Thursday, 21 May 2015

Goat Cafe in Shibuya!

As my birthday was in a few days, Leo and I decided to go out and buy something to wear for my birthday event in Shibuya. Tokyo is extremely hot and humid right now, which is a little unusual for May, so we were dying for refreshments. In the backstreets of Shibuya, we came across Sakuragaoka cafe. The cafe itself is big, bright and sells delicious food and desserts, which isn't unusual for cafes in Shibuya. However, the cafe does have one quirk - it's home to two pet goats!

The goats live in a little enclosure on the side of the cafe, so you can watch them through the window while you have your coffee, or pet them through the railings when they stick their head through. They were both very docile and friendly and seemed to love visitors. The shop girl often takes them for walks around the cafe, where there is some greenery so it looks as though they have a very happy life.

Their names are Sakura and Chocolate, you can probably guess who is who! If you find yourself a big fan of them you can choose one of the goat-themed ice cream parfaits that the cafe has to offer - the Chocolate soft and Sakura Sundae. I don't think they contain any traces of actual goat, so don't worry,

The inside interior is mostly wooden, with metal railing accents, much like the goat enclosure, which gave it a really fresh and farm-like feeling. It was kind of unusual to be in such a natural and spacious environment whilst being in central Shibuya, I definitely recommend this cafe for people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The menu was pretty extensive, serving a mixture of Asian and European food, Everything was made from scratch with fresh vegetables. There was a pasta of the day option; which Leo chose. It was prawn, broccoli and bacon spaghetti and it was very fresh and a perfected option for a sweltering day in Tokyo. I had Thai prawn coconut milk curry, which was super creamy and lightly spicy. I find that Thai food is always fantastic in Tokyo~
 I was laughing because the salad almost looked the same as the goat feed.

The cafe has a really nice vibe and the food is delicious, if you are ever in need of the companionship of goats, and you are in Shibuya, I definitely recommend checking this place out.

We ventured in to Shibuya 109 afterwards where popular hime-gyaru and hime-kaji brand Liz Lisa were doing a collaboration with My Melody and if you spent over 15,000 yen you could get a free pink selfie stick! Naturally I had to have it!

Leo bought me wonderful things to wear on my birthday, I am so excited for my event!

Of course Leo and I ended up taking Purikura to commemorate our day in Shibuya, as we don't get free days off together often and it's my birthday!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Harajuku Kawaii Week and Moshi Moshi Karaoke box!

Recently, I became a "Moshi Moshi friend" as the application process recently opened up on their website (you can still apply!). Moshi Moshi Nippon is a branch of Asobi system, the company that owns music talents such as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and the Tempura kids, they also hold a festival called "Moshi Moshi Nippon" which aims to spread Kawaii culture all around the world.

My first task as a Moshi Moshi friend was to bring together models for the parade promoting Harajuku fashion week;

(more pictures to come later)

We congregated at the famous Moshi Box in the center of Harajuku, where we were given signs and huge banners to promote the event, then we began our walk around Harajuku, creating kawaii commotion and shouting "Harajuku Kawaii week yattemasu!", having our photo taken and doing interviews for TV crews covering the event. I was entrusted with a huge war-like banner, which made me feel mighty, like I was about to ride my unicorn into battle.

That day in Harajuku was blisteringly hot and we got all kinds of burnt promoting the event, but we also got to meet a lot of interesting people, such as this ridiculously decorated man. I have seen him often in Harajuku and I don't know how to describe his style other than deco-kabuki. He uses creepy looking masks, a onesie and then coats himself in every piece of decoration you can imagine, but somehow making it all work and look fantastic.

He asked us to come with him in Japanese - usually I wouldn't follow a strange man who asks me to go with him, but this time our curiosity got the better of us and he led us outside of Harajuku station, where people began taking our picture. He said "wait a minute" and went to fetch something, then came back with a similarly decorated box. He opened the box to reveal a treasure-trove of cute hand-made jewelry, then asked us to take a piece each. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, but it was such a charming outcome!
I chose a pin-badge with his picture on and Leo picked a fuzzy black and neon bat ring. He also gave us a leaflet about his project named "Hanmyo project". I am researching more about his project, but it seems like he is trying to keep Harajuku culture alive through his hand-made jewelery, fashion documentaries, attending events and meeting people who are fashion-minded. I hope I get to meet him again...

The jewelry he gave me~

We then went to check out part of the event in La Foret department store. The event featured various music lives, fashion shows and fashion snaps. Although we were promoting so we missed most of it there were opportunities to get free Harajuku hair and makeup, and also be featured in some Harajuku fashion magazines. There was also a flea market for Harajuku models to sell their used and hand-made items, but by the time we got there everything had been sold!

After the event we headed back to the Moshi Box, where we had refreshments and did Karaoke. The Moshi box is the information center of Harajuku; you can go there to find out about surrounding stores, use free wifi, buy Harajuku themed souvenirs or even just take a break, there is an English speaker on-hand to assist you. If you want to try out the Karaoke box, just walk in and ask the worker at the service counter.

Did you know that in the Moshi box, Karaoke is free?! Also if you attend the Karaoke box on a Wednesday or Sunday and sing a song that gets a rating of 90% or more then you win a free crepe!
Of course it's very tricky to hit all of the notes, but a free crepe is definitely incentive enough to try!

The inside of the box is luxuriously decorated in bright neon and pastel Harajuku colors, designed by 6% Doki Doki designer Sebastian Matsuda. There are even cute little "Kawaii" and "Harajuku" shaped glasses on-hand if you want to feel particularly fancy during your song choice, or your name is Elton John.

Finally, in true Harajuku spirit, we took Purikura (Japanese style photo booth) in Takeshita Dori as a memory of the day and our fashions, everyone looked so cute and unique, I feel truly happy to have a band of pastel weirdos to accompany me on my adventures.

Finally, Moshi Moshi Nippon will be world touring their event, so please check the website to see if it is coming to a country near you, as Harajuku fashion needs all the support it can get because it has been in decline in the last ten years

 Be wild and stay kawaii!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Broken Doll band and hand-made brand!

Broken Doll is the definition of Kawaii. Both a popular "Kawaii rock" band and handmade clothing and accessories brand, everything is totally oozing in cuteness and pop.

Influenced by Harajuku Kawaii fashion, Satchi is the vocalist for the Broken Doll band which combines her sweet melodic voice with rocking and electronic beats. The band itself has toured all over the world, including at Hyper Japan in London and will soon be touring in Brazil. It makes me really happy to see Japanese fashion and music being anticipated so widely overseas.

Recently we visited their store in Shimokitazawa (about 30 minutes from central Tokyo). If you ever have a chance to visit Shimokitazawa, I thoroughly recommend it; it's famous for vintage and handmade clothing and a rich fashion scene. There you can still see many specific subgenres being worn on the street; such as punk and cult-party kei and also grab yourself a used bargain from one of the many second hand stores.

Broken Doll is located in one of the shopping centers near the station and is instantly recognizable with its neon shop displays, pastel jewellery and cyber punk mannequin. Not to mention the owner, Kensuke has electric blue hair! The shop itself is kind of a hidden gem, so please check the map on the website before hunting for it.

The brand itself has many influences, including 80's music and glam rock, which is why a lot of the pieces feature items like cassette tapes and old vinyls. There is also a cyber and horror element with pieces such as "dead baby in a jar" necklaces, syringe chokers and pastel gas masks, for people who are not into the pastel and cutesy side of Harajuku fashion, this store has something for everyone.

This is the widely popular "heart switch" necklace,

This is Kensuke's workbench making a new product (something perfect for me) the "pegasus choker".

Broken Doll have their own website and frequently ship products all around the globe. I really support hand-made and indie brands, particularly in Japan because it's brands like this that inspire and drive fashion subcultures and keep Harajuku fashion alive. I would encourage people to buy things from smaller, unique brands like this rather than bigger chains.

You can check out the webstore here;
As well as their Facebook page here;
You can also follow the owner Kensuke on Instagram brokendoll_ken

Recently Instagram is really big in Japan, especially for brands and street snap photographers, I think it's a good place to find out what's happening in the fashion world of Tokyo.

Broken Doll Live in Koenji High!

Recently Broken Doll had a concert in Tokyo at Koenji High, where they also sold their hand-made goods. Me and my friends attended of course, wearing Harajuku fashion.
 As I am a teacher in a private school, I can't have brightly colored dyed hair, but a perfect solution for this was "hair chalk" which is exactly as it sounds - colored chalk that you "draw" on to your hair and washes out. I bought mine from a regular cosmetics store in Shinjuku for only 600yen and they come in a variety of colors. Face gems and stickers are super popular in Harajuku right now and you can pick them up for as little as 100yen a packet!

Broken Doll's performance on stage was very electric and exciting, I especially liked their most popular song "I miss you" and the final encore - a cover of Madonna's "Material girl". Although it was really unexpected, they gave it a fantastic harajuku-twist. As you can see, their music is also inspired by the 80's. The whole concert was catchy and feel-good, leaving everyone leaving the venue with a smile. The band itself consists of four members; Satchi the vocalist, Kensuke on guitar, Yuu on bass and Hideya on drums and each member has their own unique style, wearing clothes from Broken Doll, vintage items from Shimokitazawa and also pieces from Harajuku.

You can view their PV for "I miss you" here ~

Satchi was very cute and charming and agreed to take a photograph with me!~

Afterwards me and my friends took Purikura to commemorate the day; Phoenix wore pastel-kei, Tom was Punk and I had morphed into some kind of Harajuku space cat.

Lastly, as I said earlier there will be having a tour in Brazil this month, if you happen to be in Brazil then maybe you can catch one of their shows!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Golden Week trip to Kamakura and Enoshima!

Golden week is always a busy time in Japan as it's a (quite a long) public holiday, so all the workaholics finally venture out into the sunlight and decide to take a nice trip. Of course the streets and trains are packed with people, it's impossible to just walk in and have a meal in a restaurant without waiting an hour and shopping is a nightmare, but that's part of the fun.
We decided to take our trip to Enoshima and Kamakura.which was about an hour and a half from central Tokyo and sort of like Southend-on-Sea.
Firstly, we took the train from Shinjuku to Katase-Enoshima station, which was shaped rather oddly, it kind of reminded me of the bathhouse in Spirited away because it was so bright and cartoony.

Right next to the station is the beach; the sand was a little dirty and the sea wasn't crystal clear, but the place itself was fantastic and a popular place for surfers. Enoshima also boasts a gigantic aquarium, but golden week crowds meant that if we wanted to enter it would have taken about an hour and a half, so we saved that for next time.

We did, however wait in-line for forty minutes to have Enoshima's speciality food "Shirasu-don". Enoshima and Kamakura are famous for shirasu, which is whitebait - a teeny-tiny white fish. In this particular area of Japan you can eat whitebait anything; whitebait burgers, deep-fried whitebait and even whitebait ice cream!

We played it safe and stuck to the shirasu-don (whitebait on rice) with spring onion, pickles and miso soup. This particular dish features both raw and boiled whitebait. It was really refreshing and delicious, especially with the dash of ginger paste they added, if you can get over the hundreds of eyeballs staring at you, I definitely recommend this!

The restaurant had a beautiful view of the ocean too and had traditional style tatami mats, a perfect place to enjoy traditional Enoshima culture.

After eating lunch we headed to one of the local shrines, which is famous for the resident cats that live there! We spotted about three cats, they all seemed pretty elderly and were enjoying the warmth of the sun and the attention from tourists. They didn't seem to mind people petting them or taking photos and are a popular tourist attraction.

I do wonder if they are there all year though, even in winter, I assume they take refuge in the shrine under the protection of the gods that dwell in the shrine.

Next we headed to Kamakura, which is a short hop on the train. Everyone who goes to Kamakura must at first visit the famous "Daibutsu" the giant bronze statue of Buddha. There are a few of them in Japan, such as the one in Nara, but this one is definitely worth a look! The entry is 200yen to see Buddha, but there is also a beautiful shrine and traditional Japanese garden attached to it and a gift shop that sells hundreds of Buddha-themed goods.

After watching the great Daibutsu we became hungry again so we decided to eat some of Kamakura's speciality foods. First we started off with Sweet potato Korokke; kind of like mushed-up sweet potato covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, it was strangely salty but sweet at the same time. I personally found it delicious and a nice alternative to fried chicken which can be found at every convenience store in Japan.

And then sweet potato ice cream!

You can buy this anywhere in Kamakura and they come in varying shades of purple. they are all delicious and all have a sweet potato aftertaste, it's perfect for people who don't like super sweet flavors like chocolate.

Then finally, I discovered this hidden gem in Kamakura; the studio Ghibli shop!

The building itself was made from stone and look as though it was pulled straight from a ghibli movie, the interior was one and the same with a very european and medieval feel. Not only were there mounds and mounds of cute collectables such as plushies and figures, but practical things too like clocks, towels and kitchen utensils. I kind of need ghibli themed kitchen now.

If you are ever in Kamakura, please do check out this store and some of the speciality foods, next time I want to try "Tako Senbei" a kind of octopus rice cracker that is super popular from the area.

Have a great golden week everyone!~