The Quietest Cafe Ever

The other day, I had a rare free day and had some studying I had to get done. Let me say now that I’m the kind of person that rarely spends money on myself; I don’t see the point in treating myself out to a nice meal or some activity if there’s no one else to enjoy it with, and I’m perfectly content with staying home. However, this day, I had brunch with a friend and it felt like a waste to go home immediately, so I decided to go to a cafe that I’d been interested in for a while.

This cafe, アール座読書館, translated to R Reading Hall, is basically a cafe where you can’t talk. Literally. In fact, one day I had gone along with a friend, but they suggested that we go upstairs to a different cafe (not sure if they’re run together, both cafes seemed to give off a similar vibe so possibly?) where we could actually have conversations. So, if you ever want to go here, make sure you’re alone!

It’s located in Koenji, just a few minutes from the station. It’s on the second floor so you have to go up stairs. When I went, it looked so dark that I thought it was closed, and was about to go home but Google told me that they should be open, so I decided to give them a call.  When the man on the other line picked up, he was whispering so quietly (due to the silent atmosphere of the cafe) that I could barely hear him. I asked if they were open for business today, and he confirmed that they were, so I headed back.


When you go up the stairs and reach the door, you’re greeted with a sign to please keep your voices down.


The best part about this cafe is its interior. It really feels like you’ve entered a different world. You’re free to choose whichever seat you want to sit in, and every single one is unique and has a its own special qualities and atmosphere.

This seat is right in front of a fish tank!

I took a seat right by the window, a bench right in front of a desk. They have a menu at each seat, so I ordered a caramel milk tea. There’s so many different kinds of tea available, and also some small snacks like cake (I think?) and cookies.

Even the cup is so pretty..

I spent a long time just studying and enjoying my tea, listening to the very quiet instrumental music playing throughout the cafe.



There’s a whole wall lined with different kinds of books that you’re free to get up and borrow. Most of them are in Japanese, but there are some interesting photo books as well! I also found a list that they made of their most recommended books, which I’m sure could be helpful to some.

I was there for about 2.5hr, and the whole time I was so incredibly peaceful and relaxed. I realized how important it is to really just have a me day, especially since I had been stressed with school and such. I was able to go somewhere new, discover a great cafe, and be in a really good mood and it didn’t even cost much.

Take care of yourselves, and treat yourself out once in a while!

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Appreciating Fall on Campus

As I mentioned before, school, work, etc has kept me so busy that I haven’t really had a chance to go out much. That left me to just do my best to at least take the time to appreciate the beautiful autumn vibes on campus!

This road is usually pretty packed with students going to and from classes, but this morning my train happened to be quite late that I ended up on campus about fifteen minutes after classes had started. Students were scarce, and I actually stopped, in awe of how beautiful and bright the trees looked. (These iPhone quality photo doesn’t do it justice.)

The garden at our school also had some warm fall leaves that I couldn’t get enough of.

At our school festival, my friend and I went to a kimono-wearing circle and they allowed us to choose any kimono we’d like to wear, kindly helped us put it on, and let us roam around campus with it for free.

When in a kimono, wagashi is a must!

It was a really great experience, and luckily there was a circle selling dango so of course, we had to buy some. I got mine with red bean paste (to match my kimono?)!

I think our campus looks the most aesthetically pleasing during this time of year, haha. Almost makes me not mind going to school in the cold weather. Emphasis on almost.

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Nighttime Autumn Leaves at Rikugien Park

It’s been a while since my last summer traveling posts (and I haven’t even touched on Singapore and Korea.. those shall come later on!), and time has flown by and it’s already the end of fall. Life has been busy that I was afraid I’d miss the chance to capture the beauty of autumn in Japan. Luckily, I found some time in the evening after class to go to Rikugien Park, just a few minutes walk from Komagome Station, which is famous for its lit up trees.

The entrance fee is 300 yen, and you’re free to walk around the park to take all the photos you’d like.

Along the route, there was a truck set up selling yaki dango, roasted rice cakes. We got the soy sauce flavor, and each one was 310 yen.

Perfect for a chilly night! 

The way the leaves fell onto the water, it reminded me of the cherry blossoms.

It was my first time seeing the leaves at night (I didn’t even know it was a thing!), and it was definitely worth it. All the trees were so beautiful, that my friend had even said, “It’s so sad that before light, no one knew how pretty and different these look at night.” Yes, the invention of light is definitely appreciated in times like these, haha.

Another reason to appreciate Japan’s four seasons.

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Trip to Taiwan: Shifen (and Pingxi)

For our last full day, we decided to take a bit of a trip out to Shifen and Pingxi, which are both known for their lanterns. We arrived at Shifen first (they’re both on the same line), and I just loved the view from the platform.


It was an amazing clear day, and you could actually cross on the tracks itself to the small street lined with shops on the other side. Turns out, anyone can go on the tracks as long as the train isn’t approaching.


There are plenty of small souvenir shops and places to eat!

Since its main tourist attraction is the lanterns, there are lots of people that will try to get you to fly off a lantern with them. We had plans to do it at Pingxi later in the day, so we just enjoyed watching everyone write their wishes and such on their lanterns and fly them off.

Gudetama and Doraemon lanterns!


Don’t worry about having to switch off with your friends or asking a stranger to take a photo for you. Usually, the worker will take your camera so that you can have the perfect photo (of all four sides of the lantern!).


We decided to rest at a small shop for snack time, since I couldn’t say no to chicken rice. I was pleasantly surprised by this generous place of not just chicken but plenty of vegetables and even a whole boiled egg. They also gave me tea and watermelon! My friends had ice cream and one of them even brought in food from outside, but they didn’t seem to mind.

There’s also a bridge near the station! Not much to do or see but good for photos when there aren’t too many people.


We actually spent a really, really long time around Shifen, so we got to walk all around the town and enjoy the peaceful scenery. I loved how even from far away, you could see the lanterns floating up into the air.

We took a walk to Shifen Waterfall, which took maybe about 10-15 minutes.

It was definitely worth the short hike(?), but it was so hot that I was sweating just from standing and taking photos.

On our way back, we passed by a small shop selling drinks and decided to stop by to cool down. It was really nice to get some shade under a tent with a chilled drink.

We were trying to get on the train to head to Pingxi around evening, but we had some trouble figuring out the train system and ended up waiting on the platform for an entire hour and twenty minutes.. The train was late, and only come about once every hour. Definitely not a highlight of our trip. (But we did manage to meet an adorable, friendly cat!) If you’re going to Shifen and Pingxi, I would definitely make sure to check the times and plan out your day well!


When we finally got to Pingxi, we were greeted by darkness. We were devastated to find out that everything had already closed for the day, and there were no more tourists or anything. We could hardly believe it since it wasn’t even that late yet, but we asked someone that was passing by, who told us that pretty much everything was over for the night. Luckily, one shop right by the train platform was still offering the lanterns, so we ended our day there. The lanterns have lots of different colors and meanings, and we decided to go with the iconic red lantern. We took our turns writing on the different sides with a paint brush, and the man helped us go out onto the railway and record as we lifted it off into the night sky.


Overall, our Taiwan trip was quite rushed and short, but memorable. I’d love to return some day!

Below is my travel video from our trip ^^

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Trip to Taiwan: Ximending, Taipei 101, Shilin Night Market

For our third day, we first headed to Ximending, a very popular shopping district for young people. It’s a lot different from the kind of shopping we did at Wufenpu, and reminded me of Shibuya or Shinjuku in Tokyo. Not only are there clothing shops, but lots of restaurants, salons, department stores, karaoke, arcades, and such.

We actually got there around 10am, and since most stores weren’t open yet, we got some milk tea!

After looking around at the shops for a while, we decided to go to a restaurant for our first proper meal that wasn’t street food! We had some delicious dim sum at a nice restaurant, and even then it was less expensive than we had thought.

In the evening, we headed to the famous Taipei 101.

Tip: If you don’t want to line up to take a picture with the LOVE sign, go on the other side and flip the photo!

We weren’t there for too long, but we did get to walk around the mall and my friends went up to the observatory (tickets required!)

For dinner, we decided to go to the Shilin Night Market which we’ve heard so much about. It’s definitely a lot different than Raohe Night Market, but both have its own charms! Shilin has a lot more shopping, and it’s a lot bigger. We even got lost trying to find the food, but we made a couple rounds around through the night. Some of the food they have was different than the other night market as well.

We enjoyed it so much and somehow ended up staying too long and catching the last train past midnight!

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Trip to Taiwan: Jiufen

Day two, first full day in Taiwan! I woke up extra early to take a peaceful morning walk around our hotel.

We bought some fresh mango juice (this became a recurring event throughout our trip.. can’t resist!) and also some buns and radish cake for breakfast and ate it at a nearby park.

Afterwards, we met up with our friend to go to Jiufen, an old mining town now well-known for being the inspiration behind the Ghibli movie Spirited Away.

We took a long bus ride all the way there. There are actually a lot of pushy men that offer to bring you there much quicker for a higher price in their cars, but we weren’t sure about its safety and weren’t comfortable with it in a foreign country, so we just went with the bus.

It’s basically full of narrow alleys and twists and turns of streets lined with shops selling food, souvenirs, and little goodies.

Douhua again!
Pig ear.

At one point, we realized that we wanted to stay until night time in order to see the tea house lit up. So from then on, we decided to just roam around the entire town, away from the bustling streets of shops and tourists, in order to kill time and enjoy the scenery.


One really odd and interesting thing that happened as we were walking was a man actually saw that we were trying to take a photo of the four of us, so he offered to help take it. He was quite friendly, and was delighted to find out that I was Japanese and started speaking to me in some Japanese that he knew. He then proceeded to tell me he had an omiyage, a gift, for me, and pulled out some photos out of his backpack. They were mostly photos of him when he was much younger in some popular spots in Taiwan. I thought he was just showing them to us, but he insisted that I take them and not in a position to refuse, I politely thanked him and accepted them. He also wanted all of us to take a photo together on my camera, so after I took a photo of all of us, he said goodbye and left. We were looking at them again later on, still confused about the whole encounter, and there was a small piece of paper with what seems to be a name and an address (covered in the photo above).

The tunnel that inspired the tunnel scene in the movie..?

The view of the grand teahouse was definitely worth the many hours we spent there. With all of the tourists pushing through each other for all of the photos and such, it really reminded me of the active creatures in the movie at the bathhouse.

It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Taiwan for a reason, and I’d definitely recommend a day trip here (especially if you’re a fan of Spirited Away!)


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Trip to Taiwan: Wu Fen Pu Shopping Market + Raohe Night Market

This summer started off with a short 4 night trip to Taiwan with two of my friends! We had the pleasure of going on Eva Air’s Hello Kitty Airplane.  Though I’m not much of a Hello Kitty fan, it was definitely a nice surprise and I really appreciate how everything (even the disposal bag) was decorated so cutely.

Since we arrived in the late afternoon, we decided to do a little shopping and have dinner at a night market. Since we all appreciate cute, cheap clothes, we headed to Songshan Station and walked just a few minutes to Wufenpu.

Wufenpu is basically a big outdoor wholesale garment outlet, with hundreds of little shops selling all sorts of clothes, accessories, and bags.

Most of the stores have lots of their items folded in boxes or bags on the floor, which you’re free to look through.
There are constantly motorcycles driving through the narrow streets, so keep an eye out as you’re shopping!

All of the items I bought were about $5-10 USD. Of course, the quality reflects the low prices, but I was pretty satisfied with all of my purchases! We spent a while there, and ended up returning a different day to do some last-minute shopping. If you’re looking for nicer clothes or brand names, this definitely isn’t the place. However, if you’re looking for some cute, affordable clothes, I would definitely recommend spending an hour or two shopping through the maze of shops!

For dinner, we walked just about five minutes from Wufenpu to the other side of the station to Raohe Night Market. Throughout our trip, we actually ate street food at night markets more often than going to actual restaurants haha.

It’s basically two narrow long rows full of delicious street food and little shops.

I loved seeing all of the food being made right in front of you, and while I wish I had a hole for a stomach so that I could eat everything they had, we did our best to choose a few that we thought looked best.


Beef noodles and deer meat rice.
Fried dumplings.
Fried dumplings.
Kimchi pork coffin toast.
Kimchi pork coffin toast.
Douhua (豆花) with red bean, boba, and taro.

Everything was so delicious and of course, cheap!

We also went to Shilin Night Market, another very popular spot, but we preferred Raohe and went a second time on our last night. Compared to Shilin which had a lot of shopping, we felt that Raohe might have had more food, and it was all in a more concentrated space. (Both were really fun though, so do try to go to multiple if you have the chance!)

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Wearing Yukatas at Koedo Kawagoe and Yono Summer Festival

It’s summer! (However, as I write this, I’m huddled up in my dark kitchen because it’s super cloudy outside..) Summer in Japan means fireworks, festivals, and yukatas. I absolutely love wearing yukatas (summer kimonos), and this year I decided to get a new one.

My yukata from 1-2 years ago (left).

My friends from America actually happened to be visiting, so we decided to buy yukatas for them so that we could all wear them and find an omatsuri. We also took a trip to Koedo Kawagoe, a small town in Saitama retaining the culture and atmosphere of the Edo era in Japan. There are plenty of old storehouse merchant houses and some great authentic Japanese cuisine restaurants.





The main street can get a little crowded, but it definitely wasn’t unbearable or filled with just tourists. There are plenty of little side streets to explore as well.

After walking around for a bit, we found an udon restaurant to go to for lunch. It was actually already about 2-3pm, so some of the restaurants were closed!

Delicious udon with braised pork.

We got really full after a great lunch, but as they say, betsu bara (separate stomach) for dessert! Some of my friends decided to sip on some roasted green tea, while I opted for some cold ice cream.


One popular street in Koedo Kawagoe is Kashiya Yokocho, or “penny candy alley.” It’s basically a small road with lots of shops selling traditional, nostalgic candy from the past. Unfortunately, again, we were a little late and most of the shops were closed for the day.



When it was evening, I started searching for a festival to go to. I wanted to go to one with food stalls, so we decided to hop on a train to Yonohonmachi (与野本町) to go to the Yono Summer Festival!

Athough there were definitely lots of people, rather than a famous festival where it’s so crowded that everyone is pushing through the crowd, it felt more as if just the neighborhood kids and families came to enjoy a nearby festival. There were a lot of food stalls as I had hoped, including yakisoba, takoyaki, shaved ice, baby castella, okonomiyaki,  and more.

The stalls all closed around 9, so we all started to head home around then (but of course, not without taking some yukata photos first!)

Wearing a yukata really makes you feel like it’s summer. I’ve still got a week of finals left, but I’m looking forward to wearing it a few more times this year!



Koedo Kawagoe

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Fancy Ice Cream Cakes in Omotesando

Recently I feel like I’ve been going to Omotesando every week, for one reason or another. It’s a really nice place to go for a less crowded, slightly classier feeling compared to Harajuku. I personally like the various cafes there, and one that I’ve found recently is an ice cream cake cafe called Glaciel. When I think of ice cream cake, I imagine a huge rectangular cake with some cartoon character drawn with frosting at a child’s birthday party. Glaciel, on the other hand, has some of the prettiest ice cream cakes I’ve ever seen.

Downstairs, they have a shop where you can order cake to take home and also try their gelato.

Outdoor sitting area.

The two times I’ve gone, I went to the sitting area upstairs. They have a variety of cakes, but the menu that you can order from changes every day. They put an orange sticker on the ones available for that day, and those are your options. I wish I could have ordered some of the ones that weren’t available that day, but I guess that’s their tactic to bring you back haha ^^; worked on me..

They have an option to order two different pieces of cake for ¥1,200. Although it may be a but pricey, I think it’s worth it for some  yummy ice cream cake (which I’ve never seen elsewhere in Tokyo) and of course, the photos. Not only are these delicious, but the designs are amazing. You can see the whole cake in a bigger size downstairs at the shop showcase.
I first ordered the “Mango Passion,” which is a tart with frozen mango and passion fruit on coconut ice cream. I’ve been super into mango recently, so this was a really refreshing summer treat. The second piece I chose was the “Caramel Chocolat”, which as you can tell by its name, is a caramel chocolate cake on a shortbread crust with Hokkaido butter. There was also vanilla ice cream concealed in the center of the cake!

The second time I went, I decided to order the Petal de Rouge, which is a gorgeous combination of tayberry and earl gray, and it had a wonderful rose aroma.  I also chose the classic tiramisu, but of course, in ice cream cake form.

And both times that I went, my friends ordered the Herrison, which is actually one of the individual cakes.

It’s an adorable chocolate hedgehog cake, made up of Madagascar vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, chocolate sorbet, and almond-chocolate dough.

It’s definitely already become one of my favorite nearby cafes to go to, tucked into a small street in Omotesando. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is nice. I’m looking forward to trying the other cakes on my future trips! (Aiming for that lego cake..)




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Saying farewell to hydrangea season

One thing I love about Japan are the flowers. I’ve never really paid much attention to them before, but here, the flowers are blooming everywhere according to the season and I find myself being late to class sometimes because I have to stop and take some photos.

I loved the cherry blossoms in spring, and it was so sad to see all the pink around the city slowly diminishing. But not too long after, the hydrangeas started popping up everywhere. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t even notice then. One day I wouldn’t even think about them, and the next they’re suddenly in full bloom all over the city. I don’t know what kind of magic that is (or if I’m just not paying enough attention to my surroundings..) but I’m not complaining!

Blue hydrangeas at a shrine near my school.

But the sad thing about it is, as quickly as they came, they’re beginning to disappear. But this is a sadder, slower process. I can see my favorite hydrangeas around the neighborhood fading in color and quantity. Even the way that these flowers die is pretty. They used to be so vibrant, but now they’re much lighter but maintaining its shape.

I am actually pretty sad about not being able to see them for a while, but on the bright side, I’ve started seeing some sunflowers popping up on my way to school in the morning! Looking forward to some beautiful sunflowers!

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