Tokyo has many crazy club nights, but which takes the cake? Department H, a monthly party that celebrates the wildest aspects of underground culture.
You’ll see monster costumes, sexy tentacle performances, anime-head masks, drag queens, extreme piercings, lesbian wrestling… read on for incredible photos!
At the entrance, a woman covered in fake blood writhes in this glass coffin — like a scene out of Tokyo Gore Police. Next to her is a realistic, decaying corpse with a very long appendage…
Inside, we met an alien. While I struggled and ran away screaming, Yukiro decided to mount and conquer him.
I wore a carnival type of outfit. No fake eyelashes today; everything’s drawn on with black eyeliner pen.
Striped pastel goth skirt: Peace Now, from Closet Child Ikebukuro
White ruffle top: Spider, Hong Kong
(I kept the same hair that Kukukachoo styled for my magazine shoots.)
Department H takes place in the unassuming Kinema Club (Address: 6F 1-1-14 Negishi, Taito-ku) near Uguisidani station. On the lower level, there are booths that offer extreme body modifications and sell alternative goodies.
Keroppy Maeda, who you may recall from our Taboo bagelhead adventure, is there every month. He invited us to his art exhibit (at the bottom of this post).
While the DJs spun disco, Kanashimi no Belladonna (an old anime inspired by Art Nouveau aesthetics) projected on the backdrop. Then, the stage cleared, and the drag queens strutted their stuff.
Each showed off their handcrafted outfits, which expressed different personalities.
Such as a full body latex suit with green eyelashes.
This strawberry princess worked it to the max: as she walked the runway, her outfit exuded the scent of strawberries!
Hanky-panky and nudity are not a problem here. This is a safe space; nobody ever makes you feel uncomfortable.
Next: girl-on-girl wrestling! In the words of Naomi (who took all these images): “The match usually has two or three judges who are dressed in various monster/sci-fi costumes, and two participants who start out dressed up. However, as the match progresses, the wrestlers are encouraged to remove each other’s clothing as part of the match. It’s raunchy and ridiculous! The “fighting” is more for show than serious but they are very good at faking it.”
Many people cover their faces entirely. Anyone can be in these suits.
Japanese burlesque performer Naomi wowed us with her light-up hula hoop act.
Now that’s a power couple.
Thanks to organizer Gogh (center) for this incredible event, which has been going on since the 1990s!
Department H occurs the first Saturday of each month. Please consult my Tokyo nightlfe guide for details on this and other parties.
Many of Dept H’s regulars took part in an art show, curated by Keroppy Maeda, at Vanilla Gallery in Ginza. This little space often holds underground exhibits, such as one dedicated to burlesque. This one was titled “死と未来 – la mort et le futur” (Death and the Future).
On display were works by eight artists, including Keroppy. He’s currently fascinated by trepanning, or drilling a hole in the skull (a Medieval medical procedure).
Keroppy performed trepannation on an animal skull, and took the photograph on the wall. Behind him plays a stop-motion film of a forehead saline inflation (which he is explaining to his friend!)
Also in the exhibit: photographs of katana, corpses, and post-earthquake destruction. All the pieces reflect the theme, “The reality of death shows truth and the possibility of the future predicts a new vision for humans and our world.”
I enjoyed speaking to the artists about their process. The works ranged from stream of consciousness collages, to mistress photographs, to cultured human skin.
Keroppy Maeda is continuing to push forward with extreme body modifications and art in Japan. I can’t wait to see the projects he takes on next.
Would you attend a nightclub like this? What do you think of Tokyo body mods and underground art scene?
PS: Today, I did something involving bagels in Montreal… did you see it on my Twitter?
Travel filming in the Maldives! Gili Lankanfushi, eco-friendly island resort: organic garden & tropical spa.
My pirate ship has struck Treasure Island — and it’s in The Maldives.
I’ve explored beaches in Thailand, the French Riviera, Hawaii, and Mexico. However, I’ve never experienced anything as special as this eco-friendly resort, Gili Lankanfushi. While my film team edits the footage we shot, here’s a first peek into our tropical paradise!
Where exactly is Maldives? Near the equator; it’s an independent nation of two island chains, in the Indian Ocean.
To get here, my film crew and I flew over 24 hours (I went from Vancouver to Seattle to Dubai to Male, the capital), then took a 20-minute speedboat to Gili Lankanfushi (the resort sits on its own island). As soon as we stepped on the baby-powder sand, we knew it was well worth the journey.
The resort has a Robinson Crusoe theme; each guest is assigned a “Mr Friday” to help in any way needed (more on that later). With only about 80 guests on the pristine island, we felt like we were living out the tale… albeit with 5-star amenities!
You’ll notice that I’m barefoot in all the photos. Gili’s slogan is: “No shoes, no news”, and I took it to heart — it was a relief to get offline and on “Island Time.” Each guest receives a bicycle, but since I’m a tad uncoordinated, I walked or got a buggy ride from my “Mr Friday.”
The eco-resort is impeccably maintained, and there are many jungle paths to explore. I loved the organic vegetable garden, blooming with herbs from around the world, as well as regional curry bushes. These fresh ingredients took center stage in the dishes we ate.
What a view of the blue lagoon! Guests can take part in water activities like sailing and snorkeling.
There are different residences (details on Gili Lankanfushi’s website) — honeymooners often chose a water-bound villa, only accessible by boat. I had one of these villas along the jetty, which I’ll show you in the next post.
The brown jars are filled with water, for us to rinse sand off our feet. How gorgeous is this view?
For landlubbers, diversions include a Jungle Cinema (outdoor film screenings), tennis court, library, gym, freshwater pool, and gift shop. My dad saw this photo and commented: “You obviously have no idea how to play tennis.”
An elegant communication system: Eyes Open means you’re welcome to enter. Slide the panel to Eyes Closed, and nobody will disturb you.
Every effort is made to support the environment. Structures are made with renewable or recycled materials, and designed with energy efficiency in mind.
All of the architecture, such as these stepping stones, harmonizes with nature. This is the outdoor spa; we were treated to hour-long massages inside, in rooms that overlooked the ocean.
Coming up next: a Pirate sailing adventure to One Palm Island…
… plus incredible scenery, seafood, and a tour of my villa.
Polka dot shades: Dot sunglasses, Marc by Marc Jacobs (a gift from Seby)
Panda dress: gifted by A Bros Products, Hong Kong
Photos of La Carmina by Eric Bergemann (filmmaker).
Have you heard of The Maldives, or seen photos of this equatorial paradise? What do you think of our Robinson Crusoe getaway so far? Take a glimpse at Gili Lankanfushi’s website, you won’t regret it.
Steam Garden: Tokyo, Japan steampunk party at Christon Cafe Shinjuku. Japanese cosplay fashion event.
The concept of Steampunk is only beginning to gain recognition in Japan, even though there have been many works that incorporate the aesthetic, such as Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime film Steamboy. My Tokyo-based friends Kenny Creation and Luke Chaos have been passionate about Steampunk for some time, and last year, they founded the event Steam Garden. (Photo above by Aki Saito)
On March 10th, I went to their fourth event, themed “Celtic Fantasy.” Luke and Kenny rented out the entire Christon Café Shinjuku (a theme restaurant filled with European relics), and filled it with tribal fire dancers, cosplay performances, Medieval food, and live music on period instruments. (Photo by Jab)
Each event has a different theme, revolving around a past era. Previously, Steam Garden did a Meiji-themed party — a fascinating time when Japan was opening its doors to the West, and fusing Victorian fashion with traditional kimonos and obis.
This time, the code word was Celtic Fantasy. Luke describes it as “a blend of industry, fantasy, and epic adventure set to a soundtrack of exciting tribal and Celtic music.”
Kenny Creation DJ-ed possibly the most original set I’ve ever heard… it was exclusively bagpipe music! The crowd wasn’t sure how to dance to it, but Sarah and I gave it a go.
In between sets, there were mesmerizing performances by motion capture and stunt performer Kaori Kawabuchi (Final Fantasy 13), live music on a variety of period instruments from medieval group Homonculus…
… steamcore music and tribal fire dance from Chaos Royale VS Lyon.
Kana is the beautiful green Absinthe fairy, serving French “grande absente”.
With the dapper “philosopher” of Steam Garden, Luke. La Carmina wears:
Plaid purple dress: Miho Matsuda, from Closet Child. I wore it quite differently in this grunge outfit post.
Clockwork purse: Amavel, from Lumine Shinjuku (pics from this store soon)
Tako corset: gifted by Dracula Clothing (I wore it on the cover of Ladies of Steampunk magazine)
Braveheart roamed the room, challenging partygoers to duels in a Scottish accent.
One section of Christon Cafe contained tables, which sold pocket-watches, Steampunk accessories and other brass and clockwork instruments.
You could also order food — a plate of meat on skewers, to fit the Medieval vibe.
Yukiro Dravarious is an evil witch from the woods.
Steam Garden attracts an extremely fashionable, well-dressed crowd. It’s inspiring to see how Japanese alternative fashionistas have adopted the style, making it into something distinctively Japanese.
Love the cute twist on Steampunk’s signature brown clothing and brass goggles.
I enjoyed the company of a Victorian pageboy, a Braveheart lass…
… Captain Nemo, and a Victorian inventor gentleman.
A striking Mori-kei wood maiden look here, with flowers and antlers in the hair.
Every style tribe is welcome here, like Shiro-Nuri (white face paint, ghostly fashion).
And Japanese Lolitas. Do you like their coordinates?
Many of the outfits involved DIY gear, like this impressive glove with moving parts.
If you’re having a hard time deciding between square and circular glasses, why not choose both!
Except for the first two, all photos are by Said Karlsson, who photographed me for two magazine covers and spreads.
Steam Garden occurs every few months, and I can’t wait for the next one in July. People from all over Japan travel here to attend, as it’s the only regular, organized Steampunk event in the country.
For updates, and to keep track of this scene, join the Tokyo Steampunk Society on Facebook. As Luke puts it, “Here’s hoping the airship will keep on soaring higher!”
Did you know this Steampunk culture existed in Japan? What do you think of the performances and fashion at this event?
PS: Off to Montreal to cover Kinetik festival, and the local alt art/culture! Let me know your travel tips.
Kawaii bento-making isn’t as popular as it was a few years ago, but cute decorated food is still all over Tokyo. What else is currently trending in Japan?
In this post, I re-visit Shinjuku Studio Alta, the gyaru-alternative shopping complex near the station’s East Exit. Keep reading for neon-haired Japanese shop girls!
Let’s start with cute cakes. These bunny, cat, puppy and teddy bear pastries are sold inside the Swimmer shop, in the basement of Alta. While Swimmer has a few locations, I believe this is the only one with kawaii baked goods. (Compare these images to the Swimmer Studio Alta photos I took in 2011.)
For those who enjoy cooking, these cherry and chocolate print aprons are a nice gift.
Swimmer is all about pastel, animal-faced pens and accessories for the home.
One of the biggest trends in Tokyo right now: patterned or tattoo tights. The prints are colorful and intricate; Disney even got into the action.
Pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is everywhere, and her color contact lenses are big sellers.
Liz Lisa remains a favorite brand for girly types. (More photos of this brand in my Yokohama Vivre store pics.)
Cats will never go out of style. Not while Hello Kitty’s in charge.
Scary meets cutesy in many of the accessories.
I always stop by Fernoppa. The shop girl is very friendly and her rock-Goth coordinates are impeccable. (See her outfit photo from 2011 here.)
Lady Gaga might go gaga at the studded bras, chokers, and giant leopard print bows.
Algonquins hasn’t changed much, but it’s not a bad thing. They’ve got their punky Gothic look down.
Quite a few stores sold large cross necklaces, and items with pentagram symbols.
Electro neon. The 1980s are alive.
One of the upper floors sells costumes and fabulous accessories. For some reason, the mannequins were dressed like LFMAO.
Impressive wigs. Wouldn’t it be nice to have hair like on the right?
For more photos of Shinjuku Studio Alta, take a look at my previous shopping trip. Address: 3-24-3 Shinjuku.
If you want to see more Scottish Fold cat photos like this one, I invite you to add our Facebook page.
Thanks for reading and supporting!