Sailor Neptune Nails from Nail Salon Glory (Tokyo)

sailor nept

Since I decided to cosplay a swimsuit version of Michiru Kaioh/Sailor Neptune for a photoshoot, I wanted the most suitable nails for this character.  I looked at various nail catalogs online, but no design fit the one I had in mind so I decided to create my own.  Fortunately, most nail salons in Tokyo are able to create original nail designs using stencils, hand-drawn art, studs, and various gradients of polish.

I booked an appointment at Nail Salon Glory through Hot Pepper, and these were the amazing results I got:

My nails were absolutely gorgeous!  Since I have short nails, I requested the scalp nail course that will extend your tip to a custom length.  The nail artist used a combination of beige and turquoise glitter polish to create a gradient that looks like an ocean.  After painting a shiny coat over it, she added sea shells and pearl studs, as well as hand-drew the insignia on Neptune’s mirror that I requested.  I was almost speechless when our session ended because I was so impressed!

Most fancy nail courses start at 10,000 yen ($93), but they are worth the price for the amount of detail and effort that is put in.  There are various coupons that can be used to lower the price, like the ones featured on HotPepper.

Scalp nails last for typically 3 weeks and are perfect for every occasion.  Not only did I use them for my photoshoot, but they also matched the color of the ocean when I was swimming in Thailand.  I’m sure I’ll be back in the future once I think of more anime-based designs!

My Favorite Noodles: Sweet Potato Cream Soba

In the trendy Ebisu neighborhood of Tokyo lies a famous soba noodle restaurant called Shodai (初代) that specializes in some pretty unique dishes. On a cold night in December, I decided to try it and thus discovered my favorite dish: Sweet Potato Cream Soba. Though sweet potato cream may seem like an unlikely soba topping, the cream actually adds a lot of delicious flavor and texture to the broth.  You can’t even really taste the potato–it truly just tastes like a light fluffy whipped topping, but isn’t even that sweet.  When it melts in the broth to coat the thick soba noodles, it truly creates an exquisite taste! Some cheap soba broths aren’t that tasty, but this is definitely one you want to try!

Whenever I walk outside this restaurant, it is usually very crowded so it is recommended to make a reservation in advance.  However, if you are by yourself then it may be possible to walk in and find available seating without reservation.  There are many soba and traditional Japanese dishes available for you to order, as well as sake!

So far Shodai is the only restaurant where I have seen this dish available, but is likely there are more soba restaurants that use similar culinary techniques!  I hope to try them out in the future.

The Fried Sweet Potato: An Unexpected Delicacy in Japan

Back in America, banana splits are a widespread dessert with their wonderfully sweet and creamy texture. But here in Japan–especially during the colder seasons–roasted sweet potatoes (焼きいも) are all the rage. Pairing them with 2 fresh scoops of vanilla ice cream creates a strange but undeniably delicious combination:

The above Sweet Potato Split was purchased from Shibuya’s Mega Don Quixote Cafe on the first floor. What surprises me the most is the fact that sweet potatoes in Japan are purple with yellow filling, whereas they are brown with an orange filling back in the US. In my opinion, these purple ones are much sweeter! I see them eaten plain, but also used in desserts and even as smoothies:

A limited-time sweet potato smoothie with promotion at the popular chain Segafredo.

When you’re in Tokyo and even in the countryside of Japan, you can buy sweet potatoes from grocery stores and street vendors as well for less than 100 yen. Though they have a number of carbohydrates, they are a delicious and relatively healthy alternative to most roasted food. On top of that, you can even find sweet potato drinks in vending machines!

A hot sweet potato beverage I purchased at Shinagawa Station. It tasted like a very sweet cider.

These are just a few of the unique sweet potato products I’ve come across in my travels, but I’ll be sure to be on the look out for more! No matter how you eat them, they will make you feel full and satisfied, like a true comfort food.