Thursday, 27 March 2014

Guro Lolita Polyvore Sets

One of my favorite styles of lolita is Guro, but the sad truth is that it's not a very wearable style. Even compared to other lolita styles, guro stands out as just too much like a costume. So I've been playing around on Polyvore trying to make some more subtle, every-day friendly guro lolita co-ords!

This Vierge Vampur JSK is almost overdone in horror and guro sets due to it's immense popularity. But who can blame us? It's wonderful!

Casual Guro Lolita - Really, the only aspects that give it a guro feel are the colour sceme and the medical symbol ebroidery on the boots. This is also what keeps is casual.

"The Mad Scientist" Guro Dandy is very rare. Even moreso that guro lolita. This meta blouse really inspired me due to it's similarity to a lab coat.

"Red Cure" - okay so this one isn't casual, but I always loved this dress and wanted to make an outfit around it. I also adore those shoes, but I have way too many pairs of red shoes to justify buying those ones.

                            "Snow White and the Poison Apple" - again, not casual. But I pre-ordered this dress almost a month ago and it will be getting sent out to me soon! I'm so excited to attempt a co-ord like this in real life.

So, what do you think? Love guro? Hate guro? Any ideas for future collages? Are you on polyvore (add me!)?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Maid Cafés in Tokyo

Lots of people wanted to know about Maid Cafés! However, this post will cover the more generic phenomenon of Themed cafes, that usually get lumped together under the term 'maid' cafes.

What most people think of when they talk about japanese Maid Cafés is something along the lines of the very popular "@Home Cafe":
Since the last time I visited, they have expanded the small cafe located inside DonK, and opened a while seperate merchandise shop elsewhere. The interior now also features a stage where Maids will call on people to come and have their picture taken together with them!
This cafe features everything a typical Maid Cafe is expected to: cute girls, in cute maid outfits who welcome you, show you to your seat and play games with you at the table. I ordered bunny cheesecake, and a a caramel latte. The maids will usually ask you what you want drawn on your latte in syrup, or if you order food, what you want drawn in ketchup! Of course I said a bunny!

Almost the exact opposite of the maid cafe is the fairly new idea of Garcon Bars.
One such bar being "Queen Dolce"


These bars are run by 'Garcon' girls - a new fashion aesthetic involving beautiful women dressed as handsome men! The term comes from the french word garcon, but the first part is identical in japanese to the already existsing japanese fashion "Gal". Gal is a purely femminine fashion, Garcon is a form, maybe deformation of that.

I ordered this champagne cocktail "Berry Red".
It was delicious, and made even sweeter by the handsome girl that so charmingly served it to me!
An interesting thing to note, is that the atmosphere of this kind of place is much more relaxed for alternative people that most of japan. This was the only place I saw an openly lesbian couple sitting together, and cross-dressing lolitas openly chatting and having a good time! The 'garcon bar' (often labeled in english as a 'cross dresser cafe'), is a very queer-friendly place to be, and that is a huge step forward!

Most standard Maid Cafe's don't have another theme beyond the cute maids in a cute setting, so what sets The Granvania apart is that it's also a german theme restaurant!


The maids at Granvnia wear a more typical black and white outfit, but they sometimes have theme days where they will be in cosplay or school uniforms.
The thing that struck me the most was how authentic the food was... usually in Japan, even wetsern styled food is very obviously japanese.
But Granvania seems to have tipped the balance, the soup in the meal set was even Scotch broth!
We visited a few times.

Kind of in-between the typical cute maid cafe, and the traditional style of granvania is "Schatzkiste"

The maids are styled as traditional victorian maids, in mop caps and floor length black and white dresses and aprons. The cafe itself is very small and stacked high with books that are free to read while you eat!
Schatzkiste also runs their own in-house manga, featuring the maids as characters.

The last Cafe on this list is my favourite. The infamous "Vampire Cafe" in Ginza!


 Classical music played on an organ is the background music of choice. The seats are all black leather and every table is surrounded in its own heavy red velvet curtains for privacy while you eat.
The maids are in black and white, one even had dyed pink hair and fangs.
I ordered a very strong cocktail and risotto. The food was served on a black, coffin-shaped plate with a real rosebud in the centre as garnish.
Even the bathrooms were appropriately decorated, with blood splatter effect across the mirrors.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Fun food in Tokyo

More that one person requested a post about FOOD! I love japanese food, all seafood, green tea, and unusual fruit flavours are all things I enjoy.

My absolute favourite Japanes snack if meiji strawberry chocolate:

 It comes in large bars, or small packets of individually wrapped squares like the one in the picture.
It is milk chocolate with a pink strawberry flavour filling. The strawberry isn't like strawberry candy, it tastes like real strawberries!

 This is from a trip to Mister Doughnut. This chain is hugely popular in japan, and they serve lots of interesting unique doughnuts. A fairly common thing in japan is point-cards, prizes and specialty items. This time, there was a Snoopy event on that involved collecting points from eating at Mister Doughnut. Also, the special Valentines items were being advertised, and then released. Pink frosted, heart-shaped doughnuts!

And speaking of heart-shaped...

 This is a heart-shaped battered scallop from my meal at Tokyo Disneyland's 'Queen of Hearts' Restraunt!

Most restaurants in Japan will have this kind of display outside. Plastic versions of the food that they have on the menu! They are incredibly realistic and do a good job of making you feel hungry! These plastic replica foods are famously produced and sold on Kappabashi in Asakusa. It's definitely worth a visit if you can!

     Set Meals are a norm on menus. When you order a main dish, you usually have the option of making it a "set". This means it will come with vegetables and/or a bowl of rice, and a bowl of soup.

                                                                  Beef Bowl Set!

In my Budgeting for Japan post, I talked about the kind of expensive, high-class restaurants business people go to. We went to one such place for lunch one day, as a treat. The pictures show the truly magnificent meal, and view from the window! We were 42 stories up, in Shiodome Skyview!

A small point to notice in the picture on the left, is the face-down plastic board on the table. The paper clipped to it is the bill. Usually, the person serving will write down your order and clip the bill to one of these, and leave it on your table. If you then order more things, they simply add it to the existing bill. To pay, you take this to a payment counter after you're finished eating!

Bonus! Basin Robbins "Popping Soda", is essentially a soda float, but with delicious popping-candy filled ice cream on top of blue ramune soda. There were sour jelly stars floating in the soda under the ice cream too.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

How to budget for a trip to Japan!

 An interesting topic I was requested to post about is how to manage a budget for a trip to Japan!

No doubt you will have heard that 'Japan is expensive'. If you have ever expressed an interest in visiting Japan, usually you will be told "but Japan is SO expensive!".
This myth is tied very closely in with business men going to Japan on company trips. Who will be taken to very expensive restaurants, as the company tries to impress clients, and stay in western style hotels in business districts of Tokyo. All of these things are expensive, of course, if I had corporate money to pay for my food, I'd go to expensive restaurants too! But this is probably not the experience we're going to have.

It's very easy to do Japan on a budget, so long as you are happy to eat and sleep japanese style!

(Hotel Edoya - Ochanomizu)
 Instead of expensive western-style hotels, look for a Ryoukan (Japanese-style Inn) to stay at during your trip. They are much cheaper, and you get the added bonus of an authentic experience. You will usually have a traditional room, with futons on tatami to sleep on and a japanese style shower and bath.

(Royal Host beef bowl!)

Eating local food is always cheaper than eating specialist, imported styles of food. So when in Japan, Japanese food will be much cheaper than western style food. If you like things like katsu, ramen and sushi, you can eat for almost nothing. Ramen and Katsudon cafe's are very cheap - often 200-500 yen per bowl, and then your tea or water is free. Conveyor-belt sushi places usually have a set price of 105yen per plate (or similar). Even if you go higher up, and go to proper japanese restaurants, a meal is not going to break the bank. The set pictured was approx 1000yen, for the beef bowl, salad and soup set.

Admittedly, flights will probably be expensive. Depending on where you're flying from it will vary, but if it's going to be a long-haul flight, then it's going to be a little pricey. However, consider that you have to be confined to the flight space for 10+ hours, and it can make all the difference in comfort if you spend a little extra than the bare minimum for a better service.

I hope this has helped encourage some of you to put aside the idea that Japan is a country of extortionate prices that so many people hold. It really isn't! But no matter where you go in the world, local things will usually be cheaper then imported things, and being aware of that can save you a lot of money!