Koakuma Ageha magazine celebrates relaunch with Omotesando Hills pop-up shop

Written by: William on April 21, 2015 at 9:01 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

When “hostess bible” Koakuma Ageha closed down last year, it seemed like the end of an era for Japanese fashion magazines.

But then it relaunched under new management and the status quo was preserved: gyaru culture is still, it seems, alive and well.

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

To celebrate the relaunch of the magazine, a Koakuma Ageha pop-up store has opened on Omotesando from April 18th to April 29th.

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

It will sell books by popular age-hime (Little Devil Princesses). Find it on the ground floor of Omotesando Hills. The opening day on April 18th saw hostesses attend and give signed copies of the new magazine to visitors.

This is a typical marketing event for such a title: these kinds of magazines were popular because the models were dokusha “reader” models — i.e. not aloof supermodels but ordinary folk selected as role models — and who the readers could relate to, communicate with and meet. This is similar to how idol groups like AKB48 are promoted as being populated with “ordinary” girls who you can meet.

koakuma ageha model gyaru hostess

Image via @

koakuma ageha model gyaru hostess

Image via @aiuchicocoa

The new bimonthly magazine is hoping to sell 80-100,000 copies. Pictured are some of the models.

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru fashion magazine japan shibuya omotesando pop-up store relaunch issue

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Female college students design wearable devices as smart fashion accessories

Written by: William on March 20, 2015 at 10:57 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | 4 Comments

Ten types of stylish wearable smart accessories designed by current female college students have been unveiled. The designs are the results of a project run in partnership between Recruit Technologies’ Advanced Technology Lab and Rikejo, a service for supporting “scientific girls” by the publisher Kodansha.

The designs were themed around making female-friendly lifestyle gadgets, to include such functions as morning wake-up alarms, schedule reminders, friend notifications, compasses, timers, last train alerts, and so on.

rikejo wearable device technology fashion female scientist gadget japanese trend

rikejo wearable device technology fashion female scientist gadget japanese trend

At first glance, these designs may look more fashionable than overtly technological; on the surface just bracelets, necklaces, hair bands and more. But they are all meant to integrate certain wearable devices functions.

rikejo wearable device technology fashion female scientist gadget japanese trend

rikejo wearable device technology fashion female scientist gadget japanese trend

rikejo wearable device technology fashion female scientist gadget japanese trend

rikejo wearable device technology fashion female scientist gadget japanese trend

rikejo wearable device technology fashion female scientist gadget japanese trend

The project saw the prototypes created within six months, with the designers hailing from a range of colleges such as Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Hosei University and Aoyama Gakuin University.

The local obsession with females in science took a hit with the Haruko Obokata stem cell scandal last year but that still hasn’t stopped institutions trying to promote women in lab coats who can inject some glamor into the sterile world of academia. Earlier this year, for example, the University of Tokyo released an encyclopedia of beautiful female students. Obokata was the pinnacle of a brief flurry of interest in Rikejo — “scientist women” — though there is a precedent. A few years there was a similar trend for so-called Reki-jo, female history buffs.

[Image via FashionSnap.com]

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Discontinued hostess culture magazine Koakuma Ageha relaunches

Written by: William on March 12, 2015 at 8:52 am | In LIFESTYLE | 1 Comment

Almost a year after we blogged that iconic gyaru and hostess subculture magazine Koakuma Ageha was closing down comes some unexpected good news: Ageha is returning.

koakuma ageha hostess magazine relaunch memorial book

Last year was a gloomy one for fashion magazines, with gyaru magazine egg also shuttering. The recent news that established art magazine Bijutsu Techo’s managing company is in financial trouble is a further sign that the industry is in trouble.

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru magazine fashion japan

So the announcement that Ageha, which once sold between 300-400,000 copies a month, is coming back to life is a rare glimmer of hope — or merely a bold move by the publisher.

koakuma ageha hostess gyaru magazine fashion japan

In late 2014 the Koakuma Ageha Memorial Book was published, collecting together the eight years of the magazine.

koakuma ageha hostess magazine relaunch memorial book

Readers and fans gave it an enthusiastic response, enough to merit reviving the magazine itself, it seems.

And so now comes the announcement that in April there will be a new issue of the magazine, now published by Dunnery Deluxe. The resurrected Ageha will be on sale at bookstores around Japan priced ¥680.

Of course, there’s an adage in the music industry that the best way to sell records is to kill off your artist. In the same way, Koakuma Ageha’s “death” generated a lot of publicity for a title no longer in vogue. The question now is whether it can ride this new wave of interest to establish another monthly readership like it had years ago.

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UNIQLO and Shochiku launch Kabuki-inspired t-shirts and clothes in March

Written by: William on February 17, 2015 at 9:28 am | In PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

For such a ubiquitous apparel chain, UNIQLO demonstrates a healthy tendency to innovate. Every year its UT t-shirts change and it always works with a massive range of designers and famous franchises to create original collectible clothing.

While in the past these have included pop series from anime and cinema, this time UNIQLO has sought out inspiration from the past.

The Shochiku Kabuki x UNIQLO Project kicks off with a series of t-shirts and other items on sale from March 26th.

Shochiku is a film and theater production company, and runs the Kabuki-za in Ginza, the most famous Kabuki theater.

uniqlo kabuki shochiku t-shirt clothes theater ichikawa ennosuke france japan

In the words of the official press release, the new project will “present to the world Japan’s traditional culture in the form of
modern pop culture through Kabuki and clothes.”

Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke IV will be the “Project Ambassador” and the line will go on sale in 14 markets around the world. The launch is actually happening first in France — Japan has an obsession with France as the pinnacle of high culture and the affection is reciprocated — on March 20th, a week ahead of the Japan release.

The new series will include t-shirts, lounge wear, bandanas and tote bags. The designs will include motifs from the Ichikawa yago as well as kumadori stage makeup. Full details of designs will be released on March 19th.

uniqlo kabuki shochiku t-shirt clothes theater ichikawa ennosuke france japan

“I believe Japan can rightfully take pride in the artistic traditions and beauty of Kabuki, which we have been promoting ever since our foundation in 1895. Working together with UNIQLO has given us the opportunity to express Kabuki’s bold, yet delicate, aesthetics on clothing in a way never seen before to millions of UNIQLO fans around the world,” says Jay Sakomoto, Shochiku President and CEO.

The new range is a very nice boost for Kabuki, which was declared a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005. While not as inaccessible as Noh, it is nonetheless an esoteric taste today and most Japanese have trouble understanding all the complex stylistic points, let alone the actual language (performances are surtitled). Foreign tourists, though, are always fascinated by its color and flair, and the right people seem to know this, as evidenced by upcoming March opening of a “Kabuki Gate” at Narita Airport. This spring really will have a Kabuki flavor.

There is a precedent for this from the beauty industry. Isshin Do Honpo Inc has had great success with its series of Kabuki face packs. Like the UNIQLO t-shirts, they too have been made with the help of genuine Kabuki performers and reflect the makeup of characters in real Kabuki plays.

This is the true “cool Japan”: traditions mixed with modern convenience and lifestyle.

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GU holds “Kabe-don” event at Ginza branch, hot guys trap female customers against wall

Written by: William on December 9, 2014 at 9:13 pm | In LIFESTYLE | 5 Comments

UNIQLO spin-off GU recently held a kabe-don event at its Ginza branch as a promo for a holiday season sale.

Does the idea of having a hot guy leaning up against you inside a clothes store, slapping his hand against the wall to trap you in his intimate embrace, inspire you to purchase some fast fashion?

Well, on December 5th GU had a pair of attractive Japanese guys offering just this “service” at its Ginza store.

gu kabe-don event ginza store

gu kabe-don event ginza store

All you had to do was head to the GU outlet in Ginza, pick one of the special holiday season items in the promo, and then ask the men if the clothes suited you. One of the hotties would then tell you how good you looked while doing a kabe-don on you.

Judging by the pictures and official video, the women were apparently pleased to have guys leaning in on them, perhaps because ordinarily they would have to drag their unenthused partners around on a clothes shopping spree. The idea of a guy taking the time to go around with them in a store — and even compliment and try to get romantic between the aisles — is seemingly a fantasy for some female consumers.

gu kabe-don event ginza store

gu kabe-don event ginza store

Kabe-don has been one of the trends of the year, with the Morinaga “Kabe-don” Cafe in Harajuku creating headlines for its sheer audacity (it used an artificial waiter), as well pictures of apparent kabe-don poses spreading on social media.

Kabe-don refers to a certain position where a man places his hand against a wall, keeping his female partner there so he can lean in for a smooch. The kabe part means “wall” while don is the sound of the hand hitting the surface.

gu kabe-don event ginza store

At the GU event some lucky girls got both guys doing a double kabe-don on them. And this wasn’t a sexist event either, since male customers were also treated to the same experience.

gu kabe-don event ginza store

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Snickers offers free (but crazy) haircuts at Hungry Barber hair salon in Tokyo’s Omotesando

Written by: William on December 4, 2014 at 7:48 am | In LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Want a free haircut? Of course!

But the free cut being offered by Mars Japan Limited for six days at weekends in Omotesando comes at a different sort of price. It’s kind of insane.

While Japan already has its fair dose of odd fashion and beauty trends, many of which manifest themselves as larger-than-life hair styles or wigs, this might be the best hirsute promo we’ve seen in the capital.

snickers hungry barber crazy hair cut style salon omotesando

The Snickers Hungry Barber will be open for customers over December 12th to 14th, and December 19th to 21st. Based as a pop-up at Zerobase Omotesando (5-1-25 Minami-Aoyama, Minato Ward, Tokyo), patrons can choose from one of eight styles, including “techno”, heavy metal, mohican, “omakase” (leave it to you), “half & half”, and “bakuhatsu” (explosion).

Please pick your cut from the menu below.

snickers hungry barber crazy hair cut style salon omotesando

If you want a free mohican, you also have to pose for a photo of your new cut with a bar of Snickers, and then upload it to social media. After all, getting your head buzzed is all about creating marketing buzz.

We should point at that while some of the outlandish haircuts might be home in certain districts of Tokyo, the tony Omotesando neighborhood is usually known for luxury fashion and chic tastes.

snickers hungry barber crazy hair cut style salon omotesando

Hey, at least you can console yourself with the chocolate bar?

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Omotenashi Kimono Experience: Traditional Japan, on the Cheap

Written by: Tokyo Cheapo on December 3, 2014 at 12:05 pm | In CULTURE | 1 Comment

This article by Katie Reilly first appeared on Tokyo Cheapo.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

So you want to get dressed up, do the whole kimono thing while you’re in Tokyo? These timeless outfits are not exactly cheap, but that’s why kimono rentals exist. You can experience wearing one for a short time without having to spend an enormous amount of money. Plus, by renting you have someone there to help you with the tricky business of putting it on.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

Kimono are the traditional clothing of Japan. While they are not generally seen on a daily basis today, they are still often worn by women and sometimes men for festivals and special occasions. Traditionally kimono were made of silk, though nowadays there are cheaper ones made with less expensive fabrics. Kimono are wrapped so that the left side covers the right, adjusted for height, and are secured with an obi. These are sashes that keep the fabric in place and are tied in the back. Kimono are a beautiful aspect of Japanese culture and fun to experience.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

The Omotenashi Kimono Experience (“omotenashi” loosely translating as hospitality) provided by the Nihonbashi Information Center is a reasonable way to try out kimono. At ¥5,500 it won’t be the cheapest thing you do in Tokyo, but it’s good value for the service it offers.

You start by picking out your favorite pattern and color of kimono from the selection they provide, and match it with an obi of your choice. You then move into a second room where their staff will help you put on the kimono. As it is a rather complicated process to attempt by yourself for the first time, they will take care of it for you. It is recommended that you wear or bring an undershirt, as you may want it for extra coverage since you will only be wearing undergarments beneath your kimono. The whole process of getting into a kimono takes about 20 minutes.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

After you get into your kimono, you can take some photographs in the tatami room. There are a couple of Japan-esque parasols that can be used when you pose. Once you have taken all the inside photos you want, you choose your zōri (traditional shoes worn with kimono) which are worn with white tabi (traditional socks that divide your big toe from the rest of your toes) and head out for a stroll. While you are out, you can store your belongings in a bag that the center provides and they will keep it for you until you return.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo
A prime spot for photos, just behind the Coredo building.

The kimono experience can be paired with the guided Best of Japan tour offered by the Nihonbashi Information Center, but if you do the kimono experience separately you are free to wander wherever you want (which we prefer). You have until 6 pm to return the kimono, giving you enough time (if you start at lunchtime) to go sightseeing and take photographs around the city. While they’ll give you a pamphlet on places to see in Nihonbashi, you shouldn’t feel limited to that area. Asakusa is our recommended destination, as there are many shrines and temples there that are good spots for snapping kimono pics.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

The kimono experience is only offered on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm (with the 6 pm kimono return), and it’s best to book in advance as they seem to fill up quickly. You can do that online, and you can also schedule a group if you would like to do it with friends or family.

The Omotenashi Kimono Experience can be found in the Kyorakutei Room on the third floor of COREDO Muromachi 3, which is easy to get to from Mitsukoshimae and Nihonbashi Stations. The information center is in the basement floor of the same building, and the staff can give you advice on what can be seen in the area. You can also do a geisha experience (that whole white make-up thing is not part of the regular kimono experience) and tea ceremony for additional fees.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

The building where it all happens.

Think you might like to get one of your own? Here’s a cheapo guide to buying kimono.

Read on Tokyo Cheapo.

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Shiseido Hanatsubaki, Geppo and Graph magazine archives document rich history of Japanese cosmetic advertising and graphic design

Written by: William on November 25, 2014 at 11:04 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Shiseido’s Hanatsubaki digital archive is a fascinating glimpse back into Japan’s cosmetics advertising past.

Drawing on the graphic design and ads featured over the years in Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s consumer magazine founded in 1937, and its previous publications Shiseido Geppo (started in 1924) and Shiseido Graph (1933), the archive is a veritable treasure trove.

Shiseido has just added some new Shiseido Geppo (Shiseido Monthly) images from the December 1930 issue, giving us an excuse to indulge in selections from its previous archives. The changing style of the design obviously reflects the progress of both the social and publishing scene.

Shiseido Geppo, 1924

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, July 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, December 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, June 1935

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1936 Issue 31

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 45

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 49

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, January 1940

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, March 1952

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, July 1953

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, April 1960

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, June 1962

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s “corporate culture magazine”, still continues today. Its name is derived from the Japanese camellia flower and which of course Shiseido has also created a whole line of Tsubaki hair products.

See more images at the Shiseido Hanatsubaki digital archive.

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Trend no more? Pioneering Harajuku tattoo tights store Avantgarde closes, street fashion moves on

Written by: William on November 18, 2014 at 7:38 am | In LIFESTYLE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | 1 Comment

It has been one of the biggest trends of recent years and then just like that, it has faded away.

So-called “tattoo tights” exploded into the popular and digital consciousness in 2011, even garnering overseas attention. The streets of areas like Harajuku and Shibuya were filled with the pins of young girls wearing fake body art-style leggings. The sheer variety of the “tattoo” designs was impressive: from Hello Kitty aplenty to cats, rabbits, onions, and more.

avantgarde-tattoo tights street fashion japan harajuku leggings

Avantgarde is the main brand behind the street fashion trend and as such opened a tattoo tights store in Harajuku in October 2011. It seems the legs of the fashionista have moved on, since Avantgarde will be closing the brand’s basement-level boutique on November 24th in the face of declining demand for their stockings.

Tattoo tights were a victim of their own success, with numerous replica and cheap imitations flooding the market. Yes, fake-fake tattoo tights!

avantgarde-tattoo tights street fashion japan harajuku leggings
[Image source]

Launched in 2009 by Kazuhiro Watanabe, MAM Avantgarde was constantly thinking up new bold designs as well as wide-ranging collaborations, including Hello Kitty and Disney. In 2012 Tokyo Fashion.com called Avantgarde Harajuku “the most influential legwear boutique in the Tokyo street fashion scene today”. Sadly, it was not enough to ride the notoriously capricious waves of street fashion for long.

Avantgarde has not announced any new plans for other stores but will continue to sell online. There are still lots of tattoo tights around so perhaps we shouldn’t write off the trend quite yet.

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