There are so many places to see and visit around the globe. Japan is one of those places that I would like to visit some time in the future. My first introduction to Japan was through the many animated series that were watched while growing up.
Though at the time, I didn't know they were from Japan till I came across a Time magazine issue with Pocket Monsters (Pokemon) on the cover; November 22, 1999 issue to be exact. This is also the same issue where I came across an article on anime that was very different from Pokemon.
Years later, while doing research for a class project I stumbled across what was thought to be an illustrated pic of one of my favorite characters. Turns out it was actually a person in a costume made to look like this character. This dressing in costume was dubbed as cosplay (costume play).
Cosplay was seen on and off through my schooling and it made a resurgence in college during work on my Associates. There were students on campus dressed as Naruto and other anime characters. Teachers, on the other hand, opted for scarier costumes; many students still believe they weren't really in costume.
Dressing in costume is viewed, by some, to be an activity of leisure. This activity has gone from leisure to an actual profession. From Medieval Knights to pop culture fanatics, many have become experts within this field.
This is where Aimee Major Steinberger comes in. She has turned her passion for cosplay into wondrous profession/adventure. Some years ago, she made mention of how she would like visit Japan but wasn't sure how it was going to happen.
Then one day, she receives an invitation to visit the VOLKS BJD (ball-jointed doll) company. Wanting to some day share her and her friends experience during their trip, she decides to document their days in a journal which she later publishes under the go comi banner titled: Japan Ai: A Tall Girl's Adventures in Japan.
The Career Otaku (Oh-tah-koo)
Otaku, loosely translated, means geek.
Illustrations courtesty of Aimee-san (Ms Aimee) herself.
Aimee-san starts her book off with a glimpse into her world. She's tall, she loves bjds [ball-jointed dolls] as well as winning at video games. All of the illustrations and wordings in the book are done by Aimee-san.
She mentions her invitation and plans a trip with her friends. The main issues she encounters: understanding tags (there are 3-4 different character groups in the Japanese writing system*), being tall and not fitting some of the clothes well along with impulse shopping. Okay impulse shopping isn't really an issue since the shopping trips are planned -- sometimes -- but it does surface when her cuteness detector goes off.
Cosplay (costume play) and BJD (ball-jointed doll) collecting tops the list of favorite things. Aimee, along with her friends, are really into cosplay. Documentation of their costume escapades are recorded very intricately within her journal/book.
Yes, they carried this past time with them to Japan. Every chance they had to don a costume they took it. One of their favorite dress up moments was during their trip to see Rose of Versaille (Vair - sigh - yeh).
After the show, fans get the opportunity to try on the costumes of the performers. Aimee was able to try on the dress while her friends tried on the other costumes. Outside of dressing in costume, they had some pretty memorable if not mind blowing experiences.
From that accidental store trip with a hidden secret to that incredible trip to the bathing springs. Even the crown jewel of the visit, the trip to VOLKS, was memorable.
*during the time of this writing
One Freezing Tokyo Night
An illustration compile by Aimee-san showcasing the horrors her and her friends experienced during a freezing night when they couldn't get their heater to work. Fortunately, help came in the form a nice attendant that got the heater working for them.
Book Highlight: True Geisha
The reading of this book came on the heels of a major illustration project that centered around geisha. There has been confusion over the years of what a geisha is as well as her purpose. During research, it was said that a geisha is considered an artisan that specialized in a variety artistic crafts; usually revolving around song and dance.
Aimee-san touches on the subject while documenting her visit to a boutique where you are made over to look like a geisha. She mentioned the good kind that worked in reputable professions and those that worked in the professions of ill-repute. There are several levels associated with geisha training and the head to toe attire is designed to match.
Aimee-san opted for a costume of one of the younger geisha levels which involved ornate hair ornaments. How did that go you ask?
Yes. The girl above is Aimee-san decked out in kawaii (cute) geisha attire. After going through the make up prep stage, she was tasked with selecting a kimono (formal Japanese garment) to wear for her final debut. Then came the shoes.
The shoes were a definite no go. Why? They weren't actually large shoe size friendly plus they were pretty high off the ground.
Her Illustrated Rendition of the Final Look
The closest I ever came to illustrating something like this was years ago but the finished piece was in black and white. She's such an amazing artist and cosplayer.
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Throughout the entirety of the book, there are learning experiences ranging from tame to just shocking. There are some cute moments too like that one with the birdies outside the shrine that A.J. fed before going in. When she came out, the birdies started following her.
A must read for anyone looking for a new addition to their leisure reading arsenal.