Tokyo Nail Expo 2015 Part 3

Still more entries from the 2015 Tokyo Nail Expo! The theme is “Happy Kawaii,” roughly translated as “Happy Cute.”

I’ve collaged the photos, otherwise this post would be too photo-heavy to load in less than a year.

Our first stop on the kawaii train is some food nails. Japanese folks go to some extraordinary lengths to make sure their food is as cute as it can possibly be- for example, they add seaweed emojis to rice balls to give them expressions. It’s practically a daily competition to see which kid has the most adorable lunch box. Hence, they do not generally disappoint when it comes to food nails.


Number 13, you need to step up your game. I think it is supposed to be a chocolate crêpe, but it looks like a mess.

154 has the requisite kawaii pastel colors  and the  cute cake, but not enough level of detail to be a good contender.

88 went crazy with the whipped cream silicone, but these are just so over the top I can’t help but smile.

115 is actually really well done. The sculpting of the popcorn is pretty amazing. There are also French fries, a mystery sausage (?), donuts, and something that looks like a candy-covered pizza. What’s more kawaii than that?

21 features Japanese snacks like onigiri (rice balls) and vegetables. A nice break from all the sweets nails. I feel like I need some vegetables in my life after looking at all these crepes!


126  has sushi, a signboard, and even a tiny sushi chef! I think we might lose points on the kawaii factor but these are really well done and the different take on the theme. I want to eat at this restaurant, where the sushi is huge!  They even have tiny fish eggs! If only they had been glittery…

32 features a picnic under a clear blue sky with a gingham cloth.  How kawaii is that? There is a tiny bowl of noodles, a cup of tea, egg omelette with ketchup, and even a tiny heart shaped fried egg. Wait. AND heart shaped pancakes too? Maximum kawaii points!

160 is my personal pick from this food collection. The details are just amazing. The photo in the lower right shows a close-up. It looks like an afternoon tea buffet. This artist has amazing control over their acrylic. I am not sure if they built the pieces individually and then attach end them, or built them directly on the nail. Either way it’s very difficult to get a look this good!

What do you guys think? What are your favorites? We are generally seen a better level of artistic talent this year, but I think that’s due to everyone’s comfort with the theme as compared to previous years.

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Tokyo Nail Expo 2015 Part 2

Whew! Wrapping up the Tokyo Nail Expo after one more very long day, I had a chance to check out my favourite part of the show: the Nail Tip Award.

The theme for this year’s contest was Happy Kawaii. Kawaii is technically translated as “cute,” but it has a deeper meaning than that. Japanese women generally don’t want to be sexy- rather, they want to be cute. If you want to compliment someone, you tell them they look cute. Cute is everywhere. It was one of the strange things I noticed when I first moved to Japan. Even dour-looking businessmen would have cartoon mobile phone holder straps or a Snoopy handkerchief. The national obsession with all things cute means grown adults are wearing furry hoodies with cat ears on them and nobody looks twice.

I thought I was immune to the sugary sweet cuteness, being that I run more on the a dark side of the spectrum, but it got to me in ways I never imagined. For example, when I speak Japanese my voice automatically goes about half an octave to a cute girly squeak. There is no fighting the fluffy pink forces of Kawaiiness!

All that aside, here are some of the entries for the contest. Not surprisingly, the artists did much better with the kawaii theme than with the previous years themes of “Fresh Flesh” and “Adult Punk.” While those themes had the potential to produce a lot more interesting and creative work, most of the artists just chose not to get out of their comfort zones and painted the usual kawaii crap anyway. So this year, I guess the show organizers just decided to get back to their kawaii roots.

First off are some nails with the wedding theme. That’s pretty happy and kawaii, I suppose. Let’s take a look, shall we?


113 features some blue birds and the coach which reminds me a bit of a coconut, but overall very nice sculpture work. 41 is a super girly take on a wedding, complete with rainbows, a tiny champagne bottle and neon roses. Nice color and on target with the on the theme but the work is not quite as fine as some of the others. 8 features nice sculpture work, but is a bit lacking on the cute front. 87 has a nice color combo, plus a unicorn and a teddy bear, plus a pink cake. Kawaii goodness galore! 147 has some really nice floral detailing and leaves, but the bride’s body looks a bit off with the bootyful bottom but thin top. 92 is cute but I’d have liked to see some more detail. 163 is actually my pick for the best of the wedding themed nails. At first glance, I thought it was a bit too childish, but after I took a good look at the 3d sculpture, I realized it was really good quality. The round edges and bright colors may look simple, but this kind of work is really hard to do well. You need to have very good control with your acrylic to get a result like this. 105 brought back a long forgotten memory. When I was young, I used to look at those scary pictures of reconstructed Jane Does from crime scenes. You know, the ones with the body is really decomposed so they make a composite clay figurine? That’s what these nails remind me of. Actually, the process between making Jane Doe heads and these nails is probably not that different. It’s very hard to do. Even forensic sculptors can’t easily make a figure that looks like a human being, let alone a person working in acrylic on a miniature nail. A very good effort on a challenging  technique. 108  is a very nice mix of good sculpting and good flat art,  but I can’t help thinking that “yes” nail looks a bit like a tombstone. Maybe they’re making a statement about how a wedding proposal equals death? Or… I’ve just been watching too much Dateline.

I have a lot more nails to show you, but for now I’m still in the editing process and putting them together. Check by soon for some more updates. :-)


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Tokyo Nail Expo 2015-Part 1

Whoa, it has been a loong day! Today was the first day of Asia’s largest and craziest nail show. There are nail art contests in categories ranging from French tip sculpture where the judges get out calipers and protractors to check angles and curves (tip sculpture is very technically difficult, but I find it a bit dull) to nail art fashion shows, complete with crazy costumes and hair, plus a bunch of other judging of qualifications for nailist licensing. On top of all this, there’s a trade show. It is incredibly busy. Sort of like the county fair, except instead of livestock, there’s nails, nails and more nails. I much prefer this- no critters are stressed out and it’s more glittery. ;)

There were the usual Western companies represented, such as OPI, CND and Zoya. I didn’t see China Glaze or Seche this year. I could have missed them in the craziness, though I don’t think I did. Usually, Mr. NTMG comes along and helps carry the bags and takes photos, but he was stuck working at his real job this time. Boo. It’s harder to navigate without him, but I think I managed to get in the whole show.

The highlight for me is the Nail Art Tip Award, where artists produce 5 nails according to a set theme. They are done before the show, not on site. There were some amazing entries, some questionable ones, but the artists did better with the theme this year than the previous year. 2014 was “Adult Punk” and people were still doing cutesy-poo flowers and butterflies. I guess maybe ignoring the theme was somewhat rebellious and therefore qualified as punk, but I’m pretty sure it was more of a case of everyone just painting flowers no matter what the theme calls for. I think everyone was a lot more comfortable with the theme this year- “Happy Kawaii (cute).” I will be editing and collaging the entries randomly to show everyone in the next couple days. I was going to show my top 10 and the bottom 10 picks, but I really hate to pick on other people’s work. But some were quite obviously slapped together, while others are truly works of art. Stay tuned!

For now, some snapshots of Day 1. This just shows a few of the wacky and wonderful Only-in-Japan moments, including a giant floating pot of nail gel (this particular one has made an appearance for the last several years and always manages to crack me up, for some reason), a Barbie car for girls who never stopped playing with dolls, random vaguely racist Native American outfits with feather headdresses, and my own nails for the show. Being the theme this year was Happy Kawaii, I went for matte turquoise with hot air balloons, clouds and retro-inspired suns. I was listening to a lot of rockabilly driving music before I left for the show, so I think some weird Route 66 vintage gas-station images kind of subconsciously crept into my work. I blame Roy Orbison. On top of my nails, I added lots of gold rings and metallic tattoos. Sort of a weird vintage hippie mix, but it felt like the way to go.

Also of note: a table of glitter as far as the eye can see! And folks of Japan, what the heck is a Studium?


I will be back shortly with some more updates as I get the photos sorted and edited, so check back soon!

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My Favorite Time of Year

It’s time for the Tokyo Nail Expo! I’ve just arrived in Japan and I’m already having a great time. This year’s theme is Happy Kawaii (cute), so I’m not holding out much hope for anything too original at the design contests, but we shall see what’s up in a few days.

Till then, I’m shopping till I drop, eating my way across the city, meeting up with friends, and just generally having a great time. Stay tuned for show updates from Sunday, November 16!

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Happy Halloween 2015!

One of my favorite holidays for sure! I’m in a tropical area, so it’s too darn hot for any elaborate costumes. I’m making due with a witch hat, blingy black necklace, black lipgloss, and of course….NAILS!

Halloween 2016




I’m sorry for the post recycle below, but this year, things kind of got out of hand and I just ran out of time. Here’s some easy DIY nail art ideas for anyone still looking for Halloween ideas at the last minute! Luckily, Halloween is on a Saturday this year, so none of those pesky worries about office-appropriate nails. ;) If a whole set of nails is too hard or too kitschy to pull off, try a couple accent nails. After all, Halloween is a good time to let out your dark fantasies!

I hope everyone stays safe and that your Halloween is all chocolate and no Twizzlers. ;)


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Amazing Trucks of Bhutan

Even very manly things like giant trucks that haul rocks and logs are decorated here! These are folks after my own heart-check out the trucks with eyes, Buddhas (with sunglasses!), peacocks, and decorative tin panels. There was even a rasta-style Bob Marley truck, but I did not manage a photo. For now, revel in the spectacularity of Bhutan’s four wheeled workhorses. As always, click to enlarge.


All the photos are mine, except the one of the red truck. I needed one more photo to make my collage work.

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On The Roof of the World

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