Psst! ModCloth currently has an extra 40% off their sale items, and many of the pieces I own are part of that sale. Last night, I bought a couple of new bathing suits in my favorite silhouette and a cute little jumper for summer. Scroll through to see all of the ModCloth sale items I personally own — the links are below the photos!
Happy July 4th! Do you have any fun long weekend plans? I’ll be taking this long weekend to relax and recharge, but I’ll be back with some more fun travel posts next week. Here are some links from around the web worth checking out:
These are the sales I’ll be shopping this weekend: Ban.do – Up to 30% this weekend J.Crew – Extra 50% off sale styles with code BIGGEST Madewell – 25% off with code FIREWORK Modcloth – Up to 40% off sale items ULTA – Up to 50% off + free shipping on orders $35+ Anthropologie – 50% off sale items
Cat cafes (and animal cafes in general) are still thriving in Tokyo. Local friends told me they started because most residents can’t have pets of their own, but still crave the companionship of a furry friend. As someone who misses my animals when I go down the street, I am so grateful that places like this exist where I can have a cup of tea and pet all of the cats. But how do you choose which Tokyo cat cafe to visit? Easy: I did it for you. Check out my very favorite, Cat Cafe Temari no Ouchi.
Cat Cafe Temari no Ouchi is located in one of my favorite neighborhoods, Kichijōji. Stroll through the boutiques, eat some delicious food, and then go hang out with some cats, because why not? The cat cafe itself is something out of a fairytale, with a painted sky and storybook houses fit for David the Gnome. Except in this fairytale, there are no gnomes (unless they’re hiding? It’s possible) — just cats, and lots of them — and the cats are treated like absolute royalty.
When you arrive, you’re asked to remove your shoes and wash your hands for the safety and health of the cats. They’ll seat you at a table with instructions on how you can and cannot interact with the cats (pretty common sense stuff, but rules are there for a reason!) and a menu with specialty drinks and small bites. Note: Ring the bell to place your order! We ordered coffees and scones, which were decorated with a tiny cat. Everything is adorable, here. Everything.
Remember how I said the cats were royalty? Pretty sure he’s the King.
There are lots of regulars who hang out with the cats, drink coffee or tea, and work on their computers. You can tell who the regulars are, because they’re likely to be surrounded by cats. One young lady was blessed with cats galore (above, and on her lap out of frame). However, the cats are generally curious and friendly, and you are welcome to move about in search for a cat’s attention.
Feeding time, the cutest part of the day. Stay for feeding time!!
Feeding time is — I can’t overstate this — pure magic. The employees come out with dishes for every cat, name tag in place to make sure every single one is fed. If one is relaxing / in need of a break, they’ll bring them breakfast in bed. However, most of them come running when dinner is announced!
Most of the cats were very friendly and therefore interacted with us (unless they were sleeping, of course). In short, it was a wonderful experience: the staff was kind and so lovely with the cats, the atmosphere was warm and inviting, and the cats were highly entertaining. I was missing my animals something fierce, and this made me feel a little better.
Before leaving, you can buy a souvenir resident cat button from a machine (I think it was 200 or 300 Yen, a little under $2 or $3), or one of their pricier offerings. I’m such a sucker for those toy machines, so naturally I had to buy a button. Money well spent! Add Cat Cafe Temari no Ouchi to your next Tokyo trip, and let me know how you like it.
Contrary to what Kim assumed (if you watch my stories, you know) Robot Restaurant is not where the locals hang out. It’s tailor made for tourists seeking an outlandish, vibrant, straight up wacky Japanese experience. In short, it’s a tourist trap. But it’s a tourist trap worth experiencing, even just once.
First things first, this is a show that happens to offer food. It’s not an actual restaurant. Eat before or after, and just go for the show and maybe a drink or some popcorn.
I probably wouldn’t have returned for a second visit, but since Kim had never been and it’s right up her alley — neon lights! excess! somehow ABBA plays a role! — I made sure we got tickets. Since we were there at the height of Sakura season, most shows were sold out and we ended up with a daytime experience.
This particular show was different than the first one I saw, but the energy and charming weirdness was the same. It’s just…wild! It reminds me of a live action Power Rangers: The Musical (probably not a thing, but maybe I’m onto something).
You’ll laugh, you’ll wonder why a Ninja Turtle is involved, you’ll smile from ear to ear and leave Robot Restaurant thinking, “What in the heck just happened?!” That’s the point. Just book it. Let me know if you’ve ever visited Robot Restaurant!
This Rainbow Ella dress was sold out the last time I blogged about it, so I was happy to see they restocked it. It quickly became a favorite for the summer, with its lightweight, loose cotton (read: breathable!) body and the rainbow panels that remind me of those parachutes we used to play under in school. Does anyone remember those? Where we’d all get in a circle and throw it up in the air, to go underneath it? Or maybe put a beanbag on top and bounce it around? Anyway…
Over the years, I’ve realized that cotton dresses are my best summer friends, and they somehow get better with each wear (and subsequent wash). Naturally, some of my absolute favorites are 50s cotton day dresses — truly the unsung heroes of many a summer day — but after investing and living in a couple of cotton dresses from Loveshackfancy (and the Mara Hoffmann ones I wear to death…but they’re hemp), I decided it should be a law that all summer clothes be so soft and breathable. I recently ordered this linen dress from Sleeper for that very reason, and I’m excited to break it in and wear it over and over and over until someone says, “Do you have other dresses?” to which I’ll reply, “You said that last summer about my wrap dress. Let me live!”
If you’re a fan of one of my favorite shows The Good Place (which is ending soon!) Consider checking on this new limited series on Amazon, Good Omens. It’s a comical take on good and evil, played out by an angel and demon on the arrival of Armageddon.
When I was a young child and struggling at home, I ran away with my pony. I made an attempt to carry my belongings by tying a bandana around a stick — I saw it in cartoons and thought that’s what you did when you were a wandering soul. It didn’t work; it just kept slipping and sliding and I couldn’t figure out how to get it to hold anything without it spilling out the sides.
Romeo and me. He joined our family when I was in high school, before Shawn and Rowdy left us.
I can’t remember if I just brought my backpack or left all my worldly possessions behind — my 90210 and New Kids memorabilia probably wouldn’t have fit in whatever I was carrying — but in my memory, I had my beloved stuffed panda Snowball with me. I may have inserted that into my memory to soothe my guilty conscience, because how could I have left her behind? But what I do remember clearly is this: I told my pony Shawn we were going to live off the land, tacked him up in his tiny western saddle, and we set out for our new life.
There was a field of tomatoes and eggplants right across the dirt road with a slim canal and a man-made lake where we used to take the horses swimming, and even though there was no shelter better than a fallen tree taken down by a hurricane, it seemed like our best option in an otherwise suburban city. I remember crying when we got to a part I had never been to — the land seemed to get more and more narrow and I thought we’d fall into the canal — and Shawn just turned around and brought me straight back to the ranch. He was always looking out for me. It felt like we were gone all day, but now as an adult when I think about how far those fields stretched (which are sadly now home to a Home Depot, shopping center, and apartments), we were probably gone an hour. No one even realized I was gone, because back then we would ride the horses everywhere without chaperones (though usually with at least one other kid) — they probably just thought I was on a trail ride!
My baby Shawn and me. That’s little Tessa at the bottom.
There is this small part of me that feels sad when I think of that story; I feel sick to think of my nieces and nephews being tired and afraid and feeling like their best option is running away, even for an hour. But mostly I think of those quiet moments with Shawn: how I whispered my plan to him as we walked into the fields, how we stopped to snack on a few tomatoes and picked some eggplant I didn’t know how to eat, how he patiently went along with my plan until it felt unsafe, then turned around and led us back to the ranch without any direction from me. He was my best friend; he was my sanctuary, wherever we roamed — and when I felt lost, he was there to bring me home.
I often wonder how I would’ve navigated my young life without my horses. Would I have stayed lost forever?
Tokyo DisneySea is really something special. It’s unlike any other Disney park (at least, those I’ve visited) and so thoroughly immersive in its themes. I knew I that if I had to choose one park for Kim to experience, it would be DisneySea. This was my second trip (see my first one here) and I was very excited to introduce Kim to its magic! Don’t get me wrong — I love Tokyo Disneyland (you can see my Tokyo Disneyland post here), but it’s so similar to Magic Kingdom that it isn’t 100% necessary if you’re just looking for a quick day trip and have been to the other parks.
Another option? Buy a ticket hopper for Tokyo DisneySea and Disneyland and do both in one day! This time, we bought our tickets at the park — but last time, we bought them in advance at a Disney store in Tokyo. They’re also sold at some convenience stores and JR windows, as well as nearby resorts. Since the parks can get very busy on peak days, get your tickets in advance to avoid the risk of being turned away at the gate.
Getting to DisneySea is very easy; though Japan’s transit system seems overwhelming at first sight, it’s actually pretty straight forward and easy to navigate with the help of a maps app. And if you get lost, just put your ears on and someone might point you in the right direction if you’re looking slightly confused. I’m not kidding, it happened for us! Google Maps is actually a lot more accurate out there than it was during my first trip, with the added perks of various mass transit directions, ticket prices (if you don’t have a JR pass, you’ll buy your tickets by fare price to your final destination), and the most accurate time tables.
If you have a JR Rail Pass (I’ll cover that in my Tokyo guide), you can just hop on the trains to Maihama station. If not, just figure out the total fare from your starting point to Maihama and buy that fare amount — and always hold onto your ticket, because you’ll need it for transfers and as you exit the station. You know how in NYC, the subway might say it comes every ten minutes but it’s more like 20? Well, if a train says it is leaving at 12:59 in Japan, you best believe it is taking off at exactly that time. Don’t lollygag.
Once you arrive at the JR Maihama Station, you’ll need to get your ticket for the monorail to DisneySea. You can walk, but why would you? You’ll already be walking so much during your stay, and their train has cute little Mickey hand handles and Mickey shaped windows that are worth a peek (and a photo).
Can’t Miss Attractions
Kim doesn’t like rides (I know, crazy), so we stuck to mostly shows, eating treats, meeting characters, and just wandering around. But last time I was there, we did the rides — so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. I just wanted to make sure Kim had a great time! Two things you should not miss: The Big Band Beat and King Triton’s Concert. The former is a jazz show that was tremendously entertaining (and a good chance to rest your feet) — perhaps my favorite part. The latter is a fun show where you watch live action Ariel and friends sing, dance, and “swim” above you while singing The Little Mermaid songs in Japanese. What a treat!
Hold onto your DisneySea ticket to enter the lottery for guaranteed seats at Big Band Beat! To enter, go to the lottery kiosk in Mediterranean Harbor up to 30 minutes before the show. Enter your party size and scan your ticket. When you “win” a seat, the screen will tell you (and in our case, the cast members cheered), and print out a seat assignment for you. In the event that you don’t get a guaranteed assigned seat, make sure to get in line in advance of the next show for first available seating.
If you’re planning on rides (and you should), note that Toy Story Mania, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tower of Terror and Nemo & Friends are the most popular rides and will therefore have the longest wait. Plan accordingly: try to get a fast pass, or check the wait times and strategize your schedule.
Triton’s Kingdom in general is my absolute favorite. It’s beautiful from the outside, and when you walk inside it’s like you’re under the sea. It has kiddy rides, a gift shop, quick service, and the show I mentioned. Just take it all in. It’s a delight, and one of the most thoughtfully themed areas.
Don’t forget to scour the gift shops for the cutest Disney merch! You may notice that there are Mickey soap dispensers around the park (the foam comes out in a Mickey shape). Well, you can get your own to take home! The two parks have different merch, and in retrospect I wish I went to Disneyland just to check their gift shops for more offerings. Or maybe it’s good for my wallet that I didn’t. DisneySea is the place to get all things Duffy and friends — and you can’t buy this stuff in stateside parks. d
If you aren’t a hardcore Disney fan, you may not have ever heard of Duffy (Mickey’s stuffed bear) or his friends ShellieMay, Gelatoni, and Stella Lou. But surprise, he’s a HUGE Disney character in Japan and the main focus at DisneySea. If you want Duffy & friends merch, get it here. There’s also a chance to meet Duffy at one of the restaurants, but the line was long and we didn’t partake. But that reminds me: meeting the characters is usually a whole different experience!
Meeting The Characters
It seems a lot more laid back at Disneyland in California, but at Disney World, you either wait in a huge line to meet a character or you need a fast pass. At DisneySea, it’s much easier and interactive! Everyone makes a circle around the character and calls out their names. The character then chooses the person to give their attention to, until everyone gets their time. It’s very cute to watch a bunch of kids (oh, and Kim!) calling out, “Daisy! Daisy” as she ponders which is the lucky one. That would never work at Disney World, but everyone is much more patient and polite in Japan;)
As far as treats go, my two favorites are the Alien Mochi treats and the different flavors of popcorn. But let’s be real, just get all the treats! I recommend getting one of the special popcorn buckets and then trying a few of the flavors throughout the day. Obviously I had to get the Duffy popcorn bucket — last time, I got the Minnie Mouse bow — and it came with Chocolate popcorn, which was delicious. We also had the honey, which was great! Other flavors I’ve had in the past: strawberry, milk tea, soy sauce, and curry.
Dress On Theme
My last tip: dress up! You can’t wear actual costumes at any of the parks if you’re over 14 (I think that’s the same at DisneySea, but I may be wrong) — but if you’re not decked out in Disney gear, you might stick out like a sore thumb. Plus, it’s so much fun and adds to the experience. One of my favorite things is seeing all the groups in matching outfits; I love how everyone goes all out with their themes. Of course, I put on my ShellieMay ears and bag so that I could feel like one of the cool kids. It was difficult for me to resist buying all of the things, but I did buy an extra ShellieMay bag for a giveaway. Make sure to check my instagram to enter!