Category Archive for Miami

I’m traveling to Tokyo, Japan on a business visa! Vincent Castiglia Gallery & tattoo studio Florida, Audain Museum.

la carmina tokyo japan tiktok videos tokyo instagrammer tiktokker

In the dog days of The Collapse, I have some unusually happy news… I’m going to be in Japan for a month, on a business visa! I was invited on a journalism project with the Japanese Embassy, and am delighted to be exploring Tokyo and Tohoku.

As you may know, Japan has essentially returned to “sakoku” (isolationism) since spring 2020. While most countries have re-opened to tourism, the Japanese government is still keeping its doors closed. (Some tourists are technically now allowed in, but there are enormous costs and hurdles: monitor tours, set itineraries, expensive and limited flights, and other restrictions.)

entering japan on business visa, tourist visas application tourism

I used be in Japan every year on average for work, and never imagined that I’d be shut out of the country for several years. I’m thankful for the opportunity to visit on a business / work visa, and will soak up every moment of being back in Tokyo with friends.

And this means… I’ll be back to reporting firsthand on Japanese subcultures and fashion for your pain and pleasure! Please stay tuned to the blog and @LaCarmina on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook to see my 2022 Japan adventures. And please let me know if you have tips for things to see, do and eat in Tokyo — I’ll do my best to check them out for you. (Above two photos by Said Karlsson, hair Lulu K.)

japan pcr test for tourism business visa entry

Rules are changing all the time but as of this post, Japan requires all inbound travelers to have a negative PCR or NAAT test, within 72 hours before flying. The rules are rather complex, as the Japanese government asks for a particular certification to be issued, and only allows certain types of tests.

I was relieved to be in the good hands of Iridia Medical in Vancouver, as they are experts in the process and knew exactly what was needed to enter Japan. I got a Rapid NAAT NEAR Molecular Test, which involved a shallow nasal swab (no discomfort). It only took 15-20 minutes for me to get my result, as the testing is done right there and isn’t sent to a lab. Iridia also provided me with a “Negative Test Result Certificate” as required by the Japanese government. Iridia Medical makes pre-travel testing as easy as can be — thank you for the kind and professional care!

the little book of satanism la carmina lucien greaves author books satanist satanic temple

And a thank you to all of you for your support for my upcoming book! If you missed the news: The Little Book of Satanism: A Guide to Satanic History, Culture & Wisdom will be out right before Halloween, published by Simon & Schuster!

My Satanic guidebook is a historical-cultural look at the development of Satanism through the ages to today.  “The Little Book of Satanism” covers the debut of the Devil in Biblical texts and legends, precursor Satanic groups, modern Satanist religions, the Devil in film and music, the Satanic Panic, rituals and holidays, and much more.

My fourth book is now available for preorder via: Amazon | Barnes and Noble |  Chapters/Indigo | Bookshop | other retailers worldwide.

See the book cover, interior, and more info HERE — and thank you for sharing and preordering!

vincent castiglia tattoo artist blood painter goth metal paintings

Speaking of dark matters… I still have a story from my Florida trip to share. While I was in Miami last March, I swung by Ft Lauderdale to visit Vincent Castiglia Gallery and Custom Tattoo! (Address: 2227 S Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316)

I’ve long admired Vincent’s art, and was delighted to visit him shortly after the opening of his Florida gallery and studio.

Vincent Castiglia Gallery & Custom Tattoo opening fort lauderdale fl></p> <p><img src=

Vincent Castiglia paints entirely in human blood… which is why his powerful, figurative surrealist works are in this signature red rust color! Vincent literally bleeds for his art — he uses his own lifeblood as his medium, sometime mixing it with blood volunteered by clients.

vincent castiglia tattoo studio parlor tattooing art giger

Visitors to Vincent Castiglia’s gallery can also book an appointment at his tattoo studio. With over 22 years of experience, Vincent is renown tattoo artist who works in black and grey — the detailed examples on his walls speak for themselves. He can create a custom tattoo for you in a variety of styles, from realistic to biomechanical.

Vincent Castiglia blood paintings exhibition art

Perhaps Vincent Castiglia’s paintings might make you think of the visions of H. R. Giger. In fact, Vincent was the first American artist to have a solo exhibition at the H. R. Giger Museum, and formed a bond with the Alien visionary himself. (You may remember my pilgrimage to the HR Giger Museum and Bar in Gruyeres a few years.)

Vincent Castiglia band album covers art satanic

Rather fittingly, Vincent’s iron oxide artwork is beloved by heavy metal musicians. His work is seen seen on albums, guitars, and other commissions by bands such as Slayer.

artist Vincent Castiglia the satanic temple exhibit

What a treat to be able to see Vincent’s blood-works up close. Many of his pieces touch upon death, transience, and humanity’s mortal coil (note the caduceus, neurons, and surgical tools in the one above).

morbid macabre art painted in human blood

Vincent had a show at The Satanic Temple headquarters in Salem a few years ago, and he has exhibited works at top galleries worldwide. You can purchase striking prints (like “Feeding,” above) and original artwork on Vincent Castiglia’s site.

vincent castiglia human blood paintings ft lauderdale studio gallery

Vincent designed the interior of his Fort Lauderdale gallery / tattoo studio himself, and it features high ceilings and cathedral arch cut outs.

vincent castiglia blood paintings art gallery

You’ve got to see his blood paintings in person for the full effect — so the next time you’re in Florida, I encourage you to visit Vincent Castiglia Gallery and Tattoo. 

atelier de charlotte long leather boots heels, empire records movie wardrobe

You’re going to be inundated with Japan photos soon… but before I jet to Tokyo, let me share some recent Vancouver shoots.

Does this outfit remind you of Liv Tyler in the 1990s? It’s inspired by the movie Empire Records! Her record store character wears a similar cropped baby blue sweater and plaid skirt combo, with boots.

My Empire Records ensemble is also from Kpop / Kdrama fashion company Fashion Chingu.

empire records cosplay costume style liv tyler character clothing

I accessorized with an Inle Heritage Silk headband from Thread Tales Company. Their handwoven ikat design matches my hair and has a vintage vibe. Thread Tales’ accessories are zero waste (they use off-cuts from their cushion production) and support local artisans.

audain art museum whistler patkau architects entrance

I also had an art adventure at Audain Museum in Whistler, BC. How marvelous is the West Coast modern building, by Patkau Architects?

audain art museum whistler bc photography inside

Audain’s architecture uses wood and glass to let in light, and highlight Whistler’s mountainous surroundings. (Whistler is the famous ski and nature destination, about a 1.5 hour drive north from Vancouver.)

audain museum whistler british columbia architecture modern wood

Audain Art Museum’s dramatic exterior and walkway are excellent for outfit shots. (My new split dye purple-pink hair is by Katya at Kore Salon in Vancouver. BC.)

split dye pink purple long hair middle dyed harajuku hairstyle

I’m holding a Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon tote from the Maje Paris x Sailor Moon collection. As a fan of the Sailor Scouts since childhood, I was pleased to find a designer book bag with a kawaii / anime element.

sailor moon maje paris capsule collab book bag totes

“In the name of The Moon, I’ll punish you!” Here is an Instagram @LaCarmina video of my Sailor Moon x Maje large blue tote bag, which has a Usagi / Serena print and can fit many items (including a bouquet of pink flowers).

maje sailor moon tote bag purse blue usagi print majexsailormoon

I paired my Maje Sailor Moon bag with chunky black leather loafers, and scrunch socks by We Love Colors,

Shop the Maje Paris x Sailor Moon clothing line below:

inside audain museum exhibitions architecture design wood glass

The carvings in the column hint at Audain Art Museum’s goal: to showcase art from British Columbia, particularly from Indigenous creators.

bc native indigenous art museum masks

I was impressed by the displays of intricately carved masks inside. Doesn’t the one on the right look like Michael Jackson?

big dogfish mask audain museum hallway robert davidson artist

At the end of the long hallway, I met the Dogfish — an enormous mask by Haida artist Robert Davidson.

audain museum eaves building architecture designer

Don’t let a rainy day keep you from exploring. (Images taken on my new Sony a7 IV mirrorless camera.)

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The native masks and statues at Audain were fascinating — I enjoyed reading about the legends behind the spirits depicted.

Maje Sailor Moon Limited Edition Capsule clothing collaboration collection totes bags

A last look at my new half-and-half split colored hairstyle. More from the Maje x Sailor Moon fashion capsule collection below:

And now, I must finish packing my business visa and documents… as I’m off to Japan! If you have questions about visiting Japan under the current restrictions, or suggestions for things to do in Tokyo, please leave me a note. Add @LaCarmina on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for a deluge of Japan updates.

And thank you again for supporting / sharing / preordering my upcoming book! Details about The Little Book of Satanism can be found here.


Miami South Beach: Best Japanese sushi & seafood restaurants! Katsuya, Blue Ribbon, Ocean Grill. Balfour Hotel.

 SLS Brickell Hotel miami duck sculpture pool

I think you can tell…. I had a hell of a time hanging out around Miami Beach!

In addition to relaxing on the famous shores, travelers flock to the South Beach district for its glamorous hotels, electrifying art scene, and creative restaurants.

After a long and locked-down winter, I was ready to indulge in my favorite cuisine: local seafood and Japanese sushi, which are two of the city’s specialities. If you’re as fond as I am of fresh fish, then read on for my guide to my favorite Miami Beach restaurants! (Blue Ribbon Sushi, Ocean Grill at The Setai, and Katsuya.)

south beach miami swimming ocean waves florida

For the first portion of my recent trip, I did not leave the Miami Beach area (staying at The Balfour hotel, located in the quieter South of Fifth area). Since I came before the rowdy March spring break — see my first dispatch with tips — Miami Beach was uncrowded, and I got to enjoy the sand and waves in peace.

 south beach lifeguard stands miami retro colorful towers

The surrounding palm trees and brightly-painted lifeguard towers give Miami Beach a 1980s retro vibe. (I often felt like I was in the 80s B-movie, “Miami Connection”!)

From South Beach, all you have to do is walk a few blocks to find some of Miami’s most stylish and well-reviewed sushi restaurants.

katsuya miami restaurant design  Philippe Starck interiors architecture

For one of the city’s finest Japanese dining experiences, make your way to Katsuya Miami. Located inside the SLS South Beach Hotel, the restaurant was designed with modern cinematic flair by Philippe Starck (sleek furniture, high ceilings and oversize Japanese portraits).

 hippest sushi restaurant miami south beach katsuya chefs

Katsuya is helmed by master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi, who opened the first location of his eponymous restaurant in Los Angeles (1997). Paying close attention to his clientele’s taste preferences, Chef Katsuya created a bold new style of cuisine that mixes Japanese tradition with laid-back California flavors.

 katsuya south beach miami florida menu food sashimi seafood

Katsuya Miami showcases his signature fresh and modern Japanese menu. The chef pioneered the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna (far right) that is now copied by many restaurants. However, nothing comes close to Katsuya’s version, which has a buttery umami and slight crunch as the finely chopped ahi melts in your mouth.

I was also swept away by the flavors of the charred shishito peppers (with yuzu yogurt, and still-moving bonito flakes), and tangy scallop tiradito.  

KATSUYA BY STARCK, Miami Beach cocktails drink menu lucky cat

In addition to its cocktail classics, Katsuya has an ever-changing drink menu with clever presentations (mine came in a lucky maneki neko cat!). The cocktails feature unusual Japanese spirits and ingredients such as ume (plum) whiskey, mizu craft shochu, shishito melon shrub and sencha tonic.

 katsuya sashimi chef's selection miami japanese restaurants

And then, there’s the acclaimed sushi. Katsuya Miami’s knowledgeable servers are terrific at walking you through the daily selection. I recommend letting the staff know your preferences, and going with the chef’s selection of the day. You’ll end up with a personalized sushi and sashimi menu like above, which included anago (saltwater eel), thick cuts of hamachi, sweet amaebi (shrimp), giant ikura roe that bursts in your mouth… Katsuya South Beach was a meal to remember.

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If you’ve booked a Miami Beach hotel, keep in mind that parking is in short supply and expensive. For the first few days of the trip, I walked or took short Uber rides, and stayed entirely within the district. However, I never lacked things to do in SoBe, or grew tired of dipping my toes in the Atlantic Ocean.

crying miffy fountain tom sachs cute bunny sculpture w hotel miami

And I simply had to visit my idol… Miffy the X-mouthed bunny! These kawaii statues by Tom Sachs are located in front of the W Hotel South Beach. He created a giant white-cast bronze of Hello Kitty, and turned Miffy into a crying fountain (yes, those are tears spurting out of her eyes and into the water… how emo!)

Hello Kitty, My Melody fountains miami florida tom sachs kawaii art

He also made a cheeky rendition of My Melody, Japan’s Sanrio bunny character.

the setai ocean front grill outdoor open air restaurant

After my pilgrimage to the Tom Sachs Miffy Fountain, I walked to the nearby Ocean Grill at The Setai for a luxe lunch with a beachfront view. The raised and covered dining deck lets you take in views of the palm trees and ocean, while as you dine on fresh-caught seafood prepared on a wood-fired grill.  

 Ocean Grill at The Setai craft cocktails oceanfront fine dining

We started with the best pina colada I’ve ever had (I mean it!) infused with rum, coconut, pineapple, and fresh mint leaves. The “Greek Samurai” with honey liquor, yuzu sake, and fresh lime juice was a perfect balance of tangy and sweet.

The Ocean Grill setai hotel menu food burrata salad

I think the high quality of the ingredients at Ocean Grill Miami comes through in the photos. (I’m shooting with my brand new Sony a7 IV mirrorless camera.) For an appetizer, we shared the burrata di bufala cheese with local vine ripe tomatoes, balsamic, and arugula.

Lunch Ocean Grill - The Setai, Miami Beach branzino fish scallops

As a seafood lover, it was hard to choose from the many tantalizing options on the lunch menu, including fish tacos and Chilean sea bass. We went with the server’s suggestion: a boneless whole branzino fish, and combination of scallops and shrimp — charred on the signature woodfire grill, and served with grilled vegetables and sauce vierge (French salsa). Healthy and delicious.

tropical cocktail in coconut the setai bar ocean front grill drinks

To end the meal, how could I resist a Whiskey & Coco Cream cocktail served in a coconut imprinted with The Setai’s logo? I’d come back in a heartbeat for another open-air meal by the beach at Ocean Grill.

miami south beach ocean waves

If you ask me, there’s nothing like dining on seafood, sushi and sashimi after a day at South Beach. (If you come right in early March before the spring break rush, you’ll get unobstructed views like these.)

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill - South Beach chefs

After the sun set, I enjoyed the finest ocean flavors at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill — a Japanese restaurant with locations in several US cities. Blue Ribbon is known for its bright and inventive dishes; the teamwork at the long sushi-making bar sums up their vibrant approach to Japanese cuisine.

 sashimi japanese food blue ribbon sushi menu food review

Once again, I recommend asking for the chef’s choice, and letting the server know your favorite flavors. The dishes that arrive will delight and surprise you: marinated thinly sliced usuzukuri, blue fin tuna with ponzu and garlic chips, and sashimi with a mix of fresh fish from Japan.

blue ribbon restaurants japanese cocktail menu whisky drinks

You can also let the bartender know your cocktail preferences, and they will mix up a custom drink with Japanese spirits. This top shelf Japanese whiskey and fresh orange concoction was exactly to my liking. 

sushi restaurant south beach miami florida Blue Ribbon

I loved the presentation of the kyushu aji, or Japanese horse mackerel, served two ways (first, you eat the sashimi belly. Then, the spine is fried for a crunchy finish). Blue Ribbon also has an extensive menu of hot dishes, such as their famous fried chicken and vegetable rice.

japanese whisky cocktails miami outdoor pool bar

Blue Ribbon Sushi Miami has an enormous dining space including a glamorous lobby bar, a sushi bar that lets you watch the chefs, two indoor dining areas, and covered outdoor poolside seating (which was my choice.)

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill sushi omakase japanese fish grilled

Scallops, salmon, amberjack, tuna, and more… the nigiri and rolls were phenomenal quality. 

yuzu key lime pie, miami plymouth hotel dining blue ribbon restaurant

For dessert, a Floridian specialty with a Japanese twist… Yuzu key lime pie (and longtime readers know that’s my favorite flavor of all time!). Taste the tangy creaminess for yourself at Blue Ribbon Sushi, located in the restored Plymouth Hotel at South Beach. 

FLYNN SKYE Carla Mini Dress in Tiny Gathers revolve black blue flowers sundress

I stayed at The Balfour Hotel, which turned out to be the ideal Miami Beach home base. The historic Art Deco hotel is fully renovated — I have fond memories of walking up the spiral staircase to the rooftop at night, and taking in views of the surrounding buildings and stars (or UFOs?) above.

balfour hotel miami south beach pool review instagrammable hotels

The Balfour (formerly known as Room Mate Lord Balfour Hotel) has a small and photogenic plunge pool, which lets you cool off during the hottest hours of the day. 

room mate lord balfour hotel florida lobby interior

The easygoing and friendly staff at The Balfour were always happy to help (such as when I requested to heat up my leftovers). The hotel’s location is conveniently located on the cultural Ocean Drive and across the road from the ocean. Yet it’s in the quieter South of Fifth area of Miami Beach, meaning you won’t be surrounded by crowds and nightclubs. 

south beach boutique hotels quiet private pool the balfour hotel

Designed by architect Anton Skislewicz in 1940, The Balfour is classic Miami Art Deco with its warm pastels and stucco details. The rooms are set out in a “U” shape, with a quiet inner courtyard / pool framed by palm trees.

Mehzcla restaurant the balfour hotel latin south beach menu food

The Balfour Hotel is also home to Mehzcla Restaurant, which serves Latin food with South Beach flavors. The kitchen is open late, allowing me to relax with room service after my evening check-in. I think I ordered very well: sweet plantains with smoked agave and cotija cheese, chaufa rice with vegetables, and citrus-miso glazed salmon anticuchos! The bartender also made me a custom yuzu sour cocktail.

snake print serpent tights, flynn skye carla sun dress flowers mini dress

Life is short… so I’m doing my best to spend it poolside when I can. (Wearing serpent print tights from Sock Dreams, and a Flynn Skye Carla mini dress with a flower print.)

the balfour hotel rooms bed miami

Although The Balfour is a historic hotel, the rooms are updated with new furnishings and tech amenities. Every morning, I made tea using the machine included in the room.

 lord balfour art deco hotel miami beach outside

Love the glowing facade at night. I recommend booking a stay at The Balfour boutique hotel if you want to be in Miami Beach, but away from the pumping club music and raucous crowds further up towards South Beach.

 bright colored miami life guard towers south beach 80s

I only had to walk a minute from the hotel to be at the beach. No wonder Miami is associated with synthwave; the pastel-painted lifeguard stations have an 80s vibe.

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The beach area near The Balfour (South of Fifth) is much less crowded than further up north where partygoers convene. 

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You can also walk along Ocean Drive to see the famous Art Deco architecture. (This was my second visit to the city; I was here years ago for Art Deco Weekend.)

 art basel miami art exhibits murals

Art is everywhere around Miami Beach. Every January, the city hosts Art Basel to showcase exciting talent.

 Miami Beach Botanical Garden japanese red bridge

Although this district is known for being pricy, there are many free activities as well. I swung by Miami Beach Botanical Garden, which has free entry and is located by the convention center. It includes a Japanese garden…

miami florida garden large leaves plants south beach botanical

… and the enormous palm leaves. At Miami Beach’s botanical garden, you can see an eclectic collection of native Florida plants and tropical flowers.

butterflies Miami Beach Botanical Garden lizard animals

The urban green space is a playground for lizards and butterflies.

crying miffy hello kitty fountain tom sachs bronze fountains

I leave you with a few final snaps of “Emo Miffy”! The crying bunny character was created by Dutch artist Dick Bruna, while My Melody and Hello Kitty are by Japanese company Sanrio.

my melody white sculpture sanrio tom sachs w hotel south beach

The sculptures were executed in cast bronze by Tom Sachs in 2008. He recontextualized the cute mascots into all-white works of art.

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Finally, I wanted to share my latest podcast interview with Cemetery Confessions on The Belfry Network. In the words of host Dani Ashes, “We talk about how to travel around the world as a Goth, Satanism in Japan, the Satanic Panic and more with the astute, multitalented La Carmina.” You can listen to the leading Gothic talk radio show on any podcast app, Spotify, or YouTube.

art deco historic hotel with pool miami ocean drive

I also contributed to several articles on Yahoo and Huffington Post. I give travel expert advice on how to vacation on a budget, make the most of your airport departure date, get over the post-vacation blues, and more.

And I’m waiting for Japan to open to tourists… I created a Twitter Community for “Japan Travel: Traveling Tips” to provide info about Japan tourism and visas. Anyone is welcome to join it here.

Are you planning any trips for 2022? How do you feel about traveling nowadays?