40×Tokyo: So Much To See & Do

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 5 days and counting!!!

Know thyself. I expect that the following days are going to be insane with all the final prep required for the epic adventure that awaits.  There is still so much I want to research and learn about Tokyo.  But I’ve done my best and now we will see what unfolds.  The trip is going to be jam packed and I can only hope that 2 weeks is enough to experience it all.

so much to do in tokyo

Here’s all the things on my list that I didn’t get to create a pre-trip post about.  It’s a lot.  That is what happens when you put off visiting the place you love for 40 years.

liz lisa luggageWish I had a suitcase as cute as this travel trunk from Liz Lisa.  Maybe I can find something super sweet during the trip.  This will sound crazy but I put out my suitcase 2 weeks ago.  Slowly things have been moved into the official packing pile.  I am trying really really really hard to pack light.  But still have a few missing pieces I need to sort through over the next couple of days.  Looking forward to closing the zipper and heading off to the airport.


Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Sabastian Masuda

sabastian masuda dokidoki designer

Must take a departure from the 40 x Tokyo spree today to celebrate what turned out to be a very epic Sunday.  Was already super excited to go to the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concert… but to also met the mastermind behind the Harajuku brand 6%DOKIDOKI – whoa!  Fair warning to my friends that these photos are going up anywhere I can post them cause I am so psyched.

Masuda-san was in Kinokuniya to check out a small art installation related to the brand’s new mook celebrating their 18th year!!!  He was informed that a bunch of cute girls all dressed up in Harajuku fashion were upstairs in the cafe, so he came up to take photos.  How cool is that.  Inside the mook is a tote bag with the famous Colorful Rebellion collage.  I didn’t pick one up as I want to save money to buy something directly from their store when I am in Tokyo next week.  If you want to learn more about the mook check this out:  http://tokyofashion.com/harajuku-6dokidoki-bilingual-mook-kawaii/

lolitas invade grand central

My buddy got sick so I reached out to some of the NYC lolita’s to hang with for the show.  God these girls have fun!  Grace {shown center} pulled off a Manhattan magic act.  She transformed her 2 friends into Lolitas in the middle of Grand Central.  Just when you think you have seen or done it all, New York has another surprise in store for you.  Wish I had a before photo.

on our way to kpp concertBefore you know it we were off to wait in the mile long line wrapping around the Best Buy theater.  As usual, our fashion attire attracted a fair amount of attention.  But who cares.

kpp world tour nycThe show was amazing.  Just amazing.  What fascinated me was how completely diverse the fans were. There was a mosh pit, kid-you-not, at one point and on the other side of the floor a contingent of really cute frilly girls jumping up and down screaming.  What an amazing performer to be able to bring such diversity together.

masuda watching kyary

Oh yeah, and check out this fan… she had all the moves in check!  By dumb luck I was sitting right behind Masuda (#^.^#)  And yes, yes he always has his arms crossed like that.  So cute.

kyary pamyu pamyu nyc concertIt has been a long time since I have been to a concert and had so much fun.  Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has literally skyrocketed since 2011.  So glad I got to enjoy this amazing moment in her blossoming career.

international official fb for kpp fans

Thank You KPP + NYC for such an awesome day.

Links:  Interview with Kyary  | Official Photo Set from the Show   |  Amani’s Pics | Petrina’s Pics



40×Tokyo: Tenugui

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 11 days and counting.  Just over a week away!  The anticipation is reaching an apex; I am so excited. Today’s birthday trip wish is to stock up on …

Tenugui (手拭い)

So what are tenugui?  Basically they are traditional, thin, cotton towels that are printed with the most incredible designs.  The internet changed the course of my career, but my roots are in graphic design.  You marry that with my Japan obsession and a fetish for fabric and tenugui becomes a perfect storm. So many of my favorite things rolled up into one little package that also happens to be both fashionable and functional.

The little towels are great for more than just drying your hands and tieing your hair back in Kendo.  They make a great way to wrap wine and sake to give as gifts… can be hung as well art… used as placemats for a nice dinning experience… twisted and tied to make an impromptu hand bag… and so much more.  I have a very small collection of tenugui so will be happy to add to it.  What I haven’t solved for yet is how to use them in a new and innovative way when it comes to sewing fashion projects.  I am sure the inspiration will strike at some point.  Ideas are welcome!!!

great omiyage tenugui from tokyo

Kamawanu Daikanyama

When I first started planning the Tokyo trip, it has been a few years in the making, Daikanyama was high on my list simply for a visit to the home of Baby the Stars Shine Bright.  While the original home of this alternative fashion brand has moved, I didn’t want that to be a reason rule out visiting the area all together.   Thus Google brought me to Kamawanu.  They have branch locations across Tokyo, but their main branch is founded here in Daikyanyama.  In addition to row upon row of tenugui, they also carry a selection of other traditional Japanese accessories.

kamawanu tenugui daikanyama

The best part of tenugui is that the designs usually tell a story.  The motif of the design has meaning.  The more I learn about the Japanese culture the more I comprehend some of these great tales and fables.

Links: Kamawanu English Site  |  A Crafter’s View

Credits:   (一)   (ニ)   (三)   (四)   (五)   (六)


40×Tokyo: Butler Cafe

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 16 days and counting.  Not long now. Today’s birthday trip wish is to be a pampered princess at a …

Butler Cafe (執事喫茶)

Best part of the trip, will be seeing my friend Asumi!  She and my travel buddy are being so secretive. They are plotting surprises for 3 days of the trip and haven’t let me make any of the reservations.  It is making the trip all that more exciting!!!  But I have some clues ;)  Last time she was in NY we had a nice conversation about Butler Cafes.  So I am pretty sure that must be on the plan.

enjoy tea at a butler cafe

There are 2 cafes that stand out from all the blog posts I could find.  Swallowtail looks to be very swank.  They have a rather impressive collection of fine tea service from Wedgwood to Royal Albert. Their website is darling and you can see how they interpret European Royalty for their cafe theme. More fairy tale that factual.  The downside to their lovely web design is much of the text is imbedded in images… so no Google translate to my aide.  The other, simply named Butlers Cafe, has a more English garden charm about it.  Their selling point is that all the butlers are Western and speak English.  They are both so cute, I am really looking forward to being greeted with a “welcome princess.” (#^.^#)

royal albert tea cup butler cafe

Oh yeah, Swallowtail also has a Patisserie where you can purchase some very elegant pastries. Waaaaa I am way too addicted too sugar.  It all looks so yummy.

As turn about is fair play, what Asumi doesn’t know is I have a little surprise for her too (^_-)

Links: Swallowtail Butler Cafe  | Butlers Cafe

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)   (7)   (8)

40×Tokyo: Akihabara

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 23 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to explore …

Akihabara (秋葉原)

This is where me and my travel buddy will part ways for the day; he will be keen on the electronics and I on a mission to find Sailor Moon amongst the anime and manga paraphernalia.  I don’t fit the bill of an Otaku, but me and Usagi-chan go way back.  According to the interwebs, the best place to begin this search is at Mandarake.

Mandarake Akihabara – 5-5-15 Nakano, Tokyo 164-0001, +81 3 3228 0007, ekizo.mandarake.co.jp/shop/en, Open Friday 12pm-8pm

sailor moon in akihabara


My coin purse also needs to be ready to fight for sweet surprises tucked away in little capsules.  Yes, we are talking about the coin operated vending machines that dispense tiny little toys in plastic bubbles.  I don’t gamble, but I can see my self dropping some coin easily to secure the perfect Rilakkuma trinket while in Tokyo.  I am fairly certain, like socks, these machines will not be hard to find.  But the trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop in capsule heaven, Gachapon Kaikan.

Gachapon Kaikan – MN building 1F, 3-15-5 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, +81 3 5209 6020, akibagacha.com. Open Mon-Thurs 11am-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-7pm

sailor moon scepter

Links:  Akihabara Map

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)
* One of my prized possessions – A Sailor Moon heart locket Gashyapon. Thank you eBay.


40×Tokyo: Wagashi

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 26 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to splurge on …

Wagashi (和菓子)

No secret that I have a sweet tooth!  As I approach 40 my waistline also holds no secrets, and thus my sugar addiction has to be kept in check.  I am counting on all the walking we will be doing in Tokyo to provide plenty of wiggle room for indulging in traditional Japanese wagashi.

savoring wagashi in tokyo


toraya sakura monakaUntil 2003, for a brief while NYC had their own Toraya location.  So it was a no-brainer to add this most prestigious of wagashi makers to the trip plan.  Their origins began in Kyoto and they have been serving Japanese nobility for centuries.  Their headquarters settled in Akasaka Tokyo in the 1960’s.  The question that remains is whether to visit the Akasaka location or the Ginza location!

Toraya’s Art of the 5 Senses  |  Types of Wagashi  |  Shop Locations

Sweet Treats

In my research, I also stumbled upon this site which lists the following locations of other notable wagashi shops.  The posts are dated back from 2009 so I am not entirely sure of their accuracy.  Still, it provides a good range of options to investigate further.

  • Kotobukido (0120-480400), Koganei imo, 2-1-4 Nihonbashi Ningyocho, Chuo Ward.
  • Shimura (03-3953-3388), Tsukumo mochi, 3-13-3 Mejiro, Toshima Ward.
  • Itakuraya (03-3667-4818), Ningyo yaki, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-4-2, Chuo Ward.
  • Chomeiji Sakuramochi (03-3622-3266), Edo-period Sakuramochi, 5-1-14 Mukojima, Sumida Ward.
  • Tokutaro (03-3874-4073), Kintsuba, 3-36-2 Asakusa, Taito Ward.
  • Usagiya (03-3831-6195), Dorayaki, 1-10-10 Ueno, Taito Ward.
  • Mangando (03-3622-3128), Imokin, 1-19-16 Azumabashi, Sumida Ward.
  • Habutae Dango (03-3891-2924), Habutae dango, 5-54-3 Higashi Nippori, Arakawa Ward.
Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)

40×Tokyo: Asakusa

40 x Tokyo

T-minus 30 days and counting.  Today’s birthday trip wish is to take a stroll in …

Asakusa (浅草)

It’s time to get my fill of temples and shrines.  As much as I adore the modern Tokyo, I equally enjoy the historic Edo.  And a trip to Asakusa will deliver on both as Skytree is just a hop skip and a jump across the river from Sensoji Otera.

asakusa temples and shrines

Oh my goodness, so much to see and do in Asakusa.

  • Sensoji Temple (including Kaminarimon & Nakamise Shopping Street) – street food and tourist trinkets.  Sounds like fun!  Can’t wait to see Fūjin and Raijin up close.
  • Asakusa Shrine – While the temple seems to take center stage, it is the shrine that paid the original homage to the legendary fishermen who’s net pulled Kannon from the river.
  • Skytree – You have to visit their website and just scroll slowly.  So much fun watching the star character fly through the air and highlight the different sections of the tower.  For me this stop is going to be a love-hate relationship.  I am thrilled to get such a spectacular view of Tokyo… but I am deathly afraid of heights (O_O;)
  • Kappabashi Dougu Street – this stop is for my travel buddy, it’s a half-mile extravaganza with over 170 shops devoted to kitchen implements.  Hopeful this will make up for the overdose of temple and shrine in the trip plan.

Links:  Taito City Culture Guide

my new nikon 1 v2

New Toy

On a separate but related note, I just purchased a new camera for the trip.  It’s been since college that I had a proper camera.  I am so excited to try out my Nikon 1 mirrorless V2!  Hope I figure out all the settings and goodies in time to take some great photos on the trip.

Credits:   (1)   (2)   (3)   (4)   (5)   (6)   (7)   (8)   (9)   (10)   (11)
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