This is a long post full of lots of pictures that WILL make you wish you were in Tokyo!
Sunday 8th June came and I had one final day left of my month-long trip to Japan. I was in Tokyo, and decided to spend the day in my favourite parts of the city: Harajuku (原宿), Shinjuku (新宿) and Shibuya (渋谷). There’s nothing like just wandering the streets of Tokyo with no particular plan in mind, just discovering things. However, I did have a plan for my first stop of the day: rabbits!
I don’t have any pets, and I’m not a huge animal person, but I do quite like small furry creatures to snuggle for short periods of time. In recent years there’s been something of a boom in pet and animal cafes across Japan. Starting with cats, these themed cafes have now extended to other creatures, including rabbits, owls, penguins and even goats. Japanese houses are small, and owning a pet can be difficult if not impossible for many people, especially those living in Tokyo. Cat and rabbit cafes appeal to me, I quite like the idea of a dog cafe, but the idea of all the other creatures (those which are not normally domestic pets) being kept in cafes and bars does creep me out a little bit. So, being allergic to cats, I decided it was my duty to visit a rabbit cafe and see what all the fuss was about.
I chose Ra.a.g.f. (which stands for ‘Rabbit and grow fat’) in Harajuku as my destination. The cafe was pretty hard to find, and I spent a while wandering around the backstreets of Harajuku before I finally located it.
I cautiously entered the building which, quite frankly, smelled like someone had peed there, and headed upstairs to Ra.a.g.f., following the signs. Luckily, once on the other side of the door, things were a lot more fragrant (so at least it wasn’t the rabbits that smelled!). The staff spoke no English, but welcomed me warmly (with slight looks of curiosity that this giant lone foreigner had suddenly appeared) and presented me with a list of rules and prices. For a small fee I could stay for 30 minutes (700 yen) or an hour (1,100 yen), have a drink, and choose a rabbit to play with and feed (150 yen for rabbit snacks).
The rabbits are all kept in cages, and guests can look at them and stroke them and choose one to play with. If you get bored of the rabbit you’ve chosen, you can ask to switch it for another one (which feels awful and princessy! ‘Bored now, bring me another one!’). I chose this little chap to keep me company. He was very genki and dashed about the café having the time of his life!
I know some people will deem this kind of thing cruel, but as far as I could tell the animals all seemed clean, happy and healthy, and the staff seemed to really enjoy what they were doing too. This little fella looked particularly keen to play!
Moving on from my half hour of bunny bliss, I had a good old wander around Harajuku, heading then to Shibuya and Shinjuku. In Harajuku I found this great candy shop called Candy Show Time (キャンディー・ショータイム) which sells awesome, colourful sweets.
Next stop was Kiddy Land (キデイランド), to visit the Rilakkuma Store. I love Kiddy Land, and always feel like a giant child when I’m there. I just want to play with (and buy!) everything!
It was quite a rainy day, but that didn’t stop me exploring Harajuku, nipping in and out of stores and pausing for photos. Of course, I also paused for a famous Harajuku crepe at Cafe Crepe (カフェクレープ).
Cafe Crepe does sell savoury crepes (savoury crepes?!) but naturally I went for a ridiculously sweet one filled with matcha ice cream and match cheesecake (cheesecake IN a crepe?! Oh yes!).
Since 2011 when I came back to the UK I’ve become quite interested in street art and graffiti, but I don’t remember ever seeing much in Japan before. Japan is such a clean country, and I can’t imagine many people would get away with writing on the walls. However, during this jaunt around town I was pleased to find quite a bit of cool street art, graffiti and stickering.
Exploring Harajuku I saw all sorts of cool, weird and wonderful fashion, shops and sights. Even when it’s raining, Takeshita Dori (竹下通り) is still THE place to be on a Sunday in Tokyo!
Leaving Harajuku behind, I wandered off to Shibuya. My trip wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the famous Shibuya Crossing and a drink in one of the most popular Starbucks cafes in the world. It’s like a little ritual for me to end my trips to Tokyo here. I could spend hours just sitting and watching all the people.
Stepping back out into the rain, I continued my wander to Shinjuku to take in some tall buildings and one final dose of Tokyo madness before the day ended.
For my final night in Tokyo I had left behind the chocolate hotel, and was staying someone all together more royal, a place which really did make me feel like a princess… the Palace Hotel Tokyo. It was with this in mind that I didn’t mind my day ending too much, as I knew I had a beautiful hotel room to go and enjoy.
When I arrived back at the hotel, having already checked in earlier, I was greeted with a delicious surprise.
My giant bed looked so inviting…
…but so did the bath…
…and the balcony!
It was a little misty still, but the view was fantastic!
As night fell, it was just me and the city.
I awoke to the best view I’d had in ages…
As I’ve been trawling through my photos and selecting the best to post here I’ve been struck with this one overwhelming feeling, stronger than ever before: I love Tokyo, and boy do I love Japan! ❤ And it’s with that feeling that I shall leave you, dear reader, for the time being at least. This post concludes my May – June 2014 adventures in Japan, but fear not! Not only will I be back very, very soon with posts about Japanese stuff here in the UK, some much overdue book, film and restaurant reviews, and a brand new weekly series, this year I am also planning to have a holiday in Japan towards the end of the year. In an ideal world I would go at least once a year, but I realise this might not always be possible. Still, at the moment it’s looking like it will be possible for me to spend a couple of weeks in Japan around November, so watch this space for more on that as I plan what I’m going to do! No matter how many times I visit Japan, how many more pins I place in my map board, there will always be more to see. 日本、またね！