MERMAID BAR IN ROPPONGI. JAPANESE GIRL IN BIKINI, SWIMMING IN FISH TANK. HOSTESS CLUBS, TOKYO JAPAN.


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I’m often asked: what’s it like, being on travel TV shows? What goes on behind the scenes? I’m going to attempt to answer these questions by bringing you more photos from the NRK Norway documentary shoot, which took place last October-November in Tokyo. (Photos by Naomi Rubin, my First Mate fixer.)

Every show requires weeks of planning. Naomi and I bring our ideas to the producers, and when they’re approved, we make precise arrangements with the locations and people involved.

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In this case, the producers had heard of a bar where a real-life Ariel swims in a giant tank. We found Mermaid Fusion, a hostess bar in Roppongi, and got permission to bring in our cameras at an exact date and time. (Schedules are tight and days are long, while working in the field.)

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We didn’t have time to scout out the location beforehand. Thankfully, the lighting was adequate — and what a scene! Clad in a gilded bikini and mask, a Japanese swimmer gulps air from the top of the tank

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Then she submerges herself into the abyss, gracefully flipping her limbs through the water. Beautiful.

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The Prince of Norway, host Ari Behn, wanted to be a “mer-man.” After much cajoling, we convinced the Mermaid Bar owner to let him enter the tank. The murky water and narrow but deep space is harder to swim in than you’d think.

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Ari has a magnificent tattoo of a winding snake. The tattoo artist used a meticulous dotted effect, which I’ve never seen before.

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We also cast the girl who Per is romancing (she’s a hostess at the bar). The lines aren’t scripted, but the scenes and storylines are prepared in advance.

Soon, I’ll upload clips from the Norway TV show, so you can see the action yourself!

ulara nakagawa, The Diplomat is the premier current affairs magazine covering the Asia-Pacific, with a network of correspondents and bloggers bringing you politics, new emissary, rise of china india, asian powers, rising india, japan earthquake, sendai, Food, art, cultural trends, people, lifestyle, aspirations, tokyo youth subcultures, art scene, jpop art, japanese pop art, artist

PS: I did a guest post for The Diplomat, an Asia-Pacific current affairs magazine. It’s about how artists can work together and get their creative juices flowing, to help Japan’s recovery. The article is after the jump and here.

Got any questions about what goes on in a travel television program? Or TV shoots in general? Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to fill you in.

Song of the Day: Every New Dead Ghost (An underrated Goth rock / post punk band.)

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Pop Art Fundraisers for Japan
Following is a guest entry by La Carmina, TV host, ‘cool hunter’ and journalist focusing on Japanese fashion and travel.

The heart of my work takes place in Tokyo, where I host travel TV shows and write about Harajuku fashion and subcultures. In an alternate universe, I’d be in Inokashira park right now, hosting a Belgian documentary about sakura season.

Instead, the earthquake shook up my ‘spooky-pop’ universe. Friends fled Japan. Plans were put on indefinite hold. The destruction in Sendai haunts me; images and numbers I can’t begin to process.

I asked myself: as an artist, can I make a difference in this time of crisis? Working together, I believe there’s much that creative individuals can do to help.

Model and actor Sebastiano Serafini, a familiar face on my La Carmina Blog, survived the Tokyo quake and flew to Los Angeles. Here, we harnessed a tight network of artists, musicians, promoters and designers that inhabit the J-pop world. Everyone pooled resources to raise funds and awareness for the victims.

We co-sponsored several art benefits in Los Angeles. At one, Q Pop Shop donated event space and pledged sales to charity. Tune in Tokyo DJs and bands volunteered to perform, while artists such as Junko Mizuno gave works for auction, as did illustrators for the Power Puff Girls, Samurai Jack and Pixar.

The events raised money through donations and sales, but also provided a space for creative types to come together in this difficult time. The simple act of attending added to the sense of camaraderie. Even Tweeting about the events let participants feel they were taking positive action to help.

In addition to our art fundraisers, Sebastiano and I had impromptu collaborations with a variety of artists. I interviewed the band Black Veil Brides about their experiences in the earthquake, and we took photos with the Japanese flag to encourage donations. The Mr. Black party promoter let us set up a donation booth at his club night. Hair salon Toni & Guy dyed our hair red, as a visual statement of support.

We’re now working on longer-term design projects to benefit Japan, beginning with a charity t-shirt. Sebastiano co-founded the Hope project with fashion brand Like Atmosphere. We’re both the inspiration for a graphic tee designed by Alice and the Cat, with proceeds going to the victims of the tsunami and earthquake. To keep the momentum going, we also have a non-profit jewellery collaboration in the works.

The earthquake can be seen as a setback for artists whose career and lives are tied to Japan. But from another perspective, it’s an opportunity to team up and get the creative juices flowing to help Japan’s recovery.

  • Maiko

    Hey La Carmina :)

    the mermaid bar reminds me of the episode in pokemon where we find out misty is a gym leader – very pretty!

    I was meaning to let you know, that the shops in your osaka lolita guide (which I know you’ve been meaning to update) have changed significantly since you last checked – I went at the beginning of this year, the second hand shop near cutie frash has closed down, and BODYLINE has moved to the main ebisubashi district extremely close to the sanrio shop among many changes.

    also not many people notice this amazing shop called REGULUS69, downstairs from the PUNK IS NOT DEAD store in america mura. My boyfriend bought me this amazing faux-leather corset for only around 5000yen and heaps of swimmer goods. in turn, I dressed tim from top to toe in visual kei wear for quite reasonable prices! – we were featured in their blog here http://regulus69.jugem.jp/?eid=2164 ! just thought you might want to add these info next time you want to update stuff on osaka.

    also i want to thank you for the amazing support you have given Japan. you are my inspiration and role model La Carmina <3

    xx
    Maiko

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      Ohh thank you very much for the updates! I haven’t been to Osaka in a while. I’m not surprised the 2nd hand shop closed down; the selection was limited and not very good…

      You look like you’re having fun in the blog post! Glad you had a great time. We have many more projects in the works to help Japan – thanks for your support!!

  • Sanja

    want to work in such a mermaid bar *.*

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      It’s harder to swim in the tank than you might think!! The Prince had trouble…

      • Sanja

        I imagine… But I spent quite some time in water in my life… I guess its more difficult to actually get this job X3

  • http://www.youtube.com/takenoutofcontext Glitch

    No fair. I want to swim with the mermaid.

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      The water is murky, and the narrow/deep tank is difficult to navigate… Ari was more concerned with surviving the experience than swimming with the mermaid!

  • Genevieve

    amazing!!! beautiful photos, NaomI!

  • Northe

    Congrats on the article. Youre right, there are many ways artists can work to help~~

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      Thank you.

  • Asta

    go la carmina! looks amazing!

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      <3

  • Cat

    You met with Princess Martha Lousie husband. Impressive :)

  • Ally

    I have never heard of a place like that, how cool!!

  • Joanna

    But, but he’s not the prince of Norway! Just the princess’ husband! I though you meant Prins Haakon, that would have been so funny!!!! I would love to

    • Joanna

      I would have loved to have seen that hahaha :) Really interesting post and cool pictures! :)

  • Tomomi

    wow… there are too many things/places i have never known/been about tokyo…

  • http://www.dressingvintage.com Lisa

    When I was a child, we used to go to a place in Florida that had “mermaids” swimming in a tank like this one! I’d love to know if you’ve ever heard of it? It was hysterical..

    • http://www.lacarmina.com lacarmina

      Oh, I haven’t heard of it! However, I remember going to a mermaid bar in NYC, years ago…

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