Archive for July, 2010

Japan by the numbers (07.05.10)

Monday, July 5th, 2010

90% of people surveyed for rType research online said that they could touch insects when they were children.
83% of men, answering a questionnaire from Ya-Man, said that they are most bothered when women don’t shave their legs.
45% of people polled  by rType research online said that they like Softbank commercials the most out of all cellphone carrier commercials; as for characters, 32% chose the white dog who plays the father role as their favorite.
32% of people question by Skylark said they think that mabo-dofu is the best Chinese dish to eat with white rice.

What’s it gonna be – kawaii or interi?

Monday, July 5th, 2010

You choose: kawaii usamimi or nerdcore marumegane

You choose: kawaii usamimi or nerdcore marumegane

It’s said that accessories can make or break an outfit, but we’re not quite sure what to make of the usamimi and marumegane that have been recently popping up on the streets of Tokyo. On the style spectrum they reside at opposite ends: Usamimi embody the flouncy, bouncy ethos of the kawaii crowd; marumegane are all about appearing interi (intellectual) yet slightly off kilter.

Usamimi (“rabbit ears”) are a surreal take on accessorizing that mixes “Alice in Wonderland” whimsy with haute couture eccentricity. While it’s hard to pin down their birthplace, perhaps they were first inspired by the large ribbons that appeared in Louis Vuitton’s 2009 Autumn/Winter collection. Their popularity clearly got a boost from all the celebrities and teen idols who’ve worn them on TV. Harajuku is the place so see them in the wild, worn as a kawaii akuse (cute accessory). Along with the maxi take one piece (ankle length dresses), kan kan bou (boating hats), and pastel floral prints, this fashion trend appeals to the teens and twentysomethings who aspire to a girly style.

Marumegane (“round glasses”) have a different pedigree. This unisex trend can be traced back to artists and intelligentsia in the 19th and 20th century, both Japanese and foreign, though perhaps we should give Lady Gaga props for bringing them into the mainstream. Marumegane, which tend to be nonprescription, are more about style than vision correction. Exaggerated in size, they’re an eye-catching, manga-esque twist on a classic look, and the epitome of nerd cool.

So far, we’ve yet to see these two looks on the same person . . . and maybe that’s for the better.

Yama girls take to the great outdoors

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Randonnee outdoor/fashion magazine demonstrates how trekking can be trendy

Randonnee outdoor/fashion magazine demonstrates how trekking can be trendy

Bugs, sunburn and lack of decent toilet facilities have traditionally kept fashionable young Japanese women from discovering the joys of the great outdoors, but this year – if the media buzz is to be believed – things are changing, as hordes of fledgling female climbers, attracted by magical “power spots” and cute mountain skirts, take to the hills.

This new breed of outdoor women, also predictably called yama gaaru (山ガール、mountain girls), even have their own magazine. Randonnée, a cross between a hiking and fashion magazine, gives tips on how to maintain trail cred at high altitudes. Launched last year, Randonnee celebrated its first birthday in early June with a picnic party on the lawn of Roppongi’s Midtown complex. In addition to checking fashion shows and cute tent displays, aspiring yama girls could learn how to split firewood (presumably without breaking a nail) and how to cook with a gas camping stove.

The hottest item at the show was the mountain skirt, a kind of skirt version of combat pants which, on closer inspection, is not a skirt at all but a pair of shorts with a bit of fabric wrapped round. The skirts are popular because they can be paired up with cute and colorful leggings, making the whole outfit extremely fashionable. Granted, these skirts didn’t originate in Japan, but they have clearly caught on in a big way.

Nikkei Trendy reports that staff at outdoor shops are experiencing high numbers of inquiries from young female shoppers about the mountain skirt. Some more traditional places were rather dismissive of the mountain skirt fashion, pointing out that they aren’t very practical. If you’re climbing Mount Fuji, the temperatures at the top average about 6 degrees Celsius.  Factoring in the wind chill factor, wouldn’t a pair of pants make a lot more sense?

Mount Fuji is reportedly one of Japan’s three main power spots, making it an attractive destination for the female climber. A power spot (pawa-supotto) is a site that is purported to possess great spiritual and healing energy and since the start of the decade, interest in these mystical areas has been growing. These power spots appear to be popular with yama girls, which dovetails nicely with the rise of the so-called witch girls, we reported on earlier this year.

Climbing season for Fuji starts from today; mountain skirts are optional.

More yama-girl style links:

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