This time last year I flew to Japan

A year ago today I flew out to Japan. Each year I try to get at least 2.5 weeks in mid-March to enjoy hanami there, along with Wild Rover (the paddy punk festival) and other assorted events.

Last year, of course, was different. I was booked to fly out on March 14, but on March 11 the devastating earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear meltdown took place. 

Already booked to spend a few days in transit in Seoul, I ended up staying 6 days. Not sure whether to believe the hysterical warnings of the aust government and western media, I stayed longer, keenly watching for news on NHK and planning what to do next. Still unsure after that time, I decided to fly into Osaka, where I spent 5 days. Learning from friends who stayed in Tokyo that bar some transport limitations it was functioning fine, I finally flew there (being one of about 3 white faces at Haneda airport).

Here’s my blog account from last March about the Japan earthquake & my crumbling travel plans.

I had a fantastic time, albeit with bittersweet emotion, and despite a slightly more sombre mood in the streets of Tokyo. And, of course, I supported Japan’s economy with my fashion shopping and eating out/drinking out.  Seeing friends who remained there (& a couple newly arrived) brought joy. 

 

 Attending the first goth events after the tragedy, the Post Tsunami Tokyo Decadance and Midnight Mess (pics above), allowed me to catch up and let loose with loved ones and new friends.

Whilst the Wild Rover festival got rescheduled to June, I got to see the Cherry Cokes again (one of my fave paddy punk bands). I even got street papped in Harajuku (pic left), which was a great buzz.

For more of my adventures & pics from last year, see March and April 2011.

Now in 2012,  Japan is busily repairing and rebuilding, and once again the cherry blossoms are, well, blossoming. Fashion Week is happening (unlike last year’s cancellation, just when I finally got invites).

I would so love to be there again now, but sadly it is not to be. Even my November 11 trip seems just a distant memory…but the clothes, and the shoes, I still wear!

So I don’t know when my next Tokyo sojourn will be, what with my India 3 week trip coming up in April, and a few other o/s jaunts in the planning stages. But I raise a glass of umeshu to the amazing country that Japan is, and to my amazing time there last March.

“KAMPAI!!!”

New Rock Gyaru store FERNOPAA

On this most recent Tokyo trip, I discovered a new gyaru store in Studio Alta on the 5th floor, called Fernopaa.  How exciting!

It stood out to me immediately, amidst other retro/bland stores, on account of its rock/glam look – very much like tutuHa. There were lots of spikes and skulls, crosses, metallics, leopard print, stripes, black, splashes of red and fuschia, cool hats..all the things I love 🙂 I really like that there are totally wearable items in there, alongside over-the-top, costumey, for clubs and parties type wear.  For my money, there is more here for the average girl to wear than in tutuHa. But enough babbling, see the store:

This one is not my pic…it shows the store’s layout quite nicely.

The glamorous girls in the store looked familiar…and it turns out they’re ex-tutuHa themselves! Unlike some stores, the girls not only welcome photos, but they take pics of you for their microblog Fernopaasnaap!  I went there in the first few days of my trip, and returned on my very last day to get some more goodies 🙂 The day I last shopped, unfortunately I had no make-up, lenses or lashes on and looked disgusting, but  agreed to pics (oh, I could DIE!).   But it was so cool that they recognised me when I returned and made a big fuss. Anyway, here’s the link to when I was in the Fernopaa store on November 21st.  And here are my photos:

Ami, Morimayu and Yanitan (??) The 2 on the left are so doll-like! The third is very streetwear rock. Ami always wears the pirate hat and Morimayu the tall marching band hat.

I bought some fab wristlets  in the shape of spines, and a new eyeball ring (also just seen on the khaki-clad mannequin)…but I’ll show you these in an upcoming outfit post!

I noticed that gorgeous gal blogger Woxje has done a post introducing Fernopaa too!  She also gives links to the shop girls blogs, so take a look.

All in all, Fernopaa is a real addition to the gyaru fashion scene. If non-gyaru girls like me love it, I can only imagine that gals will flip! Hopefully a webstore will be coming soon…and maybe a shop in 109 one day? Who knows?

Back in Tokyo, shopping

So I’ve been in Tokyo several days now, shopping like a demon (and eating like one too!)  It’s about time I give a little rundown…both about where I’ve shopped, and things I’ve noticed.

Saturday – was really about sleeping after getting none on the plane. So, I kept close, getting as far as the Shinjuku Subnade, Topshop and Studio Alta.

Sunday – Lumine Est, and after a brief stop at Isetan, finally made it to Marui One to check out the gothic, lolita & punk stores.  Yes, bought shoes, both at Yosuke USA and Black Peace Now, natch.

Monday –  Hit the new Azul/R&E/Moussy store in Shinjuku, then Takashimaya – Issey Miyake for colourful threads, Tokyo Hands for novelty items 😉

Tuesday – went to Shibuya. Visited Fake Tokyo (Candy/Sister), as well as 109 of course! BIG MONEY SPENT!! I admit I also visited Zara and Forever 21. Will have to save Grimoire and Grimoire Almadel for another day. Admittedly, I’ve spent more time in gal stores than other ones.

Things I’ve Seen Everywhere that I Like/Love

  • Skulls (still!)
  • Spikes on everything, including shoes, booties, even platform sneakers
  • Argyle
  • Houndstooth
  • Sequins & metallic fabrics
  • Maxi skirts, esp pleated, or in netting fabric like a long tutu
  • Jumpers that have big holes/distressed look
  • Platform shoes & booties
  • Over-the-knee boots
  • Fake fur hats/jackets/stoles/bags etc
  • Big floppy felt hats
  • Turquoise!
  • Orange & coral
  • Statement jewellery, big rings, punk studded cuffs etc
  • and on the gyaru girls themselves, big lashes and circle lenses same as always

Things I’ve Seen Everywhere that I Hate:

  • Ugg boots (not just in stores, but worn OUTSIDE by girls – sheesh!)
  • Bland pastel pink and beige colours
  • Baggy, oversized knits (maybe not hate…but they don’t seem flattering to me, and while I like stripes, the horizontal ones I see everywhere are a no-go for fatties like me)

And if I hear another bloody Gaga song in a store I’m gonna SCREAM!! Kinda wishin she was born some other way…

I’m still coming to terms with the amount of retro I’m seeing…all those demure peter pan, lace & beaded collars, preppy looks, fake string pearls, daggy knits and dowdy aunt type gear generally. I’m on the fence about all the shawls and ponchos..they remind me of the 70’s and seem a little daggy, but I can appreciate they’re new for under 30’s. The crosses on necklaces are still around, which I’m kinda over too.

Seeing less of:

  • Gyaru girls in big glasses
  • Aztec & tribal print
  • Wide palazzo pants (as in, maybe none? Obviously it was just a summer thing)

So this isn’t text-only, here’s me about to head out, in long black netting skirt (can’t remember the store, somewhere in Studio Alta), black Cryx top with little silver studs, striped shoes from gothic brand Black Peace Now, striped jacket from Cue and striped bag from Serenade, Beverly Hills.

  

Yup, I really oughta check my hair before taking pics…so messy! The little bit of printed tight you can see is an original design from Sister.

Black Peace Now shoe 

More pics to come with other purchases..now that I have a hotel room that actually has a window and sunlight!

Nozomi Ishiguro 2011/12 Haute Couture collection

One of the Japan Fashion Week shows I that most wanted to see, which was rescheduled for April 15th was Nozomi Ishiguro.

That the collection was Autumn/Winter made it no surprise that fur and shearling was used liberally – but in surprising ways and with splashes of colour that proved Winter doesn’t have to be about grey and black. Bright corals and reds add pops of vibrant delicious colour with hints of regal majesty.

Rich in textural detail, outfits featured shearling skirts and long shaggy shearling boots bound with buckles, but paired with lace leggings for lightness and contrast. Knitwear is artfully distressed, as if unravelled through wear and perhaps battle.

Ishiguro used quilting to great effect, lending a futurist almost cyber look even when paired with shearling or folk details. It reminds me of Burberry Prorsum’s biker pants and jackets, except Ishiguro takes it a step further, fashioning almost a breastplate in the men’s jacket – instant six-pack, anyone?

The warrior armour motif continues in the men’s looks with the use of metallic blacks & greys, luxe silver knit that signifies chain-mail, fur pant overlays and totemic tribal touches – although the tall pilgrim hats on some models seem at odds with the theme to me.

Overall there was a Mongolian warrior meets the 21st century theme. I loved the long shaggy fur coats and boots, but found the furry flat shoes less successful.

Even the ubiquitous camel coloured coat is given an edgy makeover in Ishiguro’s hands, when paired with an intricate belt as befitting an urban warrior, as well as sequinned lapels, a lacy ethereal blouse and drapy pants. Likewise a camel knit skirt is unravelled and paired with an intricate folk print jacket – and platform stripper shoes! There is nothing safe about the use of camel in this collection.

One of my absolute favourite looks is the black and white striped confection below, for its Tim-Burton like aesthetic and its kookiness. Even just the headscarf alone, with the shaggy fur tufting up like a bleached dread mohawk, is intriguing, although I can’t see anyone rushing out to buy the dress with the half fur/half knit skirt – or are they pants?

There are numerous looks to love, as well as a few to ponder over. The folk-futurism of the collection is certainly memorable if not always wearable. What do you think? What are your favourite looks, that you’d wear (if money were no object?)

* Photos from Fashion Snap, but you can see the entire collection at the Nozomi Ishiguro website.

Cool places in Shimokita & Koenji (or how I went looking for ‘Dog’ & found God instead)

While looking at pics from my recent trip and trying to decide what to post, it came to my attention that I still have photos from my July trip last year that I haven’t posted or written about!

One of the things I love most when in Tokyo is just walking around different neighbourhoods with some friends and seeing what we find. And so in late July, I met up with friends Utarou and Aki, and went to Shimokitazawa and Koenji.

Shimokitazawa is one of my fave places in Tokyo, and I’ve written about Shimokita here . 2 weeks ago I attended two gigs at the Shimokita Garden, seeing the Cherry Cokes one night, and 13th Moon the next, so stay tuned for posts on those.

A close-up of my outfit shows the Stigmata corset better (vintage, from Closet Child, back from the time when Kenzo-A was one of the designers). You can *just* see the white ribcage necklace from Destroy-X. Utarou and I are both friends of Amelia, and we both turned up wearing Angelspit/Destroy-X products! The railway station entrance always seems to be under construction – maybe one day it’ll be finished.

 

Firstly we attended the “Footprint” travel photography exhibition held in a Shimokita bookshop/cafe called Free Factory :

The walls were left in their rustic unfinished state, lending a decaying urban loft feel to the place:

Here’s the lovely Utarou, singer of Japanese industrial/cyberpunk band Baal (see my Baal post for more), wearing an Angelspit tank top. Alas, while leaning forward to talk to her while having coffee, my ribcage necklace snapped! Woe..

 

The Free Factory is a groovy place to hang out, and a lot more atmospheric than the ubiquitous chain coffee houses you see scattered about Tokyo. It often has interesting exhibitions too, so if you’re in Shimo, check it out. See the Free Factory website for more.

Then it was off to explore the many intriguing shops in Shimokita. There are a  lot of vintage shops nestled alongside boutiques, cafes, restaurants, bargain shops, chemists etc, so it’s always fun to get lost in the alleyways. One of my faves is the “Grown Up Tabatha” hat shop (almost opposite which is the Shimokita Garden live house)

Note the snapped necklace with only upper ribcage left 🙁      Now, Utarou’s turn to pose!

Novelty stores sell such essentials as rubber piglets and chickens, just ripe for the squeezing, with hilarious noises ensuing:

 

Shopping is tiring work, so we had to stop off for some lunch (and no, obvs early afternoon isn’t too early for beer!)

No matter what I order (and I did leave the raw egg alone)…

I always end up getting food envy, and wish I’d ordered what my friend ordered…know the feeling?

Finally we high-tail it over to Koenji, where we just HAVE to pop into Nude n’ Rude, as Aki and Utarou are good friends with Lilian, the owner:

For more info, see my Nude n’ Rude post here.

Then it was time to go and look for the elusive “Dog” store in the Kita Kore building. My friends didn’t know about it, and so we went searching only armed with a map. We finally spied the signatory puffer jackets/suits hanging near the building, and I went inside the decrepit Kita Kore building to have a look…but alas, Dog was closed! Only open on weekends – dang!

Ah well, the nearby Nincompoop Capacity shop was open, so up the stairs we went to investigate, spotting some psychedelic artwork on the wall on the way up:

 

At the top of the landing, one could see an amazing gelato-coloured lounge setting on the rooftop (complete with oversized ice-cream cone – why?), as well as numerous death-trap wiring scenarios:

And then I found God.

Heh, well, I just wanted to write that. The word “God” was attached to the door – apparently used as a clothes hanger.

Inside was an interestingly curated and fairly punk collection of clothing – note the teddy bears on the kimono-looking jacket on the door, inches away from a skull print.   There was a gorgeous little dog inside too, so I had to have a little pat and show some puppy love <3

I was polite & didn’t take pics inside…but Made with Japan went at the end of the year and interviewed the Nincompoop Capacity designers – go have a read! Or have a look at the Nincompoop Capacity website.

So I failed spectacularly to check out Dog, and lacked time on this last visit. One for 2012, I guess!

I know Tokyo Telephone will be featuring the store soon in their blog, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Have you managed to see Dog, whether the Koenji or Harajuku store?