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Osaka, Japan Gothic stores! Satanic Territory occult & witchcraft shop, Japanese tattoos, pentagram fashion.

tokyo photobooth, purikura machines

“Today is enjoy!” Since it’s still spooky season, I thought I’d release an updated guide to the Gothic and underground shops of Osaka, Japan.

The red pentagram hints at the theme of today’s post. We’ll delve into the Kansai Goth, occult and Satanic scene…

osaka halloween shop, goth store

… including exclusive photos of Territory, the devilish lair of Taiki-san. Read on for Osaka tattoos, taxidermy and absinthe as well!

japanese purikura, sticker photo machine

I thought I’d include these purikura (sticker machine) photos from Tokyo as well, since there are quite a few devil horns and pentagrams. Doing purikura with friends is a must when you’re in Japan. You’ll wind up with ridiculous sticker images (often with bizarre English) that you can decorate before printing out.

Outfit details: I’m wearing Killstar leggings and a top from Dead Gallery Iceland, by artist Jon Saemunder Audarson.

taito game center shinjuku

There are “sticker picture” photobooths around the world, but the most high-tech and bizarre ones are only in Japan. Go to any game center, such as Taito in Shinjuku, and you’ll find a handful or more “purikura” machines to pick from (as well as games galore).

kawaii sticker pictures japanese girls

Japanese purikura (short for “print club”) turns you into a big-eyed, stretch-limbed being. You can choose from all sorts of frames and effects, and digitally decorate the photos.

I especially love to do purikura around Halloween, since they release seasonal stickers (like the ghosts and pentagram stars above).

decorating purikura photo booths

After posing for about six photos, you can choose your favorites and decorate them side-by-side with your friend. There’s a digital pen that you can use to select various borders, stickers, text and effects (such as changing your hair color).

 

purikura shinjuku location

Purikura decorating is an art form — you want to achieve the perfect balance of ridiculous-ness in the image, without cluttering it up! I think Kanae and I did a pretty good job with these ones.

printed purikura stickers

In the old days, you had to use scissors to carefully cut up and divide the purikura prints. Now, you can choose to print out two copies, as well as send the images to your phone or email. What a world we live in!

territory osaka satanic shop

And now, let’s dive into the Osaka underworld. Most of the alternative / Gothic / underground shops are in the America Mura district — including this self-described lair of Satanism and Witchcraft, Territory.

The entrance cautions you to Beware. Only those with dark souls dare to cross this gate, guarded by skulls and other deathly figures.

On the Territory signboard, you’ll notice the Latin words “Non Serviam,” or  “I will not serve”. The phrase is generally attributed to Lucifer, and sums up the powerful spirit of this establishment.

satanic occult shop territory

Since 1996, Taiki’s Territory has garnered a devout underground following. Territory is well hidden, and not even many locals know about its existence. Go down to the basement level, and wander around until you find these skeletons and demons.

Address: 2 Chome-8-33 Nishishinsaibashi, Osaka Center Building B1, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Japan.

taiki territory dj black veil

I visited Territory’s mastermind, Taiki-san, with Dr. John M. Skutlin (cultural anthropologist and Japan specialist, who writes about subculture and tattoos in Japan). He shares Taiki’s story in this special report.

“The founder of Osaka’s Gothic underground event scene, it is said that Taiki gained his Satanic pedigree in 1996 when he visited New York City and studied the dark arts at a certain occult shop. He returned to Japan in the same year and opened his own shop of occult and Satanic antiques and merchandiseTerritory.”

japanese devils demons masks

“Meeting with Goth and occult luminaries on the scene like Voltaire and Paul Booth, he eventually became something of a regular in the New York’s Goth music scene during his frequent trips from Japan. This experienced helped inspire him to open his own Gothic music bar – the first of its kind in Japan – called Sabbat on Friday the 13th of October 1999.”

black veil osaka japan party

“Taiki began organizing Gothic events for the dark underground of Osaka around the turn of the millennium, including parties like Devil’s Christmas and later the long running Black Veil. His gatherings became yearly highlights that drew guests not only from Tokyo and other cities in Japan, but also from abroad. His events have featured major acts in the EBM and dark electro scenes such as Hocico and Combichrist’s Andy LePlegua.”

satanic shop japan

“While Bar Sabbat is no longer serving alcohol, his Satanic shop Territory is open for business in Osaka’s Shinsaibashi district, and Black Veil draws Goths from the dark corners of Japan three times a year around Walpurgis Eve, Halloween, and New Year’s Eve.”

japan satanic temple church satan

Taiki-san usually does not permit photography inside his spiritual shop, but made an exception for us. Taiki has a powerful presence, and surrounds himself with dark talismans. When you speak with him, you feel as if you’re in the presence of a wizard.

creepy weird osaka shops

Territory is not a Halloween kitsch shop. Everything here is of exquisite quality: dark art sourced from around the world, many with frightening backgrounds attached to them.

You can spend hours looking at all the small details within this museum collection (as not all items are for sale).

bizarre osaka japan

Taiki has a knack for finding works that seem to possess a malevolent spirit. Whether antique or new, these collections convey a sense of death and unease — which Goths like us find fascinating.

japan devil worship satan

Of course, there is plenty of Satanic iconography. The horned one sits next to a Iron Maiden torture device, while a witch baby doll looms in the shadows.

osaka haunted houses ghosts

Many items pay homage to Japanese “yōkai,” or monsters and demons in Japanese folklore. However, Taiki has items from around the world, especially relics from Germany and Europe.

osaka goth gothic shop

In addition to taxidermy and human skulls, Territory carries clothing and home items with the mark of the devil. I picked up a tote bag with the Church of Satan symbol.

You’ll either feel appalled by Taiki’s Territory, or eager to visit (and I hope you’re in the second category!) If you aren’t going to be in Osaka any time soon, you can also order items from his shop online.

osaka japan absinthe bar

In the same building is Fog, an absinthe bar that Taiki-san frequents. My friends and I adore drinking absinthe, and Fog has some of the finest bottles of “green fairy” from around the world.

Fog even carries several of the HR Giger absinthes, named after the Alien art designer (I’m so excited to visit the Giger bar in Gruyeres, Switzerland). We tried the H. R. Giger Wolfsmilch and Absinthe Brevans; the latter is named for Jacques de Brevans, author of a classic French liquor-maker’s manual.

fog osaka japanese absinthe

The bartender can help you choose from over 20 kinds of absinthe. He can suggest the best way to drink it (straight, on the rocks, or using the classic water drip over a flaming sugar cube). The bar carries other types of alcohol as well, and does cocktails.

gothic metal bar osaka

Fog is dimly lit, and until my eyes adjusted, I didn’t realize it was filled with watchful creatures. There was a real owl in one corner, which I thought was stuffed at first.

The walls are mounted with butterflies and insect specimens, as well as creepy deer heads in serial killer masks. 

japanese weird theme bars

Fog Absinthe Bar’s address is the same as Territory’s; both are in the maze-like lower level of Osaka Center Building.

Address: 2 Chome-8-33 Nishishinsaibashi, basement level, Chuo Ward, Osaka

witch wicca store osaka

We also stopped by Bleeding Maria, a special place protected by witches. (Address: 2-18-6 Shinsaibashi, 5th floor – it’s in a Americamura building with an elevator, filled with small shops).

Yukiro and I visited Bleeding Maria many years ago. This time, the witches had flown and we weren’t able to go inside.

japan bleeding maria tarot fortune teller

I encourage you to drop by this unusual establishment of witchcraft, runes and fortune-telling. The owner, Kaori, speaks English and German very well — so you can visit even if you don’t know Japanese. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to hang out in this spiritual haven, and meet her pet tarantula.

babylon body art osaka

If the words “Painful Pleasures” appeal to you, then you’ve got to visit Babylon. The name hints that this is not just a piercing / body art studio. There are twisted cultural and anthropological treasures to be found within.

Address: 1-16-7 Nishi Shinsaibashi, Osaka

piercings shop osaka japan

John sets the scene in this report: “Stepping into Babylon Body Art’s Osaka, which started off more than a decade ago as a bar in a different location, one is surrounded by stuffed and mounted animals and various taxidermic specimens. Shelves are filled to capacity with rare and unusual books in both Japanese and English, on subjects ranging from anatomy and zoology to bestiality and methods of execution.”

preserved snakes japan

“The glass cases are full of piercings from brands like Anatometal and Maya Jewelry. On the television, one can expect to find any number of macabre and unusual videos, such as the gruesome scenes of a VHS copy of the infamous Faces of Death shockumentary (directed by Conan LeCilaire, 1978).”

osaka piercers, tattoo artists

“The owner, Bonzin, admittedly revels in his own self-professed “bad taste.” Covered in tattoos (including a full back piece of the Senju Kannon bodhisattva) and sporting multiple implants (both subdermal and transdermal), he is not only a piercer but also a popular artist and DJ at Goth events, and has organized all of the major suspension performances in Kansai.”

japanese taxidermy shop

Bonzin sees his own body as a work of art, explaining he was initially inspired to modify his body in more extreme ways after seeing the decidedly Cronenbergian cyberpunk film Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Tsukamoto Shinya, 1989). He claims to have transformed into the “Iron Man” that he set out to become.”

body piercing shop japan

I like how Babylon’s displays have a sense of absurd humor. The seal on a swing looks happy to be bopping noses with a piglet, while an armadillo crouches behind.

skeleton wearing gas mask

This skeleton models a cyber apocalyptic gasmask, wedged between two glass cases.

mice with devil horns

How kawaii are the stuffed mice, with gems for eyes and black ram horns coming out of their foreheads? Babylon is quite the kingdom of dark delights.

japanese devils tattoos drawings

Next, we paid a visit to Horitsuna, the revered tattoo artist at Desperado studio. (Center Bldg 6F, 2-10-29, Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Osaka.)

Horitsuna is self-taught, and specializes not only in Japanese wabori designs, but also tribal and other styles. Above are some design mock-ups featuring devils and daruma.

japan osaka tattoo parlor

John has interviewed Horitsuna extensively for his scholarly work, and explains, “He uniquely incorporates Japanese tattoo design elements like gakubori (background designs, such as waves, clouds, or fire, connecting motifs into a larger piece) with more Western design elements, including grotesque and occult themes.”

In a country where tattooing is heavily regulated, Horitsuna is one of Japan’s most prominent tattoo artists and owns two studios. He regularly attends the Hong Kong International Tattoo Convention, and has won awards at conventions in Japan, Thailand, France, and Finland.

osaka gothic lolita punk

All of these underground stores are found in Amerikamura or Ame-Mura (America Village). This remains the best neighborhood in Osaka to see Gothic, Lolita, Punk and alternative street style, including indie boutiques — a sort of equivalent to Harajuku in Tokyo.

pastel goth larme fairy kei outfits

To get to this Osaka youth district, take the subway to Shinsaibashi station, and then wander around. The shops change around all the time, and the district is not large, so it’s best to simply spend time here and see what you find.

osaka alternative streetwear

There’s a great mix of vintage and new street style in Amerika Mura. This time around, I spotted a whole lot of pentagrams / Satanic stars….

larme kei, harajuku fruits

This top like Miffy the bunny, with a similar X mouth. How funny to see her with bat wings, inside the star of the devil, yet in soft pastel colors! (I always knew Miffy had an evil side.)

tokyo pentagram shirts

Goth pastel Lolita meets horror Japanese fashion? Osaka’s Big Step department store has all your favorite EGL brands (Alice and the Pirates, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Kera, Miho Matsuda).

angelic pretty Magic Amulet dresses jsk

The Magic Amulet collection from Angelic Pretty has several types of pointed stars on its JSK prints.

jewish star pentagram purses

Funny to see the Jewish Star of David… all over Japanese Gothic accessories! Perhaps the designers merely like the look of the six-pointed star.

marui annex jrock clothes

Spooky Goth meets Seinfeld… now that’s a Japanese street style I never thought I’d see!

666 store osaka japan

The devil is everywhere in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. I passed by the 666 store, on the way to Closet Child (the secondhand chain also found in Tokyo).

alucard osaka vampire theme restaurant

Theme restaurants abound as well. Here’s the entrance to Alucard, a vampire themed restaurant that is now closed (I guess they were a bit too successful at banishing vampires with wooden stakes). However, you can still visit the Tokyo Vampire cafe.

medical theme cafe osaka japan

John introduced me to Cafe Anamune, a medical themed cafe run by locals. I love the laid-back feeling of this little place, which has flasks and zombie nurses lurking around. Order the simple yet lovely Japanese curry, and enjoy the atmosphere.

Anamune Cafe address: 1-8-16 Nakanishi Building 501, Nishishinsaibashi, Osaka.

alice wednesday osaka gothic

Osaka’s Americamura / Shinsaibashi area is a district filled with funky art, alt culture and inspiration. Such as the Alice on Wednesday shop, which is dedicated to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. If you figure out the correct door and hidden keyholes, you’ll enter a boutique with a Queen of Hearts throne room, Mad Hatter party and more — selling everything from Eat Me candies to clocks.

Alice on Wednesday is found at 2-12-25 Asahi Plaza Shinsaibashi, Osaka

jr pass japan rail station

I leave you with this subway poster featuring Miffy the bunny, peeking out passengers! Huge thanks to JR Pass for making this Japan trip a reality.

I was able to travel seamlessly by train, from Tokyo to Osaka and other cities, using an unlimited Japan Rail Pass. Find out more about these rail passes on their site, and in my travel video.

cute purikura decorations

I hope you enjoyed our funny purikura escapades as well! If you’re in Japan, taking “print club” sticker photos is an absolute must.

For more offbeat travel stories from Japan, come browse my Tokyo blog category. There are tips for theme restaurants, underground shops and more, from 2007 to today. Here’s to more Gothic Japanese adventures soon!

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Mutter Museum in Philadelphia review: Gothic skulls & medical curiosities! Philly Goth travel guide.

mutter museum Philadelphia skull collection

Welcome to Goth heaven… oh so many skulls! (I think I’m checking my head to make sure it’s still there.)

I recently ticked another Gothic destination off the bucket-list: Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum. This is one of the world’s most renown medical museums; a mesmerising collection of bodily oddities, pathological specimens, wax models, and unusual skeletons. 

To get to Philly, I traveled from NYC by bus. It was an easy journey thanks to booking website Busbud, which lets you search for bus routes and compare prices/times/info in thousands of cities worldwide.

bizarre weird mutter museum philly

My bus ride was only two hours long, and took me to/from convenient downtown districts (meaning I could avoid long journeys to airports or train stations, and waiting times). Busbud turned out to be an affordable and sustainable way to travel like a local, which I’m all about.

Here I am in front of the Mutter Museum, psyched to see the “Disturbingly Informative” exhibitions. To match the occasion, I wore my skull-printed Gladnews dress,Disturbia bomber jacket, and Gal Stern Luxury Tights with gold skulls over the knees. (Photography by Ashley Yuen and me.)

(Shop more styles from Disturbia below, with a click):

college of physicians medical library

The museum is part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, a non-profit institution that promotes both the heritage and future of health and medicine. The College was founded in 1787, is one of the oldest professional medical organizations in America.

The man behind the name is Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter. He convinced the College to establish this educational museum, and donated the original collection in 1858.

Fun fact: Dr Mütter added the umlaut (ü) to his name after his travels in Europe! On a more serious note, he pioneered many important innovations in surgery. The doctor made significant advances in plastic surgery, insisted on cleanliness in a time before germ theory was recognised, and emphasized pre and post-patient care.

human skulls medicine museum

Dr. Mutter believed in the advancement of biomedical research, and wanted a place to share the 1700 medical samples he preserved over the years. Today, the Mütter Museum’s collection has grown to more than 25,000 items that help the public understand “the mysteries and beauty of the human body, and appreciate the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.”

These curiosities include over 3000 osteological specimens, including these “skeletons in the cabinet” and a spinal segment of John Wilkes Booth (the murderer of President Abraham Lincoln).

Mütter Museum famous skulls einstein brain

Goths will adore the Hyrtl Skull Collection: there’s an entire wall that displays 139 human skulls! Joseph Hyrtl, a 19th century Austrian anatomist, put together this collection to show the diversity of cranial anatomy among various European groups.

Each of the bony rictuses seems to have a different personality. My personal favorite was the jolly-looking toothless skull of Geza Uirmeny, who “lived to 80 without melancholy.” He happens to be from Hungary or Romania, the country of Count Dracula.

gothic skull collection

Many of the skulls are inscribed with comments about the person’s age, place of origin and cause of death. The cards also convey this information (“Saxon, from Transylvania.”) Hyrtl built this collection to show the variations among Caucasians in Europe, in rebuttal to the claims of phrenologists (who believed race and intelligence/personality caused anatomical differences).

interior mutter museum college of physicians

I adored the Mütter Museum’s classic setting, which resembles a 19th century “cabinet of curiosities.”

The specimens can be on the morbid side, such as depictions of skin diseases, and preserved fetuses with deformities in jars. However, I found these displays fascinating, as I love seeing the “beauty in the grotesque.” I’d say the Mutter is the perfect museum for travelers who gravitate to unusual, alternative attractions. 

giant and dwarf skeletons, skull dress

I can’t measure up to “The Mütter American Giant,” who looms over me at 7 feet 6 inches and is the tallest human skeleton on exhibit in North America.

Quite the size disparity between him and the 3 foot six dwarf skeleton on the right, which belonged to Mary Ashberry.

ribcage skeleton corset effect

So interesting to see how various illnesses and trauma manifest on the human anatomy. From dental patterns to healed fractures, there’s a lot you can tell from a person’s bones.

Not everything is caused by genetics, injury or disease. Some of these “body modifications” are self-inflicted for various reasons, such as for the sake of beauty! On the right, you can see a regular ribcage compared to one that was narrowed by wearing a corset. The Mutter Museum also had preserved skin samples that show tattooing from the past. 

mutter museum chang and eng conjoined twins

One the museum highlights is a plaster cast of Chang and Eng, conjoined twins who were born in Thailand in 1811 (hence the term “Siamese Twins.”) They came to the US in 1829, and attracted large audiences as touring “freakshow” performers. The twins married sisters who later got into a fight — so the brothers spent three days at one wife’s home, then three days at the other’s!

Chang and Eng were joined at the sternum and had a fused liver, which is on display at the Mutter. Chang had a stroke and drank heavily, so his liver was large and deformed. He died after suffering a fall and bronchitis, and his brother followed three hours later.

Another famous resident of the Mutter is The Soap Lady, on the right. She’s encased in adipocere, an unusual fatty substance that formed because her burial environment was alkaline, warm, and airless.

gross skin diseases mutter philadelphia

The museum conveys medical information in different formats: photography, wax moulages, old illustrations, and even an interactive video re-enactment of a Civil War era amputation.

Skeleton of Harry Eastlack fused bones

Many come to see the articulated skeleton of Harry Raymond Eastlack (left photo). He suffered from  fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, a rare condition that affects the bone repair process, and slowly turns healthy muscle and tissues into bone. By his mid-20s, his vertebra had fused together, and he was locked in this position. When he died days before his 40th birthday, his body had completely ossified.

mutter museum giant colon

Behold… the Mega Colon. This gigantic tract belonged to a 29-year-old man who suffered from Hirschsprung’s Disease. The nerve supply to part of his large intestine was damaged, making it extremely difficult to pass waste (he would be constipated for a month or more). As his condition worsened, the abdomen and colon swelled enormously, sadly leading to his death. Upon autopsy, the colon was 8 feet long and contained 40 pounds of feces! 

neanderthal prehistoric burial ground skulls

The exhibition visuals may be intense for some visitors, but I thought they were engrossing examples of pathology, intersected with history and culture. For example, above is a re-enactment of a prehistoric burial ground.

I’ve only shown you a small cross-section of the displays. You’ll have to  come for yourself to see pieces of Albert Einstein’s unusual brain,cephalothoracopagus (fetus skeleton with one head and two bodies), a jar filled with skin pickings (caused by mental illness), tribal shrunken heads, and a lady with what seemed to be a unicorn horn protruding from her forehead! (It’s actually a keratinous skin tumor that takes on the appearance of a horn.)

mutter museum podium doctors

Philly’s College of Physicians is also home to the impressive Historical Medical Library. The shelves hold comprehensive journals from past centuries, and more than 400 incunables (books printed before the year 1500).

It’s also possible to rent out the stately halls and rooms, for special events. I pretended to be a doctor, giving a powerful speech at this Gothic-looking podium.

synthwave drive print bomber jacket

The Mütter also has spaces for rotating exhibits relating to the theme of the museum. I enjoyed Lisa Nilsson’s “Connective Tissue” — contemporary works that use ornate quilled paper to create anatomical cross-sections.

In addition, you can come to the museum for special events including talks, film screenings (like “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”), and an upcoming Halloween jazz speakeasy ball.

mutter museum garden, philadelphia gardens

In my first travel diary about Philly, I took you to the Magic Gardens. I discovered yet another magical green space, at the Mutter Museum. (Photography by Ashley Yuen.)

Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant herb Garden

This is the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden, named after the Philadelphia colonial doctor and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Rush helped found The College of Physicians in 1787, and wanted to establish a medicinal garden for natural healing ingredients. 

First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia courtyard

His dream didn’t come to realization until 1937, when the Mutter celebrated its 150th anniversary. Today, the Rush Garden has more than sixty different kinds of medicinal herbs, which give off a fresh scent as you walk through.

(The courtyard adjoins the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, pictured behind me.)

mutter museum gift shop coffee mugs

Don’t leave without a trip to the gift shop — it’s fantastic for those with a slightly morbid sense of humor! I picked up these two umlaut “mügs”, and squeezed a cute plush version of the megacolon. (You can also order items from the Mutter Museum online store.)

Above is a close-up of my Morbid Debutante necklace by Alex Streeter Jewelry. The white shell pearls and skull are the definition of Gothic elegance.

Hyrtl Skull Collection mutter

A deep bow to the Mütter Museum for inviting us to visit, and letting us take these exclusive photos! (Photography is not allowed inside the museum under regular circumstances, so this was a real treat.)

If you are visiting Philadelphia, this is a one-of-a-kind medical museum that can’t be missed. Check out the latest information on the Mütter website including admission fees, tickets, opening hours, special events and more.

franklin ice cream philly, bake shop

I’ll end with some bonus Gothic coverage from my Busbud trip. First, a shout-out to the food scene in Philadelphia — everything I ate here was terrific! For those with a sweet tooth, I recommend Franklin Ice Cream (I had the black raspberry), and The Bakeshop in Rittenhouse Square (the ricotta scone with rainbow sprinkles is addictive).

tarot card bronze art frames

If you’re looking for Goth and alternative shops in the city, there are quite a few choices. I loved browsing at Ritual Ritual; a boutique filled with occult / nature wonders like tarot card art and plants.

metaphysical gifts, jewelry philadelphia

Ritual Ritual has a magnificent selection of artisan, local, handmade jewelry. They carry accessories by 60 independent designers from all over the county.

Handmade jewelry store Ritual Ritual

Many of the designs have dark, edgy themes that caught my attention. I see the devil…

Ritual Ritual goth boutique philly

… and skull-shaped planters and flasks.

Philadelphia goth stores, shops

“Rebels & mystics” describes this Philly boutique well.

busbud greyhound travel influencers partners

These stories wouldn’t have been possible without Busbud, an innovative website that makes booking bus tickets a breeze. I could see all my routes and options for Philly-NY within seconds — saving me the time and stress of going through multiple bus sites.

Did you know of these alternative attractions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? PS, if you missed my first story, check it out: it’s about Philly’s Magic Gardens.

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De Pijp, hip neighborhood of Amsterdam. Halloween travels & speaking at Experience Bucharest tourism conference!

whitby abbey dracula castle uk

Get your fangs out… Halloween 2017 is going to be bloody fabulous!

This year, I’ll be in three European countries famous for Vampires, Alien, and Jack the Ripper. (Any guesses? The reveal is below.)

vampire steampunk victorian fashion

First, I’m excited to officially announce: I’m off to the land of vampires, Transylvania! I was invited to attend and speak at Experience Bucharest, the largest project ever to promote tourism in Romania’s capital and beyond. For several days, worldwide travel influencers will be gathering to see the capital through the eyes of its passionate residents.

It’s been my long-time dream to visit the ultimate Goth destination, and experience the dark underground culture. I’m honored to be speaking on at Travel Massive’s “Future of Tourism in Romania” conference, on a panel about travel and social media.

Follow along my social media @LaCarmina and hashtag #experiencebucharest to join the fun, including a visit to the castle of Count Dracula. (Above, photographer Joey Wong captured me in front of UK’s Whitby Abbey, an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s novel.)

giger alien bar gruyeres interior

While in Europe, I’m also teaming up with Switzerland Tourism and La Gruyère Tourisme… to visit the H.R. Giger bar in Gruyeres! 

Fans of the Alien movies will immediately recognize these eerie bio-mechanical works, which form the backbone of the art design in the series. I’m fascinated with Giger’s imagination, and can’t wait to see his sci-fi bar and museum. (Images above by Kristin Thorogood Photography).

london camden market lolita store

Finally… I’ll be in London, England for the first time in ages! Time to reunite with spooky friends, and check out the many dark Halloween events in the city. If you have suggestions for what to see and do (around the end of October), please let me know in the comments.

(To get you in the mood, here is my friend John’s London Goth travel guide. His photo above shows a store in Camden Market.)

moroccan middle eastern bathroom tiles

Since I’m off to Europe again, I thought it was nigh time to release my final article about the Netherlands.

A while back, I shared my tour of Noord, the artistic district north of Centraal Station. Now, I’ll take you around De Pijp, another Amsterdam hipster neighborhood.

De Pijp translates to “the pipe,” for reasons that are unclear (perhaps it refers to the winding streets, or a former gas company with that name). In line with this spirit, the borough has a funky, good-humored vibe. Both travellers and locals come here for the bustling Albert Cuyp market, and to dine in ethnic restaurants.

Restaurant Bazar Amsterdam

My friends and I went for lunch at Bazar Restaurant, which was recommended by several people. The word “bazaar” aptly describes the tw0-level space filled with Middle Eastern decor and music to delight the senses.  When I walked in, I was transported back to the time I visited the markets of Morocco. 

(Address: Albert Cuypstraat 182, 1073 Amsterdam, Netherlands)

De Pijp District hip restaurants

The bathroom situation is straight out of 1001  Arabian Nights! Photographer Arina Dresviannikova had fun taking photos of Leyla (Dutch fashion / mommy blogger) and me, reflected in the many mirrors.

gypsy warrior alien sweater

– I love my alien sweater, which looks similar to the keyboard emoji. There’s a similar alien shirt here, and more sci-fi fashion below:

bazar restaurant Albert Cuyp market

I began with a cup of fresh Moroccan mint tea, while Leyla perused the gluten free menu. Bazar has options for everyone, including vegan and vegetarian plates.

As you can see, we ordered a bit of everything! Bazar’s dishes take inspiration from the cuisine of North Africa and the Middle East — everything is moderately priced, and perfect for sharing with a group. I particularly loved the grape leaves, garlic sauce and falafel that came in one of the mixed platters.

alien shirt top, gypsywarrior

A visit to Bazar feels like stepping into a Far Eastern fairy tale. I lounged under the high ceilings, next to these spectacular hand-painted tiled walls.

cool morocco bathrooms, mirrors

The vibrant spirit continues right outside Bazaar, at Albert Cuypmarkt. Six days a week, this street is packed with vendors selling everything from hippie skirts to stroopwafels.

alien shirts, sweaters clothing

I think we fit in rather well with the creative spirit of De Pijp! (My alien top is similar to this one; browse more styles below:)

hipster neighborhood amsterdam netherlands

De Pijp was once a working class quarter, and home to residents of many nationalities. Today, the neighborhood remains filled with color. Leyla spreads her wings on Gerard Doustraat, a street lined with indie shops. 

De Kinderfeestwinkel party store

These rainbow flags beckoned us into De Kinderfeestwinkel, a store for kid’s party goods.

toy shop amsterdam kids

Doesn’t this feel like a Wes Anderson dreamscape? Masks and gadgets and hats everywhere!

stuffed uniforn plush toy

Arina couldn’t resist taking home this magical stuffed unicorn. My attention went to the rack of Miffy books, of course.

cute ghost lamp, 3d printed octopus

The smiling ghost light stole my heart. We wandered past a 3D printing shop, and saw these “octo-pussycat” designs.

hip clothing fashion stores amsterdam

The other “hipster district,” Noord, is more for experimental art and murals. If you’re looking for indie fashion and cafes, De Pijp is the place to be.

anna + nina amsterdam boutique

Case in point: Anna + Nina, a shop with eclectic jewellery and old-world home accessories that reflect their love of travel.

silk floral white kimono gown

The boutique is filled with textures: a floral silk dressing gown, golden leaves, fresh blossoms.

curved mid century modern lamp

If I had more space in my apartment, I’d set up a curving mid-century modern floor lamp like this one. Many of the stores in De Pijp sell both clothing and interior decor, mostly by local designers.

michael jackson face mask costume

Pick up a cactus, or Michael Jackson’s glittery mask… that’s the humorous spirit of De Pijp!

supperclub amsterdam restaurant

In the evening, my friends and I had dinner at Supperclub. The restaurant is designed like a nightclub, with flamboyant light projections and quirky performances throughout the evening.

dining on beds supper club

All of the diners get to lounge on beds while eating dinner! Between the courses of the set menu, we watched dance and art performances right in front of us. My favorite was a woman with a giant eyeball for a head — she came up to each bed and interacted with guests, in funny ways.

(Watch Leyla’s travel vlog about Supperclub for footage of this unique dining experience. All our Amsterdam videos are in this playlist that she created on her LeylaFashion YouTube.)

supperclub menu food amsterdam meal

Later in the evening, the venue turned into a dance club. Cheers to the fantastic staff, for keeping our wine-glasses filled and making this night a delight.

amsterdam rows of bicycles

I leave you with some snaps from our walks around Amsterdam. I was drawn to the city’s modern architecture, and never-ending rows of bikes. 

nunc home interiors shop

Amsterdam is great for wandering around and popping into stores. Arina is peering into Nunc, which carries handmade, fair-trade and recycled products.

sugar skull cats

We saw cute skeleton cats and robots in one window…

miffy toys collection

… and posse of Miffies in another. (Psst: I wrote this guide to Miffy stores in Amsterdam, which includes De Winkel Van Nijntje, Mr. Maria studio and a chocolaterie).

amsterdam red light district graffiti

We couldn’t leave without a stroll through the Red Light district, home to brothels and marijuana cafes. Note: it’s forbidden to take photos of the girls in the glass windows. If you attempt to take an image, you’ll get shooed off by their security.

casa rosso red elephant club

Tourists can see live erotic entertainment at venues like Casa Rosso, which has a cheeky red elephant mascot.

i amsterdam iamsterdam card pass

Dank je to Hotel The Exchange and Lloyd for hosting us, and to iAmsterdam for the City Card (which provides unlimited public transportation, and access to the top museums).

If you’re planning a visit to Amsterdam, here are all my Netherlands offbeat travel tips on a single page. I hope you find them helpful.

amsterdam canals friends tourists

I had such a great time with my friends in Amsterdam, and I’m sure we will be back soon.

And now, time to prepare for London, Bucharest and Gruyeres! If you have travel advice for me, or know of events happening in these cities at the end of October, please let me know in the comments. Here’s to the bloodiest Halloween yet.

Osaka, Japan Halloween shops! Japanese weird beauty products, costumes, makeup. Auxiliary Magazine modeling.

hong kong fashion model modeling

It’s getting close to Halloween! To get you in the mood, I’m doling out two Treats from Asia. (And no Tricks, promise.)

1) Scroll on to see dozens of cute photos of Halloween shops in Osaka! As you’d expect, Japan celebrates the October holiday in kawaii-scary style. Read on to see the spooky beauty products and costumes found only in Japanese stores.

2) And… I’m thrilled to finally release my Hong Kong photoshoot, which was published in the spring issue of Auxiliary Magazine!

lush halloween 2017 bath bombs pumpkns

Bonus treat: isn’t the new Lush Halloween collection to die for? I’m excited to try them all (I’ll share snaps on my Instagram stories @lacarmina).

I look forward to taking a black cat bubble bath, and fizzling the glitter pumpkin, monster and “Lord of Misrule” bath bombs in my tub.

Also perfect for Goths: the Black Rose lip scrub and gloss (which appears black but turns pink), and Goth Fairy shimmer bar. The Hedgewitch and Magic Wand soaps promise to leave you with “boo-tiful, spellbinding skin!” There’s a video on my Instagram with close-ups of Lush’s spooky collection — which one is your favorite?

chinese model hong kong magazine

Now, let me share one of my favorite photo editorials to date. The images are by the brilliant Hong Kong based photographer, Rose Conway.

As always, my hair cut and color are by Stephanie Hoy (you can tell that we took these photos a while back, as my hair is pink and longer now).

Outfit details: I’m wearing this exact Michi Onyx bra, and a crescent moon silver necklace.

disturbia lovecraft shirt top

We shot these photos in – where else? – the streets of Hong Kong. I’m standing in front of a Buddhist temple in Kowloon. 

I’m wearing these exact Michael Kors black suede pumps. More items from my outfit below:

old hong kong streets

Hong Kong truly has a Blade Runner vibe: alleyways lit by neon lights, juxtaposed with old Chinese signs. My Lovecraft “Necronomicon gate” top is by Disturbia Clothing.

hong kong fashion blog, street style

It was an honor to have these photos appear in the Spring 2017 issue of Auxiliary Magazine.

hong kong chinese herbal medicine store

An absolute pleasure to work with HK based photographer Rose Conway.

lgbt gay hong kong china

We looked for interesting storefronts and colors to shoot. This Chinese shop sold statues of folk gods, incense, and other ritual items. The flamboyant owner insisted on coming out to pose for a photo!

hong kong heavy metal hard rock

Red and gold are the signature lucky colors of Hong Kong. (The brick wall matches my devil horns as well).

china goth subcultures gothic

I’ve been going to Hong Kong since I was a child, and certain scents and images are quintessential to the city. The Chinese butcher, with BBQ duck hanging under bright lights, for example.

hong kong top style blogger

I like how you can see “real world” Hong Kong in these images. Citizens live in close quarters, and carry themselves with an upfront attitude. It can seem brash at first, but you grow to love it for what it is.

best hong kong fashion bloggers

Kawaii culture and street style are as popular in Hong Kong as they are in Japan. I paid tribute with a cat-ears headband and a white tulle skirt.

chinese fashion influencer

A curtsy for a hunk of meat? (Find my Michi top here.)

auxiliary magazine alternative model

Perhaps Lady Gaga got her “meat dress” from this Chinese street market vendor!

hong kong alternative goth clothing

Major thanks you to Rose Conway for photographing me in Hong Kong! Hair is by the fabulous Stephanie Hoy, and makeup / styling is by yours truly. You can get copies in print in the current issue of Auxiliary Magazine (and stay tuned for the next one… I’ll be doing something more with them!).

If you like what I’m wearing, click below to shop my look:

pompompurin sanrio halloween

Now, let’s get you excited for All Hallow’s Eve — the best time of the year! When I was in Osaka last September, I took lots of snaps of the ghoulish-sweet items found in Japanese stores. 

The Sanrio store puts a whimsical Halloween twist on Hello Kitty and Friends. Above, you can see Dear Daniel as Frankenstein, and Hello Kitty and Pompompurin (the yellow dog) as witches!

sanrio halloween collection hello kitty

Sanrio’s favorite “kawaii” characters get a spooky makeover, while retaining their adorable look. On the right, Kuromi yells “Noooo!” while surrounded by smiling pumpkins, and Chococat with a cobweb.

"osaka

The usually sweet bunny Cinnamonroll transforms into a red-eyed vampire. Pom Pom Purin gets a sewn-up skeleton look, and a deathly green pallor to his fur.

vampire hello kitty cinnamonroll

Sanrio releases a special Halloween collection each year in Japan. However, the store continues to sell its regular pastel cute merchandise as well. Witness Gudetama (the lazy egg) in many forms, and what appear to be… My Melody Crocs meets Uggs slippers? 

my melody kawaii japanese souvenirs

Many of these designs can be only found in Japan (they aren’t sold online, as they are produced here). If you’re a rabid Hello Kitty fan, it’s reason enough to make a pilgrimage to Japan.

halloween ghost pumpkin nail art

I went around to various Osaka beauty / 100 yen stores, especially in the Amerikamura and Umeda districts (two of my favorite shopping hubs). Since it was mid-late September, there were lots of Halloween designs available — such as these “come on!!” Halloween stick-on nails.

disney evil queens makeup japan

Fancy eyelashes and colored contact lenses remain very popular among Japanese youths. When I saw the Disney “Evil Queens” collection on the right, I thought of Yukiro.

halloween makeup beauty

I love how creative Japanese makeup can be. In spooky season, there are tutorials on how to use “hypersharp eyeliner” to create Day of the Dead, spiderweb and undead effects around the eyes and lips.

etude house halloween makeup korea

The Korean makeup brand, Etude House, is big in Japan as well. How sweet are the heart-eyed pumpkins and pink skulls, which contain product inside? The panda and kitten keychains also stole my heart.

kawaii japanese halloween makeup nails

More examples of Halloween cosplay makeup. This time: how to be a cute cat, or a Snow White witch.

japanese gyaru halloween costumes

Disturbed, yet cute as a button. That’s the spirit of Japanese Halloween! (These female models are showing off glitter and rainbow face / body tattoos.)

japan halloween makeup costume

From bloody wounds to fake blood, Japanese dollar stores have you covered.

stick on fake moustaches japan

Jelly moustache, anyone? For 450 yen ($4), why not.

crazy japanese cell phone cases

My friends and I tend to stock up around Halloween, such many items (like the dark eyeshadows) can be used year round. Not sure about the impractical stuffed animals clinging to the smartphone cases though…

halloween food tokyo japan

Japan also gets into the Halloween mood with themed food. At Chococro, the addictive chocolate croissants come in a haunted house box.

japanese halloween desserts

Namba-Land (the Osaka arcade and amusement park) has Halloween celebrations each year. Above, the same flyer advertises a pumpkin pudding and tart that made my mouth water.

osaka vintage gothic lolita secondhand

Now, let’s look at some street fashion in Osaka. The neighborhood America Mura is your best bet for Gothic Lolita and underground styles. There are several secondhand stores dedicated to these style tribes here…

gothic lolita halloween print pumpkin dress

… as well as department stores that cater to youth fashion. Snoopy on the left; pumpkin-printed Sweet and Goth Lolita outfits on the right.

menhara kei japan pastel fashion

Follow the white rabbit to cute stores. Oversize pastel and monochrome garments are everywhere recently.

bizarre crazy japanese clothing

No matter how many times you visit Japan, you’ll undoubtedly encounter something that leaves you scratching your head. At Funky Fruit, I was perplexed to see sweatshirts… with giant, heavy nooses around the necks! 

japanese noose, funky fruit fashion

You saw it here first. Hangman-chic. 

silver ring chokers japan

Funky Fruit carries all sorts of fetish-Gothic fashion, like these chokers with silver rings. 

bondage harness skirts japanese

Punk and fetish influences, combined with sportswear. Weird.

japan skull print sweaters

Around Halloween, many of the Goth / Lolita / Kawaii labels put out spooky-themed garments. The Jack-o-Lantern print top on the left caught my eye.

rydia world wide love

Rydia / World Wide Love remain one of my favorite designers. I tried on the “Night Wander” devil-ghost on the left, and left a note in the black cat post office box on the right!

osaka street style department stores

Vampire fangs, floating ghosts, crescent moons, plaid and leopard print. You can tell why I’m into Rydia / World Wide Love.

antique vintage kitty purses

I also made a stop at EST, the Umeda department store by Hep Five and the Osaka Ferris wheel. Inside EST, you’ll find indie boutiques with out-of-the-ordinary items — like these vintage-style cat carpet bags.

est mall osaka, hep stores

Near the entrance, I found this eccentric pop-up.

osaka hipster shops, boutiques

These colorful critters have chains through their nostrils… more creepy than cute, in this case.

halloween hair ties earrings accessories

Trick or Treat — Halloween in Japan is sweet! Did you enjoy these snapshots from my trip last year in Osaka? Have you stocked up on any bat, ghost, zombie, Dracula or pumpkin goodies yet?

halloween cosplay costumes japanese sale

PS: If you’re looking for a Halloween costumes — I have some of mine for sale on my Depop! Above are some of the many available (size small), which you may recognize from past Halloweens. If you’d like any, shoot me an email at gothiccarmina (att) gmail (dott-comm) and I’ll send it to you. More details and prices here on my shop; lots of clothes available.

Here’s to the spookiest time of the year!