Category Archive for Tokyo Gothic Lolita
Tokyo Halloween themed food: pumpkin burgers at Grand Hyatt, Oak Door! Pastel pink hair color, Attitude Clothing.
Trick or treat! I now have pastel pink hair, with blue and purple highlights. Are you surprised to see this new color?
I’m overjoyed because it’s the best time of the year — Halloween. To celebrate, I’ll show you photos from Japan, where locals celebrate the season big-time.
We’ll kick things off with my fairy-hair, and then chow down on Halloween-themed cuisine in Tokyo, including skull cocktails and bat pastries at the Grand Hyatt’s Oak Door restaurant.
First, let’s take a look at the latest additions to my fall wardrobe. I’m wearing wooden designer sunglasses by Moat House, my favorite independent eyewear designer.
These artisans craft all their frames by hand in their Derbyshire, England workshop. The Moat House team sent me these gorgeous Godiva frames in Brazilian purple heart and oak, with a violet mirror lens. The cat eye shape is as flattering as it gets, and the frames are lightweight — so I can wear them with comfort all winter.
I’m a big supporter of Moat House‘s artisinal approach, and encourage you to support indie, sustainable brands like them. (They have all styles of wood glasses for both men and women, which you can see on their website.)
Attitude Clothing (an online shop with an amazing selection of dark fashion) sent me some designs by a Thailand designer, Morph8ne. Their dresses seem to be made for Wednesday Addams and Nancy of The Craft (especially their plaid schoolgirl dress).
I’m wearing the Charlotte dress, which has ultra long sleeves and a doll-like lace up corset back. I love the details such as the keyhole closure in the back, and the Morph8ne logo in a heart on the front.
Isn’t this witch-baby dress perfect for the Halloween season? (Shop more fashion by this brand from Attitude Clothing, and by clicking below…)
How would you describe my new mermaid hair: My Little Pony? Cotton candy pastels? It also looks a bit like the asymmetrical cut and color of Final Fantasy’s Lightning character.
I always go to hair stylist Stephanie Hoy at Sugar Skull Studio, in Gastown (#300-68 Water Street, Vancouver BC). Her work is magic: I went from grey-green to layers of light pink, baby blue and lavender. Stephanie is amazing at alternative dyes, but does all types of cuts: ask for her!
As the weather gets colder, I’ve been reaching for these new gold skull tights from Gal Stern. Based in Israel, she designs luxury legwear and just released a new Halloween collection that is perfection.
The nude hosiery is the softest, highest quality (it won’t tear or run) and how wonderful are the Day of the Dead golden skulls printed over the knees!
I’ve been keeping warm with my Long Clothing beanie, also from Attitude Clothing (they carry all my favorite brands). There’s a skeleton skull and chain version of this knit cap as well — or tuque, as we say in Canada.
Now, let’s take a look at the cute Halloween food you can currently find in Tokyo! The October holiday gets bigger every year in Japan, and you’ll find spooky-themed dishes all over the city.
Nobody does it better than The Oak Door restaurant, located at The Grand Hyatt hotel in Roppongi Hills. This American steakhouse released a masterful Halloween menu, complete with kabocha pumpkin burgers.
Pick your poison: the Oak Door Bar is also offering creative cocktails that feature skull glasses and syringes. All are beautifully mixed and presented, and available only for a limited time.
Above, I sipped on a Deadly Rose with pomegranate syrup, apple brandy, silver tequila and lime juice — with dry ice added for a ghostly touch. In the middle, the V-Blood pays tribute to vampires. The Trick or Treat on the right is an unusual and delicious concoction of vodka, melon and pineapple juice.
The “Dr Frankenstein” behind these drinks is Seyeram Anagbonu, bartender of The Oak Door. He takes a playful approach to his creations, and showed us how he made “brain sludge” out of vodka, lime juice and cranberry jelly.
Then, Chef de Cuisine Adam Noffsinger came in with these mouthwatering burgers… which look exactly like Halloween pumpkins!
I’ve never seen a burger bun as creatively executed: the bread is made from pumpkin puree and baked in the shape of the squash. Delicious, and all-naturally flavored and colored. Inside, there’s a juicy patty (The Oak Door is known for its beef), Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced Japanese kabocha and classic fillings. Paired with sweet potato fries and spiced aioli, this turned out to be the most “spooktacular” meal I’ve ever had.
The Grand Hyatt also debuted a Halloween afternoon tea, and we got to try a sampling of dark desserts. The bat-shaped chocolate cookies, crème brûlée, tarts and creamy roll cakes (all pumpkin flavored) are made in-house by the award winning patissiers.
They’re masterpieces: not overly sweet, with pleasing combinations of natural flavors, and expert decoration (check out the intricate swirls on the tarts).
Head pastry chef Goto Junichi is highly regarded, and deservedly so. His Halloween desserts showcase his fine French training, fused with a Japanese sensibility and touch of kawaii.
You can find his sweets at Fiorentina Pastry Boutique at The Grand Hyatt hotel, and I hope you’ll come to The Oak Door for a kabocha burger and Gothic cocktail before the season ends. (Above food photos by John S.)
As you may have seen on my social media, I was in Tokyo for the start of my JRailPass train journey. I found lots of Halloween-themed snacks all over the city, and took photos for you. If only I could eat them all…
At Krispy Kreme Japan, there’s a “sweet monster show” donut box available.
You can buy the Krispy Kreme donuts individually, or get a dozen in a graveyard-decorated box. I spy a melon soda monster, spider chocolate custard puff, grinning caramel pumpkin jack, and a purple mummy with sweet potato icing!
The Mr Donut franchise also gets into the Halloween spirit, with spooky Snoopy donuts.
Mister Donut has donuts shaped like the Peanuts puppy, in white chocolate and chestnut glaze. The seasonal packaging makes it look like Snoopy is wearing a witch’s hat. This chain is also selling chocolate spider and pumpkin ring donuts at the moment.
The cute cafe La Petite Mercerie celebrates with these adorable cakes: a Halloween shortcake and pumpkin gateau chocolat.
Their smiling Jack-o-lanterns with highlighted cheeks are the definition of spooky-cute.
Cozy Cafe is offering a Disney Villains special. There’s a Mickey Mouse pumpkin cream cake, with chocolate 3D facial decor. Cozy Cafe also has gift boxes and other sweets themed like Maleficent, Ursula and other baddies.
If you want to buy Halloween snacks to take home, don’t despair. You’ll find plenty of items in gift stores all over Tokyo.
For these sweets, Snoopy transforms into a vampire, and peers out of a coffin.
At Don Quixote (the discount general store), you can find all sorts of inexpensive themed snacks during this season. I found anime biscuits and Halloween Pocky, as well as many others for under $5.
Japan rocks at packaging design. The Halloween mascots are always kawaii, with bright colors and simple shapes.
At Tables bakery, I was tempted to buy a Jack-o-lantern demitasse cupcake. There’s also one that looks like Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas.
How cute are these bite-sized purple pumpkin and ghost mini cupcakes?
In Harajuku, I swung by Nicolas House, a cafe with a bunny theme. All the custards and sundaes have rabbit ears and smiling faces. For the time being, there’e an orange pumpkin Bunnicula.
Nicolas House did a Miffy collaboration last year, decorating all the sweets to look like the Dutch character.
Even the savory dishes have a cute bunny theme.
Finally, I popped into the Kawaii Monster theme cafe in Harajuku. The restaurant is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu meets an acid trip: there’s a cyber mushroom disco inside, and a giant sofa that looks like a cat. Everything is rainbow-colored, even the food — such as primary colored pasta, served on an artist’s palette.
I didn’t go inside or eat a meal here, but you can get the gist of it from these photos of the exterior. Kawaii Monster Cafe is open all year round, so you can get a taste of the rainbow at any time.
I leave you with this anatomical dish on display at Okadaya (the Shinjuku craft store).
What do you think of the Halloween treats in Japan, and my newly pink hair color?
PS: If you’re looking for a Halloween costume, I’m selling many of my favorite cosplay outfits on my Depop shop! I’ve also put up more Japanese Goth and Lolita fashion for sale including Banana Fish, h.Naoto, Peace Now, and much more.
Come see all the listings here, then email firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what interests you. I’ll do bundle discounts, and all items come with a photo and personal note. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Did you know that Tokyo has two temples… dedicated to lucky cats?
At Gotokuji and Imado Shrines, Japanese visitors make prayers and offerings in front of thousands of cat statues!
In this photo diary, I’ll show you both of these very special places, and provide all the travel information you need to visit.
Every cat-lover will be delighted by Gotokuji temple, which has more maneki nekos than you can count.
Imado Jinja is just as charming, with a platform where people can bow in front of two giant cat statues.
Both of these temples are dedicated to “maneki neko,” or fortune cat statues. You’ll recognize these kitties above, wearing a red collar with a gold bell, and with one paw raised in the air. (Some statues even have both paws raised, for extra luck!)
Maneki Neko translates to “beckoning cat” and is a symbol of good luck in Asia. People often place these cat statues or images in their homes or stores, to bring in business, money and other happy things.
Let’s begin our feline-worshipping journey at Gotokuji Temple, which has thousands of identical cat statues in different sizes. The address is: 2-24-7 Gotokuji, Setagaya 154-0021, Tokyo. Generally, the temple is open from morning to late afternoon, but double check the opening hours before you go.
How to get to Gotokuji Cat Temple: From Shibuya, it’s an easy journey by subway. Take the Odakyu Line, get off at Gotokuji station, and walk about 15 minutes.
If you’re visiting destinations all over the country, I highly recommend you pick up a Japan Rail Pass — which lets you travel on any number of JR Shinkansen bullet and local trains, all through Japan! It’s the best deal out there (unlimited 7, 14 or 21 day passes, shipped worldwide to you in 2 days), especially if you’d like to see Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya and other cities on your trip. The new JRailPass site also offers VIP train car access, along with itineraries, tips and more.
While you are in the station, I highly recommend connecting to the free WiFi and loading up a Google Map of the address, on your smartphone. The path to Gotokuji Temple is a bit complicated, and I had to walk around the complex before finding the entrance. With a GPS map, the journey is much easier.
As you walk through Gotokuji’s charming, quiet neighborhood — look out for cat art along the way. These creatures are peeking out at you from lamp posts and flags…
… and seen on posters. There’s even a lucky cat statue right at the subway station exit.
When I arrived at the entrance to Gotokuji temple, I was enchanted by this gate that opens into a peaceful garden path. The temple complex is quite large and filled with greenery, and beautifully maintained.
After going through the Somon front gate, you’ll find the towering pagoda and Butsuden Buddha Hall straight ahead.
At first, you won’t encounter any cats — the maneki neko statues are further inside. However, the giant incense burner has a lion with a big gold ball under his paw.
The temple also has an old cemetery with family gravestones, which adds to the quiet and reflective tone of Gotokuji.
Turn the corner, and you can’t help but smile when you see this family of cats! It looks like a mom and dad, and three children of different ages. All have their right paw raised.
Keep on walking, and you’ll come across this mind-blowing sight. Thousands upon thousands of Japanese cat statues, lined up and facing you!
Cute as they are, these kitties are not toys. Visitors treat the cat statues with reverence, and refrain from touching them. Since the shrine is outdoors, the bodies get a little muddied at times, but the groundskeepers clean and replace them regularly.
What’s the origin story of the Maneki Neko? There are quite a few legends, but one of the most popular ones dates back to the Edo period. A daimyo (feudal lord in Japan) was passing by a temple, when a cat raised his paw and beckoned him to enter. The daimyo followed him inside, and suddenly a powerful thunderstorm broke. Thankful that the cat saved him, the lord rebuilt the temple that is now Gotokuji.
Another version says that the Lord Ii Naotaka was doing falconry, and on his way back home when it started raining hard. He huddled under a tree near a temple, and then noticed a cat raising his paw. Naotaka went over to the cat… just in time, as lightning struck the tree that he had been standing under. Grateful, the lord became the benefactor of the temple.
Regardless of the historical truth, maneki nekos (and cats in general) have been tied to good fortune and the supernatural in Japan. Since Gotokuji is dedicated specifically to these cats, people make offerings here as a sign of gratitude when their wishes come true.
The cat stories are part of Japanese legends and folklore, rather than Buddhism or Shinto in particular. However, the cats fit right in since they are an important symbol in Japanese culture, and a way of giving thanks and strengthening intention.
Some visitors purchase one of these cat statues to take home. After the maneki neko has delivered with good fortune, they bring back the statue and add it to the shrine’s collection.
Shinto devotees also write out wishes on ema (豪徳寺), or small wooden plaques decorated with images from the temple.
The ema prayer boards or votive tablets are then hung up near the shrine, for the Shinto kami (spirits) to receive them.
At Gotokuji, the boards are painted with cats and Buddhas, with their right arms raised. The wishes written on the back might be for good health, overcoming challenges or anything at all.
At the gift store, you can purchase these prayer boards and cat statues of all sizes (these are the exact same ones found in the shrine). I bought a medium maneki neko to take home, and a prayer board to hang on my door. The proceeds support the temple, so it’s for a great cause.
Even though the legend of the beckoning cat goes back many centuries, these “maneki neko” statues probably only date back to the 18th century in Japan.
Nowadays, these cats are popular all over Asia, especially in Hong Kong and China. The beckoning cat is also the official mascot (Hiko-nyan) of Hikone in Shiga Prefecture, since that is the district that Ii Naotaka ruled.
Gotokuji visitors can also pull this long red rope and ring the bell, which looks like the one worn on the cat’s collar. Called a “suzu,” these bells bring in the good spirits (kami) and repel the evil ones.
Gotokuji Temple is not often visited by tourists, making it a lovely and unique place for contemplation.
If you’re a cat-lady, or simply interested in the fascinating spiritual culture and folklore of Japan, you must go to Gotokuji Temple.
But wait — there’s another location for cat-worship in Japan…
Imado Shrine in Asakusa! Here, you can make offerings and prayers in front of two giant cat statues: one white, and one with black spots.
When you approach the stand, it looks like these two cats are greeting you with fist-pumps in the air!
Now, how to get to Imado Jinja? The address is 1-5-22 Imado, Taito 111-0024, Tokyo. If you take a taxi, the address in Japanese is : 今戸神社 Japan, 〒111-0024 東京都台東区 今戸１丁目５−２２
Imado Shrine is a bit of a walk from Asakusa subway station, but on the plus side, you can make this a day trip and visit the famous Senso-ji temple as well. Take the Toei Asakusa or Ginza subway line, and don’t get off at Akasaka station by mistake! Once again, I suggest connecting to the free WiFi when you arrive (such as from 7-Eleven), and mapping out your route to Imado.
And likewise, double-check the opening hours as the temple usually closes by the early evening.
After navigating the crowd of tourists at Sens0-ji, and going through several small streets, you’ll find this little-known temple built in 1063. These two maneki nekos are here to welcome you. The male on the left is Nagi-kun, and has patterns. His mate is the white female Nami-chan.
Imado Shrine isn’t as large as Gotokuji, and has fewer statues of “lucky cats”. However, they have a larger variety of cats, mostly in pairs. I enjoyed visiting both equally, as they were special in their own ways.
I have many more photos to show you from these temples, so keep on reading below…
My Goth fashion blogger closet sale on Depop! Selling Gothic Lolita, Japanese clothing & accessories.
Ever wish you had pieces from my wardrobe? Well, now you can — because I’ve launched a store on Depop!
I’ve listed hundreds of unique clothes and accessories for sale: including Gothic Lolita, pin-up, J-rock, kawaii styles.
Most of my items are rare, and found only in Japan. As a thank you for your support over the years, prices are low, and I’m willing to put together a bundle order for you at a discount. Email me (gothiccarmina att gmail dotcom) and let me know what you’d like!
Ready to shop? Then come over to my Depop store – username “lacarmina” – and pick out your favorites! (I ship worldwide; contact me if you have any questions, I respond to everything myself, and can send items with a personal photo and note.)
Click to shop La Carmina’s closet sale now!
A lot of my clothing can’t be found anywhere else on the Internet. I’m selling designs by Japanese underground brands — including several that no longer exist (like Banana Fish, Peace Now, Sex Pot Revenge).
For example, everything in the above photo is for sale (dress by Banana Fish, coffin backpack by h.Naoto, shoes by Yosuke). You can find it all here on my Depop shop.
I’ve gotten many messages over the years from people who wanted to purchase my clothes — like the Miho Matsuda grunge dress above. However, I couldn’t find an easy way to list and sell items.
Depop solved my problem. It’s a free mobile app that makes buying/selling a breeze.
With a few taps on your cell phone, you can browse for goods (makeup, clothes, home decor) or put things up for sale. It takes me less than two minutes to snap a few photos, write a description and publish.
Above is a screenshot of my Depop store (lacarmina)! The app loads quickly, and has a fun visual layout similar to Instagram.
It’s easy to click on an item to see more photos, and read the description (size, construction, etc). You can browse by hashtag or use the fast-loading search, and find beautiful designs for sale from all around the world.
I’ve worn a lot of my clothing only once for photoshoots, so they’re in near-new condition.
Almost everything on my store is listed at 50%below the retail price, and I can ship to any address worldwide.
I’m selling a lot of my Gothic Lolita EGL dresses, skirts, corsets, accessories. These labels include Innocent World, Angelic Pretty, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates.
I’ve put up a fantastic selection of alternative, Goth and pin-up fashion. This Iron Fist dress and heart purse are available!
Don’t worry: my store has clothes in all sizes, and I’m selling dozens of accessories starting at a few dollars. Skull bracelets, kawaii jewellery, purses from Japan and Hong Kong, and more.
In addition to tons of Gothic, Jrock and Gyaru styles, I have a range of fashion by international designers. Floaty summer dresses, bohemian tops, you name it.
I’m loving the experience of using Depop. Payments are easy and secure through the app (PayPal, credit card) and I can ship to any mailing address in the world.
I’m personally responding to all comments and messages through my Depop store, so it’s also a fun way for us to chat and interact!
Message me and I can put together a bundle order for you, at a discount. You’ll also save on the shipping cost for the package.
Items are going fast from my wardrobe sale, so I encourage you to check out my store before your favorites are gone.
This dress, that skirt… it’s all for sale now, on La Carmina’s Depop shop! You won’t find this fashion sold anywhere else online, and I’ve priced everything low.
I hope you enjoy my fashion blogger closet sale. Looking forward to chatting with you, and putting together a package for you — with a special signed note included!
Ready? Set? Let’s shop La Carmina’s closet now!
Hosting a Travel Channel TV series in Tokyo! Using Happn app to meet new people through everyday coincidences.
Tokyo remains one of my favorite cities on the planet. There’s always something new (and usually cute!) to discover here.
I recently filmed in Japan with a new Travel Channel TV series, and am delighted to finally share behind-the-scenes from the shoot.
As we whiz through Tokyo’s coolest districts, I’ll also introduce you to a fabulous French app called Happn, which seizes everyday coincidences and lets you meet the people you cross paths with!
(“Tokyo’s Cute Culture” airs again on March 29th at 8:30am. Soon, the show will be available for download on Amazon.)
The Travel Channel team and I filmed all over Tokyo. Can you imagine how many people I must have walked past, during this TV shoot alone?
I snapped this photo in busy Akihabara, and it made me think. People are always on their phones, and yet, it can be hard to start up a real-life conversation.
I was excited to learn Happn was launching in Japan, as it’s a brilliant way to bridge these gaps.
This free app lets you give a second chance at a first encounter. It first launched in Paris in 2014, and is now is in over 35 cities worldwide.
Happn is all about facilitating real-life connections. Every time you cross paths with another user, their profile appears on your app: a starting point for getting to know someone new.
On a busy day like my Travel Channel TV shoot, I’m sure I walked by or near tons of interesting people. (The app connects you with users within a 250m radius.)
However when we’re caught up in work, or in a hurry to reach the next location, there’s no time to interact.
We filmed an intro at Hachiko dog statue, near the busy Shibuya crossing. As many as 2500 pedestrians cross this street every time the light changes!
So many people gather here in Shibuya — but are often too shy to strike up a conversation.
Happn lets them see the number of times they’ve crossed paths with someone, as well as the time and approximate location of the last encounter.
Wouldn’t it be fun if the fellow behind me was checking his phone, and finding me on Happn?
If there’s a user who you want to get to know better, you can Heart their profile (the person doesn’t get a notification, so it’s private). If that person Hearts you too, you can then start up a conversation.
You never know… one of the people you cross paths with could be a special guy or girl destined for you!
I love how Happn lets me meet new friends with common interests. As you know, I’m an animal lover… and was in my element when we filmed at Deco’s Dog Cafe.
Owners bring their puppies here to dine on gourmet food, and see other dogs.
In Japan, locals can be reticent about conversing with people they don’t know. An app like Happn breaks the ice.
“Hi, I was at Deco cafe too! Where did your poodle get her cute dress from?”
“Perhaps we can exchange cooking tips for organic dog food!”
I have a feeling Happn will be especially popular in Akihabara, the high-tech otaku district.
Maid cafes are big here, since they let customers talk to the staff about manga, anime and other “nerdy” interests.
No need to be shy when you can first chat about shared hobbies on the app.
As you can see, I went to all types of neighborhoods for my Travel Channel shoot. We filmed a segment at the Odaiba hot springs, Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari.
The final “decision scene” took place at a verdant Shinto temple.
In the end, did my “relocation” clients decide to move to Japan? You’ll have to tune in to find out. (“Could I Live There”? airs regularly on Travel Channel.)
I think anyone new to Japan would have fun using the French app Happn. It’s a charming way to meet people, from real life encounters.
Who knows — you could bond over your passion for kawaii mascots, creepy accessories, or a heaping plate of pasta!
Perhaps you’ll even cross paths with me! (If you’re intrigued, here’s where you can find out more about Happn.)
Hearts for all of you — I wouldn’t have these opportunities in Japan without your support. More Tokyo coverage to come, and I hope you enjoy the Travel Channel show that I hosted.