Friday, 26 October 2012

Niigata trip part 2

Hello dear readers! How are you? It's time for the final installment of my Niigata trip!

Many artworks on this day I really fell in love with, because.....

Oh, his nose and his little horns. I want a real one as a pet!

He had lots of friends:

So cute! I think perhaps they are based on the shisa of Okinawa. Have you seen them? They are gargoyle-like decorations that are part of Okinawan tradition.

From the same artist (I think) were these Ghibli-esque ships:

These and the adorable lion-doggie things were exhibited on the rooftop of a gallery in a beautiful natural setting. Here's the surroundings:

More yellow rice fields and these huge cut-outs (part of the art festival) working on them.

Inside the gallery there were a lot more animal-themed artworks. I really liked this sculpture:
Simple and striking.

This was part of a huge painting depicting bunnies getting up to all sorts:

Outside there were some big frogs with "geronpa" written on them.
I'm afraid don't know what geronpa is, but I like them anyway.

In another location, we came across this very interesting building.  

It actually plays music! Or emits sounds, anyway...

Once you're inside, there's all sort of gadgets you can play with that make different noises. It was really fun!

Perhaps the highlight of the whole thing though, was meeting Tamami-chan....

Actually a guy in an ill-fitting and not especially clean-looking mascot costume. It was sort of cute and sort of terrible at the same time! S/he seemed nice enough, but kept talking, and mascots aren't supposed to talk, are they? It just made it all the more strange....

To end this post with something more appetizing than poor Tamami-chan, here's a photo of the yummy cake I had at the gallery cafe:

It's carrot cake made with local carrots that grew up under the snow!

Hope you enjoyed the photos! See you next time~

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Autumn Schoolgirl Outfit

Hello dear readers!

A simple outfit post today.

It has really become autumn these days (even if the temperature is like summer in Brighton), so I decided it was time to break out the velvet!

The sober colours, twin plaits and argyll knee socks are like an English schoolgirl. I always like this theme! Even if I am 24....

Hat: corgi-corgi
Necklace: Innocent World
Blouse: Vintage
Jumperskirt: Emily Temple Cute

I feel like I should be carrying a lacrosse stick with this outfit!

I love this jsk so much! The cut is very good I think, even though it's not close-fitting at all the bodice makes a nice line. 

Guess what, my mother is coming to visit me in Tokyo from this Sunday! I'm so excited, but a little anxious too. I really want her to enjoy her time here so I'm trying to plan every little detail. It's  impossible though, and probably a little pointless. Still, I can't help myself!

I want to blog one more time before she arrives. We're going to do a lot of sightseeing together, so after that I'll have lots of fun photos to show you!

See you next time,


Friday, 19 October 2012

Niigata trip part 1

Hello dear readers!

I'm finally going to post about my trip to Niigata, a prefecture in the north of Honshu. I took many, many pictures, so it took a long time to sort them all out! I'm glad I finally did it, because I want to show you some more sides of Japan, instead of only Tokyo as usual.

I was kindly invited to join my dear friend and her lovely family on a trip there. They live in Kanagawa, so I travelled from Tokyo and stayed at their house before making an early start to Niigata. They have a cute doggie, quite possibly the cutest in the world!

Their house is Japanese-style so it's really interesting for me to stay there. It's a very pretty house!

It took a few hours in the coach to get to Niigata. We passed through Gunma on the way, it's really pretty! I have some friends living in Gunma, I'd like to visit them there someday.

I got so excited when I started to see mountains! They are really beautiful, so green and so dramatic! I'm used to gentle English countryside, which is lovely too, but in quite a different way. 

In Niigata they get a lot of snow, which is why the roofs are sloped at that strange angle. Also, look at the beautiful golden colour of the rice fields!

The rice turns this colour as it ripens. Niigata is famous for koshihikari rice, the most expensive rice in Japan.  

The reason for going to Niigata was to see the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale.

Basically this consists of modern art works in settings around the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. Maybe I prefer more classical style art, but I have to say I really enjoyed myself! Being in the countryside made me so happy, and the artworks were variously amusing, clever, and thought-provoking. A lot of them took into account the history of the area, which made it very interesting.

This installation used the walking sticks of the passed-away old folks of this town.
Underneath there's a big vat of rain water. The water evaporates into the atmosphere, turns into rain, and drips back into the vat through a funnel in the roof.

Mostly I liked looking at the walking sticks and wondering what sort of person owned them!

This is made of Japanese screens and sliding doors. The good thing about this installation is that at the weekend people set up market stalls inside it! So it's useful for the community too.

Also makes a nice home for this windchime.

I saw this cute building, it's got horns like a cow!

A nice view of the scenery. We climbed so many stairs to take this photo, so I hope you like it!

I really felt like my eyes had been 'cleaned' by seeing all this beautiful greenery. Tokyo is fun, but it's just buildings as far as the eye can see!

We also went to Bijinbayashi (Beautiful Lady Forest).

The trees are indeed very slim and beautiful!

Finally, some sweets! There's sticky rice inside, and you eat it with kinako (roasted soy powder).

My friend and I had a go at making some, but the results were too horrifying to post here....

I hope you enjoyed the photos! There'll be more coming soon :)

See you next time,


Friday, 12 October 2012

Kaho visited Japan!

Hello dear readers!

Do you know the lolita blogger Kaho?

She's a lolita from Japan, now living in Singapore. I met her in Singapore last year, and recently I had the chance to meet her and her friends in Tokyo when she visited Japan.

Me, Kaho and Kaho's friend Grace on Takeshita Dori. This is just after Kaho transformed Grace into a lolita! She arrived wearing casual clothes, but Kaho found an outfit in Closet Child and Grace dressed up in it. I think it was her second or third time to wear lolita? It's great that she's so happy to try dressing up for the occasion, and she definitely looks cute! I don't know if any of my non-lolita friends would be so willing.

We went to Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku and back to Harajuku that day! This is where we had tea in Shibuya. It's in a building to the left of 109, it was really nice so I'll go back there soon and tell you more about it.

I was so glad to meet Kaho again, and I had a lot of fun with her friends. Everyone was so relaxed and cheerful! Also, I admire Kaho for dressing the way she wants to, even though she is working and also a wife and mother. Some people feel pressure to leave lolita as they grow up, and it's shame. Of course there are some situations when you need to wear certain clothes, but if it's your free time, why not wear what makes you happy? I can't imagine my life without lolita fashion, and I don't want to give up.

The best thing is, she stays true to her sweet style, and it really looks good her! And she's lucky to have a cute daughter who loves lolita. Lucky for her daughter too! 

In the evening some of the other Tokyo lolis came and we had dinner together. We took outfit shots, so I'll post mine.

Can you guess my favourite colour??

Finally, we took purikura. Grace had never heard of it before (it was her first trip to Japan) so I hope she liked the results!

Yay! It was a lovely day <3

See you next time,


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A lovely weekend in Tokyo

Hello dear readers!

Can you believe it's been over three months that I've been living in Tokyo? Time has passed so quickly.  I've already done a lot of things that I've dreamed of for a long time, and last weekend many more dreams came true!

As you know, I live in Koenji, a very nice area full of all sorts of second-hand clothes shops and interesting cafes. My friend Aviva had been wanting to check it out for some time, so on Saturday she came to visit. We both wore retro outfits! I wore my Pink House onepiece.

We found a couple of suprise Lolita pieces, an ancient black velvet Baby onepiece with ladder lace and hardly any poof, and very cute eau de nil pumpkin pants from Metamorphose. I really wanted the pumpkin pants actually, it's been ages since I wore trousers or shorts and I miss them a bit. The colour was very pretty too. I was tempted by the Baby dress too, it was so cheap and so old. We said we might keep it for a Lolita museum!

I really enjoyed shopping with Aviva, she's open-minded to many different styles and has a great sense of taste in all of them. We went to a huge number of shops, and saw so many Gunne Sax dresses! About 90% of the world's Gunne Sax dresses must reside in Japan now. No wonder they were so hard to find in England....

It was pretty tiring, so we had a rest in Hattifnatt cafe, which I blogged about before. I got more sugar cubes! After that, we decided to go to the lolita boutique Seraphim, as it's on the same train line as Koenji. 

I have loved Seraphim for a long time! It's not one of those brands one hears a great deal about in the English-speaking community, but it really is lovely. Since I picked up the flyer in Sumire no Tenmado I was determined to go to the physical shop.

It's located in Kunitachi, and carries not only Seraphim but also various indies brands. I'm afraid it was dreadfully hard to find because though it's not far from the station it is tucked away down a little alley in between some houses.

When we did find it though, it was very charming. There is a little garden to walk through first, with a sign for Seraphim hanging on the gate. Inside it's very small but very pretty, with lots of lace draperies and the items displayed in off-white, antique style cabinets and tables. There are a couple of racks of clothes, mostly Seraphim. There are also some household goods (clocks etc) notebooks, and of course lots of corsages, brooches and other accessories. The shop staff kindly brought us tea while we browsed. There were such lovely things, the handmade accessories were particularly pretty. This tiny, delicate bracelet caught my eye:

I'm very fond of fine, dainty jewellery, and the little chain finished with a pearl where the clasp is is so charming! I think the brand is Bell de Poupee, but I'm not 100% sure.... It was with other Bell de Poupee items! I got a Seraphim members card, which I was very happy about. I love point cards and this one is so pretty, isn't it?

Of course it's a bit dangerous, because once you get one you can't help but feel like you need to fill it....

Please check Seraphim's homepage from here:


Sunday was the day of the Marui One KERA snap! You've probably seen these in KERA. I've always wanted to participate, and finally I did. This was my outfit:

My theme was "茶色ずきんちゃん" (Little Brown Riding Hood)

I'll tell you a little about the snap process, in case you'd like to participate someday!

It's held monthly at Marui One in Shinjuku, usually the on first Sunday of the month. The date of each snap will be announced in KERA, and you can check it on the blog too. On the day, get there a bit earlier than the snap start time so you can start lining up. It takes place on the 7th floor, by the stairwell next to the Girl's Room event space (behind Angelic Pretty and Metamorphose). 

When you line up, you'll be given a form to fill in with a number on the back. The form is all in Japanese, so be prepared. Of course they ask your name, where you're from, what you are wearing etc and on this occasion they asked what my plans are for Christmas (so I guess the photos from this will be published in the December edition). When it's your turn to have your photo taken, first they'll take a picture of you holding your form with your number on. Then hand the form to the staff, and they'll take a few snaps. After that, you'll be given a slip of paper so you can pick up your photo sometime from the top floor of Marui. Then, you're finished! All that remains is to see if your photo is picked to be published or not. I'm not especially hopeful, but I enjoyed taking part. I hope I can go to the November one!

After the snap I went to Harajuku to meet with a couple of friends and go to La Couronne du Fleur, a lolita indies market. It was a bit tricky to find, in the quiet part of Harajuku, but like Seraphim it was well worth the effort.

I'll list the brands that participated, in case you'd like to look them up. I always find it interesting to look at indies brands. 

・金田アツ子  ・ひかり
・Ange  ・dolce piu amabile
・Royal coffin  ・Jeune fille
・Bell de Poupee  ・Sacherie
・Loulou  ・K plusoi
・Radiostar  ・Bisque doll
・香莉 みあき ・かわい金魚
・lilga  ・Traumerei
・孔雀洞雑貨舗  ・SERAPHIM
・遊星商會  ・水中標本
・トリッチ・トラッチ  ・鈴木亜章
・スパン社  ・Hug me,kiss me!!
・RE:  ・Nastro Rosso*
・あっちょんぷりけ  ・sha*lan*ra

I was really happy to see Sachi of Kokusyoku Sumire there! She looked lovely and perfect and beautiful as always. She was selling the pretty handmade hats from her brand Sacherie. I loved the ones with cat faces! You can see them at her blog entry here

I wish so much that my Japanese was better so that I could have talked to her more, and also to the other girls there. They were all so nice! I will keep studying and practising, and maybe I'll get to talk to her again when I go to Sumire no Tenmado in November. I hope so!

Among the lovely things for sale, I found this big gorgeous ribbon! The design is very simple, just two shades of bordeaux velvet combined in stripes, but I find it so pleasing. I think you'll see me wearing it a lot over the next few months, now that the cooler weather has truly arrived!

The brand is Ange:

Of course, we finished the day with tea and sweets and purikura!

So with the vintage shops, cafes, lolita boutique and indies market, meeting Sachi again, going to the KERA snap and enjoying time with friends, it was a wonderful, wonderful weekend. I hope you enjoyed reading about it!

See you next time,


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

ベルばら展覧会- La Rose de Versailles 40th anniversary

Hello dear readers!

Today's post continues the 18th century theme. I know for sure that some of my readers are Riyoko Ikeda fans, so I think you'll enjoy what follows!

Versailles no Bara (Berubara for short) is one of the best loved comics in Japan, and I love it too! Who wants to see my Oscar cosplay from five years ago?

My make-up was not at all great, but perhaps my hair was all right? It's my real (bleached) hair, by the way!

Over the years, the story has been adapted into an anime and into several Takarazuka musicals, and the manga has been translated into many different languages such as Indonesian, Italian, Thai, French, Korean and Chinese. No English though, I'm afraid!

This year, the series celebrated it's 40th anniversary. As part of the anniversary celebrations an exhibition was held at Matsuya department store in Ginza.

Photos were not permitted inside the exhibition, so I'll have to describe it to you. Firstly, it was terribly crowded! The vast majority of visitors were women, but they all varied greatly in age. I imagine that some of them might have read the manga when it was first published in the 1970s, and even now remember it with great fondness. Berubara means a lot to many different people!

The exhibition featured the original manga drawings, with the dialogue pasted on and mistakes tippex-ed out. It was quite amazing to see! I suppose these days comic layouts are done in Illustrator or something, but it was lovely to see how carefully each page was set out and inked by hand. And so many hundreds, even thousands of pages, each one so beautiful!

I should never have complained about doing portfolio layouts at Uni....

Of course, most of the pages were in black and white, but there were also some gorgeous coloured pages on display. It was nice to be able to appreciate them in an exhibition setting, since I think when it comes to artworks one cannot get the full effect from seeing them printed in a book and of course, with comics, often that is the only way one will ever see them!

There were also costumes, replica (and some real I think) sets, posters, props, and also set and costume designs from Takarazuka productions. 

These costumes were placed outside the exhibiton hall for visitors to take photos of.

Everything was so sparkly and gorgeous! If you have been lucky enough to attend the Takarazuka revue, you'll know how sparkly the actresses look even when you sit in the back row. So just imagine how they look up close!

I was really excited to see a Berubara shan-shan and also Oscar's violin! It was also interesting to see posters dating from the first productions of the 1970s up to the recent ones in the 2000s, noting the evolution of the actress's hair and make-up styles. On a more practical note, my companion that day could not get over the increase in ticket prices!

Again, outside the exhibition hall. My jumperskirt is Jane Marple and my blouse is vintage.

The next part of the exhibition was cels from the anime series.  Watching the anime was my first experience of Berubara, and in fact it was one of the things that made me fall in love with Japanese culture. I think at that time I didn't know much about anime aside from Pokemon and Yugioh, so discovering this beautiful historical story with such a strong and fascinating heroine made a deep impression on me. The other wonderful thing about The Rose of Versailles is how it brings history to life so vividly. Riyoko Ikeda did a great deal of research on her subject, and though of course it is partly fictional you can still learn a lot about the Revolution through reading or watching Berubara.  More than that, you will appreciate historical figures as real people, and because of that the whole thing becomes more interesting.  

The following room had illustrations from the Berubara Kids series, and also editions of the manga from around the world. I wonder how French people feel reading this manga? I think they must approve, since Riyoko Ikeda was awarded a special order by the French government, which was on display in the final room. This room also contained 20 different artist's impressions of Oscar. These were pretty interesting! Some of them stuck closely to the Ikeda's original, others interpreted her in their own style but still kept her recognisable, some were crazily absract and some appeared to be of an entirely different character. I did like Chiho Saito's version, that was either Oscar as Utena or Utena as Oscar, open to interpretation I suppose!

Finally there were some lovely drawings that were used as covers for Margaret (the magazine that Berubara first appeared in). Then it was the gift shop!

On the left is my ticket and poster. Next to the ticket is a bookmark, it's a really lovely leather one. At the top is the famous Oscar eyeliner (I've used this one since my second trip to Japan in 2008, shame I didn't have it when I cosplayed Oscar!). On the right is a clear file with one of my favourite pictures of Oscar and Antoinette. There were a million things I would have liked to buy, but these are all useful things that I can enjoy every day.

I hope you enjoyed the post! I wish I could have brought everyone to see this lovely exhibition.
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