donderdag 20 juli 2017

Book review: So Pretty / Very Rotten

A short while ago I came across a post on Instagram of somebody who bought this book with comics and essays about Lolita Fashion and 'cute culture'. It interested me because I like comics that have to do with lifestyle or are about slice of life / drama. Even more because it's about my Lolita Fashion of course. Unfortunately it was not available as ebook, so in the end I bought the real deal (from Bookdepository).

So Pretty / Very Rotten is a paperback of the size of a thick manga omnibus, the same kind of paper, it's about 300 pages long, which is quite a bit! It was written and drawn by Jane Mai & An Nguyen and has a contribution by and interview with the well-known Novala Takemoto (writer of Kamikaze Girls). It contains both short comic-stories and several essays on the fashion and the culture.

It starts off with some general explanation of the fashion and some examples of sub-styles. Then follows a comic, that I don't really see much connected to lolita fashion, except for a page where the person in question (one of the writers actually) buys Lolita clothes to do 'research' instead of actually working on a comic, but it's nice to see something that tells a bit more about the writers (possibly?). Luckily most other comics are indeed about the fashion and lifestyle and they are interesting to read.
Sometimes just more or less examples of what happens in the subculture, but sometimes also rather absurd and with a hint of macabre. Most of the time very recognizable.

When this book arrived at my home, my husband asked: "So, you as a lolita are rotten?" This "rotten" part comes from a quote from Momoko from Kamikaze girls, and relates both to the inner and outer demeanor of lolita's, plus that it is indeed still quite materialistic. Within both western and Japanese communities this is sometimes a bit of a sensitive subject, and this is talked about a bit in the essays and comics. But as lots of lolita's think: if it makes you that happy, then what does it matter? It reminds me of one of the reasons why I also like wearing lolita: if I wear this outside for the day, I feel like this world is my world. That I can choose to do what makes ME happy, despite of what others think (and that it isn't cheap), it's a wonderful feeling.
There are several comics about girls that are new to the fashion and are interested in it and it reminds me of when I got into it, I think it's a precious moment that lots of lolitas recognize and treasure...I wonder if people who don't wear the fashion could understand it truly without trying it out.

What I do miss a bit though are pages about for example the issue of the size of the clothing. Because I know there are girls out there who'd love to wear it but can't (not even only about being to large to fit, but also longer people in Europe that feel that it doesn't suit their body because it doesn't look as cute). Next to that, there is a part about online communities in one of the essays, but I do miss the influence of things like secrets/Behind the Bows and 4chan in the comics, or actually what really happens, and how rotten that actually is (but maybe that is also offline I guess, but just not so spoken of). I wonder if they didn't mention it on purpose.
Illustration by Jane Mai
(from her website)

The part that I find very well-written is what role the fashion plays for people and how that is explained. Not just (alternative) clothes, but a way to stand against the 'normal', a way to still keep that cute pure feeling of when you discover something so wonderful that suddenly the world changes, and that you can still keep that by buying, creating and wearing this fashion. But that it is also something that might pass at some point.

Another interesting subject that is captured well is how communities and social media play a role, how one can start to look up to these online persons while their view of them might not be realistic. How well-known people are just still very human.

But besides some of the more darker side of it, it captures the tenderness, wonder, sensitive and pure kind of happiness that comes with this fashion pretty well too, and all of it is a great read!

dinsdag 13 juni 2017

Japan 2017 day 8-10: Other things we visited in Japan

Sorry for waiting for the rest of the Japan trip report! I've been a little less motivated the last weeks because of everything that happened with our ferrets (yes they are both gone now sadly -_- ), and well as usual my job requires a lot of energy and the remaining time I'd rather spent offline with husband/friends/family. So I decided to make a shorter post about the remaining days in Japan still left to write about.

Koishikawa KĊrakuen.
This is another wonderful park in Tokyo worth visiting. It lies near Tokyo Dome. It's one of the oldest gardens, built in 1600-1867. It is a varied landscape-like garden with lots of upward paths, bridges, ponds and blossoming trees. Actually, it is where we saw the first pretty sakura tree!

Nakano Broadway
Frankly, we didn't make any pictures of Broadway itself, but while going there we had to eat lunch and came across an amazing bakery, truly one of the best I've had with, well, I think at least 30 types of bread or something and it was super-crowded. AND they had Totoro-bread, so awesome:

 Tokyo Tower
Next day: After we tried to see sakura around the palace (and couldn't find it), we decided to walk to Tokyo Tower. Of course I know that the Skytree is higher and more modern, but Tokyo Tower is still somewhat more iconic to me, I saw it in multiple anime so I was eager to visit it. It's almost 333 tall and with that the second largest building in Japan.
Within the tower there are several levels, one with a view and also a level with a food-court (I had a crepe from Baskin-Robbins!) and some shops. We also came across a huge Hello Kitty to take a photo with.

The view from one of the windows
on the floor in the tower.

We also walked around Roppongi, which is indeed a bit different (more modern) than the rest of Tokyo, we got so lucky with all the weather honestly so there was no problem with walking everywhere :D! Near Roppongi apparently there also was a huge cemetery which Nick wanted to visit. It was very impressive. Then we walked through the Meiji Jingu sports park (and funny enough, I only now see we totally walked almost forth and back to Aoyama-Itchome station, haha), there was a big park with heavily guarded entrances and we couldn't see what it was supposed to be but on Google Maps I can now see that it was where the Prime Minister is supposed to live, so that makes sense.

Onsen Monogatari
The last day we went to Odaiba, to visit an onsen (Japanese hot spring), and not just a random one but more or less an attraction with all kinds of baths. You hire a kimono and then first come into a communal space where they immitate a summer-festival (matsuri), with food- and entertainment stands and lanterns in the air.

Then there are the bath-spaces, seperate for males and females. Yes everyone is naked, except that you carry a small towel with you in case you want to hide your parts while walking. Haha, I was sort of nervous about what to do and such, but it's all quite simple, but most important: it's super relaxing! They have all kinds of baths, from hot-to-cold, some with special minerals, some outside and some special saunas too. When you leave the baths again, there are special places for you to clean and groom your skin, it was quite luxurious! I totally get why people visit hot springs (with others) now.

To end the journey we choose to do what we started with when we first went to Japan: a visit to the Government building restaurant, with its unreal view. However it was suuupercrowded this day, so I wasn't too hopefull when we came to the restaurant and they said 45 min. waiting time. But oh well, we decided it was worth it. Then 10 min. later the couple waiting for us left and we were first in line, hooray! Actually, it wasn't crowded in the restaurant at all so I did not get really why they had a waiting time. Maybe they just did not want a lot of tourists in. We had seats at the bar near the window and it was amazing!

The next morning it was up early to Ueno station to ride the train back to Narita airport and say sayonara to Japan again. Who knows one day we might see eachother again (but for now we had enough of Japan for a while ;) )!
Will miss this crazy view, bye again <3 !
As I did the last time, I've also made a video with everything that we filmed. Which isn't too much, but it was nice to make and hopefully is nice to watch. Thanks for reading again! Are you going to Japan in the future? What are you looking forward to the most? Or did you go to Japan...what did you like most about it?

zondag 28 mei 2017

Japan 2017 day 7: Escape room + Nippori + Shinjuku

Hi everyone,

Thanks for still reading if you do! Sometimes writing these feels kind of useless, but it's always nice to look back at later on. But you know, if you have thoughts, comments or questions, they are always welcome!

After one week in Tokyo again, what can we still do? Well, my husband likes escape rooms a lot and he thought it would be a lot of fun to do one together in Japan, so we booked one at Escape Hunt in Akasaka. It was Japanese themed room of course and for my first time (yes I never actually went to an escape room before this) it was lots of fun to solve all kinds of puzzles and riddles. Oh and yes, we solved it on time too!

Next we planned to go to Nippori to look for nice fabric again, although I had a lot more time now, I was done a lot faster since I just had only to buy some things for myself and not to sell anymore. At the Tomato store they had a really nice collection of Sanrio themed fabric too, it was hard to choose what to take with me! They also had some new fabric for lolita-esque looks, this time with aquarium/ocean theme too but I don't want to splurge so I only bought two fabric pieces (sorry, the picture is a screenshot from my video so it's not too sharp).
It was lunchtime so we went looking for a place to eat again, and next to Nippori station there was something like a family-restaurant. It was kind of hard to order again, because the older woman helping us couldn't speak English, and apparently you had to order a whole menu set including drinks, but there wasn't a list with drinks, there was a self-service corner though so apparently you had to order the drinks in advance and then get it yourself. Anyway, we ordered something different (and yes again rather a big meal for a lunch...I'm sometimes so happy that this is not so usual in The Netherlands, I really don't like feeling 'full' and at night it's okay because you can just sit down and rest but during the day you have to do stuff so yeah that is kind of annoying for me). I ordered some kind of egg-meatball and Nick ordered a tonkatsu dish. It wasn't as special as we thought, but decent nonetheless.
 And here we were again, not knowing what we wanted to do in the afternoon. We just went to Shinjuku again, I still wanted to visit Marui Annex for the lolita shops there. It was raining too so it wasn't so bad to go inside a mall again. Next to lolita (and relatable fashion) shops, there were also some jewelry shops that were really lovely and inspiring. And we also found a Yuri on Ice cafe! It was totally booked though, but they had a photo corner that you could visit for free, yay so nice!
Downstairs there was another cute cafe, it was Cinnamoroll themed but there was such a long line and the decoration did not seem too interesting really so we skipped it. I already bought a Cinnamoroll gachapon item anyway.

That evening we spent in the hotel again, there was a really cute cat show on TV! Wondering if we still had things to visit in Tokyo? Yes we did actually, next day we are going to a park and Nakano Broadway!

maandag 8 mei 2017

Japan 2017 day 6: Toys at Akiba + Asakusa Sensoji Temple

It was monday the 20th of March and apparently a holiday: Vernal Equinox Day in Japan, so a lot of people had the day off and probably it was going to be very crowded anywhere in Tokyo. And yes, it was. We wanted to go to Asakusa, but that alone would not be a enough to fill the day, so we decided to go to Akihabara shortly again first.

That's a loooot of troopers
 I was very curious about the Yodabashi Camera there, because technic stuff + Akiba can only mean that it's massive. And yeah it was, there were multiple elevators and there were people promoting the newest items everywhere in the store. Mostly I wanted to go see the toy-section though. Guilty pleasure, but we both love to go to toy stores, not only for the games but I like cheesy toys, and to see what people design for kids these days.

And well, it wasn't only for kids, there was a lot of anime and other merchandise too, so lots of nice stuff and I really enjoyed seeing everything!
They had arcade stations for kids too!
I wanted to buy this so badly but it wouldn't have fit in our suitcase.
On to Asakusa for lunch and then see the temple. It was supercrowded already at the station though and I couldn't decide what to eat. While browsing some shops I saw a side alley and luckily there we found a peaceful place to eat. It was a really small cozy family-oriented restaurant, where I ordered a lunch set with all kinds of things. I had to say the fried tempura was pretty nice, Japan's fish dishes are so much better than what I can find in The Netherlands (everything smells literally fishy here if you ask me and I hate that smell).

 Apparently we wandered in a wrong direction though because the main gate for the temple was on another side. That said, we could find the main temple square anyway, because of the crowd going there. I'm not kidding, take a look at the photos on the side!

Surprisingly the whole complex wasn't as big as we thought. The temple itself was big, but just several smaller shrines, a small pond and some food stalls next to it.

 However, the street with all the small shops going to the temple was long, it really is a touristic place and very different from Meiji Shrine for example. Nice to see, but I wouldn't go to Sensoji again.
Since we had still some time left, I'd thought to go to Shibuya again and visit 109, luckily Nick agreed because by now he obviously was really done with looking at fashion all the time :P! It took us a while to find the right exit of the station though, but because of that we could see the crossing from above a bit!

After that we were both quite tired because of the crowd and felt like eating and staying at the hotel. Buying food from Lawson and resting while watching Japanese TV is really quite enjoyable too!

Coord & Wardrobe Catch-up March-May

Taking a short break in between the Japan travel diaries for catching up with the coordinations/outfits I've worn last months and recent purchased pieces!

Tea Party time!!
For easter I had a lot of choice, because I own at least three dresses with bunnies on them, but the obvious choice was going for Happy Garden (not worn yet and pure Easter!). And just a week before there would be OTT Tulips: an OTT tea party in Amsterdam, which was really nice ♥ ! To be honest, I was pretty unsure if my outfit would be over-the-top enough, since I usually don't wear big things on my head. If you've been a lolita for the last years you know that a lot of people really go BIG for the huge events. Literally, hair-do's that are as huge as people's faces and nothing is plain, everything perfectly matched. I was really busy the weeks before the event (our ferret Annie died :( ) so I had little time to do stuff and crammed in some time in the nights of the days before the event.

Luckily I found this small basket at Dille & Kamille, decorated it with some cute fabric, bow and feathers and I just had to take this bunny and chicky with me. The yellow shoes I bought in Japan are decorated with pink bow clips I already had and I put extra feathers in there as well. And then the main extra was the headdress, made with yellow and lavender lace, feathers, fake eggs and chicks and a flower. I added some extra pink bows on the shoulder straps to add some extra pink accents to match the rest. So..maybe it was as big as other people's take on OTT, but for me this is quite some effort to what I do usually and I was pretty happy with it too, loved wearing something very spring & easter-themed!

The week after that was Easter for real and my husband and I planned a brunch on the friday since we had both did something different for the saturday and sunday. I took maximum use of the Happy Garden jsk and wore it with some simple pinks this time! Sorry for the flowers on my face but I was really looking weird on that photo, but it was the best pose-wise :P. On the monday we still had a 'bank holiday' and I wore my other bunny dress with another handmade accessory that I had for a while.

Funny enough another week after that there was the spring holiday for a week, so even more chance to wear lolita fashion ✿ yay! We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in the cinema and it wasn't really hard to make a matching coord at all for it.
So happy I could wear these cute socks with the constellation dress too! I went for just a bow on my head though, since it was very crowded in the city because of Kingsday and we were just going to the movies anyway. Did you see the movie too, if so what did you think of it? I really enjoyed it again, it's great to see a more emotional approach from Marvel.
Casual outfit because we had to cycle!
The yellow bag might be a bit random
but I really felt like using it that day.
The cupcake bracelet was
made by my mom-in-law ♥!

Yay for spring! Yesterday was a very sunny Sunday so I thought it would be great to do a walk through one of the biggest parks in town and finally without a coat too. I didn't plan on wearing lolita in the first place but it was such a relaxing day that I just played around with some clothes to wear and thought: why not. It wasn't so great for my husband though because he had to wait longer suddenly. Sorry love <3 next time I'll let you know in time!

And last update for now. I bought AP's Toy March in navy! Whaaaat? Yes! Really, it's been one of my fav. prints but it usually is too pricy for me so that's why I didn't put it on my wishlist (I guess I was just a realistic?). But I saw that someone was selling it for a while and suddenly dropped the price so I took my chance. So girls, put all your dreamdresses for real on the dreamdress list because one might really get it ♡!