Monday 4 April 2016

Harajuku! Harajuku!

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!

The day after our Kawaii Monster Cafe extravaganza Nick and I met up with our new pals Chelsea, Mel and Em for burgers and cheese fries at Ain Soph Ripple and then a couple of days after that, on their last day in town, we had a little hanami picnic at Yoyogi Park. Last time Nick and I were in Tokyo we loved seeing everyone hanging out beneath the blossoms sharing food and laughing with friends and this year we got to join in on the fun!

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!


  1. Bless you so much for giving me a mention. I feel like a proper body-positivity amateur but you're right that the online vegan world lacks as many inspirational bodyposi voices, as we're seeing so many of them pop up more generally. What really gets me is the view that veganism can be seen as a diet and therefore not welcome in a bodyposi world. Argh, so frustrating! My brain is not in full flow lately but I am still harbouring big, quivering plans for my fat vegan zine. Working on it slowly but surely, digging all these amazing vegan folks out :)

    Jes Baker is so inspirational to me. Have you read her book? I'm on it at the moment. I just love her to pieces and I hope one day she brings the tour to the UK so I can proper squeal in her face and tell her how wonderful she is. And it's TRUE that diversifying social media helps a flipload. Instagram is my little happy place these days; positivity ONLY. And if you've been worn down by the wider world and its standards, it can be so empowering and strengthening.

    Anyway. Sorry for gushing! Thanks again for the mention and GOOD LUCK with the next volunteer project!

  2. Love the body positivity rant in the middle of this post! I've recently started listening to Lacy & Holly's Rise & Resist podcast, and I've been thinking a lot about that stuff lately. I'm totally cool with my body, but I've been stressing a lot lately about my wrinkles. I need to work on that. I do wear makeup (lots of it) cause I think it's fun, but sometimes, I deliberately wear more than is acceptable so I look more drag queen than stereotypically pretty (which I'm totally fine with!).

  3. so going to japan is a dream! lucky you.

    i have been self-conscious about selfies/photos of me lately. late last year a bump appeared on my nose. i seem to touch/it pick it a lot. so some times it is gross looking & no matter how much i try to cover it - it is there. i feel the world is staring at this bump.

    i see people who use massive filters - and photo shop and i never want that to be me. i want to embrace my quirks but i also know i will have my 'oh my' days...

  4. thank you for the shout out , and yesssss to more body positivity! I have been curious if any body issue stuff is coming up in Japan, because I have heard the beauty standards for women (specifically for size) can be kind of wild! I love how you fearlessly go everywhere, though. Tell me everything!

  5. Gah, Japan looks awesome! Good luck with the next part of your travels; I'd struggle with the dorm sharing too. Hope the volunteering gig is much better this time around!

    It's funny you should mention about body positive. I've been thinking about it s lot recently. I stepped away from the clean eating vegan blogs along time ago as that's not what veganism is about for me. But I still cared too much about my weight/body shape. I'm so done with this and am filling with my social media with only positive, accepting and fun things. My sister in law is getting married in July and all the women in our family are on prewedding diets (yawn). Back in the day I would have joined in but now I realise it goes against everything I believe in. My aim is to get my chest tattoo done in time for the wedding instead, ha. You're right through, it does take effort and diligence in stopping the negative coming in. I haven't blogged for ages, but I'm thinking of taking the blog in a more body posi direction (but keeping with the food too, obvs). Anyways, I need to get ready for work! X

  6. Keep an eye out for this fellow:

    "Cat Takes Regular Rides on Tokyo Subway Train All By Himself"

  7. I love Japan, and this sounds like you had so much fun. I want to go to that cage!
    I loved the body positivity posting in the middle. It is something I struggle a fair bit with. I almost never go in photos. I am kind of a wall flower anyway, so I figure people mostly don't notice me, but I often worry about things when people are paying attention. It seems to have gotten worse as I get older, and ironically a bit worse again after I lost some weight last year. Ugh. Brain.

  8. I recently discovered Harajuku style and the Japanese fashion and culture, it is just amasing.
    Great and exciting article from there!


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