Posts Tagged ‘Harajuku’

Cat girls and more: Japan’s fashion trends of 2012

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

What was cool – or perhaps more importantly, cute – in 2012? Here are our top picks.

Neko girls

What would a year in Japan be without a newly coined look? This one isn’t exactly head to toe, like say the yama girls of years past. Its pièce de résistance is a hairstyle: the neko-mimi (cat ears), which basically involves twisting and rolling two chunks of hair to resemble cat ears. Then you can wear whatever you like with it, so long as it’s cute. Because cats are cute.

R25 cites model/fashion blogger/pop singer and official Kawaii Harajuku Ambassador (an honor bestowed by the mayor of Shibuya Ward) Kyary Pamyu Pamyu as the inspiration. Ms. Pamyu is known for her wacky looks and has also appeared with her hair twisted to resemble devil horns and bat wings. But it was the cat ears that caught on, perhaps because it’s the only style that can realistically be done at home. A neko girl website is packed with do-it-yourself tips and cute pose suggestions.

It’s not just the hair though. Samuel Thomas, Japan Times fashion columnist and Tokyo Telephone editor, told us that anything with cat ears – like hats, headbands and hoodies – were big sellers this year.

These two fans of boy-band Arashi got creative and made their own tattoo stockings with the band members’ names. Photo courtesy of Tokyo Fashion

Tattoo stockings

Cat mania aside, the hit item for 2012 was without a doubt tattoo stockings. Interesting, considering that real tattoos will still get you banned from most public bathhouses (meaning they are still largely associated with the yakuza). However, these stockings, usually nude, are decorated with images that more resemble Western-style tattoos (also called “fashion tattoos” in Japan) – hearts and butterflies and Ed Hardy-like biker designs, for example. Too bad, because some full on irezumi-style tattoo stockings would be pretty cool.

Samuel also tipped us off to the origin of this one, citing Avantgarde, a small boutique in Harajuku, as the locus of the tattoo stocking trend. According to Trendy magazine, Avantgarde has sold almost half a million pairs since September 2011. Their sales on shopping site Rakuten for June through August 2012 were 200 times greater than sales during the same period of the previous year. During summer, really? As it gets colder, we’re seeing the same concept with white or gold patterns on black tights. Not quite the same double-take effect, but a clear evolution of the idea.

Naturally, it’s possible to combine the above two trends and get cat tattoo stockings.

Nameko goods

Mushroom character goods inspired by the smart phone game Nameko Saibai Kit. Photo by tsukacyi from Flickr

Mushroom character goods inspired by the smart phone game Nameko Saibai Kit. Photo by tsukacyi from Flickr

The most popular smart phone game in Japan is called Nameko Saibai Kit (literally “mushroom cultivation kit”). Yes, a simulated mushroom farm. But the mushrooms are, apparently, cute, and have launched a “star” character – the first to come out of a smart phone game.

The game, a free download from Beeworks Games, debuted in June 2011 as a spin-off of another popular game, Touch Detective  (the main character in that has a pet mushroom who helps solve puzzles); to keep things interesting, new seasonal versions are added regularly.

According to Trendy – which ranks nameko goods as the #7 hit product of 2012 – there are now some 50 companies licensed to make mushroom mobile phone accessories, stationery, stuffed animals, etc. In total there are about 800 different goods on the market. Events this past spring to promote new items, at shops like KiddyLand in Harajuku, drew lines with waits of over an hour. Perhaps watching mushrooms grow is good training for patiently waiting in line?

Today’s J-blip: Ikea pops up all over Cat Street

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Moved by the plight of homeless people in Tokyo Ikea Japan has … Making a bold commentary on the rabbit-hutches that Tokyoites have been conditioned to tolerate, Ikea Japan has …   Doing a spin on pop-up shops, Ikea Japan has invaded hinter Harajuku and wedged 14 “galleries” into various nooks and crannies on Cat Street. With a name that plays on the Japanese word for “gap,” Sukima Gallery is not only a clever way to bring a catalog to life and showcase Ikea interiors in the city (all the Ikea stores are located in the suburbs), but also an inspired social media campaign: Choose which one you like with an ”ii nee” and then enter a lottery for a chance to win a gallery of Swedish stuff. Naturally, some assembly will still be required. Launched on July 31, the event ends Aug. 5.

Fukulog shares its looks with Asia

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Focusing on Asian cities, Fukulog World Snap was launched this month

Don’t you hate it when you’ve created that perfect look, but apart from parading yourself up and down the boulevard, you’ve got no one to show it off to? How are you to know if your ensemble is spot on or way off target? Social fashion site Fukulog provides a solution. Every day 70 to 100 users post their look on the website for other users to see, comment on and approve of. The site, which was launched late 2009 in Japan, is now so popular that the company behind the project is set to launch the concept on the global stage.

Since Fukulog launched its Facebook page in February this year Honey Entertainment, which manages Fukulog, noticed that the site was making waves overseas. In a recent press release the company announced that over 67,000 of their Facebook fans were foreigners (at the time of writing the total number of fans of the page was 70,257). Reacting to this popularity the company launched Fukulog World Snap on July 15. Initially focusing on Singapore, Taipei, Shanhai and Hong Kong, Fukulog has recruited fashionistas from those city’s to upload portraits of trendy types spotted out and about.

Despite the fact that the Facebook page currently caters to foreign fans by including posts in English, phrases like “to share your favorite fashion coordinates” suggest that they’ve got a ways to go before they become a truly international site. Fukulog’s main site is currently only accessible in Japanese, but Honey Entertainment is aiming to provide the service in English and Chinese by September this year.

So, what’s so great about this service that gives it the potential to go global? As opposed to other street-fashion sites, it doesn’t have invisible arbiters telling users what’s hot or not. All users can vote freely and upload their own looks freely. Furthermore, users post info about where they purchased clothes and the site easily links to those stores’ websites. The site, which allows you to browse via brand ranking, is also a good barometer of what’s trending now on the streets of Japan.

Pulsations (09.13.10)

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Here are the latest Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers, and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order, they are . . .

Costume changes made easy in Harajuku

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Wikicommons image courtesy of Nicholas Wang

Dai-henshin! COS-Pa powder rooms come to the rescue of damsels needing a quick change.

Ever wondered how those Harajuku chicks manage to transform themselves from ordinary high school girls into extravagant Gothic Lolita princesses? Part of the secret lies in those little suitcases they trundle around with them which store all the make-up and frou frou outfits necessary to expedite a full henshin. Traditionally these costume changes take place in the rather limited and pongy spaces of train stations or department store bathrooms, but just last week a far sweeter-smelling option become available for those girls in the know.

Just at the bottom of trendy Takeshita Dori is a changing space that can be rented for as little as ¥200 for 30 minutes where girls can titivate themselves to their hearts’ content. The basic package gives them a booth in a room that fits eight people, but for those prepared to pay more, it’s possible to hire a private room that they can share with a group of friends. The rooms come equipped with irons for smoothing out the creases of frilly Bo Peep dresses and straightening irons and curlers for creating the perfect coiffure.

COS-Pa Mini powder rooms are located on the second floor of the newly opened URATAKE Girl’s Style complex, which opened on July 31. It also houses lockers where girls can stash their school uniforms and, best of all, banks of Print Club sticker machines for taking snaps of the new transformations.

This isn’t the first COS-Pa powder room. The company debuted its first shop in March 2008 in Shibuya. The Shibuya branch is slightly more lavish and caters to an older clientele of women in their 20s to 40s who are looking for somewhere to chill out and change out of their office gear before a night out on the tiles.

In a city that’s packed to the gills, the concept of renting a little square of privacy, be it in an Internet café booth or a karoke box, has long been popular, so there’s no doubt that ventures such as COS-Pa are likely to prosper in the future.

Photo taken by Nicholas Wang

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