Japan Trip 2012 Day 2: Harajuku and Ikebukuro (Swallowtail Visit 1)

Hi guys, I’m really sick now. Sore throat, and potentially a flu or cold or something. I’m sneezing nonstop, and cue running nose. My eyes feel very hot. This is where I whine that I can’t get free strepsils and medication (delivered to my room) from my dad anymore LOL.

On to the long winded blabbering entry! I’m typing this in a very sick mood, so I might start typing nonsense, or simplifying things a lot. I trust that I will go into much greater detail when talking about this IRL, but for now bear with my entry.

And ya, you read the title right, we eventually went Swallowtail twice.

The room was Very Hot. It’s the first time I did not fully cover myself with the covers, and I even woke up in the middle of the night to kick them off. It’s really weird because I’m the sort that die die will cover myself all the way to my neck even if there was no aircon and stuff.

I woke up feeling very sick. My throat was very dry, which made no sense because I did no shouting or ate any weird food. Jasmine thinks that winter is like.. very dusty or something, and I have to agree. She also suggest that maybe it’s due to the fact that I keep breathing from my mouth, which might be the case too. After drinking a few glasses of water, I felt a lot better, so I ignored my throat.

My sinus was still killing me.

Before I continue, I once mentioned to Jasmine that I felt fully prepared for this trip despite preparing the bare minimum for each item. The only thing I didn’t pack was tissue paper, because I believed that I could just get a whole bunch of them while going to the people distributing them. Of course, she did the whole jeering thing and “wait till you need it and you don’t have~~~~” The first time she gave me a knowing sneer was when I needed one while the plane was lending. Every time I sniffed and grabbed tissue after tissue miserably, well, hahaha oTL

We finally met some tissue distributing guys around the 3rd day, and I made her get one more other than the one I took /auntie. I didn’t get all my stupid tissue packs until the last day, which I totally needed in the past few days instead RAWR /came back with 7 tissue packs

We headed to Harajuku this time! Our plans were usually foiled somewhat due to our inability to wake up on time and constantly getting lost, but it’s okay. I think I’d rather enjoy things at my own pace than rush. I know it sounds wasteful, but I’d rather feel “sad” that I didn’t get to do more, than to feel hatred for the trip because I couldn’t relax and enjoy myself properly. The getting lost part is really a pity, but I’ll tell myself that it’s okay, there’s always the 3rd trip HAHAHA /terrible.

We could only stay at Harajuku for a short while, and we got a bit lost getting to Takeshita Dori – no, don’t ask how. Yes I know it’s right across the station. We headed over to Closet Child first things first. The karma is seriously lacking again. I bought an AATP brown blouse there because I am in need of one to match my Chess Choco jsk.

Sorry for the crumpled version.

Sorry for the crumpled version.

I have a bit of mixed feelings about this after wearing it on the next day, but at least it was cheap. One problem was the material. It was that sort of material where if you sweat, you’re gonna feel damn disgusted. We had a little bit of laughs over this because the sleeves have this sort of “looks small, but it’s actually huge” puffs at the shoulders, so I look like some sort of Takarazuka otokoyaku with the impossibly huge shoulder pads lolol. I also bought a pair of shorts which unfortunately, had the strangest cut, and I can’t fit into it whoops. I know I should have tried it before buying, but I really wasn’t in a mood to. I wasn’t even in a mood to remove my coat/scarf/earmuff/gloves when I entered any place.

At Paris Kids, I immediately bought a pair of earmuffs. I never took it off since then.

Again, am mildly proud of myself for being willing to try out new food. It’s just pasta, and yeah I do eat pasta, but I’m always so picky, so this is really quite an improvement for me. Again, Jasmine chose it, so I told myself how bad can it be. And mmm it did taste good! I think I’m in the mood to try new food. Either that or Japan makes food look and taste nice. And for some reason, we’re eating a lot lesser than expected. We share 1 person’s portion of pasta and some beef stew (not really stew cus there’s barely anything to drink, more like sauce.. with beef chunks) and we felt quite full already WHICH IS NOT GOOD BECAUSE WE HAS A RESERVATION FOR NOMNOMS LATER D8

We rushed over to Ikebukuro for our very first Swallowtail reservation! We got very lost here, and I realised that the biggest factor that we always get lost is because we both navigate using the map very differently. I can’t really explain it, but to put it as simple as possible, Jasmine navigates by turning the map to fit her surroundings, while I “turn” the person (where we are facing) to fit the map. So every time one of us does something with the map, the other will go “I don’t know where we are already.” LOL. I feel so so so relieved that we rented a mobile wifi ): We will so die without it.

For those who don’t know, Swallowtail is a butler cafe. I think of it as a themed cafe, whereby you are treated as a lady of the house, and you are returning home, greeted by all these butlers. I thank Jasmine for agreeing to come with me, and most importantly, make the reservation for me since my Japanese is like, non-existent. And you have to make a reservation. No photos because it’s not allowed to even use your phones, and from what I understand, if they do find out photos were posted online, and if they can point you (in their records) to your blog, you’re doomed for consecutive visits. For that I’m going to be a little more careful when writing this entry.

I’ve read several blogs talking about their experiences in Swallowtail, and I noticed that many of them, even though were foreigners, were decent in their Japanese, or at least they seem to be very capable in the language without any communication barrier! Jasmine and I… Jasmine’s definitely way better than me, and I’m like at Level 0. We were both worried that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy ourselves properly because of the huge communication barrier. Of course I’m sure if we were fluent in the language, we would receive a lot more service aka idle chat and flowery praises, but I think the experiences we had were pretty fun enough.

Anyways, Swallowtail is located below a… BL shop? lol. The only reason why we even spotted the place was cus of the HUGE 同人志馆 somethingsomething sign.

Me: Hey look lolol. Omg it’s like.. a place solely for BL leh…
Jasmine: Oh look, it’s Swallowtail.
Me: WHERE O_O WHERE.
Jasmine: Thereeee /points to it
Me: Noooo I just see the yaoi sho- oh. BRICKS. VINES. I SEE. Swallowtail!
Jasmine: The sign la, the sign. /points to the dark blue Swallowtail sign on the brick wall with the vines.
Me: But why below a yaoi shop.. Oh look wait, that’s Animate over there. Dammit we could have gone the Animate route from the station sob.

And then we got Very Very Nervous. As mentioned in my twitter, I feel like we were going for our oral exams, except I know that I’m so going to fail.

In the end, we went down the stairs and were immediately greeted by a.. idk what to call him. Doorman? He was quite clean decent looking. His job was to stand there waiting for customers to climb down the stairs. Jasmine mentioned that it’s a clever thing of them to make them climb down the stairs before reaching Swallowtail. That way the doorman can hear if someone is coming, and has enough time to inform people inside via secret agent mics (All of them were wearing secret agent mics at their collar). I then added on thinking that this is super useful because it means that doorman can slack and get up without anyone noticing said slacking. Smart.

Somehow Jasmine survived mentioning that she has a reservation under her name, and we got to sit by the door outside, followed by going inside to sit and wait on a couch (away from the colllllld). This is the part where you see this big mirror with “Swallowtail” on it followed by「お帰りなさいませ、お嬢様」(Welcome back, young miss)

This was the time where we were tweeting nonstop how nervous we were. This is a mixed opinion, but I thought we were asked by the doorman if we could understand Japanese, but Jasmine thought she heard if we could speak Japanese. But I stupidly just nodded thinking that we can aga aga manage SOMEHOW. Oh WELL, might as well experience it the authentic way HAHAHA.

Suddenly, at the corner of my eye, I was distracted by a bellowing tailcoat. It was just the doorman greeting a few girls who were on their way out. But I was suitably amused because well, I think anyone would when they see a long tailcoat go whoosh whoosh. We were then invited to head to the door on the left, and to press the bell to be greeted. But I guess the bell was for show or something, because before we even got near to the bell, the door was opened by our butler. As we went in, we were greeted by two guys with the same phrase as on the mirror. ~Welcome back~ and we both just scurried in too nervous to say anything HAHA.

The first guy who greeted us is like some dude in his late 30s called Akutagawa, who is our butler. But we called him Richardo anyways because we think that suits him much better LOL. He’s like a jolly dude with greying hair and stuff, and a super impressively kind fatherly face, which makes him look even more ~authentic~, and this really awesome way of speaking, as if he came straight out of a movie as some butler of a royal family. The other male, our footman (and waiter for the rest of the session) was quite a cutie too, but I cannot for the life of me, describe how he looks like. Quite young, like early 20s? His hair is quite styled and med long, and he was wearing glasses. A bit of a shortie. He also has a really sincere feel to him. We decided to name him Daniel /shot

Other than the unbuttoning of our own coats, we were totally not allowed to do anything on our own. Akutagawa Richardo helped me take off my coat followed by Jasmine’s, and took hold of our hats and scarves and gloves etc. Our bags were handled by Daniel. Richardo then did the introductions, the standard “I am your butler, Richardo, and I’ll be _____ and ____ and ____ (Me: whoa like a butler from the movies!!!)” We were then ushered in by our footman to the main dining hall, and before I could take in my surroundings, all the footman near the entrance totally came forward (below the platform we were on, but you know, you can see them walk forward) and greeted us all welcome home.

And I gave them my best gaijin smile and scooted closer to Jasmine.

When we neared our table, 2 footmen nearest to it whooshed over and seated us, with all the bellowing tailcoat actions.

We were seated like right in the middle of everything, no partitions whatsoever. akjhfaskjhfaksjhfkjshjfk so NERVOUS. The tables on the sides of the rooms all had partitions, one side being just curtains to block the tables by the side, the other side was like individual cubby holes, total privacy. I guess when you think about it, the ones with only the side curtains were the best seats because you can supposedly see everything (because I bet everyone wants to check out the butlers at least) while having quite a decent amount of privacy.

Our footman returned with hot towels, and said that he will put napkins over our clothes so as not to ~dirty our precious clothes~. I know it’s just the standard napkin over your legs like other restaurants, but you know, it was so cheesy, I gave a nervous/amused smile LOLOL. He also placed our bags in a box by our side, and covered it with a blanket. I don’t know if that was to prevent us from touching our bags, or to protect it from food spills or something, but whatever it is, it’s working.

Simplifying this: He proceeded to explain to us how the whole cafe works, that we are not to do anything on our own (Nothing I tell you, Nothing. You can only drink and eat and talk. You’ve gotta be waited on hand and foot. It was so embarrassing.), and should we be in need of assistance, we ring a cute little bell.

Daniel then handed us the Japanese menu, and thank heavens that we both looked through the menu online and already decided what to eat, but we totally looked at the menu purposefully and nodded at his every word anyways. He actually went through the wholllllllle menu right down to the drinks section. Most of it just whizzed through my head. You know, it’s that feeling of you understand because you’ve heard these lines before on television/radio, but you don’t really really understand in the sense you can’t reply? And he was using keigo, like supppper formal Japanese. I had to ignore all the formalities just to focus on the keywords to figure out what he was saying. When he finally left us alone, we both looked at each other with a “ho shiiiiiit” face.

He came back momentarily to give us water to drink (served in a wineglass and filled up by some fancy blue crystal-like champagne bottle LOLOLOLOL), and we totally didn’t dare to touch it because he placed them down so purposefully, like it was part of the decor instead of our drinks. We took this time to admire our surroundings which was really gorgeous btw, ivoryxbrownxgold scheme, with a looot of lovely accents of royal navy and red ~just like in the movies~. We were totally distracted by the HUGE CHANDELIER HANGING OVER OUR HEADS, and then Daniel returned asking us if we were ready to order whoops LOL.

We managed to tell him what we would like by pointing and stuff, and then we realised that oh noes we have not decided what tea to have! Both of us don’t drink tea, so it’s really hard for us to choose without knowing what to expect. Jasmine kept quiet when he asked what would she like to drink, and HAHAHA omg I leave this whole experience for Jasmine to tell. Under his recommendation, we tried out Diana Rose, which is as he described “easy to drink”. We also didn’t know what to do with the hot towels that turned cold, but after observing similar towels on other guests’ tables, figured out that it’s meant to stay on the table, and we can do whatever we want with it I guess. We held on to them as if they were life supports or something. Took us a lot of effort to put them down (AND DISRUPT THE DECOR KNOWN AS OUR CUTLERY + WATER)

Most of the guests around us seemed to be very used to the whole experience, so I assume they were regulars? One of them (I call her “Marie Antoinette”) came for a 2nd session (it was a free slot so I guess she just took it up?). Marie Antoinette was.. wow. Idk how much I can say in here, but wow. I’ve had my fair share of witnessing people roleplaying for fun/cosplaying etc., but she was quite amazing to see.

She’s like this:

This is where I spam the imaginary sparkle and flowers brushes around her.

This is where I spam the imaginary sparkle and flowers brushes around her.

This is where I have to really zip my mouth for privacy’s sake. I’ll gladly tell anyone the details about this seriously.

Btw, you are given a choice as to what you want to be called. I’m sure most would choose ojou-sama, but of course there were some options for the male guests (though I’m not surprised if some girls/guys chose the other options.) Marie Antoinette was so precious. She actually corrected her footman and told them that she was a princess.

Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

And then the butlers all played along. Amazinggggg.

Tea was served! Daniel chose to serve us tea in Aynsley Cottage Garden cups (the 3 at the top), Daniel placed Jasmine’s cup down first, which was the pink set. I sort of cooed at it to myself, but I was pretty sure it was very inaudible, but Daniel’s magical ears picked it up, and he laughed and said “Haiii~ tottemo very pretty~ Cuttee” I died in embarrassment (stressful okay.) I got the yellow one. I pointed out to Jasmine that we got the same colours as we did for the lightsticks in Mikupa :D, so I started calling my cup the Nodoame cup wtf.

According to Jasmine, he chose these two to match our pastel clothing (I was wearing that pink MM jsk I got the other night, and Jasmine was wearing her cake deco skirt), and that both of ours are from the same series so that we are.. what, together forever? HAHAHA IDK. After pouring my tea, I just said thank you to him in english (out of habit), and he laughed. I don’t know if it was an embarrassed or awkward omg-she-spoke-to-me-in-english laugh, but Jasmine said it sounded genuine and nice, SO FINE /CURLS UP AND DIES.

We have understood that we are not to touch our teapots if we needed a refill, but there’s always that itch to test the waters. Amusingly, after he poured each of our tea, he covered the teapot with this.. mitten-like thing (~navy blue~) to keep the tea warm and to prevent us from touching it. He said along the lines of “We won’t want you to scald your fingers, so please let me/us refill it for you.”

Somewhere in the middle of the whole thing, Richardo came back and deposited this really cute looking key charm thingy into a small little compartment meant for said key and said that these are our cloak room keys. We joked that if they were on a budget, they probably got said keys from Paris Kids. I would have loved to pick up the copper keys and inspect them, but like I said, I didn’t dare touch the “decor”.

And then our food came! Jasmine ordered the Victoria tea set while I took the Anna Maria. What you see on the site is exactly what we got. You notice that they are all on these tiered dessert trays right? And the stuff are all on individual plates?

Of course, he used a bunch of flowery language, but to me it totally translated as: You are not to touch the plates on your own. You have to clear plate by plate, and call me to change your plates each time.

Oh noessss.

Here is where our stress level shot up LOL. We both chose to start with the scones, and then…

“Omg, do you eat with your fingers or with your fork and knife D:”

It was silly now that I think back about it, but it really stressed us out. And we wasted a lot of time dealing with the stupid scone. Cus everyone around us is eating so elegantly, or acting like they were eating elegantly.

We tested a mix between both methods, before we promptly gave up and nommed with our fingers. We kept encouraging ourselves with, “I want to use my hands, 你要怎样?!(What do you want to do about it) I am ojou-sama RAWR!” HAHAHAHAHA.

Daniel also kept chasing us to finish. Cus we really took a damn long time with the scones. It’s not a rude sort of chase, he’s still doing the whole roleplay thing, but I guess he was quite concerned cus we were still at plate 1 and we have like 2 plates to go omg.

This is not just an oral examination. This is a dining etiquette exam. And it was a bit stressing because I don’t eat such stuff regularly, and I don’t know how these things are to be eaten “elegantly”. Call me stupid, but I bet every one will understand it like the first time you try eating spaghetti or cold soba, or all that korean food where you place the food on some leaf and eat it. It just sounds dumb in my case because it’s just desserts.

We were also, too chicken to ring the bell. Yeah we heard the other guests ringing the bell from time to time, but you know. It’s just very different from gesturing to a waiter somehow. Maybe it’s the fact that when you ring the bell, every footman looks at you, and if your personal footman doesn’t attend to you asap, someone will, and they give you their 100% undivided attention. And then communication breakdownnnn.

We did try to encourage each other to ring the bell though, because what’s the point of not experiencing that part! But every time we start our debate of “you do it. You’re the one with the empty tea cup”, Daniel suddenly swoops in (really, he just appears out of nowhere) and then refills our tea. And then urge us (very politely) to finish our scones faster.

Daniel is super attentive btw. He’s always keeping an eye on us even though he’s serving other guests too. I think he figured out that we don’t dare ring the bell.

The footmen were everywhere too. With their secret agent mics and all. We were trying to look around to see if there was any eyecandy. We spotted one of the members who was in the Operatic Troupe (I recognized that damn long ribbon anywhere) and I have to say this, he really reminds me of Eriko sans makeup =x

Other than that, there weren’t really anyone memorable, and Daniel was cute enough already. Richardo was just the best butler of the day HAHA.

Jasmine eats very neatly. The kind that no matter when you look at her plate, you don’t see like sauce or crumbs flying about. I on the other hand, always have some sort of grotesque murder scene on my plate which sometimes spills over to the table. You can guess how embarrassed I am when I think about the part where he had to clear my plate. I aimed to finish my scone and quickly deal with the crumbs, BUT CRY CRY CRY CRY HE APPEARED BEFORE I COULD TEMPER WITH THE SCENE OF THE CRIME, and there went my plateeeeeee SOB SO EMBARRASSING.

We both chose to deal with the sandwiches next, which again, we did a mix of cutlery and hands because the sandwiches may be small, but not small enough to pop the whole thing in your mouth. And hey get this, I ate them, veggie and all. Cue collective gasp. I couldn’t taste the veggie in it though, so yey.

We tried to eat faster, but I really couldn’t bring myself to finish one last sandwich which had this really questionable green looking sauce on it. Like what Jasmine said, we know it shouldn’t be that, but we just can’t help thinking of it as wasabi. In the end when Daniel did his magic appearing act to refill our tea, I gestured to him to help me take the last plate. Obviously, he took notice that I completely didn’t touch that sandwich, and he was like “Oh it’s not to your taste? It’s okay, because the next meal is this verrrrrrry sweeeeeeet dessert. Please enjoy.”

Except that my sweet intake is quite low, so UHHHHHHHHH.

I really am very taken aback at this sort of cultural experience where people really finish everything on their plate. I understand that it’s quite common, but my parents sort of taught me that there’s no point in forcing yourself to finish food if you can’t deal with it – Ya the world out there has starving kids, and I’m going to hell for this. In Japan, it really looks quite common to finish everything and you have to clear the plates yourself and stuff? I get quite embarrassed when mine is the only one not finished. This really left a deep impression in me.

We were also handed Swallowtail cards to fill up. According to the site (and Jasmine my translator), we can be members immediately when you come for a second time. Just fill up the card and bring it to them the next time, and then they will present you your shiny (but we preferred the first one) members card. Pics of it another time.

As I ate the jelly, cream puff and cake, I’ll have to say this. It’s reallllllly good. It’s just.. so sweet. I couldn’t take it anymore. But to prevent any further embarrassment, I tried to eat as much as I could. I stupidly popped the whole cream puff into my mouth because I thought I could just nom it quick quick and over and done with it, but I ended up having to chew for ages with stuffed cheeks, so ~barbaric~ HAHA.

When our time was up, Richardo came back~ told us that it’s time for us to head out, and he spoke to us in english! “How was the taste?”, and we both went “Oh! Very good! 😀 <- super pleased" And aww dammit, time's up. I didn't get to ask if I could go "pick flowers" aka go to the toilet HAHA. Daniel took our bags and guided us to this full length mirror by the exit, and Richardo came back with our coats. He helped us put on our coats, and then they both just.. stared at us staring at the mirror fumbling with our coats. I understand how it can be quite awkward, but I told myself, "Deal with it! I am ojou-sama! I take my own sweet time, cannot issit! You just WAIT!" LOL. And then they told us to be careful of the cold weather, keep ourselves warm, and itterasshaiiiiii~~~ The doorman also greeted us. And that concludes our first Swallowtail reservation. This is where we were like "omg I need to tweet to the world that I'm alive- Oh dammit, mobile wifi no more battery LOL" As you can tell, I was pretty stressed out by the whole thing, but I wish I could write this entry in such a way to show you that I actually had a lot of fun. Quite foolish when I think back about it. It's really just a normal themed cafe (with very attentive waiters). We wouldn't mind going for a 2nd round and stuff to test "theories" and just generally be more relaxed about it. The food was really nice to nom, and the ambiance was really awesome. Btw the servings were HUGE WTF we were so full, we couldn't eat dinner till 2am at night (conbini food again) And there were many stuff that happened which I didn't mention probably cus I forgot, I felt the need to omit, or that Jasmine's recount of it would be much more precious than mine. I pity Daniel a lot because I bet he was just as stressed as us lolol. But he was really nice and sincere about it all, so it was a lot more comforting. Btw, they really have a guy for every type. From short shotas, to your uncles...It was quite funny placing a type for each of the guys. And they all have -that- kind of hairstyle. The kinds that you see straight out of bishounen characters, the kind that drives your typical fujoshis wild. I had fun putting a name to every hairstyle I see. “Ohhh that’s the Sebastian haircut. That one over there is totally the Piko hairdo. Lololol this one is the ~Hiitachin~ hair.”

And I thought it was a pretty cute touch, but you know the back of your jackets you usually have this flap thing with two buttons?

Theirs had the word Swallowtail on it. Some of the footmen have Swallowtail written on the ends of their jacket at the front as well. In fact, at first they all seem like you know, butlers, but they actually have a hierachy to it all. And if I’m not wrong, you can tell who’s of a higher rank just by how impressive they suit themselves up, and the length of their tailcoats. Some have more impressive ties/ribbons/stuff around their necks, others have pins at their collars, some it’s all about the different coloured vests and stuff.

From here we had a short relaxing walk back to Ikebukuro station, pointing out the cinema that we are totally gonna book tickets to watch Rurouni Kenshin OVA~ Closet Child (I spotted it YEY! 😀 No lost!) etc…

And then we got lost trying to get out of Shinjuku station (to head to their Closet Child).

NO KARMA. SAD.

Btw, Swallowtail has a map and some directions to their place, but I thought that I could write my own version here cus I’m such a failure at navigating. I’m not sure if it’s longer than the one the site suggested, but I have this inkling suspicion it’s actually about the same route…

1. Alight at Ikebukuro station. Find the 東口 (East Exit) and walk towards it.
2. Start spotting Sunshine City signs and depend on them for dear life.
3. Alight at Exit 35. Cross the road ahead of you and turn right to spot SHU cafe.
4. Head towards the direction of this really hip and happening looking place (right in front slightly towards your right) with a lot of arcades and Tokyu Hands.
5. Reach the end of all the hip and happening looking places and cross the road towards this glass building selling cars.
6. Go around it (on your right) towards a Family Mart and behind it.
7. Wooooo Animate.
8. Walk towards Animate, straight past all the anime goods shops and stuff, and you will spot said 同人志馆 sign. Walk towards it, you will pass by the Swallowtail Patisserie. Tadah~

And now that you have suffered reading my long entry, I give you a youtube video of Swallowtail hohoho. It basically depicts a typical session, and after the long introduction of food and goodbyes, you can entertain yourself with their Operatic Troupe.

And you thought that tenimyu was bad enough LOL. ~Sword fightttt~ But that short singing segment was ooh, not bad.

You see the dude at 1:28? RICHARDO! With a lot more greying hair when we saw him! And YES YOU SEE THE HUGE CHANDELIER? WE WERE UNDER IT.

Next up: OIOI, Alta, and Sumire no Tenmado.

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