#tokyolo: LaQua Spa

We were drained, we were tired, we were spent.  We had given all our energy to TVXQ and the red ocean.  And then… we were greeted with an oasis in the midst of the city for our distraught souls.

The night before, we had decided to go to check out LaQua Spa (next to Tokyo Dome) because supposedly they had so many therapeutic things in their waters, and because you could stay there overnight and we wanted to try staying overnight at an onsen once.

So we went forth into the rain, entering the lift, and when the doors open, a quiet lobby greeted us.  Shoes off, following the other silent people to the counter, we were greeted with friendly concierges who gave us a locker key and directed us to another counter inside the ‘women only’ area.  We had to choose between three designs, and having chosen an orange top-and-pants combo (sadly, they had no yukata option) in a bag with towels, we got changed and had a bit of an exploration.

The Spa complex had three levels; levels dedicated to onsen and bathing, levels dedicated to sleeping and resting and lounging about, levels with food, with massages, with treatments. It was all very modern and high-class hotel feeling, and people were polite and stayed quiet, not wanting to disturb their neighbours.  But since the whole point was soaking our souls away, we went back to the locker areas, stripped, showered, and got into the baths.

The water was gloriously hot.  The water was slightly salty from the minerals.  The steam made everything softer and more welcoming.

I never wanted to get out.

It wasn’t my first time in an onsen, but it never gets old, bathing naked with a whole bunch of other naked women in waters that are supposed to purify your skin and all that, with everyone just minding their own business and not intruding in anyone’s space. LaQua had an indoor and outdoor area so we tried both (the outdoor one had really hot water, so we went back inside pretty quickly), there were sauna with different temperatures from 45, to 70, to 90 (the 70 was the best, the 90 one was actually an oven), and little things like cold baths and mist showers and stuff made everything better.

And when we decided to get out and get dressed, the spa had hairdryers and lotions and moisturisers and heat-protective sprays.  There were even cotton buds and cotton pads to guarantee that you could look after your skin and hair after your bath to make sure you end up looking like perfection.

After we prettified ourselves up to 1000%, we made our way downstairs to the lounges and found ourselves comfortable armchairs in the women’s only room, and slowly, we drifted to sleep…

The next day, when we made our way out of LaQua, still half asleep and trying to figure out our next move, we realised that more people stayed overnight at the place than we thought.  A lot of office workers and middle-aged women were there, making their way out of the onsen with neat suits and cleaned-up hair.

Or maybe they got to LaQua early in the morning, and prepared for their day by soaking in the baths.

But who knows? If you ever feel like spending a night somewhere comfortable and relatively cheap, just go to LaQua.  They actually have everything you need, and it’s worth the experience.


#tokyolo: impressions
#tokyolo: Lockup
#tokyolo: TVXQ

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#tokyolo: TVXQ

Featured Song: Believe In You, TVXQ

I love the ocean.  I love the ocean in all its moods and colours.  When the wind tosses the water up high and the waves come crashing down; when ripples of water lap at the sand and over your feet; when the clouds slowly turn turquoise waters into a dark blue grey.

Waiting for the concert!! |diary of a dysaniac

Waiting for the concert!! | diary of a dysaniac

But I love the ocean the best when it is red, filled with screaming fangirls of all ages (and I mean of all ages) with matching light sticks, waving them to the same beat, chanting fanchants that I chant but don’t actually know.

It felt like I was in a cult.  But let’s be real, I’ve been a Cassie the minute Mirotic dropped back in 2008.  And I regret NOTHING.

I mean, the whole point of #tokyolo was TVXQ.  And even though the TVXQ duo aren’t my favourite members, they are still DBSK, and their skills and their strength and their charisma were everything I imagined it to be.  Maybe even more than what I imagined.

Everything, from their dancing, to their singing, to their costumes, to even their awkward Japanese gags, everything made me fall in love with them again.  I never saw the two as the strongest singers in the group, and I never really cared about them as much as I did the members who are now in JYJ.  But apart from their starting song, which was so cringe I couldn’t even, every moment was as strong and as synchronised as if they had always been a duo.  Both my friend and I felt all their energy and amazingness even from where we were seated, a little bit too high to be considered close to the stage, but close enough to still see them in their all their awesome amazing sublimity.

Our lightsticks! |diary of a dysaniac

Our lightsticks! |diary of a dysaniac

This was still not close enough for some of the fans though, because we saw so many people holding little binoculars.  At some point during the concert, when I glanced over to my right, the entire row of people next to me had their binoculars up and staring very very intently at Yunho and Changmin.  I never thought people actually brought binoculars to concerts, but here you go.  Japanese fangirls do.

Something else that Japanese concert-goers do is wave their light sticks in unison in the air, without singing and dancing and all that.  I knew it from all the concerts I’ve watched online, but it was still bizarre to see 50,000 light sticks being waved in unison in real life.  And it still didn’t stop me from singing along and bopping around like a tween at their first music festival.

There were also moments when the concert organisers would tell us to switch off our light sticks so that our light watches could glow in a different colour (usually blue) for the ballad sections.  The effect of the colour change was profoundly beautiful, and by the end of the concert, all the feels and the things were making fans bawl their eyes out.  Including me, but instead of bawling at end of concert feels, I was bawling at my two most favourite DBSK ballads, arranged and sung by two people, but in my heart was being sung by the five in their perfect harmony.

TVXQ With 2015 blue ocean

TVXQ ‘WIth 2015’ | diary of a dysaniac

And once Yunho announced that they were going to take an indefinite break and implying that they were enlisting for their two years of military service towards the end of the concert, the bawling turned into a sobfest that actually threatened to turn the red ocean into a real ocean.  Not that we knew what was happening at the beginning when he was speaking, since my friend can understand only basic Japanese and my brain had switched off when he launched into a lengthy speech.  But we figured it out, once the sobbing from the encore ballads turned into ugly crying all around us.

Whoever did the setlist really knew how to make everyone open their floodgates, putting ballads before and after the announcement.

Whoever did the setlist also knew how to make everyone feel happy again, since they sprung two super upbeat surprise encore songs during the credits onto all of us.

Ultimately, in the end, no matter how they felt, I don’t think people could have left the stadium feeling dissatisfied and angry and depressed about anything

I mean, we will always wait for them to come back.

Because we will Always Keep The Faith.

And once they come back, we will be waiting.  And hopefully by then, both my friend and I will have enough money to actually buy a concert varsity jacket.

TVXQ 'Tone 2012' | tvxq5vnn

Wish I had a clear red ocean photo of my own! TVXQ ‘Tone 2012’ | tvxq5vnn


#tokyolo: impressions
#tokyolo: Lockup
#tokyolo: LaQua Spa

#tokyolo: Lockup

The sign on the street is inconspicuous.  Black and red in the midst of other colourful signs.  ‘Lockup‘, it declares.  It doesn’t look at all scary, and it certainly does not invoke any sort of trepidation or anticipation for what you should expect upstairs.

So up you go.  The elevator dings, she presses ‘5’, it zooms up… and you’re there.

The doors open.

And all you see is a dark dungeon space with blood red floors.  There are two doorways.  The one on the right has a door. Wooden, light-filled, laughter drifting through the doors as people enter and exit.  The other, on the left.  No door blocks your view of a long, dark corridor.

You look at your friend.  She looks at you.  This is more than you anticipated.

“It looks fun! Let’s go!”  Her eyes are gleaming.  She said earlier she has wanted to come here for a long time.  And you swallow a gulp and smile tightly.

“Sure.”

And off you go, two girls linked arm in arm, down an unknown passage with empty jail cells along the side.  You know it’s fake, but chills still creep up your spine as you stride past all these half open iron doors.

The corridor seems to be unending.  Your friend clutches your arm a little tighter.

“This is getting creepy.”

BANG!  You both jump, you scream, you clutch at each other, and you start exclaiming as rattling chains start to sound.  You reach a door that looks like a sci-fi electronic door, and you both push it open, hoping that you have finally reached the bar.

But no.  That would not be enough of a thrill now, would it?

Instead of being greeted by the sight of a restaurant, you see nothing.  It is completely pitch-black.  You clutch at your friend, making sure she is still there, and the door swings shut behind you completely.  Sudden lights blink on and off, flashing just enough to show you the way.  Dark empty spaces are all around you.  Mirrors deceive your way.  You cannot see anything except what is revealed by the flashing lights.

Your grip on your friend gets tighter, and she is practically hugging you to her.  The only other way to tell that she is there is because you are both screaming over the groaning, creaking noises of the maze.

You both turn a corner, hoping that it is finally over, and it is! The door is right ahead.  You both start to hurry towards it, squeezing through a one-man passageway together so you are never separated, getting back out into a more open space, when a light flashes beside your friend.

A white, bloody head stares at you, before the light blinks off, and blinks on again.

You both practically burst through the door, exclaiming loudly, laughing in relief, that it is all over.  You have made it to the bar, and upbeat J-Pop music is playing loudly and cheerfully, helping calm your still-beating heart.  But it is quiet, and you cannot really see any waiters around, no customers around.

You both wander around, hoping to find another living soul, and finally, a stray waiter walks past with empty glasses.  She asks if you’re going home, and you try to say that you just got here, but you can’t.  All your Japanese has left you, and you cannot for the life of you remember how to even say anything coherent in English, let alone in Japanese.

Thankfully, another waiter comes, and somehow they figure it out, and lead you back to the exit of the mirror-maze, where another waiter, this time cosplaying a police woman, comes out and handcuffs you before leading the two of you to your table.  Your friend is laughing, she takes a picture, the police-waitress half closes the door to your ‘cell’, and all seems to be well.

You have survived.

And so you both look through the themed menu with drinks that seem like they were created from failed high school Chemistry experiments.  You both choose, you both order, and just as the drinks arrive and you have both taken pictures, the lights go out.  You scream.

And you KNOW this is not a power-outage.

They aren’t stopping with just a terrifyingly terrifying entry.  They are going to scare the shizz out of you whilst you eat your meal.

A siren begins to sound.  Chains rattle, doors grate open, and more cosplaying workers come out, shouting warnings through megaphones.

“Prisoners have escaped!  Be careful and stay in your cells!”

UV lights come on, and you look at your friend in terror across the table.

And the door to your table opens.

You scream, thinking that it is a monster, but no.  It is a waiter, bringing your two other friends to your table because they want the key back to the hostel room.  And they are exclaiming about the bar, and complaining about the whole thing, and they cut through the terror and bring back some normalcy.

They are also sitting between you and the door, and therefore protecting you from anything that may come through the door.

Because things do come through the door.  Workers in long white robes come in, leering at you in masks.  They peer through the door, peer through the window, and every time they do so, one of the newcomers starts exclaiming really loudly.

“You really look good in that mask! You are so handsome!”  And that makes you laugh, and slowly your terror subsides.

Soon, but not soon enough, the lights come back on, and the J-Pop starts again.  Your drinks are mediocre, but you and your friend don’t really care anymore.  Maybe you get scared too easily.  Maybe other people come here and think it’s fun.  But regardless, you down your drinks, you all get up to leave, and you escape from that place, quickly walking through one last red-lit corridor as you follow the pair that came late back to the lifts.

Your arms are linked firmly with your friend’s, and you don’t let go until you step back out of the lift into the well-lit streets of Ikebukuro.


#tokyolo: impressions
#tokyolo: TVXQ
#tokyolo: LaQua Spa

#tokyolo: impressions

So far, in these last two weeks since I came to Japan, I feel like I just keep getting underwhelmed by Japan.  I was underwhelmed by Fukuoka, and then I was underwhelmed by Tokyo.

Yeah.  I was underwhelmed by Tokyo.  Tokyo, the land of colourful craziness and seas and mountains of people.  Tokyo, the city that never sleeps.  Tokyo, the place where all these American celebrities love to go because ka-ka-ka-kawaii.

But I felt none of that when I went to Tokyo… the only times I got super excited was when TVXQ happened and when we stumbled onto this cosplay/lolita shop in Harajuku and I was in cosplay heaven.

I already had kinda expected to not really see much of Tokyo, seeing as I was only there for three days, and the main reason for my trip was for TVXQ and for my friend’s 21st.  But still.  It was so underwhelming.

Maybe you’ll think that I was being harsh because my two friends and I were staying somewhere far away from all the action and stuff.  And we were admittedly staying in a super ‘cozy’ hostel we found on AirBnB, but that hostel was super close to Shinjuku, one of the main stations of Tokyo, so it couldn’t be location.  I don’t know.  I just feel like Tokyo was just like Hong Kong, except they speak Japanese, and people are nicer and more polite and dress more colourful and eclectic.

Also, Tokyo sleeps so early.  For Fukuoka, I expected it to sleep somewhat earlier, since the city is smaller.  But when my friend and I went to walk around at night because we wanted to do something exciting, the last trains were still at midnight, and everyone was going home.  And midnight is so early for a city to wind down when globally, Tokyo is somewhere that supposedly never sleeps.

Anyway.  I still had a lot of fun, and it was still amazing.  It just wasn’t as exciting and as different and OMGSH THIS IS SO GREAT as I thought it would be… I blame animu for bringing my hopes up SO HIGH that real life doesn’t cut it anymore.

STILL!  Everyone! Come to Japan! Go to Tokyo! I promise it’s fun!! :D :D :D :D :D

Just don’t expect too much.  Japan is weird, Japan is amazing, but in the end, it’s just another country.  The people living in it are ultimately still human beings, and so yeah.  Come.  Fall in love with the place.  But don’t fall in love with the idea of Japan.


#tokyolo: Lockup
#tokyolo: TVXQ
#tokyolo: LaQua Spa