Photoshooting in a Ryokan in “Hasetsu” – “Yuri On Ice” Pilgrim

Photoshooting in a Ryokan in “Hasetsu” – “Yuri On Ice” Pilgrim

This summer we decided not only to visit Karatsu, but also to take some pictures in the Yukata Version of Yuri and Yurio in an tradtiiaonal Ryokan near to Karatsu Castle.
I wrote about my trip in Karatsu >>here<<
I also reported about my first photo shooting experience in a Ryokan >>here<<

The Ryokan we booked is called Yoyokaku.

The Ryokan is located a few meters away from the famous jogging course bridge of Yuri and the Castle. Sadly it takes about 2 Km to the station. Normally a distance you can walk, but not during the tremendous heat of 38 degrees and 90% humidity. ^^” Japanese summer can kill you….
We did not only chose this Ryokan, because of the location but also because of the beautiful interior and really good reviews.
Another important point were the Yukata´s they offer. They are exactly the same type of Yukata´s Yuri and Yuiro are wearing in the Yukata Collab button collection! (Yes, I am a nerd, shame on me!!)
As I mentioned before, Cosplaying in public is not very well received in Japan. Hotels are no exception. Even in the own private room!
Before booking the Ryokan I contacted them (in Japanese) and asked kindly for a permission to take pictures. They not only agreed kindly but also offered us to take pictures in their most beautiful room and lobby. We were really happy about it.

The Ryokan was not booked out and there were only a few customers. I am not sure if they always allow guests to take pictures or only do if their house is not full. So be sure always to ask beforehand if you are allowed to take pictures!
We also could take some very beautiful pictures in their garden and enjoyed later an full course meal with garden view.

Also the Onsen was amazing and we enjoyed the small pottery exhibition with some tea and coffee.

The breakfast in the dining hall was very tasty and the staff member took really really good care of us. She even took her time for some small talk (in Japanese, they tried but weren´t that fluent in English).

They also helped us with sightseeing spots and gave us some advices. It was great to stroll around in Yukata at the bridge and castle.

If you can spare the money and want to enjoy yourself (and drown in “Yuri On Ice” feels) I can really recommend this Ryokan.
We really enjoyed ourselves!

Pictures by Meermiau or Shiroku
Yuri by Shiroku/ Yurio by Chiko-chan

Informations:
Name: Yoyokaku
Type: Ryokan (traditional guest house)
Price range: 11.880 yen ~ 43.200 yen per room and night (might include breakfast/ dinner)
Webside: http://www.yoyokaku.com/
Adress: 2 Chome-4-40 Higashikaratsu, Karatsu, Saga Prefecture 847-0017, Japan


Real life Hasetsu an Yurio On Ice Pilgrim

Real life Hasetsu an Yurio On Ice Pilgrim

The real life version of Yuri Katsuki´s hometown „Hasetsu” is called Karatsu. A beautiful small town located near to Fukouka in the Saga region of Japan.

The Anime “Yuri On Ice” became popular all over the world. With the rising popularity, also Karatsu became more and more popular among foreign tourist.

As a huge fan of “Yuri On Ice” I took the chance to visit “Hasetsu” and explored together with friends Yuri´s hometown.

Many of you might know, that Cosplaying in public is not well received in Japan. As a foreigner you might get the “baka gaijin” (stupid foreigner) bonus, but in general if you appear in Cosplay at an event they might refuse to let you enter until you put off your costume.
Karatsu is different. With the “Saga on Ice” campaign they encourage Cosplayers to take pictures in the real life spots of “Hasetsu” and to explore this city while cosplaying.
The residents were very friendly, supportive and obviously used to “Yuri On Ice” cosplayers.

Fukouka Airport:
We decided to go by Airplane to Fukuoka, because this is how Yuri Katsuki arrived in Japan in the first episode.
We were too tired so we didn´t took any pictures.

We took the Kuukou Line to Karatsu, like Yuri did. The Kuukou line connects the Airport directly with Karatsu. It takes you about an hour to reach Yuri´s home.

When you are lucky you will be able to ride the new type of train, which also Yuri took.

Karatsu Station:
Karatsu Station is the spot were Yuri got fetched up by his family.

When we arrived, we also looked up the tourist information, were you could get free English “Yuri On Ice” sightseeing maps.
We also found tons of merchandise.

At the North exit of Karatsu you can also find the infamouse octopus statue, where Yurio took a Selfie.

Sadly the original is not an octopus but an lion.

Koyomachi (shopping district):
Of course we also visited the shopping district Koyomachi.

We went there very early in order not to disturb anyone during our shooting.
It was amazing, the shopping street played the “Yuri On Ice” OST non stop.
 

We also found next to merchandise and the tiger shirt, which Yurio discovered during his visit. The shop owner gave us a “Yuri On Ice” fan and flyers. She was super friendly and told us to take more pictures. XD

Tsubomi Snack Bar:
Tsubomi Snack Bar, is the bar where Victor was looking for Yuri and where he met Minako.

It was closed during daytime, so we didn´t went inside.

Hasetsu Castle:
The Castle is obviously one of the main spots to visit.

We visited Yuris jogging course. The stairs and the bench at the castle.
Also the spot where he talked to Victor.
And the most important place: The selfie spot of victor.
You could find photo spot signs with information’s about the location and the scenes of the Anime.
Karatsu did some promotion campaigns with the castle. You could find lot´s of merchandise in the shop and the characters all over the castle.
I loved it! (We also loved the aircon and free wifi ^_-).

The bridge:
Also one of Yuris jogging course: The bridge.
With an wonderful view to the ocean and the castle.

Especially during the night, the castle looked so beautiful.

Yu-Topia:

Yuri´s home and hot spring resort in Karatsu. We visited Yuri´s home and got some original Katsudon!
They even had the TV, where the family gathered together to watch the ice skating competitions.
They also offered a photo spot area with lot of “Yuri On Ice” characters.
Their merchandise booth were full of “Yuri On Ice” special edition stuff.
I really loved it there. Luckily it was pretty empty and were allowed to take some pictures. We got also asked by some Japanese fans for a selfie. You could meet “Yuri On Ice” fans in every corner, silently fangirling (BTW we were the only foreigners there).

Sadly we didn´t had time to visit the hot spring.

Makkachin´s vet:
We visited Makkachin´s vet and saw a lot of cute cats and dogs. Their window was full of “Yuri On Ice” merchandise and Makkachin´s.

Udon store:
During the Anime the ice rink showed some advertisement for an Udon store in “Hasetsu”.
Apparently this Udon store really exists and had a small collaboration with the Anime.

We visited the store, found the poster and the exact spot of the poster.
We tried to get the same seats but it was super crowded. The food was really amazing!

Fukouka (Yatai Stores):
After our stay in Karatsu we moved to Fukuoka and spent there a few days.

The ending of “Yuri On Ice” showed some famous spots of Fukuoka, like the Yatai stores or this unique tower.

Conclusion:
We really really loved this place. If you are a huge fan of “Yuri On Ice” I would really recommend to visit this town at least once in your life. The people are really welcoming and helpful and you can also meet a lot of fans there. Doing this photoshooting was one of my dreams and it was way better than expected.
We also could took some pictures in the Ryokan which provides the Yukata´s of the collaboration edition (I will write a blog about it later).
You could say it was one of my highlights during this travel!

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to write me a message ^_-

Pictures by Meermiau or Shiroku
Yurio by Chiko Chan
Yuri by Shiroku

Map of the “Yuri On Ice” sightseeing spots in Karatsu

 




Pokémon Cafe in Nihonbashi Tokyo ~ A short guide

Pokémon Cafe in Nihonbashi Tokyo ~ A short guide

This year a new and permanent Pokémon Cafe opened in Nihonbashi (Tokyo) in the Takashiyama east Building (5th Floor).
Pokémon already hosted several pop up cafes(limited time) in the last years. But due to conflicting time schedules I never had the chance to visit one.

The Pokémon Cafe in Nihonbashi was opened this year with a new Pokémon center, which is directly next to the café.
If you want to get a place in the café, you have to reserve online beforehand or hope to get a free seat of someone who canceled or didn’t showed up last minute.

The reservation can be made online:
You can reserve 31 days in advance. The slots are open at 6 pm (Japanese time).
If you are a bigger group I would recommend you to book early. You can cancel the table for free a day before till 10 pm (by phone!).
They have A-C seats and D seats. D Seats are the seats at the counter (long table in the middle). If you are alone you have to choose a D Seat, if you are a group from 2-4 persons, you can choose any other seat.
For more than 4 people you have to reserve 2 tables.
A Seats are directly at the window and B and C seats are located in the inner seating area.
We booked some A seats to get a better view of the whole café.

D Seats

B and C Seats
Entrance


When you arrive at the entrance of the café, there are 2 lines.
1 for the people who have reserved (you just line up there 10-15 minutes before your reserved slot) and another line for people who try to get a free spot without reservation.

Starting from a certain time you can get a slot for a certain time of the same day. You might line up at 3 pm for a slot at 5 pm.

It is really inconvenient and the café is super popular so I really would recommend to reserve.

We just lined up and a staff member got us to our seats (you just have to tell them your reservation name).


You have 90 min time and can order everything through an iPad.


The iPad provides an English version of the menu, so it is pretty easy even for foreigners to order tasty Pokémon stuff.
You are allowed to run around and take pictures freely, which is pretty uncommon for theme cafes in Japan.
The ordering pad
The Coasters
For a certain amount of orders you can win coasters. The Staff walks from table to table and you just choose you favorite Pikachu. Randomly you will get a certain coaster.


The food is real Instagram material and super cute and beautiful. Nearly a waste to eat it.
They have dessert, main dishes, drinks and you also can order exclusive souvenirs from the Café.
The price range is approximately between 500 to 3.000 yen. Compared to normal restaurant pries the café is a bit above average, the food taste ok but I think we are aware that you are paying for the feeling and the satisfaction of your nerdy needs. J
With the food you can also order the plate or the cup for an extra 1.000 Yen. But no worries, they will get you a new and clean one at the check out.


At every slot Pikachu will come over for a small dance and photo session. The mascot will dance for you and visit every table for a short picture and “meet and greet”. It was super super cute.

After finishing you just go to the cashier and the exit and pay. They also hand you the plates or cups, in case you ordered some.

At the opposite of the cashier you can buy more souvenirs, which are only available at this Pokémon café.


My opinion:



I really loved this experience and if you are a Pokémon fan this is definitely a must go if you might visit Tokyo. The staff is accustomed to foreigners, which makes the visit for English speaking visitors pretty easy.


Unlike to other cafes you are allowed to make pictures, which I really appreciated. I really loved how the food looks and loved Pikachu’s small visit (it was really damn cute…).
The food is a bit pricy and not the tastiest but still the atmosphere and experience was amazing.

If you are tight on budget just go there for a drink (btw 1 order per person is required) and enjoy the atmosphere.

Informations:


Name:

Pokemon Café


Address:
〒103-0027 Tokyo, Chūō, Nihonbashi, 2 Chome−11−2; Takashiyama east bld. 5F
Access:
JR Tokyo Station (Yaesu north exit 5 min walk)/ Nipponbashi Station (Exit B2 4 min walk
Opening hours:
10:30 am – 22:00 pm (last order food 21 pm)
Price range:

Drinks from ~ 800 Yen (cheaper with food)
Food from ~ 1.500 Yen
Dessert from ~ 1.100 Yen

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ECG-Report Day 4: The day of the day

ECG-Report Day 4: The day of the day

We took the bus at 7 am to the event and got ready for the rehearsals.



Today we had no problems with dressing up, because just the ECG representatives were backstage and we could use the Ichigo backstage to change. (And I just didn’t cared if my costume looked perfect or not, cause judging was already over). Ichigo stage has also a backstage toilet, which helped a lot.

The rehearsal went even more worse than yesterday. Everyone were super kind and sweet but we
Pic by DLG http://elvenmaid.org

were somehow frustrated and stressed. We don´t expect it to be perfect, but if you rehearse for over 6 months, every week between 3 to 9 hrs you at least want it to work out somehow.
At least the light was perfect and exactly as I scripted it.

At this point I want to thank everyone for their kind words.And the amazing work of team Epic! We were really down and it was really really sweet that you reached out to us!! Really everyone!
We did our make up and got ready for the photo shooting and video shooting. I already knew that my costume didn´t looked good anymore after the rehearsals, but I didn’t care. (I knew that I would damage parts of my costumes during the skit, so I expected it) At least I didn´t had blood stains on my leg parts like during the rehearsals of the WCS XD.

The photographer was just suuuper sweet. >< DLG is just the sweetest candy ever, and he was super quick with the pictures too!

Afterwards we had a quick videoshoot and something to eat.
We went backstage to the Ichigo stage again (good aircon there!) and practiced our skit.

2 really pretty girls from Arda wigs came backstage and checked our wigs for the wig award.
You also had the possibility to let your make up judged.
Afterwards we got ready for the real show.
The moment we were training for like hours and months. Were I put all my blood and sweat into.

Although we were really nervous and stressed out during the rehearsals and costume judging we were pretty calm (and tired) before the skit. I don’t know why but Iam always very calm before going on stage. Of course I was nervous but I was so tired at this moment, that I didn’t cared anymore.

We went on stage and did our skit. I don’t remember that much but….



Pic by CoolADN
We made 2 really huge mistakes during our fighting choreography. But we practiced cases like this dozen of times and could adapt quickly. Still our feeling wasn´t good nor about the skit neither about our costumes.
Although the rehearsals didn´t went good, I was happy we could make an okaisch skit. Thanks at this point to Team Epic, who really gave their all and took really reelly good care of us… I know it´s not easy to cope with so many stressed cosplayers but you really really did well!
We changed and watched the other skits with all the other participants backstage.

Pic by CoolADN

It was amazing to see your fellow participants on stage. All this talent, time, blood, passion and fire on stage. It was amazing to see what everyone worked for since months and hours.

It was also amazing to watch with all these people. Just so much support and kindness. The reason why I love international contests. It´s the possibility to meet this people and to share what you love. Im already missing them ToT.
After the last performance, we packed and got everything back to our Kistune squares and just waited for the winning ceremony.

For us being able to compete next to all these amazing people was already an honor and more than enough. Since the beginning of the international Cosplay Contest history, there has been never even once a German team (but I can proudly say we are good in the Solo category!) won a podium place. For us it was clear that we have no chance. We also messed up our skit and knew our costumes had their flaws.
We gathered together with all the other participants on the main stage and waited. It was super difficult to understand what Ben was saying and we were making jokes, because we all had no idea if it was French or not.
Everyone clapped and realized oh cool; 3rd place group Switzerland.
And than Ben talked announced the 2nd place and we were like clapping and cheering, but suddenly everyone was looking at us.
It took us a few seconds to realize that he said Germany. OMG I still cant believe we really won and even until the next week I didn’t really realized what actually happened.

ToT I was just so happy and really cried when the cameras were gone (I really held back). I still cant describe this feeling and I still don’t know how this happened. ToT….
First group were the Czechs. Wonderful people and amazing craftsmanship (I was like staring at their costumes like forever, cause I have never seen such amazing craftsmanship up close….). I was really happy for them. Well desevered!

3rd Solo were Switzerland and 2nd our German representative Pandora (She was also like what the heck) and first Poland (a real cutie).

I want to thank everyone at this point for their kindness and support and everyone who congratulated us! Iam still so amazed we could place 2nd next to so so many amazing and talented people. I never even dreamed about having the chance to place at all but 2nd is just amazing. And I still cant believe it.

Thanks to everyone who liked our skit and our costumes. We really struggled a lot with both and it just means so so much to us. Thank you!!!
After crying and taking some pictures for our sponsors and Social Media we went backstage of Kistune and packed our things for the transport.
The Bus was super packed because everyone brought their props and stuff back to the hotel (we had like 3 4 days to get them to the venue). But still we could fit more or less in.
After a small dinner the European Snack Gathering began.
Guys… bring insect repellent…. it was in a park and I seriously have no idea how many bites I got. Everyone brought snacks and booze from their home country and passed them around. You also had the chance to talk to everyone and just to enjoy yourself.
It was great, you finally had the chance to talk to everyone. Before you could feel the tension. And now everyone was just super relaxed and talkative. We already fell in love with Portugal, UK, Netherlands and Spain (I personally also loved the Czechs) but could finally also talk to the other teams and also helpers and epic staff.
After a long long day we went to bed and got ready for the last day.

ECG-Report Day 3: Costume judging and rehearsal

ECG-Report Day 3: Costume judging and rehearsal

This was actually the worst day. I had never so much stress in my life before. Iam not very confident in my crafting skills and we knew that our costumes are far from perfect.
So we were already pretty pretty nervous the night before.
The bus took us at 9 am to the location and we had judging at about 2 pm.
I needed to build up my swords for transport reasons and repainted the 2nd side of Chikos sword. I also needed to restyle the fringe of my wig.
Getting into costume took like forever.
We had one helper (Kaddle was just the best girl ToT) and still had lots of problems.
Unlike WCS and C4 you don’t have an own designated changing place. They have a separate changing room for everyone (not only ECG but also the other French Cosplayers!), but not enough chairs, tables and mirrors. So everyone was fighting for it and tried to get at least one of the few chairs and tables.
It was also unlucky that you needed to use the public toilet. So waiting for 30 minutes was not unusual. This added a lot of stress due to the already tight timetable.
We had our own Make up mirrors, which was the best idea ever.
(Memo to future teams, bring your own chairs and tables if you need them to dress up, Netherlands brought a bench or do your make up in the Hotel).
At Japan Expo the place is very limited, so I guess the organizer had no other choice. The team still tried their best to provide us with everything. But I think its important to know, so the future teams know what to bring.
As I mentioned I was super nervous and all the circumstances just added more and more stress to myself.
I also need to say that the costumes of the other participants looked amazing. And yes it was intimidating. I felt so happy to be able to stand on the same stage with all this talented cosplayers, but I just really felt like a damn potato next to them.
The noise didn´t made it better; you needed to scream whenever you wanted to talk to someone. everything was directly behind the Kitsune stage, so you heard the music and drummers from the stage the whole day.
Also the participants were stressing out because of the stage for the finals.
The stage was way shorter than the ECG told us beforehand. We realized it at the presentation the day before.
A lot of participants needed to find a plan B or tried to rewrite the choreographies for their final skits. (We learned later that they fixed it (Iam still so grateful for that thank you ToT), but at this moment everyone tried to arrange themselves with the new measurements of the stage).
The judging room was an open space at the Kitsune backstage (were everyone walked around and were it was super noisy).
When we had our judging turn we had huge problems to understand the questions of the judges and weren´t sure if they could understand us (at least they nodded ToT).
We tried to scream what we wanted to say, but we just had a few minutes (4 minutes per Cosplayer) we needed to rush. The judges were really nice and sweet. I was just super super super nervous.
I expected the wig judging afterwards but learned, that the judging will be made at Saturday right before the finals.
Chiko and I decided to rehearse in full costumes, cause we know that our costumes and especially the wig will slow down our movements or might make problems during our fight.
I still let my wig judged on Saturday but she was already disheveled after the rehearsal.
We took some pictures of our costumes, got lunch (nom nom) and made our first video shoot (the staff understood my problem and tried their best for it).

Afterwards we brought our props over to the Ichigo stage and got ready for the first rehearsal.
The epic staff people came to us and asked for the placement of the props. We already gave them the documents a month before, but because we already experienced WCS we printed our everything again for them and handed them our script.
The rehearsal didn´t went well. I was tripping over my own props and struggled with the surface of the stage (we had a scene were I slided under Chiko but couldn’t do it, because the surface was carpet and not slippery at all, so we needed to change the choreography, but we had a Plan B for this case so it was no problem).
The light was pretty off, but I know that rehearsals are mostly like this so I just changed back and hoped that tomorrow will be better.
The Epic Team really gave their best for every representative to place the props and to support us. Thanks to you guys for all your hard work and kindness!
We packed and went by bus to the hotel had dinner and went to bed. Everyone was pretty exhausted and knew that we had to be at the bus at 7 am the next day.
ECG-Report Day 2: Lottery and Presentation

ECG-Report Day 2: Lottery and Presentation

The 2nd day started really late. The bus departed at 9 am. We got our make up stuff and some final costume parts with us (our props were already at the expo)



The backstage of the Kitsune stage was the headquarter of the ECG representatives.


The Kitsune stage is a small Cosplay stage in one of the main halls where you also can find several Cosplay related booths.

Everyone had a little square where he could store their props or just chill out.

Squares
They also had changing rooms and a small area with tables and electricity as well as a table with water, small snacks and an interesting pile of ice tea (which mysteriously got bigger Oo not smaller…).
Mytseriouse pile of tea XD
They scheduled 1,5 hrs for changing, so we could take it slowly.
After changing they started the lottery for the performance order of the ECG finals.

Every country went up to the Kitsune stage, answered 1 or 2 questions from Benjamin and took one lottery ticket. The starting numbers are country wise to ensure the maximum “gap” between the 2 skits of one country.
Our Solo representative Yuna tried her luck and got us (group) the starting number 1 and for herself the starting number 8.
Some people were pretty confused, because we were really happy about the starting number.

Drawing numbers at the Kitsune stage

To be honest, we wanted this number. We realized that if you start the show, you can see all the other skits without being nervous and enjoy it freely. We are also through the rehearsals first and have plenty of time afterwards to take care of the problems, which might appear and to change back (we did all rehearsals in full costume). Or just start packing, while the others still need to wait for their turn.
As a singer I am always the starting number one of the show for the next 30 minutes. So I never felt this pressure of “being the first”.

After getting our favorite starting number we got lunch backstage. The epic staff brought us several sandwiches, desserts and drinks from which we could choose freely. It was pretty tasty. After the lunch we got ready for the presentation.

Food!


Waiting for the Parade
The presentation was held at the Ichigo stage (main stage) and was right before the Cosplay show at Thursday. We just walked up to the stage (country wise in alphabetic order), went to the front, made 2 or 3 poses and went back.
After that we had freetime.
Presentation
We both changed back and started to build our props for the rehearsals, repaired our costumes and props (the swords got some ditches from the transport and one of the holders fell apart) and got everything ready for the next day.
Nearly everyone builded up their props and repainted their armors/ props.
Because we knew that the Japan Expo is in the nowhere, we brought a survival kit which includes everything we might need to repair something (6 different types of glue, 5 different types of tape, screwdriver, paint, needles, yarn, paint etc etc tec) we could provide everyone with pretty much everything and opened the “iron square”. XD
After that we took the bus back to the hotel.
A lot of people told me that we food at the restaurant won´t be good. But actually I was really happy. ToT We could choose 2 buffets (main dish + starter or main dish + dessert) and it was just super super tasty! They hade a “make yourself burger” station and we dessert was just super super tasty!
Thanks for feeding me so well. ToT I ate a lot during the few days!