Category Archive for J-News

San Francisco: Party with us at Wicked Grounds BDSM cafe! Die Schwarze Frau, Japanese drag queen show.

japanese drag queen, sakura blossoms

Here’s the fabulous travel news… I’m off to San Francisco with some of my best friends! Including the sakura-queen Yukiro (above), First Mate Naomi, travel film team extraordinaire Melissa and Eric… And we want you to join our adventure.

wicked grounds bdsm cafe, san francisco

Come to our event, “Pussycat Night: Chained but not Tamed,” at the San Fran BDSM cafe Wicked Grounds! Hang out with us and watch us perform, on Fri May 23rd from 7-9pm.

I’m hosting the festivities, and Naomi will draw a “thing”… you’ll have to show up to see what it is. (The above flyer is her fabulous handiwork; more art is on her Naomiyaki site.)

gothic drag queen

But the star of the show is Yukiro’s Gothic drag queen persona, Die Schwarze Frau. The bloody lady just performed to a crowd of 20,000 at Tokyo Pride, and this will be her international debut. For a preview of the evil, check out the DSF Ameblo.

Die Schwarze Frau, tokyo drag queen

WHEN: Friday May 23, 2014
WHERE: Wicked Grounds (BDSM cafe), 289 8th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
TIME: 7-9pm
All ages! No cover, just order a drink or snacks.

lgbt photography, tokyo japan

I’ve visited San Francisco at least four times, but haven’t been here in recent years. Can’t wait to re-discover the alternative scene, including Goth-fetish club nights, Trannyshack, Japantown, vintage fashion, and more. If you have travel tips for us, please let us know in the comments.

Naoko Tachibana, cross dress japan

Fortunately, Die Schwarze Frau will only be causing mischief at the show. The rest of the time, I’ll be with Yukiro, who you’ll remember from my Wave Gotik Treffen, Berlin, Japan, LA and NY Fashion Week travels.

You can keep up with Yukiro’s photoshoots, events and more on his WordPress blog and Yurara modeling site (focusing on the fem side, with a graceful high fashion feeling).

cross dresser model

These photos of Yukiro are by Japanese photographer Naoko Tachibana, who runs the site Cross Dress Japan.

japanese cross dressing, transsexual model

She was a cosplay model for many years, and became close to people in the Tokyo LGBT scene. Naoko specializes in cross-dressing images like these; her works have been published in two books, and she had a solo exhibition in Taipei, along with features in galleries internationally.

japan lgbt drag performers

I’m in awe at the mood and light that she captures. If you want to work with Naoko in Tokyo, or simply see more of her images, contact her photo studio.

scottish fold fat cat

I leave you with some snaps of another top model: my Scottish Fold, Basil Farrow.

cat with missing ears, no eared cat

For many more round-faced images, peek at his cat blog.

sakura spring flowers modeling

Can’t wait to explore the subcultures of San Fran! Do you have any suggestions for places to visit? Let me know in the comments, or Tweet me @lacarmina.

And please let your SF friends know about our Pussycat Night at Wicked Grounds (May 23, 7-9pm, full details above). Hope to see you there!


A bittersweet update about Rose. Gothic Lolita, Anime & Cosplay wigs at Tokyo craft store, Okadaya.

goth girl with tattoos, jrock style

A surprisingly large number of people ask me about my friend Rose. Why hasn’t she appeared on the blog recently? I’ve been reluctant to say because the news isn’t good. Basically, Rose has been battling an extremely serious medical condition.

However, there’s a light (over at the Frankenstein place)! A test has nailed down Rose’s mysterious condition — and with some help, she can regain her health. Please read on for the personal story, followed by the latest in Tokyo makeup and wigs (since Rose loves J-fashion, and we want this post to end on an upbeat note!)

pretty gothic girl with tattoos, piercings

Long-time readers will remember Rose from our adventures in Seattle and Vancouver — absinthe burlesque clubs, Jrock concerts, dance videos and more. She’s got such positive energy, and a flair for alt-Japanese style.

Some have commented on her thinness. Rose has been struggling with a serious medical issue for years, which left her unable to eat or gain weight. It’s a long story (which her mom outlines in full here). Basically, about 11 years ago, Rose started having digestive troubles that lead to full gastroparesis or stomach paralysis. Despite going to the best doctors and trying all options, nobody has been able to determine a cause or cure. A series of painful operations, including inserting a pacemaker and removing her entire stomach, did nothing to help.

leopard print bathrobes, tights

Sadly, in recent months, Rose has been getting worse. Her weight dropped to 73 pounds even though she takes in enough calories by tube-feeding, and she developed other complications.

However, there’s been a breakthrough: Rose tested 100% positive for Lyme disease. She took a test years ago, but the results came back negative since there is a high error margin. With this new and reliable method, the diagnosis is undeniable, and the symptoms fit.

crimped hair, goth punk girls

It’s terrible that the undiagnosed Lyme disease caused her to worsen for a decade. On the plus side, Rose now knows the cause, and can undergo a complicated treatment to hopefully beat it. However, this will be a long, expensive road. I know her family, and they put everything into her medical costs, but it is a struggle. We’re having an online fundraiser, and hope you can help Rose with a contribution, no matter how small. So grateful for your support, and will share updates all along the way. Let’s get her healthy again!

You can donate safely here by PayPal or credit card (choose to pay with PayPal and then at the bottom you will see “buy as guest.” Click that and you can then use your credit card.)

♥ Or if you can just help us get the word out — maybe with a Facebook post, Tweet, blog post or email — it will make a difference. Thank you.

pink pastel wig, bunny ears hairstyle

On a brighter note, since this post is dedicated to Rose, I wanted to put up something that makes her smile. Rose dreams of visiting Tokyo, and I know she’ll go nuts inside Okadaya — one of the best places to pick up wigs, makeup, and craft supplies. I love coming here to scout out the latest beauty trends, like bunny-eared pastel wigs.

japanese girls false eyelashes, jpop lashes

The main floor of Okadaya (address: Shinjuku 3-23-17, near the station’s east exit) has a wall of false eyelashes, especially in the glam gyaru style. Above are some special collaboration lashes, which come in different colors. There are also over-the-top ones in rainbow colors, feathers and glitter.

Don Quixote and 100 yen “dollar” stores sell cheaper false lashes, but you can’t beat the variety and uniqueness of the ones here.

disney nail polish, minnie mouse makeup

There are always displays of new, chic beauty products. Disney just released a glittery nail polish line, in a variety of colors. Cinderella, Minnie Mouse and Snow White seem to love it.

hello kitty perfume, makeup

Hello Kitty’s cute face is omnipresent in Japan. This is the new Sanrio perfume, packaged in “small gift” pouches. Different colors represent different scents.

one use contact lens, harajuku circle contacts

Circle or novelty contact lenses remain big sellers in Japan. These “Funky Whip” contacts are a relatively new offering, which you wear only once and dispose.

black red dyed hair

On the second floor, it’s wigs galore! The sample hairdos are always done up in creative styles, like this braided and flower-topped mannequin.

pastel goth wigs, fairy kei

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s influence is obvious in these quirky, experimental pastel hairstyles.

cult party kei hairstyles

Would you rather have a snake dangling by your face, or a snowman on your scalp?

weird experimental hairstyles japan

This green and red Christmas wreath hairstyle gets props for creativity, if nothing else.

funny mannequin heads

What a lovely romantic couple. The one on the left is a man… I think? (Okadaya has a fun selection of Jrock or host boy wigs too).

women's colored wigs, alternative hair

Every possible type of synthetic wig is sold here, in all colors and lengths. These shaggy bobs are more natural-looking.

pastel color wigs, gothic lolita wig

If that’s not your bag, then there’s a shelf of Sweet Lolita, pastel goth and cosplay wigs! Most are by the brand Prisila. Perfect for anime convention costumes, Halloween, or a club night out.

For more photos of fabrics and craft supplies at Okadaya (including feather boas), see this blog post…

ne-net cat logo

… and peruse my LaCarmina Instagram. I’m on YouTube and Facebook too.

fat cat face drawing

I leave you with a few kitty snaps. Here’s a fat-faced illustration in a Shinjuku store window. Looks like a British Shorthair to me.

big scottish fold male cat

Can you see the resemblance to my Scottish Fold kitten?

pretty goth girl, legs

Basil sends a hug to everyone who helps out our friend Rose, if it’s by giving to the fund, or simply sharing this post. You can see all of our adventures together right here — she’s a very special person, and I hope to have better news for you soon!

6 Best Israel Restaurants: Tel Aviv & Jerusalem’s hottest food and wine. In LA for Oscars parties!

oscars parties 2014, invitation

This post contains a lot of “nom”… it’s about all the delicious restaurants we tried in Israel!

Before we dive into the food, some travel news: I’m off to Los Angeles, to attend Oscars events! Seby and I were invited to several Academy Awards festivities, including a celebrity pre-party and Oscars gifting suite. Can’t wait to bring you inside coverage of the Oscars on my social networks — add me, below, to join the fun.

InstagramTwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

kimel restaurant tel aviv

On our most recent journey, the Israel Tourism Board went all-out, and treated my filmmakers and me to 5-star dinners every evening. Each restaurant offered us a hedonistic “tasting” — we picked any main course, and they served it with a humongous selection of appetizers and desserts, and unlimited wine.

I always say: when you’re traveling, eat to your heart’s content! There are foods you simply can’t find at home, not even in specialty markets (such as local cheeses and wines that don’t export out of the country). Might as well taste as much as you can, when you’re somewhere far away.

israeli wines, kosher wine bottle

And drink up. In Hebrew, “cheers” is “l’chaim,” and we did a lot of that. Israeli vineyards have been making waves recently, overcoming the not-so-cool associations with “Kosher wine.”

I enjoyed tasty varietals with names like “Issac’s Ram” and “Star of David”. My favorite was a tasty and easy-to-drink Teperberg 1870 Cabernet/Merlot.

beet pine nuts salad

The first night, we had a rustic meal at Kimel Restaurant Tel Aviv. We thought the meal was over, after filling on incredibly fresh beet and pine nuts salad, goat cheese ravioli, and olive toasted bread. Then, the waiter asked, “Are you ready for the main courses?” He came out with plates loaded with fish filets, beef and lamb… Needless to stay, we left Kimel very satisfied!

Thanks to our new friend, fashion journalist Roza Sinaysky, for joining us. She blogs about Tel Aviv and international high fashion at TelAvivian. (Food photography by me, Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.)

vicky cristina restaurant, woody allen

The next evening, we learned that there’s a Woody Allen theme restaurant. Vicky Cristina is a Spanish eatery, located at the Hatachana compound (a collection of restaurants and shops, converted from the old Jaffa train station built in 1892). One side is more formal (like the movie character Vicky), while the other, where we dined, is loose and care-free like Cristina.

mia farrow pet cat

Side note: we should note that despite dining at this restaurant inspired by the Woody Allen film, we are Team Farrow all the way! (More images of our cat, Basil Farrow, on his Scottish Fold blog.)

seafood paella, vicky cristina tel aviv

Nonetheless, the Spanish tapas were delightful — Israeli food is always fresh, since many ingredients are grown locally. The seafood paella was so outstanding that we asked for a second order.

israel cocktail menu, drinks

We perched on high counters, and people-watched in the lively, open space. The drink menu says it all. Go for the sangria, and end the meal with mint tea.

turbot fish dinner, herbert samuel

Day 3 was a treat: fine dining at Herbert Samuel, run by top chef Jonathan Roshfeld. I later found out the restaurant is kosher, but that didn’t at all limit the flavors in dishes such as turbot (above) and the signature veal cannelloni.

chocolate cake, ice cream, gold leaf

As for the desserts, the photo says it all. Chocolate cake, caramel sauce swirl, gold foil and vanilla ice cream. I licked the plate.

jerusalem bagels, oblong bagel

I’ve been showing you high-end restaurants, but let’s not forget the street food. I loved trying Jerusalem bagels, (during my day in Jerusalem), which are long and large. And my mouth is watering when I think of the falafel (crispy chickpea balls wrapped in pita) I got from small stands.

machane yehuda restaurant

If I had to name one favorite restaurant among these winners, it would be Machneyuda in Jerusalem. The space is bursting with energy and personality. Between taking our orders, the waiters danced to upbeat Lana del Ray and Prince covers!

jerusalem best desserts, semolina cake

The food also has a personal touch, using ingredients from the next-door market. Some surprises included lamb and hummus, ceviche, and tomato cauliflower salad. I’m still thinking of this trio of desserts: tiramisu at the top, an incredible deconstructed cheesecake with berries in the middle, and “Uri’s mother’s semolina cake” dotted with tahini ice cream at the bottom.

jerusalem cool bar

If you think that Jerusalem is a serious, religious place… think again. At night, Machaneyuda has a happening bar scene with acrobatic cocktail mixing.

machane yehuda israeli restaurant

The open kitchen bursts with friendly calls between the chefs, and flaming dishes.

lively jewish restaurant

Outside, we saw locals hanging out in the streets, and going from bar to bar. If you visit only one restaurant while in Israel, I hope it will be this one.

boya tel aviv

However, we ate so well on every night. We joined Louise Kahn (glam singer of Terry Poison) at Boya, a top-rated restaurant at the Tel Aviv port. This is great place to take a walk, and watch big waves roll in.

grilled mushrooms, top israel restaurants

By now, you must be getting a sense of what’s loved in Israel: fresh Mediterranean dishes, with a touch of the Middle East. We tried a number of pastas, fresh baked bread from the “tabun” (traditional clay oven), and lots of seafood. We agreed that one of the standouts was a grilled cauliflower appetizer.

best hummus in israel, hommous restaurant

One cannot visit Israel without trying the hummus — sometimes called the national dish. We had it multiple times, and even visited a local “hummous restaurant” where Jews and Arabs happily sat down to eat this delicious dish together.

social club restaurant tel aviv

Finally, before a night of clubbing, we chowed down at Social Club on Rothschild Boulevard. It’s an ideal location for meeting up with friends before going out, and we especially enjoyed the grilled calamari with fava beans and tahini.

Coming right up: I’ll take you inside the Israeli LGBT nightlife, including a drag queen performance!

herbert samuel desserts

I leave you with a flower-topped napoleon dessert, from Herbert Samuel restaurant. Did you expect Israel’s food scene to be this exciting? Have you tried hummus, falafel, or other dishes mentioned in this post?

PS: don’t forget, I’ll be in LA with Seby for Oscars celebrations — previews will be on my @lacarmina social networks.

Vancouver Anime Evolution convention with Seby: manga, cosplay, Jpop fans. New writing job: Business Insider!

purple ombre hair, red hair ombre, goth hairstyles

Victory sign for Anime Evolution! Seby and I were guests at this anime convention, held in my hometown of Vancouver, and had a splendid time.

Read on for cosplay cuteness, and to learn about my new journalism job at Business Insider.

men's leather jackets, danier leather jacket

This was our first Canadian anime con, and they treated us royally. (That’s my leather hooded jacket, by Danier…)

west coast suites, ubc hotel, vancouver

Seby and I enjoyed the beautiful UBC campus, where the annual event was held.

long white dress, liz lisa dress, mori girl

We met a squirrel along this nature pathway. I’m wearing a long, scalloped white dress and crochet jacket by Liz Lisa (Japanese gyaru brand), bought last month in Sogo Hong Kong.

anime evolution, vancouver anime con

We were guests of honor at the three-day convention, a celebration of anime, manga, gaming, and other Jpop fandom.

anime convention guest, jrock hair, final fantasy mog toy

Thank you to everyone who came to our panels (including this stuffed Mog from Final Fantasy).

anime convention panels, speech

Seby and I gave a panel about living and traveling in Japan, including tips about visas, staying in ryokans, best flights and season, ways to keep costs low, and how to use the subway. Hopefully you found our advice helpful; we encourage you to learn more and visit Japan!

cute cat drawings, cat sketches

We also did two autograph signing sessions. Seby drew his cat (Mara Maura) and mine (Basil Farrow). What do you think of the resemblance?

big cat stuffed toy, cat face pillow

In addition to convention booklets, we signed arms, tshirts, stuffed bears and staff badges.

blue purple hair, blue dyed hair, braids

Close-up on my blue-purple-red ombre hair, which I straightened and braided.

grey sheer dress, two percent hong kong

Wearing a long, sheer grey top/dress by TwoPercent Hong Kong. My fuzz-face purse looks like a Totoro dust sprite, but it’s actually the Hong Kong character Hyoma.

cosplayers, snow white costume, cosplay convention

Anime Evolution was celebrating its 10th anniversary, and had a number of special events like a cosplay contest, opening and closing ceremonies, and meet-and-greet dinner. Loved seeing how everyone dressed up.

kingdon hearts keyblade, sora

Seby tried with all his might to grab this Kingdom Hearts keyblade.

alpaca toys, llama stuffed animals, sailor moon art nouveau

So much to see in the Dealer’s Hall and Artist’s Alley. I particularly liked the stuffed pastel alpaca toys, and the Sailor Moon meets Art Nouveau work, inspired by Alphonse Mucha’s works.

vancouver comic con, anime convention fans

Thank you to Anime Evolution for inviting us, and to all the volunteers and attendees for their kindness. We hope to be back next year!

batman leggings, granville island vancouver

In our downtime, Seby and I went to Acadia Beach, and to Granville Island.

granville island ferry dock, marina

I guess someone wants to put me in his pocket…

bat printed leggings, goth stockings

My “happy bat” tights and black-white striped platform shoes are both from the Hong Kong Izzue store (more photos to come).

business insider, journalist, writer, contributor

Let’s end with some exciting news: I have a new writing position at Business Insider! I’ll be contributing articles about travel, pop culture and trends worldwide.

Enjoy my first article on Japan’s cat-crazy culture. Featuring Hello Kitty, Hangry & Angry, Doraemon and a cameo by my Scottish Fold cat. Thanks for reading!

Have you been to an anime convention? What was your experience like? And did you spot Basil Farrow in my kitty article?