This Saturday I made a short trip to Harajuku to shoot some street portraits in front of the Takuya Angel store. Unfortunately, no Angelers (fans wearing the TA brand) did show up, so I just took a couple of pictures of the fashion designer Takuya Sawada and his wife Akiko Angel.
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.
“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.
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…
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.
Another exclusive item for sale in the Tōkyū Foodshow — a watermelon grown in the shape of a heart. I have seen cubic melons, pyramid-shaped melons, even round ones, but this was the first time I saw a cordiform melon (ハート西瓜). I mean, it looks nice and probably makes a fantastic present, but the price tag is rather steep… ¥9450 (about $108/€85) for just one fruit…
The Nippori neighborhood close to the Nippori Station (serviced by the Yamanote JR line) is the place to go if you want very cheap, fashionable clothing Tokyo’s teenagers wear. Crammed stores like Pop Girl and Heiwadō (ヘイワ堂) are much cheaper than similar shops in Shibuya and Harajuku, and their outfits are just as weird and crazy as well. On top of it all these stores have a huge amount of stuff with strange Engrish that we all love so much.
Another one of those remarkable decorations of Japanese shops and restaurants. This ceramic pig was seen in a rāmen-ya on the Shinjuku-dōri in Shinjuku. It’s kinda cute, but at the same time kinda creepy, because for some people the idea of having a pig as a cook is a little bit disturbing…
These pea-sized “berries” are actually the latest trend in solanaceous horticulture: micro tomatoes. Called “maikuro tomato” (マイクロトマト) in Japan, this fruit is the dwarf brother of the regular tomato plant and is said to be even more delicious than the regular stuff. I haven’t seen these fruits before, but in the Tōkyū department store food court there was a huge collection of tomatoes in all sizes, colors and flavors (some produce, like this one, pretty expensive).
I could spend hours photographing the weird and wonderful stuff that the toy store Kiddy Land on Omote-sandō in Harajuku offers. For now I just snapped a picture of “useful socks” that were on display, and only because the spelling mistake caught my eye.