Tag Archives: kawaii

Stationery and Kawaii Madness!

October 16.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

For stationery and kawaii enthusiasts, you’ll be glad to know that I made a wonderful discovery during my visit to Kingston, Ontario for the Thanksgiving long weekend holiday last week.

While visiting the artsy core of downtown Kingston, I accidentally came across an independently-owned stationery-and-kawaii-filled shop called, Midori. I would have passed right by it if I didn’t see the painted sign outside, which said stationery in elegant, cursive print. Thankfully, I noticed it enough to stop mid-step before heading toward the nearest Starbucks Coffee shop.

Once inside, I was transported into a wonderful, little room painted in pastels featuring a variety of kawaii products imported from China, Korea, and Japan that included stuffed, plush toys, jewellery, mugs, bento boxes, handbags, and loads of notebooks, paper stationery, postcards, and pens.

I chatted with Midori’s owner and proprietor, Tina Yan, who opened the store in October of last year (2013) and discovered that not only do we share the same birthday month, but that we’re equally enthusiastic about kawaii products!

Canadian-born with cultural roots from China, Tina, thought it was important to bring popular kawaii goods from Asian countries to provide Canadian customers with products solely created and distributed in South Asian countries—which suits me perfectly fine since I don’t see the possibility of travelling to South Asia any time soon. How else will I deal with my stationery and kawaii addiction?

Tina Yan, Owner of Midori Shop, in front of Midori rabbit logo design. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Tina Yan, Owner of Midori Shop, in front of Midori rabbit logo design. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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While chatting with Tina about the possibility of featuring her and her shop on my blog, she was kind enough to allow me to take a number of photographs in her store while I searched for items that I might purchase. Here are some of the wonderful kawaii items I found in her shop:

Notebooks, red-haired girls x2. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Notebooks, red-haired girls x2. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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Kawaii black cat plush toys. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii black cat plush toys. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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Kawaii cat notebook. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii cat notebook. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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Kawaii bento box made in Japan. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii bento box made in Japan. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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Kawaii linen bag, Girl on Bicycle, baby blue. $30.00 CAD. (The one I plan on buying when I return to the shop next month!) (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii linen bag, Girl on Bicycle, baby blue. $30.00 CAD. (The one I plan on buying when I return to the shop next month!) (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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I was so pleased with this little shop, I returned twice in one day and bought the following, cute products to use for my own, personal writing and snail mail:

My Fairy Tale World: Flowers & Beauty Girl notebooks x4, assorted. $1.15 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
My Fairy Tale World: Flowers & Beauty Girl notebooks x4, assorted. $1.15 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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These pretty 4″x5.5″ notebooks from the My Fairy Tale World: Flowers & Beauty Girl line created by languo is simply exquisite. I was drawn to the art cover designs, which features a different girl in each portrait. Inside, the paper is brown, blank, and consists of 24 pages.

My only regret about the design is that there is no Asian girl with black hair on a cover. Surely, a Beauty Girl would also come from Asia, right?

While I’m excited about my purchase, these notebooks seem far too pretty for me to use right away. I have yet to decide what to write in them! In the meantime, they will sit at my desk on display.

Kawaii gel ink pens, assorted. From $1.50-$1.99 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii gel ink pens, assorted. From $1.50-$1.99 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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After testing a number of pens in stock at Midori, I decided on buying the light blue, gel-ink pen with the bear cap, 0.38mm fine point, with “love dolls every day” printed on its casing; the Fihfio floral print, gel-ink pen with a cap that says, “Your happy story;” and my favourite of the three, the BCO black, ink gel pen with the sad ghost cap, 0.4mm fine point. It runs quite smoothly with a dark imprint and is the current pen I use to write all my snail mail letters.

London postcard set. $3.75 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
London postcard set. $3.75 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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These London photograph postcards came in a set of 18. The photographs are not only lovely renditions of London’s famous city, but the paper itself is slightly glossy with an embossed texture, which give them a far more realistic feel than other glossed postcards and reprints.

For 18 postcards of good photographs for the low price of $3.50 CAD per set, you simply can’t lose, which is why when I return I’ll be buying a few more packages!

“Got a Mail” pink kawaii agenda with cards and stickers. $7.45 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
“Got a Mail” pink kawaii agenda with cards and stickers. $7.45 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

The “Got a Mail” pink agenda is not only blank, but provides the user with both a monthly and weekly date format. While the user must fill in dates for himself/herself, numbers are listed at the top margin to provide for accuracy and a little help.

At the back of the agenda is a number of blank pages for notes and includes a few cards and stickers for decoration.

The front cover also allows the user to change its design with the cards included.

I can’t wait to start using this agenda/diary in the new year.

Kawaii Cooky Mini Mate Notebook: Travel Story. $1.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii Cooky Mini Mate Notebook: Travel Story. $1.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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While this notebook does not match the My Fairy Tale World series, I could not resist the adorable Cooky character with her squinted, smiling eyes and huge red hood.

She reminds me of an Asian version of the Little Red Riding Hood character. Just look at her sitting in her suitcase!

I snatched this notebook at the recommendation of Tina who also thinks Cooky is adorable.

The paper inside is white, lined, and contains 46 pages.

Because its titled, “Travel Story,” I plan on saving this little notebook for my travels.

Pacific Mall

After leaving Kingston, Ontario, I visited the Pacific Mall in Markham, a mall that specializes in Asian-imported goods and products. It was the first time I visited in over 10 years and was ecstatic to find a few more kawaii goodies.

This is what I brought home:

Red Pucca wallet. $7.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Red Pucca wallet. $7.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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The Pucca wallet is bright red in colour, which symbolizes good fortune and happiness in Chinese culture. The Kanji symbol means love. It also comes with a removable coin purse with Kanji print, five cardholders, one identification holder, and a long pocket for cash.

Kawaii origami strips x4: Molang bunny, blue and yellow teddy bear, Rilakkuma bear, blue and yellow mouse. $1.29-$1.49 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii origami strips x4: Molang bunny, blue and yellow teddy bear, Rilakkuma bear, blue and yellow mouse. $1.29-$1.49 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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At first I thought these cute kawaii strips were washi tape, but when I inquired about them I was told that the strips are meant for paper crafts like the creation of small origami stars.

Because I’m attracted to small figurines, paper crafts, and kawaii, I quickly bought four packages. While I won’t use every strip to make paper stars, I do plan on adding a little glue at the back to decorate a few of my snail mail envelopes.

Because I’m partial to cute bunnies, my favourite one is the one with the Molang bunny.

OMG Korean hair colour change doll, phone charm, green. $1.99 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
OMG Korean hair colour change doll, phone charm, green. $1.99 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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This little kawaii doll drew me right in with her bright, curly, green hair. Instead of attaching her to my mobile phone, I put her on my key ring instead. I’ve named her Kiyoko, which means child of happy generations in Japanese. I trust we’ll be very happy together for “generations” to come.

Kawaii Pocket Bunny Oil-Control Sleek Mist from Tony Moly Beauty Store. $12.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii Pocket Bunny Oil-Control Sleek Mist from Tony Moly Beauty Store. $12.50 CAD. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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Aside for the cute kawaii bottle, this Pocket Bunny Sleek Mist helps to control the breakout of oily skin. Instead of powder to mattefy skin, this spritz can be used any time of the day. It smells good, too!

Kawaii Strawberry Lipgloss by Tony Moly. $12.50 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.
Kawaii Strawberry Lipgloss by Tony Moly. $12.50 CAD each. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez, October 2014. All rights reserved.

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The Tony Moly Strawberry Lipgloss line is light and sheer and its price point high most likely because of its marketable packaging.

I really couldn’t care less about the actual lipgloss (though I had my eye on the deep pink and coral colours), but I absolutely adore the lipgloss strawberry doll caps.

It comes in coral, pink, light, pink, and a nude cream.

I pucker up every time I look at these!

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The trip was well worth it with a number of unexpected kawaii finds. I hope to be able to travel again next month and pick up some more stationery and kawaii goodies. Which ones would you buy?

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Do you like kawaii? What do you like most about it?

Of all the items featured above, which one(s) do you like the most?

What’s your favourite kawaii item that you own?

Where do you find or shop for your kawaii items? (Feel free to share links to websites.)

If you were a kawaii character, what character would you be?

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zara - selfie 1

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My New Obsession: Tokidoki and Kawaii

09.08.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis / @Zara.Tokiniha

Thanks to Suzanne of the Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds & Dreams… blog I was able to finally articulate my latest obsession: all things known as kawaii—an adjective in Japanese, which means pretty, cute, lovely, charming, dear, darling, or pet and stems from the two kanji words “can love;” it’s the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture, and is commonly used to describe “cute” and “adorable” pieces of Japanese popular culture, clothing, food, toys, behaviour, and even personal appearance.

I have always been attracted to all things kawaii though I was never aware there was an actual term to describe the quality of the things I loved. My best assumption was that the origin of what I really liked simply stemmed from a general, Asian influence. When I discovered the term, kawaii, a whole world of Japanese/Asian “cuteness” literally exploded before me and I soon realized that I wasn’t alone in my own desire to collect and share my love of kawaii goodies. I soon discovered (and gladly so) that there is a large, devoted kawaii collective that is just as passionate as I am about this deeply embedded Asian context and style.

I kid you not, though most would presume that lovers of kawaii are all under the age of 12. And believe me when I tell you, I’m a lot older than that—and a lot older than I actually look. So, no. We may be obsessed with the cuteness of doll-like figures, the bursting fluff of anime characters-turned-plush-toy, or the rage that is Sanrio, but we’re pretty mature in the serious dedication we have to our own personal collections. At least I do.  And I also fulfill one of the kawaii lovers’ given stereotypes especially since the products and the social culture of kawaii is so successfully marketed towards Asians. Yes, I’m Asian (surprise)!

Still that doesn’t deter me from proudly joining what I call, The Kawaii Collective, and its craze, nor does it stop me from nurturing my slow, but steady collection of kawaii stuff. And when I say, stuff, I mean STUFF. All kinds of it. From Hello Kitty vintage, Sailor Moon and My Little Pony keychains, MocMoc bobbleheads, Momiji dolls, rolls of decorative tape and stationery, puffy rainbow stickers, to an extensive variety of Unicorno vinyl toys.

Which leads me to how I discovered my latest craze—Tokidoki. As soon as I discovered it when browsing photos on Instagram, I instantly fell in love with its colourful prints, a collage of a number of kawaii characters created by creative designer, Simone Legno.

Legno, along with his partners, Pooneh Mohajer and Ivan Arnold, created the brand of Tokidoki in 2003 in Los Angeles, California—a brand that has exploded into apparel, handbags, cosmetics, accessories, toys, and more.

It has, by agreement and understanding of kawaii lovers everywhere, proclaimed its justifiable cult status. And yes, while I have always professed to snub elitism; my fashion palette and kawaii sensibility have both succumbed to joining the cult that is known and beloved by all Tokidoki followers. (You can follow me on Instagram here.)

I did indeed gasp at the sight of Tokidoki because…well…because I’m MAD for it, much to the expectation and frustration of my Instagram followers who have had to endure a number of my kawaii and Tokidoki posts.

For my fellow kawaii-loving friends and Tokidoki brothers and sisters, here are a couple of new items that I’ve procured for your visual devouring:

Han Ling liquid eyeliner, blue geisha, red geisha. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @Zara.Tokiniha. All rights reserved.
Han Ling liquid eyeliner, blue geisha, red geisha. Not only are they cute, the brush is more like a sharp stick that helps keep the line clean. Its back print says, “Love” on it. Part of my kawaii cosmetic collection. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Tokidoki duffel bag. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @Zara.Tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My very first Tokidoki purchase, a Tokidoki duffel bag. “With Devotion or Zeal” print. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Mashi Maro notebooks and kawaii pen. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Istagram @Zara.Tokiniha. All rights reserved.
Mashi Maro notebooks and kawaii pen from my recent visit to Chinatown in downtown Toronto. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Istagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Tokidoki wallet pouch, green. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @Zara.Tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My Tokidoki wallet pouch, green. “Save the Planet” print. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Momiji doll, red geisha. Kawaii. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My newest Momiji Doll, red geisha. Kawaii. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Tokidoki knapsack, green. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My second Tokidoki bag, a knapsack, green. “Save the Planet” print. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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MocMoc bubblehead, kawaii. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.
MocMoc bubblehead, kawaii beside my Tokidoki print, “Seamless Repeating.” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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Tokidoki wallet pouch, blue. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.
My matching Tokidoki wallet pouch, blue. “With Devotion or Zeal” print. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. On Instagram @zara.tokiniha. All rights reserved.

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The Tokidoki brand has within it a number of kawaii characters belonging to a sub-brand with a back story.

Here are a few of my favourite characters from Tokidoki and their stories:

SANDy:

tokidoki - sandySANDy of Cactus Friends zips herself into a cactus suit as a form of armor to face the cold and frightening world. As a representation of the cactus, she represents conservation and purity of water, a source of life.

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Donutella:

tokidoki - donutellaDonutella of the Donutella and Her Sweet Friends series is from a planet where sugar is used as energy. When scouting for fuel in her donut UFO, she discovered Earth and the large amounts of sweets that she couldn’t resist building a sweet colony here instead of returning to her planet. She now calls Earth her home. And boy, does she make me want to eat a donut.

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Dolce:

 tokidoki - dolce***

Prima Donna:

tokidoki - prima donnaPrima Donna of the Unicornos was once a pony who just happened to cross a magic waterfall—and ta-dah! Poof! Just like that, she was transformed into one of the many unicornos who discovered a magic kingdom on the other side.  Unicornos now live between the magic kingdom and our world. (I love her because she’s not only a unicorn with a crown, she’s also somewhat of a diva. You go, Girl…er…I mean Unicorno!)

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Mozzarella and Bulletto:

tokidoki - mozzarella and bullettoMozzarella and Bulletto are both part of the Moofia, a group of sweet renegades assigned to take milk from bullies in the lunch cafeteria or school yard. These guys are loving and kind to the good kids and cute, too, but make no mistake about it—if you’re a bully, they have guns and they’re not afraid to use them. Their aim? Protect the innocent, give them milk to help them grow strong and healthy.

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Latte:

tokidoki - latteLatte of the Moofia is…well…a latte. And you know how I can’t resist one of those! He’s part of the gang, but he doesn’t believe in guns. Only a high volume of calcium. He may be cute and totally kawaii, but this milk-guy will seriously kick some bully butt. Milk is what makes our teeth and bones strong, right?And boy, it is moo-a-liscious!

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 Are you familiar and/or a fan of kawaii and/or Tokidoki?

Do you own any kawaii and/or Tokidoki pieces in a collection?

Who is your favourite kawaii and/or Tokidoki character and why?

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 zara - tokidoki glow