Year End Party with Horimitsu The Tattoo Master of Yokohama… aka wabori galore!

(I want to praise myself for not using  a clickbait title here as I totally could)

July 2013, Kitasenju, humid summer night. On my way back home from work I stopped by my favourite bookstore and found Tattoo♥Girls — a magazine about tattoos targeting Japanese women. At the time I was thinking about touching up my arm tattoo, so I was quite thrilled to see a nice catalogue of studios in Tokyo. After browsing a bit, I bookmarked the page introducing studio LaRuche.

December 2013, Studio LaRuche in Shinjuku. I had my first tattoo session with Betty. She turned my poorly drawn kokeshi into a little piece of art and I came back to studio Laruche many times after that, to get new ink or just to say hi to Kazu-San and Betty.

May 2014. I started blogging and decided to share some information about having tattoos in Japan and where somebody should get tattooed in Tokyo. I was also featured in the 2014 issue of Tattoo♥Girls. I started receiving e-mails from people and a heap of them asked me for help with bookings, some information on tattoo prices, advice etc. With time, it turned into a somewhat regular thing and I currently help the studio create their website in English, manage their Facebook page, answer inquiries in English and manage bookings for foreign people looking to get tattooed at LaRuche.

December 2015, Yokohama. Kazu-San and Betty asked me if I’d like to join a very special end-of-year party organized by the famous hand-poke tattoo master Horimitsu ( Every year he invites his clients to a private party and presents his artwork to a very closed circle of people. And on top of that, Betty was his apprentice and I just had to see the person who helped her develop her mad tattooing skills. Of course I had to be there!

I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that I’d get to see things not many other people get a chance to see in their whole life.


I guess you could say it was a regular company end-of-year party at first. Maybe a bit more casual since only a few people were wearing suits.

I sat at one table with the LaRuche crew — Betty-san and Kazu-san and for the first 30 minutes everyone was busy devouring the delicious top quality shabu-shabu beef the restaurant owners had prepared for us. Just look at it! Never in my life have I tasted meat so bursting with flavour and so amazingly tender!


Special thanks to Betty-san and Kazu-san for inviting me to the party!♥


Betty’s hand tattoos


And then it began. Master Horimitsu gave the guests a sign and they started leaving the room in groups of three. When they returned to their seats they were wearing nothing but fundoshi — an article of traditional clothing worn as underwear (and barely covering the secret bits ), I just couldn’t help but stare at their intricate tattoos in awe. 


It was simply amazing. I would never have thought that one day I would be sitting somewhere in Yokohama, feasting upon the finest beef in Japan, surrounded by Japanese people with fantastic full body tattoos. It was such a rare view, I didn’t know what to lay my eyes on. Media in Japan, and the whole country in general, likes to pretend that Japanese people don’t have tattoos and it’s the weird foreigners who come here and plant strange ideas in the minds of the poor Japanese. It is simply incorrect and…Okay, I prepared a few more fancy adjectives to put here, but to be honest I’m tired of the whole *OMG tattoos* discussion so let me stop this train of thoughts right here. If you think otherwise — cool, good for ya. Let’s agree to disagree. I happen to have attended a party for people with traditional tattoos which of course might be associated with particular groups of people (hence photos of those tattoos only), but these days young (not only! you’d be surprised) people get more Western designs, cute one-point or lettering tattoos. And they all look badass. 

Getting back on track…!

It was amazing, but also really intimidating. I kinda realized why people with traditional Japanese tattoos are banned from entering certain places (though that affects pretty much everyone with any type of tattoo). I believe I am one of the few people who got this chance to see this with their own eyes, so trust me here — it is hella intimidating. There was something different about the men, they seemed really confident, not afraid to tell you off if you stared at them too much (which didn’t happen, but I got the impression it could have happened). 




I myself would probably be seen as a person with many tattoos if I only decided to show them off (though I don’t so you can’t really tell), so you might be surprised I claim that the whole experience made me feel like a 1st grader who accidentally entered a clasroom full of high schoolers. I cannot find the perfect words to describe it, but elegant hand-poke body suits with traditional Japanese designs do make one look powerful and yeah, I’ll say it, scary in a way. 


One of my favourite photos. The woman was the wife of one of the men. You cannot see it here, but she covered herself with a white towel and the men couldn’t turn around when she was in the room, so no worries.

We chatted for a while and she complimented my tattoos. Many Japanese people I met did that too (if any part of my tattoo was showing which is rare), but you can never tell how honest they are really and I have my reasons to think it’s all lip service so don’t get too excited if a Japanese person comments positively on your tattoos.

I knew that she meant what she said and that was really, really nice.




Master Horimitsu asked all of his customers to pose for him one by one and diligently took detailed photos of all the art he has created.







(One of my favourite shots 🙂 )



Men in the photos I took are so different from the businessmen with serious faces I see everyday going back home after hours of overtime.



One last thing…

I feel like I need to specifically include this information as I’ve received lots of comments on Instagram regarding this matter and you were probably looking for it in this post anyway. Are those men members of the infamous group that does illegal things? I honestly DO NOT KNOW, but I know for sure that most of the attendees were just regular salarymen in love with the art of wabori — whether you believe me or choose to stereotype them is entirely your business. I DO NOT have any associations with the said group, I DO NOT have any special connections as some seem to think judging by their comments on my Instagram. I got a chance to see this hidden part of Japan and I took it. That’s all.

I hope you enjoyed this mini-coverage of the very special end-of-year party I attended. Oh, and if you’re OCD about the inconsistent logos — that’s a prevention measure I had to take to stop people from stealing my photos (so don’t steal my photos, yo).

Thanks for reading! ♥


What has happened and what’s going on

Hi guys, it’s been a while!  If you don’t count those two solitary posts from August and September, you could say that I haven’t blogged in, like, 6 months?! Now that I’ve promised to reactive the blog I’ve abandoned for months, I have to keep it going! I’ve been thinking a lot about what direction I should take my blog. I was ready to give up, throw in the towel. But when I thought about it long and hard, I realized I really like having my own place to share all the cool places, cute cafes, interesting facts and even just my daily boring life sometimes. At the moment I’m rather busy not only with the daily grind, but also things like job-hunting and studying for the next JLPT, so I won’t be able to post that often — I promise to keep updating at a somewhat steady pace though. I also realized that I didn’t give you much opportunity to read about my experiences or personal views on different topics. In fact I was rather vanilla when it came to choosing topics to write about. I didn’t want to touch controversial topics before, but now I think ‘Actually, WHY NOT?’ So yeah, anyway, feel free to ask me questions about me and my life in Japan, if there’s anything you ever wondered about or there was no one yet to answer your question. I’ll try to include more advice and recommendations as I get asked about various things quite frequently. Hopefully you’ll like this makeover. I won’t be posting my OOTDs anymore as Instagram seems to work better for these type of photos (I will sell some of my stuff though, check out my Depop account!). I decided to keep my monthly digest posts, as they probably give a good insight into what the daily life of someone who decided to live their life in Japan looks like, although it might not be as exciting or crazy as most people imagine.

The last few months were like a crazy roller coaster though, with an insane amount of ups and downs. Let me fill you in on what has happened and what is going on.


I must say that September started off pretty well. Weather got a bit autumny, I went to Tokorozawa and even blogged about it, met up with my Twitter friend Zerosonico who snapped some awesome pics…


…went to a Winner’s concert…


I caught the last moments of summer in Makuhari…


… and even became a Hina Doll for a day.

(Would you like to know where you can experience this fun makeover? Let me know!) 


Like I said, it started off pretty well. I should have known that just when everything seems fine, you should expect life will kick you in the teeth, and most likely will do it with twice the power you could ever expect. Having said that, the end of September was absolutely horrible. Whatever happened, and some rather heavy stuff did, it was the main reason I stopped blogging for a while. I will not go into needless details here as it’s all far away and there’s no real point in digging it up now. If you follow my social media and have any sort of deducting skills, you probably figured it out anyway. At that time I just needed some time off. I went back to instagramming fairly quick, but mainly because it’s fast and easy— and taking pics around Tokyo was one of the things that made (and still makes) me happy.


I was still in some kind of an online hiatus for the bigger part of October and didn’t go out that much hence the lack of pics. I did go out to eat sometimes and discovered that Taco Bell is the feast of gods and chestnut ice cream isn’t edible at all. Really, listen to my advice on this one and don’t ever buy chestnut ice cream.


I’m lucky to have amazing friends who don’t mind dressing up in silly costumes and taking purikura pics with me, despite the fact that we’re both closer to 30, rather than 20 years old. While we’re on that topic, I thought it would be interesting to introduce my best friend Ayaka and tell you about her in more detail, so a special blog post might happen someday soon.


On the last day of October I spent a lovely day in Kichijoji, wandering around Inokashira Park and hunting for cute cafes. If you haven’t been there, plan a trip to Kichijoji for your next day off because the area is top notch!



Pretty eventful month. I kept myself busy and tried to spend every day off with friends. With some of them I visited fancy Japanese restaurants and ate grilled eel, others took me to Taco Bell and if you asked me which one I prefer, I’d have a hard time responding to that question as I love them both equally. (Update: I gave it serious thought and I have to say…TACO BELL ♥)


For quite a while I felt strong aversion to all things Korean and was kinda worried that the September stuff would irreparably ruin BIGBANG for me, but worry not, it didn’t. The boys gave their best again and this time I was lucky enough to have gotten tickets for two days! I went to one of the concerts with my friend Sharla and here you can see her video of us preparing for the concert and here’s the one taken on the concert day!

And actually, ever since the concert, things started to get better and better. 


I spent most of November studying for JLPT. I studied in all my free time, at every lunch break and then after work. All my days off work looked the same — I woke up, went to a cafe and studied for 6-7 hours. It would probably have gotten boring real fast, but this time I had a very good study partner* who showed me lots of great ‘secret’ study spots, so different than your run-of-the-mill Starbucks, occupied by high schoolers from dusk til dawn. Ueno, Marunouchi, Yurakucho, Sendagaya…

(*study partner as in: I studied my Japanese stuff, he studied his uni stuff) 



It got all romantic and Christmassy, my study partner and I started hanging out more often and visited all the nice “illumination” spots. Take notes and be sure to visit them next year, if you can! Shinjuku, Roppongi, Tokyo German Village (which is not actually in Tokyo) ↓↓↓

(I’ll be posting a separate post about Tokyo German Village — while the place is really cute, it doesn’t get the coverage it deserves)


6th of December. I had the JLPT test in the morning and as I studied for it for a few weeks, I didn’t worry about it too much (← OK, that’s a total lie, I was freaking out). My JLPT took place in Ichikawa in Chiba Prefecture and from there I had to somehow transport myself to Yokohama, 2 hours away by train. Needless to say I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got to the next venue but it was all worth it. I got to attend a very special event and see things not many people have a chance to see with their own eyes. There will be a whole post dedicated to it, so I won’t go into much detail now. I’ll just give you a quick sneak peek.


The end of this year was definitely one of the best New Years I have had so far in Japan. I went to Kusatsu where I discovered that crab is actually insanely delicious, skiing is fun and a doctor fish manicure is something I’d like to repeat. I also experienced my first ever outdoor hot spring and let me tell you: nothing beats watching the snow fall on you from the starry night sky, as you soak in steaming-hot water with no one else around you. Moments like that will be one of the best experiences of your life, if you ever have a chance to try it. (Worry not, there will be more photos from Kusatsu!)


I was lucky to have spent the final days of 2015 with some of the loveliest people on the planet ♥


On the 31st I did what most people in Japan do. I ate toshikoshi soba, went to a shrine and wrote down my wishes for the New Year on a prayer plaque. I went to the majestic Yasukuni Shrine and drank amazake… Then I had to kill time for nearly 3 hours in a manga cafe watching TV, but that’s a story for another time.


Several minutes before midnight I stood in front of Tokyo Tower and was virtually floating along in the wild crowd. I guess the only reason I didn’t get trampled by the excitedly celebrating crowd was that there was someone in that crowd who held my hand.


And this is how I entered 2016 with a peculiar feeling that this year will be a good one ♥

Oh, by the way, his name is Yuya


Guys, thanks for staying around even if I wasn’t active for the last couple of months. I got lots of e-mails and messages of support, thanks for that. The dark clouds are gone and I’m very optimistic about the things that are yet to come, so be sure to come by from time to time to see what’s new in my chronicles of living my Tokyo dream ☺

Thank you for reading!♥

J-horror movie location: The Grudge 2!

Maybe you noticed that I put this entry under my Places I recommend category, but I did that just because I don’t have a Places that will give you nightmares one. If you’d rather watch 10 hours of Dancing with The Stars than one horror movie, sleep with a light on, wouldn’t go to a haunted house in an amusement park even if someone handed you a suitcase full of money — I have bad news. I definitely do not recommend a trip to the place I am going to show you today. However! If you passionately watched Goosebumps or Are you afraid of the dark? as a kid, Paranormal Activity is like a bedtime story and you think Sadako (Samara) would actually look no different than a regular teenager if she trimmed her bangs a bit — hop on Seibu Ikebukuro or Seibu Shinjuku Line and go visit Tokorozawa!

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The Grudge House

〒359-1116 Saitama-ken,
Higashichō, 15−15

One of my students made this map for me and it was actually the only source of information I used to get to the destination. I found two blogs with more detailed directions, but somehow I liked the idea of following the map, it felt like some sort of treasure hunt, that whole sense of adventure stuff.





Before going on your Grudge-ghost hunting adventure, it’s a good idea to fill your belly with something delicious. My friend and I found a rather shady looking restaurant and didn’t expect much, but OH MY GAWD WAS IT DELICIOUS! It was hands down some of the best ramen I’ve had in Japan! 



Back to the spookiness…

It was my first time to wander around Tokorozawa. I don’t want to scare you or discourage you from visiting this place, but it was one of the most eerie looking towns I’ve ever been to. Once I left the bright commercial street full of people, I found myself surrounded by all these scary looking houses, with dark windows, rusty gates and rooftops with a thick blanket of ivy covering them tightly, as if no one had lived there for at least a couple of years.


(This super creepy house was used in the movie too!)


There it is! One of the scariest houses in the history of Japanese cinema!


I’d like to congratulate the movie makers of The Grudge. The location they chose was just perfect — I mean, just look at this sinister looking neighbourhood. When I was there, I felt shivers down my spine… even now just looking at these pictures is giving me goosebumps!



What’s there? Just a normal looking house one could say. It did look quiet innocent, but to be honest I just couldn’t look at the windows for more than 2 seconds. I might look super brave in these photos, but don’t let your eyes deceive you. I was terrified! My heart was pounding and every unidentified sound made me flee in total panic!


This is it! The haunted Grudge House! Is there really something going on? I checked it for any potential haunting, and it seemed ‘clean’. And how exactly did I check it? Caution, creepy things are coming.

So, as we read on Wikipedia: 

The Grudge describes a curse that is born when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage or extreme sorrow. The curse is an entity created where the person died.”

The Japanese really do believe these things. Ever heard of jiko butsuken? Let me explain it shortly. Jiko butsuken apartments have little to no chance of being rented despite super low rent. Basically they are houses where the previous residents died of some unnatural reasons: murder, suicide, drowning etc. There’s a whole website dedicated to these kind of apartments → Oshimateru (English version). I checked out this place and apparently it doesn’t carry any creepy history, but who knows…


The fact that the curtains were left open and there were live chickens (or some other birds) in that cage you see in the bushes was really weird. Seeing garden furniture and various objects randomly placed all over the backyard made it look as if there wasn’t a living soul there. But it definitely looked like there was a soul of some other kind.. Would I go inside? Oh hell no! Nope, nope, NOPE!


CAUTION! There are infrared cameras set up by the entrance to the house. Apparently 4 daredevils got into the house and snooped around. One question: why would anyone try to go in there? Why would anyone go there at night??? (Infrared camera suggests there might have been attempts like that)


And here’s another spot used in the movie — DUDUDUMMMMM…. The bridge!


It was just a regular bridge, but I found it somewhat spine-chilling to be sitting in the exact same spot, where we could see Kayako with bloody stains splattered around her.


Have you watched any of The Grudge series? I remember I watched it with my roommates at a summer camp when I was 16. There was a curfew and we were supposed to be sleeping by 10 pm, but watching a horror movie at midnight seemed so rebellious, I’m sure you know what I mean. Little did I know that nearly 10 years later, I would see the place with my own two eyes! Whacky!

Would you go visit the house? Would you go in if you could…?

Thanks for reading (and enjoy your Ju-on adventure!) ♥

Tokyo journey continues… aka 10 things I like about living here!

3 years ago I arrived in Japan. I like to think that everything happens for a reason and particular events in life lead me to the place I am right now. Coming to Japan was definitely a new beginning. I got a job, I met amazing people, I became completely independent. I started my adult life right here in Japan, 9000 kilometers away from home.

After 3 years, I feel a lot of routine in my life. Work, home, PC, sleep, work, home, PC, sleep. That initial enthusiasm and interest in everything around me has gradually disappeared. I got used to being here, I know all the things you won’t read about in guidebooks with pretty pictures. Sometimes I miss that feeling of bliss when I opened my eyes in the morning and thought “Wow, I’m in Japan, this is amazing”.  I’ve been a bit grumpy lately, for a bunch of reasons it was hard for me to find much positiveness in the daily grind.

I needed to see the good things again, so I sat down and wrote down all the things I like about Japan and how it changed me and my life.

(photos by Chris )

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1. Living here is like a never-ending treasure hunt

 Downtown Tokyo is exactly how you imagine it — full of neon lights, skyscrapers, busy people who never let go of their phones. But once you realize that you’ve been to all the touristy places, you start exploring. You can wander around Tokyo for hours, days, months and I am absolutely sure you will find new things every few steps. Hidden cafes with clientele with an average age of over 70, unique street art splattered all around, lovely tiny stray cats, little shops with handmade or vintage items that can’t sadly compete with the monolithic vast department stores and gradually disappear. Don’t think too much about the weird Japan you know from TV or newspapers. Forget the supposed forehead bagel ‘trend’ (the biggest nonsense I’ve seen in my life I swear), forget otaku and idol culture, underwear vending machines (they probably exist in some deep dirty underground, but trust me — regular people don’t think it’s okay) don’t think too much about Harajuku fashion — that’s all part of Japan I suppose , but it is not how Japan really is.

2. Everything is organized

People queue and rarely cut in lines, no one’s business is more or less important than others’. There are instructions, notifications, warnings and signs everywhere. Though sometimes you might feel it’s really patronizing, you will always know what to do, how to use things, how to get somewhere — because it is all written and explained somewhere for your convenience. For that reason I think I am more gullible and take things for granted. In the UK I took some yen to the city center in order to exchange it to pounds. I found a legit looking currency exchange point, handed money to a good-looking cashier, got my money, counted it and was a bit surprised I received much less than I expected. But I thought I must have made a mistake calculating. It just didn’t cross my mind to ask about anything. When I went back home I checked the receipt I got and that’s when I saw I was charged a 10% service fee. There was no information on the counter. There would be a notice on the counter and the cashier would *probably*  inform me about it — if it was Japan.

3. Japan taught me to care more about the environment 

I still can’t stop myself from cringing whenever I open a bag of snacks and I find that each little piece is packed in a separate paper creating mountains of trash. However! I can’t imagine throwing trash on the street or leaving it on the train, now I can carry it in my bag all day if I need to do that. If I had a dog, I would clean after it thoroughly. I sort garbage: burnables, non-burnables, plastics, cans, glass, household items, batteries… I can’t say I don’t make sorting mistakes anymore, but I do my best. As you may know a few weeks ago I visited my family and friends in the UK and Poland, and let me just say that clean Japanese streets never looked better than the moment I saw them again after 2 weeks of being away.

4. Tokyo is where my friends are

I have met lots of amazing people, I probably would have never met any of them if I hadn’t come to Japan. I have friends from places all around the world: US, Canada, UK, Chile, Singapore, France, Germany… and we all met here in Tokyo. I just want to mention one thing: I’ve seen comments like “All foreigners in Japan hang out only with other foreigners tsk tsk”. What is wrong with that? Just let us have it. We interact with Japanese people on a daily basis, we all have Japanese acquaintances, coworkers, neighbours, partners. But it feels good to meet someone, who can relate to things you say, who will listen to your “I live in a foreign country” complaints until you feel better about being away from home, someone you can ask for relevant advice etc

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5. One can lead a comfortable and rather stable life here

 Despite all the bureaucracy that will make you cry at some point, life in Japan is very comfortable. Restaurants, convenience stores, karaoke booths, video rental stores open 24 hours. Vending machines (with drinks, alcohol, cigarettes, sometimes even canned soup) every 50 steps. Buses and trains, which are rarely late (but it DOES happen, usually because of bad weather conditions or sad ‘human accidents’) and most commutes are super fast.

6. Most of the time it’s actually very quiet here!

Talking on the phone on any public means of transportation is forbidden and basically people follow along with that. Surprisingly enough, if you’re not on one of the main streets, sometimes you might even forget you’re in Tokyo. Apart from summer festivals, shopping stores during sales where shopping assistants shout so loud you start wondering how is it humanly possible to produce those decibels and maybe izakaya drinking spots, where groups of young professionals or salarymen forget they should keep it down after a few pints of liquid courage… Apart from all that, it’s actually REALLY quiet. Drivers don’t honk and I even have a feeling I don’t hear ambulance or fire trucks sirens that often either!

7. Japan is safe, it’s true

I don’t worry about being mugged on the street, I rather worry about being ran into by cyclists, who think all of the pavement is completely their territory. Sometimes I read comments under articles like this one about a girl getting stabbed in the back on the street at about 11PM. I remember one of the comments said “What was a 17-year old girl doing at this time of night alone on the street?” and that’s when I knew that person has never been to Japan and has no idea about this country whatsoever. Everyday I see high school or even junior high school students going back home at 10-11PM… or even later. Walking slowly with their eyes glued to their smartphones, exhausted after cram school, club activities, piano lessons, secret dates maybe… I finish work at 10PM and go back home around 11PM much more often than I care to admit. Except a few rare nanpa pick-up attempts, no one has ever bothered me on my way back home and trust me, I have a bit of walking to do to get there. Unfortunately I can’t also say that absolutely nothing weird has ever happened on the streets of Tokyo (or should I say trains *cough*), but there’s enough crazy people anywhere in this world and it’s a whole other story anyway.

8. It’s okay to be an introvert (or just get your own space from time to time!)

It is a good point for me, but I will understand if you think otherwise:  interactions between people are kept to a minimum in this country. There are single seats in every restaurant, sometimes you don’t even have to talk to the staff member to order — you just buy a food ticket from a machine and hand it in. People won’t talk to you on the train or the plane and cashiers won’t try to be all too friendly as in “Oh, I like your flesh tunnels, how big are they? You know I have a friend, who has flesh tunnels too and a few tattoos as well…” as often happened in the UK. I’m not saying it is bad — though personally, I never know how to respond to such banter. I get all awkward and say stuff like “Oh I see, ha, that’s nice hehe..he”. Well, they might make some comments about you being a foreigner, but most of the time they’ll lack the courage to do so. It’s rare for people to start conversations here and because I am not a person who enjoys a casual chat with a stranger in the park, I appreciate that most of the time the Japanese mind their own business.


9. All the cute stuff!

Everyone knows that Japan has all kinds of cool stuff going on. Interesting gadgets, cute accessories, cutting edge toilets, silly useless stuff you don’t need, but want to have. Cute characters, themed cafes, lots of merchandise for manga and anime characters as well as adorable Sanrio creations. My most ridiculous purchase up to date has to be a futon for my phone. Have I used it? Nope, but I took a fun photo of it.

10. Japan taught me how to be a shakaijin

…which literally means “a member of society”. In this homogeneous country everyone has their role to fulfill and playing by the rules is really important. Avoiding conflicts, confrontations, hiding what one really thinks — I honestly think this is why Japan is seen as such peaceful country. I came to understand how to be a part of it, or at least how to try to be a part of it.  I’m more of a listener than a speaker. It might be because of my job, where what I basically do is listen to what others tell me about their life, job, hobbies etc and I always react appropriately.  I am more careful about making bold statements and expressing personal opinions. I won’t talk about controversial topics unless asked. Is it good? I don’t know, but I know it saves you trouble in cases when your conversation partner has completely opposite views on politics, society etc. Japan teaches you how to co-exist peacefully with all kinds of people.


After 3 years, do I consider Japan to be my home? It’s a very difficult question I’ve asked myself many times. I’ve never lived in a foreign country for so long. Japan is where I started my adult life, I came here after graduation, got a job, rented an apartment, started paying taxes and caring about stuff like health insurance, holidays, paperwork, savings…The rose-coloured glasses I wore when I first came here are long gone. I see a lot of flaws and get really bitter sometimes so please bear with me, until I get through this phase. People say “If you don’t like it, then just leave?” and I cannot say they’re wrong. But the point is…

…I don’t want to leave yet. These days, I don’t see Japan so much as the dream I had when I was a teenager. Although there’s no way for us to know where life will take us, for now I can be sure of one thing. For now, I’m not going anywhere, so stay with me for a while and come by sometimes to read more about some of my new Tokyo adventures! 🙂

Thank you for reading!♥

Traditional Shitamachi Kissaten — Sunny Cafe in Asakusa!

There are a few websites about Japan I follow. I stay pretty faithful to GaijinPot and actually not that long ago I read this blog entry over there about kissaten = traditional Japanese cafes (→“Kissaten: A slowly dying part of Japanese culture”). I agree with the author, big cafe chains like Starbucks, Dotour, Tully’s etc. are more visible on the streets of Tokyo than those little cozy places, where you can still feel the inimitable Showa atmosphere. Saying ‘more visible’ might be an understatement even — some people here seem to be living on nothing more than Starbucks everyday, it’s always full and there’s always a line of at least 10 people. And that’s a shame. Why? I absolutely love Shitamachi Tokyo (the less fashionable, older part of the city) and what I love even more is finding those adorable kissaten, often located in some absolutely picturesque neighbourhood, with red paper lanterns, old rusty bikes, old posters with charming ladies dressed in kimonos…

Here’s one I have visited a few times and that I love going back to whenever I’m in Asakusa.


Sunny Cafe in Asakusa

〒111-0032 Tokyo

Taito-ku, Asakusa, 2 Chome 


This adorable tiny cafe is in the middle of something that appears to be a newly build shopping arcade with super touristy stuff. I like such places though, because Japan has the cutest souvenirs ever!


Actually there’s tons of adorable items in front of the cafe too. I’m really glad I didn’t walk past it thinking it was just another souvenir store among hundreds of those in Asakusa.

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When you step inside, it’s as if you suddenly found yourself in the Showa era. Time-worn furniture and decorative items, old posters with geisha holding a can of cold beer…


You can really relax here, read a newspaper or watch news on TV while sipping on a cup of coffee. Patrons of kissaten are often elderly people who live nearby and come by every now and then for some juicy gossip, a conversation with the hosts or other customers or for the feeling of nostalgia Starbucks cannot give them.


You might think that the menu isn’t impressive — and I can confirm it. We can find tea, coffee, maybe juice. Sandwiches and pound cakes. Sometimes curry. Prices might be a bit steep, yes. There’s no Venti size or fancy stuff like wraps, tortillas or sakura flavoured cheesecakes…


…but what you will find here is the authentic atmosphere of Japan.

I admit I do enjoy hanging out in Harajuku or Shibuya and other hip areas of Tokyo, but what will always be “the real Tokyo” for me is Shitamachi, beckoning cats, the smell of tatami mats, that lovely mish-mash of old and new.


I do recommend Sunny Cafe, of course. It’s a little charming cafe in the heart of Asakusa. But that wasn’t the main point of this post to be honest. What is it then? If you’re visiting Japan, be sure to stop by a kissaten. Any kissaten! Go explore, the area around your hotel might hide real gems! Price-wise it’s no different from Starbucks really, cafes in Japan rarely have wifi anyway, so it’s not like you’re gonna miss out on something and you’ll see the traditional, nostalgic side of Japan…. The best Japan. 


Thank you for reading♥

May digest!

May was a good month. Despite working even harder than usual and even harder than in April when I had to work on my days off (I taught a zillion lessons in May!), I managed to visit some cool places, eat lots of delicious food and meet some great people. I didn’t get that much sleep though, but well, ‘you win some, you lose some’ as they say. I’ll have all the time in the world in as soon as two weeks, when I leave for Europe for the first time in 3 years. I’ll visit my family in the UK and Poland, meet some people and go to a heap of places that will probably bring back a lot of memories. I really can’t wait, though I’m also kinda nervous. I don’t want to sound pretentious or anything like that, but I’m a bit worried about reverse culture shock too… At least I’ll have a topic to write about when I come back to Japan. Anyway, I still have 2 weeks to go and so I’ll try to post a few blog updates before I hop on the plane.


* Do you remember Rino? She was one of the girls I had a girly chat with and I made a blog post out of it. If you haven’t had a chance to read it but think you’d like to, it’s → here ←. Some readers commented that it would be nice to hear about the girls again sometime down the road. This May I met up with Rino again and it was like meeting a completely different girl! She doesn’t wear a high school uniform anymore, she cut and permed her hair, got new fashionable glasses. She is now studying Japanese Culture at Tokyo Women’s University, which might surprise those who read the article and so know she had dreamt of studying Fashion. When I asked her why she decided to study Japanese culture, she answered “There’s still so many things I don’t know about my own country. At first I want to know and understand Japan better” — which I thought was a very reasonable answer.

* Here’s a collections of some funky items I stumbled upon in Tokyo last month… I do want that tattooed Kewpie though, but I don’t have ¥16000 to spare at the moment. Bummer.


* Remember, if you’re looking for t-shirts that’ll make you the coolest kid in the block, Harajuku is the place to go!


* And while in Harajuku, why not go to this awesome Hawaiian restaurant I found with Alanna (UK2Tokyo)? It’s called Aloha Table and →here’s their website←


* While we’re in Harajuku let me show you this fabulous sticker I grabbed in B-Side Label sticker store (read more about the store on Alanna’s blog)


* Did you know that there’s often some stuff put outside grocery stores in Japan and shops in big shopping arcades often don’t have any gates? It’s because no one would ever think about stealing things. It is something I kinda take for granted now, but I remember when I first came to Japan it totally blew my mind.


* I finally signed up for yukata and kimono dressing classes! And that glorious gold furisode you see? It’s a gift from Chika-san and I’m so grateful — she actually wore it for her Coming of Age ceremony… 40 years ago! How amazing is that?! I can’t wait to wear it ♥


* Oh Asakusa… You can take a photo of any random spot there and it’ll still turn out great.


* If you’re in Asakusa be sure to visit this absolutely adorable maneki neko shrine!


…or get some delicious sushi…


* From Asakusa let’s move on over to Kamakura. It was a super fun one-day trip and there will actually be two separate blog posts about Kamakura and Enoshima. Just look at this tiny taiyaki, the Great Buddha, this stunning view from Enoden (train going from Kamaura to Enoshima) and this Dragon Ball gacha!


* Postcards from Enoshima…


Back in Tokyo:

* company party where I ate more than I care to admit

* I have a feeling that Japan is starting to discover the wonderful world of flavoured beers… Here’s shikuwasa (Wikpedia calls it “Taiwan tangerine, flat lemon, hirami lemon, or thin-skinned flat lemon”) flavoured Orion beer!

* So I found a small hidden cinema in my town — they happened to be playing Interstellar (they don’t play newest movies and that’s what I love the most about this place).I was absolutely blown away by that movie! Pictures and music = masterpiece.


And last but not least..

* I’m sorry for this indecency, but of all the things people imagine about Japan this one is true — yes, this stuff does exist, this was on full display in a hobby store and nobody seemed to think there was anything even slightly wrong with it. But! No, people here don’t have tons of piercings, wear whatever they want and dye their hair purple “because everyone in Japan looks like people in Harajuku”. Absolutely not. Harajuku is Harajuku, and it’s not that hardcore anyway. And no, I guess most Japanese businessmen are not encouraged to take naps during the day as I read on some genius website. I teach many businesspeople — no one ever confirmed it. But some parts of Japan aren’t made up, and that’s the harsh reality of it.


Thanks for reading!♥

How to: Budget fashion in Tokyo aka lookbook vol. 11 + vol. 12

I was looking through the photos I prepared for this month’s lookbook and I noticed two trends in what I like to wear: I like looking serious and elegant, but I also like casual, ‘unpretentious’ outfits. I noticed one more thing: only 1 in 12 casual outfits included a dress (not counting the bonus outfit)! When I came to Japan 3 years ago I didn’t even own a pair of jeans, all I had were dresses and skirts. I quickly realized that wearing skirts in Japan is not the most comfortable thing to do…Why? I think I have the impression that strong winds blow here non-stop and the last thing I’d wish for is flashing my underwear at people around me. I know that ‘safety shorts’ exist, but still — to feel 100% comfortable I had to wear maxi skirts only. And I quickly got bored of them. Either way, I never liked showing too much skin, so I’m glad my taste in fashion went this direction. It’s interesting to see myself 3 years later, sporting boyfriend’s pants, slacks and some 90s fashion trends like denim on denim and platform sandals. That being said, here’s a lookbook for April & May!



/photo taken in Insadong, Seoul/

white shirt: bought in a random store near Sillim Station in Seoul for about ¥1600

jacket: Bershka,¥7800

jeans: Bershka, ¥1500

shoes: WEGO, ¥4000

bag: American Apparel, bought from an online discount store for ¥1990



/photo taken at Higashi-Shirahige Park before Children’s Day in Japan, hence the carp streamers/

top: GU, I don’t really remember but it probably wasn’t more expensive than ¥600

gaucho pants: Bershka, ¥5000

Boots: Jeffrey Campbell, ¥7500



/photo taken in Oshino Hakkai/

t-shirt: bought in Seoul for about ¥1200

denim jacket: WEGO, ¥2000

black pants: GU, ¥1490

red sneakers: random store in Marui, ¥1500


/It was still a bit chilly at that time, photo taken at Ueno Park/

white shirt: Heather, ¥2500

coat: GU, ¥4000

clutch bag: I actually bought it in Taipei, from a clothing store in Shillin Market for something around ¥800?




dress: ANAP, ¥3000

bag: I actually brought it with me from the UK, I remember I paid one whole pound for it at Primark!

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/photo taken at one cool place in Harajuku/

blue shirt: GU, ¥1490

grey pants: bought at a shopping center in Dongdaemun for about ¥1600

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/photo taken in front of some cute shrine in Asakusa/

pink shirt: H&M, ¥300

black jacket: Forever 21, ¥3500

boots: Glad News, bought second hand at Jumble Store for ¥1900

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/forgive me this shameless mirror selfie, there was no one who could take a photo of me that day. If we ever hang out, there’s a 100% chance I’ll ask you to take a photo of me :D/

white top: Forever21, ¥800

jeans:  WEGO, ¥4000

white shoes: random store in my town, ¥2900

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/photo taken in Enoshima!/

glasses: MONKI, ¥1200

pink sweater: bought in Hongdae in Seoul for about ¥1200

shorts: Mustang, bought second hand at WEGO for ¥1980



white shirt: GU, ¥500

gaucho pants: GU, ¥1490

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/photo taken somewhere in Shibuya/

(I mentioned all items in the previous photos)

jeans: Lip Service, bought second hand for ¥390!



/photo taken in a supermarket, next to toilet paper… obviously/

top: H&M, ¥700

platform shoes: NADIA, bought second hand at MODE OFF for ¥2000



I don’t really dress so well for work (mainly because I don’t really care about my work fashion that much) but that day was actually my day off — I just had to work a few hours in the morning. I dressed a little better than usual, but here you can get the idea of what I basically wear for work.

top: Monki, ¥700

skirt: Forever21, ¥800

shoes: random shoe shop in my town, ¥2400



Thanks for reading! ♥