Some places are made to be photographed and Honey mi Honey’s Pink is Heart Motel cafe in Harajuku is all you need for the gram. Sometimes you need to do it for the ‘gram.

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Warning: excessive amounts of pink to follow.

I ended up heading to the Honey Mi Honey shop because they were hosting a Kumatan pop-up shop. WC founder and designer Chinatsu Wakatsuki took her work and made her own brand Kumatan and now it appears as pop-ups. I have such a soft spot for old WC so I had to at least check out Kumatan.

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The outside is set-up like a small bustop.

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Inside the Honey mi Honey store. The cute instagram worthy Disney tea-cup is always there for photos.

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Some classic WC feelings.

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I ended up trying on these two and buying the I LOVE Work fuzzy sweater. The quality was really good. Clean fur that didn’t fuzz, the blocking for the text was glitter and there was a solid heavy metal zipper in back so you didn’t stretch out the neck. Also pockets! Kumatan quality was really good.

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After being in such a pink world I got sucked in the more I stayed.

Fun fact: Honey mi Honey receipts are even pink!

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But this post is about the Pink is Heart Motel Cafe inside the shop.

A fake motel key is what you get after you place your order.

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1,000 reblogs on tumblr the Pink is Heart Motel Cafe at Honey mi Honey Harajuku.

The saturation of colors reminds me of Kubrick’s the Shining movie…. in a good way. #aesthetic

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Well my heart is also pink so here we are. I love love love indoor neon as design.

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The light gold accents with the pink velvet interior was so perfect.

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And look at this gram life. Transforming my apple cinammon vegan muffin and latte into art.

When I went they had green smooothies and vegan muffins so eat healthy and pink power up!

If you need a tiny break in Harajuku and your eyes need a pink cleanse, head on over.

Honey Mi Honey is located across from the near the Meiji Jingumae subway stop entrance. Address: 〒150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingūmae, 6 Chome−2, 神宮前6丁目2-6 原宿あかねビル 2F Google maps.

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I have walked away from doing Japan walking tour type photo posts but I miss simply showing photos. I’m also very happy to show photos around the Nagano area. It’s my favorite place in Japan and I do hope to live there one day. This special walk was from the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Matsumoto Museum of Art to Matsumoto Castle.

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Sometimes you go walking and discover a weirdass wooden scultpure of a what is known in JP wikipedia as a “Samurai stature”

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One part derp one part hideous it’s a frog statue of a Frog Samurai riding in on a…frog? Matsumoto’s old shopping street’s mascot is the frog. A pun on kaeru (to return) and frog (kaeru). They even have a Frog Matsuri in June. It looks like a childrens fun event.

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The beginning of Nawate Dori (なわて通り) it’s only a walking street no bikes or cars. Check out that side derp. There’s another concrete frog on the right.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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There’s such a cool balance of architecture in Matsumoto. And of course always beautiful mountains in the distance. Despite being a small town (population 227,392) it’s really a thriving town lately.

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On such a pretty day lots of Matsumoto citizens were out enjoying the scenery. Except for the castle and coming down from the mountains in Nagano it doesn’t get a lot of tourist hype which is one of the reasons I try to recommend it.

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I’m forever a sucker for an old building and a weepy sakura
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Matsumoto is mostly a car city and there’s lots of lanes. It makes the city feel a bit more open.

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The Matsumoto manhole covers remind me of Yayoi Kusama’s dots. It is her hometown.

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The street looks mostly filled with small snack shops and little classic stalls. Not really the typical souvenir items either. Some used stores with just about everything inside as well.

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A vending machine advertising the Japan Basketball League or B-League. Nagano prefecture was originally called Shinshu (信州) so many Nagano things (food, culture, sports) are called Shinshu. The Brave Warriors are on the B2 or bottom level of the two tier B-League system.  Side note: It’s nearly impossible to get B-League swag. As a Basketball stan I would fully rock the apple yeti mascot merchandise.

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All throughout Matsumoto lots of pretty rivers run in the main part of town. There’s a lot of walkable space on each side.

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I’m always in love with how many tiny plants and ecosystems Japanese places can fit on such a small place. Where else to find a pond but in the corner of an Okonomiyaki place?

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Matsumoto castle in one of its best seasons. I previously blogged about Matsumoto Castle and the sakura when I visited in 2015. But I feel I got even better shots of the castle at golden hour.

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Since castle grounds are free lots of people walking their dogs in the area. Shiba alert!

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Casual hanami and coverage was great!

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Matsumoto’s sakura as always lovely.

I’ll have more Matsumoto and “Shinshu” posts because I really love the area.

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Continuining on with detailed summaries of the “Koakuma Ageha” model Aizawa Emiri tell all “キャバ嬢社長 歌舞伎町No.1嬢王 愛沢えみりとしての生き方” Kyabajo Shacho Kabukicho’s Number One JouOu Aizawa Emiri Toshite no Ikikata. Or Kyabajo Boss: Kabukicho’s Number One Queen. Aizawa Emiri’s Way of Living.

Part One here | Part Two here

We continue along with Emiri’s life into modeling for Koakuma Ageha and the life of an Ageha model along with a hostess.

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Hostess life is hard but is working as a model for Koakuma Ageha any better?

Japan’s Number One Kyabajo

It had been a year since she had started working at Gentle and she didn’t crack the top two. She thought she would always make the same amount. Work had started to settle. She was still the same Emiri who hated “trying her hardest” and “working at maximum effort”, but she was still working everyday and continuing to go full speed. She wondered what had changed within her. She wasn’t this way in high school or doing other jobs. This kyabajo life had changed her. She doesn’t think she’d be this way without the kyabajo lifestyle.

So she couldn’t back down. She had to work harder and harder. Beyond girl’s birthdays and special events. She was fully driven and saw only inside the club.

One day when it came time to make the ranking announcement, the boss told her she had made number one and she just couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Afterwards everyone congratulated her. It wasn’t until she went to the club’s homepage and saw that her photo was there listed as Number One that she finally knew.

The was no mistaking that Gentle was the best kyabakura (hostess club) in Kabukicho. And there was where you should be if you wanted to be number one in Tokyo. And Tokyo had the best kyabakura of all of Japan.

She had lived for this one goal in mind for so long and it was just her trying her hardest with this goal. To have other people congratulate her for actually achieving what she had be alone in was so moving. Guests of the club saw the change on the website and sent her tons of mails congratulating her. Back then they were the old flip-phones and she got lots of kaomoji showing their happiness for her.

She was the happiest she’d ever been in her life. She cried tears of happiness after all the struggle. Through the struggles with her family and others, she was finally glad she picked the life of a kyabajo.

Part Three: The Legendary Birthday

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A rare photo from the book of her 23rd Birthday

A model offer from “Koakuma Ageha”…

Since becoming the “billboard-girl” of Gentle she got a lot of work offers coming in. To model dresses and contact lens even offers to model for alcohol and clothing companies. Hair salons, nail salons and massages all were free if she spoke about them. Number one was pretty amazing.

Then one day she got an offer from the Koakuma Ageha publishing department. Since highschool she had been reading Koakuma Ageha. To think from a magazine she learned to do make-up with she could be posing with kyabajo model and star Momoka Eri (MomoEri). She couldn’t believe it.

Even though she really wanted to model for Ageha could she even do it while being a kyabajo? She didn’t she could wake up go to shootings and the head to Gentle and still retain the Number One spot. She didn’t have any room left in her life for Koakuma Ageha.

It took all she was to get to Number One at Gentle. Staying there meant all her time and focus. Would she have to eventually give up her life as a kyabajo just to do Ageha? That was the main reason, but she also had a little experience with modeling before Ageha but that was only mainly for kyabajo sites. Koakuma Ageha was completely different. She hated losing and the other models were really good in Ageha.

At the time Koakuma Ageha was considered the magazine for kyabajo. But in reality a lot of the models were professional models that just worked for Koakuma Ageha. Of course there were kyabajo who also worked in Koakuma Ageha. That mix made Ageha what it is. But Emiri wasn’t a model, just a kyabajo. Things like posing and such she wasn’t good at.

It was a bit half-hearted, but she replied  “I can’t participate before my birthday because I’m so busy…” and they replied “Let us feature your birthday…”. And suddenly it became a three-page birthday spread in Ageha. She had to get the okay from the heads of Gentle but it happened.

Suddenly she was a model in Koakuma Ageha. She was beyond excited. From reading to being in it all thanks to being Number One at Gentle. That’s how she started at Ageha and her world changed and broadened.

Her first issue was her 23rd birthday party club event.

She says the birthday of a kyabajo is really weird. It’s a huge and super important event. If you’re popular for the club your birthday is the biggest event. This was her second time for a birthday working at gentle. The first time was a bit successful because her customers showed up, but not as successful because other girls didn’t bring their customers.

But this year was different because she’d been popular and the build up was getting hectic. But what if it was a failure? It was her first as the number one and put onto that she had the added pressure of Koakuma Ageha shooting it. In order to show off that she was Kabukicho’s Number One in the Number One club it really needed to be super successful.

She was worried that customers might not come and she’d be stuck with some empty seats to shoot.

But in the end her worries were for nothing. Even girls from other clubs came. The club really worked hard and it became a super successful event. Even people who weren’t into the kyabakura business suddenly learned that Sawajiri Emiri was the number one kyabajo.

For that issue Koakuma Ageha titled her “Sawajiri Emiri – The New Generation’s Queen” (新世代の嬢王 愛沢えみり Finally time to talk about the name of the book. Queen or jyoou spelled correctly in kanji is: 女王  but Ageha spelled it as spelled 嬢王. It’s a play of Agejo or in kanji:アゲ嬢  ). She was a bit embarrassed by the title, but that Ageha recognized her first as a kyabajo made her happy. She went into Ageha with this feeling. Thus began the kyabajo model life of Sawajiri Emiri.

Being called “The Queen”

Being called “The Queen” by was something done by Koakuma Ageha but it stuck with her. She liked wearing a gorgeous style and sparkly accessories, just like a queen. And being queen of the night in Kabukicho would make her the “queen” 嬢王. She felt like it was the name of some new drama. And even if the name was plucked out by the editing department if she started to earn enough and become the top wouldn’t it make her the “queen”? That month when Ageha first came out she made 1,000,000 yen or $10,000USD in just one month. Ageha made her even more recognizable and more people kept asking for her. She thought $10,000 a month would be her regular income from now on, but it’s never easy to stay at number one.

Keeping up the image of the “queen” isn’t so easy. She’d visit other kyabakura and meet other girls and she’d be famous from her legendary birthday. She’d take taxis everywhere (sometimes to drive across Tokyo at night you can rack up $100 USD on one way fare). The costs and expenses of being a hostess added up.

Even now when she’s written up or appears on TV they always focus on the money and it’s what everyone is interested in. She says she’ll try harder to discuss it in the book (heehee).

However when “Ageha” actually first came out the concept of who she was completely changed. Up until then because of being a kyabajo and becoming number one for so long a certain type of people knew who she was. But when Ageha came out that type of people got even broader.  She’d be out shopping in Kabukicho and people would ask “Hey aren’t you Aizawa Emiri?” She was so shocked each time. And even beyond Kabukicho she got recognized in Shibuya as well.

And not just by other kyabajo instead she got fan letters from all types of people. People who said they were lawyers and office ladies and even middle school students. Inside the fan letters some would say “Emiri is really a Kyabajo” it’s through those letters that made her want to really try at modeling.

Thanks to the fans Emiri Grows

Thanks to Ageha coming out she became well known as the Number One Kyabajo but things were changing even more. Customers from as far as Hokkaido and Fukuoka came to see her. And not just other kyabajo but office ladies and college students started knowing about her and becoming her fan. And she got fans of people who were never interested in kyabajo previously. It was that time she started using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. And she felt a lot of encouragement when people said she was in a cute dress or her hair looked good. But then she was opened up to the bad part of the internet where people say cruel things.

It was a bit of a shock people would just say whatever mean thing they wanted. But she realized her haters were her motivators (seriously she pretty much says this). But this is what it meant to be in Ageha. And it didn’t change how she felt about herself or how she was. So she can’t see the haters. If they’re not affecting her work than she has nothing to do with them.

But actual modeling was really annoying to do. She really hated doing the actual photo shoots. No matter what she did she didn’t feel she looked cute in any of the shoots. It was selfish but she asked the staff if she didn’t have to do shoots. And she would say such things like she didn’t like her hairstyle so she’d say “Let’s not shoot this I don’t like how my hair looks” or “This is taking up too much time let’s not shoot”. The whole thing was creating tension with the staff and she hated herself for the way she was.

There were times when the Ageha staff and other models would go out drinking and she was expected to join and instead she’d say “I’m tired from shooting, can I just head home?” She knew she was creating a really tense atmosphere around the magazine and she knew she was at fault, but it was just her personality. But she says since Ageha kept her on and she kept getting more fans and would try to change her personality to best work for the magazine.

Emiri says she wanted to be someone that she herself would like. I mean wouldn’t a number one kyabajo be able to change a bad atmosphere to a good one? So she would try to present a better sparkling picture of herself and it would be better for others as well. But if she didn’t vent a little she was bound to explode right? (hehe)

Probably for the first time in her life when she entered Ageha she truly had to think of others. And it was really thanks to the fans that helped. When she didn’t feel like it she remembered the kind words of fans and kept going.

The Real Emiri was not this Strong

Now Club Gentle and Ageha were the two parts of her life. She had no time to think of anything else. Having two jobs was really tough and she never thought she’d feel that pressure. If she knew it would be that tough she probably wouldn’t have gone into Ageha. Of course there was happy times, but it was near impossible. Afternoon shootings for the magazine and then nights at the club. That was her life everyday. She thought about which one she’d give up if she quit. Her biggest worries were trying to have time for both magazine shooting and time for all the club work.

When she was busy with photoshoots she had no time to go on “douhan” (paid outings) with her customers. They would tell her “you’ve been cold to me lately” or “You’re not at the club and I’m lonely”. Despite them asking she couldn’t go out with them while she was busy at Ageha. She had to break off a lot of “douhan” because of shooting schedules and it pissed off customers. And beyond shooting there’s more than that to be a model in a magazine. She was already so busy with kyabakura life so where could it all fit in.

Her fame was rising at the club but if she didn’t have time for them it meant nothing. She’d again become a “bad kyabajo” always requested and never there.

It was 24/7 with her life and her health was failing because of the pressures of keeping up with her customers and pleasing Ageha. Even when she had time to slot in a meeting with a customer she was sacrificing her sleep or something else important. But if she didn’t she wasn’t going to make any money at the club.

Even with all this shuffling she was losing customers at the club. Sure they were happy to be with the girl who was in the magazine, but if they couldn’t actually SEE her then of course they’d quit showing up.

That’s when she felt how heavy it is to wear the crown of “Queen” the pressure of staying Number One was putting so much stress on her. When customers would come and ask for the Number One and get her with her busy self and distracted life and then they’d eventually think “she’s nothing special” so she was always on pins and needles worried. It was soul crushing to always live in fear.

She’d become “Number One” and got into “Ageha” and is called “Kabukicho’s Queen” she definitely couldn’t let that image crumble when her sales started slumping.

 

 

 

Continued on with Part Four of my summary starting with “I don’t want to hate myself”

I’m doing a studying holiday in Japan so I’m not sure when part four will be out.

Aizawa Emiri has put out a new book: 昼職未経験のキャバ嬢が月商2億円の社長に育つまで キラキラ社長 (amazon jp). From a hostess inexperienced in regular work to a shining head boss making 200,000,000 million. I’m not as interested in it but maybe. I will troll bookstores for a while to see if anything else strikes my fancy. 

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To say I haven’t blogged in a while is an understatement. I always tell myself I will, but to be honest I just spend a lot of time fighting to myself about it.

Me: Blogging is dead.

Also me: But information is needed and instagram is neither searchable or a place for words.

Me: But less people read and it takes so much effort.

Also me: If you’re doing it for the likes you’re wrong to begin with.

 

But I discovered a lot of other activities to do with my free time. OR to be honest I could either write this article or refresh twitter 20 times.

I had convinced myself reporting about fashion on twitter is good. You get instant feedback and there hasn’t been a lot to talk about. I love twitter.

So it took a lot to convince me to get out of my hibernation and write this. And my statement is: ALL FASHION BLOGS LIE. ALL JAPANESE FASHION BLOGS LIE.

Including mine.

I spent a lot of breath twisting the facts about the death of gyaru when it happened just the same. Whether my points or the other points people made. Whichever news or fake news, it happened. Sure some aspects of gyaru are still around. Oneegyaru is popping. Rady sells well. Aizawa Emiri is doing well with her brand. Time goes by and yet hostesses and kyaba still want to look cute on their off days. This won’t change.

So there’s me. Mea culpa.

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The blandness of Meiji-dori

 

But something that has gotten under my craw for years after living in Japan off and on for years is that we’ve been fed lies. Five kids sitting on a street that is known in Japan more for its Kiddy Land, wide lanes and expensive cars parking for Chanel and lunch doesn’t equal fashion. It equals what a photographer or that KID wants to be fashion. So many fashion styles happen around it, but our view has been narrowed.

So many of us grew up with FRUiTS magazine and its somewhat death. But was Harajuku ever FRUiTS? The answer is yes but mostly no. Harajuku is a lot of highschoolers in their uniforms buying small accessories at Claires and other cheap shops. And Harajuku is 20 hairdresser shops and 20 nail salons. Harajuku is as much the Starbucks as it is the famous crepe shops. Harajuku is 50% tourists buying into the hype or what Harajuku was and somewhat is.

AND HARAJUKU IS NOT TOKYO. AND TOKYO ISN’T ALL OF JAPAN. It’s a tiny peephole into a room that barely shows any of what drives fashion in Japan.

AND HARAJUKU IS NOT EVEN HARAJUKU ANYMORE.

As Harajuku has gained in popularity its driven a lot of fashion towards Shimokitazawa and Koenji. This is not a new phenomenon in Japan. 10 years ago it happened with otaku culture and many Akihabara fans moving to Nakano and Akihabara getting oddly commercialized.

And yet again Harajuku was not ever Harajuku. A lot of fashionable people who went to Harajuku did it for the early instagram. To get in FRUiTS. Which the founder of FRUiTS, Shichi Aoki, has admitted that he only took photos of what inspired him. Is that all of Harajuku or even 10% or much less 2%? No.

FRUiTS missed out on gyaru fashion. It cared occasionally for ganguro but that was it. Not because it wasn’t in Harajuku. Gyaru have always been in Harajuku. Shibuya and Harajuku are bound together by one street and it takes only a 15 minute walk (maybe 20 minute in gyaru heels) to get there. There’s nothing in between except for some sports stores and hair salons. Harajuku and Shibuya fashions appear in each other naturally. But it wasn’t what FRUiTS wanted, so it was mostly ignored. One of the largest original Japanese fashion booms that lasted.

And currently many fashion snaps are ignoring Larme fashion despite it being popular in Japan. I would argue that Larme comes off as more Japanese than some other popular fashions because of its roots.

 

Broad Harajuku shops are made up of five types:

  • LaForet mall which holds a variety of clothing from Joyrich to Larme to Lolita
  • The row of shops down Takeshita that holds knockoffs, accessories, resale shops, Liz Lisa, and a few outlandish shops
  • UraHara and Cat Street that has spawned Bape and contains Jackrose and other former GyaruO brands along with LilLilly and Honey mi Honey type brands.
  • The big box shops of H&M, Monki and Forever21 wanting prestige in a place that was not meant for them.
  • Slightly past that there is Omotesando which is its own culture and has high brand stores and overseas brands like Acne Studios and Alexander Wang

 

There’s a lot of styles smushed together in Harajuku. If you’re not photographing them all, you’re not discussing the region.

And this isn’t just a FRUiTS problem. It’s a reporter problem.

 

Let’s make it akin to a museum. A museum curator decides what’s inside those walls. But does that determine what is art? NO! But for fashion especially Japanese fashion that’s happened.

Many of the other fashion snap blogs have used mostly hired models. I think it’s mostly lazy. But to be honest a lot of seasons in Japan are not very bearable and waiting hours and days for something to appear isn’t easy or fun.

Or magazines have calls out to where they will be shooting. That’s more organic, but they get to edit and choose. On the spectrum of offenders most magazines are lower.

 

The reason I shout out FRUiTS a lot is because they have been the blueprint of street fashion in Japan, for better or for worse. BUT all Japanese fashion blogs lie. But why do they lie? What’s their goal? What agenda? What are they trying to sell or curate?

Maybe the better question is why are they ignoring what they do when they shoot or talk about something else?

 

My interest is gyaru fashion and broader Larme, seiso and otona kawaii brands. If you walk into a big mall like Shinjuku Lumine EST or Shibuya 109 or Shinsaibashi OPA chances are I’ll talk about those brands because that’s what I choose to do. You won’t see me talk about lolita or many adult brands not because it doesn’t exist or there aren’t shops selling. It’s just not my interest.

So there are my biases. Laid out.

 

But what about other blogs biases? If they call themselves something like Japanese Streets or Fashion Snap or Tokyo Fashion are they showing it?

All Japanese Fashion blogs lie, but are they telling you? Are they trying to force their vision on you? The answer increasingly has been YES. And it’s lies and fake news.

 

 

 

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