japan, summer 2023


Japan is a country I've wanted to visit my whole life, and this year I finally got to visit !! It was the greatest trip I've ever been in and already I plan to go again. I was there for 2 weeks, but it felt like no time at all - there was so much to do, and so much we didn't get around to doing. I went with my girlfriend and we started off visiting Tokyo, then we visited Osaka the week after.

I'm currently working on putting together a vlog of the trip and i'll post it here when it's done :3

journey to tokyo - 17 & 18.08.23

I was a little nervous about the journey to Tokyo. I've never traveled outside Europe before and it would be the longest journey I'd ever been on. We first had to get a 1.5hr flight to Heathrow, then we caught our connecting flight to Japan, which was a whole 14 hours. Unfortunately myself and my partner were seperated for our flights because our flights had been changed so much (we had to reschedule flights like 3 times due to covid), so I entertained myself reading manga.

The whole journey I still couldn't really believe I would be going to Japan. It hadn't really hit me - I never thought I'd get there.

I was so amazed by the scenery. The trees were so green and fluffy looking, like giant moss balls.

We got a little confused by customs and stuff at the airport so it took us a while to get out of there, then we had to pick up our little portable wifi box too, so it was dark by the time we got outside.

Immediately when I set foot outside in Tokyo I thought "wow, it gets dark here so early". At home, it usually gets dark around 9pm at this stage, but it was only around 7:30pm and it was already totally dark outside. I liked it though 'cause it meant we got to see the city totally lit up. We got the airport limousine (unfortunately not an actual limo it's just a bus lol) to Shinjuku and headed to our hotel! We passed by so many tall buildings, it was insane. I've never been to a city in Europe with so many buildings that are so tall.

I felt butterflies in my stomach when we passed by Tokyo Tower. It was so surreal realising just how far away from home I was.

We got to our hotel and it was really nice. We decided on a hotel called The Knot purely because we thought the name was funny but the hotel itself was epic and we'll definitely be staying at it again. We were too tired and sweaty from traveling to go out for dinner, so we went to the nearby Family Mart to get some stuff for dinner!

When I travel anywhere, going to supermarkets is so weirdly exciting to me lol. Like when I go to France I love visiting Carrefour, there's something so fun about being in another country and seeing a totally different stock to at home. So I was really excited about visiting the Japanese convenience stores and people online aren't lying when they hype them up. The food was so good.

our convenience store hauls lol. i love sakusaku panda cookies.

The yakisoba noodles and salmon onigiri were really good... the salmon onigiri was so mfin good i ended up getting it for breakfast every day and I still mourn it. I wish I could eat it for breakfast every day. We watched some Japanese tv for a bit and decided we'd start off the trip by visiting Akihabara in the morning!


For day 1, we decided to visit Akihabara! I wanted to start off the trip with some figure hunting, while I still had all my spending money. We got breakfast at the hotel and from the convenience store - our hotel had an amazing bakery downstairs, where I had a chocolate muffin with macademia nuts, and I had my salmon onigiri from Family Mart too.

It was still really surreal actually being there. The streets were so colourful. One of the tall buildings was straight up bright yellow. The area was so aesthetically pleasing.

We visited Animate first, and it was overwhelming seeing so many goods in one place. There was a whole floor of BL where my gf spent a lot of time, and we thought it was crazy, but there was so much more ahead of us... we had no idea...
We went to the Radio Kaikan building next. We spent a lot of time browsing K-Books here - first K-books of many, though we didn't know it. There was a section of doujin where I found some works by artists I recognised, and I was really excited to find a bunch of Tony wallscrolls, though little did I know I'd be finding Tony artworks absolutely everywhere in Japan.

I picked up a couple of things in K-Books, including this wallscroll of a cute succubus lady.

On the top floor of Radio Kaikan was AmiAmi; I really liked visiting AmiAmi and seeing the new figures on display.

NSFW figures on display in AmiAmi! I was hoping to purchase Usano Mimomo by Pleiades, but when I asked staff they said she was sold out.

One sort of annoying thing about being in the 18+ areas was American tourists acting scandalized by it... Twice when I was in the figure section in AmiAmi, American tourists came in and complained about it before walking back out lol. They had a couple of figures I wanted in AmiAmi and I debated them, but wanted to wait until I found something a little higher priority from my wishlist.

some fun stuff on display in AmiAmi !!

We totally underestimated just how long we would spend in those shops, and also how tiring it would be (it was pretty hot). We had only visited two shops and already it was 4pm and we were kinda tired, so we went to a cafe to take a break. My gf wanted to go to the Honey Toast cafe, so we went there!

We shared the honey toast and it was sooo goood. It was like... a hollow cube of sweeet toast with sweet toast cubes inside of it, and cream on top. It was really tasty... There were two fashionable girls beside us who had a tiered tray of little cakes and tea and it looked so cute. Also there was like, a Dragon Quest themed cafe going on in the same building? Never played those games but it looked cute.

After we sat down for a bit, we decided to make our way to Surugaya and Mandarake, which we had been meaning to visit! Both are shops I buy from online very regularly so I was excited to go there and have a browse around in person.

We went to Surugaya first, and I saw two more figures I wanted; Tenshi-chan by Skytube, and Natori Sana by Wanderer. But I wanted to wait until I checked out Mandarake before buying either of them. My girlfriend found a Dramatical Murder fangame for just ¥110, so she had to pick it up. The top floor of Surugaya had all the 18+ items, hentai, eroge, 18+ figures, etc. Shoutout to the alt cashier on the 18+ floor who was dressed to the nines and slaying for his retail job selling anime porn.

Next stop was Mandarake, which was quite close to Surugaya!

We walked into Mandarake and were immediately greeted by the cuntiest looking staff member cosplaying Emiya (I think?) from Fate. The guy with the red outfit and white hair. They had contacts in and makeup done and everything. When I'm tabling at conventions, if I cosplay, I usually wear a pretty comfy or simple one, so I was impressed at their dedication to cosplaying on the job lol. Our first stop in Mandarake was the very top floor; the figure floor.

Once we got to the figure floor, there were a lot of nice figures, but I finally found one that I just had to buy and couldn't pass up !! Behind the glass on display was Chiyuru from Skytube, a figure I've been wanting for ages! She was ¥42,000 - about €260. Which was pretty pricey, yeah, and more than her retail price, but I generally see people selling her for €280-380, and that's not counting shipping, so I was happy enough! I bought her the moment I saw her.

wahoooo yayy yayy yayy i have chiyuru !!

Our next stop was the BL/Doujin floor. It's so funny when you think of the current anti-fujoshi sentiment rampant in English-speaking fandom spaces, and their idea that BL is consumed only by 'evil' cis women (not that that's a bad thing), 'cause there was a middle aged salaryman in the BL doujin section of Mandarake and he was going ham flicking through the doujins and had a whole basket full of 'em. My man was on a mission. Ganbatte, fudanshi salaryman!

my gf in her element looking at the BL doujin.

I love BL, but I'm not too interested in collecting doujin (and just spent a Lot of money) so I just browsed a bit.

Doujin section for western media! My gf bought some Hannibal doujin.

I found it really interesting looking through the sections for western media. I love seeing what shows and movies tickle the fujoshi brain... Tenet and Dunkirk had a lot of doujin which surprised me?? Lots of 007 too.

found a south park doujin about Just the dads and i really regret not picking it up...

It was getting pretty dark now, so Akihabara was totally lit up and it looked stunning !!

still can't get over how clean the streets were

We only ended up visiting those two floors of Mandarake before deciding to call it a day. On our way back to the station, we stopped by Kotobukiya, then headed back to our hotel to drop off our haul before getting dinner!

my gf's haul from the day!

my haul from the day! some of the stuff is gifts for friends.

After taking a little break, we decided to go out for dinner in Kabukicho! I suggested we go to Ichiran, since I knew it was a chain restaurant and we just wanted something easy. So, we walked from our hotel to Kabukicho.

we nearly got eaten by godzilla.....

When we got to Ichiran, there was a pretty long queue, but we didn't mind the wait & were excited to eat some ramen. When we got into Ichiran, there was a minitor where we placed our order and got tickets with our order on them. We also got a sheet from staff to fill in, where we ticked how rich we wanted our broth, how soft we wanted our noodles, etc. Once seated, I sat at a booth where there's dividers between you and the people on either side. There's a shutter in front of you which a staff member opens. You hand them your order sheet and tickets, they close the shutter, and then when it's ready they hand you your food through the little window and close the shutter again. There was a little water tap at the table and the water was so cold, and it had been such a warm day, I was CHUGGING that shit.

we were seated in seperate rooms and had to message each other our reviews lol

ichiran was really delicious... they gotta be putting crack in that broth or something it's so so good. i miss it so bad.

after getting dinner, we walked around kabukicho a bit then headed back to the hotel to sleep! the next day, we would be going to Harajuku!

20.08.23 - Meiji Jingu

On Sunday, we decided we would be visiting Harajuku! I love jfashion, and I used to want to visit Harajuku so desperately as a teenager, it was hard to believe I'd finally be going there! Before visiting Harajuku, we decided to visit Meiji Shrine, too. We once again got convenience store + bakery breakfast, then got the train to head to Meiji Shrine.

The day before, we went to Shinjuku station, but this time we went to a different station close to our hotel. We walked through a more residential area behind our hotel. It's so cool seeing how different the architecture is in Japan compared to Ireland.

residential street near our hotel.

The buildings are all so square compared to our houses in Ireland, and there are so many colours compared to our red brick houses back home - saw a lot of pink and blue buildings. Also, one thing I couldn't get over in Tokyo was just how smooth the roads and footpaths are. The roads were all smooth with no potholes and the footpaths didn't have any huge cracks or bumps.

entrance to the shrine grounds

We arrived at the shrine grounds, and it was a really lovely walk! It was once again a warm & sunny day and the scenery was so pretty. It's so fun visiting a country so far from home because not only are all the buildings totally different, but so is the nature - the greenery, insects, wildlife. Already we had seen some cockroaches in the city, but in the shrine gardens we saw some beautiful butterflies and dragonflies too!

some pics of the area !

We got a little lost trying to find the actual shrine, but eventually we got there. When we got there, we were lucky enough to see a wedding taking place too! The bride's outfit was so beautiful.

the wedding !

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the shrine itself, but it was really pretty. It was so ornate.

the little envelopes are our prayers! i hope they come true....

When we got to the other side of the shrine grounds, we immediately ended up at Harajuku station, so we went straight to Harajuku when finished!

20.08.23 - Harajuku

When we arrived at Takeshita Street, we immediately arrived at a crepe shop, and of course we had to get some.

i got the choco cheesecake one... it was yumy...

There were so many stylish girls in Harajuku. Jirai Kei was absolutely huge when I was in Tokyo - there were so many girls absolutely decked out in jirai kei fashion with huge itabags. On the day we were in Harajuku, a Strawberry Prince event happened to be going on, so all the jirai kei girlies had big itabags of their favourite fellas.

takeshita street !! it was surreal being there irl !!

I didn't get many pics in Harajuku 'cause a lot of the boutiques don't really like foreigners taking photos. Also I was too busy spending all my money on clothes. I spent a lot of money in ACDC Rag...

One of my fav things in Harajuku was the Purikura machines. We went down a staircase and entered a huge hall that was entirely purikura machines. There was even a station with mirrors and hair straighteners so you could freshen up for your photos.


I bought so many clothes in Harajuku... We didn't even get to go to every single shop we wanted to, there was so much to see. We hoped to go back later in the week, but didn't get the chance.

After we finished shopping, my gf wanted to go to the Snoopy cafe, so we went there for some food before going home. It was late enough in the evening, so it was pretty quiet! The cafe was so cute.

i got the snoopy pancake ! he was almost too cute to eat...

After eating, we went back to the hotel to drop off our clothes.

uniqlo in harajuku had a whole setup for their csm clothing. pochita was there !!! i saw a lot of people around japan wearing those shirts.

We got dinner in Shinjuku once again, and afterwards we decided to play some crane games in the arcade before going home!

this guy i won for my gf got stuck, but staff got him for us hehe


21.08.23 - Shibuya

For Monday morning, I booked Shibuya Sky for myself and my girlfriend! It's an observation deck at the top of the skyscraper in Shibuya Scramble Square. For the first time, on our trip, we got a little lost in the station trying to get there, but we left really early so we still made it on time to our time slot. We had been hoping to go during the evening so we could see the city all lit up, but the slots were all full!

View from Shibuya Sky

The view from the top was amazing !!! I've never seen anything like it, it almost looks fake. You see big cities like this in movies and stuff but it feels so insane seeing it all in real life. It was pretty hot on the very top deck, so we couldn't stay for too long but we walked around the whole thing. There was this insane white guy there dressed like he came out of 2012 tumblr. He was just a scrawny dude with a bright purple tailcoat and purple galaxy pattern converse, he was like the purple onceler. He was American, of course. Me and my gf just called him the onceler every time we saw him. I can't tell if he was doing it ironically or not... Wherever you are now, purple onceler, I hope you had fun in Japan.

Our plan for the rest of the day was to explore Shibuya, but we ended up going to Shibuya 109 and buying so much clothes we had to go home and drop them off... We just wanted to go in and have a look but it's got so many floors and so much to see we spent ages there. I spent most of my money in Vulcan & Aphrodite. I saw the shop and immediately thought "welp there goes my budget for the day". And I could've got more, too, I had to restrain myself. One of my fav things I picked up there was a big oversized black hoodie with gothic font on the text, and cat ears on the hood, and the cat ears have piercings on them !! It's one of my fav things to wear right now. Didn't get to wear it a lot in Japan since it was so warm, but it'll certainly be worn a lot now that I'm back in Ireland.

Another shop I really liked was Lafary. I found a lot of work from artists I follow online there! It's amazing how in Japan I could just walk around and stumble across stuff from artists I love and whos work I admire. I found a wallscroll there that was literally my iPad wallpaper (I forgor the artist name) and a bunch of stuff by an artist who goes by YUI (@amnyuixx). I picked up quite a few bits and pieces from various artists there, as well as some stuff like decorative photocard and badge holders. One of my favourite things about being in Tokyo was just how much stuff there was for female fans. Oshi culture is so much fun. Not only is it fun to be a fan, it can also be so stylish! Lafary had a lot of this sort of stuff, and so did the Sanrio store, Daiso, Stella, and plenty of other stores around Tokyo; but you could just get everything you can think of to show off your oshi. Stylish photocard holders, badge protectors, rosettes to put your badges on, small keychain containers for plushies and nendos, clothing for plushies and nendos... I picked up some cute photocard holders in Lafary myself.

Some of the mentioned "oshi" goods from the Sanrio Store.

After going through Shibuya 109, we took a break in Starbucks and just sorta enjoyed the view of Shibuya Scramble for a bit before heading back to the hotel to drop off our stuff and hydrate ourselves. My beloved fujoshi girlfriend was desperate to check out Ikebukuro, so that was our next stop!

21.08.23 - Ikebukuro

So... Ikebukuro is very much for the girlies. I really like reading BL and have played One BL game (sweetpool), but I am someone mostly interested in denpa & horror eroge, and lewd artworks & figures of girls, there was not a lot for me here - but WOW it made me wish I was into enstars or hypmic or something.

blurry pic of some boys in ikebukuro lol. i saw like 2/3 of these anime boy trucks

My gf was leading the way in Ikebukuro, our first stop was K-Books! We went to a K-books which sold entirely doujin, and spent a long time in there. There were just shelves and shelves of BL doujin, sorted by fandom, and even sorted by pairing. Sometimes they'd even be sorted by who bottoms/tops. I wasn't too interested in buying doujin, but I had a lot of fun browsing. It was really great to see how big Golden Kamuy is in Japan. It's absolutely crazy popular, there was merch for it everywhere, and there were like two shelves of doujin. Koito was particularly popular. I picked up a few doujin; I picked up a couple of Yu-Gi-Oh doujins - KaiJou ones where it looked like Kaiba would be the bottom - as well as a Kaiji doujin. The Kaiji doujin section was decorated with "ざわ・・ざわ・・" so I could immediately pick it out. I almost picked up a Lupin/Zenigata one, but I had already spent so much in Shibuya 109 I stayed strong... My gf, on the other hand, picked up an extremely heavy stack of doujin worth over like €100. Love to see her thriving.

mads mikkelsen in the doujin aisle, what will he do?

We wandered around a couple of shops in the area. I wanted to check out the Mandarake, but as I should have expected, it was full of anime boys, so I didn't pick up anything. Mandarake was great though, you had to go down the yaoi stairs to access it. They also had a copy of Harada's famous Gintama doujin on display, it was super expensive. It's so interesting to see the yaoi economy.

would you go down to the yaoi basement?

We just wanted to get something convenient in Ikebukuro, so we went to the McDonald's in Sunshine City. By the time we got to Sunshine City a lot of stuff was closed, so we made a note to go back there at some stage. Also, wow, Japanese McDonald's is really good. My gf really loved the melon soda. I normally don't like McDonald's, but the McDonald's there tasted really nice. The burger bun, instead of being flat, was actually puffy like a "actual" burger. Also, they have the McCafé in Japan! It was also really chill despite it being so late at night. McDonald's where I live is a PVP zone no matter what time of the day it is, but the ones in Japan don't even have bouncers at them - even the 24 hour ones open late at night, it was safe to eat in them despite them having no bouncers, which was crazy to see.

After eating, we decided to stick around Ikebukuro for a bit and went into some of the arcades to play some games. I was really happy to find some of the new Kasane Teto goods in a crane machine, and ended up winning one!

teto !!! i was hoping to get her default outfit, but unfortunately never found any teto prizes again.

We played a couple of crane games, I also won a plushie of Ame-chan from Needy Streamer and a sanrio plushie for my gf. This was also the day I discovered Taiko no Tatsujin... Oh my god it was so addictive... It was so much fun. The machines had Vocaloid and Touhou songs so I was able to play a lot of songs I really liked, which was so fun!! I kept playing Roki and Gigantic O.T.N. We played Taiko until the arcade was about to close, and then went back to our hotel in Shinjuku!

i'm da crane game master... i won that plushie with the bigass head with just one try.

22.08.23 - Nakano Broadway

On Tuesday, I was pretty excited, because we'd be going to Nakano Broadway !! It's a shopping center with a LOT of Mandarake, so I was really looking forward to browsing around. I didn't get a lot of pictures in Nakano Broadway, but I can not stress how cool it was.

one of the mandarake in nakano. this one was full of robots!

a tiny, tiny shop that was selling retro toys. i could barely get around the place it was so small.

suehiro maruo display!

There was so much in Nakano Broadway it was overwhelming. Every Mandarake and Lashinbang was specific to a certain type of merch - there was one for BL goods, one for robots, one for figures, one for 18+ figures, etc etc. The one with the Suehiro Maruo display in the window had a LOT of erotic artbooks, horror books, hentai, etc. If I hadn't literally met Suehiro Maruo the month before this, I probably would have bought a lot, but I told myself "i don't need it". I spent quite a long time browsing through the hentai books and the visual novel artbooks, but there was so much I liked it was a little overwhelming so I ended up not getting anything.

The Mandarake with 18+ figures had a lot of figures from my wishlist, but I ended up not getting any. I did come out of Nakano Broadway with a figure, though! I found the Mikuzukin Miku scale figure from GSC for like ¥9000, so I picked her up. It's one of my favourite Miku modules, and the figure is really really cute. Honestly we could have spent way longer in Nakano Broadway, but we wanted to revisit Ikebukuro, so we stopped to get lunch. We got curry ramen in a tiny ramen shop nearby and it was really really good. One thing I really liked about Japan was that, even at small restaurants like this, a lot of the time there's a machine for you to order from rather than asking the staff for what you want. Which was really convenient as a tourist with limited Japanese (and also bc i'm very shy haha).
some pics of the area

22.08.23 - Ikebukuro (again lol)

After taking a break, we went right back to Ikebukuro cuz my gf had some more shops in mind to visit, and we wanted to go to the Sanrio Cafe we had passed by the previous day!

back at it again in yaoitown

We first went to Sunshine City to visit the Sanrio Cafe! All the sweets were really cute. It was quite a long wait to get in. While we were waiting, there were 3 really stylish girls with JJBA itabags ahead of us. One of the girls had a JonaDio itabag, and one had a Part 6 Jotaro itabag. Every Jotaro badge was decorated with these little pearls, it was so cute.

lots of cute stuff on the menu

I got the Kuromi pancakes, and a hot chocolate with Kuromi art on it! My girlfriend got Hello Kitty pancakes and a Kuromi soda drink.


After we ate, we explored some of the shops in Ikebukuro! My gf wanted to visit a shop called Stella, which had some BL and oshi goods. I picked up some little rosettes you can put badges on here. My gf found a BLVN she had been wanting, Shingakkou -Noli me tangere-, and was happy to pick it up. It's a horror leaning BLVN so I'm really looking forward to playing it and I'm glad she found it! We had a look around Lashinbang, Surugaya, etc and of course it was all anime boy character goods so I didn't pick anything up hahaha. There's a lot of anime boys I'm in love with, but Seto Kaiba was the only one I really found merch of. Even the JJBA sections were quite small in some of these shops. Majority of the goods were for mobage/gacha games, which are fun and I used to play some myself, but it does make me a little sad that most of the popular stuff right now is essentially from gambling games whos service could be discontinued at any time. We did also visit a K-books which had a lot of otome goods, as well as BL goods. I found some small trinkets from BL series I like there and picked them up, too - two series I really like (which don't have English translations yet), "Tashiro-Kun, Kimi tte Yatsu wa" and "Karasugaoka Don't be shy!!". We went to Wego also because we wanted to pick up some itabags. They had so many cute clothes there I had to be very strong and not buy any.

22.08.23 - Shinjuku

We were meeting up with a friend for dinner and karaoke this night, so we didn't spend as much time dandering about Ikebukuro and headed back to Shinjuku! We got dinner at a small restaurant that did skewered meats, it was really good. We then went to Karaokekan for karaoke! I was really excited to try karaoke!

fujo karaoke

Karaoke was so much fun, there was a crazy song selection. We sang Roki by Mikito P, Forces from Berserk, Ai Catch from DMMD, and a bunch of other stuff i can't remember lol. We went for like an hour. The karaoke rooms all look like they were from the 80s, I found it really funny how not high tech it was compared to a lot of the other stuff in Japan. The karaoke place had costumes you could rent out and everything. After karaoke, we decided we would go to the arcade!

One of the things I really miss about Japan is how much you can do after 6pm. In Ireland, drinking is obviously huge, and the only stuff you can really do past 6pm is go to a pub or cinema. I don't drink so I was really happy about how much there was to do past 6pm without having to go to a bar. The arcades and karaoke were so much fun and I'm really sickened we don't have anything like it where I live.

I led the way to the Arcade and we played Taiko no Tatsujin first, then went to the rhythm game floor and played some rhythm game where you're like. Dancing with your dance partner, who is an anime girl (or a monkey if you choose so).

winton overwatch if he served cunt

Little did I know, that photo would be taken seconds before disaster... It was at this stage of the trip, on the rhythm game floor of the Taito Arcade in Shinjuku, I lost my phone and would never see it again... I'm honestly so baffled about where it went. It was a 2 generation old phone, password protected, I don't know why anyone would want to steal it. Also, we were on the rhythm game floor, at 1am in the middle of the week! Everyone there was very intensely focused on their gaming, headphones in, gone to the world, so I'm pretty confident it wasn't stolen. I probably kicked it under one of the machines and lost it. The staff were really helpful and suggested I file a police report, but unfortunately, it didn't turn up. RIP to my Galaxy Z Flip 3, I miss u so much. I didn't let myself get down over it, since, I was in Japan after all, literally my dream, it was just pretty annoying. But I'm glad it wasn't something like my passport or bank cards!

23.08.23 - Ginza

We had big plans for today, and were meeting up with our friend Mio again for a day of culture; we would be visiting art exhibits in Ginza! Before heading to Ginza, I went to the police station in Shinjuku and filed a police report for my phone. There was a French guy there who had lost his passport and when he got it back, he started kissing it, and I was like "wow i hope that's me soon" but unfortunately, no luck! So, phoneless, we headed to the station to meet our friend.

23.08.23 - Litchi Hikari Club Exhibit

Our first stop in Ginza was the Litchi Hikari Club exhibit at the Vanilla Gallery! This exhibit had two rooms; one with coloured manga panels with the text removed, and one with a new series of illustrations with a soft colour scheme. We were unfortunately not able to take pictures of this exhibit, but it was amazing. There were lots of really stylish girls at the exhibit, one girl had a really beautiful pink lolita dress. I think it's so wonderful how much girls love freak stuff and erotic horror like this. The merch at this exhibit was really great - the gallery also had some merch from past exhibits, from artists such as Kaneoya Sachiko, Suehiro Maruo, and Harada - but I mostly stuck to buying the Litchi merch! I picked up an artbook of all the new illustrations, which was signed by the mangaka, as well as an acrylic stand and a pack of clear files.

this was as far as I could go with photos

23.08.23 - COSMOS Exhibit

We stopped for some cake in a nearby shopping mall to show off our Litchi spoils before heading to the next gallery! Our next stop was the Palpito Gallery, which was hosting an exhibit called "COSMOS".

outside the gallery

I heard about it through Kikuo's social media - it was an exhibit featuring works from SI_KU.K (artist for many of Kikuo's projects), Moco Sawada, Ayaka Minami, and Natsuki Satou.

The exhibit was really amazing!! All the paintings were so beautiful. If I had the funds, I would have really loved to buy an original piece. There was still merch I could afford - I bought some Kikuo merch - but I was obsessed with the little statue and wish I could have taken it home... I was allowed to take pics at this exhibit too!

so much yummy art

my haul!

23.08.23 - Vampire Cafe

After visiting the galleries, it was time for dinner... and we had a reservation with some vampires !!! In Ginza, there is a themed restaurant called the Vampire Cafe, owned by an actual very real vampire called Vampire Rose, and we had booked a 5 course meal for the three of us!


We were like 10 minutes early for our reservation, so we decided we'd go to the floor the cafe was on and wait outside. But there was no hallway or anything, the door opened directly into the Vampire Cafe! The elevator opened to a gothic interior with a big red curtain and a small reception desk. There was a bell we had to ring to get the vampire's attention and we were too scared to ring it lol. But eventually one of us did and Vampire Rose himself came and escorted us to our booth!

The cuisine at the vampire cafe was Italian (idk why haha), and our first course was a salad. When our waiter served the salad, he poured red liquid over it and all the staff members (our waiter, a female vampire, and vampire rose) said an encantation as he poured the "blood" on our salad. Vampire Rose's voice was so deep and sexy lol, we all got bashful every time he came over to serve us.

bloody salad

my gf's drink had an eyeball in it

Our next two dishes were little pizzas shaped like envelopes, and pasta with black squid ink! They were both really tasty, I especially liked the pasta. Honestly, my expectations for themed cafes and restaurants were pretty low, since I know it's mostly about the experience and the fun, but the food here was really good.


Around this stage, other tourists had filled up the two booths on either side of us. There was an American family beside us and they were being really loud and the mother was so rude to Vampire Rose it was really embarrassing lol... She kept asking him for "sparkling water" in English and when he didn't understand just kept saying it more loudly and slowly... girl it's not on the menu!! use google translate!! When they got their salad and they poured the red sauce on it the two kids asked "what is that" and the waiter, deadpan as ever, just told them "Blood." lmao.

Our next dish was our main dish... EVIL CHICKEN !!!!! (yes it was called evil chicken on the menu) The evil chicken was pretty tasty. They set it on fire for us, which is what made it so evil i assume.

evil !!!!!!

Our final dish, then, was dessert! After our evil chicken, we had some evil spiders with some evil ice cream for us. it was very scary.

little tarts with matcha and vanilla ice cream

The Vampire Cafe was honestly so much fun and I would be tempted to go again next time I visit Japan. After that, we decided to have an early night for once and headed back to our hotel - we would be changing hotels the next day, so we had to pack up all our stuff. Walking through Ginza I felt so out of place. There were a lot of really beautiful women in designer clothes, and so many extremely fancy clothes and jewellery shops. Also I saw a Hooters for the first time in my life ?? it also looked out of place in Ginza lmao.

24.08.23 - Goodbye, The Knot

On Thursday, we said goodbye to our beloved knot and headed for our next hotel. We decided to book a fancy hotel for just one night with a nice city view! We got a taxi to the Prince Park Tower hotel. Our taxi driver was very sweet and tried to make conversation even tho he didn't know a lot of English. When we pulled up to the hotel, I really wasn't prepared for exactly how fancy it was... When we pulled up, staff came and put our bags on one of those trolley things for us and brought our bags inside. We were too early for check in, so we left our bags with the hotel and headed off to Akihabara!

24.08.23 - Akihabara Again

When we arrived at Akihabara, we first decided to get lunch. We headed to CoCo Ichibanya, a curry restaurant chain recommended by my friend who lived in Japan. It was really good!! The spice level went up to 13, or 14 i think.. I only had a level 3 curry, but some day I'd like to try the level 13...

akihabara police station. acab except for her

There were a couple of places I wanted to visit in Akihabara but didn't get the chance to, so we were gonna spend this day catching up on what we missed, and doing some browsing! First we went to Lashinbang, where I found a figure I wanted - Miku in her Romeo & Cinderella module from project diva - but I ended up not buying it. I was really hoping to find some figures from a list I had made of my 15 most sought after figures - which included the Native Sayooshi scale figure, the Wing Saya scale, Nekomimi Maids in pink, Suzuhira Hiro's Punk Girl by Clayz, among others - so I restrained myself when it came to other figures that I could probably find easily enough online. I found a special edition of both School Days and Subahibi in Lashinbang, too, but also had to restrain myself... It was very difficult lol.

i rly wanted school days...

We did quite a bit of browsing this day, which was fun! There were lots of shops we were on a mission to go to, but this time we made stops in other shops along the way. One place we stopped in was a place called TRADER. We stumbled across it because they had some figures, none of which interested me, but when we went upstairs it was entirely eroge, hentai, and visual novels!! The moment we walked into this section of the store, I spotted a glass display case and I couldn't believe they had a copy of Jisatsu no Tame no 101 no Houhou !! I immediately looked at the price and converted it, but it ended up being almost €1,000... yikes... I wish I could have gotten it, because I can't get the copy I have on my PC working with textractor, and it would be amazing to have a copy of the OG, but unfortunately it was not meant to be. Next to it, they had an older Craftwork title, too, "for Elise", however this was also too expensive.

if i had spotted this on the first day i may have been insane enough to drop €1k ngl

Despite being a broke bitch, I picked up a basket and still bought a good bit here. I picked up a copy of Higurashi Kai, School Days HQ, Swan Song, and one called Apathy which I haven't played, but it was cheap and the cover looked cool. It was so overwhelming seeing so many eroge, I kept taking photos of ones which seemed interesting so I could look them up later. I had a moment where I felt really melancholic, almost sad looking at them all - so many visual novels I had never heard of, and many more that would probably never get an English translation, there's probably so many stories and characters I would love out there that I will just never know. Felt silly being so sad while standing in this shop surrounded by hentai and anime boobs, but, i couldn't help it.

Next, I went to Melonbooks to look at doujin. The melonbooks we went to was quite small, but there were a lot of nice wallscrolls and small artbooks. I had just spent so much on VNs though I decided not to buy any.

i love you anime girls

We also returned to Mandarake, since we had only gotten to visit 2 floors out of 8 the last time. We worked our way from the top floor downwards. I picked up a copy of Saya no Uta here, but that was it! In the end, I didn't buy any figures, and spent all my money on visual novels...

let's go girls

24.08.23 - fancy hotel...

When we got back from Akihabara, I was able to check in to our new hotel! it's literally the fanciest place i've ever been to. One of the ladies there showed us to our room, and our bags were delivered to our room by staff for us! When we got into our room there were free M&Ms for us and i ate them all. The room was absolutely huge, and the view was absolutely amazing !!!

saya at tha fancy hotel

The interior view was so strange, the hotel windows looked in on themselves. This was the view from the elevator. It's like a liminal space.

tha backrooms.....

We had dinner at the Chinese restaurant in our fancy hotel then went to the convenience store, also inside the hotel, to get snacks! Our room had a bath tub which had JETS in it, which I had never used before, and I had so much fun with it lol. I spent so long boiling myself alive like a lobster in the bubbling tub. Our bathroom also had huge windows so I got to look out at the view of Tokyo lit up at night as I boiled myself. I kept thinking to myself, wouldn't it be crazy being a rich person and being able to stay at this hotel for the full duration of your trip? In terms of fancy hotels, ours was the cheapest of the lot, too, so I'd love to see what the proper fancy ones are like... alas i'm a broke anime artist so it's not gonna happen hahaha. our last night in tokyo was spent with such a beautiful view of the city, i was sad to see it go, but excited for our next stop: Osaka!

it's been one of those weeks... pass the yaoi!!

25.08.23 - Shinkansen!

view in the morning

On Friday, we checked out of our fancy hotel and went to Tokyo Station to catch our Shinkansen. We arrived really early cuz I was worried about getting lost or confused in the station, but it was really easy! We picked up some lunch for the train journey at the station. Sarah got these pork katsu sandwiches that were really good I ended up stealing one off her. We unfortunately weren't beside the window, but the train had wi-fi so I just passed the time reading manga. The train was so clean and fast.

25.08.23 - Hello, Osaka

We checked into our hotel in Osaka and cleaned ourselves up a bit, then decided to explore Dotonbori! We decided we wanted bing su, so that was our mission. The layout of Osaka was really unique; a lot of the streets were very narrow, and cars seemed to struggle getting around lol. While walking around, a lot of areas are sort of in a sem-shopping mall? It's sort of indoors, but sort of outdoors at the same time.

i got the oreo one

We ate our bingsu looking out at the river and I immediately recognised the area from playing yakuza 0 and knew where we were lol. Across the river, we saw an old man feeding two cats and petting them.

dotonbori !!

We explored Dotonbori a bit, saw the Gilco man, THE donki, just enjoyed the sights and strolled around. We ended up going to one of the Don Quixote stores and buying gifts for people back home. This would be the first of many donki trips in Osaka... While in Donki I bought some Meiji bars and ate them, but I didn't realise you weren't allowed to eat stuff you bought tax free until you left Japan... I just tore open the back and devoured them illegally. oops (no one ever found out but if i get put on a no fly list i'm going to assume this is why)

me waiting for sarah to finish in the tax free queue

When going to Tokyo, I assumed it would be extremely busy and overwhelming. And, it was busy, but it didn't really feel any different to going to places like London or Paris. We went to some of the most popular spots on the weekend - Akiba on a Saturday, Takeshita street on a Sunday - and it was fine, honestly. But my god Osaka was BUSY. I cope pretty well with cities but Osaka was a little hectic even for me. There were a lot of tourists - mostly Chinese and American. Every restaurant in Dotonbori had a queue. I don't actually remember where we ate this night for dinner... I'm pretty sure it was Ichiran again though.

26.08.23 - Osaka Aquarium

For our first full day in Osaka, we decided to visit the Aquarium !


there were so many little creatures... and big ones!! The whale shark were so impressive, I think they were my fav creature there, although I also really loved seeing the huge crabs and the jellyfish. We also got to see a bunch of seals, including one named Arare, who loves The Dome.

"her favourite place is the underwater dome" it sure is!

When we finished up in the aquarium, there was a crazy thunderstorm we got to watch for a while. There were flashes of fork lightning and the thunder rumbled so loudly it was so cool. I got a couple of videos of it which i'll put in the vlog when i eventually have it done lol

26.08.23 - Higurashi Cafe!

After visiting the aquarium, it was still early in the evening, so we went to a Higurashi collab cafe I wanted to check out! It was actually in a small bar called "Cue Lamp", and it seemed to be a relatively new place. We were the only people there aside from like one guy at the bar who was chatting with the staff. I got the Hinamizawa curry, and my girlfriend got Mion's themed drink!

i took home the placemat too haha

The curry was pretty good! I know collab cafe & themed cafe stuff is apparently pretty bland most of the time, but every one we went to on our trip surprised me with how good it was. Vampire Café definitely had the best food out of the 3 themed cafes we went to, but the Higurashi curry gets second place from me!

For the rest of the evening, we sorta just wandered about Dotonbori. We came across these cute macarons and I bought one for my girlfriend, and we also came across a Cinnamoroll cafe which had terrible reviews on google lol but it looked cute ! We also went to McDonald's to get some food and took some product photos for my burger miku plushie. I think I already mentioned this earlier in this article but I'm constantly amazed by how peaceful McDonald's is at night in Japan. They don't even have a bouncer at the door and you're allowed to sit inside.

miku was on delivery duty

27.08.23 - DenDen Town

DenDen town is where all the Otaku goods are in Osaka, so of course we had to dedicate a day to that! DenDen town is a bit more small and compact than Akihabara. We started off with some stores we didn't get to visit in Akihabara - Jungle was a store I had never heard of until actually visiting Japan, but I was really impressed by their store in Osaka! Their selection of 18+ figures was huge and they had so many figures that were on my wishlist, I was overwhelmed - I was really running low on spending money at this stage so if I bought a figure, I would have to choose very wisely...

we met strong sasuke in the flesh, and some fucked up lupin figures

I was pretty overwhelmed by the figure selection, so I came away from Jungle with some small trading figures for now. They were selling full sets of trading figures in plastic bags, and I picked up these two sets.

"Pocket Theater Costume Class" trading figures and "Triptych" trading figures from adpm. These are the bags of figures I picked up!

I honestly don't have many pics from this day but we had a really good browse around DenDen Town. I picked up a nice haul of some artbooks and hentai doujins in Melonbooks, and also picked up a copy of the Sayonara o Oshiete artbook in Mandarake Grandchaos! I was super happy to find some Sayooshi goods. I had been hoping to find the Native figure or the game itself, but because the new game from Craftwork would soon be released, Sayooshi seemed to be very in demand. Mandarake was buying the game for 35k yen - and selling it for something like 60k. Which I probably would have paid had I found it closer to the start of my trip when I was rich, but at this stage, I had moths flying out of my wallet.

denpa is in demand !!!

So, I ended this day without having bought any scale figures - I had my eye on Libra Sonico, Mouse Sonico, Tenshi-chan from Skytube, and a couple of other 18+ figures from Jungle. I had also spotted Heart Hunter Miku in another store nearby, one of my favourite Miku modules, and I was really debating on getting her too. I would go back eventually and get one... See if you can guess who I went for! if you don't already know lol. Also I don't remember where we went for dinner this day but I'm going to assume it was Ichiran once again.

melon-chan my beloved... every store should have a cute anime girl mascot

28.08.23 - Minoo

After a day of shopping in the city, we had to balance things out by spending a day among nature! Minoo Falls was our next stop! Honestly, this place ended up being one of my favourite parts of the whole trip. To start with, the train line we were taking to Minoo was doing a collaboration with Chiikawa - whom we had become enamored with during our trip to Japan. So my girlfriend picked up this little guy in the convenience store by whiile we waited on our train. The old lady at the convenience store was full of joyous whimsy and she really liked Sarah's Lady Oscar tattoo.

he's just a little guy...

So Minoo was a very pretty little town - it was really nice to visit a smaller, quieter area like this. I'm someone who really loves how busy the city is, but it was nice to visit a place like this. The architecture is so different to little villages in Ireland. It was very pretty but one thing really stood out: this absolutely MASSIVE and scary looking hotel that loomed over the village. It looked so odd! It looked abandoned and you could only access it via an elevator.

the lovely town of minoo and the ominous hotel looming over it. you can see the elevator used to access it here. i couldn't help but wonder how the locals feel about it...

The main attraction at Minoo was the waterfall, and the trek up the hill to go see it. Also, wild monkeys! Which you absolutely were not allowed to feed.

no bananas allowed !!!!!!!!!

28.08.23 - Minoo Insect Museum

At the start of our trek to the falls, however, we came accross an insect museum!!! which i was extremely excited about!!! one thing i am extremely jealous of Japan for is their plethora of local beetle species that are just out there in the wild. And I got to see so many at the insect museum!

some of the beautiful fellas living at the insect museum.

There was also a butterfly room with a lot of very pretty butterflies fluttering around! I had never been in one before, it was so fun being among all the butterflies!

the ones who would sit still for photos haha

28.08.23 - Walk to the Falls

The walk to the falls was all uphill, and there were some very nice sights along the way. There was a shrine, a river running from the falls, little statues, and some spooky sights like an old tunnel with a small stone house sculpture covered in moss at the other side. On the way up, we read a sign that warned us of killer hornets and told us they were attracted to black clothing, a very fun revelation for me who was entirely dressed in black. We did see some hornets but they chased two girls in front of us and not us lol. i'm just gonna photodump for this bc it was so pretty i took a lot of photos.

sights from our walk to the falls

spooky sights... the two japanese girls in front of us were too scared to walk thru the tunnel lol

After a very sweaty walk, we reached the falls! We only saw one monkey on the way. Close to the falls, I saw some rustling in the bushes across the river and a flash of orange. Me and Sarah were just as excited as the two Japanese boys in front of us, who seemed about middle school age, and the four of us were pointing and looking out for the monkey lol.
They were selling cooked fish (mackerel i think) and ice cream at the falls, so I bought me and my gf some ice cream. The guy messed up my ice cream so badly. Sarah's was a nice pretty soft serve but mine just flopped over and he apologised but he couldn't stop giggling while he looked at my pathetic little cone.
pics from the falls!

While we were sitting at the falls, an elderly Japanese man came over to chat with us. He seemed to just be going around and chatting to every tourist there, he spoke pretty good English. He asked us where we were from and we said "Ireland" and we were surprised that, not only did he know Ireland, but he was aware of the difference between Northern and Southern Ireland too! He told us he had traveled to the states and that he really admired JFK so he was impressed when I told him I was from Wexford, where JFK's ancestors are from lol. He gave us some sweeties before heading off.

Some other nice little things about Minoo - there were two mascot characters! One was a cat with a maple leaf on his head, and I regret not buying a little phone charm of him. The other is this orange guy pictured below, who I love. We also had to try the local delicacy - maple leaf tempura - which was really nice!
some of the beautiful fellas living at the insect museum.

When we got back, we once again ate at Ichiran... for the final time...

Because the our last day was coming up, we also went to Don Quixote to pick up an extra suitcase to pack our hauls into, and to do last minute shopping. Let me tell you... There is no experience more overstimulating than being in the Tax Free shopping line in Don Quixote in Osaka. I do miss it though.

Don Quixote had a My Melody and Kuromi Jirai Kei collab going on, so I bought a Jirai Kei My Melody suitcase to bring my stuff back home in. I wish I could have picked up more from the collab, they had a jirai kei style kuromi tracksuit I really wanted. But at this stage of the trip I just was well and truly broke lol.

29.08.23 - DenDen Town Again

So, I forgot my camera this day and didn't get any photos, but we went to DenDen town again so I could get one last scale figure before we left. The figure I ended up going for was.......

Libra Sonico!!! I was really torn between a lot of figures in Jungle. I became particularly enamored by the Mouse Sonico figure they had. But, Libra Sonico had been on my wishlist for a long time, so I went with her!

We also went to Surugaya, which we had skipped our first time in DenDen Town. All I bought here was a little Popee the Performer keychain and a mecha godzilla for my friend, but there were some amazing VN finds here; ODEON and, once again, Jisatsu 101. THEY HAD TWO COPIES! None of which I could afford, so I just took photos of them instead lmao. I did, however, buy a limited edition copy of Cross Days - a School Days spinoff VN - which had a litle Kotonoha figure with it.

come on now. two copies of jisatsu 101? for like €1k each? just give me one!!

On this night, we ate at Wendy's - I never tried it before and am fascinated by American fast food chains so I had to try some. It was okay, but not as good as Popeyes. Granted I've only ever tried Popeyes in England and France, and Wendy's in Japan, so perhaps they taste different in the motherland.

30.08.23 - The Final Day

At last, our final day was here. Our flight was going to be at 12am, so we had a full day to kill before going to the airport, half of which would be spent travelling. We would be getting the Shinkansen to Tokyo at about 4pm, so we had time to wander about Osaka a bit more and get lunch. I was desperate to try Yakiniku before we left Osaka, so we went and found a nice place for lunch!

yakiniku time

At the yakiniku restaurant we got a plate with different types of meat on it - wagyu, shoulder, tongue, etc etc. They explained what each one was but there was so many I didn't know what I was eating but I didn't care cuz it all tasted SOOOO GOOOOOD. We got quite a lot of meat and for a pretty good price too. The meat was so soft and easy to eat, it's one of the things I really look forward to getting when I go back to Japan in future.

So we spent the rest of our day dandering about Dotonbori. We finally went to a Shonen Jump shop and the Pokemon Center. Pokemon Center would be first place on the list to visit for so many people when they visit Japan - and I love Pokemon - but I totally forgot about going to a Pokemon Center until we walked past the one in Osaka and were like "oh fuck we should probably visit before we go lol". I bought a Jirachi plushie and a Salamence plushie :3 and a bunch of gifts.

dont ask me why i took a pic of deku bc i dont know.

We got a soufflé cake from Pablos - delicious btw, so soft and fluffy - and ate it in the hotel lobby surrounded by our suitcases while waiting for the time to come to get our train. I was beside the window on the Shinkansen this time round and I just spent the whole trip looking outside at the surroundings. It was pretty smooth sailing getting to the airport and through security. I was once again seperated from my girlfriend on the 14 hour flight to London - this time I was in between a British family. Right in the middle of 'em. To my left was the mam, and the two sisters on my right. And the son was also to my right on the other side of the aisle. I was like a beloved part of the family wow... On the way back, our plane passed over the North Pole, and I didn't see the Northern Lights, BUT the moon was a bright indigo blue, which I had never seen before in my life!! It was really an incredible sight, the whole sky was a luminous indigo blue. I wish I had been by the window so I could have gotten a photo of it and gotten a better view.
The 14 hour flight felt much shorter on the way back than it did on the way over. We caught our connecting flight from London to Belfast and pretty soon we were home and I slept for 10 years. Honestly, I was pretty surprised how smoothly all the transport went on the trip... Not that I'm bad that organising things, I'm pretty used to being the one who organises trips with friends etc, but I just have bad luck and also couldn't believe I was finally going to Japan and felt like the universe had to through SOMETHING at me to make up for my good fortune lol. But I had the best time!! and I will go again!!! i'm comin for you, Magical Mirai 2024!!!!!