Hyper Japan Festival

Get ready to warp into another world filled with ruffles, bows and hair dye. The Hyper Japan Festival is now in full swing at Earls Court so, why not come and explore your inner cosplay or at least dabble a bit in this fabulously different culture?

Yum! As a tasty treat between exploring the various booths and events planned at the festival, I stopped by the food section and tried some vegetarian yakisoba. Naturally, I was a bit nostalgic as the last time I had yakisoba was in the school cafeteria while growing up in Tokyo. Sadly, I’d say their soba topped the one I had today. Certain memories are hard to beat!

The big event of the day was certainly the CosParade in which cosplay enthusiasts would take the stage strutting their stuff and competing for a selection of prizes. For those of you who are less familiar with what コスプレ (cosplay) is, it’s simply short for “costume play”. So participants get dressed up in costumes often ones which have an obvious reference or is a specific character from anime, manga comic books, or video games.

There is an entire history behind cosplay which I’m not too familiar with so if you’re interested I suppose the best way is to test the waters by attending an event such as this one. Then the next step would perhaps be a trip to Japan and attend the World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya. Drama! I can only imagine the chaos as thousands of Japanese cosplay fans crowd the red carpet to get a glimmer of their favorite characters come to life. They can be rather intense so be warned…

Among informative presentations, cooking demonstrations, parades and musical numbers, I witnessed this group of girls perform a little dance routine in front of the crowds to their very own selection of J-pop music. My personal favorite Japanese song would be JOY, by singer Yuki!

I certainly hit the jackpot as I found this adorable little booth selling Japanese snacks and candies. Tofu Cute specializes in kawaii (cute) gifts, snacks, accessories and stationery and you can see their full range on the link.

If you don’t have time to make this year’s festival there’s always another one right around the corner. Next year’s one will be held on February 26th, 27th so get your tickets early!

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Spiritual inspiration

Let me know what you do when you run out of inspiration! I travel, I observe and get absorbed as I let myself get inspired. Huhehot is the capital of Inner Mongolia and really culturally diverse. It was founded back in 1580 by the Mongol ruler Altan Khan.

I do feel a special bond with Buddhist temples as they make me feel at ease. The colors, the smell of old wooden structures, the tranquility, the incense… Let me share some color with you from the Wuta Pagoda.

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Drivers ed

Did you ever wonder from where on earth that driver got his/her licence? A cut out from a cereal box, mail order or as a Christmas gift? Now I know. I ran into this driving lesson when visiting Huhehot in Inner Mongolia. I have to admit to missing a few really good photo opportunities, especially when it came to reverse (the two iron poles to the right mark the parking lot), but at least managed to pull myself together in time for the much needed break for the exhausted driver.

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Honestly, if I were the driver I would have preferred to practice somewhere less spacious as the roads might look like this:

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Luckily, I did not have to worry about being in the driver’s seat as I were The Passenger.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLhN__oEHaw&feature=related

Datong and Yungang grottoes

Nothing truly exciting going on here apart from working towards a portfolio deadline. Instead of sharing my agony, I will bring you on a spiritual trip.  

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Highway… (as if this wouldn’t be shared agony)

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Datong is located west of Beijing, in northern Shanxi Province. Apart from its mining and heavy industries, it is famous for the Yungang grottoes, Cloud Ridge Caves, with its rock-cut architecture in sand-stone.

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There are more than 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddha and boddhisatvas, the biggest measuring about 13-15 meters.

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The site has over 250 grottoes with stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries.

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In the future this site will probably look more like a theme park as there were, as always in China, quite a lot of construction going on in the area. Today the site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, representing early Chinese cave art.

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Datong’s climate is a continental, monsoon-influenced steppe climate, meaning that summers are hot, while winters are cold, dry and long. Something to consider when packing. Forget about high heels.

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1039

My future home

In the midst of portfolio preparations and end of the year projects, I’ve rewarded myself with a mental break, not down, but rather a daydream. This is how I envision my future home. Gorgeous, don’t you think?

Rosendal Palace, a royal pavilion in Stockholm, Sweden, was built back in 1823-27 for King Karl XIV Johan. It was designed by architect Fredrik Blom in European Empire style or Swedish Karl Johan style.

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London Fashion Week Day 2

With today’s weather having been cold, rainy and very windy, looking stylish at fashion week isn’t exactly a priority. If you’re determined to see the shows I suppose braving all kinds of weather is a small price to pay. The atmosphere is almost always guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush and it’s easy to become a junkie. However, if you’re sensible you might stay in the comfort of your own home with a cup of hot cocoa and opt to watch it live via a streaming site. A favorite of mine is Now Fashion where you can see all of the latest looks. But if that’s not good enough, you can always chose to watch the live feed from outside the tents. It can be a rather satisfying experience as you can hear the thudding music from inside the shows as well as see it all happen in the company of fellow fashionistas drooling at the screens. Either way, I find it hard to resist the unbeatable experience of being inside the tents, up close and personal with the clothes strutting down the runway. Love!

London Fashion Week- Central Saint Martins MA Show 2012

It’s officially that time of year again, it’s London Fashion Week at Somerset House! Exciting! Time to put on your finest wardrobe selection and head out on the town.

It’s day one of London Fashion Week and of course the Central Saint Martins MA show is a priority. What kind of student would I be if I didn’t go check out my future stomping ground!

Lights, camera, action. The much anticipated show started about 15 minutes late but that’s hardly anything to complain about when getting a first hand look at the young talents work.

The show had a lot of variety with lots of different view points. Some student’s work focused more on performance art fashion pieces, architecture and fine art, while others were more sportswear in their construction and fabric choices. Clearly I enjoyed some student’s work more than others as the standards were very different. Minimalism, fetishism, and I’d certainly say environmental, political, human rights issues were a hot source of inspiration for certain designers.

Having a bad hair day? Have no fear as the solution is now near, no need to wear a paper bag over your head as one designer came up with these nifty little things. However, I’m not so convinced that they would be practical on a day to day basis.

The show didn’t go without a bit of drama as one of the girls took a fall and broke her shoe midway through the show. Poor soul handled it as gracefully as one can in such a situation. Ouch!

All in all, what an experience! It’s always fun to see runway shows live but this one was a bit extra special when seeing my fellow CSM students works. And, who knows perhaps in a few years time my work may be walking down the very same runway…