Category Archive for Tokyo Gothic Lolita

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.

I went to the Tokyo owl cafe! Fukuro no Mise address, opening hours, directions, entry fee.

tokyo japan owl cafe

Yes, that’s an owl sitting in my blue hair! This summer, I visited Tokyo owl cafe Fukuro no Mise. This newest Japanese trend lets you drink coffee while petting over a dozen live owls.

Keep reading for the shop address, cover charge, hours of operation… and tons of fluffy owl photos!

owl petting theme cafe, japan

In Japan, cat cafes (where you can play with dozens of kitties) are old news. To keep the novelty fresh, people opened up petting spaces for dogs and bunnies, and penguin bars.

Now, owls are the stars of the show. Fukuro no Mise launched in 2012, and its bizarre concept became so popular that more have opened up. Today, there are two owl cafes in Tokyo (Tori no Iru and Fukurou Sabou), and two in Osaka (Owl Family and Crew), all run by different owners.

fukuro no mise, tsukishima japan

Let me take you inside! But first, the pertinent travel info…

Owl cafe address: Seven Star Mansion 1F, 2-6-7 Kiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo.
How to get here: Ride the subway to Tsukishima station (it takes about 40 minutes from Shinjuku, via Oedo or Yurakucho line). Walk out of Gate 10, and the café is a few blocks ahead.
Opening hours: Sun 12-6pm, Weds and Thurs 2-6pm, Fri 2-9pm, Sat 12-9pm. Closed Mon and Tues. English speaking staff every Friday.
Entrance fee: 2000 yen ($19.50), which includes a drink and gift book. Check their website for any changes.

フクロウのみせ

I recommend arriving at least an hour before doors open to make a reservation, since the spaces fill up quickly and can’t be booked in advance. (I arrived at the exact opening time, which varies depending on the date, and the earliest availability was three hours later.)

owl plush toys, stuffed owls

At the designated time, the staff let me in along with ten other customers. I saw real-life owls staring at me from every corner — some were smaller than my hand, others were larger than my head. There were even adorable stuffed toy owls everywhere.

tokyo owl themed cafe

All the birds are tame, and have a leg attached to the perch by string. I had an hour to enjoy their company and sip a drink that is included with the cover charge. The café doesn’t serve food, so I didn’t have to worry about beaks pecking at my plate.

owl print dress

I wore a mint-colored dress with a royal owl print, to match the theme cafe. It’s from the Algonquins store in Shinjuku.

cute sleeping owl

The staff gave a short introduction in Japanese (if you don’t know the language, there’s an English speaker on Fridays). Then, it was owl-cuddling time. I pointed at a horned one, and the staff helped me put her on my shoulder, hand or head. The birds are calm and I felt comfortable holding them. Up close, I could sense the power of their talons and bright eyes — such majestic creatures.

pet owls japan cafe

So far, these cafes are unique to Japan. Customers get to see these intelligent creatures up close, and interact with them for an hour. (All photos by Said Karlsson, Tokyo-based photographer.)

barn owl, japanese owls

Fukuro no Mise houses a variety of different species, including barn owls. I was amazed at how tame they were, sitting quietly together.

japan owl cafe interior

The staff gave commonsense instructions, such as “Don’t make sudden movements. Only touch the birds gently on the head or upper back.”

fukuro no mise owl cafe

With a cute cartoon, this sign reminds me not to take videos or flash photos.

japanese girls petting owls

A lot of customers took selfies with an owl on the wrist. The girls made cute poses with their hands, next to the owls.

white baby owl

These two are babies, so I was only allowed to touch them twice on the head. So soft and cute!

owl souvenirs, jewelry

Before the hour is up, don’t forget to browse the owl-themed memorabilia for sale.

owl iphone case

Fukuro no Mise sells owl-decorated goods like a jeweled iPhone case, statuette, and stationery.

cute small owls

However, the pet owls are not for sale — although you may be tempted to take one home!

tokyo owl cafe entry fee, opening hours

Here’s a snap of the owl-petting cafe rules and cover charges.

owl cafe menu

As you can see, the menu includes a variety of soft drinks and coffees. One drink is included with every entrance. Alcoholic beverages cost slightly more.

scottish fold cat big eyes

My Scottish Fold cat, Basil Farrow, felt left out… so here’s a photo of him. With their giant round eyes and heads, this breed is often compared to owls.

cat breed never scratch

Scottish Folds are so gentle — they never scratch or bite, and love to get tummy rubs!

robot mechanical toy cat

You can watch videos of my Scottish Fold cat with his robot-kitty clone (a moving toy from Japan!) on his kawaii blog.

stuffed scottish fold kitten

For more animal-theme cafe coverage in Japan, check out my posts about Calico cat cafe, Harajuku bunny cafe, and Deco dog cafe.

Would you visit an owl cafe? What do you think the next Jpop cafe trend will be?

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.