Category Archive for Tokyo Gothic Lolita

Join my Odigo travel blogging workshop! Tokyo’s weirdest bar, Guinea Pig Shinjuku.

harajuku crazy street fashion

Jump for joy — I’m heading back to Tokyo for the launch of Odigo! Wouldn’t you like to join me?

There’s a rare chance. On Feb 28, I’m hosting an exclusive travel blogging workshop in Tokyo. We’ll teach you all we know about travel blogs, journalism, TV, video, photography and more.

Read on the for details, and photos from the bloodiest, strangest, craziest theme bar ever!

odigo travel bloggers workshop

I’m excited to announce the official launch of Odigo, a site that lets you plan an exceptional journey to Japan. You can search for offbeat attractions — such as kawaii stores, theme restaurants — as well as more traditional spots. Odigo links everything together in an optimized itinerary, which lets you get from place to place with ease.

I invite you to sign up to be a contributor – anyone can share their finds on Odigo! And if you’re in Japan… come to my travel blogging workshop on 2/28. My professional photo/film team and I will give in-depth advice on travel writing, photography, TV and video production, social media, working with sponsors, finding a niche, and much more.

When: Saturday, February 28, 1:30-4pm (followed by a round-table and reception). Matador U is giving a workshop before us (see all details on the Facebook invite and MeetUp)
Where: Ryozan Park, 6F, 3-36-7 Otsuka, Tokyo (here’s a map. It’s a few minutes walk from Otsuka station on the Yamanote line).
Cost: Free if you sign up on Odigo and submit writeups for 10 spots. For everyone else, 5000 yen per person. Limited to 25 spaces, including lunch, resources and networking.

Curious about what else I’ll be doing, in Tokyo? Add Odigo on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to find out.

eyeballs in jars, horror bar

Thanks to Odigo, you can easily find info about the most bizarre and obscure places in Japan. For example, I did a writeup about Kabukicho bar, Guinea Pig. Look for a plain building with a winding staircase, and take the elevator up to a door with a barely visible sign.

guinea pig tokyo bar

This underground bar is for those with a bloody disposition. The decoration consists of such nightmares as chains, baby mannequins, and horror movie art.

(I’m wearing this Nanette Lepore: Runaway Stripe dress and a crown from my NY friend King Vulcanus Levi.)

asia horror movie bars

So, how do you get to Guinea Pig? The address is: 2-41-2 Leo Kotobuki Building 3-A, Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo (all this info is on Odigo!) 1000 yen cover. Opening hours vary; generally from 8pm to early morning. Phone: 03-3209-3455

weirdest tokyo theme bar

The bar’s decor is inspired by b-horror movies: zombie hands reach down from the ceiling, and a mannequin in chains sits at a table.

scary haunted shinjuku bar

The owner, a flamboyant fellow named Roxy, is hilarious and will make you special cocktails. He’ll also dare you to play with his live pet snake.

coolest cocktails tokyo

Our friends ordered Bloody Marys, while Yukiro and I got his specialty, a mix of grapefruit, rum, and maybe some voodoo potions.

japanese strange art

Strange art hangs on the walls. It’s a unique mix of dread and humor in this bar.

japan horror movie bar

Japan is well known for its weird theme bars, which I’ve written about extensively before. These include a visual kei bar, an absinthe Goth bar, and more.

guinea pig kabukicho

And here are all of my posts about bizarre theme restaurants, in Japan and elsewhere.

kabukicho bars

Some of these bars are one-act novelties, but I can go to Guinea Pig again and again. It’s a subculture hub — there are always interesting people drinking at the small counter.

goth bar japan

Yukiro was shooting a bad girl b-movie there, entitled ‘The Bloody Knockers.” I make a cameo in the bar scene! The movie is out now, and you can watch it here… if you dare.

japanese voodoo witch

If you’re a fan of Japanese horror films, and fetish is your idea of fun, then I have a feeling you’ll dig Guinea Pig too. You can look up more spots like this on Odigo.

japan club kids, street snaps night

All of these photos are by Tokyo-based photographer Said Karlsson. He took these candid snaps of Yukiro and me dominating the neon streets of Shinjuku.

shinjuku crosswalk, kabukicho lights

No, we’re not posing… we always cross the street like this!

maleficent cosplay, halloween costume

Every dark creature must stop to curtsy in front of evil queen Maleficent.

tokyo japan kids playground

We couldn’t resist climbing this Japanese kids playground equipment, and striking a pose. Funny, we did something similar in Berlin.

japanese convenience store interior

Antics in the convenience store. I’m not sure what we were doing in the magazine section…

haagen dazs sakura ice cream

We ended up getting special edition rose and sakura flavored Haagen Dazs ice cream. The pink looks nice against my Totoro nails.

feeding each other ice cream

In heaven, people feed each other rice with chopsticks. In hell, I suppose they survive on pink ice cream!

designer playground equipment

Have you been to any of Tokyo’s crazy theme bars? Which ones are your favorites?

I hope to see you at my Odigo travel bloggers workshop, on February 28 in Tokyo! Info is at the top of the post, and feel free to leave a comment if you have questions.

Modern, hidden cat litterbox: Poopoopeedo by SinDesign! Japan cat cafes interior design, pet furniture.

designer cat litter box

We’re going back to my usual travel videos & stories after this post — but first, I wanted to share with you Part II of the Maohaus Project!

My Scottish Fold cat wonders… “What is this green eggy-thing?” Could it be an avantgarde sculpture? An alien pod?

cat play pod litter

Surprise: it’s a Poopoopeedo by SinDesign! Believe it or not, this beautiful design object doubles as a cat litterbox. 

Poopoopeedo by sindesign

Perhaps you recall my first post about the Maohaus, where I described our goal of decorating an apartment beautifully, while accommodating the needs of my cat. One of the biggest challenges: what do do about Basil’s litter box? Regular ones are an eyesore, and hard to hide.

modern cat litterbox

French company SinDesign solved this problem with the Poo Poo Pee Do. I’m impressed by how they combined beauty and functionality — such as a decorative paw-print hole, which doubles as a grip / handle. As you can see, the hole is big enough for “plus sized” kitties!

maison de toilette pour chats

Basil Farrow feels right at home in this well-constructed pod. No sharp edges, and there are seven grip points that hold the top and bottom together securely.

cat interior design furniture

If it weren’t for the tiger-tail, a visitor would think that this is a mod sculpture! The enclosed pod lets Basil Farrow do his business in private, and also keeps the cat litter from coming out.

hidden cat litter box

Surprise, a cat is hatched! The Poopoopeedoo comes in seven different colors, so you can match it to your interior design. (We have the green one; SinDesign also makes red, black, white, orange, pink, blue.)

airport tag travel pillows

Isn’t this a perfect match for our lime-green color scheme? (See more photos of our Maohaus bedroom).

Poo poo pee do sin design

These two pieces come apart. The litterbox size is perfectly tailored to cats, and the round shape is a nice change from the usual square.

hiding cat litterbox

Functional, practical and durable — yet it integrates right into our apartment. The material is 3mm thick ABS, which is far more solid than a regular plastic litterbox.

cat in litterbox

The cover also helps to keep smells at bay. I have to say, this is the coolest litterbox I’ve ever seen.

scottish fold cat jumping in air

Hop! We love that the luxury litter-box is eco-friendly too. The interior is smooth, easy to wash, and resistant to cat urine.

designer cat litter scoop

Each Poopoopeedo comes with a matching scoop, which attaches under the lid for easy storage. It also comes with two anti-smell tablets that you can clip in.

luxury cat playground box

What more is there to say? This designer litterbox is “Maohaus” cat-interior design at its finest.

I know you want one too… SinDesign’s PooPooPeeDo is available for order online.

big cat yawning gate japan

As I mentioned in the first post about my apartment, my Maohaus concept is inspired by the creative interior decorations of Japanese cat cafes. To show you what I mean, let me share some never-seen photos from my Tokyo archives.

This giant, yawning gate welcomed me to the big cat “petting zoo” in Odaiba. 

キャッツリビン cat cafe

Located in Odaiba, “Cats Livin” later became “Nyanda Cat Cafe,” and then closed. (But don’t worry about missing out — there are still tons of cat cafes all over Japan, and now in USA).

japan cat cafe rule

Cat’s Livin designed the space with both the cat and visitor’s enjoyment in mind. At the entrance, an American Curl sits by the rule sheet. (“Please spray it on the hand several times before it feels after cat.”)

Keep reading for more photos from this Tokyo cat cafe, including a life-size cat-person… 
More here!

Asia pop culture tours, African safari & Owl cafes: my top fashion & travel memories of 2014.

tokyo tower glowing at night

I’m glad you enjoyed the first half of my Year in Review! In this post, we’ll look back at the last six months of 2014, which took me to eight different countries for various work collaborations.

We’ll begin with this magic moment, in front of the glowing orange Tokyo Tower. I’ve lost count of how many times I have been to Japan, but each time, I fall in love with the country once again.

pechakucha speaker, presentation

This year, I began working with Odigo.travel — a startup that lets travelers plan “exceptional journeys” to Japan, by creating trips and getting offbeat tips from insiders like me.

In June, Odigo flew me to Tokyo to give a speech in front of hundreds at PechaKucha. I spoke about my bizarre journey from blogging to TV presenting, writing and traveling worldwide. << Curious about my presentation? Watch my Pecha Kucha speech.

japan owl theme cafe

I’m excited for the official launch of Odigo early next year, and invite you to get a sneak peek here. Odigo lets you discover the coolest attractions in Japan — such as the adorable owl cafe — and put together a customized trip with all the addresses, maps, hours and info in one place. You can also contribute your own write-ups and images; take a look at Odigo, and I hope you’ll enjoy using the site.

teal lace party dress

As part of my mission to find Asia hotspots, I flew to Taipei for the first time. Here’s a Nanette Lepore outfit post from Taiwan’s Humble House boutique hotel.

taiwanese modern art

Taipei’s cheeky, modern art scene impressed me. Looks like the resident caveman (at Le Meridien) is trying to apologize to me. Perhaps he tried to steal my cat… << All the photos and outfit details here.

hello kitty friendship festival

Did you think “kawaii” cute culture was found only in Japan? In fact, Hello Kitty is possibly even more popular in Taiwan. She has a theme cafe in Taipei, and Sanrio had an interactive exhibition while I was there. (I haven’t blogged about this yet — I know, I’m always backlogged — but you can peer inside the Hong Kong Hello Kitty cafe.)

travel writer, travel magazine writing

I keep busy with a variety of different projects. I was in Hong Kong for a big TV shoot with Pro Sieben (German television). Can’t say much about this yet, but I’ll show you the photos and clip when they air next spring.

I wrote a number of articles for magazines this year, like Sunday Times Travel UK. I also have my own column in each issue of Hong Kong Express Airways’ in-flight magazine (scans above).

fashion blogger modeling posters billboard

As I mentioned in the last post, my focus is now on coverage I find meaningful — hence the stories about travel and underground culture worldwide. I’d feel empty if I followed the typical fashion blog format: outfit photos, consumption-oriented roundups, and little else of substance.

Nonetheless, I’m still passionate about style when I can express it on my own terms. I love to support designers who do things differently: slow fashion, alternative styles, eco materials, vintage. Moat House’s sunglasses are a perfect example, and I was honored to model their frames on a life-size poster in Paris.  

upper house hotel room

I returned to Hong Kong, which remains one of my favorite cities thanks to my friends and relatives here. I organized an influencers dinner for Odigo, and took Yukiro around to my favorite boutiques and restaurants.

luxury hotel bed

Things got Miffy-crazy in our Hong Kong penthouse, at the Upper House Hotel… You’ve got to see this epic blog and video, if you missed it!

wwf panda bears exhibit

My Pirates and I went to the new art center: PMQ in Central. At the time, there was an exhibition of 1600 panda bear statues. A powerful (and cute) way to get word out on the WWF, and their work in protecting endangered animals.

japanese sashimi salad

Oh, and the delicious food we ate in HK! Above was one of the best meals of the year, a melt-in-your-mouth sashimi salad by Harlan Goldstein at Sushi To. << Check out all my Hong Kong restaurant reviews.

eat your kimchi youtube studio

My Asia journey didn’t end there. I went to Seoul for the first time in over a decade, and it’s changed so much. Fortunately, my friends Eat Your Kimchi gave me pointers on where to see the best of K-pop culture. << Wander inside the EYK YouTube studio.

kpop beauty fashion blogger

I couldn’t get enough of the youtful university district, Hongdae, filled with coffee shops and Kpop fashion shops. I posed with the modern art in Itaewon

dongdaemun design plaza, seoul

… and got beamed up into the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Now that’s what I call space disco architecture!

cape town bo kaap street

This year, I realized more than ever: you only live once, and opportunities may never come again. So when Cape Town Tourism invited my film team and me to go to South Africa, we had to say yes — even though it was happening during an insane travel period. We weathered a sleepless schedule, trans-continental flights, lost luggage, and other fiascoes along the way.

But as soon as we stepped out onto the colorful streets of the Bo Kaap, I knew we made the right choice. We had so many wonderful moments on this trip — jazz in townships, Stellenbosch wines, street art, hanging out with local artists.

yawning lion, south africa safari

I also went on my first safari, and it was as magnificent as I imagined. We took photos of elephants, rhinos, zebras and this pride of lions.

aquila safari, game reserve

Perhaps you’ve been wondering: who is “we”? Or rather, who goes on these trips with me? Since my jobs require high-quality photos and videos, I’m not a solo traveler.

For the most part, these comrades are Eric and Melissa, my close friends and seasoned filmmakers. With each project, we aim to improve the quality of everything we produce. I hope you’ve been enjoying the recent visuals and stories — we’ll keep on upping the ante in 2015.

yuan chonghuan, 袁崇煥, 袁崇焕

In the late summer, I was honored to be the cover model for Kirameki Magazine, wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie dress. << See all the photos and credits from this shoot.

Also, fun fact: I found out I’m a direct descendant of 16th century Chinese military leader, Yuan Chonghuan (袁崇焕)! His story is rather heavy metal… In the Ming Dynasty, Yuen was a revered commander who twice defeated the Mongol army, but was later betrayed and killed via Death by a Thousand Cuts. His enemies in Beijing rushed to buy and eat his body parts, but his loyal friend She managed to rescue the head. For the past 300 years, She’s descendants have been guarding my ancestor’s decapitated head. I’m not sure where it is today, but my family still has an ancestral plot of land in Dongguan, his southern Chinese hometown…

philippines traffic, driving

After a bit of sunshine in Vancouver, I was back on the plane to a new Asian destination… Cebu in the Philippines! The streets were a jumble of colorful jeepneys.

white hippie dress

This time, my Pirates and I were collaborating with sáv Hospitality. I judged the Miss Scuba beauty pageant, a competition that gets the word out on ocean conservation…

goth model, lace dress

… and we did a showcase of their gorgeous Pacific Cebu Resort (travel video to be released soon).

travel blogging, beach destinations

Jet lag, what’s that? The small annoyances are all worth it, when you get to experience a near-perfect day like this one. << Look back at my boating and beach adventure in Lapu Lapu. 

the bund, shanghai skyline

We flew a few hours north, and wound up in what seemed like completely different universe: Shanghai, China. Here’s the glowing Bund, which captures how fast the city’s developed in recent years.

cachet hotels china

I went to the mainland a few times when I was growing up, and it never looked anything like this. I still have more to show you about Shanghai’s young design scene, hip restaurants, and French Quarter. << For now, here’s an outfit post from Cachet Boutique Hotel.

purple blue red hair color

Before the end of the year, I made two final trips: to New Orleans, and San Francisco for a TV shoot with ABC Nightline. I haven’t had a chance to post about these adventures yet, but here’s a preview at my new hair color (a blue-purple-magenta ombre by Stephanie Hoy). You can look forward to these stories and several new travel videos, beginning in January.

Middle East, Africa, Asia… what’s next? I hope you’ll continue to join my journey in 2015, since I have big plans up my kimono-sleeves! Check out @lacarmina on Instagram for day-to-day images, and to hear announcements like reader meet-ups. 

Thanks for being with me on my journey — I read all messages and comments, and am grateful for all the love you give. It’s amazing to connect with like-minded people who believe in what I do. See you next year. Let’s make it the best one yet!

Heavy Pop, Harajuku fashion club night! Tokyo Japan Halloween Goth parties.

types of harajuku fashion, style

Halloween 2014 is creeping closer… do you have your costume ready yet? How will you be celebrating?

If you’re in Tokyo, Japan for Halloween, there are a number of dark and alternative events this year. These include Midnight Mess’s 12th anniversary Goth dance party on Oct 25, and Tokyo Dark Castle Zombie Halloween on the same day. In OsakaFarplane Night is having a cabaret festival on Nov 1st.

But for Japanese spooky kids, Halloween is every day of the year! So every month, they congregate at Heavy Pop (へびぽ), a club night that celebrates cyber, Goth, Lolita, drag and other alt fashion tribes. As you can see from the group photo, it’s one colorful party.

tokyo club fashion, makeup

Heavy Pop changes its location and exact date each time, so check their Facebook for the next event (I’m not sure yet if they’re having a Halloween extravaganza). I went to the anniversary celebration at Hell’s Bar in Sangenjaya. The tiny space was packed, hence the face-fanning.

cute japanese costume girls, cosplayers

“Hebipo” generally takes place on the last Sunday of the month, around 3pm to 11pm (so that partygoers can take the last train home, as it stops running around midnight). Come here if you want to dance to Jpop while surrounded by youths, dressed in experimental-kawaii fashion.

japanese maid idols dancing, jpop singing

Each event features a roster of DJs and performers. I watched these two cute Japanese girls dressed as French maids, singing and dancing a frenetic “para-para” on stage.

へびぽ hebipo

One of the regular artists is… Yukiro, in his evil guise as drag queen Die Schwarze Frau! That’s reason enough to check out the club night, don’t you think?

crazy monster costumes japan

Most of the guests dressed in some sort of alternative street style like kawaii, fairy kei, or Gothic. I saw some wild makeup and hair in the crowd. This lizard-monster, made of full body rubber, gets my medal for “craziest costume.”

heavy pop, hell's bar

As you can see, there isn’t much room to make giant hand motions. Wear layers so that you can take something off if the room gets too hot. (Even the reptile took off his head at one point.)

harajuku club, nightlife

Everyone’s welcome at Heavy Pop, but I suggest you join the Jpop spirit of the party, and dress up. Wigs, crowns and hats add a fun touch.

japan photographer dj ray ochiai

Don’t forget to take a picture at the photobooth, and say hi to Die Schwarze Frau (she won’t bite) and organizer / DJ Ray Ochiai. He started this party a few years ago, and it’s built up quite the following.

cute japanese girl singing

You can’t help but smile at the theatrical performances on stage. The event alternates between DJ sets and performers.

independent stores tokyo fashion

The side of the room has a line-up of vendor booths, run by independent designers. Shop here for neon face masks and other oddities.

japanese living dolls

Light colors, lace and living-dolls abound.

funny famous japanese dj

Can you feel the energy of the music? All these images are by Said Karlsson — give him a shout if you need a photographer in Tokyo.

goth dancing

The drag theatrics of Die Schwarze Frau always get attention. Stand too close to the front, and you might get whipped by her flailing skirts.

harajuku eye makeup, horns hairstyle

Love the hair-horns, pink eyebrows and layers of eyelashes on this girl.

tokyo drag queen dancer

The queen in motion. DSF performs drag at other events in Tokyo, which you can see on her Facebook.

nanette lepore striped dress

I’m wearing a feathered crown from my friend King Vulcanus Levi (remember when we teamed up in NYC?) and a Nanette Lepore striped dress (here’s where you can purchase it.)

cross dress performer japan

Don’t you want to be at this fabulous club night too? Keep track of the next Heavy Pop party on their Facebook page. Entry fee varies; it’s generally 1500 yen and a drink if you RSVP on Facebook.

cute blonde asian girl

How do you like the Harajuku fashion and makeup featured in this post? Do you have Halloween plans yet?

If you’re in Tokyo in late October, be sure to check out the Gothic nightclubs and bars, listed here and at the top of this post.