Category Archive for Tokyo Gothic Lolita

Pecha Kucha Tokyo speech! La Carmina x Odigo presentation, SuperDeluxe Roppongi.

tokyo tower at night

It’s my birthday! (August 17.) Thanks for all the kind wishes, I’m so grateful for your friendship.

Perhaps this is an opportune time to share the PechaKucha speech that I made in Tokyo, since it reflects on my journey over the past few years. I’m stunned at how everything has grown — and I couldn’t have done any of this with your support.

pecha kucha tokyo japan

I’ve recently been working with a trip-planning startup, Odigo, and they asked me to do a presentation at PechaKucha 20×20 Tokyo. This is a public speakers’ event that began in Japan, and now takes place worldwide. The challenge is that each presenter only gets 20 slides, displaying on screen for 20 seconds each, to convey their point.

pecha kucha speaker, presenter

I look like I’m having Seinfeld moment, with the microphone and upturned hand. “What’s the deal with bagelheads?”

Outfit details: To match the Alice in Wonderland motif in my speech, I’m wearing a Baby the Stars Shine Bright skirt. This off-shoulder black top by Free People is almost identical to the one I’m wearing (I got mine at 2% Hong Kong).

pechakucha tokyo japan presentation

As you can see, there were hundreds of people in the audience! I had no notes on me, and couldn’t even see the screen behind (which switched to the next photo automatically after twenty seconds). So how did it go? And what exactly did I do a presentation about?

Above and on YouTube, you can see a video of me speaking to the crowd at Pecha Kucha.

The most difficult part was nailing the transitions between the slides, which change automatically. I recommend practicing over and over, including doing trial runs in front of an audience, until you get used to this unique format.

Other PechaKucha tips? Tell stories as you were talking to a friend, to keep the crowd engaged. It never helps to tell a funny anecdote or too. Keep relaxed and the 6-7 minute speech will flow by fast.

Since you can’t always clearly see the slides in the first video, above is one that contains only my PechaKucha slideshow and the audio. I hope you’ll find this example 20×20 presentation helpful, if you ever end up doing one yourself.

pechakucha tokyo founders, superdeluxe roppongi

Arigato everyone who came to see me at SuperDeluxe Roppongi, and to the PechaKucha Tokyo team for having me! The event is full of positive energy, thanks to founders Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, and executive director Jean Snow. PK always features a creative roster of presenters (speaking in Japanese and English) about topics as diverse as rope tying and natto packaging.

(The first photo of me under the Tokyo Tower is by Said Karlsson (who shot my Steampunk magazine cover). Images 2-5 are by Michael Holmes. The rest are from my archives over the years.)

la carmina baby photo, young child

Here are some of the slides and stories I mention in my speech. “Ever since I was one year old, my family and I would take trips to Asia at least once a year. As a child, some of my most vivid memories were visiting Japan. Imagine little ol’ me in 1990s Harajuku, an alien world inhabited by punks with spiky hair, and girls in Victorian ruffle dresses. And everything was so cute!”

group of harajuku teenage girls

“Even though I loved visiting Japan and wearing Jpop fashion, I never imagined it was possible to have a travel career like mine. I went to Columbia University, and then Yale Law School – but my heart wasn’t into law. I needed a creative escape – so I started my La Carmina blog in 2007. Every day, I posted about the hidden spots I loved in Japan – such as the Vampire Cafe where the waiters dressed like Dracula, or pastel Goth boutiques where the fashion is inspired by My Little Pony. All the places that mainstream travel guides and tours would never show you.”

monkey theme cafe japan

“I did this all out of love – I enjoyed connecting with people online over these shared passions, and never thought the site would lead anywhere. But then some of my posts about theme restaurants and cute food became popular… and long story short, it landed me a NY literary agent. That led to two books: Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants and Cute Yummy Time.”

japanese dominatrix mistress

“From then on, everything just kept building organically. One day, a producer emailed and said… “I’m writing from the Andrew Zimmern show, Bizarre Foods. He loves your book, and wants you to be his guide.” That was my first taste of travel TV hosting and production, and I was hooked. Since there was so much demand, my business partner and I started a TV fixing company, and three years later, we’ve organized shows for Food Network, NHK, CNN, Discovery, National Geographic Taboo, and many more.”

where to get a bagelhead in tokyo

“The reason these shows hire us – and not some normal tour guide – is because we’re underground insiders. We know all about the bizarre hot-spots all over the city, and are able to make all the arrangements so that TV shows can shoot things like bagelhead inflation, where you drip saline solution into the forehead, creating a bulge.”

Odigo trip planning site, travel startup

“One thing that I noticed was even though many people enjoyed reading about the places I share on my blog, it was still difficult to search for them on Google maps and figure out how to get from A to B. So I became involved with Odigo, a project that helps me to share my trips with others. All you have to do is go to odigo.jp and you can follow my footsteps!

scottish fold cat lying on back

And if you want to give me a little birthday love, I invite you to join my mailing list (I only send emails about once a year, don’t worry).

❤❤ Just fill in details below & click. ❤❤

Email address:

scottish fold kilt cat yawning

Thank you kindly! If you’re intrigued by my trip-planning collaboration, or want to be one of the first contributors, take a look at Odigo and sign up.

scottish fold birthday card illustration

And hugs for First Mate and illustrator Naomiyaki for this fat-faced greeting card of Basil Farrow.

pechakucha example speech, format, slideshow

I hope you enjoyed watching my Pecha Kucha speech and 20 x 20 second slideshow. More videos soon.

Have you heard of PechaKucha, or been to one of their events? What do you think of my presentation?

J-rock Visual Kei music stores in Tokyo! Book Off & Japan CD shops.

visual kei boys band poster

Readers often ask me: “Where can I buy Jrock CDs and Visual Kei memorabilia in Tokyo?”

In this post, I’ll take you to some of my favorite musical haunts in Shinjuku: Book Off, Closet Child Mens, and Pure Sound. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find more info about J-rock stores in Harajuku and Ikebukuro.

harajuku boys fruit fashion

My shopping partner of the day was Yukiro Dravarious, wearing signature purple and lots of kitty-cat influences.

tokyo street style snap

Who says Goths can’t rock neon? The Japanese taxi in the back matches the look.

blue green ombre hair color

I hadn’t brushed out my curls yet, but this gives you a sense of the blue-green shaded color. The scarf is by Sex Pot Revenge, and the sunglasses are old ones by Salvatore Ferragamo.

sex pot revenge scarf

We first stopped by Book-Off, which has various locations. One is located near the Southern Terrace and Shinjuku station south exit.

Inside, you’ll find tons of used music and magazines. We picked up recent copies of Kera and Gothic Lolita Bible, and Yukiro even found Malice Mizer cds for about $2 each!

buy japanese music cds

We walked to the West side of Shinjuku station, and spotted these rock-style boys looking at music posters. Obviously, we were in the right place…

diaura, jrock stores japan

Closet Child Men’s, one of the more obscure branches of this secondhand alt clothing store. (If you’re been reading this blog for a while, you may remember I wrote about it in 2010.)

Here is a map of Closet Child Men’s; you may need to walk around a bit to find it.

book off used cds

On one side of the small store, you’ll find tons of J-rock and Visual Kei memorabilia, including special edition CDs and concert booklets. Many young people hang around, browsing for treasure, like this green haired girl.

Note: only the Men’s and Ikebukuro branches of Closet Child sell music as well as clothing.

vintage tokyo clothing store

On the other side, there’s a nice selection of Goth, punk and alternative men’s fashion. These brands include unisex ones like Super Lovers and Sexy Dynamite.

pure sound, closet child mens shinjuku

Right next door is Pure Sound, a Jrock-oriented music shop. When you see the giant posters of boys with teased colored hair and makeup, you’re there.

jrock events, shops

Pure Sound often has special events, such as band signings. If so, the shop may be temporary closed, and there could be a long lineup of fans.

japan rock music posters

All your favorite VK music is sold inside, like Penicillin, The Gazette, Golden Bomber and more.

oshare kei, an cafe

Tip: pick up the free band flyers at the front of the shop. You can used these to decorate your walls.

angelic pretty heart purse

A smaller rock music shop nearby also sells some used Lolita and Harajuku fashion.

closet child shinjuku used clothes

The best place to shop for secondhand Goth Lolita Punk clothes, however, remains Closet Child. This is a snap of the upper “rock” floor of the Shinjuku location. (For more info about the various branches of CC, see my Tokyo shopping guide.)

zombie doll

I leave you with some close-ups of Yukiro’s cute accessories. A zombie doll…

japan accessories, black cat purse

… a cute faced plush cat.

bright pink sneakers

Bright pink sneakers and mis-matched socks, a Harajuku staple.

j-rock bands hair

Want more Jrock posts? Check out my collection of concert reviews including Dir en Grey, X Japan and Moi dix Mois.

There are also more Visual Kei merchandise stores in Harajuku; I’ve listed a few at the bottom of this comprehensive guide.

funny weird japanese signs

Which bands are currently on your playlist? Share your favorites with us in the comments!

Tons more Tokyo coverage coming right up — including the owl cafe, Heavy Pop Harajuku party and a horror themed bar. Be sure to add my Instagram for previews of my Asia adventures.

To Africa and Asia! Traveling to Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Cape Town in South Africa.

jpop weird japan, shibuya colorful fashion

There’s no other way to put it: the next month will be cray-cray. Here’s the huge travel news… I’m off to five countries in two continents, including Africa for the first time!

My filmmakers and I are thrilled to be shooting a travel episode in Cape Town, South Africa. And as the ambassador of a trip-planning startup, Odigo, I’ll be going all over Asia: Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei and Seoul.

Want to know more, and meet me in Japan on June 25? Read on for the exciting details. (Above image by Jesse Winter Heading for our Vanity Magazine cover shoot.)

baby liger, lion cub

As you know, my filmmakers and I travel around the world, making shows for my series published in Business Insider. (Previous episodes are on my YouTube.) We’ve shot in the Maldives, Dubai, Budapest, Jordan and more.

This time, we’ve teamed up with Cape Town Tourism. They’re bringing us to South Africa to explore the local design, fashion, nightlife, restaurants…

south africa safari lions

… and animal safari, my very first one! Can’t wait to hang out with Basil Farrow’s lion cousins, in their natural environment. If you have any requests for Cape Town coverage, please let us know in the comments. (Pic by Meraj Chhaya)

tokyo pecha kucha, super deluxe pechakucha

But first, I’ll be in Tokyo, as the ambassador of Odigo! This new site introduces travelers to little-known local hotspots in Tokyo and other cities. In a nutshell, you can plan a Japan trip tailored to your interests (such as Goth culture, otaku, or temples), and Odigo will link everything up in the best possible schedule.

Exciting news: I’ll be speaking at Pecha Kucha Tokyo on the evening of Weds, June 25! I’m making a 7 min presentation (20 slides, for 20 seconds each) about my passion for Tokyo underground travel: how I got started, adventures in TV hosting, and funny stories involving mistresses and whips. It’s an honor and challenge to present at this worldwide speakers’ event. I hope you’ll stop by to watch me, it’s free.

WHAT: PechaKucha 20×20 Tokyo (La Carmina is speaking)
WHERE: SuperDeluxe 西麻布3-1-25 2F, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan 106-0031
WHEN: Wednesday June 25, 8:20 to 11pm
RSVP: Facebook e-vite

jpop weird japan, strange fashion

And on Sun, June 22nd, I’ll be partying with the Harajuku kids at Heavy Pop. Join the party for visual fashion, alternative music, cake, and a drag queen performance by Yukiro’s dark persona, Die Schwarze Frau.

WHAT: Heavy Pop, Tokyo club night
WHERE: Hell’s Bar, 2-12-1 Dime Tower 2F, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
WHEN: Sunday June 22, 5pm to 10:30pm
RSVP: on their Facebook page

tokyo blue hair girl, street snaps

The event is run by Ray Ochiai, who took street-style photos of me during my last visit to Tokyo. (Here are more of our Tokyo street snaps). We hope to see you there!

kpop singers, seoul cute girls

Then, I’ll be traveling around Asia with my photographers, capturing local spots and meeting with influencers. We’ll be in Seoul, Korea — I haven’t been here for over 10 years! Can’t wait to experience K-pop madness in the flesh.

hello kitty lattes, cafe taipei

And I’m excited to be in Taipei, Taiwan – home to some of the most bizarre theme restaurants, including cafes dedicated to Hello Kitty, Barbie and more. (Above two images via Wikicommons.)

hong kong street fashion, hair

I’ll also be hitting Hong Kong with Yukiro and John Skeleton. There are photoshoots in the works… and a lot of shopping and eating during our down-time!

(Image by Ken Yuen and Jacqueline Kwok, for Dark Beauty Magazine cover and spread).

japanese girl tokyo fashion snaps

I’m passionate about my Odigo partnership, and believe in their mission to encourage meaningful travel in Asia. I hope you’ll enjoy my upcoming adventures — to stay in the loop, you can sign up for updates on their site.

(Above and below pics by Said Karlsson from our Adone Magazine cover and shoot.)

tokyo video arcade game center

La Carmina is at your service! Do you have suggestions for places to visit in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Africa? Any must-see locations or topics to cover? Please leave a comment on my blog or Facebook letting me know, and I’ll do my best to fulfill your wishes.

I’ll do my best to update this blog during this crazy time, but for the most current coverage — including outfits and travel previews — please add my social networks below. Hugs and kisses!

Add @lacarmina on InstagramTwitter - Facebook

Stroll in Shinjuku: Tokyo locals & city life. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell.

shinjuku skyline, tall buildings

And now, for something a little different: a walking tour of Shinjuku, Tokyo.

I’ve been trying to up my photography game in 2014, and there’s no better way to practice than by walking around a city and taking impromptu photos. I hope you enjoy these little slices of Japanese life, seen through my camera lens.

japanese girl with cell phone

Here’s a typical sight by Shinjuku subway station: commuters waiting at the entrance gates for their friends. Most pass the time by staring at their cell phones, like this girl in a cute pom-pom hat.

tokyo bicycle rack

As you may know, nobody steals in Japan. Cyclists leave their bikes on the side of the road, unlocked. This officer is merely lining up the bicycles so that they don’t interfere with pedestrians on the sidewalk.

japanese bicycles

There simply isn’t a culture of stealing (people usually get their wallets back when they lose them). And punishments are so harsh for petty theft that it isn’t worth the attempt.

japanese traffic cop

Sometimes, it seems the main job of police officers is to wave traffic along, and help befuddled foreigners find their way!

evangelion store tokyo

Near the West exit, I spotted an Evangelion pop up store. Do you know the names of these anime characters?

ghost in the shell anime poster

Towering above the East exit: a giant Ghost in the Shell poster. Anime and manga are ubiquitous here.

alook glasses, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Harajuku pop queen Kyary Pamyu Pamyu remains popular. She models glasses and tentacle-like hair for A-Look Eyewear.

bicycle seats tokyo

More metal bicycles on Shinjuku Dori. This is the road that leads to Marui Annex, the current home of Goth Loli Punk alt fashions.

japan advertisement trucks

You’ll always see trucks decorated with striking ads, driving around the busiest streets.

cute music trucks tokyo

The graphics are eye-catching and frequently feature “kawaii” characters.

cute girl japanese anime

How can you resist staring into the eyes of this doll-like girl?

daigo japan musician poster

Ad trucks also blast music and showcase the new releases of major artists.

jpop singer daigo

Singer-songwriter Daigo had his face plastered on this one.

small brown dog wearing clothes

Small dogs are easier to house in cramped apartments, so many Japanese prefer them to large ones. In a trendy cafe, a couple was eating lunch with their little brown toy dog, dressed in a shirt.

japanese keep out warning sign

Love this stern sign, featuring a man’s eyes done in Kabuki makeup.

japanese boys, teens

Three stylish Japanese guys, captured in a moment of laughter.

japan manhole cover, flower art

Don’t forget to look down. Many of Tokyo’s manhole covers are decorated with art. This one is a sakura flower or white cherry blossom.

neon signs kabukicho

When it gets dark, Kabukicho (the host club and entertainment district) glows with neon letters and lights.

motorcycle mirror reflection

Rainbow reflections from a motorcycle, parked in front of Don Quixote (the inexpensive general goods store).

rearview mirror reflected photo

This rearview reflection captures the crowds, colors and craziness that are uniquely Shinjuku.

rainbow hair japanese man

Near the subway station, various bands perform and cell CDs, often within meters of each other. This rainbow haired Visual Kei musician sang in the most remarkable opera-meets-atonal voice.

shinjuku street at night

Shinjuku is perfectly safe at night, so I encourage you to stroll around, and take photos of the magic.

What do you think of this travel feature? Would you like to see more posts like this?

PS: I’m currently in Toronto, and loving the scene here. There are previews of my alternative travels on my social networks (@lacarmina, linked in the right sidebar if you want to follow).

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