Live: Dolly [Iris in Wonderland]

Hey Darlings!

Last Tuesday, I went to a live in Sakae with a friend from school. It was a one-man live for Dolly; if you're into lolita, you may know them for their collaborations with Black Peace Now.

The venue was just a five minute walk from Oosu Kanon temple, in e.l.l.'s FITS ALL live house.  It's a three story venue with different lives on each floor. 

One of the more interesting sounding lives that night was a band called "BLOOD AND CHAIN": the "LIVE DAMN YOU, LIVE!" tour. Since there were a lot of older people lined up outside at the same time, all I could think was "They're DEFINITELY here for Blood and Chain." Haha~

Anyway, back to Dolly, which was held on the third floor. The hall was probably the smallest I've been in, it couldn't have been holding more than a hundred people. There were a few people in Visual Kei or lolita, but mostly the crowd was dressed in typical Nagoya fare of cookie-cutter department store outfits. Still stylish, but like the name of the club, "fits all". 

There were tiny vendor tables selling photo sets, dvds and albums, but actual merch was dispensed through a 500 yen gachapon machine. The picture in the container you won was the merchandise you got. Some prizes were towels, buttons, shirts and tote bags to name a few. 

You could also buy glow sticks stamped with the band name. At first I didn't give it much thought, since it's usual for bands to sell flashlights and such. But later in the live, the fans were all doing coordinated dances with them. It made me wonder, how do they all know such things? 

The live was so much fun. They played a good mix of fast and slow songs, and took a long time to talk to the fans during the interlude. They're all so sweet and their distinct personalities show on stage. Masa, my bias in Dolly, often moves like a mechanical doll. Mitsu, the vocalist, is very talented but surprisingly shy!

The live was long too, with not one, but two encores. I left in total visual kei bliss, loving the band even more.

Unfortunately, I heard that this is Dolly's last tour before they go on hiatus. I hope it's not true, considering they just released a new single, and from the looks of it, have a Promo event at La Foret's Black Peace Now store in June. 

They've grown in talent and personality since I first heard of them; they've cultivated their own flavour for their songs, something that takes a lot of experience, creativity and team work. On top of all this, the close relationship with their fans made the atmosphere of that hall so bright and friendly; not many bands take such a personal interest. I felt like every member was looking at every smiling face individually, and smiling back. 

In other news, I announced in my last post that I wanted to do something special to celebrate having 100 followers. I decided to have a give away, and I haven't quite decided the means, but I've all ready gotten the prize. 

Here's a hint!

 Till next time,

Cosplay in Japan

Hello Darlings! 

Long time no post, but as usual, things have been busy. It's all ready mid-term, I can't believe it! My class had a huge speaking/video project, essay exam, and a 22-chapter long grammar exam all in the same week.

However, I've had plenty of opportunities to unwind and hang out with my friends in Japan. I've met a wide variety of people here, all with different interests and the same hobbies as me. One of my hobbies I'm really into is cosplay, but until recently I was too embarrassed to bring it up in front of people. By chance, I met a friend at karaoke one night who also happened to be a cosplayer, and last week, she took me to my first cosplay event in Japan!

Compared to western anime conventions, which can run $30-60 for admission, the cost of admission was cheap. 900 yen for a program, which was stuffed with ads for upcoming events, fan drawings, and cosplay shops.

That 900 yen cover got you into the arena, where vendors sold primarily hand-made goods, such as doujinshi (fan comics), fan art, handmade clothing and accessories, stickers and more. (Anime cons in the US usually have a section like this called the "Artist Alley", where only original hand-made goods can be sold.)

500 yen bought you a badge for admission into what I'd like to call the "Cosplay Pit"; the half of the arena roped off exclusively for cosplayers, photographers, and these babies:

Cars of all makes and models with custom made anime designs. I usually see these driving around Oosu or near Nagoya station, but had never seen so many in one place! I was floored by the detail! 

Trophies were awarded for the best designs. Many had displays inside the car windows or around the car, to keep with the theme. Even if you aren't an auto enthusiast, you would have enjoyed this part of the event. 

Back to the Cosplay Pit. As a cosplayer, you had to do little more than walk in and people would queue to snap your photo. Photographers of all ages and skill levels were there, some with cellphone cameras, others with arsenals of professional gear. 

After photos were taken, there was the exchange of meishi, business cards. This was something I had never seen before. Each cosplayer carried a mini portfolio of meishi, usually of different cosplays they had done. Usually they will let you pick the card you want, they're pretty friendly people. :) The cards may have a box you can scan with your cellphone to view their page online, or it may have their profile number for sites such as Archive or Cure. Photographers also carried meishi to keep in touch with the people they shot. 

In the US, I usually cosplay outfits from Visual Kei PVs such as The GazettE and Dir en grey. I hadn't gotten around to making an online profile yet. After this event, I made an Archive profile to keep in touch with my new friends. Archive's free cosplayer profile has an online meishi maker installed, which is easy and fun to work with. 

I'm starting to really get back into this hobby! And that's probably a really good thing, since starting this year, my home state of Hawaii will be included in preliminaries for the World Cosplay Summit

I know I'll have to leave Japan soon when this school year ends, but the World Cosplay Summit is actually hosted here in Nagoya every year! How awesome would it be if I could come back here to compete?

Till next time,


PS- ALMOST 100 FOLLOWERS, wow, thank you so much! I will have to do something special for my readers if I break 100!

Golden Week in Tokyo

... or should I say, Golden four days in Tokyo. My university had class until Wednesday afternoon, with its fair share of quizzes and essays. By the time I boarded my 4 PM highway bus, I was ready for a vacation... and the semester has barely kicked off!

Months ago, my friend from Hawaii (Sam) said she wanted to visit Tokyo for Golden Week. I started planning accordingly, reserving early bus tickets and making spare space in my closet. Since she was coming with three other friends, all of us shared a rental house two train stops away from Harajuku. 

We had a blast, and I got to see a lot more of Tokyo on this trip!

This is a huge post with a lot of photos, so read on under the jump-cut!

Key to my heart

One thing I wanted to try in Japan was getting another tattoo (in spite of my onsen incident earlier this year). I expected it to be difficult, expensive, and patronising. Turns out, it was only one out of three; the cost was the only draw back.

I researched some tattoo studios in the area, and made excursions to visit. After reading a report on an English Nagoya Web Zine, I decided on "Boobies" tattoo studio in Sakae. In spite of their attention-grabbing name, they have a well-established customer base and a professional website, available in English and Japanese. There are three locations in Nagoya, each home to unique artists with different styles. 

I drew the design myself and carried it in to the studio to make an appointment. Much to my surprise I was able to choose an artist and set up an appointment that same afternoon. My design was of two swallow birds, one holding a star shaped key, and the other a heart shaped lock. 

I wanted to commission Nakatake-san for this tattoo, because of his delicate line work, retro style and beautiful colouring. He adapted my design perfectly, and also cleaned it up for straight lines and symmetry. He's very kind, very talented, and very helpful.

For example, I originally wanted the birds on my collar bones, but thanks to Nakatake-sans's suggestion, I placed it up higher on my shoulder instead. I think it looks so cute and feminine here, but it is also easy to conceal with a cardigan or shirt. 

Since the cost was more than I anticipated, I will have just the blue bird for now. It represents courage and opportunity from my loved ones, which helps me fly.

When it was done, the artist said my freckles looked like the bird was sparkling. 

Till next time,