Fashion News: What was gal? Erimokkori-chan’s dream [translation]

The following post is a translation of an article featured on fashionsnap here: Original Japanese article

The original has a lot of pictures so check that out too and give them their hits!

Before starting this assignment I happily told everyone “I’m going to meet a ganguro gal!” but the response everyone gave me was: “They still exist?”

Though there were large numbers of ganguro gals whose numbers in the late 90s, they vanished into thin air in the late 2000s.

The ganguro  gal I was talking about meeting is Erimokkori-chan (24). And she isn’t lying when when she tells me “I’m probably the last gal”.

Name: Erimokkori-chan

Born: February 4th 1993
From: Tsugamachi, Tochigi Prefecture

She has been ganguro since being introduced to the style in her first year of middle school. She is the leader of the gal circle unit BLACK DIAMOND and store manager of Shibuya’s Ganguro Cafe. She frequently appears in magazines, films, music videos, TV and other media.

10 years ago she declared “I want to do it so I’ll do it” and she’s been ganguro ever since. More than just ganguro, she is probably the last remaining true spirit of gal.

What’s the spirit of gal? We called on Erimokkori-chan in her hometown of Tsugamachi to find out.

Gal style blew up in the late 90s, putting the spotlight on the shop staff of 109 with their miniskirts, platform boots, long brown(or sometimes blonde) hair and dark skin.

To my memory, ganguro was a term made of two parts. “Gan” which is for emphasis and “Kuro” (black).

Being as dark as possible, going to the tanning salon a lot and having the flashy hair and make-up to match that dark skin was ganguro (or yamanba, an even more extreme version)

Even back then people would stare at the ganguro gals and make comments like “what is that?” “It it okay doing that?” but in defiance of that the girls continued in their style, becoming even more extreme.

However, by the end of the 2000s, the tines turned to more simple styling and even the more extreme girls graduated from gal. From black to white. From extreme to sweet. The definition of gal began to change and here we are today.

“It’s precisely because it’s this day and age that I’m gal” claims Erimokkori-chan. It’s been over 10 years since she became ganguro in middle school.

“When I joined middle school I saw two of my upperclassmen who were ganguro and thought it was so cute I wanted to be like them. It was shocking”

She says she wasn’t a very confident child. I wore the clothes my parents bought for me, wore my hair the way my parents did it for me. I didn’t really have anything I wanted to do and looking back I couldn’t say the things I wanted to my friends.

She entered middle school around the end of the ganguro boom. However, after that fateful meeting, Erimokkori-chan started taking the train to the tanning salon in Koyama city.

“If your skin isn’t dark you aren’t gal. Even if your hair is died, nails are done, if your skin is still white you’re just half-assing it”

Sometimes she would ride her bike there 2 hours both ways.

“I wore the clothes my upperclassmen didn’t need anymore. That’s how I would save money so could tan for at least tan for 10 minutes”

It’s not surprising that her parents were against it at first. They banned her from going outside when people would be about and were constantly throwing away her clothes.

Despite that it’s probably thanks to the support of her close friends that she became stronger.

“Almost everyone looked kind of Yankee but I didn’t think that was cute. Everyone was riding around on big scooters at festivals and such but I was the only gal. It felt weird lol. Even though just I was the only one that was different we still got on great. We’re still close now”

It isn’t just the harsh eyes of the world that make it hard to be ganguro. It costs a lot too.

To start, 10cm long decorated nails cost around 25,000 yen a time. Extra strength hair bleach is 30,000-40,000 yen a session too. Tanning salons cost at least 20,000yen a session but if you don’t go frequently it’s impossible to upkeep the dark tan. When you pile top of that, circle lenses, makeup and clothes that rack up to around 20,000-30,000 yen, the monthly upkeep costs are enormous.

More than that, it takes a lot of time too.

“Normal people spend 3-4 hours getting their hair done at a stretch right? When you are ganguro you go to the salon at 10am and you won’t be done till 8 or 9pm.  Nails take all day too. When normal people say have a ‘beauty day’ they mean getting hair, nails, maybe a facial all in one day but that would be impossible for me. Obviously on those days I can’t go to work.”

Even at the best of times, it’s hard to be a ganguro gal. As time has passed, there are less places to go, people to hang out with, resources to use, and it is getting even harder to be a gal.

The tanning salon Erimokkori-chan has used for the past ten years raised it’s prices. The circle lenses and dark makeup she uses are also  gradually going out of production. Gal clothing brands are disappearing one after another so now she has to rework clothes or make them from scratch herself.

“As the times change it is getting really hard to survive. Back then many other people were gal too and there were clothes and things so it was easier to be I think. But I guess back then it was considered more ‘normal’ wasn’t it? Now, girls that do gal are individuals, girls that don’t want to be like everybody else, girls that are daring do gal. Probably back in those days I would have chosen a more simple style. ”

Despite the hardships, as the leader of the gal circle BLACK DIAMOND she has gained a lot of admirers from her appearances on twitter and in the media.


“To those girls I say ‘Do what you want when you want or you’ll regret it’ but a lot of them say ‘Oh but my parents/school…’ or ‘I live in the country so I don’t know what people will think of me’.  But, if you are worried about things like that you can’t be gal. You don’t have the heart of a gal, I feel.”

“I want to do it so I’m doing it” That is a gal’s heart.

However, perhaps these days people think more about fashion or what other people think than following their hearts.

“A lot of girls want to be popular with guys. Before, a younger member of BLACK DIAMOND appeared on TV with me. When she was asked ‘What kind of gal do you want to be?’ she said “I want to tan but still be popular with guys. I don’t want to be so dark guys don’t like me”. As soon as you start talking about what guys like, you aren’t thinking like a gal. The darker you are the cuter you are and rather than getting guys, doing what you want is key. That’s why I say something has changed.”

Not that what other people think is not important, just there is a time and a place to consider it. It isn’t wrong to want to be liked. However, “What happens when it stops you from being true to yourself…?” she wonders. “Isn’t fashion supposed to be a tool for self expression?”.

Of course there are downsides to being so true to yourself.

Firstly, you can’t meet guys says Erimokkori-chan.

“Guys I like tend to hate gals. I’ve heard things like ‘If you were regular…’ ‘If you were more subtle then we could date but I would be bothered walking around with you like that’. But if you feel that way about my outer appearance then whatever. Of course I also have times where I feel that clearly being gal is no good and everyone prefer simple styles”

As she gets older she feels conflicted. One of the 3 super dark flashy girls in the circle got married this year and graduated from gal. She even returned to her home town which as a big blow.

Before that girl went back home the 3 of them had a tear-filled retirement ceremony for her. There is only Erimokkori-chan and one other girl doing this flashy style left. It’s lonely.

“After I turned 20 I started thinking about when I have to give up gal a lot. I turn 25 this year and I’m starting to think about marriage and stuff…
Maybe it’s a weird sense of responsibility but I am the leader and I wonder if without someone doing flashy styles like me will the group would be able to attract members? I thought I should make the group bigger before I quit.”

What is Erimokkori-chan aiming for by keeping gal alive?

“I think I want to increase the amount of gals. Rather than making it trendy again, I just think there are too many people that say “Even though I want to do it I won’t”. Besides, I think gal is the cutest style and I like gal so I think it would be nice to have more people that think the same and do the style.”

I ask “What kind of grandmother do you want to be?”. Only later do I realise how foolish a question it was.

Erimokkori-chan, as I guess I should have expected, said “I haven’t thought about it! I have no idea!”

Gal is all about living for the now after all.

Erimokkori / BLACK DIAMOND

If you want to meet her go to Shibuya Cafe!
Erimokkori-chan works at ‘Ganguro Cafe’. You can meet BLACK DIAMOND’s ganguro gal members too! You can try ganguro makeup. You can also take pictures with the members.

Fashion Talk : LARME 101

Anyone who has taken even a brief look at this blog knows I am a fan of LARME, both the magazine and the style. The first issue of LARME (pronounced larumu in Japanese) was released September 2012 as a magazine centering on sweet, cute women’s fashion.

larme issue 1

Humble beginnings: the first issue of LARME

It calls itself an art book rather than a magazine and the difference comes across in the paper quality and the design. These books are collectables. The first issue sold out that same day, and the popularity doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

The styles shown in LARME didn’t come from the magazine; this was an existing fashion tribe or there would be no need for the magazine. However, the magazine’s popularity lent its name to the style(s) featured within so we call it LARME-kei.

I honestly feel like lots of the things I loved from early 2000s Gal lives on in larme-kei. They don’t tan and the makeup isn’t heavy like back in the day but the spirit of having fun with femininity is there. Just look at how the hair styling is developing. Also, many of the brands used really straddle the boundary between fashion and costume which is what first drew me to Japanese fashion. Sure, for every trendsetter there’s ten girls dressing by numbers but even they look better than most!

larme hair styling

Larme style hair arrangement by Kumi at Shima hair in Kichijoji

I really wanted to compile a series of posts hat really broke down the key brands, inspirations and the influencers that make LARME what it is. I’m not sure just yet how many posts I’ll do but hopefully they will give some more depth on the style and interest more people in it.

Just in case you were wondering, the next issue of LARME is released on May 17th.


If you are in Tokyo or follow a lot of people that are, I don’t doubt you saw pictures of the Flowers by Naked installation in Nihonbashi a couple of months ago. Well the NAKED team, founded and headed by Ryotaro Muramatsu, is back again with another flower based experience but this time it’s at the Shinagawa Aqua Park.

These exhibitions are never just a feast for the eyes. The scents, the music, the performance, and even the drinks are all designed to fit. The concept this time is the marriage between water and flowers. The main events are the dolphin shows; called “The LIFE” at night and ‘GROOVY GREEN’ in the day. It’s not just dolphins though. The team has incorporated several parts of the aquarium.

Each exhibition has food and drinks that tie into the theme. This time is no exception with 4 items on offer: mint beer, elderflower soda, strawberry ice cream and rose squash. They all have much fancier flower based names but let’s be real here, you want to know what’s in it.

This is not the first event NAKED have held at the aquarium, the last being SNOW AQUARIUM in winter. It is open from April 22nd to July 2nd so that’s plenty of time to visit. I personally might wait until summer is getting unbearable to be outside but I can’t stay in my house any longer.

Be warned though, these exhibitions can get pretty crowded. Worse still, you are not the only one trying to get the perfect shot for social media, making it even more slow moving. Bring your patience with you if that kind of thing bothers you.

The aquarium is open from 10am-10pm (last entry 9pm) During Golden Week it opens form 9am though. It’s only 2200yen for adults. Not bad for a fun day out.


4-10-30 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8611


Nail trends: Stones and Wires

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a nail post. I want to talk about another trend in the Japanese nail art world. This one has been around since last year but is a bit of a slow burn compared to the splash mirror nails made. One reason for this is that this trend requires parts. Specifically, stones and shaped wire. See some examples below.


This was a natural progression really, from people mimicking the look of stones with art to actually using them as parts. Usually this trend is paired with clear designs, gold leaf, air brushing or a more subtle look. Where mirror nails had such wide applications it could suit various styles, this trend only fits the more grown up styles. stones nail parts

Most salons offer these parts but they usually have to be bought on top of the cost of the manicure. That’s the same with most parts but I can see why not everyone is willing to pay an extra few thousand yen for this look.


I’ve been tempted in the past because I’ve seen such cool designs with this trend. However I’m not great with big things on my nails because I am not even close to graceful and they get caught on things. What do you guys think of this trend?


Fashion News: DaTuRa’s take on the Virgin Killing Sweater

What the hell is a virgin killing sweater you may be wondering? Well, it’s basically a sleeveless, backless knit turtleneck that is revealing to the extreme (and kills virgins I guess). It started gaining notoriety months ago on Japanese twitter when someone made a post about it. After that it became a bit of a trend in the otaku community to the extent that even talents outside of that sphere got in on it.trend sweater

Last Friday, DaTuRa tossed their hat into the ring with their take on the virgin killing sweater. Despite it being borderline off-season (knitwear isn’t very spring summer to me in Japan, considering how short Spring is and how hot Summer is) this sweater does suit the DaTuRa girl. I’m not sure if they brought this out because of the trend but it seems likely to  me. Also, it’s totally sold out so it was clearly a good idea for them.

datura sweater

It’s notably less sexed up (doesn’t show side boob or ass crack) and the selling point is the flexibility of the ties up the back. If it wasn’t April, I’d be tempted to buy it because I love backless stuff like this. What do you guys think of DaTuRa’s take on this hyper sexy knitwear?


Fashion News : KERA and GLB go out of print

Sad news for J-fashion fans. In the wake of the wake of FRUiTS ceasing publication last month, another one bites the dust.  KERA, another Harajuku fashion powerhouse magazine, has announced it’s last print edition this April. Also, the Gothic Lolita Bible will go out of print too, it’s last issue in May!

This announcement cut me deep because KERA has such a long history and was/is so popular. When I was a teenager getting my hands on either magazine was like gold dust to me. Back when I was into lolita I dreamed about one day being featured in KERA or the Gothic Lolita Bible. So yeah, sad news.

I mean it’s no secret that print media is struggling these days, and many of the big gal magazines *cough*egg*cough* died a while back. This isn’t only affecting the Japanese magazines either. However, KERA was so involved with the scene and launched so many popular girls it could have easily translated that success into the digital realm. I almost feel it’s a couple years too late for them to make that step now, but I do have hope for them.

Japanese street style magazines have been banking on the power of personality forever, hence the reader models. Girls around your age that you want to be friends with, wear the same clothes as, go to the same parties as… That’s the kind of thing that works so well on YouTube or other digital formats. It’s no secret that I love LARME magazine and while I’ve bought literally every copy, I wish they would have more of an active online presence so this inevitable print death won’t equal a death of a subculture.


Spring at Shibuya 109

Last Monday, Shibuya 109 launched the spring campaign. After a couple disappointing shoots, I’m actually really into this one.

Featuring Larme’s head girl Risa Nakamura it is definitely aiming to appeal to that magazine’s readers.

Very cute, pink and casual with the hair, makeup and styling. I love the heavy 90s hip hop throwback feel too.

According to 109 this seasons hot 3 trends are:

  • Heart motifs
  • Aurora colour
  • Unisex style

The first two are definitely in many of the stores in 109. Unisex might be a stretch but it is a big trend in the wider fashion world and the male model is clad entirely in clothes from 109 stores so they can have that.

All in all this actually makes me a bit hopeful for 109’s continued place of importance in gal as something more than a tourist trap.

See the 109 blog post here (Japanese)


Nail trends: pressed flowers

Hey guys!

It’s been forever since my last nail post so I thought I’d talk about my new favourite trend. I’ll probably post a round up of all the nail designs I had over the last year too since I only posted a couple of them. So, today’s trend topic is…pressed flowers (押し花 in Japanese).

This isn’t super popular in Tokyo yet but I know once spring hits it’ll be a big hit. More and more salons are picking it up. A couple of weeks ago I went to Nail Salon Shupola in Shibuya with the lovely Emmie. They have a few pressed flower examples in the gallery on their hot pepper page so look at those too.

These are the set I got done. I know the shaping isn’t great, my nails are in poor condition lately. Th design didn’t take very long because they are easier to apply than doing art. I personally think my base is a bit too glittery to show off the flowers but they’re still cute. Most salons weren’t doing the pressed flower look with ‘scattered’ flowers, mostly they are placed sparingly or arranged in ‘bunches’ and ‘rings’. See the examples below of some of the sets from other salons.

park by merry nail & eyelash


jill&lovers shibuya


My favourite nailist that works with pressed flowers isn’t Japanese at all, but Clara based out of Australia. If you don’t follow her on Instagram just do it now because she’s amazing. She also travels sometimes so if you aren’t in Melbourne she might end up near you at some point.


I hope you guys like this trend too! Let me know what you think and try it out!


Cute Brand Watch – pipi lottie

pipi lottie (ピピロッティー) started in September last year and they specialise in the cute casual style similar to bubbles or a toned down onespo.  It’s very Larme and totally the kind of style I love right now. They describe themselves as “the spot for fashionable girls that love cute casual style”. Think baby pink silk bomber jackets, pastel tone dad hats and plaid skirts in adorable shades.


pipi lottie is actually a select shop, so calling it a brand is a reach tbh. They source cute clothes from Korea (because that trend is still hot) that fit their image and sell them on their webstore. They have no physical locations. The price point is super reasonable; around wego levels. Nothing that I’ve seen was over ¥10,000($85), more around the ¥2,000 -¥3,000 range ($20ish), so it’s perfect for cute girls on a budget.

Considering the models they are choosing, it’s safe to say they are aiming for the younger fashion fan, mid-teens to early 20s. If you take a look at their Instagram you can see the typical cute girl faves like Kurotaki Maria(LARME), Yoshiki Chisato (LARME)and Ai Matsumoto (JELLY).


Overall I like what they’re doing. It’s not ground breaking, true, but it’s what is hot right now and I like it. Going the Instagram route with their promo, instead of the magazines is actually inspired because they are still getting the reach they need by using the models their target customer is following without the magazine fees. After all, I stumbled across them on Suzuki Aya’s Instagram. Check them out if you’re interested!

web store:

March 2017 LARME Review


It’s that time of year again, the newest issue of Larme came out this week! I’ve been dedicated to this magazine since it first came out so of course I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this issue. Larme only comes out once every 2 months so this is the Spring issue, even though Tokyo is going through quite a cold snap at the moment.

March’s cover girl is Maria Kurotaki. If you don’t know her she’s a former Ageha model that’s been in Larme since she came back from studying abroad. Check out her twitter here.

The main theme is ‘Little Princess Labyrinth’. Think fairy tales, and night ware and lace.  It’s all adorably coquettish and feminine. The styling is adorable but not out of place on an adult.  In fact, all the fashion for this spring seems like a more grown Larme than previous issues.  Lots of it focusses on how to transition from winter to spring which is very useful if a tad too early for this weather.

So what you wanna know is the trends right. Well according to Larme you girls should be buying and wearing:

  • Off the shoulder tops
  • Florals (in spring? Shocker!)
  • Gingham
  • Scallop hemlines
  • Denim
  • Frills

A lot of the trends they mentioned are major staples of the Larme style anyway so there’s no surprises really. Colorwise it’s pastels and reds and a lot of white. Girly and very Larme.

There’s also a whole section dedicated to Valentine’s and the best chocolate inspired outfit to please your bae. I personally dislike the makeup tutorials. The warm toned shadows on both lids with no liner of defined lashes just makes the girls look ill, and not in a cute way.

The Anna Sui collaboration looks are way cuter. The brand is using this issue to promote 3 new lipstick shades. I love the pink/brown lip stick and I will be picking one up myself.

My favourite section of this issue is the Kimono section. Larme actually has a whole issue dedicated to Kimono once a year but I appreciate this in the main magazine too, especially just after Comin-of-age Day in Japan while kimono are still on everyone’s minds.  A lot of people assume kimono is this dying art but there are still designers here innovating. Each model had a different twist on pattern choice and styling. The mix of Japanese and western items is fun too. I recommend picking up this issue just for this section alone.

So that’s my round up of my highlights from this issue. Pick up a copy when it’s available near you if you can. If you can read Japanese there’s some interesting articles and advice for the New Year. Also an opportunity to get to know the reader models better.