Archive | August, 2010

Kawaii from Shanghai

31 Aug

Kawaii from Shanghai
6/FEB/2010

“Kawaii” is popular everywhere now.
Gaijin Gyaru in Spain, Yamamba and Hime Gyaru in the U.K, Lolita in Russia, and a Hime nail girl in Thailand.

Japanese fashion magazines are the source of kawaii culture. Chinese version of Japanese “Ray” magazine is the most widely read in the world. It’s released over one million copies already. It’s based on China. 80,000 people gathered from all over China to compete for the position of a cover girl to this magazine at the contest. Tokyo Kawaii TV negotiated with the authority of the contest and was told that they welcome Japanese models to join the contest.

How is street snap in Shanghai? There are young Chinese people who love Japanese culture and dress like Japanese people in Tokyo. A department store that opened 2004 in Shanghai has over 30 Japanese brand shops. Fashionable Chinese girls like to shop there to receive Japanese-styled high quality service at shopping. Nowadays as many as 9 Japanese fashion magazines are published in China, which are translated into Chinese.
“I can learn fashion and makeup from these magazines.” “Unlike western fashion magazines, the size of the clothes on Japanese magazines is suitable for us too.” These are the comments from the Chinese readers.

Chinese version of Ray magazine is translated from original Japanese version, added some unique posts from China and is available at stores in China 3 weeks after the Japanese version of Ray is released in Japan. It was 15 years ago they entered into licensing agreements. At first, Chinese version was thin and simple. Within 15 years, it’s 3 times thicker than the first stage thanks to increasing sponsors!

While Chinese Ray issues over 1 million copies, original Japanese Ray does 200,000 copies only.

Yuan-san is a Chinese reporter who shoots snaps on the street in Harajuku. He does this for Chinese fashion magazine. Since he came over to Japan, he has been updating Japanese trends thru his website for 22 years for Chinese people in the world. There are about 380,000 Chinese people from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and all over the world. Since tourist visa has been open for Chinese individuals in July 2009, there are more and more Chinese tourists coming to Japan today. Japanese products such as Kadokeshi or nose mask are so hot in China.

He also thought the LED hand mirror would be well-received in China. Today he is busy writing the articles about hot Japanese trends for his customers in Taiwan and Beijing.

Bunka Gakuen is the oldest fashion school in Japan that has turned out top designers such as Yohji Yamamoto or Hiroko Koshino. Nowadays international students from China have increased. There are more than 100 Chinese students enrolled at the school today. Shu-san is good at making stage costumes from the image of the fusion of European classic music and Japanese visual-kei music bands. She lives in an apartment in Gothic tasted interior and she likes Gackt and Mana-sama. It was 4.5 years ago she visited Japan for the first time to see the live concert of Mana-sama. She was so much inspired by the stage costumes worn at the concert and she thought she wanted to make them by herself. “I want to make costumes from the image I sensed from my favorite music” says Shu-san. She makes all the clothes she wears daily. Her dream is to connect Japan and China through stage costumes and clothes.

Tokyo Kawaii TV decided to select Japanese models for the candidates of the cover girl to the Chinese Ray magazine.
In fact, there are some Japanese people who succeeded in promoting in China. In the Chinese version of LEON magazine for example, you can find Komatsu-san, a 31-year-old Japanese guy. He has succeeded in Chinese show business industry and he speaks good Chinese. 3 years ago, he was acting as a side character at some small-scaled afternoon dramas in Japan, but his carrier was not something he was able to be proud of. When he heard the opportunity for the audition that was held by a TV station in China, he thought he had to challenge it and if he failed, he would have to give up show business industry. He left Japan, joined the audition and was selected one of the top 20 good looking guys at the audition. Since then Chinese people supported him to make him popular.

In Hong Kong, Kuranari-san, a Japanese woman has become very popular through a major TV program. She used to be a dokumo to a Japanese fashion magazine and her carrier in Japan was limited to some image videos. She taught herself both English and Chinese, and especially she enjoys learning Chinese from singing karaoke.

Kirin’s opinion:
I respect Yuan-san. I just wonder how it’s like to be to keep running this blog for over 20 years…and I still act like kawaii 50s, 60s, and 70s who recommend kawaii artificial tooth and reading glasses! That’s kinda cute though…lol I can be a kawaii old lady, haha!
But it’ll be so cool if I can receive writing jobs thru this blog like him. :p

It’s always so interesting how Japanese fashion is liked by the people from many different places on the globe.
BTW, I think it’s a good idea to learn foreign language from singing! I wonder why these Japanese fashion magazines are not translated into English first of all. That could’ve been possible before Chinese version… :p

Disclaimer: Tokyo Kawaii TV is a TV program owned and broadcasted by NHK Japan, and has nothing to do with this blog.

***There are archives of episodes listed under the page titled “Tokyo Kawaii TV” that is just located under the title banner of this blog.
***If you want to know the music that was used in the episode, please refer to this page and help yourself to find it by selecting the date when the episode was on air in Japan.

Duck lips are the way to be kawaii?

29 Aug

Duck lips are called “Ahirukuchi” or “Ahiruguchi” in Japanese. (ahiru= duck, kuchi= mouth, guchi is to make kuchi pronounced easier when it’s combined with other words.) Making duck lips is considered kawaii in Japan now, especially among young Japanese girls. I didn’t know Ahiruguchi is even popular as “duck lips” outside Japan!!

I don’t know if the definition of Japanese duck lips is the same as English one, but in Japan “Ahiruguchi” is defined as upcurved lips with thin upper lip.

Beauty essence designed for cute lips was released lately. It helps girls make cute lips, regardless of duck lips. ^ ^; It can be used as a replacement of lip gloss, according to the reviews of the users. My problem is that I don’t like to put on lipstick unless it’s health-conscious product. No matter how beautiful the color is, I just don’t feel like applying it on my lips once I see what’s inside.

People say it’s very small amount of “something artificial” such as fragrance or chemicals inside the beauty product that even affects nothing to human body. I know that, but I feel so bad when I take it into my body every time I drink or eat something. While at the same time I don’t mind eating fast food or pre-cooked food. You see how contradicting I am. haha! ^ ^;

Speaking of cosmetics, I somehow cannot help thinking this way. Because of this, I often prefer wearing lip balm or lipstick from the natural cosmetics brand I’ve been using since I was 21, instead of general lip gloss or lipstick. But I may want to check out the lip care essence instead of using lip gloss. :p Oh, I mean, it’s not for making duck lips myself. lol I personally think duck lips are cute, but it’s strange if everyone follows the same pattern of facial expression. Someday people will get bored with it. What do you think?

Depachika is a food paradise?

26 Aug

Basically Japanese people who work in the city have to spend a lot of time at work and less time at home. Overtime work is very normal. I’m afraid there are not many workers who can leave office at 5pm everyday. Most of full-time employees would work 9-7 or 9-9 or they may have to work on weekends too to cover their workload. This happens because work sharing has not become popular in this country. Each employee has to cope with the workload of 1.5 people, for example.

Well that’s not the main topic in this post. Reflecting such background, delicatessens are very popular. When we finish work at 7 or 8pm and take 1 hour to go back from the office to home, (Spending nearly 1 hour for commuting is quite normal in Tokyo area. Some even take nearly 2 hours!) do you think we feel like spending another 1 hour for cooking? If we did that, the dinner can be 10pm or something and that’s too much of labor and no free time left!

That’s why depachika, or department of delicatessens is popular. Delicatessens from depachika are not expensive compared with eating out at restaurants, but require no need of cooking, and they tast good. It’s called Nakashoku. “Naka” means something in-between. “Shoku” means meals or foods. Delicatessens from depachika are considered meals between eating-out and home cooking. It’s also true that we want to eat relaxed at home rather than at a restaurant outside especially after working 10 hours, for example. If we buy only main and side dishes from depachika and prepare rice at home, we can even save some money. haha…^ ^;

Depachika usually has variety of cuisines and sweets. But the difference is that their foods must be easy to be carried away and still taste good after hours later. Thus, basically they don’t have noodles. Well, they may do but I’d avoid it anyhow. ^ ^;

The pictures are from the depachika in Lazona Kawasaki.

Some packed bentos.

Delicatessen is called “Osouzai” or just “Souzai” in Japanese. (“O” is added to make it sound more elegant, but it’s actually “souzai”.) Here are some souzais. (It sounds weird to make a Japanese word plural form because we don’t have this notion. Am I supposed to write “bentos” and “sozais” as plural form of “bento” and “sozai”? )

Tonkatsu special corner

Sushi special corner. We can eat sushi a lot cheaper than we do at authentic sushi restaurants. Actually most of us rarely can go eat at authentic sushi restaurant. We may get these affordable packed sushi from depachika or supermarket or Kaitenzushi (sushi-go-round restaurant).

Tempura special corner.

Unagi special corner.

Chinese special corner. We love Chinese food just as much as you! I think Chinese and Italian cuisines are most popular among other foreign cuisines in Japan.

Gyoza special corner.

I found kawaii set of Butaman (steamed pork buns). 🙂 Don’t you think they are too cute to be eaten? XD

Don’t forget to get some vegetables or Japanese pickles, too.

You can get delicatessens at local supermarkets cheaper, and it does not always mean deli from depachika tastes better than that from supermarket only because it’s more expensive. I had experiences that deli from depachika tasted terrible for the money I spent!

Anyhow, I have two contradicting thoughts:
1) I want to have a free passport to my favorite depachika!
2) I wonder how the unsold food is treated. Sometimes even after time sale (to reduce the dead stock of food) is over, there are still some left. These must be consumed in the same day. I wish they were not just dumped as garbage. I wonder if the unsold food can be given to homeless people or homeless dogs…This is my strongest concern. When people are dying from no food on the other side of the globe, how can we waste food if it’s still edible?

Every time I walk around depachika, I am suffering from those 2 complex feelings. How about you?

Handmade Notebooks

24 Aug

As some of you might have noticed, I created a new page “Gallery” on this blog, in which I can share beautiful art and craftworks created by my Japanese artists or artisans (and hopefully by myself, too in the future!). The main purpose of this page is to give them an opportunity to have their works seen by foreign people as often as possible. I believe this will trigger their motivation to create more kawaii or cool works. 😉

Kawaii Notebooks:

Kawaii Notebook -Matcha-

Kawaii Notebook -Matcha (inside)-

Kawaii Notebook -Botan-

Kawaii Notebook -Botan (inside)-

Kawaii Notebook -Fuji-

Kawaii Notebook -Fuji (inside)-

Kawaii Notebook -Sora-

Kawaii Notebook -Sora (inside)-

Recommended usage:

These are small and handy. Chika likes to bring one of them as an idea book, which I think is nice idea. I’d love to keep one for myself and write down the good phrases I encounter from reading or talking with friends, as well as new ideas for this blog or business! It’s also nice to use it as a diary with little illustration. I personally don’t like lined notebooks. I like free style just like these. It’s also cool to write a story in the book and make my own fictional novel and give it someone as a present<3

About the artist:

Chika
Chika has learned oil and acrylic paintings and she also has experience of making glassworks. Nowadays she enjoys drawing works with colored pencils or pastels. She has mastered bookbinding while she likes book, notebook and cloth. "It's my great pleasure to be able to have someone, even if it's only 1 person in the world, who understands my feeling that how much I'm impressed with the beauty of the color or the line of my work." Chika is very happy to have her works treated at Tokyo Kawaii, etc. and I am very happy to be able to share her works with my readers! 🙂 Please feel free to comment or contact me if you are interested in purchasing one of these works.

Hands Messe @ Tokyu Hands

22 Aug

Tokyu Hands holds annual sales event on Wed. 25 Aug. and that lasts for a week. Same as last year, I’m planning to go to the sales, probably the Shibuya or Shinjuku one, at the early days of the event and during the morning. Last year I got a small bag, coffee maker and some kitchen tools, towels, and some cosmetics I guess. 🙂

I could shop from Tokyu Hands online store, but I usually like to check out the products as themselves to see how the weight, texture, color, smell, and etc. are. The good (or bad) thing about shopping physically is I can find things I wouldn’t buy from online shops. Sometimes I can try the sample and it can be a lot better than I imagined. Sometimes people gather at a certain product which I would never mind but while I see the demonstration I finally find out why the product is so popular. I think I like shopping, especially shopping at offline shops, even if it’s only window-shopping. 🙂

Tokyu Hands online store does not ship internationally, just as most of any other Japanese online shops. If you want me to shop something from Tokyu Hands and ship to you, take a look at Tokyu Hands online store and give me the link of the item you want. I will upload the product onto my FlutterScape account and you can smoothly purchase the item from there.

If your order is complicated, such as this and that item from Tokyu Hands and this and that from somewhere else, for example, you can also hire me as your private buyer but actually there are several options you can purchase from Japanese online stores today.

I may be able to check out some of the great devices or useful kitchen tools that I shared in this blog some time ago. 😀

Anyhow contact me if you want me to help you purchase any products from Tokyu Hands. 😉

Hello Kitty hair salon

20 Aug

Since I had a discount ticket from Swimmer that can be used only Kawasaki – Yokohama area, I visited Lalaport Yokohama shopping mall for the first time the other day to get the goods for giveaway gift. Well, to be exact, I live somewhere just between Shibuya and Yokohama, 15 minutes to each by train. Thus I sometimes prefer going to Yokohama to Tokyo because it’s less people. I don’t like crowds. :p

In spite of weekdays, there were rather many people. No wonder, it’s in the middle of summer vacation for the most of people! As I work from home, my holiday will be when I have less work to be done or when others are working. I even prefer working over weekends, which is again to avoid crowds, and I’d go shopping in a daytime during weekdays. (I like shopping alone, because I’ve never made a great buy when I was with friends. I guess my attention is distracted by chatting more than shopping!) I feel very tired when I’m back from places like Shibuya or Shinjuku. But the fatigue can be healed unbelievably once I take a hot bath. I love bathing but it’s too hot to bathe during summer. 😦

Anyhow I found something weird at the shopping mall. It’s Hello Kitty hair salon!
I saw a little girl having her hair cut while she was crying… This place must be something fun and the parents will have to pay more than they’d do at ordinary hair salons. According to the salon, they let kids watch Sanrio DVD and take a picture with the Kitty doll at the end. The hair salon encourages moms to get their hair done while their kids get a haircut. To me hair salon is sort of relaxing and refreshing place. I felt for busy moms.

I somehow felt it little weird, though. This weirdness may have something to do with Sanrio Puroland, I guessed. It’s very interesting that I like Hello Kitty more than Disney characters but I like Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea hundred times more than Sanrio Puroland. Well, to be honest, I’ve never been there because I’m not inclined to. Having Hello Kitty goods and being surrounded by Hello Kitty themed interior is quite another thing, although Hello Kitty interior looks more familiar in Taiwan. Especially Hello Kitty doll at the front was weird when we are used to the little Kitty-chan with a large head and too short feet. The balance of the doll is very different from Hello Kitty as a character that we love.

When I felt sick of entire pink with too bright light, I found more pink right next to the Hello Kitty studio. (BTW what color is the complementary color against pink? I wondered how it’d be like to work inside this store everyday from open to close. I’d go crazy if I had to. Likewise I cannot stand listening to the same music on and on… So many things made me end up with working from home. haha…^ ^;)

It’s Pink-Latte, one of the branch stores I have seen in Harajuku. I saw so many teenage kids shopping there. I was just like out-of-place adult who liked to shop something teenage girls loved. Well but I like small goods from Pink Latte. I didn’t know they had so many stores around Japan.

To my surprise, I also found SunHoseki store on the same floor, which I may post under kawaii shop later. SunHoseki is definitely for teen age kids. I believe their goods will be nice souvenirs to kids because they are cheap and kawaii. 🙂

Do you have character themed hair salons in your area?

iphone 4 cases with deco design

18 Aug

I don’t even have my iphone. But I happened to find some cute iphone 4 cases and I picked up some for selling at FlutterScape.

Also this is the cutest Rilakkuma iphone case (for iphone 3GS/3G) I found at Rilakkuma store the other day. (I went there to shop for the giveaway gift for one of the winners. 😉 )

In Japan, new cell phones are always released to the market and a-few-months old phones are disappearing from cell phone stores. Every phone had different shape and design and so it was impossible to change covers from old one to the new one, from one brand to another, and that’s why we had to decorate cell phones by ourselves if we wanted to have decoden. Compared with that, iphone is great. It’s the same shape anywhere. It’s a lot more eco-firendly compared with ours. We have too many different designed new phones with unnecessary functions added from the beginning. Thanks to iphone, we can easily purchase cute iphone covers like these and even decoden can be done so easily!!

I want my iphone…but if I had that money, I’d choose to travel somewhere. 😀