How to: Budget fashion in Tokyo aka lookbook vol. 10

I’m being kind of lazy with the updates this month, I know. Let me blame it all on work and lack of time as usual again. So instead of the lengthy intro I usually write, have a short selection from my new article for Connect Magazine! 

Have you heard about “Normcore” yet? Well, if you haven’t, I bet you’re trying to figure out what it could possibly be about. It’s a word combination of ‘Normal’ and ‘Hardcore’. I know it probably made you wince, but you better get used to it, because “Normcore” is the hottest word in fashion this season! So what is it anyway? Let me put it this way — being ‘basic’ won’t be seen as an insult anymore. You can be as basic with your outfit choices as you want to be and no one can actually call you ‘unfashionable’. This spring will be all about oversized tops, plain shirts, slacks or your usual denim pants, hippie cardigans, running shoes and slip-ons. There’s a quite significant ‘back to the past’ trend going on, so you might find yourself sporting flares and a turtleneck at some point!

Read more →HERE ← (pages 25,26 and 27, check it out!). What do you think about that “Normcore” thing? I feel like it’s the perfect style for me. After all those crazy years of wearing all sorts of gothic / emo / punk / pin-up fashions, I’m pretty happy with my current closet, no matter how basic it may look. I love shirts. I’m crazy about shirts, I believe I own well over 25 different shirts. They look good with everything and I like that they give that elegant feel to any outfit. Plus they’re cheap, and as you know that is the main point of my monthly fashion updates.

 

→most recent lookbook←

Lookbook vol. 10

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1.

White shirt: It’s actually a shirt I use for work, I think I paid something around ¥500

Black pants: Honeys, ¥1990 (website)

Coat: bought at one department store in Dongdaemun for about ¥6500

Platforms: I guess you know them if you check my lookbooks regularly, but if not — I got them second-hand at MODE Off in Ueno for ¥2000

Bag: American Apparel, bought from an online discount store for ¥1900

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2.

Floral dress: I bought it in Underground Shopping Center in Gangnam Station for 10,000 won = ¥1200

Boots: Jeffrey Campbell, bought for ¥7000 at Laforet in Harajuku

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3.

Black shirt: Bershka, ¥500

Black coat: GU, ¥4000

Grey pants: bought in Dongdaemun for about ¥1600

Boots: Moussy, ¥8000

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4.

Striped shirt: bought at the same shopping center in Dongdaemun as other items in this lookbook, I paid something like ¥500

Black jacket: Bershka, ¥7500

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5.

Sweater: store in Dongdaemun, ¥400 (!)

Shorts: Mustang, bought second hand in WEGO, about ¥2000

Platform boots: Jouetie, bought second hand in Jumble Store in Harajuku for ¥3300

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6.

Blue shirt: GU, ¥1400

Jeans: Bershka, ¥1500

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7.

White shirt: GU, ¥500

Gaucho pants: Bershka, ¥5000

Black shoes: WEGO, ¥3990

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Thank you for reading!♥

Kimono in Asakusa — the ultimate hanami experience!

What would you consider to be the ultimate Japanese experience? Climbing Mount Fuji? Eating fresh sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market at 4 am? Staying at a traditional hot spring hotel? Attending a tea ceremony? I guess all of those things could be considered the ultimate Japan moment, but I can’t say I can check them all off my bucket list yet. There’s one thing, you cannot do properly anywhere else in the world and I’m proud to say I have done it a few times already. And I absolutely love it! Getting dressed up in kimono is always a great experience for me. It’s like a ritual, every piece of kimono, even the smallest one, has its own particular function and it has to be arranged in a special way. Not to mention it looks simply spectacular and is one of the most beautiful and elegant outfits a woman can wear.

This March I had the pleasure to wear it again, and cherry blossoms in full bloom are definitely what made it even more special!

It’s an unforgettable experience, and I really encourage you to try wearing a kimono at least once. (Gentlemen, I’m talking to you too!) If you ever find yourself in Asakusa, head over to Sawadaya Kimono Rental shop. You can choose among hundreds of beautiful kimonos and two amazing ladies will dress you up and they’ll even do your hair! They have offers for couples too — if walking with your partner around Asakusa looking all fabulous is not your definition of the perfect date, then I don’t know what is. (I’ll give some more details about the place at the end of this post!).

Anyway! Today I wanted to share some beautiful moments of my ultimate cherry blossom experience in Asakusa captured by the amazing Boong (The Beholder Photography)!

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 Full-body shots. Check out that fantastic kimono! Everything matched perfectly and even my tabi socks had roses embroidered on them.

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The stunning Chika-san! I think I’ve mentioned her in some of my blog posts a few times. If it’s your first visit to my blog (hopefully not the last) I’ll write a few words about her just for you. We met just a few months after I came to Japan and at first I was Chika-san’s Polish teacher. I still help her study, but what we basically do is hang out in all the cool Tokyo places, as Chika-san is a native Tokyoite and she knows it better than anyone. She was the one, who came up with the idea of dressing up in kimonos.

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Chika-san chose a simple yet elegant kimono, which nicely balanced my rather flamboyant and elaborate kimono set-up. Notice adorable cats on her obi belt! The paper fans we are holding used to belong to Chika-san’s mother, who was a dancer. They were in fact a bit time-worn, with chipped edges and scraped parts, but that’s exactly what made them even more charming.

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Sawadaya Kimono Rental Shop details!

Here’s their website → click here

and their blog → click here

You can also see the blog post documenting my first and second visit to the shop:

December 2014

March 2015

Kimono rental plan (¥5400 per 1 person,¥9800 per couple) → click here

They don’t speak English, but I guess they can reply to e-mails if you use the help of good ole’ Google Translate. All you have to do to make a reservation is give them your details:

* name

* the day and time you’d like to come in

* how many people (boys & girls) the reservation would be for

Caution! If you’re 30 minutes late, they cannot guarantee they’ll be able to dress you up as there might be another customer waiting, and trust me — putting on a kimono takes time. Sadly, there’s no English version of their website, so if you don’t speak Japanese and have any questions, I’ll try to help you — just leave a comment!

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Thank you for reading! ♥

March digest!

I know it took me longer than usual to summarize my March adventures, but there’s a good reason for that. I came back from Korea just two days ago, where I spent wonderful 5 days — I attended my Korean teacher’s wedding, ate tons of delicious food, did some cherry blossom viewing… But that will be a good topic for my next month digest. You might wonder “How on Earth does she manage to travel so often!?”. The answer is simple — I work super hard for a few weeks to teach the mountain of lessons my managers require me to teach  (yes, they want me to teach a high number of classes even if I’d be happy enough with a lower number) and that allows me to take a few days off without getting into any trouble. That also means I didn’t exactly do that much exciting stuff in March, but there were still some things I thought were worth sharing, so here they are…

MARCH

* I’m always open to interesting offers and new experiences, so when I was asked to do some make up modelling at Vantan School of Make Up, I agreed straight away. It wasn’t really ‘my kind’ of make-up, but I was only lending my face, so it’s all good.

* Before I came to Japan, I would wear mainly dresses and skirts. I don’t think I even owned one pair of jeans. It all changed the moment I moved to Japan, which is not a country of tall people. And being only 154 cm tall, I can be sure I’ll find my size! I really love that about clothing stores here.

* Some interesting Harajuku find…

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* Some very interesting Village Vanguard find…

* A statue for all the blow fish of Japan that landed on people’s plates

* A super cute limited edition can of Asahi. This is how to market things in Japan, cute packaging is the key to good sales.

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* 4 sessions, about 9 hours and here’s the finished product — I won’t be modest about it and I’ll say my half sleeve is AMAZING!

* Another interesting Donki find…

* I was looking for a new carpet and I went to one household store near my workplace. I didn’t find a carpet, but I found these ridiculously adorable curtains! I don’t need new curtains though…

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* What would be spring in Japan without all things sakura? Sakura taiyaki had to happen and I’m glad it did, it cheered up my stomach!

* Gachapon sushi key chains are getting pretty intense these days…

* As a massive fan of BIGBANG I had to have their live concert DVD — actually the concert I went to! — on the day of its release. I had to, even if it meant running to the nearest Tower Records after work.

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* So this is what happened on one of the last days of March. Be sure to check out my next blog post if you’d like to see some amazing photos from that day!

* Takoyaki Russian Roulette! Rules of the game, you get 8 takoyaki octopus balls and one of them is filled with super spicy chili sauce (called Death Sauce). I thought it was the only interesting thing at a company party I kinda had to attend, but my coworker found the spicy ball and just put it away. Party pooper.

* Some sakura fluffiness somewhere in Setagaya ward. It’s a great hanami spot, but my Japanese friend, who took me there didn’t want me to reveal it online, because “everyone would start going there, and it would be crowded and not fun anymore”, so… I guess I’ll keep it a secret 🙂

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Thank you for reading! ♥

Stepping into the world of Ghibli in Seoul ♥

I am not going to ask whether you like Ghibli or not— I think assuming you do is safe enough. I remember I may have mentioned a few times that Spirited Away occupies a very high position on my personal list of best movies I’ve ever seen. It was the movie that showed me the genius of Miyazaki and the pure beauty of Hisaishi’s musical compositions. I fell in love and knew I needed to see more. There’s something about Ghibli Studio’s creations that will take you back to that time when you were a carefree child, chasing butterflies (or frogs and grasshoppers like myself). It will make you smile and feel all warm and cozy. It will make you wish Totoro lived in that bush across the street, Arrietty’s world was real and Kiki delivered your daily mail.  Or it will leave you speechless for a while, with tears streaming down your face. The beauty hidden in their movies is undeniable. 

If you had a chance to find yourself in the world of any of those movies, you’d definitely take it — right? I had that chance and I took it! This February I found myself reliving the adventures of my favourite Ghibli characters in I’Park Mall in Seoul. Life-sized dioramas, scenes recreated with the highest precision, unique installations — what else could I ask for?

Ghibli exhibition in Seoul♥

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Howl’s Moving Castle

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this movie. It’s an amazing piece of creative work, but what else can I write about a film directed by Miyazaki with Hisaishi’s music? The castle model was fantastic and yes — it was actually moving! 

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I loved this diorama! Culcifer’s warm light really gave off that cozy atmosphere we see in the movie.

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Sophie, Turnip-Head and the beautiful meadow.

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Princess Mononoke 

Many people I met said their favourite movie is Princess Mononoke, so I’m actually a bit afraid to disappoint you… Of course, there are no words of criticism I could say about the Miyazaki & Hisaishi duo — the movie is breathtakingly beautiful and the music is out of this world… BUT! I’m not a big fan of the movies where Ghibli tackles environmental issues. I cannot really find the exact reason why I feel this way about them, but well, I’m just being honest here. I still think it’s a movie everyone should watch. 

Life-size figure models combined with a movie projection, and the epic OST playing in the background. Simply amazing.

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PomPoko

If you read what I had to say about Princess Mononoke, you might have already guessed what I think about PomPoko. I won’t bash it, I wouldn’t dare do that to a wonderful Ghibli Studio creation. It’s just not my favourite film plot-wise, though it’s still quite worth watching to learn more about rich Japanese folklore. And to understand why there’s so many raccoon dog figurines creeping around outside Japanese restaurants. And why male figurines have such big hmm… “pouches”.

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I absolutely loved this diorama! Japanese culture is one of the most fascinating things ever — there’s a reason I have a maneki neko and a daruma tattooed on my body. I’d love to have these in my future house.

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 My Neighbour Totoro

I’m sure you know it and you love it! Seeing life-sized scenes from this heart-warming movie made me as happy as a kid in a candy store! Although I watched the movie as a 20-something, it did make me want to go back to the time I was a wee lass imagining that there has to be some magic creature living in the corn fields I saw from the window in my room (yes, there really are corn fields and a forest with boars surrounding my family house). And the story is even more interesting if you heard that urban legend about what My Neighbour Totoro is supposedly really about…

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Totoro’s big belly was moving up and down, making him look so real! And the tiny Totoros were the most adorable thing ever.

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  Spirited Away

I could talk for hours about how amazing this move is. If you haven’t seen it — please do! Everything about this movie is perfect — breathtaking scenery, music that will touch your heart, numerous links to Japanese folklore, history, and society. The movie makes you forget about the real world, the animation is a piece of fine art. Just watch it. And check out my blog post about Jiufen — a town in Taiwan, which is said to have served as a model for the magic world of spirits and ghosts Chihiro got lost in. 

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Let me just tell you how detailed the figures were! Yubaba’s wrinkles and hair looked so real, I felt she’d scold me for staring at her! Awesome work.

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Everyone loves No-Face and it’s still a mystery to me. You might disagree, but I think he was in no way a positive character. First he was a raging customer at Yubaba’s bathhouse, then he tried to bribe Chihiro into being friends. I guess we all feel sorry for his lack of communication skills that made him lonely and miserable.

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Porco Rosso

I’ve heard many people saying “animation is for kids”. I wish they gave Porco Rosso a go — I bet my bottom yen they would change their mind. Adult, witty humour with some political and historical context — it was great to see it as a part of this exhibition. 

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At the end of the Ghibli journey everyone could leave a tangible proof of their visit and draw their favourite character (or one that was the easiest to draw).

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Here I just wanted to mention my Ghibli favourites that haven’t been given their own dioramas in the exhibition. 

Kiki’s Delivery Service — a sweet story about a young witch named Kiki, growing up, seeking independence and her own identity

The Cat Returns — as a cat person, there’s no way  I could not mention this animation with a lovely story!

Ponyo — Ponyo has to be on the 3rd position of my TOP 3. I just love the story and I think that Ponyo is the most lovable character ever.

The Secret World of Arrietty — when I was a kid, I had lots of dolls and I would sew little clothes and make little accessories for them all day. Then I would imagine that there were little people, who used my little hand-made items and this has to be why I like it so much.


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Although I mainly mention Spirited Away as Ghibli’s absolute masterpiece, the movie that won my heart and will always be my number 1 is… Grave of the Fireflies.

It will leave you speechless. It will make you cry. It will squeeze your heart, leave a bitter gulp of sadness in your mouth, make you re-think your priorities. It’s as heart-breaking as it gets. It is hands down the saddest, the most eye-opening, the most painful movie I’ve ever watched. Every minute of it will stab you with the feels dagger, straight in the heart. I know it doesn’t sound fun, but that’s the whole point — this movie will show you that war is a disaster, the most inane thing in the history of humanity. No matter the reasons or the involved parties. Do watch it if you haven’t yet.

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What is your favourite Ghibli movie? Why?

Thank you for reading! ♥