7 ways to celebrate Galentine’s Day in Japan
7 ways to celebrate Galentine’s Day in Japan
Since Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope made the fictional holiday famous in a 2010 episode of the sitcom Parks and Rec, many women around the world have marked February 13th on their calendars as Galentine’s Day. This day is a day for women, especially single women, to spend together and celebrate each other.
As the optimistic small-town politician Knope says on the show, “every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it—breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies.”
Brunch, whether at home or at a café, is one of the most popular ways to celebrate the day. But while in Japan, here are some ideas to do near many of the Kanto-area bases to make the day even more special. Whether your friendship circle is into travel, cosplay, gaming, reading or leaning into being completely girly, there is something for you to do together.
The English tradition of afternoon tea thrives in Tokyo. Hotels around the city have themed teas year-round. Last year, I went to a mermaid-themed tea and a horror movie-themed tea. The spread of tiny foods and pretty pastel dishes makes for feeling like royalty. Even if frills aren’t normally your thing, there is something extra fun about it when food and hot drinks are involved.
Reservations are required and can be made on each hotel’s website. Prices range from 5500 Yen ($47) to 7500 Yen ($67) depending on the set.
In case reservations for February fill up, the Prince Park Tower Tokyo is hosting a tea themed after Italian luxury fashion brand Moschino and the Four Seasons is offering a citrus-themed tea until the end of March, and the Aman Toyo has a jewels-themed tea until April 14.
If you want your tea party to have more of a British countryside flair, visit Rose Town Tea Garden in Ome, a charming, converted Victorian-style home with some great views of the Tama River.
Sets range from 1700 Yen ($15) and 3000 Yen ($26).
A niche subcategory of cosplay culture, Butler Cafes feature wait staff dressed as butlers serving your table in a domestic aristocracy style. The experience, intended to make you feel like the upper crust of society, can be a little awkward and blush-inducing, but also fun. One of the most popular locations is the Swallowtail in Ikebukuro.
Reservations are required and can be made online. The café has a strict policy of charging 1000 Yen for every guest on the reservation who does not show up, so make sure everyone in your party is able to attend.
Located within the Shinjuku ward, Shin-Okubo is like stepping into Seoul, South Korea. Filled with markets, Korean beauty stores, K-Pop idol shops, Korean street food and cafes, this neighborhood will feel like a girls’ getaway to Seoul without the need for a plane.
One of my favorite stops is the Seoul Café, a coffee and desserts shop offering fluffy shaved ice.
There is also the 2D Café, where guests can feel like they are stepping into a drawing.
Make sure to leave plenty of room for some Korean barbecue or fondue chicken, which can be found on just about every corner of the neighborhood.
Arcade and Purikura
If your clique is more for gaming than glamming, head to an arcade! There is no shortage of arcades around Tokyo, from mega Segas to TAITO to arcades inside shopping malls, gaming places can be found in every neighborhood.
Galentine’s Day is a great excuse to gather all your friends for claw games, Mario Kart, rhythm games, shooting games and more to recapture the giddiness of feeling like a bunch of teenagers running to the arcade after school.
While at the arcade, get a signature Japanese souvenir with Purikura, a photobooth that makes everyone’s eyes larger like an anime character. After taking your photos, which works much like a traditional photobooth, guests can play with fun editing options like adding stickers and photo frames before printing. Some places even rent out wigs and costumes for the booths, although many arcades stopped doing this since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Book and Bed
For the friend group that also doubles as a book club, Book and Bed is an ideal haven for bibliophiles. Pages hang whimsically from the ceiling, seemingly floating, and shelves tower around in the dim light.
This literary sanctuary is also a capsule hotel where visitors can book an overnight stay or just reserve a lounge space for day use.
Kawagoe Kimono Walk
Kawagoe is also known as Saitama’s Little Edo. The streets in the district have been maintained to retain their old timey charm circa 1603-1867. Even the Starbucks here is housed inside a traditional Japanese building.
Gather your friends to wander the shrines, temples, museums and markets in traditional dress. Several shops around Kawagoe will fit you into a kimono and style your hair before letting you roam the city for the day in the outfit. Remember, this dress is culturally significant to Japanese people, so treat it like a garment that is an honor and a piece of history, not a costume.
Prices vary depending on the style of the kimono and accessories, but generally renting a simple kimono in Kawagoe for five hours costs around 3000 Yen ($26).
This Hello Kitty paradise is not just for kids! I went with a group of friends around Halloween, and I would happily go again to celebrate Galentine’s Day.
Sanrio Puroland is a multi-level indoor amusement park themed after all things Hello Kitty and includes shopping, photo studios, cafes, walkthrough exhibits, live shows, character meet-and-greets and rides.
Puroland is in Tama New Town, Tokyo, and takes a full day to explore.
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