Category Archive for Visual Kei + Music

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.

Toronto Goth nightlife & concerts: Amy’s Arms live at Lee’s Palace, Gothic Industrial dance clubs.

alice's pig, off shoulder dress

I’m not your typical travel blogger. You won’t find me taking photos at Toronto’s CN Tower or Hockey Hall of Fame. Instead, I’ll be out at 2am, soaking in the city’s underground nightlife and culture.

Take my hand, and let’s explore Goth clubs, a Lenin-themed bar, and two Scott Pilgrim venues. Who’s with me?

lolita stained glass print dress, cat ears

On the first night, I took a taxi from my downtown hotel (One King West) to Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St West). Recognize the name? Lee’s Palace was the site of many an epic band battle, in the Scott Pilgrim movie!

I met up with Linda Tea, who you may remember from the Toronto Goth modeling post. Love the stained glass print on her dress.

black white victorian mourning dress

I also ran into Laura the Mistress McCutchan (editor of Morbid Outlook, management for Amy’s Arms, and director of tribal bellydance troupe, The Serpentina North Ensemble). She is wearing the “Odette” dress by Gloomth, the independent Lolita label run by our friend Taeden Hall. I love how she accessorized the high collar bodice with rows of ruffles.

karen o'keefe, gothic lolita singer

We were all here to see our comrade Karen O’Keefe, singer and founding member of Gothic band Amy’s Arms. Karen’s such a positive spirit, and has been involved in the Ontario Gothic Lolita community for some time.

amy's arms, live band performance

We swayed to their melancholy songs, which convey energy and passion through Karen’s vocals. All over the stage, she twirled with swan-like arm movements. Thankfully, nobody challenged the band to a “duel to the death” (as poor Scott Pilgrim suffered).

bokeh concert photography bands

Amy’s Arms had just finished tour dates in Ottawa and Montreal, earning new fans in every stop.

theramin performance, lee's palace toronto

David Owen charmed the audience with his Theremin theatrics.

purple hair goth boy, guitarist

A colorful stage presence by Justin David Minister (composer/guitarist) and Tyla Thea Bolte (vocals).

gothic boots on stage

The devil’s in the details, from the sound quality to the boots on their feet.

korg keyboard player, scott pilgrim concert hall

Brent Kervin on bass, behind a Korg synthesizer.

concert photography amy's arms

I haven’t been to a concert for the longest time, and Amy’s Arms reminded me of how uplifting a performance can be. For a taste of their Goth rock, you can check out their Facebook and site. (I also featured their music in my Vienna travel video episode!)

concert photography amy's arms

Amy’s Arms was touring with headliner David J, the legendary bassist of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets. Moody, bluesy and classic Gothic… an honor to see him perform in the flesh.

sugarpill eyelashes, shrinkle false eye lashes

What I wore that evening: relatively neutral makeup, and spider-like eyelashes topped with gems, by my friend Shrinkle of Sugarpill Cosmetics.

pastel goth polka dot shirt, teal skull

My pastel Goth polka-dot top is by Spider Hong Kong (remember my Chinese Gothic fashion shoot with this label?)

pravda vodka house toronto

The next afternoon, I went for happy hour at Pravda Vodka House (44 Wellington St East)… a Communist-themed bar! You know I love weird theme restaurants, so this was right up my alley.

lenin head statue pravda toronto

Pravda is decked out in Russian Red memorabilia… including a giant, gold statue of Lenin’s bald head.

hammer sickle, pravda toronto russian bar

I saw hammer and sickles, a row of Russian dolls, and propaganda posters, and even a portrait of Chairman Mao.

interior communist bar pravda

The menu specializes in vodka, of course. Try the maple one, and the gravlax snacks. Nazdorovye!

sugar skull makeup dj, freaky fridays velvet underground

Later that evening, Karen took me on a Gothic nightlife tour. We started at Freaky Fridays, an alternative night at Velvet Underground (510 Queen St West). DJ Ivan Palmer was rocking the sugar skull makeup behind the booth.

nocturne goth club toronto

Down the road, we stopped by Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen St W), a favorite bar for punks and underground types. The entrance, a mass of mangled bicycle parts, is easy to spot.

A few more steps, and we were at Nocturne (550 Queen St W) — home to one of the longest-running Gothic nights.

toronto Rave, Retro, Synthpop, Goth club

Nocturne holds a variety of nights dedicated to indie and experimental music, such as rave, lo-fi, synth and futurepop.

toronto ontario alternative clubs

We came for Black Friday with DJ Osaze. He played an extraordinarily fun mix of Goth, Industrial, hard rock, EBM… including forays into highland dancing and flamenco. I didn’t leave the dance floor for more than a few minutes, it was that good.

tattooed female bartender, punk toronto

Did you realize Toronto, Ontario has such a cool underground scene? What should I check out the next time I’m in TO?

PS: I also wrote posts about Montreal and Vancouver alt nightlife, which I hope you find helpful.

Zagreb’s alternative music scene! Indie concerts, Croatian restaurants & rock bars.

beertija zagreb, beer garden club

I’m glad you enjoyed my first post about Zagreb, Croatia. Ready for more? On Day 2, I dove into the indie side of the city.

Andrea’s friend, Dražen Goreta, showed me his many projects — all of which have to do with indie music, art and culture.

PS: I’m hiding something under my top… read on to see what’s underneath…

glowing rows of lights

Dražen owns several music and nightlife venues, including The Beertija (Pavla Hatza 16). It’s a patio and pub covered in rock memorabilia, serving over 120 kinds of beers from around the world.

courtney love autograph, signature

Inside, a wall of photos includes Courtney Love, covered with the signature of Lana Del Ray.

Dražen is passionate about indie and punk rock, and wants to create a space for music-lovers in Zagreb. He plans on building an “rocker hall of fame” with sculptures of underground musicians, like Joe Strummer of The Clash.

lavender lipstick, purple lip color

That day, I wore a TwoPercent top with a sheer white overlay, and teal shorts by Izzue, both bought in Hong Kong. My black-white sunhat is very close to this hat sold online.

tvornica kulture, shonen knife poster

We also visited his Tvornica Kulture or Culture Factory (Šubićeva 2), an oasis of alternative rock in Europe. Bands like Japan’s Shonen Knife, Pixies, Public Image Limited, and The Mission have played here.

Croatia Culture Factory, indie alternative concert venue

Doing my best Yoko Ono impression. There are three halls (with a capacity of 300, 600 and 1600), each designed for the best possible sound quality, as the logo hints.

Tvornica kulture, Zagreb sushi cafe

In addition, there’s a sushi restaurant, bar, and outdoor cafe. Like at Warhol’s Factory, you’ll often find underground types hanging around.

rockmark rock music shop zagreb, david bowie poster

Music fans always stop by Rockmark (Ulica Petra Berislavića 13), a basement filled with rocker clothes, books, and memorabilia. I wanted the David Bowie Dark Side poster.

Brokula & Z, zagreb eco friendly fashion

Eco-conscious hipsters also love Brokula&Z, a local clothing label by famous marketing firm Bruketa&Zinic OM.

zagreb hipster clothing, broccoli and bird

The undergarments and T-shirts are decorated with the “idealistic broccoli and snarky bird”, two characters inspired by the firm’s partners. (Zagreb photography by Eric Bergemann and Melissa Rundle.)

Ribice i Tri Točkice, zagreb fish bistro

Dražen’s ventures extend to restaurants too. We ate lunch at Ribice i Tri Točkice (Preradovićeva 7/1), a seafood bistro seafood. In Croatia, the food is lighter and more ocean-based, as opposed to the meat-and-potatoes heft that characterizes Eastern Europe.

double headed fish, twee art

We began with a white-fish spread with olives, eaten on bread. I ordered sea queen, a juicy local fish that was de-boned at the table by the waiter. White wine and ice cream rounded out this perfect meal.

zagreb fish restaurant, croatia seafood

I adored the quirky, colorful, twee art by Vojo Radoičić displayed all around the restaurant.

Tratoria Al Pitor, zagreb italian restaurant

Down the street, Dražen also owns an Italian trattoria, Tratoria Al Pitor (Bogovićeva ulica 3).

Vojo Radoicic colorful artwork

The distinctive art is also by Vojo Radoičić. Each table is hand-painted with a different charming image.

Vojo Radoičić art, paintings

Now, I’m ready to lift up my shirt, and show you what’s under… or rather, who. It’s Miffy! (Yes, I have a lot of this bunny’s goods, including the Miffy designer lamp.)

miffy nail art, japanese bunny rabbit nails

I have Miffy nail art too, by Glam Nail Studio. This studio, based in Vancouver BC and specializing in Japanese nails, has won multiple awards for their work. You can see more cute pictures on LaCarmina Instagram and Tumblr.

bruce lee lamp, art

What’s your impression of the music and underground venues in Zagreb, Croatia? Did you know the city had this alternative side?

Thanks to Andrea for being the perfect guide. We hope you’ll get the chance to meet her, by renting out her central Zagreb or Croatian coastal apartment. Hope to come back soon!


Nightmare Before Christmas musical! Steampunk clothing shop Wells & Verne, Portland pirates.

pirate girl costume, lip service pirate hat

ARR you ready for XXX-mas yet?

While in Portland, my film team and I went all around town, shooting segments about the kooky subcultures here. We ducked into a Pirate Day-Glo golf course, Steampunk boutique

jack skellington makeup, nightmare before xmas costume

… and wound up at a Nightmare Before Xmas musical, with live actors and a nine-piece orchestra! Read on for the spook-tacular story.

pirate crew, portland pirates cosplay

Let’s begin with Captain Carmina and her band of pirates. These Portlanders are part of PDX Yar, the crew responsible for pirate-themed karaoke, balls and other scurvy deeds. First mate Naomi described their shenanigans in this post.

Pirate lace hat: gifted by Lip Service, similar to this pirate hat
Pirate jacket and skirt: gifted by Wheels & Dollbaby
Black laser-cut boots: Yosuke Tokyo

Glowing Greens portland mini-golf

We met at Glowing Greens, a blacklight indoor mini-golf course with a pirate theme. (509 SW Taylor St, Portland, OR) Every square inch is lit up in neon, and decorated with piratical elements like sea monsters.

day-glo golf course, glowing skull

I’ve never seen a miniature golf course as crazy as this one. The themed holes included a graveyard, a mansion with a shaking gate, a pop-up zombie.

portland Glowing Greens, blacklight Miniature Golf

The acid-trip environment inspired filmmaker Melissa. On the spot, she dreamt up a pirate adventure tale, and we acted it out on camera. Can’t wait to show you this funny footage.

theme park pirates

If ye be in a piratical mood, and twitching for a round of golf… ye know where to sail!

wells and verne, steampunk clothing portland

I was excited to shoot travel footage at Wells & Verne, a neo-Victorian shoppe inspired by Goth, Industrial and Steampunk culture. (Located in the Sellwood district at 8315 SE 13th Ave, Portland, OR)

art nouveau steampunk girl painting

As soon as you walk in, you’ll see this magnificent Art Nouveau steampunk gal on the wall. (It reminded me of the Alphonse Mucha art exhibit in Tokyo.)

brass goggles, steampunk glasses

This newly-opened boutique carries handmade goods from “our local Portland family,” as well as artisans from all over the world. The display case had these brass goggles, a steampunk must…

steampunk laser gun, accessories

… and a hand-crafted laser gun. (Photography by Melissa Rundle, Eric Bergemann, Naomi Rubin and La Carmina.)

leather mask, victorian steam punk shop

At Wells & Verne, clothes are works of art. Great care went into the making of this leather mask and holster.

portland steampunk boutique, wells verne sellwood

Many items, such as velvet three piece suits, are tailor made to order. This is the place to find something elegant and one-of-a-kind.

steampunk fashion outfit, brown dress

I fell in love with this steampunk Victorian dress, goggles necklace and mini top hat.

vampire bat, kitty cat scarves

How cute are the vampire cat bat scarves? I hope you’ll drop by to see my new friends at Wells & Verne in Portland. They often hold special events, which you can see via their Facebook page.

nightmare before christmas makeup, jack skellington face

Darkness fell, as we drove to Secret Society for “The Nitemare B4 Xmas,” a live-action musical tribute to Tim Burton’s cult film.

nightmare before xmas mayor makeup

The Mayor invited us to their final show. Audience members are encouraged to sing along as his nine-piece troupe, The Saloon Ensemble, performed every song in the movie.

sally nightmare before christmas makeup, tim burton costumes

We arrived early to witness the preparations. The actors and musicians transformed into the Nightmare Before Christmas characters, with the help of deft makeup skills and costumes.

live musical, tim burton film nightmare before xmas

The set design was spot-on, incorporating the movie’s signature swirls and tombstones. On the left side, there was a normal Christmas tree. On the right… a scary X-mas one.

day of dead facepaint, girl sugar skull makeup

This show received lots of positive buzz, and was sold out that night. Quite a few of the ticket-holders wore Day of the Dead makeup, since it was November 1st. My film team and I ordered popcorn and Dark & Stormy cocktails (rum and ginger beer), and practiced singing “This is Halloween.”

the Saloon Ensemble portland, love bomb orchestra

Each performance featured a different opening act. We clapped along to the Love Bomb Marching Skeletons, a go-go group of scantily clad, skull-faced musicians and dancers. They got us revved up and ready for the headlining musical.

sing-along nightmare before christmas musical

What a treat for fans of Nightmare Before Christmas: the band played the songs, sang, and did hilarious character voices. Meanwhile, Jack and Sally tottered on stilts and acted out their parts to perfection.

tim burton theatrical makeup, corpse bride

I was smiling throughout the entire 60 minute show. To mix up the action, there were sing-a-long segments and contests. Everyone cheered for Zero the dog, a puppet manipulated by this ghostly lady.

Oogie Boogie dance, song dancing

Oogie Boogie’s wacky dance was picture perfect. Amazing, how the actors captured the movements and expressions of the animated characters.

saloon ensemble, Nitemare B4 Xmas screaming contest

Several guests went on stage for a screaming contest, including filmmaker Melissa. It was a lock. She had by far the loudest, longest and shrillest scream!

What a delight to “make Christmas time” with The Saloon Ensemble and friends. They plan to do more musical shows based on films, so stay tuned to their website. And if you haven’t watched Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Xmas film yet… what are you waiting for?

christmas lights bokeh, xmas light

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like this spooky musical? Would you visit the Portland Pirate golf course, or Victorian steampunk shop?

PS: if you’re looking for a last-minute Xmas gift, please keep my Jpop books in mind. Click to order Cute Yummy Time and Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo via Amazon. Thank you.