After a much-needed night of proper rest, I wake up Thursday morning feeling energized and ready to go! I go next door to the 7-11 to pick up a quick morning snack of coffee and a rice ball. It’s so bad, but I really love the bottled cafe lattes that you can find inside any convenience store around here. They’re these bottles of milk and coffee with an excessive amount of sugar. Normally when I’m at home, I take my coffee with just a little milk, never any sugar. But when I’m here I just can’t help myself but indulge!
Sipping my coffee and munching on my rice ball, I scroll through my inbox and reply to emails. My phone chirps and I see that Kohei has just messaged me asking if I’d like to meet him for lunch. I happily oblige. Around 12:30pm, I leave the apartment to meet him at the Aman. The Aman Group is a hospitality group specializing in hotels in remote regions. The Aman here in Tokyo is relatively new and special in that it doesn't fit their usual location mold (remote/non-city). I knew this because Kohei has a photo book at his apartment of all their hotels in every region. The photos all look beautiful so I’m looking forward to checking this place out!
I see Kohei standing by the front entrance. We take the elevator to the restaurant floor and you guys… this place is gorgeous. The ceilings are sky-high and the interior design is immaculate.
We walk toward the back and the maître d seats us at the bar. I look through the menu and see that the cuisine is noticeably western. The waiter comes over to take our order and we both chose one of the pre-fixe sets. Finally, Kohei and I get a chance to catch up! Kohei works for Morgan Stanley and currently they’re about to make a very big deal. He tells me he won’t be home much while I’m in town- part of the reason why we’re meeting for lunch. He tells me of his recent trips to Sri Lanka and Beijing. We talk family, significant others, and life. Mid-way through our meal his boss calls saying he can leave the office early today. Elated, we cheers to the good news. Within 20 minutes, he gets another call from his boss. Kohei tells me suddenly his boss needs him urgently back at the office. Luckily, we were already on dessert.
Kohei has to hurry back to the office so I decide to relax and take a seat in the lounge. I order a coffee and kick back. In the center of the room, there is a musician in full formal kimono dress playing the koto. For those of you unfamiliar, koto is an instrument made up of 13 strings and is the national instrument of Japan. I am absolutely mesmerized and within seconds, I get lost in the music.
**Buzz** I feel my iPhone vibrate in my pocket. I get a message from my friend Eno, which brings me out of my musical trance. He tells me to meet him and his friend in Shinjuku so I finish my coffee and head out.
I meet the boys at the entrance of Shinjuku Gyoen park. Eno’s friend is named Aaran. He’s a tall British guy from Leeds living here in Tokyo. We are walking and I’m chatting with Aaran, trying to get to know him, when suddenly Eno enters a random building. Aaran follows suit. I do the same, but quite frankly, I’m a bit confused as to where we’re going. Eno turns around and tells me they’re location scouting. Both Eno and Aaran are photographers. The two of them frequently enter random buildings to check out rooftop locations for photo shoots. This building doesn’t have any security- perfect for their shenanigans! We hop around a couple of different rooftops. The sun begins to set and the view from the roof is beautiful. It’s making me reminisce about summertime in Brooklyn and all the rooftop BBQ parties…
I snap back into reality as Eno asks if I’d be down to shoot with him while I’m in town. I, of course, say yes as I have brought a few of my kimono pieces with me on the trip. He shows me the faces of the models he had in mind and I totally dig their look. One guy, one girl. We decide to shoot on Sunday.
7pm rolls around and I head to Shibuya to meet Viviane Sheep. Viviane is a friend of my dear friend Vaevae. Vaevae insisted the two of us hangout while I was in Tokyo. Viviane and I meet in front of the police station near the Hachiko exit of the metro. She takes me to On the Corner, a Japanese interpretation of an American diner. By the way, any sort of western style place here is pretty much a Japanese take on western style. Not exactly the same as anything back home, but still, it sure is darn cute.
Viviane is a blogger and model, primarily beauty (i.e. makeup ads, skincare, mostly commercial work). She’s from Taiwan and used to live in New York right before she moved to Tokyo and has been here for 7 years. We spend nearly 4 hours talking at dinner. Honestly, I have no idea how we managed to even talk that much!! We talk about our jobs, our background, etc. Then we finally get into the juicy stuff. I got a text from my boyfriend and as I reply back, Viviane asks who’s messaging me. I tell her about my boyfriend, Brendan- how we met at my friend’s gallery opening when I was dressed in kimono, how I didn’t realize our first date was even a date (lol), etc. Then I ask her about her boyfriend situation. She proceeds to tell me about her ex. I think that’s how we managed to talk for 4 hours. Girl-talk about boys. Always the culprit…hahaha!
After dinner, we walk to the train station and part ways. When I get back to the apartment, I take a nice hot bath to get me in the mood to sleep. It does the trick, my eyes start to feel heavy. Tomorrow I will be doing a little personal shopping in Shibuya and then I'll be checking out the nightlife scene in Nakameguro with my friend Shota.
The Otemachi Tower, 1-5-6 Otemachi Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
(Restaurant on 33rd floor)
SHINJUKU GYOEN PARK
11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo
ON THE CORNER
1-17-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo