Japan trip, day 17 – some typically Japanese experiences

Friday morning Ailse and I had our last full day in Tokyo, and it was going to be a fun one, when we’d do three very typically Japanese things, but things which (as far as I’m aware anyway) you can’t do at home.

First up though, we grabbed a coffee and croissant at Delicatessen, the cafe at the hotel.

Then, we headed back to Omotesando, determined to grab a lunch at Hawaiian style pancake restaurant Cafe Kalia. We knew to expect a queue, but when we got there, things looked promising – there was only a short queue. But when I went downstairs to enquire, I found another massive queue of Japanese girls all waiting to get their fill of Hawaiian style pancakes. It turned out the waiting time was three hours – yes three hours!

Deciding that just wasn’t worth it, we stumbled upon another nearby cafe. All smoked glass on the outside and with no signage, we thought it might be some extremely stylish place so headed in. It was nice, but nothing special. We both had a Japanese style curry (fruitier than our curries in case you’re wondering!)

It was then time for more shopping before our uniquely Japanese experiences. We checked out the ultra chic (and ultra expensive) Opening Ceremony shop but made no purchases (I didn’t really see anything I fancied anyway). Then it was time to head back to Shinjuku one last time to check out two more stores on Ailse’s list – Supreme and Bape.

The Supreme store was really tiny, and didn’t have that much stuff in it. Bape was a bit more promising, and I got Ailse a t-shirt as a belated birthday present. I also picked up a pair of Japanese trainers.

Then, we went into a pachinko parlour in search of something we’d both been keen to do since we arrived. A photo booth with a difference. In Japan, purikura booths are really aimed at Japanese teenage girls. They are much more complicated than the booths we have at home, and have touch screens before and after you’ve had your photo taken. The outside of the booths were covered with pictures of models, and after choosing one and selecting what kind of lipstick and eye shadow (GRRRR!) we wanted, we headed in to get our photos taken.

Basically what the booths do is make girls’ eyes bigger, their face thinner, and smooth out their skin tones before applying make up. It’s all to look kawaii – or cute. Then when you come out, you can add captions, the date, love hearts and all that kind of thing. It works brilliantly on girls, but not so well on men….

Ailse looked brilliant, I looked like I’d got drunk in a make-up shop by myself.

I’ll admit it was a laugh though, and we both wanted to try another one, so we did. The best thing is you can download the photos too, so I have a permanent reminder of what I would look like as a Japanese kawaii girl.

Next up was something I’d already experienced a bit of on my trip, but which Ailse was desperate to do – visit an animal cafe.

I hadn’t really liked the dog one I’d visited, but Ailse was keen to visit a cat cafe. Now neither of us are cat people – more dog people, and I was a bit wary as we headed to Cafe Calico in Shinjuku, but actually it was completely different from the dog cafe. Firstly, the girl there obviously loved cats. She explained carefully that we weren’t to lift them up, but could stroke them, and she warned us (with a picture) to avoid one particular feline who may attack if her stomach was touched. After washing our hands, we entered….

There were loads of people there (including three girls, one of whom seemed a bit too plastered considering it was only 5pm in the evening). And, there were some cute cats.

All different shapes and sizes. There were binders lying around so you could learn the cats’ names, breeds and what kind of personalities they had. It was pretty cool! I have a new found respect for cats.

So that was number two crossed off the list – the third one was literally just around the corner. We headed to Big Echo – a Japanese karaoke chain.

These buildings are full of rooms where you can practise your karaoke skills alone, with a couple of mates, or with a roomful of friends. Drinks and food are only a phone call away from your private room.

There was a bit of a language barrier at the front desk, but we managed eventually to book a room for half an hour. I ordered a beer (which sadly later turned out to be non-alcoholic), and we headed to room 233. A friendly guy popped his head around the door and showed us where the English songs were on the menu. In no particular order, I sang classic hits by Backstreet Boys, Miley Cyrus and Elton John (actually emotional if you were there). I need to brush up on my karaoke playlist, it’s been too long! We also discovered that “Mirrors” by JT goes on for about 15 minutes.

After singing our hearts out (and extending our stay for half an hour), we paid our £5 each fee (we need places like that in the UK!) and headed over to the Lumine Est shopping mall for a spot of dinner. We picked a Hawaiian style restaurant. My burger looked great, but was a bit disappointing – clearly not home made!

Then, it was back to the hotel to pack and get ready for heading home. But we’d squeeze some more sight-seeing and shopping in tomorrow…..