Self-indulgent geekdom gone mad or an inventive play on an otaku motif?
A little while ago there was some buzz about a “flashing skirt” created by Kamakura-based Kayac Inc’s Kiyoyuki Amano.
The idea behind the Hikaru Skirt was to literally highlight the zettai ryouiki, the “absolute zone” — the area of flesh on a girl’s upper leg between her skirt and her socks. This is a common trope in otaku fantasies and Hikaru Skirt was playing on this by making a skirt that flashes in multicolor, drawing attention to the “zone” in a fun but hopefully not pervy way.
It actually looks much cooler than it sounds and the public response was good.
Or at least, good enough apparently for this one-off project to evolve into a crowdfunding campaign to commercialize the idea. The aim is to get it out as a product by October 2015.
Will they succeed?
Well, only 16 people have sponsored the campaign so far — 7% of the required ¥3.9 million. But there’s still 49 days to go, so let’s not write off Japan’s designer geeks quite yet.
Judging by the official website, the makers have hopes that the Hikaru Skirt could be a game-changer in music idol culture. The flashing lights change automatically according to music and can be adjusted by your smartphone. Just charge up the skirt by USB and then it can go for 3 hours, which is more than enough time for a leisurely walk around Akihabara or Harajuku.
Here is the group Moso Calibration demonstrating the Hikaru Skirt in action.
Be prepared to pay ¥16,000 (about $130) to claim one of the first skirts as your campaign perk. Presumably if it’s a hit, it will be available more widely in the future.
Flamboyant rock band KISS continue to conquer Japan. The makeup-loving rockers have for years been a staple of both summer music festivals and mainstream advertising campaigns.
And now they have joined the likes of Kabuki actors and animals from Ueno Zoo.
Isshin Do Honpo Inc has created the KISS Face Pack, a genuine mask meant to be worn by men or women to improve skin. It comes in two different two-packs based on the makeup of the glam metal band’s performers: Starchild (Paul Stanley) and Spaceman (Tommy Thayer), or Demon (Gene Simmons) and Cat (Eric Singer).
Despite their penchant for tongue-licking guitar solos and rumors of Satan worship, KISS is seen as harmless fun in the land of the rising sun.
The face pack series so far includes JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, the musical Cats, classic Hollywood horror movie characters, Kansai Yamamoto fashion, and even a spin-off Hello Kitty version from different makers.
The makers of the Kabuki Face Pack just keep on finding new source material for skin care tools that blow all the competition out of the water.
Now comes two face packs inspired by the popular manga and anime series JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
The JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Face Pack is a genuine beauty tool, like regular face packs designed to reinvigorate your skin and help fight the signs of aging.
This time the masks are based on the Stone Mask and the Star Platinum. As JoJo fans will know, the Stone Mask was featured in the first story in the JoJo series, while the Star Platinum is the Stand of Jotaro Kujo, from Stardust Crusaders.
The pack includes both masks… so which do you want to be?!
There is Christmas, and then there is Christmas in Japan.
Christmas in Japan is actually really all about Christmas Eve. And forget churches and family time. It’s more of a date night than anything, and the “traditional food” is KFC chicken and strawberry shortcake. And if you’re not confused enough already, a trip to Shibuya, as Kai-You showed us, will throw you into a cosplay bonanza that has very little to do with anything that happened in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.
And as we saw with the Halloween celebrations in Shibuya, young Japanese Tokyoites will jump at any chance to dress up in costumes and have fun.
Here was Gravure model Misaki Shimoda leading the festivities.
And the line for KFC…
Santa(s) arriving by motorbike.
Among the crowds in Shibuya were many Christmas-themed cosplayers (Santa, reindeers, etc), though not all the costumes seemed to be right season.
All images via Kai-You.
Karaoke is an ever-evolving social activity. In recent years we’ve seen karaoke-for-one services springing up, karaoke rooms transform into a fashion pop-up shop, and even a karaoke-convenience store business model. Cosplay is also regularly available at karaoke rooms, as well as musical instruments.
Now Humming Girls Room with JOYSOUND will be opening at JOYSOUND Shinagawa for two days only, January 17th-18th.
So-called women-only Joshi-kai (“girls’ meet-ups”) have become popular at restaurants and other places, invariably involving an activity combined with a group meal. This time it’s photography and luxury cosplay, since in the karaoke room you can dress us in a wedding dress and pretend you are getting married.
The service costs ¥5,000 per person, with which you get all-you-can-drink, food and special desserts, as well as portraits taken of you and your friends. JOYSOUND is offering the service for groups of 3-8 participants. No proof of actual marriage is required, though it could also serve as a really cheap wedding party.
If you passed through Shibuya yesterday evening or night you cannot have failed to notice that it was Halloween. A bustling and manifold place at any time of the year, on October 31st it burst into even more colorful life with a motley bunch of locals (Japanese and foreign) taking to the streets wearing an impressive variety of costumes.
Japan is of course the land of cosplay, so importing Halloween culture makes perfect sense and teenagers in particular seemed to rise to the occasion.
The reliable folk from Kai-You were out and about in the streets of Shibuya snapping this fun gallery of images.
Maid cafes in Akihabara have almost become a cliche of themselves, catering for the curious tourist as much as the genuine enthusiast. But cosplay restaurant subculture apparently still has some tricks up its sleeve.
Take the Iron Maid Cafe — we had to be careful not to write “Iron Maiden Cafe”! — which opens as a temporary pop-up in the Maid Kissa Tougenkyou from November 1st.
Iron Maid Cafe is nothing to do with a certain British heavy metal band or the notorious torture device. Instead it features maids who will iron your shirts for you, a sort of laundry service cum maid cafe.
The menu includes the usual drinks and snacks, plus you can even get measured up for a tailored shirt by a maid.
The pop-up is a promo for Original Stitch, the American online made-to-measure tailor clothing service run in Japan by insprout.
Ahead of the official opening, some lucky people tried out the ironing service at Iron Maid Cafe, though we’re pretty sure that regular patrons will have to remove their shirts first before the ironing can begin.
Having a maid of your choice iron your shirt for you will cost ¥800 (under $8), while getting a measurement from a maid as well as a handwritten message will set you back ¥1,000 (about $10). It seems you can’t sit there and watching the maids do your ironing, though. The shirts are ironed and returned to you in 3-5 days.
The Iron Maid Cafe is open November 1st to November 16th at Tougenkyou.
Halloween is about to be upon us again.
Japan is the land of cosplay so for the locals, dressing up needn’t be restricted to just October 31st. That said, these days there are lots of Halloween parties, zombie events and other such seasonal happenings.
But rather than resorting to the usual suspects at Don Quijote, how can you really stand out this Halloween?
To help you choose, JapanTrendShop is having a Halloween sale right now — offering 10% off any purchase. Just use the code “zombiejapan” to claim your discount.
We then started browsing the JapanTrendShop digital shelves and found heaps of products which, while not released originally as Halloween costumes, nonetheless can be utilized for that purpose if you are so inclined.
The beauty gadgets are of course, meant to help improve your skin and so on. But some of them are unusual-looking, to say the least, so something like the Facewaver Exercise Mask will really give you a special look on Halloween (and perhaps also fight against the effects of aging).
If you want to transform your lower half, the last few years have seen a fun “tattoo tights” street fashion trend in Japan. The cutest we’ve seen so far are these Cat Tights.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of deliberately humorous (and slightly cheeky) clothing items out there, such as this Mousou Mapping Bra T-Shirt. In the similar vein, there’s also the Shiridashi Butt Reveal Underwear, whose name we think says it all.
And this is before you even start looking at fundoshi loincloths for girls, yaeba snaggletooth fake teeth, or even “never-nude” JeanPants underwear (though they might be a bit cold at this time of year).
For those searching for that Kyary Pamyu Pamyu look or something for their head, try the Pop Candy Harajuku Fashion Cosplay Wig on for size.
Our prizes for best Japanese Halloween costume ideas, though, go to these two.
The Kuroko Kabuki Black Stagehand Costume replicates the look of the “invisible” people who change the scenery in Kabuki. The uninitiated might also mistake you for a ninja!
Finally, the Kabutte Kirimi-chan Costume is a heavy-looking blow-up headpiece inspired by a new Sanrio salmon fillet character.
Okay, we don’t know if this qualifies as a “trend”. It may only be one inventive person. But it got us thinking nonetheless: Is this cute or creepy?
The realm of Japanese kawaii has certainly spawned some manifestations that are hard to categorize or understand. And there is already a word for when the “cute” ventures into the grotesque — kimo-kawaii.
But “2.5D masks” — two and a half dimensional paper masks — might need an adjective all of their own.
The series of anime face masks have sprung up recently on Japanese social media, originating from a tumblr account that documents the creators adventures around Japan wearing the anime character face decorations.
The designer also includes details on how they are made — in funky animated gifs, natch — and downloadable files for those who want to make their own masks. Just don’t choose the mask model that’s called “Lolita”. (The other three choices are “Timidity”, “Cheerful” and “Grace”.)
The 2.5D Mask tumblr account began in September and showcases the female creator and her masks as she goes to various locations around Japan (typically incongruous ones). The anonymous designer’s Twitter account goes back further, though, at least to July, so this project has been developing over the summer.
Time will tell if this kicks off beyond a minor subculture into a real meme. People are encouraged to download, print and make their own 2.5D masks, and then share them online using the hashtag #2_5dmask. Could this start a revolution?
Japan has always had a thing for papercraft and 2.5D Mask says making the mask only requires a regular household printer and some basic tools. It also taps into the love for dressing up (cosplay) and is like a paper kigurumi costume, only because it’s just a mask, it kind of looks a bit spooky. It’s like the girl’s body has been taken over by an anime invader.
Perfect for Halloween?