Let's Go to Ikebukuro!
Good food in Ikebukuro.
Forever eighteen! I will always be an otome! Otome means young girl in Japanese. (I'm actually around thirty...)
Yep, it's me! Food coordinator Lina Kawase, aka Linasuke.
By the way, have you heard of the Ikebukuro Otome Map 2014, which was put together by Tokyo's Toshima City?
This fun pedestrian map was created by the culture and tourism department of the local Toshima government, and lists otome-related shops in Ikebukuro. (Toshima is a ward or "city" within the Tokyo Metropolis.) The otome subculture focuses on romantic anime, manga and video games for young women.
There are so many shops specializing in young women's subculture that Ikebukuro is often referred to as "Akihabara for girls."
Let's take the map with us and try out some of these otome stores in Ikebukuro!
Swallowtail--Feel like a princess!
A long time ago, I remember going to a fortune-teller on the backstreets of Ueno. He told me that in a previous life, in around the Meiji era (turn of the 20th century), I used to be an upper class lady!
I am originally from the remote countryside in a remote prefecture. . .but who knows? Anything's possible.
In this butler tea room, memories of my splendid previous life might come back to me. This is how I found myself heading to Swallowtail, believing that I would be reunited with my old butler.
At the bottom of the stairs leading to the tea room, two sweet-looking butlers welcome me.
With warm smiles, they greet me. "Welcome back home, milady."
Yes... I feel at home here. Is this where I truly belong? Such a peaceful tea room.
The butlers at my beck and call today are Iori-san (right) and Shina-san (left).
Their gestures, manners, tone of voice. . .everything about them is graceful...as expected from my butlers...!
I sit up straight at once!!
The interior is filled with gorgeous chandeliers and furniture, lending this restaurant a sense of prestige.
I order an "Anna Maria," which is suggested to me by Iori-san.
The bottom tray consists of an assortment of three sandwiches.
Above, a scone with strawberry comfiture and clotted cream.
The top tray holds today's dessert plate.
I am told that all the food here is prepared by their exclusive chef.
The crispy scone goes perfectly with the elegant flavor of tea.
Today's tea is an original blend by Iori-san, called "Butterfly Mix." "It is palatable even for those ladies who don't usually drink tea," explains Iori-san.
As I take a sip, the delicate flavor of the tea leaves spreads on my tongue, but leaves no bitter aftertaste. Excellent choice, as expected from my butler!
To become butlers, apparently they had to undergo a long and difficult training process. This explains their spirit of good service and hospitality. I feel like I am in a five-star hotel!
At Swallowtail, they organize seasonal events as well.
There is also an opera troupe, consisting exclusively of butlers of course, that regularly holds concerts. Everything from training to performing is done by butlers.>
They really are multi-talented... I don't hold a candle to them.
The next concert will be on September 15. If this sounds like your thing, make sure you go and see them!
Couples, families, young or old, everyone can come and enjoy a wonderful time at Swallowtail. If you are in Ikebukuro and want to feel like a princess, make sure to stop by here! (By reservation only)
Word of warning though, you may not want to go back to the real world...
Cat Cafe Nekorobi--Fluffy cats for a soothing old time
Swamped with work in this cruel and unforgiving society, people need to find time to relax. This is why I always wanted to come to this cat café. This one is spacious and clean.
If you get there just after it opens, you can watch the cats have breakfast! Be sure to make it in time!
Awww... all this fluffiness... Comforting fluffiness...
I grab a toy and try to make friends with some of the cats, but for some reason they all avoid me.
Channeling me some Nausicaa, I change strategies and decide to gently approach one of the cats. Then, at last! I manage to hit it off with one!
Fluffy wonderland... Awww... So soothing...
I feel like my maternal instincts have awakened. The mother in me wants to caress and protect all these cuties.
The first cat that lets me pet him is called Haruki. Same name as my first love...
Next is Mocchi, a cat that has totally lost its wild nature.
Pet him as much as you want!
Mocchi is looking at himself for the first time on my iPhone camera.
"Meow. Who's that good-looking cat?"
"Meow. . .hm? Is this me?!"
What is he thinking. . .? His facial expression doesn't say anything....
Isn't it difficult to take pics of cats moving around?
If you want photos of the cats, this café organizes special lessons to learn how to shoot the perfect cat snap! This café seems to be holding all kinds of cat-centered events.
I had so much fun in here that I bought the café's original stickers with all the cats they have.
These heart-warming stickers will be comforting me even after I leave the café.
If the busy city life is taking its toll on you, be sure to go to this café and get a nice dose of fluffy affection!
Ikebukuro Danshi BL Gakuen
Ahem... Have you heard of BL? It stands for Boy's Love. You know, boys loving each other. I heard that, for all the girls deeply into this genre, there is the holy land of BL in Ikebukuro.
This is a bar where everything is about BL. The interior looks like a school.
Forget how old you are when you enter this place, because everyone is a high-schooler in their freshman year here! Our gentle waiter, sophomore student Minato Aomori, takes us around the "school," then shows us to our table. He suggests we try the omuraisu (omelet rice), which we gladly order.
He tells us that the cook will make a cute drawing with ketchup, too...<3
Having charming boys cook for us on a lazy day off, such a treat!
"Woooow, sooo cute!!"
This omelet is named "Fluffy and Creamy Omelet for Ladies in Need." Well... I don't know what they mean, but let's try it!
True to their word, the egg is indeed very fluffy on the outside and creamy inside.
Next....the most curious item on the menu: "Fantasy Matching Pocky."
What is this?! Is this really what I think it is?
Oh yes. You designate two boys from among the staff to play the Pocky game, in a situation of your choice. (Pocky game: Like the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp, but with Pocky)
In this context the whipped cream looks somewhat indecent.
We choose the gentle Minato and Yuto, the cook with a cute smile who prepared our omuraisu.
Next, I need to think of a situation for the Pocky game.
"Okay... let's say that Minato is Oda Nobunaga, the historic ruler of medieval Japan, and Yuto is his right-hand vassal, Mori Ranmaru. This is the Honno-ji Incident, where Oda Nobunaga gets assassinated. Mori Ranmaru runs to the dying Oda Nobunaga, carrying with him the Pocky of hope that will save the life of his master. How's that? Isn't it exciting?"
...Something tells me they've never had anyone make such a weird request before.
Apparently too confused to say anything, Minato and Yuto look at each other.
But, after a short moment of hesitation, they gladly accept to do the Pocky game using my absurd scenario!
I can't show you the whole thing, but here they go....
Watching them from so close...this is quite graphic! I think I just developed a new fetish.
My heart kind of squeed a bit...
Just watch me getting all excited about this.
Women are not the only customers here! Men are welcome as well.
This was my first BL experience, but thanks to my two kind waiters, it was a positively memorable experience.
Author: Rinasuke (りな助)
From Fukuoka prefecture, born on May 8th, 1988
Rinasuke organizes more than 100 culinary events every year. She also gathers and provides information about cuisine classes, workshops and community events. She specializes in beauty-related cuisine.