Day 7: The Meiji Jingu Shrine

Today I went to Harajuku to take a look at the Meji Jingu shrine. I’ve been there once before with Hide and Josefin.

This is the first “tori” – the portal – to the area.

The tori leading to the temple

The tori leading to the temple

The path to the shrine is so beautiful, even when it’s autumn. Last time I visited the meiji shrine, it was summer and rain season.

Really breathtaking nature. Still so green!

Really breathtaking nature. Still so green!

At home in Sweden, the winter has turned everything grey and dark.

At home in Sweden, the winter has turned everything grey and dark.

Very early I got approached by these colleague students; Yuka, Shun, Yu and Natsumi. ^^ They wanted to join me to practice their English and I got good company and guides. Perfect!

Yuka, Shun, Yu and Natsumi

Yuka, Shun, Yu and Natsumi

These guys were adorable and I loved to spend some time with them. They were so nice and they knew so much about the place. We walked and talked a lot.

I love to stroll in this area.

I love to stroll in this area.

This is one of the biggest Tori's. Maybe the biggest in whole Tokyo (or even Japan)? I'm not sure if I remember it correctly.

This is one of the biggest Tori’s. Maybe the biggest in whole Tokyo (or even Japan)? I’m not sure if I remember it correctly.

These guys told me so many interesting things.

Natsumi told me that this was a “couple tree”. One tree is the wife and one is the husband. They are united through the earth. These trees stood outside the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

A couple tree

A couple tree

Yuka was a big Gackt-fan so we sang Vanilla together while walking. ^^ Well, I hummed mostly, I don’t know the lyrics in Japanese. She had seen him live twice.

Shun showed me how to pray at the temple. We threw coins into some kind of wooden box, bowed twice and clapped our hands twice. Then we prayed. And then we clapped our hands once again.

I hope my wish will come true…

Shun, Yuka, Yu and Natsumi stands in front of the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

Shun, Yuka, Yu and Natsumi stands in front of the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

I bought these charms at the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Different charms have different purposes. I will give them to my brother, his wife and my niece. That small one is especially made for children to keep them with good health.

Charms

Charms

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Day 4: SAKE in Shinjuku!

After the Ghibli museum, we had some hours left before Hide had to jump on his night bus back to Osaka, so we strolled the streets of Shinjuku.

Shinjuk by night.

Shinjuk by night.

It was so beautiful.

It was so beautiful.

And it was FULL MOON! (✿ ♥‿♥)

And it was FULL MOON! (✿ ♥‿♥)

I like daruma dolls, and here's a bunch of them in different colors. ^^ Originally, they are red.

I like daruma dolls, and here’s a bunch of them in different colors. ^^ Originally, they are red.

If I remember it correctly, the daruma dolls usually lack of eyes when you buy them. Then you make a wish at home and paint one eye on the doll. When the wish comes true, you paint the other eye.

Oh, if only Swedish magazine stores could look like this... (。♥‿♥。)

Oh, if only Swedish magazine stores could look like this… (。♥‿♥。)

I couldn’t help myself from staring at all the magazines in a magazine store… and I couldn’t decide if I should buy anything or not. After all, I can’t read Japanese and I was already worried that I wouldn’t be able to bring everything home that I’ve been buying during this trip.

You can’t visit Japan without drinking Sake, right! Kanpai!!

Just like my favorite Nyanko Sensei, I love sake. ^^

Just like my favorite Nyanko Sensei, I love sake. ^^

So we headed to a nice diner place and ordered some food and some sake.

Here we're accompanied by some hamsters: Itchigo, Ku and Hoku. ^^

Here we’re accompanied by some hamsters: Itchigo, Ku and Hoku. ^^

The food was very tasty!

The food was very tasty!

And we got even more sake…

Drunken hamsters.

Drunken hamsters.

Eventually, me and Hide had to say good bye to each other and I did for the first time get lost in a Japanese subway station. Shinjuku station was bigger than I first thought…

Well, I got the opportunity to see wonderful wall-pictures while I was lost…

Seeing MUCC on the subway wall made me dream of living in Japan… what would it be like to see these wonderful things every day.

MUCC

MUCC

I’ve seen them live once. :-)
MUCC – Solid Sphere Tour

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Day 4: The Ghibli museum in Mitaka

After visiting Calico cat cafe, me and Hide took the train to Mitaka to visit the Ghibli museum.

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio that makes animes. It was founded 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and the publisher Tokuma.

Their most famous movie is “My neighbor Totoro”. Other Ghibli movies I like – and recommend everyone to see – is Princess Monoke, Laputa – the castle in the sky”, “Kiki’s delivery service”, “Spirited away”, “Howl’s Moving Castle” and so on… I have a lot of favorites. ^^

a sample of Ghibli movies.

a sample of Ghibli movies.

I’ve wanted to visit the museum for a long time but by some reason those plans were canceled last time I was in Japan.

I love Ghibli movies, but to be honest, museums is usually not my cup of tea. So even though the subject interested me highly, I wasn’t prepared to be as overwhelmed as I became this time.

I don’t think I will be able to describe this amazing experience to its fullest. All I can say is that: if you’re a Ghibli fan – you MUST visit the museum. It’s sooooo cool! Even for someone like me who usually associate museums with sleeping pills.

When we had arrived to Mitaka station, Totoro showed us the way to the museum… so we began walking…

Totoro showed us the way.

Totoro showed us the way.

We reached the garden eventually where Totoro stood and waited for us. He’s pretty big!

Me and Totoro.

Me and Totoro.

Studio Ghibli want to keep the Ghibli atmosphere magical within the walls of the museum, and hence all photographing and filming is prohibited. Hence I have no indoors pictures to show you. We were allowed to take photos outdoors though.

The museum was embraced by a very beautiful garden, colorful and vibrant – even though it’s not summer.

So beautiful.

So beautiful.

A whole school-class was about to enter the museum and they got pretty excited when they saw me taking pictures on them. They started to shout and wave. Hide thought that they suspected me to be a celebrity. ^_-

School-class

School-class

The Ghibli museum is undeniable a popular resort in Japan and the place was pretty crowded. Mostly Japaneses though – I thought there would be much more western tourists.

In the garden outside, a mysterious path…

Where does it lead...?

Where does it lead…?

… lead us to the giant robot from the movie “Laputa – castle in the sky”…

The robot from Laputa - castle in the sky

The robot from Laputa – castle in the sky

… and to the Laputa Cube with mysterious inscriptions.

The Laputa rock.

The Laputa rock.

In the museum – which entire interior was remarkable and indescribable – we could see storyboards and sketches for all movies. I especially loved a room filled with mechanics and optic illusions.

This was so cool so I don’t think I will even try to describe what I saw in there. I just don’t have the words to do it well. You got to see it yourself.

We got tickets to see a short Ghibli movie, created exclusively for the museum. The movie was great and had that cozy Ghibli-feeling. The story concerned an old couple living on a mountain and sumo wrestling mice… ^^

The ticket was an actual piece of film ^^ I got some frames from Kiki’s delivery service.

My ticket - a piece of actual film.

My ticket – a piece of actual film.

I bought a souvenir at the museum, one of my favorite characters: the cat Jiji from the movie “Kiki’s delivery service”.

Kawaii ne?

Kawaii ne?

This was truly an experience I’m very happy for. When we walked out from the museum, watching this beautiful Christmas tree…

When it got dark outside...

When it got dark outside…

… and headed back to Shinjuku it felt a little bit like we left a magical world behind us.

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Day 4: Calico cat cafe in Shinjuku

Today, me and Hide were going to visit the Ghibli museum and Hide had reserved tickets for us.

So we headed to Shinjuku to kill off some time first.

I wanted to go to a cat cafe, so we went to “Calico” which is located very close to the railway station.

Find your way to Calico cat cafe!

Find your way to Calico cat cafe!

We were greeted by the owner of the cat cafe who instructed us of the rules. We had to take off our shoes and put some slippers on, sanitize our hands, put our stuff in a locker and hang the ID-card that we were handed around our necks. We were not allowed to carry the cats or photograph them with flashes.

Already in the hallway I could see cats jumping around, curious and playful.

Even though the cafe is popular, it wasn’t crowded. Maybe since we visited it early a Wednesday. I think there was approximately 4 or 5 other customers at the cafe during our visit. Two girls sat on the floor, very relaxed with cats on their laps, talking to each other. It seemed like one of them used to come there every week or so.


 

The cats were so beautiful and you can imagine what I felt when I entered the cafe. I just love cats.

So grandiose and beautiful.

So grandiose and beautiful.

The stairway to the bottom floor was decorated with shelves for the cats to rest or climb on.

The stairway to the bottom floor was decorated with shelves for the cats to rest or climb on.

I fell in love with each and everyone, and started to miss my own cats - Luna and Peia - terribly. But I knew that Jessica Ö took good care of them.

I fell in love with each and everyone, and started to miss my own cats – Luna and Peia – terribly. But I knew that Jessica Ö took good care of them.

Hide likes cats too!

Hide likes cats too!

This crypt below was decorated with a sign saying “Danger!” They told us to be careful with this cat since it occasionally bit people. I don’t know what to think… I mean, after a while the cat left the ball and another one entered… ^_-

DANGER!

DANGER!

It was cats everywhere, sleeping in all kind of cat-beds. They seemed very used to humans and most of them let us pet them.

It was cats everywhere, sleeping in all kind of cat-beds. They seemed very used to humans and most of them let us pet them.

If you're a cat lover, I truly recommend you to visit a cat cafe in Tokyo!

If you’re a cat lover, I truly recommend you to visit a cat cafe in Tokyo!

It might be hard to find apartments in Tokyo which allows you to house pets like cats and dogs. That might be a reason why cat cafes have become such a popular phenomena in Japan.

It's a relaxing resort for people who loves cats but aren't able to have their own.

It’s a relaxing resort for people who loves cats but aren’t able to have their own.

This is a part of the room where we could sit down and order something to drink.

This is a part of the room where we could sit down and order something to drink.

They had a book which included all the cats in the building. In that book we could get further information of each cat, like their name, birthday, weight and so on.

They had a book which included all the cats in the building. In that book we could get further information of each cat, like their name, birthday, weight and so on.

I especially fell in love with this cat - Gomako. He was very cuddly and kind.

I especially fell in love with this cat – Gomako. He was very cuddly and kind.

I believe we both fell in love with this guy.

I believe we both fell in love with this guy.


 
We ordered some cafe latte and enjoyed it while watching the cats sleep and play.

The owner told us to be careful, since the cats were crazy about the skimmed milk...

The owner told us to be careful, since the cats were crazy about the skimmed milk…


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Day 3: Princess for 1 hour in MaiDreamin

Ever since first time I heard about Japanese maid cafes, I wanted to visit one.

Maid cafe

Maid cafe

Maid cafes is a sort of cosplay restaurants that have grown especially popular in areas like Akihabara. Originally these cafes were designed to attract the fantasies of so called “otakus”; Japanese “nerds” (mostly males) who are obsessive fans of video games, manga and anime.

Typical description of a Japanese otaku. ^^

Typical description of a Japanese otaku. ^^

When I visited the manga figure stores, I was mostly accompanied by boys like these. Apparently there's not that many female otaku's who enjoy the beauty of these dolls. I think otakus are charming though! ^^

When I visited the manga figure stores, I was mostly accompanied by boys like these. Apparently there’s not that many female otaku’s who enjoy the beauty of these dolls. I think otakus are charming though! ^^

This is a Korean otaku who recently married his pillowcase (decorated with a character he obviously love very much). ^^ I can't help it, but I adore odd people.

This is a Korean otaku who recently married his pillowcase (decorated with a character he obviously love very much). ^^ I can’t help it, but I adore odd people.

Western otakus. ^^ Yes, the kind of people I usually get surrounded by on the Japaneses events I'm going to now and then. *lol* ^^

Western otakus. ^^ Yes, the kind of people I usually get surrounded by on the Japaneses events I’m going to now and then. *lol* ^^

When you become a costumer of a maid cafe, you will be entitled as master (if you’re a male) or as a mistress (or princess) if you’re a girl.

Today, maid cafes attracts women as well, couples and tourists.

The waitresses at a maid cafe are mostly dressed up as “french maids” in petticoat dressed, stockings and with bows or a frill in their hair. Some maids wear bunny- or cat-ears for extra attraction. The employees are mostly young, pretty and innocent-looking girls that can live up to this “moe-fetish”. In manga and anime, moe often refers to adoration for young or innocent-looking female characters.

You will hear this “moe”-expression later in a chant.

Maid cafe in anime

Maid cafe in anime

All maid cafes are not the same. The costumes may differ, as well as the rituals. Some are more extreme than others. I believe our cafe was pretty normal. ^_-

There are maid cafes in which the maids kneel in front of the master to stir their tea and even offer to feed the master with a spoon for extra charge.

Spoon-feeding anyone?

Spoon-feeding anyone?

I’ve even heard of maid cafes that offer ear cleaning and massage (which truly don’t interest me… Eeewww ^^) and I don’t think it’s that uncommon with maid cafes in which you can pay extra to play cards or similar with a maid. In some ways, I would like to consider maids as a form of modern geishas. They entertain.

The maid menus do not differ a lot from regular cafes, but they tend to decorate the meals and deserts a little extra with cute designs. You will see our own example later.

Cute food.

Cute food.

There are some common rules that you’re expected to follow in almost all maid cafes. Most of them are pretty obvious.

For instance, you’re not allowed to touch the maid in inappropriate ways (of course!!!), you’re not allowed to stalk her or ask her for private information. You are not either allowed to take photos of her or of the interior in the cafe.

Maid cafés may allow you to get photographed with a maid if you pay an extra fee though and these photographs mostly get decorated by the maid, especially for you. You can see my example later in this post. :-)

Well, neither me or Hide had been to a maid cafe before, so we weren’t sure of what to expect.

There’s a lot of maid cafes in Akihabara (there are maids on the streets handing out flyers everywhere), so we just had to pick one.

Not my photo.

Not my photo.

It turned out that we decided to Visit “MaiDreamin“.

We just picked one.

We just picked one.

The cafe was obviously located on the highest floor in a very big building, so we had to enter an elevator. It was small and rusty and I really didn’t know what to expect.

As the elevator had reached top floor and the doors opened, it was like entering a magic world of soft pink light, a warm atmosphere and smiling people.

Not my animation.

Not my animation.

Three cute maids in adorable dresses shined up and came skipping toward us, shouting something I guess must have been “Welcome home Master” and “Welcome home Princess”, since that’s how they usually greet their guests.

One maid became our “main maid” and she lead us to a table in this lovely room with soft lights and colorful and cute interior.

A group of boys where sitting at another table, all wearing silly hats, and I thought “Ha ha ha, such nerds…”

Well, just you wait Iona…

Magical candles that leads you to fantasy land.

Magical candles that leads you to fantasy land.

Our maid knelt down at the table and had a small electronic candle in her hands. She mostly spoke Japanese so I’m happy that Hide joined me and could translate.

She said that it was a magic candle, and when it was lit, we would enter Dreamland.

I don’t remember if she made us count or chant something, but the candle got lit and our visit in this fantasy world began.

She handed us a cute menu with offers and desert. There was hearts, stars, cute bears and cats painted everywhere.

Certain “package-menus” offered us something to eat as well as special offers like gifts, posters of the maids and the opportunity to get photographed with two maids instead of one.

Well, more the merrier I thought and decided that I wanted to be photographed with two maids. You can see the photo below.

Me and Hide ordered ice-cream. I chose a vanilla cat and Hide a chocolate bear. We were allowed to take a picture of these cute and tasty beings and so I did.

Hides chocolate bear and my Vanilla cat.

Hides chocolate bear and my Vanilla cat.

Before eating, our maid wanted us to join her in a little song, or maybe we can call it a “little chant”. I had a little bit of hardship to learn these words, since I can’t speak Japanese, but I did as well as I could.

I think one of the chants was the following words, and it was supposed to make our food become extra tasty:

Oishiku nare
moe moe kyun!

Apparently “moe moe kyun” is some kind of otaku meme. You remember the moe-concept?

Not my animation.

Not my animation.

The ice-creams were delicious!

Now and then, maids approached us for some friendly chats and entertainment, giving us compliments and such. They liked my hair and wondered if it was all mine. Of course it is! ^_-

Suddenly, while eating our ice-creams, our maid came skipping from behind and put a silly hat on Hide’s head. It was the head of a reindeer. I sure got surprised and before I knew it, she put something on my head as well. Hide told me it was a couple of black horns.

How suitable! ^_-

Glowsticks for party mood.

Glowsticks for party mood.

So now I was the one to sit there with a silly head accessory and I felt bad for thinking such thoughts of the boys at the other table.

Another maid told us that they would put up a show for us and asked to buy some glow sticks, which we did.

And another maid gave us a handwritten paper with the lyrics – I guess – for a song. Hide told me that he didn’t understand the concept of it though, that it was just irrelevant words put together. Apparently this was a bit strange for a native Japanese as well.

Well, it was a pretty paper, written by hand and decorated with cute kitties.

Some minutes later, the maids gathered in the pink spotlight and jumped up on a small stage formed as a pink heart. Music started to play and they sang and shouted like professional entertainers. They wanted us to cheer with our sticks and shout with them – and so we did. ^^

Not my animation.

Not my animation.

It was an amazing show and the maids gave their hearts and souls to us. I was so impressed and it was incredible to see. I think I smiled the whole time during our visit at that cafe. And laughed of course. I don’t think anyone can resist doing that.

Later, another maid wanted to sell us souvenirs, but I said no, ’cause I thought I had spent too much money there already. The maid looked really sad and said something with a very disappointing sound. Gosh, they are truly professional actors. Very hard to resist.

We both received a member-card in which Hide got entitled “Master” and I got entitled “Princess”.

Princess Iona

Princess Iona

With this card I was granted a special show next time I visited MaiDreamin. ^^

I believe maid cafes is a perfect place to go to when you feel depressed and alone. Even though it’s only a show, it DO make you feel better. They have such cozy atmosphere and the maids are so sweet.

After we had finished our ice creams and our coffee, we were asked to pick two favorite maids to be photographed with.

Oh, this was so hard, ’cause I liked them all. But I picked two, and we all stepped up on the heart-shaped stage and got photographed together. Our maid decorated the photos and handed them to us before we had to leave.

My and Hide's photos. The maids instructed us to take these "cute" poses. *nyan nyan*

My and Hide’s photos. The maids instructed us to take these “cute” poses. *nyan nyan*

This was truly quite an experience, and I don’t you can fully get how weird everything felt if you haven’t been to a maid cafe yourself. So if you plan to got Japan, you MUST try it! ^^

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