Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sailor Moon Exhibition

The Sailor Moon Exhibition was held in the Mori Arts Museum in Roppongi Hills from April 16th to June 19th, 2016. While I was in town for Golden Week, my friend and I managed to snag last minute tickets. 

Most areas were off limits to photography so I couldn't take many photos, but the exhibition was really enjoyable, especially if you are a Sailor Moon fan or if you were a student of animation. 

When you first walked in you were greeted with banners of all the Sailor Scouts hanging in front of the giant glass windows that look out to Tokyo. 

At night time these banners glowed in the dark!

Right before you entered the exhibition tour, you passed a giant image of Serenity. This is a copy of one of the two new illustrations Naoka Takeuchi created for the exhibition. Once inside the art gallery you could see the original illustration. 

There were various things on display in the exhibition. One section displayed old and rare toys, cards, dolls, and other merchandise, as well as the original manga books from the 1990's. There was also a smaller display of new figures created for the 20th anniversary. Original cels and copies of the first episode's storyboards were also on display close by. I especially enjoyed looking at the cels. Near the end of the exhibition there was also a small Sailor Moon musical section display where you could see Prince Endymion's costume. 

However, my favorite section was where Takeuchi's original cover art and other illustrations were displayed. Before entering it, there was another wall mural of Sailor Moon, but this one had Naoka Takeuchi's signature on it. Takeuchi's illustrations were breathtaking up close. I was amazed to learn how much mix-media art she creates. Many of her illustrations featured cut-outs from magazines. 

The one area where you could take photos was the statues of Princess Senerity and prince Endymion. These were simply gorgeous!

On the way to the gift shop there were paper stands of each Sailor Scout. I wish they had been the original 1990's illustrations though. I am not a fan of the new anime's art.

The gift shop featured clearfiles, postcards, keychains, cookie boxes, and tons more. I bought a few postcards, a Sailor Mars keychain, and a clearfile featuring one of the new illustrations created for the exhibition. 

After finishing the exhibition, we went to Chibi Usa's Cafe and had a parfait. The line was long! We waited almost an hour. The parfait wasn't too bad, but I couldn't stomach the syrups and bitter jellies at the bottom. 

While the cafe was a little disappointing, I really enjoyed the exhibition!

Cardcaptor Sakura Cafe

As soon as I heard about this cafe I knew I had to go! I had a three day weekend so I decided to visit Tokyo and stay at my friend's house. My friends and I had to reserve tickets in advance for the Cardcaptor Sakura cafe in the Animate Cafe in Ikebukuro. And did they sell out fast! It was 2000 yen per person, but you got a beautiful mug and an art print with your entrance fee!

This is by far the best themed cafe I have visited. Cardcaptor Sakura is my favorite anime and manga so I was super excited to go and I extremely enjoyed it. Plus everything was super adorable.

We were assigned one of the two floors based on the time slot we chose. We were on the Suppi floor and the floor above was the Kero floor. Customers could get permission to go to the other floor to look and take photos. The staff would basically give out a "hall pass."

Once seated we were given a menu and asked for our orders. The menu looked like the Clow Book. 

With each item you ordered you got a random coaster. The coasters were placed facedown so you wouldn't know what you got until you flipped it over. You could go around and try to trade with other customers. I ordered the curry and the orange-flavored hot chocolate. Having a flavored hot chocolate was interesting, but neither the cocoa or curry was bad!


While waiting for your food you were allowed to go and buy the exclusive merchandise or take photos. Certain items like the plate, the rubber straps, and the cookie tin were limited to one per person. I bought so much! I got the cookie tin and the plate, as well as the Syaoran x Kero and Sakura x Tomoyo straps. I also tried 3 random acrylic straps. I got Syaoran twice and one Toya.  

I noticed people were placing extras near the end of their table. I figured that meant they wanted to trade. No one else seemed to be getting up (Japanese people are shy), but I quickly grabbed my extra Syaoran and my Toya and started to look around. One girl sitting by herself had two Sakura, so I asked if she would trade for my extra Syaoran and she was THRILLED I asked to trade! I went back to eat my curry and later found someone who had a Tomoyo at the edge of her table. I asked her what she was looking for and she said she wanted Kero or Toya so I went back and got my Toya and traded her for Tomoyo. :)

We then ordered dessert. We all got the Clow Card ice-cream parfait which was delicious! The Clow Card was a cookie and tasted nice. 

Before leaving we took photos around the cafe. There were cloth banners with each character on them. 

As well as a life size Clow Card named "The Guest" where you could pose in. 

Also there was a life size replica of the Sakura Wand.

Overall this was an awesome cafe! I really enjoyed it!

Below are photos of the original menu and goods.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Started teaching as an ALT for High School in Japan!

A little over a month ago, I came to Japan to be an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) for high schools in Okazaki, Japan. From what I have heard from Jr high school and elementary school ALTs, high school is a whole different ball game! It seems lessons are more so planned by the Japanese teachers for the younger students (especially Jr high) and the ALT acts more as a native tape recorder. For high school, I have to plan all my lessons and am basically told, "Do whatever you want" a lot. Which is actually very stressful at first when you have never taught before! But overall I think I am lucky that I was placed at high schools! Many of the kids are extremely interested in me and some have high English ability and want to talk to me between classes. :)

I had little training for high school during my training in Nagoya. I was the only one in my group who was going to teach high school so the focus was mainly on company policies, elementary school lessons, and middle school lessons. I basically felt like I was thrown into the fire for my first few days! Luckily, a lot of other ALTs in my area teach high school, so I was able to get some advice!

The English ability at the four high schools I teach at vary greatly. Two of my high schools are very high, one is pretty low but they try hard, and the last is extremely low. The extremely low level school was really shocking at first! I had only visited the top level school at the time so I was not expecting blank faces and the look of "wakarimasen. eigo kirai" on their faces. The first day I taught there it was a disaster! They didn't understand anything and couldn't ask me any questions. I learned from that and changed my teaching style and have had much more enjoyable days since. :) Basically we just play games and fun activities. Many of my schools also require me to be there for English Club that is after school for 1-2 hours. My work schedule was adjusted for this on some days.

For high school you do not have to eat school lunch with the children. However, you can purchase a pre-made bento lunch for about 220 yen that the other teachers buy, but I haven't bought it yet. I just been bringing my own lunches. Sometimes I just bring sandwiches!

I did have to buy indoor shoes for each of my schools. I decided to just buy some slip ons from the 100 yen store. I only have 1 pair of tennis shoes for the school I visit twice a week. The rest I just have 100 yen store shoes! They work fine! It is extremely expensive to start working in Japan. So buying 3-5 different shoes for indoor use isn't really practical!

So far I have experienced both culture day and sports day (what you see in anime). Culture day was extremely enjoyable! I loved it. The principal and one of the teachers of one of my schools bought me tickets to everything and I went around with three other teachers and tried all the food, watched the videos,  and played all the games. I also went into the ghost house, which was very well done! I laughed the whole time. A lot of the students wanted to take photos with me and called me cute.

One thing that surprised me greatly was how the students react to me when they first see me. In America, I am never called "cute," "pretty," "beautiful" or given such compliments so frankly! But as soon as I walk in the room or pass a group of students, they say "kawaii!" "bijin!" etc. Even boys will say so! I have to admit it made me feel better since I was so nervous at first. Also the first question in almost every class I get is, "Do you have a boyfriend?" If you do answer "yes," you may get many follow-up questions about your boyfriend!

I am still doing introduction lessons for many of my schools but I am looking forward to doing Halloween lessons soon!

Monday, July 27, 2015

R.a.a.g.f Bunny Cafe

I went to the famous rabbit cafe in Harajuku; however, of all the themed cafes I been to, I felt this one was the most disappointing. I have heard it is really busy and hard to get into without reservations; but my mother and I went during business/school hours in the early afternoon and just walked in. 

We each paid the 700 yen for the 30 minutes. Every guest gets a drink with his or her entrance fee. I chose milk tea. You are only allowed to pet or feed the rabbits. You cannot pick them up. Only one rabbit can be released in the room at a time because they will fight. You can open some of the cages and pet and feed the other bunnies though. My mom and I bought the snacks for the rabbits and feed them carrots and apples. They really LOVE the apples.

We tried to pet and to take photos of the bunny that was running around the room but it was too hyper so we didn't get many good photos. The one strange looking bunny was super soft though! It felt like velvet. 

If you love rabbits you may like this cafe more than me. But I felt the owl cafe was superior to it. The bunnies were cute and it was a fun way to fill up half an hour in Harajuku. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fukuro no Mise (Owl Cafe)

The owl cafe was by far the most entertaining animal cafe I have been to in Japan. It is located near Tsukishima Station in Tokyo. Exit the station at Exit 10 and then walk about two blocks up. I actually missed it at first. It is past the grocery store.

We arrived about an hour before it opened. About 15 minutes or so before the cafe opened the staff came out and asked everyone in line what time they like to come back. You are then put on the list. However, you must pay at this time. If you do not come back you will lose 2000 yen.

My mom and I came back at the appointed time. Native Japanese people and foreigners were split up once inside the cafe. Foreigners were placed at the counter and were given a small translation of what the lady was explaining, while the Japanese sat at the couches in the center. We were also given a drink such as lemonade, tea, or juice. Once the explanation was over, everyone stood up and picked an owl to hold. The owl I chose was named Baby. He was very cute! I also held one of the huge owls! They are very beautiful animals. I even put one on my head for a short time. I was afraid it would poop on me so I didn't want it on my head for long. :)

For about 50 minutes we took photos with the owls, petted them, and held them. When time was up we were each given a gift. You were asked to chose between an owl necklace, a small plush toy, a pin, and a few other items. I chose the necklace.

I really enjoyed going to this cafe! It was a completely new experience!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Yokohama's Cup of Noodle Museum

I went to Yokohama's Cup of Noodle Museum with my friends while I was in Japan this winter. I had actually walked by the museum many times without ever noticing it before! The sign on the side of the building is pretty small.

We arrived around 4:30pm and barely made it before they closed! Actually the only reason we were even allowed in was because I was a foreigner. My friend, Akane, asked if they could make an exception since I had came from America. The people behind the counter discussed it and decided to let us buy our tickets and let us in, thankfully! However, I saw that they turned away Japanese customers right after us and I felt bad...

The entrance fee into the museum cost only 500yen.

When you first go up the stairs into the museum you are surrounded by a display full of hundreds of Cup of Noodle packages with varying flavors and types. There are three walls in chronological order displaying every Cup of Noodle ever created. I was surprised by how many there are!

After the display, there is a small trick art room, followed by information on the history of the company written on the walls. The theme of "not giving up" and "thinking outside the box" to discover new things is receptively expressed.

After we looked around the "creative thinking" rooms for a bit we went to the main attraction—the factory room where you can make your own Cup of Noodles! You are allowed to purchase an empty container for 300 yen. You then are seated at a table where you are given markers so that you can decorate your package. My friends drew some really cute drawings on their's!

After you decorate your package, you stand in line to add the ingredients inside and seal your box. First the employee puts the dried noodles into your box and places it on a machine. You are asked to turn the wheel and the noodles are pushed firmly into the box. After the noodles are inside you are asked to pick from one of the four soup options. Next you are asked which four (out of 12) toppings you would like to add. I believe I chose chicken, peas, corn, and cheese. Your package with the ingredients inside is then put in another machine where the lid is sealed. Once the lid is sealed, your package is put inside a plastic wrapper and is then placed on a conveyer belt. It then goes through a machine that heats the plastic so that it forms to the shape of the Cup of Noodle box. Your own Cup of Noodles is finished! You can also make a carrying case for it afterwards.

I had a lot of fun at the museum with my friends. I hadn't really been interested in going before, but this time I wanted to see what it was all about! The museum was a fun and unique experience. I would like to take my friends or family there in the future if they visited me in Japan. Plus you get a unique souvenir!

You can find more information about the museum on their official website:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

ペンギンのいるバー Ikebukuro's Penguin Bar

I recently went to Japan again in December to visit my boyfriend for Christmas and New Year's. I had a great time and was so sad to leave.

I had wanted to go to the Penguin Bar in Ikebukuro the year before when I studied abroad and this time I had the opportunity to go! It wasn't as "fancy" as I had expected. But you did have to make reservations in advance. My boyfriend handled that and choose a time during 1 of the 2 penguin feeding times (about 7pm).

My boyfriend, our two friends, and I were seated at a table and were given warm napkins folded into Penguin shapes. They were very cute and I almost didn't want to take it apart to use!

While you can get a set course, we decided against that and just ordered the food we wanted. In the end it was still about 3000 yen ($26) each almost the same price as the course menus.

We all ordered our drinks and then ordered 2 dishes to share amongst the four of us. We got a pizza, a beef dish, and a veggie plater that had a delicious heated sauce to dip the veggies into. The carrots were cut to be penguin shaped. We later also ordered spaghetti since we were still hungry. The dishes were all a little small for four people to share, but probably 1-2 dishes would and been enough food for 2 people.

After we finished eating it was feeding time! We were sited in the front of the restaurant and thus the farthest away from the penguin tank. They would ask a few tables at a time to get up and get in line to feed the penguins. We were one of the last groups to feed the penguins. When I reached the front of the line, there was a lady with a bucket of fish who handed you tongs and told you (in Japanese) to grab the fish by the tail and feed it to the penguin. My boyfriend snapped a photo of me feeding the penguin. I held onto the fish longer than my companions did. Their fish were gobbled up before they could blink! After we fed the penguins we went back to our seats.

The Penguin Bar was fun and an interesting experience. The food was pretty good and about the expected quality of most izakaya (Japanese bars). I did feel the penguins were in a small tank and I thought the glass was extremely dirty. But maybe they are moved to a bigger tank when the restaurant closes and the glass is cleaned every night. While I hope that, I can't say I expect that since I have heard many bad things about animal rights in Japan...

The official website of the penguin bar can be found here