While K-beauty is rocking all over the world, J-beauty has quietly been doing business as usual, providing efficient products to the demanding, hard-to-impress Japanese market. Whereas K-beauty is often seen as very trend-driven, with a strong appeal to younger people, J-beauty is more about high quality and discreet luxury that speak to women in their 30s and 40s.
When I am in Japan, I can eat sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and maybe have a bowl of ramen and some mochi for dessert, but I am quite certain that this is not what a typical Japanese diet looks like. So what do Japanese people eat? I asked my Japanese friend Rieko to tell me about what she would normally eat on a weekday:
Last time I was in Tokyo, I stayed at Akiba Bay Hotel, which is a new capsule hotel, just a short walk from Akihabara Station. You are not allowed to take photos inside the hotel, but the layout was similar to the capsule hotel I stayed at last year. Akiba Bay Hotel is women only, and everything was very pastel-colored and cute.
Kakigori, Japanese shaved ice, is one of the most refreshing treats you can get yourself in the summer. The “flakes” are much lighter than the shaved ice in Denmark, almost like a cup full of snow, and the fluffy texture makes it almost impossible to eat without a spoon.
Back in 2003 I visited Japan for the first time. I was there with Rikke, and in less than one week we managed to party hard in Tokyo, sleep through an earthquake and fly off to Sapporo to meet my friend Mari before heading back to Denmark again. This was my first hectic introduction to Japan, and it was love at first sight.
In a dynamic city like Tokyo, things change quickly, and what’s popular today is often forgotten tomorrow. Calbee is one of the exceptions, which has managed to stay relevant for decades, and the brand’s potato-based snacks never seem to go out of style.
Crepes have been all the rage for quite a while, but these days, the absolute must-eat in Tokyo is the super fluffy soufflé pancakes, and one of the places to get them is at Burn Side St Cafe. So even though it was raining and there was a long line outside, this was where I went, after I was done browsing the shops in Harajuku. I think I waited for almost an hour to get a table. Not sure about the exact waiting time, but it was long enough for me to consider leaving, because I hate waiting, even if it’s for pancakes.
Aoyama Flower Market is a chain of flower shops, and the original store nearby Omotesando station also hosts an in-house café. There’s no doubt that combining a cafe and a flower shop has been a brilliant idea, and Aoyama Flower Market Tea House is outrageously popular among both tourists and locals in Tokyo.
This morning, Poul and I jumped on the busy Yamanote line to Shibuya. Our plan was to visit the cat cafe Hapi Neko, but it was easier said than done, as Hapi Neko was tucked away on the 3rd floor in a building we couldn’t find, and all the signs were in Japanese.Just when we were about to give up, we finally saw a sign that had an image of a cat and some paw prints on it and knew, that we had finally come to the right place.
Purikura are the super-cute photo booths you’ll find in most gaming arcades throughout Tokyo. They come with advanced, beauty-enhancing functions, which will twist your facial features to fit the Japanese perception of beauty: Fair skin, big eyes and a tiny nose. Forgot to put on make-up? Didn’t wash your hair? Don’t worry, the purikura will take digitally care of that.
Being a solo traveler in Tokyo is easy. It’s a very safe city and there are lots of things you can do on your own. Through the week, I had been busy exploring the city, and after my ramen dinners, I usually just passed out in my capsule.
Are you a gadget freak? Then welcome to gadget freak paradise! The 8-storey Yodobashi flagship store right next to Akihabara station has everything you could ever dream of and beyond. Hello Kitty earphones, pastel colored smartphones and computer accessories so sweet they may cause cavities.
Jumble Store is a Japanese second-hand chain with several branches spread throughout the city. Last season’s dresses and shirts from international designers occupies the shelves alongside one-of-a-kind items from smaller Japanese brands, and generally, the prices are very reasonable.
On the 52nd floor in the elegant Park Hyatt hotel, high above Tokyo’s bustling streets, is New York Bar. This is the place to sip Bellinis and listen to live jazz music while taking in beautiful views of the city.
I don’t know how long Motown has been around, but it seems like forever! Located one stair up in an anonymous-looking building on the busy street Gaien-higashi-dōri, Motown 1 is one of the only places in Roppongi, which is always crowded in the weekends.
It would be a shame to visit Tokyo without visiting a karaoke bar, and Karaoke Kan is an obvious choice, if you are in Roppongi as the Roopongi branch is smack in the middle of the main street. You pay around 3000 JPY per person for an hour including drinks, which make Karaoke Kan a perfect place to start a night out in the party district Roppongi.
Ginza Lion is a chain of beer halls run by Sapporo Brewery, and one of the most popular branches is located in the heart of Ginza. Dating back to 1934, this branch is also the oldest beer hall in Japan, and since the opening, the beer hall has made sure that busy businessmen and other thirsty Japanese could enjoy a cold draft beer for lunch or after work.
Numazuko is a kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi chain known for their particularly fresh and tasty seafood, and compared to the other kaiten sushi places I’ve been to, there’s no doubt that Numazuko is among the very best. There’s a steady stream of tempting sushi pieces on the belt at all times, but if you want something else than what’s rolling by, you just ask one of the chefs to make it for you.
Midori Sushi is one of my favorites for good, affordable sushi in Tokyo. The chain has several outlets throughout the city, but the most popular branches are the one in Ginza and the one in Shibuya featured here.
I love spicy miso ramen, and Kikanbo in Kanda serves some of the best. The Kikanbo ramen restaurant has recently moved from the location on the corner to a place, a little further down the road. The corner spot is now hosting another Kikanbo restaurant, which serves tsukumen, which is noodles you dip in a thick sauce.
You choose your preferred level of spiciness ranging from non-spicy to devil spicy. I’ve previously struggled with handling regular spicy at Kikanbo, but for unknown reasons I decided to order the devil spicy ramen this time. The staff warned me that it was very spicy, and told me that I could still change my mind, but I insisted on getting the devil spicy ramen.
Of course devil spicy was way too spicy for me, and after only a couple of sips, I was sweating like a pig. I gulped down 4 glasses of water, but I was still gasping for air, and the Japanese man sitting next to me, started to look worried. I tried circumnavigating those red pepper flakes, but it was impossible, so after eating the egg, I gave up.
Kikanbo, Kajicho 2-10-9, Chioda-ku, Tokyo, Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00am-9:30pm, Sun: 11am – 4pm, nearest station: Kanda, Address in Japanese: 鍛冶町2-10-10, Chiyoda, 東京都 〒101-0044