Tattoos in Japan: Garyō the Tattoo Artist

I got my very first tattoos at the age of 18. To be precise, it was the 15th of November 2008, (←I have a good memory) I was much chubbier than now and I had a shaved head. Yes, everyone has gone through that weird phase in their life, when they did everything they could to look the least attractive as possible. Anyway, I decided to get two simple stars on my hipbones, nothing original. 3 years later I got a maneki neko ‘beckoning cat’ tattooed on my back. Then a kokeshi, then some more stars, and a cherry blossom… I’m turning 25 this year. I don’t regret any of my tattoos. Looking at them is like looking at some sort of a vivid picture book of my life. They all connect to some particular events in my life, for better or worse. 

I have written about my experiences as a tattooed person in Japan ( →here), but just in case you missed it or it’s the first time you’re here, I can assure you: It’s no big deal! I’ve never experienced anything really bad because of them, neither have I heard any rude comments. But this is my personal experience — the experience of one foreign girl living in Japan for just over 2 years now. What about heavily tattooed Japanese people? How is their life in the country considered to be extremely hostile towards body art? This January I had the pleasure of being tattooed by an amazingly talented artist — Garyō. He created a real work of art on my body. To be honest, I’d been thinking of getting the outline alone, but Garyō suggested getting it filled with a background that would give the crane life, give it texture, make it look real. He chose the best design for me and I trusted him entirely. Needless to say, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome! Okay, it’s high time I stopped blabbering and gave the floor to Garyō, whose stories and experiences will tell you what it is really like to be a tattooed person in Japan. 

Enjoy!

CIMG5696_meitu_1

Interview with Garyō the Tattoo Artist

CIMG5693_meitu_1

 How did you realize that tattooing was something you wanted to do in life? Was there any event in your life that made you think “This is it!”

 I was born in Akita, but I spent my teenage years in Sendai. I guess that many of you may not know that, but at that time Sendai was “the rocker town”. Yes! Not Tokyo, not even Osaka, but Sendai. I was into punk rock — Black Flag, Misfits, Circle Jerks etc. and so were the other guys I met there. I guess you could say we were like ‘bad boys’ you may have seen in some Japanese movies. We definitely were not like bosozoku gang guys, but we were also not what you would describe as typical junior high school students. You know, at that time we didn’t have the Internet, music magazines, DVDs… All we had was cassettes and CDs with our favourite music. Each one had a small album attached, same as it is now, with song lyrics and some photos of the band. We couldn’t get any bigger posters, so that had to suffice. Although the photos were very small, I could see my favourite musicians, I saw their tattoos and all I could think was “I wish I could be like them”. Without even thinking about it much, I decided to get tattooed. I was 16 at that time — and I realize that it wasn’t the best way to do it — but because in Japan you can only get tattooed when you reach the age of 20, somehow I managed to get a fake ID… And this is how I got my first tattoo. It was an oni, a demon. It might have gotten a bit out of control and by the time I was 18 I had both of my arms tattooed. And suddenly, when I got to that age when you kinda have to decide what to do next, get a job and all that, I realized… “How do I get a job NOW?” Long story short — there was no other choice than to become a tattoo artist. Funny thing, I never even knew I could draw. I would do nothing but practice all day, from early morning till late at night. I tattooed my whole legs, all I could reach. I found a tattoo master, who accepted me as his apprentice. Under his supervision I started practicing the art of tattooing. For many years I worked with my master in Gunma and Saitama prefectures, gathering experience, polishing my skills and preparing to be an artist on my own. When I was confident of my skills, I left for Tokyo and started my own tattoo studio.

CIMG5661_meitu_9

In English, your profession is called a “tattoo artist” — how about Japan? Do you consider yourself to be an ‘artist’?

I admit it feels good to be called an artist. Tattooing is art, I do think so. But it wasn’t considered such in ancient Japan — tattoos had one special use at that time. People like fishermen, fire fighters and all those people doing all kinds of dangerous jobs, got uniquely designed tattoos, so that in the case of a horrible accident their bodies could be easily recognized. Not very artistic, is it? Anyway, there are special words in Japanese that perfectly describe our profession. We call ourselves 彫師 horishi, we are craftsmen. We ‘carve’ permanent images into our customers skin. It is a craft, that requires us to be very precise. Rather than tattooing designs our clients bring with them, as it is often the case for Western tattoo artists — we talk about the design, add some ideas, give advice, sometimes it’s us who chooses the best design and our customers trust us. We are craftsmen and artists — treating human skin as canvas, making it beautiful.

10858367_731868963564527_3757599776437324779_n_meitu_10

What kind of tattoos do most of your clients get? Who comes more often, men or women? Is it difficult to find Japanese clients these days?

You should know that here, at my atelier, we never do the same design twice. I treat each design individually, turn them into projects. I like big designs, body suits, back pieces, illustrations that tell a story — that’s what I’m good at, and that’s what people come to me for. Of course I can create original designs for my clients, if they have special requests, but as a tattoo artist with 16 years of experience, I can confidently say that free hand designs are what I am best at. I tattoo mainly men, my clients’ average age is about 30 and I admit, they’re mostly foreigners visiting Japan — thanks to my lovely wife, who’s a very active promoter of my services. I used to tattoo more Japanese clients, but they don’t come so often these days. From time to time I tattoo rock band members. People ask me if I tattoo mafia members… I’m professional, I don’t ask — they don’t tell. Which means I might have tattooed some of them in my 16 years of tattooing career. I guess I won’t know that for sure. 

CIMG5669_meitu_2

Do strangers on the street compliment your tattoos?

 Yes and guess what —  it happens quite often! What might surprise you, it’s mainly older women, who compliment me on my ink. Sometimes on the train, they exchange a few words with me and then say something like “Wow, your tattoos are really cool! They look great!” etc. And actually, it happens really often in South Korea. As I was walking down the street in Seoul, many people would stop me and say mixing English with Japanese “Japan? Tokyo? Yeah? Awesome tattoos! Looking cool!”. Even a customs officer at Incheon Airport once told me “Your tattoos are so cool, I want a tattoo too…” I felt kinda sorry for him since tattoos in South Korea are illegal, at least officially.

And how about strangers, whose comments about your tattoos are not exactly on the nice side? How do you react to them?

 Those, who actually think badly about tattoos, are usually scared of us — tattooed people, so they never even say anything. They might glower at me, give me the look of disapproval, but that’s about the worst it gets. I’m 39, I have my life experience. I understand there are people who like and don’t like tattoos. Each to their own. So why should I get mad or upset? I just shrug it off. It is not illegal, it is my passion, it is what I do for a living. Some people say “I think you should hide them”… But why should I? It is hot in the summer and I’m just a regular person — of course I’ll choose a t-shirt or a tank top on a hot day. It’s not that I show my tattoos. They are showing, that’s normal. It’s still the same skin as any other person’s in the world. Nothing’s really different.

In Japan is it more socially acceptable for men to have tattoos? Do women get criticized for getting inked?

Unfortunately — yes. They often hear “What will you do about your wedding dress when you get married? Will you even be able to find a boyfriend if you have tattoos? And what will you do when you have kids?” I know of cases, where a girl with small tattoos met a guy, they started dating and he literally forbade her to get any more tattoos, because… “tattoos are not for girls”. I admit to have had thoughts like “Is it really okay?” whenever I tattooed a girl before, who hadn’t had any tattoos yet. “Will she be okay? Will she not regret it?” But not any more. We’re all free to do whatever we please with our bodies, regardless of gender. 

CIMG5706_meitu_6

What are things you cannot do in Japan because of tattoos? Is there anything you wish you were able to do?

 Yes, there are quite a few things tattooed people can’t do here. Can’t go to some hot springs, public baths and even beaches — most of them in Tokyo, Osaka and other bigger cities. Some hotels don’t allow tattoos. If I’m correct, capsule hotels don’t allow them either. Sport centers. Kyabakura clubs. There’s that popular robot restaurant in Shinjuku and apparently you can’t go there if you have visible tattoos. We can’t donate blood. No pool allows tattoos bigger than 10 centimeters, and I guess that’s the only thing I wish I was able to do. They have those water slides, they look fun. I can go to any aquapark, whenever we visit my wife’s motherland — France, so I’m not missing out on anything. In Japan we just think shouganai = It can’t be helped. Japan is my country, I respect the rules. In fact I don’t mind covering my tattoos, whenever it is required. Sometimes I go out to dinner with my family, and want to save them from looks and comments and I wear long sleeve shirts. I’m fine with that.

Are there any onsen (hot springs) where you can have tattoos?

 Despite the common belief — YES! There are actually many places, where it’s not frowned upon. You won’t find them in Tokyo though. Go somewhere else, Tohoku, Kyushu. Onsens in mountains, small towns, villages — these are the places to go. There’s Kusatsu onsen in Gunma prefecture, not that far from Tokyo. People tend to be more laid-back about things there. Although, during peak times, they might politely tell you that you might want to come later when there’s less people, as there always might be someone, who might give you a hard time about it.

1016239_726497994101624_7503822438695272294_n_meitu_3

Do you think that Japanese people are slowly changing their attitude towards tattoos? Is it getting better?

It is changing, yes. It may sound insensitive, but the people, who actually associated tattoos only with Yakuza are… no longer here. Younger generations think that tattoos are cool, fashionable, or just okay. And if for some reason they don’t like them, it’s not like they’ll be vocal about it. And grandmas and grandpas…Well, they might not like it, they might not understand it, but they had to accept that times have changed.

What was the best and the worst thing that happened to you during your tattooing career? 

 I can tell you with all honesty — I cannot recall a single bad thing. Sometimes clients make an appointment and never show up — that’s about as bad as it ever gets. But there’s definitely been a lot of great things going on. What kind of things? Collaboration with a French clothing brand CELIOCLUB, 3rd Prize in the Asian Tattoo category at the 16th International Tattoo Convention in Prague in 2014… Oh, and definitely one of the biggest things — I had the pleasure to tattoo Jim Root, the guitarist of Slipknot. It was so surreal, all these years I had been listening to Slipknot when tattooing other people, and suddenly, Jim Root came to my studio to get a tattoo! He was so tall, about 2 meters! Basically I draw my designs a bit bigger and then print them out in smaller versions, but this time was special — Jim got the original size tattooed on his arm, I hadn’t expected him to be so tall! He was the nicest person ever and we even got invitations to their concert in Tokyo last year, but since my wife and I are expecting a baby now, we couldn’t attend it.

464115_451888831562543_1036631685_o_meitu_7 1511614_671399372944820_965240087888296819_n_meitu_3

The best thing that happened? A few years ago I met my wife, Myriam. We met through friends and I know how it sounds, but it really was ‘love at first sight’. She caught a bad cold right after we met, and I went all the way to her house to bring her medicine. Since then, there was not a single day we spent separately. Yes, there’s definitely been a lot of good things going on in my life, ever since I decided to be a tattoo artist.

photo 1 (17)_meitu_6

CELIOCLUB x GARYO clothing line collaboration

CIMG5713_meitu_7_meitu_2

Thank you for reading! ♥


Asian Movie Review: Blue Salt aka Hindsight 푸른소금

Today I read somewhere that the 90s sucked, despite everything the Internet does to make us think otherwise, and let me quote here one of the reasons:  “You accidentally saw the ending of The Sixth Sense, because when you popped in the VHS tape, your idiot uncle had forgotten to rewind it”. I do agree that you had a bad time if you actually saw the ending of The Sixth Sense, before you even knew the plot, but believe it or not, there are some movies, that actually tell us the ending at the very beginning. The movie I’m going to review today is one of them.

Hindsight (푸른소금 Pureun sogeum = Blue Salt)

In the opening scene we see the main guy — Yoon DooHun (Song KangHo) — getting a bullet straight through his heart, planted by the tomboyish, yet somewhat dainty and charming Jo Sebin (Shin SeKyung)What? A spoiler!? Yes, this is the actual opening of the movie. So we know that the main guy gets shot, and we know that his killer is a pretty young lady. And a few minutes later we will see them both taking a cooking class and we’ll see them slowly becoming friends… And maybe more? Wait, what?! Despite what you might think right now, it does make sense and I must compliment the translators on their choice of titles, because this one matches really well! The Korean (and the Japanese) title translates as Blue Salt, which naturally has its reference in the plot, but choosing Hindsight for the English title works very well here. Quoting Wikipedia: “A basic example of the hindsight bias is when, after viewing the outcome of a potentially unforeseeable event, a person believes he or she knew it all along“. ’Errr… What’s the fun in that then? I already know the ending!’– you might think. Well, my friend, it is an action movie with some touch of romance, so you can’t really be sure of anything.

fullsizephoto185073

I might not be particularly knowledgeable about the mafia, but it doesn’t surprise me that its members have enemies that are plotting to kill them. Especially if they’re high up in the mafia hierarchy, like the aforementioned Yoon DooHun, who is now leading a retired life, taking cooking classes, dreaming of opening his own restaurant. His character is very likeable, I didn’t even think about his past gangster life watching the movie. He’s a good-natured man with a charming smile. But taking into account his mafia connections, his happy retired life cannot last long. He finds out that his former boss, that he was very close to, dies in a car accident. The mysterious tomboyish Sebin he meets at cooking school turns out to be a hitwoman hired by the mafia plotting to get rid of him. Why her? Because her best friend EunJung (I actually thought it was a girlfriend, by the way they depicted their relationship…) got into trouble with some bad guys, and that’s what Sebin had to do to help her. I don’t want to reveal too much, but there’s a lot of mafia connections going on — stay focused, so you won’t get lost (especially if you watch the movie in Korean, with Japanese subtitles as I did). I’m not entirely sure, as it might be a movie without any deeper meanings, but it seemed to me that it deals with not only the Korean mafia, but also forbidden love, age differences and the unbreakable bond of real friendship. Add some fighting and gun close-up scenes to it, and we have a pretty decent action movie.

 So will you actually know it all along? Give this movie a try and see for yourself! 

+ likeable characters, we don’t really want them killed

+ some nice photography going on in the movie!

+ Song KangHo, who I find to be a very handsome man, not by your usual ‘handsome standards’ but Ken Watanabe kind of handsome

•••

– I admit I got lost in all the mafia connections, but it’s mainly due to watching the movie in Korean with Japanese subtitles, so I’m sure I missed much more

– it made me think that Yoon DooHun must be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, by getting close to a girl who is planning on planting a bullet in his head

– Shin SeKyung’s acting, who appeared to me as a Korean version of Kristen Stewart, 121 minutes = the same “my life is so complicated, you don’t understand me” face

Thank you for reading and let me know what you thought of the movie if you’ve already seen it / see it after reading my review! ♥

How to: Budget fashion in Tokyo aka lookbook vol. 7

“Why don’t you buy some brand name items? You could save up some money and get Comme des Garcons or some cool stuff like that!” — actual question I have recently been asked by a Japanese friend of mine. Here’s my answer then: I own a heap of clothes, I admit. But I know myself and I know that in a few months I’ll simply get bored of the clothes I’m wearing now (which is not always the case, of course, but I know how many times I’ve changed the way I dressed, besides I like my fashion to match my always changing hairstyle, so…). I may have mentioned a few times that I have some rules that I live by, and I’ll share one of them now. Money should be spent on education, traveling, food, adventures and essentials (rent, bills and all that boring adult stuff), NOT material goods. Although I do like having nice things, it’s not that I’ll have them forever. But I know for sure that my language lessons, traveling and food experiences aren’t going anywhere. That being said, here’s a few reasonably priced outfits for December 2014!

The latest lookbook:

Lookbook vol. 6

___________________

1.

/photo taken in Harajuku, one of my favourite coordinates so far/

White shirt: Heather, bought on sale for ¥2500 (Heather website)

Black sweater: I bought it aaaages ago in H&M, I don’t really remember how much it cost, but I’m sure it wasn’t a lot

Jeans: WEGO, ¥4000 (WEGO website)

Coat: bought in Dongdaemun in Seoul for about ¥6000

Shoes: Jeanasis,  ¥6900 (Jeanasis website)

IMG_4100_meitu_13

2.

/photo taken in Shin-Okubo by the lovely Kathryn/

Red shawl: it was a gift from my friends from Poland

Black jacket: H&M, ¥6500

Grey bodycon dress: Forever 21, ¥800

IMG_4251_meitu_15

3.

 

/shameless mirror selfies in GU Ginza store, both taken on the same day/

Grey neck warmer: WEGO, ¥1800

Black turtleneck: SPINNS, ¥1200 (Spinns website)

Black coat, which I bought of course: GU, ¥4000

IMG_4476[1]_meitu_18

4.

/okay, I can’t really decide which coordinate is better, the first one or this/

Ripped jeans: Lip Service; believe it or not, but I bought them for ¥390 at a second hand store in Kita-Senju

Black boots: Glad News, bought second hand for ¥1900 at Jumble Store (Jumble Store website)

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

5.

/more shameless selfies, yay! it was my outift for a BIGBANG concert in Tokyo Dome, so everything including make-up was special for that day/

Beanie: Glad News, bought at one cheap store in Shin-Okubo selling brand items at discounted prices <trust me, I know good places> ¥1080 (Glad News website)

Hoodie: I bought it at a BIGBANG’s concert last year and I finally had a chance to wear it! I remember I paid something about ¥6000 for it

Black jeans: GU, ¥1499

Black platform boots: Nadia, bought second hand at MODE OFF for ¥2000 (MODE OFF online shop)

(and just in case you’re wondering what colour contact lenses I’m wearing: Angelcolor Bambi Series Chocolat)

IMG_4762_meitu_21

6.

/I actually mentioned all of these items above, so I’ll just say that this photo was taken in Shinjuku Gyoen, where I was filming a series of short videos that should be up on YouTube someday :)/

CIMG5475_meitu_22

Thank you for reading and stay warm!♥

‘Rabbit and grow fat’? — bunny cafe in Jiyugaoka!

In most cases, living in a rented apartment in Japan means absolutely no pets. Not only is it not allowed to have a pet in most places, most people here also lead a lifestyle that simply wouldn’t let them have enough time to take care of a fluffy creature. Although pets are actually permitted in my apartment, I simply can’t do that considering the fact that I spend most of my time outside. Sometimes I do wish I had a cute pet waiting for me to come back home, some cute ball of fur to sleep on my lap. There’s thousands of people like me here, hence the countless pet cafes! I have visited a cat cafe (of course), an owl cafe and this time I spent relaxing 30 minutes playing with other furry pets super popular in Japan — bunnies!

Ra.a.g.f ‘Rabbit and grow fat’

〒 152-0035 Tokyo, Meguro-ku, 1-26-3 Jiyugaoka 5F

CIMG4932_meitu_4

(it’s actually really close to the Jiyugaoka Station, just go out the Main Exit and turn right)

CIMG4892_meitu_1

It’s easy to overlook the place so watch out for the sign you see in the upper left corner!

Important!

According to their website (in Japanese) *click*, they’re closed every Thursday, so be sure to take that into account when planning your trip to Jiyugaoka!

CIMG4902_meitu_2

 

The cafe is divided into two parts. It has only 4 tables, so I guess we were really lucky to have visited on a day when there weren’t a million other customers. The system is simple: you can choose either 1 hour or 30 minutes with the bunnies. 1 hour will cost you ¥1100 while 30 minutes is ¥600 cheaper, and was enough for us to enjoy the whole experience. You’ll also get a free drink of your choice and it will be served in the cutest cups ever!

CIMG4959_meitu_4

Play time! The lovely shop staff will explain the dos and don’ts and let me tell you a few, while I still remember: 

The DOS & The DONT’S

* because of a high possibility of rabbits wanting to jump out of their cages, you shouldn’t keep the doors wide open

* you cannot take the rabbits out of their cages, you need to ask the staff first

* there can’t be more than one rabbit on the floor (unless they’re rabbits of the same sex, if I understood correctly, otherwise, you know, babies will happen)

* there’s a sign saying “Resting time” (休憩中) on some cages. If you see it, it means that it’s a siesta time for the rabbit

CIMG4913_meitu_5

 I’ve always thought that rabbits don’t make the best pets, because they don’t really show… attachment? I still think that though, so I highly recommend that you get the ultimate rabbit attention grabber for as little as ¥150 — BUNNY FOOD! A little of this, and the rabbits are all yours ♥

CIMG4920_meitu_7

 I admit that spending even a few minutes with animals has some sort of magical relaxing properties. The bunnies seems to be leading a great life, they can take a walk outside their cages sometimes, visitors feed them, they can poop wherever and whenever they want, what a life! Oh, let me just mention that if you have your own furry baby, but you have to go somewhere for a few days, Ra.a.g.f also functions as a rabbit hotel and they will professionally take care of your pet!

↓ 

CIMG4913_meitu_6

Furry babies jumping and pooping around outside their cages (that hairy carpet was not the best choice the owners could’ve made, if you ask me…) 

CIMG4954_meitu_9

VivaRilakkuma, Shichijyuuni and Kitsune-kun 

↓                                  ↓                              ↓

CIMG4956_meitu_10

If you’re a fan of those fluffy creatures, you can buy some lovely souvenirs here too, and you know you shouldn’t leave this lovely cafe without a photo with the lovely ladies, who run the place!

↓ 
CIMG4960_meitu_11

Thank you for reading and please let me know what you thought of this place if you happen to pay them a visit ♥

December digest!

Ever since the first of December, I had been waiting for two things: a long holiday and specifically New Year’s Eve. I was supposed to have 5 days off and I was already planning 5 outfits for each one of my cherished days off, on the 31st of December I planned to go to the Tokyo Tower Countdown event and drink some amazake sold at Zojoji Temple. Yeah, I planned. My body decided to play a very unfunny joke on me and caught a nasty flu on my last day of work before my carefully planned long break. Aaaaand this is how I spent my holiday at home watching Hulu (on demand video site, like Netflix) and listening to 90s hits. Well, at least I had time to prepare a few blog updates, including this one. It will be a bit lengthy, but there were so many things happening in December, I’m a bit surprised it all happened in one month!

 

 December 2014

 

* something else than a Subway sandwich and Starbucks for lunch… Onigiri are getting pretty intense these days.

* I met up with Pilar from Chile. I’ve never met anyone from South America before, so it was great to learn a bit about her country. And we had tons of fun talking about South American soap operas we both used to watch when we were kids. If you know Esmeralda, Clarita, Maria (though there were like 15 of them) you know what I’m talking about.

* Mint beer at the December bloggers meet up! We may not be as big as the J-Vlogging community, but we have our meetups too! Oh, and about the beer… Don’t order mint beer. Take my word for it.

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4122_meitu_2

* Sweet potato tea I found in Family Mart… Take my advice and DO NOT buy it. Dear jasmine tea, I will never betray you again.

* A little sneak peek of a blog update and a video coming soon! Lots of fun things happened that day in Asakusa.

* Something I found in TSUTAYA (DVD and CD rental store), just Jesus and Buddha chilling, no big deal.

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4155_meitu_3

* You thought leaflets are getting out of control where you live? This is what I get every week, and I can’t count how many times actually important things went missing somewhere under a pile like this…

* Korean dinner in Shin-Okubo with the stunning Kathryn (Kitsune-kun) ♥

* Speaking of losing important documents under a pile of useless flyers… I missed my tax payment deadline and I got this wild idea that I might be able to pay my taxes at the tax office, but guess what, my idea was too wild for Japan. Because in Japan you pay your taxes in the city hall.

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4199_meitu_4

 

* There are days when I get the urge to eat something salty and unhealthy and that’s when snack experiments happen. Fried beef flavoured dry ramen snack thingy and fried camembert flavoured balls kinda snack. I won’t be repeating this particular experiment.

* I got this riddle from one of my students saying “If you know the answer, you are genius”. But because I’m more of a lazy cheater than a genius, I googled it. So the text reads: “Hanano no nonohana hana no nanaani nazuna nanohana namonai nohana” and it is just a simple poem for elementary school students. Here’s some more details (in Japanese) →  click ←

* When I was in South Korea in October, I saw this thingy everywhere. Not much time has passed and it’s getting more an more popular in Japan. Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the amazing selfie stick!

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4273_meitu_5

 

* Finding myself in any bookstore still feels surreal, but so good. 😀

* Shin Ramen will burn your guts and make you hate yourself for your poor diet choices, but I guarantee you’ll buy it again and again and again… Every time I say “It’s over, we can’t see each other anymore”, yet Shin Ramen always finds its way back into my shopping bag whenever I’m at a supermarket.

* On the 15th of December I got this glorious haircut and I’m totally in love with it! I’ve always wanted long hair, but apparently I was wrong this whole time.

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4471_meitu_7

 

* So I am not a fan of pork. I am not crazy about bean sprouts either. Onion is not my favourite, too. I’d say I kinda hate them all. Yet I listened to someone’s recommendation and ended up with a bowl full of them. Oh well, at least the eggs were excellent as always.

* Real Tokyo Fashion pt.2

* I’ve heard legends about this book and I finally found it! It is pretty hilarious indeed.

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4478_meitu_8

 

* Japan is a land of warnings, safety posters, and odd labels, and a vast majority of them is pretty obvious, and they must have some cute character on them. This one here says “Watch out for bird poop”.

* I was looking through some serious newspaper someone left at a family restaurant and a wild Pikachu appeared.

* A shrine in Akasaka with Prudential Financial building in the background.

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4526_meitu_9

 

* Donki is a real treasure trove, selling literally everything. Plus baked purple sweet potatoes.

* THIS RAMEN. It was so good I left the bowl empty. I must go back and write about this place in more detail.

* I happened to have something to do in Akasaka, an area of Tokyo full of broadcasting companies, filming studios etc. This is a skate rink, where I tried ice skating for the first time 2 years ago, with my boyfriend. Oh the memories…

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4570_meitu_10

 

Amazake! It tastes like milk with honey and lemon and costs only ¥90? Awesomeeeee!

* Tokyo Dome. VIP Seat. Me. BIGBANG members. Just a few meters away. I screamed my lungs out. (ohhh, there’ll be a blog update and a video!)

*  I’ve seen many of ‘those’ people in Seoul, but it was the first time I actually saw them in Tokyo. Japan is not a super religious country. Mostly all they believe in is traditions, customs, celebration— not really religion. And suddenly I see people around Shinjuku station holding placards saying that “Christ carries not only the cross, but also human sins”. Hmm.

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4608_meitu_11

 

*  Kinako (roasted soy bean flour) KitKats. If you’re wondering, if they were good — yes, they were.

* Did I mention tons of flyers jamming my post box? This is what I found among them recently. I don’t watch TV, so I don’t really know for sure, but I think that broadcasting companies are not very willing to show what’s going on like every week in my city, and probably more often in central Tokyo. There are many peace / anti-nuclear power demonstrations, and the participants often hand out papers like this one. It says “NO to a country in war!” (ごめん gomen functions here as ダメ dame = something bad, 戦争する国 = country that can/might go to a war)

* Who else remembers Togepi? I got some gifts from my students; hand creams, USB warmers, calendars …. and a Togepi. Not that I’m complaining.

↓       ↓       ↓

IMG_4857_meitu_12

 

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year! ♥