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Anime Aunties Visit Japan
Day 5: Nintendo Store, Hedgehogs, and FLAT STUDIO

by Lynzee Loveridge & Jacki Jing,

Jacki: If you watch anime, you know the Shibuya Scramble. No, it's not a silly dance. It's one of the most iconic intersections on the globe. Every few minutes, all the vehicles on the road stop, and hundreds of people scramble every which way, eager to get to their destination.

When you see it for the first time, it's anxiety-inducing. Waves of people crashing in every direction, some colliding, determined to cross quickly. All the while, anime greats like Lelouch (Code Geass) and Ai (Oshi no Ko) peer down at you, and a 3D animated panda cutely plays around on his billboard spot.

This has to be one of my favorite spots we've visited, there's SO much to see and do in Shibuya. Obviously, the One Piece store was a delight, but when we returned for our second day in Shibuya, we had a full schedule: Nintendo Store, Pokémon Center, and the ChikuChiku CAFE (Hedgehog Cafe)!

The Parco Building is like a museum for gaming/anime enthusiasts. First, the Nintendo Store! You can take photos with life-size statues of Super Mario and Zelda's Link! They also have statues of iconic Animal Crossing, Splatoon,, and Pikmin characters. They have a plushie of every Mario character you can think of, from Iggy Koopa to Boo! There are bags, towels, pens – whatever a Nintendo fan needs, they have.

Executive Editor Lynzee and I also played Mario Kart 8 at the store. Boo beat both of us. Boo! But we did make 2nd and 3rd. Not bad!

Lynzee: We were back in Shibuya today to head to the PARCO building. PARCO is filled with fun shops to browse, including a Pokémon Center (with 6'7" ft tall Mewtwo), a CAPCOM store with a life-size Ryu, a JUMP Shop, and plenty of high-end fashion stores. We were there to explore the huge Nintendo Store! It carried everything from classic Mario merchandise to The Legend of Zelda to adorable Animal Crossing home goods. I did most of my souvenir shopping here; my brother and I bonded over Super Mario World as kids, so I grabbed him a clear file and a tissue case that looks like the original game cartridge.


In the corner (underneath the hidden Pikmin) was a Nintendo Switch set up with five different games. Jacki and I tried our hand at Mario Kart 8 as Rosalina and Princess Peach and actually got second and third place!

Jacki: A 6'7 Mewtwo encased in a cryogenic capsule towers over you as you enter the Pokémon Center. It's a work of art. Don't @ me. It's enchanting and captivating. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. When you finally make your way past Mewtwo LED lights lead you into the center, and just like the Nintendo store, anything your little Pokémon heart desires is there.

While you voraciously search for your favorite Pokémon in plushie form, there are life-size starter Pokémon staring at you from different spots in the store, giving you cute “pick me” eyes! I picked the cuddliest and cutest Pokémon there is!! Garchomp. Yeah, I am weird.

After I found my plushie BB, I walked up to this giant big screen that showed me on the screen? Suddenly, there was a countdown, and I looked around, confused. Then I turned into a little Pikachu. That made me chuckle.

We walked around the Pokémon Center and Nintendo Store and found some amazing stores featuring Shonen Jump and CAPCOM displays. There are tons of photo opportunities at the Parco Building; if you're into video games and anime, it would be a shame if you missed it.

Lynzee: After dropping way too much yen, we were off to the cutest location on our whole trip: The ChikuChikuCAFE in Shibuya!

Norman is an adorable albino hedgehog

Up a flight of stairs and around the corner is a whole world of adorable, spiny friends. ChikuChikuCAFE features themed homes for all of their hedgehogs, and each one is unique. These sleepy little guys can be held with gloves and fed mealworms for paid 30-minute intervals. Each hog has one day on followed by one day off, so none gets overstimulated. They are also available for adoption, so if a visitor finds the pet of their dreams, they can be taken home.

We got to hold a lot of different hedgehogs. Rinrin is a senior hedgehog and was more than happy to fall right asleep in Jacki's hands. I tried to follow the spiny guys' lead; if they weren't into being handled, I let them curl right back up in their home. I held Norman, an albino hedgehog, for a while, and he seemed very interested in how I smelled. At the far side of the cafe were two "lesser hedgehogs," also known as tenrec, named Ebi (shrimp) and her dad Kaki! These guys were my favorite. I really enjoyed learning about the tenrecs from the helpful staff, given I knew nothing about these little creatures before going to the cafe. They're native to Madagascar and climb trees, which explains why Kaki was so eager to climb up my arm.

Kaki's charm point is his big ears

Jacki: Executive Editor Lynzee Loveridge (yes, she will never be referenced as just Lynzee ever again) loves hedgehogs. They're meh to me. They're kind of stinky and rude, in my opinion.

However, Rinrin, the old sleepy hedgehog, and Norman, the disgruntled albino hedgehog, really warmed my cold meh-feelings-towards-hedgehogs heart. Rinrin just doesn't care about anything anymore. So, you could pick her up, and she literally just fell right asleep in my hand. I gently laid her back down, sleep is important, and I certainly did not want to deprive her of that.

Norman curled right up into a ball when picked up, mentally telling me, "No, I do not want to show you my face. No, I do not want to be your friend.” Got to respect the honesty. I put him back down to reset. I tried to pick him up again. He looked up at me with his beady little red eyes with a look of disdain that pierced through my soul, mentally screaming, “You didn't get it the first time? GO AWAY, RUDE GIANT.” I put him back down, and he shuddered aggressively. I chuckled and let Norman be.

Honestly, most of the hedgehogs were a little prickly (get it), but it was interesting to learn that they're kind of not friendly and actually do not like to be pet on their prickles. If you even slightly went near them, they shuddered.

Tenrecs, on the other hand! TENRECS ARE THE BEST – and the fact that more people do not know about them is a travesty! They're cuter, sweeter, and less smelly than hedgehogs! I got to play with Ebi, and she just loved being in my hands and stared at me with the cutest beady black eyes. When she ate her worm, she smacked her little mouth so much, and I couldn't help but laugh. She also liked being pet and just seemed to love cuddling up in my hands. So Tenrecs > Hedgehogs. Don't want to hear it. End of debate.

Lynzee: Our final stop for the day took us away from Shibuya and into the Den-en-chōfu area in South Tokyo to meet the minds behind FLAT STUDIO. We'll have a more detailed interview with its founders loundraw and producer Ryū Ishii soon, but the area itself was so interesting I want to give a quick overview. I'd never been to the Den-en-chōfu residential area before, but the area is very different compared to the usual sights in Tokyo. The station gate resembles something from Western Europe, with a fountain and pond beyond its gates. and the houses are huge. Come to find out, it's a very affluent area, often compared to Beverly Hills. I can only guess how much a one-bedroom apartment would cost!

FLAT STUDIO itself is a vibe; incense wafted throughout the workspace, and it was decorated with eclectic art from around the world. A record collection sat in one corner, and the staff graciously served us Taiwanese tea, mizu yokan with chestnuts, and yaki imo. The group was incredibly hospitable, and we chatted long after the interviews wrapped about our favorite anime.

We closed out the night in Ueno with okonomiyaki and modernyaki. I hadn't gotten the opportunity to eat okonomiyaki since my honeymoon trip years ago, and it was fun to introduce Jacki to some traditional Japanese food. We're off to another day; expect a write-up of Mandarake in Nakano and exploring the fashionable Harajuku!

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