Hello Darlings, after a long absence.
A lot has happened in the past few months, my life rapidly changing, twisting and turning upside down. It's been terrifying, exciting, amazing.
I met a lot of my heroes, and it wasn't always what I expected.
In San Antonio, I met DJ SiSen and ALSDEAD. DJ SiSen was kind, and easy to talk to. Alsdead all have a great sense of humour.
When I returned to Hawaii, Midori and Reika made a surprise appearance at my "Welcome Home" tea party.
All of my Lolita friends were there to welcome me back; the surprise guests were kept hush-hush. Midori, best known for her modelling in the Gothic Lolita Bible, was so sweet and lovely! She was kind and approachable, and didn't have the air of being a "top model" at all. I was able to translate for her so she could chit chat with the other Lolitas, but her English was pretty good as it was.
Reika is now one of the top cosplayers in the world, admired for her transformation into incredible characters. For the tea party, she wore a kodona outfit by Alice and the Pirates. She seemed shy at first, so I stood to the side with her, making small talk. We took pictures together, and by the end, she added me on Cosplayer's Archive!
Everybody took pictures together, and shared chocolate fondue with strawberries, marshmallows, and the cafe's signature ice cream hearts. We also sipped on a variety of teas and enjoyed each other's company for several hours, before finally our guests had to leave.
This whole event was set up by just one of my dear friends. I am awestruck that she would do such a thing for me and the local lolita community.
I ran into Hirooka Naoto in La Foret in December. When I was younger, he was my fashion design idol. I adored his work for the small handmade details which made his clothing signature. Once I was in the same room with him, my mind went completely blank! I couldn't think of anything to say at all!
I hate to admit it, but I was a little disappointed. It could have been because of the holidays and the stress of preparing for New Year's sales, but he seemed disinterested if not totally annoyed by me trying to say hello to him. He rolled his eyes when I asked for a picture. Trying to turn the 'conversation' (or lack of) around, I remembered the first h.Naoto line I had fallen for: Red Rum, which Naoto himself designed. Thinking it would cheer him up, I asked if there was any for sale in the store. This lifted his spirits into a light smile, and he said that La Foret probably didn't have any, but the Harajuku store might.
While in La Foret, I ran into Yuko, one of the designers for Atelier Pierrot, who I met when I modelled for her at HEXXP. She recognised me and said hello! I got to catch up with her, introduce her to my then boyfriend, and talked about our trip to Tokyo so far. After, I snagged an awesome lucky bag with lots of goodies!
I also ran into Yoh at Comiket. I didn't even know I was standing in front of him! The "artist alley" of Comiket is vast, with hundreds if not thousands of tables and vendors crammed together, the walkways choked with people. I recognised his artwork on his table, and asked "Are you… by any chance… Yoh-sama?"
He confirmed that indeed he was, and seemed shocked that a foreigner would recognise his work! I told him that I had first seen it in the Gothic Lolita Bibles, and he was very popular among Western Lolitas. This also surprised him. And when I asked for him to sign a post card I bought, he was even more shocked.
So. Remember my "then-boyfriend"? I mentioned? Want to know why he's no longer my boyfriend?
He's my fiancé now.
He proposed to me at the top of Tokyo Tower.
And that. Has been the most thrilling, wonderful adventure of all.
But more about my trip to Tokyo later! Including Tokyo Disney Land (where I didn't get to go during my study abroad), the Studio Ghiblu Museum in Mitaka (omg forbidden pictures!) Comiket, Christon Cafe and an Alice in Wonderland themed Cafe, Tokyo Dark Castle with Dangerous Nude, Triple Fortune, Takuya Angel and Candy Spooky Theatre, Visual Kei Mama San in Harajuku, and more crazy tales from Tokyo!
But in the mean time, I also had the pleasure of meeting Misako Aoki, at Kawaiikon 10 last weekend.
If ever a Lolita idol there was, Misako Aoki was certainly one of mine. I pictures her as the crown princess of Lolita I looked up to. I thought she was interesting, well-travelled, well-versed in Lolita and had a perfect face. Of course she was all of these things, as well as mild-mannered, sweet and hospitable to her guests.
Her special tea party at Kawaiikon ringed in one of the largest Lolita gatherings I'd seen on the island. We brunched, took pictures as she travelled the tables and made small talk, and some guests gave her hand made presents. There was also a raffle, so each guest went home with a special present.
Some guests came from far away to meet Misako in Hawaii- the furthest was New Zealand!
I wore "Victorian Card Print" from AATP, along with a dark green silk shantung bonnet I sewed myself.
At the tea party, Misako was mainly promoting her new Japanese text book on Lolita fashion. It's actually very good, even though brief, but well written and easy to understand, whether you're new to Lolita or a veteran. She said there are plans to release and English version in the next 12-18 months, via a British publisher.
I bought a copy at the Harajuku Hearts booth, so she could sign it for me.
On day two I wore shironuri for a Kimono Jack x J-fashion Hawaii flash mob, and got to meet Misako at her booth. She seemed baffled by the shironuri style I wore. I tried to tell her about how I first saw Minori and other shironuri artists, and fell in love with the style… but she seemed shocked to hear about shironuri, and had never heard of Minori. I was a little surprised! That's okay; I hope she at least thought it was kind of cute! ^^;
Maybe more on the Kimono Jack x J-fashion Hawaii flash mob in another post?
… But we were pretty cute, so here's one more shot for now!
And so, those are just a handful of highlights of my life since… Halloween. xD Gosh, I have so much to fill everyone in on!
As for the status in Hawaii, life is always getting tighter. More and more people are being pumped into this island without enough space and resources to go around. Driving out on the west side, I can look off the highway into a flat, dehydrated wasteland that stretches out to the sea; barren space cleared for more housing developments, more people, more traffic to clog the arteries of the island. Every time I go to town, to Honolulu or Waikiki, I get more and more stifled, more and more annoyed and want to leave. It's frustrating to live in "paradise".
As for the spread of J-culture, the event I was promoting with my friend, "Visual Kei Dark Castle" has ended. For one thing, we realised we couldn't keep referencing Dark Castle, especially after I attended and saw it for myself, the owner right before my eyes. It was now a tangible thing, not a concept or a name. Not to mention, when I was away from Hawaii it was left in the hands of those who didn't really "get" visual kei or J-fashion, and it was all down hill from there. But that's okay.
J-fashion Hawaii, a separate group focusing on "Hawaii Fashion Walks" is on the rise. They've been holding more and more meet-ups inspired by the walks in Harajuku, and attendance rises every time. They also reached out to the local chapter of Kimono Jack, a group that organises kimono fashion flash mobs, and teamed up with them for a meet at Kawaiikon this year.
Simultaneously, I've been reevaluating how to approach our events. I aim to make them more symbiotic with J-fashion Hawaii, not just focusing on gothic or heavy metal visual kei, but covering other genres of Japanese music too. Yes, we will still do night events at venues, and our appearances such as info booths and fashion shows will most likely be held in typically "nightlife" settings. But our main goal is to be more all-encompassing. One thing I've noticed with the time I've spent in Japan is that there aren't as strict "camps" with Lolita, Visual Kei, and many other sub-culture genres… there is some overlap in all of them. You see Lolitas who love visual kei and go all out in their outfits, to small live houses, head banging. One thing that was bothering me about how Lolita was approached in the West, was this compartmentalisation. I want to bring everyone together and foster the same sort of environment.
I don't know when we'll finally re-launch it, or what our new name will be- we're still deliberating, but have a few final picks. Most likely, our next promotional event will be a shironuri meet up, held at Honolulu Museum Spalding House next month. Still, even more to come on that later!
As always, life is exciting, ever-changing and hard to keep track of. For now, this will do.