Category Archive for Tokyo Gothic Lolita

I wrote for The New York Times: Tiny Love Stories, Modern Love submission! Laforet Harajuku Goth kawaii shops.

the new york times modern love submissions tiny love stories article

Delighted to share a journalism / writing career milestone… I’m published in The New York Times “Tiny Love Stories!”

For NYT Styles – Modern Love, I wrote about how I met my best ghoul-friend, Yukiro, at Midnight Mess in Tokyo. The New York Times editor said she was moved by the submission and photos of our fabulous friendship!

tiny love stories nyt styles new york times journalist modern love submit submitting

In my debut essay for The New York Times, read how Yukiro and I went from partying in Japan to having adventures worldwide (above is a snap in LA from around 2012). We’ve traveled to Mexico, Lebanon, Germany, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, and many other countries so far (see our travel guides here).

Thank you for your support — it’s the reason I’m able to write meaningful, alternative stories for publications like the NY Times.

 tiny love stories new york times writing sample example article published

Above is a screenshot of our New York Times feature, published on NYT here. The photo is from our journey to India (vogueing in Jaipur, before we hung out with hijra or the third gender!). And here’s the text below:

“Why Not?” A night at a Tokyo goth club changed my life. I met Yukiro, a 6-foot-1 Swedish drag queen who dressed like the Bride of Frankenstein and cackled “O-ho-ho-ho!” After we tore up the dance floor, I asked Yukiro if he wanted to hang again. He answered with his catchphrase, “Why not?” A decade later, we’ve cackled and vogued at nightclubs in a dozen countries. Yukiro opened my eyes to countless others who share his fierce courage, from Lebanon’s trans artists to India’s hijra (third gender). When outsiders wonder why a drag queen is my best “ghoul-friend,” I reply, “Why not?”

— La Carmina (The New York Times Styles, Tiny Love Stories – Modern Love, 5/23/2023)

tokyo fashion harajuku la foret

It was the Tokyo Goth subculture that brought us together… so I thought I’d give you a tour of Laforet Harajuku, the alt / youth culture department store. (Photos from my visit last fall.)

futuristic tokyo style eccentric fashion

Since opening in 1978, LaForet shopping center has reigned as Harajuku’s hub of alternative fashion and art. I always come here to be inspired by the latest Jpop-influenced designs.

hangry and angry laforet harajuku boutique store

You’ll find all sorts of alt boutiques here, from Gothic Lolita to urban. Hangry and Angry recently revived their label, and invited me to visit them at LaForet.

bubbles shoes bubble sneakers tokyo trend footwear kicks

Bubbles sneakers are currently the rage among Harajuku girls. These trainers feature a bubble sole.

harajuku indie accessories jewelry

The first floor of LaForet has collections from small, indie designers with edge.

harajuku street fashion style shopping guide

Many of these handmade items are one-offs and can only be found in Japan.

tokyo weirdest vending machine machines

LaForet also had vending machines of kawaii creatures.

harajuku kawaii toys accessories

Closeups on some of the charming handmade animals.

japanese cute plush bunny

Everyone knows of Hello Kitty, but there are many other kawaii mascots to squeeze in Harajuku, like this minimalist bunny (reminds me a bit of Miffy).

laforet harajuku department store tour guide

Love the retro-altar aesthetic here.

tokyo plush toys laforet harajuku store

How sweet are these plush bunnies?

sailor moon store laforet harajuku

LaForet is also home to the Sailor Moon Store, which is filled with character goods featuring the sailor scouts.

sailor moon gachopon shop fashion collection tokyo

Usagi / Serena greets guests with gachapon machines.

japan sailor moon shop clothing store

You can pick up Sailor Moon keychains, candy drops, wands and more. (Remember when Yukiro and I visited the Sailor Moon Museum pop-up exhibit and cafe in Roppongi?)

harajuku jpop art gallery pop paintings

LaForet Harajuku isn’t just about fashion — there’s plenty of pop culture art to discover here as well.

harajuku art galleries japanese painters

Anime, pastels, skulls and cute characters are the vibe here.

tokyo window displays dressing stores

Laforet Harajuku has about 12 floors of fashion (some of them are “half” floors). If you have limited time, focus on the basement levels that are dedicated to Gothic, Lolita and Punk designers. (Above is a collab with Trolls dolls.)

nile perch harajuku fairy kei

Every type of “style tribe” is represented here. Nile Perch is all about pastels and fairy kei nostalgia.

tokyo harajuku princess wedding dresses

This new boutique focused on romantic wedding dress / princess aesthetics.

harajuku fashion museum tokyo display

A display of kimono-inspired outfits.

jpop kimonos modern harajuku kimono

Love it when ancient Japanese garments meet modern streetstyle and anime.

harajuku sanrio cafe hello kitty restaurant tokyo

Laforet has some food options as well, like this Milk sweets cafe that teamed up with Sanrio characters.

merry jenny plush miffy bag large purse

I couldn’t resist getting this Merry Jenny Miffy bag, in the large size!

ank rouge boutique tokyo jirai kei

I also got a plaid JSK dress with a cross and corset lacing, at Ank Rouge.

harajuku schoolgirl goth fashion

I was into the jirai kei (dark meets cute) styles at Ank Rouge, such as the plaid skirts and bat wing crop tops.

gothic lolita stores harajuku laforet

Lolita fashion isn’t as huge as it once was, but it still has a strong presence at Laforet Harajuku.

kawaii stars sweet lolita model

Although these youth styles change all the time, kawaii always dominates.

rojita jirai kei style clothing

Rojita is another brand that’s all the rage right now. I see a lot of these jirai kei outfits worn around Tokyo by young women.

rojita dolly shoes harajuku trend girls

The platform heel patent shoes are a must (I got a pair here — the ones with the glitter heart on the side).

synthwave store tokyo harajuku neon

I was pleased to see a cyber – synthwave – vaporwave boutique as well.

vaporwave clothing tokyo japan

The colors and prints of the 80s and 90s will never die.

goth clothing stores laforet harajuku shop guide

As you can see, Laforet has many takes on Gothic styling.

pentagram straps dress lolita japan

These Lolita dresses have pentagram back straps and cross prints.

devil bunny satanic harajuku style

Here’s a devil bunny with horns and a pitchfork.

amilige harajuku streetwear street style

Amilige hails the Fallen Angel in a cute way.

satanic japan satanist clothes

A teddy bear with a Leviathan cross, horns, and bat wings… that’s Japanese Satanism for you!

kthm japan cute gothic clothes

I wanted everything in this store.

pullip doll store harajuku la foret

Pullip doll fans have a section for the big-eyed dolly.

laforet purikura machines sticker pictures

Laforet also has a number of purikura booths (for taking photos and decorating them).

tokyo japan best purikura booths

Be warned… You can spend hours and lots of yen in Laforet Harajuku…

heihei harajuku vintage retro fashion

HeiHei is a new independent brand with a distinct vibe. It was founded by Harajuku street style personalities.

60s boutique tokyo hei hei

The plaid and 1960s styles stood out.

Independent Japanese fashion brand HEIHEI

The displays at Hei Hei were among the best.

laforet goth stores ravel alice and the pirates harnesses

The basement floors of Laforet contain multiple Goth Loli Punk boutiques.

bat choker harajuku accessories

Look for evil accessories like bat wing necklaces and eyeball bracelets.

alice and the pirates laforet shop

Alice and the Pirates is a treasure chest of lacey Lolita designs, such as parasols and headdresses.

goth shops style japan girls

Oh my Goth. Laforet Harajuku remains Tokyo’s best spot for Gothic fashion — be sure to visit the department store you’re in the Japanese capital!

PS — I’ve been writing about Japanese alt culture for well over a decade now, and am honored to be recognized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.  For the Correspondents’ Eye on Tokyo series, the Metro Government interviewed me about my blogging and journalism work, in an article called: “La Carmina Shares her Passion for Tokyo and the Sparks that Keep it Aflame.”

satanism book Best Books on Satanism occult demonology

While at Laforet, I couldn’t resist getting this purple hannya ring with horns… It matches my new book, THE LITTLE BOOK OF SATANISM. Thanks for supporting my work; it enables me to keep writing books and for pubs like The New York Times!

You can find my new Satanic history / culture book in digital or paperback at — AmazonKindleBarnes and Noble, Bookshop or Simon & Schuster. Canadians can order it from Chapters/Indigo or Amazon Canada. Or Google the book title to find it near you — you can buy it worldwide! Thank you for the <3.


Shibuya Parco mall guide: Best Tokyo shops & attractions for anime, manga! Pokemon Center, Nintendo Mario stores.

giant mewtwo parco shibuya pokemon center incubation chamber

Let’s continue our Tokyo travels…. with a guide to the new Shibuya Parco department store complex! Shibuya’s old Parco mall has been fully revamped, and now has a number of anime and manga attractions — including MewTwo floating at the mouth of the Pokemon Center on the 6th floor.

parco restaurants shibuya instagram locations neon lights food hall

Read on for a tour of the new Shibuya Parco including floor guides with photos of Pikachu and Super Mario, the neon-lit food hall, and kawaii / Lolita stores like Angelic Pretty. (All photos by Joey Wong)

eater tohoku japan food article journalist

And I wanted to share a freelance writing win… I’m published by Eater! I wrote a comprehensive food & travel guide to Tōhoku, Japan, with photography by Joey Wong. My Eater piece introduces Tohoku, Japan’s Capital of Sake, Wagyu, and Sea Pineapples.

eater japanese food guide tokyo michelin star restaurants

If you love sake & seafood, I hope you’ll enjoy my travel writing debut on Eater about my foodie trip to Tohoku, Japan. “A few hours from Tokyo by bullet train, the rugged northern region features Miyazaki-worthy landscapes, a coastline chock full of seafood, and some of the country’s most stunning cherry blossoms.”

pikachu tokyo pokemom center parco shibuya

Now, back to Pikachu and his brethren. Shibuya has gone through a number of reconstructions over the past years, especially around the station. The Parco department store was always one of my favorite spots in the area to see artsy and pop culture boutiques.

street fighter statue chara capcom store parco

The re-opened Parco is bigger and badder than ever, especially on the sixth floor — which is dedicated to all things manga, anime, and gaming. I was greeted by a statue of Ryu from Street Fighter, at the Capcom store. (Anyone play the video game on Super Nintendo growing up? I did!)

nintendo store mario statue tokyo shibuya parco

There’s also an immense Nintendo Shop at Parco. Outside on the patio, you can pose with an 8-bit Super Mario and a question block! (Anyone been to the new Nintendo World theme park in LA or Osaka, or seen the Super Mario movie?)

heavy metal japanese lucky cat maneki neko

Parco’s 6th floor has about a dozen design shops. In addition to fan favorites like Yoshi, you’ll find indie figures and accessories — like these heavy metal versions of traditional Japanese lucky cats (maneki neko), daruma dolls, tanuki and more. (Note the pentagram on the cat’s collar.)

pokemom stores tokyo rare collectibles merch

I was tempted to take home so many cuties here…

funny japanese mushroom plush toy parco

Do you remember when I did a German TV show in Tokyo with “Mr Peen?” Looks like I found his chibi version at Parco. (Incidentally, the Kanamara Matsuri penis festival just took place; it’s a Shinto tradition in Kawasaki.)

parco anime manga store guide shops 6th floor

“P size wa?” So many fab figurines, plushies, home goods, fashion and more to peruse at Parco.

pokemon center mewtwo statue parco mall tokyo shibuya

The star of the show is undoubtedly Mewtwo, the psychic pocket monster. He’s prepping for battle in an incubation chamber at the entrance of the Parco Pokemon Center.

japan halloween pikachu pokemon toys

The Pokemon shop is one of the biggest, and has seasonal limited-edition items such as Halloween Pikachus.

Pokémon Center Shibuya parco

Parco’s Pokemon Center has a sci-fi design and lights that made me feel I was in a spaceship full of Pokemon.

pokemom store parco department store

Fans can purchase pretty much any item imaginable, from snacks to toys and decor. I’m into the Pika-Pika pumpkin candy bucket on the right.

gengar toy purple pokemon fans

My hair matches with Gengar, the purple ghost / poison Pokemon with a sinister smile.

pokemon museum tokyo figurines

Gotta catch em all… Which is your favorite Pokemon?

mewtwo in incubation chamber life size

If you can’t make to this store, there are Pokemon Centers all over Japan — including at Character Street in Tokyo Station (here are pics).

one jump anime store tokyo

In the old days, Japanese boutiques banned people from taking photos inside. Times have changed, and you’re now free to snap away — and there are lots of Instagrammable displays like this one at the Shonen Jump store.

tokyo anime manga shopping boutiques

If you’re interested in Jpop and youth culture, check out Shibuya 109 department store nearby as well (it’s focused on young, trendy women’s fashion, and has a Sanrio shop and purikura).

cute japan fox toy

There’s much more to see at Parco than just the 6th floor. Give yourself at least 1-2 hours to wander the entire complex, as there is plenty of Japanese design inspiration.

shibuya parco art paintings exhibitions

You’ll come across paintings amidst the industrial architecture, and windows with neon views of Shibuya below.

shibuya parco restaurants cafes

Parco’s outdoor patio walk is spectacular. A great place for people-watching, or hanging out with a coffee or glass of wine.

astroboy store statue shibuya

Parco’s stores and art exhibits are constantly changing, so rather than giving a specific floor / shop guide, I encourage you to wander around and see what’s new. When I was there, I saw this Astroboy statue and a photo area with an idol-type girl.

japan rare bearbrick toys

Parco has plenty of stores for street / urban fashion and goods. I came across a clan of Bearbricks.

bear brick store parco bearbrick figure

These Bearbrick collectibles are designed in collaboration with leading street artists.

pastel kawaii dragon toy

I enjoyed seeing “indie” critters at Parco, rather than the most famous mascots like Hello Kitty. Love the construction and design of this pastel horned fella.

angelic pretty boutique tokyo japan

You can also shop for sweet Lolita fashion at Parco’s Angelic Pretty.

shibuya angelic pretty store dresses

The brand continues to be all about candy pastel sweetness.

angelic pretty tokyo stores parco mall

Most of the Gothic and Sweet Lolita boutiques are in Harajuku, particularly in LaForet dept store (photos to come). However, you can find some frilled dresses and other alternative fashion in Parco.

angelic pretty lolita dress print

Angelic Pretty’s Loli prints are often on the kitsch-bizarre side… like these animal detergent bottles, of all things!

sweet lolita store angelic pretty

I started this blog when Lolita style was thriving in Japan. It isn’t worn by people here as much these days, and many of the labels closed — but Angelic Pretty remains at Parco.

parco food basement restaurants

Make sure you stop by the Parco basement levels, as there’s a gigantic food / restaurant area! As with everything in Parco now, the neon design is on point.

tokyo eat bugs restaurants weird insects food

Here’s a restaurant called Bugs Cafe that serves creepy crawlies like tarantulas and crickets. There’s also a drag queen Campy Bar here (but Yukiro says it isn’t very good, so I can’t recommend it!). I did enjoy the vegan izakaya Masaka with friends.

japanese satanic condoms satan devil oni red mask

I stumbled across this horned (horny?) oni in Parco’s lower levels as well.

shibuya tokyo night photography streets people walking crosswalk

What do you think of the new Parco design? I’ll certainly come back to see the latest art and cuteness when I return to Tokyo.

But for now… I’m escaping the rain, and heading to somewhere warm and LGBTQ+ friendly. Check out my Instagram @LaCarmina to see where in the world I’m heading.

All photos Joey Wong — check out more of his Shibuya shots in this post. And please take a moment to read our Eater’s Guide to Tohoku, Japan!