Ophelia Ding

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Hello, Tokyo!

Ohayo gozaimasu (good morning) all the way from Tokyo, Japan! As per usual, apologies for the lack of updates — my Evernote is filled with drafts of blog posts that have virtually developed a light coat of dust. So be forewarned: a bunch of #tbt blog posts are coming (is that a thing, blog world?) — from visiting the Glass House in Connecticut to summer adventures in Northern Europe. 

Anyhow, what better way to start my senior year (!) of college than with one last adventure studying abroad in Japan? I feel so lucky to be living in one of the most futuristic, colorful and charming places in the world. From the high-tech conveyor belt sushi restaurants of Tokyo, to the gorgeous Japanese countryside, to the art islands in Southern Japan — I'm hoping to spend the next four months getting to know this beautiful country as best I can.

Although our international student orientations have been a little non-stop, a couple of my fellow exchange students and I used one of our (rare) free days to explore Tokyo! First up, Shibuya, one of the busiest districts in all of Tokyo:

I think entering Shibuya was the first instance of me really feeling like: Wow. I’m in Tokyo now. It was comparable to going to NYC and seeing Times Square for the first time. After we got off the train, we headed straight for the famous Shibuya Crossing ("The Scramble"), which has got to be the busiest intersection in the world! We actually decided to visit the Scramble twice — once in the daytime and once at night, and I gotta say, being at the Scramble at night was magical. We headed over to the Starbucks across the street and snagged a window seat — which resulted in some incredible time lapses (video below a product of my Sony A6):

We also went to a “secret” location to shoot Shibuya Crossing from the 25th story of Shibuya Excel Hotel. Unfortunately, with the hotel's increased security, we managed to snag only a couple shots (like the one pictured in the Shibuya blog header) before we got kicked out (oops). We’ll have to go back for dessert and drinks at the restaurant to get our photographs. ;)

After visiting the hotel, we headed back to Shibuya Station, the location of the famous Tokyu Food Show. To state the obvious, the food here in Tokyo is beyond incredible. Train stations here in Japan (similar to Taiwan) are awash with the most delicious, reasonably priced and mouthwateringly satisfying food. We ended up eating on the 9th floor of Shibuya Station — where I was conveniently so hungry I just inhaled my udon and had to take pictures of the outside display afterwards, ha! #noshame. ;) 

After lunch, we stopped by About Life Coffee Brewers for a little afternoon pick-me-up. Isn’t this shop just about the most adorable little coffee store one could ever see? Their soy latte was delicious and very much needed — I was definitely missing my coffee fix (when are you coming to Japan, Philz Coffee?)

That mustache, though!

The best setup!

After refueling, we walked (in the sweltering heat, not our best call) to Harajuku — a neighboring district in Tokyo that is famous for its edgy shopping district and fashion boutiques:

Harajuku is sensory overload — complete with bright colors, crepe shops that smell crazy good, and vendors holding big neon signs and trying to convince you to visit their store. Walking down one of the main shopping streets, Takeshita-dori, was as much a feast for the eyes as it was a burden to my wallet (I left with this gorgeous Tokyo graphic tee! I'm telling ya, type on a tee is my Achilles heel). Everyone passing by could have been on a NYFW runway! 

I also splurged on this crazy rainbow cotton candy at Totti Candy Factory. It was three times the size of my head, and so much fun to watch being made! Look at the size of that thing!

We happened to visit Harajuku on Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, which meant I came home with a free Karl Lagerfeld fan (yep, a Karl Lagerfeld fan). All participating stores were giving out free items — from champagne to perfume samples.

The drop dead gorgeous view from the Owl Cafe!

Then, the absolute highlight of my day! We lucked out and snagged a same-day reservation at the Owl Cafe, where we spent a good hour playing with the most beautiful owls. I actually loved waiting for the owl experience in the cafe adjacent to the owl play space — the hilarious safety video featured employees dressed as owls to tell us the do’s and dont’s, and we learned about the owls we’d be playing with — from Bob to Wasabi! We also were served green tea in little owl mugs, and received small glass owl trinkets to take home to commemorate our owl experience. 

I couldn't stop laughing at the human owl!

The cutest names for the cutest owls!

When our names were called, we were led into the owl play space, and I'm not gonna lie — I was a little frightened of the larger owls. When they flapped their wings, I backed away into the corner while my friends so graciously took the lead on showing me how sweet the owls were. I finally worked up the courage to hold the cute little Harry Potter owls — aren’t they adorable!? Playing with sweet Canon was the perfect way to end our crazy day. 

Had to add in this hilarious (and accurate) shot of me in the owl playspace. 

Until next time, Tokyo! 

Photo Credit: Jun Ooi