Let’s Get Thrifty…

Tokyo, Japan; a place of new and modern ventures, always moving forward in technology and fashion, but what about all those pre-loved goods? Where do they go? They seem like the forgotten generation, except clothing – no one hears about second-hand clothing and what happens to it. BUT, hold your horses, because someone is about to tell you what happens, and that someone is me!

First, let me give you a history of Japan and its recycling of clothing, or lack of, more like. Japan has only recently really started a push in recycling clothes and in the past has managed to amass about 1.97 million tons of pre-loved clothes each year, which were incinerated! Yep, that’s right – burnt to a crisp and not even given a chance to live once again!

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In the past few years, in light of a growing environmental awareness, there has been more of a push in promotion of what to do with your unwanted clothing, which has helped a lot with their recycling problems. There has even been a promotion of how to care for the environment through TV shows. In a segment on Hanamaru Market, one of Japan’s most popular morning shows, a waste-recycling expert demonstrated how and what one can recycle in the home. Because this was displayed on a popular show, many Japanese people, housewives in particular, saw it as a very trendy way to care for their family. As a result, the recycling trend became very popular.

Now, the most obvious place for pre-loved goods is an op-shop, but do they even exist in Japan? I have to admit, I am definitely one to go to op shops over other places purely because my main goal in life is to save money, but when I went to Japan myself, I didn’t even think to find any. Typical, naive me thought there was no way Japan could have second-hand stores; it’s all so contemporary. But, of course I was wrong. Harajuku and Shibuya have lots of thrift shops and wow, do they look good!!

Let’s start in Shibuya (that’s the one for young people, remember). Here are some of the best thrift stores in Shibuya to give you an idea of the different things they offer. And yes, it may sound silly, but almost each thrift store has a different specialty in relation to the style of clothes they offer.

Keshiki is known for quality vintage labels and here you can buy fashionable retro clothing to provide a sleek and edgy look.

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The Sun Goes Down is known for Western style menswear and offers vintage clothes for men.

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Boy is known for well priced vintage Japanese brands that have some connections with the music world.

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Now, let’s move on to Harajuku (the one that’s full of colourful, out there clothes) and what that has to offer! As you might expect, this area is characterised by shops that are a little…different.

Grimoire has clothes all with a hint of fairy tale and wonder. These clothes are more focused on the Dolly-kei style of fashion. As you can see this resembles the Lolita fashion found in Harajuku and definitely suits the area!

Ragtag is one of the most normal shops you’ll find as it offers pre-loved designer labels. Ragtag is one of a few bigger clothing recycling chains and has 15 branches across Japan.

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Dog is most definitely one of those different shops. This place offers out there and crazy costumes which could most definitely rival Lady Gaga’s outfits! This shop would have to be my favourite! I could spend hours rummaging through all the different items, mix and matching clothes, trying to find the best outfit. My Facebook would certainly be full of interesting outfit ideas!!

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For all those naive people about thrift shops in Japan, be naive no more! Now you know that they actually exist and where you can go to buy these awesome pre-loved clothes.

Before you all go, I have some bad news – hope you’re sitting down for this, it’s big. I’m sorry to tell you all that… this is my last blog! 😭 But, please, don’t be sad; just think of all those lovely memories of reading and commenting on my blogs, the feeling of anticipation as you ponder your next visit to Japan and the learning you have experienced about this intriguing country and what it has to offer! Our journey began with Kawaii and how the phenomenon took over Japan as well as the many different types of Kawaii. We then explored the art of Lolita fashion, the Gothic world and of course, our brolitas; who knew there were different types of Gothic brolita fashion? Our exciting adventure then finished off with navigating through Tokyo’s fashion districts, Harajuku and Shibuya, discovering many unique stores catering to all walks of life. Throughout this journey I have learnt lots about Japanese culture and have become much more aware of my surroundings, now making links between what I see in Australia and what is in Japanese culture. On one of my recent trips to Melbourne, I noticed a girl on the train wearing what I considered to be Gothic Lolita fashion (I was too shy to actually ask her) and certainly would have thought oddly of her before researching for my blogs. Now, you could say I have become more considerate of different types of fashion and the ideas and culture that underpin the styles due to my new found knowledge. I thank you all so much for your support and look forward to your last comments 😏


Tokyo’s Fashion Districts

Looking through the many shopping districts in Tokyo, Shibuya and Harajuku are the two most popular ones. On the surface, you’d think they’re both the same in terms of what they offer and would virtually have the same atmosphere. However, as I began digging my deep, dark hole into research, I discovered a lot of differences between the two districts.

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Harajuku is Tokyo’s fashion icon and is a major tourist attraction for all things fashion. It’s full of bright colours and intricate designs surrounded by many stylish boutiques, shopping malls and popular clothing chains. Every day the city is brimming with tourists and Japanese locals to see what the latest trends are. Harajuku is a hub for all those who want to dress in what may be seen as out of the ordinary. Lolita to Kawaii fashion, to Gothic Lolita and punk fashion, all is seen in Harajuku daily. The fashion city is certainly more into the intricacies of Japanese clothing.

Every month, there is the Harajuku Fashion Walk, where those who are fashionable (or at least think they are) gather outside the JR Harajuku station. They then walk through the neighborhood to show-off their outfits and mingle with like-minded people and obtain tips, tricks and new friends. Below is a video of one the the many Harajuku Fashion Walks.

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Having this walk just shows how fashion head-strong those in Harajuku are and how much they love and appreciate the culture, vibe and atmosphere it brings.

To be honest, even though in previous posts I’ve said I’m too lazy for this fashion, it would be a lot of fun to be a part of and a great thing to experience. I might be able to expand my group of four friends 😉😅

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Shibuya is known as a magnet for school students and teens. As you can see in the above picture, it’s more contemporary and modern, filled with technology and big, shiny buildings; things all teenagers and young adults love. The place is littered with department store branches with no shortage of shops, regardless of your fashion choice. Shibuya is definitely more orientated towards the modern side of clothing and what teens and young adults want to wear, more so than the creative side of things as seen in Harajuku.

Probably the most famous and significant landmark in Shibuya is the large intersection in front of the station’s Hachiko Exit. Surrounding it are tall buildings covered in neon advertisements and extraordinary video screens showing all things desirable.

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So, in conclusion, (just in case you can’t make your own), Harajuku is more for the creative side of fashion (Lolita, punk, Gothic) and Shibuya is more for teens and young adults who are looking for modern and very trendy clothes.

There we go! An introduction to Tokyo’s shopping districts. Thanks for reading and stay posted for my last blog; the cheaper side of shopping in these districts (just my thing). Please like, comment and share!!

Western V.S. Japanese Goths

You may be thinking – surely all goths are the same – black clothes, black hair, black make-up. However, you are wrong! Western goths are your stereotypical goths who wear ‘bad-ass’ dark coloured t-shirts that have some sort of ‘meaning’ to it, dark pants, dark, teased hair, pleather (fake leather) and other dark coloured things. In comparison, there are the Japanese goths who pretty much put more effort into their outfit and focus on detail (Gothic Lolita fashion).

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The goths of Japan are more into the romance of the fashion and add things such as intricate lace designs, cute dresses and skirts and accessories, but still in Gothic style. They have very exquisite and elegant outfits which show time and effort.

As I mentioned before, the Western goth fashion consists of dark and morbid everyday clothes with some fake leather. This version of Gothic fashion is very basic and more grotesque as opposed to the Gothic Lolita fashion in Japan, which is far cuter.

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To be honest, I think I’d stick with the boring Western Gothic style as I have no time, effort or money for the Japanese style! But in saying that, I think the Japanese version is far more appealing to the eye.

What are everyone’s thoughts on the two styles? Yay or nay? Please like, comment and share and stick around for next week’s blog, focusing on Japan’s major shopping districts. Thanks everyone for reading!!

How so Kawaii?

You may have the same question as me – how can something as simple, cute and pretty take over a whole country? Well, you’re in luck, because after researching through everyone’e favourite, Google, I have found the answer!

There are three main reasons as to how kawaii became so big:

  1. Japanese culture is one of rigor and high social expectations which many were tiring of. The Japanese people, especially women, wanted to reject this side of their culture to enjoy a bit of freedom.
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    This is obviously very understandable because who wants to be told what to do and how to act all the time? This rejection rose as kawaii. This is because kawaii challenged the rigorous aspects of Japanese culture, including their strong work ethic, discipline and social expectations in relation to how one must dress in public. Kawaii gave people an excuse to act and dress as a teenager or child and enable people to deny their adulthood. However, they also used kawaii as a way to cope with the realities of adulthood.

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  2. Kawaii is generally related to cute animals, babies and little children, all of which are seen as very helpless and need to be cared for endlessly. This adorable, youthful nature of kawaii is extremely attractive to all (unless you hate kids or you’re some kind of weirdo) and valued in Japanese culture. Generally, if you like it you want to be it so, abracadabra, you have kawaii!

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  3. The working population of Japan is well, very hard-working. They work long, strenuous hours and aren’t able to have many breaks throughout the day or a chance to rest and forget about work for a little while. Kawaii acts as a getaway for these people and breaks that cycle of their harsh reality. Being able to dress up as a child (or something cute) enables them to forget about their job and jump into an alternate reality!

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There we have it folks! The reasons as to how kawaii became so big in Japan. I can definitely resonate with these kawaii loving Japanese people – I am constantly denying my adulthood and trying to get away from it. Anyone else? Please comment, ask any questions, give suggestions or corrections about the topic and I will get around to answering all of you! I hope you enjoyed reading about a way to deny adulthood…I mean, about kawaii and Japan and stuff… Stay tuned for next week’s blog – Gothic Lolitas!

Kawaii Cuteness…or is it?!

Before researching kawaii, I didn’t really know where it would take me. All I knew about kawaii was that it meant cute and represented adorable things and presumed it was just a general term. I suspect that would be the same for most of you reading my blog as well! As I became lost in the many google pages about kawaii, I found that there is more than one kawaii – guro-kawaii, kimo-kawaii, busu-kawaii, ero-kawaii, shibu-kawaii, itami-kawaii and yume-kawaii.

The first perception of kawaii is of course, cute because of the Japanese translation, kawaii=cute. However, as I dug deeper into the world of kawaii, I found it’s not all adorable, pink, love heart gifs and colourful, extravagant clothes. I discovered that there is not one type of kawaii but seven! Sadly, unless you’re some kind of kawaii lover, it’s not what you might be expecting.

Let’s kick start this somewhat disturbing kawaii journey with guro-kawaii. If you think about the name for a moment you might be able to guess what guro translates to and if you can’t, it means grotesque. Yet again, Japan has confused me! How can you make grotesque cute? The answer may be below (emphasis on the may)…

So after looking at those few photos, what do you think? Grotesque; cute; messed up; mixture of all three? Tell me in the comments what your thoughts on grotesque-cute is. I think it’s all a little disturbing and would play to people’s psychopathic side of their personality.

As you may have guessed from the photos, grotesque-cute involves disturbing and violent things.

Have any of you watched Happy Tree Friends? If yes, I feel for you because that show is just 1000000000% messed up and disturbing, especially if you watched it at age 10 (thanks bro). But if no, be prepared to be disturbed. *WARNING, if you don’t like fluffy animals inflicting unintentional, large levels of violence and pain on one another, do not watch*

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So, there was a point to that disturbing clip; Happy Tree Friends is an example of guro-kawaii…who would have thought?

I’m sorry to say it doesn’t get better from here (for now). Next up is kimo-kawaii aka, creepy-kawaii… This type of kawaii is the sorts of things you find in nightmares and horror films which include slender-type characters. It has potential to trigger that shiver down your spine!

This next type of kawaii is more high-spirited than what we’ve had so far, so you can relax for a brief moment. Busu-kawaii, known as ugly-kawaii, is one that was created to take pity on those who are…ugly and give them something to be happy about or not be shameful about I suppose, in terms of being ugly.

We continue on the brief path of relaxation with what you could call a light-hearted kawaii type. Please welcome, ero-kawaii, which translates to erotic-kawaii. Obviously, this involves the sexy side of cute (the rest is pretty self explanatory)!

Next up is one that most of us could probably relate to the most and might even be. Shibu-kawaii is simple or subdued kawaii and is basically your everyday normal cuteness. It doesn’t involve any extremes, just normal clothes you’d get from Kmart or Target (or Country Road if you’re not frugal like me). Shibu-kawaii is as ‘normal’ as you can get in terms of the clothing aspect of kawaii.

Okay everyone, I hope you’ve enjoyed you’re relaxing few moments because that’s about to go out the window. Say hello to itami-kawaii…

As you can see, itami-kawaii is rather depressing and sad. This is because itami translates to pain and focuses on depressing images which sometimes contain needles, scalpels and other medical utensils.

Now, just because I’m nice, I’ll finish on an actual cute note! The last type of kawaii is yume-kawaii which is dreamy-kawaii. If you can think of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, with some unicorns and fluffy animals, you’ve got dreamy-kawaii. Just make all the objects cute pastel colours, add some sparkle and make it all happy and you’ll be acing yume-kawaii.

Well, there we go everyone! Who knew there were different types of kawaii? Please feel free to comment any questions, suggestions or corrections (no-body is perfect right?), below and I’ll do my best to answer! Stay tuned for my next blog focusing on why kawaii has taken over Japan! Thank you to everyone for reading and stay kawaii (whatever type you’re into).