Tattoos in Japan / Tattoo studio LaRuche in Shinjuku

 As  you may have already noticed  — I LOVE TATTOOS. I honestly think that tattooed bodies are beautiful and tattooing is art. I remember I have wanted a tattoo since I was, maybe, 14 years old? Just a few months after I turned 18, I got my first tattoos…I’m almost 24, and I’m currently planning to turn my quarter sleeve right arm tattoo into a proper half sleeve. It’s going to be gorgeous.

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Where will I get it? I guess I’ll get it done at the same studio where I got other tattoos….

Studio LaRuche in Shinjuku!

Some time ago I decided it was high time for me to get my arm tattoo fixed. I got a kokeshi done a few years back, but, I won’t lie – it was cheap and after 3 years you couldn’t even tell what colours were used. Anyway! I found this magazine called Tattoo♥Girls in some bookstore, I don’t remember the name, but you can get it in Village Vanguard or Kinokuniya. I really recommend buying this magazine if you want to get a tattoo in Japan. You’ll find descriptions of many different studios, not only in Tokyo but also in Osaka and Kyoto. I bought this magazine in July last year, but it wasn’t until December when I decided I should finally get my tattoo re-done. Somehow, LaRuche appealed to me.

By the way, guess who’s going to be in the newest issue of Tattoo♥Girls? Surprise, surprise — me! 😀 I’ll definitely make a blog post about it once I get my hands on the 2014 issue of the magazine, which will be on sale in July!

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 I sent an email to LaRuche and got a prompt reply. They told me to come to the studio, so we could talk about my tattoo, how we could try to fix it, choose a new design etc. The tattoo artist Betty and her assistant Sekiguchi-san are honestly some of the nicest people on the face of this Earth. They’re really kind and super funny, I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Just look at these little pieces of art Betty created on my body. My arm tattoo design is entirely her idea, I just told her what I wanted and trusted her with everything. She turned my poorly drawn kokeshi into a colourful beauty. I didn’t know what it would look like until the very last session.

At the time when the photo was taken, the tattoo was still really fresh so it didn’t look so good, but trust me, my kokeshi is a total cutie now.

Notice mini-me on the fan ↓

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 Second tattoo done at LaRuche. A tribute to my childhood – Sailor Senshi planetary symbols.

Who didn’t love Sailor Moon as a child?

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I’m crazy in love with my tattoos. I know I can’t remove them, I know I’ll have them even when I’m old and wrinkled – and that’s exactly what I love about them. And if you ask me about having tattoos in Japan…Well, is it really so different than other countries? Here’s a few answers to the most frequent questions I have been asked.

“How did you get a job in Japan? You have tattoos!”

I had qualifications, I passed all the interviews. I didn’t come to the interview wearing a sleeveless shirt, saying “Eyyyy what’s up, look at my tats”.

“Do you hide your tattoos at work?”

Do I…? I have a good understanding of Japanese business etiquette and personally, I don’t find wearing piercings / low-cut tops / sleeveless shirts appropriate either. Even if it was okay, I just wouldn’t show my tattoos. So what do I do with the visible ones? I put some beige tape on them whenever I have to. Sometimes people I meet ask me “what happened, are you hurt?” I answer it’s nothing serious, they don’t ask, I don’t tell.

“How about other people? People on the street? Your friends?”

Honestly? I have never heard any bad words about my tattoos. All I’ve ever heard was “So cute! Adorable! You’re soo cool!”. I think that the fact that I am not a big scary dude driving around in a big black car helps me here a lot. Anyway, my friends love my tattoos, I get compliments from people on the street, some people can’t get their hands off of my kokeshi (*cough cough Shin-Okubo cough*).

People do stare. But is there a country where they don’t? I know that in other countries it might be more common to have tattoos so people don’t even care anymore. But in Japan – it’s a vicious circle. A long time ago tattoos had a really bad image, so you wouldn’t really see them in public. Nowadays more and more young people get tattoos but thinking others will criticize them, they still don’t show them in public – therefore other people think it’s rare – but in fact it’s not –  therefore they stare whenever they see tattooed people…. Could ya follow that?

The only situation when I feel uncomfortable is when I’m alone, on the street or on the train, and I wear clothes showing my tattoos. You know that feeling when you can feel eyes on you? Yup. So in the summer I always wear a thin cardigan whenever there’s no friend by my side. Not a big sacrifice, is it?

How about onsen / swimming pool / gym / beauty salons?

First and foremost, I will not go to a public onsen ever again. Let’s say my first onsen experience was quite shocking, because at that time I believed that what they show on TV — people wrapped in towels relaxing in the bath — was true. Needless to say, the reality hit me hard in the face. For someone who would have never imagined bathing with any other person, let alone like 30 other people, that was traumatizing. Naked people. Looking at you. Because you’re foreign. And you have tattoos. And you’re naked too. I managed to force myself to stay there for about 10 minutes.

I think that was one of the worst experiences I have had in Japan so far. No more public onsen for me, nope  n o p e  NOOOPE. You can always book a private onsen, and trust me, it’s waaaaay better than bathing with a bunch of strangers judging you, while you’re standing there naked and powerless.

Swimming pool? When I stayed in Okinawa last year, I had no problem using the hotel swimming pool, neither have I heard any comments. The same goes for the beach. No problem at all.

Gyms and public swimming pools though, are another story. You can’t attend them if you have tattoos. I hate working out so I’m fine with that. And if you like sports…try jogging maybe? Why pay for a gym?

And yeah…beauty salons. Some time ago I wanted to get a nice professional massage (sitting at my desk 12 hours a day, getting stiff shoulders and stuff). I found a nice place, was about to book an appointment and then I saw a very politely written notice that said something like:

 “We’re really really sorry, but we can’t serve clients with tattoos”

….

ALRIGHTY THEN.

But! What I did was finding another Japanese massage place where you just wear clothes like pajamas and they even cover you with a warm blanket, it’s all nice and cozy and nobody cares if you have tattoos or not.

You see, it’s not bad at all. Kokeshi approves.

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Getting back on track….

My favourite tattoo studio!

tattoo studio LaRuche

〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku, 5 Chome−9−12

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This is what it looks like outside…you can’t miss it.

 Notice adorable tattooed Betty Boop  ↓

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Tattoo prices depend on the size, colour, difficulty, style…everything. They are much more expensive than in Europe…like maybe, 5 times as expensive? But now that I think about it, I realize that’s a good thing. A tattoo is something you’ll have for the rest of your natural life. You get something inked on your body. Does the price really matter?

If  you feel you’d like to get something, but you’re not really sure what, LaRuche has countless tattoo magazines (most of them are foreign), beautiful photos of wabori tattoos, picture books full of tattoo ideas and of course Betty, who is a really talented artist.

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You can get a fixed price tattoo and choose a design from the “12,000 yen campaign” tattoos. They also have a “5,000 yen small size tattoo campaign” and you can find some really adorable tiny designs there.

Yes, Japanese people often get tribals, butterflies, mysterious shapes, English quotes etc…

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 Tattoo time!

 

This time I decided to get something cute, because I like cute things, and that’s a good reason to get more ink, right?

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 Choosing the colours I wanted….

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Let’s do this!

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Yay! My super-duper-adorable tiny hearts. When I put my arms together, the hearts connect into one heart. How cute is that.

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↓Betty-san and her assistant Sekiguchi-san. 2 really awesome people ↓

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Have you ever seen any cuter tattoo artist?

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 And Sekiguchi-san, he is the funniest and friendliest Japanese man I have ever met. You’ll love getting your tattoos here.

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If you worry about having tattoos in Japan – don’t. Why worry? If you love both, tattoos and Japan, why give up one thing for another? People’s mentality will change eventually.

If you live in Japan and  you’re looking for a friendly place to get your first tattoo / get your tattoos fixed or covered up — studio LaRuche is the place to go. Any questions? Leave a comment!

If you’d like to book an appointment at LaRuche, ask them about prices, or need someone to go there with you to translate for you – please contact me!

⇓⇓

shichijyuuni.gmail.com

or here

tattoo.laruche@gmail.com

 Thanks for reading

♥♥♥

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Shin-Okubo / Korean Town — one of a kind! ♥♥♥

If you check through my last few updates, you might get the impression that Shibuya is my favourite spot.

But actually, no, it’s not.

It’s Shin-Okubo, which I love more than Omotesando, more than Harajuku and definitely more than Shibuya.

Why…?

I went there for the first time in August 2012, just a few weeks after I came to Japan. At that time I had no interest in k-pop or even Korean food whatsoever, but there was one reason I would go there every week, and her name is Akane. She’s my lovely friend who at that time was staying in Kokuritsu International Medical Research Center Hospital which just so happens to be located in Okubo. Every week, until the end of March 2013 when she went back to her hometown, I visited her there, and that’s how it all started. Akane battled leukemia, but she’s a happy, healthy girl now. It’s a long long story, and I hope to write about it more one day. Today I want to show you the town that gave me more happy memories than any other place I have been to so far.

As I came here every week, I started checking out the shops, eating delicious japchae in the lunchtime, SoundHounding awesome k-pop songs I heard for the first time…and before I realized it, I was totally in love with everything about this town.

Shin-Okubo, Korean Town.

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Now that I’m k-pop / Korean food / Korean cosmetics obsessed, Shin-Okubo is like heaven to me. It’s like Little Korea in Tokyo. When you get off at Shin-Okubo station, you see posters advertising new Korean dramas or makgeolli rather than Asahi or some  TBS drama with Kimura Takuya.

With all the idol shops, it’s a k-pop fan paradise. Whoever your bias is, whichever CD you’re looking for – everything is here.

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 ♥   I swear this place will make me go bankrupt one day   ♥

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Last time I went there, each store was full of Tohoshinki. As it turned out, it was the day their Japan Live Tour began. Can’t complain, before the YG Family Concert it was full of BIGBANG accessories, so I guess it’s just what store owners do to keep each fandom group happy.

Besides, the guys from Tohoshinki are drop-dead gorgeous so it’s all good.

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 Countless cosmetics & k-pop accessories shops↓

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I really recommend this store. They have a supermarket on the first floor with cosmetics, super spicy  instant ramen, kimchi, seaweed, makgeolli, kimbap, all the yummy stuff and some handsome store assistants… Second floor: more cosmetics, brands like Missha, Etude House, 3 Concept Eyes, Skin Food, cute hair accessories and more handsome store assistants. Third floor: Korean fashion, shoes, watches, accessories, stationery and pretty female store assistants for a change. Everyone can find something here that appeals to them.

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〒169-0073 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, Hyakuninchō, 2 Chome−1−2

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If you’re used to Japanese customer service style, Shin-Okubo might surprise you. Japanese store assistants must smile all the time, they keep distance from you, don’t really talk to you until you seem interested in an item. It’s completely different here…store asisstants will follow you around the store putting you under pressure to buy something, they will grab your hand and put some cream on it, asking you to smell it “Smells beautiful? Yeah? You like it? Buy it then”. When I wear clothes showing my tattoos, most of shop staff members ask me about them, they touch them (without asking me first actually, but it’s friendly — not creepy), one woman just grabbed my arm with both her hands and was rubbing my arm tattoo for like 2 minutes saying “oh so cuuuute” *rub rub*. I don’t mind. Also, unlike Japanese store assistants who will smile and compliment you no matter what, Korean shop staff is more likely to show what they really think.

That reminds me of one conversation I had with a female store assistant:

Store Assistant: What cosmetics brand do you use?

Me: Mainly Missha.

SA: Missha….ಠ_ಠ

/5 minutes later/

Me: *talking with my friend, commenting on a BIGBANG poster*

SA: Do you like BIGBANG?

Me: Like? We love them!

SA: Oh…..ಠ_ಠ 

***

This guy though! My friend and I passed his little stall with some sweets a few times, and each time he tried to get our attention, so I thought it could be fun to talk to him and ask him for a photo. I really wish I could buy one box of that thing, but unfortunately I don’t really eat sweet stuff (yes, my friends already called me a freak a million times).

He was a super funny guy though, so if you see this little stall with cute looking pastel cookies or whatever that is, get some of that sweet goodness

 😀

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 If you love Korean food as much as I do, you will never want to leave… Supermarkets with delicious stuff straight from Korea, and lots of awesome restaurants playing awesome music.

↓My lovely friend Madoka buying a corn tea supply for a few months

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I have so many good memories connected to this place , it will always have a sincerely special place in my heart. It’s a must go if you love k-pop, Korean food, Korean cosmetics, Korean anything. And well, if you don’t…it’s a fun place to hang out anyway!

Thanks for reading! ♥

***

That funny guy: Let’s take one more photo, c’mon

Me: Sure!

TFG: Love love moooooode!!!♥ (ラブラブモード!!!)

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Cafe and Dining …”and people” – the coziest cafe in Shibuya!

I’ve been living here in Japan for about 2 years now, so I have been to a lot of really awesome places while I’ve been here.  Some of those places were rather hidden and I found them by a total coincidence,  some of them were shown to me by my lovely Japanese friends.  Actually, I would have never expected Shibuya to have such a lovely cafe as the one I want to show you here.  If you plan on visiting Tokyo or you live here and haven’t had a chance to go there yet – put it on your bucket list!

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 It’s about 5 minutes on foot from Shibuya Station (Hachiko exit). All those narrow streets of Shibuya can be quite confusing if you don’t go there every single day, and even though I have been to that cafe a handful of times, I still had to use the map to find my way there. If you see a cool looking building on your left, congratulations! you are now a minute away from the cafe! You’ll see some interesting graffiti on your way to your ultimate destination. I don’t know what’s the intended message, but it looks pretty flipping awesome.

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THE CAFE

and people

新東京ビル 10−2 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0042

Their website: andpeople.co.jp

What they say about themselves on their website:

“and peopleは『風や緑を感じられるカフェ』 
をコンセプトにくつろぎの居場所になれたら、そんな思いでオープンしました。 
ベランダの窓をすべて取り、店内とテラスの境を無くし、 
ランチタイムには太陽と風を感じながら…夕暮れとともに約70個のキャンドルが揺らめき、 
緑に囲まれたテラス席やユッタリと包み込まれるソファー席で 

『外国なのか、日本なのか…』 
『友人の部屋なのか、店なのか…』 

そんな浮遊感の中でさりげない時間がゆったりと流れる “居場所” を目指しています。”

/a very liberal translation/

“Going with the concept of a place where you can experience nature, a place where you can relax; we opened and people.  With our open verandas where you can enjoy the sun and feel the light breeze during the day…with over 70 candles shimmering in the twilight…with the terrace decorated with greenery and the relaxing embrace of our sofas, we aim to make you wonder:

“Am I in a foreign country, am I in Japan?”

“Or am I in my friend’s room…or in a cafe?”

…and in this feeling of floating, where the time goes by slowly, you will think “it’s a place where I belong / I can be me”

Touching.

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If you get cold, you can use one of the blankets provided. How lovely ♥

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I’m wondering if the decoration actually tells a story or is just a random mish-mash of things the owner found in music shops and vintage second hand stores. Well, doesn’t matter, it’s awesome.

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 Elvis altar…

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 MENU (click on the pic to enlarge) or check it here → andpeople.co.jp/menu

What I liked most about this cafe was their amazing range of drinks and beer cocktails. In Japanese convenience stores we can find all types of sweet cocktails like Strawberry & Peach & Mango & Calpis chuhai etc. but to my surprise, there are no fruit beers! I really miss Polish raspberry, apple, black currant flavoured beers…And I found a wide range of beer cocktails here at this cafe, which is the second best thing! White peach beer, cassis cranberry beer, maple beer, orange beer…YUMMY HEAVEN!

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Let’s take a quick peek upstairs…

(I took these photos on 3 different days, that’s why the light outside is different)

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Upstairs there are some lovely puffy sofas…

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…and as it gets darker outside, hundreds of lights and candles are lit, creating a totally warm and cozy atmosphere.

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Sakura Latte

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Bergamoth Fruit and White Peach Beer

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A lovely place, isn’t it! I really recommend it, if you miss this European charm.

If you go there once, you’ll definitely be back.

Thanks for reading!

Crazy cat guy in Shibuya! 九州猫おじさん

 Like I mentioned before, I don’t really hang out in Shibuya, but when I do…many rather interesting things happen. On the day of that photo shoot I described in my previous post, Ayaka and I were hanging around the Shibuya station area and saw something that caught our eye….

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 Hey, you see that? What’s that?

A man…

A man and his cat….

Oh wait, there’s more!

A man and his 9 (maybe 10?) cats.

Oh okay…that was rather unexpected.

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Yup, he was just standing there with a “Ohhh yeeaaahhhh look at my magnificent catssss” look on his face. He wasn’t talking to people. Just standing there with one cat on his shoulder and like 8 or 9 (I coudln’t really see how many) fluffy balls in a pet stroller. Of course, people stopped and took pictures, petted the cats and you could hear a loud “Awwwwww!” every few seconds. The guy had a sticky tape roller and he used it from time to time to take the cat fur off his face, hair and clothes. One cat went like 1 human step away from the stroller, and the guy suddenly grabbed its tail and put it back in the stroller.

I was a bit puzzled actually.

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↑↑↑↑↑  “Your death will be slow and painful, human”

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They were super fluffy and cuter even than the Nyan cat, but I noticed something that was a bit worrying. They didn’t really move… I mean they were alive but they were sleeping all the time and they were like rag dolls. I have never seen any cats behaving like this. All the cats I have ever seen in Japan are wild, they seem to hate people and run away when you get closer than 5 meters. I know that these cats were domesticated but still…Cats do whatever they want, if they want to go, they go, they don’t give a flying fungus that you want them to stay. I don’t want to make strange assumptions, but just think about it…

Is it possible to train your cat to behave like a rag doll? Anyone else think it’s weird or is it just me thinking about it too much?

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↓ Notice John Lennon on the left.

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↓An old man, giggling school girls and cats. Japan in one picture.

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Apparently the guy called himself 九州猫おじさん and that translates to something like “The [old] cat man from Kyushu”. I know that because before I and Ayaka left, he took out his smartphone and showed us his facebook page (without saying a single word). I’m not really sure why, maybe it’s his fanpage or something. You can find him by typing in “九州猫おじさん”. I can’t decide whether I should go “Awww!” looking at these picutres, or feel sorry for those little fluffy balls, because they were dragged out into the busiest and noisiest area of Tokyo just to serve as some sort of entertainment for people.

Well, at least photos of Tokyo still make me go “Awww!” everytime.

Tokyo, how can one not love you?

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Thanks for reading!♥

Fashion snapshots in Shibuya / getting scouted for modelling!

Rumour has it that it takes as little as being a foreigner in Japan, to be scouted for modelling.  Well, personally I don’t think that’s true to any degree. I guess everyone can get scouted, you just need to hang out in the right places to get noticed. But since I don’t really aim to plaster my smiling face on a million magazine covers, I often hang out wherever I want, often in places not associated with fashion, like Ueno or Shin-Okubo.  On the day when I got this photo shoot offer, I happened to have something to do in Shibuya — I met my friends and took a ridiculous amount of cute sticker pics (you can see all of that in my previous post).

I was hanging around the Hachiko statue / Forever 21 area waiting for my friends, when a guy with a huge camera asked me if it’s okay to take a few fashion snapshots of me. He said that it was my tattoos that caught his eye. Okay, yeah, I have some time, go ahead. He took a few shots, and handed me the flyer you can see below. He said he needed to show my photos to the editorial department of his company, and if they liked them, they’d invite me for a photo shoot. Okay, I thought, that would be cool, but the main question was : DO I HAVE TO PAY? He answered “Absolutely not, it’s free, no money talk involved”. But! My dad always told me that the only thing you can get for free is getting your ass kicked so I knew I should be careful, even if the guys seemed legit.

But first let’s see what actually happened on the actual photo shoot day…

***

What the flyer says:

Currently auditioning many models for work!

100,000 hits on the blog everyday!

100,000 hits on the website everyday!

Number 1 ranking of Dokusha models!  (amateur models who appear in fashion magazines)

Over 10,000 followers on Twitter!

Over 20,000 readers of our mail magazine!

etc etc..

Wowzers! But let’s not get too excited.

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 ♥

 On that day I was going to meet my lovely friend Ayaka.

Ayaka loves sweets, anime and cute stuff and she basically wears colourful clothes with candy & cookie motives and lots of Madoka Magica accessories. I was a bit surprised seeing Ayaka wearing “adult” clothes on that day. She told me that the green jacket you see, was the first thing she has ever bought in Harajuku and that she picked it up like 10 years ago or so. I’d rather not remember my fashion sense 10 years ago….

The Madoka Magica purse is one of Ayaka’s personal treasures. They’re inseparable.

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 And here’s what I chose for the photo shoot day…

white top: SPINNS Harajuku

denim jacket: GU

DAMMY skirt: WEGO

NADIA platforms: bought second-hand for 2000 yen

Nostalgic plastic wire choker thingy: Paris Kids

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I asked Ayaka to go with me to that model (?) agency. You know, safety in numbers and stuff. I’m so grateful she agreed, they said some things in Japanese I couldn’t quite get and Ayaka has this amazing ability to explain everything using easy Japanese.

Let’s gooo!

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 Here’s what happened next: upon arrival I got some documents to sign.  I had to agree that the company could use my name and my photos whenever and however they want. So basically, I can’t choose which photos go online and I cannot take the whole thing back once I sign it.

Then a funny photographer came and said there’s a park nearby, so we could take a few snapshots there. First, he instructed me on how to pose. I suck at posing, I really do…Oh well, not that it was some magazine photo shoot or anything, so it’s all good.

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 Quoting my mom: “Boring shots”

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  Then we moved to another place and he told me to “look relaxed”.

The photographer didn’t mind posing for a photo with me, in fact he was a pretty cool guy.

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 Apparently this is what I look like when I’m relaxed…

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  And the last stop: the tree shots. As I mentioned before, I suck at posing and I don’t really feel relaxed in front of the camera. I would make a crappy model for sure. The funny photographer told me what to do — “Just touch this tree and look cool”. Okay, sounds like something I am able to do.

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 Touching the tree and trying to look cool

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 He then asked me if it’d be okay if he took some photos of my tattoos…and my shoes. I guess these things were the most eye-catching?

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My dear Aya ♥

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♦♦♦

After the photo shoot we went back to the office and I got a questionnaire to fill out (which I handed to Aya). Let’s take a look at the questions:

1. How was the photo shoot? 

 fun?     okay?     boring?

2. (Whatever you previously circled) Explain the reason why you chose your previous answer:

My answer: “I don’t have much self-confidence in front of the camera, but during the photo shoot the photographer said things like:  “Great!” or “Well done!” (← 上手い、いいね)  and I thought that was nice”

3. Do you think you’d like to have a photo shoot again?

Yes      No

4. How about the photographer’s behaviour?

Very good? Good? Okay? Bad? Very bad?

5. Anything he should improve?

My answer: Nothing in particular. It was fun, thank you.

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The last thing and the most important one…

THE TALK

After filling out the questionnaire, a guy wearing lots of silver jewelry introduced himself as the producer and invited us to his little booth-office. If you ever get scouted, expect to hear a lot of good things about yourself. I mean, it’s business and they’re trying to make money — this is something to keep in mind at all times. Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes. Long story short, basically I was told that I have a huge potential because:

* my skin is sooo white

* my style is sooo good

*my Japanese is sooo cute

He looks at me and goes: “that’s what sells best, foreigners are cute when they make some mistakes while speaking, it’s not good when their Japanese is perfect. That’s not cute”. Ha.

He even told me that I could model for wedding dresses and I was like “Hmm, yeaaah” (look at me, 154 cm tall and lots of tattoos? PUH-LEASEEEE).

And the last little tiny itty-bitty thing: if I am interested in working for them, like getting fashion modelling offers and stuff, I should get a super-duper-professional photo shoot. And that photo shoot would cost me …. 120,000 yen (about $1200?)

*applause*

I’m satisfied with my current job and I don’t really trust some random people promising an amazing career after taking just a few snapshots of me, so I said “I’ll think about it” and that was it. I don’t really think they are out there trying to trick people. Who knows, maybe if I got that special photo shoot, I could get some other offers? Anyway, I got some fashion snapshots for free, it was fun, that’s it.

They put up my pics on their website, check it out if you’re interested.

http://sweets-selection.com/profile.php?user_id=2840 ←

I guess that a vision of a modelling career is really tempting, especially when some serious people like photographers and producers tell you that you’re so cute and unique. But I have my priorities sorted and I’m a realist, so they didn’t manage to convince me that a 120,000 yen photo shoot is something absolutely necessary.

If you ever get scouted on the street, always, ALWAYS ask if it’s going to cost you money.

Has anyone had a similar experience?

♠♠♠

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♥Thanks for reading!♥

 

Cosplay purikura ♥ コスプレプリクラ

Have you ever dreamt about turning into a Japanese schoolgirl for a day? No? Me neither, but it was fun anyway. Yes? Come on over to Shibuya!

I don’t always hang out in Shibuya, but when I do, this is what happens…

COSPLAY PURIKURA! 

*I recommend listening to this song while you’re reading this *

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What a good day it was! I got to meet Laura — we have known each other for about 2 years, but until last Friday we hadn’t had much of a chance to cross paths. Laura is from Belgium and she studies Japanese and Graphic Design. She’s been staying in Osaka for a couple of months and this time it was one of her longer visits to Tokyo, so we decided it was high time we finally met ♥ After Sharla joined us, we thought we should take some pics of all three of us together, and the easiest way to do that was to find a purikura machine. We didn’t really plan on trying one of the cosplay ones, but oh well, now I can confidently check the feeling of wearing a Japanese school girl uniform off my bucket list.

Hellooo♥

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Basically, purikura machines can be found in any of the many game arcades you can find, next to the ufo catchers, slot machines, and people chain-smoking cigarettes (I believe that some game arcade customers don’t need oxygen to function).

This particular place is called Club Sega and it had the whole ‘purikura only’ floor, so there was no cigarette smoke there, thank god (if you didn’t know that yet, in Japan it’s perfectly fine to smoke inside buildings, but on the other hand it’s frowned on to smoke outside and people can do that only in designated smoking areas)

クラブSEGA渋谷店

28-6 Udagawacho
Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0042

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Though most people imagine anime or video game characters when they hear “cosplay”, you shouldn’t really expect those kind of outfits. Of course, there are other purikura places where you can find some anime character outfits. I have actually taken some sticker pics wearing Mami outfit from Puella Magi Madoka Magica (*click*), but the main clients of purikura booths are teenage girls (and girls in their 20′s *cough cough*) not nerdy Akihabara guys so anyway, you should expect short skirts and low-cut tops rather than warrior armors and swords.

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….let’s see what choices we have.

High school girls, maids, tight chinese style dresses, policewomen, slutty policewomen (they called it アメリカンポリス→”American police” hmm).

We went for a cutesy look — Japanese school girl uniforms!

The first thing one of us had to do was to register with them and get a special card (thanks to Sharla for volunteering to do it, I already have like a zillion point cards in my wallet), then each of us paid 100 yen for another card which said 衣装貸出カード, costume rental card. Makes sense, all clear and simple.

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Bad news for boys…

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After entering this magic room, we saw something that looked like a celebrity dressing-room. Mirrors, changing rooms, cosmetics you can use for free, hair straighteners and everything a girl needs to transform into a proper cutie pie.

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♥PURIKURA TIME!♥

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Some editing…

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You can even add some hairy legs or an inflatable doll face, if that’s what tickles your fancy….

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.and here they are! ♥ (remember what I said in my last post, there’s no such thing as too much purikura!)

Some people ask me what’s up with those V signs. Nothing’s really up with that, guys. That’s just something you do when you pose for photos and after 2 years in Japan, it’s something you do completely automatically. 

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After that we did tons and tons of other fun stuff but that’s a topic for another blog update.

Thanks for reading! ♥

***

Some purikura philosophy for you to ponder:

“No love, and you’re going out to live?”

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DUUUH

DUUUH

YG Family 2014 WORLD TOUR: Power in Japan ♥

One of the things you should know about me (which I didn’t bring up in my last post) is that I’m a hardcore BIGBANG fan. I wasn’t much into k-pop until last year, but this is what hanging out in Shin-Okubo resulted in (oh Shin-Okubo, I owe you so much).

Simply speaking, I think these guys are pretty awesome.

One of the perks of living in Japan is that lots of k-pop groups, including BIGBANG, come here all the time.  I went to BIGBANG’s live concert at Tokyo Dome last December. They gave an amazing show and honestly, seeing 50,000 people who love them as much as I do, was a great experience.  How could I miss the chance to see them again?

Well, okay. To be perfectly honest, at first I thought “13,000 yen for a ticket and I’ll only get to see them for a couple of songs? Naaah… ” But my inner fangirl was like “Oh come on, even a couple of songs is okay….”.

YUP, TOKYO DOME, HERE I COME!

♔♔♔

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Going to concerts by myself is fine, but it’s always more fun to go with someone who shares your love for the same artist, right? I am lucky to have a friend who loves BIGBANG too (with G-Dragon as her main interest though….Believe it or not, no biases here! I honestly just love them all). The first time I met up with Sharla, we went to a YG Exhibition held in a super remote shopping center in Kisarazu (seriously I would have expected YG to choose something…I don’t know….cooler? No seriously, check Kisarazu on the map, it’s at the end of the world, in the middle of nowhere). We had bags of fun though so Sharla was the first person I thought about when I tried to think of someone who might want to go to the YG Family Concert with me.

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I got two tickets real quick — break time at work was enough time (yes, that’s what I do in my break time…I’m actually writing this blog during my break time right now, oops). Your life in Japan can be difficult sometimes if you don’t own a credit card. Luckily I was able to pay for the tickets with cash super easily at a 7/11 and I even got them printed at the same 7/11 one week before the concert. Everything was relatively easy and painless, you might need some help if your don’t read or speak Japanese though. I use this website to buy concert tickets –> a-ticket.jp. I can’t say it’s the best (because I simply don’t really  have anything to compare it with) but setting up an account on a Japanese website is a big hassle, so I guess I’ll stick with it.

WOOP WOOP TICKETS !!!

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What to wear for the concert? Let’s see….Something BIGBANG-ish would be cool. Black and white with some gold accessories. Yeah, sounds cool. BIGBANG is cool, 2NE1 is cool…everyone is cool! I want to look cool too!

….and so thought 50,000 other fans who came to Tokyo Dome that day. We all looked as if we planned our outfits together. Oh well, that feeling of unity was kind of nice though.

Here’s what I had prepared:

* Tank top, BOY LONDON (size L, 154 cm me can wear it as a dress *yay*)

* Shorts you cannot see, and that was the purpose

* Over the knee socks, WEGO

*Black platforms (creepers type) NADIA

* Cross earrings, H&M

* Gold chain necklace, WEGO

* Denim jacket, GU

*Black bag with studs, some random shop, it costed only 1000 yen

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What do you do before a k-pop concert? You go to Korean town to eat some kickass Korean food and spend even more money on some sweet BIGBANG accessories!

….and again, apparently so thought other fans — I have never seen so many people in Shin-Okubo.

There’s one more thing you should know about me – I’m totally crazy about Korean food. You’ll get to see a lot of Korean restaurants if you follow my blog, that’s more than guaranteed.

Stop one: Korean restaurant Maiu (maiukorea.jp)

〒169-0072 Tokyo, Shinjuku, Okubo, 2 Chome−32-23 韓国料理 まいう 大久保本店

780 yen for a lunchtime dish is on the cheaper side in Tokyo, I guess.

Besides, you can never go wrong with Korean food.

Japchae and naengmyon

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Stop two: purikura!

We had to document this special day with cute sticker pics. Actually, a ton of cute pics. What you see here is just 10% of all the purikura we took on that day.

You can never have too much purikura.

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Last stop: TOKYO DOME!

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You still have some money in your wallet after a shopping spree in Shin-Okubo? No worries! YG will take care of it! Before each concert, there’s a special tent-store selling YG Family stuff like clothes, stick lights, rings, hair bands, bracelets, earrings, hats, anything you could imagine.

YG sure does know what their fandom needs.

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Unfortunately, in Japan we are not allowed to take any photos inside of the Dome. I managed to take these photos before a very serious security guy said “No photo, no photo!”

Oh sneaky me.

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♔♔♔


THE CONCERT 

In a nutshell….

BIGBANG

Amazing as always. Professional to the core. They’re all beautiful and awesome. I love them for being them, they’re all different and that’s what I love the most about this group.

2NE1

Great show, really. CL is a walking perfection, she’s the leader for a reason. Dara and Minzy are total cuties, but Bom…not that I dislike her, but it was kind of painful to watch her putting so much effort in a tiniest move. Plastic surgeries have their limits, lady.

EPIK HIGH

They were epik! (you see what I did there?) To be honest I didn’t know them before the concert, but I’m kind of obsessed now. Just check out these songs and you’ll know why.

Love Love Love 

Up

LEE HI

Same as Epik High, I didn’t know her before the concert but she was really lovely so I’ll definitely check out more of her songs.

WINNER & Team B

YG’s freshmen. All young, talented and beautiful. What would happen if GD and TOP had kids? BAM! Winner and Team B would happen, I’m sure of that.

PSY

Well, Psy cancelled his show due to some unknown reason. But! Seeing all the YG Family members singing and dancing Gangnam Style – truly priceless. You should have seen Tokyo Dome. Nearly 50,000 people going totally crazy, unforgettable!


BEFORE

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AFTER

(yes, my eyes might have been teary)

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Trust me, it’s not easy to leave the Dome knowing your idols are still somewhere there (I’m not a obsessed psycho-fan, I swear).

Sharla and I decided to walk around, calm down a bit (and take photos of strangers looking cool…no creeping!).

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Here are some fun people I asked for a photo. It’s so nice that fans actually put so much effort in to their concert outfits. I think it’s so sweet.

Psy, Bom and TOP (“Doom Dada” MV look)

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All in all, seeing my idols again was amazing. They totally rocked my world.  Simply, it was a really happy day.

I guess I’ll never get too old for this.

♡♡♡

Thanks for stopping by and reading my thoughts!

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