[Is a popcorn tee-shirt for you? Or do you seek to KNOW YOURSELF FIRST?]
Even if you are not Queen Nicki and don’t have enough yen to brag about counting (yet), there are still some quintessentially Japanese items which are worth the spend.
Now that we have discussed how to save in Japan, read on to discover how I utilized my yen (and some Nicki lyrics which describe the ~experience~*):
I am still not sure why wigs haven’t caught on with the general populace. I’ve been experimenting with them on occasion for about 5 years. In fact, the exact theme of my 21st birthday was “pink wig, thick ass, give ’em whiplash”, though most Spainards thought I was attempting to channel Lady Gaga and not Nicki. It was 100% a Harajuku Barbie homage though! #ymcmb
[21st birthday at Demo, haaaay. Not sure why I was so disgruntled, maybe they weren’t playing enough Drake?]
Wigs are super fun, and I wish more people would give them a try. Y’all are really missing out! There’s no faster way to majorly change your look than with a hair update, and your 20’s are the perfect time to experiment with something a little cray.
(Although, I strongly advocate for soccer moms, septuagenarians, etc. to embrace neon wigs too…)
When I saw this wig in a store in Harajuku, I knew I had to have it. There are so many cool wigs in the neighborhood that, next time, I may pack a suitcase exclusively for colorful hair couture.
Most costume-y, but decent quality, wigs sold in Harajuku were the equivalent of $15 or so, which is a steal. The blue wig which I bought in Miami for Art Basel (from a sex store in Hialeah LOLOL) cost almost $60, and fell apart immediately after wearing it to Libertine.
In contrast, my Japanese wig pictured above is still standing strong (literally) on a broken lampshade I refurnished into a wig stand (can’t you tell I am an aspirational ~lifestyle/interior design blogger~? LOL) If anyone wants to take the Non-Basic Challenge 2016 and borrow it for the night on the town, it’s allll yours!
[Choose your own caloric adventure at 7/11]
Okay, so I didn’t actually eat Chips Ahoy while abroad, but I did bring back a ton of sweet treats!
Most of them (such as matcha Oreos!) were purchased at one of my go-to Tokyo spots, the 7/11.
I know you may be wondering if I go through a gastronomic lobotomy when I change time zones, as I have advocated for McDonald’s in Uruguay and now am coming out as an ardent 7/11 consumer while in Japan.
Hear me out though! 7/11 in Japan is actually amazing. They are everywhere and some of them have Starbucks-style areas to sit, with places to charge your phone and/or free WiFi. It’s open nearly all of the time and has so many crazy snacks to try, from salty to sweet and even healthier options. From a design perspective, one could easily spend a half an hour looking at all of the different packaging.
Since few things are labeled in English, it’s fun to try to guess what different unknown entities might be. I had a few bad experiences where I bought innocuous looking pastries or rice balls, only to find out they were fish flavored! Not cool upon first bite for this strict vegetarian, but in hindsight, playing roe roulette was a little fun.
[One of the times I lost at roe roulette… At least I had a delicious chia drink to console me]
Since most people from Miami have never been to Japan, everyone wanted me to bring them back something. Since I tend to prefer to spend stacks on Comme des Garçons rather than co-worker gifts (see farther below), I brought back a ton of snacks from 7/11, which were the ideal inexpensive souvenir.
To mix it up, I also bought a ton of travel-friendly treats at Daiso, a can’t-miss, multi-level store in Harajuku which sells everything for 100 yen, making it the Japanese equivalent of a dollar store.
Tokyo is obsessed with matcha, and Daiso has every iteration of tea-infused products. My particular favorites to gift were the matcha chocolates and matcha popcorn.
[Consider yourself ~blessed~ if you received the above from me^^^]
Daiso also has a whole floor filled with cheap but interesting beauty products and accessories, like the Hello Kitty false eyelash storage case which I bought for one of my beauty-obsessed best friends, Lauren.
People are usually surprised to hear that I hate plays, because I am typically a ~patron(ess) of the arts~. But something about the exaggerated singing and overly choreographed dancing of a Broadway musical gives me major second hand embarrassment.
The one exception is that I love Phantom of the Opera, arguably the most exaggerated and embarrassing play of all (after maybe ~Cats~). Perhaps it’s due to the archetypal appeal of a mysterious, successful and damaged figure who can’t stop seeking you out**, or the goth glamour of Paris, or the period costumes. For some reason, I’m into it.
My Comme des Garçons wallet from Omotesando seems to personify the aura of Phantom of the Opera‘s eponymous protagonist. The tough, biker-chic(k) studs provide a harsher veneer, offset by accommodating, soft leather, just like the Phantom.
[Not sure why the only photo I have of my CdG wallet was taken in the Telemundo cafe, but okay]
Japan is a great place to invest in some CdG, because if you spend over 10,000 yen in 1 store (roughly $82USD), you don’t have to pay taxes. Depending on what you buy, this can result in some major savings for ~luxury good~ purchases.
[Browsing at CdG in Omotesando]
I picked up this piece from the flagship store, but you can also check out the Dover Street Market in Ginza for a ton of CdG too.
If you can, I would recommend the Comme des Garçons store though, because it is really cool from a conceptual standpoint, and the staff fully embraces the CdG aesthetic. It is also located right near Prada Aoyama, Tod’s, Alexander McQueen and other iconic edifices.
[Don’t be surprised to see a sales clerk dressed like this while shopping. Photo credit: HERE]
Another one of my favorite ~romance stories featuring a problematic male protagonist~ is The Little Mermaid. Ariel is definitely one of the prettiest Disney characters (do you know how hard it is to pull off a shade of red hair which doesn’t make you look like a Latina grandma or E11even employee?), and she is a hoarder like me, and she loves her animal clique AND she starts out the story as an IRL princess, instead of having to marry into a title, which is definitely chic.
What’s not cool is that she gives up her voice to try to get the attention of a guy, and frankly, doesn’t come across as particularly bright throughout the narrative. Those character flaws may be excusable though, since she is not only a princess, but also a mermaid.
Was Anaïs Nin inspired by Ariel when she wrote, “I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living”?
Whether you’re a Disney devotee, or more likely to be caught reading Delta of Venus (you naughty betch), this mermaid backpack from Harajuku may be the perfect accessory for you.
[I enjoyed using mine for rainy walks through Omotesando and Harajuku]
Forthcoming in the next installment of Out In Japan We Be Counting That Yen… Dior jackets, Princeton jerseys and Pokemon accessories!
*Also, if you are looking for a new year/new you mantra, just about any of these lyrics would be great to Kundalini on.
** Though none of my Bumble stalkers to date have looked like Gerard Butler nor been clandestine artistic mentors, just Brickell basic bros…