Here is a new way to torture your pets: Get this crazy kitty wig to style up your cat (or dog). No longer you need to see the same old hair on your pet every day — these colorful hairpieces come in many exciting colors and glamorous styles so you can finally give your feline companion the look that matches your outfit of the day. Seen at Donki Hote in Setagaya-ku.
Tokyo’s electro crowd is one of the most dynamic and fashion-conscious party scenes I know of. Pretty much every event is under the unofficial motto “see and be seen” — the people often dress up in their most extravagant and stylish clothes to party. So I was quite happy to attend such an event after having missed so many this year. It was the Kawaii Tokyo party’s 2nd anniversary held at the Trump Room in Shibuya. I arrived rather late, so I did not manage to document all of the best unique styles the party-goers were wearing.
“Cat Tea” (ねこ茶) — yet another product for the spoiled pets of Japanese housewifes. It’s not tea of cats but for cats! If you ever long to have tea time with your cat, this is the beverage to get. Suited for hot and cold water this herbal catnip tea (またたびのお茶) comes in easy-to-use tea bags. Seen in a pet shop in Shimokita.
I never knew that next to Shindaita Station is a swimming pool… until I passed there tonight and saw this Japanese man wearing speedos in the 2nd story window of the Shindaita Swimming School (新代田スイミングスクール). Truly a surreal view next to the busy Inokashira line station and Kannana-dōri.
After Gantai Alice #3 and Machine Magic I went to an another Tokyo goth party, this time Gothic Bar Heaven 26, again at Club Crawl in Shibuya. As many other Artism events it is a live event with shows instead of just partying and dancing. The two music bands Zwecklos and Custom Mary plus two performance groups (Neo&MiN and 虚飾集団廻天百眼) were scheduled for this late night event.
The evening was kicked off by Neo and MiN and their Gothic Fusion Belly Dance performance to Middle Eastern-inspired goth/industrial music. I had seen them the month before at Gothic Bar Heaven 25 where they had supported Ray Trak. This time they were alone on the stage.
The second band was Custom Mary (カスタム・マリー). They played only electronic music with no live lyrics. Their performance largely relied on the dancer Mari, who delivered a stunning performance while wearing a cat mask.
The last performer of the event was the show group 虚飾集団廻天百眼 (Kyoshoku Shūdan Kaiten Hyaku-me). They are a troupe of young theater actors and presented the play 「私は私として生まれ、私のまま死ぬんだ！！」 (“In the condition I was born I will die as well!”).
As always I also tried to document the Japanese goth scene a little bit, shooting party-goers, DJs and performers. These are the results, depicting the guys and gals of Tokyo’s dark underground…
It is a fact of life that many people are unhappy with the way they look. But women here in Japan are under an enormous pressure to look beautiful, cute and perfect to find a desirable partner. Thanks to a different body image many women (and men) have no problem with using what Westerners would consider extreme measures — strong whitening of the skin, cosmetic surgery, wearing special contact lenses every day to make the iris look bigger and colorful, using lots of make-up to display perfect skin, and so on. Of course most of these measures are rather expensive, so there are also tons of products for the less affluent that promise much but use rather suspicious methods. One of my favorites is the CoCo nose re-shaper (“Beautiful New Look of Nose”):
Be a Cleopatra’s nose
Indispensable for your beautiful nose
You wouldn’t miss a chance
Apparently a Cleopatra’s nose is a large and straight nose that seems to be highly desirable for Japanese females. Just put that clothes pin-like clam on your nose and watch TV and the impossible might happen — or probably not. Anyway, as this product is rather widespread and available in pretty much every drugstore, I guess that some people are really buying it and that “being a Cleopatra’s nose” is the goal of quite a few Japanese ladies…
Another highlight of bizarre Japanese beauty products is Noble’s “Slim Mouth Piece”. This simple little gadget is supposed to help Japanese women “For getting a tight and slim face.” (キュッとした小顔をめざす) Use this device 2-3 minutes every day and it will turn your large, lusting Asian mouth into a boring, thin Westerner’s, enabling you to smile crazily from one ear to the other. But as with the nose clip I have my doubts that this device will give you anything but sore facial muscles — the underlying aesthetic issue is caused by bone structure and not something that can be affected by simple plastic toys.
Best of all is that many of these products feature Western models — as if these stereotypical “dumb blondes” are either highly regarded role models for Japanese females, or that their look was archieved by using these products — as if Westerners look like that only because they are avid fans of DIY plastic surgery…
Again I had been invited by my friend Nekoi-san of Psydoll to see them live and shoot pictures of their performance. Surprisingly, like the last time they were performing at Urga in Shinjuku. The event was called “Machine Magic” (機械魔術) and besides the headlining Psydoll the bands Sredni Vashtar and Shingguapoura were scheduled.
Shingguapoura was just the singer Schizkkha (世都熾壟) singing to recorded gothic rock music. She used a scary plastic doll with bloody entrails as a puppet between her songs and gave a beautiful performance with singing and dancing.
The next band was called Sredni Vashtar (スレドニ・ヴァシュター). They are a Japanese duo making powerful synthie/electro music with female lyrics. The performance of singer Haruki (華季) and musician Laddie M (螺泥M) was quite popular among the crowd and fun to watch.
The final music group for the evening was the cyber gothic rock band Psydoll. As always, Nekoi, Ucchi and Uenoyama/Loveless delivered a tight performance, only hampered by the fact that Nekoi was still getting used to her new keyboard guitar (since her old one broke).
The Laforet Grand Bazar is one of the summer highlights for shoppers in Harajuku. For five days the trendsetting fashion department store/mall Laforet Harajuku has pretty much a fire sale — everything is being sold at considerably reduced prices (50-70% bargains are common). The word of the day is taimusēru (タイムサール) — bargains for a limited time. All the small shops inside Laforet are specially decorated and the young salespeople go to great lengths to advertise their merchandise.
And this is what I like best: the cacophony of all the people shouting and making noise to get the attention of crowds of shoppers is breathtaking. No problem for me to sneak through the thirteen floors of the department store, snapping pictures of people hard at work or shopping. So even if you do not plan to buy new clothes, check out this very exciting shopping experience when the Laforet building truly turns into a loud and bustling vertical bazaar with many dozens of individual stalls.
Walk with open eyes through Tokyo and you will discover that there are many cats here. Few of them have a home, but most are just living on the streets. Of these unlucky creatures many are very shy, probably due to unpleasant actions by humans in their past. They will run away if you approach them and one can only hope that they will have a somewhat undisturbed, healthy and long life.
However, some cats are used to humans and will let you near them if you act non-threatening. While most of them have no real home due to the pet restrictions in many Tokyo apartments, they are fed by friendly residents of their neighborhood. Unfortunately, this means although they might not starve, their medical situation is less bright, because no one really feels responsible for them as they have no actual owner (and who wants to pay costly vet bills for a “stray” animal…?). This means that these cats are neither neutered nor vaccinated and no one will give them medical aid when they are ill.
And this results in the unfortunate fact that many street cats are indeed sick and suffering and no one appears to give a damn. They are “just cats” and many regular shelters and animal control will destroy them. So what can you do?
There are a few organizations that care for the stray and abandoned cat population. Japan Cat Network is one of them. They have plenty of information on their website about what you can do if you find a cat or kittens (including how to make a cheap makeshift cat carrier).
Another animal rescue NPO is ARK Tokyo. They too will help you rescueing strays, but their main center of operation is the Kansai area, although they are in the process of setting up a shelter in Tokyo. Like Japan Cat Network they are also an excellent source if you want to adopt a pet.
Finally, there are two Japanese shelters that can help you if you if you speak Japanese: Yamaneko-an and Help Tokyo Kitty.
Get in touch with any of these organizations if you want to improve the life of abandoned cats. And helping doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to adopt a cat for life — just taking in a sick cat for a few days and giving it medicine and helping the convalescence will make a big difference for this one lucky feline!
After attending Gothic Bar Heaven 25 I decided to go to more Artism events in Tokyo. So I visited Gantai Alice 3 (眼帯アリス) at Live Inn Rosa in Ikebukuro this Sunday. As expected, it was mainly an event with several bands playing for about half an hour each, with some DJing thrown in in-between. However, the headliner of the evening was the popular Japanese comedian Minoru Torihada (鳥肌実) who gave one of his famous spoken-word performances. The bands consisted of サンドイッチで１２０分？ (Sandoitchi de Hyakunijūpun?), GPKISM, 桃尻東京テレビジョン (Momoziri Tōkyō Terebijon), 遺伝子組換こども会 (Idenshi Kumikae Kodomokai) and Mu☆Mu.
The first performer was “Maria“. Unfortunately, I missed most of his gig, so I got only few photos. Overall, it was a kinda weird a cappella performance with singing, screaming and talking.
The next performer was Mu☆Mu. They played minimalistic electro pop-rock filled with chiptune-like digital samples. MuMu also had good crowd participation as the audience was invited to dance along — which the people did, so it was a quite fun performance.
The 3rd band of the evening was 遺伝子組換こども会 (Idenshi Kumikae Kodomokai), whose name could be best translated as “club of genetically-engineered children”. They were pretty unique insofar they did short Doraemon-inspired sketches before each of their songs, which was really fun to watch. Their music was fast and powerful pop-punk rock which was loved by the audience, who danced along to the instructions of the band.
The fourth music group was +桃尻東京テレビジョン+ (Momoziri Tōkyō Terebijon), which means Peach-bottom Tokyo Television. They were pretty popular, too, and their punk rock music was supported by the audience moshing and waving fans. Overall it was another great performance by a energetic and well-rehearsed band.
GPKISM from Australia was the fifth musical performer. Their loud and gloomy gothic rock was quite different from music of the other bands, so the audience was less interested in their performance. I think they missed out on an up-and-coming Visual Kei band.
The last band of Gantai Alice 03 was サンドイッチで１２０分？ (Sandoitchi de Hyakunijūpun?) = “120 Minutes for a Sandwich?”. They played hard, loud and fast punk rock which turned many of the cute and harmless-looking Japanese girls in the audience into headbanging fiends.
The final performer was Minoru Torihada (鳥肌実). He is an underground comedian, satirist and actor who uses an extreme right-wing persona to make fun of imperialists, the uyoku right-wing groups and current events (like the 2010 FIFA world cup). He gets taken way too seriously by the general public, but he has garnered a cult following among the more open-minded young people looking for shockingly absurd parodies of humorless Japanese realities.
The Gantai Alice 03 event was surprisingly well attended and not just by the regular Tokyo goth. Although it was far from sold out, each of the bands had their faithful followers who made every performance exciting and entertaining. Many members of the audience were dressed up in cosplays or other elaborate fashions, so I found many interesting subjects to document the personal styles of Japanese party people.