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Puroland Halloween: Tokyo’s Sanrio Hello Kitty theme park! Yayoi Kusama Museum, Takashi Murakami cafe Zingaro.

kuromi mascot meet and greet character photos puroland halloween

We met Kuromi! Welcome to the best day ever at Sanrio Puroland, Tokyo’s Hello Kitty theme park.

Read on for our fever dream-like visit to Puroland, along with other adorable pop culture and art attractions in Tokyo — including the Yayoi Kusama Museum, and Takashi Murakami’s Nakano cafe (Coffee Zingaro!). And I’ll show you inside my boutique hotels, The Royal Park Canvas Ginza Corridor and Ginza 8 (#PR).

meet hello kitty puro land sanrio amusement park

Did you know Tokyo has a Hello Kitty amusement park? Located at Tama Station, Sanrio Puroland is a kawaii dreamland filled with your favourite mascots.

As you can see in my Insta video, the park had special events, food and merch for “Puro Halloween” throughout October. (They have various seasonal celebrations year-round.)

exterior puroland rainbow gate tama station

It’s easy to get to Puroland – from Shinjuku, it’s about 30 minutes to Keio Tama Center Station on the Keio Line, or Odakyu Tama Center on the Odakyu Line. Take a short walk and you can’t miss the bridge to the rainbow entrance.

kuromi halloween stuffed toys plush

For Halloween, the theme park released special edition spooky goods starring Kuromi, the impish skull-wearing rival of My Melody.

kuromi devil satanic hello kitty character evil

Kuromi is a favorite among Goths, of course… although all the Sanrio characters look fab dressed in witch hats and Gothic Lolita dresses!

puro halloween hello kitty land tokyo japan

Sanrio Puroland opened in 1990, and has been popular with fans ever since. Many dress up as their favorite characters to visit the indoor park.

cinnamonroll theme park rides puroland ride

Puroland only has a few rides, and lines can be long — so we opted to simply walk around and enjoy the cute shops and photo-locations, like this Cinnamonroll fuzzy bus.

hello kitty theme park attractions events show

Of course, you can’t miss the gift stores, which are decorated to the nines (like this balcony with a Hello Kitty royal wedding).

puroland food court restaurants

The food area serves dishes themed after the mascots, of course.

kuromi themed food cute kawaii curry rice puroland

For Halloween, Puroland had these Kuromi and My Melody curry dishes, with ham and cheese cut-outs… Let’s just say this looks cuter than it tasted!

kuromi puroland tickets entry visitor guide goth

If you’re a fan of the Hello Kitty universe, you can’t miss Sanrio Puroland when you’re in Tokyo. Check out their site for opening tours, tickets, and more.

Thank you to Puroland for the press passes — it was a dream come true to hug Kuromi!

The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza corridor hotel review lobby

Tokyo is currently packed with tourists; in fact, visitor numbers now exceed pre-pandemic levels. Photographer Joey and I were glad to get away from the crowds — while also getting an artistic experience — by staying at The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza Corridor.

The boutique hotel’s sophisticated design is inspired by the flow of alcohol at Ginza Corridor, a lively street of small bars and restaurants that can be viewed from the balcony. The party continues in the hotel lobby, which often hosts live DJ performances until the early hours.

ginza boutique hotels The Royal Park Canvas corridor bar

The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza Corridor cotains three bars, including one that specializes in Prosecco, and one with an impressive selection of Japanese liquor. I enjoyed the shiso umeshu (plum wine), and using this mallet to crack open this mini sake barrel.

The spacious, modern rooms also have design elements that pay homage to drinking culture, like metallic champagne bubble motifs over the windows.

japanese bar curtains royal park tokyo hotels

Loved the chic decor and convenient location of The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza Corridor. The hotel is only a short walk from Ginza and Shimbashi stations, as well as high end fashion boutiques, art attractions, and fine restaurants.

The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza 8 lobby

We also stayed at The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza 8, which featured cozy, hip spaces that encourage you to mingle. The music lounge contained an extensive vinyl collection for guests to listen to.

japanese breakfast The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza 8 hotel review rating

We had a Japanese breakfast to remember at Opuses restaurant, on the top floor. I tasted small, artistic dishes (grilled fish, rolled egg, stewed vegetables) while looking out at the terrace.

The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza 8 luxury hotel tokyo japan

Here’s the long lobby bar / cafe at The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza 8. You can sip on cocktails or mocktails, and a variety of tea — but of course, I went straight to the bottles of yuzu (Japanese citrus juice, my fav). Thank you to both hotels for the sublime stays. #PR

yayoi kusama museum entrance sign shinjuku

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you’ll know that I will take any opportunity to see artwork by Japanese avantgarde legend, Yayoi Kusama (famous for her polka dot pumpkins and Infinity Mirror Rooms). And so, I made a pilgrimage to the Yayoi Kusama Museum, a permanent space dedicated to her work (located near Waseda and Takadanobaba stations, in Shinjuku Ward).

Founded in 2017 by the artist herself, the Yayoi Kusama Museum presents rotating exhibitions that lets visitors get a glimpse of her visionary world.

tokyo japan yayoi kusama museum exhibitions events paintings tentacles

Yayoi Kusama has been making waves in the art world from the hippie-era 1960s to the present. The Tokyo museum’s sleek architecture beautifully frames her brightly colored, pop-meets-surreal paintings and sculptures. 

Note that to visit the museum, you must purchase a timed 90-minute ticket in advance from their website. Photos are only allowed on several floors.

yayoi kusama museum sculptures tokyo japan exhibit

I especially loved the open-air rooftop, which encourages you to engage with her large-scale art. Under the blue sky, Yayoi Kusama’s flower appears to bloom towards the camera! On another floor, I admired “Visionary Colors” – a selection of her colorful paintings that meditate on peace and love, inner struggles, and oneness/liberation through “self-obliteration.” 

yayoi kusama obliteration room tokyo japan art museum

Kusama has experienced hallucinations throughout her life, which have inspired installations like “I’m Here, but Nothing.” I spent a few minutes inside this trippy bedroom illuminated with glowing UV polka dots – it made me want to have a disco party! 

Get immersed in her art at Tokyo’s Yayoi Kusama Museum. Check their site for ticket info, as well as special events such as lectures.

cafe coffee zingaro nakano takashi murakami

Finally, let’s pop into artist Takashi Murakami’s cafe, Coffee Zingaro in Nakano! Go to the second floor of Nakano Broadway, and you can’t miss his smiling rainbow flowers lit up in neon lights.

takashi murakami theme cafe artist hipster coffee zingaro

The coffee shop is the brainchild of renowned Japanese contemporary artist, Takashi Murakami. The café is a wonderland of his poppy, colorful artwork inspired by manga, anime, and kawaii culture.

food at coffee zingaro murakami themed burgers desserts

At Coffee Zingaro, everything on the menu looks like a Murakami painting. I tried the ham sandwich, latte, and pumpkin muffin — all of the food was stamped with his smiley flower mascot. and came with an Arigato sticker.

coolest interiors instagrammable cafe restaurant tokyo zingaro

I felt as if I was inside one of his whimsical, colorful paintings. The tables at Coffee Zingaro double as gaming consoles, so you can play retro video games like Mario Bros and Donkey Kong while you eat.

takashi murakami muffin smiling rainbow flower light zingaro nakano

The moist pumpkin muffin was one of the best I’ve had — and was certainly the cutest!

Bite into one at Coffee Zingaro inside Tokyo’s Nakano Broadway (2F). Also check out artist Takashi Murakami’s nearby Hidari and Tonari no Zingaro art galleries.

sanrio puroland gothic kuromi mascots サンリオピューロラン

No matter how many times I visit Japan, I never tire of the whimsical art and slightly bizarre attractions. Would you visit the Hello Kitty theme park, Puroland?

To see these cute mascots in action, I hope you enjoy the reels and more photos on @LaCarmina Instagram. Thanks for the add, and more soon!

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Shinjuku Visual Kei Jrock music stores, Kabukicho Goth bars! Psy, Deathmatch in Hell, Ni-choome Eagle Blue drag nights.

shinjuku instagrammable locations tokyo instagram photography spots kabukicho signs

We’re back to blogging, babes! So much to share from my month and a half in Japan — from celebrating Halloween with friends, to covering Goth / alt subcultures in Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and more.

Let’s start with a deep dive into Shinjuku’s best Visual Kei / J-rock shops, Goth bars, and drag nightclubs.

goth tokyo shibuya scramble crossing portrait girl woman japan instagram locations

The trip was made possible by Japan Tourism Board, who flew me there and gave me a Japan Rail Pass. Felt so good to be back at Shibuya scramble and my other haunts.

taj mahal drag queens fashion shoot india hijra third gender

If you’ve been following my Instagram @LaCarmina, you’ll know that Yukiro and I have been serving Halloween looks all over Tokyo for spooky season. (Here’s a throwback to the time we wore saris from our hijra friends — the third gender — to the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.)

shinjuku famous skyline skyscrapers neon lights

For spooky season, we’re living our best lives in Japan. Read on for our tour of Shinjuku’s Visual Kei / J-Rock record stores, as well as a Goth alternative and LGBTQ nightlife guide!

cute halloween japanese nail art kawaii nails pumpkin ghost spooky goth glam nail salon vancouver

Halloween is of course my favorite holiday, so Japanese nail salon Glam Nail Studio glammed me up with ghosts, mummies, bats, pumpkins, and eyeballs. Based in Richmond, BC (near Vancouver), this award-winning salon has been doing my nails for years. Kana hand-painted the spooky kawaii creatures of the night, and added sparkles.

anime billboards tokyo shinjuku signs

My friends and I love to hang out in Shinjuku — it’s a center of alt and pop culture, and there are plenty of shops, restaurants, game centers, rock bars, and other quirky attractions to keep us entertained.

gracery godzilla hotel tokyo kabukicho statue

I always recommend that people stay in east Shinjuku (San-Choome) or Kabukicho, as this location is near the subway and within walking distance of all the fun. The Godzilla-themed Hotel Gracery is a great choice for accommodations (here’s my review and look inside the theme hotel).

shinjuku egg building cocoon tower aggretsuko location tokyo

Ah, that iconic Shinjuku skyline… Perhaps you recognize the egg-shaped skyscraper from scenes in TV series Aggretsuko (the character works in this district). That’s the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, an educational facility.

prega shinjuku rave cyber fashion shop

Yukiro and I spent an afternoon shopping in Shinjuku. We hit up all the subcultures shops like Closet Child, which I’ve written about many times before. This time, he also took me to Prega, a rave / clubwear shop in Shinjuku Subnade (the underground shopping hall).

tokyo japan sneakers store streetwear kicks

These sneakers are made for walking on the moon! The selection of intergalactic fashion at Prega is out of this world.

tokyo ravewear club fashion clothing store

They have everything you need for a catwalk in outerspace.

tokyo alien ufo store

Governments are now admitting UFOs are real… We’d love for the aliens to beam us away!

Kasa-obake mural japanese umbrella ghost spirit yokai folklore

If the aliens look anything like this Kasa-Obake mural in Shinjuku, I’ll be happy. (Kasa-Obake is a traditional Japanese ghost/spirit, or yokai — an umbrella that comes to life and hops around, with one eye and a lolling tongue).

japanese pentagram satanist heavy metal mejibray

We went around to Shinjuku’s J-rock / heavy metal / Visual Kei music stores. Japan is futuristic in some ways, but old-school in others. For example, floppy disks and fax machines are still in use here..

shinjuku vhs tapes video stores vintage videotape

… and VHS tapes still have a market! We couldn’t believe the number of shelves containing old adult videotapes. Some were selling for $100 and up.

shinjuku visual kei music stores record shops

If you’re looking for VKei albums and merch, head to Pure Sound Nishishinjuku and Jishuban Club. These (and other small Jrock/metal record stores) are located near each other in West Shinjuku.

kamijo cds japanese jrock shops record store vk

CDs are still popular in Japan. Kamijo has a strong selection (you can find Versailles, Malice Mizer, and other VK favs).

cure magazine visual kei japanese rock stars

These record stores also sell The Cure magazine, and other band goods including signed posters and rarities.

visual kei shopping guide shops meet greets

Nostalgia for the 2000s when Visual Kei hair and makeup were everything!

visual kei band posters hair makeup rockers

I don’t keep up with VK bands these days, but it was fun to pop into Pure Sound and Jishuban to browse the latest records.

japan visual kei jrock flyers concerts tickets tokyo lives

Yukiro and some of my friends still go to Visual Kei / Jrock lives, like the recent Schwarz Stein show. You can get tickets and info about upcoming shows at these music stores too.

host clubs district tokyo kabuki cho men boys signs

When night falls, Shinjuku turns into a neon synthwave jungle.

tokyo vans advertising music bands

Here’s the vibe of Kabukicho — flashing lights, sounds, and skyscrapers everywhere. Advertising trucks like this one zip by, blasting frenetic Jpop music.

bar psy shinjuku rock bar tokyo bars

My friends and I will never say no to a nightcrawl in Shinjuku. We hopped around to a few alternative / Goth / metal bars — starting at our longtime favorite, Bar Psy.

bar psy heavy metal music bars tokyo japan

Shinjuku has bars for every theme or niche imaginable. Bar Psy attracts a Gothic and underground clientele — many industrial and metal bands come here for drinks after a show.

tokyo metal bars rock bar kabukicho psy

Cevin Key of Skinny Puppy is a regular here — his band’s poster is up on the wall.

tokyo goth gothic bars cocktails hell satan satanic drinks

I tried the Hell Machine blood red cocktail and… let’s say it lived up to its hellish name!

japanese rock music bars tokyo coolest bars

Hail Japan, at Bar Psy!

vowws tshirt goth gothic japanese bands

Onward to some other Shinjuku bars that fit our dark aesthetic…

rock bar mother shinjuku bar hopping

We went across the street to basement rock bar Mother. The skulls and blood-dripping fonts indicate this is the place for us.

skinny puppy japan music bars

Order a drink, and you’re able to make a song request at Mother! Pick a band (like Skinny Puppy, which was misspelled), and the bartender will hand you CDs to choose tracks from.

japan underground subculture bars rock punk

Even in a hard rock environment, Hello Kitty and her kawaii friends reign (this is Japan after all).

klaus nomi cd cover

We requested Klaus Nomi – yass!

japan weird strange offbeat signs tokyo

For a taste of Tokyo’s LGBTQ nightlife… strut over to Shinjuku’s Ni-choome district.

eagle blue gay bar bears ni-choome

Nichoome has LGBTQ bars and nightclubs for everyone. We’re fond of the inclusive Eagle Blue, a friendly bear den.

rupaul drag race screening tokyo ni choome drag queen shows

Yukiro (as drag queen Nattmara) runs events here, like RuPaul’s Drag Race screenings and performances by local queens.

leather bear bars tokyo japan eagle blue gay nightlife

We always have a bear-y good time at Shinjuku’s Eagle Blue club! There’s a more old-school Eagle bar around the corner too.

drag queen clubs gay lgbtq nightclubs shinjuku tokyo japan

Yukiro’s Goth drag house, Haus von Schwarz, often takes over the stage at Eagle Blue — here’s Angel Heart in pentagram finery. (Check their Insta page for upcoming shows — like the upcoming Fresh Meat.)

deathmatch in hell horror movie bar golden gai

Finally, Shinjuku is home to Golden Gai, or several alleys packed with tiny, gritty bars (some only can seat about five people). We were drawn to the new Death Match in Hell, which has a B-horror theme.

golden gai weirdest bars gothic goth shinjuku death match hell

Inside, you’ll encounter kitschy horror posters and demon-skeleton-bat creatures!

666 yen cocktails japan horror film kitsch nerd bar

Fittingly, all cocktails are 666 yen (hail). I went for the ginger one.

golden gai bars no cover deathmatch in hell

We crammed into Deathmatch in Hell, which has tributes to dark pop culture like Twin Peaks, Chucky, and Nightmare on Elm Street.

golden gai shinjuku bartenders tiny bars guide

In the background, the bartender played offbeat cult films (he personally loves Wayne’s World).

weird hostess bars tokyo kabukicho

And of course, Shinjuku’s Kabukicho is the red light district — the place to find host / hostess bars and adult entertainment.

hostess club ads shinjuku tokyo signs ladies bars

Speaking of aliens… these purikura filters are over the top.

japan hostess girls red light district tokyo

If you partake in any adult / hostess clubs, exercise diligence since you might encounter unexpectedly high prices and other sketchiness.

hostess bars tokyo signs advertisements girls

But don’t worry — Japan is super safe, and you can walk around the red light district at all hours without issue.

kabukicho red neon entrance gates

Look for the red Ichiban-gai, the main entrance to Kabukichō off of Yasakuni-doori.

neon lights kabukicho entrance street

Shinjuku at night is my happy place. (Don Quixote, the general store that sells everything from costumes to makeup to Tenga, is on the right).

street fashion people shinjuku walking japanese

Kabukicho night photography by Joey Wong. We’re so happy to be back in Japan for Halloween… I’ll be bringing you loads of new content this fall from Tokyo and beyond, so stay tuned to Instagram @LaCarmina and my other social networks @lacarmina.

myanmar shwedagon pagoda buddha statues temple

You can look forward to fashionable new adventures with Yukiro… Here’s a redux of the time we went to Myanmar (“it will always be Burma to me”) and explored the golden Shwedagon Pagoda filled with Buddhist monuments.

palais faraj fez morocco fes architecture wes anderson

Throwback to Wes Anderson vibes at Palais Faraj in Fez, Morocco. Where in the world should La Carmina go next?

national geographic travel journalist writer submissions magazine clips nat geo

I’d love to check out the hardcore hell parks in Thailand and Singapore… I wrote about Asia’s bizarre Buddhist hell parks for National Geographic! Check it out here on Nat Geo — “Found across Asia, these popular theme parks began as temple gardens that warned visitors of Buddhism’s many levels of hell and the gruesome fates that awaited them there.”

vancouver content creators top bloggers blog bc the georgia straight music interview

And here’s a fun interview I did with Vancouver’s alt/indie paper, The Georgia Straight. I wax on about visual kei by Malice Mizer, disco, Army of Lovers, yuzu and what’s in my fridge!

If you’re enjoying my Japan content, please add me @LaCarmina on Instagram for a deluge of photos and reels there from my trip, including a yokai parade that went viral…