Archive for the ‘japan vida’ Category

Gay Gyaru/Gyaruo

This is part of the Japan Vida series, discussing certain parts about living in Japan.

Previously

The hair is fierce!!!

First of all… they exist!

Many of my friends are gay guys and we all head to Shinjuku Nichome together on the weekends. I’ve been to gay bars, lesbian bars, gay events, lesbian events and more… Shinjuku Nichome is pretty much the only open area for gays and lesbians to act and be themselves. It’s only a very tiny block, but some fun is to be had inside. Homosexuality although having historical roots within Japan, now is very unwelcome. For more modern info: please read the Homosexuality in Japan wiki with tons of gay slang information.

Nichome – the gay and lesbian district

Nichome is a small block stacked with gay and lesbian bars, clubs, and host/sex clubs.  There is not one dedicated lesbian club unlike Arty Fartys and Artys Annex which are the same gay club but 2 streets apart. Every club stamps your hand after you pay a drink/entrance fee and you are free to come and go as you please. So often many people camp in front of the conbini Sunklus and get conbini alcohol and drink outside. It makes the evening much cheaper. There’s even a park with swingset that you can go and drink in. So many people are usually wandering the streets from conbini to club or bar to club. This allows for a ton of people watching.


How many gals regard gays and lesbians

I was talking with my one*spo staff Kie and an old one Non-chan, I was buying some accessories to go out that night so they asked where I was going and I told them Nichome. Even though Nichome literally means “2nd block” and numbered everywhere in Tokyo, people usually know exactly where you mean without having to say Shinjuku Nichome. Both were shocked and amazed I had gay friends. They didn’t preach a hate of gay people, more just felt that gay people have their world and straight people have theirs. This happened with some other gals, too.

This doesn’t mean all straight gals don’t love Nichome. My best Japanese friend loves her gay boys and we met at this tiny 7 seat bar in Nichome.

Gay Japan is not Gay anywhere else…

Gaydar is a thing of the past. American gaydar does not work at all in Japan. This goes especially with males. All the effeminate gestures and metrosexual overload makes a man straight in Japan >_< It’s often the beefy crew-cut guys in Japan that are gay <_<;; It used to be that if you wore Abercrombie and Fitch you could tell a guy was gay because  you had to import it. Now that A&F have opened a shop in Ginza, that’s out of the window.

Lesbians in general

Lesbians stick to roles. It is absolutely rare to see two lipstick lesbians together in Japan. If I do, I usually assume they’re friends out together. There is a definite pair off between butch and femme roles. So if you’re dressed like a gyaru with typical gal clubwear expect to get hit on by the butch type. The butch type in Japan often makes you question guy/girl when you see them at first.

Of course the gay and lesbian community is not just gay and lesbian but also has transgenders and bisexuals involved. Nichome also has the fag hags as well (which are termed okoge. Okama means burnt pot and is a slang for fag in Japan. Okoge is the burnt rice stuck at the bottom of a burnt pot. Cruel huh?).

Gay GyaruO

Despite the rumors I rarely see gay gyaruo who are not working as gay hosts (and yes gay host bars exist). Since Kabukicho is close by when hosts walk by it’s hard to tell if they’re heading to Kabukicho from their host dorm/home around Nichome or if they’re actually in 2chome. I have seen two Oraora gay boys who seem couply who often go to nichome. But they are so tanned, when they talk the pink of their lips and gums just glows because they’ve turned as crispy as possible. I wanted it to be hot, but it wasn’t. There are a few, but much less and much less organized than the gyaru lesbians.

Gyaru lesbians and Dance parties

Gyaru lesbians mostly stick to their circles. However their are friends or pairs walking around as well. It’s obvious some work in Kabukicho either as hostesses/girlbars/massage because of their Agejo hair and dress preference, also they tend to show up after typical last train closing hours. There are gals who enjoy dressing in gyaruo style and one particular hottie has a nice giant VANQUISH belt to top off her gyaruo look.

One thing to note: Gay gyaru have no nails. If you don’t know why, then you don’t need to know why ^_^;;

If you go, do not expect to see a ton of lesbian gals roaming. I have seen 20 tops in Nichome.

 

Gals mostly show up to event nights.  Girlfriend is the most popular and it’s at bar Hijouguchi which is head every last Saturday of the month. Hijouguchi has several other event nights including a gay electro night that is obscenely fun and a dandy event with great costumes (nothing like a guy with a nude colored speedo and gazelle horns on his head taking your money at the entrance).

You may run into b-gyaru Ikumi, who speaks fluent English. She and her b-gal posse are very nice.
Other event nights have fun things such as “speed dating” which is really nampa time (pick-up time). When you enter you are offered the choice of wearing a heart. This heart as a number and then you write your name on a heart and enter neko or tachi. Neko and tachi for gay male sex usually involve the giver and receiver, instead for Japanese lesbians neko means butch and tachi means femme. It can also be a sexual term meaning active vs. passive during sex. Sexually there’s also the term Riba is short for ribaashiburu, meaning they can top or bottom for sex. Also, there’s a check box for if you’re looking for friends/lovers/both.
Then you dance the night away with a heart on your chest (make sure to keep it taped on, or bring a safety pin. They fall off often while you dance or push around people to move in the club). After the night is over you check your number’s envelope and see if you got messages. Or if you see a hottie, send them a message ^_^~
Events often have crappy music, but they’re still a fun event. One event night has four dancers that ride the 2 1/2 poles located throughout (the one half pole is from ceiling to bar). All the girls are skilled pole girls and they often have themed outfits. They also walk around and all identify themselves as lesbians so if you want to chat them up, feel free to. They’re quite nice. One of them, a Chinese girl, supposedly teaches pole dancing and she’s gotta be the best I’ve ever seen on a pole. Girl has skills and flexibility not often seen outside of Cirque de Soliel. It’s hella amusing to see the bulldyke types standing front row to poles to look at the girls. It looks like an actual strip club with pervert row that way <_<;;

All the girls at lesbian events are looking for people. Sure some come with friends and they’re not actively looking, but most come open.

Nichome is home to the most per-gaijin ratio I’ve seen outside of Roppongi (the famous foriegner club district). Sure sometimes you feel like you’re in a gaijin bubble, but that often means people in Nichome are more welcome to speaking and interacting with gaijin. So in a dating context many are open to foriegners. If not most of them go to small Japanese only bars (sure they’re bar doesn’t say no-foriegners, but they are usually holed away in tiny spaces which foriegners wouldn’t go looking for fun).

Recommended places:

So if you want to see and meet lesbian gyaru then only go on event nights. However, Shinjuku Nichome is fun on most weekends. Arty Fartys and Artys annex are both fun to go to (if not entirely way too packed from 1:00 to 4:00) and unless its an event, it only costs a drink which is usually 600 yen.

My peep’s favorite bar is Adezakura. Known for its giant double red doors, it’s near Arty’s Annex. It’s lesbian until 2:00 and then goes mixed. Jin runs the place and she’s both super nice, pours ample drinks, and enjoys gaijin in her place. She’ll also pull up any music you want to hear.

Rehab mostly weekends has happy hour which lasts from 8:00-10:00. It’s directly behind Sunklus in the alley up the stairs on the 2nd floor. There’s a signboard advertising it right below the place. It’s a new place, so not often that full. The happy hour is 1000 yen ($11.00 USD) and it’s all you can drink. Apparently they don’t do shots anymore, but if you ask for any alcohol on the rocks they’ll give it to you. So it’s essentially a shot <_< They also have couches and tons of gay photo books to either stare in awe or giggle at. Best to go in a group.

Me between club and bar, swinging in the park in Nichome.
What you never swung in Mar*s garters before? heheehe
As a note all of the pictures were found on Girlfriend website. I am definitely not trying to out those who don’t want to be outed. 

Fukubukuro

Finger Lickin’ Santa

Are you enjoying your Christmas? Did you get your Christmas KFC?

Crispy for Christmas
Families order weeks in advance to share KFC in Japan. Yes I’m weirded out by it, too. KFC and Japan Christmas info here and here.

New Years Fukubukuro

EDIT: Since it’s going to be 1/1 soon in Japan,  both girlswalker and love-ex have new bags up. Love-Ex has me-jane and Golds Infinity. Girlswalker has those plus Mar*s, Duras, Lip Service and more.

The tradition of New Years is so huge in Japan and other than Hatsumode (first visit of the temple) and eating soba (most soba shops are packed), the concept of fukubukuro is everywhere. Fukubukuro are lucky bags and although 109 stores have them, so does most every apparel business in Japan. Most make-up counters do it as well, and you can often get some serious deals at make-up counters.

Each bag usually cost 10,000yen or around $100.00. Some stores offer bags of $200, $100, and $50.00. Others do multiple different lucky bags of $100.00. It’s a mess, but a happy shopping mess. ✌⋰˚◡˚⋱✌

My lovely friend Sebastian is nabbing me Lip Service, w<3c, and Glad News bags. I admit I’m tempted by both the Liz Lisa and Valentine’s High fuku bags because they’re so cute. ༶❤_❤༶

109 shops have been setting up reservations for their bags, but some just release the day of. Fashionwalker still has some of their bags available, while 109 shops one their website have also been releasing them.

LoveEx which has its own worldwide shipping service also has a few lucky bags up. Maybe more will release on 1/1.

EDIT If you don’t like knowing or are only used to buying through shipping services that use Y! auctions, after 1/2 many should be up and opened showing all items. Or if you’re especially looking for your favorite store like One*Spo or DIA who don’t offer on-line sales of fuku.

Also, for those of you IN Tokyo, while 109 is closed on 1/1, Lumine EST and ALTA are both open so you can try your luck at both of those which have Gilfy, Mars, Swordfish, Valentines High, Cecil McBee, Lip Service and more.

Jagura‘s 109 bag is Kitson-like and does a cute plushy tiger in honor of 2010 as the year of the tiger.

Adorable! It almost convinces me to get the bag.

Spiral Girl has an awesome bag out, but it’s both sold out on fw and their website ㌔_☖#

MeJane is looking a lot like their sister brand Mar*s in their bag’s print

They’re also teasing with a watch similar to the one I bought for $90.00

Valentine’s High‘s bag is simple adorable! I’m not 100% about their clothes, but I’m admittedly tempted by this bag.
EDIT They promise 5 items not available in stores including an outer and a long-tee shirt.

Cecil McBee shows all of what will be in its fuku and I am not as keen to get it now.

Liz Lisa (and Liz Lisa Doll) offers a luggage-piece as its fuku bag. I admit it’s girlish splendor. Both Liz Lisa and Tralala’s bags available at r-shop
EDIT: Liz Lisa promises a coat, a one-piece, a knit top, either shorts or a skirt, a muffler or a hat, and new year item
Liz Lisa Doll  promises an outer, a top, an inner, a bottom, a onepiece, and a fashion piece
The 5200 yen bags offer a one-piece and one more item.

Gilfy‘s newsprint bags are really cute! I’m tempted just by the bag.
EDIT: According to Rakuten’s English website they have pictures of the lucky bag Gilfy items

Now my problem with this is I see a couple of items that ARE Gilfy and some that definitely are not <_<
Another problem is Gilfy is showing these boots here. Which did not sell well in Japan because of the lace-up plus overbuckle skin which is just a pain in the booty when you’re in Japan and often having to take off your shoes. So they’re not selling items created for the fuku, just unloading stuff that didn’t sell well (-_~-)
I’m now hesitant about the Gilfy bag. (↓;д;↓)

JSG‘s cute sling bag fuku is one sale through CREDGE

Ji.maxx also has its fuku up on Credge

 

Cocolulu has both 1man and 2man bags. The 2man is a roller.
1man bag offers: original outer, long tee, a parka, something small, and the bag
There are some of the options. Both 1man and 2man bags are up on their website

Egoist‘s bag although plain offers 3-6 items costing between $300-500 approx. They’re really keeping it a lucky bag. Goes on sale today at 12:00.

Glad News bag really isn’t my look, but I am really tempted by what’s inside.
You get a blouson outer, leggings, leopard fur beret, cut onepiece, food print long-tee, something random, and the bag. As a present for those who order on-line, you also get a cute skull-mickey notebook here.
Borderless Rakuten offers the GN fuku here, too! No shipping service needed ❤

Delyle is having a slow release of their fuku. Next time is 12/28 midnight.


Since they enjoying copying Chanel, it’s only appropriate their bag looks like the Spring leather shopping bag Chanel put out.

LB-03, LDS and Love Boat have their fuku all up for sale and most still look available. The LB-03 bag (above) looks really cute.

For the himegals, Jesus Diamante has four types of fuku available through the Parco City website. $200, $300, $500, $1,000 and a $1,500. Oh my so pricey The $200 bag offers a knit item, the bag and a small item. The $1,500 bag offers pieces that are worth>_< more than $4,500, but still ^_^;; I’d have to disavow all shopping to ever transform to himeism.

Swordfish has not one but 3 different $100 and 2 different $50 bags to choose from. All on sale here

 
 Mar*s and Real Mar*s has their fuku out. According to their news on-line fuku starts 12/26.
The Mar*s one has room wear inside. ^_^  I love the Real Mar*s leopard print bag(・m・)☆

One*Spo: Info via the onespo mixi community says there will be a jacket, a onepiece, a top, a skirt, mokomoko roomwear and an accessory. Items totalling 4-5man.

Lip Service: According to the bubbly rakuten store you get an outer, a onepiece, a tanktop, a camisole, and a long tee. I am not a big fan of the bag, but I still ordered it. (⇔ο⇔)
 
Duras offers a “total coordinate including an outer” that is worth 5man. Goes on sale 1/1 at FashionWalker

What fuku are you buying or wish you could buy?

The ASK ANYTHING post

Curious Mitsu answers info

These are a response to the earlier post of which I asked readers if they wanted to know anything about gal in Japan/tips/general Japan life/or me. Everything is considered and more questions or topics are welcome!

So far we have: japanese gals interpreting gaijin gals, street snap, winter sales and christmas events, lingere (un-info >_<;; sorry malignita!), dressing in the summer when Japan’s in the winter, cheap clothes, weight of Japanese women, my transformation into gal, personal sizing questions. Keep them coming!

bloomzy asks:

How Japanese Gals interpret foreign Gals, and whether they’re approachable etc. 

Well hmmm. As I talked about in my friends post, it’s best to meet people in places they might be more open to talking (bars, clubs, music events). However, not concerning friends it just depends.

As a gaijin, especially as a non-Asian gaijin, there is a definite divide. You are constantly stared at (and let me tell you it is definitely not the discrete glances a lot of the time but a dead-eyed fish stare). No matter if you are here for 2 days or 2 years some will quickly assume you speak 0 Japanese. However, like many things things in Japan that is just the surface. Most people here can be slow to warm up to you, but you will find many do warm up to you and open up.

The way I look and dress in gyaru style people sometimes ignore my face or see me from the back and then when they see and notice I’m white, they go “whoaaaaa gaijin!” to their friends. This can happen sometimes several times a day. It’s like a game where they’ve found Waldo, aka the gaijin gal.

Sometimes people assume I’m a haafu  *corrected (half Japanese half white), which is quite silly since I have naturally blonde hair and blue eyes, but since so many people dye their hair and use color contacts they don’t really accept the reality of my face simply because of my ability to speak coherent Japanese.

Let me just put this out there: I have no desire to be Japanese. Just because I like ONE Japanese style does not make me want to turn into a Japanese person.

There is a big difference between dressing a Japanese style and WANTING to be Japanese. I have zero problem being white, I am okay with being an American.

In living here, you become more knowledgeable about popular culture, inside jokes and amusing pieces. If you share a similar lexicon, people tend to accept you easier. Gaijin (especially non-Asian gaijin) are however oddities, and curiosities. Not so much a freak show, but we inspire their curiosity. You can combat this by being open about yourself, sharing common interests and keeping yourself humble.

As I’ve said before. Like living in any foreign country, and being an outsider, it’s best to grow a very strong spine and keep your head up even if people are unkind to you. Suck it up and be more awesome than them!


Anon asks:

Have you ever been picked for a street snap? 

I was asked once when I was walking to the train station in Shibuya. I was dressed in head to toe Mar*s with fitted jacket, fluffy skirt, garter belt tights and high heeled mules. My hair took hours and I was looking quite Agejo.  However, it was the time it took that made me late to go pay my rent which was why I was headed to the station. Sadly, I was in too much of a hurry to do it. 


This however was a rarity since Street Snaps have become increasingly not so spur-of-the-moment, but now there are special areas for people who come to want street snaps and Egg magazine and such often advertising a time and place for their street snaps. They also sometimes drag shopstaff out of 109 to quickly shoot their picture. 


Sada asks:

I would appreciate a topic on how to take care of japanese extensions, as mine always become shitty after a few weeks… and also, cheap places to buy gyaru clothes.

Japanese extension info is in the extension FAQ. Extensions do want to die after a few weeks. You might also want to switch your stylist, sometimes the hair quality is different in each shop. Also, many shops sell treatment just for them. I’ve noticed while using the treatment my hair tends to stay less tangled even if damaged.



To be honest, I don’t really like to discuss cheap places to buy clothes, because usually their the trend followers and offer a lower quality piece that often fails stylistically. If their design is good I’m all about supporting them, but when construction and quality fail I’m hesitant. 

ANAP is one of the rare exceptions to this, since they offer so many pieces you can often find something good if you look hard enough. They also have so many brand labels such as ANAP USA for more flashy looks, ANAP Chille which offers are more girly style, ANAP Mimpi for the hippi in everyone and even ANAP Outlet in Harajuku for the cheap of the cheap. 


For the quick and dirty both aBaB in Ueno in Tokyo have cheap stores selling gal clothes, and Namba Walk in Osaka is full of tons of cheap stores (pictures of some to come in the Osaka III post).


reiko asks

I want to know when the winter sales start! >__< And if you can tell what special things I can do this X-mas in Tokyo cause I will be there!

Winter sales: Start on Janurary the 5th and go through the 9th. The week before will be pre-sales and you might find some good bargains there. January 1st is when fukubukuro are on sale. If you haven’t reserved your items expect to wait the night before in line to even get a shot at getting the good ones.

Things to do for Christmas: Tokyo Disneyworld has a special seasonal parade, great merchandising, and a cosy atmosphere. Shinjuku South Exit towards Takashimaya has their illuminations set up. Roppongi Midtown and Odaiba both have good Christmas light displays as well. But enjoying yourself out on X-mas in Japan is just like Valentine’s Day in America. So expect a certain amount of crowds.

The Christmas lights (イルミネーション) in Odaiba

My view from 2007
The city ligthts are also pretty



malignita asks

Lingerie: Lingerie is one of my shopping weaknesses, so I couldn’t resist! What should foreign gals keep in mind when shopping for lingerie in Japan? Are there any specific shops or brands that cater to larger shapes or sizes?


LOL I am absolute fail on this question. My cupsize is 34D which puts me far out of the range of bra buying in cute gal shops. I’ve heard there are some places and a friend bought from one, but I cannot recommend them since I did not think they flattered or did the lifting one needs. Now 34D is a normal-ish size in the states and I just make sure to buy all my needs back in the states

Gal Recessionista: What sort of ways can gals save on clothing, accessories, and cosmetics without sacrificing their look?- will now be an upcoming article!

Education & Work Opportunities: Practically speaking, what opportunities exist for girls who want to continue with gyaru style but go to school or have a career? Gals be ambitious! – will now be an upcoming article!



anon asks

Flirting/Dating tips?

this is one that definitely has to come with my disclaimer: I am one white girl being a gal in Japan, my experiences are just one of the many foreign experiences. Also, people tend to discuss their relationships when they are not doing so well, so as a friend you hear often not the positive parts.

I’ve been with my man long before I started living in Tokyo and there’s no one for me, but him. He’s one of a kind and perfect for me. I’m currently and always rabu-rabu about him. 

So… Hmmm I don’t have experience with dating in Japan, but I do know gaijin friends who have/are dating someone and they’ve shared their experiences. I do have some experience with flirting, since hey getting the occasional free drink and practicing Japanese… I can deal with that.

As I’ve said before in the Love Hotel article, sex is a different concept in Japan. Many relationships start out with sex first and then dating. Sometimes they expect 10 minutes of small talk and a free drink at clubs means heading to a Love Hotel then and there (I’ve been asked that a few times, of course I said NO). 

Also, there is the perception about gaijin women as being loose. And definite curiosity about appearance. Especially since Japanese women only slightly trim their pubic hair and all have brown nipples. Too put it bluntly, they’re interested in grooming and pink nipples. Often they’ll ask about your grooming, the popular term for being all shaven is “pie pan”. The Japanese wiki article is less than flattering picture shows more. NSFW


It’s common that Japanese men lack the ability to be chivalrous, it’s just not socially necessary. They’ll be kind and carry your handbag, but it sometimes doesn’t extend beyond that. “Ladies first” ( レディファースト) is how Japanese view American male chivalry and many of my gal friends lament the lack of “ladies first”. As one of my friends puts it, Japanese men can be “Ore no tame ni”, just for me


Having said all of that, some are kind and sweet and want to work hard to be with you. For these guys many expect the slightly dominant Japanese female role to be played by you, especially if they haven’t spent time abroad. So they’ll expect many e-mails, and you asking to do things and setting up dates instead of them.

It is much more common however to see Japanese girls with gaijin guys. I rarely see Japanese guys with gaijin girls as a couple.

Here are my tips-bits of info to flirting and dating:

  • Smoke at a club (or just fake it), that way you can ask for a lighter
  • Separate yourself from your group, men are more likely to approach you if you’re alone
  • Absolutely nothing wrong with a little smile and some sexy dancing at a club
  • If you’re at a non-club, start off the conversation like… “kyou hitori desu ka?” are you out by yourself?
  • Many guys like a dependent girl, so say you’re thirsty if you want a drink or ask to go out somewhere else
  • Ask them to teach you Japanese. A relationship can’t turn serious without some deep conversation and that comes with language skills.
  • A little skinship is always good, like a touch to the arm or playful slap on the hand
  • A common question to ask someone is if they’re an S or M. Not as much slutty s&m, but more do you like to be in control (S) or you prefer someone else to take the lead (M). 
  • Some guys are out at clubs just to collect phone numbers, but that’s alright. Maybe a nampa (pick-up) guy can turn serious
  • Expand your horizons. Most all gals I know are not dating gyaruo. Instead they’re sticking to guys who are spending less money on their clothes and more their girlfriends. Often the gyaruo couples are highschool or started dating in highschool
  • Don’t put your hopes up on one guy unless you’re dating. Finding your perfect someone doesn’t come without trial and error.
  • suki is commonplace, don’t consider it love and don’t expect guys to speak of their love or it’s sometimes hollow. Words of love do not carry the same weight in Japanese. I got two mails today of friends telling me they loved me, casually of course. They’re just being sweet.
  • Cheating happens in Japan. Two of my friends have been the other woman, accidentally or not. Two of my other friends have found someone else to be the other man, so it’s not just guys.
  • Carry condoms! USE THEM! STDs are never sexy.

So be safe, be sexy and put yourself out there. 


Miki asks:
Because I live in the southern Hemisphere our seasons are the opposite of the Northern which means that we are 6 months behind in Fashion. Would you suggest that, for example during our winter I should use trends from the winter which has already passed in the North??

It gets a little confusing with seasonal changes. There are small things which I can keep up to date with such as make up or hair but something with certain clothes, colours or prints, it just doesn’t work.

Mitsu’s response:

I actually think you get the best of both worlds. You can and mix and enjoy a nice sexy blend.
In your situation it’s best to consider these trends without a seasonal reference. Things like plaid, dot patterns, lace and studs all can work in either summer or winter. Cardigans are popular and work as a lightweight jacket on a cooler summer night. For bottoms, consider damage jeans work whether you need shorts of jeans. Leggings are often fine during the summer too.

Tokyo’s winter actually tends to start mid to late October lately, and there is very little of Fall, so you will find people in t-shirts in October.

The only thing I would suggest following that is a purely summer trend is shoes. Strappy open-toed heeled sandals were very popular as were mules. Also, summer is a great time to experiment with color. Winter in Japan people tend to wear only pops of color, but summer can be a great explosion of color if you want it to be.


steph asks

I’d like to know whether is it true that gals in Japan eat a lot (that’s what my boyfriend said). When I was in Japan, I noticed that many gals in Japan eat heartily and do not look like they starve themselves – but they still look really thin.

For many I do think they’re anorexic. I think magazines and dieting also encourage this extreme diet restriction. I am sure there are some binge-purge women as well. I also believe that with the less equality of men and women it forces the society to punish the women who aren’t of the considered societal pleasing shape (sociological too much ^_^;;)

Yes, many gals are thin, but some are just genetically slender. Walking is some part of it, but walking really isn’t that physically taxing and most people only walk 30 mins a day here. Also, as an American I walk fast, I use my long legs and move. Japanese tend to walk quite slow, thus lessening their physical empact. I think their weight has a lot more to do with genetics, the greater emphasis on physical fitness in highschool, portion size, and their conception of food

  • Most Japanese women have small frames which means packing even extra fat on can just look more like a medium frame. For those of us with large frames (read more about frame sizing here), we pack on a little meat and BOOM we’re chubby. Small framed girls can accept more weight. Also, genetically I think Japanese have good metabolism, they mostly do not seem to have much of the obesity gene lying around. I mean when you get to the countryside of course there’s a greater range in sizes.
  • Physical fitness class is much more important in Japanese high schools than in American ones. While it was solely the jocks and a few credit requirements, most Japanese schools have a lot more athletic emphasis built into their curriculum. Therefore, many of these gals who are only 2 or 3 yrs from that musculature haven’t had time to bloat.
  • Portion size in Japan is also much much smaller than in the US. I mean with the exception of ramen (which is just soup), most foods are very small portions. Steak may be a tiny steak pieces, a katsu piece is usually small as well. 
  • Japanese TV is obscenely dedicated to covering food. Food stores, food oddities, the celebration of seasonal food, the cheap places to get it, reviews around the country… it’s everywhere. Although the US has the food network, I think the normal American mentality is not to savour the food. When you go out to eat with someone in Japan expect to bring up what you ate for an hour afterwards.  It feels like people really treasure their food here, even if its cheap and simple. Because of this enjoyment, I think women eat less per day, keeping them thin.

Anon asks:

I know this has probably been touched light upon but are gal brands startin to branch out of the standard M size and into L and even LL clothing.

The quick and dirty answer: nope. Even though many gal brands have 3 sizes in fitted items such as jeans, they mainly go to an American size 2/4 (So the sizes would translate to 00 – 0 – 2, or sometimes 0 – 2 – 4). Though discount brand Honey’s (located in 109-2), has L and LL, I am pretty sure LL = 4, and that’s in a very select few styles.

EDIT: For some of the girls outside the American L range, the mall aBaB in Ueno on the 5th(?) floor stocks larger sized clothing such as jeans and such. Do not expect the most current styles or cutest looks, but there are still several outfits and looks to be found within.


vividancer asks:

I’m curious as to what got you into doing gal styles when you first started and how you got started. any interesting tidbits to share on the transition between girl to gal?

The simple answer: I moved to Japan. In actuality I moved in 2007 and hadn’t really heard about the gal resurgence. Instead I had this picture in my mind from Fruits books of mamba or something that was just too colorful and baked and not me. Thankfully I met a friend and she liked the new gal before she came and then together we discovered a lot more.

Me as a light blonde in 2007
Trucker cap: aBaB
Jacket: Gilfy
Necklace: Gilfy
Dress: Swordfish



Oh I think I was fail at times back then and other pieces/looks I still like. I fell in love with Gilfy quickly and that was easy enough to lure me in. I considered it very easy to get into it because I had both access, the most current info and a lifestyle void. It was easy to get into, but much harder to make strides in it. I’m not a big make-up person, and I needed to learn to spend time on my hair and several things went very slowly. I really do think gal is best done with a drastic hair change.


Karyu-sama マニア asks

I’ll be going to Japan very soon and I am sacred not to find anything in my size. Shirt size: L-M Dress size: L

 While I spoke of 0-2-4 in concern with jeans, that doesn’t translate to the rest of clothing. Jeans are a very specific object that I’m sure you know can be a pain to shop for. Do not worry at all about finding things to fit. I can only loosely say this since broad shoulders are not a very Japanese friendly clothing aspect, but many gal clothes are made loose. Even if they’re fitted many are cotton which have a bit of stretch to them. 

As I’ve said before I think it’s a huge myth that 109 caters to only tiny people. Of course some things are tiny sized because MOST of Japan is tiny or medium sized. My firiend used to complain she found nothing that fit her when all she would look at were these button-up shirt dresses. I don’t know how well her body could’ve done in an American or European S-to-L system looking for button-up shirt dresses. However, once she moved to a more loose and casual look she was able to buy most anything she wanted. Loose doesn’t have to be casual. Lip Service has made a fortune this season selling many looks that are tight to the bust and loose everywhere else.

 


Markie asks

I often sacrifice fashion for bulky layers …do you have any recommendations on staying gal/fashionable even when you have to pack yourself up like a sardine?

First of all there are two main bodylines popular this season, the A-line which favors trenchcoats and peacoats, and the I-line which favors skinny jeans and sleek jackets. The A-line cut relies on keeping your legs in tights or leggings to maintain a thin shape to balance out the flowy upper body. This is a bad idea in extreme conditions.

It’s best to stick with an I-line shape, so find a very sleek coat. Combine skinny jeans with thermal leggings and rely on layering thinly. Such as thermal long-tee + long sleeve print tee + cardigan + jacket.

Also, pop your outfit with an adorable snow hat and winter scarf, preferably in a color or print.

Let your hair have volume and show from under your hat. Fluff around and let it speak for your fashion sense.


LANA asks

I can get good quality exte, and haircut that is affordable and gives a wide variety of shades for my hair

It depends on your definition of affordable, personally I think the US is much cheaper on haircuts, so it’s best to get a haircut in the states before coming and then exte. Remember that layered haircuts tend to blend exte better than blunt cuts.

Most all salons will carry blonde and there is usually no extra charge. My last time at Yu House a Lady Gaga platinum blonde was getting exte next to me. Extreme red might cost more and be harder to blend.

YuHouse
is offering their special again with 50 for 9,800. That’s a good price, but if you’re like me and wanting more than that, Extension Rhytmn in Centaagai (東京都渋谷区宇田川町35-4 plug it into google maps) seems to have a great price right now. Their straight houdai (all you can get) is 9800, and their wave houdai price is only 15800. I’m unsure if you need the coupon, but you can print it out before you leave the States 🙂

I am going to head to them next week and see if they’re good.

Love Hotels

Hotel Little Chapel in Osaka (more pics below)
Love Hotels, the why

When I lived in Koenji (a commuter train station on the Chuo Line in Tokyo) my bed creaked, my walls were thin and I have a steady man. So I went to a love hotel, since then I’ve gone to a few and think they’re a fun experience.
This is also the common reason for a lot of people who use love hotels. Either they live with their parents, or they don’t want to use their tiny apartment and small bed. It doesn’t hurt that two of the big hotel districts are either located in Kabukicho (near all the host clubs) or in Shibuya (near all the regular clubs), so they are expressly conveint for casual sex. 
Be safe!
While sexually infectious diseases are common, there is not the scare or STD and AIDS awareness that exists in America (1 in 17 Shibuya teens have contracted an STD). So condom use is often spare. Men often don’t carry protection, so ladies should always carry condoms if they are considering sex.
Love Hotels, the how
There are a few english language websites discussing love hotels. However they are often not updated and many have closed.
Love Hotels are hotels set up to accept stay time (usually 2-3 hours) or overnight time. While I talked about the flashy hotels near clubs there are also business style love hotels located on the outskirts of big cities so salarymen with companions may drive in for privacy and atmosphere.
A business style Hotel Angelic in Tennouji, Osaka
Love Hotels often get a lot of English-language press because of their themes. Notoriously in Osaka there used to be Hotel Adonis with a famed Hello Kitty S&M room. (more fantasy hotel pics here) This place has since closed down and is now a simple Love Hotel.
The sad exterior of Hotel Candy Hall where Hotel Adonis used to stand.

There are still themed hotels around and S&M style hotels (hotel Phain is currently still running) that are more used as a kink playspace instead of an actual getting-down love hotel. Instead now love hotel rooms range some simple to stylish with the theme only extending as far as the entryway.

Love Hotel, the how-to
Hotel Little Chapel, one of Osaka’s best known ones.
More from Little Chapel in Namba, Osaka
Hotel Mickey Cookies in Osaka
plus: cute exterior and they gave you a tiny cup to fill with candy to take to your room
minus: super tiny rooms
In all love hotels I’ve been to they have a board showcasing all the rooms, ones available are lit up. On the weekends its common to see only 3 rooms available or less. You either press the button below your choice or take out a card. Sometimes you had this to a clerk and during the night you often pay through a keypad at your room. More Japanese language is required for the keypad version, but generally when the keypad pay style is not involved you need 0 knowledge of Japanese to work out a love hotel.
As mentioned before you can choose short time stay or overnight. There are often restrictions that you can only do short stay before 11 or 12. Usually this corresponds to last train.
Love Hotels are not just a bed for sex, but often several fun options. One I went to in Kabukicho had a giant jacuzzi tub made for 3 people to sit comfortably in. One I went to also had a sort of blow up wedge to try out different errmmm ideas <_< ;;

Some hotels have food or sex toy orders. All I have been to have karaoke attached to their tv system. Mostly it’s Japnese songs with 3 pages of older tunes to sing. It’s a blast to do in private and considering the price of night-time karaoke for 3 hours its not such a bad alternative. 

Warning: Unlike American hotels and regular Japanese hotels, who shove the porn channels to one side of the programming. Love hotel tv’s programming of regular tv and porn is indescriminate so you may flip channels and get: news / porn / drama / porn / regular movie / porn


Some love hotels provide lube and condoms, while others just provide condoms. All offer the bare toiletries you would find in a regular hotel. 

The inside of a Kabukicho love hotel room
  chandelier over the bed ^_^v

Actual bed set up with lubes
Bar and TV to the far left are the mics for karaoke
Lighting controls from the bed
Classy tea set-up
All toiletries provided at this one
Their lube selection. Lube in Japan is called lotion, so make sure you don’t start using this as moisterizer >_<
Actual massage lotion located next to the jacuzzi

So enjoy, and play safe ^_^

Shopping at 109… a shopaholic’s guide

Heading to 109 or any other gal hive such as OPA, ALTA, etc… can be intimidating. Here are some tips to keep you looking fabulous as you shop. This can also be useful for shopping for clothes anywhere in Japan.

109 (aka marukyuu) during last year’s Christmas season 

Look your best: Imagine dressing up for a date. There’s an argument that I really agree with that women dress for other women. If you follow this argument then you should be looking 100% when you head into 109.  Do a sound check on yourself, is your outfit, hair, nails, overall grooming at its top level? It absolutely should be at 109.

Best time to shop to actually shop: During the day in the middle of the week. Although this is often the time you see tourists there you can browse without having to shove through and shop staff have more time to spend on you. You might find yourself having good conversations with staff at this time.

Best time to people shop: Friday night and Saturday afternoon are the best time to see gals, although on Saturday you will also see a mix of jks and adults. (JK is Joushi Koukousei aka high school girls, see more trend words here) In the last year with the publication of I ❤ MAMA by Ageha’s publisher, the rise in yanmama (young mamas, used to be a term to describe mambas and such who got knocked up, but it’s more acceptable now to use it simply on young mothers) is definitely rising so you might see a few gals with strollers, in heels -_-;;

Best way to approach 109: Take the elevator outside to the 8th floor. You don’t have to fight the elevator inside to head up to the 2nd floor and you can get closer to brand goods.

Do not buy anything until you look at all shops, unless you have strong brand loyalty. There are only so many big trends circulating at once (see fall trends). Therefore repetition will happen between brands. You may see 7 union jack prints and 30 plaid shirts. You have choice. Use it.

However, sometimes brand loyalty trumps that. For example, although I didn’t see all the Union Jack prints, I bought the one from One*Spo immediately because I know their look suits my style always. If you know a brand is more your style, don’t hesistate to purchase that trend there.

Understand who are the tastemakers and who are simply followers. Brands like Egoist, Liz Lisa, One*Spo, Glad News, Gilfy make their own signature look on a trend. They are following their own look. Stores owned by Tokyu such as MitsuMaru Layla Rose and other Mitsu Maru brands, also Rose Fan Fan, Cryx, Shake Shake etc… do not set the style. They’re often feeding off the trends leading brands produce. Often there is a quality and stylisticlly weak look in their work.

Not to say I’ve never shopped at those places and enjoyed the pieces I’ve bought. However, it’s best to look to the scions of trends than to the reproducers.

Know your body’s assets and flaws, use trends to work your assets. For example, I am apple shaped so while I like my legs and I have a large bust, I’d prefer to cover my stomach and upper arms. Lip Service low cut empire styles suit my body and One*Spo’s leg revealing fluffy skirts are perfect for my shape.

This is not the end of it. Learn if you have narrow or broad shoulders. Do you have a short or long neck. Which colors look best on you? Most 109 looks in each store come in several colors so spend time finding the one best suited to your coloring and current look.

You can be of any size and be able to shop at 109. I think this is the biggest myth for people not used to shopping at gal stores in person.  However you have to change your mindset. I am sure many of you are not a size 0, which is fine. I’d rather everyone be at a healthy BMI than be skeletal. So it might be hard to find pants that are your size. Leggings are a big trend so switch to them with stretch instead. The balloon jackets that are 80s and very in right now fit any chest size. Many things are made with elastic so slide in. I am not advising people to muffin top, but you will find you have many options if you are an American size 16 or a size 2. Those closer to the 16 level just need to stay away from more fitted items.


Ask to try things on.
Learn and love this phrase: これを試着してもいいですか Kore wo shichaku shite mo ii desu ka? Can I try this on?
Or the alternative: このジャケットを試着できますか Kono Jacket wo shichaku dekimasu ka? Can I try on this jacket?
Just remember shichaku as the verb to try on. However, in Japan you will find the option of trying on shirts is severely limited and other items such as sweaters that stretch might be a no as well.

Actually trying things on. Take off your shoes when you enter a carpeted area of a dressing room (remember to have cute socks or a good pedicure). You might be handed a face cover, which is a thin veil to stop make-up from getting on their clothes (here’s a pic of a woman demonstrating the right way). It looks foolish but it’s best to follow the rules.

If you’ve decided against buying the item, you can simply defer and say Kore wo mada kangaemasu (コレをまだ考えます) I’m still thinking about it.

If not, enjoy your new hotness!

Get yourself heeled up at Flag-J, R&E or Esperanza. Use my shoe guide from earlier. These stores often make heels more customized to walking in Japan than foreign stores. I always joke that in America women have date heels. The impossibly tall ones that you teeter from the car to dinner and afterwards from the car to a movie and that’s it. However heels in Japan are made for walking, tons and tons of walking. On average I walk 40 minutes a day in heels, and often have to stand for an hour a day during my commute. Trust Japanese shoe stores to be kind to this.

If you’ll be in the area for a while, get to know your shop staff. Shop staff other than hanging up clothes and working the register are paid to be spokesmodels for their items. From nails, hair, and heels they are 100% representing their brand. Which means they notice hair, nails, etc.. If you’re comfortable speaking Japanese, start a conversation. Ask their name, compliment if you see something worth noting.

Although shop staff can intimidating or downright snotty (Gilfy at 109 tends to be snotty while Gilfy at Shinjuku Lumine Est is less so), most will open up to you if you come back. In my experience I love my shopstaff and my girls are so sweet. Developing a relationship with your staff can lead to lots of good things. They’ll hold pieces, bring out unreleased looks, give you freebies, advise your style and help you look your best. If you’ll be in Japan for a while, this is a must.


Head back up to the 8th floor for a bubble milk tea at SBY  If you need a break, or your heels are killing you grab a refreshment at SBY. Although gals rarely eat at the 7th floor eating options, kogals love SBY and SBY has grown huge that it’s now a chain and has a deal with Donki to sell it’s hair and tiny goods out of their stores. Their milk tea is delicious and if you decide on a Saturday you can people watch all you want while sitting.

Japan and Friends

Sakurina and Erisa chillin’ before lots and lotsa text

Disclaimer: I am yet again 1 foriegn girl in a place that has a lot of foriegners with totally different experiences. Please take what I say as such and not as law.

This is a topic I’ve been meaning to discuss but it’s sort of a hard subject to breech.

First of all among my foreigner friends I’ve talked to who have moved to Japan, they automatically thought they would be the lone white/Korean/black girl in a circle of Japanese friends, whether they were gal, into j-rock, or just a regular girl. While I am sure that happens occasionally, that has not been the case for any of my friends or me.

Why? A few reasons…

Location:

Most foriegners are in Japan to do either a job or school, and while those places are intermixed with Japanese and foriegners, for the most part you’re working as the lone foreigner or in a group of foriegners (such as at a Japanese language school). So during the day you don’t have much ability to make friends with many Japanese girls gals or not.

Circles:

Japanese are extremely cliqueish, often I’ll say a lot of comments on living in Japan like “some” or “most”, all Japanese consider cliques are extremely important. A friend of mine was dating this Japanese guy and he would always bring his friends out with us, they were all from mostly his junior high baseball team. Most of them went to high school and college together as well.

Compare with your possible experiences post graduating college how many junior high friends do you think you still have and hang out with?

Many Japanese friends may have their work circle, their college circle and their old classmate circle. Often these people do not intermix.

Face:

Unlike many on-line places catering to gal social networks in English which can be downright bitchy sometimes. In Japan it’s not considered proper or even just done to be rude or bitchy. Don’t get me wrong 2chan is full of vile stuff, but not about gal culture usually.

Many people will be kind without being genuinely kind because there is no other considerable alternative to them. This is more evident when girls and guys flirt, a guy may hit on a girl and a girl may exchange phone information with him only to delete it instantly. It’s not rude per se, it was just the best way they considered of dealing with the situation.

So often you’ll hear people say “isshouni asobi masho ne” meaning let’s hang out, without really meaning it or having too many time constraints to actually be able to hang out.

Okay so I’ve put up a few problematic areas, which for me as an outgoing American were hard to accept.

Personally:

In Japan I have both foreigner friends (like me) and Japanese friends. For the most part they stay separate unless they are part of the same friend group. The majority of my friends are foreigners (60/40) since I spend most of my day with them. Most Japanese girls who are my friends I’ve usually met at clubs, but some at school. Of my galish friends: a few have English skills, but the rest we talk only in Japanese.

Now here are my tips on making friends in Japan, gal or not / foriegn or not.

Work on your Japanese

At least feel comfortable making conversation. It doesn’t have to be good or fast, most people are perfectly happy to accept the gist of what you’re saying and enjoy you saying it.

Go to places with gals

Clubbing, exte salons, izakaya’s etc… Places were alcohol is available always helps to get past first person meeting into friendships. Join clubs online via mixi or such.

Compliment

If you mean it. Bags, nails, hairstyle, rings etc… everyone loves a compliment and you might find it opens up into a conversation. Like take for example someone’s nails, because as a nail freak I always notice others great nails. So ask where they got them done, if they were expensive, if they have a recommended nailist etc…

Having common interests

Like me, I bet you have some friends that you might not have much in common but their personality is so fun you enjoy hanging out with them. However, it’s great to have things in common, and those things don’t have to be gal things. If you both love traveling to Las Vegas (like me and a Japanese friend of mine) or if you have the same taste in boys or love the same music grounp. You’ll find a conversation can fly with things in common. A japanese gal friend of mine and me are practically neighbors so we hit it off instantly. It doesn’t hurt that both of us love exte, nails, brand goods, and the same deco shop.

Putting yourself out there

Of course there are always great outgoing gals that will come up to you and talk to you, and some of my Japanese friends are that way. But others I had to be the outgoing one, there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there and making the first comment. Not only that, if you want gal friends specifically you need to go to the gal places to find them. If you’re not in the spots, then how do you expect to make more friends?

Make a mixi or ask about their facebook

More and more Japanese are getting facebook, but mixi still rules. I am lazy about using mine, but asking friends if they have one is an easy way to keep up with them.

It happens….

There’s no getting around it, some girls will consider foriegners doing gal style as a threat to their own status and will be impolite. Or they can have already biased views about foriegners in general. That’s okay, for every person like that there’s a lot of gals out there happily to applaud your style and hard work and possibly become your friend. However, it’s useful to grow a thick skin in any foreign country.