Monday, 30 September 2019

Lolita Blogpost Roundup: September 2019

Wow, okay, September was a bitch of a month, if I can be honest. I was still sick coming out of August and we were just busy. I don't like being busy. But oh well, such is life, and now that we're at the end of the month it's time to share my favourite lolita reads ^__^

Create a Coord Inspired by Your Birth Flower... from In Love with a Dream
Ahhhh it's always so exciting when people blog on prompts I created! Eventually, when I'm done with Around Your Wardrobe in 30 Coordinates I will do the birthday challenge I came up with. In the meantime, enjoy this daffodil inspired coord!

Spoon. vol. 75: AP PARIS 3nd Anniversary Tea Party「L'Echappee Belle des Princesses」 from Marinette in Wonderland
I really appreciate when people share scans of magazines, and it was great to get a look at this event since none of the bloggers I follow posted about it. Did you see any posts about this tea party?

Man Meet vol. 2 from Cupcakes and Unicorns
I love the whole concept of man meets, I really do. And boy oh boy, do I enjoy getting to see Paulina's alter-ego Paul come out for another day! One of these days I'll try ouji, one of these days...

Quick lolita hair accessory from Auris Lothol
This isn't a tutorial as such, but it was an interesting look into the making process. It also made me want to make a cute tiny hat for myself, so there's that ^__^

[Scan] Otome no Sewing Book 14 (乙女のソーイング Book 14) from Gotas de Baunilha
It feels like such a long time since I discovered a new blog, so to not only come across one I'd never seen, but to have them sharing OnS scans, was awesome!

Paris ’18, Day 4 – Angelic Pretty Tea Party 2018 from Lolita Wonderland
Gotta be honest here, I'm never not going to be excited when Loltia Wonderland updates!

So that was September in lolita blogging, or at least... my September ^__^

Friday, 27 September 2019

Lolita Blog Carnival: What Are Some Things You Feel Shouldn’t Be Asked Anymore

This prompt was an interesting one for me, because it's honestly not something I've thought about. I just google things and really expect that other people, especially young people (which is how the lolita community skews) to do the same. So I've never actually paid attention to questions being asked.

So I sat, and I thought, and ultimately there's two things that I feel really shouldn't be asked any more.

First is the simple things where it really would be faster to just google the question rather than ask about it. "How do I buy from X?" "What petticoat do I need?" "Are there cheaper options than brand?" I think my opinion there boils down to if it's a factual question with a clear cut answer, don't ask, just google. Not that there's anything wrong with asking, but it's just generally a waste of everyone's time - including the person asking the question!

But, more importantly, the thing I feel feel shouldn't be asked is "can I".

"I'm trans, can I participate in my local community?"
"I'm plus size, can I wear lolita?"
"I can't afford brand, will I still be lolita in handmade?"
And so many other questions that boil down to "can I do this?"

Yes, you bloody well can.

That's not to say everyone will be nice or that it will necessarily be smooth sailing. Your local community may be judgemental and unfriendly, you may have a hard time finding clothes that fit or that you can easily afford. But if you want to try this fashion out, for you, then don't ask - just go for it.

I do understand that when you're starting something new you may want validation. But more important than getting answers from internet strangers is figuring out what's going to make you happy.

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Tokyo 2019 Day 7: Shoes, Shinjuku Gyoen and heading home

We woke up on Monday with mixed feelings - it was our last day in Tokyo. We were sad, because the adventure was ending. But we were happy, because we like being home and due to the bad start with the overnight flights and not truly realising how much we'd be walking during the trip, we were quite run down by this point.

We went downstairs for our last breakfast then returned to our room to pack. We ended up having to leave some things behind - be we had planned for this potentially being a thing so had deliberately packed some clothing items (and even a laptop, long story) that we could just leave behind.

I have a note that somewhere here I said "ready to squirt" (in the voice of a Warcraft 3 peon "ready to work") and James responded by sighing like Kif. I don't know why this was said, or what I meant. It's a mystery...

Anyhoo, we finished packing up and went downstairs to checkout of the hotel. We were able to leave our luggage behind, so we went out to enjoy our final day in Tokyo. Our destination? Nakano Broadway!

But first, we took so photos in front of the hotel!

At Shinjuku Station we had to recharge our Pasmo cards, which was easy to do at the machine, and then had to wait five whole minutes for our train - the longest we had to wait for a train all trip! I took some photos around the station since it was hitting home pretty hard that the adventure was coming to an end.

The train ride was uneventful and soon enough we got off at Nakano Station. After a quick bathroom break we walked into the Nakano Sun Mall towards Nakano Broadway. We peeked into a few stores, but didn't stop to browse at all.

And when we entered Nakano Broadway itself, we did pretty much the same thing. We didn't really go into many shops, because after everything in Akihabara the shops with all the figures and other random merchandise were less exciting. We're not really collectors, so I think we're just not the target market.

However, we did make a really awesome discovery - Dragonbeard shoes! This shop has super stylish sneakers at really good prices, and after lots of trying and discussing options James bought two pairs. Even though I definitely bought the most stuff, I was really happy that James found some awesome things in Tokyo as well ^__^

James also found this My Hero Academia game!

Then we went back into Sun Mall so I could grab a burger from Lotteria for lunch - I wanted to try a Japanese burger and James wasn't hungry, so I could have whatever I wanted! It was nice, but nothing to write home about.

James liked the chairs!

We did go back into Nakano Broadway after lunch, but quickly realised we weren't interested in browsing more, and decided to head back to Shinjuku. We did, however, pop into a pet store in Sun Mall on the way back to the station, where we saw this super adorable kitten!

We actually got off the train at Sendagaya Station, as we'd decided to spend a bit of the time we had left in Shinjuku Gyoen. We walked the little ways to the garden entrance, bought our tickets from the machine, and entered. We got lucky in our choice of gate, because we entered right at the cherry blossom section. And even though the blossoms were definitely past their prime, they were still lovely.

After we took a bunch of photos of the flowers and each other, we sat on a park bench for a while and just relaxed. It was really nice and very restorative. We watched the flower petals fall and just...sat.

I used the panorama function on my phone for the first time here.

We did wander through a bit more of the garden after our pleasant half-hour sit, but were a bit too tired to get as much enjoyment out of it as the wonderful gardens deserved. We did notice a fellow Westerner sitting over the fence that clearly had a sign saying "don't go over this fence" and were able (with the aid of Google Translate) to report him to a staff member. Then we left the garden and headed back to our hotel.

I don't remember exactly what order we did things in, but we got a massage at the hotel spa and repacked out suitcases a little (had to squeeze those shoes in!). I fell asleep during my massage, which is something I never thought would be a thing. It was so good!

Goodbye, hotel lobby robot.

And then a little after 6 it was off to the bus terminal to buy tickets and catch the Airport Limousine Bus back to Narita Airport. We were happy and sad to be going, but honestly I was mostly just very tired.

At the airport we checked in and handed off our luggage, then found a restaurant to have dinner in. I had katsu curry, which was nice, but James made the superior food decision of some amazing garlicky fried rice with steak dish. He often makes better food picks than me when we're travelling!

Then soon enough it was time to board our plane. We had good seats this time - the first two seater towards the back of the plane after the three seaters, which meant we basically had a seat worth of space between us and the window, which made things a lot less cramped. The flight was uneventful, we both slept a bit more than on the flight in, but we were still quite exhausted when we landed.

Yes, I still take photos of airplane food ^__^

Land we did at 8.15AM on Tuesday morning! Clearing customs and getting our luggage was a quick affair, then we reclaimed our car and James drove us home. I like my home!

Tokyo was an amazing, but completely overwhelming experience. To be honest, I spent a lot of time being stressed and anxious and worried but at the same time it was quite an amazing and surreal experience. It was my first time ever in a non English speaking country, first time taking a flight longer than three hours, and like with any first time I learned a lot from it. We've already got plans to go back and I'm really looking forward to spending more time in such an amazing country with more knowledge and better plans!

I hope you enjoyed reading my Tokyo posts...and now we can go back to your regularly scheduled loltia fashion content ^__^

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Tokyo 2019 Day 6: One day, three photoshoots

Sunday was a fun and very different kind of day. We woke up and had breakfast as usual, and then started on a walk away from the centre of Shinjuku towards the Sengoku Samurai Photo Studio where James was going to have a photoshoot experience!

The walk was really pleasant, and like the day before it was really nice to see the more suburban side of Tokyo. We did also pass this interesting looking puppet theatre on the way...such an unexpected thing!

We did get a wee bit lost, because the building Google Maps was pointing us towards was not the building the samurai place was actually located in. And because we were the first appointment of the day, the place didn't have their signs out when we first passed the correct building! Fortunately as we doubled back the sign was out so we entered the building, took the tiny elevator up, and entered the samurai photo studio.

And it was so cool! As with many things in Japan, it was way smaller than I thought it would be, but every inch was packed with samurai armour. James also pointed out that the music playing was the soundtrack from The Last Samurai!

Shortly after we entered a staff member (who turned out to be the photographer/dresser/main person of the whole experience) hurried out to us and urged us to sit for a moment, which we did. Another person entered a minute later, who must have had priority for some reason, because they where whisked out to the back of the studio while we waited for about five minutes. but soon enough they left and it was our turn to be ushered to the lounge at the back of the studio.

Here we confirmed the plan we had booked online, and James go to choose the photos and the armour that he wanted. And then it was dressing time! We went into the actual photography area, James was given the appropriate undergarments, and left in a curtained area to change. While he was changing, his chosen armour was prepared. This armour was modelled after that of a famous general, Tadakatsu Honda.

Once James came out in the little shorts, shirt, and tabi socks, the dressing began. As the staff (the original man - I think he's the owner, actually - and a female assistant) put each piece on they explained a bit about each one. I don't remember the details but it was fascinating to learn about the function and purpose of all the different armour pieces. One thing I do remember is that apparently samurai didn't really have armour on their backs - it meant they wouldn't retreat from battle!

With the majority of the armour on (but not the helmet, the helmet was huge) James got a quick lesson on how to hold and use the sword. Being a sword guy generally he picked it up the specifics in a flash.

Just putting it out there now I was ecstatic the whole time. I love watching my man dress up! And hey, ladies love a man in armour ^__^

Then it was time for the helmet (due to it's weight, the female assistant removed it between shots, which was kind of cute and funny to watch) and photos! It soon became obvious that there was someone out back of the studio starting to process the greenscreen photos in real time, as the assistant would talk quietly into a walkie talkie and get the photographer to make adjustments to the pose.

And once the photographer had his shots, I was able to step in with our camera (and sometimes my phone) and take our own photos. This is the reason we specifically chose this studio - not only did the plan James chose provide all raw image data that the photographer took, but we were able to take our own shots as well. So one day who knows, James may photoshop himself into even more epic backgrounds. We have the option!

This includes the raw images used to make the "horse riding" photo which is James straddling a big suitcase wrapped in greenscreen. It's great.

As a final greenscreen shot, they put me in a fancy drapey kimono and had me stand in with James - we chatted about this afterwards and we think one of the poses James had selected didn't work out for some reason, as this wasn't a bonus photo and we didn't book a couple plan! But it was okay, we didn't mind the change.

Then as a very last thing they took some photos out in the hallway among all the other suits of armour. I was truly amazed by how they could fit so much experience into such a small space!

But that was truly the last of it, and they had the armour off James (and the kimono off me) in barely any time compared to the time it took to get into it! Then James got back into his street clothes and we headed back into the lounge area. The photographer brought us some water, and only a few minutes after that a little folder containing all twelve final photos!

It was so cool to see all the different photos, and to help James choose which ones to have printed on coasters, which one to get as a poster, and which one to have printed on the CD itself. It was a bit hard to choose! I'm not going to post everything here, but this is James's favourite shot of the day (and the one he got as a poster).

After maybe five minutes wait we had all of the final products and were able to head back out into the cute backstreets of Shinjuku. The overall experience had taken about and hour and a half, which I thought was really impressive! If you're into samurai and would like to get some cool photos I really recommend this studio.

We popped back into the hotel briefly to drop off the bag then it was off to the station and on to a train to Asakusa to meet up with yet another friend, Jayne and her travel companion George. Three different sets of friends in one week! To this day, that's pretty much unheard of for us ^__^

We had to switch trains at Akihabara Station, and we got a little distracted by gachapon machines. But it was very worthwhile, because James won me the exact Mari figure I wanted! Now she lives on top of my computer along with my bridal Rin (which I got earlier that week at Raido Kaikan for all of 800 yen).

Unfortunately, we had some trouble actually meeting up once we got to Asakusa, exacerbated by the fact that they hadn't replied to any of my messages earlier in the day! But eventually we met up...only to find the restaurant I'd intended us to go to was full and not accepting walk ins. So we tried to go to a place they'd been to earlier, which was also full, and eventually ended up at a place called Sansada Tempura. We were seated upstairs in the tatami area, which was a first time for us and kind of exciting!

I rather liked this place. I ordered a bento (because bentos are a tradition for Jayne and I) and it was really tasty.

I also loved that the waitresses were all older ladies in kimonos, it definitely made lunch more memorable for my old white touristy self. Our waitress also really liked James's shirt, since she stroked him on the shoulder and said "Dragonball" with a big, big smile.

After we finished, we drifted out to the huge lantern in front of the Nakamise area, took a quick selfie, and then parted ways...because we were off to another photoshoot! This time we were off to Studio Nanairo for a oiran couples photoshoot.

We were welcomed in and sat down with the paperwork. I got to specify how many photos would be taken of each of us individually how many together - fortunately we'd already discussed this so it was easy to come up with the numbers. And then I left James behind and was shown upstairs to start make-up!

First of all, I had to change into the provided tank top, shorts, and tabi socks, which an assistant then topped off with a kimono style wrap. I put my clothes and most of my things into a locker, and carried my phone and a provided bottle of water in a little bag the studio provided. Then it was make-up time!

My make-up artist spoke some English, which was really nice as we could chat a bit, and while she worked on my face another lady started on my hair. Once the half-wig was secured to the back of my head and my hair was styled into it seamlessly, it was time to accessorise and oh my goodness. So many choices! I got kind of overwhelmed, and ended up deferring some choices to the hair and make up ladies. I knew I'd get to choose my kimono but I had no idea I'd get to have quite so much input in everything!

Once the hair and makeup were perfect I headed up another flight of stairs to choose my kimono. Since I'm plus sized, I actually chose two - one for each side of my body! I selected a matching pair of purple beauties, and then I was dressed up. I felt like a doll as layers and layers were tied in place on me, it was very cool. I then got to choose my obi and whatever the giant front bow was (in retrospect, I don't think I made the greatest choice but it still looked cool) and then I got to oh so carefully walk out of the dressing room to find James waiting for me, looking really handsome in a luxurious, dark outfit. I approved ^__^

With James's solo photos already taken while I was getting ready, I was given yet another layer of clothing in the form of a luxurious coat and lead straight into the decadent set for our couple shots! The photographer worked very fast, guiding us into a series of poses, and the whole experience was really fun. My solo photos went by in the same fun, fast, professional manner and very soon it was back into the dressing room to get undressed - which was a much faster experience than getting dressed!

Then it was down to the make-up area to have my hair taken down and make-up removed, then into the changing room to finish transforming back into my usual self. After that, I went downstairs to see my photos! The staff member downstairs gave me a page with the final twelve shots so we could choose which ones to have printed. After much discussion, we made our choices.

A bit of a confusing thing happened next, which was the only negative of the whole experience. With some communication difficulties, the staff indicated that they wanted to give me the photos to my phone (I think it's normally a LINE app thing?) so we figured out how to give them my email and they sent them to me, which was nice. Shortly after that, I receive my prints of the four shots and my CD. But since I hadn't expected to get the photos sent to my phone as well, I started worrying that perhaps I was only going to get the four shots, not the twelve that were part of the package. But given the communication difficulties I decided to just check the CD back at the hotel and email them if there was a problem. Fortunately there was not and the CD contained all twelve pictures, but still - I didn't like getting all confused and panicky about it.

PS I uploaded all my solo shots to my Facebook page if you want to check them out ^__^

It was around 5PM now, so we headed straight back onto a train and back to our hotel (via Family Mart, of course). We still had one photoshoot to go - this time with me wielding the camera! James wanted to do a cyberpunk shoot at night while we were in Tokyo so I was getting to play photographer. He'd bought some clothes from home, as well as some props, and we'd bought an epic shirt the day before, but we decided to try finding a shop that Smella had mentioned the day before that might stock cyber items to see if we could find anything else to add to his look.

I don't remember the name of the shop, but it was about fifteen minutes walk away from our hotel towards Harajuku. So off we went!

There's just something cool about trains in the night-time.

It was a pleasant walk (except for the obvious sore feet and general tiredness) in the dark, getting to see yet another new place, and we found the shop nestled in a completely innocuous suburban street. It was a small shop that stocked items for a number of indie brands, and though they had some cool stuff things were expensive so we walked back to the hotel empty handed.

But we still had enough stuff to put James in a rather cool looking cyberpunk outfit, and I snapped some shots on my phone of his outfit before we went out.

Then out we went to a nearby bridge to shoot. We got some really cool shots, if I say so myself! It was such a great location and James is a very expressive model ^__^

James did the editing ^__^

And then it was back to the hotel for our last night in Japan. We did have a funny moment while James was in the shower though. See, he'd gotten his hair done by a different hairdresser before we flew out, and the blue dye they used just continued the bleed colour for about a month (yeah, we ain't going back to them again). Every time he washed his hair, the water ran blue. And this night, while I was chilling on the bed and he was getting all the styling product out of his hair I heard "I got blue everywhere! Oh no, the ceiling!"

Yes, there was blue water throughout the shower...even on the ceiling. We cleaned it off, of course, but it was so funny. And it was nice to have a funny on our last night.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Tokyo 2019 Day 5: Friends and fashion

On Saturday we got off to a slower start, which was nice after a very full on Friday! We left the hotel at midday, detoured via Family Mart for a reason I can no longer remember, and hopped on a quick train to Harajuku, because that's where we were going to meet up with some of our friends who happened to be in Japan at the same time! We were also going to do some photoshoots as we went about our day, so I was dressed in lolita again ^__^

James and I got to Harajuku first, so we took some selfies and some proper photos of me, and just hung around.

Soon enough we saw two colourful beings walking towards us - Smella and Charlie! Hugs and outfit and hair compliments all around! We waited for a little longer and we shortly joined by a friend of theirs who was living in Japan, Selina.

Our first order of business was a visit to Meiji Jingu...via the back entrance. Smella and Charlie had been denied entry a few days before based on their clothing (which is quite out there, but still) and wanted to try again by an apparently less well staffed entrance. So we just followed their lead, and spent a surprisingly pleasant twenty minutes or so walking through the suburban backstreets of Harajuku. It was so nice to see this quiet, everyday side of Tokyo, and it was also really epic and weird to be spending time with friends in another country!

After a while we got to the entrance to the park the houses the shrine and realised there was a staff member there after all! But he didn't try to stop us, so our colourful group was able to enter the park and head towards the shrine. Even though I was literally foot-sore and weary by this part of the trip, it was still a wonderful and refreshing change to be walking in a group of friends on the broad dirt paths under the towering trees.

However, I have to confess I'm kind of not much of a one for shrines. Once we entered Meiji Jingu itself I was wowed by the architecture, but that was it. We didn't look around too thoroughly - it was kind of enough for all of us to be there an experience the general atmosphere for a little while.

We were lucky enough, however, to witness a traditional wedding processional. I joined the paparazzi crowd briefly, which is not necessarily a fact I'm proud of, but I was so chuffed we got to see this.

Then we headed out in the direction towards Harajuku proper, though we didn't get very far before we stopped to take some photos ^__^

Aaand that typified our walk out. We'd go a bit of a way, stop for photos, rinse and repeat. I really loved the wall of sake barrels, it was gorgeous. There were also a number of little bridges and lanterns by the road so it was really a lovely walk.

But lovely as it was, it was really great to reach the big torii gate and exit the park onto Harajuku Bridge. Time for more shopping! Because never enough shopping ^__^

On this day we happily surrendered control of our route to Smella and co. and we ended up in the "backstreets" area of Harajuku. Smella and Selina took a selfie in front of an empty window which used to contain the iconic clock, which I didn't even know didn't exist any more.

Most of the shops were unfamiliar to me, which was actually pretty cool. The most exciting shop, I think, was Dangerous Nude. Not just because the clothes and accessories there were very cool, but because the owner (who was amazingly dressed in a full on goth outfit) was super friendly. She took photos of all our outfits and told us about upcoming alternative clubbing events. I ended up buying a beautiful flower and lace headdress, which is more expensive than I liked, purely because she made shopping there such a great experience! I mean, I love the thing, but if she hadn't been so sweet I would have walked out empty handed.

After a bit of shopping, we decided it was time for a late lunch (it was after 3PM). After trying to go to a gyudon place only to find it full, we visited this avocado speciality restaurant. We all (except Selina, who came despite not liking avocados) got an avocado smoothie drink and an avocado meal - mine was the taco rice, if I remember correctly.

The food was delicious and the smoothie thing was also pretty darn good. Weird, and thick, and very avocado, but somehow still quite tasty and not cloying. As Charlie said, trying to finish the thing, "I'm full and this is super thick".

Feeling somewhat refuelled, it was time for more shopping. I don't remember every place we went or what order we actually did things in, but I did get to pop into Emily Temple Cute and we all went into 6% Dokidoki. I think at Romantic Standard Smella and James bought the same collared ahegao shirt. Selina and Smella took a while browsing accessories at a hair salon while the guys and I sat on the stairs outside. At a menswear store that I don't remember the name of James bought a cool oversized t-shirt for cyberpunk looks. It was all quite interesting, and very different from the Takeshita Dori experience of Harajuku.

We also randomly walked past Design Festa and went in for a bit, which was interesting but not entirely my thing.

And we did more photoshooting! I should also mention, for all the pics of Smella check out her page or James's page, and for the ones of me, go to my Facebook!

Smella and I also spent literally fifteen minutes waiting for a toilet, because no joke, everyone in front of us in the line took at least five minutes in there.

Eventually, we were done with shopping and decided to head to the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku for dinner. But as we walked back through Takeshita Dori to Harajuku Station, we let slip the fact that we hadn't done any purikura on our trip! So naturally, a detour was made ^__^

Once we were back at Shinjuku James and I just went with the flow, and we ended up in an izakaya called Amataro. It was great to pile into a booth and sit down, and to be able to just order food and drinks by iPad. I also liked that the bill was automatically split evenly into five at the end of the meal, very convenient. The only thing I didn't like (and poor James really suffered from, it gave him a massive headache) is that smoking was okay inside, so the atmosphere was quite cigarette-y.

When we came outside we got a nice view of Godzilla, so I had to snap a photo for posterity.

After dinner we decided to go to Baskin Robbins to try some ice cream, which was nice though I have no memory of what flavour I got. Probably something chocolate! And then it was time for us all to head back to our respective places.

I did, however, get distracted by this claw game, which I lost at. Sad.

But then it was goodbye time, and as the others went into different stations James and I walked back to our hotel. We did visit Family Mart quickly for ice cream round two, which was an excellent way to end the day ^__^

Friday, 13 September 2019

Lolita Blog Carnival: Create A Coord Based On A Book

“Death and what came after death was no great mystery to Sabriel. She just wished it was.” - Sabriel, Garth Nix

When I saw this prompt come up again in the LBC I decided it was high time that I paid a lolita homage to what is probably, if I was forced to only choose one, my favourite book. And, sepcifically, the main character of said book.

Obviously, you can't really channel fantasy vibes complete with magical bells and a talking cat into a coordinate so I instead chose to focus on two ideas. The first was to incorporate the key motif (they should be silver, but you can't win everything), and also to channel a little of a vintage schoolgirl vibe, since that's who Sabriel is at the start of the novel.

In the end, it's a rather simple look. Even though the JSK is from Angelic Pretty, it's still rather a classic coordinate and I actually really like it. While it's not inspired by the book in the sense of "if Sabriel was a lolita, what would she wear?" but I do think that if one was to wear this, another fan of the book might well recognise it ^__^

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