POP'N'CUTE: Harajuku Kawaii Live Show/Fashion Event Report

POP'N'CUTE: Harajuku Kawaii Live Show/Fashion Event Report

Squee! the System
Mainstream Japanese society is boring. One could argue that mainstream society globally is never exciting, but the homogenous nature and stubborn adherence to routines and social hierarchies make this island nation particularly dull.

Being that it's a free country, however, those individuals who don’t fancy themselves following the herd don’t have to. As a result of the extremely dull mainstream, the subcultures that have formed in reaction to it are equally, albeit inversely extreme. And thats the stuff that we tend to associate with Japan.

The Harajuku Kawaii Scene is one such subculture, and at the POP'N'CUTE event at Shibuya Milkyway on May 24th 2014, we got to experience it first hand.

[RELATED]
Otaku News & Coverage

One does not Simply Walk in Harajuku
POP'N'CUTE was organised by Junyan. He’s a friendly, soft spoken guy and one of the central figures in the whole Harajuku kawaii scene. He's also one of the organizers of the now famous Harajuku Fashion Walks. The scene is characterized primarily by fashion, but music also plays a role.

The central theme is the Japanese word 'kawaii,' or 'cute,' and by cute we don’t mean puppy dogs.. we mean toddlers covered in teddy bears walking puppies and eating copious amounts of sugary sweets. Basically take every single cute thing you could possibly imagine and fuse it all together to make an hodgepodge of the cutest cute cuteness you can imagine…. then pour syrup on it and squee.

It’s become quite popular of late thanks to the likes of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. So much so that even Avril Lavigne tried (and failed spectacularly) to usurp. But the core of the scene is still the somewhat underground side of things like POP'N'CUTE.

Into the Fluffy Bunny’s Den
The event itself was not all that big, but there were no half measures - everyone looked and acted the part. Even people whom society at large would probably ostracize for being anything but cute. Which is something I really loved. There were no gender roles, there was no pressure to be pretty or handsome. There was absolutely none of the elitist fashionista bovine excrement one would expect, despite it being a fashion based subculture.

If there was any hint of elitism, it was when the organizers saw Akihabara written on my business cards. They were quick to point out that Harajuku and Akihabara are completely different scenes, they are in no way related and that there was no anime or otaku anything to be found there. After some explaining that despite the name we are not entirely an Akihabara specific news site, they were cool.

The Candy Coloured Underground
There was a bar, but nobody seemed to drink any booze. There were also some small stalls selling cutesy trinkets and accessories as well as stands for the artists who performed on that day to peddle their wares. The show itself comprised 3 live music acts, two fashion shows, and a live painting event.

Coming from a subcultured past and being able to claim membership to a number of obscure ‘scenes’ back home and in Japan, it was an interesting experience. More than anything, because it was so wildly different from the black latex and people being suspended from hooks in their flesh that I’m used to.

Eye of the Teddy Bear
The fashion was the first thing that really assaulted my senses. In Harajuku, fashion is everywhere, and often enough you'll see people dressed like the patrons at Pop ’n’ Cute, but they just blend into the Harajuku experience. This was my first time being in the thick of it. It was bright, vivid, lively, and unashamedly kitch.

The fashion shows paraded the works of independent local designers specific to the Harajuku scene. The first one was the typical peeps-strutting-in-clothes format, but the headline event was a really random, bizarre yet strangely cute affair involving a drummer, jump ropes, and a unicycle...Yes… Unicycle.

Heart Shaped Box of Kittens
The music was also an interesting experience. The 3 artists who performed were all talented, and were also completely different from each other. Lisa Melody was reminiscent of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, except that she could actually sing for reals (no autotune fakery), and pretty well at that.

The Henjin Hentai Joshi Futari (translated: Two Weird Perverted Women) were like a cute, yet batshit insane Japanese version of the white stripes.

The last duo, Glad Game, were more of a traditional pop music pair with a bit of a darker feel to their fashion and their sound.

DJ RYZ (the only name I knew) kept the music going between stage shows by playing everything from bubblegum pop to dubstep, and played a particularly nice set during the live painting event. What is ‘live painting’ you ask? Three artists painted while the crowd watched, ate candy, and talked about which neon colour they liked the best.

A Spoonful of Sugar to Help the Syrup go Down
Like the fashion itself, the music was a melting pot of just about every genre imaginable, and it suited the scene perfectly (though it did pain a certain reporter who's into subcultures based around music, not fashion). To hear some of my favorite tunes being taken out of context, stripped of their meaning, used against their (very critical) social message, and turned into accesories in this season’s look...it did sting a bit.

Caught in a Web of Candyfloss
...it stirred some interesting philosophical thoughts, though. I understood, and absolutely loved how vibrant and bold the scene was, and how it contrasted with society. It was a uniquely Japanese over-reaction to the unique Japanese mainstream, and it works well. At the same time, however, it was based on the same concepts of fashion and image that drives so much of the mainstream.

The big difference is the human honesty that the regular herd of sheeple sorely lack. While the looks and affectations were put on and over the top and a little fake, there was no dishonesty in the interactions between the people at the event. Pop ‘n’ Cute had the outward frivolity of an FTV party, yet it had the tight knit, honest, human interaction of a death metal mosh pit.

They also had candy… lots of it… and it was free :D

Source: 

Related Articles

Yoriko Takahashi - December 26, 2014

Koikeya is now selling mandarin orange-flavored potato chips at convenience stores all over Japan. It has the fruit's fragrant sweet and acidic flavor.
Do you want to go driving with your favorite Nogizaka46 member? Autobacs is going to release a portable car navigation system "Nogizaka46 navi" on December 22. Only 5,000 units will be available. Your favorite girl will navigate you to your destination with her cute voice.

Lotteria, one of the major Japanese burger chains, is going to release Tochigi Wagyu Hamburg Steak Burger, a premium thick Wagyu (beef produced in Japan) patty burger with strawberry sauce, on September 29.

The premium burger will be sold for 1,300 yen (About 13USD), and it comes with either salad, french fries, or drink of your choice.

We believe that some people were quite intrigued by the release of Japanese burger chain Lotteria's "Tsukemen" ramen burger that we reported on recently, but many others must have felt sick just by looking at the photos in the article.

Yoriko Takahashi - April 30, 2014

Nihonwasou Holdings, Inc., a retailer of the Japanese traditional dress, Kimono, is just about to open their 2nd Kimono specialized store for men called - SAMURAI - in Kyoto.

Nihonwasou opened the SAMURAI store in order to encourage guys to wear Kimono more and represent Japan better. Their first store is located in Ginza, Tokyo.

In the poster, Girolamo Panzetta, who is a popular Italian male model and TV figure in Japan, looks great in a Kimono and shows how to be a perfect Kimono Man.

Terrie's Take - AkihabaraNews.com

Terrie’s Take is a selection of Japan-centric news collected and collated by long-time resident and media business professional Terrie Lloyd. AkihabaraNews is pleased to present Terrie’s learned perspective; we all could use another take on the news - here’s Terrie’s:

It's getting steadily hotter in Japan. I will need to start using the air conditioner throughout the nights soon, but because the air comes from the air conditioner is too strong, I know that constantly leaving it on makes my body feel sluggish
Philips - Automatic fresh noodle maker customized for Japanese market [TOP 14 of '14]
After getting a load of advice from the Japanese instant noodle manufacturer Nissin, Phillips made 4 different kinds of noodle-making caps to change noodle shapes. With these 4 caps, you can make Udon, Soba, Ramen and Pasta!

TokyoStreetView - February 16, 2015

TokyoStreetView: Roppongi Hills (4K VIDEO)
Aside from its rather unpleasant history, Roppongi Hills is famous for its shopping areas, large selection of nice restaurants, and its large esplanade where companies organize events all year long. It offers a stunning panoramic view of Tokyo from either its rooftop, the Sky Deck, or from the 52nd floor of the building.
Kumamon - AkihabaraNews.com

Chubby Bear FAAAAAME!
Well, it appears the archipelago just isn’t big enough to contain all the cute.

TokyoStreetView: Tokyo Daiba to Shimbashi on the Yurikamome Line (4K VIDEO)
We did not expect to receive a request to post a non-lapsed, realtime version of our Yurikamome Hyperlapse, but we did, and here it is. Enjoy the unaltered, 15-minute long 4K Video of the ride on the Yurikamome line from Daiba Station to Shimbashi Station on the privately owned and operated Yurikamome commuter line.

Fresh miso soup anytime you want!

Marukome, Japanese miso paste manufacturer, has developed the One-shot Kiwami miso soup server for household use and they will start selling it on January 27.

You can be ready to have a bowl of miso soup simply after adding water and a dedicated liquid miso paste canister into the machine and a bowl with your favorite ingredients below. It looks like a compact espresso machine for miso soup and fits nicely in kitchens.

The new mascot character, "Toranomon" of the new Tokyo skyscraper complex Toranomon Hills has been receiving great response, and tons of people have already visited there to take a photo with Toranomon's statue.

A lot of AkihabaraNews readers liked our past coverage about Toranomon, too:

TokyoStreetView - July 15, 2015

TokyoStreetView: The Art of Sushi (4K VIDEO)
We were blessed with the chance to have a famous Japanese chef with more than 35 years of experience prepare our very own plate of sushi. We predict that this video will generate a spike in traffic to Kayak, Expedia, Travelocity, etc...

Pages