London’s Tokimeite & Tombo Café x Hello Kitty

Konnichiwa my dear readers, and my apologies for being silent for so long. London life has been keeping me rather busy so it is only today that I found time to post.

I have had a very Japanese weekend indeed, and I want to tell you about two lovely restaurants that I visited.


  1. Tokimeite

A beautiful and refined Japanese restaurant in Central London, near New Bond Street. This gem serves Kyoto-style cuisine, prepared by a star chef. I tasted the Bento lunch set which was delightful!

While enjoying a look at the wonderful interior, I started wondering about the design of the lamps. Do they look like temple lanterns to you?

Tokimeite London with star chef Murata Yoshihiro


2. Tombo Café

Tombo Café is my go-to for a large Matcha Latte and a home-style Chicken Katsu Curry. But today, I bumped into Tombo’s Hello Kitty promotion! Yes, yes, Hello Kitty, you read it correctly! This is  enough to get me excited in a girly, squeaky kind of way.

Check out all the amazing things they are offering:




My Matcha Latte!


Still have to try this delicious assortment of cakes….


Of course, all these delicious treats are still a far cry from what you can get in Japan, but this is very close and – very yummie! The reason is mostly because it is difficult to obtain or even ship the special and very fresh ingredients over here. I recently bumped into a stranded container from Mitsui Shipping Company and wondered how food is shipped from Japan to London, but that’s for another story.

Mitsui in North Acton. This must be the only existing shot where a crocodile, a magpie and a seagull all peacefully pose in one single shot.

Anyways, should you be in London, please do try out these tasty treats!
Mata ne!



The creator of Totoro is not done yet!

What happy news for a Japanophile and Ghibli-lover like me: There are rumours that Hayao Miyazaki, genious and Sensei of all things “kawaii” and anime will be coming out of retirement to produce another full-length film!

I have just read about the happy news on Oyster Mag and am re-posting their article below. Enjoy!



Studio Ghibli co-founder and legendary animator, Hayao Miyazaki, is planning to return to the movie biz after a three-year hiatus. Turns out you just can’t keep a good man/certified genius down. During a recent NHK television special titled Owaranai Hito Miyazaki Hayao (The Man Who Is Not Done), Hayao announced that he’s planning to come out of retirement to make a new feature film.

The movie is based on a story he’s been working on for 20 years called Kemushi no Boro (Boro the Caterpillar) which he’s currently developing into a 12-minute short for the Ghibli Museum. According to Hayao, the story follows “a tiny, hairy caterpillar, so tiny that it may be easily squished between your fingers.” Cuteness factor is already so high. Unhappy with what he’s been able to accomplish in just 12 minutes, Hayao is planning to extend the story into a full-length film. Legend!

The project hasn’t been given the green light yet, but with Hayao’s track record — Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, etc., etc. — there’s no way this isn’t happening.

Welcome back, Hayao!


Hoshinoya Hotel Tokyo – a brand new old-style Ryokan

The Hoshinoya opened in 2016

Today’s post is once again influenced by my love for Japan, Tokyo and the amazing buildings that you can find there.

Riddle me this: You do construction work in a multi-million people city and find a natural hot spring. What do you do with it?

Answer: You do some more construction work and put a multi-million-yen building on top of it, call it a traditional-yet-modern Japanese Inn and connect the hot-spring up to the 17th floor.

This is very close to what really happened in downtown Tokyo very recently. The result is the magnificent Hoshinoya Hotel right smack in the middle of Tokyo’s business district Otemachi – a 5-star treat with a real Japanese flair.

The Telegraph describes the interiors:

“A clever addition to Tokyo’s hotel scene, the city’s first luxury ryokan fuses contemporary design and traditional craftsmanship with high-tech touches. The tower is encased in a black metal grid repeating a traditional Japanese kimono motif.

Inside, there is a dramatic double-height genkan entrance with a seasonal flower display, indigo walls, sliding paper screens, expanses of aromatic Japanese wood and modern-style cotton jersey kimono outfits for guests.

The 84 guestrooms are split into groups of six on 14 floors – with each floor resembling a self-contained ryokan inn, with its own Ochanoma lounge. Here, at a communal wooden table or on low sofas, staff serve o nigiri rice balls, coffee, tea or seasonal sakes.”



Hoshinoya is good at hospitality and excellent service, because that is what Japan is good at. In the style of a tradition al Ryokan (Guesthouse or Inn) the staff takes care of the guest and makes sure that he or she longs for nothing. This concept is known as “omotenashi” in Japanese and it is truly lived to its fullest potential.

Omotenashi - long-for-nothing at the Hoshinoya.

Omotenashi – long-for-nothing at the Hoshinoya.


What does it cost to whatch your dreams on a fluffy futon, after soaking in the Onsen, enjoying a dinner delight of the most delicious traditional Japanese cuisine and staff bringing you tea and slippers before bed time? It will be in the region of $590 to $1000, depending on season and room options. But remember: When you are there, you must take off your shoes at the entrance and show your best manners.

Sliding washi screens and tatami mats with soft futon beds make up the standard room at the Hoshinoya Hotel.

Sliding washi screens and tatami mats with soft futon beds make up the standard room at the Hoshinoya Hotel.


SiberianNewspaper: There is more depth to Japan than Jpop and Kawaii

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo – as seen from the Starbucks in Tatsuya Records



The lights turn green and hundreds of people flood the giant intersection simultaneously from 3 directions. There is not one empty square meter, yet everyone is polite enough to walk past each other without bumping or hitting one another. I take another sip of my Macha latte. „Oh my God! This is like soo unbelievable!“ I hear an American tourist comment next to me. They too have been overlooking the famous Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo from the familiar safety and comfort of the 1st floor Starbucks. Well almost familiar. After all it is only Japan that serves a green-tea latte and the matching green-tea cake. In fact, lots of things are green tea flavoured here…
The Starbucks is part of Tsutaya records. Centrally located this multi-storey music store is in one of the most hip shopping districts of Tokyo. It also serves as a well-known meeting point for both natives and tourists.
I leave my English-speaking neighbours to their intellectual conversation and start wandering towards the CD racks via the escalators. A group of freshly blonde girls in short skirts and high boots are just coming up from street-level and are chatting excitedly. „Neeee? So nan desu ka…“ They all have their keitaidenwas (mobile phones) in their hands and giggle their way to the second floor. In this part of town all the kids are super hip and show off their styles while shopping. Most boys try to sport a funky haircut and look like a rock-star and the girls’ ultimate goal is to create cuteness-overload or as they would express it – be super “kawaii”.
This includes shoes that limit your speed of walking to that of a sick snail and hairdos with a myriad of clips. The mobile phones are pimped up with crystals and you know those little dangly things you can attach to your phone? Well the girl on the escalator had about 10 of them on hers, and I could only guess it’s a phone because she was holding the giant bundle of toys to her ear.  Kawaii!!

The Japanese mobile phone is ultra kawaii

The Japanese mobile phone is ultra kawaii

Image credit here.

La La

I walk into the Jpop section.
There is everything: Soul, hip-hop, rock, girl-bands and boy-bands. Of course I can only look at the covers as I don’t read more than a handful of Japanese letters. Ooh, there’s a nice-looking fellow on this CD and I can even read his name! It’s written in Engrish. Engrish? You ask me. Hai! It’s a language of its own, which you only find here in Japan on a vast number of things and products. Bands excel and advance on this linguistic journey, which is perhaps synonymous to cool, young and different.
I jot down 10 names of the coolest and weirdest ones:
10. Momoiro Clover Z
9. Generations from Exile Tribe
8. Chatmonchy
7. Flumpool
6. The Alfee
5. Superdumb
4. Siberian Newspaper
3. Hangry&Angry-f
2. LazygunsBrisky
1. Egg Brain

LazygunsBrisky Jpop Band

LazygunsBrisky Jpop Band
Later in my hotel I am going to play acoustic onomatopoeia on-line in form of a game called “guess how XXX sounds”. The rules are simple: You go on myspace or youtube and check to see if your word-association was right. “After all WHAT does a Siberian Newspaper sound like?”


A violin talks about feelings of melancholy and long, emotional travels. No doubt the name does capture a faraway romance in a difficult climate whith surprisingly uplifting tones. One could even say that an inspiration from Irish folk music comes into play (no pun intended!).

But why Siberia?  Why a newspaper? Perhaps because I happened to be born in Moscow myself, I really want to find out why this band identifies itself with 77% of the total area of my country where temperatures can get down to as much as −71.2 °C.  Siberia is the birthplace of tennis ace Maria Sharapova and Hollywood star Yul Brynner, as well as the source of the New Russians’ wealth in form of Gazprom-owned natural gas.

SiberianNewspaper Band

SiberianNewspaper Band –

 L to R
Takayuki Manabe (Classic Guitar)
Shusaku Yamamoto (Contrabass)
Yusaku Tsuchiya (Violin)
Masakazu Hilao (Percussion)
Takao Amori (Acoustic Guitar)
Kazuhiro Fujita (Piano)

“There is not the meaning about the name of the band superficially. Admiration to the continent. Some inferiority complexes. My brain does not stop if I start to devise it. I think it means “freedom” may be.” explains Yusaku to me.

He is the amazing violin I heard, the centrepiece of this acoustic sextet with an unusual instrumental constellation, and he is extremely polite and helpful when I request an interview.

Yusaku tells me: “Just one year after Siberian Newspaper was formed by the guitarist Amori, we were performing in Britain at the 2006 UK festival “In the City”. BBC radio loved the tracks so much that they were consequently broadcast worldwide.”
“We played in Manchester in 2006. This experience is one of most important things about the band. The audience seemed to catch our music at very sensitive feel. I was the first time that I felt the reaction that was such a physical. I was excited very much. We are influenced by traditional music, classic, Gypsy music, jazz and heavy metal and our motto is to struggle, thirst, despair, sometimes succeed, sometimes give up. However, the Japanese music scene has been patternized and is about to forget the splendid element of the individual.”

This is so very true, because especially in the West, when you ask about Japanese music, most people will immediately think of Jpop. But there is so much more to the creative music scene in Japan! And this particular band did new classical pop, so to speak, and went on to release their 4th Album in 2012, entitled “0” [zero], exploring this field of individuality further and wider. It is available on iTunes, for those who cannot buy it in Japan. They also covered the Four Seasons by Vivaldi on a special album.

4th Album released by Siberan Newspaper in 2012

4th Album released by Siberan Newspaper in 2012

I want to know how much the Japanese fashion scene is part of this groups life. So I ask: And what about fashion? Does fashion influence you?
“We choose the fashion which is not formal. But I am careful not to lose dignity and a style. Since I live in Tokyo I go to Omotesando and Harajuku well before gigs and do shopping. I am excited when I buy clothes for gigs. Then I travel to Osaka where our band is based.”
But Omotesando happens to be one of the most expensive shopping streets of Tokyo with all the top-notch designer brands. Harajuku is the complete opposite, it is crazy, cheap, insane youth culture and fashion frenzy.  How is this compatible in one style?
“I like good clothes of the form even if cheap, even if expensive. I like mix style.” He explains. He’s also goes to Tsutaya Records in Shibuya but is not so fond of the fashion there.
“I think Shibuya culture is ladies culture. And Shibuya culture loves showy clothes. I do not feel charm in it so much.”
And Siberia?
“No, I have not been to Siberia. But I want to go in the near future.”
For those who would like to find out more about SiberianNewspaper have a listen here:


Dear Readers! Last week end my photographer friend Max K. and I decided to spontaneously do a photo shoot.

I really wanted to get some pictures of a silk kimono which I made. Its so beautiful, hand-stitched to the best of Japanese traditions and feels heavenly as its 100% real silk.

Our location was ‘in the hood’! Literally, we used a friend’s apartment, sofa and hallway outside the building complex.

What do you think? Take alook at the photos below. BTW, my favourite is the “laundry shot” – haha, no really, this is what I envision for the life of my kimono after someone buys it: you can lounge, chill, be super sexy, even if you are just doing the laundry!







The Kimono is available for purchase here in my Etsy shop: