Tokyo : Kichijoji

Because it is only right to finish what you have started (not to mention it is bad enough that I am only posting these pictures one year after my trip). So this is Kichijoji.

Unlike Nakameguro (as featured in my previous post), Kichijoji is huge. It is approximately an hour away from Harajuku/Shibuya area. Most people would end up in that area on their pilgrimage to Ghibli studio. On one side of Kichijoji you would find huge malls and department stores, cross over from the train station to the police station and walk right into the small streets to find small quaint stores selling stuff ranging from home wares, fashion to paper goods. 

I do not have many pictures of this place as I was just walking around and taking in chill-out atmosphere of Kichijoji most of the time while I explored a new part of Kichijoji I've never been. When I first visited three years ago my only aim was to visit the super cute Hara Donuts shop (which you might want to check out), at the other end of Kichijoji. 

A couple of nice shop fronts....

I love this picture of schoolgirls huddling together and walking in a group, it reminded me of convent school days when the only world that existed was the one under our little umbrellas.

Inokashira Park

It started drizzling again the moment I reached Inokashira Park which (uhm) dampened the mood just slightly. I mean, I was looking forward to rolling in the grass and flattening all the flowers in the same patch while at it. After about a minute, I decided that I didn't mind the rain. I love how the tiny rain droplets felt when they landed on my skin. They reminded me that I was present at that very moment, as I shared the joy of three friends struggling with the oars of their little boat and the faint scent of fresh greenery that filled the park. It didn't matter anymore.

At this point, you might be wondering if I am making up most of what I have written, especially what I have felt/ thought. Well I might have, or might have not but I am definitely writing from memory. Looking back at these pictures allows me to experience all the feelings and associations captured at that moment all over again.

Mahika Mano

The true agenda in visiting Kichijoji this round was to visit Mahika Mano Hammock Cafe and Gallery. It was pretty hard to get to this cafe as it was hidden in one of the really small streets, a short walk away from the park. So glad I made it eventually and I didn't even have to queue to get in. 

The hammock cafe actually doubles as a showroom for Hammock 2000. This means that you could actually purchase the hammock that you're sitting on while having your tea if you really like it!  For that reason, however, no photography in the cafe is allowed.

The food was not exceptionally fantastic but that's okay because you'd be too comfortable to even get up and ask them to change it. The cake and drinks were served on a low coffee table in front of your allocated hammock. Which also means you shouldn't get too carried away with swinging from the hammock unless you want your tea cups and plates to be sent to the other tables. What I really liked about the cafe aside from their comfortable swinging seats are the tiny windows that they have. The little boxes that look out across the street made me feel like I was in a different world – one where chairs are no longer relevant and getting out of hammock is out of the question. At that instance, all was right with the world. 

And it always is when you are on vacation in Tokyo. ☺

 

Tokyo : Nakameguro

I'm here to pay tribute to nostalgia, with a list of places in Tokyo which I have visited last April and really liked. I'm also doing this up for my close friends who are heading over to Tokyo really really soon. ☺ So let's start with one of my favorite areas in Tokyo – Nakameguro

Upon arriving at Nakameguro station, you will be stepping foot into one of the quaintest areas of Tokyo where time slows down to the steady flow of the Meguro river. Walk along the river and you'll find yourself on a narrow street lined with niche shops, restaurants and cafes. On each side of the river bank, neat rows of trees bendover to reach one another, while the playful breeze skip from branch to branch, sending secrets rippling across the river with every fallen leaf.

I make it a point to come back to this place whenever I am in Tokyo. This place is a favourite because it holds a lot of special memories for me – the only 21 deg celsius day I experienced two Summers ago (a huge dip from the usual 30ish), my first sakura viewing, first craft workshop which I have attended in Tokyo (with Mogu Takahashi) and my first outing with my brilliantly amazing friend Saki. It is interesting how I find myself back in same place but it feels so different every time.

Cafe Drole

One of my favorite places to drop in for a cup of coffee, some cookies and a slice of cake. Their friendly staff will also inform you if they have any seasonal specials – sakura cake was pretty special and refreshing.

I had to skip the cafe this time because I had a more important task at hand – which was to hunt for the next place in this list.

Chano-Ma Cafe

I was specially instructed to look for Chano-Ma and have lunch here on the behalf of Y who couldn't come along with me on the trip. The eggplant omelette sidedish was a symphony of flavors in my mouth, everything was really healthy and tasty. The atmosphere was splendid as well, huge windows which let the afternoon rays in and daybeds that stretched lazily by the side of the cafe. I found out that the cafe is made to be child-friendly for cool mommies to hang out and have lunch with their little kids. What a thoughtful concept!

I felt really pampered when I was there, even though it was slightly awkward to have someone remove your shoes for you. The caramel parfait was divine as well, I almost didn't want to leave but I had a date by the river.  ☺

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You could just sit here and stare out of the windows for hours, watch the shadows shift around the room, people watch or hangout with a book. And soon... it was time for me to meet my dear friend, Stacy (you will see her in one of the pictures below)!

Nill Style Cafe

I remember walking past Nill Style Cafe thinking that it was somebody's house. Unfortunately the cafe is now closed but still a good spot for photo taking – Stacy and I attempted with self-timer camera on our phones and it was hilarious.

We decided to wander around the area to see if we can find interesting shops/cafe that we have not been to as it was not our first time here. We did find some really interesting shops which I honestly can't remember without photographic evidence. But here are some that I do - 

Malmo Art Bird Books 

My きれい~ friend in her luminous fringe phase. 

My きれい~ friend in her luminous fringe phase. 

Possibly the most laid back cafe in Japan, and extra extra points on the cool vibes. The owner basically just left us alone in the cafe the entire time. It was nice to just chill out to the great music, and to be surrounded by shelves of design books that we can help ourselves to. We suspect that this place transforms into a really cool spot in the night. 

Ok Donut/ Soaks

Wherever we go, we are always on the lookout for places to have nice desserts and good coffee. We ended up at Soaks which shares the space with Ok Donuts. We said Ok to both chiffon cakes and "japanese-style" donuts for dinner because who can really say no to them. They have really interesting flavors for the donuts - ginger, tomato, gobo, lotus roots, ashitaba ... just to name a few. These donuts are made of whole wheat grains and they do not contain trans-fat (yipee). The texture is unlike the typical krispy kreme donuts, if you have tried Hara Donuts you'd know what I mean. 

The chiffon cake was soft and moist. According to my dear friend the Chiffon ケ−キ Expert, listen for the 'tssshhhh' sound when you cut through the cake with your fork. If you hear it, it's a MATCH! The evening ended with us in a pile of mush as we cooed over the playful puppy who was playing peekaboo from the sofa behind us, on top of good conversations and dancing taste buds. I'm just really glad to have Stacy's company (miss you!!), it was so much fun to be here with her this time. ♡♡♡

As always, it was pretty tough to say goodbye to this lovely neighborhood but I am looking forward to revisit, to be charmed by the place all over again. 

Tokyo In A Flash

Some pictures captured on camera. As the trip was pretty hectic, there was rarely time for strolling and taking pictures. I got to explore a lot more of Shinjuku and Shibuya this time around but I wouldn't say that I really enjoy it. I should really get down to uploading my pictures taken in April as there is so much more to see. On an irrelephant note, I learnt how to ride a scooter yesterday and it was pretty fun. Happy Saturday everyone. ☺

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Street Art - Tokyo x London

Took the quickest route for a moment of brief escapism since google maps wouldn't load without internet access. Instead, I found myself skipping along these colourful lanes, which pretty much left my daydream swirling like milkshake with too many flavors.

These are some pictures of street art spotted in Tokyo and London from my previous visits. 

Shoreditch, London  Work by Phlegm

Shoreditch, London

Work by Phlegm

Bricklane, London  Work by Roa

Bricklane, London

Work by Roa

Bricklane, London  Work by Marlark

Bricklane, London

Work by Marlark

Bricklane, London  Portrait of an Indian man by Jimmy C

Bricklane, London

Portrait of an Indian man by Jimmy C

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Shoreditch, London  Work by Stik

Shoreditch, London

Work by Stik

Harajuku Street, Tokyo

Harajuku Street, Tokyo

Harajuku JR, Tokyo

Harajuku JR, Tokyo

Harajuku Street, Tokyo   

Harajuku Street, Tokyo

 

Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Koenji, Tokyo

Koenji, Tokyo

Koenji, Tokyo

Koenji, Tokyo

Aoyama, Tokyo

Aoyama, Tokyo

What I love about street art is the pleasant surprise whenever you discover one. It is art that is accessible to everyone, art with a value in the society. Some stop you in your tracks to admire the beautiful paintings, while others might make you trip over dislodged manhole covers as you mull over their messages. Perhaps this is why Singapore is a graffiti free zone.

Drawing a comparison between street art in these two major cities, you can see their majorly distinct styles that echoes the subculture of the cities. While street art in London adopt a more socio-political tone, Tokyo street art borders on the eccentric with characters inspired by Japanese folklore and superstitions. Regardless of the styles that sets them apart, these accessible art forms provide a momentary change of scenery, adding life to a concrete city. Taking a different route to the supermarket to get eggs is now more exciting than ever. Or should I say... eggciting.

Looking through these pictures definitely piqued my interest in reading up more about the street art/graffiti culture. Having grown up in Singapore where self expression is being frowned upon, and graffiti art is considered taboo or illegal, the first question that pops into mind when I see this amazing street art is – "How do these people paint in the dark??" It is comforting to know that street art movement is so widely embraced in other parts of the world and with a place in certain societies, these artists don't have to paint in the dark. (hurrah!)

Of all the cities I've been to so far (not many unfortunately) I would say that London has the best street art scene. So if you are heading to London and you love street art, I suggest you bring your personal roll of 'Caution' tapes to cordon off the spots on the streets where you can plonk your tripods and cameras as the hip places can get pretty crowded. Street art can be found in various parts in London, not just the popular spots like Shoreditch or Brick Lane. This link could be useful, and a street art tour seems like it could be a fun thing to do. ☺ 

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My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and I'm like ...... excuse me you're damaging my astro turf.