Harajuku trend-setting and Ikebukuro garcons

Trip Start Jul 26, 2008
Trip End Aug 06, 2009

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Flag of Japan  , Kanto,
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Today was my otaku day, which meant I would be journeying to the anime lover's paradises of Ikebukuro and Akihabara. However, I also decided that today would be the day I tried to start a new fashion trend: military punk Lolita.  Therefore, I planned a travel route that would take me in a giantic circle around Tokyo.  What I didn’t plan for was my tendency to get distracted and get lost. -_-;;

First stop was another visit to Harajuku to show off my outfit.  I meant to get some photos of the area, but that didn’t really happen.  At least I didn’t spend more money in LaForet.  I did, however, get stopped by a couple who wanted my picture. :D They probably thought I was Japanese.  If that doesn’t make me a legitimate "Harajuku girl", I don’t know what does. :p 

Actually I do.  To be truly legit, you have to be accepted by the insiders.  I already had someone ask where I got my clothes the other day, but was I punk/Lolita enough?  There was a more important problem at hand.  My h.Anarchy skirt was a little too short for comfort, and the crowds got me paranoid.  I wasn’t going to spend over $50 on a pair of bloomers so it was off to Bodyline to see if they had a decent pair.  They did, for $30, so my next destination was a bathroom to change.

I got distracted, however, and ventured into the shops below: JIMSINN and Yellow House.  All over the walls and ceiling of Yellow House are autographs from various rock bands, Japanese and Western.  The brand designs clothes for many J-rockers, and its owner/designer has been part of both the Japanese and Western rock scene since the Sex Pistols hit it big.  She wasn’t there, but the shopkeeper I met seemed just as knowledgeable (and really good with English).  Anyway, back to my main point, I took one step in, and she said, “Oh a punk!” as if she’s been dying to see someone dressing in the proper fashion.  Best compliment ever.  After she realized that I wasn’t Japanese, we started talking about the various bands I liked (which revealed how “Japanese” I was).

Next door was JIMSINN.  The shopkeeper was attending another customer, but she managed to identify me as "Lolita" and grab a black lace chocker with a chain connecting to the matching wristband.  Very tempting, but I was reminded that 1) money doesn’t grow on trees and 2) my luggage was not going to magically expand.  Not that a chocker-wristband set would take up much space.

That was the bulk of my Harajuku adventure.  Next stop: Ikebukuro.  On the train, three Chinese guys were talking about my outfit.  I wanted to reveal that I understood everything they said, but I didn’t.  Ikebukuro seems to be an amalgamation of Tokyo’s hot spots.  In one area, you’ve got the trendy department stores; in another, the shrines.  Then there was Otome Road, the female otaku paradise and my destination.  It took me a very long time to find it because it’s not marked on my map.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but unless you’re looking for doujinshi, there’s not much that’s new.  My curiosity satisfied, I went looking for B:Lily-Rose, the boys love-themed butler café.  What makes this café different from other bulter cafés, like the uber-fancy Swallowtail, is that all the bulters, or rather garcon (male waiters), are actually female.  Their androgyny allows them to pull off the bishounen look of many anime characters, and that’s partly why I chose the place.

It took me over an hour to find B:Lily-Rose because it’s not actually on Otome Road.  By then, I had given up on going to Akihabara today and exploring the rest of Ikebukuro.  I would’ve given up on the search had I not been overcome with determination.  Finally, I enter into a very modern-looking place with a bar on the right and coffee tables on the left.

There were three garcon: Hayato, Kazuki, and Cei (I think that was their names…I only ever heard Hayato’s clearly).  I chose to pay the extra $5 and sit at the bar because I would get some conversation time.  I was a bit nervous since my Japanese isn’t great, but then I thought about how I did just fine at my farewell party with the junior high teachers that spoke little English.  There were two businessmen at the bar, which was interesting since I thought the place only appealed to women.

Kazuki was the first one to approach me.  “He” (yes, I’m referring to them by their assumed genders) was the shortest and not the most androgynous, but he did have a low voice and boyish mannerisms.  He portrayed the youthful boy-next-door type.  He quickly learned that I’m not from here.  I gave my spiel about how I’m an English teacher, which surprises everyone because I look young and am young.  That created some excitement since he told the other two while he went to take other people’s orders.  We talked about anime and who are my favorite characters.  He noticed that I seem to prefer dark-haired guys, which is true, but I also like Dino from Reborn!  I also mentioned that I like visual kei, and Hayato was sent to me.  Hayato could pass for a young visual kei guy—tall, thin, amazing hair, and a confident and hip aura.  We talked the most about all sorts of things.  He told me that he went to America once for a school trip.  Finally Cei approached me.  He was their token megane (glasses guy), and his cool, mature air reminded me a lot of Kyoya from Ouran High School Host Club.  He mentioned that he enjoyed cosplaying characters like Hibari.

The drinks were expensive, but you pay for the delivery (with a shaker).  I got a “Cutie Boy”, which was just chocolate milk.  The food was good, and I recommend the omuraisu because one of the guys will draw a picture with ketchup.  You can tell them what to draw, but I let them pick.  I got Rilakkuma since they thought I was “cute”. ^_^  I really enjoyed my time there.  The atmosphere was chill, and the garcon definitely did their job of being charming pretty boys.  The $5 picture was also worth it.  I think it was Cei who told me and Hayato to get into the pose (see photos).

After B:Lily-Rose, I decided it was time to head back.  I stopped at Shibuya because I wanted to buy lingerie at Peach John.  However, my bust size has decided to increase with my waist size (I bike to school every day; I shouldn’t be getting fatter!) so now I don’t fit their stuff.  :( 

With the exception that and getting lost, I had an awesome day.  My dream is to be like the B:Lily-Rose garcon.  I think the fact that we had so much in common made me forget that they were supposed to be pretending to be guys.  Or maybe it was the fact that because the theme is boys love, they didn’t have to hide the fact that they thought a particular anime bishounen or visual kei musician was hot.  Then again, I also aspire to be like people (male mostly) who I think are cool, and they definitely were.

garcon - male waiter
otaku - the Japanese equivalent of a geek, usually in reference to anime fanboys and fangirls
doujinshi - self-published manga based on existing titles (not just manga titles... I found some on Lord of the Rings)
boys love - a genre (anime, manga, and sometimes live-action) centered on homosexual love between bishounen
bishounen - literally "pretty boy", a term that describes attractive, androgynous anime guys
megane - usually means "glasses", but can also refer to someone wearing them; an archetype in anime/manga
omuraisu - omelet with rice inside, topped with ketchup
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