Your Best Japan Sakura season starts early and takes planning. As soon as it becomes New Year stores were already out with sakura motifs. It feels like Japan is half momiji season and half sakura season. Winter and summer and just in the way.

And it’s coming soon. March 26th by some estimates. So without further ado here are my tips to make this season or your visit your best Japan sakura season!

Franceslovesyou in Inokashira Park for sakura

 

Understand any top rated sakura spot will be packed

Was this photo from a top rated spot? Nope!

If japan-guide or hanamiwalker or any other place has given it top rating, it will be super packed. Tokyo is overcrowded on a daily basis. Tokyo is absolutely unbearable for sakura season. Osaka and Kyoto are the same.

Tourism is one of the major industries of Japan. It’s incredibly cheap to get there from Korea and China and considered a once-in-a-lifetime trip for some to see the sakura.

You’re going to have to accept if you follow the guides online about sakura, you will be flooded. Especially on the weekend. Peak sakura season on a weekend is tragic. It’s also very drunk.


Appreciate the nearby sakura

One of my favorite parts of sakura season is actually enjoying the neighborhood sakura. Most schoolyards have a giant sakura tree. Some parks cement and all have a glowing pink tree. It’s still beautiful. It’s not a sea of pink, but appreciate beauty where you can find it.

Take all the walks around your nearby hotel or air bnb. It’s free and it’s a great way to not feel suffocated by people.

This was just a random bridge in Nakano in Tokyo. It didn’t cost anything, I didn’t have to be around a lot of people to get this shot. Daily life sakura is really enjoyable.

Same bridge, just different angle. By the way, the other previous photos except for Frances were ALL taken on a basic pedestrian bridge in Nakano.


Be willing to travel

Sakura are fickle and weak. You can follow every sakura forecast. You can book at the last minute. But one heavy rain and they’re wiped out. Seriously all it takes is a good rain if the blossoms are open enough. Hanamiwalker is excellent at keeping reports up to date. However in English only Japan-Guide is slow but easy to read.

But one of the good things about being in Tokyo or Osaka is there are a lot of elevations and places around that are two hours or less on train. Even if you got your full season (usually only a week) in Tokyo or Osaka you can take a quick train ride and still see more.

From Tokyo my top three quick trip destinations for more sakura are:

From Kyoto my top four quick trip destinations for more sakura are:


Pick river walks over parks

Parks trap people. Parks cost. Parks get all the love. But in all honesty river sakura are the best. Even if it’s crowded there there’s river space that makes you breathe a little. Also it’s easy to cut out people from a river photograph for more insta-worthy shots. Or include people for atmosphere like the Franceslovesyou photo.

This is Yasukuni Shrine for their Sakura Matsuri. Sure this is a realistic photo but not aesthetics.

This is the Chidorigafuchi Walking Path right next door to Yasukuni Shrine.

Such giant sakura, such impact. Even on a cloudy day.

In reality this is how it looked. But because it was a river walk you can take so many pleasing photos no matter the time of day.

 

I will do a post soon on top sakura walks in Tokyo, but just meander around your area, too!


Go early or stay for light ups

We all know what ruins an experience or a good photo: other people. So the best plan is to wake up and go early to wherever the top ranked viewing places are. There will still be other people, particularly old men with giant cameras. But you’ll get that perfect shot.

Or go at night, there will be a lot of people because light ups are popular. It’s impossible to avoid crowds at light-ups but it doesn’t feel so crowded. And your photos will be fine because darkness shadows out people. Light-ups also use pink light so no matter the blossom color you’ll always get a lovely pink glow. (Seen in my Himeji Castle sakura light up)

This photo was taken at the Roppongi Hills sakura light up


My recommended daily best Japan sakura season plan:

Morning – Head to one of the big popular spots that’s gotten the big stars or says its in full bloom via sakura-walker.

Afternoon – Choose your sakura walking stroll and then eat lots of sakura themed food.

Nighttime – After a lovely dinner finished off with sakura themed desserts. Head to one of the light-ups.

 

This is my side screw sakura tip: the cheapest, fewest people time to go to Okinawa is mainland sakura season. I did it through discount airlines Air Asia and Peach. I think my flight total was $200. We actually did a snorkeling boat tour that ended up being a private tour and it was only 1,000 yen a person. $10 for a private boat tour. The water is colder but it’s tolerable. I actually flew back into Osaka and got to see some sakura despite leaving for a second.

 

Absolutely none of these photos cost me any money to take. I guess I could also name this best japan sakura season planning for FREE!

 

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Yay finally a trend I can talk about with Oneegyaru, Japanese Fashion trends feminine denim looks. I was going to go off with a SCawaii Disney post. But it’s required a lot of actual crappy blogging work like translation and my own photos. Also I just went to Disney, and my big shopping point for the trip was this trend! Feminine Denim is cool.

I’m big on talking about this Feminine Denim trend for two reasons:

  1. It’s a lot of brands doing it and a lot of styles so you can really fit it in most wardrobes.
  2. Denim has been done for years so it’s easy to budget (or eco) shop used denim pieces and still look on trend.

For (most)everyone, for every budget? Yes come through equality.

For me to call something a new trend it’s a) has to be in a lot of stores b) has to have changed from last season

There was a lot of damaged denim and boyfriend denim but not of girly denim last Spring, so boom. Trend!

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From left to right: Rienda | Liz Lisa | dazzlin dress | onespo dress

I tried to pick mostly shop staff shots to show how real girls dress up in their shop’s outfits. There’s a lot of variety to mix and match your denim despite them being mostly dresses. Lots of tops layering.

De-Sexification of Japanese Fashion explanation

In my previous post about the future of Japanese gyaru brands I commented that there was a general de-sexification in Japan fashion. Comments wanted me to expand on that so I’ll try to do it here with the above examples. First Japan Casual Wear standards vs other parts of the World post I wrote back in 2013 is still pretty much in effect. So when I talk about de-sexification I want to discuss it from a Japanese point of view and from a general point of view. We all do and find sexy differently.

  1. Hemlines are lower
  2. Casual shoes are flatter or more sporty
  3. Less chest baring. Back in the Agejo heyday it was very low cut (2010 Lip Service catalog)
  4. Emphasis on adult instead of sexy. Rienda (above far left) hugs the body but the emphasis is a female shape not baring.
  5. Thigh highs long considered a sexy item are often ignored or paired with more sporty or casual items (OneSpo far right)

Hopefully that helped a little, and I’ll try to keep bringing it up with more examples in other clothing posts.

Feminine Denim Trend 1 – Tie Belts

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Murua skirt | Duras long pantss | Delyle Noir

Perfect little bows instead of belts? Girly and cute. If you haven’t guessed yet A-line skirt shapes rule.

Feminine Denim Trend 2 – Frills

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One after Another Nice Claup | Dazzlin | ank rouge frill skirt

As I Fashionwalker and I agreed that in Spring 2018 Japanese Fashion Trend Post Ruffles and Frills are en vogue, they’re really popping in denim.

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One thing I’d like to state with this denim trend a lot of the feminine denim is done as denim color and then in a chambray in trend items like gingham trend (another trend post) and millennial pink. Chambray aka thick weave is showing up in a lot of brands. Jouetie has even done a Dickies collab, famous for their chambray.

Feminine Denim Trend 3 – Shoes

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Randa pumps | Mars denim pumps | Miia

I think shoes as a style point is important this year. First with the dot shoes now with denim shoes. Also denim ballcaps with bow ties (like trend 1 in this milkfed cap). And maybe denim totes will pop up (like this dia tote).


I actually shopped eBay and bought a dress like the Dazzlin one and another similar to the Liz Lisa set-up. Eco-shopping and it was a bit cheaper. But now I really want denim shoes. :wink:

Are you feeling the denim trend and if so what are you into?

I’m happy to do a light post after the last old former gyaru woman yells at cloud  about the issues with Japanese youth fashion. This post voted on twitter and beat out Nicoron brand introduction barely. I guess I’ll do a Nicoron post soon. Feel free to follow me on twitter so you can make blog choices you want to see occasionally.  :hearts3:

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The news of the new Egg magazine and MARS as a gyaru brand has set off my brain wheels churning about the future of gyaru brands. I just tweeted out that EGG magazine is gearing up for a possible gyaru comeback. And it got some likes and retweets, but I want to delve deeper.

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Recent photos of Shibuya 109 Shop Staff from the Shibuya 109 staff blog

Hopefully one thing that comes across in this blog is that I think a lot (too much). My brain races and it makes me a horrible sleeper. Kid Cudi always resonates with me but “Trapped in My Mind” especially is the damn truth. But it’s led me to think a lot about what the FUTURE holds for gyaru and MARS in general.

Gyaru Brands Current Changes

See with the decline of Gyaru fashion clothing brands have had to do a few things in order to survive:

  1. Water down and provide everyday looks. (See: Murua, Emoda, Cecil McBee, MeJane)
  2. Stay within their “cool sphere” (See: Moussy, SLY, BARAK, Gyda)
  3. Appeal to the Grown ups (See: Oneegyaru Duras, Lip Service, Rienda, Rady)
  4. Head to street (See: One*Spo, FIG&VIPER, Last Virgin, ENVY M)
  5. Dig for LARME coin (See: Swankiss, One*Spo, Ank Rouge, Liz Lisa)
  6. Discount themselves (See: OneWay and MARS)

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Now if the other option is to die: Glad News, Gilfy, etc… then nothing wrong with change. Gyaru fashion BY THE WAY has always been about change.

When people say “that’s not gyaru” is it because it never happened or it doesn’t fit their era or style (kei) of what they feel gyaru is. OR When people say they miss OLD GYARU which OLD GYARU style is it?

For example: if you consider gyaru to be tan bright clothing and GET WILD BE SEXY then what about Mode Gyaru or Hime Gyaru?

Gyaru fashion BY THE WAY has always been about change. I’m going to repeat that a billion times if people say old gyaru to me.

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What does an Egg magazine revival mean for the future of gyaru?

So what does this mean for the EGG magazine revival and Gyaru fashion now? Because if an Egg comes out and it’s the same Egg then there’s a reason it closed. And the reasons 99% of magazines close is: readership and ad revenue.

BTW Egg magazine have yet to put out anything of who will be in it, how it will look or when it will come out. So NO NEWS but WE’RE KINDA BACK.

And all the side businesses around gyaru have had to close or change. Long acrylics aren’t the style anymore. Gels rule. Tanning salons shut across Japan. Hair set is mostly focused around hostess areas. Extension places are less and less. Even Diamond Lash has put out new more natural lashes and shut down the flashy types. And eyelash extensions are more the rage.

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Model Manya may be shouting gyaru for her life and tanning, but it’s not common and it’s not selling.

Magazines are to get people to buy products. If Egg is selling the old Gyaru there is just not enough product to be sold.

And as much as I think the declining birth rate is a silly thing to discuss, it’s the facts. There are simply less youth to buy a magazine. Ageha and Ane Ageha exist because they’re aging with their customers. Magnet by Shibuya aka former Mens Shibuya 109 is aiming for people in their teens to late 20s. The new Egg magazine MUST also age.

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There are a lot of people in their late 20s and 30s who did gyaru and still think it’s cute, but they’re looking for something new. But it must be new gyaru because old gyaru has been done and the lovers are smaller and GYARU HAS ALWAYS SURVIVED BY CHANGE.

The reason I posted all the Shibuya 109 shop staff photos is to show that there’s not much of what we considered gyaru even two years ago in there. Therefore not a lot of what EGG magazine was. And these girls are REQUIRED to dress in fashion and up to date.

Shibuya 109 is tied forever to gyaru. This is how a lot of fashion looks (street snaps lie).

MARS and the problem of Discount Gyaru

Before this whole new EGG Magazine issue came up, MARS has been churning my brain for a while. And let’s get back to it. Because I think the two are tied together.

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The Shinjuku MARS Japan store taken by me about 2 weeks ago.

First of all I feel like I need to provide some MARS Japan history. In order to do that here’s my stats from my 2011 MARS Japan post:

MA*RS details:
katakana: マーズ
style: agejo
website: http://www.mars-saja.com/index.html
number of stores: 10 (4 in Tokyo: Ikebukuro, Ueno, Shinjuku and Shibuya). Down from 11 stores last year. They opened a new one in Ikebukuro, but closed the second Shinjuku store in Lumine EST. However, they also closed another store. MA*RS compared to other expanding stores (Emoda, MURUA, Ank Rouge) must have had a down season in Fall.
years around: 21!!! (since 1990)

 

So that’s old news. NOW current MA*RS:

website: http://lilimpark.jp/
number of stores: All three in Tokyo: Ueno aBaB, Shinjuku main store, Shibuya 109
year around: 27

So 7 stores down in 6 years.

(Hat tip to LizzieBee who notified me of the Osaka MARS shut down)

Back around 2011 I remember an old Ageha issue with a model/hostess and her love for MA*RS clothing. She was so addicted she bought enough MA*RS to wear for 30 days. MA*RS was expensive back then so she was doing some minor bragging too.

MA*RS back then was considered THE hostess brand. I mean their main store is right next to Kabukicho.

Now MARS and Hostess are really not linked, that’s just not the case for these reasons:

  1. Brands like Rady (by former Ageha face Suzuki Mutoh) and Emira Wiz (by Ageha face and hostess Emiri Aizawa) has provided the hostess off duty look trend now.
  2. Hostess off duty is not sexy anymore. (There’s just a de-sexification in Japan recently across all)
  3. Hostesses off duty if they want to be flashy are about high brands like Louboutin shoes and Hermes bags.

So MARS has moved to discounts and Hime styles.

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And when I say discount I mean those signs are always up, in every MARS Japan store. Constant sales and barely advertising anything over 2,500 yen.

Which has kept them around for now, but I’ve got concerns. And some people may be like a) yeah but they haven’t closed or b) what’s wrong with cheap?  A brand who tried to be exclusive, now tries to sell itself as cheap is going against the grain.

Back in 2011 it was “You bitches can’t even spell PRAGUE

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Current 2018 top seller is like can you come over for a casserole?

(Actually it’s cute and retro MARS like which is a bit unrealistic to 70% of their current clothing.)

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A more realistic current MARS Japan look are these two in the Shinjuku shops window two weeks ago.

And shop staff

2011 looking cute

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And 2018 taken from the MARS Shinjuku Main Store ameblo.

How far will MARS last? They’ve at least started their own webstore a long time ago and it seems to be updated and functioning well. They also seem to create items in two sizes and/or provide stretch or elastic to many pieces. Since Japan is getting heavier and another thing I wonder is how will Shibuya 109 brands cope past freesize? (It’s my vote for why fast fashion brands do well, they have L-LL sizes)

But what keeps people loyal to MARS Japan now? Because bragging about your MARS sweater isn’t so cool when it costs the same as Uniqlo. And Gyaru is a show-off. I can wear this hair. I can walk in these heels. I can AFFORD this MARS.

Another worrying trait I saw was this…

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Found this MARS Japan pouch in Don Quihote (donki). It’s quite cute.

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But it’s Donki so this is how MARS branded items are displayed.

Brand licensing is a good thing for most brands (Chanel makes more money on perfume than it does from handbags), but when it waters down the brand image it’s not a positive.


Both present more questions than answers

I don’t really have a lesson to teach here, it’s just something I want to keep an eye on.

Because is discount the future of gyaru? That probably won’t sell magazines. Will more stores turn to discount gyaru and will it be successful? Who knows, but there’s only so much money to compete for nowadays.

Will the rebirth of Egg magazine spawn a gyaru revival? Hopefully, but it better look very different. Change to survive.

As usual I type out news first on my twitter, so follow that if you want news or photos of my cats. Instagram for photos of my cats or me at Disney next week.

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Famous Shibuya 109 Mens building is refurbishing itself into Magnet by Shibuya 109 (マグネット・バイ・シブヤ109).

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After years of many people complaining about the state of rundown department stores across Japan, Shibuya is doing something about it. There’s been a lot of construction with malls in Shibuya. First up was completely brand new building Hikarie. Second was the full tear down of Shibuya Parco. Now Shibuya 109 Mens will get a full refurbishment.

But wow that logo. I want NEW! HIP! EXCITING! SHIBUYA!  *chooses logo that looks like a 1950s Barber Shop*

Tokyu (the parent company of Shibuya 109 and Shibuya 109 Mens) said the objective of this refurb was “Shibuya Stimulus, A Rehabilition of Shibuya Culture” (Shibuya no Shigeki, Shibuya Karucha- no Fukken | シブヤのシゲキ。渋谷カルチャーの復権). For a new era of Shibuya culture to begin, a new wave of Shibuya must come. Quite the strong wording, but it is PR so you’ve got to go strong.

Tokyu says up until now they’ve targeted 10-20 year old mens for Shibuya 109 Mens. Now Magnet by Shibuya 109 will aim to target 20 year olds women and men and overseas visitors.

The concept is for stores that involve food, music and art to come alongside the current Shibuya 109 Mens tenants.

But the big full change will be a rooftop area. In the promotional materials they say you will be able to view Shibuya Scramble Crossing and it will become a new tourist spot. The huge success of the rooftop area at Tokyu Plaza in Harajuku (also by Tokyu Group) probably influenced the rooftop revival.

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Before the renewal which had mostly Mens Apparel Stores and the future Magnet by Shibuya 109. Big changes coming Spring of 2018 for Magnet by Shibuya is the name change plus the rooftop and seventh floor.

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The Magnet by Shibuya 109 Rooftoop mock-up. Looks like there will be a glassed in portion pointing to the Scramble Crossing top right of the image. The rooftop concept looks similar to Tokyu Plaza Harajuku but since there is a Starbucks in Shibuya Tsutaya right next door who knows if Doutor or another brand will move in.

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Their mock-up of the 7th floor which will be changed from Men’s Fashion to “Art, Music and Food area for the Revival of Shibuya”.

The image does look quite adult compared to the teen audience Shibuya 109 tries to collect (and quite outdated that shoulder bag and knee high boot is definitely from 2008 or earlier).

In Spring 2019 there will be the big shift between floors 1-6. The Mens Apparel stores that decide to stay plus miscellaneous stores for men and women along with cafes.

This two part system hopes that the rooftop and 7th floor bring in enough people to cause tenants to revive the 1-6th floors in honesty.

This stay or move out impacts all the head former Gyaruo brands: Black by Vanquish, Buffalo Bobs, Civarize, Vanquish, Jackrose, Wild Party and Fuga.

I talk often about the decline or reality change of gyaru fashion, but gyaruo has been desperately hit. Gyaruo brands have been hit by the decline in gyaruo of course, but also by the current anti-host and gentrification of Kabukicho laws. Kabukicho has put up anti-solicitation laws. Hosts possibly spending out on a flashy suit in hopes to draw in customers isn’t the case anymore. Also with the rise of Neo-hosts which pretty much means “we don’t wear suits” Gyaruo brands have less to offer. (See post how Gyaruo brands looked in 2012)

Beyond Gyaruo fashion, Japanese men’s fashion in general has just taken a hit by overseas brands. Lumine Man in Shibuya shuttered last year. And men who want to show off will do so with a Gucci hat or Offwhite jacket compared to what clout a Japanese brand will give.

Oddly the floors I feel the most boring B1 and B2 are not changing. B1 stocks The Suit Company, Pronto a quick-serve Italian Place, and Yomenoya Goemon a Japanese-style pasta place. None of those scream revitalizing hip Shibuya.

 

Much of the information in this article has been taken and translated from 109news.jp I’ll try to keep y’all updated via twitter on what the Spring 2018 Magnet by Shibuya 109 means for the actual meat of the men’s brands in Shibuya 109 Mens.

 

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