#2091 | Tales from Tokyo – All the weird things I consumed in Tokyo Convenience Stores

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To be precise, Tokyo Convenience stores AND vending machines. But the title was getting too long.

Tokyo is so well known for its convenience stores, which are amazing, but it’s my fourth trip to Japan this time round and I still haven’t tried most of the offerings instore because I don’t understand them. So I thought I would start a log of my trip eats from the stores…

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Refreshing and zero calories. Tastes just like what it says – jasmine tea, with a slightly flowery aftertaste thats not unpleasant.
Would recommend if you want to try something new but you don’t want to take in additional sugars. I felt very healthy drinking this HAHA.

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Really good. Sour and refreshing. Made in Hong Kong tho, dunno if it counts as a Japan eat?

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Good stuff because I love eggs. The egg was actually still runny, which was incredible to me! The rice was pretty flavourful too. Would recommend this.

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My number one favourite thing to get from convenience stores in Japan. Buy to eat alone or pop in your instant ramen. You can get onsen eggs, japanese ramen eggs, etcetera etcetera.

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Just tastes like lemon tea. The best thing about this was the packaging.

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STAY AWAY FROM THIS. WORST DRINK IN THE WORLD. I TEARED UP.

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Ippudo Instant Ramen! Probably the best instant noodles you will eat in your life. This is a Japan 7-11 exclusive, so you cant get it at Family Mart or Lawsons. Would definitely recommend. They have this in box form which is easier to bring home in your luggage, but TBH this individually packed one is significantly better.

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Very underwhelming. Just tastes like sliced cheese. Would recommend buying to pop in your noodle pot when cooking, so the cheese melts over your noodles and you get cheesy ramen. Mmmmmmm…

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I really like this milk tea. It’s not too sweet, you can taste the brewed leaves, and it has a weirdly floral aftertaste which isn’t bad.

Alright, that’s it.

I told y’all it be a straightforward post. More to come!
x
Jem

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#2087 | Mel’s Bali Engagement :)

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Hey guys,

So I was in Bali in end-April for Mel’s engagement party, which I keep accidentally saying is her wedding. The thing about Singaporean weddings, I think, is that they’re such a huge affair that it becomes pretty hard to have quality time with the bride and groom, and it is based on this rationale that Mel decided to throw a much smaller scale engagement party for family and close friends. 🙂

My first time attending a destination wedding – sorry, engagement party/ wedding related activity – and so I was visibly excited at everything going down!! The party was held on this cliffside villa, and it felt like everything was coming together just for this one night – the most perfect sunset of our entire trip we witnessed there, and not gonna lie, it felt like it happened specifically for her engagement. It also rained half the nights we were in Bali, but the weather was perfect that night. 🙂 🙂 🙂 All the smiley faces because what the hell it was amazing!

Here’s my date for the night:

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Amanda wong everybody. Don’t know why she pretends she’s so normal on her instagram when actually she’s the craziest of the lot.

Anyway we kind of hung around upstairs waiting for the party to officially start. We were kinda early cos we expected the Bali jam to be insane but traffic was surprisingly smooth sailing (see above re: perfect conditions). So we arrived when the bridal party and co were still getting ready. When everything was done we headed down to the grassy area where the outdoor party was and basically screamed when she came out because LOOK AT THIS!

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I’ve known Mel for about four years now and I’ve legit never seen her so radiant – she was literally beaming. There was this once I did a bridal themed shoot for a local designer, about two years ago, and when I sent the photo to a friend of mine he replied and said that he nearly cried when he saw it.

You crazy ah cry for what it’s just a shoot I’m not really getting married.
DON’T KNOW LAH its very touching okay??
What???
Very touching to see a friend in a wedding gown what NO MEH
You’re mad. Next time dont show you already.

BUT NOW I TOTALLY GET IT. I nearly teared up when I saw Mel walk out! But of course I didn’t because then everyone would laugh at me. I cried later on, when they were doing the speech, and when the sun had set so no one could see me weeping like a lame person. HAHA.

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With Tara who flew in from Aussie for the wedding!

How much u wanna bet flower crowns are going to be the new bridal trend from here on? Hahaha! Anyway. So we were taking a picture together and hugs were being exchanged and in between photos I found myself alone with James, the man of the hour, who I quite like but don’t know as well as Mel because I kind of know him through her. But he is mega sweet and also possibly the happiest guy on earth and the new hero of all nice guys in the world because he has definitively proved that yes, nice guys finish last, as in, the last one because there will be no more guys after him since he’s marrying the girl!! This is something I joke about a lot with him, but it was not really the occasion to be joking around I suppose so when I found us two standing there I couldnt help but blurt out how happy I was for him.


You know
, I said, I dont think I’ve told you this but when I congratulated Mel after you proposed to her, she said she was so happy and it was all she’s ever wanted ..

And he looked like he was about to tear up right there and then. Don’t make me cry! he said, and I was like, damn. Nearly. So close.

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I wanna freak out a bit over the table setting also because I felt like I was legit living in a pinterest board just for one night. These outdoor weddings have never been very possible in Singapore (or perhaps Ive just never been invited to one?!) because of how humid it is, but in the dry crispness of other countries these fairytale like weddings seem totally achievable. Bali isn’t exactly cooling, but they held the party on a cliff so the constant sea breeze was something of a plus. All of us were soaked through by the end of the night regardless, but that was more because of all the wedding dancing than anything else. This was also one of the first times I’ve seen a real benefit in getting a wedding planner because it takes the burden off worrying about the big day and you can just sit back and actually enjoy the day, and let someone else worry about what could go wrong! HAHA. Mel’s wedding planner was from The Bride Story, judging from how well everything went, I think they did a pretty swell job.

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I’m like mega blonde here cos I went swimming in the sea and it washed all my color out. Haha! Oh yeah and wearing a hat cos they gave out His and Hers straw hats as party favors as we walked in. A pretty cute touch!

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First dance at sundown.

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Here you can see how the night got progressively more ratchet. HAHAHAHA. Because she kept the party small – about fifty people – everyone was jumping around and dancing after dinner, and eventually half of us ended up in the pool. It was mega fun!!!! But I think no one had as much fun as the couple themselves – Mel was practically delirious from happiness at the end, she was hugging everyone and making declarations of love. Aint those the best nights. x

So happy for you Mel. Many blessed years to come. x

x
Jem

#2085 | Five Strangely Geeky Things to Freak out over in Tokyo

It’s very hard to quantify why and how I love Tokyo, but I do. Actually, I adore all of Japan, at least the bits that I’ve seen, but Tokyo was my first foray into the country and so holds a very special place in my heart. Tokyo to me is a little like New York on drugs, wacky, weird, happening, and with more neon lights. Every time I go I accumulate strange encounters, and so I thought it was time to pen down the five weirdest things you can do in Tokyo to satisfy your inner freaky geeky self.

1. Check out the roving exhibitions at the National Art Center Tokyo.

I was fortunate enough to catch Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul exhibition when I was in Tokyo. Click here to watch my #jemmainajiffy vlog of my experience..

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I was legit freaking out. It was one of the best exhibitions I’d ever seen! The balance of art and explanation was ace. You’d think that it’d be an obvious requirement for museums, but a lot of museums have really bad art descriptions, which really ruins the whole thing. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the exhibition in Tokyo National Art Center got their copy down pat, especially since they’re definitely translated over from Japanese. You go, Japan!

And even if you’re not able to catch Yayoi, from experience – the National Art Center brings in really good exhibitions, so I definitely recommend checking it out anyway.

Last year, I was in Tokyo during Art Week, and so we got to see many literally roving exhibitions. Here’s one of some people pretending to be sushi.

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The art galleries were pretty good too. And if you’re not into that, at least go to admire the architecture – the building itself is amazing!

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Protip: Queue for tickets is mad, so buy your tickets online first. Or if you end up buying on the day itself, BRING YOUR STUDENT PASS. You’ll save like 400YEN on the admission fee. The museum is closed on Tuesdays, so don’t just rock up to the doors like we did without checking first. We had to come back twice because we didn’t realise it was closed on tuesdays the first time!

Additional tip: this museum is located in Roppongi, where the chichi neighbourhood is. You can go cafe hopping, have a drink at the famous Lost in Translation bar atop the Park Hyatt Tokyo, or head to a hedgehog cafe in the area!

2. Go to the Robot Restaurant

This idea was floated to me last year during my previous trip, but I never got around to doing it till this one. The robot restaurant has gotten such mixed reviews from everyone I know who’s been there – it really is either a love or hate kind of situation. But everyone agrees on one thing: only in japan.

I booked the robot restaurant for my sister and I on the Klook app, which is the same app I used for my airport transfer, my disneyland/sea tickets, so on and so forth. When I got to the restaurant I just showed them my phone to enter, which was incredibly convenient since I hate printing and carrying tickets around! Super super fuss free. We got the show-only option because we heard that the food they serve isn’t great. I’d recommend this for sure, because Shinjuku has a lot of great dining options you can go to after the show, like Ichiran ramen’s 24 hour chain and so on.

So we settled down and waited for the show to start. To be honest, when it began I thought it was totally not worth the money because it was just costumed girls running around on floats looking high on life. BUT. Turns out that was just the pre-show! The actual show… it blew me away. I think I must have been slightly delirious from the flight and the rain because I couldnt stop laughing for an hour straight. It truly is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.

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Waiting for the show to start… full house!

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Pre-show

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DANCING ROBOT!!!I screamed when he came out. I’m a sucker for these things.

Essentially, there are three shows in the robot restaurant, each with their own relatively simple storyline. The magic happens when the freakin ROBOTS come out and fight it out. What the damn hell! I screamed and laughed and cried so much I thought i was going to die. And after reading online reviews, I realised that they must have already tampered this down because apparently it was a lot LESS PG before it got so touristy. The show I watched was so crazy already, I cant imagine how it could have been crazier before!

The show was a freakin full house, and they do three shows a day. Even years after they’ve opened doors it’s still a full house every show, so I would suggest booking this early. The entire thing cost 10 million yen to build, and now I understand why. Do it if you’re the type who grew up watching anime and reading manga because to be honest, this is the closest you will get to living in a freaking manga comic. HAHA.

Protip: skip buying the overpriced dinner at the robot restaurant and go for dinner / drinks elsewhere after the show. Golden Gai is nearby for drinks, and the charmingly named Piss alley is also in the area if you want cheap eats.

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PS. Was super amused by the poor dudes who were obviously hired just to control the robots. All the excited dancing robots and costumed girls around them and they’re just like… another day in the life…

3. Get your life movie trailer made at the LINE FRIENDS HARAJUKU store

I must admit that I’m not a huge LINE user myself: I favour Whatsapp (because everyone is on it) and Telegram (because of the stickers!!) more. But I do use the LINE stickers of that weird moon headed man and the bunny on Telegram, and they’re some of my favourites!

You already knew that taking neoprints, or purikura (プリクラ), is a must when headed to Harajuku. But why not amp it up and take the LINE specific purikura pictures? It’s 600YEN for two sets of four pictures, and here’s the kicker – when you download the Purikura app, you can get the photos in full res for free instead of having to try take a picture of your print out. AND, the app automatically creates this short music video of your pictures, which kind of plays like a really cheesy life trailer. But crazy corniness aside, when else are you going to have a trailer of your own life made? This is like the opening to my future reality TV show, y’all. Crazy bear transitions and all.

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Besides, how can you resist a picture with this larger than life LINE bear?

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Protip: The LINE purikura machine is at B1 level. Down the road from the Harajuku LINE shop is Red Rock – where you can get one of the best beef bowls in your life. Yum! Go late to avoid a queue.

4. Play old school video games in the 8bit cafe

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This cafe has an entry fee of 500YEN and a minimum order of 1 drink each. But for good reason! The cafe is a themed one, full of old school games that are fully functional. You can stay for an hour and a half, and the games are a really good mix of familiar (marioKart) and never seen before (Pico Park?). Drinks are named after the owner’s favourite video game characters, which is a cute touch.

It’s not a big cafe, and fills up quickly. I would suggest going about late afternoon (it opens at 6) to avoid the crowds. We were the only ones there save for another couple, but by 630pm people started streaming in!

One last thing: the place is really near the Shinjuku subway exit, but it’s not easy to find. Look for a dodgy little staircase is my best advice, and a sign that says 8bit.

8bit Cafe
Q Building 5F, 3-8-3 Shinjuku,

160-0022 Shinjuku-ku , 13

Protip: It’s in between the Shinjuku Gyoen and the Metropolitan Gov building. So go to the Gyoen before that, then the cafe, then head to the Gov building to check out the free observation deck for a bird’s eye view of Tokyo! Wrote about the Metropolitan Gov Building (amongst other things) in my Broke Student’s Guide to Tokyo here.

5. Ride Mario GoKart down the streets

This is something I regretfully did not get to do myself, because I chickened out. I’m a relatively new driver, and I definitely do not feel confident speeding down the roads of shibuya in a gokart! But I saw a ton of other people doing it, and it looked ridiculous and amazing. You get to dress up as your favourite Mario Kart character and zoom zoom your way down the streets of Tokyo. Again, its something that mostly tourists do. But let’s face it – if you’re reading this, you’re a tourist. And so embrace the life, and get weird with them. Im sure it’ll be an awesome memory, and it’s something I’m mentally preparing myself to try the next time I head to Tokyo!

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Check out this insane looking experience. Image from: thebarrybullockhour.podbean.com

I also really liked the Tokyo Weekender review of the activity. Perhaps I’ll be brave enough to try it on my own next time! Ha.

You can also book this activity off Klook, where they occasionally have discounts for their hosted activities. And the more activities you book on them and reviews you leave, the more points you get towards a discount on your next activity!

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This post might be done but I am definitely not. A slew of Tokyo-related posts (aka. gushing about the city) to come, and till then – hope you guys enjoyed this post! Please send me your recommendations for the city as well, because I know I’m definitely going to be back before long 🙂

x
Jem

This was part of a Tokyo work trip with Klook – a travel activities booking site. Tickets to the Robot Restaurant were also booked on Klook!

#2083 | #LADiaries Airbnb Walks – The Last Bookstore

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Los Angeles, America

Dusky evenings in downtown LA. I try to make it a point to visit a bookstore in every city I go to – part because of my love for reading, part because I truly believe that bookstores form such core part of our culture’s heart. My favourite bookstores, thus, are scattered around the globe: Three Lives and Company in New York, Liberia in London, Topping & Company Booksellers in Bath… and now added to the list, The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA, stop number three on the Old Bank District: The Historic Core Airbnb Audio Guide.

How do you not immediately want to run into this bookstore the minute you see it? What a name – compelling, challenging. And yet, not easy to stumble upon – perhaps because it being my first time in LA, I didn’t know my way around and thus wouldnt have walked past this street without being specifically guided there. Last week, a reader wrote to me and detailed the number of places she had been, following my travel guides on this blog. When I plan for my travels, there are also some travel forums, blogs and video channels I go to as an automatic resource. The point is – travel guides and online repositories of content still play a big part in the process of discovery and trip planning, and the newest entry into the fray is Airbnb with their launch of local guides and audio walks. When it was announced at Airbnb Open, I wondered how something that made so much sense was launching only now. But that’s part of the beauty of Airbnb, I think, and all industry innovators and disruptors – always changing things up and coming up with new ways of experiencing that you never knew you needed till now.

Made by 🌟Collage🌟

The Airbnb Audio Walks are part of a collaboration with Detour, and you can find them under the Places tab in your Airbnb app. It’s still being rolled out in different countries, but for now its mainly in the USA. Essentially, it’s a free bonus you get with the Airbnb app which is GPS tagged so it brings you through “walks” in different neighbourhoods and cities. Sounds perfect for solo travellers – but it’s actually geared towards groups too, because you can sync your tours with your friends and all do the walk together. This is so great because it’s like a free walking tour but pegged to your own convenience – and made better only by the fact that the tours themselves are freaking ace. This particular one that features The Last Bookstore actually has different locals bring you through the walk in the audio guide – and one of the is the owner of the freakin bookstore, Josh Spencer. So yes – not a bad way to spend an afternoon, especially if there’s an Airbnb audio guide available in the city you’re visiting.

And so, into the bookstore we go..

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I have to say, being on a press trip, I didn;t have huge blocks of free time to wind around the city. My free time was mostly spontaneous, and in short bursts, and it was in that way that Los Angeles and I got acquainted. It wasn’t half bad – in fact, I’d like to think that I made quite good use of my time there, thoroughly filling my days with things and experiences and also leaving just enough to know that I’d be back. I thought to myself that I’d just pop in and spend an hour in the bookstore (after all, I wasn’t about to sit and read a book – just take a look, perhaps buy a book, and ask for recommendations) and then head out and check out other things within the city. But of course this was wishful thinking. Once I stepped in, the next time I saw the sky again it was dark, and dinnertime, and I was forced out by the alert on my phone that my next scheduled itinerary event was happening. And so that is a roundabout way of saying that yes, I loved it, and yes, you should definitely check it out if you’re in LA!

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The bookstore is a secondhand and new bookstore, and consists two floors and a ton of themed rooms. It’s won a lot of praise for its stunning design, and a true bibliophile could honestly spend hours and hours in here!

Some of the themed rooms they have include rooms gravitating around art, rare book rooms, $1 book areas, children books, so on and so forth. I’m pretty proud to say that I saw our homegrown Singaporean graphic novel, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, on the shelves in the Graphic novels and Photobooks room. It’s a little overwhelming when you first go in because it’s impossible to know where to start, but what I did was go straight to the second floor where the book labyrinth was, and then work my way down from there

The walk up:

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The flying books are my favourite, they remind me of Harry Potter!

These book themed installations are done in collaboration with various artists in LA, and David Lovejoy is featured very prominently. I deadass got the scare of my life when I turned the corner in the stairwell and bumped into that android human book thing. Jeez. America.

There are corridors which imitate art galleries along the second floor, and I spent a happy twenty minutes or so perusing them. I believe the art gallery Spring Arts is located there, where occasionally artists will come and take residence and interact with customers there – but I didn’t get to see them when I was there. And there’s also this jail cell looking room with the sign EMPLOYEES ONLY which I presume is where the booksellers can go take their break, but I didn’t get a photo of that unfortunately.

The Labyrinth:

I ran to the Labyrinth when I saw it, not even kidding. This is what my dreams are made of!

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Everything on the second floor goes at a dollar each, but the real draw for most people is the way the second floor looks like a portal into a whole different dimension. Again, it’s segregated by genre – the science fiction room is a legitimate VAULT – but the devil is in the details. Everything – from the way the light falls dramatically on certain titles – to the magnifying glass hanging over some books – is planned with the very deliberate care of someone who loves the place. And check out that book loop!

All of them, again, were done either by volunteers within the LA book community, or by local artists. The collaborative effort of this place was touching, but also sobering – in the window, a sign: What are you waiting for? We wont be here forever.

Back down to the first floor:

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The art on the wall is made fully of paperback books!

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There’s a one hour time limit for couches – presumably so you dont fall asleep there. No computer terminals to help you find books either, you just approach the “section care experts”, and they mentally log where you can find what you’re looking for. I ended up buying my first ever copy of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay which at that time was impossible to find in Singapore (now I have three copies cos I keep giving them away) and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness which was in the same year made into a movie. Would have gotten more (dollar books!!) but.. luggage space. Anyway. They pack your purchases into a brown paper bag, very old school, and then off you go.

When I stepped out of the store, it was dark. I had overstayed my initial plan – as expected – but I left happier, with two books, and no regrets.

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What a recommendation. I cannot imagine any book lover coming to LA and not visiting the last bookstore. And if you do live in LA – what are you waiting for? They wont be there forever.

The Last Bookstore
453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, USA

You can access Airbnb Audio Walks now via the Airbnb app.
Airbnb.com/jemma for $50 off your first stay x

x
Jem

#2082 | Tales from Tokyo: Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe, Harajuku

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Tokyo, Japan
All pictures are taken on a Nikon D750, lenses – nikon 35 f/1.8 and 85 f/1.8

So I was in Tokyo in April on a work trip for Klook Travel, with my sister along as my photographer/videographer, also her specialisation in university. Her first time in Japan, so the whole trip was a bam bam bam nonstop slew of scheduled eye-opening amazement for her, but not much in the way of blocks of free time. We did have a bout of unscheduled time the morning before we flew out though, and this aspiring filmmaker turned to me with a sort of plea in her eyes, saying that her life’s Dream was to see a hedgehog live. After laughing at her for an hour – I mean, who am I to ask about whether her life dream should be, yknw, succeeding in her film career or anything like that? – we did some googling, made some plans, and rocked up early in the morning at Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe.

I lie. It opens at noon. We rocked up at noon. It just felt early because it had been a long and exhausting(ly fun) trip and we were at the tail end of it. Anyway.

People online often recommend making an advance appointment, but I personally think this isnt necessary if you’re going on a 1. weekday and 2. during non-peak hours. This is because reservations are for minimum an hour, as opposed to half an hour blocks for walk-in, and an hour is a lot of time to be staring at a bunch of spikey hamsters. And, hedgehog cafes are expensive, dude. They’re far more expensive than cat or owl cafes in Japan, going at a rate of about $15 per half hour.

There are two big hedgehog cafes in Tokyo, both under the Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe chain. One is in Roppongi, and I hear that one requires a reservation two or three days in advance! We went to the one in Harajuku, a short walk down from the Meiji-jingu shrine.

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Vending machines for your drinks

Your entry ticket comes with a free drink which you have to redeem yourself from the vending machines at the back of the cafe. Unlike most pet cafes, hedgehog cafes smell pretty normal – I suppose its because hedgehogs themselves dont smell like much. The space was pretty big and clean, but it filled up really quickly so I recommend going once it opens if you dont want to make a reservation!

The staff kind of give you a short briefing about how to hold a hedgehog and what to do, but its nothing too elaborate. There’s the option of buying mealworms to feed them (ugh) which my sister went for because, again, she freaking loves hedgehogs. I do not feel strongly about hedgehogs so when she offered me a worm, thinking she was doing me this huge favour by letting me feed them with the worms she paid for, she was pretty surprised when I gave her an empathetic no thanks.

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There are also gloves lying around which I recommend using because those things are pokey.

This is not my first experience with hedgehogs. I must admit I’ve never been very keen on them because the first time I saw one it was in the basement of a mall in JB, at a shop which sells illegally imported animals including sugar gliders and snakes. Those hedgehogs – kept in a ratchet looking cardboard box – looked weak and kind of sickly to be honest, and I got a bit upset looking at them because they looked like they were about to expire any moment. The second time I saw a hedgehog it was last year in Tokyo, when a little girl was walking hers in the park. That one was significantly more healthy, but it kept running away from her and she was basically scolding it her entire walk. Which was pretty funny to watch, but you know, didn’t really do much for me in terms of endearing me to the hedgehog.

These hedgehogs, the ones at Harry’s, were much easier to be around. They weren’t as irritable, looked like they were reasonably healthy, and if they didn’t want to play with you, they just went to sleep. Simple!

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They also burrow into your boobs because they like to hide. #pervhog

I think because their day job is literally being cute with humans day in day out, they’re not really shy with people either. I held one and it ran up my arm and into my sleeve. I wanted to die. But on the other hand, it didn’t shit on me, which is what it did when my sister picked it up. HA!

The ones at Harry’s come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve only ever seen hedgehogs that are more or less half-palm sized, but there were some pretty colossal ones in Harry’s. Picking them up was like doing a weight lift or something. It was hilarious. Those also sleep a lot, and they’re funny because their limbs are all way disproportionate in relation to their bodies. What are hedgehogs even?!

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This fat hedgehog looked seriously grumpy next to my sister. Seriously my sister is going through that phase of post-teenhood where she’s like perpetually looking uninterested in everything, so I have literally never seen her look this harmless or happy in about eight years. This picture made me laugh so hard you guys!

Our half hour was up relatively quick. The staff keep an eye on everyone who comes in so they’ll let you know when your time is up, and if you stay beyond that they charge you per half hour block. We had a flight to catch so we didn’t stay on, but I do think half hour was a pretty decent amount of time to be spending in there, especially since in quantifiable terms that’s fifty cents a minute.

Thinking about it after leaving, I’m still not sure how I feel about the hedgehog cafe. I suppose it’s the same feeling I have with all animal cafes – it’s not that I’m a huge animals-should-be-wild-and-free activist, hell, I have a pet cat at home. I suppose it’s just that at animal cafes, how manhandled the animals end up really depend on how strict the staff are, and the staff are often caught between doing the right thing and wanting to keep customers happy. The owl cafes i’ve been to in Osaka and Tokyo have been pretty strict about this – the Osaka Owl Cafe i blogged about two years ago would only let you hold an hour under their supervision and for a very short period of time – you’d pretty much have to be content having a coffee in close proximity to some owls and staring at them while you sipped. Cat cafes are similar – you’re only allowed to pet, but never to pick up or carry the cats. This is standard throughout all cat cafes I’ve been to – in Japan, Korea, Singapore.

But I’ve seen pictures on instagram where people manhandle owls for a picture in other owl cafes, and in the hedgehog cafe, I saw a couple of people try to flip the hedgehogs around into a cute position even though the hedgehogs obviously didn’t want to be on their backs. The staff didn’t step in until people started carrying the hedgehogs around – you’re only supposed to hold them above their glass boxes so if you drop them they end up back in their box. Maybe the cafe was too big and they couldn’t really see what you were doing, but hmm.. to be fair, the two girls in charge of that shift also looked like they were pretty shy to me, so perhaps they were part timers and didn’t know how to enforce the rules? In any case, I wouldn’t say that anyone there was causing the hedgehogs any pain, but some tourists were definitely annoying a couple of hedgehogs more than once. So yeah, mixed feelings.

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Anyway, if you want to head there regardless, there’s one branch in Harajuku and one in Roppongi! I’d still say it’s a pretty interesting experience, but also – to be a responsible guest when you’re there, and treat the hedgehogs the way you’d want your own pet to be treated by strangers 🙂

Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe
1-13-21 Jingumae | 4F, Shibuya 150-0001, Tokyo Prefecture
+81 3-3404-1180


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All pictures are taken on a Nikon D750, lenses – nikon 35 f/1.8 and 85 f/1.8

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Jem

This was part of a Tokyo work trip with Klook – a travel activities booking site