Month: April 2008

Shibuya 109-2 Fashion Pilgrimage

Last evening I made my fashion pilgrimage to Shibuya 109-2, the epicenter for o-nii-kei (お兄系) and gyaru-o fashion. Even though a few other foreigners (外人) were also lurking, it was impossible not to feel like an older pervert browsing the boutiques full of huge distressed hair, deeply tanned and impossibly skinny salesguys.

The boutiques feature black walls and ceilings, chandeliers, and loud rock and roll. The clothes range from glam rock to Ame-caji アメカジ (short for “American Casual”), with plenty of distressed pants, glitter skulls and guns, skinny jackets, surf and English references (e.g., Donuts & Coffee), and kilos of silver chains.

The photo above is supposed to represent the super-popular Ameri-caji アメリカジ. The publishers and wanna-bes seem blissfully unaware that looking like that in the U.S. would likely lead to name-calling if not violence.

No, I didn’t buy or even try anything on. I am about 25 kilos too heavy and 30 years too old to even try. I did buy a used copy of Men’s Roses on the way home (it’s a companion piece to Men’s Egg and Men’s Knuckle).

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Anna Miller’s (アンナミラーズ, Anna Mirāzu), a Pennsylvania Dutch treat in Japan

At the risk of pandering to hetero and lesbian desires, I have to post briefly about Anna Miller’s, whose existence I discovered in researching the post below about fan service.

Anna Miller’s is a restaurant chain opened in Hawaii in 1973 that has mostly expanded in Japan. It specializes in pies and cheesecakes, with an emphasis on Pennsylvania Dutch flavor. The official web sites look wholesome enough (in English, in 日本語).

According to Wikipedia, Anna Miller’s has also enchanted Japanese otaku (おたく), or nerds, many centered on Nakano Broadway in our neighborhood. The above image reflects a fetishcized image of the Pennsylvania Dutch waitress in “a white blouse; an orange or pink miniskirted jumper-style dress, with the waistline cut underneath the breasts; a matching apron; and a heart-shaped name tag.”

There’s an awesome American anime-fan’s photo story of his visit to an AM in Tokyo. Worth checking out!

In all those years Shu worked at Penn State, I never imagined this possible fantasy. Below is the slightly more wholesome image from the restaurant web site.


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Fan service (ファンサービス) or Fan Sābisu

I came across this delightful maid anime while learning about the term “fan service.” To answer Scott’s question about Nakano maids (“What kind of maids are these”), a question that was not a question for Christophe, I will introduce the term “fan service” here.

Fan service are gratuitous visual elements in anime and manga “that are unnecessary to a storyline, but designed to amuse or sexually excite the audience.” In anime, these include shower scenes and holiday trips that feature bikinis. They can also include costume play (コスプレ kosupure), particularly ones related to traditional Japanese fetish characters, including school girls, cat girl, bunny girl, maid, mako, kimono, race girl, policewoman, and waitresses of the “Anna Miller’s” (アンナミラーズ Anna Mirāzu) type.

In the spirit of fan service, what images will please the readers of this blog? Kosuke was certainly a crowd pleaser. Any suggestions?

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A day at the races

We celebrated the start of Golden Week holiday by going to the Tokyo racetrack with Shu’s cousins. I was unprepared for the sheer scale of this gambling palace, like a global airport but much larger. The festive and somewhat sleazy ambiance was familiar, and I imagine if my uncle Yummy (friend of Seabiscuit) were Japanese, he’d have been hanging out in his toe socks, too.

Shu won! Yaaay ^_^
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News flash: Tulip vandal is front-page news

You have to love Japan. A tulip vandal, caught on a surveillance camera, makes front page news. Sixty five tulips were damaged by an apparently disgruntled salaryman in Maebashi, Gunma. And this makes the front page of the Japan Times and Japanese language newspapers across the country.

When would public plant vandalism be news-worthy in the U.S.?
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Gratuitous semi-naked athletes

To celebrate today’s arrival of the Olympic flame in Japan, I am posting this gratuitous image of gold medal breast-stroker Kitajima Kosuke (北島 康介) and his Japanese teammates.

Tibetan rights and China-bashing aside, my dream of Olympic harmony involves admiring Kitajima, known for his speed and his primal screams, and looking forward to this summer’s parade of corporate-sponsored hot athletes.

I prefer “parade” over competition, and hotness over violence. In Kitajima’s words, “‘超気持ちいい,” or “I feel mega good.” How about you?

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