The concept of Steampunk is only beginning to gain recognition in Japan, even though there have been multiple works that incorporate the brass-Victorian aesthetic, such as anime film Steamboy. Tokyo-based friends Kenny Creation and Luke Chaos have been passionate about this subculture for some time, and last year, they founded the regular event Steam Garden.
On March 10, I went to their fourth party, themed "Celtic Fantasy." Luke and Kenny rented out the entire Christon Café Shinjuku (a theme restaurant filled with European relics), and filled it with tribal fire dancers, artistic performances, medieval food, and live music on period instruments.
Each event has a different theme, revolving around a past era. Previously, Steam Garden did a Meiji-themed party -- a tribute to the time when Japan was opening its doors to the West, and fusing Victorian fashion with traditional kimonos and obis.
This time, the code word was Celtic Fantasy: "a blend of industry, fantasy, and epic adventure set to a soundtrack of exciting tribal and Celtic music." Braveheart roamed the room, challenging party-=goers to duels in a Scottish accent. If you tired of dancing to bagpipe music, you could order food -- a plate of meat on skewers, to fit the medieval vibe.
One section of the space contained tables that sold pocket-watches, Steampunk accessories and other brass and clockwork instruments. Some were from Harajuku's A Story, a store reminiscent of an eccentric Victorian gentleman's dressing room.
The party attracts a very fashionable crowd. It's interesting to see how Tokyo's alternative fashionistas have adopted Steampunk style, making it into something distinctively Japanese. There's often an element of cute, such as Gothic Lolita dresses with goggles.
Steam Garden occurs every few months, and people from all over Japan travel here to attend, as it's the only regular, organized Steampunk event in the country. If "Celtic Fantasy" was any indication, this underground scene will continue to grow. As Luke put it, "Here's hoping the airship will keep on soaring higher!"
Did you know Steampunk culture existed in Japan? What do you think of the fashion in the slideshow?
Images are courtesy of Said Karlsson, and used with permission.
For more Japanese underground fashion and club night reports, visit La Carmina blog.