【Tokyo Stroll】Visiting “Coci la elle” in Daikanyama to get our hands on a colourful umbrella!

28.June.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

Daikanyama is a popular little place located in a quiet residential area filled with stylish cafés and shops. It’s surrounded by big tourist areas including Shibuya, Ebisu, Nakameguro and Ikejiri-Ōhashi, so is very easily accessible. Today we head to Daikanyama with Rinko Murata-chan, a place where you can have all kinds of fun shopping, eating or simply strolling around, to visit “Coci la elle Swan,” a shop specializing in umbrellas.

 

“Coci la elle” – Umbrella Specialists

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Coci la elle started originally stocked only one type of umbrella when it opened, a type made for protecting you from the sun. They now own a second shop in Daikanyama which opened in April this year in addition to the main shop and studio in Kiyosumi-shirakawa.

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Today, we are visiting the newly-opened shop in Daikanyama, “Coci la elle2,” which goes by the name of the “swan” shop. It received this name as the number “2” looks like a swan. The closest station is Daikanyama Station via the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line.  The station is only 1 stop from Shibuya and so is conveniently accessible, with Coci la elle only an 8-minute walk away from the front entrance.

 

Seize yourself a handmade umbrella

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Coci la elle offers vibrant umbrellas in all types of colours and designs to brighten your day when those rainy days get you down. They also have umbrellas that will protect you from the blistering sun on those scorching days while also making you feel elegant at the same time.

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The sun protection umbrellas are all made by hand, one by one, with their own individual designs and embroidery. The rain umbrellas are printed designs, but these are also all made by the head of the brand Chika Higashi, who makes collages out of photos and her own illustrations.

 

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    “This is the biggest fish tank, apparently it has 3,000 fish swimming inside!”

    “Seeing the light reflect on the water from the illuminations lets you see the fish in a different light, doesn’t it?”

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    “This one’s beautiful, it’s like a kaleidoscope.”

    It really does look like one. When you take a peek instead you can glimpse all kinds of colourful fish gently swimming around.

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    “There’re goldfish swimming on the ceiling too. So cool! This aquarium is incredible. It brings together the great culture of Edo and contemporary art.”

     

    The Art Aquarium bustles every single year with visitors, but this year will mark its last run. It’s being held at Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall, so if you have the chance to go then please do.

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    “Got some! Let’s eat them while we head back.”

    Goldfish Lantern Walkway

    Our first date in Nihonbashi was so much fun. While on the date Yutaro-kun spoke about the new live-action film he’s in, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War.

     

    “It’s a romance film with mind games to try and make the other person confess their love. I play the character Tsubasa. His number one highlight scene is the kabedon scene. That was my first day shooting, so I was super nervous, but I got along well with the other actors, and the atmosphere on set was harmonious, so I was able to relax for the shoots. Tsubasa is a genuine guy who will believe things that have been said to him in earnest. You’ve definitely gotta check out all his scenes throughout the film!”

     

    “A lot of the cast are the same age as me, so we were all energetic together in the waiting room. There’s a scene at the end where all the cast get together. It took 3 days to shoot so we ended up getting along really well.”

     

    “This film has made me realise that love comes in many shapes, and that mind games happen in a variety of ways between guys and girls. There’s cute scenes that express that small bit of pride that teenagers have, the embarassment they feel, when they get butterflies, scenes that will warm your heart. The film has various elements to it so I thoroughly enjoyed watching it myself. I hope that couples in love in their teens and twenties watch it, and I also hope that married couples watch it and crack up laughing too.”

     

    “In the film it’s summer break, and they go and see fireworks and stuff. It’s definitely one to watch durnig the summer. You’re gonna come watch it too, right? Shall we go?”

     

    An offer we cannot refuse! We’ll definitely go and see it with you, Yutaro-kun! 

     

    Model: Yutaro

    Writer: Yuki Yokoo

    Photographer: Kayo Sekiguchi

    TALENT PROFILE

    Yutaro

    Yutaro was born in Hiroshima on June 3rd 1998. His modeling career has earned him lots of attention as a fashion icon of the new generation. The famous model also works as a “charisma” shop assistant. Yutaro has gained his reputation as a “mysterious and handsome guy” from his appearance on Japanese variety shows. His debut was made on the show “Gyoretsu no Dekiru Horitsu Sodanjo” and has since then appeared on numerous different TV shows. He challenged himself to appear on stage for the very first time in March this year and is gaining popularity by the day for his diverse work.

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    When business first began at Hatoya, because the café was opposite the stage door of a theatre, all of the famous actors and actresses would pop in. Some include famous Japanese comedian Roppa Furukawa and film actor Kiyoshi Atsumi who played Tora-san in the film series Otoko wa Tsurai yo.

    I ordered the café’s popular hotcakes which cost ¥600. They have been making these same hotcakes since before the war.

    They were nice and fluffy and had a deliciously gorgeous brown colour. The flavour was out of this world when the butter melted from the heat of the hotcakes and mixed together with the syrup.

     

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    It’s so refreshing that you can knock it back all in one go. It has a simple flavour but it tasted so good!

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    I’ve been to many cafés, and have covered many in this series, but this is the first I have dined at with such a deep history. I found myself enthralled by the stories of the owner who has continued to treasure the café and maintained it all the same since it opened. I feel like I have learned about a world I never knew about. The next time I go to Hatoya with a friend I’ll be sure to let them in on its history. I encourage you to visit too!

     

    Writer/Model: Ema Tanioku
    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto
    Design: Yuko Abe (ASOBISYSTEM)

    TALENT PROFILE

    Ema Tanioku

    “Emaeri” is the nickname for models Ema and Eri Tanioku, who are Aomoji fashion model twins. Ema and Eri Tanioku specialise in twin fashion coordination. Over the years their fanbase has increased due to their cute looks. Ema Tanioku spreads Harajuku culture within Japan as well as overseas and works as a Harajuku Tourism Ambassador. Starting off as a model, Ema has broadened her talent range from fashion magazines to TV, and from playing the lead role in dramas to movies.

  • Tokyo Stroll: Shopping & Sightseeing with Mozuku-kun the Dog #5 – Uzumako Ceramic Art School

    12.July.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    It’s been a minute since we last ventured out with Japanese model Yuna Yabe and her beloved pet pup Mozuku. If you’re new to this feature, Yuna Yabe takes her trusty partner Mozuku to various hot spots in Japan that you can enjoy with your pet dog. Their relationship continues to deepen in this priceless experience.

    Today, Yuna and Mozuku head to Uzumako Ceramic Art School which is close to Shiba Park. You can get a good view of TokyoTower from this famous park.

    What’s unique about this art school is that visitors are allowed to take their pets with them. So this means you can take your dog with you to do some ceramics!

     

    Yuna has always had an interest in ceramics. And what better way to experience creating something than with her partner in crime Mozuku! With him tottering beside her, she headed through the entrance curtain with a spring in her step.

    When you enter the classroom, there are lots of examples of pottery ware lining the shelves. The room has that smell of craftsmanship which lingers as you begin the class with a demonstration by the teacher. Once you have your apron on and are fired up to begin, it’s time to start.

     

    The work begins with kneading the clay to make its firmness uniform. This step helps prevent air bubbles from forming.

     

    Yuna asked the teacher many different questions as she enjoyed kneading her clay. “Where does ceramic work originate from?” “What kind of things to other dog owners make when they come here?”

    “What’s Yuna up to?” Mozuku’s puzzled face seemed to imply as he listened to Yuna and the teacher talk.

    Yuna turned to Mozuku and said to him, “I’m going to make you a food bowl!” It seemed like the message got through as his face read, “Looks like my owner is making something just for me.”

     

    Yuna wet her hands with some water and began forming a hole in the centre of her clay bundle. The hole forms and gets bigger as the pottery wheel spins.

    Next, she used both of her hands to ensure the thickness of the bowl was even all the way around.

    “Amazing! The shape of the clay changes in an instant!”

    By adding a little bit of pressure the pile of clay can change shape rapidly. It’s like a living thing.

    “It’s like the clay is my own child. I wanna wrap it up!”

    Once the shape is formed, Yuna cut around the edges. She is a skilled individual, she got the hang of it straight away.

    Mozuku sat right beside Yuna, quiet and curious.

    “Is it my turn yet?”

    He seemed itching to have a go at making something himself too.

    He watched over Yuna’s work from atop the table.

    “I wanna try spinning the wheel too!”

    Mozuku in fact had the most important job of all. Yuna popped a wooden mould onto his paw and stamped a paw print into thebottom of the bowl.

    “There we go!” said Yuna

    Mozuku mustered all of his strength to make his mark, his facial expression unusually serious as he carried out his big task.

    Time to check if the print was done properly!

    Here’s the final product―Mozuku did a great job!

     

    Their teamwork paid off as they were able to create a really cute dog bowl. The tiny footprint is packed with pet love. The art school actually sells a lot of different cute and stylish pet items but the owner making their own makes it unique―the only one in the world.

     

    If that love is able to get through to your pup, the food they eat from the bowl is sure to be even more delicious.

     

    Thanks for your help, Mozuku.

    “I can’t wait to fire it!” Yuna’s excitement was peak from start to finish. She was very satisfied after the class finished.

     

    After two weeks of waiting, the bowl was completely finished.

    Why not try creating something unique special for your own pet―together with them?

     

    Model: Yuna Yabe/Mozuku @yunaaay1030

    Text: Ai Watanabe

    Photographer: Kayo Sekiguchi

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Yuna Yabe

    Yuna Yabe won the grand prix prize at the “Zipper×ASOBISYSTEM Model Auditions” at the age of 15. She is an expert not only in fashion but make-up and video editing too. She’s an influential figure to the people in her generation. Recently, her work has expanded greatly, such as appearing in music videos. Her activity continues to grow and looks to be very promising indeed.

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    Akasaka Palace―a building that has welcomed emperors, presidents and prime ministers across the world into its architectural wonders. While it is mainly used for official purposes, did you know that it also offers a public viewing, one that doesn’t hinder on business affairs?

     

    The palace is considered a national treasure of Japan. I paid a visit to this gorgeous edifice that looks just like a European-style palace. Photography is strictly forbidden when visiting, but I was able to receive special permission to cover the inner secrets of this exclusive wonder.

    Akasaka Palace is open throughout the year. There is a daytime reception that lets you enter without having to book a spot in advance (though you’ll have to book if you want to visit the Japanese Style Annex). Visitation is restricted when international state officials are present, so when planning your trip be sure to check the palace’s schedule on the official website. Visitation through the daytime reception begins at the West Gate.

    Originally built in 1909 as the Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince, the building is the only example of neo-Baroque architecture in Japan. It was built by Japanese imperial court architect Katayama Tōkuma. When planning the design for the building, he referenced various palaces across Europe which is why people liken it to Palace of Versailles in France.

     

    Hagoromo no Ma – A reception hall for visitation welcomings

    The first room you come to on the public viewing is “Hagoromo no Ma.” It was originally called a ball room which is why it houses orchestra boxes. Aperitifs dance around the room for invitees who may be there for send-offs, dinner parties or even musical performances.

    Overhead is a gorgeous chandelier which is made up of almost 7,000 separate parts, most of which is crystal. It is the biggest chandelier in the entire palace. The inner part of the mezzanine floor, which looks like a balcony, is used as an orchestra box when the room is used for orchestral concerts.

    The intricate design of the chandelier includes masks inspired by a ball while the walls too are littered with relevant motifs such as instruments. The whole room is decorated in all things musical.

     

    Asahi no Ma – The most high-class room of the palace

    The next room you step into is “Asahi no Ma” which is used for courtesy calls of officials and important people as well as summit meetings. It is the most high-class room in all of Akasaka Palace and is where the state guests say their goodbyes to the Emperor and Empress. The room began reconstruction two years ago and reopened in April this year.

    The room gets its name Asahi (“morning sun”) from the painting of Aurora, the Roman Goddess of dawn, that overlooks the room.

    It is said that in the Meiji Period, when the palace was built, people painted pictures of helmets to symbolize the army and boats to symbolize the navy as the country declared the political measure known as Fukoku kyōhei, which meant to “Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Armed Forces.”

     

    Shoumen Genkan/Large Hall – Welcoming guests of honour

    The “Shoumen Genkan,” or front entrance is where international guests of honour are welcomed. When visiting during public opening hours you don’t enter from this entrance but you are allowed inside. The large hall, which is located up the stairs from the hall that continues through the entrance room, has a striking and vivid deep crimson carpet. Together with the eight towering marble pillars, this hall makes for an overwhelming viewing. The room directly opposite down the stairs is Asahi no Ma.

     

    Sairan no Ma – Where treaties are signed

    The next most high-class room from Asahi no Ma is “Sairan no Ma” which is primarily used for signing ceremonies of treaties. When Asahi no Ma was undergoing renovations, this room was used for informal talks carried out by the emperor and prime minister with foreign rulers.

    The entire room takes on the Empire style which was popular during the rule of Napoleon I. Scattered throughout the room are gold leaf designs of armour, helmets, swords and so on.

     

    Kacho no Ma – Dinner parties with guests of honour

    Kacho no Ma is used for dinner banquets with important official from countries around the world. The room has a more relaxed feeling from the others due to its interior wooden design. It’s also often used for press conferences so those who watch Japanese news may recognise it.

    The room, with its mellow deep wooden design, houses 30 oval cloisonné medallions, depicting four seasons’ flowers and birds. The ceiling art, too, depicts images of birds and wildlife killed by hunting.

    It also has the heaviest chandelier in the palace inside which is a globular speaker.

     

    Yushintei – Japanese-style hospitality in the Japanese Style Annex

    The Yushintei is located in the Japanese Style Annex on the west side of Akasaka Palace. It was built in 1974. Akasaka Palace carries out events and receptions in a western style but the Yushintei welcomes international guests of honour with Japanese-style hospitality. Those who wish to enter must book in advance. The booking comes with a tour.

    As you step through the entrance and into the inner garden through the passage, you will see moso bamboo. This area has a garden with shirakawa gravel and kibune stone from Kyoto.

    In the main Japanese-style room where guests are served Japanese food one can observe the pond from the window. You might recognise it as the place where Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump fed the fish.

    The tea room comes with chairs for foreign visitors who are unable to sit in the traditional Japanese seiza position. Tea is prepared on the upper step which is inspired by Noh theatre.

     

    Afternoon tea in the extraordinary front garden

    20 afternoon tea sets are prepared each day to be enjoyed in the front garden of Akasaka Palace. These cannot be reserved in advance so be sure to arrive early if you’d like to order one. As you enjoy your afternoon tea while gazing around you are filled with a gorgeous feeling you can’t experience anywhere else.

    The general public viewing offers a chance to see numerous parts of the palace. We asked Rinko Murata, who’s pictured in the photos on the viewing, for her thoughts.

     

    “With the first step you take in a gorgeous space unfolds before you. Its grand design made me feel as if I had been summoned to the palace. It was like visiting a foreign country. When you look closely there are lots of decorations that symbolize Japan. It was a fresh experience where you can feel both the Japanese spirit and culture of another country. I feel moved that Japan has such a place as beautiful as this. You all need to visit too.”

     

    There is no requirement to book this viewing in advance, but during busy times (20+ people) those who do book online prior to visiting will be prioritized. Foreign visitors won’t miss out on anything either as they can purchase a voice guide machine for ¥200. These guides come in Japanese, English, Chinese, French and Spanish. A visit to the Japanese Style Annex Yushintei however requires booking prior to your visit. When doing so you can choose between either a Japanese or English-speaking guide. In the case of a sudden official reception, all scheduled public viewings for that day are cancelled, so be sure to check the calendar on the official website before heading there.

     

    Model:Rinko Murata

    Writer:Sayoko Ishi

    Photographer:Kayo Sekiguchi

    Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Rinko Murata

    Rinko Murata works in fashion and is active on radio and TV. Sales of her first style book were so successful that it required extra printing during its first week. She also has a rapidly growing following on her social media. As well as modelling at big fashion events, she has her own column online at “She magazine,” and receives much attention for her work in the areas of culture and lifestyle.

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #10 – ‘Donguriya’ in Nishi-Ogikubo

    10.May.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited Donguriya.

     

    To get there I plodded along from the North Exit of JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, and after about 3-minutes I saw it!

     

    Various shops lined the street, but nature had almost reclaimed this single building which was wrapped in foliage. There’s no doubt that the people who pass by this way stop to take a look. Its inviting appearance elicits a peek as you’re left wondering what kind of place it is. I feel like a wonderful story is about to unfold!

    A sign sits at the front of the cafe with its mascot character waiting to greet you.


    He’s cute in a way that I can’t describe♬

    Time to head inside.

     

    Most of the interior is made of wood, a perfect accompaniment to the cafe’s name Donguriya (“Acorn Hut”).


    All of the signs as well as the menu on the wall are handwritten by the owner himself. It’s heartwarming just to look at♬

     

    Sipping coffee while enjoying the jazz music coming from the record player is nothing short of a luxury!

    I ordered pizza toast (drink + pizza toast set is ¥800), a Donguri cookie and coffee (drink + Donguri cookie set is ¥650).

    The toast is sliced thickly; the crusts are crunchy and the middle is soft. It was really tasty and had an old-fashioned taste to it.
    Donguri’s cookies are made by someone who has been a fan of the cafe  since long ago. They have a simple sweetness and go perfectly with the coffee!

     

    Since the cookies are made by a regular who has always loved Donguri they are the perfect cookies for Donguriya! If you pay a visit then you should definitely order one.

    The blend coffee is full-bodied and has a rich aroma. There is a slightly bitter aftertaste too. The coffee beans are also roasted in-house! It was really tasty and easy to drink even for someone like me who doesn’t know a lot about coffee.

     

    The owner and his older brother went to numerous cafes with their friends to try various different coffees before coming up with their own blend. It’s the real deal.

     

    It really felt as if I had been sucked into the world of a story with the warm light filtering through the windows and illuminating the tableware and furniture.

    Finally, a photo with the owner himself!

     

    He told me wonderful stories about the coffee and food at Donguriya which made me fall in love with the cafe even more.

     

    I want to bring my friends here next time♬

     

    Writer: Ema Tanioku
    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto
    Design: Yuko Abe (ASOBISYSTEM)

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Ema Tanioku

    “Emaeri” is the nickname for models Ema and Eri Tanioku, who are Aomoji fashion model twins. Ema and Eri Tanioku specialise in twin fashion coordination. Over the years their fanbase has increased due to their cute looks. Ema Tanioku spreads Harajuku culture within Japan as well as overseas and works as a Harajuku Tourism Ambassador. Starting off as a model, Ema has broadened her talent range from fashion magazines to TV, and from playing the lead role in dramas to movies.

  • Tokyo Dinner: HEIJITSU HIRU DAKE’s Curry in Kōenji is Served With Japanese Stock

    10.March.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    Rinko Murata loves all types of curry. In this edition of Tokyo Dinner, she invites the person she wants to meet up with the most to eat the curry she’s been wanting to eat the most.

     

    This month’s notable restaurant she stopped by was HEIJITSU HIRU DAKE in Kōenji, Tokyo. Their curry portions are generous and are good for the stomach and satiety center. They serve a curry flavoured with Japanese dashi, or ‘stock.’

     

    How do you spend your early afternoons when you have time off? Lounging around at home with quality time to yourself sounds like a good plan. Definitely appealing.

     

    But this is a rare opportunity. How about going on a little adventure to try something you can get a kick out of because it’s midday and a weekday?

     

    I know the perfect curry house for your hungry selves. HEIJITSU HIRU DAKE.

     

    As the Japanese name suggests, it’s a curry that can only be eaten at lunchtime, a mysterious dish that doesn’t appear on regular days off.

     

    I land in Kōenji, a place I love the most. Even though iKōenji is Kōenji, the closest station to the restaurant is Higashi-Kōenji Station.

    My vision is filled with all kinds of sights.

    It’s like being lost in a treasure chest.

    This place is actually normally a café and goes by the name Schwarze Katze. It’s open mainly on Friday night, weekends and holidays. “HEIJITSU HIRU DAKE” runs in a rented room in the café and and is open when the café is. It’s kind of luxurious to have the chance to eat my favourite food (curry!) in a place like this.

    My heart desires the Wadashi Soboro Curry (¥980) that I mentioned earlier. It also comes with self-service coffee for after your meal. For toppings you can choose whatever you like. Since I was there and didn’t want to get lost on what to pick, I went for all the toppings (¥300).

    The water I ordered comes in a plastic bottle. The tables have antique displays. Everything on them was wonderful.

    The air was clad in that rich, familiar scent of curry, a special one that I would never get to eat had I not come here.

    The instant I hold the curry in my mouth the delicious flavour of the dashi sparks in my mouth like fireworks. The broth has a slight thickness to it and a strong, deep flavour that fades into a soft aftertaste on the tip of your tongue. It’s not at all spicy, and the goodness of the dashi is luxurious like being escorted by a gentleman. And I can’t forget the smell.

    My taste buds throb at this new sensation.

    Like its name suggests, this is a dish where the Japanese dashi stands out above the ingredient crowd. The restaurant owner has gathered much experience in the kitchen from traditional Japanese cuisine to sushi, ramen, yakiniku, izakaya style and so on. He encountered this place by chance, and with one look he said to himself, “I want to try doing curry.” The Wadashi Soboro Curry came about through his gained culinary experience combined with the aesthetics of the café.

    To bring out the full flavour of the dashi so it isn’t drowned out by the curry spices, the owner uses two types of skipjack tuna, kombu, dark sleeper, and dried sea slug, as well as a type of soy sauce called Kaeshi. 15 more ingredients are blended together to create the spices, creating deep and delicate flavours.

    Now it’s time for a session with the mountain of ingredients I greedily asked for. It’s enshrined with classics like meat soboro, beefsteak, agedama, bonito flakes, and dried plum in addition to pickled daikon radish, crushed natto, Japanese ginger, and okra. The spinach and onsen tamago egg sit at the foot of the mountain and create a new culinary sight.

    The base of the dashi is mobilized with a force of Japanese ingredients with a smell and flavour and that comes together harmoniously in your mouth. I’m spellbound by the flavours that stand out coupled with the pleasant textures of the agedama, daikon and ginger.

    Hey, I must have hit every ingredient in there. All correct.

     

    I added a sprinkle of pepper that was on the table and create yet another refreshing aromatic veil.

    The compatibility of the pepper with the dish works so well precisely because it uses a Japanese dashi. Wadashi, or Japanese broth, is a staple of Japanese cuisine. The curry and Japanese soul carved into this dish resonates with me. It’s my first time eating it, yet I’m still filled with a sort of nostalgia―a warm embrace.

    I also understand why when the shop opens, the customers in the café stand up and change with the next line of customers. The owner has a wonderful sensitivity, and has worked out a way to put his own matchless warmth into each and every bowl. I caught sight of his gentle smile as he was cooking in the kitchen. It left an impression on me.

    What a delicious curry to enjoy in such a wonderful place. All five of my senses have reached peak happiness. I grab my post-meal coffee and head onto the streets of Kōenji.

    What a wonderful weekday afternoon.

     

    Text:Rinko Murata
    Photo:Kayo Sekiguchi
    Edit:Miiki Sugita

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

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