I wasn't kidding when I recently described Harajuku as my spiritual home. I adore everything about spending hours wandering the crowded streets whether I'm shopping with money burning a hole in my pocket or with no cash at all. It's always a joy. Having grown up inspired by the fashions coming out of this area of Tokyo getting to take part in the Harajuku Fashion Walk last weekend felt like a conclusion of a dream! I felt nervous going along to the meeting point, I thought that perhaps my style isn't quite out-there enough for the walk these days. A very white Air B&B bathroom means that my hair is still blonde not mauve and most of my clothes are in storage! Still, I headed to the meeting point and bumped into an Instagram friend and some of her friends who were also visiting Tokyo and we quickly bonded over group photo awkwardness and our shared love of everything Japanese.
I didn't take a single picture during the walk as I was being swept along in the fun of it all but Nick snapped this one in front of MoshiMoshi Box, you can see Harajuku Fashion Walk organiser Junnyan in the foreground! As soon as the walk and subsequent photoshoot were over we hightailed it back to Takeshita Street to get our Purikura on. I love these ridiculous booths and it turns out that six people really is the upper limit if you want all of your faces in the frame!
No visit to Tokyo would be complete without a visit to some kinda crazy cafe, maid cafe's are off of my list due to the creepy dude factor and the robot cafe is hugely pricy but the Sebastian Masuda designed Kawaii Monster Cafe hits all of the right buttons in terms of style and price. The cake shaped merry-go-round is amazing, our booth in the Mushroom Disco was the coolest and even the toilets there are fun and colourful.
Of course there was no vegan food on the menu which is a shame because vegan Rainbow Spaghetti followed by a Colourful Poison Cake Parfait would have been uh-mazing but we managed to find a couple of non-milky drinks on the menu. This is the Druggy Cocktail Experiment, it didn't taste very boozy and pouring the colourful syrup and alcohol into the fizzy drink was fun.
This is a total a must-visit in my mind, I'd highly recommend it especially if you can time it so that you arrive in time for one of the shows where the staff / performers dance to fun pop songs on the carousel. Good times!
I decided recently that I'd like to inject a little more body positivity into my corner of the blogosphere as it's something that's quite lacking in the vegan blog world. There are some great body-posi vegan bloggers out there, Lacy and Jenny immediately spring to mind, but nowhere near as many as there are "health" focussed / clean eating peeps and that needs to change.
I mentioned my issues with Purikura's editing of photos last week but something I've become more aware of recently is just how much people edit their own photographs when posting to social media! It isn't just machines that make your skin whiter and your "blemishes" disappear, there are apps for that too! There are even apps that you hold up to your face that make make-up appear. As someone whose eyes are wide open to the beauty industry's shit I probably shouldn't be surprised by this stuff. I made the decision to stop wearing make up on a daily basis years ago after a colleague of mine told me that she could never live without make up. I started questioning my reasons for putting on make up every day and decided to stop until I worked out why I never left the house without at least eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara. I don't really wear make up anymore aside from the odd bit of eye make up, splash of lip colour or sprinkling of glitter on fancy occasions and I've been travelling with just a mascara and a tinted lip gloss for 16 months now. This shouldn't be an achievement but it feels like it is.
As a feminist I'm hyper-aware of how pervasive societal standards of beauty are and a couple of years ago I decided to make a concerted effort to practice radical self love and to be body positive all the damn time. Even when it's really freaking hard. Even when I notice that I've gained some weight because my bikini no longer fits, even when my skin breaks out, even when I'm having one of those days where I look in the mirror and somehow feel uglier than I did the day before. This is just what happens when beauty norms and unrealistic standards of beauty team up and make my brain play tricks on me! You can't just become uglier overnight! Beauty is such a horrible way to judge yourself anyway, like, how is that in any way as important as being quick witted or compassionate or an amazing photographer? And where did these standards even come from? Who decides what is and isn't considered beautiful? That's a rhetorical question. If you look at art throughout the ages, whether that's 17th century oil paintings or modern day photography, you can see how much what's considered ideal and attractive has changed so why buy into today's standards and ideals?
One thing that's really helped me on my body positivity journey is diversifying my social media. I learnt this trick from Jess Baker and it works! I stopped following people who only post very photoshopped pictures of themselves and started following people like RadFatVegan, BodyPosiPanda and Jess Baker herself. I like to check out the #effyourbeautystandards tag to see babely bodies of all shapes, sizes and gender identities. I'm not saying that I never have a non body-posi thought but I'm so much more aware of what these thought are now - rubbish. I ask myself, would you ever think that about someone else's body? 100 times out of 100 the answer is no, of course not, and if I wouldn't think it about my best friend then I shouldn't be thinking it about myself. I know that being a cis gendered, white lady who's just hanging out on the chubby side of what society deems acceptable means that I have it easier than a lot of people when it comes to seeing myself represented in the media - I imagine that a whole host of things that I can't comprehend, anything from gender dysphoria to mental / physical health issues, can affect your body positivity journey, but I feel like diversifying your social media so that your feed is filled with as many different body types as possible would be a positive step for anyone.
Years ago I would never have put this picture out there in the world, I may have even deleted it because my face looks a little chubby or because it's not a "flattering angle" whatever the hell that means. Fuck flattering. This picture reminds me of a moment in time where I was laughing and happy and having the best goddamn time. It's cute as fuck!
We all brought delicious vegan eats to share including inari tofu, salted and ume onigiri, doughnuts from Doughnut Plant NYC, limited edition sakura Pepsi, vanilla ice cream, pudding and strawberry flavoured soy milks, nori and plum flavoured crisps and, of course, pizza!
I love Sempre Pizza for being a cheap and delicious vegan pizza option, that was something that was sorely lacking on our last trip to Tokyo, and whilst I love Japanese food sometimes you jut need something wheat filled and garlicky and comforting!
Our hanami party was even joined by an adorable little dog who was having a picnic with her human friends. She had no interest in our snacks, she just wanted us to stroke her and we were more than happy to oblige!
Post-picnic, as dusk crept into darkness, we took one last walk down Takeshita Street - for this trip anyway! I hope we'll all be back in Japan together one day - perhaps we really will start the vegan crepe restaurant of our dreams?!
I can't believe I'm leaving Tokyo tomorrow. This month feels like it's gone really fast but when I think back to the activities of my first few days here it feels like forever ago. I'm excited about heading north to get stuck into another volunteer project. It's no secret that I love cats so getting to be surrounded by them all day every day is going to be dreamy but I am of course feeling anxious about the challenges ahead (hopefully not as great as at my last volunteer gig!) as well as the living sitch'. The accommodation consists of a shared space with at least four other people as well as Nick and I. I guess it'll be like sharing a hostel dorm, but as someone who likes solitude and alone time (or just straight up couple time if ya know what I mean!) and who usually books a single / double room at a hostel it's going to throw me out of my comfort zone. Bring it on!