Saturday, 28 April 2012

Pizza tabehoudai.

All you can eat restaurants are popular in Japan. They are known as 'tabehoudai' or 'baikingu' (Viking). Yesterday a few of us went to a pizza tabehoudai restaurant near to the university campus for lunch. We got the cheapest option, which was 1000 yen, or ~£8. 

For this, we got to choose a pasta dish to have as a main. Some dishes had a small surcharge (50-100 yen) on top if they had any expensive ingredients in. I went for carbonara which was no extra charge. On top of this, they bring round pizzas every few minutes, offering you a slice. And this repeats until you get full or they close

The pizza options varied from the usual (margarita, pepperoni) to the different (tuna and pesto) to the strange but still delicious (cheese and curry). If you pay for a slightly more expensive menu you can have a drink and dessert on top, but after having a full plate of pasta and then many slices of pizza on top, this really wasn't necessary ^_^ 

This particular restaurant also had a mix of traditional and modern seating. We were put in a more traditional booth, where you take off your shoes and climb into a raised area and sit on little cushions. They also had honey to put on your pizza which I didn't try, but the Japanese women sitting next to us were quite enthusiastically using it... 

Overall a nice lunch and a welcome escape from the miserable weather that day ^_^ 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


On the 1st April a group of us travelled to Harajuku. It takes about an hour to get there including changing trains, so it's pretty convienient. The 1st was a Sunday, which is the most popular day to go to Harajuku. Shops don't close on a Sunday here, so it can get pretty busy, especially if the weather is nice. On top of that it was still the school holidays when we went.

One of the more famous areas in Harajuku is Takeshita Street, which connects two more major roads. It is fairly narrow and is filled with (mostly clothes) shops and restaurants. It has a similar feel to Camden. Once you have walked through Takeshita Street, you are in the area called Omotesando, which contains more upmarket shops and cafés. Here you can find the flagship stores of brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and other such places which don't put the (probably horrific) prices in the window. 

Also in Harajuku is Yoyogi Park, which is huge and was busy when we went. There were several different groups practising dancing, lots of families and groups eating picnics, and also lots of dog walkers. Dog watching in parks here is lovely, especially as there is a tendency towards having the small, fluffy varieties ^_^

Creperies are popular in Harajuku, and on our first visit I had a blueberry cheesecake crepe. It was full of whipped cream and I probably shouldn't have had one due to the extreme amounts of dairy, but it was so delicious o_o

On the 5th, Laura & I went back to visit Meiji Shrine, which is on the edge of Yoyogi Park. It's one of the more well known Shinto shrines in Japan. It's also used for weddings, and whilst we were there we saw a wedding procession.

Harajuku is one of the more far away places in Tokyo to get to from where I am, but it is still definitely worth visiting and is also in the vicinity of Shibuya and Shinjuku stations, two places I have yet to visit but definitely wish to ^_^

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Nekorobi cat café, Ikebukuro.

On Sunday 15th I travelled to Ikebukuro with Laura. Ikebukuro is a district in Tokyo, with lots of department stores and a more female-orientated air. After getting lost in some of said department stores we found the cat café I had researched online, Nekorobi. It is on the 3rd floor of a building and is pretty hidden away aside from a small sign outside. Space is such a commodity here that many businesses can often share one building.

Cat cafés usually charge by the hour to spend time with the cats. As it was a weekend they charged slightly more, 1200 yen (around £9) for an hour, but this included unlimited free drinks and some snacks. It was busy when we there. There were 12 cats, most of whom were very sleepy. As I had heard before, cats in cat cafés tend to be very...cattish and at Nekorobi they were no exception. Most of the time the cats would run from perch to perch, so rather than expecting the cat to come to you, you have to go to the cat. Very cattish, as I said ^_~ 

The cats were lovely, so soft. Some of them were absolutely huge. They had a cat tower they could sleep on, little cages to lie in if they didn't want to be disturbed and there were many toys for the cats to play with too. Some of the cats found interesting places to sit, like on top of the café's laptop or on the slipper rack. Each cat also had a little booklet with information and photos.

All in all it was a lovely experience. The atmosphere was nice and the staff were friendly, and I think it is a very relaxing place to spend an hour, whether you are a cat lover or not. Maybe not if you hate cats though. There may be times when the cats outnumber people.


It's quite crazy to think that I have been in Japan for 3.5 weeks. I've done quite a lot since then, which I plan to retroactively write about in the next few days. Just to pick out a few, I have visited Tokyo several times (Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Harajuku...), spent time in a cat café (nya nya), done ohanami (cherry blossom viewing), eaten an unnatural amount of rice, lamented at the prices (particularly of fruit and vegetables) and seen several beautiful temples and shrines. 

I'm living in Saitama prefecture, which is the region just above Tokyo. The area I'm in is basically a commuter town, and it's mostly families and older people here. The university that I am attending, Dokkyo, is only two stops away on the train, but I have bought a bike to cycle in as it's only about 2 miles. At first I was the cycling equivalent of a deer learning to walk but things are generally getting better, and I'm saving a lot of money. And it's healthy, of course.

In the next few posts I will write about some of the things I have already done/seen.  I realise that it has been 2 months since the last post; now I have settled in and have a routine I will definitely be keeping up with my target of 2 posts a week. There are so many things to write about, after all ^_^