An ode to red and black

As you can see in my new profile picture, I've been enjoying a new pair of vibrant red Listen Flavor boots. 

I wanted them since my arrival in Nagoya last September, but couldn't bring myself to pay about 10,000 yen for them. Finally, Skunk (one of my favourite stores in Oosu, I'll have to write about them one day) had them on sale for about $30. 

I thought these boots were perfect for me and my style, because they have everything I love... Red, black, and leopard print!

Whether it's in lolita or casual style, red is my favourite colour to wear. Whether it's tied in with lipstick, a beret or shoes, it makes me pause on a photo or a magazine page. It contrasts so nicely with black, white or leopard print, it's a match made in heaven. 

And so, I've been saving photos of my favourite red and black outfits from Tumblr, to create a sort-of inspiration post. Read more under the jump-cut!

What I'll miss.

After about a year in Japan, I've gotten used to the little things I won't have at home

Even my lifestyle has changed, thanks to Japan's amenities. Whether I'm out late till 2 AM, or wake up early to an empty fridge at 5 AM, I know there's a Lawson conbini around the corner that always has its lights on.

I'll never forget "Lawson Picnics" with my friends, sitting on a concrete barrier with only the light from the conbini windows to illuminate our space. The men by the news stand reading magazines would look up from their manga to see what all the laughter was about. I'll never forget the moenai gomi incident, when my friend and I hauled two huge bags of non burnable garbage to the conbini to ditch it. We hauled ass running away after, even though the Lawson workers all know our faces.

I'm going to miss going to the Lolita shops, and not necessarily buy anything, but seeing the new prints on mannequins when the reserve goes up. I'm going to miss the familiar faces of the shop girls; a girl with pink hair who always works at AP. The bleached blonde at AATP, who never said いらっしゃいまっせ, just nodded in recognition. The girl at Meta with blunt bangs, who always wears her hair in a bun and speaks in a high, saccharine voice. The gaggle of shop girls in the tiny Putumayo corner, who have conversations with me and call me Nee-san. The fortune teller who reads palms in the corner.

I'm going to miss Violet Blue in Oosu. Not even because of the bargains, but because of the man who runs it. How he always plays Jrock, especially Dir en grey. Not even the new stuff, but my old favourites like the album Kisou. How when I leave he says いつもありがとうございます。How he pushes his daughter on a dolly cart around outside the shop. Or when she sits with him behind the counter as he evaluates used clothing, he shows her and coos かわいいね? I'll even miss the girl with purple layers in her hair. She always regarded me from a distance, sounding testy as she checked me out at the register. But over time she started to smile when I came in, and called me by name when she learned it.

I'm going to miss the Giant Cat in Oosu, and the performances in front of it. An Irish band with dancers on St. Patrick's Day. Oosu's version of AKB. The tiny cat cafe up a tiny, shady staircase. The man in his corner window tobacco shop across the way, gazing distantly with a fading eyebrow arched, vending cigarettes hesitantly to men with hands deep in their pockets.

I'll miss being able to set my purse down in a classroom and walk away to buy a drink or use the bathroom, and no one will ever touch it. Or when I went to Dir en grey, I left my messenger bag in line to use the bathroom, and came back and it was untouched, and no one jumped my place in line.

I'm going to miss keigo. And how the guy at the conbini asks if he should humbly attach a spoon to my yogurt. And how even the train speaks to you politely. I'll miss the talking garbage trucks that tell you to watch out for them, and the ambulances that apologise for getting in the way.

I'm going to miss the freedom, and how easy it is to go anywhere, just hop on a train or a bus. And it's, in general, safe to do so alone.

More than any of these snap shots, I'm going to miss the people that I've met. Whether we were watching fireworks or lantern ceremonies or concerts or movies on the floor, those smiles are irreplaceable. And when they grip a cigarette and start crying on your shoulder, that embrace is unforgettable. The bonds we build and relationships we make determine how we view the place we live. It's the people who make your experiences.

The people I've met on this study abroad have changed my life, for the better. I'm not the same shy, naive person I was when I came here.  I've learned how to talk to people instead of just listening and taking notes. And since I've talked to more people and made friends, they feel like the best friends I've made. I've even changed how I feel about lolita... I'm not obsessed with collecting the newest or rarest lolita dress anymore, I've learned that the fun outings I have with people in it are more important.

The world has gotten a little bit smaller, but because of what I've learned about people. You learn how people around the world are different, but more so, you learn how they're all the same.

I don't know, this is just about all I want to say, but at the same time it's like I haven't scratched the surface.

This was probably the best year of my life so far. Before coming to Japan, I had no idea what I wanted to be, or do in the future. I had no confidence in myself to decide, or ask for help. But making the decision to come to Japan was the starting point, where I gripped my future and what I had to work with and just took off running. It was probably the first decision I had made for myself, instead of reacting to life and convenience. Now slowly, my vision for the future is coming into focus, and I know who I am.

In shorter terms, coming here is so much more than studying Japanese. It changes you, and it changes your life, but it's not just opening your ears and your heart... it's also about being brave enough to go out and see, speak, and learn. That's what your teacher won't tell you.

It's the little things...

... that make life fun. 

The really little things.

I think everyone has a 10 year old version of themselves inside of them. Mine just comes out all the time.

Usually it's in the form of a 10-year old boy. But sometimes, my inner wanna-be princess makes an appearance. Especially the other day, when I found a Madoka Magika bath ball at the store. 

You drop it in the bath, and when the ball dissolves, a secret charm is released.

I got Sayaka!

The bath smelled like strawberry candy. 

So, the Taiyaki Maker giveaway ends today! I'll try to announce the winner by tomorrow, so stay tuned! And thank you to everyone who entered. The few minutes you took to support my blog mean a lot to me; because of you guys I was able to reach my goal and break 100 followers! 

Let's keep the adventures coming, big and small.

(Overdue) Outfit Post~!

Hey Darlings!

I can't believe that my study abroad ends in one week. It feels like it can't really end... I can't wrap my mind around going home! But I still have to scrub my apartment floor to ceiling for inspection this weekend. I wanted a break from that nonsense, so started to go through my photos again.

Then I realised, even though this is sort of my "Lolita" blog, I never post my outfits. The truth is, I'm really shy and hate taking photos. I never post to communities and try to avoid the spotlight... ^^;

But, I just got some Purikura scans from my friend, so what the heck? Here are a few of my favourite outfits from the past year, some from really fun outings. 

This was around the start of Spring semester, and Nagoya was still freezing! My friend and I braved the frigid wind to twin in Angelic Pretty's Honey Cake series. This was the day we visited the "Kuma Cafe", a cafe all about Teddy Bears.

This is from around last Christmas. NUFS organised a field trip to the Linear Motor Museum, a museum all about trains. We got to explore old rail cars, play with displays, and eat eki bento.

Naturally, I wore Metamorphose's "Romantica Train" JSK. Unfortunately I forgot my camera on that day, so these were taken with my cellphone!

These are some of my favourites. My friend and I dressed in old-school/aristocratic outfits, sticking to a black and white colour scheme. I wore an older Metamorphose Jsk I found at a second-hand shoppe.

I also wore this butterfly, cross and chain ring by Ozz-On. It's so ridiculous and lovely, but it's kind of impractical, so I rarely get to show it off. 

About our hair... My friend loves Miku from Vocaloid, and I love Luka... we were both excited for an upcoming cosplay event, so decided to try out our Vocaloid wigs!

(Ironically, our plan was to visit a Butler Cafe called "Imperial Rose" that day, but it was closed for a different cosplay event.) 

... I'm not sure when this was. But I'm glad I didn't get a full outfit shot, I have no idea WHY I was wearing so many bright colours! xD

I don't think this is the most flattering picture, but I love this new Putumayo JSK. I just got it at the shop, and wore it to class one day...

(Can you tell, I really love those red Metamorphose shoes.)

And my most recent outing was yesterday! My friend and I were choco-twins, both wearing the Chocolate Chess bustier JSK in mint. 

As you can see we wear lolita together often, but yesterday people wouldn't stop ogling us! People even kept walking into things! xD Lots of people took their picture with us too, which I don't mind... but it's the weirdos video taping us on their phones as they walk by that bother me. :"| You really have to watch out. 

And afterwards, we got matching chocolate pancakes at one of our favourite cafes.

And well, now you can't say I never post outfits. xD Maybe I'll do this once a year or something. 

Hope you are all doing well! And don't forget, there are three days left on the Taiyaki Maker give away! Good look to everyone who has entered, and if you haven't, there's still time! 

Now, back to cleaning for me... I don't really like Cinderella, but I feel her pain now.

Till next time,


Live: NEGA (Seven Deadly Scenes)

Hey Darlings! Somehow in the chaos of this past week, I was able to catch a Visual Kei live in Ikeshita. 

The band, NEGA, is relatively new, forming in around 2004. Normally I don't like newer Visual Kei bands... the vocalists lack charisma, or worse, they're EXACTLY like the classics I love. 

But Nega is an exception. They've forged their own expressive sound over the years, where the bass guitar often takes over the lead guitar, and the reckless vocalist Jin tears up and down the vocal scale from soft singing to abrasive roars. (On their official website, Jin's profile says "Vomiter" instead of "Vocalist".) 

If you'd like to check them out, there's a handful of PV's on Youtube... but be warned, some of their videos are a little taboo. I for one like gore and dark imagery in my music videos, but they're not for the faint of heart. One look at their live poster, and you'll get the idea:

The lives I attend seem to be getting smaller and smaller. I thought my last live at Dolly was the smallest, with around 100 people at most, but this live had barely 50 people! The venue, Club Upset, was on the fifth floor of a building about two minutes from Ikeshita station. The building was on an inner street though, obscured from view, so the seemingly easily directions online ended up causing us grief. Since not many people were attending, you could mistake the queue for a gaggle of school girls; there was only one tenant on duty too, who was also a young girl, so we almost walked by the queue. 

But luckily, we spotted the little sign that said "Club Upset", and snagged our spot in line.

The doors opened at six and we began our five story ascent up the winding, narrow stairs. There were no doors to the other floors, the walls were blank white, and the stairs a mottled brick red. It was a little eerie, and fitting for the live. 

I'll be honest, the fan club was annoying. My friend warned me ahead of time, that they always take first row and you need special permission to join them. I had no idea they'd be so rude though. They brought little plastic stools to sit on and turned the entire front row into a makeup room, with strawberry, Hello Kitty and Sentimental Circus towels draped over the rails. They bust out their makeup and hairspray and were primping up until the black curtain dropped. Even though there were so few people in the venue, it was a nuisance standing behind these girls. This is about my fifth live in Japan, and the fans have never behaved so immaturely before. Or maybe I'm getting old and have no patience for dang kids these days. xD

Once the live started it was a lot of fun. They mainly played songs from their new album, VANITAS. The opened with PURGATORY and went straight into Fable in the Cold Bed. I was a bit surprised, since that's the order the songs go on the album, but they compliment each other really well when played in that order. After that they mixed up the order and played a good range of everything. 

I'm usually a sucker for vocalists, but with Nega I love the bassist. I stayed on the left where I could watch Ray work. As with all bands, it's a matter of chemistry and team work that create a unique sound; but I want to argue that Ray's bass is the supporting backbone of Nega's sound. 

Since the live was small, interaction with the fans was close and personal. The band members would reach out into the audience and pull people up closer to the stage, including my friend and I! The vocalist would often lock eyes with me and hold the stare. Ray kept mimicking my movements when I danced, which was fun. xD 

And what's one of the best things about a Vkei live? ... The outfits, of course! 

Ray wore a thick brocade coat, with corseting in the back and a fur trim. His pants were also brocade, but silver and metallic with tears in them. San, the lead guitarist, had electric blue streaks throughout his black hair, with striking blue contacts, indigo harem pants and a drapey black tank top. Yu, the drummer, drew black markings on his face, and wore a black tank top with army green military style pants. 

The "Vomiter" Jin started the live in thigh high leather boots, leather short shorts, and basically, leather straps over his shoulders and chest. He came out in a sparkling silver coat with black fur trim around the hood, but ditched it quickly once things got theatrical. His stage presence is incredible... between him and Ray, you feel competition. 

I was really surprised when Jin used one of my favourite tricks... I don't know how else to say it... his face explodes blood! Kyo used to use this trick a lot during Dir en grey's older lives, so I was thrilled. 

It sounds like their whole live was fast and heavy, but that wasn't the case. The drummer, Yu, is also a skilled pianist. He had a long, heart gripping piano towards the middle of the live, and when he played, not a single person moved. They incorporated his piano recordings into the background of a lot of their songs too, which you'd think would be confusing with Ray's bass and Jin's vocals... but it smooths out their sound, and creates their own unique flavour. 

I really enjoyed this live! Even though Dolly was a fun live too, at the end of the day NEGA is more my thing. Just when I thought the golden age of visual kei was dead, they came along and restored my faith. Long live over dramatics, leather pants and blood tests; V-rock is not dead!

PS- If you do look them up on Youtube, I recommend "Haunted Jealousy". The imagery and lighting in that video always get me, the song is not too heavy, and the content is maybe PG-13 at worst. Hope you like it!