Double Dare

Below is an English translation of the third of seven short stories in Takemoto Novala's 2007 collection 幻想小品集, or Hallucination Anthology, originally published in Yaso 夜想/Sense of Beauty magazine in April 2006.

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Double Dare

Bauhaus played at a loud volume.

Giving a very heavy atmosphere, the wildly careening sound creeped in and filled the air, with Peter Murphy’s vocals sounding somehow like a prayer filling out the music.

Wearing a long dress from alice auaa made of black gauze that almost seemed to be decomposing, with open chest, shoulders, and back, with sleeves that would still be too long even if rolled up, and a high waist with an asymmetric hem, I stood in front of the mirror in my powder room running a comb through my bangs, which were cut straight above my eyebrows, and putting my shoulder-length hair into an updo with long curls hanging down.

I applied Anna Sui Brightening Fluid Foundation 99 heavily, following that with Pearl Brightening Compact Powder 700, to make my skin an almost unnatural-looking shade of almost white, like a bisque doll. I drew my eyebrows on in thin lines using a Vivienne Westwood eyebrow liner in dark brown. I used Vivienne Westwood again for my eyeliner, drawing it on thickly in lamp black, then colored in my eyes with Chacott eyeshadow 628 and finished them off by doing my eyelashes with MAC mascara base and MAC all black mascara. After that, I applied Anna Sui to my lips, and on my nails, already painted a glittery black Anna Sui 007, I added a mix of Mary Quant bright red R-17 and heavy glamorous R-08 to take away any green tint, added black R-38, and topped it all off with a gloss, R-56, and I was ready.

I was complete. The Gothic me.

Whether red, black, or the white of my skin, I only love bold daring colors, so if possible I would have liked to have used only Chacott, but doing one's face only with Chacott would be too gaudy, so I mix in Anna Sui and Mary Quant to create an elegant finish.

If you hadn’t said anything, I’m sure I wouldn’t have worn this dress from alice auaa that day, and I certainly wouldn’t have worn this heavy makeup that goes with the dress. You allowed me this freedom. Freedom from the self-deprecating shell of myself. I’ve lived my entire life worrying only about what others thought about me. I wonder when that started. That’s right. It’s been like that ever since I was a child, when my family and I went on a vacation to the sea in the summer of my first year of elementary school. My heart has been closed since then.

My older brother, 4 years older than me, always took good care of me and spoiled me. He’d say things like, when we became adults, we’d get married, with a straight face in front of other people, making everyone around including our parents laugh, and I sincerely believed that when I grew up I’d marry my big brother. One day, my brother and I both set out offshore with inner tubes. Mama told us to be careful not to go too far out, even if we had our inner tubes, and Papa made my brother promise that if we went out so far that we couldn’t touch the bottom anymore, he was to hold my hand and not let go, regardless of the inner tubes. My brother and I took off excitedly, planning to swim out as far as the buoys and come back. We arrived at the buoys faster than we’d planned. Then, my brother suggested we go out a little further. “If we only go a little further, it’ll be okay. Are you scared? You have your inner tube, and I’ll hold your hand.” I went along with his idea. It was just as we started to pass the buoys. A huge wave came and overtook us. I got caught up in the wave, and lost my inner tube and started to drown. I lost hold of my brother’s hand as well. I panicked and desperately tried to find something to hold on to. I opened my eyes and saw my brother’s leg, and grabbed on. But my brother kicked my head with his other leg and pulled away.

I have no memory past that instant. When I awoke, I was laying on the sand. I was told that the lifeguard had saved me. Our parents scolded both my brother and me harshly. My brother and I both apologized to our parents, but while my brother did confess that going beyond the buoys had been his idea, he didn’t mention the fact that I’d grabbed his leg while drowning or that he’d kicked me off. Even after we returned home, he acted as if nothing had happened, and didn’t seem to feel bad at all, and never apologized.

Thinking back on it now, my brother was still just a kid as well, and he’d almost drowned too. He was probably desperate just to save himself, and merely kicked off the thing that was clinging to his leg without any intention of doing so to me, rather than out of any ill intent. However, ever since then, I’ve realized that to accept love unquestioningly without defenses would mean to be betrayed, and eventually lead to death. Faith in other people, even those related to you, is nothing but an illusion. I could never tell anyone about this realization. However, in order to avoid being hurt, I built a strong wall between me and my brother, my parents, and my school friends. I never allowed anyone to get closer to me than a certain point, and I never tried to get closer myself. As I went along in this way, I naturally began to place a great deal of importance on the opinions of others, burying my true self down deep, and following the ways of others more than necessary.

I didn’t do this as a form of self-affirmation, but rather I just thought there was no other way for me to protect myself. I went along quite successfully in this way, until I met you.

Strangely, I never really felt lonely. Before you told me how you felt about me, I’d had other relationships, few though they were. I’d even had physical relationships. However, even if I opened my body for someone, I never opened my heart. Because of this, no matter how much I aligned my interests with theirs, and how deferential I acted, in the end something always seemed missing to the other person, and in the end they always left. However, this didn’t budge me. I wasn’t looking for an everlasting love. Despite all this, you destroyed the fence surrounding me effortlessly and entered my heart at a frighteningly fast pace. And you proposed to me just one week before my 19th birthday.

“You can give me your answer any time. You’re still in school, and I just graduated myself, so I don’t expect us to get married immediately. I would just like you to seriously give some thought to our future.”

“Could you wait until next week?”

“Do you mean that you will answer me on your birthday?”


“I wonder how much hope I have.”

“Quite a bit.”

“I see. Well, in that case, even if you refuse me, or if you say you need more time, that day is your birthday. So let’s go to a fabulous French restaurant and eat a fantastic dinner.”

“You don’t have to work so hard.”

“I want to give this my all. What shall we do before dinner? Is there any place you’d like to go?”

“Not really.”

“You should decide once in a while!”

“…How about an amusement park?”

“An amusement park?”

“No good?”

“Of course not, but which amusement park would you like to go to?”

“One that’s not too big or full of fancy attractions. If it’s too big, there will be too many people and it’s just tiring.”

“That’s true. In that case, I’ll look for a rundown amusement park. But at night we’ll go to a fancy restaurant. So be sure to get all dolled up.”

“All dolled up… So I can’t dress like I usually do?”

“I don’t mean that you can’t… But you never wear anything besides the most normal of clothing. I don’t intend to ask you to wear a very expensive dress or to dress really sexily, but I feel like there’s probably some kind of clothing that you’ve always wanted to wear, or some fashion that really suits you.”

I stayed silent.

“If not, that’s okay too though.”

“Now I have two pieces of homework for next week, don’t I?”

“You don’t have to think too hard about it though. It’s not that you’re negligent with your appearance or anything, but you never talk about clothing, do you? You come along with me when I go to buy clothing, but if I ask you what kind of shop you’d like to visit, you always answer that there isn’t any. Usually it should be the opposite, the guy being dragged along quietly to go shopping with his girl!”

“Is that wrong?”

“Not really… You wear bland clothing, but you wear it well, so I always thought it seemed unusual that you’d have no interest in fashion. Is there any shop that you’ve always like the style of, even if you’ve never worn it?”

Alice auaa.”

“I don’t know that brand. Where is the shop? Something like Antwerp style?”

“It’s a Japanese brand.”

“Is it expensive?”

“It’s not cheap, but I have a part time job, and I don’t spend that much money, so I can afford it.”

“So why don’t you buy a dress from there and wear it?”

“Their clothing is pretty unusual, so I don’t think it’s appropriate for a date.”

“Is it too casual?”

“Actually, the opposite, it’s very outrageous. I guess you could say it’s gothic…”

“Gothic, huh. The current trend, that’s cool, I’d love to see it. I’d love to see you wearing that. How about I buy you something from that shop as a birthday present before we go to the amusement park?”

I was able to make the decision to buy alice auaa clothing because of these determined suggestions from you.

Alice auaa was established as an independent brand in 1999 in Kobe, and is the only brand in Japan to follow the true gothic aesthetic with absolutely no regard for trends. This brand’s clothing, which ruled over the darkness, was full of decadence and beauty, intelligence and eroticism, and brought to mind bondange and devil worship. Wearing it was like getting trapped deeper and deeper within a spiderweb or white gauze. That transformation indeed was the image of alice auaa, and their regularly released items included tops called “Net” and antique-image dresses with many small pieces of fabric stitched together called “Suture”. This unique feeling of destruction was what I sought, and this brand, who developed the materials to make their items all in-house, had struck a distinct chord with my heartstrings. Several years ago, I saw alice auaa for the first time in a magazine. The instant my eyes set upon the photo of the black wedding dress from a collection with several petticoats holding up the skirts, I fell in love. From that moment on, though their clothing was all far too decorative and unrealistic for me to actually purchase, I continued to be in awe of alice auaa’s clothing.

On my birthday, I arrived at our meeting place wearing the first alice auaa I had ever purchased, a black blouse made of gauze with tight sleeves that showed off the shape of the arm but a loose front that showed a bit of the bust, with a full black skirt covered in frills that was so long it almost touched the ground in back, yet was short enough to show the knees in front, a corset made of a hard fabric almost like denim, gauze leg warmers with several belts going around the legs covered with netting, and high heeled boots.

As I expected, you looked at me, wearing alice auaa from head to toe, up and down with a speechless expression on your face.

“This is that clothing that you said you liked?”


“It really is hardcore gothic.”

“Now you see why I said it wasn’t appropriate for a date, don’t you?”

“That’s true. But you like it, right? It’s strange, but it looks good on you. I can’t really say you look cute, but I think it looks good. But you really changed everything, your hair and makeup as well.”

“This is the real me. So you still don’t want to take back your proposal?”

“Of course not. Even if your fashion changes, you are still you.”

We headed towards the amusement park, which was mostly empty despite it being a Sunday. The roller coaster that rattled and shook with worrying sounds despite not even going very fast, the Ferris wheel that completed one full cycle in only a minute, the simple haunted house that wasn’t at all frightening, the House of Mirrors that surprised one by its very existence in this day and age. Even visiting every attraction in the park, we still were finished before it was time for dinner.

“Is there anything you’d like to go on again?”

“I want to go in the House of Mirrors.”

“But we already know the path, so won’t it be boring to go again?”

“Then I’ll go alone.”

“That’s okay, I’ll go with you.”

“No, if you’re with me I’ll get out too easily. I want to try by myself.”

“Okay, well in that case, I’ll be waiting at the smoking area near the exit for you to make it through on your own.”

Later that night, after we finished our red wine and main dish of lamb, I accepted your marriage proposal.

About three months have passed since that day. As if I’d broken through some barrier, I started wearing alice auaa regularly from then, and even started wearing an alice auaa men’s priest gown as room-wear, and even as my trip into full on gothic wear seemed to speed up faster and faster on each date, you accepted it, and we became closer and closer. But despite all this…

Every time you would stay over at my place, before we’d fall asleep together in my simple semi-double bed, I’d get up to take off my makeup. Tonight as well, we had sex, and then you fell asleep, so I got up carefully so as not to wake you and headed to the powder room to wash my face with cleanser and makeup remover, and then returned to your side in the bed. But what I found there was…

Rather than your peacefully sleeping body, I found your dead body, not breathing, with a great deal of blood was pouring out of the back of your skull, and your eyes wide open and white.

The white sheets were unable to soak up all the blood and it had made a pool. Next to the bed on the ground lay a large wrench covered in blood that had no reason to be there.

What in the world could have happened in the mere few minutes I was in the powder room? Just a moment earlier, we had just been discussing in general our plans from now until the wedding day. I grabbed the telephone to call an ambulance, though I could see that it was far too late for that, but I couldn’t think of what number to dial. Loud music I’d never heard before was playing from the music player. Not knowing what to do, I dropped the phone, and then was hit with fright as I realized that your killer could still be in the apartment or on the veranda; after all, only a moment ago you’d been alive. But the door was locked. The windows were closed. Overwhelmed with fear, I tried to run away without thinking it through, and ran back to the powder room. Since I’d just been in here alone, the killer couldn’t possibly be in here.

I had to calm down, I had to calm down, I thought, so I turned on the faucet to wash my face. I wiped my face off with a towel and looked in the mirror. But I saw someone standing behind me in the mirror. It looked like a women, but I was sure that I’d be killed if I met her eyes even in the mirror, so I couldn’t look to see who it was. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t make a sound.

The woman standing behind me did not move any closer, but said in a low voice,

“Finally that nuisance has been taken care of.”

I recognized the voice. I gathered my courage and looked in the mirror, and saw behind me a woman with black hair standing on end, her face hidden with a black cachenez like one would wear at a masquerade, wearing an alice auaa dress made of velour and knit fabrics, looking at me with a cold look and bright red lips. The very dress I’d been wearing earlier that day, before I’d taken it off and left it in the powder room to take a shower before we had sex.

“So the person who killed him was…”

“It was me.”


“You wished it to happen.”

“Who…are you?”

“Who, you ask? Have you forgotten already? We promised to always live together, just the two of us, didn’t we? But that man got in the way of that. And you have no guts. So I had to take care of it.”

“But I…I…I was going to marry him. I loved him!”

She laughed heartily.

“You loved him? Ha! Well, maybe you did to some extent. But you also hated him. This was revenge. You couldn’t possibly love anyone but me.”

I turned around. But no one was there.

It was an illusion.

I had been talking with an illusion.

Was I going crazy from the shock? I looked at the mirror again. But that woman was again standing there behind me.

“You still can’t accept reality, can you? We met at that House of Mirrors at the amusement part. Don’t you remember? I am you, and you are me!”

That was it. I suddenly understood everything.

The first day I’d been able to go out wearing the gothic look, makeup, and hair that I’d always loved was that day that I answered your proposal. We went on all the rides, including the house of mirrors. Surrounded by mirrors in this darkly lit space, walking through the maze of narrow hallways bumping into mirror after mirror, I lost sight of you for an instant.

I turned to go back down the path I’d come down, but I saw nothing but dozens of my own reflection. I stood in front of myself. Behind that, myself. I was surrounded by endless iterations of myself. And the me that I saw reflected so many times was so beautiful, I forgot that it was myself, and began to feel dizzy, surrounded by such beauty. When I waved my hand, those beautiful women waved back at me. When I shook my head, countless of others did the same. Those beautiful women who lived in the land of mirrors were more obedient than the best trained of dogs. They would never disobey me. They would never deceive me. They would never lie to me. They would never betray me. They understood everything about me accurately, perfectly, and loved me. These women, who so encompassed my ideal image, never looked at anyone except me.

“We were waiting for you. Our eternal lover.”

The me of the world of mirrors opened her mouths and spoke these words. I approached the closest one without thinking, and kissed those beautiful lips. An ecstasy unlike any I’d ever experienced enveloped me stronger than anything I’d ever felt.

However, after I had spent a short while in this perfect world belonging to only us, an outsider tried to intrude. It was you. You said, “Oh man, I lose sight of you for just a moment and here you are, getting lost in this place! The exit’s this way. If you walk looking at your feet rather than at the walls, this cheap kind of house of mirrors is easy to get through,” and with a slight push of my shoulder, came between me and my reflection.

I was reluctant to part from that feeling, so after we’d ridden all the attractions, I entered the house of mirrors one more time, this time alone. I never wanted to leave this labyrinth as long as I lived. However, that would be impossible. So I decided to take one of the endless beautiful reflections of myself home with me.

This was her. From that night on, I could meet her whenever I wanted by looking into a mirror, even if only the small compact mirror in my makeup pouch, while dressed in gothic style. I could allow no one to intrude into this honeymoon of mine, no matter who. This ruler of the mirror world grew stronger with each passing day, and desired to have me all to herself more and more. And finally, she said this.

“I can no longer stand to see you give your body to anyone else.”

Saying this, I opened the white bottle of Anna Sui foundation sitting in my powder room once more, in order to meet that gothic me again. To come back…

Completing my makeup, I took back my dress that she had been wearing, and turned toward the bed on which you slept. The sound volume of the Bauhaus playing on the radio was too quiet. I turned it to the max and the guitar riffs of Double Dare filled the room, filled in with the sound of Peter Murphy’s reverberant singing and screaming.

That’s it. Let’s put mirrors on all the walls of this room. On the ceiling and floor as well. I wonder where I could find someone to do that for me. Well, whatever. I’ll think about that tomorrow. Anyway, for now for some reason I’m really tired. I pushed you onto the floor and lay down on the blood-soaked sheets, and closed my eyes.

Continued report:
The female suspect visited a glassmaker in the local marketplace saying she wanted to cover her apartment with mirrors. The glassmaker visited her apartment to take an estimate, but noticed a strange smell, and found the partially decomposed body of a young man thrown carelessly in the bathtub of the residence. He reported it to the police, and the crime became known. We reported yesterday that the suspect admits to having killed him herself, but a new fact has come to light regarding this case. Originally the woman was insistent that the victim was her boyfriend whom she’d met in college and was recently engaged to be married to, but when the corpse was examined, it was discovered that the body actually belonged to her own brother, older than her by four years, whom she’d asked to visit her apartment. It is unclear why she lied about this, but according to the two’s parents and close acquaintances, the two siblings had a close relationship, and no big fight was known of, so the motives for the murder are as yet unknown. We will continue to bring you updates on this developing news story.

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Thank you for reading my first translation of one of Novala’s short stories. How did you like it? I chose to keep the format for this one simple, avoiding including any images so that you can imagine the story in your own mind. So, how was it, this dark, twisted tale of lust and desire? Certainly it is probably a darker and more gothic story than you are used to from our beloved Novala.

I will refrain from including many of my own thoughts here, in order to let you derive your own conclusions, but do take a moment to remember your own feelings upon seeing yourself dressed up, in whatever your chosen fashion is, the first time you knew you’d found “the real you”. Did it affect you as much as our lovely heroine from the story? Do be careful, though – you must be sure to keep touch of the real you, the real you inside your heart as well as the real you inside your mind, and not lose sight of reality as you grasp tight onto the new you that you may have found!

Coordinate Snap! 2 weeks worth, actually!

How neglectful I have been. I am so sorry, poor little Blogspot! It's not that I don't love you...I've just been so dreadfully busy...

But excuses aside, I have been neglectful in keeping up with my translations, and don't think I've left it behind completely! It has been 2 full weeks since my last translation - and I am well aware! I will try to rectify that as soon as possible.

Alas, I have nothing to offer today except some overdue coordinate snapshots. Not what you are here for, I'm sure, but please be patient with me, and in the meantime, let's have some Easter fun, and others as well!

From Friday, March 19 (wow, I really am behind!) - a night out dancing

hairbow, jsk, cutsew, socks, shoes: Angelic Pretty
other hair ornaments: Joann XD
bloomers: Meta
jewelry: my mother

From the day on Saturday, March 20 - just running some errands

headband hairbow, jsk: Innocent World
blouse: Meta
ponytail bow: Kinki Kitty
socks: offbrand
shoes: TUK

From that Saturday night - more dancing at the club

dress, hairbow, socks, necklace: Innocent World
shoes: Antenna

From Wednesday, March 24 - dancing down in Ohio!
Actually I wore this dress again on Sunday, as I've already posted in my tea party post - doesn't it look quite different with white as opposed to black? ♥ I love it!

bow: Metamorphose
blouse: Angelic Pretty
jsk: Kinki Kitty XD
socks, belt: offbrand
shoes: Demonia
necklaces: Innocent World, Gloomy x Hot Topic

From Friday, March 26 - more dancing!

bow: Heart E
dress, shoes, necklace: Innocent World
socks: Swimmer

From Saturday, March 27 - even more dancing!
Why yes, that is the same dress in 3 different colors on the 20th, 26th, and 27th! Is that strange? Oh, it is? ...oops. ;)

And that brings us to my Easter weekend!
And with Easter comes my Easter Basket Hat!

From Thursday, April 1 - April Fool's Day! But I wasn't playing a fool on anyone..I happily wear my Easter basket hat as much as I can at Easter time! And 80s night is a pretty good reason!

cardigan, jsk, hairbows, socks: Angelic Pretty
cutsew: Baby
boots: Antenna
easter basket hat: handmade XD

From Friday, April 2, Good Friday. I drove down to my parents' home to spend some time with and go shopping with my mother! It was a very nice time, and I finally got to check out Hobby Lobby. What a lovely store...I feel my paycheck melting away...

beret, tshirt: Heart E
skirt, hairbows: handmade
socks: Angelic Pretty
shoes: Bodyline

And that Friday night at the club - an Easter Bunny!

bunny ears, blouse: Bodyline
jsk, mini bunny bear: Baby
socks: Angelic Pretty
boots: Antenna
hairbow: Heart E

The next day Saturday I was not yet cured of my Easter bunny mood, so here he is again!

shirt: Heart E
bows: Innocent World
skirt: handmade
socks: Baby
shoes: Angelic Pretty
necklace: my mother

And Easter Sunday itself! I wore full-on Easter Bunny mode for Easter dinner. I think this will be the last time I can wear this outfit this year, as it's made of (fake!) fur! It's soooo comfy though. I love it.
(As you may remember, it's reversible and can be worn as a brown fur set or like shown here. I posted pictures in the brown here, and pictures of the sewing project here!

cape and skirt set, hairbows: Kinki Kitty / handmade
cutsew, shoes: Innocent World
socks: offbrand
necklaces: Innocent World, my mother
brooch: Innocent World
rings: Novala x Baby, Vivienne, elerronyar <3

I'll try to post something more useful soon! Until then, at least you know I'm not dead! ♥ I hope everyone had a lovely Easter!

Tea Party!

A friend hosted a home tea party on Sunday, and was good enough to invite me! How wonderful! I love tea parties, and miss the monthly Osaka tea parties immensely, so I was delighted. Hats were required, so of course I pulled out my favorite hat ever, a handmade one of a kind masterpiece from Luciferrot (an indies gothic brand based out of Osaka who was once known for doing many of the outfits worn by Blood). It is truly a piece of magic.

I can't wear this hat often because it doesn't sit securely enough to dance or move around a lot in, but it's great for tea parties - sitting and talking, walking around a bit, this much it can handle! Anyway, it's quite the definition of fabulous. It actually plays music and MOVES! Amazing. I actually won first place in a Best Dressed contest at the Osaka tea party in January of 2008 with this hat! XD I can't claim any credit for that one - it's all the hat! :D

I also had a "traveling hat" - hats being required, I didn't want to walk in without one on my head XDXD, but I couldn't drive in the pierrot one (couldn't even get in my car XD) so I wore this one on the way there and home:

Outfit breakdown:
Pierrot hat: Luciferrot
bowler hat: Innocent World
blouse, socks: Bodyline
jsk: Kinki Kitty
socks: Angelic Pretty

I made this as a hostess gift for my lovely friend who had the party:

She is a big fan of vinyl, so I made the bow out of vinyl instead of ribbon like usual! Her favorite color is red so of course I went with red roses.

We were asked to bring some tea party food to share, so I made shrimp wasabi tea sandwiches.

I was planning to cut them all into little hat shapes, to keep to the hat theme, but I simply didn't have time - I underestimated how long it would take to cut them! But I was able to cut 3 hat shapes for on top, and so that my Angelic Pretty plate girl would also have a hat!

The presentation does leave something to be desired, but they were tasty at least! Not too spicy, the wasabi gave them a lovely flavor. Looking at these pictures now I want to eat some more!

I think I want to have a tea party myself now! ♥

Let’s Talk About Hello Kitty

Below is an English translation of the sixth of 31 essays/short articles in Takemoto Novala's recently published 乙女のトリビア, or Trivia for Maidens, originally published in Zipper magazine.

♔ ♥ ♔ ♥ ♔ ♥ ♔

Let’s Talk About Hello Kitty.
That Kitty Always Around You

Do you remember the news story of a Hello Kitty pendant, its face made of 9 carat diamonds, its nose a sapphire, its eyes onyx, and its bow made of rubies, worn by Britney Spears in her music video for Do Something, which was released in Japan as a one of a kind item, and actually sold, despite having a price tag of 5.5 million yen?

It’s true that Britney Spears is a big Kitty fan, and Mariah Carey and the famous Hilton sisters are also in love with this character. Kitty is beloved not only in America, but all over the world. In Japan, there have been tons of collaborations lately between clothing brands and Kitty-chan. At first it was most common amongst 109-style brands like Material Girl, Liz Lisa, and Rose Fan Fan, but now even the lolita brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright joined hands with the character. And even I, Novala, have started producing a Kitty series, Hello Kitty Pour Lolita…

Takemoto Novala Hello Kitty Pour Lolita Gothic Edition - 1st Edition

Takemoto Novala Hello Kitty Pour Lolita White Edition - 1st Edition

Takemoto Novala Hello Kitty Pour Lolita Punk Edition - 1st Edition

Takemoto Novala Hello Kitty Pour Lolita White & Gothic Editions - 3rd Edition

How much information do you know about Hello Kitty? Her full name is Kitty White. She was born on November 1, 1974. There are 4 members in her family and her hobby is baking cookies. Her height is the height of 5 apples. Her weight is the weight of 3 apples (please don’t think it’s strange!). She has type A blood, and for some reason, she is from London!

The person who decided all of this is Kitty-chan’s mother, her designer, Shimizu Yuko. Shimizu believed that characters created just for decorating various items should still have a history the same as characters from myths and cartoons. Shimizu only dealt with Kitty-chan from her creation in 1974 until 1975. The second designer to work with Kitty was Yonekubo Setsuko. She was in charge of Hello Kitty from 1975 until 1980. She looked at the many images Shimizu had drawn of Kitty, and decided that the image with her face looking straight forward and her body sitting to the side was the cutest best image of Kitty, the pose we all know today. That is, the Kitty we know today was brought into this world by these two designers, Shimizu and Yonekubo.

In 1980, Yamaguchi Yuko became the 3rd designer of Hello Kitty. The Kitty we know today has a rounder face than she did in the 70s. This change was made in 1982 by Yamaguchi-san. In 1994, rather than a ribbon in her hair, Kitty wore a hibiscus flower, and in 1995, she wore a nurse’s uniform – that is, there have been many incarnations of Kitty over the years, but even now most are based on Yamaguchi’s version.

Of course I’m sure you are know that Hello Kitty is created by the Sanrio company. But until shortly before Kitty’s birth, Sanrio was known as the Yamanashi Silk Center. Yamanashi Silk Center was founded in 1960. At first it was a small company selling things like wine. But even though they tried various things, they did not find financial success. One day, the president, Tsuji Shintarou, said “Let’s buy some beach sandals, add a floral pattern, and sell them.” All the employees thought this would never work, but they sold incredibly well. Then the president said, “rather than just a floral pattern, how about printing a cute illustration?” They hired a girl who could draw illustrations, and these illustrated beach sandals were also a huge hit.

And now, a question to my readers. That illustrator they hired later went on to become a famous young genius illustrator. Who was it? …The answer? Mizumori Ado-san. Don’t you think this is incredible?

In this way, Sanrio grew larger and larger, but increasingly there were complaints that they were a worthless company, putting images on cups and pencil cases and selling things for a higher price just because of this. However, Sanrio answered thusly: “Why do we wear makeup? Why do we decorate our room with flowers? We want to make everyday beautiful and fun. The reason we put characters on our goods is the same reason.”

We want to be beautiful all the time. We want to be dazzled. This is the basis of style. Kitty-chan holds this way of thinking. After all, she was born in London! Don’t you feel like you can understand the reason she is an ageless idol?

♔ ♥ ♔ ♥ ♔ ♥ ♔

Are you a Hello Kitty fan? I think she’s cute, but I’m not a huge fan. However, I absolutely adore Novala’s Pour Lolita line! I have a great many items from these collections...mugs, plush dolls, straps, pens, stationery…I wish I had everything!

One other thing I love about Hello Kitty is that no matter where you go in Japan, you can find Special Edition Hello Kitty phone straps limited for that location. This is mostly a tourist thing, of course, but they are so cute! In Kyoto, you can get a Kitty dressed in kimono, in Harajuku, dressed as a gothic lolita (this is a separate design from Novala’s lolita designs!), in Osaka, dressed as a takoyaki chef – or even as takoyaki itself! These themed Kitties are so fun to collect. I used to have no fewer than 24 hanging off my phone, until they got to be just too much to carry around, and I simplified to having only the Osaka one. Currently I have the Novala White Edition and a Gloomy on my phone…until recently I had the Gothic Edition as well but the strap broke! I need to get that fixed and reattach it…

Harajuku Theme Hello Kitty

Osaka Takoyaki Kitty phone strap

Making Lolita Brands More Accessible - A Response

Quite probably my favorite lolita blog (because who wouldn't love a blog with a name like F*** Yeah Lolita) was updated today with a post titled Making Lolita Brands More Accessible, an inquiry into why lolita brands do business the way they do and what they could do to improve. I was typing my reply in a comment, but realized midway through that I'd already written 2 full pages. This is clearly not an acceptable way to leave a comment (though I certainly wouldn't mind one like this on my own blog!), so I've decided to post it here instead, and link there.

I do not intend to write many opinion pieces on this blog, but perhaps once in a while I shall adventure into that territory. For now, here are some of my thoughts on lolita brands.

Please go and read Caro-chan's original post, "Making Lolita Brands More Accessible," before reading any further here!

Caro-chan writes of 4 main proposals she would have to improve brands, opening them up from a niche market and making them more accessible for "the typical Lolita". I quote from her original post and offer my own thoughts below.

Expand to the West.

First off, I believe they have done this remarkably well in the last few years. Most brands do ship overseas, and many have fluent, even native, English speakers working on this side of their business. It's still a new market that is in testing, so it's risky business for them, but they are doing very well. Keep in mind that the idea of not shipping abroad is not a lolita thing, but a Japanese thing in general - that's why things like J-List exist. Most shops will not ship overseas. It is very different from the way things are done in the US and Europe, etc, where most companies will ship anywhere provided you are willing to pay shipping. On this front, lolita brands are actually quite pioneering.

To respond further to this bullet point, Caro says:

It's no secret that Lolita isn't as big as it used to be in the early 2000's in Japan, the whole fashion seems to have migrated West. There are literally thousands of customers outside of Japan that many brands are cutting themselves off from by not, at the very least, offering overseas shipping.

I adamantly disagree with this statement. Lolita is not dying in Japan - on the contrary, it is increasingly popular. It has never been, nor will it ever be, mainstream. But it is not less prevalent than it has ever been. I cannot figure out where people keep getting this idea!

I agree that not offering overseas shipping does cut off international customers, but as I've already said, most do this.

Multiple sizes.

It is true that by offering larger sizes, they would probably get more customers. There is also, however, some worry by brands that offering larger sizes would alienate their main customer base, who would be afraid to be seen in something a "fatty-chan" could also buy, and it would lose exclusivity. Personally, I don't put too much stock in this concern, and I don't think it would actually be a problem, but it is true nonetheless that it is a prevalent worry in the minds of designers.

By the way, as an aside, I remember when I was taking an intro level economics class back in college, my professor telling us a story of a famous, highly-exclusive, highly-successful exercise clothing brand who offered only one size. It was an American brand, if I remember correctly. Despite offering only one size, in America no less, where sizes range much more than in Japan, it became one of the most sought after brands for exercise clothing. Why? Because if you could wear it, it meant you had the Perfect Figure. Girls would squeeze themselves in just to show off that logo that proclaimed "this is the ideal female figure". Now, is that ridiculous, silly, discriminatory? Sure! But it worked, and they had great economic success! Is this what the lolita brands are aiming for? I don't believe so. But I'm sure there's a tiny tinge of this kind of thinking somewhere in the back of someone's mind, and I can't blame them, particularly in the Japanese culture, which is quite different than ours on how they think of weight issues.

So it's not as simple as "more people who can wear the clothes == more people who will buy the clothes". They are concerned about losing current customers by reaching for these new customers.

But nonetheless, I do not believe this is the main reason why they do not offer larger sizes.

Why then? Because the customer base is simply Not There. Or at least they do not see that it is there. Perhaps it is, but they have not noticed yet. But in general, this again goes back to Caro's assumption that lolita is dying in Japan, and that only people abroad wear it anymore. (Okay, Caro never said only, of course, I am exaggerating. But nonetheless, she is coming at this from a viewpoint that lolita is growing abroad and shrinking in Japan, the latter of which I disagree with.) Most of the people who buy from the brands are still Japanese. When I say “most”, I mean a very very large “most”. It is still a Japanese fashion, and the brands cannot be blamed for targeting their Japanese customers as their main customers. And in this group, there are few who require anything larger than a size L. Do they exist? Sure! But they are rare…and while a Japanese girl may be willing to “forgive” a gaijin for being, well, “more to love”, she’s more likely to look down upon another Japanese girl for the same thing. And even the standard size 9, the standard M size, is rather larger than most average clothing you’ll find in a more mainstream boutique in Japan. It may seem small to us, but I could fit into lolita brand clothing easily while I could not walk into any mall and find clothing for work. On average, Japanese lolita brand clothing already runs larger than mainstream boutique clothing.

There is a sideline image (among all the negative images of cutting, self-mutilation, NEET, craziness, otakudom, social anxiety, social incompetence, and just plain bad fashion sense) that exists in mainstream Japan about lolitas, and it is that they are, well, pudgy. Your average lolita in Japan already may have a few pounds on her schoolmates. Not necessarily, to be sure! Lolitas do not like this image (unsurprisingly), so the idea of offering special larger sizes can be quite distasteful to many. So not only do brands not want the risk of making the larger (in their eyes, huge) sizes for the untested international market, but it’s also a risk they are taking domestically as well.

Those are just my thoughts on her "mystery". ;)

Friendlier customer service.

I agree with this one whole-heartedly. But I also would say they are working on improving. There can be horror stories told about any store, and in general the lolita brands do have amazing service, but they still do have room to improve. In their defense, I would say that stories like the one Caro linked (which is truly disturbing) are rare, but they should be nonexistent. I hope they will continue to improve. In IW’s defense in particular, they currently have a very lovely girl who is a native speaker (an American, and a friend) working on their international orders, so I am sure that this case would not happen again while she is there. I hope we do not see cases like this again in the future.

Lower priced items.

This one confuses me. They do offer inexpensive items. Maybe I haven’t looked recently, but if it is true that most don’t have totes, etc, I bet it’s just at the moment. Or maybe they’ve stopped offering them on the site, and just have them in stores lately? I’m not sure on this one. But you can buy hairbows, accessories, etc for $30 or so, so it’s not like there aren’t inexpensive items to be found. There are pouches, pen cases, and even Bunny Bear straps available on the Baby site for $20-30. And a pair of socks is always affordable and useful and so cute!

I think that the niche for cheapo items is taken up by lucky packs, which are being offered more and more frequently lately. Isn’t a full outfit, with a jumperskirt, blouse, bag, socks, and hairbow for $200 (or $250 or whatever) better than a tote bag for $20 or a tshirt for $40? I’m not sure people would be willing to pay the $15 shipping for a $20 tote bag anyway (at least I wouldn’t!).

Though I suppose it certainly wouldn’t hurt to offer these things, and perhaps people would buy them, and they are fun to have and also fun to give as gifts, so I won’t really disagree with you here. It’s just not a problem I’ve noticed.

I have now explained my thoughts on each of the four main points, but I have not touched the remainder of the post at all yet. I will leave much of it unsaid, as I think my thoughts are explained clearly enough with the above. But there is 1 more line I would like to address. I think the statement I take the most issue with is this one:
Someone really needs to send Mana a note letting him no that he's not actually Christian Dior, no matter how high he prices his clothes.

Why? He doesn’t have to be Christian Dior to have some personal values. There are not only 2 kinds of stores, Dior and Walmart. There are allowed to be, there should be, some in the middle. Some cute little boutiques that do things the way they want to, decide their own business plan, and follow their own hearts. Make their own unique designs and sell them in whatever sizes they want, regardless of whether they will be trendy or not. Regardless of whether someone wants to call them “elitist” or not. Maybe they are! Maybe we like them this way. ;) These are our lolita brands, and I wouldn’t change them for the world. ♥

Alice in Wonderland Japan Premiere, through the eyes of Yuka and Sachi

And now for something different! Today I bring you a translation of 6 blog entries from the blogs of Yuka and Sachi, our beloved Kokusyoku Sumire! The Japan Premiere showing of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland was Monday, March 22 (official road show opens 4/17, for all my Japan readers...if there are any of you out there!), at the Ebisu Garden Place in Tokyo. For the special premiere, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp made the trip to Tokyo, and of course spent time with the adorable duo!

♔ ♥ ♔ ♥ ♔ ♥ ♔

Yuka's Blog (Tenmado Mother) #1 - Tim Festival
March 23 [Tue], 2010, 12:24 (Tokyo Time)

Director Tim Burton came to Tenmado again this year.

He brought us his recently published artbook (it's so big and heavy!) as a present!
Tim was so sweet and kind to us, since he knew we were tired from recording.

And my English was very useful.
I was so glad that I had studied English!

We played our brand new song and "All Grown Up Alice"
When he found out we were making an Alice album for him, he was very happy.

It will be out in May, so we promised we'd send him a copy, and then watched him walk away and disappear into Golden Town!

Yuka's Blog (Tenmado Mother) #2 - "Alice in Wonderland" Japan Premiere
March 23 [Tue], 2010, 12:36 (Tokyo Time)

We went~~!
Oh, how we've waited for this day..

Kokusyoku Sumire wore "Queen Alice" dresses made for us by dolce piu amabile so that Tim and Johnny Depp could see us from where they were giving greetings on stage.☆

He said, "Every time I come to Japan it is special, and you always greet me so warmly. Thank you."☆
We waved our arms a lot, but I don't know if he saw us?

We don't really even have to say it, but Alice in Wonderland was great!

The 3D effects were amazing. ☆
We could enter into the screen, and the colors were beautiful. ☆

It was really a Wonderland. ☆

Danny Elfman's music was also wonderful~~♥

Yuka's Blog (Tenmado Mother) #3 - Tim & Johnny Depp Festival!!!
March 23 [Tue], 2010, 12:50 (Tokyo Time)

I've finally met him...!
Johnny Depp-sama!!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel like I'm still dreaming...........

And that's not all........
Tim introduced Johnny, and he said "I want to hear your music." "Aren't you going to play today?".....

So we did!!!!!!!!
Johnny-sama was enchanted (probably..)

But you know, we were in a place without any piano, and Sachi didn't have her violin with her!
So there's no way we could do it, so we said "We'll go get our instruments, so could you wait?" and they replied "Of course we will wait!", and they actually waiting for us!

How kind they are!!!
Johnny was so very nice and such a gentleman.
It's no wonder he is beloved all over the world.

After all, Tim is also so nice and a true gentleman, and of course we become friends with those like us~.
Everyone around Tim is so nice and they are all good people.

And not only that, but after Kokusyoku Sumire's performance, Tim and Johnny had some DJ time!

It's too much of a Wonderland..........

Yuka's Blog (Tenmado Mother) #4 - Tim & Johnny Depp Festival #2!!!
March 23 [Tue], 2010, 13:05 (Tokyo Time)

They also looked at the CD jacket for our brand new Kokusyoku Sumire Alice album (by Adachi Kakoujyo)!!
Tim was very excited and said "my beloved mushrooms and Cheshire Cat!" ♥
I'm so glad we could show him~~~~☆

When we showed Johnny, he said, "How wonderful!!! When will it be out? Please send one to me as well!" !!!!!

Aaah, Wonderland........

Tim's friend and manager Derek!!
Thank you so much for everything always. What a sweet and lively nice guy! I love you!

The other day in Tenmado, Tim said "It's been 5 years since we've met now, hasn't it? It's incredible." I felt such happiness in my heart!

In those 5 years, so much has happened...he showed us the filming of Alice in Wonderland in Hollywood, and we hung out when he came to Japan...

Thank you Tim♥

I just can't say any more!~~

Im still dizzy, as if still in Wonderland. (Also perhaps I'm hungover..)
Okay, now Kokusyoku Sumire will work on completing our own Alice in Wonderland!

This is my last for today!
See you later!

Sachi's Blog (Sacchan's Candy Strange Magic) #1 - Tim at Tenmado
March 23 [Tue], 2010, 17:57 (Tokyo Time)

Director Tim Burton, who was in Japan for the promotion of his new film Alice in Wonderland that will be out in April, came to Tenmado again. ♥

It's been a while since we've seen him, since we saw him in the New York studio. Whenever we meet him we get a nice warm hug ♥
We talked about the recording of Sumire's new album and about Alice (my English was all messed up, but Yuka's English conversation classes have been paying off and she could speak so well! ☆It was amazing Yuka-chin!) We drew pictures together and had a great time.♪

And...and...he listened to the new song we made for him.♪
How happy!♥
It seems Tim liked it too!♥

And Tim brought us his artbook that was sold in America!
It is very thick and we will keep it as our treasure.☆

Tim left and we promised to meet again on Monday...

Right now, Nafuu is quite popular, so Tim drew Nafuu on a Nafuu notebook we had at Tenmado! ☆ (The creator Harutamu was so happy!)

Manager Derek also likes it♥

Sachi's Blog (Sacchan's Candy Strange Magic) #2 - To Wonderland
March 23 [Tue], 2010, 19:18 (Tokyo Time)

We went to the Alice in Wonderland Premiere Screening☆

The two Sumires were in full formal gear. We wore Queen Alice dresses made by dolce piu amabile.
(We took off the crowns before the movie started so we wouldn't be in the way of the people behind us...)

This was my first time to watch a 3D movie!!!
How incredible!!!!
Yuka-chin and I couldn't help squealing!

Everything was wonderful, the images, the colors, the really was Wonderland
And all the characters were so mischievous!
And you know, we made our album without having seen the movie, but there are so many little places where it's linked that our hearts pounded!

I definitely want to go see it again when it comes out publicly.

The scene we watched them shooting in Hollywood took many hours to shoot, but was over in a minute!
I knew it took a lot of work to make something so marvelous, but I was still surprised. Tim really is amazing!

Happily Tim invited us to the party that night, so we went off in our horse and carriage...
And we were able to tell Tim how amazing it was while the enchantment was still fresh in our hearts.

And that person whom we had heard had already left!!!

Johnny Depp
This isn't a photo we took in a wax museum!
But he is as handsome as a doll
We were able to say "Nice to meet you"

And...and...Mr. Depp said he wanted to hear our performance!
In that case, we've no choice but to go get our instruments!
We made them promise not to leave until we returned, and we ran home to get our instruments.

We were able to perform in front of our beloved Tim and Depp.
There was no piano, so we performed our version of Pachelbel's Canon and "Love is a Wild Bird".
They called for an encore, so we played "Yoimachigusa"♪

It was a very happy moment.

After that, Tim and Depp started DJ-ing together and everyone danced!♪

It was the first time I've danced in so long! We did a dance in a circle and hopped about!
All the tension built up from recording went away like whoosh!

The world was starting to wake up and I was at the peak of my sleep deprivation, so I said good-bye to Tim and left behind a quite tipsy Yuka-chin and went home in my horse and carriage.

Whenever Tim came to Tenmado or to a party, he'd always ask "How much do you still have left to record? Are you tired? Make sure you eat enough." He is so kind.

Today is the final day of recording! The Engineer GO Kondo-san is putting it together wonderfully for us.
We've been working with Kondo-san for 4 albums now, and he understands our style well and works hard for us, so we trust him and are watching him finish up without any worries.
As we've been completing the songs one by one, we've been talking about what a good album it is becoming.

Look forward to it!!!

♔ ♥ ♔ ♥ ♔ ♥ ♔

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp on stage at the Japan Premiere

I had such a good time translating this one! I'm so jealous...of everyone involved! I'm jealous of Yuka and Sachi for being able to meet Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, of course - who isn't? But I'm also jealous of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp for being able to hang out with Yuka and Sacchan, who I miss badly! I wonder if they even remember me...probably not! But I remember them. I wish I'd been able to visit Tokyo on my last trip to Japan to go to Tenmado!

Regardless, I'm totally looking forward to the new CD!

Request: If anyone knows any information about "Nafuu" (ナフゥ) or "Harutamu" (はるたむ), please let me know! I don't know what Sachi is talking about here, and I can't see the picture clearly!

Yuka's blog:

Sachi's blog: