Speed Tribes come of age, Yanki style

Every year in the city of Kitakyushu, Coming-of-Age Day is celebrated in over-the top style by 20-year-olds kitted out in outlandish versions of Japanese formalwear. The second Monday in January (the holiday on which all Japanese twenty-year-olds become legal adults) is well known by kimono-spotters all over Japan as the best day all year toContinue reading “Speed Tribes come of age, Yanki style”

The best winter gift of 2020? A Japanese stomach warmer!

Don’t laugh! The humble haramaki is making a comeback, because nothing—and I mean nothing—keeps you warmer while sitting at your desk fielding endless zoom calls than this legwarmer for your midriff. Major tip o’ the blog beanie to my journalist friend Helen Foster from Down Unda, who reminded me that it’s haramaki season again! HerContinue reading “The best winter gift of 2020? A Japanese stomach warmer!”

Uber Dandy Kimono: Wildly modern, breathtakingly bold, insanely stunning

I’ve been a fan of the divine Tia Oguri since long before she began designing kimono with traditional African fabrics, because her kimono styling has always been out-of-this-world fresh and exciting. Her latest venture, though, is pure WOW. Take a look at her Uber Dandy Kimono designs, and I think you’ll agree that they showContinue reading “Uber Dandy Kimono: Wildly modern, breathtakingly bold, insanely stunning”

Perfect 2020 Halloween costumes from Japan

If you’re desperate to get out after months of quarantining and can’t resist that invite to a good old-fashioned Halloween party, the ace variety store Don Kihote suggests some costumes that will enforce that social distancing with a vengeance! •

Six Surprising Reasons Japanese People Wear Masks, Even When There’s No Pandemic

If you’ve been puzzling over why Japan is such a “mask-wearing society,” it’s not because they’re all super-OCD about germs. Here are six excellent Japanese reasons to wear a mask that have nothing to do with the dread COVID: 1 – You overslept Because if this is your typical morning routine… …you can cut yourContinue reading “Six Surprising Reasons Japanese People Wear Masks, Even When There’s No Pandemic”

Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge

Hello, fellow kimono lovers of all shapes, sizes, colors, & geographic persuasions! Kimono princessing is all about mixing East and West, colors and patterns, styles and eras, and it warmly embraces vintage, second-hand delights as well as new. But there are a growing number of talented designers who have boosted the ancient artform onto modernContinue reading “Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge”

The Most Only-In-Japan Halloween Costumes Ever

Tired of being the same old sexy skunk or slightly NSFW goose in a tutu for Halloween? Keep your fellow costume partiers guessing with these only-in-Japan puzzlers! I found these at the always-entertaining Don Kihote megastore in Shibuya. And if you still haven’t hit on your dream costume, you can always check out what theContinue reading “The Most Only-In-Japan Halloween Costumes Ever”

Jazz Age Paintings Of Beautiful Women And The Real Kimonos They Were Wearing

If you love kimono – and especially if you love Taisho and Showa-age kimono – don’t miss this exhibition! Right now, the Yayoi-Yumeji Museum – where over 3,000 of artist/illustrator Takehisa Yumeji’s works are archived – is displaying the actual kimonos and accessories worn in his paintings, side by side. I’m a huge fan of TaishoContinue reading “Jazz Age Paintings Of Beautiful Women And The Real Kimonos They Were Wearing”

Tamao Shigemune: Modern Kimonos That’ll Knock Your Socks Off

So you think you can’t rock a kimono because you’re not Japanese? Think again! Tamao Shigemune designs modern versions of traditional Japanese women’s wear with a distinctly Parisian twist, and guess what? You can see them (and try her new summer collection on!) right now in Tokyo, through Sunday March 26th. Tamao Shigemune will be showing her collection at thatContinue reading “Tamao Shigemune: Modern Kimonos That’ll Knock Your Socks Off”

Battle Dress Kimonos

Okay, you’ve gotta help me out here: what sort of manly occasion could possibly call for donning a kimono fashioned from American mil-spec camo? Defcon 3 tea ceremony behind enemy lines? Tactical assault on the afternoon kabuki performance? Undercover date to the summer fireworks, knowing your recently-jilted ex will be there and gunning for you? Whatever occasion calls for strategicContinue reading “Battle Dress Kimonos”

Princess Kimono, Animal Style

Obscure seasonal references to geese and crows? So tenth century! Leaf viewing and strolling beneath the cherry blossoms? Been there, called it a cab. Let’s strap on our princess kimonos and hit the animal cafés instead! Thanks to Kimono Hime magazine (#10 & #12) for the gorgeous new style kimono photos. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick forContinue reading “Princess Kimono, Animal Style”

New Type Kimono: Maximum Princess

Your typical Japanese gyaru might be happy to see kimono-wearing go the way of ballroom dancing and tea ceremony, but a growing number of hip young women are adopting the techniques of alt fashion subcultures to breathe new life into old-skool clothes. Kimono hime lovers flaunt convention with a mash-up of vintage patterns, non-trad color combos and Western accessories to spawn a style that is utterly new, yet still utterlyContinue reading “New Type Kimono: Maximum Princess”

Cherry Blossom Party Costumes I Would Regret

The cherry trees are readying their onslaught, and it’s almost time for the annual beer-fuelled frolicking to commence. What better way to say, “I am a wild and crazy guy” than to don one of these festive pinker-than-thou costumes? •

Scary Eyes Made Easy

If you don’t think it’s quite out there enough to have eyes that make you look like a living doll, say hello to this line of definitely unnatural contacts! How about a nice alien look, with Solid White? Or perhaps a touch of psychopath, with Spiral or Manson Red? I saw these for sale atContinue reading “Scary Eyes Made Easy”

Alt Kimono

Give granny a heart attack with a Coming-Of-Age kimono that shows as much leg as your old schoolgirl uniform, bares a shoulder and some black-lace-edged cleavage, or cinches everything together with a corset instead of an obi! Last Sunday was the day all 20-year-olds officially become adults, but not everybody donned traditional maidenly garb toContinue reading “Alt Kimono”

Sexy Santa Roundup!

Ladies, just because those gold lamé and leopard print Santa costumes are made for men doesn’t mean you can’t play fast and loose with the jolly old elf this Christmas season! The Sexy Santa is a holiday tradition in Japan, and no party would be complete without a few of these beauties in attendance… •

Holy Mother Of…?!

I’ll see your Our Lady Of Rude Kustoms and raise you a scorpion tattoo! This shining example of Extreme Decorative Engrish goes on to inexplicably include God and France in an unholy existential alliance: “The God and France think whether exist this worldIt might exist if the God and France existReally we think that theContinue reading “Holy Mother Of…?!”

Our Lady Of Gangsta

If you’re planning to shake down a few grannies or threaten some loan-shirkers with a Louisville Slugger, don’t leave the house without donning your Blood Money brand track suit! Fashioned from pure 100% shiny synthetic fibers printed with righteous gold vinyl designs, you can’t fail to command respect in these chest-baring togs. Zippers and elasticContinue reading “Our Lady Of Gangsta”

You’re A Sexy WHAT?

What’s a girl to do if she needs a fetching Halloween costume for the company drinkathon, but doesn’t want to show up in the same maid costume all the OLs are wearing or be the only female AKB48 impersonator? Bunnychan Club costume design to the rescue! The only problem is, it’s so hard to decideContinue reading “You’re A Sexy WHAT?”

The Perfect Barbie Wedding

After you finally got Kenji to go down on one plastic bendable knee and propose, what could be more perfect than to dress up like Barbie for the wedding? In America girls put away the impossibly-built doll with her wardrobe of rubber shoes long before they get old enough to fill out a lookalike gown,Continue reading “The Perfect Barbie Wedding”

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Host Fashion

One of the first things you notice about hosts is that they don’t dress like Western guys who are out on the prowl. Hosts aim to deliver the Japanese version of a customer’s secret fantasy, and being swept away by a handsome prince or Wild One on his motorcycle is what makes many Japanese ladies’ heartsContinue reading “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Host Fashion”

Tokyo Steampunk!

Alice In Wonderland X Jules Verne! Gothic Lolita X Victorian Mourning! Manga X Edwardian Gentleman! In the land where costume is king (and often queen, even if you’re not a woman!), steampunk does not disappoint. The Tokyo Steampunk Society has adopted a time travel motif, which allows anybody who already cosplays to reimagine themselves inContinue reading “Tokyo Steampunk!”

The Hottest New Look In…Aprons?

You’re joking, right? Aprons? Nope, even the venerable Mitsukoshi department store has an extensive apron department. Aprons with ruffles. Aprons with bows. Little black cocktail aprons. But why? It wasn’t until I was invited to a friend’s house for a dinner party that I understood. Japanese entertaining has traditionally been done in restaurants, and it’s only recentlyContinue reading “The Hottest New Look In…Aprons?”

All I Want For Christmas Is A Magical Body

And all I need to do to get one is stop by the Shibjuya Loft store and plonk down ¥6000! Magical Socks are apparently included, as an extra bonus. On the other hand, maybe it would be better to display my Christmas spirit by dressing as a Creamy Tonikai! And if I feel like kickingContinue reading “All I Want For Christmas Is A Magical Body”

Various Acts Of Santa Blasphemy

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for creativity and such, but some things are just W.R.O.N.G.! These line-crossers join the other less-than-trad incarnations in my Japanese Santa Hall Of Fame:  Thong Santa, Scary Santa, Emo Santa, and my perennial favorite, Colonel Santa. •

Top Ten Only In Japan Holiday Gifts 2012!

10. For the film maven on your list who camped overnight in line at the movie theatre to see the new Evangelion…ANIME EYES SLEEP MASKS (seen at Village Vanguard) 9. For the octopus ball lover who just can’t get enough of a good thing…JUMBO DIY TAKOYAKI MAKER (seen at Tokyu Hands) 8. For the vampire gourmet…BLOODContinue reading “Top Ten Only In Japan Holiday Gifts 2012!”

Emo Santa

“Deck the halls with boughs of hemlock, fu-fu-fu-fu-fu, fu, fu, fu, fu…” Do you find red to be just too unbearably cheery? Think “Jingle Bells” ought to be remixed as “For Whom the Bell Tolls”? Well, finally there’s a Santa costume for those who would prefer to be The Un-Jolly Old Elf! Now Goths, death metalContinue reading “Emo Santa”

Scary Santa

You know how some kids are afraid to go sit on Santa’s lap, even if they really really really want a pony? Well, I bet all the Santa phobias in the known world can be traced back to an early childhood experience with someone like THIS. What was the package designer thinking, casting a massContinue reading “Scary Santa”

Tools For The Fingernail Challenged

Congratulating yourself that your spanking new nail art will definitely make it impossible for you to be selected to wash dishes or chop vegetables, you whip out your smartphone to send your ten best friends new shots of your to-die-for talons, the bowl of abura soba you just ordered for lunch, and a snap ofContinue reading “Tools For The Fingernail Challenged”

Our Lady Of Dudeitude

Our Lady seems to have been on a rather severe diet since we last encountered her on the back of a stylin’ blade’s jacket, but she’s still doing her best to confer righteous coolness on all comers. The question is, what exactly is a Lucid Dude, and why would anyone want to be publicly identifiedContinue reading “Our Lady Of Dudeitude”

Our Lady Of Glow In The Dark

I’m still trying to figure out the pop fascination with Catholic symbols here in Japan. Totally divorced from religious tradition (Christianity never got much of a toehold here, thanks to serious banning of outsiders before 1868), for some reason stylish tough guys wear Our Lady Of Rude Kustoms on the back of their motorcycle jacketsContinue reading “Our Lady Of Glow In The Dark”

Costumes I Would Regret

I must be doing something right, since I don’t have any Japanese friends who throw parties attended by anyone wearing THIS. Although not quite as permanent as  a tattoo, pictures of oneself wearing this attractive item would certainly circulate endlessly on the interwebs, thwarting one’s job advancement for millennia to come. •

Maybe It’s The Teeth…

I dunno, there’s something about this accessory that’s not quite working for me. If I were a host (or a regular guy with a fetish for massive blingy rings), I think I’d want something that didn’t look like it bites. Or, even worse, like it had overindulged at last night’s drinking party and was aboutContinue reading “Maybe It’s The Teeth…”

Our Lady Of Rude Kustoms

I love articles of clothing that are the Japanese equivalent of Western kanji tattoos that supposedly mean “Strong Warrior” but actually say “Wednesday.” Here, a slightly mannish Our Lady has been pressed into service to perform the miracle of deciphering, “First to live young to die no risk no life,” as well as relocating theContinue reading “Our Lady Of Rude Kustoms”

Acid Washed…Kimono?

I saw this display at Matsuya Ginza and found myself wondering just what sort of occasion calls for the kimono equivalent of faded True Religions? Ultimate frisbee with the empress? Kabuki live at the Budokan? Haiku slam? If you’d like to visit the Ginza area the next time you’re in Tokyo, visit my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.Continue reading “Acid Washed…Kimono?”

Lavender Leopard Fur Mantilla

I’m not sure how I’ve lived this long without this fashion forward accessory. Seems like it would go with pretty much everything. And if I hadn’t consulted Kera magazine, I wouldn’t know that my leather jacket has been crying out for a pair of Hammer pants. These black and white striped fake fur ones willContinue reading “Lavender Leopard Fur Mantilla”

Coming-Of-Age in the New Age

On Tuesday this lovely maiden in traditional dress undoubtedly went back to looking like the girl in the beanie, but Monday was Coming-Of-Age Day here in Japan, and even though kimono wearing has pretty much disappeared at other times of year, the shrines were packed with 20-year-old girls in all the trimmings. One of the reasonsContinue reading “Coming-Of-Age in the New Age”

Look Like a Host In One Easy Makeover!

My all-time favorite magazine Men’s Knuckle sent an intrepid team of stylists to Kabuki-chō to perform makeovers on young men they thought could use some help achieving that irresistible host club look. Look & learn at the feet of the masters! Let’s face it – this guy looked hopelessly normal before the stylists pointed himContinue reading “Look Like a Host In One Easy Makeover!”

Fake Fur Santa Miniskirts

It’s the time of year when young Japanese women are shopping for their Christmas Eve outfits, and nothing says “romantic holiday” more eloquently than a bright red, fake fur miniskirt. Nobody wants to look like every other Sexy Santa on the block, though, so it pays to consider the sequined, strapless, and lace-up models beforeContinue reading “Fake Fur Santa Miniskirts”

More Alike Than You Might Think

This week my friend Tomoko and I searched out a tiny vintage kimono shop in Shimo-kitazawa that was featured in Yamato Kimono-hime, the magazine from which I scanned the fabulously styled photo on the left. That article made me think differently about kimonos, and I got to thinking about how Kalico Delafay’s Dollymop designs made me think differently about a western garment that historically defined female beauty:Continue reading “More Alike Than You Might Think”