Posted in LGBTQ in Japan

Tokyo Rainbow Pride Festa and Parade!

For the Saturday and Sunday of Golden Week, I volunteered to organize the Stonewall Japan booth. Pride events are our biggest draw in, both in terms of members as well as donations. However, I couldn’t do it all on my own. That’s where the awesome Stonewall Japan volunteers come in! We had a blast doing face paints for people, networking with other pro-LGBTQ+ organizations, and in general just talking with new people about Stonewall Japan.

For me, it involved a lot of phone calls and email responding, too. I never realized until I did this event just how much work people behind the scenes had to do. I was non-stop moving from nine in the morning until six thirty in the evening. At one point, we thought we wouldn’t have enough face paint to get through the day, so I had to run over to the DIASO and buy more. Takashita Street DAISO is crazy busy on a normal day, but with thousands of people attending the event? It took forever.

It wasn’t all work though, I had a one hour lunch break where I met up with Rebecca. We went to this place called The Taproom, which served some really awesome craft beers as well as good food. I chose the quickest thing I could think of for them to make, which was yakitori (chicken sticks).

Right after lunch was over, I was running right back to the booth to make sure volunteers managed to find their way to the booth. Unfortunately, a few people got lost, so I had to direct them as well as call people to find the picnic that was set up in Yoyogi Park.

It sounds like I’m complaining maybe, but I did enjoy it. I was just so exhausted! After having gone to Kyoto for two days, then running around Tokyo the day before, working as a volunteer on the weekend running around yet again was just hard! Don’t get me wrong though, being a part of Pride was well worth all of the stress. I liked feeling I was being a part of a good change in things socially here in Japan.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take as many pictures because of the working things. I ended up just staying near the booth until breakdown at six thirty. Immediately after that, I got in line for the best pancakes ever! If you haven’t been to Cafe Gram, you really should. They have the fluffiest pancakes you’ll ever eat.

Rebecca and I managed to get the last order of them (see photo left). In order to get these fluffy pancakes, you have to show up at certain times in order to get the pancake reservation, and then wait another hour or so before you can eat. They only make these pancake in limited batches. We got the last order of the day, how lucky is that?!

The only downside is that you’re not allowed to share orders, so Rebecca had to buy something too. She chose the apple pancakes, which were not a bad choice at all. There were also kiwis and oranges between the pancakes, which was delightfully tangy and sweet all at once.

When we finished eating breakfast for dinner, we got also the last reservation for the Harajuku Owl Cafe!

I don’t know how we got this much luck, but it was awesome! The owls were super tame, very calm, and a joy to pet. That’s right, you can pet most of them. However, one spotted owl (bottom left in the photos) would like to bite at you rather than let you touch him. And there was a tiny angry owl you could pet, but he wasn’t pleased about it so much.

However, the larger owls were totally fine with getting picked up and petted.

When our hour was over, we had to run yet again. Stonewall Japan was doing a bar crawl that night in Nichome, and I wanted to catch up with the group just to say hello. Most of my friends intended to stay out all night, but I couldn’t do that as I had to get up early for the booth and parade prep the next day. Still, I did manage to meet some new people as well as see some old faces I hadn’t seen in a long time.

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The Bar Crawl in Nichome is a lot of fun, and I really do wish I could’ve stuck around, but I was about ready to drop as it was.

The next morning, I got up early and prepped before getting on the train. I had decided months ago that I was going to do a really silly cosplay. Rainbow Brite was a staple of my childhood, and I mean a spunky girl with rainbows and magic, what’s not to like? So I got all dressed up and headed out.

Before I headed out with the Stonewall group, I made sure volunteers were set up at the booth with everything. I also took an opportunity to get some pics with various drag queens at the event as well, because hello fabulous!

Stonewall met up for a group photo around eleven so we could all walk together to the float area right after. Thankfully, a lot of people showed up to support the walk, even though it was a super hot day and the march was not a short one.

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We actually waited just in the sun for a good forty five minutes before we actually started marching, it was a bit tough, but when we did start marching it was magical!

We managed to get behind a DJ float, which meant we got pumping music the whole way through! It was so amazing to see the support lining the streets. Everybody was cheering and waving, high five-ing people as they walked onward, and I swear there were way more camera people than the previous year.

The walk took a good hour long trek from Yoyogi Stadium, to Shibuya Crossing, and then back around through the Shibuya main highway area, and then we returned to Yoyogi Stadium. The police were allowing traffic to flow, so unlike in New York City and other Prides, there isn’t a standstill to let the parade go without a break, which is part of the reason for why it took that long.

We broke records yet again for both attendance in the Festa and the Parade, with over 6,000 attendees. How cool is that?! Here’s hoping these solidarity efforts will make some effective changes sometime soon. I would love for marriage equality to come to Japan before the 2020 Olympics. As it stands, I’m not sure it will happen, but at events like Tokyo Rainbow Pride, I have hope.

I’m proud of what Stonewall managed to accomplish that weekend, even though there were bumps along the way, it all managed to work out. Hopefully, next year will be even better.

After six(ish), Rebecca and I headed home to go plan out the last day of her vacation. We wanted to get one more sightseeing spot squeezed in before I saw her off to the airport. And so we chose the obvious one: Tokyo SkyTree!

Posted in YouTube Videos

Sakura and Steampunk

I’m playing a little bit of a catch up game here. I have a whole bunch of videos I wasn’t able to edit until recently. In this vlog, I go to a hanami party, I support my friend getting her lip pierced, and then I go to a Steampunk party!

A hanami party, for those of you who don’t know, are parties where you get together with friends (sometimes co-workers). You drink and eat under the sakura blossoms, take lots of pictures, and in general just have a fun time. I went to Midtown Park in Roppongi for this one, but I actually ended up going to about three.

My friend K really wanted to get her lip pierced, so we went to a piercing shop called “Extreme Body Piercing” in Harajuku. We decided to also show other people where it is so they can find it if they too desire to get a cool new fierce look.

And finally, the Steamgarden is an annual Tokyo event that’s for two days. Every year, people come to sell their wares, but apparently it’s also a really cool dance party! I wasn’t expecting that, so it was an awesome surprise. I’ll def be going next year!

Posted in YouTube Videos

Catching Up | Vlogs with Friends!

I’ve been busy running around with people lately, which ya know, is important when you live abroad. If you’ve ever been an ex-pat, the daily grind can really get you down, but luckily for me I have some great people around who are super awesome and supportive. A healthy and active social life (or semi-active in my case) is vital if you want to stay sane.

That night I also went out to Tokyo Closet Ball, which was recently featured in the Japan Times!  If you didn’t know, Tokyo Closet Ball is a public drag event show that happens every month. The locations sometimes change, but I’ve been going for over a year or so now. It’s always a blast!

I have a few photos from that event. Each night has a different theme, and the theme this time was 60’s, 70’s and 80’s night.

You might know G from the Inclusive March we did awhile back. She did a wonderful dance for leaving member Zowie (David Bowie re-imagined).

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God, I love top hats.

I even got up on stage in the final performance for Hairspray’s “You Can’t Stop the Beat” which was kind of like my mini-debut on that stage? Everyone involved in those productions are so encouraging, I decided to give it a try. It’s such a great community, and the friends I’ve made through it are unforgettable.

Later on the next weekend, I headed up to Daryle’s Spring Event Party. Daryle is a fantastic cook who dreams of owning his own restaurant one day. He does pop up restaurants that have so far been successful in selling out everything he has made. I went to his place for some delicious Filipino food.

I really admire Daryle, actually, he always puts forth so much effort to bring people together. He makes his food with love (well, and stress, a bit of that) and I think people can tell. I love that he’s kept working on this dream for so long, and within this or next year he’ll make it come to fruition. And when he does, I’ll be his uh, quality assurance manager (i.e. taste tester).

I’m really thankful that I’ve met such amazing friends. I know, I’m a bit repetitive about that, but it’s true. At times I get so wrapped up in my own head, or I get kind of depressed and don’t even realize it, and then I feel isolated even though I’m not at all. It’s great that I’ve got people around me who can grab me out of dark holes (without even knowing they are, half the time) and get me to do new things.

Anyways, basically this whole post is just one big thank you to my Japan and abroad friends. There are others, so many others, I can’t even list them all. From my Japanese friend who takes me to karaoke at least once a month (S, you know who you are), to Emmanuel Transmission whose “real” name will definitely be stolen for my first born, to my high school and university friends who talk to me half a world away, to the co-workers who don’t even know this blog exists, and so on and so on.

You are all amazing, let no one tell you otherwise.


While I was at Daryle’s I discovered that Amaranth, a club in Daikaiyama, is going to feature a documentary called “After Stonewall.” For the price of one drink order, you and your friends can have a fun time next Sunday as well as support LGBTQ+ efforts in Tokyo by going to watch the film. The schedule is as follows:

 

Date: Sunday, 26 March
Time:
14:30 Opening
15: 00 ~ 17: 00 (Movie Screening)
17: 30 ~ 20: 30 (Savato) Hanging Out and Discussion
21: 00 ~ Amaranth's Usual Order of Business

If you can, please come! I know I’ll definitely be there. The movie will be in English, but Japanese subtitles have been created for the film so everyone can enjoy it.

Posted in Travels in Japan

Kawaii Monster Cafe: Part Time Nightclub?!

I knew that the Kawaii Monster Cafe was, well, a cafe. From the decor to the food, everything is all about the kawaii culture. Pinks clashing with neon greens, red lips on the walls, rainbow spaghetti noodles, a freaking carousel in the shape of a cake whirling around, and dancers dressed up in cute outfits dance on that cake. It’s a definite dinner and a show sort of place.

The place is fun, right in the heart of Harajuku (Tokyo’s notoriously awesome fashion district), and made to entertain. During the daytime, you’ll have a sort of cute, kid friendly atmosphere. I went last year with a bunch of friends. I got the (Non) Drug Cocktail, which comes with test tubes featuring different liquor flavors. My friends got the Colorful Poison Parfait, which is a ton of cake and ice cream towering high inside a glass.

What I didn’t know was that sometimes the cafe becomes a nightclub! Saturday I went to a Tipsy event, a popular girls only party group (i.e. lesbians, bi gals, trans, etc.), with business suits as a theme for the night. The line was long, but it moved smoothly enough that I only stood for a grand total of eight minutes.

Upon entering the now Kawaii Monster Club, the music was pumping and the lights were dimmed low. It was a surreal experience of seeing something that was once so cute it was borderline childish turn into a cool venue to get down and party. Clustered between giant mushrooms and tea cup booths were shadows that once featured loud colors, with people moving about in clothes straight out of fashion magazines, and the animal heads that hung from the ceiling took on a slightly sinister feel. It was, in a word, awesome!

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Dancing in the space was a bit tight, since the entrance area serving as the dance floor had the carousel right smack dab in the middle. Nonetheless, people endeavored to keep going, even though it got tough as the night wore on and more people piled in through the front door. The DJ’s kept a constant stream of top hits going, so people felt pumped up all through the night, even if they couldn’t move as much as they wanted. Everybody stopped dancing when the performers came on.

In the day, the cafe is severely brightly lit until the performers get on the carousel to dance. At night, the dancing area remains dark until the performers come onto the “stage” to dance with strobes and spotlights on them.

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The performers were definitely the highlight of the night. They were up there about five times, and each time they kept coming back to perform with zeal. I’ll be honest, I really admired how they kept coming back, appeared to have fun, and just kept moving to the beat without hardly slowing down. I wasn’t performing and by the end of the night I was exhausted, but they did their last show with huge smiles as if they weren’t tired at all.

I think if the performers had been half-hearted, the whole rest of the event would’ve been only slightly better than an average night out. See, as much as I loved the atmosphere and the performers, other parts of the night were a bit hit and miss.

Drinks were a big disappointment for me. Even though the main bar was encapsulated with towers of blue columns depicting flowing flowing ice cream coming down from the roof, the drink list itself was surprisingly mundane, with only about seven drinks in total. I suppose I expected something like the (Non) Drug Cocktail I drank last time, but instead I had to choose between Sky Blue or Smirnoff bottles, unless I wanted to do a Jagger shot for the same price as a regular drink (¥700 yen, by the way for all of them). I suppose maybe I was just expecting too much, but it is a shame to have such a cool place with very few drinks with no flare to them at all.

The only “specialty drink” there was a Love Shot. What’s a Love Shot? It’s a container of some alcohol, which can be opened on both top and bottom. Two participants in this (sure to backfire and ruin shirts) experiment try to blow the liquor into the other’s face for them to drink.

I suppose they were going for something risque and sexy, but really it just seemed kind of silly. If there was even one really cool, really expensive signature kind of drink available, I would’ve paid for it just to have the experience. Instead, yay Smirnoff.

In case you’re wondering, yes they did serve some cafe food! A whole big section was marked off for people wanting to eat (with about a half hour time limit to sit). There were only four menu items to choose from, colorful noodles and a Valentine Cake being two of the choices. Since we already drank too much for heavy food to sit comfortably in our stomachs, my friends and I chose the simple “Friedo Potato” (french fry) snack . The interesting thing about it was the sauces: ketchup, mustard, wasabi, cheese, sour cream, and chocolate.

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Oddly enough I really liked the wasabi flavor, as it was so mild it just tasted a little spicy. I discovered that I’m definitely not a choco-fry fan, but the other flavors were fine in my opinion. All the same, a bit underwhelming in comparison to the food available in the daylight hours.

I was also bummed out that the ticket entrance price itself was ¥3,700. I was under the impression that if I wore a suit the price would be cheaper, but nope. Only if you called ahead and made a “reservation” did you get money off. The reservation, by the way, was just advance ticketing. Everybody who showed up at the door got that same price, suit or no it didn’t matter. If I’d known that, I would’ve opted out of wearing one entirely.

All in all, I had a fun time, danced and watched some great ladies shake it until dawn. It makes for a great experience, and an interesting compare and contrast from what I knew the Kawaii Monster Cafe to be versus how it is on a Saturday night. The atmosphere and mood, 10 out of 10, definitely great. Everything else, like the drinks and the food, are only maybe 2 out of 10. I would recommend it to least try it once, but every single weekend? Maybe no.


If you know of another cool themed restaurant or venue for a night out, put it in the comments below!