Kawaii Diaries

A side project of Spool Collective's, Kawaii Diaries follows the travels of one of our Spooler's for a few months over seas in the land of the rising sun, Japan. This travel blog will take you to meet the locals, sleep on tatami mats, travel the metro and gorge on sushi, all the while searching for where the locals eat, shop, play and dabble in the arts. 


Golden Week is a week that Australia needs to adopt - it's pretty much a whole week and a half of holidays that happen to occur around the same time, making pretty much a whole ten days of holidaying!

During Golden Week we took the chance to explore other parts of Japan - Kyoto and Osaka! Because this is a special post, I'm going to write every description in haiku ^^


Photo by Aaron Purdie

Photo by Aaron Purdie

The Shinkansen goes
very fast; this is
how we travelled out.

Kyoto is full
of many cultural things.
Temples all around.

Many-a geisha
we saw that day walk-
ing about outside.

My first time eating
Sukiyaki! Delicious,
Saucy, nutritious.

The following are
Japanese cultural arts.
Sugoi Kakkoi! (super cool)

Bunraku puppet,
Flower arrangement and dance,
Tea ceremony!

Ponto-cho has lots
of food! The street is very
long and so bright.

Nishiki market:
A street full of many foods!
Octopus was best.

Most beautiful tem-
ple: Kiyomizu-dera
floating in green.

Famous for the love
stone: walk between the two and
find love forever.

Otowa Spring will 
grant you long and prosperous
life and wishes too.

Kyoto ramen
tastes pretty similar 
to Tokyo one.

Biru so cheap!
First vending machine I saw
selling beer, ha!

In Osaka the
Pokemon centre we went.
"Gotta catch'em all"

Osaka: crazy!
Giant things everywhere and
river like Brisbane!

Osaka famous
for takoyaki. Waited
so long, but worth it!

Shin Sai Bashi at
night - so bright and beautiful!
We watched the sun set.

Psy-duck, psy psy psy!
Psy psy psy-duck, psy psy psy.


Kombanwa (good evening)! The weather in Tokyo is finally starting to heat up to temperatures Brisbane would call comfortable! We've been shopping for new wardrobes, eating cooler foods (ie: MORE SUSHIIII) and dragging out our shorts and crop tops! No matter how much the weather changes though, people still sleep everywhere...

... like this man we found sleeping on the floor of a combini (convenience store) at 12am.

Lachy took us to a famous street in Tokyo Station called Ramen Street - a street in the huge station that literally is lined with some of Tokyo's best ramen joints! The one we went to was famous for Tsukemen (dip noodle). The name escapes me... but you'll find it by the 3 red hexagons that act as it's logo. Be prepared to wait in line for a good bowl of noods, however; we waited an hour in a line for a line (but we were not disappointed!) 

Going to Loft in Shibuya is always an adventure. This time in the INTERAD section we found hand sculpted pencil lead by an artist whose name I can't pronounce! Using only a razor and magnifying glass the artist carved everything from household items, Japanese characters and the English alphabet to words and chains (even into pacer lead!!!)

The Mori Art Museum never fails to impress. It's their 10th year anniversary and to celebrate their current exhibition features artists from all over the globe showcasing works on the topic of LOVE. Not only did we see works by Nan Golding and Yayori Kusama (pictures above), we also spied an original Dali and a host of other mind blowing artists all in the one space. Our faces? Kids on Christmas morning....

So for those much smarter than me you'll recognised the computer generated J-pop star above: Hatsune Miku. This was my first run in with this world famous holographic CGI star. Weird or wonderful? I'm yet to decide...

It was mandatory, us being in Japan, that we go to visit one of the lands owned and operated by the Disney Corporation. We chose Disney Sea on account of it being just as fantastical but more adult friendly then Disneyland! While the rides lacked the scare that you'd normally get at say Dreamworld (or even the Ekka) it was still an incredible place to go, and the night parade they put on show was done all on water and totally mind blowing. 

I even got to see Ariel's underwater cavern!!! #DREAMSCOMETRUE

Last stop on this Kawaii tour for the week is at the Hideaway Treehouse Cafe in Harajuku. We were told normal wait time to get in was between 30-60 minutes. We were lucky to be able to walk right in, take a seat and order a drink. An incredible little cafe, if not a tad freaky on account that when the wind blows the tree (which the cafe is attached to) moves a head and threatens to smash everything in it's path.

...but other then that, stellar!


It's been waaaayyy too many weeks since our last post! We've been living in international pandemonium what with S P A C E @ Bleeding Heart Gallery happening in Brisbane, talks with our overseas friends in the UK (more info coming soon...) and Golden Week keeping us busy in Japan!

We'll make this post brief (we've got many more to come!!)

THE PENIS FESTIVAL (known as Kanamara Matsuri) all manner or penis (and vagina) paraphernalia is available at this penis festival including penis hats, lollipops and a few huge statues that are carried ceremoniously through the crowds towards the shrines. The festival, while incredibly novel, is said to celebrate an old story about a penis that broke the viciously teethed vagina of a woman back in the day. It's also used to encourage fertility and pregnancy!

Classic Japan - people sleeping eerywhere.

The following hundred pictures (haha not really that many!) are of ROBOT CAFE!! Something we definitely think everyone should try at least once! Y5000 yen gets you a crappy bento box for dinner and an experience you will N.E.V.E.R forget ^^ a seriously "only in Tokyo" experience!

The Watari-Um Museum of Contemporary Art had an amazing exhibition on that we went to spy :) we're hoping to get them to bring it to BRISBANE (fingers crossed). For a cheeky Y1000 you can get a HUGE poster of your face. You can read more about it here.

We welcomed one more Brisbanite to the Tokyo scene recently too! Lachy loves Japanese food and beer, ramen and bear-dogs. He joined our adventures and added some of his own to our agenda, like the Cerulean Tower Hotel bar (below) which had an incredible view of Shibuya-ku from it's high reaching windows.

Classic Akihabara - the electric town of Tokyo city. We ran out of time to visit a maid cafe but we'll get there I promise!

Tokyo Skytree is this incredibly huge huge huge thing, built within the last few years as a way to keep Tokyo relevant in the world's eye. It was too windy a day to go to the top :( but we got to visit the aquarium instead! There were live seals and penguins inside... kind of weird but pretty cute!

If you don't know that this is (picture above) you need to watch THIS VIDEO. We become mildly obsessed with these pointless but mesmerising little Japanese made packages. When we found a few in the supermarkets here we went a bit MENTAL! Well worth it!


This week another Spool members enter the realms of the mystical Tokyo-town! Wendy will be a resident for two months as we continue our journey into the arts and culture scene as well as life in this bustling city. It's warming up, so we're more than up for more sleepless nights...

Sakura season cakes

On the Corner Cafe in Shibuya makes delish foods and amazing Bear Pond Espresso coffee!!
Miso ramen flavoured onigiri

Costume shop on Takeshita st

Takoyaki from Cat Street

We went along to a party at Saturdays Surf in Daikinyama where multi- disciplinary artists Curtis Kulig (all the way from NYC) did is famous 'love me' collaboration, LIVE. Swoon!


Staying out till 6am all for the love of electronic and bass music. Brodinksi at Vision (along with 3 other rooms occupied with a plethora of other trap/electronic acts)  made our eye balls and the hair on our arms vibrate all night.

Mishka Store in Harajuku

This store (below), tucked away in an alley off Harajuku is filled with childhood nostagia. They have walls of my little ponies, old school barbies, gumby and there was even an original Furby!

A dramatic ballad is played when it's your Birthday here.

We had seen out fair share of disabled dogs and unfortunately groomed ones but nothing could prepare us for our first encounter with monkeys in a pet store!

We ventured out to Roppongi and came across the Fujifilm square center which had a mini photo exhibition going on. Each heart felt image captured something extraordinarily human as well as incredible nature photography and a section dedicated to Japanese Culture. There was a historical museum of Fuji film cameras from box brownies to hello kitty disposables up to the most recent digital models you could fiddle around with.

Paintings were packed wall to ceiling at the Sogenkai Exhibition at The National Art Center. Sogenkai, as best we could understand is a large corporation aimed at improving and developing art in Japan.

Sakura at Imperial Palace
Giant takoyaki balls in Harajuku

Time flies, when you're having fun! Until next time Spoolers!


Gomen, gomen (sorry, sorry)! I've been a tad busy lately! I'll keep this post short and sweet :) 

It's finally ACTUALLY warming up here in TKY city. We've been seeing days with lows of 11 degrees and tops of 24 degrees (to my absolute delight!). The Sakura are starting to bloom (take a look at my post about it here), people are starting to head out and picnic about! Welcome Spring, and welcome readers to a warmer edition of Kawaii Diaries:

This little gem is right near our place in Ekoda. I couldn't find (or read) it's name, but the flag outside the cafe-bar calls itself "HAM-BAR-GER". Like all good independent burger/meat joints, this place had a burger challenge hung on the wall (the Monstar Burger) with it's few challengers and even fewer successful challenges! The burgers were amazing, the service super amazing and with free corn soup on the side who can complain?

We are feeling a little guilty about this one food adventure (see picture above). We venture to one of Tokyo's many T.G.I Friday's. It was honestly mostly for novelty factors.... but also because we were craving a heavy, dirty, all American feast!

Little Nap Coffee Stand is one place I would without question say "Y.E.S" to. If you feel like taking a walk in Yoyogi or even from Shibuya with promise of a good coffee and maybe an ice cream at the end Little Nap is the place to walk to ^_^ And if you come hand in hand with pups or kids then don't worry because LNCS overlooks one of Tokyo's better play parks and has outdoor seating for your furry friend.

Not as exciting as it appears, but I had my first OS experience with Dominos pizza!! Apart from each pizza being about 3x the price as in Oz, it was also about twice the size and came with a cardboard pizza box lid designed to be torn into pizza-shaped cardboard plates.

I told you we'd talk shisha in Shimokitazawa soon and here it is! This tiny shisha place we discovered in a below post delivered more then it promised! Drinks were cheap as chips (400 yen a pop, even for a bottle of your favourite Japanese beer) and the shisha itself was Y800 per flavour. We spent a good few hours in here sharing Alex Apple and Watermelon around our group and meeting some pretty funny locals who were curious about Australia and it's culture.

I tagged along to Montoak with some fashion world Tokyianites :) Check the write up here


Until my next post (which I promise will be filled with much more art!) spend some choice minutes meeting a recent creative arts graduate and aspiring photographer around town:

Yuko Munakata / 22 / Student and Photography Assistant

1. What are your favourite places in Tokyo? Ebisu, Shibuya and Asakusa.

2. What was the last arts event you attended? My graduate exhibition at my university, it was really good. I made a book for the show - it was about how to stress less and had my photos accompanying the pages. I also went to a video exhibition in Roppongi at Higashi Azabu Vague

3. What are your favourite arts venues in Tokyo? The film centre - Tokyo International Film Centre.

4. What are you looking forward to? Going to London in May for a year.

5. What is your biggest fear? Ghosts.


I'm happy to report I have a job... and I should tell you all in Brisbane town that you should be thankful for the comfortable wages you all earn! :) The last couple of weeks have been a balance between working hard for the money, and exploring more of this amazing city. As always my exploits are documented below. Enjoy!

The infamous Kabukicho in Shinjuku was, to be honest, a little underwhelming because it's touted as Tokyo red light district - full of dominatrix strip clubs, robot girl restaurants, welcoming ladies of the night and all manner of other underworld comforts. I don't think we did it right though, so expect to see another post about this area in coming updates!

You've probably heard of Daikanyama - Shibuya's less flashy but equally cool little sibling. We had the pleasure of spending a day walking between Meguro, Naka-Meguro (which is amazing!) and to Daikanyama. Be warned, this is not a suburb to go to if you can't stave yourself off buying fine designer goods.... A.P.C lives here along with a bunch of other delicious brands! We also visited Shimokitazawa again and found a super delicious smelling shisha shop ^^ we'll give you our review soon!

THIS part of the post will focus on our edible exploits! After finding the shisha place we chilled out in Shimokita's streets and had a coffee at the locally famous Bear Pond Espresso and then chowed down on burgers and onion rings at Village Vanguard Diner. Village Vanguard left us pining for more - super sugoi delicious! - and Bear Pond was... a bit underwhelming on account of the staff and the signs everywhere saying NO PHOTO. But it's still worth the trip! We also went with a few friends to the gay and lesbian district of Tokyo, Shinjuku-Nichome, and downed some beers at a few local bars before gorging on delicious Rainbow Burritos - a new addition to the area.

OH, hehe. And we also stepped into an great noodle joint in Meguro who happened to also be filming for a TV show about noodles (I almost died from excitement when I heard). They interviewed us whilst we dipped our noodles in their crab-pork broth.

As part of our job we had the pleasure of making our very first onigiris in the shapes of turtles (uber kawaii!). They were cute til we ate them...

If you want something heart-breakingly cute and Japanese you can't go past Parco's current exhibition at Parco Museum We <3 Pullip! Check out more about the exhibition (and heaps more pictures!) here.

I have to say, when I arrived in Tokyo and moved into the apartment I'm currently in in the Nerima area, I was a bit disappointed that my suburb lacked any kind of cool! Thanks to Hello Sandwich we were able to find a neighbouring 'burb called Ekoda, which brought with it karaoke, bars, a great Ham-Bar-Ger joint and Parlour Espresso (which came with great coffee and some familiar pastries).

To sum this post up, I've got one more amazing coffee joint for you!! Lattest Omotesando makes delicious regular coffees, as well as sugoi oishi salted caramel lattes or even raspberry mochas. Definitely worth the trip!


It's not a surprise if I tell you I'm pretty close to having to live on the streets now cos I am so broke! But gosh darn I don't regret a single second of any adventure we've had here so far :) We've battled snow, winter winds, 6am ends-to-our-weekends and 530am sardine-esque packed trains (finally!!) 

For your convenience I've broke this post up by pictures! Itadakimasu (aka enjoy feasting!) 

Coffee in Tokyo is easy to find. You can buy it from vending machines, hot or  cold. Good coffee, however needs to be tracked down by coffee-thirsty hounds! Our local friends here in TKY have been gracious enough to take us on their weekly coffee-haunt hunts, to some very delicious results! Hands down I must say Streamer coffee beans here pretty much take the (coffee-and-) cake! Streamer in Harajuku has one barista, 2 flights of narrow staircases and cosy nooks to nestle in with a coffee.  Omotesand Koffee in Omotesando was also brilliant - and this little cafe, I have to admit, has so far been an absolute favourite! It's minimalistic and situated in Omotesando at the bottom of a Japanese style house complete with zen garden. Kawaii!

And People in Shibuya was another hidey hole we found ourselves in :) if you love tea, sweet treats and candle light (everywhere!) it's a definite must. You'll die by the hand of it's charms. It's pretty close to Cat Street and a bunch of other bars and restaurants too. Sugoi convenient.

One more you need to add to your list of cool cafes to visit is Brooklyn Parlour in Shinjuku. They were looking for staff... but sadly, we were turned away (key requirement: speak Japanese. #Doh!)

I know I've made Roppongi pretty much sound like the hairy pitts of Tokyo. In a lot of ways it probably is, especially for it's night life. But the Mori Art Museum, TV Asahi and the shopping in certain parts will have you changing your mind. It was a bit weird being in TV Asahi though because some people lined up for ages to play some weird drum game... we tried but got bored and left. Must have been a great game.

Nude Trump. Possibly the coolest second hand shop I've been to here so far! Best description - a place where nightmares, dreams and illusions go to retire. Worth the trip and the browsing time, and whats more, it's right near Trump Room - home to three levels of mirrors, chandeliers and crazy DJs. Other places to keep your eye on for night life would be Sound Museum Vision Nightclub and Creme De La Creme (where ONRA played!!!)

AAANNDD finally, a food focused section for this post! Highlights have been standing sushi bars (you can find them everywhere! They blow torch the sushi in front of your very eyes!!), sweet treats from Dean and Deluca and Mee's Pancake's, and the original stylings of the original Harajuku Gyoza Lou!

Until we meet again (and I hopefully have a pay check!), あなたに私の友人を見ていい (nice to see you, my friend)

#2 - Part Two

Welcome to a more cultural edition of Kawaii Diaries! 

We, once again, have been running around the fine city of Tokyo like Sumos on a rampage for more takoyaki balls (aaand I hope no one found that metaphor culturally insensitive!) but it's been the most fun of all! 

While everyone might know the suburbs Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku, a couple we were less familiar with that were equally as brilliant were Shimokitazawa (it's the West End of Tokyo, and fondly termed 'Shimokita' for short), Nakameguro, Koenji and Asakusa. 

We shopped a bunch in Shimokita (they have a map of the area complete with the must-see vintage shops) and ate the BEST ramen I've ever had there too at this tiny noodle bar. In Nakameguro, our lovely friends took us to a restaurant called Chano-ma (you sit on the floor with blankeys and a wooden tray where they serve you your food while you gaze out the window at the romantic city lights) then to after dinner drinks at Kinfolk Bar. Such a sweet bar and not a stranger to the trendy cyclist community, this bar is owned and run by a true, blue Aussie.

Koenji delivered more great thrift finds, and some unique shops we had to tear ourselves away from in respect for our quickly-thinning wallets :( our favourite shop hands down was SpankAsakusa is another beautiful suburb, full of temples and tourist markets. But I have to say, it hasn't been near enough my favourite place to go. 

The rest of our week was spent visiting the infamous Sky Tree, wandering starry-eyed around the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, soaking our cares away in local onsens (Toshimaen's onsen Niwa No Yu is like entering a country club! It's half price after 8pm and I can't wait to go again!), singing karaoke at the numerous Karaoke-kan's around the city, visiting MOT (the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo) and dancing til we couldn't dance no more in The 'Pong, or Roppongi's night club district.

For those of you who L.O.V.E the Valley or even Down Under Bar you'll love Roppongi. We went to Geronimo's for pre drinks and then to Jumanji-55New Planet and Gaspanic. A word of warning though - everyone smokes inside the clubs, so be prepared to come out stinking of nothing less then several hundred ashtrays. 

I can't wait to start visiting exhibitions, gigs and hopefully some Sumo (next Sumo season) and Japanese theatre!

OH, and for those of you who are crazy into stationary, homewares and life goods Loft is a definite favourite! Six floors, with an art shop at the top featuring pieces sold in the basement of Paris's Louvre! The space is called Atreum. Definitely recommend you read up on it here and see it for yourself :)

Sophie Millis / 22 / Artist - recent visitor of Japan
1. What was the last arts event you went to?
 Art Snack closing night in Brisbane
2. What was your favourite thing to do in Tokyo? Karaoke, and riding the train
3. What was your favourite part of Tokyo/ what part does everyone have to see/do? Definitely visit Shimokitazawa, AND eat FAMILY MART sushi triangles any hour of the day/night
4. What are you looking forward to (could be anything - what you are looking forward to today/this weekend/an event/etc) Making a rap album
5. what is your biggest fear? Looking at a tonne of blood all at once

#2 - Part One

This post is so large I'm going to have to do it in 2 parts! It's been an absolutely incredible week and we have done so much I don't even remember where/when/who/how/what we've been up to.

I do know, though, that our days have been filled with much Metro travel (packed trains and face masks all inclusive), the best ramen, udon and  D.I.Y okonomiyaki I've ever eaten, hyper coloured novelty stores, cute bars and cafes, impending snowy days and warm toilet seats!

Our friends took us to a great burger joint in Shibuya called Whoopi Goldburger. If you like a delicious, juicy, affordable burger with chips and a pint that you eat in a cosy bar while the chef talks to you (and you watch skate vids from a tv sitting on a wall full of novelties) then I definitely recommend this place! Other cosy Shibuya highlights include Cat Street , Rhythm Cafe and the much loved local watering hole Beat Cafe.

We had a friend visit last week, too! So for her first few days in this amazing city we did the main city tourist stuff - Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinjuku (and yes...we are steadily going broke). The next leg of our trip (details in 2.2 of this post!) covers more cultural and foooood aspects! So stay tuned. For now, take a squiz at the latest pictures, and get to know some of our Tokyo hosts:

Daniel Last / 26 / Elementary School Teacher

1. What is your favourite arts venue in Tokyo? There are always some sneaky exhibitions up in and around Design Festa Gallery/Cafe in Harajuku which are pretty cool. Plus the view that comes with Mori Art Museum in Roppongi is tough to beat.

2. What is your favourite thing to do in Tokyo? It is always fun to find a hidden garden/ park/grassed area/carpark/rock pile within walking distance from a combini and have an impromptu picnic.

3. What was the last arts event you attended in Tokyo/Japan? Last year's Fuji Rock Music Festival which is held really far away from Mt Fuji in Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata. The obvious highlight was Radiohead's set. But the moment when EVERY Japanese attendee busted out copious amounts of wet weather gear for the 30 second passing shower was brilliant. It was like a mexican wave of designer ponchos and North Face hiking jackets. It's a shame it stopped raining immediately after it started.

4. What are you looking forward to? I'm looking forward to the Tokyo Rail System magically returning the backpack that I left on the train on the way home last weekend.

5. What is your biggest fear? Mice. Actually anything with a disproportionately long tail.

Nick Prideaux / 29 / Filmmaker

1. What is your favourite arts venue in Tokyo?  Mori Museum.

2. What is your favourite thing to do in Tokyo? Riding my bike through the streets of Tokyo, enjoying picnics in Yoyogi Park, walking around Harajuku and vintage clothes shopping in Shimo-Kitazawa.

3. What was the last arts event you attended in Tokyo/Japan?  Not the last event I attended, but definitely the most memorable was Roppingi Art night in March last year. Lots of art on display in the streets and galleries of Roppongi Midtown for a weekend. It was lots of fun walking around with friends all night viewing everything, Yayoi Kusama's works on show was definitely the highlight!

4. What are you looking forward to? I'm looking forward to the new season of Mad Men, the new album from the Knife and Grimes and Grizzly Bear playing in Tokyo.

5. What is your biggest fear?  Heights and spiders.

Daisuke / 22 / Commerce Student and Works at Ragla Magla (Shimo-kitazawa)

1. What is your favourite place to go in Tokyo? Roppongi or Koenji

2. Your favourite place to see art? Koenji or here (Shimo-kitazawa)

3. What do you like to do when you aren't working/studying? Play tennis

4. Who is your favourite artist? Banksy

5. What is your biggest fear? My angry mum. And slugs.


Konichiwa, spooler-sans!

It's been a massive trip so far and it's only been two days! We haven't had time to do too much except check into our first nights accomodation (Ace Inn Shinjuku hostel - which we highly recommend for price, comfort and location!) and find our way to our apartment in Shin-egota!

For those of you travelling to Japan for extended periods and looking for accommodation, we used Sakura House - they have one month rental contracts and we are literally living as the Japanese do, tatami style (this means NO SHOES, sleeping in cots on the floor and walking around on soft straw mats!)

We are missing Brisbane already, especially all your familiar faces! But it's great to be in this amazing city of Family Mart, trains that run on time (hehe sorry Brisbane!) and bento boxes!

Over the next few days we're heading to Harajuku, Shinjuku and a few drinks with friends :) There's talk of SNOW tomorrow so expect some winter-wonderland pictures sooooon, and not to mention an update on a few fun places the locals like to go to!

Until next time,
Sayonara x