My K-On! tour of London!

K-On! is without doubt one of the best anime of all time! And with a large part of the K-On! movie being set in London, it was only really a matter of time before I got around to actually going to the locations from the film.  And as the Blu Ray of the movie came out in Japan on 18th July 2012, I decided the 18th July 2017 was a fitting date to do this, to celebrate the movies 5yr Blu Ray anniversary!

k-on anime

Some locations I already recognised, and thankfully others in the past have done the same thing, so it didn’t take much digging to track down the remaining places.  Special thanks to http://konlondon.blogspot.co.uk/ and http://mikehattsu.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/k-on-london.html whose blogs were really useful with location information.  I suggest having a look at these if you aren’t sure on where some of the places are.

Planning

After working out where all the places where I began to plot them all on Google Maps and plan out my route.  There are a few suggested routes out there, however me being me, decided I wanted to try and visit the locations in as near to chronological order of how they appeared in the film as possible.  I knew it would be a terribly inefficient route, with lots of backtracking, but after calculating travel times I worked out it was just about possible in 10 hours.  It seemed like a fun idea to go around in close to the movie order.

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As it turns out though, that plan was ridiculously ambitious and a really silly idea! I don’t recommend attempting it that way! Halfway through the day I realised it wouldn’t be possible to complete in chronological order, so changed the order of my route to make sure I’d get done before daylight faded.  So if you are wondering why the order of places I went to seems really strange, then that’s why.

I still think it would have been possible chronologically (or close to it) in a day, if you started very early morning, but I didn’t start till probably 9.30-10ish.

If though I had done the route in an efficient way from the start, then I think I would have been able to get around quicker and with a lot less worry about timing.  So if you plan on doing a K-On! day, then I strongly suggest doing an efficient route, rather than trying to go chronological.

The order they went to places in the movie though does actually make sense over the course of the 3 days they were here.  So if you are doing it over 3 days, then it would be very easy to stick to the movie order of appearances (though it would mean a little backtracking on one or two places, it would be easy to do in 3 days).

Ibis London City & Aldgate East

Now obviously due to time constraints I didn’t plan on going to Heathrow to start the day, so I began the day at the Ibis London City hotel, where the girls arrived by taxi from the airport, only for them to find out it was the wrong Ibis City Hotel.

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The exterior is pretty much identical to the movie shot, though the scaffolding to the left has gone.  (a miracle really, some construction in London finished in 5 years?! normally that stuff is permanent!).  I did go into the hotel, but the interior has changed so much since the movie that I didn’t bother to take any interior shots, the green sofas have gone too.

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The exterior where they looked at the bus times & discussed what to do has the same buildings, though as you’d expect the shops have changed since.

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So it was around the corner and into the Aldgate East tube station.  The clock is the same, though I muddled up the angle and didn’t get the same shot.

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I waited for the next train to come and go so the platform emptied enough for me to grab the shot of where they sat waiting for the train.  Then it was off to Camden! (The efficient route option would have been to go to Tower Hill next, then Borough Market, then toward the city locations).

Camden Town!

Fortunately arriving in Camden the platform was empty, and I was the only one there, in addition I stepped out of the train right in front of the spot for the next photo.

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I tried to line it up as best I could, though the platform at Camden station is quite narrow, making it hard to get back far enough to get the same photo.  I had to get right on the edge of the platform, millimetres away from falling off onto the tracks and certain death, but if there’s one thing I’m happy to risk my life for it’s anything K-On! related!  If I’d died doing something K-On! related I’d have had no regrets lol.

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The station exterior was a lot easier to line up, and at this stage of the day it wasn’t too busy either.  There were a few other shots I could have got to match with some scenes, but in order to conserve battery life of my phones camera I’d decided to only capture a selection at each location.  (maybe I’ll do others another time).  I ignored the shot of the shops opposite the station as they’ve all changed since the movie now anyway.

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Now somehow I ended up walking straight passed the Rokit & blue buildings here, which are right on the high street on the opposite side to the station.  But after backtracking a bit I found them, the left building had scaffolding, and the aeroplane isn’t there anymore.

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I couldn’t get the picture on the path near Camden Lock as it had been blocked off with roadworks & scaffolding.  So I headed onward toward Proud Camden, the place the sushi bar entrance was based on, sadly the sushi place doesn’t actually exist.

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It was quite hard to get shots of the entrance, as the path is narrow with stalls opposite it, so taking portrait shots was the only way I could get the entrance in.  From there I headed up to Chalk Farm tube station to head over to the group of locations around West Brompton.

West Brompton

West Brompton station is pretty much unchanged from the shot in the movie.

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I headed west along from the station and a few minutes walk led to the Ibis Hotel Earls Court, the one where they actually stayed at in the movie!  The sign is a little different, and obviously I was here in daylight rather than at night.

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With time in mind, I decided not to go for the interior shots, again perhaps another time.  I also changed my plan here a little, in that down the road would have led to the junction for another shot, and toward North End Road market, however they are only really brief establishing shots in the movie, and I decided I would focus on just shots of places the girls actually were shown at.  (This turned out to be a good call, as by the end of the day every second counted!)

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So I doubled back past the station toward the north side of Brompton cemetery.  The recycle bins aren’t there, that’s about all that’s different.

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Near the cemetery entrance is where Yui slipped by the man with the dog while running toward Azusa.  From there I headed along the road, past the Troubadour Café from the movie (I’d be back there in a bit!), and to the junction just past it to get the shot of them crossing the road.

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The pub behind is no longer an O’Neils, it’s The Bolton, I’m assuming that’s also why it’s had a repaint and is no longer blue.

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The building on the corner as they cross is a medical centre of some form, I also loved the detail here where even the two phone boxes on the corner were there!

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With that done I tried looking for the clock pictured in the movie which should have been hanging just outside the Troubadour Café, but it wasn’t there when I was! Don’t know where it’s gone, but it’s not where I can see it on Google street view.  So with that it was time for lunch!

The Troubadour Café!

This was pretty exciting to see this place, exactly as it’s pictured when the girls visit in the movie!  I did have a mild panic attack, as I thought it was closed as one section seemed to be having work done inside, but then I realised it’s quite a long building and the entrance was open a few doors down. (phew!).  In the window they do still have a K-On! picture, and also one inside on the wall by the till!

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Obviously I had to eat here for lunch as HTT did! I actually showed the waitress the picture of meal from the movie, and asked for them to make me something as close to that as possible!

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I ended up with fried eggs on toast, I think the anime picture looks maybe like on a muffin or bagel, but this was pretty close.

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I got a bit carried away and even recreated the shots of the food gradually being eaten in the movie sequence XD

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The food actually did taste great, and as it turned out this would be the only food I’d have time for today!  Fuelled up I paid and headed round the corner to grab a bus to Chelsea.

Chelsea

I was fairly confident of which bus to take, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to ask “does this bus go to the Worlds End”! Traffic was light, and not long after I arrived just a few minutes walk from the Worlds End store, apparently it’s something to do with a famous designer, but I’ll always remember it for K-On! reasons.

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The shop itself is quite cool, its got a clock going backwards on it, and looks just like in the movie.

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Just a few seconds down the road is the bench where they sat and took a break, I did the same while checking my locations and how I was doing for time.

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I did take the shot of the road behind as well, from the movie poster.  Though it’s a little different as the benches are at an angle not straight on.

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My next location was 24 Oakley Street, the house with the blue door they passed.  In an attempt to preserve battery life I wasn’t using Google Maps, but a helpful traffic warden assured me I was going the right way.  Oakley Street is opposite the Chelsea fire station, making it easy to locate.

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And just a few seconds away is the turning to the Chelsea Ballet School, the large brown house building they walk past in the rain.  Annoyingly there were two vans parked up, ruining the shot a little.

Hyde Park

Heading back to the Kings Road, there was a bus stop near the fire station which fortunately had a bus bound for Piccadilly Circus, which stopped at Knightsbridge on the way, just a few minutes walk from Hyde Park.

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Now Hyde Park is where my schedule fell drastically behind.  You see Hyde Park, is quite big, and finding these two shots took me a lot longer than I had planned for!  Thanks to one of the other blogs (linked above), I knew roughly where to look, and finding the location where Yui is holding onto the bin wasn’t too hard.  The bin isn’t there, but the shot matches, and behind the trees there was the same, or very similar, looking building.  I spent a bit of time looking around incase there was a similar site, but after searching I concluded this was the nearest location to the scene in the movie.

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It was the scene where the others are running away from Yui that really threw me off though.  The presence of the car and brown dirt track led me to look along the edge of the park next to the main road, but then I realised the paths going across didn’t match, and there weren’t any buildings pictured.

But inside the park I couldn’t seem to line up the brown dirt track on the left correctly with any of the trees or grass, of course it took me nearly 30 minutes before I realised by turning around the path would be on the correct side! What added to the challenge was being summer all the trees have full leaves, meaning it was very hard to line it up by the shape of the tree.  On this one I’m not convinced that I have found the exact spot, but having been stuck here for near to 45 minutes I had to call it and settle for ‘close enough’.

*edit – I’ve since had it confirmed that this was the correct location, as the trees do shape up correctly 🙂

The British Museum

Due to the unexpected Hyde Park delay I decided to ignore any attempt to stay as close to chronological order as possible, it was clear I wouldn’t get around to everywhere if I stuck to that plan.  So instead of Baker Street, I opted to get the British Museum done first, to make sure I got the shots before they closed!  I did make a quick pitstop via

Carphone Warehouse at Tottenham Court Road on the way, in at effort to get a portable USB powerbank to charge my phone, but their service was appalling, everything was priced wrong, the guy in there didn’t care, and tried to price everything at £30, even the cheap £10 ones! So, public service announcement, avoid Carphone Warehouse they are a joke!

Sadly the lack of not getting a powerbank in there meant that my phone was dead, and from here on out I had to switch to my tablet, which has quite a poor camera.  Which is why photos from here on out have a significant reduction in image quality!  This also meant a few angles were out as the reference images were on my phone, so I had to go from memory! It also meant WiFi only, so limited updates and no option for map use!

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Switching the order and doing the British Museum after Hyde Park actually worked out well, as I was dying for a wee anyway, so at least I could get the shot of the stairwell on the way XD (notice that sudden awful resolution and image grain!)

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The room with the replica Rosetta Stone that they looked at is on the ground floor, on the right hand side of the main lobby if your back is to the entrance. I think the room was called the ‘enlightenment room’ or something like that. (the opposite side of the building to the stairway shot).

27I got the reverse shot of where they are looking at the stone too.    I think the real Rosetta Stone is somewhere in the museum too, but as that wasn’t in the movie and I was doing badly for time I didn’t go looking for it.

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The last shot in the museum was looking down at the Gallery Café from the bridge above.  You can get up from the main stairs in the lobby, or through room 56 at the back of the museum.

Denmark Street

With the museum done, it made sense to head over to Denmark Street just south of Tottenham Court Road station.  This is one of the places I recognised from the movie, due to the yellow building at the back.  And yes I did stand there waiting for a bus to pull alongside so I could match the movie scene! (again look at how grainy my tablet camera is!)

*edit – I’ve just noticed even the picture / faces on that A-frame sign in the street are still exactly the same after 5 years! The detail the artists went to is amazing!

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Just down the end of the street is Hank’s Guitar Shop, which matches the window shot from the movie.  Annoyingly there were some quite large adverts in the window which spoilt the photo a bit, but it was nice that guitars were displayed in the same positions.  Also I really want to learn how to play the guitar!

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221B Baker Street

I headed back to Tottenham Court Road took a few changes to get to Baker St, for a quick stop to get the shot of 221B / The Sherlock Holmes museum, where HTT visited.

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It’s literally a 2 minute walk down form Baker Street station.

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Thankfully I didn’t need to get any pictures inside, as there was quite a que to get in.  The outside pictures were a little hard to get, as so many people were posing in front of the doorway for photos, so I just had to grab a shot the second it was clear.  If it hadn’t been busy I would have asked the doorman, dressed as copper, to pose in the position of the one in the movie.

Abbey Road

One stop along the Bakerloo line led me to St Johns Wood, the nearest tube station to Abbey Road.  Abbey Road crossing is about a 5 minute walk away from here.  I love how they shuffled across here in the movie, with Azusa glued to her guide book, Ritsu so casual about it, and Mugi walking across in an almost apologetic way to the car waiting at a zebra crossing XD

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I spent a while here trying to get a decent picture, I was surprised how busy it was here! Due to the amount of people trying to recreate the walking across photo that it’s known for, I just had to try and grab a quick picture when the chance came up.

The path back to the station has the building that you can see Azusa walk past while looking at her guide book, but annoyingly I saw the building on the way to the crossing, but forgot to take the picture of it on the way back, and didn’t remember until later in the day.

Gloucester Road

Originally this was meant to be my penultimate stop, but due to where I was it made sense to tick this location off next.  This was the site of the Gloucester Road shopping arcade and supermarket they went to.

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Thankfully it’s right next to the tube station.  The supermarket is a Waitrose, (I’m quite glad it was a good supermarket chain), inside the counter is virtually identical to how it is in the movie, even to the bottles of wine at the end of it!  I should have got a shot of where they stood in one of the aisles, but I didn’t think of that till afterwards.

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The arcade street itself is a little different, the clock has gone, the lights are a different design, and half of it now has seating for a restaurant.  But that shopping trolley is almost in the same position!

Temple station

Gloucester Road marked the end of the locations away from the city centre, leaving only locations in the city centre along the Thames to do.  In theory the smart move from here would have been to stop at Westminster next, then work down river.  However although the chronological plan had fallen apart a long time ago, I still wanted to end up in Jubilee Gardens last, as that’s where HTT wrapped up their London adventure.  And I had a playlist of the tracks they played so I could end my day in the park listening to their concert!

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The result of this was that I headed straight to Temple station next, then would head back up and own the river.  By this time it was late in the day and the news stall was closing up, but I still got it just in time to resemble the matching scene.

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To get the shots at Temple you can walk along the side of the station, then at the back there are some steps leading to a small rooftop park above it.  From here you can get the elevated view of the sign & street, and of the new stall they walked past.

The Tower of London

A few stops along from Temple leads to Tower Hill, the nearest station to the Tower of London.  Emerging from the station it became clear to me that time was becoming critical, as daylight was starting to fade!  I raced down and across the road to the bench outside the Tower of London that the girls sat on.  This is where they got the call about performing in Jubilee Gardens.  I could have got a few other shots here, but as my tablet battery was dying I decided to preserve it.  Plus the other shots are hard to get clear stills from the movie, as they are quick panning shots.

I got the angle of the shot slightly off as I was now stressing a little about the remaining daylight.

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Borough Market area

Now due to my realisation that I was now very much in race against time, that I might well lose, I ended up panicking a bit and miscalculating my next move.  The logical choice was to go back into Tower Hill, change at Monument and head to London Bridge station.  But in my haste I miscalculated the location of Borough Market and thought it was on the other side of Tower Bridge.  Because of that I decided it would be quicker to run past the Tower of London and across Tower Bridge!

Only when I got to the other side did I start to realise I’d made a mistake, so I ended up having to run another half mile down Tooley St toward London Bridge!

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My run down Tooley Street brought me to London Bridge Station, where I would have go the tube to had I been thinking correctly.  The London Bridge Experience is next to the station, in the movie they run past here, mainly as poor Mio is scared of being dragged in I think!  Again my angle was a little of as I had to go from memory at this point.

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This is also the same bridge which has the shot of Yui running under it while thinking about lyrics still.  With the same cathedral in the background too.

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Crossing under the main railway bridge on the corner of London Bridge station leads around into Southwark St and the location of what is now a Costa, and no longer Harpers Café.

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From there you can cut through into Borough Market, just a minute or so away.  I found it quite hard to square up the photo of the sign in the same way it’s pictured in the movie.  Because of the shops opposite I couldn’t seem to get far enough back to do it.  It’s possible though as I was rushing I might have missed an alleyway which would have made it possible to get enough distance from it.

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The market had by now closed for the day, in fact I’m not even sure it was on during a Tuesday anyway.  Sadly that mean I couldn’t get photos of a cupcake stall, or the large cheese wheels in the movie.  But around the back I did find the post (or at least what appears to be the right post), where the girls stood around while eating the cupcakes they brought.  I think the large glass canopy at the back was added after the movie.

Westminster

From here I was on the home straight, with only the Westminster locations left to do, however time was drawing on to I think 8pm and it was now a lot darker than before, I was losing daylight, and fast!

This caused me to make my next miscalculation, again the smart move would have been for me to go back to London Bridge Station, then change to the circle line and cruise down to Westminster.  But in my panic I somehow calculated that actually Westminster wasn’t far away and it would be quicker to run rather than changing trains.

Now I will normally do anything I can to avoid running, but in this instance I ended up racing down alongside the Thames, overtaking people out for their evening runs, whilst powering through the pain of the blisters I now had!

By the time I got the Blackfriars I realised I was only halfway, so I made the choice to run across Blackfriars bridge over the Thames and grab the tube from there Blackfriars station.  Though thinking about it now I should probably have run the other way to Southwark and got the tube from there.

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I emerged at Westminster to find an ominously greyish sky, but it was still just about light enough for me to stand a chance of grabbing the final images.  It should be said my tablet camera is awful in low light, so the darker the sky got, the less chance I had of matching the shots or getting even half decent quality pictures.

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As I crossed the Thames I grabbed two of the establishing/scenic shots from the movie, though the leaves on the trees along the edge of the river mean the buildings couldn’t be seen in the same way as the movie, where it’s winter so the trees are leafless.

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At end of the bridge is the place where Sawa-chan signalled the taxi, in front of the lion statue, so they could all get to Heathrow after the concert.  It has to be said, Sawako is one of the best characters in anything, of all time, ever!  She is just brilliant! She flew over for one day just to support HTT!  And her entrance when she appeared in London as Yui was worrying about plugging her guitar into the amp was one of the best entrances ever! I may have gone on a slight tangent there fangirling over how cool Sawako is, but it has to be stated for the record!

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Anyway, around the corner from the place where (the brilliant) Sawako called the cab, are the steps that the girls ran down towards the London Eye.  (again I waited for a bus in the shot, though in the wrong direction as I couldn’t see when was coming from the other way)

The path from here should also lead to it, but for some reason the path was blocked off for construction, even though there was no sign of construction work anywhere!  So to get to the London Eye & Jubilee gardens a diversion was in place to go around the whole block!

As a result I had to run back up the stairs and all the way around the block, I was determined to complete my K-On! day before the last light was lost.  Every second was now crucial, when it came down to it, I was trying to outrun the rotation of the Earth!

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Making it around and approaching the Eye from the back, I did my best to capture the same shots as in the movie.  But a few shots were destined for failure, as the trees were blocking the view from the movie, again due to it being winter in the movie, with no leaves.

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For that reason I had to adjust the angle of the shots a little to stop things, like Big Ben in the distance, from being completely hidden.

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On a good note the shot across the river came out a pretty good match.

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Jubilee Gardens

With the final shots of the Eye and Westminster area done, I was almost over the finish line, with a few minutes of daylight left to spare.  It should be said at this point, from the start I hadn’t planned on worrying too much about getting the few shots of some of the places, like the skate park along the Southbank, as they were again just used as establishing / scenic shots, rather than featuring HTT there.

51I knew I wasn’t going to have time to go on the Eye to catch the aerial view of Jubilee Park, which was a shame, but it did save me £20+ (or however much the eye is these days).  Of course in Jubilee Park there wasn’t a stage setup, and it’s changed a bit since the movie, with more paths, bushes & trees around, so I had to try and visualize where it would have been.

I found the shot of where Mio was standing looking out towards the Eye, so I was quite content that I was standing in roughly the right spot.

52I concluded my tour by taking the final shot, where Yui announced the last song to the crowd.  By this point I think it was probably around 9pm, I’d just about made it around to all key locations before I ran out of daylight (and battery life).

In a way it was quite fitting that I ended up panicking and rushing around near the end of the day, as HTT were also in a panic and having to run past the Eye after their concert to make sure they got to the airport in time.  (saved by Sawa signalling that cab!)

I wrapped up my K-On! day by laying on the grass in the park, staring up at the sky while listening to the songs they played at the concert, imagining I was actually there. (the movie versions of course, even with Yui saying “once more” like in the movie) I put them on repeat and just lay there even when it started to rain a bit, it was a great way to end a brilliant fun day!

******

As it wouldn’t have been a true K-On! day without tea & cake, I did make a nice cup of Japanese sencha tea, and brought some small strawberry cakes which I had with it once I was home!  So full K-On! day achieved! 😀

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4 thoughts on “My K-On! tour of London!

  1. Oh man, that’s dedication sir! Beautiful shots of the great city! Need to go watch that anime now so I can come back here and really enjoy this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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