Beauty: nails from forever ago

I have been so busy with life stuff lately I haven’t updated in so long! I’m gonna rectify this because there’s loads of stuff I want to blog about!

    

Just a quick update but I wanted to show of the last set of nails I had done. This has by far become my favourite nails salon in Kobe too and it sucks that I can’t really get my nails done at the moment or if get more work from them. 

 

The design might be familiar because I ripped it off of a popular post that was floating around tumblr. They were super cute and grew out so well. They also got the most compliments of any of the deigns I’ve had! Happy times!

  
Finally me comparing manicures with Universal Doll’s Mitsu. Her art was so cute and detailed!

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Fashion: Emoda finds a new face

As Mitsu already blogged about on the Universal Doll, a couple of months ago Matsumoto Ena announced she was leaving the popular Mark Styler mode-brand Emoda. This was kind of surprising to me because for all intents and purposes Ena WAS Emoda, or at least their public face. However this is fashion so personnel changes shouldn’t be too shocking. This has meant there has been changes at Emoda with new people representing the brand.

Mizuhara kiko

Well Emoda have announced that their new image model is going to be Mizuhara Kiko (twitter). If you haven’t ever heard of her, Kiko is half-American/half-Korean and has been modelling since 2003 when she started at Seventeen magazine. Since then she’s modelled for ViVI, MAQUIA and 25ans. She’s also been in a few movies like “Norwegian Wood”, “Helter Skelter”. Safe to say Kiko is well-known and has the selling power Emoda need from an image girl. Starting from Emoda’s Spring/Summer catalogue, Kiko will appear in various catalogues and magazine tie-ups as the face of the brand.

Considering Emoda has been making moves towards a more international market, with an English language web-store and social media accounts, working with a popular model that does work outside of Japan too seems like a really great fit. I look forward to seeing her work with them.

Source: WWD JP

Fashion: The Return of Ageha

The legendary gal magazine returns

The legendary gal magazine returns

As you may know Koakuma Ageha, often touted as the bible of hostesses, ended publication in April 2014 when their company filed for bankruptcy (along with a lot of other much loved gal magazines). However Ageha actually still had a devoted readership and next month it will be revived under a new publisher. The same publisher that released a special memorial book last year and has hosted Ageha events. Obviously the return of the beloved magazine will be welcome news for anyone interested in agejo style or making your hair look like Tokyo Tower.

tokyo tower hair

Although I’m not agejo style myself, I’ve always loved this magazine for it’s great make-up tips, and general glittery style. It also has the best free gifts. The new Ageha will be released on April 18th and will be priced at 680yen. I can’t wait!

Visit the new webpage here. There isn’t much up yet but I’m sure that’ll change soon.

Travel: Hokkaido (Maruyama Zoo)

I’ve already written about The Snow Festival in Hokkaido, but while I was there I also did some non-snow related activities. I really wanted to go to the zoo while in Hokkaido because I figured they would have more animals used to colder climates than I tend to see elsewhere. The most famous zoo in Hokkaido, Asahiyama, is originally where I had intended to go but it is…really far out from Sapporo and I had not time to go there. However, much closer to where I was staying was Maruyama Zoo. Once me and my friend arrived it even felt like fate because during the Snow Festival, entrance to the zoo was free! The reason behind this became really obvious once we got inside; there were very few people at the zoo that day.

Probably a mistake on my part but the first section we went to was for the tropical animals and since it was so snowy at this time of year they were all kept inside and it smelt pretty bad too. To be honest it was all just very depressing to me and I got out of that section of the zoo as quickly as possible. I was really worried the whole zoo would have similar facilities but luckily as we walked through it seemed to get more updated as we went.

Two not so chipper hyenas

Hyenas in the first section I visited

Unsurprisingly some of the most active animals were the deer, wolves and bears. Me and my friend actually spent a lot of time in this section because the zoo keepers and volunteers were telling us all about the animals which was fascinating and the wolves especially were so playful it was just fun to watch them.

My phone photography leaves much to be desired but the wolves were quite majestic

My phone photography leaves much to be desired but the wolves were quite majestic

However, me and my friend both had other animals we also really wanted to see. She is obsessed with otters and I wanted to see the lesser pandas because the zoo had an updated section for them (and had pictures of them all over their promotional materials). The “wakuwaku Asia” section where both these animals can be found (along with monkeys and sun bears and more) was clearly the newest part of the zoo, along with the most popular. All the animals seemed really happy and there were lots of places to sit and watch the animals to frolic.

A lesser panda on the walkway over my head

A lesser panda on the walkway over my head

I could totally understand why the lesser pandas were pictured all over the zoo. Their section was so much fun, not just children but adults too. There were several different sections, indoor and outdoor, that were connected by an overhead walkway. I didn’t even notice the walkway until one of the pandas climbed up and began running up and down over our heads. After several failed attempts to take a selfie with him (lesser pandas don’t pose for photos go figure) I just made do with watching and taking any snaps I could. They even had a small climbing wall for children in the corridor alongside so they could be on eye level with the lesser pandas and a huge chalkboard to draw on too. The newer sections of the zoo seemed incredibly family friendly.

DSC01112

On the other side of this window children could climb up to peek at the pandas

All in all, the trip to the zoo was a nice change of pace. Of course there were some snow related activities there too (like snowman building) but it was easy to focus on all the animals instead. I’ve always found zoos in Japan to have a much more reasonable entrance costs than in the UK and to be able to go to Maruyama zoo for free was great. At some point it would be nice to go to Asahiyama zoo too and see it’s famed ‘penguin walk’ but Maruyama was much more conveniently located for this trip.

Fashion: Tokyo Girls Collection

This weekend, Tokyo Girls Collection (TGC for short) was held at Yoyogi National Stadium. This bi-annual event run by girlswalker showcases some of the best of Tokyo’s girls fashion. It focuses mainly on younger brands, and used to be much more gal leaning. This year there’s been more of a presence from western brands like American Apparel (who are planning a collaboration with popularJapanese mode brand EMODA) which shows the popularity they have amongst young people in Japan.  You can see the list of brands that took part here.

Natsumi Saito for Bubbles

Natsumi Saito for Bubbles

Taking place a fortnight before Tokyo Fashion Week, TGC really shows the more accessible side of Japanese fashion and has grown in popularity since it’s beginnings. The general atmosphere is much more like a Victoria’s Secret fashion show, with Charisma models taking part and playing around with the crowd. This year  included popular models like Hana Imai, Natsumi Saito, and even actresses like Aya Omasa. They also have performances from music acts. This year they had Thelma Aoyama and also BIGBANG who are of course very popular in Japan and gearing up for a comeback if YG is to believed (probably not though lol).

big bang 2015

Big Bang gearing up for a 2015 comeback

I had work so I couldn’t attend this year but there was a lot of social media buzz with both the official twitter account live-tweeting and re-tweeting the event and live updates to instagram. Touches like this just show how TGC is aimed towards a younger audience. Most of the clothes could be bought online immediately after they’re shown on the catwalk too which is a great idea. They even had an official app.  If you look at the Report section of the webpage you can see pictures from the show and link to buy the items now.

Omasa Aya in dazzlin'

Aya Omasa in dazzlin’

Imai Hana for actus color

Hana Imai for actus color

Also, if you look on the TGC YouTube channel now you can see previous shows too. It’s a really good resource for those with their eye on Japanese fashion but aren’t actually here in person. Of course most of these brands rip from the main trends the bigger brands put out but these are the clothes the girls in the street are actually wearing. I feel like in Japan the trends take much quicker than in the UK which is part of what makes the street style here seem so unique.

Tsuchiya Anna walking for moussy

Anna Tsuchiya walking for moussy

TGC is also planning to head to NY to do an event, in similar fashion to those it’s done in Paris and Beijing before. This makes me think these brands are pretty serious about expanding their foreign market. I’m really interested to see what changes that has, if any, on the clothes from a basic design sense and also for marketing.

Beauty: February Nails

nails feb 2015 1

This is what my nails look like atm. It’s starting to get a bit warmer so I wanted to go with a more spring feel, hence the brighter colours and flowers this time. I struggled to choose colours just like always but in the end mint won the day. I really like this colour against my skin tone and I’ve bought a lot of clothes in similar shades lately.  The flowers are sculpted but they really don’t seem it after the top gel coat was applied. Though this makes the design lose some of it’s interest, I prefer it because I’m always catching my hands on things anyway.

I actually had a set of nails in between these and my last post but they were very boring because I had to attend a conference and I’d like to keep my rule breaking as unnoticeable as possible at events like that. Bambi had revamped all it’s art with loads of cute designs that I’d wanted to try so I was really looking forward to this appointment but in the end was offered the same old art as before. This confused me but I went with one of the cute monthly options instead anyway. I think I’m going to change salons after this set. It’s a hassle but it might be worth it.

Travel: Hokkaido (Snow Festival)

One of the 4 biggest festivals in Japan is the Snow Festival held in Sapporo, Hokkaido. This year it was held from Feb 5-11 and I finally got to go. The festival celebrates winter and hosts some of the most amazing snow and ice sculptures, plus some wonderful activities for children and adults. There are three main locations:  Odori, Susukino and Tsudome with other areas around Sapporo also having their own events too, so pretty much anywhere you travel you can enjoy the snow and festival atmosphere! Be prepared to book well in advance because the festival is very popular so hotels and flights sell out quickly.

My favourite of the locally made sculptures. Of course I would love the Moomin one!

My favourite of the locally made sculptures. Of course I would love the Moomin one!

I arrived late on the 6th and there were huge tour groups arriving with each plane.  On the 7th, I went to look around with my friend which was probably one of the busiest days.  Early on in the day we went to the Tsudome area which hosted most of the locally made statues and also loads of fun activities for children. There were ice slide,zips wires, a snow maze. Serious fun for the little ones but some quite long queues too.

The huge Star Wars snow sculpture in Odori

The huge Star Wars snow sculpture in Odori

After that we took the shuttle bus to central Sapporo. Me and my friend got lunch quickly and then headed to what I consider the main part of the festival, the Odori area. There were 12 blocks just packed full of different snow related activities and displays that you could easily spend the whole day there.My favourite big snow sculpture was definitely the Star Wars one, made to advertise the new movie, which was just epid! This year especially a lot of the sculptures incorporated projection mapping so it was best to see these after dark and watch some already breathtaking sculptures turn into dynamic entertainment.  I really enjoyed the Candy Crush Soda section but I think it didn’t make much sense to people that hadn’t ever tried the game.

An ice sculpture in Odori

An ice sculpture in Odori

Before ending the very long day me and my friend took a detour through Susukino to look at the ice sculptures. This was pretty lucky because it started to rain not long after and most of them got ruined. The downside of perishable art work I guess. I honestly preferred the ice-sculptures in Odori but the ones in Susukino were still interesting and were good advertising for the local area.

A performance on the Ice stage in Odori

A performance on the Ice stage in Odori

If you ever get the chance I seriously recommend this festival. It’s not as cold as people will warn you and you can see some of the most breathtaking ice and snow art in the world.

Beauty: “TIDY” nail salon in Kobe

I’ve talked about Bambi nail salon a lot and shown most of the art I’ve had done there but this time I wanted to talk about a different salon. TIDY was maybe the third nail salon I tried in Kobe and one of the only places I gave a second visit.snowflakes

This is the first set I got done at TIDY. They had lots of really cute art selections and these actually looked really nice in person because they were subtle but really sparkly. They were however quite expensive which I did not like. As I mentioned in the BAMBI post, I like my nailists to be a bit talkative but both the nailists I saw at TIDY we silent with me. Even though I can speak Japanese… I found this a bit off putting but I entertained myself watching Japanese comedy shows on their small TV.

TIDY’s unique point for me would be the way they take off gel. Normally a salon will file the top layer off, place cotton soaked in remover on each nail and wrap them in foil. Here however they warm the remover in like…a bain-marie and then you place your nails in the bowl of remover like if you were getting a manicure. This was strange for me but not unpleasant. I imagine it would be quite painful if you have any cuts on your hands though. They claim it’s kinder on your hands but I can’t really see how.

pink stars

These are the from the second and final time I went to TIDY. Because I was off from work for a while I could get a more flashy design but still got them done french style because I wouldn’t be able to get them re-done in a hurry. I loved their art selection but they were really rigid about editing them. Usually a salon will let you change colours and part (perhaps at extra cost) TIDY only let you change colours and the nailist was kinda rude when I asked if I could change the stars snowflakes. This is part of the reason I never went back. It’s fine if you’re silent since I can entertain myself in other ways but being snippy about me wanting some input into a design that I’m paying a lot for is not happening.

In general, the salon is nice and cozy with four stations and they have a big selection of colours, parts and designs for a variety of prices. The nail designs are photographed and kept in photo albums according to price unlike other salons that have boards with mock-up designs to see. This makes them a bit harder to peruse one handed but it was neatly laid out I guess.

One thing i would add is that when I first went to Bambi, directly after getting the pink nail design above, my nails were very damaged and two of them had greenish stains on them. I had no idea what it was but my nailist said whoever did my nails didn’t cure my base coast well enough so the gel had stained my natural nail. So yeah, all in all I would not recommend Tidy even though they had nice designs that got lots of compliments and lasted a long time. The pink star nails are some of my favourites that I’ve had done but I just cannot go back there.

http://beauty.hotpepper.jp/kr/slnH000220413/

Getting Organised for the New Year

One thing I love about a New Year is an opportunity to get a new diary! I’m a pretty bad procrastinator and my vivid imagination allows me endless excuses for this behaviour. I have found however, making solid plans and lists of my goals for the day/week/month really helps with that. Since I was a little girl I’ve loved the Moomins and luckily, Japan is full of Moomins goods. (It’s always a struggle to not buy them all) My new diary is pretty small but it has loads of space for all I need to write. At the front there are calenders and at the back there is a week by week breakdown for more detail. There’s also really good train maps which is always a nice reference when I visit a different city

Not so encouraging for page in my diary

Not so encouraging front page in my diary

Also for my birthday my brother gave me this super cute notebook which is also a great small size to fit in my bag and not get in the way. This book I fill with daily to-do lists. This is actually something I started doing halfway through last year because someone gave me a cute notebook and I didn’t have a use for it. I had a look online and saw the idea for 30 days of lists. After trying that I can’t live without it during the week. I enjoy my free time so much more now I know I’ve done all I planned to do for the day and I don’t have to feel guilty about what I could be doing.

My new diary and notebook

My new diary and notebook

I’m really not one for the whole “New Year, New Me” thing because I just take it too far and then I never succeed and end up feeling awful about myself. I have weekly and monthly goals written in my diary but they’re nothing that severe (like reminders to floss and stuff, nothing deep). The only thing I really want out of this year is to really like myself and try my best. I don’t want to get bogged down with trying to get super skinny or get some crazy high-powered job. This year will be a big one for me because I plan to change career and to move, and I feel like these things will go so much more smoothly if I’m in a happy place. All I really need right now is to be organised and I’m sure the rest will follow.

I hope everyone else’s year is starting well. Let me know if you have any new year’s resolutions? Am I the only one that’s so bad at them that you’ve just given up the whole concept?

Beauty: January nails

I haven’t posted any pictures of my nail art in a couple of months and I really like the design I just had done (at Bambi of course) so I wanted to show them off. My nails over the holiday season were trash imo and I almost didn’t want to go back to Bambi because the whole experience was just not as good as usual but I gave them another shot (after all I do have a point card) and they definitely impressed me. It was pretty expensive because this design is quite parts heavy and I also got nail care done because it’s a New Year and my hands needed some tlc.

nails jan 2014

I’m just really pleased because when i went in my nails were awful, all grown out and chipped but now they’re short and cute. I don’t like letting them get too long because they just get in the way at work tbh. Also my nailist had really nice art on her own nails which she told me was a possible design for next month so I will definitely go back to Bambi. I’ll just make sure to start actually requesting nailists I know are good from now on. I’m planning to go for more adult designs this year because even I’m getting sick of looking so girly and am changing my wardrobe to a more seiso/otona style too.