Thursday, December 11, 2014

Costco in Japan

Jumbo shopping trolley

Slightly prison-vibey entrance

Lots of (apparently very cheap) Levis

They even have cameras!

The clothing-electric-furniture department

I reeeeeally wanted these but I was over-ruled

The famous bulgogi bake

Lives up to its reputation

Variety of ways to become a member, none of them cheap 

All I ever wanted out of life

Feels like being back in Dublin

Christmas wonderland!

Wreaths, though not half as nice as the ones I used to make with my family

It wouldn't be Christmas without a tin of biscuits 

or boxes (and boxes and boxes...) of buscuits

(and boxes and boxes...)

Have you ever put one of these chocolate muffins in a microwave? If not, do it!

Obligatory octopus photo

All the toilet paper you ever wanted

Potato selection gets the Irish girl seal of approval 

Pumpkin pie, the remnants of which are still lurking in my freezer because it was so damn big

Turkey! In Japan! It's a Christmas miracle!

Giant sacks of flour for any budding bakers out there

They even sell brand cosmetics!

And some sketchy looking off-brand ones

This was basically my image of what Costco / America would be


Happy surprise: very short queues at lunchtime on a Sunday. In your face IKEA!

I have never been to America,

My image of American food consists of things mentioned in Kenan & Kel, chain restaurants and my brother's description of Man v Food. So when my friend invited me to join her for a Costco Japan trip, it was the chance to answer some childhood questions (although I never did find Twinkies or Ding Dongs). I can't tell you the differences between American Costco and Japanese Costco. However, as a 5+ year resident of Japan, I can tell you that Costco is a gift from the money-saving gods.

I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking in this post but I can't recommend Costco highly enough. I had heard friends rave about it before and never thought I "needed" to visit. However, 2 months since my trip there I'm still using the meat, drinks, spices, toilet paper and more that I bought there. I'm lucky to live in a house and have a large freezer so storage isn't a problem for me. People in typical Japan-sized apartments may not have the same space. The prices are good though, very good.

Of course, membership isn't free and you need a car to make the most of it. Personally I think it's worth it and will consider a membership once I run low on supplies again. One thing worth mentioning is BRING LOTS OF CASH. Costco doesn't accept credit cards (except AMEX) and you don't want to be caught out.

Being Irish, I didn't have the experience of finding familiar and nostalgic brands. But I did find lots of "Western things" that aren't easy to get in normal Japanese supermarkets. Case in point being a roast chicken which didn't survive long enough for me to take a picture of it. But it was goooooood

Anyone planning any kind of party should pay a visit Costco - they even have turkeys for Christmas!

God bless America and God bless Costco!

Monday, November 17, 2014

J.S. Burger Cafe Shibuya: Lunch Set Heaven

The regular burger lunch set

Kate Moss said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Well Ms. Moss, I've got two words for you: Bur. Ger. That flawless piece of ambrosia. It's probably the sandwich factor. Everything tastes better when you slap it between some bread. Beef. Chicken. Bean. Tofu. Each burger has its own charms, I've loved them all and they've loved me right back.

So where do you go when you're down and out in Shibuya with nothing but chain cafes as far as the eye can see? Why, J.S. Burgers Cafe of course! Journal Standard, known for their apparel shops, also run three varieties of cafe: standard, pancake and burger. After trying the pancake cafe a couple of weeks ago, I was eager to compare the burgers. 

Bag porn

Branding is everything

The cafe is on the ground floor of Shibuya PARCO with indoor and outdoor seating. Alanna and I turned up absolutely starving after trying and failing to get a table in the limited Funassyi Cafe. The theme of table problems continued as the waitress sat us first at someone else's table, then on a ledge-type seat that had us staring at the other diners, until finally we took the initiative.and commandeered a couple of well-placed counter seats.

We both ordered the regular lunch set, which came with a drink, fries and free-refill salad bar. The salad bar was amazing: lots of leafy vegetables, pulses and even soup. Free-refill anything is rare in Tokyo, though you might get it in places that serve bad coffee. No complaints over this salad bar though. As for the burger, it ticked all the burger requirements without being especially memorable. It tasted great and was a big enough size to fill our empty bellies. On its own it was good, as part of the lunch set it was excellent.

Just after the lunchtime rush


Dangerzone: stalker-tastic seats on the left

I can't tell you how often I've been stuck for somewhere good to eat in Shibuya. If I'm out for the day I don't want to end up eating at the same chains that are five minutes from house. I also don't want to have to pay for the privilege of sitting down. So I'll definitely be back at J.S. Burgers Cafe. It's not the best burger in Tokyo but it might be the best one in Shibuya. And the 980 yen price tag makes it without doubt my new favourite lunch set.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Autumn in Style

Glamorous Tokyo: in the bathroom of a second-hand book shop

Autumn so far has been exciting and stressful, both personally and professionally. Without sounding too mysterious, there was a lot going on that I couldn't directly control. Fortunately everything has worked out fairly well and, in fact, is culminating in my Irish TV debut! (Details below)

Magical Halloween nails from HOME Harajuku

I did a couple of things to make me feel more "in control", the first of which was getting my first gel nail manicure in over a year. I went to HOME Salon in Harajuku because I had been admiring their Instagram feed for a while. This was a couple of days before Halloween so I wanted something vaguely seasonal but not a design that would be pointless after the holiday had passed. This was one of their October sets, with a little customisation. The index finger was supposed to read "Happy Halloween" but I had it changed to a black cat. So they're sort of magical, Harry Potter nails, rather than just Halloween ones.

As for HOME, I was reasonably satisfied with their service. First-timers get a decent discount, so the price was ok this time. They do seem to be more expensive in general though. I expect Tokyo to be more expensive than Sendai, but there wasn't even a drink or hand massage included at the end. So while I like the nails enough to go back, I'm still shopping around for a better menu.

Stylishly modelled on that Ikea bedspread that everyone has

Autumn hair like red leaves by BELLE Omotesando

I also changed my hair colour from blondish brown, to reddish brown. It was supposed to be pinkish brown, but this new salon is still adjusting to my Western hair! Autumn in Japan is all about 紅葉 (kouyou), the seasonal red and golden leaves, so I like having hair that reflects that.

Top: iro;R - Brilliant Market- 
Inner: Used
Skirt: iro:R -Brilliant Market-
Bag: Mifune
Accessories: Plaza

Resting bitch face

Now for the big news!

I've had to keep it secret for a couple of weeks, but I filmed and presented a feature on Tokyo street style for Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE. It isn't a long segment but I interviewed some very interesting and stylish people about their outfits and fashion inspiration. 

It will air as part of #TRENDING on RTE 2, Thurday 14th 8:30PM (GMT) and I really hope anyone who has time will watch it. It took a lot longer to put together than you might think, though it was a lot of fun. Anyone not in Ireland can also view it (I think) on RTE Player, so enjoy!


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