Category Archive for Tokyo Gothic Lolita

Fashion blogger profile on FashionOne TV! Tokyo’s Cutest Stores: Kokokim pastel goth, Harajuku girls.

cute japanese teen girls, harajuku twins

Tokyo remains the cutest place on Earth — and there’s no better place than Harajuku for fashion inspiration! 

Wouldn’t you like to follow along with me in Tokyo, and see what happens on a typical day? You can, thanks to the magic of television…

military gold brocade dress

I’m honored to be profiled by FashionOne, the international style TV network that broadcasts to 120 countries worldwide!

The “day in a life of La Carmina” episode first aired on June 15, but you can see it on repeat and online on FashionOne’s channel (or just click play below).

In this feature, you’ll catch glimpses of the Pokemon cafe, Line Friends store, and Odigo travel launch party — where I dressed as a Grand Budapest Lobby Girl.

Thank you to Stephanie and everyone at FashionOne TV, for letting me share my world with you. The video is created and produced by my travel filmmaking partners, Borderless Media.

tokyo airbnb apartment rental

In the video, you’ll notice that my team and I stayed at an AirBNB in Shibuya. We’re big fans of this short-term apartment rental site, which lets you live in comfort — as if you were a local — while spending less. Our apartment had two bedrooms and a kitchen, and was a five minute walk from the station. (Psst, here is my AirBNB discount link that gets you $31 off your first booking!)

A lot of people ask me where to stay in Tokyo. If you’re only visiting for a short time, I urge you to stay in one of the major districts (I prefer Shibuya or Shinjuku). This way, you won’t waste time and money on getting to the city every day. Also keep in mind that the trains stop running around 1am, so you might as well be in a neighborhood where you can party and then walk home.

harajuku punk clothing

But let’s go back to fashion blogging in Japan. To celebrate the release of the FashionOne episode, I thought I’d share photos of the best alternative shopping destinations in Tokyo.

Let’s start with Harajuku, since it was featured in the travel video. Over the years, Takeshita Doori has gotten more and more commercial. Nonethless, you can still find Goth, punk and metal fashion here.

goth harajuku boutiques

At AC/ DC, the clothes are inexpensive ($10-40 US per item), and have cute-Gothic prints you can’t easily find anywhere else.

cool harajuku tutus hoodies

Such as tutu-dresses and this Miffy-mouthed hoodie.

kera magazine lolita dessert dress

Many of Harajuku’s shops are quite mainstream now, but if you wander down the side-streets, you’ll find the gems. Here’s a sign for Kera Magazine, featuring a cute model in a dessert-pastry-print Lolita JSK.

stayreal japan shop, hello kitty

The StayReal brand is actually from Taiwan. The Heavy Metal Hello Kitty sign gives you a hint of the cute meets edgy fashion inside.

hyper core, japanese designer

It pains me to report that more punk and Gothic brands are closing doors. Sex Pot Revenge is now no more. On the bright side, Hyper Core and Listen Flavor are still around.

dog harajuku, punk store

And the experimental fashion boutique, Dog, is as madcap as ever. (Address: 3-23-3 Jingumae, Harajuku)

avantgarde harajuku clothing shop

Every time I go down these stairs, I’m astonished by their intricate, avantgarde designs. Dog’s pricetags are expensive — I’ve never bought anything here, but I love to loo.

famous japanese punk boutique

Lady Gaga and others go nuts for the various handmade garments, from Japan and all over.

mori girl clothes, vintage

For more affordable prices, stop by Kinji, the secondhandstore on Meiji-jingumae. Mori and dolly-vintage fashion is big here.

funny japanese graffiti

And if you have no money to spend at all… Well, Death Is Free!

shibuya crossing buildings

Onward to Shibuya, another favorite neighborhood for the young and trendy. There are endless restaurants and bars here.

black cherry jrock band

Inside Tsutaya (the music and DVD store), we saw these posters for the Jrock band Black Cherry. Looks like the two guys are giving some “fan service”…

kawaii statue japan

Everyone has a smartphone these days, even this cute bear sitting at the top of a skyscraper.

rainbow lights tokyo shibuya

Neon lights — Shibuya at night! (Photos by Borderless Media, using my Sony Alpha 7 (A7) mirrorless DSLR)

japanese flower manhole covers

Don’t forget to look down, or you’ll miss these Japanese manhole covers, decorated like flowers.

feather crown hat

High-quality images are important to me, so in recent years, my blog photos are all from DSLR cameras. However, there are times when I’m in a hurry, and simply use my iPhone to capture inspiration.

I usually share these snaps on my Instagram, but felt I should also put some in this post for you. Keep on reading for my Tokyo smartphone snaps…

fairy kei retro clothes

… including a peek at the Kokokim pastel goth boutique, which sells coffin purses in mint and lavender!

♡ Lots of photos below, click to see ♡ More here!

Japanese Goth clubs: DecabarZ Tokyo & Suspiria horror bar! Odigo travel blogging class, Wave Gotik Treffen 2015.

One of the most frequent questions I get is: “Where are the Goth clubs and parties in Tokyo?” Over the years, I’ve covered events and compiled all the best ones in my Japan Gothic nightlife guide.

However, there are always new places popping up. Let me take you into the recently-opened DecabarZ in Kabukicho, a Suspiria-themed horror bar, and more!

My friend Jen also shares her recommendations for Wave Gotik Treffen 2015, at the end of this post. (Sadly I won’t be there, but above is a memory from WGT a few years ago.)

dj sisen, cyber japanese hair

Japan’s alternative fashion crowd still gathers at Decadance Bar, which used to be located above Christon Cafe in Shinjuku. Now, owner Adrien le Danois has opened up his own place, not far away in the heart of Kabukicho.

How to get to the new DecabarZ? The address is 5F Shinko Building, 1-2-13 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Here’s a link to the map.

To get to Decabar z, go out Shinjuku Station east exit, and walk straight until you hit the main road Yasukuni Doori. Turn and walk down the street with the Mr Donut on the corner. Stay on the right side (across from Shinjuku Ward). It’s on the 5th floor of the Shinko Building.

decabar z, shinjuku goth party

You can’t miss the entrance — there’s a huge, neon-colored mural in the style of Dragonball-Z, which is where the new club takes its name from. All of the regular DJs and performers have their faces immortalized here: Chihiro, DJ Sisen, Maya, Selia.

gothic punk bar, club tokyo

On most weekends, DecabarZ has special themed events. We were there for the 1980s Visage tribute, hence Yukiro’s retro-Goth look.

ghostbusters costume, cosplay

The new Decabar Z is more spacious, and illuminated in cyber colors. Some people dress casual, while others go all-out. Cosplay, Victorian, Ghostbusters… you’ll see it all here.

ganguro girl makeup, hair

The staff is always rocking underground fashion. This lady wears ganguro makeup, the tanned and white-highlighted look popular in Shibuya in the 90s.

polka dot face makeup

I’m digging this bartender’s bowler hat with a polka dot veil, and military jacket with shoulder pads. (More amazing Goth fashion below – click to shop!)

american horror story tshirt

On the dance floor, a TV broadcast cartoon episodes of Jem and the Holograms. (Love the American Horror Story shirt.)

japanese djs, tokyo goths

DJ Ray Trak and Zin-Francois Angelique spun the best synth-80s tracks. We went wild for Real Life “Send Me An Angel“, Berlin “The Metro” and Europe “The Final Countdown.”

decabar z club, kabukicho

There was also a mix of post-punk, rock and other underground sounds from the past decades. When the DJs played the Ghostbusters theme, this cosplayer stood on a ledge and waved around his proton pack! 

dj chihiro, decabar mural

This bar is open most nights – so what are you waiting for? For upcoming DecabarZ theme nights, check out their Facebook event listings.

cambiare, suspiria theme bar shinjuku

Now, for more horror and darkness. On the recommendation of John Skeleton, we visited Cambiare — a Shinjuku drinking hole inspired by the Dario Argento B-horror film, Suspiria! 

Address: 1-1-7 2F Kabukicho, Shinjuku. This is located in Golden Gai, the cluster of tiny bars that line several streets. It may be hard to find, so look up to see the Cambiare sign in spooky writing.

suspiria bar, golden gai tokyo

The interior is full of references to the 70s cult film, such as the stained glass window where the girl falls through (below), and the evil-eyed cat. Even the wallpaper mimics the one in the movie (which has one of the coolest sets of all time).

suspiria stained glass window

We drank the homemade sangria and watched the slasher movie on the TV screen. The bartender has seen it over 100 times, and we chatted about the bloodiest scenes.

If you’re a fan of Dario Argento’s works, then a visit to this Suspiria themed bar is a must. (More info on the Cambiare Facebook.)

shinjuku goth mistress snack bar

Time to check out yet another Gothic hangout. Also in this same Kabukicho district is Mistress Maya’s new snack bar, Tsudoi (now Dalkima)For a “nomihoudai” all-you-can drink price, she’ll serve you sake and beer, and feed you her homestyle Japanese cooking.

Address: 3F Chipupura Plaza, 2-23-7 Kabukicho, Shinjuku

small local japanese bars

Tsudoi is the perfect place to get to know others in the Japanese underground scene. Maya speaks fluent English, and will introduce you to her colorful friends who are regulars at her bar. She’ll spin Goth and EBM music (she takes requests), and play movies like David Bowie’s Labyrinth in the back.

teaching travel writing workshop

I love discovering alternative spots like these, and sharing them with you on my La Carmina blog. Can you believe I’ve been doing this since 2007?

While I was in Japan, I shared what I learned in a travel blogging / writing workshop with Odigo. My team and I taught about 30 students how to start and grow a blog, get your name out, interact on social media, apply SEO and much more.

travel blogging course, lessons

I spoke for about three hours, and loved teaching students about every aspect of blogging. My site may only seem to be a collection of photos and words, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye. I spoke about backend matters like CSS, loading speeds, cloudfront, hosting providers, design and image-tagging – to name a few. (My top is by Black Milk.)

travel photography class, teachers

Filmmakers Eric and Melissa, who travel with me on most of my projects, also spoke expertly about camera equipment, settings, video production and other technical aspects. We also talked about travel TV hosting and production. Again, there’s a lot of work that goes into the videos and visuals you see here.

how to be travel blogger lessons, workshops

One of the students, Lori of the Spendy Pencil, wrote a review of our travel blog workshop that you can read here. She says “They were friendly, extremely organized, and direct about their experiences. I’ve been to a lot of different classes and this was the best presentation I’ve attended about blogging and social media.”

Thanks to Odigo – a Japan travel planning site – for inviting us to teach this special class. We’re so happy that our attendees found our course helpful, and want to keep offering it all around the world! Stay tuned for announcements, and how you can join our next travel blogging, video and photography lessons.

tokyo police cute mascots

Time to celebrate a successful day, with dinner in Roppongi. Can you believe these kawaii mascots… are for the Tokyo Police Station? Truly, everything is cute in Japan.

roppongi hills spider statue

We moseyed around the Roppongi Hills courtyard, inhabited by the giant “Mother” spider sculpture. I don’t usually hang out in this district, but there are some cool spots like the Mori Museum gift shop (selling toys by Nara, Murikami and Kusama) and Moomin theme cafe.

roppongi top japanese restaurant, fine dining

There are some incredible dining options near Roppongi station. We can’t stop raving about Hassan (八山 六本木), a shabu shabu and sushi restaurant. This fine-dining establishment first opened in 1979, but the interior was recently renovated with elegant Edo-meets-modern craftsmanship. 

(Address: B1F Denki Building, 6-1-20 Roppongi, Tokyo)

hassan shabu shabu restaurant

Hassan’s ambiance was the perfect complement to its authentic, lovingly presented cuisine. Although you can order a la carte, most diners choose one of the all-you-can-eat menus, which include Wagyu or Kobe beef shabu shabu, tempura, sushi, drinks and dessert. We dipped the thin cuts into the boiling hot pot, and they melted in our mouths.

personal sushi chef, japan

And what a treat: we had our own personal sushi chef, who set up station in our private dining room! He prepared sea bream, tuna, sea urchin, mackerel and other delicacies — paired with real wasabi and homemade sauces. I washed it down with the highest quality yuzu and umeshu (plum liquor with real pulp in it), and finished with green tea mochi and gelatin. 

I’ve eaten at a lot of phenomenal Japanese restaurants, but this ranks among the best experiences I’ve ever had. Hassan in Roppongi is a meal you’ll never forget.

tokyo travel instagram to follow

I’ve experienced so many marvels in Tokyo… it’s impossible to blog them all. However, you can see my daily inspirations on @lacarmina Instagram — such as a lucky cat tile mural in Shibuya, Sanrio cafe pancakes, a rainbow dreamcoat in Harajuku, and smiling Murakami flowers.

And now, I’ll turn it over to my friend Jen Hoffert. She goes to Wave Gotik Treffen (the world’s biggest Goth festival) every year in Leipzig, Germany. (Remember when I went with Yukiro and our Japanese friends?) The events start this Friday, so if you’re going, I hope you’ll enjoy her top recommendations for WGT 2015.

wave gotik treffen victorian picnic

Jen writes: It’s nearly Wave-Gotik-Treffen time again. In less than a week, over 20,000 goths, rivet-heads, lolitas and other dark souls will arrive, turning the streets of Leipzig Germany into a shimmering sea of black.

With over 150 bands playing in 30 venues over 4 days, WGT is recognized as the largest international music festival for wave and gothic music. It’s not just about the music. Treffen means “meeting” in German and that’s a vital part of this festival. In addition to all of the concerts, parties and official cultural offerings at Leipzig’s museums, opera and symphony hall, many visitors arrange their own meetings with friends in the city’s parks, cafes, and nightclubs.

One of the largest of those events is the “Victorian Picnic”, started in 2008 by Viona Ilgens. The first few years attracted a few hundred costumed visitors, but since 2010, the picnic has been held at a central city park and become an enormous event which draws in plenty of curious onlookers. Although the picnic is so well loved by so many, it will go on without Viona this year because she is organizing a Viona’s Victorian Village including a Victorian Market,  “Thé Dansant” and exclusive concerts in a more secluded location. Our good friend Courtney of Atropos Threads, a talented seamstress and jewelry maker, will be vending her wares there.

For those who would rather continue the picnic tradition there are several options, the newly re-christened Neo-Romantic Picnic at Clara Zetkin Park on Friday, the Steampunk Picnic at the Palmengarten or the Blaue Stunde picnic at Parkschloesschen on Saturday. “Die Blaue Stunde” also hosts one of the most intimate and incredible farewell parties on the last evening of WGT, the traditional “Romantischen Tanznacht”. Their site is only available in German, but the hosts and party-goers are an international mix and everyone is welcome.

wave gotik treffen goth style, clothing

Another offering of interest to visitors of the festival is the IMAGO Camera, a mobile large format camera currently located at the Spinnerei in Leipzig. Holger and I had a portrait made (see above left image). This is a unique opportunity to capture a one of kind image of your beautiful dark self. You can contact Susanne directly at s.kraus@imagocamera.com to book a session. (All other WGT photos in this post by Seventh Sin.)

combichrist, front 242 bands singer

WGT includes a broad range of music beyond “gothic” and “wave”. (Above: Mera Luna photos of Front 242 and Combichrist.) The big names playing this year span from EBM (Front242, DAF, Combichrist) to classic dark rock (Fields of the Nephilim) to neo-classic (Deine Lakaien) and neo-folk (Sol Invictus, King Dude).

Some of lesser known, but promising acts include Harm Joy, an EBM/synth-pop band fronted by our friend Dan Von Hoyel, The Essence (Holland’s answer to The Cure), Evi Vine (Post Rock, Ethereal), Orphx (cult Technoid-Industrial), Last Dominion Lost, a project from former members of the Industrial pioneers SPK, lauded as “guaranteed 101% glow stick free!” and a special ritual performance by Zeena Schreck.

gothic festival clothing, dolls kill, killstar

PS – What to wear to a Goth festival? Here are some devilish picks to get you started, including this sigil jacket, Ancient Egypt dress, and studded vegan leather jacket. Below are links to more places to shop.

Are you coming to Leipzig this week? Got questions about Wave Gotik Treffen? Let us know in the comments, and Jen hopes to see you there!

Odaiba Robot cafe, Gundam statue & Hello Kitty store! Trip planning with Odigo Tokyo travel app.

odigo tokyo travel trip planning

There’s no place like Tokyo. A city filled with cute shops, theme cafes and game centers. As you know, I love to write about these wonderful places on my blog.

However, Japan can be a confusing place to visit. It’s hard to figure out where to go and how to get around. But I’ve been working on a project with Odigo, to make trip-planning a whole lot easier.

Read on to see the Gundam giant robot, Hello Kitty shops and much more kawaii!

killstar goth outfit post blog

I visited the Odigo team at their Tokyo office. They’ve built a community of passionate experts like me, who want to help travelers get off the beaten track in Japan.

What I’m wearing: Killstar skirt with witchy patterns, and a Nightmare Before Christmas sweater from Lumine Shinjuku. My blue coat with a zig-zag front is by Alice’s Pig.

nightmare before christmas top, shirt

Odigo is a newly-launched website that lets you create your own custom trip. You can search for cool local spots, and link them together in a customized trip.

You can then download the itinerary to my phone, or print out a pocket-sized version. That way, you have all the necessary info — addresses, opening hours, subway routes — right on hand.

antler chandelier, ryozan park office

I’ve been helping the team with ideas. Our goal is to make Odigo as helpful as possible for English-speaking visitors to Japan. It’s free to use, and anyone can add their own writeups to the site. If you’re intrigued, you can also keep track of our collaboration on Odigo’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

japan travel reviews website

For example, when I search for Gundam… the site shows me there’s a giant robot exhibition in Odaiba! I can click to see photos, prices, and a review by a local expert.

riding japanese subway train

Thanks to Odigo, I know exactly how to get to “Tokyo Teleport” station (how sci-fi!) and walk to the Gundam Front.

odaiba fuji tv building

It’s located in Odaiba, the Japanese man-made island. You can spend a whole day here, shopping and enjoying the various entertainment activities.

On previous occasions, I ate at the King of the Pirates theme restaurant, visited the Tokyo Trick museum, and played retro video games.

tokyo fuji tv building architecture

On the way, we passed by the Fuji TV headquarters. I’m digging this futuristic glass building, with a big “hachidama” ball at the top that serves as an observation room. hachidama ball

big gundam robot statue, tokyo japan

Odigo’s travel tips including arriving at the top of the hour, to see the robot in action. We got to Diver City just in time, to see the Gundam’s head turn and lights flash.

giant japanese robot statue, gunpla

Somehow, this towering metal mecha fits into the Japanese landscape.

diver city odaiba, gundam front

I felt so tiny, looking up at the Gundam’s bright yellow eyes. The statue rises 18 meters from the ground. 

gundam theme cafe menu tokyo

DiverCity mall also has a Gundam Cafe, which serves roboto-themed drinks and food. (There’s one in Akihabara too.)

gundam haro latte

I ordered a green tea Haro latte. I suppose matcha tastes better when it’s decorated like a cute little robot.

funny japanese english sign

You know you’re in Japan when you are ordering coffee from the Gundam cafe, and the signs tell you to “cooperate with judgment.”

jpop concert odaiba

Later that evening, a colorful Jpop boy band performed at the foot of the Gundam. Their look and dance moves reminded me of the Power Rangers.

Hundreds of Japanese teen girls gathered and screamed, while waving neon lights above their heads.

Gachapin green monster, ガチャピン

Odaiba is a great place to visit on rainy days, since most of the attractions are indoors. In addition, you can usually take photos and videos without a storeperson running up to you and screeching “Dame-ehh!”

sweets paradise odaiba, gachapin statue

I said hello to children’s TV character, Gachapin the green monster, at the Sweets Paradise  cafe.

Chikin Ramen mascot chicken character

Odaiba is full of cute characters gift stores. You’ll even find obscure mascots like Chikin the ramen chicken. I found Miffy coin purses and cards in other parts of Diver City.

kawaii cute toy stores, tokyo

So many big-eyed cuties, everywhere you go!

hello kitty in kimono, sanrio store

Of course, there’s a Sanrio store. This one features traditional Japanese-themed goodies, like Hello Kitty in a pink kimono.

hello kitty pancake, food

One side of the shop sells My Melody and Hello Kitty pancakes. The batter goes into special molds, to make the shape of these characters.

odaiba rainbow bridge, lights

Odaiba is home to Rainbow Bridge, and this electric tunnel that leads to Venus Fort. The colors change every second.

tokyo lights tunnel

Illuminated in space-purple. Odaiba is full of wonders. (Photography by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann)

odaiba venus fort car museum

Random… there was an antique car show inside MegaWeb and VenusFort. This mall is decorated like ancient Italy, with Roman-style fountains and a sky-painted ceiling.

odaiba game center

We continued to this humongous game center. So many video games, crane machines… and even robot pandas and lions that you can ride for a 100 yen coin.

sumo video game japan

I tried this sumo fighting game, where you lean on this stocky wrestler and try to push him back. I lost…

big black horse sculpture, statue

I hope my Jpop adventure showed what you can experience, with travel website Odigo! Soon, they will also have a mobile app that lets you add your own discoveries, and be part of a community of travellers.

What type of features would you find most helpful, in planning a trip to Japan? Stay tuned, and we’ll release a video of my adventures in Tokyo.

Pokemon theme restaurant in Tokyo! Pompompurin Sanrio cafe, Line Friends store Harajuku.

line friends harajuku shop

Get ready… for a lot of cute, yummy characters in this post!

Yukiro and I went to three new attractions in Tokyo: the Pokemon cafe, Pompompurin theme restaurant, and Line Friends shop. Follow along on our funny adventures, which include eating Pikachu pancakes, and posing with a 10-foot-tall stuffed Brown bear!

pokemon theme restaurant food

First, we waltzed into the very popular “Ruby & Sapphire” Pokemon-themed cafe, located at The Guest diner in Shibuya Parco. We couldn’t wait to chow down on the adorable food.

(Address: 7F Parco Part 1, 15-1 Udagawachō, Shibuya, Tokyo. Open 11am to 10pm daily. Phone: 03-3477-5773)

Pokemon Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire Cafe

We walked to the seventh level of Shibuya’s Parco department store, and saw lineup of Japanese girls snaking down to the floor below. Were they waiting to see a pop star? Not quite, but close. They had come to dine with Pikachu and friends.

The cafe has a “first come first served” policy… and these diehard fans usually end up waiting 2 hours in line. Fortunately, we had made press arrangements, and were able to walk right in for a table.

pokemon cafe parco shibuya

The themed experience starts as you get inside. There’s a rack of Pokemon costumes, ears and props for you to wear. Yukiro and I climbed into the funny backdrop, and posed away.

pokemon pikachu theme cafe, tokyo japan

A waiter led us to a booth filled with colorful toys. If a diner comes alone, she can sit with a big plush Pikachu to keep her company.

(Behind me: do you think the girl is laughing at my conversation with this stuffed toy?)

pikachu latte, cute drink

Everything on the menu is cute. We drank lattes that looked like Pikachu’s smiling yellow face.

pokemon decorated food

All of the food is creatively decorated to look like various Pocket Monsters. This is a hamburger wrapped in an omelet sheet, and dolled up with carrot cheeks and nori eyes.

poke ball dessert, ruby sapphire cafe

Our waiter brought over a giant red Poké Ball. When he opened it, steam poured out… and a smiling cream puff Pikachu appeared!

pikachu cake, pokemon desserts

Yukiro used a chocolate pen to draw his favorite Pokemon character on a crepe. Can you recognize it?

pokemon store japan, toys

Everywhere we looked, there was something Pokemon going on. You can see the wallpaper and stuffed toys behind us.

ポケモンセンター pokemon center tokyo

This Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire video game just came out on Nintendo 3DS, hence the pop up cafe.

stuffed toy pikachus

Stop by the gift store at the entrance, to pick up limited edition Pokemon goods. There’s a good selection, although the Pokemon Center has more.

my melody theme restaurant shibuya parco

Hurry and visit the Pokemon cafe, since it closes at the end of the month! However, it will transform into yet another cute theme cafe — this time, dedicated to the Sanrio characters My Melody and her sheep friend “My Sweet Piano.”

(Find out more info about the upcoming My Melody cafe, at The Guest cafe from April to June 2015.)

line friends store harajuku tokyo

Let’s continue our “kawaii characters” adventure… at the Line Friends Store in Harajuku! Located on the main street near Laforet department store, these waving cuties are hard to miss.

(Address: 4-32-13 Jingumae, Harajuku. Phone: 03-6434-0597)

line app characters, japan exhibit

It’s astonishing to see how popular Line has become, in only a few years. The messaging app debuted in 2011, and grew to 500 million worldwide users. Now, Line’s cartoon mascots have their own stand-alone store in Tokyo.

giant stuffed line friends brown bear

Fans can take photos with Line Friends statues and backdrops. I hugged a towering plush Brown the bear — he’s my favorite Line character, probably because he lacks expression. This bear is so tall that his ears hit the ceiling!

sally the chick, line toy

On the main floor, you can pick up eccentric gifts. These range from Sally the Chick toys, to cushions shaped like Cony the rabbit’s head.

line brown bear den, store

Downstairs, Brown has his own hibernation den. Looks warm and cozy.

line friends stuffed toys

Also in this area are more luxurious items, including a Line crystal jewelry collaboration.

line friend shop, tokyo japan

I encourage you to visit the Line Friends store, and do Brown’s signature “fingers together and sad face” pose!

pompompurin cafe, harajuku

Not far from Harajuku station, there lies another cute new cafe… this time, dedicated to the yellow Sanrio puppy, Pompompurin.

(Address: Cute Cube Harajuku, 1-7-1 Jingumae, Harajuku, Phone: 03-6212-0639)

sanrio theme cafe, tokyo

Pompompurin is one of the lesser known characters in the Sanrio universe. However, as the saying goes, “every dog has his day.” At this Harajuku theme cafe, he is finally the star of the show.

pompompurin restaurant, cafe cute cube

The beret-wearing golden retriever is everywhere you look: playing on the wallpaper, and smiling from the placemats. (My trippy prism sunglasses are a gift from H0les Eyewear.)

sanrio cute yellow dog character

At the center of the room is a statue of Pom Pom Purin, surrounded by dancing animal friends.

pom pom purin dog cafe japan

The dog in the back right — with a top hat, pipe and bow tie — made me crack up.

sanrio themed drinks

Yes, this drink is called “Floating Tush”… and it shows Pompompurin diving into your hot chocolate.

sanrio characters store japan

Like the Pokemon cafe, there can be long lineups and it’s not possible to make reservations in advance. I suggest coming on weekdays and at off-hours.

pompompurin pancakes

The food is as adorable as the decor. I’ve never had pancakes and mashed potatoes together… but when they’re shaped like these cuties, why not.

pompompurin cute decorated food

Many of these entrees came with a free ceramic Pompompurin cup — a nice souvenir to take home.

pompompurin cafe food menu

This omelet looks like a sleeping puppy with a hat. Vegetables taste better when they are shaped like hearts and stars, right?

white day sanrio gift

The menu includes seasonal items, like a White Day dessert. (Photos by Melissa Rundle and me)

weird japanese burger

Be sure to stop by the gift section, since these Pompompurin items can be hard to find in regular Sanrio stores.

moomin theme cafe, roppongi hills

I leave you with some bonus photos of theme cafes in Tokyo. We passed by the Moomin theme restaurant, in Roppongi Hills. Customers can sit with this giant family of Moomins!

moomin restaurant, mori museum

This Finnish character is surprisingly popular in Japan. One room is filled with framed prints of the comic strip.

kagaya izakaya, frog costume

We also took our friends to our much-loved Kagaya, the theme izakaya that defies description. (I wrote about it many times here.)

weirdest japan theme restaurant

Mark remains at the top of his game. I’ve been coming to Kagaya since 2008, and it hasn’t lost its magic. One guy performing the most surreal, hilarious, surprising, ribald acts — while his mother cooks Japanese homestyle food in the back.

kagaya performance restaurant tokyo

I encourage you to try at least one theme restaurants when you come to Japan. For more inspiration, read about the dozens of theme bars and cafes I’ve visited over the years.

Are you a Pokemon, Sanrio or Line fan? Which of these places are you adding to your dream-list?