Tokyo 2014 – the other stuff

by Diane on 20/09/2014

Now that accommodation and food as well as museums have been ticked off the list, there’s only ‘the other stuff’ to talk about when it comes to our holiday in Tokyo this year.


Our trip began in fact in Australia. Kai had been with his client at the Gold Coast and I joined him for a fun weekend in the sun to kick off our holidays. Kai picked me up at the airport and took me to our apartment. After a brief rest we went out for dinner to Earth ‘n’ Sea, which we always do on our first night when we stay in Coolangatta. We kept an eye out for Didga, the skateboarding cat, but no luck this time. The next day our friends Meggy and Fabrice with their lovely daughters came over from Brisbane to see us. We had a great day at the beach, including lunch at the Coolangatta Surf Club. Certainly a very bogan experience.

2 adults and 2 little girls at the beach. Photo taken at an awkward angle because it was taken by a 3 year old.

Not bad for letting the youngest kid have a go with the camera, right?


Traveling to Tokyo was quite uneventful. In order to keep the trip relaxed and stress free we spent the first night at an airport hotel, and with some time to kill before we could check into our apartment we went for a walk around the hotel area. The airport hotels are all a short bus journey away from the actual airport, and nicely surrounded by forests and fields, which made it a really pleasant walk.

Airplane against blue sky with the sun in the background.

Airplane on the way to Narita airport.


I love stationery. Seriously, if you ever want to make me happy, give me a pad of post-its, a fancy pen or some stickers, and I’ll be happy. New Zealand isn’t particularly famous for its wide range of stationery available, but Japan certainly is. So we spent our first full day in Tokyo in Ginza to stock up at Itoya. Itoya is a stationery addict’s paradise and we spent ages browsing the aisles and buying ALL THE THINGS. We also stopped by the Apple store and the Monocle cafe.

Lots of stationery: post-it pads, pens, stickers, origami paper etc.

All the stationery!


Kichijōji was the suburb at the other end of our train line. We had to go there to get to the Ghibli museum, and it’s now our favourite neighbourhood for shopping. It’s a bit outside the mainstream, not a lot of tourists get there. It has awesome shopping opportunities, a nice park, a handful of opshops, nice restaurants, a cemetery, a German bakery and cute cafes. All that just a 10 minutes train ride from Shimokitazawa.


At the electronic district in Tokyo we spent most of our time at Taito Station, an arcade game place where we played dance and music games, and Kai had a go at Super Mario Bros.

Diane's feet on the floor plate for the Dance-Dance-Revolution game.

Dance Dance Revolution.

Kai playing Super Mario Bros on an arcade machine.

Kai playing Super Mario Bros.


Odaiba is the suburb where we stayed when we went to Tokyo for the first time in 2010. There are a number of dog sculptures scattered around, and in 2010 we took a photo with one of them. This time I wanted to take the same photo again, and I forced Kai to do it again on one of the hottest days we had during our stay. It took a couple of shots, and in the end Kai got a bit impatient and refused to take any more to get the perfect recreation. I’m still very happy with the outcome. We should go back every 4 years and document how we change as we get older.

Diane and Kai with a dog sculpture. At the top: 2010, at the bottom: 2014.

Odaiba 2010 and 214. We haven’t really changed much, or have we?

Metropolitan Government Building Observatory

There are a number of options to see Tokyo from above, but most of them are pretty expensive. Going up to the viewing platform of the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (there’s one in each of the two towers) is completely free of charge though. Note: if you write a travel diary and are keen on collecting stamps, there’s one at the observatory that’s definitely worth getting.

At the time of visiting the Government Building we had been in Tokyo for a few days and were craving a real good coffee. Australian barista Paul Bassett has a cafe close by, so we went their full of hope in tasting a really good coffee. To be fair, it was one of the best coffees we had in Japan, but it was nowhere near a perfect NZ flat white. I must admit that it was partly our own fault – we got too excited, just minutes away from a real coffee experience, that we forgot to order a double shot and ended up with hot dairy milk with a single espresso shot. A little disappointing.

Diane and Kai at a window in a high-rise building, with other tall building visible in the background.

Tokyo from above.

Spa LaQua

After a few days of walking around all day my body was in much need of some relaxing time. At that point we were still planning to spend half a day at the Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari, some kind of theme park onsen we visted at our first trip to Tokyo in 2010. Kai wasn’t too keen to visit two onsens on this trip, so after reading a bunch of reviews I decided to go to Spa LaQua at Tokyo Dome.

Spa LaQua is the perfect sauna/bath/relaxation place. They give you a set of lounge clothes to wear in the relaxation zones, but in the bath and sauna areas you are completely naked. I tried various indoor and outdoor pools, a foot bath, a massage pool, two out of three saunas and a steam room – soooo good! I really miss something like this in New Zealand. In Japan women and men have completely separate zone for themselves, which would make visiting with Kai or with a male friend a bit difficult (you could only meet in some of the relaxation zones), but I’d be totally ok with gender separation if I could only have something similar in NZ.


You can’t really be in Tokyo and not visit a cat cafe. It’s simply impossible. Luckily there’s one in Shimokitazawa, just up the road from our apartment – it’s called Cateriam. We had some cold tea and enjoyed some kitty cuddle time. It was a well made cat cafe, staff knew their cats well and were very gentle with the them.

Kai sitting on the floor at the cat cafe, with two cats sleeping on a small tower in front of him.

Kai gently begging for attention. Ignored by Dolly and Coco.


The latest in cute animal interaction in Tokyo seem to be rabbit cafes. We checked out a couple of reviews, and after reading a blog post on Ra.a.g.f. (which stands for ‘Rabbit and grow fat’) we decided to go there. It took us a little while to find it in Jiyugaoko and we were about to give up when I looked up and saw some advertisement in a window.

I can definitely say that the staff really loved their rabbits, and that they were very friendly and gentle with them. Given that they are held in captivity, they probably have an ok-ish life. However, as someone who has had rabbits before and understands their needs quite a bit, I do absolutely disagree with the concept. The blog post above is a bit misleading on how much time and space for roaming these rabbits actually have.

That’s it. I’ve covered all the things we’ve seen and done in Tokyo this year. Now I want to go back again.

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