The end of an era.
Hostess culture magazine Koakuma Ageha will cease publication in the wake of the bankruptcy of its publisher, Inforest Publishing. The title first went on sale in October 2005 under a different name, it went on to become famous as the magazine of choice for gyaru. It promoted a unique kind of overtly glamorous look and featured actual hostesses as models.
Koakuma Ageha’s name meant “little demon swallowtail” (a play on agejo, another name for women who work as bar hostesses) and its target was female readers in their late teens and twenties. It spawned several “sister magazines” and special editions, such as Kimono Ageha (gyaru in kimono), Ane Ageha (for slightly older gyaru) and I Love Mama (for young gyaru mothers, naturally).
Not only was it a media platform for disseminating gyaru and hostess culture, it also provided fashion and beauty tips, as well as dealing with the “darker” side of the lifestyle, such as depression, sex and other problems that may result from being a hostess.
It first came out as a special issue of Nuts, a magazine targeting Shibuya gyaru. This was so popular that circulation was increased within days and a follow-up came out in April 2006. It then lost the Nuts umbrella and from October 2006 became a separate monthly magazine in its own right.
It hit circulation highs of 400,000-plus (who would have thought there could be so many wannabe hostesses and gyaru?!) in 2009-2010 and was defying the economic slump that claimed many other major magazine names in Japan. However, it has now apparently fallen victim to declining advertising revenue and the woes of its parent company.
Been there, done that. Sometimes it seems that fashion has little new left to offer. But then along comes another neat innovation that proves you wrong.
Fashion models strutting their wear down a red carpet catwalk is hardly new but when it’s inside a commuter train in Tokyo, well, then it feels pretty original. On April 14th this is just what happened, with a fashion show being held inside a moving train on the Keio Inokashira Line between Shibuya and Kichijoji stations.
The event was a promo for a opening of the new Kirarina shopping mall at Kichijoji Station on April 23rd. The show used three carriages in the specially convened train, featuring 14 male and female models including Karen Michibata (sister of Jessica, the future Mrs Jenson Button).
Although it wasn’t open to the public, the models showcased apparel from ten stores in Kirarina to around 100 invited members of the press and industry insiders.
We would hope this becomes a regular fixture on trains around Japan. It would certainly be one way to liven up the daily commute to the office!
Blackface or a clever marketing campaign?
Imagine a female minstrel show with svelte legs and you might have the right image of this Astigu, a Japanese tights brand. The ads feature 11 good-looking Japanese models with short skirts showing off their legs. Familiar enough so far, perhaps, but then consider that the girls are all dressed in black — including their faces.
In most other countries, this would probably be too sensitive, though Japanese street fashion has the well-established “ganguro“, where girls would liberally apply dark tan to their faces.
The black is presumably meant to make a strong contrast with the girls’ legs — the focus of the ad — and to create an air of “mystery” (the campaign is called “the mysterious beautiful legs corps”). And we can also find some justification for it in the rather neat ad copy: Ashi wa kao (“your legs are your face”).
The main model is Astigu’s regular, Tao Okamoto.
These are guaranteed to be a hit at any bachelor party!
The Mousou Mapping Bra T-Shirt are a series of tees with a difference. Their fronts are decorated with the object of every man’s daydreams (mousou) — breasts! Specifically, a “cut-away” picture revealing a tantalizing (and by Japanese standards, not so realistic) bust in a range of bra colors.
Along with the Shiridashi Butt Reveal Underwear, the Mousou Mapping Bra T-Shirts are sure to be a great addition to any party, especially if worn by someone who clearly doesn’t have the assets on display.
The makers are independent studio ekoD Works, who obviously have a thing for cheeky merchandise. Other examples of their creations include the Chu-Lip Pot, a vase or teapot shaped like a kissing mouth, or the Hanaga Tap Nose Outlet, whose name is pretty self-explanatory!
We also think the t-shirts are unofficially inspired by “Mosatsu”, a series of cult photo books and a spin-off app where you can “rip” off part of the clothes of Gravure idol models. (And before people get too offended, there are ones for the ladies too, depicting men with “torn” clothes revealing hunky bodies.)
Get the Mousou Mapping Bra T-Shirt via JapanTrendShop.
Girls with guns? Sounds like a cheap porno but this is actually a minor fashion craze right now, thanks to SG-Fashion-Snap.com, which is collating images of male and female participants in Airsoft (called “survival game” in Japan), all decked out in their camouflage, gear and, of course, weaponry.
“Make yourself look neat even when you are in the combat,” says the “survival game fashion snap” website. Street snaps have been a fixture of the Japanese fashion publishing (print and digital) for years now and this is an esoteric twist on that.
As with usual street snaps, these gun-toting ladies come with information on their name age, occupation, “career” (surely as a survival gamer), team name and favorite brand.
We love how this is both tough, cute and stylish at the same time. Never have girls in tactical boots looked this good.
Not to be outdone, there are plenty of guys too. The men also like to differentiate their style of combat gear (“Arabic”, “SEALS” etc).
And for the armaments purists out there, SGFS even features very indulgent snaps just of the guns!
We wonder if the Self-Defense Force is on a recruitment drive right now?
Leading fashion magazine CanCam has been going for over thirty years and now it has finally got itself its own exclusive male model.
After launching the careers and seeing immense success in the heyday of Japanese magazine publishing with the likes of Norika Fujiwara and Ryoko Yonekura, and most famous the trio of Moe Oshikiri, Yu Yamada and Yuri Ebihara (aka Ebi-chan), now CanCam has finally turned to a man to prop up its brand.
Yuuki Sawa is a nineteen-year-old sophomore student at Rikkyo University in Tokyo and this is his first modeling gig, which isn’t a bad debut by any standards. He was spotted by the editor of CanCam during the Mr Rikkyo Contest, where he was one of the judges.
CanCam’s prime readers are said to be young office ladies and female college students looking for tips for how to be mote-kei, i.e. popular with the boys.
Its name is an inventive if bizarre take on “I can campus”… whatever that means. Since the departure of Ebihara as its main cover model a few years back, its fortunes have famously declined, along with most fashion titles, though the one-time boom in offering omake fashion item giveaways helped boost sales for many. (For a comparison of the first ever issue of CanCam and the thirtieth anniversary issue in 2011, see this interesting article on Néojaponisme.)
Yuuki Sawa’s debut in the magazine is in the January 2014 issue, which went on sale last week. As he is a senzoku moderu (exclusive contract model), we can look forward to regular appearances by him every month.
Can Yuuki Sawa and this new gimmick by CanCam help the magazine regain its once lofty circulation of 500,000 during the Ebihara days?
Thank God for hipsters. When all else fails and the media is amok with already notorious reports (supported by dubious stats) that Japanese people apparently no longer have sex, you can always at least rely on the fashionista to still find ways to enjoy themselves.
Tweed Run Tokyo took place on October 14th, featuring some 150 tweed-dressed cyclists going for a ride around the city. No, they weren’t out on some stag hunt, nor was this a Sherlock Holmes fanatics’ event. It was actually part of Fashion Week and is a spin-off from the original Tweed Run in London. The British version started in 2009, while the Tokyo “run” happened first in 2012 and with the amount of publicity it generated, surely next year’s edition is a sure thing.
“It’s so Tokyo, I would say,” one of the participants told the media. “We are using this traditional fabric in many modern ways. It’s part of the diversity of fashion.”
“So Tokyo”? Well, I wouldn’t say that. Except for the odd bit of Aoyama backstreet tomfoolery, you’d be hard-pressed to find many regular folk dressing as dapper as this. Still it makes a change from the usual exquisitely, expensively decked-out runners and cyclists that can be glimpsed around the Imperial Palace.
Given that this is the nation that created the culture of cosplay, we shouldn’t be in the least surprised that 150 cyclists jumped at the chance to dress up for a group bike ride.
This year’s event saw the costumed bikers tour leisurely from Gaienmae to Ginza over a couple of hours, and the participants seemed like a reasonable mix of ages, though it was clearly male-dominated.
We wonder whether they could introduce some sort of Japanese flavor to the proceedings. How about cycling around in kimono? Oh, hang on…
Anyone who lives in Nagoya can check out the city’s own version of the Tweed Run — remember, it’s cycling, not jogging — on October 26th (barring another typhoon).
Japanese fashion retailing giant UNIQLO launched a new digital tool on October 1st. UNIQLO HairDo uses Pinterest to offer people a way to share examples of hair styles coordinated with UNIQLO’s 2013-2014 autumn and winter line-up.
The brand has also organized this via its recently opened global Pinterest account in an attempt to create a single social media platform that is universal across its ever increasing number of markets in regions around the world.
The tool has the pop, clean feel we have come to expect from UNIQLO, and features mirrors positioned to show faces of models as you scroll through animations of the stages of creating the hair style that they recommend to match the clothing items.
The outfits are, of course, for sale and you can jump straight from UNIQLO HairDo to the UNIQLO online store in various countries. UNIQLO HairDo will also be offered in other languages in the future, including Chinese, English, French and Korean.
UNIQLO is famed for its innovative approach to digital tools and campaigns, which it now calls “life tools”. Since 2007 it has had great success with the addictive Uniqlock, the dancing girls blog widget, the tilt-shift montage Uniqlo Calendar, and last year’s UNIQLO Wake-Up app, with music produced by Keigo Oyamada (Cornelius).
One of those myths about Japan is the used panties vending machine. Well, these blogger at least has heard of genuine panty vending machines (at least the machines were real, though we can’t vouch for the validity of the “used” factor) but at any rate, they were very much in areas of town not visited by most of the population.
Now this may well do something to off-set the myth — or it might just tip the balance further into the “wacky Japan” zone.
Wacoal, one of the country’s leading lingerie makers, will be offering products from the wireless bra series Fun Fun Week by its subsidiary une nana cool for a limited time in Shibuya Parco. Okay, nothing new there, right? Except that the new autumn collection products are being sold via a vending machine.
So there you have it. A bra-dispensing vending machine.
You can purchase your bras at the vending machine from August 9th to 31st at Shibuya Parco, and then from September 1st to 30th at the une nana cool store in Futako-Tamagawa.
No decent pictures are available of the vending machine itself yet, but no doubt after it opens today there will be some floating around. Will this perpetuate more myths? Or are une nana cool bras cute enough to raise above the sniggering tide?