actually, the title of this blogpost is somewhat misleading. i apologise.
after the quick jaunt to hakone and iwahara that's all too short ( T.T ), we arrived back in tokyo and checked in for our stay of the night -- the much anticipated book & bed tokyo! if you have some bookworm friends on your social media you'd probably have seen stories about this bookish stay here, here and here.
they take a very novel approach to the capsule hotel concept by filling up the spaces between bunks with books. so. many. books. what's better, there's even an english section!
we alighted at the ikebukuro station in the evening and dragged our luggage around office blocks while trying to figure out its location. it's tucked away in one of the buildings, but actually it's just a three minute walk to the station. we finally found it, took the elevator up to the claustrophobic speakeasy-style reception, gave an obligatory laugh at the 'have a book night' greeting, settled our stuff at the tiny bunk beds, and set to exploring the bookshelves.
book & bed call themselves an 'accommodation bookshop' but THAT'S A LIE. because the books are not for sale. WHYYYY.
so many books that i want! darn it.
made peggy take a photo here. if you squint you can make out some of the titles.
also note 'oishinbo' on the left. i first heard of this food-themed japanese manga at a media lunch where the kind pr lady shared about it and how i can learn a lot about japanese food from the series. i googled around but i forgot all about it after the prices made my eyes water. until i found the complete series at book & bed! hehehehehehe ini kali lah.
super engrossed in oishinbo already.
finally liz and peggy had to drag me away from the shelves to head out for dinner!
tonight we'll be having japanese pizza for dinner! much as we love japanese food, there's only so much pork chops and convenience store food you can eat, so we (more like i) decided to go to seirinkan at naka-meguro. hence the misleading part of this blog post (although we were staying at ikebukuro, we did not explore that area at all). instead we took the train to naka-meguro hahaha.
turned out that seirinkan wasn't open until 6pm, so we walked around freezing to death in the late evening breeze. it's actually a lovely area with quirky old shops (kitchen supplies, vintage stores, old school pharmacies, some fancy barbershop, funny hats, florists, lifestyle shops) and a sense of general neighbourliness. every now and then a bike whizzes past or some stylish office worker strides home for dinner. pretty good for people watching too!
i present, Naka Meguro Shopfronts:
after lots of wandering and checking out vintage stores (lots of great stuff, by the way), it's finally 6pm!
most of the shops were already closed by then so we made our way to seirinkan. we suddenly found ourselves on a street with some pretty good restaurant options but we're here for pizza and nothing else! nothing will stop us. not even some truffle pork pasta. hmmph.
we bravely made our way in, smiled nervously at the staff all busying themselves around the huge pizza oven on the ground floor, and were led by another staff up the spiral staircase to the second storey, a significantly quieter space where an elegant lady holds court at the bar and a few tables were scattered around the tiny area.
timeout tokyo describes it as steampunk, and i guess it's the closest description you'd get. it's a dark space, lit by a few 'industrial' lamps, lots of metal and exposed brick everywhere, but it's not the overdone cafe industrial look that you get in kl cafes.
it's DARK. which we think they're making some point for us to not take photos of our food. lol. we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves though.
here's the thing: seirinkan only serves two types of pizza - margherita and marinara.
we ordered both, plus starters (grilled octopus, salad) and drinks.
we were the first customers, but the place gradually filled up: an incredibly stylish couple out on a friday date, a group of friends went up the stairs to the third floor, a girl on her first date with another guy (but she brought a friend along).
if you think you'll miss freshly shaved truffles and ham or whatever on your pizza, you won't. i think the reason for seirinkan's simple menu is to allow the beautiful crust to get all the attention.
there's a subtlety to the pillowy dough, and just the right texture and taste that goes with the garlic, garlic oil and tomato sauce.
if you need a photo to go with my terrible description, here's a terrible photo taken in terribly low light conditions to allow your imagination to go wild. look at that beautiful char and crusty bits and juicy and sweet tomato sauce and perfectly browned garlic.
after dinner, we were wondering what to do as there's nothing planned on the itinerary yet. finally i decided to scam them to come to tsutaya daikanyama with me HAHAHAHA. i've longed to visit it ever since i read about it on dezeen, and i wasn't sure how to sell it to liz and peggy lolol. but thankfully they were both game! also it helps that tsutaya is open until two in the morning and we were in dire need of late hangout spots.
it's a short train ride away from nakameguro, and a nice walk through the affluent neighbourhood (if you can call it that) of daikanyama.
as we didn't take any photos of the place, here's one i stole from dezeen so you'd get an idea:
we spent the rest of the night there. the bookstore is made up of three buildings connected by a corridor in the centre, with sections for travel, art, design, architecture, cars and motorcycles, and even a space dedicated to magazines. even zines. it's really inspiring to see how far print as a medium can go.
anyway, i found a couple more books along the same vein as the 'japanese salaryman' series HAHAHAH so i bought one for wai yeng. after awhile i noticed that both liz and peggy were curled up in one of the seating areas, each engrossed in a book. to be honest these two girls aren't known for being bookworms, and liz has always joked at how i read all the time and how she couldn't do it, so i was super surprised at the sight. but anyway i was glad they were distracted HAHA so i can continue browsing my architecture and design and amazing japanese food magazines and japanese literature translations while searching for the best deals lol.
finally, i went searching for them and sat down with them. that's when they noticed that they're both reading the same book lolol.
what is this coincidence. in a bookstore of three buildings with so many books they both picked up the same book and were reading it at the same spot but didn't notice each other hahaha.
anyway english books there are really pricey lah. only get books that you won't get in malaysia!
we had to catch the final train, so we headed back to the hotel and settled in for a night of leisurely reading at book & bed and snacking on warabimochi we bought from the guy earlier.
i stayed up laaaaate. and it's great to relive doraemon adventures again. hahahaha.
our bunk beds were plastered with magazine and book pages, but i just felt that this landscape magazine is particularly interesting.
after reading till late in my bunk. i woke up bright and early to continue reading oishinbo. AHAHAHA. liz was so shocked to see that i'm the first one awake lol
(confession: i bought the complete set after i returned to kl. lol.)
here's the pantry area!
and here's a cosy nook to read in.
it's too bad that we're only for one night. but maybe it's a godsend la. i wouldn't be able to see any more of tokyo if i stay here any longer hahahaha. we finally checked out of book & bed and headed to our last stay of the trip - an airbnb in asakusa!
seriously. book a stay at book & bed.