Epic Finds in Okayama: Okonomiyaki Serving Robots & Dinosaur Parks (Japan)

Over the weekend I traveled to Hiroshima Prefecture for the Pasocom Ongaku Club Nightflow Tour at two locations in rural Japan.  The events touched my heart so I will be writing a detailed report about their music in a future post, but first I wanted to point out two amazing places I found along the way while backpacking!

Next to Hiroshima Prefecture lies Okayama Prefecture, which is less than an hour away by shinkansen (bullet train).  I have traveled here before to explore Kurashiki, a famous canal town that attracts a lot of tourists, but here are some other off the beaten path recommendations I have for those who are visiting the area:

Shinju: The Okonomiyaki Serving Robot Restaurant

In this area of Japan, okonomiyaki–a pancake usually served with bacon, fried noodles, and vegetables–is an extremely popular dish.  The name “okonomiyaki” literally means “to one’s liking” so you can usually customize your order with other ingredients (such as seafood) or ask for a vegetarian version as well.

At Shinju, the extremely hardworking “NUMBER-ONE-ROBOT” will serve the ingredients you order directly to your table so you can cook the okonomiyaki yourself!  Wearing an adorable Disney hat and greeting you in a friendly tone, this robot does everything it can to make you feel welcome:

I decided to order the seafood okonomiyaki set with noodles.  I’ve had this dish before, but it’s been a long time since I prepared it on a hotplate myself.  The kind staff taught me the correct way to flip the pancake batter on the noodles to create the perfect okonomiyaki.  If you are unsure of how to do this, they will be sure to assist you (it’s actually quite easy once you get the hang of it):

After about 10-15 minutes of cooking, we ended up with this delicious result:

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The perfect seafood okonomiyaki with fried noodles, shrimp, octopus, and squid.

Not only is okonomiyaki delicious, but it’s also the perfect hangover food.  Overall the service here was above average and the staff even sat down and talked to me for a while.  I told them all about the event and how much I enjoy backpacking in Asia because it’s generally very safe to travel here.

The joke of the day was how the robot here resembled the robot on the Pasocom Ongaku Club Promotional flyer (drawn by Satoshi Kurosaki):

This was the best okonomiyaki restaurant I have ever been to, so I recommend it to literally everyone!

Shinju Address:

真珠
87 Higashihirajima, Higashi Ward, Okayama, 709-0631

Kasaoka Dinosaur Park

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Remember when the dinosaurs invaded rural Japan?  I remember, because I was there!

On the way back to Hiroshima for the 2nd event I was going to, I decided to stop by Kasaoka, Okayama, because it is the closest major city near the border.  Here I was elated to find a park full of dinosaurs outside of the Horseshoe Crab Museum!  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go inside the museum, but I had a ton of fun photographing the dinosaurs in the park (which is free to visit).

I really find it odd that someone decided to put these dinosaurs all the way out here in rural Japan.  What inspired this park, and are there deeper secrets buried here in Kasaoka that are waiting to be discovered?  I will be searching for more places to visit like this in the future because I simply find them fascinating.  There’s so much more to discover in Japan than simply Tokyo–epic finds are literally everywhere.

Kasaoka Horseshoe Crab Museum Address:

Kabutogani Horseshoe Crab Museum
1946-2 Yokoshima, Kasaoka, Okayama 714-0043

Please look forward to the rest of my Hiroshima blog series!  I will be publishing it both this and next week~

Digging up Dino Bones at the Jurassic World Cafe (Tokyo)

Last year I went on an exciting excavation digging through biomes (made of frosting) and unearthing dinosaur bones (made of cake) from an ancient land, otherwise known as the Jurassic World Cafe in Ikebukero, Tokyo.

This cafe ran for several weeks in July 2018 cooperatively with the Jurassic World movie that was released.  The menu featured some explosive meals and delicious desserts!  Additionally there were dino masks you could wear to feel like you were really a part of this cafe.  My friend appropriately wore her Yoshi’s Island shirt, so we came well prepared.  We ordered every dessert on the menu, and the green tea jelly egg drink!

Though this collab cafe has now ended, the rental space in Sunshine City is continually being used to host new cafes!  For more information, please see The Guest Cafe & Diner website (Japanese with some English).

Is Scene Kid Fashion Forever Iconic in Tokyo?

Traversing through the streets of Harajuku–one of Tokyo’s most iconic fashion districts famous for pastel, lolita, goth, and designer street wear clothing–one would not be surprised to see bright-colored styles in all sorts of unique forms.  However, one piece of clothing in particular caught my eye.  It was a bright pink sweater with a green dinosaur on it and felt strangely nostalgic:

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Myself modeling a sweater from the dinosaur line at WC.

Upon looking at it closer, the dinosaur had a very unique expression on its face.  Its lips were parted in an extremely derpy way, and it looked liked it was trying to say something.  Not “roar” like you would expect a dinosaur to say, but perhaps something less intimidating… like “rawr”.  When I noticed this, I immediately thought back to the Rawr xD memes that plagued the internet in the early 2000s.  And it got me thinking…  Is Scene Kid Fashion Forever Iconic in Tokyo?  Or does it just coincide with Harajuku fashion?

Similarly to how Harajuku fashion is influenced by music (especially Visual Kei), scene fashion was originally influenced by rock and other subgenres.  Both styles feature brightly colorful attire that is sometimes paired with excessive hair clips, intricate makeup, big bows, and sometimes piercings as well.  Just like scene lingo exists, Harajuku gyaru lingo exists too.  When you compare pictures of the two fashions side by side, they are slightly different but fundamentally the same:

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Typical Harajuku Fashion.  Photo by Rebels Market.

Although Harajuku fashion started in the 1980’s, the gyaru and lolita subcultures started from 99′ – 00′, which was right around the time when scene kid fashion was starting to form as well.  Though it wasn’t until the late 2000s when the term “scene kid” was coined, a lot of people were wearing the style before then.  Regardless of when exactly they were formed, both fashions express a statement against conforming with societal norms and are designed to express individuality.

Though both styles have received both praise and cringe-worthy reactions from the public, I find that their connections are quite interesting.  Japanese fashion continuously uses inspiration from the west, and western countries often import and find Japanese fashion quite alluring.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a scene kid or a Harajuku girl, but I can appreciate both fashions for the uniqueness (and weirdness).  At the end of the day, I am extremely grateful to whatever influenced my derpy dinosaur sweater!