• Diary

    JAZ & Strasbourg Trip

     

     

    Hello dearies! As promised last week, here is a diary entry about my trip to Strasbourg for the Japan Addict Z last week. I travelled for 4 days – arrival on Friday and departure on Monday where I could visit the area, and convention during the week-end in between. I love Strasbourg as a city, and the JAZ was a lovely event – I hope you’ll enjoy discovering the trip as much as I did, and hopefully it’ll inspire you to visit the place as well : )

     


    Japan Addict Z – Convention walkthrough

    Let’s just go ahead with the “business” part! The convention was located in the Zenith, Strasbourg’s huge performance hall and took place on 2-3rd June. I went there with the tram from the main railway station and took a little walk to the location. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be that huge and to be that much nature around such a place! As you can see below, it is a biiig place. The interior was nicely designed as well and divided into three parts for the convention: a concert place for the animations and cosplay event, an interior spot for the vendors and artists right before the scene, and another vending spot all around the corridor. Once again, it was huge and there were so many things to see!

    Though the event started only at 10′, there were already people queuing up at the entry when I arrived around 8’30. Of course, as soon as the doors opened, the Zenith was already crowded. Due to the many booths, I’m sure there was something for anyone – be it merchandise, artwork, beauty products, food, there was so much to see!

    Little shoutout for some creator’s booths:
    > Lovely Garden, who’s creating such lovely lolita accessories
    > Anna Karen, a painter with a stunning booth and beautiful landscape paintings
    > Poncho, an illustrator whose mascot is an alpaca, I mean, how can one not love alpacas?

    Though I didn’t have the chance to see much of them, there were many animations. I was located right behind the scene which was always crowded and were people seemed to enjoy themselves. It was a pity the curtains were right before, so I kept on hearing things but never got to see them. Once I got to make a quick tour through the convention, I also discovered people having fun with martial arts, karaoke, video and board games, … There was even a screen where one could play Just Dance XD Besides, this year’s theme being “Ghibli”, there was an interesting exhibition in the main hall about that topic. Do you enjoy Ghibli movies? : )

    There were also booths offering yummy food, the best being the Taiyaki Café. They were cooking taiyaki, Japanese fish-shaped waffles. The classical version contains azuki bean paste, but they also had fillings with vanilla pudding, matcha, ham, … Seeing as I could not leave my booth alone for a longer period of time, I went there four times to get my hand on one of those sweets, only to see that there was always an enormous queue. I eventually got some at the very end of the first day, once most exhibitors had already shut down their booths – and they were so yummy! A friend of mine had the courage to queue up for fifteen minutes the next day for me, so I could get another one 8D

    On the photo below, I took a little break eating my oh-so-yummy vanilla taiyaki and drinking some tea by Obubu Tea. They were preparing tea in a traditional Japanese manner and I discovered that green tea leaves could be eaten as salad with soy sauce.  It had a surprising yet appetizing taste. When I was alone at my booth, I enjoyed myself and drew some designs for upcoming illustrations. I will probably not use all of them, but I’m excited to share them with you soon!

    Overall, the organization of this convention was great. Maybe I am not used enough to bigger conventions, but I just loved this one. Be it the booth setups, the variety of exhibitors, the overall ambiance – I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to go back next year (mostly due to the fees, seeing as the friend hosting me at that time will move away from Strasbourg and I’ll probably have to pay for accommodation), but if possible, I’d love to come back. I have met lovely encounters, discovered wonderful artists, and enjoyed all of my time there!


    Visiting Strasbourg like a tourist <3

    I took advantage of being in Strasbourg to visit the city. As stated before, it is a place I enjoy and I already went there several times. So… here is my selection of the places to visit, should you want to discover it one day : )

    For the “tourist and shopping part”, the Grand’Rue is a nice place to start with. You’ll find plenty of stores for fashion, food, libraries, etc. I went to the Grunge Boutik to find new dresses and tried a corset dress for the first time… I struggled so hard to get in and didn’t even manage to do it XD My admiration for the ladies back then wearing corsets every day went up, I didn’t expect it to be so hard. The Petite France is also nearby, offering you more souvenir shops, classical Alsatian restaurants and a lovely architecture. It’s also interesting to discover the names of the streets and to see the German influence around the city.

    Otherwise, the Place Kléber and the place around the Cathedral are also nice to visit. Here, you will find more international stores such as Sephora, Fnac, Galeries Lafayette, … still mixed with typical Alsatian tourist stores, though. For once, I went to the Cathedral which is beautiful both from the outside as from the inside. As always with ancient architecture, it is stunning to see how people could build such magnificent edifices back then, though they were totally lacking machinery and modern resources. For shopping centers, you might want to visit Les Halles not far away from the main railway station and center, as well as Rivétoile, located a little outside the center around the old docks of the city.

    Another place I highly enjoyed is the Jardin des Deux Rives. It is a beautiful park outside the city where you can cross a bridge which will lead you to the city of Kehl in Germany. I visited it last winter and still had the chance to see it on a beautiful sunny day. If you are tired of shopping, tourists and tramways in Strasbourg,  you will love this airy and peaceful spot surrounded by greenery!

     

    For the food part, whenever I am visiting Strasbourg, I use to go to my two favourite restaurants. Le Kyoto is a Japanese restaurant with delicious menus and sushi, easily accessible in the Grand-Rue. As for the other one, Au Bureau is a bar-restaurant near Rivétoile inspired by English pubs, offering treats and local cuisine. Apparently, they change their menu each season, and the summer selection is just great!

    Besides, when you mention Strasbourg to me, I say “tea”. The Grand-Rue is filled with tea shops everywhere. As a big fan of this beverage, I always take advantage of my travels there to build up a new stock of various flavours. Le Thé des Muses is an adorable place where you can sit down in confortable sofas and sip a tea while working or chilling out with friends. The first time I went there, I was overwhelmed by their huge selection – their card contains so many flavours and seems to never end! This place is great for having a nice time in a cosy environment and offers the most exotic flavours I have ever seen.

    When I’m at home however, I prefer sipping a cup of Damman Frères, whose teas have a stronger and more defined flavour. For special treats, I think that no one tops the quality of Mariage Frères, whose limited events collections taste heavenly. I got their Automne Blanc White Tea last year and love discovering their new tastes – but seeing as the prices are especially high, it’s always difficult to restrain myself from buying the novelties. Otherwise, with the hot weather as of late, I started making iced tea, for which Palais des Thés are perfectly suited with their mild fruit infusions. Their hot teas lack character (seems weird to write that, but I don’t know how to express it otherwise XD) but their “Les Jardins” series, especially “Jardin d’eau” with its melon taste, are the best for cold brews. If you are looking for them or just want to smell new flavours, they are all aligned in the Grand-Rue.


    Anyways, thank you for reading this article – I hope this has given you an interesting overview about the JAZ and Strasbourg, and I’d be pleased if it motivates you to visit the one or other place there!

    And you, what are your favourite conventions and places to travel?
    Have you already been to Strasbourg?

     

  • Diary

    K-waii K-fé

     

    Today, I want to present you a special place: the K-waii K-fé, a manga café in Arlon (Belgium). Seeing as it is near Luxembourg, I got pretty excited upon hearing the news of its opening last year, and eventually got the opportunity to collaborate with the store. If you don’t know the place yet, I highly recommend you pay it a visit!

     

    Mascot collaboration

    Before the overture, I met the shop owner Alex and we decided to collaborate. I got the opportunity to create a mascot as well as a bookmark for the café. We wanted something cute – and what’s best for a manga café than a cute maid surrounded by sweets?

    Shop Tour

    For those who are not familiar with the concept of a manga cafe, it is basically a place where you can read manga. Kwai Kfé also offers other services, such as Japanese merchandising and food. Situated in the center of Arlon in Belgium, at 60 Grand-Rue, you’ll immediately recognize it due to its eccentric showcase. I invite you to take a virtual tour!

    Upon entering, you will discover a selection of Japanese food and goodies. The food shelves offer mostly snacks, noodles and tea, while the goodies are more diversified with plushies, stationary, tea cups, etc. You will also be able to buy manga in French, and apparently, new arrivals in German recently arrived, seeing as Luxembourgish customers requested them. Since last week, some of my prints and tote bags are also available there ; )

    Once you have seen the food and goodies at the entry, you may want to go further and climb some stairs. You will reach the counter and, most importantly for collectors, the figurine area. A whole bunch of classy manga characters are awaiting you, and if you want to see more, the shop features its collection on its Facebook page.

    Next to the figurines comes the tea room with cute pink smiling tables (now that’s cute, isn’t it?). You can order delicious food at a very cheap price – most of them cost 2€ only and they are soo yummy! Among the classical snacks, there is bubble tea, dorayaki, mocchi, latte art, etc. I recommend you to try the bubbies, frozen sweets with rice paste and ice cream in various flavours. I also tried a newly arrived vanilla snack because of its adorable packaging with a chick in its egg (it was a pity to open that, it just looked too cute XD).

    Snack orders will grant you a one-hour access to the reading room just behind. Of course filled with manga, you can find an entertaining selection. Be it shonen, shojo, seinen, or even a handful of yaoi and yuri if I remember correctly, there should be interesting series for every taste.

    Worthy to mention for Black Butler fans, you can also take a picture with a life-size panel of sexy Sebastian (I forgot to take one, damn). Moreover, the shop owner Alex loves talking and is always friendly and ready to help you. If you are looking for a nice place with a relaxed atmosphere where you can eat and read to your heart’s content, and talk about Japanese culture with other otakus, you should definitely check it out! : )

     

    Find the Kwai Kfé:

    Grand-Rue, 60
    Arlon / BELGIUM

    Open every day, mostly starting 10′
    For more info, opening hours and photos, visit the café’s Facebook page!