Category Archive for Fims + Videos
What to wear in Greece: Silver Goth babydoll dress! Pi Athens Hotel Suites, Aegean Airlines, Iron Fist Clothing.
“It’s all Greek to me!” Ready for more from travel adventures from Athens?
In my first post, we went on an eye-opening underground, alternative walking tour. This time, I’ll show you where we stayed, and the intriguing architecture found all throughout the city.
There’s no substitute for coming here yourself — but to give you a sense of the experience, Joey Wong shot this travel video about our Athens trip.
Please take a moment to watch the short vlog above, or on @LaCarmina YouTube.
Joey took these images of me on the rooftop of Pi Athens Suites, a newly-opened luxury hotel. From up here, you can see the Acropolis — and the “golden hour” lighting conditions are perfect as the sun is setting.
(Shop my style with a click below:)
I know many of you dream of visiting Greece, and have it as a bucket-list destination. Fortunately, it’s easy to get to Athens by flying on Aegean Airlines. Joey flew here from London (where there are three direct flights daily on Aegean), while I came direct from Amsterdam (on their daily flight) — and it only took us a few hours.
Aegean Airlines uses the latest technology to make the journey smooth: if you download the smartphone app, you can check in, download, and access boarding passes even when offline.
I chose a window seat for incredible views during the entire flight. I watched the Mediterranean waters, ancient Athenian ruins, and tiny islands below me… it was better than any in-flight entertainment!
I had an excellent experience flying with Aegean, which goes to more than 30 destinations within Greece. They also serve 145 international destinations in 40 countries, and are an award-winning Star Alliance member.
I’m all about living like a local, and was glad to see that these suites were in a non-touristic neighborhood. Pi Suites is run by a family, which gives the stay a personal touch. The owner, Sokratis, greeted me warmly, shared his favorite restaurants, and showed me major sites on a map.
He took me up to the fourth floor, and we walked up to the π Terrace. From the hotel’s rooftop, I got a 360 degree, unobstructed view of the Panathenaic Stadium, Acropolis, the National Gardens, Filopapou Hill… a magic moment.
The hotel’s location is ideal — within walking distance of the landmarks, yet in a neighborhood with an authentic, residential feel.
(In the next post, I’ll take you right up to the Parthenon, the iconic temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.)
Sokratis is passionate about interior design, and did all the decor and furnishings himself. The result: Pi Athens’ interiors are modern and luxurious, with bursts of color.
(If you like my Goth metallic fashion, see more below:)
I particularly loved the interior courtyard of Pi Athens, which looks like a picture-window into a dollhouse. Such a cute place to sip coffee and bask in the sunlight, surrounded by greenery.
π Athens only has six rooms, which gives guests the personalized service of a boutique hotel. The rooms are large, and decorated with modernist minimal accents (my favorite type of interior design, as you’ll recall from my apartment tour).
I slept extremely well in this big, fluffy bed…
Every morning, I looked forward to the home-made breakfast downstairs. Fresh orange juice, Greek honey and orange marmalade with zest, and my beloved “dolmades” or seasoned rice wrapped in grape leaves.
Love the architecture of the suites, which take inspiration from pi. π is the Greek letter that symbolizes the ratio of the circle’s circumference to its diameter.
It’s impossible to square the circle (you get 3.1416… to infinity), but Pi Hotel Athens always aims to give guests a 5-star stay.
(My pink hair is by Stephanie Hoy at Sugar Skull Studio in Vancouver. There’s a buzzcut / undercut / hair tattoo in the back, but you can’t see it if my hair is down.)
Our hotel was right by the Panathenaic Stadium, or “Kallimarmaro” (which means “beautiful marble.”) This is the only stadium in the world built exclusively from marble, making it an architectural marvel as well as a historic monument.
You may recognize this Athenian stadium from TV — it’s where the Olympic flame is first lit, before it goes on a journey by foot, all the way to the hosting city.
● Outfit Details ● I’m wearing this Iron Fist Bone faux fur black coat, and metallic skeleton skirt (click the links to get these exact designs). My Ouija board shirt is from Long Clothing, and my fishnet stockings are similar to these.
This landmark dates back to 330 BC, when it was a racecourse established by the Athenian statesman Lycurgus. It was refurbished in the late 19th century, and became the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
The stadium became an Olympic venue again, when Athens hosted the games in 2004. Today, it remains a popular site for events, and is the finishing point for the yearly Athens Classic Marathon.
I posed like a champion in front of the marble stands. (Although in the days of ancient Greece, Olympic athletes were always male… and they competed nude!)
Classic, timeless architecture. The ancient Greeks were ahead of their time, in so many fields.
From certain angles, the Panathenaic Stadium reminds me of a stark, alien spaceship.
I stopped in front of the massive Greek columns of the Zappeion. Located by the National Gardens, it was built in the 1880s as a fencing hall, for the first modern Olympic games.
Vertical meets horizontal, light and shadow. For architecture buffs like myself, Athens is a joy to explore on foot.
The city’s neighborhoods have very different vibes, ranging from gritty industrial, to romantic Mediterranean. One of my favorite parts of Athens was Monastiraki, in the winding paths near the Acropolis.
Find a local cafe, bask in the sun, sip a coffee or ouzo (Greek anise-flavored liqueur), and dine on orange cake (made with layers of filo, orange zest, and Greek honey)… Zeus, this is heaven.
It’s rather obvious that I’m a fan of Greek food! I could wax on about the incredible dishes we tried in Athens.
I suggest asking locals for recommendations, and dining on traditional fare from the region. Two of my favorite restaurants were Fish Point (8 Archimidous St, Plastira Square, Pagrati) and Seychelles (Kerameikou 49, Athens 104 36). The grilled sardines with fresh lemon, sea bass, cabbage dolmades with herbs, spanokopita (spinach feta and filo pies)… take me back…
And needless to say, Greek olive oil is beyond compare. In addition to eating it with every meal, I found my new favorite bath product: olive oil soap from Korres. This company creates Greek beauty products with natural ingredients like honey and yogurt; I also picked up an avocado face mask that is a winner.
It’s fascinating to see layers of history in Athens, one of the world’s oldest cities. Above is Mitropolis, or Greece Metropolitan Cathedral, built in the late 19th century.
Walk a little more, and you’ll come across the Panaghia Kapnikarea: a Greek Orthodox church, and one of the oldest in the city. This structure dates back to the 11th century, and it was built over an ancient Greek pagan temple dedicated to either the goddess Demeter or Athena. Today, it’s in the center of a busy, modern shopping area!
Ultra modern meets ancient… Athens is one fascinating city.
(All photography by Joey Wong.)
If you’re planning a visit to Greece, check out the Discover Greece portal for lots of helpful travel tips. You’ll find suggestions for every type of traveler, from family hotels to nature excursions to spas.
How are you enjoying my Athens stories and outfits of the day? Wait until you see what I wore to the Parthenon… you can see glimpses of this in our travel video – come watch!
Ljubljana Alternative Travel: street art & culture! Metelkova murals, Dragon Bridge, Slovenia castle.
Call me Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons!
I’m excited to share my alternative guide to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. With Medieval red rooftops and dramatic canals, it could pass for one of the great cities in Game of Thrones.
And I hope you enjoy our latest Slovenia travel video! Follow me through this European city, as I discover a surprising world-class food, art, nature and culture scene. There’s footage of the magical Lake Bled, coastal beaches, and lots of delicious cuisine. (Video produced by Borderless Media.)
Click to watch our Slovenia travel TV episode now!
Pronounced “lube-lee-anna”, the Slovenian capital is the definition of charming. The city center is small but filled with beautiful sights, and doesn’t have a touristy-commercial feeling. It’s the perfect European destination for a laid-back, all-day stroll.
But don’t write off Ljubljana as quaint and quiet. There’s a punk-political alternative scene here, which encompasses LGBT-inclusive squats and art factories.
I’ll show you all the fascinating sides of Ljubljana’s culture, in my artistic city guide.
(If you’re digging the cute top I’m wearing, you might want to check out these cat shirts by Animal Hearted! They’re an indie apparel company for animal lovers, with a great selection of witty, adorable styles featuring cats, dogs and other animal companions).
My film team and I wanted to start by getting an overall sense of Ljubljana. A boat tour was the perfect way to get the lay of the land.
We went on the 45-minute River Ljubljanica boat ride, which took us down the canals and under the famous bridges. We loved observing locals enjoying summertime activities, from this unique point of view.
With a glass of champagne in our hands, we passed under Ljubljana’s unique arches, including the three-way Triple Bridge, glass bridge, and Cobblers’ Bridge (because it once housed the booths of shoemakers).
The colorful, historic European architecture is a feast for the eyes. Love these classic buildings overlooking the water.
My favorite bridge is “Zmajski most”, with roaring green dragons perched at both ends. This bridge was erected in the early 20th century, and looks like a scene from Game of Thrones.
According to local legend, Jason (of Argonauts fame) was the founder of Ljubljana, and killed several dragons during his conquest. Some say that when a virgin crosses the bridge, these dragons will wag their tails.
I found lots of heavy metal attitude at Metelkova, an autonomous social and cultural center in the centre of Ljubljana, Slovenia. These former military barracks became occupied by squatters in the early 90s. Over time, they covered every available space with colorful street art.
Metelkova Mesto feels like a giant acid trip. There are multiple buildings, decorated in everything from graffiti tags to moving installations.
This web of Gollum alien clones will haunt your nightmares. Metelkova encapsulates the eccentric, alternative side of Slovenia — perfect for alternative travellers like ourselves.
Metel Kova is a hive of creativity. There are artist studios here, as well as dive bars, design workshops, concert spaces. The young community works hard to organise social and cultural activities for anyone to join.
Can we talk about how talented these artists are? The murals are masterfully executed. And these images are only a fraction of what we saw here.
Slovenian artists used found objects to build playful sculptures throughout Metelkova. One had a motion detector: when you stepped up close, the parts moved and pounded on a drum.
In Metelkova, inclusiveness is everything. The residents host community organisations that support women, the disabled, and LGBT. These clubs run campaigns against racism and exclusive policies — above, this rainbow structure was the first gay club in Slovenia.
Metelkova is within walking distance of the city center, but not in the main streets — therefore many travellers miss out on it. As you can tell from the photos, this commune is something you must see with your own eyes. I hope you’ll get the chance to discover this alternative, eclectic side of Ljubljana.
We walked past the entrance of Rog, another autonomous factory or squat. These abandoned buildings were occupied in 2006, and have morphed into gallery collectives and two skate parks.
Time to escape heat, and enjoy lunch with a view. Thankfully, everything is within easy walking distance. We took the short glass funicular (cable car) up to Ljubljana Castle, the icon of the city.
I felt like Cersei Lannister, looking out at the rooftops from my tower window. “Ljubljanski grad” was originally a Medieval fortress, and remains one of the best look-out points in Europe.
We sat near the Medieval curved stone windows, and thoroughly enjoyed the lunch tasting at Gostilna Na Gradu restaurant. By now, I’m sure I’ve convinced you that Slovenian food is magnificent.
We sampled organic spreads with fresh baked bread (the Istrian cod was my favorite), with cold glasses of homemade pear juice. The bottom left image shows the best sea bass I’ve had in my life: it’s paired with broccoli cream, and the fish comes from Fonda fish farm (remember I visited them?)
After the meal, we explored the art and antiquities displays around Ljubljana castle. We walked up the winding staircase to the viewing tower, and were rewarded with this panorama. (You can see my Snapchats from the castle here.)
I looked out at the canals, bridges, steeples and squares, framed by blue mountains in the back. “Neverjeten,” or “amazing” in Slovenian.
After a quick rest at our hotel, I was ready to do some shopping. As I mentioned before, there thankfully isn’t a commercial, big-box vibe in Ljubljana. Instead, you’ll find lots of local, handmade fashion and accessories — sold in little boutiques that line the cobblestone streets.
I also enjoyed roaming around the produce markets, and watched Slovenians relax at outdoor cafes near the waters.
While you won’t find a Goth scene here, I did run into the Skelet bar that my friend Zoetica Ebb recommended. There are, however, plenty of stores with hipster and twee designs.
We saved the best for last, and had a memorable farewell dinner at the family-owned Restaurant JB. Chef Janez Bratovž was named one of the best 100 chefs in the world, and if Slovenia had Michelin stars, he would without doubt have several.
We stepped into a 1920s building that was decorated in his handpicked art. The space was luxurious, yet comfortable and without pretension.
JB is the friendliest and most attentive chef you’ll meet. He came by our table with each new plate, chatting us up with a smile, and then presenting his dishes with passion.
His menu is inspired by the balance between the four elements, which represent the tastes of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Each is artfully presented, and a delight to the palate.
JB makes handmade pastas that melt in your mouth, and infuses international flavors (such as Asian sauces) into his preparations. Filmmaker Melissa’s reaction to the tuna dish: “If I were in prison and had to choose my last meal, I would pick this!”
JB Restavracija changes its menu with the seasons, and I’m eager to come back for more of his culinary magic.
Cute, charming but with a gritty alt scene: this picture sums up why I adore Ljubljana. (Fun fact: Slovenia is the only country with “love” in its name!)
Hvala (thank you) to Slovenian Tourist Board (IFeelSlovenia) for the perfect travel itinerary, and to Ljubljana Tourism for organizing a tour of the alternative side of the city. (All photos by Borderless Media.)
I leave you with one of the many unique city bridges — this one is decorated with locks. It’s a promise that I will come back to Ljubljana soon.
(If you missed my previous blogs about Lake Bled and Portoroz, you can find all my Slovenia travel guides here.)
Please take a moment to watch our Slovenia travel video! Thanks for watching and subscribing.
PS: Head’s up, there’s a big 3-day sale at Shopbop until Monday! All you need to do is enter promo code EVENT17 to receive 20% off orders under $500, or 25% off when you get $500 or more. I’m tempted to stock up on harness and cut-out fitness fashion, like my favorites above… Enjoy the weekend everyone!
Greetings from the red torii gate of Hibiya Shrine! Ready for more alternative travel tips from Japan?
I haven’t posted any updates recently to my Tokyo Goth clubbing guide, so keep reading for the latest party / nightclub information, as well as a peek inside an absinthe bar.
I’ll also take you to two Godzilla statues, and an exhibit of Japanese modern primitive tattoos with Keroppy Maeda (who did the infamous bagelheads for our TV shows).
I receive far too many emails from travelers, asking for information about Japanese Goth and Alternative parties / clubs. It’s impossible for me to look up specific information for everyone, so here’s what I encourage you to do:
1 – Consult my Tokyo Goth clubbing guide, which highlights parties and events from over the years.
2 – If you’re reading this post in 2017, I suggest you check out the Facebook pages of Midnight Mess, Decabar Z and Department H. Upcoming parties will be announced there, usually about a month in advance. There are also smaller and less frequent alternative / Goth parties, but it’s impossible for me look up everything for each person, as I’m sure you can understand.
So again, please check out this club guide and research the party names I mention there, to see if they have any upcoming events. I hope you have a great time!
We’ll delve deeper into the nightlife further down in this post. But let’s start with a visit to Hibiya Jinja in Minato-ku, by Park Hotel Tokyo (where we stayed).
Although it’s now surrounded by busy streets, this peaceful Shinto shrine dates back 400 years. I smiled at the statues of fox spirits, and washed my hands in the running water of this purification fountain.
Ring my bell-el-el. I’m tugging a rope that leads to a “suzu” or Japanese Shinto bell that contains pellets. The ringing sound calls the kami, or spirits, which brings in good fortune and positive energy.
Kitsune (foxes) are prominent in Shinto folklore. They’re messenger spirits to Inari, as you’ll recall from my visit to the famous shrine of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto.
There’s another creature who has a big impact on the Japanese imagination… ‘Gojira’!
I walked to the Godzilla Statue in Ginza, which is located next to Toho Cinemas (as they release all the Godzilla films). (Address: 1 Chome-2-2 Yurakucho, Tokyo)
Shin-Godzilla or Godzilla Resurgence was still playing in the theater when we visited.
The nearby mall even had a Godzilla-themed cafe with food that was shaped like the monster’s paw! (For more about Tokyo theme restaurants, check out my book.)
This little Godzilla statue is based on one of the older movie designs, and doesn’t seem so frightening. But inside the mall…
… there’s a much bigger and scarier Godzilla! This is the latest look for the “dai kaiju”, as seen in the new movie.
We saw a lot of fans come to take photos with the towering Godzilla statue (he’s so popular here). This was only a temporary pop-up so I don’t think this statue is here any more.
His little eyes and pointy teeth are a bit goofy when seen from up close….
One evening, I supported my friends John and Keroppy at their panel discussion on Japanese tribal tattooing at TAV Gallery in Asagaya. This small but progressive space showcases artists who are involved in alternative culture. (Gallery address: 阿佐谷北1-31-2 Suginami-ku, Tokyo, Japan)
John Skutlin, a cultural anthropologist who specialises in the study of Japanese tattooing and body modifications, speaks about the experience:
“On display at the TAV Gallery that night were photos from the Jōmon Tattoo Project, a collaboration between journalist and photographer Keroppy Maeda and black-work tattooist Taku Ōshima that attempts to recreate the tattoos of Japan’s Jōmon period (approx. 14,000~300 BCE) on modern human bodies.”
“Although there is no physical evidence of tattooed bodies from the Jōmon era, the people of that period left behind clay figurines called dogū, which depict human forms engraved with various swirling and spiraling designs that archaeologists theorize to represent scarification and tattooing. Chinese accounts from the second and third centuries CE record extensive tattooing among the people of the Japanese archipelago, making it even more likely that the Jōmon people had a rich tradition of tattooing,” says John.
The discussion held that evening included Maeda and Ōshima, as well as the Miho Kawasaki (chief editor of Tattoo Burst magazine from 1999-2012), Professor of New Materials and Technologies Werner Lorke (HfG Offenbach, Germany), and cultural anthropologist John M. Skutlin (The Chinese University of Hong Kong).
Subjects included the inspiration behind the project and speculation as to what kind of role tattooing played among the Jōmon people. Maeda believes that the urge to alter one’s body is universal, saying that, in the course of our evolution, “the first step to becoming a human being is the choice to change our own bodies artificially.”
John continues: “According to the project’s manifesto, the Jōmon tattoos are “inscribed upon real human bodies as modern tattoo designs to show how the primitive spirit of humankind will become a new identity to survive the postmodern life of the 21st century.” Ōshima, who spent time studying tattooing in Goa, India before traveling the world to ply his trade, is a master of bold black-work designs, many of which cover entire arms, legs, and bodies.”
“Nearly all of the volunteers for the project had never been tattooed before, and the striking designs indicate natural phenomena that would have been important to the tribal peoples of ancient Japan. Waves, snake coils, and tree branches are all motifs that can be seen in the designs of dogū and now recreated on the bodies of the project participants. “You could say that Jōmon tattooing is the true traditional tattooing of Japan, and the designs everyone knows from the Edo period [1603-1868] were Japan’s modern tattooing,” said Ōshima.
If you’re in Frankfurt, Germany between June 3-18, you can see the Jomon Tribe exhibition at Robert Mayer Zeigt Galerie. I’m excited to see how the modern primitive movement in Japan will continue to develop, and question the country’s taboos about tattooing.
While in Tokyo, John and I were also guests at Midnight Mess, the longest-running Goth club — and our hangout for a decade now! How time flies…
If you’re coming to Japan, I highly recommend that you check out their Facebook group page for upcoming events. DJ Maya always creates a welcoming space (and she and many of the guests speak English).
We gathered at Bar Shifty in Shibuya for the all-night party. Under the disco ball, Goths in black clothing danced to EBM, dark techno / electro, industrial, aggrotech and noise.
Posing with Athena, who often plays with Mistress Maya in shibari (rope-bondage) performances.
It was great to reunite with Maya and DJ Statik, the resident deejay who I’ve known for years.
As always, the party ran all night long (trains stop running in Japan after about midnight or 1am — so you have to keep on dancing til dawn!)
Midnight Mess always brings in underground performers and guests from around the world. That evening, DJ Maschinenpriester from Germany pounded out a special set.
I also invite you to visit Mistress Maya at her Gothic/Fetish Bar, which takes place every Monday & Tuesday at Grenier (a small snack bar in the gay district of Shinjuku). She’ll play alternative music, and make sure you are well fed with homestyle cooking and drinks. Address: 東京都新宿区新宿2-18-10 新千鳥街二階 (2-18-10 Ni-Choome, Shinjuku, Tokyo), phone 0363801199.
DJ Sin performed with a hooded head. (All of these club photos are by fake-fantasy).
Thanks to Midnight Mess for having us as the guests of honor!
My friends and I also stopped by one of our favorite Goth bars — Guinea Pig in Kabukicho, Shinjuku. I previously wrote about this bizarre horror bar here. The bondage baby and spine immediately set the dark (yet fun) mood of this tiny bar.
Address: 2-41-2 Leo Kotobuki Building 3-A, Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo. 1000 yen cover. Opening hours are generally 8pm to early morning. Phone: 03-3209-3455
There’s always an eccentric crowd of regulars sitting around the long, black bar. Yes, that’s a blood-splattered pole in the middle — and torture instruments in the back.
We love coming here to sit under the rotting flesh cross, and watch splatter-gore movies play on the big screen.
Obviously, Guinea Pig is not a bar for everyone. But if you love strange, obscure, weird Japan — this spot is for you.
Chains and zombie hands and live snakes — yes please.
Even though I am in Tokyo all the time, the city and subculture never grow old to me.
Guinea Pig caters to horror / experimental / slasher movie fans. When we visited, they were showing trailers from Herschell Gordon Lewis films (such as Two Thousand Maniacs and Blood Feast), as he had died that week.
Cheers to Guinea Pig, which remains one of our regular drinking holes! If you’re interested in Tokyo Visual Kei and Jrock bars, a Suspiria themed bar, and other oddities, check out my Tokyo nightlife guide.
Close-up on Atsushi’s spiked fang ring and studded bracelets. Now, to the next party…
There’s something about Shinjuku at night — lit up and buzzing — that fills me with joy, every single time I’m here.
John’s pentagram top is by Disturbia Clothing, makers of occult and Satanic fashion.
Tokyo’s alternative DJs, performers and personalities grace the colorful mural at the entrance of Deca Bar Z. Here’s Maya as a cat, offering a cup of sake in a pink kimono.
Devil horns to match this Satanic ouija board unisex shirt, by Disturbia.
Say hello to Preta Porco, who you’ll find behind the (Deca) bar! He’s easy to spot with his bright yellow foundation, contrasted with rosy red lips and cheeks.
Adrien le Danois, owner of Deca Bar Z, also runs the Tokyo Decadance parties. If you’re not in town during one of the decadence events, don’t fret — Decabar Z is open every evening, and there are always interesting theme nights such as “Addams Family.”
Grab a glass of absinthe, and chill out on the comfortable couches. (Here are more photos of Deca Bar Shinjuku, from my last visit.)
We loved the music at the “I Am Electro” night, run by Migon. The DJs play Depeche Mode, Visage, Europe and other favorites — as well as obscure synthwave and 1980s Goth.
As an absinthe aficionado, I’m always looking for the green fairy wherever I go.
Maya took me to Caribbean, an absinthe and rock bar in Kabukicho. (Address: Kabukicho 1-3-10 2F, Shinjuku Tokyo)
I drank Mansinthe (Marilyn Manson’s absinthe) and we chatted with the owner. He let DJ Maya control the song selection, resulting in the perfect Goth playlist.
The same owners also run the nearby Absinthe Bar Alternative (Address: 1-6-12-B1F, Kabukicho 歌舞伎町, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0021). It’s a small basement bar, with several shelves of absinth from around the world — heavenly.
If you’re looking for more absinthe in Tokyo, check out Bar Tram in Ebisu.
Modern primitive tattoos, spatter-gore bars, Gothic club nights… isn’t Tokyo’s underground the best? For more coverage of Japanese alternative nightlife, come peruse my Tokyo Goth club guide. Have fun!
A night at Kobe Gothic Fetish bar: Idea! Killstar Satanic occult fashion, pentagram harness dresses.
Devil horns, times two! Appropriate attire… as I was ready to party at a Gothic and Fetish bar in Kobe, Japan.
● I’m wearing a pastel goth ram horns headband from Devilish 666. Love the lavender poof detail on a silver band.
● My bodycon dress is a one-off from Hong Kong’s Spider, similar to many of the fashions by Killstar.
Idea (pronounced “E-day-ah”) is one of the most authentic and unique underground bars in Japan. Those with a dark disposition will love the occult decor, particularly a light-up pentagram at the center of the bar.
What better place to wear occult, Gothic, fetish-inspired fashion? These recent designs from Killstar would fit right in with the aesthetic. My favorites are:
1. Spooky Harajuku Backpack — reminds me of the Ghostbusters ghoul, and is a perfect mix of spooky and cute.
2. Repent Vegan Leather Choker — I have a similar one, which you can see in this outfit post.
3. Living Dead Skater Dress — Skeleton prints never go out of style.
Killstar has lots of pentacles and other Satanic symbols in their fashion. Such as:
4. Band Of Misfits Crop Top — such a killer cut-out design, and can be styled in so many ways.
5. In Like Sin Skater Dress — the horned devil on top, and a hem of Satan’s crosses.
6. Templar Initiate Knit Cardigan — a cozy oversize coat, with a pentagram devil on the back
7. Silver Spring Skater Dress — pentagrams all over. There’s a pentagram leggings version of this as well.
Many visitors overlook Kobe as a travel destination, or only know its name because of “Kobe beef.” But the city has tons to offer (food, nightlife, sights) — and the locals are known for their down-to-earth, friendly vibe.
I was traveling around the country on a Japan Rail Pass, and it made perfect sense to stop in Kobe. The station is only 45 minutes from Osaka, and 1.5 hours from Kyoto. With an unlimited J Rail Pass — which I highly suggest you book — you can hop on and off the trains, and easily see this city.
John introduced me to his local friends, who as you can see are fellow creatures of the night. Alternative fashion, Visual Kei and more devil horn salutes!
We went to a cozy restaurant and ordered lots of drinks and dishes to share. The Kansai district is known for its okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake, grilled at the table). This restaurant’s version was probably the best I’ve ever had, especially the one made with natto (a fermented sticky bean that is not to everyone’s taste, but delivers cheesy umami in this dish).
After this perfect meal, we walked to the Goth & Fetish bar where two of the ladies work: Idea.
Address: IDEA is located at 2-17-8 Nakayamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe (it’s found near Kobe Mosque, here on Google Maps).
The bar is open from 8pm to 3am. Look for the chained-up slave boy at the entrance, and you’ve arrived.
For those who love horror movies and witchery, Idea is a revelation. You’ll walk past a collection of skulls and taxidermy, and arrive at a long bar with nails under the glass… and an evil baby doll on top of the pentagram!
Mistress Midori opened Gothic & Fetish Bar “IDEA” in July 2010. It’s comprised of two floors, with a spectacular Devilish VIP room on the upper level.
Under the glass counter, there lies a torture device: a nail bed with 8800 deadly spikes. The ladies can open it up, in case someone is in need of punishment!
Mistress Midori has amassed an impressive collection of Satanic symbology. This black table is a miniature altar, strewn with skulls and roses. Nearby, there’s a life-sized replica of Dracula in “bat” form from “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” hanging on the wall.
Idea also keeps a ball python and scorpion as pets at the bar, and plenty of occult-related books on the coffee tables upstairs.
Everyone who sits down at the bar gets personal attention from the staff, dressed in enticing Gothic garments. Our hostess Naito spoke conversational English, and made sure I always had enough yuzu chips and whiskey on the rocks.
Behind her, you’ll see metal rods behind the bar arranged in three rows of six (to signify 666, the number of the Beast). The red-and-black bathroom has the same black metal rods lining the room — but there are 72 of them, one for each demon of the Goetia or invocation of demons.
Idea’s pentagram logo (and much of the interior design) is the work of Taiki. He runs the magnificent Gothic club night Black Veil, and occult store Territory in Osaka, which I will feature soon. Taiki is also the cousin of Mistress Midori.
The speakers broadcast DJ Taiki’s Industrial-electronic-Goth mixes all night, which brought back fond memories of my earlier clubbing days in Japan.
Despite the frightening objects found in every corner (such as this three-eyed demon baby), the ladies make Idea a fun and positive space. Don’t feel intimidated about coming here: everyone is so welcoming.
(Naito is wearing a lace-up skull corset similar to this one.)
After a few hours of hanging out, it was time for a shibari performance (Japanese fetish rope-tying). Choose your weapon… there are plenty on-hand.
It’s incredible to watch Mistress Midori in action. She’s an experienced artist at the ropes, and has a deep connection with her girls.
Mistress Midori tied up Naito with both care and speed, inverted her and spun her around, and applied flicks of the whip.
On special occasions, she will often incorporate ritualistic elements such as lighting candles on a candelabra and raising up a skull, and then snuffing the flames after the show has ended.
For this performance, she lit red candles and dripped them onto Naito’s mouth, an image reminiscent of vampire blood.
Idea also has special events on all of the traditional pagan “wheel of the year” days (and women get in free). On Halloween, Walpurgis, and the Summer and Winter Solstices, she tends to have bigger events with rope shows and hook suspension as well.
Time flies when you’re having fun… and torturing victims.
That must be Rosemary’s Baby, ready to come out and play!
If you’re looking for an offbeat Japanese bar and nightlife experience to remember, come and experience IDEA in Kobe. The ladies may even let you lie down on the nail bed…
(For ideas for something to wear, there are pentagram and harness dresses below:)
I only had a brief time in Kobe, but there’s a lot to see. John and I walked around the hilly Kitano district, home to trendy bars and cafes. Many foreigner merchants and diplomats lived here in the 19th century, and their European-style houses are still around.
Fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective should check out the Sherlock Holmes Room, a replica of 221 B Baker Street in Kobe. (I didn’t have time to visit, but I went to a similar Sherlock Holmes cafe in Shanghai).
We also visited the Shinto Ninomiya Shrine, which is dedicated to good health, fortune and luck.
This colorful shelf of daruma and lucky cats caught my eye and made me smile.
Ninomiya is a small shrine, beautifully maintained. The stone gardens lead to fortune papers and red torii gates.
(Read more about Shinto worship and traditions in my post about Kyoto).
On the less traditional side: why are there wood wishing boards (ema) with drawings of Arashi, the Japanese idol boy band? Because J-pop fans are hardcore. The singer of the group is named Kazunari Ninomiya, and this shrine shares his last name — so it’s part of the “Arashi shrine tour” that fans visit on a pilgrimage.
I leave you with a white snake, coiled up inside the shrine. Fox and pig spirits help guard the exterior.
Did you know Kobe, Japan was home to such a fascinating Goth bar? If you’re drawn to the the dark side, here are more designs by Killstar below (click to see details).