaped pasta, there’s no question about it—it sails straight into your basket and then you litter it all over your bento later because it’s just so cute.

A rare choice of drink: Pricey, hyped and taking over my Instagram explore feed, but if there’s anything that can make me go to Starbucks it’s a domed pie crust over a frappe. Creativity right there! The American Cherry Pie Frappuccino came out last week in Japan, and it’s already become a star. I liked the drink okay enough, but the real satisfaction for me was in breaking up that crust and scooping up with the drink.

On to a tale of more humble beverage. I went to the supermarket and saw all these boxes of soy milk, so I swiped them off the shelf and finished them in two days. It’s easy to become a serial soy milk drinker when they come in packaging and flavours as fabulous as the Kikkoman range. I mean…mango soy milk? It was calling my name!

Getting some egg action with the most beautifully constructed quiche. I don’t actually love egg’s benedict—I’m not usually a fan of gooey food that runs all over the plate and leaves a mess, until it comes protected in a buttery quiche crust. This was at Quiche Yorozuika in Omotesando! They just don’t do anything but make really good quiche.

All filled up and ready for the new week!

Sakura in Tokyo 2017

The cherry blossoms are out to play again! Unlike me, because it’s the start of the new school semester. But I’m still seeing sakura everywhere in the streets and loving it.

Last year I saw them for the first time and went all out going for hanami seven days a week, but this year there’s less time to be crazy so I’ve been content with just walking under all those pink trees. And maybe a picnic or two.

Of course my camera is still being stuffed with a massive load of sakura pictures. Everything in the memory card’s been pink for the past few days.

I went to Ueno Park again and had my fill at the food stalls. Everything was up and festive and I got a stick of dango just like last year. Except this time it was pink! Sakura dango, a stick of the softest mochi I’ve ever had.

It got paraded around for a bit too, while I was trying to get the best photo position with the sakura trees in the background.

It’s so fun seeing everyone out in the streets looking excited about seeing the flowers. There’re so many people walking around appreciating the sakura that it just makes you feel better about starting the new school year.

And if you see a bunch of old grandpas with their heavy duty tripods and full-frame DSLRs lined up, you know it’s a good photo spot.

Sakura at sunset is also beautiful and unexpectedly photogenic, as I found out at Rikugien the other day.

Cafe itonowa

Cafe itonowa! It’s been making its rounds on Instagram and their seasonal strawberry cakes are something of a poster child so I went to try it for myself. Twice, in fact.

It’s one of those small, Instagrammy cafes where everything is in shades of white and tan and customers walk in with little else but a camera. It was near Asakusa and a bit far out from the city centre, but at opening time there was already a queue. It’s popular!

Their menu is pretty uncluttered, with just a few main items and drinks. And lunch sets, to coax customers into getting a dessert along with their food.

I had the toast set which came with cream of spinach soup, so that was healthy.

On my next visit I tried the curry rice, and that was satisfying too. Brown rice doused in grainy curry with a half-boiled egg cracked on top. And a broccoli for some greens, yum.

If you search itonowa up on Instagram, this is the one that’ll probably show up the most. I’d gone all the way there with the intention of getting their famous strawberry roll cake, so I had it with a cup of hot houjicha milk (hooray for lunch sets). Expectations met

These cafes really make you work; travelling there and looking for them in the maze of streets they tend to hide in takes effort, but so far they’ve been worth the trip. I even went to itonowa a second time! It’s a special kind of joy going to a cafe alone and seeing you’re not the only one alone (ha, the irony).

Hong Kong Food Diary

I went to Hong Kong for the first time! And ate approximately six trips’ worth of food, clearly. You’d think we planned our entire itinerary around meals and snack times.

But food in Hong Kong is just that good and accessible—everywhere we went there was something that looked delicious and didn’t make a dent in our wallets.

I think breakfast is such a great way of seeing the every day life of people in the country you’re visiting. The things they eat, the way they order food like they’re talking to a friend, the time they take to sit there and eat. Some of them opened up their newspapers, some of them took a bite and were on their way out.

(We spent a good hour taking pictures while eating like the tourists we are.)

The old-fashioned places were my favourite. This one was called Mido Cafe and straight out of the 60s, timeless in its subdued green hues and patterned tiles.

When we weren’t sitting at cafe or cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style restaurant) eating we were roaming around and hitting all the food stalls on the street. Egg tarts for HK$45! I almost want to write a currency table so you could see how cheap it is in different currencies.

And they were freshly baked.

There was a famous stall called Hop Yik Tai in Sham Shui Po selling cheong fun—they ladled out mini rice rolls onto a plate, splashed it with sauces and gave it to you to eat in the alley next door. No-frills but delicious.

Another famous Hong Kong snack! Egg waffles that looked puffy but were actually crispy and airy inside.

And of course we had dim sum. Because that’s what you do when you go to Hong Kong—eat dim sum every day. It’s hard not to when it’s just! So! Cheap! And my stomach has a huge capacity for steamed buns.

We had the famous BBQ pork bun from Tim Ho Wan and it was a game-changer. No other pork bun comes this close for me. The chain’s got a lot of pressure with its one Michelin star and critics saying it’s overrated, but as far as I’m concerned it was the best I’ve had. I could dream about that crispy crust.

Dim sum was cheap on the whole, but it could get expensive in the swankier areas. I specifically wanted these piggy buns from Yum Cha, which was a proper restaurant in the city with waiters that actually paid attention to you (in fact ours was hovering right in front of us and refused to leave the entire time, but that’s another matter). Anyway, I got the buns and they were the cutest thing on the island I ate.

And if this isn’t the prettiest har gow I’ve ever seen! Certainly the best dressed shrimp dumpling you’ll find.

These were pineapple puffs! If I’m going to pay double the price for dim sum, they’d better come in a silver cage shaped as baby birds.

That was just a fraction of the food pictures I had from the entire trip, but we did actually do things other than eating! Like observing the billions of cats that seem to populate the streets of Hong Kong.

We also found ourselves crawling through a pirate’s cave on Cheung Chau island.

The travel bug is real. I finally got to check Hong Kong off my list of places to go! It was a gritty city cramped with old buildings and movement, but being in the middle of all that meant I got to see all the colours and neon lights and the towering double decker buses up close.

Cake and Peaceful Days at Cafe SOROR

Recently I’ve been on a hunt for small cafes with pretty desserts so it’s a good thing that there are so many hidden around the streets of Tokyo. Everything is designed with heart, from the interior to the beautifully plated desserts.

I went to SOROR, a cafe in Shin-Otsuka near Ikebukuro. It’s tiny, so sometimes people have to wait outside for a table (I waited). But since it was cold out the staff gave us blankets to keep us warm. So kindPlus the storefront is adorable. I want to sit out there!

Lunch plates are one of my favourite things about Japan. Cafe SOROR had the typical sets with soup and drinks, so I had their bibimbap with apple juice.

Their quiche plate was also good

We finished off with dessert and were completely satisfied with the aesthetic and taste of their homemade cakes. Everything was so pretty! There was also a vase of dried flowers conveniently placed on our table that became a prop for our pictures.

It’s the kind of place that I would go to even by myself—a cosy and unassuming space that lets you enjoy cake in peace.

Classy Pancakes at Ivy Place, Daikanyama

I’m simple when it comes to pancakes, but when they appear on a plate at one of the most sophisticated restaurants in Daikanyama i.e. one of the most sophisticated places in Tokyo, the bar is set high.

Ivy Place Pancakes

It’s literally a plate of three pancakes and cream, but that huge, smooth scoop of cream has such an elegant presence for a breakfast dish.

Ivy Place

The atmosphere of the whole place was so neat and upscale and unlike any other cafe I’d been to in Japan. High ceilings! Wooden furnishings! It made me feel fancy just walking through it. Also rewarded, because we’d just spent 40 minutes waiting for a table.

Ivy Place Pancakes

Needless to say everything on the menu is pricey, which is why we only got pancakes. But here’s a story! I ordered pancakes with extra fruits and berries, which costs more—but the waiter made a mistake and forgot to bring me my toppings. So when I asked about the missing berries they apologised and brought them to me at no extra cost. So kindcry

Ivy Place

There were lots of stylish people enjoying their Saturday brunch at Ivy Place, and it was fun to feel like part of that crowd. Even if we didn’t order anything except pancakes (“just water, please”). It was really a special occasion, so I’m glad I got to try it once! And at least I can affirm that their pancakes are, indeed, delicious.

Ivy Place


Welcome ♡

▷ . Cheryl

I'm a university student in Tokyo blogging every weekend about cute food and cute places in Japan٩( ᐛ )و

Read my About Me ☆ to know more.

はじめまして!
大学一年生のシェリルです
毎週日本の可愛い食べ物や場所についてブログ更新していますヽ(´_`) /♪

よろしくお願いします

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