Tag Archives: ikebukuro

Souvenirs from Asia: Haikyu!! Karasuno Revival musical DVD and more!

When my husband and I went to the Haikyu!! Karasuno Revival musical last November, we signed up for email updates from the production company. Thanks to Google translate, we’ve learned from these periodic messages that the third Haikyu!! musical, The Winner and the Loser, toured Japan last spring; a special Haikyu!! exhibition took place at Tokyo Dome; and their fourth musical, The Summer Evolution, is coming out this fall. Then just before my husband’s most recent business trip, we learned that Jump Shop stores would be selling Haikyu!! musical goods for a limited time.

My husband’s itinerary was all China, so we chalked it up as just another event we couldn’t take advantage of. However, due to some unexpected hiccups during his trip, his boss redirected him to Nagoya for the last bit of his trip.

Translation: he wound up with one full day to shop in Japan.

DVD for the second Haikyu!! musical

And shop he did. Not only did he find the musical goods at Nagoya Jump Shop, but the store, in anticipation of an influx of Haikyu!! fans, also had their own Haikyu!! goods in force. In addition, my husband has learned from previous trips that there’s no guarantee that a character good will be around the next time you visit, even if it’s just a week later. So if he sees something he likes, he gets it. Thus, he came home with quite a haul.

So to start, we have the Hyper Projection Engeki Haikyu!! Karasuno Revival DVD. This is the musical that we saw last fall. Yes, we liked it so much we want to watch it again and again. No, there are no English subtitles. Yes, the DVD requires a Japan region player, but that’s okay because we got one when we bought the DVD for the first Haikyu!! musical.

Jersey towels!

Next we have jersey mini-towels. As those who’ve visited Japan know, most Japanese restrooms don’t provide paper towels, so people carry handkerchiefs or small towels for drying their hands. Now fans can show their team spirit every time they head to the sink. Jump Shop had a towel for every Karasuno member, and because Daichi and Hinata are my favorites, my husband brought back 1 and 10.

Jump Shop also had jersey mugs for the whole team. My husband picked up a Hinata mug along with a traditional-style tea mug featuring most of the Karasuno team and several rival players. A nice detail of the jersey mug is that the inside of the mug has a manga-style picture of Hinata.

Chibi character tea mug and jersey mug

 

I think it reads,”Mou ippai!”(“One more cup!”)

Not to leave the Karasuno captain behind, my husband also picked up a Daichi clip and stamp. However, these items and the Haikyu!! pen alongside them are actually not from the Jump Shop but a random Ikebukoro shop.

Haikyu!! stamp, clip, and pen. The clip splits Daichi in half.

Also from another store (Ikebukoro Animate) is one of the best items of the bunch. When we visited last November, this team banner was part of a store display, but it wasn’t actually available for sale. This time it was, so now we get to show our support for our favorite volleyball team. Go crows!

FLY!!!

Next up: Haikyu!! themed snacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Souvenirs from Asia: Haikyu!! Season 3 Haul!

My husband boasts that he can now get to the Animate store in Nagoya, Osaka, Ikebukoro, and Akihabara without the help of directions. This says a lot about how he likes to spend his free time on business trips. However, in addition to the fact that he is an otaku, he like to make his rounds with these stores because each location actually carries different stock. So between four Animate stores and the Jump store in Nagoya along with the start of Haikyu!! Season Three, he returned with quite a haul of Haikyu!! goods.

Seijoh chibi charm (?) and padded pen case

Seijoh chibi charm (?) and padded pen case

 

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Sports towels with school spirit!

Kenma on panda???

Kenma on panda???

Apparently, Karasuno’s rival schools have quite following, judging from their representative goods. According to my husband, there was also a Karasuno sports towel, but the design wasn’t nearly as slick as Seijoh’s and Nekoma’s so he only wound up buying the ones for the rival teams.

Not to say that Karasuno got outclassed by its rivals in all categories. During my husband’s last trip, he brought back Hinata and Kageyama phone charms. Apparently, the collection now includes Nekoma’s setter. However, I don’t know what panda bears have to do with Tokyo, volleyball, or Nekoma High School, and Kenma just looks awkward sitting on it.

A fan for ace Bokuto and chibi themed erasers

A fan for ace Bokuto and chibi themed erasers

Fits in the medicine cabinet!

Fits in the medicine cabinet!

While most of his purchases, like the chibi themed erasers, were “what-you-see-is-what-you-get,” we did get a bit of a surprise with one. My husband was trying to stick with practical items, ergo the simple plastic cup (something I’ve been needing for the bathroom) and towels. The eyeglass case also fell into that category. However, despite being a Jump store item, the proportions of the chibi crow on the are kind of off, enough to make it look like a counterfeit product. However, when I opened the case, I was pleasantly surprised by what is now my new favorite eyeglass wipe. And something that makes it extra special is that it’s a rare item that includes all twelve members of the Karasuno team and their support staff.

Eyeglass case and wipe

Eyeglass case and wipe

According to my husband, more Haikyu!! goods should be available as we get deeper into the anime season. However, I’ve got more than enough to keep me happy as Karasuno enters the finals against Shiratorizawa.

Go crows!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Souvenirs from Asia: Swallowtail Butler Cafe revisited!

My husband was in Japan on business recently and, while there, he revisited a highlight from our 2012 Japan pop tour: Swallowtail Butler Cafe!

Now his actual intention was not to visit Swallowtail by himself. As I’ve mentioned to a few inquirers, a single lady, a group of ladies, or a lady with a gentleman date would definitely fit in with the Swallowtail clientele. A single gentleman, not so much. (And I’m not sure they’d know what to do if they got a group of salarymen.) However, he was in Ikebukoro in search of an Attack on Titan costume for a friend of ours and passed Swallowtail’s corner on the way to Cospa. This is what he saw there.

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img_2607The Swallowtail franchise has expanded! Now on the corner opposite Japan’s premier butler cafe is a gift shop and patisserie. And quite popular from the looks of it. FYI, the line on one side is to get tickets and the line on the other side is to enter the patisserie after purchasing a ticket. As much as my husband wanted to stay and try the owl themed treats, the line was literally out the door.

So he wasn’t able to see if the patisserie servers were attired as they were in the butler cafe. ( For more details and information about the butler cafe, read my 2012 post here). However, judging from the crowd outside, Patisserie Swallowtail is a more casual establishment that appeals to the same demographic: single ladies, female groups, and couples on dates. And with its sidewalk level signs and large red awning, Swallowtail corner is now a lot more easy to locate.

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So Patisserie Swallowtail is now on our list of places to visit together. In the meantime, I get to enjoy a souvenir my husband bought at the gift shop: cute pastries in an oh-so-elegant box. Just to sort of thing you’d expect from the Swallowtail franchise.

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A Tour of Japanese Pop Culture, Part 4: Swallowtail Butler Café (and How to Get There)

Two days after our high energy maid café visit, we had a completely different experience at Otome Road’s Swallowtail Butler Café!

Otome Road is a street in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro (anime fans will recognize the district as the setting for Durara!) with businesses targeted toward female anime/manga enthusiasts. Specifically yaoi/BL fangirls and fujoshi. (If you’re unfamiliar with the terms yaoi, BL, and fujoshi, erm… go to Wikipedia.)

But there’s more to Otome Road than dojinshi. It also caters to anime cosplayers and Lolita fashion enthusiasts with shops such as K-Books Cosplay-kan. But once a girl’s dressed in high style, she needs a place to strut her stuff. And where better to live out princess fantasies than at Swallowtail, Japan’s legendary butler café!

The Swallowtail Experience

Seriously, Swallowtail looks like a place you could take the Queen. It resembles a Victorian-era tearoom and offers an array of fine teas, scones and pastries, and light entrées. It has a strict no photography policy (NO pictures. AT ALL.) so I can’t show any of the interior, but take my word, it’s an absolute delight. The furnishings and chandeliers sparkle, the china is exquisite, the drapes are elegant, and there’s a wealth of nice touches from the teapot cozies to the embroidered swallowtail butterflies on the butlers’ livery. As for the patrons, they looked like they’d just come from William and Kate’s wedding. Hats, frills, gloves, matching purses – our fellow café guests were as much a part of the Swallowtail aura as the butlers.

Suffice to say, my husband and I and the two Minnesotan sisters from our group who also got 4:55 pm reservations felt woefully underdressed. The only information we had prior to showing up was that Swallowtail was Tokyo’s best butler café and that we needed reservations. We hadn’t realized it would be so highbrow. T-shirts and jeans were fine for the maid café, but our casual garb pretty much screamed foreign tourist at Swallowtail.

Still, the staff was extremely gracious. I don’t know how the regulars felt about us intruding on their velvet and gilt turf, but the butlers did not hesitate to give us the royal treatment. That, though, took some getting used to. Swallowtail doesn’t offer dancing maids or karaoke songs, but it does provide a refined air and attention. Lots of it.

Each party gets its own butler, and you ring a bell at your table to summon him. Almost everyone orders tea, and your butler will pair your drink with a cup from Swallowtail’s china collection. As he serves, he will explain the cup’s history and origins and the reason he selected it. My husband got a Japanese cup to go with his Japanese tea, and I got one with painted flowers to match the floral fragrance of mine. When you need a refill, you’re to ring the bell and the nearest butler will pour for you. We didn’t realize that at first, and the sisters’ butler got really embarrassed and flustered when one of them began pouring her own tea!

Yes, they ARE determined to wait on you hand and foot. If you go to the restroom, they escort you there (and back!) and carry your purse for you. And whenever they take their leave, they formally excuse themselves and bow (LOTS and LOTS of bowing).

Our tour’s pamphlet described Swallowtail as “pretty boys doting on your every need,” but that’s not quite accurate. They DO dote on your every need, but with the exception of one young butler who looked like a glam rock musician in tails, the age of the staff ranged from mid-20s to late 30s. Our butler seemed to be around 30, and the head butler appeared to be in his 50s. They are good-looking though and make a distinguished group in their ties and tails.

As for the clientele, the only male patrons were my husband and one other fellow on a date. He was also a first-timer, his date seemed like a regular. Everyone else was female, alone or in small groups, in their 20s or 30s, and the majority dressed in Lolita outfits. At least, that was the Friday evening crowd. Three Canadians from our group had a reservation later that night and told us the place was filled with intimidating older ladies (late 30s to 50s?) dressed to the teeth. Apparently, wanting to be treated like royalty isn’t limited to the younger set.

Important information for visiting swallowtail

So if you’ve decided you must experience Otome Road’s classiest establishment for yourself, here are some key things to keep in mind. (For a 2016 update to the Swallowtail experience, click here.)

1. You MUST have a reservation. Reservations can be made on their website. Because it is in Japanese, you may have to enlist the help of someone who knows the language.

Another way to make a reservation is in person. While online reservations have to be made a couple days in advance, Swallowtail does have limited “drop-in” reservations (that’s how the Minnesota sisters, my husband and I got in). You simply drop by the cafe and ask the host on duty if there are reservations remaining for the day. We handled this by bringing a sheet that said, “Do you have reservations available?”in Japanese to show to the host. He responded by writing down the available times for us.

2. Parties are limited to small groups. Our tour guide told us three was the max, but I did see a party of four at one table. At any rate, Swallowtail definitely could not have accommodated the 15+ party that we had at Maidreamin.

Stairs to Swallowtail

3. Allot ample time to find the café BECAUSE IT’S EASY TO MISS! Swallowtail is located BELOW ground level and has a very subdued exterior. Of the four parties from our tour group that wanted to go, ALL had difficulty locating it, and one group even missed their appointment because they couldn’t find it in time. (The butlers did send them off with scones though.) My husband and I actually circled the block twice, bought a drink at the Family Mart on the ground level, and went upstairs to the K-Books store above the café before we finally noticed the stairs leading to the basement level. While the Swallowtail placard is refined and elegant, it gets completely obscured by the brightly lit Family Mart and K-Books signs.

Swallowtail’s Location.
You can barely make out its sign where the blue Christmas lights are.

So if you’re headed to Swallowtail, what you really want to keep an eye out for is this corner where K-Books and a Family Mart are located. Find this building and then look for the stairs leading down.

Reservation Slots

4. Appointments are for a SET timeframe. As mentioned above, if you’re overly late, you lose your appointment. But there’s no dawdling either. Once your hour and twenty minutes are up, it’s time to go. And if you’re slow about it, the butlers will very politely but very firmly usher you out. This is Japan, after all, and they’re all about punctuality.

5. And of course, go in your best clothes. (So you don’t end up like us!)

Keep these things in mind, and you’ll have an unforgettable time at Japan’s premier butler café!