h.NAOTO+ Store Goes Halloween with STEAM BLOOD


by Mio Nagasaki, Cat, posted October 20, 2014

"Humans are steam. Humans are steampunk."

The combined geniuses of Japanese alternative fashion, film making, and art have created a new term this year, just in time for Halloween: STEAM BLOOD. h.NAOTO called in director Nikai and specialist  Mantam to turn the first floor of the Harajuku h.NAOTO store into a horror-scape. Their collaboration created a space that resembled a gothic museum with nods to a haunted house and a secret base. Until the end of October, visitors can marvel at monsters, ancient doctor’s tools, blood fountains, and more—upon looking closer, the exhibition continues revealing new and scary details that just keep astounding. The installation is perfected with steam, smoke, and stories.

Guests huddled into the space on October 4, sitting on the floor right next to dried out monster bodies and rusty appliances for a talk event with the three conspirators. Mantam supplied the audience with interesting trivia such as the reason a ram’s horns are curled backwards to keep them entertained as more enthusiasts tried to crowd in. Once the talk show began for real, the three artists revealed that Matntam had created the space—including a fascinating and terrifying lost space open for public exhibition—in the span of two days, working overtime and also filming the creation of the setting before Nikai and Naoto added art, stories, and fashion to the mix. Nikai, whose photographs were interspersed with bits of fiction, described Steampunk as “fashion with a story.” For him, all settings he creates have to contain a story. Nikai is the kind of artist who will check back during his work to see if the story is still consistent and containing the characters that he imagines in it. As such, the h.NAOTO store currently reads like an omnibus of story extracts, elaborated on through the art pieces. Nikai reiterated frequently that he sees humans themselves as steam engines: the human system, the heart, the brain—all steam and movement. “Humans are steam. Humans are steampunk.”

h.NAOTO has recently been adapting more and more elements from Steampunk into his work yet still keeps his visual kei touch. In essence, he is not copying the dogma of the Steampunk genre but, rather, creating his own take on the movement. Naoto explained that his recent movement towards Steampunk had taken him away from his Goth fashion. However, letting Steampunk merge with horror in the creation of STEAM BLOOD thus brings him back again to his Goth roots while allowing the concept of Goth to expand all over again.

Throughout the talk event, Naoto, Nikai, and Mantam supplied the audience with trivia on how they first met and what projects had brought them in touch with each other’s art. Giving the crowd some perspective as to the purpose of some of the individual items scattered about the store, Mantam introduced an extremely old-school hearing aid that was constructed of two funnels to channel sound into the ears. The tool was passed about and some curious visitors even tried the device on. Mantam explained that there are many similar items from the Meiji period which people might never guess had existed at that time in Japan. He also noted of some of the items in the room that their proper use will probably only be known to him as his occupation is to assemble all sorts of items ranging from historical equipment to sheep bones—an occupation which he claims has the highest death rate in the world, due mostly to lack of sleep. Naoto couldn’t help asking him, “If I were to die, would you ask for my bones?” and Mantam quickly responded, “I would take them!”

Visitors to the h.NAOTO Plus store can marvel at the horror-scape of STEAM BLOOD for the whole of October 2014 so be sure to make a stop there if you can swing by Harajuku. However, there was also a surprising piece of news in that the Harajuku store will be closing down on November 9 as Naoto has a plan in the works involving a huge event space where he can pursue much grander ideas and projects.

This means that the spooky Halloween event set amongst this collaborative installation will be one of the final events held in the Plus store. On October 31, Halloween night, the h.NAOTO store invites fans and friends for a very eerie Halloween party. Exciting special guests will be present including some connoisseurs of the occult who will be making a rare appearance at the request of Mantam. Within the setting of the STEAM BLOOD exhibition, the night promises to be chilling and highly entertaining.

On that note, the h.NAOTO brand expects lots of excitement from the end of October to the closing on November 9. Naoto will be working on opening his new event space and getting many other things into gear in order to have a strong setup by the 2020 Olympics.

Don’t miss your chance to see this special exhibit and say goodbye to the h.NAOTO store before November 9! ROKKYUU will keep you posted with the momentous happenings in the h.NAOTO universe so stay tuned for all that is to come!

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There are 76 photos in this visual kei exclusive.

Mio Nagasaki is a freelance photographer lending her time, skills, and love for the genre to ROKKYUU Magazine.

is a trilingual time traveller who fell in love with Japan because of its music but now fashion has made her stay. With a degree in English Literature and Science Fiction, she loves diving into those quirky subcultures of Japan; artistic music, quirky animation, and most of all eccentric fashion. The message "Do what you love - love what you do" is what she pitches to viewers around the world in her weekly YouTube channel CanuDoitCat. Wanting to inspire more people around the world to live this way, she hopes she can make you, too, dare to be different and make it your strength.

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