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Our first day in Japan was nothing short of a sleep-deprived whirlwind. We felt relieved to wake up a little more refreshed than yesterday, and had little more energy to power through today’s itinerary. 
 
Breakfast time! 
Food in Japan is always amazing. I don’t think I have ever been disappointed by anything I’ve eaten here (unlike back in the UK, where I feel near constant disappointment with both service and food, it gets very depressing). A lot of people will tell you that eating out in Japan is expensive, which can be relative to your budget, so I’m going to keep posting the prices and quality of our food in these blogs and Instagram in an attempt to demystify eating out in Japan. 
 
When I first went to Japan in 2019, it was around £0.77/100 yen, compared to the current rate of £0.53/100 yen at the time of writing. That’s a saving of over £2.20 per 1000 yen - massive! This made food and shopping a lot more expensive in previous years. 
 
Today we had breakfast at The Roastery by Cozy Coffee on Cat Street, Harajuku. We'd read online that their doughnuts were a must-try item, and judging by the name, we had high hopes for the coffee too! 
This place was friendly, English-speaking and pretty hipster. Although not expensive, it was a more specialised place to have breakfast, and set us back 450 yen per doughnut, and 930 yen for a bucket of coffee (James had a more normal sized one for 830 yen).  
 
In total, breakfast cost us just under £14. Although this is expensive compared to other possibilities for breakfast in Japan, the quality was exceptional and really enjoyable. The doughnut was so light and fluffy, not heavy or stodgy at all. It was sugar coated but not sticky either, would definitely recommend. If you think about the high street coffee chains we spend our time in in the UK, you'd spend about as much for a couple of burnt panini and bitter coffee. 
 
 
There are lots of amazing little shops on Cat street, as well as some designer shops like Coach and Ralph Lauren. They also have some second hand designer clothes stores, thrift stores and more. Coach was very tempting and looks so fun from the outside, but it wasn't in my budget so I resisted the temptation to go inside. Cat street is only about a 10 minute walk from Laforet, or around a 15 minute walk from Takeshita street. 
 
After breakfast, we decided to adjust our itinerary order slightly, to make more sense of our journeys in relation to the opening hours of different stores. We first went to Laforet shopping centre for the Sailor Moon store. 
 
Laforet shopping centre 
An interesting, mid-sized shopping centre in Harajuku. 
 
The Sailor Moon store is located in the basement level. On our last visit, the Sailor Moon store was extremely busy with queues of 1-2 hours. Cosmos had just been released. This time, the store was very quiet, there was only one other person inside. In this shopping centre, floors are by the 0.5 (half floors instead of full floors). 
 
The store had lots of new stock to choose from, despite being considerably smaller than our shop (for those of you that have visited our physical store, you might be shocked by this statement!). The blind boxes were super exciting, and they had some new stationery items too! Couldn't help myself from splurging here, everything is super cute and you just can't get items like this in the UK.  
If you're not interested in Sailor moon, I still recommend coming here because there's a lot of interesting smaller shops to browse. If you're into J-fashion, you'll be spoilt for choice. There's a few really fun looking food and drink places too, we will have to go back and take some photos at a later date! 
Shopping on Takeshita street 
Daiso stores are everywhere in Japan, but one of my favourites is on Takeshita street. In this branch, you’ll find more souvenir and gift items, and also a better range of cute accessories than in other Daiso stores across Tokyo. 
 
Paris Kids is a popular accessories store for fun earrings for pierced and non-pierced ears, other jewellery items and hair accessories. It’s super cheap and definitely gives off Ali express vibes. For all the hype this store gets, it’s worth popping in to browse, even if you don’t fancy buying anything. 
 
Another store I’d recommend for anyone that enjoys pastel and kawaii themed Japanese streetwear would be WC. On this visit, they had a lot of stock from Punyus. I purchased a pair of socks there 5 years ago and they still look new (for the record, I’m terrible at looking after my clothes, so this really is amazing). Fun fact, a lot of clothing places will give you a breathable bag made from a non-woven fibrous material to put over your head when trying on clothes. This looks really weird but helps to avoid t-shirts from getting covered in foundation when trying them on. 
 
Most of the shops on Takeshita street are small units, and there are also some interesting thrift stores and make up stores here, and in the surrounding area. It’s worth bearing in mind that in popular tourist places, some stores prohibit photography or video of any kind. You’ll often see signs to warn you that photography is not accepted, and sometimes there will be signs to let you know that photography is ok. If you can’t see any signs, I’d recommend asking the staff or being discreet about your photography. It’s best practice to avoid getting people in your shots, as laws on photography in Japan are stricter than in the UK. Apple devices such as iPads made for the Japanese market will make the shutter sound, even when the device is on silent, to alert others that photos are being taken as due to privacy concerns. 
 
 
If you have a sweet tooth, I recommend indulging in one of Harajuku’s many crepe stands. Street food in Japan is generally very safe and hygienic, so I personally wouldn’t worry about eating food from street vendors, stands and small shops. There are so many different flavours to choose from, and each flavour is displayed in the form of super convincing imitation food (there’s a place in the Sky tree where you can go and make your own fake food! I saw someone making fake ice cream and was blown away by how realistic it looked). 
Crepes - so many sweet and savoury options to choose from! There's also several creperies on Takeshita street. James is continually impressed with the realism in the fake foods in Japan. 
 
Lunch in Harajuku 
Instagram did not disappoint us with this viral recommendation! We visited Spontini pizza for an incredible large slice and a glass of wine. I had a "regular" slice and it was still an inch thick and the entire size of my plate. James decided to go for the larger size, which was 1.5x the size of my slice. 
 
I really thought it was going to be super heavy and doughy, but it was actually pretty light, as far as pizza goes. We ordered a 500ml jug of white wine for 1600 yen (£8.40), ended up with red but didn't mind, and they were super busy so didn't want to stress the staff. For pizza toppings, we both went with the extra cheese margarita, I opted for prosciutto as an extra topping, whilst James decided on a chunk of pancetta. We saw some pizzas coming out with entire sausages on top, unsliced - they looked crazy! The bottom of the pizza is amazingly crispy too. They add oil into the bottom of the pizza pan before putting it in the oven. 
 
In total, lunch cost us 4650 yen (£24.36). If you only fancied stopping for one regular-but-still-giant slice of margarita pizza, it would set you back just £5.75 (1100 yen). 
 
Here's some photos of our lunch, with my hand trying to give you some example of scale. 
Disney Flagship Store Shinjuku 
We ran out of time to go to the Nintendo store today, but will take another couple trips here over the next couple days (because I got our Ghibli tickets sent to the wrong hotel and they were stuck in the post system, lots of chaos but we got it sorted in the end. Look out for a blog about this soon, and how to get Museum tickets). 
 
We set off to the Disney Flagship store to seek out some exclusive merch and arrived around 8pm. It's great that stores are often open so late in Japan, it means you can fit quite a lot into your day. The Disney store has three huge floors of goodies to browse, and this time of year they have some exclusive sakura themed items too. They have an amazing selection of luxury bags and leather goods on the basement level. I’m not a die hard Disney fan myself, but still enjoy looking at everything. Marvel and Star Wars also have their own section in this huge 3-floor store. This time, they also had a Kuji lottery on. We will be going back before we leave for Kyoto, and we will (hopefully) have some more energy to take some good photos inside the store. 
 
After Disney, we went on a hunt to find a branch, any branch, of Kirin City. If you've heard of or enjoyed a Kirin Ichiban beer before, then there's no excuse to miss this place. There are many stores around Japan, the staff are helpful, speak English and you place your orders on a digital display - super easy if you've had a long and tiring day. 
We ventured to a nearby spot, which we picked specifically due to the close proximity to the Disney store. Turns out, this branch doesn't exist anymore. However, it was about 10 minutes walking time to the next Kirin City. On a Sunday, this place closes at 10pm, with last orders for food and drink at 9:30pm. Don't go to Kirin City 3-Chome Shinjuku - we are pretty sure it doesn't exist. Instead, we went to Kirin City Shinjuku East Exit, where they definitely do exist, and serve delicious food and drink at very good prices. 
 
Let me tell you more below. 
Kirin City 
Today has been crazy busy and we have seen so much! We wanted to have a bit of time to reset in the evening and catch up with our social media. There’s no better place for an informal drink and some bar snacks than Kirin City. If you’ve never heard of this place before, they serve many different beers all produced by Kirin Ichiban. There’s a good selection of light and dark beers on tap, and the interactive digital menu has great English product information too. Very tourist friendly without being touristy, if that makes any sense. Beer is cheaper in Japan than in the UK, and in Kirin city, you can expect to pay around 680 for a premium beer (regular size, which seems to be more than a half and less than a pint, served with a giant head as standard in Kirin city). Or 1310 yen (£6.86) for a mega premium beer (bigger than a pint, maybe 650-750ml at a guess). They also have a fun selection of beer based cocktails, but I wasn’t brave enough to go for one this time, and stuck to drinking Kirin premium. Their cheese crisps are amazing too, no potato, 100% fried cheese pieces which are crunchy, delicious and a perfect accompaniment to the beer. Kirin City is a chain, and there’s another good spot in Nishiki market in Kyoto (the staff there as so friendly and fun!). 
 
One of the most wonderful dishes, this salt-grilled red beef was amazing! It came with a few chips on the side too, which confused me as they were incredibly tasty too, even though it's just fried potato, right? Wrong. It's Kirin City fried potato. The beef is served very pink, and if you're not into rare steak, there's no option to order it well done. 
We also enjoyed some fried chicken, gouda fried cheese crisps and a portion of "simmered roasted pickled lamb" served with horseradish (as translated with google lens when looking at our receipt. It didn't taste pickled, it was so delicious, just look at the photos below!). 
The darker beer below is their half and half beer, which is half dark beer and half regular. It's nice, if you're a fan of dark beer but don't want anything too heavy. 
Value for money: 5/5 
Not to say that we tried to spend a lot of money, but we did plan to indulge after a pretty stressful day (post office tickets nightmare, as briefly mentioned). After ordering 5 regular beers and one giant beer, three main dishes and a side of cheese crisps, we still somehow spend less than £50 between us. 
 
Experience: 5/5 
Relaxed and informal, this is often just what you need in Tokyo after a busy day. We sat at the bar and felt very comfortable and welcome. 
 
Tastiness: 5/5 
I cannot describe to you how wonderful the food is here. We shared several dishes and all of them were amazing, even the fried chicken was worlds apart from what we generally experience at home. 
 
Ease of travel: 3/5 
Only because the other site we tried to go to didn't exist. 
 
Ease of booking: 5/5 
No need to book, hurray! 
 
After we were finished with our beers and stunning plates of food, we wanted to get back to the hotel to get an early night as we need to get up early to collect our Ghibli tickets from a post office in the morning (fingers crossed we get them!). 
 
A fun fact to finish today's blog! On average, we are walking 12km per day, and 45 flights of stairs. We joined the gym in December to actively prepare for all of the walking and bag carrying, and it has legitimately helped! Last time I really struggled to keep it up, and it's still difficult but it's helped being a bit fitter! The area we are staying in has many large hills to walk up too! 
 
See you in the next blog post! 
 
Laura & James 
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